How did I get the name theBrainrunner?

Well it's a long story but I'll keep it breif. On November 3rd, 2008 I was getting ready for work and passed out in the shower. Luckily, my wife was home at the time and ran upstairs to find me and after having trouble reviving me she then called the paramedics. After an ambulance ride, followed by a CT scan, then a helicopter ride to another hospital I ended up having surgery to repair a ruptured Brain Aneurysm. 5 months later I had two more aneurysms clipped. I was thankful to be alive, as 40% of ruptures are fatal, and 66% suffer from some permanent neurological deficit. I use to be a runner in High School, and after I had recovered from the surgeries I wanted to be healthier than I had been at that time so my wife and I started running again. Every time I run I'm thankful to be alive and able to be outside doing what I love. Thus, theBrainrunner was born.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011 My First - Part 2

On the way to the start line riding the train.
As the horn sounded the crowd began to surge forward and before I knew it, I was crossing the starting line. I was on my journey to completing my first marathon.

There was a cacophony of beeping from watches, including my own, as all 45,000 runners crossed the starting line. It was music to the ears. This was quickly replaced with the crowd giving tremendous encouragement as the runners headed off on their 26.2 mile quest.

I fell in line behind Bob (one of the four hour pacers) and decided I was going to follow him since he was the easiest to recognize. We headed up Columbus Drive and under a bridge where there were hundreds if not thousands of spectators watching from above. It was an amazing sight to see and one that I don't think I will ever forget. I just followed Bob, as we were bobbing and weaving through people. It was so crowded it never felt like I could open up and just relax. Running through downtown Chicago was amazing. The sound from the crowd reverberating off of the buildings just intensified the noise, energy, and emotions. At around 3 or 3.5 miles we started to head north and away from the massive buildings of the Loop and toward Wrigley Field, which I tried to see but never did. Somewhere between 7 and 8 I met my wife, who passed off some gels. I grabbed them and headed off again to catch back up with Bob.

I was feeling good, my pace was on target, we had placed about 29 seconds in the bank, thus far. My legs felt fresh, I was hydrating well, everything was going according to plan. I gave some kids high-5's and kept on moving. At about mile 10 I started to get some feedback from my body that I may have hydrated too well, so I began to look for another port-o-potty. Somewhere between 11 and 12 I saw one just off of the course without a line. I hurried up and did my business and got back out there. I knew that I'd lost my pace group, but I was feeling good and figured that I could slowly pull them back over the next few miles.

Between mile 12 and 13, as the course makes a left onto North Franklin Street, my worst fears became true. It started as just a little twinge of discomfort in my arch. (I'd had some issues in my right arch leading up to the race and had been trying to get mostly healed before Chicago.) I thought to myself, just ignore it and it will go away, don't think about it.

Mile 13 was hit in 2 hours 2 minutes and 30 seconds. I was two and a half minutes off  my pace and I'd stopped once to use the restroom... not bad. But, my arch was starting to hurt a little more. By mile 14 I was finished! My 4 hour marathon was done. I remember texting my wife: "not great."  At 25k which is only about 2 and a half miles from the half way point it had taken me just over 26 minutes to complete that distance. By this time I was suffering, and suffering severely. All I could do was to keep moving forward. My arch felt like it was on fire, so I stopped and tried to shake and stretch it out.....nothing. Keep've got to go.

The next five miles I have no recollection of, other than my wife texting me her location on the north side of the road at mile 20, to which my reply was, "which way is north?" She replied, "on the left."  I found her, or rather, she and our friend Matt found me. I stopped to get a couple more gels, and to bitch about my foot. She was so supportive. I was in so much pain that the fire had turned to flaming hot daggers. I knew I was probably damaging my arch and that I would probably have to take some time off for recovery, but I was going to finish. However, I was pissed off! I was having my own little pity party in my mind. I'd trained so hard for this day and it wasn't going like I had planned. I kept moving....

Mile 20.. Temp on bank sign 84
I was into new territory now, my longest run to date was 20 miles. I just wanted to finish now. No, I'm not talking about me wanting to finish as in quit. I wanted to be at the finish line NOW. But I wasn't, I kept moving. I implemented a run walk philosophy. I'd run until I couldn't stand the pain in my arch any longer, then I'd walk until I could get up enough courage to run again. I remember running under the Chinatown gate, and the dragon dancers. I remember running through mile 23 where someone was handing out beer. I like beer, but at that point in the race, with the way I was feeling, the smell was so overwhelming it made me nauseous. I vaguely remember the long straight run up Michigan Avenue toward the finish. Somewhere along this stretch of hot pavement I saw my wife and handed her my iPhone, because I just couldn't stand to have any extra weight that I didn't deem necessary.

Mile 25, dumping the arm band.
Then, I made a right hand turn onto Roosevelt Road and  knew from the course map that the finish was near. All I had to do was go up this little hill which seemed like Everest at the time, and then make a left hand turn onto Columbus Drive. Nearing the top of the hill, I had to walk again because the pain was so excruciating I thought I might puke. I then began to think. I thought of all the training miles, I thought of where I was just a couple of years ago after my brain aneurysm surgery, I thought of my wife and daughters, I thought I'm only zero point two miles away from completing my first marathon. Then I began to jog, slowly at first, then faster. I made the left hand turn onto Columbus and I could see the finish line. The crowd was screaming, and I pushed faster. I was in an all out sprint. I was moving so fast, for the moment the pain was gone. Nothing mattered except crossing the finish strong. I'm guessing I passed probably close to 100 people in the final 0.2 miles. Then, it happened I raised my arms in my own personal victory as I crossed the finish line in 4:45:08.

Tammy, and I
After crossing I got my finishers medal, which I was happy about, but I was disappointed in my performance. After talking to my wife she reminded me that you can't control what your body does, and that I should be proud to have finished under the circumstances. In retrospect I am. But the 26.2 monster and I shall meet again after I'm healed. Hopefully I'll win that battle.
After the race, rubbing the arch. Ugh, that arch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011 My First - Part 1

We arrived in Chicago Saturday October 8th and took the subway to the marathon expo. Let me just say, WOW! This was the largest expo I'd ever been to, it had everything a runner could want. All the big names were there but I was really excited to get to the Newton booth. My wife and I went to the packet pick up and got my bib number and headed into the main expo room where they smartly made you walk the entire length of the expo to pick up your tech shirt. On the way I saw the Newton booth and got even more excited. We picked up my shirt and made our way back through the expo. I eventually went to the Newton booth and after having a lengthy conversation with one of the representatives there I bought some cool Newton stuff.We met up with a friend and finished walking the rest of the expo, where I also bought another shirt. Then I took him back to the Newton booth and talked to him about the shoes and natural running etc, etc.

We had dinner that evening with some additional friends who live in the area and got to catch up on everything that had been going on in with each of our lives. It was a great time to sit and relax before the big day. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I checked all of my gear again to make sure it was all ready for the morning. We went to bed and as is mostly the case I didn't have much problem going to sleep. Although, I did wake up a few times anxious that the 4 alarms I had set wouldn't go off and I would over sleep. (I usually have this happen when I have a big event the next day.)

Four fifteen came fairly early and it was Race Day! I got ready and we headed out of the hotel where we met up with our friend Matt who would hang out with my wife while I ran. We drove to the train station where we boarded the train heading for downtown. It was about a half hour ride or so, and at almost every stop someone else got on the train who was headed to the race. I must say it's a very surreal experience to see so many like minded individuals who all spent so much time and effort training for one event gathering and making a trek to one destination.

Once we arrived downtown and walked toward Grant Park it was time to say my goodbye's to my wife who's been so supportive of this goal of mine. I finished my preparations, gave her a hug and kiss and told her I would see her at about mile 7 where she would meet me for the first time. I crossed inside the gated portion of the starting areas and began immediately looking for a port-o-potty, because I needed to go REALLY BAD. The lines were excruciatingly long everywhere I looked, and a little bit of panic started to set in. Then I noticed something very odd, that I'd heard about but never thought it would be so blatantly obvious. I saw many a runner near a single tree standing extremely close to the said tree. It dawned on me then what they were doing. Now, myself growing up in the country had done this thing many times but generally without an audience. But, hey I had to go and it was getting urgent. So, I went.

Then I headed over to the D corral where I found that my pace group was actually in the open corral. So I moved back a little bit and found the four hour group with their signs where I settled in for the wait. It was an amazing sight, every direction I looked was a sea of runners. As the start approached, the announcer began to introduce the elite athletes and there wasn't much of a reaction until Ryan Hall's name was announced, then the crowd had an obvious reaction to his introduction. I must admit I had goosebumps.

As the horn sounded the crowd began to surge forward and before I knew it I was crossing the starting line. I was on my journey to completing my first Marathon.

To Be Continued...