Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Shamrock Marathon Weekend

Well my friends I wrapped up another marathon this weekend. It was number 10 in just over fourteen months and the fourth one this year. Entering this weekend I was not too sure how I would do since I just finished my third marathon up in Newport News just seven days previously. Not much recovery time, but I couldn't miss two marathons right in my own backyard.

It started with the normal race packet pick up Friday afternoon where there seemed to be a gazzillion people there. The Yuenling Shamrock is a very well attended race. It brings people from every where. J  & A Racing always does a great job of putting together an event. So much stuff to buy at the expo packet pick up, but we didn't feel we needed other 'green' stuff so we headed out for a quick late lunch. That lasted way too long as we met people that were visiting that had known my father in law, hometown and was a fellow Okie. It was nice talking to them.

Ok, back to running stuff. Saturday morning came early.....and wife and I got geared up for the 8K. Always a fun run and a pretty nice warmup for the marathon the following day. I decided to run with my wife to help motivate her and push just a little to get a better finish time for her. Actually it is pretty fun to run with some body. I never really do that. There were lots of folks out there as always and as always just a really fun event. We crossed the finish line hand in hand with our arms raised in the air in victory. Good stuff. Afterwards a visit to the big tent on the beach for some stew (really really good this year) and mill around in the crowd. Enough crowd.......lets go home!

We got home cleaned up and put on our race event shirts (we can only wear the same shirts on race day otherwise that is just weird) and hung out at the house. We were watching our grandson that afternoon and evening so nothing too big planned. Mainly just keeping that crazy busy little boy occupied. That's a hand full! We survived until bedtime.....I crashed early and Granny took over. Yes, I bailed on her but I was feeling tired and knew I would be worn out before the marathon.

Sunday morning arrived......I really don't like that so many of the races are on Sunday....makes me miss church. I got up, did my normal routine and started preparing for the race. I really wasn't feeling this race.....NOT GOOD! Wasn't sure if I was just tired from such a quick turn around or what but was less than excited about running 26.2 miles that morning. Regardless.....I geared up for battle. My wife (and grandson) were going to drop me off so we didn't need to get there too early. The half marathon started at 7AM while the full began at 8:30. They were going to go to church.....I needed prayers! The crowds for the half had sort of thinned out.

I went thru my normal pre-race routine......I feel like a old pro at this by now......even though I'm pretty far from being a pro. Guess I'm just a bit OCD. Oh well....a little stretch.....and little bit of walking around.....another trip to the porta-potties.......hey it is a fact of life! And of course my quick pre-race photo.....but this one was by myself. Marathons can be prett lonely. Mostly just you and the road. I don't have many friends that are as crazy as myself. Oh well, this has been proven to help me with my fight against diabetes.....I must keep doing it.

It was time to gather in the corral and get set. Others began to gather too. A few chatted with each other talking about the race. A couple of guys saw that I looked like I knew what I was doing......not sure how I looked different than any of the others. Anyway they asked my thoughts about the race. Two of the guys were running their first marathon. I encouraged them and told them that it would be very exciting for them. They asked if I had done this race before....I said I did.....they asked how many I have done.....ok they asked......this would be number ten. They were amazed especially when I told them I just ran one the Sunday before. I like shocking people.

We shared our running history a bit and they asked my advise.....of course it is always the same.....DONT START OFF TOO FAST! My goal was just to beat my old PR (set seven days earlier) 5:29:59 was my goal. I really didn't feel too confident in this run. Maybe an 11:30 pace to start? That would be a little slower than last week but could conserve some of my energy for later on in the run. I bid my new race friends, Gil and Tim a FUN RUN and off and running we went.

As always I begin quicker than I want or is just the excitement of the beginning. I see all the runners flying past and I wonder if I will ever see them the later miles? When they run out of gas? Or will their youth and energy help push them on? We will see........flash forward.....there were many that I passed along the course that ended up walking.......nothing wrong with walking! Just get to the finish whether it is running, walking or crawling........I've contemplated crawling many times!

I end up (against my better knowledge) running in the low 10:00 pace......why do I do this? Anyway, I caught Tim around mile three and we end up running together for a while. We actually talk some and get to know each other a bit. It's funny how racing can really allow perfect strangers to become friends. I remind myself to be sure to find him on Facebook or something later. We passed Gil during our run through Camp Pendelton. We end up running at a pace of around 10:40 .....way too fast but I'm feeling pretty good. I think we both are pushing each other. At mile 15 I pulled away. I kept my pace and continued on. I felt good.....however my Runkeeper/iPhone died at mile am I going to know where I am? And no music for the next dozen miles! Run Eugene Run.....that is what I do.

The miles tick away one by one. I wonder where my wall will hit.....mile 18? Mile 20? Maybe I'll make it all the way to mile 23? If I do it is because I ran last week......I ran out all the bugs. I think running races close together helps me for some reason. My only clock is the few on the race. I see as I had passed the half way point a few miles back that I was at 2:21:00 which is a bit faster than last week. I cross mile 19.3 (I know.....why point clue) I was at about 3:41:00......last week I was around 4:05:00 at the twenty mile mark. I try to do the math......nope.....cannot do it.....just RUN EUGENE RUN. So I continue.

My pace has slowed down a little, I just don't know how much. And then I see the 5:00 hour pace group catch up with me. Really? Don't get excited.....I've been here before.....the last six miles are the toughest......I die on this last part. They encourage me to run with them but there isn't much gas. I keep up for about a mile....and that was all.....I wave The dreams of a sub 5:00 pulls away step by step. I tell myself to not be ridiculous, my goal is under 5-1/2 hours.....just RUN EUGENE I do.

Legs getting tired but air is okay......that is until about mile 22. Breathing a bit harder now. Have I reached my wall? What time is it? Every mile marker is another pressing goal.....just push a little more. Somehow I never stop running. I know I'm slow right now.....just don't know how slow. I get my little Gatorade and water drinks and walk through the stop for only a few the last trash can. And then I begin running again. Where is that freaken 25 mile marker!?.....soooooo far in between. I really really appreciate the fans cheering me on. It especially encourages me when they call out my name.

Here we go. 37th street we turn back onto the boardwalk. Finish line is at 31st street...KING NEPTUNE! I turn the corner and I can see it......math math far is six clue.....still running. I pass a group of Team in Training people all dressed in purple. I did that once in 2008. They are walking. Just a few feet past them and a guy with not much more than a American flag shorty shorts flies past.....he was a King Neptune runner. (All three races including the half before the full that morning.) I wanted to do it......come on get real! Then the Team in Training guys get motivated after seeing the American flag run past and start their sprint.....dang it is still far away! But they yell at me, "Hey Twenty Six point Freaken Two....lets go!" (It says that on the back of my shirt) CRAP! Ok.......I push and run past them again this time yelling "Don't let this old man beat you!" Oh no! 100 yards away and I am running out of breath! No sprint left....I knew I started my kick too soon, but I cannot let them catch me.

Then I see the doesn't really register in my head. Cannot do the math. I know I'm about five minutes under the clock time. I cross the line.....I hear Bob call out my name......I love that sound. His familiar voice. He probably doesn't remember me. I'm sure he has thousands that approach him. I stroll thru the line, pretty winded after the sprint but collect my medal and see off to one side my wife carrying my grandson. What a pleasant sight. I wave. I continue thru the line collecting my race stuff that includes food, hat, towel and drinks.

I already knew what picture I wanted to take. My wife brought my 8K medal from the day before. That medal along with my additional Whale Challenge medal I head over to my wife and swap my race things for my grandson. The guy standing at the edge was preventing everyone from coming back thru the exit area (where they were standing), he was nice enough to allow me to carry my grandson back thru to pose for a picture. That made number more special.......oh yeah......and the fact that I ran the race in 5:09:47! No way!

Busted my PR like crazy!
23 minutes faster than last week!
24 minutes faster than Disney in January!
41 minutes faster than Shamrock last year!
And nearly an entire hour off of my typical marathons ending last November!

That is just crazy! Thank you Shamrock for giving me a great race to set my PR. 5:00:00 seems possible now. I would have never thought. Dreamed.....but never thought! Just goes to show that you can accomplish whatever your mind sets in front of.

Until the next race (3 weeks)
ET This I Believe
Eugene Thompson

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cats in the Cradle

This song always gets to me when I hear it on the radio. I always feel that somehow this is what my life has now become. I am the father that was too busy to spend time. I might not have been as drastic as the song writers version of the father but I feel I certainly spent a lot of time running and starting my business when the kids were little. It is hurtful to think that I could have neglected my family but not spending enough quality time.

What can I expect? I probably gave them the example of not calling my mother enough or visiting back home more often. I didn't share the need of connecting with my own mother so why would they think it should be any different. Now that she is gone it is painful to realize that I wasn't there enough as a son. I didn't make it a priority. That hurts. Sure I called, but not much......not enough. She was lonely.....and I was busy.....or so I always told myself. I'll carry that for a long time.

Even with today's technology, we are too distant. Too far away to connect even on the most minimal levels. A picture on facebook, a comment in a text, a five minute call.....hey how are you doing? We are all busy with our lives. With our OWN lives.....that is what I taught was important. That is was I thought was the most important. That is what should be expected. I didn't realize it until it was too late. But again that is my own burden to carry. My own grief.

What happens tomorrow? That I do not know. Time marches on and by no means am I getting younger. My meager attempts to gain respect and pride from those I care for really go unnoticed. Although I have worked hard to achieve better health to hang around this world for a little longer, I'm not sure it matters. I understand things differently as I look at life from a different perspective. Getting old doesn't appear as graceful as it sounds. Getting old just sucks. Being old just sucks. Now that I think about it, who can imagine an old Elvis, an old Michael Jackson, an old Marilyn Monroe? Their candles went out early and maybe that it meant to be for some.

The clock keeps ticking. The pages of the calendar keep flipping. There is a line in the sand that is drawn not we don't know exactly where it will occur. I push with each marathon to do just a little more....a little better......but the line is drawn as to my limit. Mine could very well could be soon. Could be that line just beyond my own father's. 52. Once that was a distant mark. Now I can nearly reach out and touch it. We will see. We will see how far I can run. We will see if I can reach some line that is far beyond the next few years. But then again, I don't see myself becoming an old Elvis. And would it even matter.

Cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home, Dad
I don't know when, but we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then.

You know my will be a good time......then.

Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe

One City Newport News Marathon

This last weekend I did my third marathon this year and my ninth overall in 14 months. The weather was perfect. A little cool in th morning but didn't even need a cover befor the race. That doesn't happen often! It was the inaugural race for Newport News so I wanted to run it especially that a marathon was so close to home. Those don't happen often. This was going to be a little different for me as this would end up being the first race that I began under 200 pounds! Who knows how much I weigh at the end of one of these.....I bet I drop nearly 8-10 pounds! I'm not joking!

It was a small race in comparison but very well staffed and supported for the most part. 8k, Marathon and Marathon Relay with a total of 2600 runners. Only 400 or so we're full marathon runners so I had a small group. But that's okay. After colorado's 106 runners.....elite runners.....I can handle it. The crowds along the route were very supportive. I found them very encouraging and genuinely excited about supporting the race. That makes it all worth it when you are trekking through someone's neighborhood.
I really loved that the city made the extra effort to market this race everywhere. I do feel that it can become a major race feature as it continues to grow. I'm encouraged to think that if I am able to keep up my running that this one will be the first of many more here in Newport News. Another great piece that was added were all the mile marker posts. I'm guessing that these are going to stay up all year round showing commitment from the city that they are going to continue this race tradition they started. All the other turns and twists along the route were also very well marked. That isn't always the case. Again, I really enjoyed the run.

So as far as my results.....of course I'm never as pleased as I could be. (That is always the case.) In simplest form, I set a new PR. I actually started out at a pretty fair pace and kept it up the better part of the entire first half. I started off somewhere between 11:10-15 pace but slipped a little after mile 13 ..... but not by much. I crossed the half way point at 2:33:00 +/-. The next several miles were a little struggle and I think that was just because I hadn't really run anything longer than 6.5 miles since the marathon in New Orleans eight weeks ago. I really shouldn't do that......but snow and ice and cold weather really hindered my training. Just cannot run the long distances inside on a DREADMILL!

Legs felt good but mile 20-21 were rough to push through. My time from what I could tell was comparable to Disney. Maybe slightly slower but I wasn't entirely sure in disney of my 20 mile time due to my Runkeeper dying on me down there. I was just over the four hour mark. It is just those last SIX MILES that are a huge hurdle for me right now. I get really tired and need to walk run off and on. That is where my need to improve my training or alter my pace earlier on somehow. But really my starting pace didn't feel rushed at all. I think it is just stamina.

At that point there was a little glimmer of thought that I might be able to push close to the five hour mark .....than I quickly dismissed that thought......too much. Maybe however I could handle 5:15!? That would be a push as well and another huge jump in my PR if I could make it. As the next few miles struggled along I saw that slip away too. Mile mark 23 came and the clock seemed to be running faster than I was. With 3.2 miles left.....only a 5K I told myself.....I tried to push. There just wasn't much left in the tank to push. I saw the 5:15 slip away too. My next goal was to get under 5:30..... Just three minutes under my disney PR.

Mile marker 24 came around and and I had 24 minutes to reach that goal......I tried.....just working with  so little left. Mile 25.....mile 25.5......dang my stupid legs! Run would you! Five minutes left at that point to run the POINT 5......and then don't forget the other POINT 2 tacked onto the end......that always kills you!

Nope......just couldn't. Runkeeper told me at Mile 26 that I was at 5:31:30 with that stupid POINT 2 remaining. Dang It. Push just push. I picked up the pace and pushed slowly getting up to a spint level. The handful of individual runners that seemed to be just a head of me in those final few miles I now flew past. I'm sure they thought I was crazy......SPRINT AFTER ALREADY RUNNING 26 FREAKIN MILES. I thought I was crazy too. My wife saw me coming at full speed down the street. I could see the clock ticking away. I could tell for sure but I knew I was close to a new PR. I couldn't do anymore math in my head.......just RUN EUGENE RUN!

I crossed the line and raised my hands in matter what the time ended up being I just finished my 9th marathon and was a winner as far as I was concerned. Very much out of breath but happy to be finished.......yep.....A FINISHER! That's what they call us.

I have been testing my blood sugars closely and comparing to my weight so I quickly stepped into the medical tent to have them test my glucose. I was really fine I just wanted to see where I was before I ate a banana and pizza and whatever else.....I was starving! It was 89, not bad. I had started off the morning at a 96 but had not taken my meds or insulin before the race. I knew it could really drop if I did. They kept me for a few minutes because my pulse was still racing......duh.....I just sprinted a quarter mile after running a full marathon. Lol.

We received a text a few minutes later from the official timing trekker and I had completed the race in 5:32:42......about one minute faster than Disney. Not much time knocked off......but still a PERSONAL RECORD!

All this and two days later I went to my endocrinologist and received great news. I had dropped an entire point (the big point....not the point something or other). Since early December I had gone from 8.2 A1C down to a 7.2 and I had weighed in there in their office at 213 pounds and that morning I was 202. My doctor called me her hero! Nothing makes me fell better than accomplishing that.

So recovery begins and the next race is in only a few days. SHAMROCK WHALE CHALLENGE! Yep 8K on the following Saturday followed up with the full marathon the day after.


I encourage all my friends who read this to take time to exercise. Take time to take care of yourself. If I can do certainly can as well. If you have diabetes or know someone who does, please feel free to write me. I would love to help and encourage those interested in any way I can.

If possible, please help me reach my goals this year of running 14 marathons and completing 1000 miles. Everywhere I go a share my experiences and encourage others with diabetes to make things happen in their lives. But all this is expensive. Race entries, travel and expenses but I think it is important. Help me out by giving what you are able to my goal at Go Fund Me. I appreciate all your support.


ET This I Believe
Eugene Thompson

Monday, March 2, 2015 Draggin'

I have been really draggin' ever since my marathon in New Orleans. I ran something like 85 miles in the month of January (that is an exaggeration) and in February there were only 13 miles. 

That stinks! Maybe I could blame it on the cold weather. Maybe I could blame it on the snow. Maybe I could blame it on my treadmill. Oh yeah, every one of those miles were on a treadmill. Blah. Maybe I could blame it on my body being tired. Maybe I just get blah sometimes and don't feel motivated to run. That is diabetes for you. 

So an update, my blood sugar numbers have been fantastic. That is great news. Now I'm also between 197 and 201 pounds. That is great news. And my shoulder feels like it needs to be chopped off. That isn't so great of news. 

Not sure what the deal is but it has been killing me. Didn't fall on it, didn't pull on it, it didn't pull on me, didn't yank, crank, prank or anything else. Shoulder just hurts. Not so much when I run .... Just during everything else. So when in doubt give it a Cortizone shot. And take a handful of ibuprofen every day for the next two weeks. Blah blah blah. Sure, we will see. I've tried adjustments and massages and it still hurts since October. I should have asked for some Cortizone for my knees. 

With all that being said I went out this morning and ran 6 1/2 miles in the snow and rain. And it felt great! However my glasses did freeze up a little bit. First they fogged up in the fog turn to condensation in the condensation turn to frozen sickles. Try running in those kind of goggles!

I need to keep up the running over the next two weeks to stay loose to be ready for the One City Newport News Marathon. Then the week after that will be the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. That should get me up to about another 85 miles this month. 

So what do you say my friends? Are you ready for a run?


Over the last week or so we've received some really cute pictures of our granddaughter to Texas. Thankfully technology is such that we get many pictures and videos. Nice to receive them when we live so far away. She is growing up so quickly.

Even though our grandson lives right here in town and we see often, there are still times where I will go weeks without hugging him. We had him overnight this weekend and PapaT took advantage of it with a lot of pictures. 

Here are a few favorites of both.

Enjoy those kiddos while you can my friends. They grow up quickly.

D. Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe