30 June 2014

Two for one: The bridges of Cape Fear

As June winds down, it's time to starting revving up for the next race!

July's race is actually two races: The 32nd Annual YMCA Tri-Span 10K sponsored by the Wilmington YMCA and the Endless Summer 6-hour Run put on by the Annapolis Striders. Why two? I originally chose the Endless Summer because they donate their proceeds from the race to Semper Fi Fund and then, in May, MARSOC Foundation was brought on board as the charity recipient for the Tri-Span and it is also part of the WRRC Grand Prix Series, so it made sense.

 The TS10K is a loop that crosses all three bridges in downtown Wilmington, and being run in mid-July, it is hot, even at 0700. So, it should be an interesting race. I have been prepping by ummmm....well....I guess I haven't really been training specifically to the race, but I will definitely try to put some leg turnover in on race day! (Wait, does swimming count since the bridges go over the Cape Fear River??)

Speaking of swimming, on Saturday, in addition to the regular long run - which was painful due to lack of hydration and almost being hit by a Hummer - I dove into the intracoastal with Michael B. and we did a two-mile out and back, which got interesting when the skies opened up and the rain created not only back-splashes on the waves but a low mist which made sighting a pain in the tuckus. I will get better at getting photos of these fun moments, you know, like hire a paparazzo to follow me around or something.

My water adventures continued as the munchkins and I attended a birthday pool party, replete with a bouncy house and piñatas; there was even a large frog who joined the festivities and who was much celebrated by the young attendees. The intermittant thunderstorms didn't dampen the Pumpkin Noodle's enthusiasm and she and the Bubbaloo were in the water non-stop, barring the occasional lightning evacuation. All in all, another wonderful day. Happy Monday to you all!

29 June 2014

Why I went and what it meant

There was an article the other day about why Marines stay or leave the Corps; chief among the answers for staying were the chance to train and lead Marines and pride in being a Marine. It got me to thinking about what it meant to me to be a Marine and an officer.

My life before I joined: I had just finished grad school and, after a bit of a job hunt, found myself in the midst of the tech boom/dot-com frenzy on the west coast. I had a series of incredible jobs, including working with Quokka Sports, hired by NBC to create the first ever interactive online Olympics. I was racing with adidasTranSports (now absorbed into the BATC) and competing with the Manatee Masters as well as in triathlon and open water races. I took international trips for fun every year and was in a long-term relationship. I had a pretty sweet, selfish life and something was seriously missing.

Almost five years after initially submitting my officer package, I finally signed on the dotted line.

A big part of what made me walk back into the Officer Selection Office was someone I met while racing the Marathon des Sables in 2000. He was a British officer, then a paratrooper and eventually a Pathfinder, David Blakeley. I remember him having to leave on 48-hour notice as part of a Rapid Reaction Force to Sierra Leone and we communicated about what his unit was doing. We kept in touch and visited when he occasionally trained in the States; we lost touch after he was injured in Iraq in 2003 (although I have archived somewhere the image he emailed of letter Prince Charles sent him, along with some recovery libations!). But, I will always remember the things he told me about his deployments to Kosovo and the training he did back in garrison, along with really enjoying hearing about his time at Sandhurst - and always thinking, how does one have the conviction to put their life in peril for others, to go because you are told and because you volunteered? Meeting him gave me the final nudge I needed to finally do what I had been wanting to do. (I don't think I ever told him that.)
Thank you, David. 
Over the 11 years I was in, I learned much about myself and found that while I had many shortcomings that needed attending to, the ethos of the Corps was in tune with my own personal goals, and I worked hard, on all fronts, to live up to the standards I believe the words "Honor, Courage and Commitment" encompass. I felt honored to be wearing the uniform and if I was  a bit too rigid in my professional demeanor early on, it was only that I confused always being serious with being a dedicated officer (turns out you can be humorous and be a great leader, right, Sideshow?). I recognized that as a pilot, my job was to support the infantry, and that as an officer, my primary task was to be there for the enlisted Marines, those under my charge and especially those who worked with me in the aircraft. It was never about me; I stood up for what I thought was right, picked fights for some who couldn't, and constantly worked at understanding both the small and big pictures. For me, being an officer meant serving others and seeking to better myself in all facets, so that I might fully meet the needs of those in my charge and surpass the expectations of those commanding me.

When I lost that, when I had to retire, the thing that stung the most was knowing that I would no longer be with those men and women who inspired me, who made me push myself, who made me a better person. I was in such a privileged position: to be tasked to truly care about the entire aspect of the Marines - both in their careers as well as in their personal lives. It's hard to explain, and certainly, I had the humbling responsibility for only a short time, but it is one of the things that I will miss the most - and I only hope that I never forget the lessons my Marines taught me about being both a good person and a good officer. It is what I  remember to carry with me as I go forward into my next venture.

27 June 2014

The need for speed

As I drove towards the track, the massive thunderhead broke open, spraying rain across the road and cutting the air with crackles of lightning. I sat in my car, having arrived early, and debated the merits of cardio enhancement against being struck by a bolt of electricty and what absorption properties the rubberized track might offer.

As start time approached, the clouds moved away, leaving in their soggy wake a rainbow and a still, heavy air. As we ran our 2-mile warm-up, steam rose from the hot asphalt, bathing us in movie-ready fog (cue the Chariots soundtrack) and giving us a glimpse of the coming workout. 

I both enjoy and have massive trepidation about track workouts. The reasons are two-fold and the same for each emotion: track workouts are a simple and true test of fitness and you can't fake the funk and achieve. A proper track workout pushes you to the edge of all-out fatigue, giving you just enough rest to push toward the precipice again while thinking all the while you'll fall off it and just not make it to the next repeat. You focus on your stride, your breathing, your turnover, remaining relaxed and every 200, checking that your effort matches your goal interval pace. 

We had a group of almost 20 out there yesterday and the workout, supplied by Dave F., was a modified ladder: 2x400, 2x800, 1x1200, 1x800, 1x400. This being only my second time on the track this year, I decided to see how the 400s went and then try to maintain that interval all the way through (vice shifting from a 5K pace to a 10K pace). Splits are on the training calendar, if you're interested. 

All I can say is my splits were a surprise and boy, was I was working hard. My stride has changed quite a bit with the injury and I run much more upright - I had the following boons yesterday - my legs weren't heavy, my shoulders were low, my back was straight and my arm swing steady. And I was chasing Brenda E. the whole way. Another positive effort. Boom. 

(And can someone tell Klinsmann to take Bradley out of the line-up until he can figure out how to properly gauge the distance of his passes? And in case you turned to Wimbledon after the USA match, you missed Jan Vertonghen score the winning goal, with a man down, for Belgium. Oh yeah, he's also a Tottenham Hotspur.) On to Tuesday!!

24 June 2014

Thank you, Theodor Geisel....

Y'all are feelin' this right about now....

Back at it

Just not even going to go there about the Italy v Uruguay game (#Suarez).....just can't even do it. And don't ask me why I'm bummed about Cote d'Ivoire - I just have a soft spot for Didier Drogba (yes, I know he is getting up there in fútbol years) and Yaya Touré (yes, I know he plays for Man City, all you Man U fans...I'm partial to the Hotspurs for EPL anyway, and yes, I know that my favorite former Spur now plays for Real Madrid, whom I dislike in La Liga being a Barce fan, and who also have Ronaldo on their team, who assisted in the tying goal during the USA v Portugal game - anything else?).

So......Tuesday hills....there were at least four groups out tonight - three sets of WRRC runners at 1730, 1800 and 1830 respectively, and the Cape Fear Hash House Harriers(a bit NSFW) were seen starting their run at 1830. There were also some folks I had never seen before running, so good for them to be getting some exercise. I ran agressively today, and changed it up a bit, keeping a steady pace for the three-block hills and pushing hard on the connecting and downhill blocks, which ended up making the uphills harder. It was a six-mile workout today, whoot!

If you weren't aware, Wilmington is a pretty popular location for film and television - Iron Man 2 filmed here, Sleepy Hollow is filmed here (the clock tower - that's my downtown) and we see them regularly at our neighborhood park; The Red Zone filmed here, and they just announced that Nicholas Sparks' book "The Longest Ride" will be filmed here. On the run tonight, we navigated through two blocks of star seekers congregating across the street from a filming location for SH (at least I think it was SH), and I can only assume that the later runners had even more traffic to move through as filming hadn't yet starting. I have seen Tom Mison while out for breakfast - he does prefer tea as so many British do - so I got that check in the box (and at the end of the day, really, not my thing, and I'm grateful I don't feel the need to hang around street corners hoping to see a film star).

June is coming to a close, my mileage is slowly creeping up there and I am sitting waiting to hear my LSAT score, my VA decision after submitting my rebuttal package, and the PEB decision on whether to allow me to permanently retire. It looks like I will have to have another abdominal surgery when this race series is over, but for now, will keep moving forward and manage the pain. All is good in the world.

Just a reminder, there are two upcoming races for July - my two-for-one if you will...I'll get into the details about those next week. More importantly, in July, I will be sharing the story of a fellow Phrog pilot, injured while training overseas, who is about a year and a half into his recovery. His journey is an inspiration to me and I hope it will be to you.

23 June 2014

Cantos deportivos y una bebida refrescante

You've heard the "I believe" chant now more than you care to note, especially if you follow college sports, but if you didn't look any deeper than that, you might not know that it was created by a midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. Here's the ESPN promo spot, for those of you who aren't watching fútbol at all (and who are you people, exactly?).

As I was glancing through various World Cup/Brazil sites, I came upon this one, which is primarily a Portuguese language consultancy blog - and a very interesting one - and they are following the Cup, offering neat cultural tidbits and an inside look at the various cities in Brazil, among other things. Along that vein, they posted a recipe for the national cocktail, the Caipirinha.

You have time between now and USA v Germany on Thursday to perfect it.

22 June 2014

On the intracoastal

This morning, I had the privilege of taking a stand-up paddle board (SUP) excursion on the Intercoastal Waterway just inland from Wrightsville Beach. The WRRC put together a group outing and about 15 of us met up with Cape Fear Paddleboarding at the Motts Channel Yacht Club and went out for about a two-hour jaunt. It was a seriously fun time.

Sun starting to break through the morning clouds. 
Me and Michael B. (in the kayak)
Starting off down Motts Channel
Yesterday, after a sleepless night, I was too haggard to make the morning run, so I waited until the late afternoon to run my 10 miles. Things I heard along the way included:

1) Three car horns, one from a Suburban full of teenage boys who all gave me the thumbs up.
2) One "Good job, you get going, doll," from the middle-aged man in the black truck.
3) One "Look at the girl run! Go, go, go, you got it, get it!" from the little girl playing with two other kids in their front yard.
4) Rumbling thunder which did not produce any rain until my last 1/4 mile.

This is what a sleepless night and a 10-mile run with almost 100% humidity at 85F looks like:

Hot, sweaty and with serious hollow eyes!
(Someday I'll figure out how to use the "filter" setting!)

20 June 2014


True selflessness embodied in a name: Corporal William "Kyle" Carpenter.
(CNN Pool Photo)
He was awarded the Medal of Honor yesterday in a ceremony at the White House. (To see what he plans to do next, check out this video on NationSwell.com.)

The official Congressional Medal of Honor website is here - and it presents the honorable history of those who have placed themselves directly and intentionally in danger to save the lives of others, dating back to the first one awarded.

A brief synopsis of its origins, as stated on the site: 'On December 9, 1861 Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced S. No. 82 in the United States Senate, a bill designed to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by authorizing the production and distribution of "medals of honor". On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced "which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born.

Two months later on February 17, 1862 Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson introduced a similar bill, this one to authorize "the President to distribute medals to privates in the Army of the United States who shall distinguish themselves in battle." Over the following months wording changed slightly as the bill made its way through Congress. When President Abraham Lincoln signed S.J.R. No. 82 on July 12, 1862, the Army Medal of Honor was born.

There are actually three versions of the medal: the original design, as received by the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard; a second design adopted by the Army; and a third variation, adopted by the Air Force in 1965.

The first Medal of Honor recipient was U.S. Army Assistant Surgeon Irwin Bernard, for rescuing 60 soldiers held at Apache Pass by the Apache Chief Cochise, in 1861. The first sailor awarded the Medal of Honor (and the third recipient overall) was John Williams - A Union Navy ship captain during the Civil War, for remaining at his firing post, despite being wounded, and refusing to leave his men during a battle at Mathias Point. (There were actually three John Williams who received the medal during the Civil War, just as a random aside, and the last soldier to be killed during the Civil War was also named John Williams.)

Whether or not you agree with the political, religious or social aims of any armed conflict, it is truly worth remembering that there are those who are there, historically mandated and presently as volunteers, who willingly commit to protect and save those to their left and their right without heed to their own safety. That is heroism.

18 June 2014

Revisiting my Abaddon

Yesterday was not a fun day. I spent a majority of the day collecting the medical records and summary statements from my doctors and my PT as well as the records from my hospitalization last fall. I had several panic attacks in my car. I did not sleep last night.

It is four a.m. and I am getting ready to drive to Camp Lejeune because my annual TDRL physical is today. The first exam is at the Naval Hospital, the same Naval Hospital that caused the injuries that cost me my military career and to almost took my life (well, technically, they did take my life, but that's another story). I know that there is nothing there that can harm me and my emotional response is primal, puerile even, but certainly not logical, which helps some. Nonetheless, I loathe the building, cannot forget what happened within its walls and I become a wretched mess every time I am forced to breathe the sterile fumes of its interior.

I search for humor in my situation - me, the logician, of the squared-off edges and analytic mind - who cannot seem re-set the position of the building to its rightful place of inanimate object. There's only one person who can help me.....

Then I remembered that he's pretty much a screwed-up nut, too....

 So, there you have it...I guess it'll have to be me saving myself, which probably stands to reason. See you on the other side.

Running without time

Yesterday was another epic hill day - not for any land speed records but for the fact that it was 92 and humid out as we started. I was rushing to get out of the house and forgot my watch, so was sans anything to check my per mile pace and work on consistency with each push uphill. It turned out to be a serendipitous forget, for two big reasons:

1. I have had steady and acute pain in my lower right abdomen (in the area where my arteries were severed) since last Thursday, so taking it as I felt was more necessary than I wanted to admit and
2. Did I mention it was hot out?

I ran with Michael B. again today and we just kept a steady rhythm up and down, although I have to drop the dime and say that after eight hills, he had to vamoose to another engagement so it was just me and my near-empty water bottle to finish out the last two repeats and then make the loop up and around the PPD building to complete seven miles. Which I did, although by the time I got back to the boardwalk, I was bushwhacked, even with the wind picking up behind me. It was a well-earned seven miles. And Brenda E., bless her speediness, waited for me to finish (a small group of us went at 6:00pm, the larger WRRC group went at 6:30pm).

It's a tour de downtown and the historic district (click to enlarge)

Elevation gains and grade % with each hill, the last climb is up to the end of Front Street past the PPD building
(Click to enlarge). 

17 June 2014

Third time's a charm

USA 2 - Ghana 1..... A good start, let's see what Jozy's status is in the coming days. Bring it, Ronaldo. 

US in red....
The pumpkin noodle drew the US scoring a second goal; I told her they only had one.....she replied, "I know, but they're going to get two!" And so they did.....

For the record, I have been watching pretty much every game, not just the US. I have to say, the goal by RvP (NED) is my favorite so far of the tournament. I always want the African teams to do well, maybe I have colonial guilt (even though I'm in no way British, French or Italian) - maybe I have Cold War guilt, then. I really just love good football - and I must say that I wasn't much into the Iran/Nigeria game - I feel like Nigeria has just faded, I remember watching them against the Argentina at Foxboro in '94 and they seemed so powerful. I wasn't impressed by their game.  Germany is my pick right now, unless Brazil ends up doing something unreal, I just don't think the home crowd will be able to take them past Die Adler.

16 June 2014

Retired...with a catch, pt. 2

I received a voicemail late last week informing me that all my DoD annual TDRL medical check-ups are this week, Thursday to be exact, the first one starting at 0630 and the last scheduled for 1100. I will have three appointments on that one day - a psych appointment, a physical therapy appointment and a general medical examination. As I mentioned earlier, I have to bring all new medical information to this appointment. (I am still working on my VA rebuttal, which will include all this info as well.)

The psych appointment is pretty self-explanatory, and I have no idea if they've received the review from the VA appointment I had in April.

At the physical therapy appointment, they will check my flexibility, my range of motion and probably have me to a bunch of balance tests.  These are some of the worst checks of a person's capabilities that I have ever seen as they don't measure or testing my strength or evaluate real-world limitations, things that all the civilians PTs I have worked with do on a regular basis (and incorporate exercises to assist with garnering improved capabilities).

The last exam will be interesting. I am sure they will look at the surface scars, ask about how I feel everyday, am I getting better or worse (how does one answer that?!?), any unusual weight gain/loss, any life stressors that have affected my recovery? I do not know how to prepare for this exam, I am not really sure what they are looking for. A confirmation that I still have daily pain? Check. That I have anxiety and sometimes panic attacks regarding all things medical, especially receiving treatment at any hospital facility? Check. That I don't sleep through the night on a regular basis? Check. (For the record, my knees are fine.) I don't know. I don't even know how what they find translates to what the VA decided - or if anything is communicated across that line at all...maybe this annual physical counts as a "periodic" VA check-up? The woman whom I spoke with the other day (see VA rebuttal above) didn't know the answer.

I tend to think that if I am asking these questions, there are probably others who are as well and yet, there never seems to be a straightforward response or even the same answer. I will be asking my TDRL liaison when I speak with her today, perhaps she will have accurate information.

I hope she doesn't tell me to call the VA.

15 June 2014

Le weekend

Saturday was a long run day, and by long, I mean it felt like it took a really long time to get to 10 miles (it was actually only 1:28) but boy, was the humidity up there! Thankfully, I was with my running pals and we had strength in numbers to get us through the run. We did a "beach run" which usually means a long run in the vicinity of Wrightsville Beach, but in this case, we actually did take to the beach for a portion of the run, something my left hip roundly cursed me for as the section we ran on was sloped. The sea breeze made up for it somewhat. Somewhat.

Afterwards, we all took part in some group plyometric exercises and stretching. Here's our balance pose, which really looks like an awkward dance move caught on camera. I love the Wilmington Road Runners!
That's me on the far right with the white visor....
Sunday was spent with the munchkins at the beach and as I took these pics, I realize that they seem to always be eating when I capture them, but it's also pretty much the only time they sit still for more than a minute. We built two "pool" forts, replete with canals to capture the sea water and they both jumped waves until I thought they would fall over from fatigue (have you seen that? when kids are enjoying themselves so much they keep going even though they are pretty much falling down tired? ).

Then it was home for a late lunch and a long nap for the littlest monkey and some board games for me and the pumpkin (and she wanted to help me sort and start the laundry - bonus!). All in all a great weekend.
Watermelon...num num num...
The Pumpkin Noodle and her signature closed-eyes, big smile! 
A second (or third?) snack break while keeping cool.....
the beginnings of water fort #2 are in the background. 

14 June 2014

Soccer, war and globalization

In light of the many commentaries, political, sports, social and otherwise, I recalled two books that made me altered my view of soccer, for very different reasons.

The first book, The Soccer War, is by the Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski. Born in 1932, he covered civil unrest, revolutions and coups, most notably in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1980s. The soccer war is a tribute to his dispatches, the back stories to the news articles carrying his tales to a European audience. His work had been under scrutiny for a while, with some doubting the complete veracity of his writings; nonetheless, Kapuscinski fully embraced the cultures in the countries in which he traveled and certainly, did not always return unscathed. The chapter for which the book is name deals with a best-of-three series of soccer matches in 1969 between two Latin American nations and what transpired to put these countries at each other's throats.

The second is How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer. It came out in 2004, when the notion of globalization was losing its stead as the topic du jour, the buzz that everyone was claiming would bring economic parity and a concept from which all nations would benefit. Foer dissects this notion using soccer: examining clans/sects and tribal divisions, economics and the effects of globalization and the concept of, as he terms it, "old-fashioned" nationalism. He travels for eight months across the globe in search of answers to the above topics and comes away with surprising insight and lovely travelogue .

And just in time for the World Cup was a reissue of Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper and Steven Syzmanski, first published in 2009 (I disagree with that part about Iraq given the recent headlines). But they do advocate for the U.S. sending players to Europe to play and they are all for hiring European coaches....just saying....

You could also give Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power a chance to impress (also by Simon Kuper) or go even further with Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin.
Or you could keep it simple and just read this. 

13 June 2014

The VA headache continues.....

After three weeks of trying to get a hold of someone who could actually help me (this included a trip to the brand new health facility in town), I was able to speak to someone at the call center in St. Louis....as in Missouri. Bear in mind that the letter came from the regional office in Winston-Salem, but I can't talk to anyone there, all calls for them get sent to St. Louis. Huh?

The woman with whom I spoke was quite affable and I apologized in advance for my less-than-affable tone, ahem. My primary query was how to fight the decision to cut my benefits after less than one year (and based on one visit with one doctor whom I had never before met and who did not review nor ask for any medical treatment records since I left the Corps - in contrast, for my upcoming DoD annual review, they asked for any and all treatment records since I have left, and I have three appointments.) The VA only requested a list of medications - 'cause obviously if I'm doped up on drugs, then I'm still screwed up, I must be fine if I choose to care for my children and deal with my life with a lucid mind - but I digress....

In preparation for my rebuttal to their claim, I have already been gathering medical records and prepping a statement. The VA letter also states I can have an "accredited representative" help me with my claim - basically, one of the many veterans' associations that exist - whether national, local or regional - which is great, and they give you an extensive list of those, but they do not tell you which ones are near you but do say that if you can't find them in "your phone book" - to call the same 1-800 number I have been calling for three weeks.....(for those of you in NC, the VFW, AMVets and the DAV are co-located at the Winston-Salem regional VA office, email me if you need those numbers).

So, I am writing a letter detailing out why the evidence they, the VA, have is insufficient, given the fact that I still have nightmares weekly, my panic attacks are regular and sometimes occur during the day, insomnia and I are good friends and that it takes every ounce of energy I have not to fall apart at the thought of entering a hospital. I have to submit the letter by July, but I should have it completed and ready by next week.

Simply because I have "extraordinary coping skills" and have "succeeded against horrific ordeals and odds" doesn't mean I'm all better, it means I'm a fighter trying to get better. I just haven't reached that finish line yet....

12 June 2014

Yankee futbol

In case you don't know what today is.......

And so as not to have the other 31 teams feel left out...

Larger images of each team's poster can be seen here: ESPNFC.com
The internet is littered with brackets and predictions and all sorts of fun stuff, but I found these to be the most fun and informative:

1) Bracket

2) Groups by team crest

3) Schedule of the first two weeks' matches by group (although it's European time):

4) And the official posters of World Cups since 1930, artistically compiled (I think this year's is a bit awkward looking, so I didn't go single image):

11 June 2014

Back at the homestead

Had an enjoyable travel day yesterday, this was the view from my window and my reading material for the flight.

At about 25,000ft
There were also covers with Neymar and Messi, but I got Cristiano....gosh, darnit. 
Once I was back on land, all I wanted to do was hang out with these guys, thus, no post.....tomorrow, new adventures commence as does the combined speed and distance training for the two-equals-one races in July!  

The munchkins enjoying fruit bars on the back deck after dinner.....

09 June 2014

The big test

How I have felt over the past three months.....

How I should be feeling today.....

How I really feel today......  

08 June 2014

The Heartbreak is over: runner down

Dawn arrived at just past 0500 and the morning of race day rituals commenced - coffee on, race uni on, number pinned on, adidas slides, headband, sunscreen slathered on my face, then a bagel and a banana consumed in ready fashion. It appeared all was as it should be. We arrived at Boston College with almost an hour to spare, plenty of time to change my shoes, take a few pre-race pics and warm up. It was cloudless and the temperature was rapidly climbing, but it was still comfortable in the shade. A good day to race.


I met a fellow runner, Rick, in the corral who was planning on running a similar pace and we chatted through the first four miles, which was a brisk sub-8:00 pace thanks to the downhill that started the race. I eased off a bit after that and Rick jaunted away. I kept a steady pace through the rolling hills and at the five mile mark, we turned off Commonwealth Ave and onto a long, steady climb, the first of several as we circumnavigated the Newton Country Club. I stretched it out a bit between six and nine, and lo, and 9.5 miles in, I re-encountered Rick and we continued on course for a sub-1:50. 

The reunion was short-lived, however, for just after 9.75, a runner wobbled off the course and collapsed. A Runner's World assistant editor (who happened to be running) got there first along with a fellow runner, who helped him sit up and were trying to talk to him but he wasn't coherent. I stopped immediately and called 9-1-1 on my cell phone. He appeared to have severe heat exhaustion and after about a minute, he fainted and became unresponsive. His name - printed on his bib - David. We laid him down, lifted his legs and I started calling to fellow runners who had water to bring it over to cool him down, while getting our location and his vitals to the emergency operator on the phone, who assured me the paramedics were on their way. A road marshal appeared on a bike, I briefed him and he rushed off to notify the Newton PD, who appeared quickly and took over comms. 

David was still unresponsive, his pupils were pinpoint, his heart rate wouldn't come down, hovering between 140-150 and he was pale and sweating. Three runners, all retired Air Force and part of the Road Warriors organization, stopped, and among them was a doctor, who immediately assisted. The fire department arrived with cold compresses and oxygen, which David's instinctive reactions caused him to fight, but we were able to restrain him and get the O2 on, as a reading showed his O2 level at around 86%. The FD had no IV though, so we just held tight and I stayed at David's head, holding his hand and talking with him, letting him know he was being taken care of and help was on the way. The paramedics arrived and asked multiple questions of us as they attended to David and once they brought over their full complement of medical gear, we backed away and let them take over. 

The course marshal thanked us for our help and I turned to the Road Warrior crew and said, I guess we go finish now, yeah? Which we did - running together for the last three and change miles - I even got a pic of them as they crested Heartbreak Hill. My finish time of 2:07 is irrelevant; I and the Road Warriors were at the right place at the right time for someone who needed help. As of this post, I don't know David's status, I am still trying to find out. 


I found Rick at the race festival lawn! 

07 June 2014

Prepping for Heartbreak: A Purple Fox rests here

This morning my mom and I went to the race expo and got my bib, conferred with a representative from Team Red, White & Blue, selected a post-race rally point and drove the race route, keying in on climbs and descents and where not to make a surge (umm...yeah, not on THAT hill). I even had time to study for most of the afternoon, so bonus!


 Yesterday was a day taking in the Marblehead/Swampscott area, about 25 minutes north of Boston, where my mom lives. There are memorials dating back to WWI along Monument Avenue, which culminates with a view of the bay extending out the ocean and an American flag waving in red, white and blue relief. If you are unfamiliar with Morphine 12, the CH-46E flight from the Purple Foxes of HMM-364 shot down in Iraq in 2007, the hometown and final resting place of the pilot-in-command, Capt Jennifer Harris, is Swampscott, MA. She was not only a phenomenal pilot, but an outstanding officer and Marine. She is honored on one of the memorials, along with another Swampscott native who gave his life in service to this nation. Also killed on the flight were 1stLt Jared Landaker, Cpl Thomas E. Saba, Sgt James Tijerina, Sgt Travis Pfister, HM1 Gilbert Minjares, Jr. and HM3 Manuel Antonio Ruiz. I had a really hard time taking this picture, my mom had to come and help me out.

The centerpiece of the OIF/OEF memorial 
The whole memorial 
Vietnam Memorial 
Desert Shield/Desert Storm Memorial
World War II Memorial
In Marblehead, we visited the historical museum at Abbott Hall and were greeted by some lovely ladies who showed us the "Birthplace of the Navy" exhibit and the tribute to marine aviation, where 1stLt. Alfred Cunningham's image shone larger than life. I always thought that there must have been many naval aviators before him, turns out, in addition to being the first USMC aviator, he was also naval aviator no. 5, so he was right there at the beginning. (When you graduate flight school, they tell you what number you are; I am no. 28,000 - the guy ahead of me was pissed!) The designer and builder of the first hydroplanes, William Starling Burgess, is from Marblehead and built his factory here and Cunningham first flew here in 1912. If you are a history buff, you'll know that the honorific of "birthplace of the Navy" is disputed by a few other cities, but since George Washington commissioned the first five warships here, the first being the Hannah, built right here in the bay, and since it was crewed entirely by Marblehead residents, I'm going with the town's claim.

Overlooking the bay
That's just frickin' cool....

 Tomorrow is race no. 2 and it promises to be sunny and breezy and warm - so off to bed go I....