Yawn…I’m Not Bored Just A Bit Tired

California International Marathon 2007

California International Marathon 2007

As our year winds down, I feel like winding down a bit too. Being a father has been great and it has left me a bit tired. Being stripped down and outside my comfort zone is good for me. Late night, Dylan’s crying, we are all tired, sharing the same room to cook/eat/work and our true colors come out. Life outside the comfort zone.

What’s been really fun is watching Dylan start to show his personality. He is starting to laugh and make more noises (the good ones). Seeing him smile is a great way to start the day. Nicole has been nothing short of amazing with him. Patient and loving, always talking to him and letting him know what is going on, where we are going and what to expect.

Last weekend he finished his first marathon and qualified for Boston. Very impressive. I paced the 3:10 group at the California International Marathon and ran with him in my arms for the last 100 yards and still finished under 3:10. This was the 25th anniversary of the marathon and we had another year of perfect conditions. A minor wind picked up from about mile 7 to mile 20 but I had a large group of probably 30 to 40 runners so most were able to draft off the pack. This is one of my favorite marathons mainly because of the memories but I usually have a good group with me. Whereas at some other marathons, by the time I reach mile 16 or 17, I may have only two or three other runners trying to hang on to the pace. At the California International Marathon, the runners are usually able to stay with the pace group longer. Around mile 17, I caught up with Kevin Buchholz from Norcal Bikes and we talked for a few miles. He had started with the 3 hour group but decided to drop back. It was great to see him but then I lost him around mile 20. For the most part, the group held together pretty well and by the time we reached the bridge just before mile 22, I had a core group of probably about 8 runners determined to finish under 3:10. The marathon is really 20 miles of warming up and then 6.2 miles of hard work. You may run a great 20 mile race and then crash over the next 6.2 miles and suffer miserably both in your time and experience. Having something left in the tank after 20 miles is crucial for a strong finish and that is the whole philosphy of pacing. Sure you could run harder the first 20 miles and try to bank some time, but once you start slowing down or cramping, the seconds and minutes start clicking away pretty quick. So keeping the runners motivated, focused and on pace the last 6.2 miles is the most important part of pacing. It’s never how you start but how you finish. Everybody feels great the first few miles. Ask me at mile 22 and I’ll tell you how it really feels. Running a sub 3:10 marathon means each mile needs to be around 7:10 – 7:15. Comfortable and relaxed the first half, but 7:10 might not feel so easy after 22 miles. Having a strong will power and determination to keep moving when everything wants to stop is pretty important too. The last few miles of the marathon are always the best miles. Feeling the legs tightening, tasting the finish, gutting it out are all the things that make it memorable. Anyway, enough about that. So around 100 yards from the finish, Nicole passed me Dylan and he finished with me.

I’m running out of time. Much more to say. I’ll get to those things later. We took some Christmas pictures that weekend of Thanksgiving and Nicole is sending out our Christmas cards. Two weeks to Christmas and no tree. We have absolutely zero room for a tree in our apartment. Sad but I will have to take a picture so you believe me. In words I have my tri bike, running stroller, walking stroller, car seat, kitchen table, love seat, coffee table, reading chair, Dylan’s crib, armoire, plants and a TV squeezed into our 1 bedroom apartment and this doesn’t even include the furniture in the 1 bedroom. I think I’m an idiot for going in this direction. Definitely, this is outside my comfort zone. If I don’t spend time and think about it, I’m OK. But when I stop and look around, I find myself asking “What am I doing and putting my family through?” The whole thing is ironic, both sad and funny in a way.

Speaking of I’m an idiot. More proof. I missed signing up for Arizona Ironman that just opened! Slots were open Sunday. I wavered about the commitment of trying to qualify for Kona (commitment equals lots of hard runs and hard rides). Decided last night to commit and went this morning to register and it is full. I’m an idiot. I should have jumped at the opportunity when it was available. There are two ways to go to the Ironman Championship in Kona. One you can qualify by finishing in the top few slots of your age group of one of the Ironman races. For me, this means a full Ironman at probably 9 hours and 45 minutes or less. Not a walk in the park. The other way is through a lottery system. I want to qualify and this means racing at one of the Ironman races throughout the year. There are probably around 10 or so around the world and they fill up very fast, sometimes in a matter of hours. So you need to be quick on the sign ups. Enough said.

Here is video post of my latest hobby. I’ve given up on The Simpsons during late night exercises and instead see colored coded cubes. This is something Dylan and I can do together. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

posted with vodpod

Here are a few emails from some who ran with me. This is the real joy of running and helping others reach their goals:

Michael,

Thanks for being such a great pace setter on Sunday. I was the guy in a blue shirt who started to struggle in the last four miles. I wouldn’t have made it in under 3:10 without you pulling me along and now I’m going to Boston!

Sunday was my first marathon and having a pace group with a strong leader talking us through the entire race made a huge difference. I’m sure I would have gone out too hard and never have been able to finish strong without you keeping us on track. Your encouragement in the tough final miles was also huge.

Thanks again and good luck with whatever race is next for you.

-Steven Aronowitz

Michael,

What an experience, and I owe you a big Thanks!! I stayed with your group for the first 21 miles until I hit uncharted territory and forgot who I was for a few! I went from feeling really strong to a full on crash for about 3 miles. I fell back a little from the group, but snapped out of it for the last 2 and charged for the end. Thank god you were a little ahead of pace so I came in at 3:10.17 which was goal and qualified me for Boston! All your advice and expertise helped me accomplish this goal…Thank you!

This was my first marathon, but definitely will not be my last…I’m hooked!

Eric Schreiber

Michael-

I cannot thank you enough for helping getting me get to Boston!! My goal Sunday was not to run with a Pace Team, but run my own race at around 7:15-7:20/mi and stay behind the 3:10 pace guy. After 13mi of 7:09’s running ahead of the 3:10 pace guy, I began to slow a bit and your group caught me. It was the windy conditions around 13-14miles that made me decide to latch onto the group, though the I thought the pace was a bit brisk. I was pleasantly surprised how much energy was saved running in a group that was breaking the wind and pacing for you. You paced me over the next 12 miles. With 1 mile out, I tried to pick it up, but only made it a few blocks before I slowed severely (even walking) and you picked me up again. I think you said ‘just stay with us’. I then hung with you until about the 26mi mark before accelerating. I ran 3:08:22! I only needed 3:15. After a year of hard work and a poor result in Victoria (3:17), I’m finally going to Boston. I had a blast in Sacramento running with the 3:10-pace group flying through the crowds and other racers. Experience of a lifetime for me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Joe Olson
Calgary, Alberta
(white cap with orange shades on top, navy shorts)

Hi Michael,

We were not introduced on Sunday at CIM Marathon. You may have noticed an orange t-shirt that from mile 22 ran right behind you.. Just want send you a short thank you note for the great pace you set on Sunday. Without your help I would not have been able to qualify for Boston.

I was talking to a friend on Tuesday who said that you were a great pace setter, so I decided last minute to join the marathon without any prior training.. I was glad that I followed your advice and stayed with your group all the way. Your encouraging words and perfect pacing really helped me pull through!

Thank you for a great race. I will sure be back again next year for CIM. Now I’ve just booked my trip to Boston, and this time I will train!

Best
Erik

Michael,

This is Sina. I ran with your 3:10 pace group Sunday. I was the one wearing an orange SFRRC singlet (139).

After I crossed the finish line, i saw you and told you that I didn’t qualify for Boston having finished with a 3:11:04. Well, at least that is what it said on the official timer. I almost forgot about my chip time. Sure enough, it took us (or at least me) 17 seconds to cross the starting line. My chip time was 3:10:46. I did it!

I wanted to thank you for being helping me get to Boston. I was amazed at just how accurate your pacing was. Keep up the good work and I hope you enjoy Fatherhood!

Cheers,

Sina Aboutalebi

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