A favorite quote:

Make play a high priority in your life for if you die tomorrow no one can play for you, but someone can and will do your work for you!!!" Ken Beebe (Dr. Play)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Neil achieved a new goal today...

... and what a goal. I finished my first race!

Looking back over the things that have happened in our lives since Andrew was born is simply awe inspiring. Andrew is here and is the biggest joy in our lives, Traci and I have found fitness and have made it a lifestyle and are reaping the rewards for that everyday now. We have the RV and have enjoyed every minute on the road and are looking forward to many more miles. We have great friends and supportive families. What more could we ask for? We really do have it all, and now we are learning how to use all these gifts.

Traci and I have lost a combined 120lbs since Andrew was born and that has given us the greatest of motivations.

I ran my first race today. The Diakonos House 10K, down at Eau Claire. My gym friends came with me as my support team and Traci, Andrew, Mom and Dad were at the start and the finish as my biggest fans, cheering me on the whole way.

My Team of Danielle (our trainer at the gym), Kelly (she has the longest tenure in our 6am group), and Drew (the seasoned running vet) have been training at Phoenix Fitness together for well over a year now. We are really close as far as friends go. We don't hang out outside of the gym, but there is a special bond that is formed just by working out at 6am, 3 days a week, that can't be equalled in any other type of social situation. Pretentiousness isn't an option at that time of the day, for that long of a time. Back in January I asked my gym team of they wanted to run with me and they all said 'Yes'

Being it is the St. Patricks day run and we are a pretty outgoing group, I bought us all some pretty sweet green hats and Lei's, and even found some cool 'best friend award' ribbons to thank them before we headed out to the run! Everyone was cool about the costumes and we ended up being the hit of the race with our green garb! People we didn't know were coming up to us taking our picture, and apparently we will be on the Diakonos Race brochure and website in the future! cool stuff.

Traci and Andrew showed up right on time with Mom and Dad. Andrew had an absolute blast in Eau Claire with acres of mall to run around in, including an indoor playground. About 10 to 10 everyone started to file out to the start and get this run going! How cool. There were about 450 people in the 2 races (5k and 10K) so it was a bit of a squinch (I'm sure that's normal) at first. Traci had made up really cool signs for her and Andrew cheering me on and were ready with the camera as we took off!

We kind of shuffled our way out onto the course,

it was very busy for the first couple of km, but it soon spread out enough to keep the team together 2X2. I ran with Drew up front for the first while, with the girls in the back (obviously taking advantage of the 2 x 6'2" drafts ahead of them) and we just enjoyed the morning and each other for the first few km. I had devised my race strategy of 10min of running and 1min of walking, repeated 4 times, then running hard to the finish for the remaining time. Well when the 10 minute mark came up, I started feeling self conscious as we had passed some people and if we walk we would just have to pass them again. (10 and 1's are how my running training is taught) HOWEVER, I decided to keep running, but LOTS of people were obviously using the same strategy and slowed to a walk, so I changed my mind AGAIN. and we walked. I heard at least 3 yeeshes from my team and at least few more from the runners around us i am sure. hehe.

Well we got running again. The path narrowed up a bit so we were single file as the run club people were running against us and there wasn't enough room for 2x2. There was quite a bit of ice on the path here, so our pace was slowed a bit as Danielle was afraid due to a fall on her rumph a few weeks earlier. I am pleased to announce there were no rumph bumps on this run!

I do have to acknowledge the volunteers at this time. They were great. They spread out all the way down and back on the course in a really cold day but were so excited and cheerful the entire way! Great job volunteers! Thank You!

We were at about the 4k mark when the fastest runners came flying back toward us, so that would put them at the 6k mark already. Man were they moving! Today a girl won the overall race in 32minutes! WOW! that is FLYING!

I ended up kind of stuck beside a lady running toward the turnaround point who just really wanted to talk to someone. I was kind of trying to move back with my team and I would slow down, she would slow down. I would speed up, she, well you know. Anyway, she was nice enough, and I found out she was running because of her separation and divorce, so, maybe she was trying to meet a nice guy in this run?? good thing I am not nice... hehe. Oh and happily married! We got to the turn around and zoom, she was gone. Turns out I think she was trying to make me feel better by running with me slowly (according to her) hehe.

People were quite open to talk to us and cheer us on before, during and after the race. I guess wearing all the goofy stuff sort of opens you up to all kinds of conversations and such with total strangers. It's a little awkward. but oh well. Fun is the key word for the day.

After the turnaround Danielle and I went up front, I told her that she was leading and I would tell her if she was going too fast or slow according to our strategy. Well, *poof* she was gone. She passed about 7 people and was pretty much a speck in the distance. I tried to keep up, and noticed that we were running at a 4min/km pace when we should have been at a 6min/km pace. Well I finally got her to slow down so we could catch up, and she then tried to blame me. yeesh.

It was a pretty uneventful trip back, with a few complaints from Danielle regarding a number of little rollers she called hills. Kelly came up and ran with me for a while. She had one earphone in with her playlist of favorites from 1983 and 84 rocking out, so she was giddy happy and good fun.

We got to the 9km mark and started to pick up the pace. My gps says we had increased our pace to about 5min/km for most of the last bit, but when we came up the the final corner to the finish Danielle says "sprint". I say "what?" she says "sprint now". I say "what". she says "sprint now". So... I sprint (she is my trainer afterall). I don't really remember the next 30 seconds and all the feeling went out of the lower half of my body, but I do remember hearing "beat me to the line or you do burpees all morning at the gym tomorrow". Alrightythen. When I woke up the next day in the hospital... just kidding, no hospital required, but it was touch and go for a bit haha. We did actually cross the finish line at EXACTLY the same time.

Winningtime.ca confirms this down to the 10th of a second. ( I looked at the entire finishing list and we are the only ones to tie). The gps had us averaging 12km/hr speed for the race. Danielle and I topped out at 25km/hr at the finish! I could never imagined this fat bastard running a 10km race then finishing with a kick of 25km/hr RUNNING! maybe in my truck, but RUNNING? woooweeee.

It took me about 5 seconds to compose myself to see Andrew running over for a squeezie! what a freaking rush!

Traci, my Mom, and my Dad (I heard later) all had tears for me! I felt great. It is strange for me as I have completed longer runs, but not in a competitive and organized race like this and I LOVED it. Kudos to the race organizers for putting on a first class event! It took about a minute and I wanted to go again! how weird! me a runner! woooo.

Thanks belong firstly to Traci for her love and devotion and for putting up with my commitment to training, as it keeps me away from home, sometimes at pretty inopportune times (she now wants to run a race, told ya so hehe!). To Andrew for being so freaking cute! To my parents for their support and pride in me! To Danielle, Kelly and Drew (And Kathy, our other gym mate) for the freakish hell they put me through 3 times a week at 6am. To Phoenix Fitness for giving us a place to train at a reasonable rate. To the RunningRoom group for their fabulous running training and equipment (I am looking for sponsorship now, *wink-wink*), and to Jenny Craig for giving me the tools to lose the weight so my joints weren't crushed under all the road pounding.

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