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.

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