Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Run2Philly and Run with Dean 5K Recap

Was I allowed to have doubts about this run?
Because ultimately I did.

It would have been relatively easy to bag it.
But when to pull the plug?

The night before? When I woke up and wondered how the hell I would do it?
As I opened the front door and looked out at 7 hours of running?

Nope. Had to do it.

See. I've been listening to this B.o.B. song every day, and the point is: Take the risk.
Seriously, listen to it until the end.

Like I told my wife, for it to happen, I just needed to get out the door.
Turns out it wasn't quite that easy.

I didn't get enough sleep. While I was in bed early, the kids were sitting on my legs playing Skunk in the Barnyard.
Try to sleep through that.

It became easier after waking around 1:15AM and lathering up with sunblock.
Out the door at about 1:38AM, then half a mile into the run, I realized I forgot my reflective vest.
That's like Superman forgetting his cape.

Quickly ran back home. I did turn into the wrong entrance to our neighborhood. Not a good sign.

Need to find your reflective vest in a pinch? Easy!
Walk in the door wearing your headlamp and it will light up like a firefly. It was on our drying rack.
Back to the run!

I was outfitted to resemble a UFO. Speaking of fireflies, I wore a red RoadID firefly flashing LED light on both the front and back of the CamelBak.
Headlamp on head. Flashing headlamp in hand.

Reflective slap bracelet on my right wrist, a reflective pouch on my left wrist.
Finally, my old reflective RoadID ankle strap on my right leg.
Add all that to the bright green reflective vest. I was visible.

Note, I did forget the Pepper Spray, I later realized about 2 miles in. It was not a priority.

Mile 3 as I headed towards the Downingtown Borough, my brain decided it wanted to dream up every scary movie monster or bad guy I'd ever seen and assume it was hiding in the forest to my left.
It took me a few minutes to recover from that.

Into Downingtown about 15 minutes behind schedule, I texted Bob and he confirmed that he was sitting at the Wawa down Rt. 30 about 1.5 miles away.
It was so nice running through Downingtown, with sidewalk lamps and lit storefronts. We also have a gigantic American flag. It looks pretty flying at night.
The weather was STELLAR, mid-40's with a fair breeze, but with No Moon, artificial lighting was huge.

Met Bob and we began our eventual routine of Gatorade refill in my handheld bottle.
I'll say right away that the 32oz CamelBak water lasted the entire run and return trip home.
I rationed it and it worked out great!

Bob made this run possible.
WITHOUT him, I would have spent way too much time as a Wawa convenience store patron.
I would have needed to scout out the bathrooms, too.
AND carry extra fuel.

WITH Bob, I was able to just focus on the run.
He would drive up a mile or 2 and park, waiting for me.

As I approached, he'd take a break from the podcast blasting in his car and jump out, clapping and cheering for me as I ran by.
Or if I had to stop for a drink or some sugar, he'd have the door open so I could refill quickly.

This routine continued for seriously, 20 miles.
And THEN. Then Bob went to work.
I apologize to his employer for a presumably lackluster work effort that morning.

OK, back to Rt. 30 through Exton.
That was the most harrowing intersection in the nighttime. Rt. 30 and Rt. 100. Big intersection. Busy.
I walked across so that I could pay close attention to traffic.

Through and exiting Exton, the roads have about zero shoulder.
Exton was also the only time, mid-run, I had doubts about the run, thinking I might have better spent the day sleeping in and eating breakfast with the kids. I thought that as I ran past BounceU.
Oh well. Keep running.

Into Frasier.
Frasier was welcome, except for the initial hill, because it contained the next Wawa.
Stopped there for a potty break and to refill. Confirmed I was dehydrated. Honestly that was intentional.
Not recommended, but I couldn't stop for potty breaks too often.
All in all, I stopped at 4 Wawas for potty breaks, and I probably could have reduced that to 1 or 2.

Frasier was great.
On to Malvern.

What happened to Maddies? Guess it closed.
Malvern was a weird one. Lonely and quiet.
I think I ran 3 miles without seeing a car.
Except Bob!

Next up, Paoli!
And another Wawa.
I discarded my Ink N Burn arm sleeves because it was getting to be a toasty 50 degrees.
Proactively put a blister pad on a hot spot under my right big toe.
Bob and I also tried to calculate mileage here. About 19 total miles.

Paoli was the only time I tripped during the run.
Approaching the Wawa, I crossed the street where the sidewalk disappeared in favor of a car lot.
Thanks to Matthews Ford for painting their curb black.

No big deal, filled up on gummy Valentine's hearts and more Gatorade.

On to forgettable Berwyn.
I don't even remember seeing a sign that said Berwyn.

At this point, my pace was good.
Though I was shooting for 10min/mile, I was feeling closer to 9:30min/mile.

I do need to find out how far ahead Bob was driving. I hope it was about 2 miles.
It was a happy moment catching up to him each time just to have him jump back into the car and speed by to the next stop.
And he only scared me once, when the parking lot was rather dark and I thought I had a complete stranger shouting at me.

Next up was Devon. Famous for horse shows!
I did not see a single horse.

Oh, but the sun was rising.
I left my headlamp on during twilight.

Sunrise also meant the beginnings of traffic.
Suddenly, the occasional lack of a sidewalk starting becoming an issue.
Cars during the morning rush are not very forgiving.

Mixed emotions as I entered Wayne (originally named Louella).
The sun was up. Good.
But that meant Bob was departing. Bad.
I bid him farewell and stuffed my face with more gummy hearts and Gatorade.

This was at exactly 6:15AM. Very good, just short of my expectation that I would have been just ahead in Radnor. Total distance was at about 24 miles.
I glanced at my pedometer. 39,000 steps. That was the last time I saw it!

Bob left me with one final note. He had driven ahead to Radnor and stashed a Gatorade bottle behind a tree, beyond the Radnor Hotel.
I looked forward to finding it.

There would be no more stops.
My CamelBak was still nearly full.
I had plenty of candy with me, though I wouldn't stop to eat anything else the rest of the trip.
The handheld bottle was filled with about 24 oz of Lemon/Lime Gatorade after consuming all of the purple Riptide Rush. It was so smooth.

After that stop, running became HARD.
I fired up my RunKeeper GPS app on the Droid.
It was killing me.
Pace had dropped to 12min/mile. Thanks!

Other runners started appearing on the sidewalk.

Radnor is big, by the way.
And dangerous.

As you near the big intersection with the Blue Route (Rt. 476) there are no more shoulders or sidewalks for a spell.
There is just a muddy path down a bank. Trotted along there and found the Gatorade!

Carried that baby all the way to Villanova.
Villanova had the only trashcan for miles.
Downed my handheld.  Filled it, then drank as much of the remaining Gatorade as I could stomach.

Still slow going, the clock was working against me.
The race time had been bumped up to 9AM and with miles chipping away every 12 minutes, I was justifiably worried about making it there on time.

Grabbed a few photos of Villanova as my brother will be matriculating there in the Fall.

Friendly cemetary. I bet that's fun at Halloween.

This whole time, I'm just trying to get to Ardmore, a landmark for me.
But first, Bryn Mawr.
Cool murals.

Then Haverford.
Haverford has this big, beautiful high school.

Past the marathon mark, I still had plenty of steam left. And my body felt OK.
Except my poor legs.
And back.
My legs were slightly cramped, mostly due to the extended rest back in Wayne to prepare for the solo portion of the trip.
My back was feeling the weight of the CamelBak. It was packed pretty full.

Mentally, I was waning.
Until this!

Ah, Brownies 23 East in Ardmore. Finally. Ardmore!
Note: I've never actually been to Brownies. And I never will.

Ardmore was big and kinda ugly.
But they had friendly statues.
Up next, Wynnewood, home of the most neglected sidewalks on Rt. 30!
Very pretty area. Mansions everywhere.

A few decades ago, they forgot they had sidewalks. 50% of the sidewalk surface was overgrown.
I made due.

Wynnewood also has Lankenau Medical Center.
And labor disputes!

At least one of those striking carpenters did not appreciate being photographed.
I picked up the pace a bit.

Then. Heaven!
Route 1!

Better known locally as City Ave!

Route 1/City Ave was initially not in the plan.
Bob recommended it during our final Wawa stop as a good way to avoid some shady neighborhoods.
At the expense of untold additional mileage...per the GPS, it added about 2 miles to the route.

Know what City Ave has?
St. Joseph's University.

Oh, and a punishing constant incline, damnit!

This point of the run was brutal.
Around 33 or 34 miles in. My legs did not need any hills.

I was in search of Belmont Ave which would lead me to the Please Touch Museum destination.
And I could not find it.

My GPS begged me to turn right at every major intersection.
But I could not. I was guaranteeing the safe route.

This was at about 8:15AM.
Traffic was dense. It was taking extra time to use crosswalks and wait for traffic lights in my favor.

Trudging along, afraid that maybe I had passed Belmont Ave, I started asking "locals' for directions.
But none of them were from the city! They were just as disoriented as I was!

Finally, one saint of a woman told me I had to run up 2 more blocks and there would be Belmont Ave.
And there it was!

So I began descending Belmont right at 8:30AM, officially the end of race registration.
But hope was in sight!

I've never been so happy to see a sign.
Except maybe a few minutes prior when I saw that Route 1 sign.

Anyway, I was in the home stretch. And arrived exactly 7 hours after officially starting.

Total mileage of that point-to-point trip was about 37 miles, but I have rounded it down to 36.2 miles for posterity.

Hit the 5K registration table, got my bib.
Walked to the steps of the Please Touch Museum and discarded all of my reflective gear, stuffing it into the CamelBakPack.

Then, Lone Ranger Nicole of the 20in24 found me so we headed up to the Starting Line.

Then Dean Karnazes made his first appearance!

Dean spoke to the crowd, telling us why he was running across America. And how tough but inspiring it has been.
Then, he had one key piece of advice for the kids in the crowd as the race was about to start: Do not pass him!

And we were off in the 5K!
Nicole was nice enough to run with me, in what was probably our slowest 5K ever.
But, it was just at Dean's pace so we got to hang outside of his circle of groupies/paparazzi.

It would have been cool to run and chat with Dean, but the crowd was shameless. It was kind of embarrassing.
The guy is superhuman. No doubt. But he's also a normal guy and, ugh, the crowd was just too clingy.

So yes, we forged ahead. Dean actually looped back a little bit early.
Shot approaching the Finish

The pink CamelBak and I had survived the trip and the 5K, putting us at 39.3 miles on the day.

Nicole and I purchased a few books after the race, but were disappointed to find ourselves without a signature as Dean took off quickly after the big group photos.
As we returning the books (sorry), I got to harrass Brittany, the author of the official Run Across America blog.

Though she didn't believe how far I had run to the race, she did give us a nice shout out and photo in her write-up.

That was Day 70 of Dean's trip. 70 days of running 40 to 50 miles per day.
Think about that. How the hell does his body handle that abuse? Amazing guy.

Then it was time to go. Said bye to Nicole. We'll be running in Philly again in 2 short months.

As a member, I took the opportunity to head inside the Please Touch Museum to get changed and fed.
Except. Ya know, they don't like you much when you roll up without any kids.
They especially don't like you if you're one of the runners that was just making noise outside the building for the past few hours.
Which meant I had to keep explaining to people that I was a paying customer. Chill out.

And then I chilled out.
Bought 2 soft pretzels and 2 milk shakes!

Walked back outside to the ghost town that remained post race. Including the cool bus.

They traveled the country with 2 of those buses.

Then, the final leg of the trip.
Walk into the city and catch the train.

While I thought the run through the dark was the most dangerous part of my day, Philly sometimes is not much better.
Like this biking lunatic as I was walking down Black Road.
He was screaming profanities at a tree.
Despite that, we did exchange pleasantries as he biked past. That is one tough uphill!

Then I went all tourist on the way to Suburban Station.

Caught the train at just about 12:15PM, back in Downingtown an hour later. Ticket cost $7.
My mother-in-law picked me up and drove me home.

My legs were pretty much trashed.
Cleaned up and picked up HoneyBunny from school, then went to my little brother's baseball game.

A very long day, running a marathon and a half.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there was plenty of good reason to not follow through with the idea.

But with this run under my belt, 100 miles in 24 hours this summer seems just a little bit more realistic.

Thanks to my wife and kids for letting me try it, to Bob for being my lifeline, to Nicole for making me feel welcome at the race, and to my mother-in-law for the very helpful ride back from the train station.

There's still 2 or 3 more big training runs on the schedule.
And then of course, find something bigger to tackle.

For now, it was great to meet the challenge and be part of something bigger.
Dean's Run Across America, completed just this morning!, to benefit Action for Healthy Kids.


ihaverun said...

Amazing! I can't believe you made such good time and took all those awesome pics too. You are one crazy cool runner.

I'm glad you didn't need the pepper spray. And will Bob be my friend? I can't think of anyone that would sacrifice sleep so I could run and then cheer me on every few miles. Too cool.

And I think one of my favorite parts of this post is the label. If there was any doubt you like2run, this put it to rest.

Anne said...

You are amazing!!! I was really looking forward to this post...I was worried about you. But, you totally did it. WOW! Congratulations on the mother of all training runs :)

Anonymous said...

What a super fun re-cap! I alsmot killed my mom when I was lost on City Ave once. Like, as in, pulled a MAJOR Jersey driving stunt and almost had her t-boned. As for Brownies, I went once...it was fun actually. But I was 21. Everything was fun then!

Denise said...

INSANE! i can't believe you did that and wrote it like it was nothing. great training for 20in24 and sounds like a fun experience! rest up!

Lindsay said...

I often start psyching myself out before a morning run (5am, so still dark) thinking about movies like "27 Days" or "The Shining"... Yes always effective at causing me to wimp out haha.

Bob is a great friend!! I'm sure being your escort was way more exciting than being productive at work that day.

Candy-fuel huh? I like the way you operate.

I'm glad you waited to throw away the Gatorade bottle properly. I do the same... Can't fathom people who are so lazy they can't walk to a trash can!

This was quite the adventure. I am so glad you followed through on it!! One day I will do something cool and random like this...

Unknown said...

Candy hearts are the only way to go, they've gotten me through some very tough times(and runs)!
Great photos, I totally experienced an overly-clingy crowd when we ran with Dean, oops, that was me grabbing onto his leg but hey, he was SO nice and kind about it.
Congrats on your run, you are truly amazing!!!!