Thursday, December 12, 2013

TR - Belize

Trip Report
                                                                               12/6 -12/11/13


Race Results
Sun, Dec 8/13
Placencia, Belize
End of the World Marathon
Marathon # 367 – Country # 118

 Where do I start? I would have ran the inaugural marathon in 2012 (hence the name to reflect the end of the Mayan calendar) but I was on a sabbatical from running to rest and resolve health issues. One year later not much has been resolved and I did not have much confidence or enthusiasm as I walked to the start line. I feel it is important to tell my medical history during the past year that got me to this point for my own records and so that my readers can understand my mental attitude and dilemma at this time. It may be boring so feel free to skip the first page and go to the start of the actual race report.

 When I finished the Guernsey Marathon in Aug 2012 I was in bad shape health-wise. My two health issues had become serious: the UC (Ulcerative Colitis) was in a major flare-up that could not be controlled by normal meds and my heart was back in A-fib. I knew I wasn’t feeling well and announced that Guernsey might well be my ‘final’ marathon. A cardio version was needed to jump start the heart back into rhythm but that only lasted for a few months. The cardiologist refused to perform another cardio version and recommended an ablation procedure to stop the heart from going into A-fib. I reluctantly agreed to have an ablation procedure the day after Christmas. During this same time the GI doc had increased my meds to a cocktail of toxic meds to force the UC into remission and this cocktail had some nasty side effects. When I was released from the hospital a few days after the ablation I was able to walk a few miles without problems. However when I tried to run after one week it was a total disaster – I couldn’t run more than 500 ft. without collapsing from fatigue and shortness of breath. One week later my heart went back into A-fib and another cardio version was needed to get it back into rhythm. I was very discouraged at that point and agreed to follow the cardiologist’s orders NOT to run for a few weeks to give my heart a chance to recover from the ablation.

In early Feb I started training again. I was determined to train wisely and slowly. I would walk and add a few short runs until I suffered shortness of breath. Once I built the run up to 1 mile I would slowly increase the distance to 2 miles and then add another mile. It took 2 months to build my run up to 10 miles. During this period the cocktail of toxic drugs finally forced the UC into remission and I was able to quit the cocktail and return to my normal (1 toxic) meds. However my ‘long’ run had become limited to 10 miles? After 10 miles I would become fatigued and suffer shortness of breath? So I added 1 and then 2 miles of walking to my 10-mile run. Finally after I reached a total of 13 miles I reached a significant breakthrough – I was suddenly able to run 12 miles. I became exited and optimistic that I might again be able to run another marathon. I set a goal to run an inaugural marathon in St Kitts in May 2013. As my trip report indicated that race was ugly and slow but I did manage to run/walk and finish. I was hopeful that Maddog was on the road to recovery. Unfortunately that optimism was short-lived and came to a painful and screeching halt at the Vietnam marathon in Sept. I felt so bad during and after that race that I knew my health problems were not resolved! I asked the cardiologist to perform another echocardiogram to compare my current heart condition to the initial echocardiogram done before the ablation. I was not surprised but I was disappointed/discouraged by the results and diagnosis: cardiomyopathy with an EF (Ejection Fraction) of 30%. A normal EF is 50 to 70% so that means my heart is so weak that it is only pumping half the normal amount of blood volume and can’t support strenuous exercise. The cardiologist stated that he would not order me to “NOT” run because he knew I would only ignore his advice. But he was concerned that the marathons were stressing my weak heart and could cause further damage?  I denied this medical fact/truth for almost one year but could no longer deny the fact that there had been no change or improvement in the past year. I was hoping that a wise exercise program would strengthen my heart. I still tried to go into denial and decided to try one more test. I ran Bill’s Beer Run – a popular and fast 5-mile run in Sarasota. I wanted to see how fast I could run? Since I was struggling to run an 11-min pace in my daily runs I figured a 9-min pace was a good/realistic goal. I gave it everything I had – and I mean EVERYTHING – and all I could manage was a 9-min pace for the first 3 miles and then I slowed to a 9:30 pace to struggle to the finish line. That test and result hit me like a sledge hammer. I was screwed! My ‘running’ life was over! I immediately went into a ‘funk’ – not quite depression – but close! My emotions and attitude were on a roller coaster ride! But the worst part was that I mentally gave up. I no longer had the desire to race/run or the mental toughness to overcome/ignore the pain that is encountered in training and racing. And as all runners know, marathons are 30% physical and 70% mental! Three weeks later I ran a marathon in Fort Myers. It was a disaster from the start for the above reasons. And to make matters worse I started to suffer leg cramps and tightness in both hips at 8 miles. The emotional roller coaster continued and ranged from denial/ignoring everything and run till I dropped/died or quit right now! But wait – just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse – they did! For the past few months I had been feeling tired and sleepy all the time. Both the cardiologist and GI doc claimed that the cardiomyopathy and UC couldn’t cause those symptoms so I went to my GP. After many blood tests proved negative I was referred to a sleep doc for consultation and sleep labs. Once again I wasn’t ready for the results: Narcolepsy – an incurable sleep disorder- and the 3rd nail in Maddog’s running coffin! It can be managed with meds (narcotics) but so far Medicare refuses to authorize or pay for the prescription because the drug is too expensive. I’ll be damned if I will pay for the drug since I am paying for a Medicare Prescription Plan. (Consider this a forewarning about Obama Care and government control of your health!)

Now I am up to date with my health issues/woes and facing an international marathon that I had already booked and paid for. What should I do? After many heated discussions with Maddog we compromised on a plan. I want to complete three more personal goals that I won’t announce because Maddog would then consider them etched in stone and I would be forced to do them no matter what. This plan/goal requires that I run four more marathons over the next five months. I am not sure that I can do that so we have wisely agreed to run each marathon ‘one-at-a-time’ and re-evaluate after each race. So now I am ready to leave for Belize and run the next marathon.

 Race Report:

The most positive thing to come out of all the above (bad) news and roller coaster rides was that I had finally accepted the truth and decided to run within my limitations. I set a race strategy to run 3 miles and walk 3 minutes. During the rest/walk break I would also stretch my quads and hip flexors to prevent the tightness/soreness problems I have been suffering for the past month in training runs. I expected that the only fun part of the trip would be re-uniting with four of my fellow Country Club members.

 I flew from Miami to Belize City where I connected with a small 8-passenger airplane for the final leg to Placencia. It has been a long time since I flew on such a small airplane. We never flew above 2,000 ft. as we followed the coastline and made a short stop to drop off passengers in Dangriga. Finally I arrived in Placencia and joined my roommate Edson from NYC. We soon bumped into another CC member Brent who joined us for dinner. We stayed at the host hotel (Robert Grove Resort) which is expensive and remote (only 4 miles from the village but a $10 taxi ride). On Sat we took a taxi into Placencia to explore the village. I was surprised that the village is so small (1500 people) with only one paved road? It is very basic and laid-back – not modern and upscale as I expected. It took only a few hours to explore the entire village and enjoy a pizza for lunch. Later we picked up our race packets at the hotel and joined the final two CC members (Yen and Peter) for a pasta dinner at the hotel.

 Sun was M-day! The race started at 5:30 am to benefit from at least one hour of darkness and cooler temps. The race started in the center of the village, ran 13 miles north on the only paved road and returned to the finish line in the center of the village. On Sat we had noted how hot it was at 10 am so we were hoping for cloudy skies and maybe rain on race day? The weather Gods were kind to us. The skies were overcast at the start with temps in the low 70s F. Peter and Yen slept in and just made it to the start line as the gun went off so we weren’t able to get a group photo at the start of the race. Brent started fast and the other four CC members ran the first few miles together. At 3 miles I stuck to my race strategy and stopped to stretch and walk for 3 min. When I passed 4 miles in 44:56 it started to rain which cooled the temps and my bod and I started to leave my three friends behind. We enjoyed light rain showers for much of the first half. I reached 12 miles in 2:01:05 and stopped and walked. So far I felt OK – actually good- and had no problems with cramps or tightness. I passed the Half in 2:26:17 but I knew the 2nd Half would not be that fast because the sun was starting to break through the clouds. I was concerned that the sun would bake the wet road and we would be running in a steam bath. We were lucky! The skies remained overcast for much of the 2nd half also and I don’t think the temps rose above 80 F? We passed some gated communities at Maya Beach and the Placencia Hotel which were modern and upscale which is what I expected to find in Placencia Village. When I reached mile 20 in 3:35:30 I started to tire and my legs started to get tight so I changed my race strategy to run 2 miles and walk 3 min. When I passed mile 23 in 4:15:50 and a split of 13:26 I had an notion to run the final 5K but that silly idea didn’t last long as I started to struggle. After another walk at Mile 24 I was able to cruise to the finish line in 5:11:27.

 I was happy with my time and performance based on the struggles I had experienced in my training runs for the past month. I had completed Marathon # 367 and Country # 118 without suffering any problems and I was one marathon closer to my first goal. Brent had already finished in 1st AG (60+) and we waited for our friends to finish. Peter and Yen had to jump into a cab immediately to return to the hotel, shower and catch a 2 pm flight home. I remember when I used to do silly things like that before I retired? Edson and I returned with them so we could shower, relax and enjoy some food and beer.

 Brent and Edson left Mon morning and I moved into the village where a hotel was cheaper and I could walk to all the bars and restaurants. I had booked a 6-day trip hoping to visit some Mayan ruins after the race. Unfortunately there were few tourists in Placencia at this time and I wasn’t able to find or join a tour to any ruins. The only tours available were snorkeling tours and I didn’t feel like snorkeling. Instead I explored the village and met many locals and transplanted Northerners at the local bars where the beer is good and cheap. There seemed to be a lot of Northerners who came to Placencia on vacation and never left? Each night I would enjoy a great seafood dinner and a nightcap at one of the bars with my new friends.

Since I couldn’t book a ruins tour I used the time to start writing my trip report and managed to complete 90% of it in Belize. On my last night I treated Maddog to a fine lobster dinner to spend my remaining $BZ. A lobster appetizer + lobster (Creole style) + drinks cost $80 BZ = $40 US. The flight home was uneventful except the small 12-passenger plane flew directly over the marathon course and I was able to take some great aerial photos of the course.

 I am back home now and feeling more encouraged and optimistic about my running. Since I was able to complete the Belize marathon without any problems I have booked the trip for my next international marathon in early Jan. That race will allow me to accomplish my 1st personal goal. I also plan to reduce my training program from 50 miles per week to 30 miles per week to see what effect and benefit that produces?

 Where is that race? What is the goal?

 Stay tuned!



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

RR - Fort Myers

Race Report
Sun, Nov 10/13
Fort Myers Beach Marathon
Fort Myers, FL
Marathon # 366
5:44:39 – 6 AG

 This will be another short report. After running a 5:05 marathon 3 weeks earlier I had high hopes that I could break 5 hours in this race. Alas, it was not to be.

I could come up with a few excuses such as the temps being hotter than expected and a terrible course but the bottom line is my mental toughness was sadly lacking this day and I paid dearly for it.

 I drove down to Fort Myers the afternoon before the race to pick up my race packet and meet with a fb friend, Sandy McCallum and her husband Jim. Sandy holds the WR for running the most Ultras in  desert/sand races and is training for another Ultra in Oman in Jan where she will pass 4,000K of racing on sand. Jim is also running the Ultra in Oman. As part of their training they both planned to wake at 1 am on Sun and run 4 hours on Fort Myers Beach. Then Sandy would change to run the marathon while Jim continued to run another 4 hours on the beach. And you thought Maddog was crazy?

 Later I joined my sister Mary Lou and husband Tim for a pasta dinner. They are vacationing for one month in Fort Myers.

 Sun was ‘M’ day. The race started at 7am with 1500 runners in the inaugural marathon and Half. Unfortunately the weather had warmed up above norms in the past week so temps were in the low 70s at the start. The race started and finished at ‘Nervous Nellies’, a bar on Fort Myers Beach. After a few hundred meters we were running up a short steep bridge over the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) to the mainland. I passed Mile 3 in 30:14. The skies were overcast for the first 2 hours which helped keep the temps from soaring.  As I reached mile 5 in 52:36 and a split of 10:55 I could feel both legs starting to tighten. When I passed mile 9 in 1:39:03 and a split of 11:52 to the cheers of Mary Lou & Tim both legs and hips were so tight and sore that I felt like I was running on 2X4s? I stopped to stretch my hamstrings & quads which provided short-term relief but for the next 4 miles I had to stop almost every mile to stretch. Just before I reached the Half my legs were so tight and sore that I had to stop and do a thorough series of stretches. That took over 5 minutes and I passed the Half in 2:38:23 and a split of 17:47 but my legs and hips had finally relaxed and loosened up. At that point the course got really confusing and I thought I had missed a turn? That messed up my mind and the sun broke through the clouds and the temps started to soar and my mental toughness and willpower to ignore pain vanished. When I passed Mile 16 in 3:18:46 and a split of 15:59 the race was essentially over for me. I didn’t care anymore! I knew there was no hope for a sub -5 hr finish and I wasn’t willing to ignore or accept a lot of pain to push my old bod beyond its limit so I started to walk and run. Believe me it is a lonnnnggggggggg way to run/walk/struggle when you have 10 miles to go – and you are hurting like HELL! I did play a few mind games telling myself that if I could make it to 20 miles then I could walk the final 10K. I knew once I reached 20 miles – in 4:14:43 and a split of 14:20 – that I would not quit and I would continue to run and walk as much as possible to get to the finish line. That final 10K was HOT, ugly and painful but there were a few other runners suffering the same fate and we kept each other going. I tried to run back up the bridge at 25 ½ miles but just didn’t have the energy or mental toughness to keep the old legs churning. I did manage to run down the bridge and cross the finish line in 5:44:39.

 I was very disappointed in my time and performance and am now very worried about my next race in 3 weeks. The weather will be much hotter and more humid! If that race is as bad (or worse) than this one I will have a difficult decision to make about my running career/life. Actually I have already made the decision but I am not ready to announce it yet.

 Stay tuned!



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RR - Apalachicola

Race Report
Sun, Oct 20/13
Running for the Bay Marathon
Apalachicola, FL
Marathon # 365
5:05:31  - 1 AG

 This will be a short race report since I was unable to record any race data due to a watch/heart monitor that malfunctioned.

 I had no plans to run another marathon until mid Nov. The last race in Vietnam really tired me out and the constant heat & humidity in FL made it difficult to run long training runs. In fact my longest training run since Vietnam was only 13 miles. I planned to increase my long run each week until I reached 18 miles in early Nov. However this race caught my eye on the marathon calendar. It could serve as a long training run to beat my old bod back into (marathon) shape and It was a good excuse to visit the ‘Forgotten Coast’ along the Florida Panhandle.

 I registered the week of the race and decided to leave a few days early to explore the area. The 1st glitch was no hotel rooms in Apalachicola the night before the race. I stayed in Apalachicola the first night and had to move to Carrabelle for the 2nd night. I spent Sat morning driving along the ‘Forgotten Coast’ to explore Port St Joe and Cape San Blas. After picking up my race packet I drove the marathon course that started in Apalachicola and ran across two long bridges and causeways to St George Island – a total of 16 miles of concrete bridges and causeways – to return to Apalachicola.

 The 2nd glitch was no Italian restaurants anywhere on the ‘Forgotten Coast’. I had to make do with a seafood pasta at a seafood restaurant – there are lots of them!

 Sun was “M” day. The races started at 7:15 am to take advantage of the light at sunrise. There were about 400 runners in 4 races that started a few minutes apart since the courses all jumped on to the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge (Hwy 98) after a few hundred meters and runners could only use the emergency shoulder to run. The temps were in the high 60s and the skies were overcast. The bridge climbed steeply for ½ mile and then declined to a long causeway and another bridge. Due to the lack of room there were no manned water stations on the bridges – only cases of water bottles that runners had to stop and collect on their own.

 When we passed Mile 1, I tried to check my split but my watch/heart monitor was acting up. It was not recording splits? I tried to fix the problem but there was still not enough light (and poor eyesight in the dark) to see what I was doing and I only seemed to make the problem worse. Of course this problem started to mess with my mind and I wasted/lost about 5 minutes over the 1st 5 miles trying to fix the damn watch! I asked another runner at 5 Miles what our time was – 57:22. Out of desperation I reset the watch and it started to work and I was finally able to focus on running – just in time to start crossing the Bryant Patton Bridge at Mile 6  – another 4 miles of concrete bridge and causeway over to St George Island. When I reached St George Island at Mile 10 I hit the ‘lap’ button to check my split and the watch went crazy again? It reset itself to ZERO and I lost all my data. I was pissed and flustered.

I screwed with the watch until I reached the Half in 2:29 (a digital clock) where I tried to reset it again figuring I would record a complete/correct 2nd Half? No go! The watch completely failed! It stated “memory failed” and went blank. I was so pissed off that I wanted to rip the damn watch off my wrist and throw it in the Gulf.

 However I calmed myself and decided that maybe that was a good thing. I would have to run the 2nd half based on what my body told me – and not my watch! (Been years since I did that?) I kept the pace slow & easy – close to my normal training pace. It was a long boring 4 miles back across that bridge. Thankfully the skies were cloudy and overcast because there was no protection from the sun – or the constant headwind!

 I passed a few runners on the Patton Bridge and caught a few more runners as we approached the John Gorrie Bridge at Mile 21. I asked a runner what our time was at that point – 4:10. I figured it would take about 1 hour to run the final 5 miles so I just kept the pace slow & easy. I had expected there would be a lot of walking required during the final 10K but maybe the walking in the early part of the race while I tried to fix my f***ing watch saved my ass? I was able to run the entire final 10K including the climb back up John Gorrie Bridge.

 I crossed the finish line in 5:05:31 so I was happy – and surprised to learn that slow time was good enough to place 1st AG. I jumped in the car and drove 3 ½ hours along the Gulf Coast to Cedar Key where I had booked a ‘Honeymoon’ suite at a motel overlooking the Marina and Gulf. The ‘Honeymoon’ suite was the only room that had a 2nd story verandah (with a porch swing) overlooking the Gulf. After a much-needed hot shower I enjoyed a few beer while enjoying the swing and view before I went off in search of a great seafood dinner.

Actually the best part of the whole trip was the scenery and great seafood. The race was just an excuse to go! And now I have more confidence that I am in better shape that thought and I will be ready for my next race. And with ‘winter’ forecast to arrive in FL later this week the cooler weather will help with my training and make long training runs easier and more pleasant.

 Stay tuned!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

TR - Vietnam - Part 2

8/25 – 9/11/13
Part 2


Now where were we? Oh yes. I just finished the Da Nang Marathon, puked up my guts and now felt much better and was ready to continue my tour through Vietnam.

 On Mon we drove south from Da Nang to the ancient city of Hoi An. In the 16th century Hoi An was an international trading center for VN. The Old Quarter is well preserved with many of the original buildings and temples. Much of the Old Quarter is restricted to walking - with no scooters. At night it is lit up with thousands of lanterns and is very colorful and lively. I saw more Caucasian tourists in Hoi An than all the rest of VN. Our guide toured us around the Old Quarter for an afternoon and then we had the evening to do our own thing. I found a ‘real’ French restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful (but expensive by VN standards) dinner. It was a much-needed change from VN food.

 On Tue we flew to Hanoi where we were picked up again at the airport and taken on a tour of the city. We visited all the main historical and tourist sites: Ho Chi minh Mausoleum and Museum, Ho Chi Minh’s house, One Pillar Pagoda, and Temple of Literature. We concluded the city tour with a show at the Water Puppet Theatre. That was quite interesting. My 3* hotel was on the edge of the Old Quarter in Hanoi and the streets are a maze so it was difficult to find my way around (safely) with all the scooters.

 On Wed we drove for 4 hours to the coast to Halong Bay for a 2-day cruise. I was looking forward to this cruise. I had seen many photos and scenes of Halong Bay (used as a location in two James Bond movies). Halong Bay has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The scenery was as spectacular as imagined. Although it was cloudy and rainy for the two days the scenery was still awesome. We had private cabins on the Victory Star that accommodated 30 passengers. Although the ship looks like an old junket it was quite luxurious and the food and service were great. In the afternoon we were taken on sampans to Vung Vieng Village, a fishing village near Cat Ba Island. It is very picturesque but that would be a tough life. That evening Colleen and I enjoyed a great dinner with a bottle of wine (wine is expensive in VN). On Thu morning I rose early to get photos of the sunrise over Halong Bay but sadly the weather was still overcast. But I was ready for an early visit to Sung Sot Cave, one of the biggest grottoes on Halong Bay. It has three chambers with many stalactites and rock formations and great views overlooking Halong Bay.

 I wish I could have spent more time on Halong Bay. I strongly recommend that you add Halong Bay to your ‘bucket list’. Now it was time for the long drive back to Hanoi and the end of our formal tour. Our tour guide’s surname was Duoc so we called him ‘Duke’. I had worked out an itinerary with Duke for my extra five days in VN.

 On Thu Duke & I drove west of Hanoi into the mountains to the Mai Chau Valley that is near the Laos border and the ‘Golden Triangle’ – the drug center of Thailand, Laos and Burma. It is also the home of many hill tribes. The main tribe in that area is the Thai tribe. They have their own small villages and maintain the same culture and lifestyle of the past 100 years. Well almost. All homes are built on stilts and many still have animals living (& shitting) in the bottom level whereas others now have scooters parked there. Most homes have electricity, few have plumbing but a few have satellite dishes and I noticed a few cafes with Wi-Fi? They still spin and weave silk by hand for their traditional dress but few wear it except for festivals and ceremonies.

I stayed at the Mai Chau Lodge – the only (luxury) resort in the area. It was the nicest and most expensive room I enjoyed in VN. The room cost more for one night than most VN people make in a month and probably six months for the Thai tribe. I was feeling kind of guilty about that until Duke suggested I could enjoy a ‘home stay’ vacation where you live with a Thai tribe family and share their home and common room (& outdoor plumbing) with up to 10 people. I explained that “I didn’t feel that guilty”!

 We spent two days visiting the Thai tribe in their rice fields and their homes. It is a tough life.
On our way back to Hanoi Duke told me that his in-laws who were farmers living near Mai Chau had invited us to stop at their home for a home-cooked lunch. After stopping to buy a gift to present to them upon entering their home we arrived at their home/farm in a small village. Home was a single common room where they had raised six children. Dad had been a colonel in the VN army. Sixty-five men from his village had been conscripted into the army – he was one of three that returned after the war! He & I got along well even though we could only communicate through Duke. I had asked Duke to explain that I might not eat everything because of concerns about GI problems but I was able to eat almost everything Mom cooked for their special guest. They had killed a duck for the occasion and believe me after they take off the feathers they cook and eat everything! I passed on the organs (hear, liver, intestines, etc.) but did eat the meat. They were shocked that I didn’t eat all the fat and small bones? There were also a few veggies and leaves from trees that had been steamed or boiled that didn’t look very appetizing but tasted OK? The VN people eat anything and everything that can be eaten. Fortunately Dad had some home-made rice wine to wash all this delicious food down. It was served in shot glasses. The custom was that Dad would offer a toast to his guest – we would down the glass/shot of wine and then show everyone the empty glass. Then we would say “thank you’ and shake hands. Then the guest had to reciprocate with the same protocol. The first few shots of rice wine tasted like kerosene and had a kick like wood alcohol but after a few the taste buds and throat became numbed and it was easier to drink.
I don’t know how many ‘toasts’ we enjoyed but Duke finally told me his father-in-law was getting drunk so I politely stated that I didn’t want any more wine. At that point they brought in grandma – the matriarch of the family and 96 years old who lived next door- to challenge Maddog to one final toast. I really had a fun time and sincerely thanked the whole family for their hospitality. 

 When we returned to Hanoi Duke booked a nice 4* hotel for me in the Old Quarter that was close to Hoan Kiem Lake where I could run each morning. There was a path/sidewalk around the lake without cars/scooters that provided a 1-mile run with pleasant scenery. I shared the path with thousands of runners/walkers and locals doing their morning Thai Chai each day. I soon became familiar with the Old Quarter and could find my way around the maze of twisting streets without getting lost (or run over). I revisited some of the tourist sites for more/better photos and a few that we had missed such as Hoa Lo Prison or the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ as American POWs called it.  I found many streets in the Old Quarter that contained shops for specific products such as the ‘Toy Street’ that only had shops with toys for kids. My grandkids will be happy that I found that street and that I had to use up my VN money before leaving. I was glad when my final 2 days in Hanoi were over and I headed to the airport for the long trip home.

 It was an interesting and exciting adventure. The marathon sucked – not due to any fault of the race organization – but due to my inability to handle and run in extreme heat anymore. But I am already booked for my next tropical country/marathon and planning the one after that. So I guess I will never learn – or give up?

 What’s next? Stay tuned!

TR - Vietnam - Part 1

                                                                             8/25 – 9/11/13
                                                                                    Part 1


Race Results:
Sun, Sept 1/13
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang Marathon
6:05:45  (PW)
Marathon # 364  - Country # 117

 Vietnam had been on my ‘wish’ list or bucket list for a long time but there had been no marathons for many years. So when a friend informed me late last year that he was running an inaugural marathon in Da Nang I was very interested - but not sure I would be able to run the race. At that time I was suffering major health issues and didn’t know if I would ever run a marathon again? However when my health started to improve and I was able to struggle though the St Kitts Marathon in May/13 I figured I could ‘struggle’ through another marathon in Vietnam in Sept.

 I started to plan the trip and decided that if I was going that far I might as well stay and visit the country for a few weeks because it was unlikely that I would ever go back. I managed to find a travel agency in Australia that was offering travel packages for the race as well as optional extended tours. I bought a 10-day package. When I checked air fares and learned that it cost $2K to fly in economy I decided to check 1st Class tickets using air miles.  I booked 1st Class but had to extend my trip by 5 days to get return seats on free miles. I decided to fly ‘by the seat of my pants’ for those extra 5 days.

 Nicole & I drove to the airport together – she was going to visit the kids & grandkids while I was in Vietnam. After 30 long hours – even with flat beds in 1st Class I arrived tired in Ho Chi Minh City
(Saigon) late Tue night. The tour started Wed afternoon with a city tour of HCMC. I met my sole tour mate – Colleen – from Aukland, NZ. Colleen had booked 4* hotels and cheapskate Maddog booked 3* hotels so we only saw each other during the tours. Luckily we got along very well and in fact enjoyed each other’s company and conversation. I believe we both enjoyed the tour much more by having a compatible friend/companion to share the experience with. And we essentially had private tours – just Colleen & I with a driver and guide – for our 10 days in Vietnam.

 The first city tour of HCMC included the major tourist and historical sites: Reunification Palace, the French Quarter with the Cathedral and Post Office and the Ben Thanh Market. (Lots of photos with captions on my website  The traffic is horrendous in HCMC (and all VN cities). There are 12 million people in HCMC and 6 million scooters. It is scary trying to cross a street until you quickly learn the rule of survival “Be bold and deliberate”! If you hesitate or change your mind you are dead!

 The next day we travelled North West of HCMC to the Binh Duong province to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong during the war. There are three levels of tunnels stretching over 200 km: the 1st level (about 8 m under the surface) are small to prevent a bigger enemy from getting in and were used for fighting and access to the larger tunnels in the next two levels at 11m and 15 m where the VC and their families lived. The tunnel system is very complex and still unmapped. We crawled through  50m of one tunnel in the 1st level and I had to fight claustrophobia to get to the exit!

 On the 3rd day we travelled north to the Mekong Delta for a cruise on the Mekong River. We were transported by big boats, little boats (sampans) through small natural canals and horse cart to visit villages along the Mekong River and experience the life of the people living along the river. For lunch we were treated to a great meal including a local delicacy – deep fried ‘elephant ear‘ fish along with some fancy puffed rice bread that looked like a soccer ball? To be honest the fried steak and French fries that were also served were a bigger hit with both of us.

 On Fri we flew from HCMC to Da Nang. After being picked up at the airport by our private guide and driver we were taken to lunch. By then both Colleen & I were tired of rice and stir-fried anything and we were also a little sick (HCM revenge) so we told the guide that we didn’t want to eat any more Vietnamese food. There are very few ‘western’ restaurants in VN and none were included in our tour package so we compromised. We would go to an appointed VN restaurant but would select what we wanted to eat rather than just accept the typical 5 or 6 courses that were provided at a meal. We rejected any salads (hadn’t been eating any anyways) and anything stir-fried. We stuck to plain steamed rice and meat that had been baked or grilled.

 After lunch we toured Da Nang including the Cham Museum and Marble Mountain. Da Nang is the 3rd largest city in VN and is much different than HCMC and Hanoi. It is modern, clean and new with shopping malls, movie theatres, etc.! The infrastructure is new with wide 2-lane roads and several new bridges across the Han River. There are miles of great beaches on the East China Sea and all beach front property has been reserved for luxury resorts. Except for the scooters you would almost think you were in an American city? Only the Old Quarter in the center of the old city looks like the rest of VN. After the tour we joined a few other runners who had just booked a race package with the Tour Agency for drinks and conversation. Thankfully the tour agent, Fran, had picked up our race packets to save us a trip to the expo on Sat in the grueling VN heat. The race organization had kindly reserved bib # 117 for Maddog.

Sat was a rest day to pick up race packets and prepare for the pasta dinner. I had asked the six members of the Country Club to meet at the pasta dinner for a group photo and discussion on some club matters but only three of us showed up? The others went on a tour and claimed they waited in the lobby for us since they weren’t attending the dinner?

 Sunday was M-day! It was 84 F and humidity even higher at 4 am when a bus picked us up to take us to the start line. The heat index was already in the mid-90s.  It was going to be UGLY! I managed to collect all six members of the Country Club together at the start line for a group photo since I figured some would not be able to wait at the finish line? The course was a half-marathon loop that ran along the beach, crossed a bridge into the Old Quarter, along the Han River and back over another bridge to the beach. Surprisingly there were 400 in two races – 200 in the marathon and 200 in the Half. The race started on time at 5 am. I started out slowly at an 11 min/mile pace knowing that the heat and race would get ugly. I had hoped to run the 1st Half and then start to walk/run. I didn’t make it that far! By the time I reached the 2nd bridge on the 1st loop at 12 Km in 1:26:55 and a split of 7:57/Km I was already overheated and struggling so I started to walk. My goal was to break 5 hrs. I knew that wasn’t going to happen! When I passed the Half/21 K in 2:45:05 and a split of 8:44/Km I was hoping I could break 6 hrs? By now it was almost 8am and the heat was soaring as well as my body temp and I was wilting. I started dumping a bottle of water on me as well as in me at each water station in a futile attempt to cool down and prevent dehydration. When I reached that 2nd bridge in the 2nd loop at 33K in 4:32:30 and a split of 8:43/Km I was still hoping to break 6 hrs but after climbing the bridge and reaching 35K in 4:49:52 I knew that wasn’t going to happen – and I didn’t care! I went into ‘survival’ mode! The best I could hope for was to finish – ALIVE!

 It got real UGLY fast. My splits increased to more than 10min/Km as I was forced to walk more & more. I couldn’t run more than 1 min before my body would shut down and refuse to run. When I passed 40K I thought I might have to walk the final 2K when Fran drove by on a scooter and gave me two bottles of ICE-COLD water – one on my head and one in my gut. That helped to revive me enough to struggle across the finish line in 6:05:45 - a new PW (Personal Worst) for a road marathon.

 The second I crossed the finish line I knew I was in trouble. I felt nauseous and light-headed. I tried to walk it off but I was dizzy and light-headed and thought I might faint so I laid down. And I couldn’t get back up. A few friends and medical staff started to worry and then I started to worry that the doctors might carry me off to a VN hospital. I tried to drink water thinking I was dehydrated but that didn’t help. I asked for a coke because that has worked in similar situations but there was none so I drank a few sips of an isotonic sports drink. That stayed down less than one minute and then I puked for several minutes until I purged my stomach. That fixed the problem and I started to feel better immediately and a medical volunteer rushed across the street to buy me a coke. After a few sips of coke I was able to sit up and then stand? Coke does it every time for me? I recovered quickly and gathered a few friends to take the mandatory finish line photos before returning to the hotel.

 After a hot shower I still felt tired and weak so I skipped the gala awards dinner. I tried to eat my usual greasy food but even that wouldn’t go down well so I went to bed with nothing to eat for 24 hrs and slept for 12 hrs. I felt fine the next morning. It had been UGLY – one might say it had even been SICKLY – but I finished marathon #364 and Country # 117 – the new World Record. I hope there aren’t (m)any more like that. But that wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last time I was sick at a finish line – especially since I only have tropical countries/marathons left to run.

 But the race was over and now I could enjoy the rest of my VN tour. And I will leave that story for Part 2 of the trip report.


Friday, August 02, 2013

RR - Salt Lake City

Race Report
Salt lake City, UT


Wed, Jul 24/13
Salt Lake City, UT
Deseret News Classic Marathon
Marathon #363
4:51:33  - 5 AG

 As I continue to train for my next (international) marathon in Asia I figured I needed to run at least one long training run. However that has become very difficult in the brutal heat & humidity of a FL summer. So I tried to find another ‘cool weather’ marathon I could run as a training marathon. That goal was not easy with the heat wave across the US and the ridiculous cost of air fares these days. I finally settled on a marathon in Salt Lake City, UT. I ran this race 20 years ago and I remembered it being very cold at the start of the race on top of a mountain. This choice had an added advantage. Since the race was run on a Wed as part of ‘Pioneer Day’ celebrations (also a Mormon holiday) I would be able to run a 2nd marathon in Morgan, UT on Sat.

 I arrived in SLC on Tue afternoon in time to pick up my race packet and meet a friend, Galen Garrison, for pasta dinner. Galen moved to SLC from Tampa less than a year ago and I was curious to see how he liked UT? We enjoyed a nice pasta dinner and conversation about UT and running.

 The weather has been unusually hot in UT this summer with highs above 100F and lows only in the low 70s. The race started at 5:30am at the top of Big Mountain (7500 ft) in the Wasatch Mtns about 20 miles east of SLC.  Runners had to catch a bus at 3am to take them to the start line. Twenty years ago I remembered several camp fires at the start line to keep runners warm in temps that were close to freezing. This year the temps were in the low 60s on top of the mountain and runners stood around in shorts and singlets. My goal was to finish under 5 hours when I figured the temps down in SLC would be in the high 80s. The course was advertised as a ‘fast, downhill course’ that started at 7500 ft and dropped 3200ft to finish in Liberty Park near downtown SLC. However I knew that they conveniently forgot to mention many BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) that had to be climbed along the way.

 The race started on time and the course dropped about 1000 ft over the first 6 miles. Even with the altitude it was easy to run a 10-minute pace. I noted several thermal layers as we dropped through the first 1000 ft. For a few minutes it would be warm and then we would pass through a cold layer where we would be much colder. I passed mile 5 in 48:56 and a split of 9:50. Then we reached the 1st BAH near mile 6 that climbed about 500 ft over the next 2 miles. I managed to run part of the BAH and then wisely decided that since I would certainly have to walk some of the BAHs I might as well start right now. I reached Mile 8 in 1:26:01 and a split of 13:22. Daylight broke as we approached mile 10 in 1:47:14 and a split of 11:08. I could finally read my watch. I passed the Half in 2:18:48 and knew w/o any doubt that the 2nd half would not be that fast. I hoped that I could run the 2nd half in 2:30? I passed mile 16 in 2:50:26 and a split of 11:00 and that was a downhill section so I was not surprised when my legs started to tire on another BAH at Mile 18. I ran/walked that mile in a split of 12:21. I could feel or sense a ‘wall’ approaching but I hoped to delay a crash as long as possible. And we were lucky because the skies were overcast which kept the temps from climbing as rapidly as they would have if the sun had not been blocked. The temps stayed in the low 80s. I passed mile 20 in 3:36:55 and a split of 11:59 but on the final BAH at mile 21 my legs had nothing left and I had to start walking. A painful/frustrating split of 13:06 and I was broken. At that point my legs felt like they had been beaten with a 2X4. The next 2 miles were a gentle downhill and I struggled to run 1 mile and walk 1 minute. When I reached mile 23 in downtown SLC in 4:12:21 and a split of 11:47 my legs were totally trashed and I had to go into survival mode. I knew that I could finish under 5 hours even if I walked the final 5K so I continued the strategy of run 1 mile and walk 1 minute. The final mile shared a route with the ‘Pioneer Days’ parade and the cheers of thousands of spectators helped to keep the old legs shuffling to cross the finish line in 4:51:33.

 I have many negative comments about the race but the most positive comment I have to offer was the free 15-minute massages that were available at the finish line. Both hips were tight and very sore from the constant pounding of the hills and I appreciated a massage that helped to alleviate some of the pain.

The negatives:

1)      The first 10 miles of the course in the mountains (which we ran in the dark) were closed to traffic. But then the roads were opened to traffic with no cones and no control and I felt nervous having to watch for traffic on the narrow mountain roads. When we reached the city the roads were once again controlled and there were police at all the major intersections.

2)      The water sucked. Water was provided from hoses and it tasted terrible. Even at the finish line there was no bottled water or energy drinks – just water from a hose!

3)      Although timing was provided by chip the results posted at the finish line still weren’t updated by the time I enjoyed a massage and returned to the hotel. I had to wait 2 days for results to be posted online.

 Sadly the hills had really trashed my legs. I was concerned about how sore they would be the next day and if they could recover in time for the 2nd race on Sat? I got my answer the next morning when I tried to get out of bed – and couldn’t move. Both legs – from the hips to the toes were tight and sore and I couldn’t walk w/o pain! I called the spa that had provided the massage after the race and luckily they had a location close to the hotel and an opening at 10 am. I hobbled or as I like to describe it – I ‘waddled’ like a penguin to the spa and had the masseuse work for one full hour on both hips and quads. Then I returned to the hotel and spent 30 min in the hot tub. The legs felt better but unfortunately as soon as the muscles cooled down they became stiff and sore again. Now I started to doubt if I would be able to run on Sat. I ‘waddled’ around SLC for the afternoon as I visited Temple Square and the Mormon Temple and Tabernacle before heading north to Ogden.

 As soon as I checked into the hotel I enjoyed another hour in the hot tub before going to dinner. At least now I could waddle w/o pain but I still couldn’t walk. It wasn’t looking good.  I forced myself to walk/waddle along the historic main street in Ogden and enjoy a nice dinner. On Fri morning the legs were not much better. I could walk with minor pain but could not run. I figured even in that condition Maddog could walk/run the race on Sat but it would be very ugly, painful and slow. But I had two major concerns:

1)      Forcing tight and sore muscles through 26 miles would carry a huge risk of injury and I could not afford an injury with my next international race in only one month

2)      I had booked a 2pm flight out of SLC after the race which meant I had to finish the race under 5 hours to catch that flight. I knew that wasn’t going to happen on those legs!

 So I wisely made a decision to skip the race and enjoy a nice dinner with a beer and allow myself lots of time to waddle through the airport on Sat so I could return home ‘to lick my wounds’ and recover.
It was a tough decision – and the right one. On Mon I was finally able to run an easy 4 miles w/o pain but it wasn’t until Wed (1 week later) that my legs felt good on an easy 12-mile run.

 Thus it appears that my days of running back-to-back marathons on consecutive days are over – maybe I can still do consecutive weekends? But at least I survived and will get to run my next race in Vietnam in Sept.

 Stay tuned!



Friday, June 28, 2013

RR Seattle

Race Report
Seattle, WA


Sat, Jun 22/13
Seattle, WA
Rock n Roll Marathon
Marathon #362
4:38:38  - 4 AG

 After the difficult and poor race I ran in St Kitts I wanted to run a race in cool weather to see if I could break 5 hours again? That meant running a race in the mountains or on the west coast. But have you checked air fares lately? They are ridiculous! I couldn’t find a fare under $500 to any race with cool weather. Finally I decided to use air miles for a free award ticket to Seattle where I could run the Rock n Roll Marathon and visit my newest granddaughter - Princess Lauren.

 The race would be six weeks after St Kitts so I had time to complete two more long training runs and start some speed work. I felt confident when I finished my training that I could break 5 hours. The heart arrhythmia seemed to be resolved and finally the UC (ulcerative colitis) was in remission. I was probably as healthy as I am ever going to be again?

 I arrived in Seattle late Thu and enjoyed the evening playing with my new Princess. She is a sweetie pie and a great baby. On Fri the weather was beautiful so Chris, Ari, Lauren & I took a water taxi from West Seattle to downtown Seattle to pick up my race packet at the Century Link Stadium. Then we returned to West Seattle for pasta dinner.

 I need to mention a few things about the race before it starts. It is part of the Rock n Roll series. The races are well organized but in my humble opinion are for first-time runners and runners looking for a ‘memorable’ experience and not serious runners! They are ridiculously expensive – my entry fee was $168 with taxes and service fees! After you register you are continuously offered (hounded) for more services at more ridiculous prices! I was offered VIP parking – access to VIP toilets, etc – all at premium prices. Because there was more than 20K runners in the marathon and Half they put runners into corrals based on their estimated finish time. I was fairly honest and was placed in corral # 20 of 40 corrals.

 Sat was M-day. The race started at 7am at City Center (near the Space Needle) so we had to leave early so that Chris could drop me off near the start line. I had to walk about ½ mile to the start area. It was sunny and a pleasant 55 F. The start area was well organized but there were not enough portable toilets for 20K runners so I found an alley for my last-minute chores. The race started at 7am and they started the corrals (500 runners) in waves. When I realized that my corral was going to take about 30 minutes to get to the start line I cheated and walked up to corral # 10. And still I did not cross the start line until 20 minutes after the official start of the race! During the first few miles I passed many walkers and slow runners that should have been in corral # 40. Those runners really piss me off! With the large number of runners/walkers and a few long gentle hills at the start it took a few miles to settle into a 10-min pace. I passed mile 5 in 51:39 and a split of 10:02. There were lots of water stations and bands along the course. Most of the course was fairly flat and many of the streets were shaded so I was pleasantly surprised when I reached the half in 2:14:35 and a split of 10:33. I knew that the 2nd half would not be that fast but I was confident that I would break 5 hours.

 There was steep hill at mile 16 to climb up on to the bridge across I 90 to Mercer Island but it was short and I was able to run it. The 5 miles out and back over the bridge were the hottest part of the course and had 2 long hills. When I passed Mile 20 in 3:27:35 and a split of 10:20 I still felt good but many locals were walking and complaining about the heat (in the low 70s at that time). The final 2 miles were the toughest part of the course for me. There were two bad hills in that stretch including a hill near mile 26 that felt like Everest. The final mile was my slowest split of the race (13:01) but I crossed the finish line in 4:38:38 – much faster than expected.

 The finish area near City Center was a zoo. There was lots of water, snacks, etc but I had to walk about ¼ mile to the baggage claim area to get my sports bag and then it was too difficult to get back to the finish line to take my customary finish line photo. But I could have my finisher’s medal engraved with my finish time for a mere $20! Like I said this is not a race for serious runners!

 I had to walk another ½ mile to a park to meet Chris since that was the closest he could drive to the finish area. We took our finish line photos with Maddog (aka Pappy) and Princess Lauren at that park. I was pleased with the race- the course- and the organization along the course – but I would never run another Rock n Roll Marathon or race! The race/experience is not worth the exorbitant price!

 After the race I got to spend lots of time with my new Princess and Chris & Ari and Chris cooked a wonderful Copper River salmon to celebrate (belatedly) Father’s Day so it was an enjoyable trip. I was pleased with my time and performance and now have confidence that IF I wanted to train harder I believe I could get my times down close to 4 hours. I am not yet sure if I want to devote the time/effort and pain to accomplish that goal?

 Stay tuned!

Monday, May 20, 2013

TR St Kitts

                                                                                  St Kitts
                                                                               May 10 – 13/13


Race Results:
Sun, May 12/13
Basseterre, St Kitts
St Kitts Marathon
Marathon # 361  -  Country # 116

 Where to start? It has been more than 8 months since my last marathon and race report. When I concluded that report I wasn’t sure if I would ever run another marathon. The 2-month sabbatical that I planned to take after the last marathon turned out to be more than 5 months as health issues worsened. The auto immune disease (Ulcerative Colitis) continued to flare up and an aggressive treatment of biologic and toxic meds couldn’t force it into remission. I started suffering fatigue and shortness of breath again in the fall and to be cautious that the UC wasn’t the sole cause I visited my cardiologist and was not surprised to learn that my heart was back in A-fib again. After two cardioversions to jump start the heart back into rhythm failed the cardiologists decided that I needed an ablation procedure to try to prevent the heart from going into arrhythmia. I had an ablation on Dec 26 and 2 weeks later another cardioversion was necessary to get the heart back into rhythm. I became despondent because I was going backwards in health and conditioning. After the ablation I couldn’t run 500 ft without collapsing from fatigue and shortness of breath. Several cardiologists warned me that I COULD NOT and SHOULD NOT run another marathon. The UC still wasn’t responding to the meds so the GI doc increased the dosage and added another toxic drug to suppress the immune system to try to force the UC into remission.

 I took another rest or sabbatical in Jan to let the heart have more time to recover. When I finally started to run again in Feb I could only run ¼ mile before collapsing from fatigue. I was determined to train slowly and wisely and in a few weeks I was able to run 1 mile before I would have to walk.  Friends had informed me of a new/inaugural marathon in St Kitts in May and I wanted to run it but I had to be able to run at least 16 miles without walking before I would commit to running the race.  By early March I had built my long run up to 10 miles without walking but that seemed to be my limit. If I tried to go further I would have to walk after 10 miles and I would become totally fatigued by the end of the run. When I still couldn’t run beyond 10 miles in early April I was about to give up on the idea/dream of running St Kitts but I reached a significant breakthrough. I was able to run 12 miles without walking or collapsing from fatigue. I built my long run up to 18 miles with a combination of run/walk and had enough confidence to register for the St Kitts Marathon. A second breakthrough came at the end of April when suddenly I was able to run 15 miles – and then 18 miles without walking. I felt confident that I could complete a marathon! By the time I left for St Kitts the UC was close to being in remission and it was the best I had felt in more than 8 months!

 I arrived in Basseterre late Fri night and explored the island on Sat. I hired a taxi/tour guide for a ½ day tour of the island. We drove the marathon course during the tour and the half-marathon loop was very hilly with 5 BAHs ( Bad Ass Hills) which meant running them two times. By 8am the heat was brutal and by noon it was torturous! Originally the race was scheduled to start at 6:30 am but thankfully the race director had moved the start up to 5:30 am. I figured it would take me 5 to 5 ½ hours so that meant I would be in the HOT sun for at least 3 hours!

 The island is not very big and can easily be toured in ½ day. We stopped at the cruise terminal in Basseterre to shop for my mandatory souvenirs: a souvenir teaspoon, a silver charm for the SM’s charm bracelet and postcards. I think I set a shopping record by finding everything within 15 minutes – in one shop! We then drove around the island with stops at an old sugar mill in the rain forest (where it was cooler), a 45-min self-guided audio tour of The Brimstone Hill Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Black Rocks – black volcanic rocks from a lava flow into the Atlantic Ocean, and a few scenic spots overlooking the beaches and ocean. The only thing left to do was a hike up MT Liamuiga (3,792 ft) but that will have to wait for another trip. Unless you are a beach person there is not a lot to see or do on St Kitts. I was completely bored after two days!

 On Sat afternoon I met up with four friends and fellow members from the Country Club (an informal club of runners who have completed a marathon in a minimum of 30 countries) at packet pickup. There were only 12 runners registered in the marathon and five of them were CC members. There were a total of 60 runners in three races. The CC members got together for a pasta dinner and we met at 5 am in the lobby to walk to the start line. It was already HOT (78F) and HUMID (84%). Two of the CC members, Yen and Peter from Houston typically run 5 to 5 ½ hours so I figured we would run most of the race together and that turned out to be the case. When we reached the first BAH at 2 miles I tried to run it but quickly decided that since there was going to be a lot of walking in the race I might as well start right then. Peter, Yen & I stayed close to each other which helped because the course was on narrow roads with no shoulders and no traffic control.  Water stations were located every 5 Km so I carried a water bottle/belt with me that I refilled at every station and I also poured a bottle of water on my body since I was already overheated by the time we reached the first water station. I walked up each BAH and ran down the descent. We finished the 1st loop and reached the Half in 2:29:17. The heat and sun were brutal and I advised Peter & Yen that we would be lucky to finish the 2nd loop in 3 hrs to break 5:30. The next 10 km was the worst section of the race! The sun was beating down on our backs and I felt like my back was on fire. I struggled to run 1 min and walk 1 min before my body would overheat and shut down. We reached the water station at 20 miles together in 3:51:43. While I was pouring cold water over my head and body in a futile effort to cool down Yen took off and I could never catch her during the final 10K. There was a slight headwind that helped a wee bit and I was able to increase my cycle to run 3 min and walk 1 min on the section that bypassed the airport. But after I passed the airport the heat got to me and I struggled to run 1 min and walk 1 min. In the final mile I had to suck it up and increase the cycle back to run 3 min and walk 1 min in order to break 5:30. I had expected the race to be ugly and HOT and it exceeded my expectations!

 After I crossed the finish line I could not cool down and I developed a severe headache due to the heat (heat stroke?) so I walked straight back to the hotel for a COLD shower. It took a few hours for my body to cool down and the headache to go away but finally I was able to venture back outside for some greasy food and a cold beer. I joined Brent & Sue (from WY) for a lovely celebration dinner.

 I was happy to leave early Mon morning and escape that brutal heat. Although I am disappointed with my time & performance – a PW (Personal Worst) for a road marathon, I am pleased that I was able to overcome my health issues and run a marathon again. And I continued my streak of running a marathon for 31 consecutive years and kept my World Record intact for completing a marathon in every country in N America.   Now I am pondering the idea of running a marathon on a flat course with COOL weather to really see what kind of shape I am in and if I can break 5 hours?

 Stay tuned!