Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Thunder Road Half-Marathon

November 15, 2014 7:45 AM
Charlotte, North Carolina

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Michael 1:38:26 7:31 M1-24 24/90 131/1,154 156/2,741 4097

Written by Michael:

I started training 12 weeks before the race. It was the first time in a long time that I was training for something so I was looking forward to that. The weekend of the race my Uncle Zach, my Aunt Lu, and my cousins Nathan and Lucas, all came to watch me run.

My grandpa and grandma also cheered me on along the course, along with the rest of my family and my "second mom" Ms. Lynne. When we are walking to the starting line it's REALLY cold. Luckily I came prepared with gloves, a blanket, a beanie, etc.

So I line up and as soon as they start I make a big mistake. I immediately throw away all my throw away clothes. So I'm running and a few minutes after I start I make a turn and I see a huge cheering squad waiting for me and I hear, "GO MICHAEL! GO MICHAEL!" It was probably the best one yet.  

So I'm running pretty fast for about 6 miles and I realize I can't do this forever. My goal at the time was to beat 1:30. I followed that pace for about 7 miles and I slowly slowed down. The 1:30 pace group passed me at about 9-10 mile marker. I knew that that was out of the question because my knees and my ankle were killing me. I was hurting pretty bad until I turned a corner and my cheering squad was waiting for me. My cousins and siblings had gathered leaves and used them as confetti and it was awesome! It was a great inspiration to keep going. I pushed through the pain and finished the race in 1:38:26. Everyone was waiting for me at the finish line and it felt so good to finish the race.

This part written by Owen:

In between when we saw Michael at mile 1, and again when we saw him at mile 10, we met Zach, Lu, Nathan and Lucas for breakfast.

After breakfast we knew we only had 15 minutes or so until we saw Michael at mile 10, so we paid our bill and left.  Malissa and I were ready before Zach and his family so we waited outside for a minute.  When we went outside we saw Pluto (their dog) chained to a street sign.  It surprised me that he brought him, I though he'd leave him at our house so he could play with Graycie.  So I went over there and started petting him and rolling around on the grass with him.  Then Zach came out of the restaurant and said "You know that's not Pluto, right?"  I thought he was joking, but he was serious, it wasn't Pluto!  Inside the real owners thought I was just a serious dog lover (which I am).  It was a pretty funny/embarrassing moment. 

For comparison, here is Pluto:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 TCS New York City Marathon

November 2, 2014 9:40 AM
New York City, New York

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:47:34 8:41 M40-44 1,595/5,890 7,254/30,108 8,947/50,530 7446

Written by Owen:

Leading up to our trip:

I've been wanting to run in the NYC Marathon for a very long time.  Because NYC is such a popular marathon, there are FAR more people that want to run it than there is room on the streets.  So, they hold a lottery to determine who gets in the race.  I entered the lottery in 2012, 2013, and 2014, failing to get selected every time.  So I decided to join a charity team.  I selected Ryan Hall's Steps Foundation.   For a fundraising commitment of $3,000, plus the $255 entry fee into the race, you get a bib.

So I decided that all 2014 profits from Taz Running would go towards this goal.  Between Taz Running and the support of my friends and family, I met my $3,000 goal.  Thanks to all of my friends/family/customers that helped me!  My sweet 10 year old daughter, Alicia, even contributed some of her own money.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014:
We piled in the car and drove from Charlotte, NC to Stafford, VA, where my mom and step-dad live.  We spent the night at their house and had a good, very short, visit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014:
We got up and drove from Stafford, VA to NYC.   

Our first sighting of the NYC skyline.
When we first saw the statue of liberty (from the freeway), we all saw it, but for some reason Malissa did not.  The rest of us were all pointing and screaming, IT'S RIGHT THERE!  She must have been focusing in the wrong area or something because it took her forever to see it.  We all got a really good laugh at her expense.
Our first sighting of the statue of liberty.
Months prior to our tip, I had visited the website of the David Letterman show and requested tickets (they're free) to a taping.  Their hospitality staff was incredibly nice and helpful and arranged for some tickets for us.  Our first order of business after we checked in to the hotel (we stayed in a Holiday Inn Express near Wall St.) was to go pick up the Letterman tickets.  So I bought a 7-day pass for each of us for the subway system.  We had parked our car and hoped to never touch it again until it was time to leave.

We all got on the subway and made our way to the Ed Sullivan theater to pick up the tickets.  We got there a little early (we had to pick them up at a specific time), so we ate about a block away at a great pizza place.

NYC has some great pizza places, we ate pizza for three separate meals while we were there.
After the pizza, we got in the line to pick up our tickets.  One of the rules of the taping is that they don't want you to wear a hat.  Someone else in line heard that and asked if we wanted their souvenir NYC hats they had just bought (they still had the tags).  So the boys got some cool hats for free.

Picking up our Letterman tickets, the boys model their new hats.
After picking up the tickets, we only had enough time before the taping to take the kids back to the hotel (only those 18 & older can attend the tapings) and then hurry back.   So we got back on the subway, went back to the hotel, and set up my DVD player with a couple of movies for the kids.  Malissa and I got back on the subway to go back to the Ed Sullivan theater.  We couldn't believe that on our first night in NYC we were leaving the kids alone across town.  We just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see one of David Letterman's last shows.

Seeing the David Letterman Show in person was such a fun experience.  It was great.  The musical guest was a bunch of rappers that we did not like at all, so we were a little disappointed about that, but overall it was great.  They are very strict about phones/cameras, so no pictures.

We made it back to the hotel and picked up the kids. To our relief their evening was uneventful.  Their second movie had just ended when we arrived. We got back on the subway and made our way to Rockefeller Center for some late night ice skating.

On the subway

Near Radio City Music Hall
We looked around for a restaurant.  I wanted something local to NYC, but we couldn't resist Five Guys.  It was delicious as always.  Then Michael and Alicia skated while Malissa, Kyle, and I watched.  Kyle doesn't care for it, while Malissa and I were worried about getting injured with marathons upcoming.

The Zamboni gets the ice ready 

Alicia and Michael ice skating at Rockefeller Center

While Michael and Alicia skated, I walked around with Kyle.  The Lego store was closed, which would have probably been his favorite part of our trip.
After ice skating it was almost midnight.  We got on the subway to head back to the hotel.  The announcement came over the loud-speaker that there was some construction and.... (it was too loud for me to hear the rest of it).  By the time I figured out that we were on a detour, we were beyond where we needed to get off.  So we got off at the next stop, went above ground, and typed into Google maps on our phone the address of our hotel.  It said we needed to walk 0.7 miles to a different subway station.  So we did.  We were in a bad part of Chinatown, after midnight.  It was the only part of our trip where I didn't feel safe.  But we made it to the hotel after 1 AM.

Friday, October 31st, 2014:
We had the free breakfast at our hotel.  Then, the first thing on the agenda for Friday was the 9/11 Memorial.  Just typing those words bring tears to my eyes at this very moment.  It is such a powerful place, so many emotions poured through me as we toured it.

On September 11, 2000, Michael wasn't even three months old.  He spent that entire day in his swing in our living room in Utah while Malissa and I were glued to the TV watching the news.  So to see all the amazing exhibits with Malissa and all three of my kids, now 10, 11, and 13, was amazing.  Cameras are allowed, but I'm not going to post most of the pictures we took.  You simply MUST go see it for yourselves.

Construction continues

I loved this view, looking straight up at the Freedom Tower, which opened very recently.

Outside the Freedom Tower

One of the two reflection pools.

Pictures don't do this justice, such an amazing sight.

Inside the museum, a picture of the old skyline.
They have a really nice souvenir shop inside the museum.  Each of the kids picked out a nice souvenir.

Alicia models her hat she bought in the memorial's museum.
After the memorial, we ate at a really nice Greek Deli Bar.  I didn't take any pictures, but they had everything.  It was really good and a great atmosphere.  From there we went to the expo, on the way we saw the Empire State Building.  Our legs were pretty tired from all the walking at the 9/11 Memorial, so we voted and decided not to wait in the line to go to the top of it. Next time.

Empire State Building

Site of the NYC Marathon Expo

Meb/Kara on a billboard outside the expo.

When we got to the expo, we saw the line to get inside, it was double wrapped around the building.  It was moving fast, but it was crazy how long it was.

The line to pickup my bib, notice how the people on the right are coming toward me, they have to go that way before turning around to go back around the other way.

My bib!
After I picked up my bib, we left to go back to the hotel.  We didn't even do anything else at the expo, other than pickup my Asics mini marathoner statue, more about that later.

Nap time!
After my nap (I was exhausted), we headed out for some trick-or-treating.  We had done our research and found a wonderful neighborhood right next Central Park and very close to the marathon finish line.  While we waited for it to get dark, we walked to the finish line and watched the opening ceremonies.  Then we walked back to the neighborhood we had scoped out.  I've never seen anything like it.  The street shuts down and there is almost no room to even walk on that street with all the people trick-or-treating.  The kids had a blast.

Alicia, Michael, and Kyle

Our trick-or-treating neighborhood (before it got busy)

NYC Marathon finish line at the opening ceremony

NYC Marathon opening ceremony

After the trick-or-treating, we caught a glimpse of the opening ceremony fireworks above central park, that really got me excited for the marathon.

On our walk back to the subway, we found another local pizza place.  This place was CRAZY busy, so it wasn't the best experience, but the pizza was good.

Kyle couldn't figure out how to eat his pizza "in character"

Another late night, Kyle was so tired he slept in his costume.

Saturday, November 1st, 2014:
Early Saturday morning I got up and did my 2-mile shakeout run.  Michael went with me.  We ran a mile up the Hudson River, then back.  It was raining, but not too bad.  We had breakfast again at our hotel.

At lunch time, Michael and I had a lunch appointment with Ryan and Sara Hall.  Their favorite pizza place is right next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater.  So he and I headed out for that.

Meanwhile, Malissa and the kids walked around our hotel, bought some souvenirs, had lunch at Chipotle, and saw some cool landmarks.  One of which was "The Sphere" it was artwork displayed at the World Trade Center.  It was damaged in the attacks, then later moved to a nearby park.  Learn more about it here.

Alicia and Kyle stand next to "The Sphere".

The Statue of Liberty (from afar)

The Wall Street Bull
When Michael and I went to the subway station we had used several times, it was closed.  I panicked, as I did not want to be late in meeting Ryan and Sara Hall.  So we grabbed a taxi and had him take us straight there.  It was a neat experience, Michael had never used a cab.  Turns out, that entrance to the subway was closed, not the entire station.  Cost us $25 but was cool.

Because we took a cab, we actually got to the pizza place early.  So Michael and I were there before anyone else.  Ryan and Sara showed up next.  Ryan sat right next to me, and Sara sat across from me.  They are such great people.   Sara Hall is a professional runner, with expertise in middle distances. Ryan Hall is the American record holder in the marathon running a sub 2:05 in Boston! To put that in perspective, run 1/4 mile (once around a standard track) in 1 minute and 11 seconds (I can barely do that, if I go all out).  Now repeat that, without resting, 104 more times and don't ever slow down.

Other members of the fundraising team showed up and we ordered pizza.  In all, there were about 10 of us.  Ryan and Sara talked to Michael and I for an hour and a half, I was in heaven.  A couple of times people came over and interrupted our conversation asking for an autograph or a picture.  I kept pinching myself asking if this was real.  Ryan asked about my training, he gave advice, it was great.  They were both really impressed with Michael's running achievements.

Michael, me, Ryan, Sara.  Later they autographed this picture and it hangs on my wall.

The entire Steps Foundation team.

Alicia and Kyle at the Stock Exchange.
Michael and I took the subway back to the hotel.  I crashed for another nap, worried about how rested I would be in 14 hours for my marathon.

That night we headed back to Times Square for some more sightseeing.

The NYPD Times Square station

We had a delicious meal at Bubba Gump's

As a promotion, Asics, months earlier had advertised that you could submit your photos and they would make a mini-marathoner statue that is you.  It was kind of like a bobble-head, but a figurine.  I did that, then had picked it up at the expo.  They also said that if you go to Times Square, to text this certain number and your bobble head would display on the big screen in the middle of Times Square.  We did that, never saw the figurine (it's OK, it looked nothing like me anyway), but Malissa and the kids were on the screen, we had a blast waiting for my stupid figurine to show up.

We visited M&M World, a three-story store devoted to nothing but M&M's and related collectibles.  We bought some unique M&M's in bulk, and called it a night.

M&M's World.
Sunday, November 2nd, 2014:
Marathon day had finally arrived!  I got up while everyone was still sleeping.  I had to walk a couple of blocks to the Staten Island Ferry, which would take me to a bus, which took me to the start.  When I was getting dressed, I realized the "throw-away" warm pants I had bought were WAY too small, I couldn't even get them past my hips.  The weather forecast was for very cold with lots of wind, and I had to wait at the start for almost 2 hours. I had to wear my nice jeans to the start, and throw them away just before the start.  In fact, we got an email that said the wind was so bad they were moving the wheelchair start to the other side of the bridge and shortening the race for them.  It was just too windy on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, it would have been too dangerous for the wheelchair athletes.

Waiting for the ferry

Waiting for the ferry

On the ferry, as we passed the Statue of Liberty.

On the bus
The security at each step of the way was unbelievable, like nothing I had ever seen.  My bag was sniffed by dogs at the ferry, I went through metal detectors after the bus, it was amazing.

After the bus, we had to walk a half-mile to the start village.

My seat at the start village

My throw-away sweater and free Dunkin' Donuts hoodie helped shield the wind/cold

The video above shows my brief appearance on ESPN at the start.  The race started, and I had never experienced wind that strong, ever.  I picked a white line to run on and watched as the wind pushed me off of it.  I would take a stride, and while I was in the air the wind would push me to the right a foot. I was still wearing the Dunkin' Donuts hoodie they handed out at the start, but I had my hat strapped to my belt for later.  The wind ripped it off and it flew 20 feet up and landed 100 yards away in the Hudson River.  It's hard to say exactly how strong the gusts were, but I've heard reports that they reached 50 mph.  After researching here, I believe it.

On the bridge just after the start

The bridge at the start

We started at the far end of this shot and ran toward the camera.

The start corrals before the bridge

Meanwhile, Malissa and the kids had a little more time to eat breakfast back at the hotel and make their way, via the Subway, to Central Park.

Kids playing in Central Park

Alicia at Central Park

Just before mile 26.
Malissa got to her spot near the finish in time to see the wheelchair athletes finish, along with the elite runners

The leaders of the men's division

Meb is too fast for our camera

The leaders of the women's division

Deena Kastor

Kara Goucher struggled near the end but finished her race.

Back to me running the race... The wind wasn't quite as bad once I got off the bridge, but it would still gust from time to time.  I made my way through the five boroughs of NY, just soaking up how much I loved this opportunity.  I took my gloves/beanie off/on all throughout the race as the sun would come out/go away.  I knew it wouldn't be my best time, since it was only 14 days since Atlantic City, and since I had been on my feet for days touring the city.    I crashed pretty hard once I entered Central Park, but still managed a 3:47 finish.

Alicia's shot of me near the finish.
The security after the finish was also unbelievable, we had to walk another half-mile to meet up with family. Because I opted for the "no-baggage" option, I was given a really nice poncho that helped me keep warm.

On the subway after the race.
We hopped back on the Subway, and went back to where our car was parked.  Malissa had already checked out of the hotel, so we got in the car and drove straight to my Mom's house in Stafford, VA.  We stopped once we got out of the city and ate at Burger King at a rest stop.

We arrived in Virginia in time for a wonderful dinner my mom prepared.  

Monday, November 3rd, 2014:
We drove home, and picked up Graycie from the kennel.  She was so excited to see us, but was VERY TIRED.  Apparently she had been playing hard with all the other dogs for five days and was ready for some rest.