My First Half Marathon Experience

Well I guess I can say, “I did it.” I completed my very first half marathon this past weekend. My brother and I ran in the Rock’n Roll St. Louis Half Marathon – yes 13.1 miles – that went around downtown St. Louis. Did I enjoy it? Did I finish? Will I do it again? Keep reading for the results.

Training

So this venture began with my wife, Sarah Knuppel, and her friend deciding they were going to start training for this half marathon. This was 17 weeks before the race and they were all serious and ready to go. If any of you know me, you know that I’m a super competitive guy. Was I about to let my wife run a half marathon without me? NO WAY!!! So the thought got in my head that I would begin training for this half marathon.

Seventeen weeks out is a long way. So most of the runs were 3-4 miles long and pretty easy to do. I built up some pretty good endurance on these runs though. I then somehow talked my brother into running this with me. So now we both scoured the internet for an ideal training plan that fit the schedule we were working with. Boom – time to roll!

So we ran together on and off and I don’t think I missed a day. Very dedicated and felt awesome. 5 miles, 6 miles – easy. My 7 mile ran was torture becauase I attempted to run it in the heat on a windy day. BAD IDEA! 8 miles, 9 miles, 10 miles…. Completed them all and used MapMyRun to do the tracking for awhile – AWESOME site/app. Finally came the 12 mile run and my brother and I were going to run the trail together. This was 2 weeks before the race. I felt good as can be! So we took off for this 12 mile extravaganza from Morton down the biking path. 8 miles came and we were now in the thick of East Peoria – near Buffalo Wild Wings. Do we turn around or keep going?

Turning around was a bad option as we would have ended halfway. So we kept trucking across the Peoria bridge! Now Rodney had to get on his phone (while running) and ask our youngest brother to come pick us up in 30 minutes. Thank the lord he was awake and agreed. So now we hit some hills, sidewalks, bumps in downtown Peoria. My left knee started to ache. What was that? OUCH! Well I was about 9-10 miles in and no way I was stopping. So we kept rollin. Past the Civic Center, past Bradley campus, past Jumers. Finally ended up with 12 miles around MLK drive. WOW! I was in severe pain around the knee. I figured this was expected on such a long run. Right?

Runners Knee Pain Begins

So yeah, the pain was there. Now I had 2 weeks to get ready for this half marathon. I’d trained to hard to not do it. So I opted to rest my knee the next couple weeks instead of running the normal amount the plan said. I ran on and off. But each time the pain came back around 2-3 mile marker. Sharp pain in the left knee.

So I did some research and was about 100% sure I have “Runners Knee“. Basically the cartilege in my knee is worn to the bone and my bones are rubbing as I run. OUCH!!! Can I run through this? I did some more research and decided yes. I could try.

Nervous for the First Time in Years

All week I was nervous for the race. I knew I could mentally make it. I’d trained and felt good. But could I physically make it? Not a good feeling! I didn’t talk about the race at all in fear I wouldn’t be able to finish. What a let down that would have been. Sarah tried to talk me out of running…. WAIT… Sarah…

So, I forgot to mention that Sarah has now conveniently stopped training and is NOT running in the race. Awesome… So now I’m doing all of this for nothing?! 🙂

But anyways – I’m nervous for this race and I never get nervous for anything.

My Race Day

So the race begins at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning. Drew had a JFL football game at 3:30 Saturday back in Morton so I wasn’t able to leave til that night. I’m not a big fan of spending the night just for a few hours, so I opted to wake up at 2:15 AM Sunday morning and drive to St. Louis for the race! Crazy? Maybe! But that alarm went off at 2:15 and I was ready to roll!

I drank tons of water on the way up to make sure I was hydrated. Stopped several times for the restroom and still made it downtown by 5:15 AM. Not many people were out yet so I picked up my packet and started mentally preparing. I decided to prep my knee with lathering on the Biofreeze cream to numb the pain as I went. I also took some IB Profin to try and ease the pain. One last trip to the restroom (huge lines now for the porta pots) and it was time to head to our gate. We went to corral 9 and got ready to rock’n roll!

The Half Marathon Experience

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1—– Go… Our group was off to the races. Rodney and I started off at a nice pace and everything felt great. The cool part about this race was there was supposed to be a band or music at every mile. The first few miles were awesome. Great music… Positive energy. Our pace was kickin! Tons and tons of fans lined the street cheering us on. Rams fans, Packers fans (they were in town), SLU students, cheerleaders, parents, spouses and more! Some entertaining signs to read. All was good.

In the back of my mind I was just waiting for that “tweak” in the knee. I had done a lot of pain reduction activities prior to the race so I think it held off. Got through 3 miles. Made it through 4. Still going well. Then I felt it. Crap! The knee starting hurting a bit. I told Rodney not to wait for me as I would need to slow down if I planned on making it. So we started to split a bit. I would fall back, then catch back up with him… Probably through 6-7 miles I was right there with him and my pace was still good.

Then I really started to hit the wall and slowed down the pace. My only goal from the beginning was to FINISH THE RACE WITHOUT WALKING! I did not care about my “time”. So I slowed down and kept plugging away. 8 miles, 9 miles… By this point I was basically dragging this leg. It hurt more than anything ever. Well, maybe not as much as the deep thigh bruise I experienced last year. But close 🙂

So – I walked. MISSION FAILED. Well, I guess at this point my mission CHANGED. I couldn’t stop (I’m in the middle of St. Louis). So I walk / ran the rest of the way. Now the goal just became to get across the finish line without dying. 10, 11, 12 miles… I looked like a cripple out there when I tried to run. It would barely bend. By this point, my right leg was starting to cramp as I was putting so much extra pressure on it. Wonderful!

13.1 miles couldn’t come soon enough. I started up hobbling in time to cross the finish line. Done! I finished the race, despite having to walk 🙁 Final time was 2:20… TWO HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES OF FREAKIN RUNNING! Now the question was – did I do permanant leg damage?!

Post Race

So I finished! Once finished, we were bombarded with free “stuff”. Water, power drinks, bananas, fruit, energy bars and best of all – OUR MEDAL! I grabbed just about everything I could and hobbled out of the way. I hurt terribly! Finally caught up with my brother (who finished in 2:08) and we exchanged some congrats. We walked around the event for awhile. There were bands playing, beer tent had some free beer giveaways going to runners, and lots of people exhausted from the race. Rodney and Carlye had to leave right away to head to the Rams/Packers game – but I hung around and just took it all in for awhile.

Then – I drove home. Drove to STL at 2:15 AM… Back on the road by 11:00 AM! Crazy day for me. So lets talk a little bit about how sore I was. I was sore from my head to feet. My toes, my feet, my calves, my KNEE, my back, my shoulders, my kneck, my head… Everything! SORE! For days. I could barely get out of bed the next day and I felt like my body was 105 years old. SAD BUT TRUE!

Congrats to Friends

Before I conclude this “marathon” length post I wanted to give a shout out to my friends that ran this race as wel.

  • Rodney (my bro): Finished in 2:08 which was right about what our secret goal time was!
  • Christy (neighbor): Didn’t see her but she did awesome I heard.
  • Angelia (friend): First half marathon ever – she finished and did great!
  • Jenni (friend): Didn’t see her but heard she did great!
  • Kristi (friend): Has ran several and finished alongside a friend. Good job!
  • Brandi (friend): Runs all the time and finished in the 1:54 range. WOW!

If I missed other friends – I’m sorry!

Going Forward

So the big question. Will I ever run in a half marathon again? NO. Will I ever run again? YES. I plan to keep my runs to 3-4-5 (max) miles long. My body just is not meant to run that far. It was not fun the way my knee felt. So maybe I’ll start running in some 5K runs? I’m also considering jumping on board with biking. Everyone says that is way better on your knees and legs as you get older. Maybe some random type endurance races? I’m not sure. But I plan on keeping in shape but most likely not by running insane distances!

Some Extra Links

  • Check out my facebook for a full set of 1/2 Marathon Pictures I gathered.
  • Official Race Results
  • Pictures: Rodney and I, my bib, friends, Marathon logo

Running Blog to Begin

This whole journey started the day that summer school came to an end. I hadn’t been running, but was wanting to. I kept telling myself I was too busy to run. While in reality, being a husband, a father, a teacher, a coach, a freelance writer for two online companies, co-owner of two “blogging websites”, and a part time sports jersey sales man DOES take up a lot of time – I had time to run. I was just being lazy. The longer I went, the harder it was to get started. My best form of exercise was racquetball 2-3 nights per week. Anyways – I joined a “biggest loser” competition at school, for the summer. I made my own goal that I wanted to lose 22 pounds by the time we got back to school. While in reality that’s a great goal – I have never been real big on how much I weigh. As long as I can do things I should be doing; I felt okay. But, it sounded good. The first half of the summer – I was going the wrong way. Sure – 22 pounds is going to be tough for me. Most of the reason stems from a conversation I had with my brother Ryan on one of our run’s. Basically it sounds like this: “Yeah, I’ve pretty much decided eating different foods, and giving up caffeine just isn’t worth it”. I’ve tried the “quit drinking soda” routine before = just doesn’t work for me. Now should I limit it – yes! Quit – NO WAY!

 

Anyways, on the Friday that summer officially started for me, I went on a short run before I went to pick Jonah up from grandparents. It was a pretty short run, but it got me back in the game. That led to a late run Saturday night and a fairly good distance run on Sunday night. Monday was a short treadmill before racquetball. In the first four days I had run nearly 6 miles; which isn’t a lot – but it was a start. If you know me, I have ran several 5K’s for fun, and have even completed a 10K. I have the St. Louis Cardinals 6K coming up in September. I like to do local 5k’s for fun. Do I win? No way – but I like the challenge and seeing all the people. Anyways – I decided I would contact my brother Ryan, who I know has dabbled into getting back into running. Ryan was a college basketball player; but that was 10+ years ago. He has three kids, coaches his son’s youth teams, and has a job, and is married to a working lady. So, Ryan “runs out of time” as well. But anyways, we got together in Morton for a 3 mile run on Tuesday.

 

The run went pretty well. We have a 3 mile course, and we also like to run the course backwards, just for the heck of it. We finished. We stopped at the 2.25 mile marker to get a drink at the park. Bad mistake for me – as it caused my back to stiffen up. I am not a very good stop and go runner. I need to keep going – or it’s OVER! We got back to Ryan’s house and had a quick drink, and he brought up that his wife and a friend were training for a half marathon inSt. Louis. Two things struck me: 1.St. Louis– oh how I loveSt. Louis! 2. – I’ve always been interested in a huge race like that. A marathon is too far, so maybe a half marathon would work. So, we talked a bit about it. I asked what the date was. Neither of them were sure, but thought it was in October. We talked about how much time it would take. We both felt the routine schedule would look a little tougher than it really is. We talked about how we would like to do it, but just didn’t have time. I left thinking about it. I then found out it was the same weekend as I will be in town for a Blues Saturday night game, and  Rams/Packers football game. Rock and Roll half marathon is what it was. We found a few regiments, and looked them over. After seeing several online, we counted up: We had 15 weeks to prepare. The regiment didn’t look terrible. Basically medium runs on T, W, R – take F off – long runs are on Saturday’s and Sunday’s are for cross training. Then take Monday off. Didn’t seem too bad. We found a 14 week regiment, and decided to just call it a 15 week-er and do week 1 twice. So, it began.

 

We got together again on Wednesday, and I went 2.5 miles and felt that “I have to stop feeling”. I walked a bit, and then finished it up. We came to find out the course we had been running was actually right at 3.2. I brought my phone with me to check it out. We talked more about the half marathon, and both agreed – that if we could make it through the regiment to the sign-up date of August 28th, we would do it! We had about 7 weeks to keep going.

 

We decided Thursday would be on our own. I have a 3 mile path that I like to run near my home that I did that day. It was another: “Man, I must stop day”, which frustrated me to no end. But it was finished, just over 30:00. Speaking of time, Ryan and I neither one  run for time anymore. We are old! We don’t care how fast we run it in. The goal will be to finish the race on October 21st!

 

We followed the schedule and took Friday off. Ryan noted that he was sore. I was not too bad, but noted to myself that I had run 7 straight days; dating back to July 6th. When I started, I said I was going to run every day of the summer. I think I even started it’s own hash tag on Twitter as #40days40runs. That was before the half marathon schedule. Now, we are dedicated to the schedule.

 

I checked with Ryan, and we were going to get together on Saturday morning, before we started our daily activities. It was raining through most of the morning, but on my way to Morton, it had cleared up a bit, and the radio talking heads so the rain was heading out of the area. In Morton, it was a bit cloudy, but we didn’t think much of it. I made a wise choice and kept my phone at Ryan’s for this run. Wise choice indeed! At about the ¼ mark of the first mile, we heard a BOOM and lightning right above us. Was a storm brewing? Sure enough – we got around the ½ mile marker and it started to rain. We discussed it – and both agreed it wouldn’t be too bad. Plus, now we didn’t want to go back. Then the downpour came. It poured for over 1.5 miles. 15-20 minutes of down right pouring rain. I am sure the folks of Morton felt we were the two biggest idiots on earth, but we were going to finish this run. Of course, just like karma – the final ¼ of a mile it stopped raining. The damage was already down. I had a t-shirt on that looked like it had soaked in a swimming pool for a week. My shoes (which have holes in them) were water logged. I do want to note we DID NOT stop the entire run. I never got the “I want to stop” feeling going through my head. We made it! I did not time it, but I would guess we made it in under 30:00.

 

So the journey had begun. Sure, this blog may come to an end next week, as I find a day or two that I simply do not want to run. But for now, I am into it. I would love to finish this half marathon. 13.2 miles. It certainly would be a proud moment for me. Finally, I need new shoes. Runners often times say you need to get the specially designed “runner shoes”. Is that true? Does that make a huge difference? Should I spend the big money at a place like Running Central? I guess my Reebok’s with holes on both sides of them just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Next up: Cross Train Day on Sunday!

Saint Louis Sports is My New Project

So everyone knows that I used to run Albert Pujols websites. Jim Mattson made that very clear by embarrassing, errr featuring, me on the news a couple times to talk about my sites. Well, I’ve officially sold those and am no longer tied to Pujols. Goodbye Albert. Hello Saint Louis Sports!

I’ve teamed up with my brother Rodney (and several others) to form SaintLouisSports.com! I was shocked to see this .com domain name available and knew from the beginning it would be a solid site to grow out. It should get natural traffic and be “legit” enough to get link backs from some notable sites as well. Very exciting.

So the basic design is done and we’ve been working to get some content out there. Now it’s time to spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Guest Posts, links, emails and more. If you have a site – would love a shout out to SaintLouisSports.com! The site will feature the Cardinals, Rams and Blues. Basically it will be a blog, directory and more. Really excited about this project and hopefully it keeps me connected within the STL Sports cirlces as well!

Visit Saint Louis Sports today and see our progress.  Or follow us @SaintLouisSport on twitter.

Rooftop Tickets to Illini at Wrigley Field

Fighting Illini fans will love todays Groupon Chicago deal.  Sit on the rooftop for this weekends game!!!  Below are the deals for Central Illinois on this Tuesday 11/16/2010 from Groupon and Seize the Deal.

Groupon St. Louis – $12 for $25 Worth of Mediterranean Dinner Fare at Spiro’s South (or $7 for $15 Worth of Lunch)

Groupon Chicago – $99 for One Rooftop Ticket to Northwestern vs. Illinois Football Game on November 20 on a Wrigley Field Roof ($168.77 Value). Choose Between Two Options.

Seize the Deal Peoria – $25 Gets You $50 Toward Fine Fashions and Accessories at Random

Seize the Deal Bloomington – 50% Off Professional Gutter Cleaning From All About Gutters

Friday Deals from Illinois

I’m a sucker for deals. Someone offers me 75% off of something, and almost no matter what it is, I want it. This is exactly why I love sites like Groupon and Seize the Deal. Groupon has been around for a little bit now and really made a name for itself when it offered $50 to GAP for $25 a few months back. I bought a couple of these and Sarah got her clothes fix in at 50% off. Very nice. I follow the St. Louis and Chicago area deals at Groupon. The biggest problem is I’m 3+ hours from these cities. They don’t offer these same deals in the smaller cities.

But thanks to my Facebook friend Melody, I now found Seize the Deal. They have similar type deals but in Peoria and Bloomington. Now we’re talking. These are like 20 minutes from me.

So I get the deals each day from all of these different places and I thought it would be a fun post to make each morning with what these deals are. Follow my facebook notes or subscribe to my blog to get the summary. Better yet, grab an account at Seize the Deal and Groupon and they’ll send it directly to your inbox. Either way.

Here are the deals for 11/12/2010:

Groupon St. Louis – $13 for $30 Worth of Contemporary American Cuisine at Harry’s Restaurant and Bar

Groupon Chicago – $112 for DermaFlash Plus Facial Treatment at Cellular Intelligence Luxury MedSpa

Seize the Deal Peoria – $15 for $30 of Delicious Comfort Food at Dane’s Bar & Grill (formerly Ned Kelly’s)

Seize the Deal Bloomington – $8 Gets You $16 Worth of Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza