Monday, April 25, 2011

Motivation Monday- Alex

Better late than never!  It is still *technically* Monday, even if it is Monday night!  But,  I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to our first ever MALE Guest Blogger.  Woohoo!  Alex is an almost-fifty (he said it, not me :)  )  year old from New Jersey who recently participated in Runapalooza, a relay Marathon on the Jersey Shore...So, lets all give a good fist pump (sorry- I couldn't resist)  for Alex's journey, in his own words.  

Technology be damned, I think that this is as good as its going to get today.  Sorry Alex-  I hope the spacing/formatting etc  doesn't show up all wonky when I post this!

Hi everyone, my name is Alex and I live in Wayne, N.J.  Millie is one of my good internet friends because of a forum we met on many (8 or 9?) years ago for reality TV.   I am quickly closing in on 50 years old (unbelievable) and have been mildly active throughout my life as I’ve always enjoyed bowling, golfing and skiing.   I started running about a year ago because I was getting married last June (to my beautiful wife Kim) so I wanted to look good for the big day.  Well, that and I wanted to golf better.  Golf is always an underlying motivator for me to do something if I think it will help me play better!  I was pushing my highest weight ever at that time – about 235-240.  Here is a picture of me from a bowling tournament I went to early last year (March, 2010).  I’m on the left.  Oh, and in case you were wondering – no, I was not hiding a bowling ball under my shirt!

I started slowly, doing about a mile a few times a week.  I figured it was better to run for 10-12 minutes than do nothing at all.  Because the runs were short, it wasn’t “too” painful and I didn’t quit, even though I really didn’t enjoy doing it.  After a couple months I increased to 1.8 miles and stayed at that distance for quite a long time.  It was during this time that I discovered Millie’s blog and I was blown away by her drive to participate in a triathlon.  I love that spirit.  I myself have never really wanted to run in a race or be in a triathlon.  Even though our goals differed, I mentioned to her often how motivated she made me feel through the compassion she expressed in her blog.  I felt her joy when she completed her triathlon last year - it was a fantastic moment for her!

By the way, I think I looked much better for the wedding.  I was down to about 220-225.  Here’s a picture of me and Kim the day we got married on the beach in the Dominican Republic – what a perfect day!  In addition, my golf handicap in 2010 went down to as low as 10.8, which is easily the best I ever have golfed in my life.  After we returned home from the wedding, Kim and I bought a real good used treadmill.  It turned out to be a great investment.  The winter in New Jersey was very bad with lots of snow so having this treadmill was instrumental in me continuing to run while the roads were ice and snow covered (for what seemed like forever!).
Last month (March, 2011) I got a call from my good friend John.  He and his wife Mary often run with the Jersey Shore Running Club – and they had an upcoming event that they have done for years where up to five people do a marathon relay called Runapalooza, each person running at least one leg and passing a baton.  Then there’s a huge party at the Asbury Park Convention Hall afterward with beer.  John wanted to know if I be interested.  I asked him when it was and how far I had to run.  He said it was on April 16th and probably 3 or 4 miles.  I was regularly running my 2 miles on the treadmill and they had beer after, so I said sure, I could do it.  I like beer!  Then there were some email exchanges about if we had enough people to do the longer legs and it became uncertain if we could do it, so I offered to run one of the longer legs if I needed.  So on April 7th (9 days before the event) we got confirmation that we were definitely doing the race, but John still didn’t know how long my leg would be.
Without knowing that and the event only 9 days away, I started running some longer runs just in case.  I did three miles on Friday, 4/8 and four miles on Monday, 4/11.   Then on the Tuesday before the event, I found out that he needed me to do the 4th leg - which was 6.0 miles!  Good thing I had been training (barely) to go a little longer because I had never run anything over 4 miles in my life!   So the next morning I got up real early in the dark, drizzle and wind and ran 5 miles – and it wasn’t too bad!   Honestly, I couldn’t believe I was running such long distances (for me).  Not to mention I was down to about 215 pounds.  I was pretty certain I was ready for race day!
RACE DAY:  I was a little nervous about the whole thing that morning.  I just didn’t know what to expect.  Lots of people were running this event (there were over 400 teams) and I was used to running alone.  The slowest teams started at 8:00 am and the fastest as late as 10:00 am.  They do this so most of the teams finish around the same time.  Our team was a slower team (estimated 10 min. miles) so we started at 8:40 am.  We figured my leg would start around 11:30 am at transition point #3 in Manasquan.  Kim and I arrived down in the area of the race around 10 am so we were able to go to the transition point #2 (in Point Pleasant Beach) and see our team do a hand off there.  There were cars everywhere as teams rolled in with SUVs full of runners.   It was a cold and windy day, about 42 degrees and the wind was blowing at about 20-25 mph out of the northeast.  We walked up to the boardwalk and there were hundreds of people waiting for the runners and cheering them on.  We found my teammates and waited for Mary to finish the 2nd leg – and pass the baton to another teammate (a different John).  Once the hand off was made, I knew it was about 45 minutes until my leg.   So we got back in the car and drove to Manasquan, which is about a 10-15 minute drive.  We passed John on the road on the way and beeped our horn at him, yelling encouragement!   

Once in Manasquan I got myself ready.  I stretched, ate a banana, drank some water and waited with the gang of people on the boardwalk.  I could feel my nerves jangling a little bit. I was thinking to myself “Can I really run six miles –am I physically ready – am I out of my mind”?  All those things that probably run through people’s heads their first time.  And then suddenly we could see John’s red jacket coming up the boardwalk!  It was time!  He came, passed me the baton – and I was off!  The running went fairly well overall.  I tried to settle into my pace but think I was running a little quicker than normal.  It was hard to stay calm with so many runners passing me by.  I was definitely one of the slower runners, although I did pass a few along the way so I wasn’t the slowest turtle on the course.  On my leg there were four stretches of boardwalk with some intermixed road running between them.  The toughest part of the whole run was the long stretch of boardwalk in Spring Lake.  It was towards the end of the run and probably about 2 miles long.  I thought I’d never make it to the end of that thing!  Along the way there would be small groups of people cheering the runners on.  The ocean was furiously pounding waves about 100 yards to my right.  When the running got tough I just looked out at the ocean and thought of how amazing this whole thing was and that I was really doing it!!  And I swear that during this part of the run I also thought of this blog, of Millie and her triathlon and all other people that have done something like this for the first time recently.  I also thought of my nephew Chris who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq in 2004, giving me the freedom to live in the beautiful country and do these great things.  So I just kept on running.   And before I knew it I was off of the Spring Lake boardwalk and only about ½ mile away from the transition, so my pace picked up a little knowing I was so close!!  I jumped up on the boardwalk in Belmar and could see the crowd.  I ran into the tunnel of people and there was my teammate Javier waiting for the handoff!  I did it – I ran the six miles non-stop in a race!  

Afterwards we headed up to Asbury Park and met up with our team at Convention Hall.   We finished in 4:19, which is just under ten minute miles, right on our estimated time.  We came in 351st place out of 413 teams (you can see the results here – we were the Beach Bums).  By the way, check out that winning team – 2:13 – that team was made up of only TWO runners!!  Wow – I know I’ll never be that fast!  They weren’t gazelles as Millie calls them, they were cheetahs!  

Here’s a picture inside Convention Hall of me with teammates John and Mary.  The other John and Javier had already left before I realized we didn’t get a team picture.  Actually I will admit I did enjoy the entire experience much more than I thought I would.  Oh and yes, I had plenty of beer at the after party in Convention Hall.  I mean, that’s why I went, right?   I still don’t consider myself a runner and probably never will.  However I have decided I will never stop running so long as my legs will let me, so next year I’ll be in the Jersey Shore Marathon relay again.  I feel great and this experience has taught me that it’s never too late to start.  If anyone that reads this blog isn’t sure how they can possibly do it, I’ll tell you to just do a little bit and don’t stop.  It is much better to do something than nothing at all like I did for too many years!  It wasn’t too late for me and it isn’t for you either!  

Are you training for a race or did you recently complete one?  I'd love to have you share your inspiring story as a guest blogger on See Millie Tri.  Email me at Millie [at] See Millie Tri [dot] com and let me know when your race is.  I would love to share your success with everyone else!   


Alex said...

Hey, someone has to post here so I will!! And no problem with mentioning my age, since I did anyway! But I figured if you have any readers approaching or in middle age, they shouldn't feel like they can't start if they haven't done anything their entire adult life. And the good news is I feel better now than I did at 30! So 50 is just a number.

Alex said...

One last note - Kim wants to at least walk (and maybe I'll be able to coax her to run later) - but first she is dealing with a foot problem that is holding her back. Doctor appointment Thursday for her and hopefully she can get it fixed and going again in the near future. Nothing worse than foot/leg/knee issues and wanting to walk or run.

The Tubby Triathlete said...

Absolutely!! :) Kim is going to rock it too! With the late post last night, I'm sure my blog readers will comment today- posts are usually up a day before anyone says anything :)
But the comment love will come!

Sarah said...

Great job Alex! And congrats for being the first guy guest post! The 1st pic you have in your post and the last pic in your post shows how fit youve become thru running. A true testiment to the benfits of it! Keep up the good work!

Lindsay k. said...

Congrats on running the race! When I ran my half marathon a few weeks ago, I got passed up by a man in his 70s or maybe 80s! And I was averaging 9:40 miles! I hope that you keep up with your workouts so that you and your wife can enjoy many wonderful years together! Thanks for sharing your story!