Thursday, April 30, 2009

Race Preview: Avoiding the Swine Flu along the way to the Flying Pig

My flight departs on Saturday at 0600hrs for Cincinnati and the Flying Pig Marathon. 

This will be the fifth marathon since I kicked off the 10-12-100 Campaign on January 25 with the ING Miami Marathon. Moreover, it will be the much anticipated midway point of my ten marathon effort. As I sit at my desk, taking a break between client call-backs, I started scanning the weather and the local news. The forecast on Sunday calls for 60 and rain, while the news is dominated by reports of Swine Flu breaking out across the nation.

It's ironic that I'm heading to the Flying Pig Marathon on a weekend when the rest of the country is wearing sterile surgical masks out of fear of exposure to a potentially airborne epidemic that's been dubbed the Swine Flu. According to a front page article in today's Washington Post, the Swine Flue started in Mexico earlier this month and has since spread across the country in random patterns, as well as several countries in Western Europe. 

The flu's spread has become increasingly rapid, prompting some to warn of potential epidemic status, and has even caused Alabama state high school officials to join Texas officials in canceling all high school athletic contests. (check out the article  on ESPN at: Stranger still, is the fact that all of the scheduled soccer matches to be played in Mexico this weekend will be played, but will be done in empty stadiums without any fans, due to concerns about spreading the illness.

Speaking of swine...the Flying Pig Marathon seems to be a GO at this point. I'm looking forward to making the trip, as this will not only be my first time participating in the marathon, but it's also my first trip to the city itself and a rare chance to spend some time with my cousin, Chris. After speaking to race officials last week, the course will certainly be a challenging one, as miles 5-9 provide a solid four-mile uphill climb. As usual, I plan to drive the course with Chris on Saturday afternoon, so I can get a better idea of what it looks like. 

The other night I was laying out my race shoes, singlet, Fuel Belt, etc. and I was getting organized, I started wondering why this marathon is called The Flying Pig, so I did a little research about both the city and the race and here is what I learned:

-Cincinnati was the first major pork town in the United States. What Chicago was to cattle and slaughterhouses, Cincinnati was to swine.
-1818: the first slaughterhouse was opened in Cincinnati
-1829: because of its ease of accessibility by river, the city quickly becomes the (then) meat packing capital of the country, earning it the nickname "Porkopolis" (I'm not kidding)
-1861: the Civil War creates an increased demand for the production and circulation of meat, so Chicago seizes upon this opportunity and in so doing, gradually displaces Cincinnati as the meatpacking capital of the U.S.
-1909: the first pig flies. Literally. Apparently, Lord Barbozon--who was the first pilot to have a license to operate a bi-plane in the UK--took a pig up for a 3.5mile ride in his bi-plane over the city of Cincinnati. It is rumored that the pig was wearing a sign that said "I am the first pig to fly" (Seriously, I'm not making this up.) forward about 100 years
-1998: the Cincinnati "Flying Pig" Marathon is started
-2008: in its 10th Anniversary, the marathon has entrants from all 50 states

From the looks of it, 2009 will be a banner year for "The Pig" as it's commonly referred to in "the 'Nati" and I'm certainly glad to be a part of it. I'll be sure to post another entry before the race on Sunday morning and as always, I'll provide a post-race report as well. Additionally, due to broad demand, I will provide the following:
-updated information on the website ( about the easiest way to donate
-more race pictures 
-training diaries
-more frequent blog entries
-dedicated media section to more readily follow the coverage this campaign is generating
-the opportunity to order 10-12-100 t-shirts (with all proceeds going to the WWP)

As always, you can contact me directly with comments, questions and suggestions:

I really appreciate the outpouring of support thus far, and I'm going to need it even more over the remaining eight months of '09 as we drive hard toward our goal of raising $100,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. With your help, the 10-12-100 will be an overwhelming success!

Onward to The Pig!

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Thursday, April 23, 2009

PRESS/Race Recap: Charlottesville Marathon

The Charlottesville Marathon last Saturday was everything I expected it to be after driving the course on Friday afternoon. The online description said it was "rolling" but I'd say "hilly" is a more apt descriptive...and uphill at that. 

As I got to the starting area, the temperature was hovering around 35 degrees and by the time the gun went off, it was around 40. The sun was steadily rising so it had all the makings of a warm day, nonetheless, in shorts and a thin singlet, I still needed gloves and arm warmers. 

The first mile wove up and through the scenic UVA campus, which soon blended into a neighborhood and by the third mile, we were in the Virginia countryside. 

For those of you outside the DC/VA area, Charlottesville is not only home to the University of Virginia, but it is also some of the most beautiful horse country on the east coast. With lush, green pastures and miles of rolling fences it really makes for an iconic course. (See the photo above. That was taken while driving the course the day before. I sat on the fence post around the 15 Mile mark of the course.)

The course went up and down for quite a while before we made a turn and took a four mile detour through a soft gravel path that wrapped around several of the horse pastures described above. This area was an endless array of undulating climbs but it came at a nice time as the path was mostly shaded and the soft ground felt good to legs that were pumping batter acid at that point.

Knowing full well, that I'd have the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon some 15 days after this race, I knew that I couldn't go out there and run hard on a super tough course and expect to be recovered only two weeks later to do it all again. In my mind, I tried to negotiate a gentle disciplined pace, but the farther along I went, the better I felt. In truth, I just couldn't convince myself that "running this one easy" would do either myself or the campaign any good. In fact, I thought it would do just the opposite. If the underlying premise of this year-long effort is to draw attention to those who have sacrificed so much, then how could I justify going out there and strolling over a 26-mile course so that I could "preserve myself" for another race two weeks later. That's non-sensical and you know what, the simple truth is that I knew I couldn't look any of these young, wounded soldiers in the eye and explain that very notion so I said the hell with it...let's run. Deal with Cincinnati later.

So I ran nearly dead even splits between the first 13 and the back 13 of the marathon (1:45 and change on each) which was impressive, given the fact that the back half was arguably tougher climbs and the temperature had jumped from 40 to 75 degrees by the closing miles. To the casual observer, 8:01 pace may not seem impressive and when set against the 2:06 finishing times you see from the Kenyan contingent in Boston or New York, I concede that it's not. But I'm not a professional athlete; I represent them, but I am not among them. I am just like you, an ordinary guy trying to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of those who have given the most to our country: the American soldier.

I pushed on thru the finish and crossed the line in 3:30:21. It was a solid time on a difficult day and an utterly beautiful, yet brutal course. More importantly, I am now one race away from the much-awaited halfway point in my journey. As I said from the start, however, this is one man running the marathons, but it is a journey that will require the help of family, friends, colleagues and complete strangers in order for it to be a success. To that end, I will make a posting in the next day or so about a simplified means for contributing to the Wounded Warrior Project, vis-a-vis my 10-12-100 Campaign. 

Also, as promised, I've included the link to the interview that aired the night before the race at 6 and 11pm. I didn't get to see it live, but I'd like to thank Matt Holmes, of Charlottesville CBS 19 News, for doing the interview and providing a link so everyone can see it.

So Charlottesville is on the books, and Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon is looming large on the horizon.

Four down. Six to go.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Charlottesville: 90 minutes away

Charlottesville, VA

As I type this, I am now an hour and a half away from the start of the Charlottesville Marathon--a race which starts on the historic campus of the University of Virginia and runs out into the surrounding roads, paths and countryside of Albemarle County. 

I got down here yesterday afternoon and did an interview for the Charlottesville CBS News at 1430hrs. (I will post a link later today.) After picking up my race packet, I drove the race course and it is unquestionably going to be the most challenging marathon I have ever run. From the start line, the race heads uphill and continues to climb through the UVA campus, then heads off campus and into the countryside, making the first 16 miles "net uphill." This means that despite a few flat patches (never seemingly longer than a football field) and an occasional downhill, the majority of the course--minus those flat or descending sections--is all uphill from the start all the way through mile 16. Then, as we head back into downtown Charlottesville,  there is a mile of descent  on the way back before hitting a HUGE hill at mile 23, 24 and 25 on the way to the finish of the 26.2 mile race.

I'll be sure to post an update later this evening when I get back to DC. Thanks for all your letters and emails. I appreciate the support and I am proud of the direction this campaign is heading and of the results we will garner in the months and years ahead. As always, you can reach me with questions, comments or ideas at:

No Retreat.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Friday, April 3, 2009

Race Recap: National Marathon

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Real glory springs from the silent conquest of ourselves."

A marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. Whether you're running six minute pace or sixteen minute pace, the time and distance between mile markers can sometimes feel like an eternity. It is in those moments of progressive anguish, that any preconceived notion of target finishing times, or average splits or finish chute antics go out the window and you start living in the moment--focusing solely on each progressive step and knowing damn well that your mind is going to have to will your body to complete the task at hand. 

Such was the case for me two weeks ago at the Sun Trust National Marathon, here in Washington, DC.

On race morning, it was a chilly 31 degrees and there was a brisk wind blowing across most of the course. The first few miles were relatively flat as we headed out from the start line at the Stadium Armory and down along Constitution Avenue before making a turn onto 18th St for what would be a slow, seven mile climb from the Mile 4 through Mile 11. As we crested the top of Connecticut Ave, we made a right onto Columbia Rd and passed my long-time friend Omar Popal's restaurant, Napoleon. (Sidebar: for those of you in the DC area that have not yet tried Napoleon, you're missing out. With the warm weather approaching, it's an absolute must. Ask for Omar and tell him I sent you.)

We made our way thru Adams Morgan, and soon thereafter, my two favorite parts of the entire race: 

1) Best Sign: "Your feet only hurt, 'cause you're kicking so much ass." I laughed for a full mile.
2) Best Lift: Howard Students that were blasting Chuck Brown as we rolled past their dorm.

The rest of the race went downhill (metaphorically, not literally) from there. To put it in context: through Mile 20 of the race, my overall average split was 7:47/mile, which on a hilly course like that, is certainly a respectable pace. The remaining six miles--four of which were uphill--were so ugly that my overall mile average climbed up 16 seconds and I finished with an average pace of 8:03/mile and an overall time of 3:30:38. 

That means for the first three marathons of the 10-12-100 Campaign, I have run:

ING Miami Marathon  3:30:18   (8:02 pace)  72 sunny/flat course
Pensacola Marathon  3:26:36   (7:53 pace)  57 rain/rolling course
National Marathon  3:30:38   (8:03 pace)  31 cold/hilly course

It was in those last six miles where the mental gamesmanship truly began. Both hamstrings were cramping and my left calf locked up as well. It was ugly and I do mean ugly. My long hours at the office, coupled with poor race-week hydration and an utter lack of sleep meant those last six miles felt longer, harder, and more challenging than the previous twenty. Add to that, the fact that the two of the last six were into a driving headwind and other four were up a rolling progression of never-ending hills as we climbed from the Anacostia River back up to the rear of the Stadium Armory for the long-awaited finish line. 

Some races are just gorgeous (Miami) or seemingly effortless (Pensacola) but this race was neither. It was a challenging course, on a cold and windy day. Many readers will likely point out that I ran the same race, the same course as everyone else so why should I complain about the difficulties of the day. Well, they're right. We all ran the same course, on the same day, in the same conditions. But it is the race within the race that makes all the difference. 

Marathons are not a team sport. When you're having an "off" day, you can't rely on your teammates to pick up the slack and pull you thru. When you're off, you're really off. There's nobody to make it faster, shorter or otherwise easier. If you're going to do it, you've gotta do it alone. If you're having a tough day, then the real battle and the real victory is in conquering yourself, more so than conquering the race. That is the real glory. 

Like I've always said, you just can't fake your way through a marathon. Regardless, I am happy that the National Marathon is now behind me and that I've officially got three races on the books. 

Three down. Seven to go. 

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports