My Fifth and Final Marathon (at least for a while)

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A week ago was the one-year anniversary of my first ever marathon, and my fifth completed in the past year. The Sacramento marathon will always be a bit of a turning point for me, I felt like if I could run it last year–then run a few more during the year–and then run Sac again one year later, then I’d have hit some significant milestone. Though, now that it’s done, I’m not sure I feel that way. You’d think your 5th marathon would be your easiest, but last Sunday’s race was really tough for me–and nearly an hour slower than I’d run the Chicago marathon just six weeks before. Super humbling, though I had a few physical issues going on that contributed to making this one a bit more difficult. But, here goes.

Following are a few things I learned about myself over the past five marathons, more general tips than practical ones I’ve written about before, or other running stories about how I never thought I could do it, then I said screw it I’m doing it, and a few in between and one more here:

1. I hate the cold. I’m now a California weather wimp, and I now know I can get very Wangry. Do know the definition of angry ? Perfect. Now, know the term “hangry”? That’s anger induced by hunger. Therefore, “wangry”, is anger induced by cold weather. After this last weeks run (was 20’s during most of it) I never want to run long distances in cold weather again.

20's in the 2013 Sacramento CIM Marathon. Way. Too. Cold.
20’s in the 2013 Sacramento CIM Marathon. Way. Too. Cold.

2. If you want to run a marathon…Just put some steps forward and make it happen. Pick a race (like, literally this week–pick a race for sometime late Spring or early Summer). Sign up. Develop a training plan. Start running. Just. Get. Going.

3. Training is part of the gift. It’s also a pain because it’s so time consuming. If you don’t train, and this is pretty straightforward,  you will be in a lot of pain during your marathon. Like you might find yourself in a port-a-pottie at mile 23 crying from the pain. Hypothetically. And you run the risk of not finishing. Plus, while you learn a lot about yourself from the run itself, you also learn a lot throughout training.

4. Pick a marathon song. A soulful one. I have a song for every marathon. And it’s not a “power song” like in a Nike-sense where you need something to amp  you up. It’s more significant than that. It’s, well, soulful…and I can’t really explain it further. Every marathon of mine has a different one, which is usually scattered several times throughout my marathon playlist. Of course it gets plenty of use during my training runs as well. And whilst blogging. This past race’s song was “Pieces” by Andrew Belle. It’s pretty amazing.

5. Stretch your ass off. Especially if you’re over 30. If you don’t stretch pre and post running,you’re a ticking time bomb. Especially if you have accumulated injuries from previous sports or, maybe, you’re just getting old(er). An Ortho once told me those with greatest risk of ligament and tendon tears are guys in mid 30’s who forego stretching and still do the weekend warrior thing and then…Stretching stinks. I hate it. But you have to do it.

6. Only listen to half of what your doctors tell you. Years back a doc told me I shouldn’t run. So I quit. Then I started running anyways. I’ve kept doc advice about running to pretty much zero ever since. But seven days before this past marathon I had to ask my doc about a little medical thing going on (fixed now, and I do not mean that literally) and I asked her whether I could run the marathon to which she basically said “Ummmm, no. This is probably a bad idea.” Days later I decided to ignore her advice, because I realized  she translated my question as “do you think this is a good idea?” rather than “could something really really bad happen?” Don’t let other people talk you out of something you really want. If I had, I wouldn’t have started running, nor completed last weeks race.

7. Keep your head up. The most epic line I heard from a spectator this past race will forever be burned in my memory. As I’m at mile 24 there were still stretches with very few spectators. At this point I’d taken my headphones off and I’m just trying to run one step at a time while looking right in front of me.

Suddenly, I hear a lady standing around the 2 o’clock position on the sidelines yell out to me in a booming voice “GET YOUR HEAD UP HONEY! AIN’T NO DOLLAR BILLS DOWN THERE! NOW GET YOUR HEAD UP AND LOOK TO THE FINISH LINE!” I kept my head up the final 2.2. miles.

8. And keep your eyes open.

Joyce's First Marathon! Great job!
Joyce’s First Marathon! Great job!

Because you’ll be inspired. And this is what I love most about marathon running.

Watching my friend Joyce finish Chicago–her first marathon–was inspiring to me. So was the guy I saw at the same marathon running WITH brain cancer, who was having serious brain surgery the following day. That story is here,. And then there was the guy with muscular dystrophy, in the same race, who 17 hours later crossed the finish line. Or, simply, during this last Sacramento marathon, when I saw this guy cross the finish line completing his first marathon–and when his eyes met his girlfriend they were both crying. That stuff’s inspiring to me.

I LOVE watching people finish things they thought might be out of their reach. It’s a milestone towards their destiny. And it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from running five marathons this past year, though completing them have also given me a bit of confidence moving forward.

But, despite all the fun I had, I’m not doing five again next year. Most people suggest two is the optimal number, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Probably.

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Sometimes You Have to Say “Screw It” (My First Marathon)

Sacramento Marathon, 5am Bus Pick Up

Today, I ran–and finished–my first marathon.

Yesterday’s post basically covered up to this morning. I’d committed to finishing, and then to achieve what was a very difficult (for me) stretch goal of completing under four hours.

Literally hours after I posted yesterday these two commitments, I met this awesome marathon coach/trainer at the CIM Expo and was asking her advice on the run today, what products to take, what to eat for breakfast, and how to pace myself for a sub four hour marathon. She was so helpful and encouraging, yet when I told her about my goal pace she asked about my training distances and times to date (which I exaggerated slightly to try to help my cause). She looked at me  and said “look, I don’t want to discourage you–but there’s no way you’re going to be able to do that pace based on your previous runs and training, especially with the rain and wind tomorrow–it’s supposed to be brutal. Just try to finish this one, I want to make sure you can finish.”

Raz at 4am marathon day, pretty scary hair!

This morning I caught the 5am bus, and who sits next to me? An ultra marathoner, and one of the pacers for the Sacramento marathon today. So she asks my goal, and I tell her to finish and then my stretch is a sub-four. She asks me the same line of questioning as the marathon coach last night, and based on my responses says “I don’t want to see you discouraged, but you can’t get close to four hours based on your prep. Even if you had a chance, everyone today is going to be off their target pace considerably because of the weather, the winds are gusting up to 40 MPH. Just focus on finishing this one, do your next one for time.” She really was awesome and full of helpful advice and super encouraging, and she was just being realistic.

But sometimes I hate reality. And a lot of times you can bend it.

It was like I was getting taunted, especially after my affirmations yesterday. Two really experienced marathoners, both telling me getting anywhere close to my goal was impossible. This happens to all of us in everyday life. And it’s so so so easy to succumb. Sometimes the wisdom makes sense to heed. Today, for me, it didn’t.

And this is what I know about myself: sometimes I need people to say “Hey dude, I believe in you” and other times all I need is a person–or two–to tell me at “There is NO WAY you can pull this off!” (incidentally, thanks to those who read my post yesterday and sent me kind messages).

So, I said screw it. I’m trying anyways. First to finish, then for a sub four hour marathon.

And here goes my first mile: 

Starting line: wind howling, it’s raining sideways, I’m wearing a trash bag. It’s in the 50’s and I’m freezing. Soaking wet. And excited. Oh, and I’m sick with a head cold. 🙂

Rich Razgaitis Just off Bus (video at the starting line of some CRAZY wind and rain going on, gusts up to 40 MPH)

At 0.1 miles, I get pretty emotional–yes, the teary kind. Ridiculous, I know, but three years ago I had two failed marathon attempts, 18-months ago I couldn’t run due to this nagging tendonitis, and four months ago I was starting my Sacramento marathon training with three mile runs at an 11-12 minute pace. Today I KNEW I was finishing a marathon. It was a bit of emotional overload. Oh, and the National Anthem was playing. That always does it to me, too. I am so in love with America.

At 0.4 miles, I throw up.

At 0.75 miles, I have to pee. Already. And waited in line for 90-seconds to do so (these 90-seconds become critical later).

Jitters, anyone? I start to settle in after that first mile.

So I’m running about a 9:12 pace the first half of the race. A sub four hour marathon is a 9:09 pace. So I was tracking close, but it was also only the first half and I was still fresh.

The second half I pick it up a tad, but I’m getting fairly fatigued. At 20 miles my legs are bloody screaming. At this point it’s mostly mental. Your body is begging at you to stop, slow down, or keel over. Each step feels like knives in your legs. And I keep thinking, if I just get to 23 or 24 it’ll be easier. Actually, it doesn’t. The reverse is true, it gets massively harder for each mile beyond the high teens. At mile 23 I debate making another (my fifth or sixth!) potty break, and opt to take the 35-seconds to stop. It’s about this time that I also finally ditch wearing the trash bag, as the rain and wind finally subsided and the sun starts to peek out.

Miles 24 and 25 feel eternal. But it’s a strange feeling of excruciating pain coupled with elation, because I knew I was going to finish, and my pace was improving–I was running 8:30 miles at this point, but wasn’t sure this would be enough to get me below four hours.

Raz at Mile 25 of Sacramento Marathon

26.2 miles later, I cross the finish line and my NikePlus tells me I finished in four hours and four seconds. But I thought I’d started the NikePlus early, and that the chip would show a faster time. Alas, this afternoon I learned my chip time was four hours and 33 seconds, which is about a 9:10/mile pace. I needed a 9:09/mile pace to finish under four hours.

33-seconds over four-hours. So. Stinking. Close.

California Marathon Finish Line

I’m still thrilled. I finished and I chased a time-based goal that a lot of people told me I couldn’t come close to accomplishing today–and got pretty dang near to it in tough conditions. I had a blast. I learned a lot about myself in the process. I accomplished something that’s been evading me for years. And I was inspired by thousands of other runners in the process.

And I got a great reminder that at times you’ve just got to say “screw it” in the face of rational advice or things that seem to difficult. A lot of times you know in your heart what’s possible, and you’ve got to go for it, even when others tell you that it’s impossible.

Finally, I really want to express special thanks to all of those who have supported or encouraged me in the process of my first marathon, there were many of you along the way–from helping me pick the race and designing the training schedule, to various encouragement and checking in throughout, I’ll forever be grateful.

Raz Just Across Sac Marathon Finish Line

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Sacramento to Orange County

roadsign1Tuesday, we hit up both Sacramento and Orange County, Calif. — a luncheon and evening meeting, respectively.

For some reason, visiting two cities in one day and giving two presentations leads to a very different flavor and level of emotional investment than if we had just one city per day. I like two-a-days, but they’re just, well, different. While on the road and speaking in various cities at different times, you can begin to just barely appreciate the level of intensity and exhaustion the two presidential candidates must feel after having campaigned for so many months.

Public speaking also gives an appreciation for grace towards silly statements made while in front of other people. So while I’ve had a good laugh at some of the Saturday Night Live skits of the candidates, as well as a few recent flubs during presentations, it’s with more comedic understanding rather than critical thought that I give both candidates a little slack. It ain’t easy, and I admire the vigor and perseverance of both candidates.

But, a blog about politics this is not, so we’ll dig back into the events.

We awoke in Reno at a casino hotel and hit the road shortly after 7 a.m.; we, being the foursome of Regan (aka Rengen), Stephen (aka CherNINske), Michael Junior, and me.

Gorgeous drive through the mountains from Reno to Sacramento, including thru the Lake Tahoe region; a place I’ve not been before but would someday like to go.

Pulling into the hotel for the event, we saw a few Bimmers sitting in front of the hotel. Immediately, I wondered if it really was a creative promotion of the Univera BMW car program; and, it was. Brilliant. The Sacramento guys had a BMW dealer drop a few off and highlight some of their special Univera deals, particularly relevant to those who are eligible (or soon to be) for the Bimmer program.

bimmersWe didn’t have much time pre-meeting in Sacramento due to the longer-than-expected drive from Reno, but I had the chance to meet both some existing Associates and new prospects. I was thrilled to see some old friends there and had the chance to sit next to Peter and Tahra Dergee, as well as briefly re-engage with many others.

John Ryan, a man with such a good heart and sincere intention, did a great job opening and hosting the event. Michael Jr. was the first speaker, and he was actually (as if this were a surprise) quite hilarious. But what was hilarious was the mic kept going in and out. So Michael did a GREAT open mic riff, first with the hotel staff trying to fix it, but then he went into a little audience participation which went over really well. I can’t say any more, lest I ruin it for the rest of you who are heading to an upcoming event.

Unfortunately, due to airline schedules, we had to leave before the end of the meeting to catch our flight to Orange County for a two-hour drive during rush hour. Stephen insisted on saving time by getting the car immediately while we pulled the bags, but somehow on each of these endeavors, it seems we burn more time than we save. But, he’s such a nice guy we can hardly stand to tell him that some of these time-saving mechanisms are hardly that. And since he only reads the blog sporadically, by the time he reads this, it’ll be old news.

Orange County was also a really solid event. I’d probably put it on par with the Sacramento luncheon, though it wasn’t nearly as rushed since we didn’t have the travel restrictions so in all reality it probably was a tad bit better.

Peter Wright hosted the event and did a fantastic job of really putting into perspective the reality of today’s economy. He’s a very articulate, intentional, and credible person–and speaks in the manner of who he is. One of his expressions (whether it’s original or not I don’t know, but either way I liked it) that he used was this: “Do you know how to tell the difference between a recession and a depression? A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose yours.”

Clearly, not the economic definition but probably much closer to home and quite emotional. What I really liked about the LA event, and what we’ve started to see more of on this Road Tour, is that while we’re mingling with people post-event we are also seeing groups of people huddle together–associates and prospects–that are working on the pathway to freedom by enrolling as an associate in Univera.

More from the road soon…

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Regan, did you get my bags???

stephen-back-of-planeThis morning we awoke at an early hour after a late-into-the-evening night at a steakhouse (this was at Stephen’s suggestion, I was trying to find Sushi! But, for sure, he did eat fish for dinner), to jump on a 7:30am flight from Seattle to Sacramento to catch a luncheon.

Stephen insisted, endearingly, that he visit a Anthony’s at the Airport to dine on a delicious “Seattle Scramble” breakfast. Evidently, it opens right at 6am so we left a little on the early side. Despite the fact we had just finished eating hours before. For a guy who has 9% bodyfat, or whatever it is, he sure has a healthy appetite. But I must also admit he’s pretty good about what he eats though he indulges occasionally.

Ultimately, the breakfast joint was at a different terminal so we didn’t make it. Regardless, I was able to envision a highly recommended Cherniske “Seattle Scramble” of fresh farm-raised eggs from chickens-who-do-yoga-daily mixed with all sorts of delicious fillings, like barley, wheat germ, sprouts, spelt (what, really, is spelt beyond just a hexaloid species of wheat? Do we really know?), wheatgrass…you get the idea.

Truth be told, I actually think it was more along the lines of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and cream cheese, but we’ll never know for sure and I like my guess better.

Upon boarding we learned of flight delays due to a radio that seemingly got fixed three different times. Ultimately our flight was canceled but, fortunately, we caught a departure that left 90-minutes later.

back-of-plane-restroom-central-107Regardless of the time of flight or how full the aircraft it always seems that Stephen is sitting in the very back of the plane. Dead last seat. Right by the bathroom. I love it. To the right you can see the fruit of my labor from encouraging as many passengers to use the bathroom as possible, and Stephen’s taking it all in stride with fits of laughter. Indeed, it adds a disturbing level of humor to our day and gives me a chance to take a multitude of photos on our flight.

Regan and I usually are in the front (not first class, just further up in coach and if we’re really lucky in the emergency exit) and so we’ve taken to giving him some serious teasing about this repetitive situation.

norah-and-katieTwo Associates, Katie and Nora, were also on our plane having also attended the Bellevue meeting the night before and were continuing the tour in Sacramento and Emeryville. Wow, committed and going strong with guests at each event! You can see their picture to the right, they were an absolute blast to have on a part of our journey. Great people, very sweet and endearing.

Upon touching down in Sacramento we divided and conquered. Or tried to conquer. At least some of us conquered. 🙂

I took the point on acquiring food (full disclosure: I did go to Starbucks, but no coffee was consumed in the process), Stephen went to get the rental car to pull it around, and Regan…Yes, well, Regan, his job was to get our bags. That was his only job. Get the bags. Yes, all of them. Including mine. BOTH of mine.

So we jump into the car, as I’m throwing it into gear I holler back “Hey Regan, you got all the bags, right?”

Did I mention his only job was to get all the bags? More on this later.

sacramento-luncheonThe luncheon had nearly 200 attendees, we arrived about 50-minutes late to a remaining and very patient audience. It was a VERY energetic crowd, especially for a luncheon during the day. This was my first time in Sacramento and the three of us were thrilled with the turnout.

john-and-karen-ryanJohn Ryan moderated and Al wrapped things up, it was very well done. And, 30 Convention tickets were sold to boot! Post-event, there was quite a bit of mingling and it was really invigorating to meet some of the newer Associates. After the lunch we spent a few minutes on our walk out with a new Associate named Glenn (aka “Big Daddy”) and his team; Glenn just started April 1st under Kenny R–you can see the photo of some members of his team as well as Regan and Stephen above left, Kenny and others on his team is pictured above right. FUN and successful people.

glenns-great-teamkenny-r-and-teamIn fact, Big Daddy and his wife, Reagan, contributed an amazing testimonial to the event tonight in Emeryville. He commented on the excitement of seeing so many of his downteam winning so quickly, when at other endeavors it never really happened for them even after years of hard work. And, Reagan, (again, Big Daddy’s wife, not the CEO Regan) really shared from her heart the meaning of the vision and mission of Univera and what they desire to contribute in a purposeful way.

al-keranenstephen-and-minglersThe evening session in Sacramento went well, beyond the highlight just mentioned there were some great people and a good sized group for an emerging market–probably over 150 in attendance. Dwayne hosted the meeting and facilitated throughout, he’s extremely articulate and charismatic. Each of the Exec’s probably spoke a little too long, we should’ve cut it down a bit. Next time. And Al wrapped up the event; he was as good as I’ve seen. Very purposeful in his comments, yet hilarious. Inspirational yet authentic and real. Politically correct yet politically incorrect. Classic Al, he really did a phenomenal job lifting up each of us. It was a really good close to a really good day.

As always, we enjoyed the time both before and after the event the most. Lots of laughter, stories, and fellowship.

emeryville-duane-davisAs I’m writing this I’ve developed a bit of an adrenaline rush, hearing the stories of success and enthusiasm are so invigorating. And to see people winning the way they are is addictive. These team events give the opportunity to draw on the positive results of others, with the right intention and spirit coming into the meeting it can really lift people up. I came into the tour feeling really good, but some of these moments cause an instantaneous eclipse to feeling great.

bonnie-and-guestAnd, if you’re not feeling great right now, be steadfast and stay committed. The valleys are followed by peaks, and the greater our momentum the more the peaks.

There are new people joining Univera across the board, and I’m excited to have each of them join us on this mission. Thanks Sacramento and Emeryville for a warm and welcoming reception, we enjoyed every minute.

emeryville-testimonialsBy the way, you might be wondering about Regan’s role of bag-grabber at the Sacramento airport? Well, when I arrived at the hotel and we’re unpacking my car I notice one of my bags missing.

“Hey Regan, do you remember a green bag, carry on type?”, I asked.

Silence.

“Regan, you know, when we were arriving into Sacramento. I was getting food, Stephen the rental car, you had the bags. Right? I mean, you got the bag, my bag, the one with my change of clothes?”

So I was down a bag.

But clean clothes are truly overrated.

regan-emma-rose-and-razPlus, I’m becoming more “green” by the day, so I figure this is a forced intervention to induce me to use less water and recycle clothes a few more uses. In fairness to Regan he’s not a “bagologist” but rather a CEO, as he quickly reminded me. And, truly, we should’ve double checked before racing to our luncheon.

Not a big deal, Lisa Staiger tracked the bag down in no time and it’ll be waiting for me at the Oakland airport tomorrow morning. And, I’ve learned to divide clean clothes among two bags to prepare for these situations. So it made for a fun story and some new content to use to humor us and tease each other as we traveled.

And, I’ve learned another upside to authoring this blog is that one can pick and tell the stories one chooses. So these are mine today…

We’re looking forward to Los Angeles tomorrow evening .

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.