Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who is Rodney?

Technically, he is a 67 year old retired pharmacist from Manchester who I had the pleasure of getting to know during the last half of the Seville marathon. During those couple of hours, you can share your life story with people as a way to pass time, and vice versa. Trust me when I say, the pleasure was all mine!

I first encountered Rodney around mile 14. He had an unorthodox running style, and he was maybe running a 12 minute mile. He was struggling, or so I thought. I ran up alongside him and started to chat, "Hang in there, buddy" I said or some such expression. He raised his head and smiled a broad smile and I knew at that moment we'd be spending some time together during the day.

I learned that he was actually a veteran marathoner, having completed 37 previous races of the distance, and three times run the Seville marathon. He also explained that he had sustained a calf injury about 3 weeks before this race and decided to go ahead and run it just the same, even though his normal 4:30 finish time would not be achievable. We shared marathon stories...I asked "Have you run Rome?" ..."Yes, loved it! Watch out for those cobblestones at the end of the race", he replied. "Have you ever run NYC?” he queried. "Of course - fab experience - great crowds!" I said, and so the conversation went.

All along the last half of the race we ran together...he sped up a bit (and thanked me later for spurring him on), and then we paced ourselves against each other. He would run past me, then I past him, and so on. Always sharing words of encouragement to each other as we would run past.

I only know his first name; likewise, he only knows mine. But for 2 hours we shared a common goal: to finish the race. It would not matter at the end of the day who crossed the finish line first - we would celebrate each other's achievement equally.

At about km 38 (or about 4:45 into the race), the Seville race organizers started to pick up the km markers. I can only characterize my reaction to this activity as soul destroying. I still had 4 kilometers left - and the race course was no longer clearly marked. As if he knew I was starting to panic, a "calming", and almost parental voice came from behind me and said "Don't worry, I know the way home", or "the stadium is right around the corner!" He could tell today was not my best run, not my best day. In the final 400 meters, he shouted, "Come on Holly, let's finish this thing"! And we did, although the Hachie Gal was staring at Rodney's backside as he surged past me with a twinkle in his eye. Not that I cared.

Why am I relating this story? Well, running a marathon is a bit like living your life. We each go through peaks and valleys, good times and bad times, highs and lows. Being aware of those around us who are in the dark places, even if it is only a marathon, and sharing a word on encouragement can do wonders for the other person. Sometimes the encourager might not even know the impact his/her words make to the encouragee. Sometimes roles reverse and the encouragee becomes the encourager.

Distance running reminds me of life's lessons at many, for those of you who are running life's race (literally or metaphorically speaking), remember to encourage others who need that extra support. You never know the power your words can have! And for those of you who need encouraging, remember to accept these offers of support and encouragement to help you through that dark place. You can pay it forward on another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maraton dos is history

Marathon #2 is for the record books, albeit the slow record books.  I am happy to report a finish time of 5:06:23 for the Maraton Cuidad de Sevilla on Sunday, February 19th.  Truthfully, it is one of the races that one just says "I am glad I finished"!

Here I am at the start of the race. 

As we entered the stadium tunnel for the start,and with music a-blazing, I heard the strains of "Highway to Hell".  I only hoped it would not be prophetic on the day.

In a word, I was tired before I started.  Not the most encouraging prospect as I stood at the start line.  Firstly, although a flat urban route, it was low on spectators - thank heavens for my road crew of one, Budman!  He was prepared to run it in from mile 16 onwards but it did not come to that.  He was a bastion of encouragement on the day.

Secondly, current project work at the office and a couple of trips to Dubai in between the first and second marathons did not help me get that much needed rest I required in the three weeks time I had for recovery.  I knew well before the halfway mark of the race that it would be a long, hard slog.  Perseverance has never been in short supply for me and quitting was never an option so I plodded onwards.

Thirdly, this race is a race for speedy runners!  With a marathon field of over 5000 runners, most of the marathon finishers completed the course in times between 3:30 and 4:15.  So, early on, I resigned myself to the fact that this might be like a long run.  That said, you do meet the most lovely people at the "back of the pack" and Rodney, my new found Manchester friend was no exception.  More on him tomorrow!  Rodney and I jubilantly ran into the finish area inside the 1952 Seville Olympic Stadium in what we finished in slightly over 5 hours?

Now, about that slight fine print about closing the race at the 5 hour mark.  Well, race organizers meant it!  The marathon car entrouage rolled past me at km 38 and proceeded to start picking up mile marker signs at aound 4:45 mark.  Which meant that I had to keep my eye firmly rooted to the runners ahead of me, of which there were not many, to ensure I made it back to the finish line.  Again, Rodney to the rescue, being a 3 time Seville marathon veteran, he alerted me that he could show me the "way home". 

Let's just say that with the 5 hour race closure looming, I stepped my running into overdrive.  Well, it felt like overdrive.  In reality, it was probably not, but it was just the ticket to get me into the stadium tunnel before the 5 hour mark.  As Buddy told me later, as he saw me head into the stadium entrance, literally 7-8 minutes after I entered, the course volunteers "shut" the stadium gate entrance on the remaining runners.  Can I just say, let all "boo" and "hiss" collectively?  Shame on you Seville Marathon.

Apart from the usual muscle soreness and fatigue, I am sporting a very bruised and blistered right third toe.  Looks a little bad, actually, so will keep an eye on it and read up on treatments.  Might be a question for my Waxahachie FB Running Club!  I now have four weeks to prepare for the Rome Marathon, to be held on Sunday, March 18th.  With a field of 36,000 runners, it should prove an exciting race and filled with good crowd support.

If you find yourself in Rome on the day...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Please remember to donate for my 12 in 12 in 2012 marathon cause!

Well, I’ve set an interesting running and fundraising challenge for myself: 12 marathons in 12 months in 2012! And all for fundraising for Cancer Research UK!

The two most important women in my life, the women who made the person I am today, were touched by cancer in significant ways. My mother, Nancy Sartain Robinson, lost her battle with breast, bone, and brain cancer at the early age of 48. My aunt, Dr. Peggy Sartain, who was like a second mother to me, successfully battled uterine cancer. More importantly, she served as Pediatric Oncologist at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, Texas for 31 years, and touched the lives of thousands of children and their families who were affected by childhood cancer.

In memory of these remarkable women, I am running 12 marathons in 12 months in 2012. Basically, one marathon a month.  I have already completed Dubai International Marathon in January and Seville Marathon is THIS Sunday! I have 10 others sprinkled throughout the year as well.

I’ve set a massive fundraising goal for myself (£12,000) so please consider supporting my chosen charity, Cancer Research UK by donating through my JustGiving page. Donating this way is simple, fast and totally secure.

Please join me on my marathon journey and help to find a cure for this dreaded disease. Your support would be greatly appreciated!

Viva Sevilla!

Wow, those three weeks rolled by at warp it already time for another marathon?  Actually, yes!  Marathon Dos takes me to sunny Seville, Spain. 

What can I tell you about this race?  Sunday, the 19th, is race day with a not-so-early 9:30 AM start.  Temps at the race start should be 36 F with an expected temperature of  68 F at the finish line. An impressive start and finish at the Seville Olympic Stadium, with a winding urban circuit route. 

This weekend's road crew consists of the Budman! Thanks, sweetheart!

Bags are packed, running gear collected, and boarding passes in hand.  A couple of logistical challenges did surface in simply getting to Seville:  (1)  no direct flight from LHR, so flying to Madrid, and then on to Seville, which is about 6 hours of travel time, and (2)  we narrowly avoided the Iberia pilots strike (thankfully, am flying BA codeshare so my flight was NOT cancelled).  I was starting to get a visual of planes, trains, and automobiles.  Catastrophe averted.

Catch you on the flip side of 26.2 miles.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marathon #2 - Seville

As I suspected, these marathons each month will start coming faster and faster!  Marathon #2 is a week from tomorrow.  Already getting a bit excited, so more on the actual race as it gets closer.

As I was out for my run yesterday, I was thinking about my next marathon outing and how I would love to have a really good run, perhaps even a super fast time (by my standards of course).  It's all relative, friends .

I was immediately struck by 2 of my favorite quotes; these quotes are from two different centuries, one a runnner/one probably not, but still have the same theme - it's the act of trying that is important.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail" - Confucious

"The momentum of once step leading to another is more important than the pace!" - Jeff Galloway

A metaphor for life I think as well!  So, perhaps completion of each race is success enough and if that PB (personal best in runner's lingo) happens, that's a bonus!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dubai marathon... the details

Morning dawned early..about 4 am for the start of the Dubai International Marathon on Friday, January 27th.  As some of you remember from previous posts, due to work committments, the Marrakech Marathon I was scheduled to run on 1/29 was "kaboshed". Given I was already in Dubai for 2+ weeks on business, I was able to enter that race and still get that January marathon completed.  Check!


The race was flat, well organized, with lots of water and gatorade stops, sadly SUPER low on crowd support, and essentially an out and back course. Mind numbingly boring under normal circumstances, but lucky for me, I had an HP UAE colleague runnning with me. Thanks Ajda!

Here we are moving to the start line for a 7:00 AM start.

The temperature at the start of race was about 64 degrees F, but overhead sun (no cloud cover) and rising temperatures throughout the morning meant that the high during the run was 78 degrees F. OK, I know for you Texas running buddies that does not sound too bad, but when you have not trained in Texas heat for 10+ years, you lose that conditioning.

Suffice to say, by mile 13, dehyrdation and nausea had settled in and kept me company for about 7 miles. At each water stop, I not only drank gatorade and water, but usually poured 2 bottled of water over my head. After 5 or 6 times of this repeated action, I actually began to feel human at mile 20-21.

Here are some "action shots" from along the course.


HP buddies running Dubai

photo 5

A final run time of 5:08 was not ideal but I had gone into the race with the mindset that this was just another long run.

Ian photo 2

HP buddies 1 photo

What I can say is that I had a FAN-TAS-TIC road crew, led by the Budman, and supported by Faz, G, and Rambo!  Thanks guys...for making the effort!  Your presence warmed my heart.





Happy 200th Birthday, Charlie

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (February 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870), the English novelist known for such favorites as A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Pickwick Papers, and Little Dorrit...just to name a few.

What many people do not know is that Dickens chose to write about the disenfranchised, the physically disabled, the poor, the other words, he wrote about the challeneges of everyday people. Perhaps that is why his books still resonate so well today.

What is your favorite Dickens book or short story?

Sunday, February 05, 2012