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JASR: Part 1

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yes, Part 1. Too much stuff to pack into one blog.

Wow, where to start!

Arrive at the hotel in Cranberry Township (just north of Pittsburgh) around 2:30 and find my dear friend Laurie5658 awaiting my arrival. emoticon We’ve not seen each other since the convention in Cincy, but it feels like we’ve been friends forever. As we sit and chat more and more Sparks arrive (too many to list), but then it’s time to head to Olive Garden for a meal together. After a L O N G wait we’re all seated; about 30 of us. The restaurant was more than accommodating to our group and a big round of applause should be given to them. emoticon Upon arrival back at the hotel it was lights out for most, but I wanted to watch the NCAA game. Game ends at 12:15 AM and now I’m too keyed up to sleep and the alarm is going off in 5 hours. Such is the night before a big event. emoticon

Saturday - Race:
Awake, shower, dress and eat breakfast; all before 6:30. I was amazed that everyone was pretty much ready to roll to the race site by 6:40 and that’s a good thing because parking is at a premium. With some pull BobbyD31 get’s a primo spot (heated, indoor) meeting area for us to all get the pre-race shake down and photo ops. With race time looming everyone starts to make their way to the starting line, but my start is in a different location. I wish them well and send them on their way to hang out by myself. Another runner notices my beautiful Spark star (Thanks gals!) pinned to my back and asks if I’m with Sparkpeople. I tell her I am; as is she. She didn’t have time to meet with us in the barn and won’t be joining us later due to her 21st birthday at midnight. emoticon

The gun sounds and off we go! The 30K group gets a nice grade to start running up and over rather than the flat streets everyone else has started on. After that, you face the dreaded hill everyone talks about. emoticon I was under doctor’s orders to walk this incline to spare any flare up of the tendonitis in my foot/ankle. Mission accomplished. Back to the end of the 5K course, but now I’m faced with THREE! trips around a FIVE! mile lake. emoticon BTW, lake is drained and is nothing but mud; nothing to look at. First lap goes by fairly well; little bits of walking some of the bigger ‘grades,’ but mostly making good time. It should be mentioned that there is a 4-hour window for this race. No biggie on flat land, but this terrain would prove more challenging. After the first loop I’m feeling good and have gained almost 10 or so minutes on my “virtual partner” on my Garmin. emoticon Having all the Sparks there cheering me on helps make anything more tolerable. I keep taking in honey or Gu and drinking at each aid stop, but the cups are inconsistent. One station barely had an ounce of water in the cup, the next almost full. The Gatorade was overtly syrupy and almost sickly sweet, but needed for some additional calories. Second lap comes and the crowd of Sparks has dwindled some, but I can hardly blame them it’s still below 32* at 10 AM. emoticon Second lap goes off pretty normal; little more walking because ankle was a little sore. Third lap our band of Sparks is down to just a few who promised they’d stay until everyone finished. emoticon This is where the race starts to turn down for me. I start walking more not quite realizing why, but later it would be apparent; dehydration is setting in. Right past the finish line I reach an aide table and the teens are texting and carrying on with one another; no fluids at this stop. emoticon I walk the next hill and a Spark runs up behind me to give some encouraging words and to keep moving. I’m walking even slight grades and this point and not concerning myself about it. Next aide station arrives and a few kids still remember that they’re there for a purpose. I thank them for the drinks and walk while I drink as not to spill a single drop. I try to break into a trot and my calves want to start cramping and my heart rate jumps, back to walking. I make it to the next aide station using walk/run to find everyone cleaning up and packing things away. emoticon They tell me to wait a minute (hindsight I should have), but instead I yell “You’ve got to be ‘an explanative’ kidding me” and trot off. emoticon Near mile 16 I see a sight much like a mirage; another Spark (Jan_Frandsen) walking towards me. emoticon I almost well up with tears when he tells me that he has a water bottle in his backpack. I guzzle it down and we do some run/walk for a bit when he runs ahead to the next aide station to refill the bottle for me. emoticon Shortly after this, around mile 17, a small group of Sparks (they know who they are) came back out to join me on the way in. They’re encouragement and knowing there was just over a mile to go kept me soldiering on. By now my stomach is wanting to ingest itself due to hunger. The thought of another Gu almost makes me vomit, but there’d be nothing to come up. I know that with a mile to go I can grab something off the table after the finish line. We continue the run/walk until I can see the corner and the finish line. I muster up everything that I’ve got left, heart rate be d@mned, and take off for the finish line. I cross the line with arms raised like “Rocky” feeling like I’ve just gone 10 rounds with him. . I’m starving, cold, exhausted, but most importantly proud that I continued to push through. Training for a marathon is a very different animal than the half. Pushing out to 16+ miles is showing me that I NEED something solid to eat along the way and I’ll start practicing with things this weekend. I forgot to stop my Garmin at the end and it recorded some craziness, but time was around 3:41. I’ll never know officially because when the results came out my timing chip didn’t work or something. emoticon

This had grown long and I’ll save the rest for another day.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    WOW! Super impressive... and nice pic!
    3657 days ago
  • BLOOM49
    That's a great accomplishment and a good learning experience. Congratulations!
    3681 days ago
    Wow that is soooo awesome! emoticon
    3682 days ago
  • CAROLJ35
    emoticon emoticon emoticon on your determination and accomplishment!!!
    3683 days ago
    emoticon You did it!!! That's all that matters. emoticon
    3683 days ago
    Wow you are amazing, well done
    3683 days ago
    emoticon Bill, for finishing what you started, never giving up. I pray the lessons you learned will work well for you in future training.
    3683 days ago
  • CSERF09
    How inspiring! Congratulations on the finish!

    Can't wait for part 2. emoticon
    3683 days ago
  • JUNEBUG1944
    How great! Congratulations on doing the race and finishing!
    3683 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    That is great. I know u will get to ur goal.
    3683 days ago
    Amazing run and blog! And what a great photo finish too. Be proud!!!!
    3683 days ago
    Woo Hoo! I'm so PROUD of you! And I was quite honored to run with you for awhile on the first 5 mile lap around the lake. Or was it the second? I don't remember that but what I do remember is running IN with you! It was such an honor to be at your side!

    I KNOW how hard marathon training was for me. I remember crying after a few long runs. But I know how I felt when I finished and crossed the 26.2 mile line!! AND I KNOW, you are going to feel it too! I can't wait to hear all about your full.

    I had a great weekend and you are a FANTASTIC person! I'm so happy I got to spend some time with you!

    (Oh, and there is a possibility I may be up in Dayton in September....)
    3684 days ago
  • TIGGER622
    Bill, you are one PHENOMENAL dude!!!! You had such an awesome run, we are so so proud of you!!!! HUGS! Cant wait for part 2!
    3685 days ago
    You rocked it! I love that finish photo!! GREAT JOB!
    3685 days ago
    emoticon emoticon The finish line photo is the best!! And it will only get better from here!!
    3685 days ago
    You are truly amazing Bill! Way to go!
    3686 days ago
    You kept going and you finished it!! For that alone you rock!! After my experience at my half I will never rely on "aid" stations again. Glad you got this experience and are putting to use what you learned :). Hope you are having a great weekend :).
    3686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1332392
    Wow, what an amazing experience! CONGRATS!

    3687 days ago
    Amazing!! Congratulations to you on your race finish
    3688 days ago
    Way to go, buddy! That's awesome! Sorry about the bonking though, that sucks. I never trust aid stations! LOL I know it weighs me down but I don't feel right unless I have my Camelbak on!

    LOVE the picture! I need to do that for my big race this year! The picture of me at my first HM was of me, exhausted, turning my Garmin off as I was shot. I just didn't care! Ha ha ha
    3689 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4363972
    Bill, you are absolutely amazing! We saw you three times during your 30K and you looked upbeat each time we saw you. Then at the restaurant you are downplaying your own accomplishment and congratulating everyone else. I am so happy I can call you a friend.
    3690 days ago
    You are amazing! Congrats on finsihing!
    3690 days ago
    Love the pic. I know at least 4 Sparkers, myself included, who were signed up for the 30K. You were the only one to run it.

    Kudos dude! emoticon
    3690 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing Bill !! When I heard Jan had come to meet you & bring you in I was even more sick than I was already that I had to hobble off w/ my bum injuries once I finished !! I am the type to stay till everyone finishes & had every intention of doing so. Reliving this with you through your blog brings tears and a HUGE heart full of pride in you!!!! I know you realize what you accomplished. I'm just glad you wrote this & helped the rest of us realize the same!!!!!

    YOU, my new friend, are my HERO!!!!! Rock on.....

    Spark HUG!!! ~Deej
    3690 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5123123
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    What an inspiration you are! Love the finish line photo!
    3690 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1286196
    It was so great to meet you this weekend! Thanks to you & Laurie for keeping me laughing the whole time. I'm so happy to consider you a friend.

    Bill, it was so inspirational to watch you finish that race strong & with your arms raised high (love the photo, by the way!), especially after hearing about how difficult the last loop was for you. You should be so proud of your accomplishments! I'm looking forward to following the rest of your marathon training & virtually cheering you across the finish line in May!

    The Unshy One
    3690 days ago
    What an experience for you...! Thx for sharing the experience so well!

    Wish I could have been there.

    3690 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5522744
    Bill I'm really proud of you. I know you could do it and it will only get easier!! emoticon You should be so proud great picture by the way!!
    3690 days ago
    3691 days ago
    From the Runner's High website:
    2498 355 36 Bill Alexander, 40, Marion, OH 3:48:54 3:48:10 12:16

    So, you're official!!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    You know how much I love you, you Big Lug, you:D
    3691 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5915724
    Great job, Bill! Doesn't sound like a very pleasant day, but you hung in there and got it done. With all you learned, I'm sure your marathon will go great!
    3691 days ago
    Bill, it was great to meet you! You did awesome and should be very proud of your accomplishments. I look forward to getting to know you a little better through though FB and Spark! Good luck on your marathon training!


    3691 days ago
  • no profile photo THEMRSH
    emoticon Bill, just emoticon . Totally love your finish line picture!
    3691 days ago
    Woo Hoo and you are such an inspiration to everyone and just a Fantastic person. I feel blessed to know you! emoticon . Looking forward to more Spark moments with you and the JASR family. emoticon
    3691 days ago
    Well first congratulations on pushing through. You are gonna do this whole marathon this...isn't it just amazing to think about it.

    Secondly, sounds like JASR needs some work for a better race. People can serious get hurt without proper fluids. It is great that those kids were out there...kudos to them but they need to know that the texting isn't appropriate. Obviously a responsible party should be placed at each aid station to monitor what is happening. Ok enough of my rant. Glad Jan was there for you!
    3691 days ago
  • LAURIE5658
    Wild Bill, you will never know how you inspire me with your true grit (yes, I stole that from The Duke). It was just so wonderful to pick up where we left off at Cincy '09 and it did feel like we have been buddies like for flippin ever. This is going to be a monumental year for you and it is my pleasure to share the ride with you and be one of your many cheerleaders. Ok, so we will never agree on our Big Ten (orwhatevertheheckitisnow) team but we can agree that we will find humor and sarcasm with everything in life.

    You rock my Spark life!!
    The Shy One
    3691 days ago
    You are so awesome! Great photo too. :-)
    3691 days ago
    Bill...you are amazing! Congratulations on such a big accomplishment...you rock! So,so sorry I didn't wait. Still regretting that one but my foot was throbbing AND froze. Not quite the pain and discomfort you were going through tho. You are the best. Can't wait to see you again.
    3691 days ago
  • BAM0827
    I am still in awe of your race! You are someone we could all learn from!
    3691 days ago
    Way to go, Bill - you are a TRUE champion and have definitely EARNED your "belt"!!! Rocky's got nothin' on you, my friend!

    Way to go!!!
    3691 days ago
  • BOBBYD31
    i am so damn proud of you and your accomplishments, you are amazing. keep safe and healthy on your training. hopefully it is not another year till we see each other again. your time is up just not under splits for the 30k.
    3691 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/29/2011 8:10:21 PM
    Great job Bill. Actually if the picture is accurate then you've got your time right there, recorded perfectly!
    3691 days ago
    Way to persevere! Your time is in the results. They have you at 3:48:10.
    Seems wrong for them to have a time so much higher than the time on the clock as you finished. Your time should be lower.
    3691 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/29/2011 9:10:21 PM
    Way to go! Sounds painful, but what an amazing accomplishment!
    3691 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2801676
    Hey Bill. Congrats on your accomplishment this weekend. Schweet victory.
    3691 days ago
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