Mount Desert Island Marathon, Bar Harbor, Maine
Marine Corp Marathon, Washington, DC
October has to be the biggest month for marathon events. There is literally at least one somewhere each Saturday and Sunday every year. October 2012 would become my marathon month gradually over a period of several months.
First, I registered for the Bar Harbor Marathon (10-14-12) in October of 2011 when it was suggested as a destination by one of my running friends. Then, a National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) committee meeting was rescheduled in June of 2012. The new date landed on the Friday before the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C (10-28-12). So, naturally, I had to find a spot in the marathon.
In August, my oldest son Zach’s work schedule was such that he would be available to attend the Packers vs. Colts game in Indianapolis on the first weekend of October (10-7-12). We had been to Lambeau Field many times over the years and talked about going to see the Packers on the road somewhere. I had to get tickets for the game as this would be the closest Packer road game of the season(other than Detroit obviously but we had been there some years earlier).
Tired of hassling with the price of propane, I decided to have an electric geothermal heating/cooling system installed in our house and as luck would have it, the only time available for installation was the last week of October. Well, I did have one weekend open (10-20&21-12) to get ready.
Each weekend was now filled and my regular work schedule was busy as well. Sometime in September, my motto became: “Just get through October!” So, one day at a time that is exactly what I did.
October 1, 2012
This was an easy start. A regular day at work followed by an hour in the weight room at home.
October 2, 2012
As the 2012 Chairman of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, I had breakfast with Chamber CEO Doug Luciani to prepare for the upcoming board meeting.
After breakfast, I went out to the Leelanau County Governmental Center to represent the TC Chamber before the Leelanau County Board. They were discussing the development of an economic development plan for the county and I was there to answer questions about the success of the chamber’s strategic plan. The motion to move forward passed and back to work I went.
When the workday was over, I got in a tough 7 miles of speed work on the treadmill in the Cherryland Electric Cooperative (CEC) fitness room.
October 3, 2012
This was another good day in the office at CEC followed by almost an hour in the weight room.
October 4, 2012
One of my favorite monthly meetings is a CEO roundtable held at 7:10 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month. This is a chamber of commerce program that involves several business leaders who sit around a table and confidentially discuss various work issues. It is always a great 80 minutes of discussion, insight and helpful input.
I then rushed back to the office to drive the CEC van to Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (WPSC). In an ongoing effort to improve relations between our cooperative and the local municipal utility, Traverse City Light and Power, the two boards had agreed to send a few members to Cadillac, Michigan to learn about transmission and power supply issues in northern Michigan from WPSC CEO Eric Baker and his staff.
This was a “first time in our history” type of meeting. CEC board members, Tom Van Pelt, Betty Maciejewski and Rick Deneweth were joined by Pat McGuire, Bob Spence and John Snodgrass from TCLP. The discussion was very good and everyone returned home with the feeling that it was 4 hours well spent.
Back at the office, the final hour of the day contained an employee wellness event. There were various wellness related activities and a few vendors in the basement meeting area. I got my annual flu shot and chatted with a few vendors.
It was a beautiful 70-degree day outside when I got home. I met up with friend and running partner Dean Bott for a 10 mile run at marathon pace. Both Dean and I would be running the marathon in Maine in just 10 days.
October 5, 2012
This was a rare but welcomed “lunch at my desk” and “in the office all day” workday.
After work was a little bittersweet as I picked up my little brother Ricky for the last time. Ricky and I were paired up in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program 4 years earlier. Ricky’s mom now had a stable relationship and Ricky was calling the boyfriend his “dad”. With this solid male role model in his life, it had simply become time for me to start working with another little boy. We played a few games at my house and talked about remaining friends in the future.
October 6, 2012
On a day full of great fall color, I went for an 8-mile run with Dean and another running partner, Jim Carpenter. Later that morning, I got in the car, picked up Zach in Cadillac and headed to Indianapolis, Indiana.
On the way down, I received an email from work about a potential dam breach on the Boardman River. CEC had members living along this little river and when the first reports were coming in we still had power to everyone. Our initial response was to put people in position to shut off the power to the river area in case we lost poles. We didn’t want energized lines in the water!
Due to the wonders of technology, I was able to get a local radio station on my Iphone as we traveled south. Reports indicated that there was indeed a breach of the dam on Brown Bridge Pond that was under deconstruction. A temporary dewatering facility had collapsed and released virtually all the water in the pond in a matter of hours. Homes were flooded but no lives were lost and we had no problems keeping the lights on.
We arrived in Indianapolis before dark. Indy has one of the better downtown areas for a large city. We took a walk from our hotel past Lucas Oil Stadium and then to a local pub for dinner. There were Packer fans everywhere. Repeatedly, we had seen this over the years while watching Packer road games. To witness it for real was a special treat.
After dinner, we headed over to the Westin Hotel. The Colts spend each night before home games at the Westin. We were there to pickup our tickets from Colts employee Jeff Brown. A few years earlier, Jeff had played baseball for the Traverse City Beach Bums an independent minor league team. While in Traverse City, Jeff met and later married Leah Olson, former supervisor of the call center at CEC. While he was happy to sell us the tickets, he had one request: we couldn’t wear ANY Packer clothing.
October 7, 2012
I got up early for my Sunday morning long run. Since the marathon was only a week away, the distance was 8 miles. I enjoyed a nice sunrise while running around the stadium, the Indianapolis zoo and the canal area.
We had a late breakfast with Leah Olson Brown. It was good to catch up. Since leaving CEC for the “big city”, she had been climbing the corporate ladder at Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL). I wasn’t surprised. Good people who work hard make their own “breaks”. Both she and Jeff fit that mold.
Lucas Oil Stadium looks like an old industrial factory on the outside. Seamlessly, it fits into the downtown area very well. Inside, it is a very nice NFL facility. The Packers came out on fire and built a large lead. Packer fans literally took over the stadium. I looked over at Zach and commented about how nice it would be to enjoy a game with a large lead. A lady in full Colts regalia next to us actually apologized to us for the score when she learned how far we had traveled. Then, it all changed.
Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne simply could not be stopped. The Colts came roaring back in a very exciting second half. Gradually, the Colts fans took over their home stadium. The Packers blew an 18 point advantage for the first time in almost 50 years while losing the game in the final minutes.
Some might say the fans brought the team back. I was there. It didn’t happen that way. The players who were fighting for their head coach who was in the hospital battling cancer clawed their way back and the fans simply came along. While disappointing to a Packer fan, it was fun to witness the growth of number one draft pick Andrew Luck.
We hit the road north to home immediately after the game. I slid into the covers of my own bed just before midnight. It felt good. The Bar Harbor trip was looming later in the week ahead.
October 8, 2012
I did my best to avoid talking about the game too much at work in order to get as much done as possible.
Before dinner that evening, I enjoyed a nice 5 mile run.
October 9, 2012
The first 2 hours of the day found me in Traverse City chairing the monthly board meeting for the chamber of commerce. Then, it was back to the office until noon.
I went home for lunch, ate, packed my suitcase for one night and headed to Lansing, Michigan. I was also chairman of the board for the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association. We had an executive committee meeting to discuss repairs to our aging office building and also compensation for our executive director.
October 10, 2012
The early morning found me looking for a quick workout at the Lansing Radison. It was a larger hotel but much to my disappointment it had one of the smallest fitness centers ever. Three treadmills were full so I got on the elliptical machine. After 1 mile, a treadmill opened up and I almost jumped off the elliptical to get to the open machine. I did get a few stares but shrugged them off. I just “needed” 3 miles.
The quarterly meeting of the MECA board of directors was held in the office space of the association’s attorney across from the Michigan Capitol. We went over our budget, finances, safety program, energy conservation efforts, an election update and a discussion with Governor Snyder’s Senior Energy Policy Advisor Valerie Brader. I arrived back at home (3 hours to the north) around 6 p.m.
October 11, 2012
Shortly after 7 a.m., Dean, Christina and Timothy Bott arrived in a rental van. Mary and I loaded up our gear and we headed east toward Bar Harbor. Dean and his family had made the trip east many times while their son attended West Point. Because of this, Christina simply refused to take the shorter Canadian route as it was deemed to be “boring”. Mary and I were happy to be sharing a ride so we let Dean do the navigation and resigned ourselves to an extra 3 or 4 hours in the car.
Ypsilanti, Toledo and Cleveland were nothing special to see but we made good time and ended up in Binghamton, NY to spend the night. To our surprise, the first two hotels we tried were booked with a university alumni event and construction workers involved in the booming natural gas business.
We were lucky to find 2 rooms at a rough around the edges EconoLodge. We quickly learned that the locals called the construction crews “pipeliners”. Some of these pipeliners were grilling supper off the back of their trucks in the parking lot. Tailgating without the football I guess. We simply ordered a pizza and went to bed.
October 12, 2012
Niece, Becky Crance, from Syracuse, New York joined up with our little entourage in the morning. Dean and I talked about getting off the interstate and seeing some of the small towns along the way since neither one of us was in a hurry.
We drove to Albany, New York and then proceeded to take less traveled routes east into Vermont. One road was the Molly Stark byway. Molly Stark was the wife of an officer in the continental army who was instrumental in caring for wounded soldiers during the Battle of Bennington, Vermont.
We stopped to take some pictures on Hogback Mountain. Then, an antique shop caught Mary’s eye so we checked it out briefly. I found a couple Breyer horses for a Christmas gift then proceeded to leave them behind. (didn’t figure this out until much later in the day!).
Lunchtime found us in Brattleboro, Vermont and eating at the Royal Diner a small but popular local eatery. There was only enough room for us at the counter so I grabbed a local paper and pretended to be concerned about the local news. The food and hospitality were great.
Dean and Christina took over the driving after lunch and mysteriously our plan of hitting the back roads was forgotten. We hammered on the interstate the rest of the day. Yes, I suppose I could have said something but Dean and I had run literally hundreds of miles over the years never questioning each other on the route of the day. He was driving and must have had a reason. It didn’t need discussion.
We arrived in Bar Harbor well after dark so we missed the views coming up the coast of Maine. This was a little disappointing to me but we did arrive ahead of schedule and there would be minimal driving the next 2 days.
October 13, 2012
My dad died on this day in 1963. As always, I kept this between Mary and I. I did think of the significance of that day, how it shaped my life and the fact it fuels me still to this day. Had he lived a full life, would I be running for a cause all across the country? Is my ability to bring attention to kids in a similar plight today worth growing up without a father
Some days the answer is quick and sure. Other days, I simply want one game of catch, one phone call, one pat on the back, or one face in the crowd at the finish line. I continue to be amazed at how one can miss something they never had.
We spent the day at the small race expo, hanging out in Bar Harbor and driving part of the course. The rural Maine coast was scenic and a calm harbor filled with lobster boats and cages gave us a picture of a lifestyle far from what we were used to. It was the last weekend of tourist season and you got a feel for what life on the island might be like in the months to come.
At dinnertime, Mary, Becky and I went out to the high school for the pre-race spaghetti supper. The school had been renamed the “Mile 26 Café” in honor of the event. It was a great meal with a variety of pasta and sauces with some awesome bread sticks.
The race director showed up holding a shovel claiming to have just come in from filling some potholes along the course. He was a rather unique Maine fellow who looked the part of an aging long time runner. He was particularly proud of the fact that he was using a rope to hold up his pants.
During the race director’s speech, he talked about his unofficial organization, “Crow Athletics”. He drew parallels between crows and runners. Like runners, he believes crows sometimes feel like they own the road and crows are always working, always moving. It was certainly a unique viewpoint but I personally think crows are useless scavengers. I just didn’t see how runners compared favorably to my view of the bird. But, I wasn’t an aging hippy holding a shovel in a high school cafeteria with a rope for a belt either.
After the meal, we found a seat in the auditorium and listened to the guest speaker, Frank Bozanich. Bozanich is the only American to win an ultra race in four different decades (70s, 80s, 90s and 00s). He won 44 of 100 ultras and finished in the top 10 of 77 of them. He was a former marine and commented that the only running he did in Vietnam was while charging the enemy. He proudly pointed out that Marines don’t ever run away from a battle.
Mr. Bozanich had been running for 50+ years. He talked about fueling up with Coke and snickers in the 1970s. His first 24 hour run was spent circling a track for 130 miles. (This almost made me sick inside think about lap, after lap, after lap…). He once ran 100 miles in 15 hours and 17 minutes. At the time, it was the fastest 100 miles ever in the USA. He was not the most polished speaker as he rambled through his career in no particular order but his accomplishments were very impressive and worth our attention.
October 14, 2012
The national anthem to kick off the 11th annual Mount Desert Island Marathon was a trumpet solo. Becky and I made plans to run together while Dean was going out at a much faster pace. This would be my 24th marathon in 23 different states and Becky’s 5th state and 5th marathon. I can’t account for Dean’s total but it was somewhere over a dozen marathons in a handful of states.
Dean’s family was spending the day in Bar Harbor but Mary had a route mapped out to meet us in a few places on the point-to-point route. She would also have the van at the finish line so we had a ride back to our hotels rather than taking a shuttle bus.
We took off from the start line on Bar Harbor’s main street under overcast skies and a light rain. The rain would stay with us the entire day. It didn’t really matter. The ocean views, stately summer homes, quaint villages and rural Maine countryside were still spectacular. Then, there were the hills (and more hills). Like the rain, they didn’t stop until we were a mile from the finish.
After Bar Harbor, the course went through the villages of Otter Creek (mile 5), Seal Harbor (mile 8), Northeast Harbor (mile 13), Somesville (mile 20) and finished on the small main street of Southwest Harbor. The last half of the course involved running a big “U” around Somes Sound.
Only 7 miles or so of the route was closed to thru traffic. This did allow us to see Mary at 3 different points but it also meant we had to watch for oncoming traffic most of the day. I found this to be a big disappointment for a race that was touted as one of the best/most scenic in the country. Fighting traffic took ones mind and eyes off the natural beauty. The last mile was particularly difficult as heavy traffic pushed runners into single file on an uneven sidewalk (probably the worst finish of any marathon thus far!)
Becky and I had a great time running and visiting with no goal other than finishing on our feet. I have a habit of running with my big toe in the air to the point it will wear a hole in my shoe after a few hundred miles. I discovered that Becky had the same trait! The water stations were manned by music playing volunteers who were friendly and enthusiastic which made the dreary day a bit brighter.
After mile 8, we settled into a run/walk routine. We would grind into a hill for a time, walk to the peak, take a breath and let gravity take over on the downhill. Interestingly, the downhills were never as long as the uphills! Usually a stickler for watching my per mile times, I simply shrugged my shoulders when my watch quit at mile 16. We were moving, talking and getting along. Becky and I had run one other marathon together but I had no idea when or if it would happen again in the future. I was content to take this day as it came.
On the last mile, I confided in Becky about the anniversary of my dad’s death the day before. I used it as an incentive to run strong on the last mile to the finish line. We did. We crossed the line together at 5 hours and 8 minutes (11:46 average pace). Mary and Dean, who had finished more than an hour earlier, were smiling and waiting at the finish line. Another marathon was in the books.
After some rest and recovery, we drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain. This is touted as the highest point on the island and the first place in the United States the sun hits every morning. To us, it was a just another hill as dense fog had the views socked in and non-existent.
Later, I sent Mary and Becky off shopping on main street Bar Harbor. I found a bar stool in an out of the way Irish Pub that was playing the Patriots game. I ordered a Sam Adams Angry Irish Orchard beer and fell in love with the apple cider taste. It was a relaxing time watching some locals cheer for their team while I visited with a couple from Rhode Island who were looking for a seat in the small establishment. All too quickly, the ladies pulled me out of “my” bar and we joined Becky for a meal of lobster before calling it a day.
October 15, 2012
After a restful night’s sleep, it was time to load the van and head west. Outside our hotel, we saw a car with an Escanaba, Michigan license plate. Escanaba is 5 hours further west from Maine than Traverse City. I smiled, thought about what a small world it really is and loaded our luggage in the van.
Everyone was tired from the marathon and the travel so we hit the interstate, switched drivers every couple hours and made good time. We dropped Becky at her car in Binghamton and drove a couple more hours before stopping for the night.
October 16, 2012
The next morning, we were off at daylight. The day went by quickly as everyone was anxious to get home before dark. The route was simple: follow the lake, wind your way through Cleveland, turn north at Toledo and left at Bay City. We stepped out of the van at home around 6 p.m.
October 17, 2012
Back at work, there wasn’t much time to stop to visit as I dove into a backlog of emails and employee issues. Michigan was dealing with an amendment to the state constitution that would require all utilities to generate 25% of their needs from renewable energy by 2025. Part of the day, I participated in a media event at the county governmental center with the goal of convincing voters that the requirement would raise electricity rates in Michigan and that locking such a requirement into the constitution was not good governance.
I finished the day with 75 minutes in the weight room at home and started thinking about the Marine Corp Marathon in a couple weeks.
October 18, 2012
I got up with Mary who was going in to work and headed to the office fitness center at 5:30 a.m. I used the elliptical to warm up the post marathon legs before switching to the treadmill for a 5-mile run.
After breakfast at my desk, I enjoyed a day of head down getting work done. There were no meetings and no “fires” to put out.
October 19, 2012
I enjoyed another day in the office and an off day from working out. The email backlog was dwindling. This made me happy because I am one who prefers the inbox to be empty.
October 20, 2012
I started the weekend at home off with an 8 a.m. 5 mile run with Jim and Dean. It was 38 degrees with fog but a nice day overall. My legs were now beginning to recover from the marathon and travel. It felt good to be home and running familiar territory with much smaller hills than Maine.
The remainder of my Saturday was spent preparing for the upcoming geothermal installation. I had fence to roll up and posts to remove. It was a busy several hours working around the yard. While enjoyable, I was whipped at the end of the day.
October 21, 2012
Sunday started with an 8 mile run with Dean under some heavy fog. My legs were worn out from running and working outside the day before but I managed to get through the run with a decent time.
There wasn’t as much outside work but still 3-4 hours felt like 8. The crews would begin digging up our property in the morning and laying the pipe for the system. I had everything out of the way, mission accomplished.
October 22, 2012
The third Monday of the month means it is board meeting day at work. I have never had an employment contract and my joke has always been that I have a 30 day guarantee between board meetings. My board President would point out that a special meeting is always possible! The Cherryland board is excellent and the monthly meetings are actually enjoyable. It ended without incident nor the need for a special meeting!
The Marine Corp Marathon requires registered runners to bring an email confirmation with them in order to pick up their race bib at the expo. Because I signed up late with a charity, I hadn’t received my race confirmation yet. While I had traded emails in a timely fashion with the Burma Humanitarian Mission, I was getting a bit worried because I had paid my fee and still had no confirmation that I was “official”. Finally, as I checked my emails after the board meeting, there it was. I had the almighty email confirmation.
I arrived home to find the propane tank removed, no furnace in the house and the trench work underway. While we were looking forward to the energy efficient system, it was a bit sad to see a portion of our nice yard a torn up mess. As we watched them dig their way into the pasture from the deck, they kept going and going. We started to joke about using the trench for a moat around the house. I shook my head in amazement and hit the weight room at home for about an hour.
October 23, 2012
Lunch found me sitting on a panel at a local hotel and participating in a discussion on leadership as part of an area young professionals conference. I related a story about my grandfather, a South Dakota rancher, who helped out an injured neighbor even though the neighbor had repeatedly turned down my grandfather’s requests for assistance over the years. Leaders take the high road and do the right thing without keeping score. My grandfather set a high example of leadership, dependability and community service that set a foundation I have tried to live up to for years.
I spent some time in the office at the end of the day watching a meeting of the local electric municipality, Traverse City Light and Power (TCLP). After a long, contentious relationship between the board and its executive director, Ed Rice, the board, in a sometimes heated discussion, voted to terminate Rice’s contract. There it was in living color – a manager is only as good as his last meeting – there are no guarantees in life or utility boardrooms! For somebody in my line of business, it was intriguing reality television.
October 24, 2012
After a half day at work that involved a monthly all employee meeting, I headed to the airport and ultimately Arlington, Virginia. My work on the board of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) involves service on the organization’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee (I&FS). The committee meeting wasn’t until Friday but I had a special meeting set up for Thursday with NRECA personnel to discuss a pension funding mechanism patented by Retirement Benefit Solutions (RBS), a Traverse City company.
Because I was staying over on my own dime to participate in the marathon, I didn’t want to stay at the Westin (paid for by NRECA) then move over to the Days Inn (paid for by me). I felt like one hotel would be more convenient and to be fair, I chose the cheaper of the two in order to save me and the organization a little money.
The Days Inn was $100 per night while the Westin would have been more than $200. When I stepped into my room at the Days Inn that evening, my immediate thought was “night and day”. It was certainly rough around the edges but appeared clean at least. You know you are at a different level when the door opens to the outside. I kept telling myself that it would be only 4 nights but I was dreaming of the comfortable beds at the Westin as I drifted off to sleep after a warm evening 3 mile run.
October 25, 2012
At NRECA headquarters, we connected with Kevin Byrne from RBS at his office in Traverse City. He walked us through the concept of his product that involves holding life insurance policies on members of a pension fund and using the proceeds to meet all or a portion of the pensions funding liabilities over the years. It is an innovative concept that is actuarially sound. The meeting ended with NRECA personnel intrigued but non-committal.
Back in the hotel room, I was watching the news as hurricane Sandy was moving north from Florida. The projections had it missing DC and arriving after Sunday. Mild concern began to set in. I didn’t want to get stuck on the east coast and I didn’t want to drive back to Michigan. The marathon was Sunday morning and my flight was Sunday evening at 5:15 pm. I thought, “one day, two races”.
Back home, Mary was at the end of day 4 with no heat in the house. Workers had been present every day and working diligently inside and out. Lucky for me, the temperatures in Michigan were in the 50s and 60s so the house was maintaining some level of comfort.
October 26, 2012
The I&FS committee meeting started at NRECA headquarters at 8 a.m. Members on this committee come from South Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, Oregon and Montana. The day involves a complete review of the NRECA pension, 401K and group medical trusts. These trusts contain $11 billion in funds and provide services to 55,000 cooperative employees in 47 states. It is always interesting and a change of pace from the normal distribution cooperative issues that I deal with on a daily basis. In October and April, the committee gets a brief status report while longer multi-day meetings are held in December and June.
Back in the hotel room for the evening, I watched the “spaghetti” charts try to project landfall for Hurricane Sandy as I talked to Mary on phone. I was pleased to learn that our house now had heat just as temperatures were getting colder. We (I, really) had dodged a bullet on the timing of the home heating project! (You see, the next day was Mary’s birthday and not only would I not be there, I had risked the possibility that she would be cold as well. All is well that ends well.)
October 27, 2012
One day before the marathon, I was now fixated on tracking Hurricane Sandy. I woke up and listened to the latest weather reports. It was an ever-looming possibility that marathon day would see strong winds and rain. It was a bit nerve wracking. Stay? Run? What? All the scenarios were playing in my head.
So, I did what I expected every other runner would do. I went to the DC Armory for the marathon expo. I arrived well before the 9 a.m. opening and found the line growing by the minute.
When the doors opened, the organization was great. The Marines were handling it with military order and precision. I easily got my race number, shirt and goody bag. There were 200+ exhibitors in the armory that made this one of the bigger expos that I had ever been to. Still, big or small, a race expo contains gear I already have or don’t need. When I didn’t find any sales on shirts or other clothing, it was time to leave.
The subway was stuffed with incoming runners who apparently didn’t heed the warning to arrive early and avoid the crowds. I spotted a young lady coming up the stairs in a Central Michigan University sweatshirt. I shouted, “Fire Up Chips!” This is the battle cry of all CMU sports teams. She smiled as we exchanged a high five while going in opposite directions on the subway entrance escalator.
I did an easy 2-mile jog from my hotel around the Walter Reed hospital area not far from the Pentagon and the marathon start line. After that, I was able to secure a late checkout (2 p.m.). This is a rare race day treat. I could run, catch a subway and cab back to the hotel, shower, pack and get to the airport well before my flight IF Hurricane Sandy cooperated!
October 28, 2012
Up early, I peeked out the door and Hurricane Sandy wasn’t there. I introduced myself to a couple in the parking lot who were planning on walking to the start line. Together, we headed down the street but quickly found a taxicab for a ride to the Pentagon parking lot. From there, we still had almost a mile walk to the runner’s village.
It was almost 2 hours before the scheduled start so I camped out near the far end of a long row of portable toilets (a strategic move for a 50+ year old runner!). There was some wind and an occasional raindrop or two but it was shaping up to be good running weather. “Oh Sandy, give me 11 hours please”, I thought as I sat on the pavement sipping water and eating some food while contemplating the run and plane ride.
Just before dawn, the masses started to walk to the starting line on Route 110 across from Arlington Cemetery. I had my picture taken with 2 Marines and thanked them for their service while settling in near the 3:45 pace group. Training had gone well and I felt well rested after Bar Harbor so I thought I would try to hang with this group to see if I could hit a personal record.
After a great national anthem and multiple flyovers, the 20,000+ runners started to move. I could see the 3:45 sign held above the crowd but I was quickly engulfed by the masses and could not catch them. As we rolled through downtown Rosslyn, Lee Highway and over Key Bridge in the first 4 miles, I was maintaining the necessary sub-9 minute pace but I was sweating more than usual and had little strength on the hills. I began to get a bad feeling.
The crowds started to thin out some near the C&O Canal National Historic Park. I hung onto my goal pace as I traversed Georgetown, the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Memorial. Ten sweat soaked miles had passed and I could feel “it” coming. “It” was the wall and it arrived on Ohio Drive along the water somewhere past the FDR Memorial. I was in rapid decline by mile 13.
There was a public restroom so I made a necessary pit stop that cost me several minutes. When I stepped out to rejoin the race, it was mentally deflating to see hundreds of people streaming past. I convinced myself I would run to the mile marker then walk 1/10th of a mile before starting to run again. I did this the rest of the day.
Three+ miles later, on Independence Avenue, I made a beeline for a row of portable toilets on the mall. They were all out of the required paper. I cursed and rejoined the masses. I was not feeling well, out of energy and thinking about quitting more than any other race. Slogging along with my head down, I barely noticed the Washington Monument, national museums and all the war memorials. I was in pure survival mode. My spirits were lifted by a full band playing the Rocky theme song in front of the reflecting pool outside the US Capitol.
On the bridge as I reached mile 21, there was an individual encouraging runners by asking them, “Do you WANT some motivation?” If they replied in the affirmative, he would jump into a quick mantra of positive encouragement. It did make me smile but I didn’t have the energy to weave my way over to him so I settled for getting it second hand. There was also a 2 star general giving encouragement near this area that was somewhat impressive.
Back on Virginia soil, the course twisted and turned through Crystal City. The crowds were large and very supportive. Mercifully, I passed the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery (actually where it had all started) and finally the Marine Corps War Memorial. With one final burst up a cruel little hill at the end, I finished. My official time was 4:28:33.
I would later find out that I had placed 9,231st overall and the average finishing time was 4:45. It was a small consolation to know that on a bad day, I had at least finished in the above average category. The 37th Marine Corp Marathon was the largest ever with a field of 23,515 runners from every state and 54 countries.
Across the finish line, I had my picture taken in front of the Iwo Jima monument. Then, I entered the march of zombies as finishers began piling together for a slow, painful walk towards public transit. There was no room to stop and if you hesitated, there would be a Marine at your side to keep the crowd moving.
I walked down into the subway to make my way back to the hotel. I was dismayed to see the mob of people. There was no way I was going to get back to my hotel in time. I turned and painfully walked away from the crowds and began looking for a taxi. I had a $20 bill and remained hopeful that it would get me close to my destination.
The first cab was full and blew on by me, a disheveled pedestrian now desperate to catch a plane as Hurricane Sandy approached. “Son of a bitch”, I said to myself. Then my luck changed. A limousine pulled up. The driver actually asked me if I wanted a ride. Stunned, I said, “Yes!”
Inside on leather cushioned seats that felt like heaven, I looked at him with my best pleading face and asked how far he would take me for $20 and a $5 metro card. I told him where my hotel was and he smiled while telling me he would be happy to drop me at its door. He was killing time before a 4 p.m. pickup at another area hotel. More than grateful, I rattled on about Marathon4Kids and promised he would get a mention in my next story! So, if you are ever in the DC area and need a limousine, please call Taysir Sayyad of Royal Limousine at 1-800-478-2444.
In no time, I was showered and sitting at the bar in the Delta Terminal of what was quickly becoming a very, very busy Washington Reagan Airport. I was ahead of Hurricane Sandy and well ahead of my flight (which was amazingly at the gate and on time).
Thirsty, I ordered a beer before even looking at a menu. I had a great burger and fries while downing 2 more beers and visiting with a fellow runner from San Antonio who was sitting on the neighboring bar stool. I was gradually feeling better and relieved that I would make it home ahead of the weather.
On the plane, I relaxed further and drank all the water I could get my hands on. As I enjoyed the ride, I kept trying to figure out how I had lost so much fluid so quickly during the marathon. It was a mystery to me. I did come to the conclusion that part of my issue was stress related. I had spent days worrying about the weather, connections, work and the busy weeks of October plus the week ahead that awaited my return. Unlike past marathons, I had run this one with the weight of “everything” on my shoulders rather than setting it all aside for at least a few hours.
October 29, 2012
I woke up at home and stepped on the bathroom scale to discover I was down 3 pounds. After all I had to drink after the marathon, this was highly unusual. This was an indication that for some unknown reason, I simply lost too much fluid during the marathon and this fluid loss was likely a big contributor for my lack of energy the day before.
At work, I attended a morning TC Chamber finance committee meeting to discuss the 2013 budget for the organization. In the afternoon, I spent a couple hours visiting with TCLP interim Executive Director Tim Arends. Tim and I had been friends for several years. He was the CFO for the organization before the termination of Ed Rice. We discussed some needed changes and I offered my assistance in any way possible.
After work, Mary and I went out to the Grand Traverse Resort to listen to Governor Rick Snyder speak about the upcoming election. Michigan voters were being presented with an unprecedented number of amendments to the state constitution that covered a wide range of issues. Governor Snyder rolled up in a large bus with “Vote Yes on 1 and No on the rest” emblazoned on the side. It made me smile. I liked the Governor before and even more then. He was taking a stand on issues and being a leader. Inside, he gave a concise break down of each amendment and answered questions with candor. I left that evening feeling like the state was in good hands. I had a feeling I could trust the voters to follow our Governor’s lead and make the right choices (on November 8th, they did).
October 30, 2012
At 7:15 a.m., I was seated behind a microphone at WTCM radio in Traverse City along with TC Chamber Executive Director Doug Luciani and Consumers Energy Area Manager Bob Gluszewski. We were promoting the Warmth Initiative Camp Out that would take place later than evening.
The camp out is an annual event to bring awareness and raise money for the heating needs of low income Michigan residents at the beginning of the winter heating season. Doug, Bob and I, along with representatives from other area utilities, county government, coast guard and area schools would be spending the upcoming evening (and overnight) in one man tents on what was shaping up to be a very windy and cold Michigan day.
After the radio station stop, I went down the street a couple blocks to the chamber headquarters. The next 2 hours were spent on an executive committee meeting and a review of 2013 incoming board candidates.
Back at work, I attended to some employee matters, phone messages, emails and preparation for an upcoming meeting at Wolverine Power Cooperative. At the end of the day, I put on a few layers of clothes for the evening campout.
As the group of community leaders gathered, the wind was whipping off the bay at 30+ miles per hour and temperatures were below freezing. Many of us were relieved at the prospect of canceling the sleeping over night part of the event. But, soon, somebody asked, “Where is Steve Rawlings?” Another responded, “Hey, he is out in the open space setting up a tent!” Someone else shouted, “Is he crazy?” I simply hung my head, smiled, took a deep breath and walked out of our makeshift group shelter to join him.
Steve works for DTE Energy. Born and raised in the area, he had a passion for the camp out and the warmth fund. I also considered him a friend and knew I wasn’t going to let him sleep out on his own. Others soon followed. Peer pressure was alive and well. We worked together to hold the tents down in the gale force winds while others staked them down. It was cold and raining but we managed to get 6 tents set up (4 other community “leaders” chose to NOT bend to peer pressure).
While greeting visitors who were stopping to donate, we huddled in camping chairs around a propane heater with some tarps to block the wind. We enjoyed sandwiches and soup while swapping stories. It was cold, windy and miserable but the conversation was upbeat, funny and enjoyable.
Later, to give the reason for the event some meaning, GoodWill provided a guest speaker in the form of their street outreach manager. He related stories of dealing with the homeless in the area. It was a sobering discussion that made one appreciate the warm bed waiting at home. We were “playing” for one night what many people live on a daily basis.
We crawled into our tents around midnight. Once inside the sleeping bag, I was warmer than anytime during the whole event. The nylon tent was doing a good job of blocking out the wind but not the noise. I could barely hear myself think as the tent rattled in the wind barreling in off of the Lake Michigan bay. I slept in very brief spurts for the next 2 hours.
At 2 a.m., I had to use the bathroom. I peeked out at the portable bathroom that seemed to be a mile away to my right and my car a short distance to the left. It didn’t take long to pack up my stuff, jump in the car and drive home. Craving the warmth of my own bed, I crept into the bedroom to find my daughter sleeping with Mary. I muttered a few choice words and spent the remainder of the night on the couch. It was warm and quiet.
October 31, 2012
Cherryland Electric Cooperative purchases power from a generation and transmission cooperative that it owns with 4 other Michigan electric cooperatives, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (WPSC). The last day of the month found me at the monthly board meeting for WPSC in Cadillac, Michigan.
The main topic of discussion was their involvement in the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan. WPSC was working on a deal to acquire partial ownership in exchange for upgrading the pollution control equipment. This project would avoid closing the plant and save 150 jobs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While tired, the significance of the discussion not only to Cherryland members put to Michigan’s economy was more than enough to keep me awake.
I went to bed that night with just one thought, “You survived the month!”
In closing, I can only say in the words of TV’s Frank Barone, “Holy Crap!” October 2012 was quite a month and I didn’t even get into much detail about regular family and work details.
The summary includes chamber work, economic development promotion, municipal utility assistance, two marathons, youth mentoring, training miles, an NFL game, a dam breach, statewide cooperative work, national cooperative work, geothermal energy, a Governor’s speech, a camp out for charity and finally a job saving energy project.
I was blessed with good fortune, great co-workers and awesome family support the entire time. It left me very appreciative for everyone and everything in my world. I look forward to whatever comes next but I think I will try to space it out a little better in future months!