Ode to an Old Friend
Sunday, October 11, 2015

There was a race today.  One in which I participated.  It was the 2nd Annual Greene Turtle 5k in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Becky and I were in town for the Greyhounds Reach the Beach event and ran this race last year on the same weekend.  I used today’s 5k race as a final tune-up for the Marine Corps Marathon which will be taking place in just two weeks!  I am shocked with how quickly the race is approaching, and was nervous about this morning’s run.  Even though it was just a 5k I wanted to use it as a gauge to see where my fitness level stands.  Although it’s an imperfect comparison, there are several race calculators that can predict (within reason) one’s finish time based on a recent race result.  With my 21:08 finish today, the fearless forecast calculator from Runner’s World says I should be able to run a 3:22:42 marathon.  As an aside, I don’t believe that for a minute.  But I am confident.  Today did that for me.

I finished the race in 8th place overall, but 2nd in the 40-49 male age group (tough group).  The most impressive thing for me was comparing it to last year’s finish time side by side to know what marathon training has done for me.  In this race just one year ago, run on the very same course, and in very similar conditions (it was actually a little warmer today than last year), I finished with a time of 22:22.  That means I shaved off a whole 1:14.  That is staggering.  For fear of jinxing myself I won’t yet say that I’m ready, nor will I say I feel strong.  What I can say is that I have been able to stay fairly healthy throughout training.  And as I enter the final 13 days of training that will remain my primary focus.

There was also another race run today that brought back many memories.  Good ones.  Roughly 900 miles to the west along Lake Michigan, the Chicago Marathon was run.  To say that Chicago holds a special place in my heart would be a wild understatement.  Chicago is the place where I qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2009, exactly six years ago to the day (10/11/09).  It holds very special meaning to me as a result.  I can never forget that frigid morning in 2009 when I fought hard and through some adversity to accomplish what I had set out to do over three years earlier.  Each year, there are two days of the year that cause me to stop and pause and allow my mind to drift elsewhere.  Those places are Boston on the third Monday in April and Chicago on the second Sunday in October.  I love what both of those races mean to me and what both represent in terms of goals and accomplishment.

It is my hope that in two weeks I will add our nation’s capital to a long list of excellent memories that I will carry with me for the remainder of my days.  If I use today as a point of reference then I’m nearly certain that I’ll be successful no matter what five numbers show on the clock sometime after 11:00 a.m. on the fourth Sunday of October in D.C.

Run on…

Where we started and finished. No beer for me!

Where we started and finished. No beer for me!

Me n the Turtle

Me and the Turtle

1st/2nd age 40-49. 4th/8th overall. Representin'!

1st/2nd age 40-49.
4th/8th overall.
Representin’!

Becky got 3rd in her age group. A silver (for grey beard) and a bronze!

Becky got 3rd in her age group. A silver (for grey beard) and a bronze!

Waiting for the awards.

Waiting for the awards.

The route.

The route.

The stats.

The stats.

A Deserving day Off
Saturday, October 10, 2015

Like any good marathoner or distance runner, it is always a good idea to take a day off. In the midst of my run streak, not to worry, I ran a short 2-miler in order to stay fresh and keep myself sharp with just over (gulp) 14 days until race day.

What I’m actually talking about is taking the night off from the blog. Although, technically, this is a post so it would be hard to argue that it’s a true “day off.”

Never fear, I have a teaser (or two). Tomorrow I will be running a tune-up race and will have a full report in it. Along with an ode to an old race friend of mine. Which may also include a little “teaser” sample from my book, which is now available. Thought I’d throw that in there since sales have stagnated a bit from the first three days.

So, as one famous rock group once said, Saturday night’s alright

Run on…

Starting to Close In
Friday, October 9, 2015

Two weeks from today I will be entering race weekend.  That thought alone brings butterflies to my stomach.  I’m always nervous before running.  I have always felt that when I stop being nervous before participating in a sporting event, whether as a participant or an official/umpire, then it may be time to think about giving it up.

So much work and effort has gone into getting ready for this event and with just these two weeks remaining it’s natural for me to begin getting a little nervous; perhaps a bit anxious about running the distance.  Yesterday didn’t really help because reality begins to set in once you are assigned your bib number.  For those not familiar with running, a bib is the paper number that is attached to your shirt (some people attach it to their shorts or pants) so that you can be properly accounted for in a race.  On the back of race bibs at marathons you also enter information about an emergency contact and any medical information if, heaven forbid, something would go wrong.  Receiving my bib yesterday made the reality begin to take shape.  I am into my taper, which is usually the first signal of heading down the mountain.  This is just one more step in the process.  And for those who know me, they know that I am all about process.

Last evening I began to experience pre-race jitters along with a little bit of soreness in my right foot.  I’m sure it will amount to nothing, but it is something for me to monitor closely given that I’ve gotten through the tough part of training.  I have a 5k race planned for this Sunday and my last “long” run is next Saturday and will be 8 miles.  My run today didn’t cause me any problems with the foot but as I walk around I can feel a bit of pain from time to time.  The entire goal of training is to get to the start line healthy.  I am to the point where 14 weeks of training (almost) has not created many problems.  I don’t want to begin now, when I’m in the homestretch.

In addition to receiving my bib, the information is available for anyone who wishes to track a runner.  It’s a simple process where you go to this link: Track a Runner; scroll to the bottom and enter my name.  You can sign up for Twitter/Facebook, text or email updates.  Training has gone by so fast.  Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that I’m really beginning to close in.

Run on…

My bib assignment for MCM 40!

My bib assignment for MCM 40!

A mind-numbing fact.

A mind-numbing fact.

Run to the Daylight
Thursday, October 8, 2015

I’ve previously written about the beauty of running in the early morning hours before work.  There is simply nothing like it.  In a lot of ways my inspiration to write a book came from the beauty of a cold December morning back in 2005.  But as much as I enjoy running in the early morning hours, there is something to be said for getting outside on a warm and, oh boy, I can’t believe I’m about to say this because of my despising of sunshine but, sunny afternoon.  I suppose it comes down to perspective.   For the past few weeks I’ve been subjected to dark and lonely mornings on the road.  My only reprieve coming on the weekends.  But today, taking an annual leave day from work I did my fair share of aimlessly walking around the house until about lunch time, when I decided it was finally time to head out for my 4-mile training run.  Perhaps I was tired from celebrating Jasmine’s 9th birthday last night.

Energized by the sudden daylight and bright day, I ran a Boston qualifying time for those four miles.  But not just my current Boston qualifying time, I ran at the qualifying time I needed to run at back in 2009 when I actually qualified.  It felt odd because at first I really didn’t feel I was putting much effort into the run, but I attribute that to being in excellent shape at the moment due to the previous 13+ weeks of training.  My effort felt relaxed and as the run wore on I knew I was putting in an excellent training run.  Even more surprising to me was that this run came on the heels of a speed workout yesterday where I put in a hard effort.  Typically you don’t want to have back-to-back hard days.  But if the effort doesn’t really feel hard, is it a hard workout?  I pondered that question and before I knew it I was rounding the final corner and headed for home.

I also realized something I’ve known for quite some time.  I am truly at my best when I am out running.  When I’m running I’m in a zone that I can call my own.  I don’t let anyone down, I don’t have to answer to anyone, and I certainly don’t get questioned even if my effort isn’t up to standard.  That’s because it’s my standard.  I am in control.  If I want to slow down I can slow down.  If I want to go faster, I pick up the pace.  It is just me.  And when I’m in that zone and having a great run it’s like I don’t want it to end because I’m in such a great place.  Inevitably though, the run does end.  And then it’s back to reality, if only for another day.  And with another annual leave day planned for tomorrow, I look forward to more daylight and less darkness.  Seems ironic and appropriate all at the same time.

Run on…

Dark in the mornings now.

Dark in the mornings now.

If you're lucky, you run where there are some streetlights.

If you’re lucky, you run where there are some streetlights.

Morning provides some of the best beauty

Morning provides some of the best beauty

Breathtaking. And the photo doesn't do this justice.

Breathtaking. And the photo doesn’t do this justice.

Jasmine turned 9 yesterday!

Jasmine turned 9 yesterday!

Sam enjoyed some cupcakes!

Sam enjoyed some cupcakes!

A Humbling Day
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I began my day’s journey today by hitting the roads for one of my final three interval workouts.  A slightly sore hip caused me to chop the workout down just slightly in order to maintain my run of good health.  At this point, with only 17 days remaining until the race there is no sense in pushing it.  It was a cool and crisp morning.  Just the kind of morning that I envisioned when struggling so badly this past summer with the overwhelming heat and humidity.

After hitting the shower and having my breakfast I began my work day dealing with an issue at one of our schools and then I attended a meeting that included about 30 or so of our staff.  I’ve made it a point to not talk much at all about work on this blog, because I believe that what I do with this blog and my book and everything associated with it should remain largely separate from my regular day job.  But in this meeting today was a very special employee who has been battling breast cancer.  This same employee was someone that I had initially met at this very meeting a few years ago and to say she was a bit intimidating and a little “over the top” would be putting it lightly.  But I liked her instantly.  Because of her intimidating and direct approach.  I guess I can relate to that very well.  I’m sure that many of my coworkers would agree, but I digress.

Wendy will be getting chemo tomorrow, but she was at the meeting today.  All of the staff wore pink, including me.  I had borrowed a t-shirt from one of our other staff members to wear to this meeting.  I hadn’t seen Wendy since I found out about her cancer about a month ago and I was honestly looking forward to saying hello to her and to see how she was making out.

Before I got to the meeting I was overwhelmed with comments, texts and support for the release of my book.  Which by itself is humbling.  But to listen to Wendy talk about her treatment and the support she receives from work and to ask us to pray for those she sees in the hospital who have nobody and no support system was very humbling.  Her main concern was for us to pray for those people who go through it largely alone.  She mentioned how it was our staff and work community and the support she has received that helps her get through her treatments when she is laying there feeling sorry for herself.  I’m proud and humble for releasing a book.  But after hearing Wendy today she reminded me what humble is really all about.

As always, it’s run on, but just for tonight, how about, for Wendy and all those fighting breast cancer during this October awareness month…

Fight on…

index

A Million Thanks
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On the eve of the official release of my book, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings.  Much like the marathon itself, there is this gigantic build-up to the day and then it’s over.  There is really nothing left after it’s out there but to sit back and see if people enjoy it.  There is always the wonder of whether or not it will “do well,” which of course means will I sell copies.  I can honestly say as I went into this, as my first book, I would like to sell a million copies, but if I don’t sell more than a handful I will honestly not care.  I know what went into this project and I have seen it through to the end.  It is my sincere hope that people enjoy it, but that is something, very much like the weather, that is completely out of my control.  It has taken me many years to reach this point in time.  I am satisfied that I’ve literally crossed all of my “t’s” and dotted all of my “i’s” and read and re-read more than I care to remember trying to put the very best product out there for you to enjoy.  But I’ve not done it alone.  There are a million people (o.k., exaggerating) to thank along my journey.  It is here that I must start with my wife, Becky.

Becky has literally been there every single step of the way with me.  Not only at the races themselves, but lived through every training run.  She has gone above and beyond in assisting me with water stops on long runs, to delivering gels to me along the courses themselves at times.  She’s been my #1 supporter and as we all know we are nothing without the support of others.  It is for this reason, and so, so many more that I love her unconditionally.  I am nothing without her.  Thank you Becky.  I love you.

The book itself would be a lesser product if not for my editors.  When choosing to self-publish you must make certain that you have good editors.  It is that element that refines the book and makes it more readable, and more grammatically correct.  When I’m blogging I’m quite aware that I break the rules sometimes.  I did that with my book.  But my editors brought it back down to earth.  They helped me see that something didn’t make sense.  They picked up on things I made mistakes on, both spelling and grammar, but also at times factual.  Becky was the final “edit” as she helped me with my final run-through.  She surprised me with some of the things she found and put the finishing polish on the book.   I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I failed to point out last night that Becky snapped the picture that ended up on the cover.

Before that final read-through I gained three very distinct and unique perspectives on the work.  Linda Flanagan, who hails from the Windy City and is a fellow St. Francis alum who studied English.  She’s a psycho wordsmith.  She loves to play word games and provided me with a lot of different words to replace ones that might not have been as good.  She also wrote words of encouragement when something was good.  Even though she is a Bears fan I can’t thank her enough.  Thank you Linda.  Note: Linda also appears in the book when I ran in Chicago in 2009.

Ruth Malone, who is Director of Curriculum and Professional Development for the Wicomico County Board of Education provided me with one of the best pieces of feedback I received throughout the process.  She may think it was a minor suggestion, but she proposed flipping a few paragraphs on my entry for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Beyond that she picked up on several key items that I won’t point out to avoid ruining any of the plot.  Her willingness to sit down with me and go through the manuscript line by line was one of the more enjoyable moments of this process.  Thank you Ruth.

Dr. Cathy Townsend, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services for the Wicomico County Board of Education and my direct supervisor.  She has been a mentor, a coach, and a friend.  Simply put, beyond the book itself, Cathy has made me a better writer and dare I say a better person.  I’m glad she chose to utilize “track changes” instead of a red-pen.  If I’m being 100% honest, she changed so much in my Preface that it could seriously almost be hers.  That may be a stretch but the morning I read her suggestions over breakfast I said out loud to myself “Wow, that’s better.”  Thank you Cathy.

Last but not least, and there will be many many more as I go into the next few weeks, I must give a huge shout out and a massive thank you to two individuals whom I have never met in person.  Deena Kastor, a 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist in the Women’s Marathon was very kind in reviewing my book and gave me the following endorsement:

“Four Seconds from Boston reveals honest insight into a runner’s mind, every corner of it,
and how truly capable we are physically.  Great writing from the mind of Vince Pavic as
he pushes his limits, fails and triumphs all through the sport of running.  Revealing
story of how running pushes our limits, surfaces emotions we never knew of and shows us
how triumphant we can be in any given moment.”

I’ve been giddy every since I received that amazing endorsement from her.  Deena not only owns an Olympic Bronze but holds the American Record in the marathon (2:19:36) and half marathon (1:07:34) and has held American records in a distances from 5K to the marathon. She has made 19 U.S. Teams, won 18 U.S. titles, and earned two Silver Medals at the World Cross-Country Championships. She is also an 8-Time NCAA All-American.  Thank you Deena.

Brian Sell, who represented the United States in the 2008 Men’s Olympic Marathon in Beijing, China ran professionally for the Hanson Brooks Distance Project.  Brian and I have a unique connection in that he also is a Saint Francis graduate and went to high school at Northern Bedford High School, which is only about an hour or so from where I grew up.  Leading up to his Olympic qualification Brian won the 2008 Miami Marathon and coming out of the Olympics took 1st place in the 2008 Rock n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon.  Among his many other accomplishments he also finished in 4th place at the 2006 Boston Marathon finishing with a PR time of 2:10:55.  Thank you Brian, for this endorsement:

“Whether we’re shooting for a world record, or just simply to finish the race, all of our goals
can present struggles and setbacks, as well as accomplishment.  Vince gives us a strong
personal account of the highs and lows involved with chasing a goal in a very engaging story.”

Two amazing athletes whose careers I have followed closely and have the highest of respect and admiration.  I cannot begin to tell you how humbling it is to receive those words of encouragement and endorsement.  It is truly what makes the running community the greatest community on earth.  To these athletes, editors and so many more, I say a million thank you’s.  From the bottom of my heart.

Run on…

9.15 Cover

The Cover
Monday, October 5, 2015

Without getting into too much detail, one of the hardest things about releasing a book is deciding what will grace the cover.  As I look back at that part of the process I can tell you that I went through about a dozen or so different variations with a variety of different “themes.”  Despite all of the time and energy that went into the actual writing of the book, and revising it, and revising it again, choosing the cover was one of the more difficult parts of the process.  In the end I chose something that speaks to my personality and captures, for me, the essence of the book.  The entire time I wanted to avoid having myself on the cover.  I didn’t like the appearance of “self-promotion” and wanted to avoid it if at all possible.  At the end of the day, this book is about my story.  So I decided to go with a photo, but because I had it “cartoonized”, somehow it isn’t me even though it is me.  Many hours of thought went into what I inevitably decided but I am very happy with the cover of the book.  It is a cartoon of the photo that was taken of me at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  My good friend and one of my editors, Linda Flanagan, actually made me take a second look at that photo because to me, it was just another photo taken at the event.  But after looking at that photo deeper and realizing the message in that photo, I tend to agree that there was no better photo taken throughout my 9+ years of chasing this dream.  I gave strong consideration to just using the photo, but being a cartoon character gives me the persona of being someone other than myself, in my opinion.  Kind of like I was when I was at the height of my marathon training.  I’m not that person anymore.  But the memory of what I once was will live in that photo beyond my years.  They say the cover sells the book.  I suppose that’s true to a point.  For me, what’s the most important is what’s on the inside.  Be it the runner or the book.

Run on…

NOTES:  Tomorrow evening I’ll share some people who helped me get this to the final product, some influences along the way, and some excellent endorsements that I still can’t believe I’ve received!  The official release happens this WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2015.  Ten days ahead of schedule.

The cover

The cover

The photo that inspired the cover

The photo that inspired the cover