Sunday, December 6, 2009

2 hours until the last marathon...

It's 0408hrs in Las Vegas and the sky is black, the air is cold (33 degrees), and the Strip is completely blocked off with police cars and race officials. In two hours and seven minutes, the gun will go off and the final marathon of this ten race, twelve month campaign will be underway. 

I've had mixed emotions about this race in the weeks leading up to it. I've had little if any time to focus on the logistics, or anything really having to do with the race itself. Work has been relentless and my drained body is struggling to multi-task more than two items at this point. That said, client needs won out completely, and Vegas has been an after-thought at best. Once you land here though, it's impossible not to be taken in by the 'Vegas experience.'

The course itself is perfectly flat and despite a meandering tour around the Strip--which amazingly, will be entirely closed off to traffic--the full marathon course winds through the desolate communities and desert landscape that surround the glitz, glamour and neon lights of this poker-fueled desert oasis. I must say, Elite Racing has done an excellent job putting together not only a Vegas-centric course, but also a first-class event in general. Dan Cruz, the PR director for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, is one of the hardest working guys in the business and it's reflected by this inaugural race selling out in spectacular fashion. 

Right now, my eyes are welling up from the Icy Hot on my legs, and the Vicks Vapo rub on my congested chest, throat and sinuses. My body is exhausted and since the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 25, it's been revolving more and more each day. Tired turned to fatigue. Aches turned to consistent pain. Motivation...well, that hasn't changed. I have the same clarity of purpose this morning, that I did on January 25th down in Miami as I was waiting to start the first of ten marathons. There, the air was warm, the city lights were bright, my head was shaved, the excitement was palpable. Now, eleven months later, the air is cold, the lights are bright, my hair has grown out, the excitement is building, but the bouncing, nervous legs of January, have been replaced by a sense of peace, pride, and dedication to the fulfillment of a promise I've made to young service men across the country.

Twelve months, ten marathons, thousands of miles, dollars, smiles, tears, Aleve, icebaths, Icy Hot, hugs, high fives, low tides, midnight cramps, Nikes, 180s, Nasal strips, workout logs, break-ups, make ups, shreaded shoes, broken hearts, and uplifted spirits, I can finally see the proverbial finish line in sight. It will take me quite a while to wrap my head around the totality and depth of this transformative journey--both intellectually and emotionally. To say it's been an experience, would be a dramatic understatement. Until then...

26.2 miles to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Monday, November 2, 2009

Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon

The ninth marathon in this ten-race journey brought me back home to Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. Besides being a much-anticipated return to home soil, it was a poignant and steadfast reminder of just why I started the 10-12-100 Campaign in the first place.

Service and Sacrifice.

The race started under clear, but cool skies. After losing 11lbs during last year's race, I was appreciative of the temperatures and despite dead, heavy legs, I was optimistic about the day ahead. I decided to pop in and run with the 8min pace group (3:29:45 end time) and it was a decision that paid off in large part. Why? For a couple reasons, all of which are best explained by what is a literal transcription from my private pre-race notes and goals in my training log:

MCM: Race #9--Sun. Oct. 25, 2009

1. Run sensibly, finish strong. 

2. Run under 3:35 [Note: on dead, ever-sore legs, that'd be a 3min PR from last year and still keep me in the general 8min pace vicinity I've targeted for all 10 of these marathons.]

3. Beat Mayor Fenty

The first two might seem self-explanatory and in large part, they are. The third, however, is a personal point of pride. You see, Fenty passed me during last year's race at mile 25.5 and then again earlier this year at the National Marathon in Washington, DC at mile 24. Each time, he did so with effortless cool, which for any athlete, that's the worst way to get overtaken; with the steely look of effortless precision. 

Objective one: Check. Finished strong

Objective two: Check. Ran 3:32:34

Objective three: Check. In a poetic twist fate, I passed the good mayor at mile 24, as his wheels slowly began to fall off.

While it might seem like I'm making light of the race, at this point, that's all I have left. My body is exhausted. I can't find anymore time in the day. My personal relationships have suffered and I'm pretty sure I've developed a twitch or shake in the process. To make jokes is what keeps it light. 

The levity of the situation was with me every step of the way. All the way down to mile 25.5. I'd just passed the mayor and in so doing, I wove between the west side of the Pentagon and the steep hill at Arlington National Cemetery, where my father is buried and was overlooking the scene on that day. The weight on my heart could only be displaced by laughing out-loud at the insanity of this year-long undertaking.

As I crossed the finish line, I realized that this was perhaps the most sane I have ever been. Sure, blurry with pain, but no less certain of purpose. 

Each step has a reason. Each finish line has a purpose. Each laugh, and tear, and ice-pack is a reminder of what and who I am doing this for. 

Nine down. One to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon: 2 hours away

The temp is right around 50 degrees and I hear the wind whipping outside my window across a dark Arlington skyline. Yet in just over two hours, the gun will sound and some 28,000 people will charge off in their own mission of commitment, fatigue, challenge, exhaustion and accomplishment. The Marine Corps Marathon is upon us.

For me, this will be the 9th marathon in this 10-race campaign. It has been a long journey and with the completion of this race, we'll be one step closer to our goal. I've travelled across the country trying to spread the message of hope and support for our wounded servicemen returning home from a tour abroad. I have done television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet and podcasts. 

I have run eight marathons in eight states across four time zones over ten months.  

I have met soldiers with the stone-faced resolution that could only come from a 18-year old boy that is about to be shipped off to war and I have seen the unbounded joy, and tears of happiness that come from men and women as they return from abroad to the loving embrace of friends, family, spouses and loved-ones. 

As I type this, every inch of my body is sore and tired. My eyes are watering because I have put so much icy hot on my quads, hams, knees and hips. I'm sitting with an ice pack on my left knee and a can of 180 Energy Drink at my side. This has been a campaign of advocacy, yet this last week has been rather introspective leading up to my hometown race.

The troops in service, the monuments to those who have fallen, the colors and the presence of those who stand watch over us and our liberty and freedom as we sleep at night. They're all here on display during the Marine Corps Marathon. 

My head was clouded and my heart was full yesterday morning, so I went and sat down for a talk with my long-time confidant, my father. As you drive across the cobblestone entry way and make a left through the iron gates to Arlington National Cemetery, you are overcome with a sense of reverence, peace and patriotism. Each of the marble headstones is arranged symmetrically so that no matter what direction you look, they form perfectly straight lines. Among the soldiers, there are no unique or ornate headstones. Each is a marble template with name, DOB, DOD, service recognition medals, wars fought and religious affiliation. Officers are buried next to the Enlisted. Catholics next to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Protestants. Black next to white. Young next to old. It is the epitome of the military. Some color, same flag, same mission, same commitment.

My father, was laid to rest on top of a hill, which overlooks the western side of the Pentagon. Ironically, the very side where in 2001, terrorist highjacked a commercial US airliner and drove it into our nation's military headquarters, some three days after my father died following a valiant battle with a brain tumor. 

So there I stood. The wind was blowing. The air was humid. The rain was coming in. 

We had our talk. I spoke my mind. I listened to the blowing wind. I found my peace.

So today, as we wind through the closing miles of the Marine Corps Marathon, we will actually pass between the western side of the Pentagon and the hilltop where my father, and thousands of his fallen brothers will be looking down on us. All of us. It is no coincidence that this comes at mile 25, with barely one mile remaining in an agonizing 26-mile endeavor. 

Courage is not blind. Commitment is not conditional. Service does not come without sacrifice.

To those who have fallen. To those who have returned. I salute you. One mile at a time.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recent Media Coverage

This last week has been a busy week for DLE Sports. Between meetings with current and future clients, hours and hours on the phone with NFL personnel, a Thursday night fundraiser, a Friday television interview, and the hundreds of other details, that don't merit listing or otherwise mentioning, this week has flown have the six weeks since I completed the eighth marathon of this campaign, in Colorado Springs over Labor Day.

By this time tomorrow, I will be six miles into my ninth race, the Marine Corps Marathon. Being a local race, and because of the military sponsorship and tremendous presence, the 10-12-100 Campaign received more coverage this week across the DC media landscape:

News Channel 8: Let's Talk Live. Yesterday (Fri. Oct. 23, 2009) we went live in the studio to do the lunchtime show. Natasha and Doug made a very conversational and warm atmosphere and Courtney did a great job setting up the entire piece. I enjoyed being in studio and having the chance to talk about this campaign and the young, injured soldiers we are working so hard to benefit. Click below for the link, and then just click on the teaser for the "10 marathons" piece. 

The Springfield Connection. This was my local newspaper, growing up. It's funny how things come full circle sometimes. I used to scour this paper for their broad coverage of high school sports. Now as a 31 year-old man, I'm reading it for a different reason. 

The DC Examiner. The connection used to come to the edge of our driveway when I was young. The Examiner, is available just outside our office. This segment was called the "3 Minute Interview" and ran in yesterday's edition. 

The Docket. This was my law school newspaper and our campaign was the cover story. 

It's been a busy week and tomorrow will certainly prove to be an inspirational, motivational and very emotional 26-mile venture. I have invested thousands of dollars, thousands of hours, and thousands of drops of blood, sweat and tears in this campaign. I can only hope that others will be inspired to action and join in our efforts.

I cannot do this alone.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back from Orlando

Last week I was all over the map. Literally.

In the early part of the week, I was in Alabama scouting some college football players and getting to spend some much-needed time with my 93 year-old grandmother, Honey Bunch. On Thursday, I drove back to Atlanta and hopped a plane for Orlando, Florida and more specifically, the hidden academic paradise that is Rollins College. 

Some time ago, I was contacted by JC Beese, who is a student at Rollins and a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. JC had expressed an interest in the 10-12-100 Campaign and said that he would like to know how he could help the cause. When I told him that word of mouth was the best thing (short of writing a check) that anyone could do, the young man took my words to heart. Not long thereafter, he contacted me again and said that he had raised the issue with his fraternity brothers at their weekly chapter meeting and that it was unanimous consent that Phi Delt would dedicate their annual charity reception to the Wounded Warrior Project, via this campaign. 

For those of you who have never been to Rollins, it is located in Winter Park and sits on one of the many beautiful lakes which cover the Orlando area. The trees have spanish moss hanging from their limbs, the buildings are stucco with spanish tiles, while the narrow streets are packed with small boutiques, great restaurants, ample BMWs and Benz, and a surprising youthful presence given the relatively small 2,000 student population. Regardless, it's a virtual oasis, equipped with an outdoor pool, which--thanks to the cooperative south Florida weather--is frequented by the student body almost year round. 

You get the point, the setting was pristine. 

The event was well organized, well publicized and consequently, well-attended by both students and members of the Board of Trustees. I enjoyed talking to all of them as we sipped a beer and had some great BBQ off the grill. The evening was a tremendous success, and was an outstanding example of what I have said all along:

It's only one man running these marathons, but it takes an army of supporters in order for this mission to succeed.

J.C. Beese and the brothers of Phi Delta Theta are a shining example of that. Patriotism has no partisan preference, or geographical limitations. It is not the car we drive, the views to which we subscribe, or in this case, the major we choose to study. 

It's simply who we are as Americans.

A very special thank you to Phi Delta Theta, JC Beese, Courtney Beese and the administration at Rollins College for putting this event together. Your attention to detail and commitment to excellence were obvious to everyone there and in the process, we raised both awareness and funding, in an atmosphere that was enjoyed by all. 

Thank you for all your hard work.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Race Recap: Colorado Springs

I'll keep it brief. 

In a word: ugly.

As I mentioned in postings leading up to the American Discovery Trail Marathon--which was held on Monday, Sept. 7 in Colorado Springs--I live and train at sea level, here in Washington, DC. By contrast, 'the Springs' is over 7,000 feet above sea level. When I say I'd feel winded after a long flight of stairs, I'm not kidding. The elevation made a huge difference and it was felt from mile one of the 26 mile race. 

What started out at 8-minute pace gradually rose to a semi-comfortable 8:30 pace. By mile 14 I was averaging 8:30 overall (meaning the last couple miles had slid into 9-minute range). The wheels fell off this apple cart by mile 16 and by mile 17 I needed the meat wagon. Perhaps ugly is an understatement. It was a battle of attrition, a fight for the willing, replete with multiple instances of self-questioning: why am I doing this to myself?! This is beyond painful!

To back up, the reason it hurt so bad was the thin air. Here's why: at elevation there are less oxygen molecules per cubic milliliter of air. By contrast, at sea level where the air is thick, there is a lot more oxygen in each gasp of air we take, so we don't need to breathe as hard to get the oxygen into our lungs and muscle groups. For it is this "oxygen deprivation" (the relative absence of oxygen molecules) that creates muscle fatigue and cramping and eventually leads to the gasping, panting, and the hands on knees position to which all athletes are painfully familiar. When the air is then, there are less oxygen molecules per inhalation, meaning you have to take 1.5-2 full breaths for every breath you would take at sea level. The increased respiration rate eventually leads to an increased heart rate, as the breathing and the beating go hand in hand. Over a long enough time line (such as 26 miles) this leads to increased fatigue--both muscular and cardiovascular. Consequently, at altitude, mile 16 mentioned above felt like mile 22 usually does at a sea level marathon. Therefore, the dead man shuffle I'm usually reduced to at mile 22 came much earlier and I was in a fist fight over the last 10 miles, instead of the last four miles. 

I crossed the line in 4:12 and was totally and completely wiped out. (Note: this was 30 minutes slower than my slowest time previously and was 40 minutes slower than my fastest time of the campaign!) Colorado Springs was difficult, but in a way that was very different from the previous seven marathons. It was almost like comparing apples and oranges. I took 10 days off afterwards (off from running, not from cardio) and only recently began jogging easy. The recovery time is getting longer and longer after each of these ten marathons. 

I'll do 60 minutes tomorrow and will get back into the swing of things next week. I still need to see Natalie at Schrier Physical Theraphy to get back in alignment (and therefore alleviate this knee and low back pain) but I also need to get my sleep, diet and training back on line. 

This is a hectic time of the year for me with NFL placement, college recruitment, client maintenance, and now marathons and fundraisers. The good thing is that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel...even if it is rather faint. Marine Corps Marathon is now one month away (to the day) and I am hell-bent on beating Mayor Adrian Fenty, who unceremoniously passed me at mile 25.5 of last years MCM and mile 23 of the National Marathon, which was the third of ten marathons in this campaign and was held her in DC this past March. He's in good shape this year, so I'd better get back to it, and quick!

That said, I'd better run...

Eight down. Two to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Colorado TV Interview

Below is an interview I did with Fox 21 in Colorado Springs two days before the American Discovery Trail Marathon. Brittney Hopper came out and did the piece at the Broadmoor Hotel, which provided a beautiful backdrop for the shot, though a lot of it was eventually cropped out. Suffice it to say, the mountains, pond, swans, bridge, and various vacationing blue hairs made for an eclectic locale for a shoot. I enjoyed meeting Brittney and think she put together a great piece. Check it out and let me know what you think:

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Years

Everyone remembers where they were eight years ago today. On that clear September morning terrorists hijacked four planes and created human missiles, killing nearly 3,000 Americans in less than three hours. One plane flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a second flew into the South Tower, a third was directed toward Washington, DC and exploded into the west side of the Pentagon, while the fourth and final plane was driven into an abandoned field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

I can remember that morning like it was yesterday. I was on my bike, finishing an early morning training ride. At that point, I was two weeks into my first year of law school, but more significantly, my father--a retired Colonel and career Army officer--had died three days earlier on September 8th, after a valiant battle with a brain tumor. My world was already upside down and the ride was intended to be cathartic. As I got home, I turned on the television to pick up live coverage of the attacks. I immediately thought it was a prank in the vein of an Orson Wells, War of the Worlds broadcast. Every channel was running coverage. The first plane had just hit the North Tower. At that point, commentators were openly debating whether or not it was an errant plane that had flown off course. No sooner did they say that, then I saw the second plane fly into the South Tower on live television. It was surreal. 

Time stopped. I was already in a fog that morning and the two days prior to that, but when you see events unfolding before your very eyes that look like a scene from a Hollywood film, it takes your breath away. Forty minutes later, Flight 77 hit the side of the Pentagon, less than two miles from my law school. It was an all-out attack. Twenty seven minutes after the Pentagon explosion, the news commentators reported that a fourth plane had just crashed in a Pennsylvania field. It was sometime later that we discovered that American passengers had valiantly stormed the hijackers and forced the plane into the ground, sealing their own fate, but saving the lives of everyone in Congress, the White House, or both--each was the presumed final target of the militant terrorists. 

The objective? Crumble our financial markets, destroy our elected political leaders, and drive a plane into our center of national defense, all while striking fear and terror into the hearts of a captive American television audience that numbered in the hundreds of millions.

Those images ran over and over on television and yet despite the repetition, they never became real. Families huddled around their set, entire offices gathered in a single cubicle, by-passers stopped in stunned amazement outside of electronics stores--each group was paralyzed with disbelief at the acts which they had just witnessed, all the while wondering about the untold number of American lives that were lost in the process. 

Like so many things, it seems more recent than eight years ago. At some point time loses meaning, or at the very least, it loses perspective. In this case, no period can pass where this day will be meaningless. No event can transpire where this will not evoke tears, anger, nausea, and that fleeting sense of helplessness that we all experienced eight short years ago. 

News stations are no longer supposed to run the footage. We are supposed to be in a "time of healing" and some have claimed that by replaying the footage we are rehashing and reopening a wound that we otherwise want so desperately to heal. As the smoke hung over Ground Zero, we were a bruised and battered nation, and yet within hours, we rose from the rubble with a resolute determination, a heightened sense of patriotism and commitment to our fellow man, and a clear sense and consciousness that our liberty, democracy, and freedom are an intimidating threat to many people around the world. 

Today, eight years later, our armed forces and intelligence community have captured and/or killed many if not most of the alleged masterminds behind the brutal attacks that killed so many helpless Americans on September 11th. As we move forward, these actions provide comfort, if not some sense of revenge, and yet some things will never be forgotten, some things can never fully be made whole. 

To our troops abroad that continue to hunt down, capture and bring to justice all those that would do similar harm to our country--we thank you. For without your dedication to our continued protection, we would continuously fall victim to any and all such attacks upon our citizenry. 

For those of you who have forgotten the initial nature of their deployment, or the necessity of their mission, I remind you of the following:

First plane

Second plane

People jumping to avoid being burned to death

Collapse of South Tower

Collapse of North Tower

This campaign has been--and will continue to be--completely apolitical. I have avoided partisan politics, which might derail an otherwise bipartisan issue and endeavor: the continued treatment and care for those American soldiers who are injured in the line of duty...injured while protecting not only their fellow citizens, but those abroad, who might be harmed by the coward, reckless acts of extremists, just as we were eight short years ago.

Today is not a day of mourning. Today is a day of remembrance.  Today is a day of affirmation of purpose. 

And in that, we salute those who have fallen and we salute those who continue to stand watch for our protection. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Monday, September 7, 2009

Colorado Springs: 2.5hrs away

As I type this, I am sitting at my window in the Broadmoor Hotel, looking out over a sea of twinkling lights as the rest of Colorado Springs is still fast asleep. Yet, in less than 90 minutes, I will be driving to the start line of the eighth (and unquestionably hardest) marathon of the ten races that comprise the 10-12-100 Campaign: the American Discovery Trail Marathon.

Colorado Springs sits at approximately 6,200 feet above sea level, while the start of the race--some 20 miles and 40 minutes away in Palmer Lake--is closer to 7,200 feet. Though 1,000 feet, spread over 26 miles does not seem alike a lot, that's not really the point; the point is the difference between 7,200 feet and sea level (0 feet) which is what I come from in D.C. The difference is staggering. 

I did two training runs out here and I was wheezing like a fat kid in gym class who dreaded the "mile day" every semester. For a guy who already has a deveated septem and the beginnings of a sinus infection, the thin, dry air has caused nose bleeds, shortness of breath and overall lethargy...not the makings of a solid marathon by any means. 

Then again, that was the entire premise of this campaign from conception to execution: courage in the face of self-doubt, success in the face of near certain defeat. Not so much for me, but for the thousands of young soldiers for whom this campaign is dedicated. It is their courage, their tenacity, their unwavering commitment to the completion of the mission that inspires me. That is what drives me when my right knee hurts, when my back seizes up in the middle of the night, when my breathing wheezes and whistles at elevation and my heart rate soars through the roof. It is the certainty that if roles were reversed, those very young men and women for whom I am doing this, would themselves be up and making their way to the start line as well. That is the commonality of purpose we all share, the binding nature of American citizenship that runs through our veins. The commitment to God, country, and each other. 

My hotel is located a few short miles from the Air Force Academy, on what I assume to be Parents Weekend. All the young cadets are in their dress blues, visiting with their parents and girlfriends for a few hours of precious leave from campus. Their pride in their uniform is apparent by their posture, presence and bold smile as they greet family and friends. The next generation of American defenders, tyranny's liberators, and the real providers of hope and change across countries and continents that have long since forgotten the meaning of such words. 

We have a lot to be proud of as Americans. 

So here goes number eight. 26 miles of muddy trails at nose-bleeding altitude with an aching back and a throbbing knee. When I think of these young cadets who today know Parents Weekend and next month might know deployment, I am inspired, I am refocused, and I am ready. 

I am only one man running these marathons, but I have an Army to my back and a sea of faces in my heart. 


Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mid-Summer Work...

It's hard to believe that we are almost halfway through the month of August and therefore, only a little over two weeks away from the traditional end of summer: Labor Day Weekend. 

In DC, kids start school in a week or two, whereas in Virginia, they start the Tuesday following the holiday Monday during the Labor Day Weekend. Either way, that means two things for me:
1) Summer, sadly is almost over AND
2) I am only a few short weeks away from another marathon.

The next race will be on Monday, September 7 (Labor Day Monday) and it's called the American Discovery Trail Marathon in Colorado Springs. (see: race itself is an off-road trek set at 7,200 feet of elevation. To put it in context, that is comparable to what the elite Kenyans are training at in Eldoret and Iten, Kenya. Conversely, I am at sea level here in DC, 0 feet of elevation. The substantial change in altitude is incredibly daunting and is known to produce 'altitude sickness' and that's in people who are simply trying to acclimate on an everyday level; not people who are trying to come from sea level and run a 26-mile marathon. 

A former client is out there and says that when he first made the move to elevation, it felt like he was breathing through a coffee stirer with a clothes pin clamped on his nose, as his lungs were set ablaze with kerosene. 

Ok seriously, I am NOT making that up. Those are his words, not mine, and to this day, I consider him one of the toughest athletes I have ever known. That said, I've really got my work cut out for me for the eighth marathon in the 10-12-100 Campaign. Without a doubt, this is the only one for which I've almost had a sense of dread. First, I've never done any racing (whether short or long) at that kind of elevation. Second, this will unquestionably be the hardest of all ten marathons and I'm not getting to it until the eighth marathon in a ten-race line up. Regardless, I'll get the job done. 

The challenge will be to keep getting in the training miles necessary to maintain my base fitness while work ramps up during the fall season--the four month period of time that is the busiest for me as an Agent and this growing business. To illustrate, earlier this afternoon, Courtney and I charted out my prospective travel schedule from September-December and I will be gone as much as 16 weekends, with multiple one and two-day mid-week trips sprinkled in between. This is the period where I go to watch, meet and talk with prospective clients (all within the ambit of the NCAA, SPARTA, and governing state laws) as well as see current clients as the fall football season ramps up. 

With thousands of miles to run and thousands of miles to travel for work, this is going to be an incredibly busy fall for me, the office and the campaign. I'll be sure to do at least two postings per week as I've gotten a lot of requests to know what a 'typical day in the life of...' means for me as it relates to DLE Sports and the 10-12-100 Campaign. 

Additionally, per your requests (and haggling) I will be posting a lot of pictures to the blog and also to our Facebook page (search: 10-12-100).

As always, you can contact me directly with any comments, questions, concerns or support. 

Thanks for your prayers, well wishes, and continued donations. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Monday, July 27, 2009

San Francisco: the 26.65mi Marathon

Yeah, that's not a typo. The race was 26.65 miles...or nearly a half mile longer (.45) than a standard marathon of 26.2 miles. It was not a joke, it was not intended, but at that point in the race, it is what it is. Other than the distance discrepancy, this was an awesome race set in an amazing city. 

We started at 0530hrs at the Embarcadero along the water front. The air was cool and damp, but not nearly as cold and windy as the night before. The bridge to San Rafael was capped with lights which stood out against the dark backdrop of the San Francisco sky that morning. After the gun went off, the course carried us around the waterline for about 5 miles, all the way to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. When we got to the GGB, the air was noticeably cooler and as we began the start of a steady three-mile climb up to and across the bridge, the low-lying fog and cloud cover--which make the GGB so famous for use in photos and movies--coated the runners' skin as if running through a mist. The wind was also kicking up and I was tucked right in the middle of my 3:40 (8:30/mile) pace group. At that point, you couldn't see a damn thing, but you could hear the low, eery bellowing sound of the Hornblower and other bay barges and boats as they made their way under the bridge. (Note: The horns sounded just like the alien pod 'collectors' in Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds a couple years ago. Made me smile.)

The plan, so to speak, was to run really conservatively with the slow pace group through the first half of the race and then if I felt good, I could pick it up once the majority of the hills subsided. If I didn't feel good, then I'd just knuckle down and stay in the middle of the 3:40 pack. Regardless, I committed to myself that I wouldn't make a move one minute or one mile sooner than the midway point (13.1 miles) and I was going to remain patient and just read my body until then. 

Yeah, I scrapped that plan. 

At mile 11, I felt good. After severe cramping in Cincy and Seattle, I came into this race way over-hydrated (as evidenced by unplanned pitstops in the bushes at mile 2, 8 and later at mile 17 to empty a full bladder.) Due to those stops, I frequently lost touch with the pace group, which obviously kept on running as I ducked in and out. The desperate yo-yo'ing of sprinting to catch back up eventually caused an adrenaline spike and on a huge downhill, I just took off, unlocking my legs and letting my body hurtle me down the hill. I can remember Natasha Badmann running back several minutes in the Hawaii Ironman a couple years ago, by sprinting the down hills while all the other women were locking out their legs and "bracing" down the hill. First, that's brutal on your quads and knees, especially in latter stages of a marathon. Secondly, it's analagous to sitting the breaks while driving down a steep hill; you're just breaking your own natural momentum and killing your breaks in the process. That said, I went with it...and went I did. I just ran. Soon the pace group was no longer visible over my shoulder. 

It was a gamble, but as the splits corroborate, each mile was getting faster and each segment (as shown below) was getting faster than the previous. When it was all said and done, the last six miles were the fastest of the entire race. 

At any rate, after we crossed back over the Golden Gate, the course wound thru the Golden Gate Park, which was absolutely reminded me of Rock Creek Park in D.C., yet it was distinctly California in terms of flora and fauna. This section was particularly hilly as well. When we made it out of the park, we climbed to the top of Height Ashbury, which was the highest elevation point on the entire course and your legs were really feeling it at that point. 

Height Ashbury, is the famous anti-war, home of the Grateful Dead, noted for its prodigious and flagrant weed smoking, and as the epicenter of the 60s and 70s west coast counter-culture revolution. Even still, the long-hairs were out in force to cheer everyone...even the likes of a short-haired agent who's running for injured American soldiers--the very thing they once and still do protest on a daily basis. In a sense, that's the strangely unifying spirit of distance running. It brings together opposing sides, ideologies, and perspectives, which might otherwise, never see eye to eye on any issue of real substance. 

With that, we began a series of rolling descents, all the way to the old packing houses that lie about 4 miles from the finish. At this point, I focused on form, breathing and driving it home. I had long since ditched my pace group and was inching closer to an overall average of 8:00/mile, something I never would've thought possible when looking at the race profile and in light of my implosion a month earlier in Seattle. Regardless, I pushed through and crossed the first line (26.2 miles, though obviously it remained unmarked) in 3:32 and then crossed the "official" finish line in 3:34:07. According to the Garmin readout, that's 8:02 average for the entire race, but the race website, has it (26.2, not 26.65) as being 8:10 per mile. Either way, it's done and on the books. 

On the whole, I loved my trip to San Francisco. I ran a good race. Got a lot of work done for some clients. Saw the city where I was born. Ate the best Chow Mein of my life on the 2nd floor balcony of a tiny restaurant in Chinatown. Rode a trolley. Saw where one of my favorite movies, Bullit, was shot. Watched a 2-hour dance showcase in Union Square. Saw my fair share of locals, tourists, trannies and homeless.  Ate a little bit of San Fran sea food. Had two post-race, well-deserved gin & tonics. Slept like a baby the night after the race, for the first time in almost a month. 

Though I love this city, and will undoubtedly be back more and more over the next couple years--both for business and for recreation--there truly is no place like home. With that, my bags are packed and I'm going to do some client work until taking off for the airport and my 1500hrs PST flight back to Washington, D.C.

San Francisco is on the books and Colorado Springs is up next, where I'll be doing the American Discovery Trail Marathon over Labor Day weekend. Thanks for all your support.

Seven down. Three to go. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Sunday, July 26, 2009

San Francisco: 2 hours away

I didn't sleep well last night. I tossed and turned thinking about clients I still need to place for the upcoming football season. I got up a couple times, sent emails, made notes for follow-up calls this afternoon (yes, I make calls on Sundays) and generally jotted down some reminders for myself and a timeline for their completion later this week. If there's one thing  that my clients never worried about when I told them about this campaign, it's that the level of service and representation would diminish in any way. If anything, it's only increased. 

At any rate, the San Francisco Marathon is now just under two hours away. Right now it's 53 degrees outside with low lying clouds, incredible moister and if the sun were up, it would reveal that the City by the Bay is undoubtedly covered with fog. Looking at the hourly breakdown, it's not supposed to get above 60 degrees during the entire marathon. Though that sounds chilly to many people, for a bigger guy like me, that's ideal. 

Ever the data nerd I keep pretty detailed training and racing logs, to try and take the guessing game out of both good and bad performances. I account for variables such as sleep, fatigue, body weight, temperature and humidity, terrain, intensity and duration of workout, extrinsic work-related stress, etc. Point being, I've determined that despite diligent hydration in the days leading up to the marathon--and despite going through both bottles on my fuel belt as well as multiple 'running cups of water' along the course--on a typical marathon where the air temperature is 70 degrees or higher, I will lose between 8-12 lbs during the race. By contrast, when it is 60 degrees or cooler, that quotient drops to 6-10 lbs. Although that might seem like minutia to the casual observer, that's actually a substantial difference in terms of variable dehydration and the resulting cramps that ensue between miles 18-26 on the course. That said, the fact that it's in the low to mid 50s, with damp air and near complete cloud cover, bodes well for my race...especially given all the hills I'm about to battle. 

Regardless, I'm going to run with a slower pace group today. After my meltdown in Seattle, and given the brutal nature of this course, I'm going to start running with the 8:30 pace group (3:42 finish time) and see how I feel. Looking at the topography of the course and after having driven it yesterday, the hills, though pervasive, are pretty much over at the 18.5 mile mark. That said, it's better to start conservatively and hold it (or pick it up if I'm going good) than to start too fast and burn out and be passed by slower pacing groups. Trust me, the humility of this endeavor is not lost on me. 

There is no greater metaphor for life than running and no better narrative for perseverance, self-awareness, and accomplishment than distance running. In less than two hours, I will add another chapter to this ongoing saga. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

PRESS: San Francisco Examiner

I did this interview earlier in the week with a San Francisco-based writer, author, PR man and personal fitness fanatic, Mark Davis. The interview lasted about 30 minutes and Mark and I--both SF natives, Ironman finishers, relentless sports fans, and committed runners--talked about a wide variety of topics. Because the general focus of his articles is on training, racing, recovery, etc. that's what was reflected most heavily in the article below. I enjoyed talking to him and as always, I'm thankful for the coverage of our campaign. 

As I've said all along, without media, there can be no exposure. Without exposure, there can be no awareness. Without awareness, there can be no contribution. Without contribution, there can be no call to action...and without that, we cannot invoke the change on behalf of these injured American soldiers that was the genesis of this entire campaign. In that, I say thanks to Mark and a very special thank you to Courtney, who has proven to be an invaluable addition to the DLE family. I appreciate your tireless hours, attention to detail, and unflenching loyalty more than you know.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, July 25, 2009

San Francisco Marathon: 13 hours away

As I type this, I'm looking out the window of the Hotel Palomar, with the sunshine beaming through the glass and the American flags on the opposing buildings, blowing nearly straight out to the side at times. Chicago may be the windy city, but the poet said it best:

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

Indeed, back home in Washington, DC it's in the high 80s with complete humidity, yet here in San Francisco, it is in the mid 60s, windy, damp and rather cool. This is the kind of weather we're accustomed to in DC around the middle of October. Nonetheless, it has all the makings of a great marathon tomorrow morning--my seventh race in the 10-12-100 Campaign.

I drove the marathon course this morning around 0900PST and it was chilly! I had a light jacket and a scarf on for most of the morning as San Fran is known for it's low-lying fog in the early morning. Today was  no exception and by the time I made it around to the Golden Gate Bridge at about 1100hrs, you could still barely see it through the fog. We'll be crossing that tomorrow between miles 5-9 on the course. Speaking of which, the course itself is just what you'd expect: hilly. Add to that, the aforementioned morning fog, damp air, and a crisp breeze and it will be nice conditions for what promises to be a very demanding course. 

I must say, however, that for all of its challenges, this course matches its inherent brutality with breathtaking beauty. Tomorrow's route will take us along the Embarcadero, past the Fisherman's Wharf, through the Presidio, over and back across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Haight Ashbury, across the Golden Gate Park and then back along the water to the finish line. Though it will be chilly and inevitably foggy--and I'll most certainly be hurting at any and all points listed above--this is going to be one gorgeous race. 

In terms of sightseeing--and in the interests of 'saving my legs' a bit--I've postponed China Town, the Wharf, and most of the fun areas for tomorrow afternoon and/or Monday morning. But I can say, that after my 4-hour excursion earlier today, San Francisco is unquestionably one of the most unique and beautiful cities I have ever visited. In many ways, it's a shame that it took 31 years to return to the city where I was born. As many of you know, I was born in San Fran, but my father (who was active duty military) got orders soon thereafter, so we left when I was only six or eight weeks old. 31 years later, this is my first trip back to the City by the Bay. I can assure you, it will be the first of many.

With that, I'd better finish some client work I'm doing and then grab an early dinner. I'll need to be up tomorrow around 0230hrs (local time) since the race begins at 0530hrs. I need a couple hours to wake up, stretch and caffeinate before the race. 

Thanks for following along and thanks for your words, letters, emails, texts and Facebook messages of support. Please continue to spread the word about this campaign and let's take the fundraising up a notch in the remaining months and marathons that lie ahead. We've got a lofty goal to achieve and I can't do it without your help.

More soon. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PRESS: Seattle TV Interview

Dan Cruz was kind enough to send this link to me last week--it's the TV interview I did with KIRO CBS in Seattle, two days before the marathon. 

The piece was shot directly across from the base of the famous Space Needle, but when I walked into the station, everyone's eyes were glazed over as it had just hit the wires that Michael Jackson had collapsed in his LA home and was being transported by ambulance to the ER. It was presumed that he was DOA and the shock and awe that rippled through Seattle--a town with no shortage of musical influences and icons--was palpable. 

Regardless, many thanks to both Courtney and Matt here in DC and to Jake in Seattle for making this possible. Not only does the campaign exposure continue to grow, so too is the case with generous financial contributions. 

I leave for San Francisco in two days so I'll post another entry very soon. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recharging Old Batteries

In the mid 80s, when rechargeable batteries first started to hit the market, they were a young piece of technology. Sure, theoretically they were better than a standard one-off battery in that they had the potential to last over and over and over, instead of just one use. The problem however, was that after each time you charged them, you got a little bit less life out of them during their next use, before they were simply zapped. Charging and after charging, eventually the batteries simply couldn't be recharged and you just threw them away.

My legs feel like 80s rechargeable batteries.

The race in Seattle got me pretty good. I was covered in salt, completely dehydrated, under-caloried, and utterly exhausted from cross-country flights and insufferable 7-hour drives in my rental compact (I have attached a pic for your viewing. No offense to those of you who own this model, but at 6'2 and change, it made the 7-hour bumper to bumper trek from Eugene, OR to Seattle absolutely miserable.) Even still, you can look for factors that contributed to your struggle, but you can't point a finger of blame. There's a big difference in the two and I've never been one to make excuses. That said, I got off my red-eye flight  back to DC (with legs and ankles that had swollen like stovepipes following the all-night flight) and I made a promise to myself as I limped to my spot in thelong-term parking garage: I would not hurt this badly again as a result of poor preparation. 

So I set out to train smarter, recover better, hydrate more efficiently, and get my head in the right mindset going into a very challenging San Francisco marathon, which was then less than a month away. As I write this--while waiting for call-backs from physicians with whom I'm scheduling some surgeries for three DLE client-athletes--I am now 16 days away from the marathon. Despite a disciplined protocol and sensible recovery/training plan following Seattle and leading up to San Francisco, my legs are much like the 80s batteries that just reached a point, where after multiple uses, they simply couldn't be charged anymore. Sure, you could plug them in and let them sit there, but there just wasn't any juice left. 

Let me be clear: this is neither a white-flag waiving concession nor is it intended to read as a litany of excuses. To the contrary, this is what I like to call 'white knuckle honesty.' Yeah, the kind that is so raw, that it just makes you flinch. The truth of the matter is that everything hurts right now. I'm sore. I'm tired. I'm not recovering...and now, I'm heading into the most brutally hilly city in the United States to do my seventh marathon in a ten-race campaign. 

So tomorrow morning, I'll get up early and do the last long run before the SF race. It'll be a hilly 14-mile run at race pace, from Ballston to Georgetown, around and through Rock Creek Park, flat along the C+O Canal, before crossing back over the Key Bridge into Virginia and beginning a 3-mile steep climb from the Potomac River back up to Ballston. 

Am I looking forward to it? Absolutely not. 

But I didn't sign up to host a polo match on the National Mall or host a celebrity golf tournament at a regional country club. I chose the most brutal, medieval format I could possibly envision as a means of dedicating myself to our nation's wounded young soldiers. I did so deliberately and I did so with eyes wide open. 

I do so willingly and count myself fortunate to have the opportunity to do so--both as an able-bodied man of good health and as an American citizen who lives in a country that would provide the freedom and liberties for such a platform to be successful. 

More than that, I do so because I believe that every one of those young servicemen and women that come thru Walter Reed Army Hospital, would do the same thing for me. One step, one race and one finish line at a time. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Seattle: Post-race

Man, when the wheels fall off....they're off. 

When you get a flat, you can drive on it for a while, but eventually the flat will flop around the rim and the rubber will shred with the thousands of RPMs as it beats the asphalt of the road. At some point or another it will totally break off of the rim and you'll be running metal on the asphalt with sparks flying everywhere until you come to a grinding halt somewhere down the road. Then you're just stuck.

Yeah, I was that guy today. Shredded rubber, rim on road, grinding halt.

I ran strong through 18 miles hitting at or under 8 min pace, but at some point, things took a turn. I was covered in salt, completely dehydrated (despite going through both bottles in the fuel belt and taking a 1/2 cup of water at each stop from mile 10 on) and then started to cramp with increasing intensity from 18 through 22. The last four were brutal. Don't have the words yet. 

I would, however, like to thank Aaron, who was one of the assigned members of the medical team for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. She rode next to me and talked, from mile 15 (when I was strong) all the way through 25.9 (and all the starts and stops in between) as the cramping set in and I was cut from a run, to a jog, to multiple stretching stops, to simply shuffling across the line. Aaron, you're great. Thanks for your support. 

So I finished in 3:42 (8:28 pace) which is the slowest finishing time of the first six races by nearly 9 minutes. Ugly weather, great city, 25,000 runners, but a tough day and a grueling performance. I'll write more tomorrow or Monday and give a more in-depth breakdown but for now, I need to grab a bite before meeting up with some of the RnR crew for an event this evening. 

Six down. Four to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Seattle: 3 hours 'til the gun

It's 0345hrs PST and true to form, I beat my alarm on race morning. My internal clock says it's 0645 back east, so the early call time wasn't a problem at all. My body feels pretty good, considering my 4.5hr trip from Eugene, OR yesterday turned into 6.5 after a two-hour traffic jam in Portland. My compact car is really compact, so those extra 2 hours made my lower back super tight...long story short, I'm good. Sitting here drinking a couple 180 Energy drinks, gels are loaded in my Fuel Belt, 180s are in the small bottles, new Nike Lunar Trainers are raring to go and I'm waiting for the decongestant to kick in for my nose and throat. 

I think there's a difference in humility and unnecessary self-deprecation. I say that to say, all of my prior statements about my uncertainty regarding my fitness level (or apparent lack thereof) leading up to this race were an accurate portrayal of how I'm feeling inwardly (self-confidence) and how I'm feeling outwardly, given the mile splits and relative soreness of some recent workouts. Nonetheless, the marathon is about controlled suffering or as a DLE intern said to me in an email last night, controlled relentlessness. What a brilliant way to put it.

So as I do my final prep over the next 67 minutes before boarding the hotel shuttle for the drive out to the Tukwila starting line, I will be thinking about all the local support I've received here in Seattle, as well as all the well-wishes, and steady contributions we've received at the office for our continued drive towards $100,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Six Awaits.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

PRESS: Seattle Examiner article on the 10-12-100 Campaign

Yesterday, Lynne Butler of the Seattle Examiner wrote an information piece on the 10-12-100 Campaign. You can check it out below:

I appreciate Ms. Butler taking the time to cover our efforts. Additionally, I did a phone interview yesterday (while sitting in 2hrs of bumper to bumper traffic outside of Portland) with Mike Gastineau of 950AM Sports Talk in Seattle. The interview ran about seven minutes long and The Gas Man (his name, not mine) was really supportive of what I'm doing with this campaign. In general, the Seattle media community--whether the Seattle Times, Seattle Examiner, CBS or 950AM--have all been very enthusiastic about this campaign and the ultimate beneficiaries we seek to serve. 

I would be remised, however, if I did not say a special thank you to Courtney Beese, who has quickly become an integral part of DLE Sports and is solely responsible for the logistical and media-based success of this trip. Her detail-oriented commitment, vision and thorough follow-thru have made this company run much more efficiently and I am grateful for all that she does on a daily basis. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Friday, June 26, 2009

PRESS: Seattle Times article on the 10-12-100 Campaign

A special thank you to Steve Kelley, who wrote a brilliant piece on the 10-12-100 Campaign which ran on the front page of yesterday's Seattle Times Sports section. You can read the feature, below:

We had a phone interview earlier this week and I must say, Mr. Kelley was as informed and engaged as he was enthusiastic and supportive. I appreciate his willingness to so eloquently cover our campaign, as it will help us reach a whole new group of potential supporters in the greater Seattle area. 

I hope you guys enjoy the piece. There will be more media updates to follow later today. I'll try to make a posting when I get back to my hotel in Seattle, sometime around 2300hrs PST.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Seattle Marathon: 24 hours away

It's 0636hrs local time, as I type this from my hotel room at the Valley River Inn, in Eugene, Oregon. I'm here today for the USA Track & Field (USATF) Agent Conference, which coincides with the USATF national championships at the beautiful and historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. 

Aptly titled "Tracktown USA" Eugene is home to the most rabid, devoted and knowledgeable T+F fans in the entire country. It is also the home of running legend Steve 'Pre' Prefontaine as well as the genesis of a small sporting goods company whose first R+D concept involved strips of rubber and a kitchen waffle iron and whose marketing and distribution plan consisted of selling new "waffle" pattern, rubber-sole sneakers out of the back of a beat-up two-door car. That company is now called Nike, or victory in Greek. 

It's rather poignant that a company founded on the dying utterance of Philippides, in 490 B.C. spawned generations of running and competition, founded a global athletic giant, spawned the first DLE clients, and in many ways are the reason that I'm here for today's conference and then traveling back to Seattle tonight, for tomorrow morning's Seattle Marathon: running, or more poignantly, running as the ultimate metaphor for dedication, pain, determination and accomplishment. 

As the story goes:

In 490 B.C. an army from Persia landed on the plain of Marathon, about twenty-five miles from Athens, with the intention of capturing and enslaving that city. The Athenians prepared for a battle that would determine the course of history for centuries to come. A victory for the powerful Persian Empire could destroy the independence of the Greek city-states and effectively end Greek civilization and culture.

While the massive Persian army landed, the Athenians sent a messenger named Philippides (his name was corrupted in later texts to Pheidippides) to Sparta to enlist the aid of the Spartans in the upcoming battle. He covered the distance of about 150 miles in less than two days, a remarkable accomplishment by any standard.

Back at Marathon, however, the decision was made not to wait for the Spartans. The Athenian army fell upon the vastly larger Persian forces while they were still preparing for battle. Against great odds, the Greeks prevailed. Though historians writing close to the time of the battle make no mention of the event, writers some 600 years later claim that a runner was dispatched to Athens to carry the news of the great victory. According to legend he reached the city, said, "Rejoice, we conquer," and fell to the ground dead. 


It is that sense of mission, duty, and fortitude that the marathon evokes, which in many ways is the nexus between this 10-12-100 Campaign and the young, wounded soldier we are trying to aid by this effort. 

And so after today's conference, I'll head back to Seattle and get a few, quick hours of sleep before getting up at 0330PST to begin preparation for my sixth marathon in this ten-race campaign. 

Yesterday, I sat down with Dan Cruz, PR Director for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, and we discussed the brutal profile for the back half of this course and the unfortunate last-minute pull-out of marathon legend Paul Tergat, of Kenya. Dan said that based on the difficulty (read: hilliness) of this course, consistent conservative estimates are adding anywhere from 4-6 minutes onto someone's average personal best. Given my aforementioned lack of 'real' training since Cincinnati, that doesn't sound good. My plan, however, is just to tuck into my pace group (yes, there will be one for this race), keep my head down, my arms pumping, and just hang on. Any way you spin it, this is going to be painful day. 

It's 46 degrees outside this morning, but the sunrise over the rolling valleys and pines of the pacific northwest was gorgeous. With that, I must return to some client emails and then I'd better get showered and suited for today's busy agenda. Thanks for all your emails, texts, and facebook messages of support. It means a lot.

More later. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seattle, Eugene and the Merits of an Ice Bath...

I am looking forward to making my first trip to Seattle, Washington next week for Saturday's Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. By all accounts, Seattle is a beautiful town and after talking to the PR Director for all the RnR Marathons--Seattle and Vegas, my sixth and tenth races respectively--I am even more excited for what will likely prove to be an awesome venue and an awesome race.

By my own admission, my training since Cincinnati has been rather non-existent. Indeed, I was totally exhausted at the conclusion of The Flying Pig and the even though the micro-fiber muscle tears associated with post-marathon soreness subsided within a few days, the general lethargy and cumulative fatigue did not. Since I had essentially a seven-week break between Cincinnati (May 3rd) and the Seattle RnR (June 27) I ended up taking waaaaay too much time off in between...something in the order of 5.5 weeks. Now, to be clear, it wasn't a total training hiatus. I'd ride my bike (or the trainer late at night) and do some easy runs along the Canal in G'town or some track repeats at sub-marathon pace, but generally speaking, both the volume and intensity needed to truly prepare for a marathon just hasn't been there. 

I'm not sure there's really blame to assign for this--though clearly any and all of it would fall on me, since I write and administer my own program. I'm hoping, however, that the training reprieve leading up to the Seattle Marathon (which will undoubtedly mean that this race is gonna hurt like hell next weekend) will hopefully benefit me over the course of the last five marathons, each of which is difficult for a different reason: Seattle (time change/lack of training), San Francisco (time change/hilliest city in the U.S.), Colorado Springs (trail marathon/7,200ft of elevation), Marine Corps (always hot or raining here in DC that weekend), Las Vegas (tenth race of the fatigue). That said, I'm not making excuses, but rather, trying to be pragmatic in looking down the road at the races still to come. Additionally, I've resumed an old practice that began back in the fall of '96 when I was running track at JMU: the dreaded ice bath. For those of you who have never done an ice bath, it is at once both unthinkably painful and yet horribly simplistic in design and execution. It is literally a tub full of ice cold water, followed by several bags of ice dumped in to further lower the temperature. It's not cold, it's downright painful. The benefits, however, far outweigh the pain when it comes to repairing damaged muscles. 

Ask any runner and they'll tell you they bundle up, roll their shirt up, put on a tabogan, gloves, iPod and get a magazine to sit through the 20 minutes of self-induced torture. Last night, I did just that. After finishing an 11-mile tempo run in the driving rain along the C+O Canal, my quads were unreasonably sore and simply weren't recovering as they should've been. After all, it wasn't even half the distance of the marathon, and it was on soft-packed dirt/gravel, and at a pace some 10 seconds slower per mile than the targeted race pace. Nonetheless, my body was just rebelling. Foreshadowing aside, I did the ice bath last night and my legs this morning are discernibly better than they were yesterday afternoon. 

So looking ahead, this race will actually be crazier than most, due to some travel within the travel and some Agent obligations. Here's what it looks like:

THU. 6/25
0700 Direct flight from BWI to Seattle
0940 Arrive in SEA (PST)
Rental car
Drive to Expo to pick up race packet
Afternoon media in Seattle
3-mile tempo run, stretch, shower, change
1730 VIP Reception for RnR Elites (no, I'm not an Elite, just got the invite)
2000 Drive 4.5hrs to Eugene, OR

FRI. 6/26
0100 Arrive in Eugene/check into hotel room
0830 USATF Agent Conference in Eugene, OR
1530 Conference concludes, see clients for 2 hours
1800 Quick pasta dinner in Eugene before hitting road for 4.5hr drive
1830 Start drive back to Seattle
2300 Arrive in Seattle/check into hotel
2315 Lay out gear for race
2330 Bed

SAT. 6/27 
0330 Wake up, stretch, caffeinate with 180 Energy Drink
0530 Drive to downtown Seattle and shuttle to Tukwila start
0600 Arrive at shuttle/head to Tukwila start
0640 Arrive in Tukwila/drop off bag
0700 RACE BEGINS!!!!
Let's hope for a 3:30 finish
Pick up rental car
Drive back to hotel
Call family, post Blog, follow-up media
1300 Drive out to Wounded Warrior event in Olympia (70min away)
Drive back to Seattle
1900 Post-Race Reception
See college friends in Seattle

SUN. 6/28
1000 Ice bath in hotel
Sight-see in Seattle
1500 Return my money rental car
Blog/Client calls from airport
2100 Return redeye flight to DC (arrive back at BWI at 0740hrs on Monday)

It'll be a great trip. I'll write more this week in the days leading up to the race. For now, I'm going to try and sneak in a run before yet another round of thunderstorms rolls into the area. The wind has picked up, the skyline is dark and the sunny forecast is about to go right out the window...very rainy spring and early summer in D.C. 

More soon. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 11: Follow-Up

I'd like to thank all of you who attended our 10-12-100 cocktail hour last Thursday, June 11 at Napoleon Bistro & Lounge, here in Washington, DC. The outdoor patio was completely full, with guests spilling over into the upstairs bar area as well as grabbing tables for dinner at what is unquestionably one of DC's hottest restaurants. I was so pleased to be surrounded by clients, colleagues, classmates, supporters, friends, some friends of friends and in a few cases complete strangers (who by the end of the night were strangers no more.)

Not only did we have great attendance, but we also had amazing participation from DC stores, sports teams, spas, hotels, salons, artists, designers, and photographers...all of which made our silent auction at the end of the evening a runaway success. Add to that, flights of drinks and food provided by Omar Popal at Napoleon and the killer tunes that DJ Jerome put on the tables and it was a great night all around. 

This was the first of several fundraising events we will have in the DC area, in addition to events in targeted cities for the remaining five marathons of this ten-race campaign. For those of you who would either like to attend future events or donate your products or services at an upcoming 10-12-100 fundraiser, please contact our office directly (Courtney Beese at 202.296.7006) and we'll make sure you receive the necessary information.)

I've included some pictures with this entry (and I promise to start posting more racing, training, media and miscellaneous photos as well). For those of you on FACEBOOK, please join us under search term: 10-12-100 Campaign

Events like this give me renewed strength on those long, lonely training runs. During interviews or casual conversation, I'm often asked what I think about while I'm training and racing. (As if to say, how could you possibly help to pass, what must otherwise be an absurd amount of mind-numbing miles spent just running.) To be honest, sometimes I'll think about those young soldiers laying in beds in Walter Reed Army Hospital, whom our efforts are benefitting. Sometimes, I'm thinking about how best to resolve an issue with a DLE client athlete. Sometimes, I'm not thinking about anything at all. 

Moving forward, in the long, hot summer training miles in preparation for the unbelievably challenging marathons remaining, I will draw strength from the outpouring of unity and support I experienced last week at our event. The crowd couldn't have been more diverse, yet the commonality of purpose was overwhelming. 

For those soldiers who have been reading my words--both abroad and at home--you are not alone. There are those of us who back you in thought, in word and most importantly, in deed.

...And our numbers are growing. 

Stay the course.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fundraising Event on June 11 here in D.C.

The staff here at DLE Sports has been furiously working on the finishing touches for what is sure to be an amazing event here in DC on Thursday, June 11 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Two days from now, we are hosting a fundraiser at Napoleon Bistro ( from 7-9pm, with the proceeds going directly to the Wounded Warrior Project through our continued efforts with the 10-12-100 Campaign. For a mere $20, guests will enjoy an open bar for the first two hours, as well as raffle tickets and the opportunity to bid on an amazing array of items in our silent auction.

The generously donated raffle items continue to roll in, and we have several $100 and $200 certificates to local restaurants, as well as spas and salons. On the auction side, we have amazing items from renowned designer Darryl Carter, the fabled Willard Hotel, equisite Edward Marc chocolate, visionary couture from Aidah, as well as Nationals tickets (3rd base line and homeplate seats), Redskins tickets, and an impressive assortment of jewelry, dresses, suits and other outstanding items. 

After the auction results are announced, DC's best DJ will take the tables just after 9pm and spin an amazingly eclectic mix of hip hop, 80s, dance, rock, and house music, as only DJ Jerome can do. 

For those of you in the area that are interested in attending, please contact:

Courtney Beese

The event is as diverse and as inclusive as the campaign itself. All are welcome and all are encouraged to attend. Please let us know if you'd like to join and encourage your friends and family to do the same. 

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday at 7pm.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Leaders Lead"

This was the theme of a keynote address given by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen this morning at a breakfast I attended at the Liaison Hotel, which was hosted by The Hill newspaper. His address was no more than 15 minutes, but the topics covered by the Chairman, were as relevant as they were thoughtful. Moreover, his remarks were right on target with the underlying aim and scope of the 10-12-100 Campaign.

Admiral Mullen highlighted the need for caring for our wounded warriors upon their return home from active duty abroad. In that, he addressed an injury that often escapes the naked eye: mental and emotional trauma, such as PTSD. An increasing number of young servicemen are returning home with this type of injury and many argue that it is one of the leading contributors in the alarming rise in suicide rates of young enlisted men and women. 

Much of the 10-12-100 Campaign focus thus far has been centered on those servicemen and women who are dealing with debilitating physical injuries as they transition from active-duty back to civilian life. I would be remised, however, if I did not focus equal attention on those who are dealing with traumatic mental and emotional injuries as a direct result of their service to our nation. Admiral Mullen brought this to the fore this morning when he highlighted the current deficit in qualified healthcare professionals, who are able and ready to serve the needs of the aforementioned servicemen. 

In Mullen's words, "...some say that there is a national shortage of qualified healthcare professionals able to treat the needs of PTSD-related injuries among our troops. I do not subscribe to that, and I find that unacceptable." The Chairman went on to say that we need to not only actively recruit more mental healthcare professionals (MHP) but that perhaps we should begin to reach outside the normal channels of recruitment and seek the pro-bono services of such MHPs in order to meet the growing needs of our troops.

At my table, I sat between White House veteran Tim McBride and Hill defense reporter Roxana Tiron. Across from us on the other side of the circular table were Hill publisher Fran McMahon and Editor-in-Chief, Hugo Gurdon. The audience was comprised of Hill staffers, young veterans, older veterans, lobbyists, and everyday patriots. Among those in attendance were a few Vietnam veterans whose children were now preparing for their first or second deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Mullen pointed out in answering one of their questions, "I always like to take a moment to thank the parents of our young military soldiers. Thank you for providing a home environment that encouraged and emboldened them to serve their country."

I found that statement to be rather poignant. Admiral Mullen carefully and directly answered the comments and concerns of the audience members in a Q+A manner that was as elegant as it was informative. I've always been an admirer of the Chairman, and after hearing him speak in person this morning, that well-founded respect has widened even further. 

I was honored to sit in the audience and hear his unscripted, heart-felt remarks and his patience and honesty in answering the questions from the audience. Indeed, the Admiral also reminded me that those injured veterans who walk among us, are not merely relegated to the superficial physical impairments that we see on an everyday basis; they are also the deep-seeded mental and emotional trauma that can only be understood by those who have stood on the front lines of combat, where the bullets are flying and your comrade's life is in your hands. 

Duty to God and to Country has never had a more palatable and visceral interpretation. 

I will continue to focus my efforts on our troops in recognition of all they have done for us. Their scars of service run deep; some on the surface level, some are buried a little deeper. All were forged in the fire of duty, service and sacrifice. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Thursday, May 21, 2009

PRESS/Race Recap: Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

On May 3rd, I completed the fifth marathon of this ten race campaign, the Cincinnati Flying Pig. 

The 2009 edition marked the 11th year for this race and The Pig continues to grow and attract both new runners and new sponsors each successive year. In an economic environment like we're experiencing now, that says a lot. 

For me, this was the halfway point of a year-long effort. I deliberately front-loaded the first five marathons into the first four months of the year. The remaining five will be spread out over the last eight months of the year. Though that might sound like a reprieve of sorts, I assure you it's not. The cumulative fatigue at the midpoint is already substantial and it will only increase exponentially with each successive race from this point forward. 

I arrived in Cincy on only 14 days of rest following a brutal marathon course in Charlottesville, VA on April 18th. I knew my legs were tired, but it wouldn't be until mile 16 the following day that I'd really see how beat I was and how much fatigue had begun to accumulate throughout my body. 

So despite prior rainy forecasts, I landed in Ohio on Sat. May 2nd and was greeted  by sunny skies, a slight breeze and 70 degree temperatures early that morning, when my cousin Chris picked me up at the airport. We drove in to downtown Cincinnati where I visited with some people at the Expo and did an interview for Cincinnati NBC 5 news. (see the link below)

After that, Chris was kind enough to drive the course for me so I could actually see the course, get my bearings and we could talk and catch up along the way. The course was winding from the start and in the first couple miles, it crossed a bridge into Kentucky--which is literally just across the river, much like the Potomac River splits Virginia and DC--and then back into Ohio, where we wound through downtown Cincinnati before beginning the start of a five mile winding climb. From there, the course flattened out before hitting some rolling hills through mile 17 and then a flat/gradual descent over the last several miles, to the finish line. 

After the TV interview and a driving inspection of the course, I got a great tour of the greater Cincinnati area and its rich history. As I mentioned in a prior posting, the town was once referred to as Porkopolis because it was a nerve center for the nation's slaughtering and distribution of pork products. Since then, the pork industry has been split with Chicago and other regional locations, but the town has retained those pork roots as there are literally flying pig statues all over the place. It's both kitchy and cool at the same time. The pig is an icon that the city has really embraced over the years and the marathon is extremely well supported by the surrounding community.

So with that, Chris and I met up with his girlfriend, Andrea, and the three of us had dinner on the outdoor patio of their favorite little Italian place. It was delicious and by the end of the meal, I was exhausted. Chris has always been a night owl, but I was so tired, I don't think I saw 2100hrs. 

The following morning, my alarms (two watches and a blackberry) went off at 0330hrs and I began my customary consumption of 180 Energy drinks along with a vigorous stretching regiment in the middle of the hallway. About 90 minutes later, Chris and I were driving in the misty rain to the starting area. The place was packed with runners and the damp, humid air created an ideal temperature and feel for a marathon. Most people don't like the rain and wind, but I thrive on it; the harder the conditions, the better I do. I think I attribute that to Coach Saunders back in high school...repeat 500s in the driving sleet and freezing rain. 

At any rate, the conditions seemed ideal. The gun went off and I felt good through the first 15 miles or so. Then something very weird happened. Around mile 16, I started to feel completely flat. My legs were dead, my shoulders felt heavy. My breathing was erratic. It was fatigue. The first four marathons were finally starting to show their wear. But that wasn't the weird part.

It was around this time that I looked around and saw three guys up ahead who were running a similar tempo so I hit the gas to link up with them, so that I could use their pacing to my advantage. It turned out they were all running hard in an effort to qualify for the Boston Marathon, next spring. The weird part, however, came two miles later when they asked me my name and in turn introduced themselves: Gary, Randy and Tom.

My father's name was Gary. Randy was his brother, and also the second oldest, next to my father. Tom was their middle brother who was killed in their hometown of Detroit during the turbulent race riots of the late '60s. My tired, achy body suddenly got the chills. For the next several miles, I ran silently next to those three, content in the notion that they had been put in my path as an omen, a sign and a message that I was to continue, and to push, and to finish what I've started; both in Cincinnati and beyond. 

Gradually, I started to separate from my running mates until I could no longer see them over my shoulder. Everything, every area, every muscle, every tendon, every joint, every part of my body hurt.

...and then the wheels fell off.

At mile 22, I got the spins. My vision was blurry, I got dizzy and I was forced to stop and walk. Cramps, aches, stitches, assorted pain--you run through all that stuff; the spins, however, will bring you to your knees. Literally.

I walked for several minutes until I'd regained my composure and I jogged on until they returned at mile 24. It was bad. I felt wobbly, lightheaded, and generally about the bonk. Again, I was forced to walk for several minutes--something that I said from the outset that I would not do during this campaign. I felt as though my commitment to the wounded servicemen for whom I am running demanded at the very least, that I run, no matter how much pain I am in at any point, during any of the ten marathons. But again, you can't really run through the spins; either you stop and you gather your wits, or you push and eventually collapse on the pavement. I ceded to my ego and I stopped for the second time. 

Frustrated, exhausted, and completely dizzy, I began running again, and ultimately crossed the finish line in a time of 3:33:18.

This was my slowest time of the first five marathons by a good two minutes, but as a friend and colleague pointed out, this race was on only 15 days of rest and it was an indication of the fatigue that my body has accumulated and is now starting to manifest. 

When I first started this people laughed, almost mockingly, at the notion of ten marathons in a year. As I began to click off the marathons in monthly succession, all at an eight minute average, the doubters grew silent and eventually, their silence turned to support. Prior to Cincinnati, those who once smirked when I talked about my campaign, had suddenly started billing me as some kind of Superman who would fly through all ten of these marathons, impervious to pain, with an S on my chest and a flag clenched in my teeth. 

This race was a wake-up call. I am not an endurance machine. I am human. I am fallible. And in Cincinnati, I was hurting. Quite frankly, the remaining five marathons are going to be utterly brutal; each will hurt more than the previous one, up to and including the tenth race in Las Vegas this December. But I have made a commitment. I have made a promise. I have set a goal. I will not stop. I will not rest. I will not turn back. 

I WILL run ten marathons. I WILL do it in 12 months. I WILL raise $100,000 for the WWP.

That is the 10-12-100 Campaign. That is my promise. These men and women are my cause. 

Five down. Five to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports