Ok, so my first blog…… not even sure where to begin. I wish I were better at writing.
I feel as though the last 3 years I’ve morphed myself into what I want to be, strong, confident, and healthy. I had a few ups and downs, but running has kept me focused and given me the confidence I needed to stay the course and believe in ME. Especially when I lost my job in 2007.
This used to be me.....
My journey towards running a marathon started Dec. 23rd 2005 losing the 40 pounds in the 4 months. It was triggered by having a girlfriend of 6 years walk out on me and our house. I hit the gym for a solid 4 months, every single day riding the bike and eating better. In April of 2006 I found myself in California with no way to workout for a week, so I thought since my legs were in good shape from riding the bike at the gym, I could start running for the first time in 21 years? Yeah, good luck idiot…... So I ran 1.25 miles and thought I was going to DIE and my back and torso said HELL no. By June (2-1/2 months), I had already worked myself up to running 13.1 miles 2 times. So I signed up for the earliest race I could find. The Seafair Bellevue 1/2 Marathon. It was so much fun. I know that sounds odd, but compared to just running 13.1 miles, this was so cool with people cheering you on the WHOLE way. I even saw people on their lawns in their PJ's clapping as they drank their coffee. It was damn near spiritual for me, running while thinking of all the hard work I put in and the emotional pain I went through to come out ahead and then to lose the weight and get back to the shape I was in 21 years ago.
Next up, can I double that mileage?
My lifelong friend and next-door neighbor Craig had a brother always run the Seattle Marathon. Me and Craig got into running when we were 14-15. We did pretty good actually, I ran a 4:50 mile that year and Craig went onto place in the top 25 two years in a row in high school state cross country in Washington and post a 3:48 1500 in college. Since those days I always wished I could run like him, or run a marathon like Chuck. By the time I was 37 and weighing in at 220, the thought never crossed my mind ever again, until that day in December. Something just told me, why the hell not? I have seen people do far greater. I know people who have had illnesses and been through far worse than what it was going to take me.
As stated, in July I ran my first organized race, a 1/2 marathon and kinda impressed myself. At this point I was down to 165 pounds from my chubby 220. I came across with a 1:43:37. (7:55 pace). Then in September I ran a 1:40:50 (7:40 pace) in a very warm summer race that left me spent and almost walking across the line. At this point I wondered if I could really run a full 26.2 miles. Maybe if I just slowed down? So I trained another 3 months and increased my miles and fought many days of hip pain. I had worked up to great shape, yet my body kept warning me, YOU ARE 38!!!So I'm one week away from my race and I pull my hamstring. Nice, I worry more than most people do about nothing, and this had me worked up so tight I thought I might break. I had to STOP running the week of the race. Then on Friday I couldn't stand it and went for a 6 mile run. I was a wreck, checking weather forecasts every day, buying new running clothes, trying them out..... Then it was the night before, and I couldn’t sleep for the life of me. Me and Karla woke up to SNOW!!! By the time I got to Seattle it was light rain/slush but 36 degrees. Tons of roads were blocked and we arrived about 1/2 an hour before the race started. And in normal Bradley fashion, I hopped out of the car 2 blocks before the start line and parking so I ASSURED I would not be stuck in traffic while I needed to use the restroom before the race. It turned out just fine and I had just enough time to stretch, go for a jog. It snuck up on me like you wouldn't believe. There I was, in what seamed like days, when it was really EXACTLY 11 months as the race was on the 26th, same day of the month I started working out after the breakup. Plus, the race was 26.2 miles. It wouldn't have surprised me to see #26 pop up in my race time. Well the race didn't start well for me because I am so Virgo, I forgot to hit the start button on my watch (I hit the stop button) until 4:00 into the race so now I'd have to think more, and add 4:00 every time I look at my watch. Sounds like no big deal, but when you have been running for almost 4 hours..... The weather was actually no big deal. Miles 15 - 23 it stopped raining for me. :-) It was kinda crazy running nearly the whole length of downtown Seattle on 5th with NO cars and the streets to yourself, no waiting for lights and dodging cars. One full mile was in the I-90 tunnel so I removed my cap to cool off as there was no rain and no cross wind. The views were great, but yah know, I really had no time to take it all in, I just kept chasing down that 3:45:00 pace group every time I took a pee break or walked through water stations to make damn sure I got enough water and got gel in my mouth not on my gloves or face. I hate running with sticky face :-)
I did also get to see many parts of the city I never see, like Seward Park. Speaking of, why do people try and talk to you? I know it's a social event of sorts, but I got my ipod on and you can plainly see that I am in a zone. In Seward park, (miles 12-14) I was bugged by this lady. I was nice and talked for a second, but when she asked what I did for a living I drew the line and put my headphones back in and took off. In the park I hit my split time of 1:51. That reminds me of another complaint, sorry..... Why are the chips these harsh material that they have you put on your leg??? I'm running for 4 hours here people, have you heard of chaffing? I velcro’d mine to my gloves and reached down and put my hand on the ground to hit the timing mat. But that backfired on me at mile 24 when I realized I didn't want do that at the finish, so I had to fiddle with it sticking to my gloves while putting it BACK on my leg. And wouldn't you know it, it made my leg sore in just the last mile!!! So I felt great the whole race, 5 hours of sleep and all.... I for some reason lost the 3:45:00 pace group every potty break, and at mile 15 I was about 2 blocks behind her, which was fine with me. Now the hard part came, at mile 20 (20 was my longest training run ever and the longest of my life). Mile 20-21 was straight up hill, and I mean 7% grade!!! I felt like I was walking. This is also when my legs said goodbye. No carbs or electrolites could save me or be consumed fast enough, nothing I could consume would make that pain go away, it's just a fact of running for 3 hours when you’ve only been running 7 months.This is when doubt sets in, believe me, I had ALL the confidence in the world, there is now way in hell I am not finishing this thing. But the problem is I WOULD NOT walk, no way, not me (It's called “RUNNING” a marathon). It just got worse and worse. I had my inspiring music, I had all my new running friends, my family, co-workers, my thoughts of my recently passed away father helping me, everything I could think of to channel some energy. Problem was I didn't need energy, I didn't need inspiration, inspiration got me to where I was that very day, what I needed was this pain to go away and it wasn't going to go away with inspiring thoughts. I just had to keep my legs moving, I have NO clue how that happened. All I know is I would have felt like a failure to walk. It's the most emotionally draining thing I have ever done combined with the most physically draining thing I could possibly think of. My friend Craig was gonna try and run the 1/2 marathon and then bike to E Madison to cheer me on along with my family. Well I never saw them cause Craig was wet and cold and went straight home, and I don't blame him, I did the same thing when I was done. You get instantly cold when you stop heating your body by running. My family had decided to meet me at the finish but got stuck in traffic. I didn't know of course and I was actually kinda upset at the time, maybe that gave me a push. Mile 25 was a tiny downhill, but stopping yourself from going to fast or falling on the wet pavement just increased the pain in my quads to the point I wasn't sure I'd make it one more mile. Then to my right I see a co-worker yell my name, OMG I thought, that's Alex, how cool was that, never even told me he was gonna come see the race. Really helped me out. Me and him aren’t the best of friends at work, but just seeing anyone helped. Mile 26 I saw a lady on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. Turns out this was a car accident, cause she was gawking at runners and not DRIVING. Also turned out to be the reason my family was stuck on I-5 and late for my finish. BUT, they did actually see me (my bright orange gloves) from the freeway when we ran down by REI, I just couldn't see THEM. That was mile 24 and it took me about 18 minutes to finish, and it took them 25 minutes to get through traffic and get onto the football field for the finish. It was surreal running into the stadium, I felt like I was in some odd dream, the guy that my friend USED to always poke in the fat tummy, running a marathon!!!!??? I was in a slight daze as I panned the people for anyone I knew and hopefully Karla. I saw nobody, there were just way to many people. I kinda roamed around until she tracked me down. My brother called just after that and they were making their way down to the finish. I "darted" into the recovery area and filled my bag with food and drinks and "rushed" back out to see my mom. Well of course my "speedy" trip just made my leg cramp up RIGHT as my mom walked up, while trying to put on my dry pants without unzipping the pants first made my calf cramp and I tumbled to the ground. As I looked up to laugh at myself I see some guy taking pictures of what agony must be like, I found it rude at first, then laughed as it was my brothers partner Darian. To funny, can't wait to see THAT pic. Of course as I leaned up to help Karla push out my cramp, my abs cramped up as well. Time to get this kid home. That we did, just in time, as driving home on I-5 it was then POURING rain.This was the greatest year I can recall in my life, and I plan on making the rest of them just as memorable. I just can't believe I waited 37 years to finally understand what my mom told me when I was a kid....."Can't died in a cornfield"