Sunday, February 22, 2009

Race Report #1: ING Miami Marathon

Miami, Florida
Sunday, January 25, 2009

As promised, I will post a race report following each of the ten marathons. Up to this point, I had yet to make the official report for the first of these marathons, the ING Miami Marathon, which I ran on Sunday, January 25, 2009. 

The air was warm, the ocean was cool, the course was scenic, the runners were diverse, and the Ferraris were out in full force along Ocean Drive. I felt pretty good about my training leading up to this race, so I was anxious to escape the cold, icy weather of DC and get down south and get this campaign started under sunny Miami skies. 

The race itself started at 0630hrs to avoid the heat of the South Beach sun. We gathered in downtown Miami outside of the AmericanAirlines Center (where the Miami Heat play) for what was a raucous crowd of participants, all of which were jittery, nervous and starting to subconsciously bounce up and down to the sounds of none other than Will Smith's 90's song "Welcome to Miami." To answer your question, yes, it was in my head for the first six miles. 

Because the marathon and half marathon runners started through the same narrow streets and bridges of downtown Miami, the opening miles of the race were a bit convoluted with runners darting left and right trying to find an open piece of asphalt...much in the way an angry driver will hit the gas in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic if he can move six feet ahead and into the space created in the lane next to him, only to make the same move back into the original lane once he sees he's not going any faster. Such was the scene down in Miami for probably the first seven miles or so. Instead of a smooth start where you find a your lane and gradually start to set into your rhythm and find your target pace, it is a lot of fits and starts with runners constantly having to slam the breaks to avoid rear-ending the runner ahead of them as they change lanes without warning. I don't want to beat the metaphor to death, but you get the picture. 

After the initial confusion, things started to spread out and by the half-way point (the 13.1 mile mark where the half marathoners pulled off) there was plenty of open road. The pace group I was running with was pretty erratic so at one point, I just had to make the decision to go on my own to try and hit the end time I'd targeted. Speaking of which, I'm often asked how fast I'm running these marathons. To be honest, it's a bit of a loaded question. Casual observers assume I might run a high six-minute pace, which I'm capable of doing, were this a one-off endeavor. However, because I will be running 10 marathons this year and not merely one--and some with as little as 15 days recovery in between races--that kind of workload and punishment on the body requires that I run at a respectable, but more reasonable pace. Consequently, I have targeted an eight-minute pace (or roughly a 3:30 finish time) for each of the ten marathons. I believe this is a respectable pace for any marathon, much less 10 successive races, and it will maintain my athletic credibility and degree of sacrifice throughout the ten-race campaign. 

To put it differently, I was recently asked why I didn't just jog/walk some of these races to make it easier on my body. My answer was immediate and to the point: for me to do so, would be disrespectful of the men and women my efforts are trying to serve. To give anything less than my best would feel like I was dishonoring their service and their sacrifice; it would fly in the face of everything that the 10-12-100 Campaign is all about.

That said, I finished the ING Miami Marathon in 3:30:17, which meant an average pace of 8:02.

All in all, it was a good race and a great start to the 10-12-100 Campaign. I felt good in my training, great during the race, and pretty resilient in the days following the marathon, all of which are good markers for the months to come. For those of you who have requested it, I will be posting splits for Miami and the other nine marathons as they come along. I will include the Miami splits in the next day or two. 

There was no Crockett, no Tubs and no D. Wade, but there was 26 miles of beautiful South Beach race course to get this 12 month campaign started right. 

One down. Nine to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pensacola: a long day ahead

It's 0425hrs in Pensacola, Florida and I'm about two hours from the start of the second of my ten marathon mission during the 10-12-100 Campaign. The skies are still dark, the streets are empty and the clouds are heavy with morning thunderstorms soon to arrive. It's in these dark moments of solitude that you're confronted with the most overwhelming since of self-effacing honesty; that point, where you can no longer hide or otherwise sidestep the truth. You simply can't fake a marathon. 

It is in this honesty and humility that I had to take stock of myself, some 80 minutes ago when my feet hit the ground. The reality is this: in the three weeks since the ING Miami Marathon, I have not been able to train for two of the three weeks in between races, due to a severe sinus infection. Additionally, I have had a sore left achilles tendon and my stomach has been a mess for the last two days, which makes it difficult to handle hydration and caloric intake in view to a marathon. For those of you who have done a marathon before, that probably sounds like a recipe for disaster; any one of those things--let alone all of them in concert--would be enough to justify pulling the pin and taking a pass on this one. Ironically, the way I feel this morning is the perfect metaphor for this campaign and the underlying reason I took on this challenge: service in the face of obstacles and opposition. That's what these young service men and women did and they did so knowing precisely what the cost might be for their patriotism and yet they did it nonetheless. 

While I would never conflate one, two or ten marathons with that of service to our country, I do find strength in moments of potential weakness, when I think about the strength and unflinching bravery displayed by our young troops. In that context, the stomach, head and achilles just don't seem that bad. 

As I sit at my laptop in an otherwise dark hotel room, I can't help but replay a movie I saw earlier this week. On Tuesday evening, I was fortunate enough to attend an MPAA screening of "Taking Chance" which is an HBO movie (debuting Sat. Feb. 21 at 8pm) starring Kevin Bacon. This true story chronicles Marine Lt. Col. Mike Stroebl, who volunteered to escorted the body of fallen Marine Pvt. Chance Phelps, who died during a convoy ambush in Iraq. In attendance were current and former Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy, and Marines, as well as members of Congress, Bacon and the media. As the end credits rolled on this 90 minute film, nobody moved. Every single credit rolled. Senior military officers, in full dress uniform, were subtly wiping their eyes and steeling their reserve. A roaring ovation when the screen finally faded to black. To say it was moving, would be a dramatic understatement. Much like the 10-12 campaign, "Taking Chance" shines a light on what happens when our soldiers come home. 

In that, I am reminded of just how fortunate I am to be an American citizen and to enjoy the liberties and opportunities--provided for and defended by our men and women in uniform. In just a short time, on a rainy, hilly course, I will have three short hours to give something back to those who have given so much to me. 

"When one falls. Another brings him home."
-Taking Chance

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Beginning...

In 2009, DLE Sports will launch a nation wide charity campaign for the benefit of America's young service men and women, who have been severely injured in the line of duty. Aptly titled 10-12-100, the details of the campaign are outlined in the title itself: 10 marathons in 12 months to raise $100,000.00 for the Wounded Warrior Project. As DLE President, I have committed to running all ten marathons, in honor and in recognition of the sacrifices made by these young men and women. The marathons will cover both large metropolitan areas as well as smaller venues with prominent military communities. The race schedule, which stretches from January to December, is as follows:

1.  Jan. 25    ING Miami Marathon (FL)
2.  Feb. 15   Pensacola Marathon (FL)
3.  Mar. 21  National Marathon (DC)
4.  Apr. 18   Charlottesville Marathon (VA)
5.  May 3     Cincinnati Marathon (OH)
6.  Jun. 27   Seattle Rock n' Roll Marathon (WA)
7.  Jul. 26    San Francisco Marathon (CA)
8. Sep. 7      American Discovery Trail Marathon (CO)
9.  Oct. 25   Marine Corps Marathon (DC)
10. Dec. 6    Las Vegas Marathon (NV)

I will be providing regular commentary on this blog site about our mission, the genesis of this campaign, and updates on our march toward victory. This is an arduous undertaking but one that both myself and the entire DLE family are making with eyes wide open. I encourage you to get involved and help us meet this goal. 

I look forward to updating you in the coming days, weeks and months--including a race recap from Miami three weeks ago--and I thank you in advance for your help, your encouragement and your support along the way. 

Doug Eldridge