My Profile

@Mike_Hess

Kingsburg, CA Raving since 2014 Marathon Maniacs http://www.dar-racing.com Active 2 years, 7 months ago

About Me

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    DAR

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My Races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Calistoga, CA 2010 3:07:00
Half Marathon Santa Cruz, CA Apr 13, 2014 1:39:29

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (6)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Rome, Italy Mar 22, 2015 4:35:36
Marathon Big Sur, CA Apr 27, 2014 3:22:49
Half Marathon Santa Cruz, CA Apr 13, 2014 1:39:29
Marathon Morgan Hill, CA 2013 3:46:47
Marathon King George Island, Antarctica 2013 4:20:26
Marathon Calistoga, CA 2010 3:07:00

My Raves

With the Coliseum as a back drop, you know you're in for a treat! There was anticipation with each turn. I looked forward to what I was going to see … MORE

With the Coliseum as a back drop, you know you’re in for a treat! There was anticipation with each turn. I looked forward to what I was going to see next.

With 15 thousand runners it took me and my two friends 5 minutes to cross the starting line. The day started off with light drizzle. The rain would stay with us for most of the race. Around mile 18 it finally let up. The cobblestone streets were a new experience for me. You did have to watch your footing a little bit as you also had to navigate around the discarded trash bags and light weight panchos. All of us were just happy to be in Rome running a marathon. I brought along two cameras. I wanted to make this as memorable as possible for the first time international marathon runners in my group. For one of the ladies it was her very first marathon. I’ve never seen anyone else smile for the entire 26 miles. Our hotel was in a great location. We were able to walk to the starting line.

I hardly slept a wink the night before. I was just super excited about this race. I could not wait to get to the starting line. I knew I wouldn’t be racing it, but enjoying the scenery as much as possible.

For the first 10 miles, there was quite a bit of congestion of runners. I was happy for it because it kept my pace slower. I was not in a hurry. I was looking for places to stop and take pictures of the other runners. I had my chance after mile 10. From then on I would run ahead and take pictures or video of the two ladies.

I made it a point to try the food they offered on the course. When I race marathons I usually just stick to my gu’s. One bite of the blood oranges and I was hooked! I looked for them at every water station after that. They were super sweet and super juicy.

The most scenic part of the course had to be coming up to St. Peter’s Square. We could hear bells ringing as we looked down the street and saw the obelisk front and center.

As we ran through various tunnels and underpasses on the course, everyone would start whooping and hollering and blowing whistles. You were compelled to join in.

Miles 13 to 20 took us a bit outside of the main city. The change in scenery was nice. There were a bit more trees and got to run by some houses. Mile 20 brought us back closer into town and eventually back to the cobblestone streets. We ran past a few more well known sights including the Spanish Steps.

About mile 24 we had a little bit of an uphill through a tunnel. That was followed by some down hill before it leveled out for the finish. At the finish line there was a Roman guard standing by.

Overall it was a such a great experience!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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Sometimes it’s just a line in the dirt, a chalked line across a bike path, a marker on the side of the road, a blow up arch. Few things in … MORE

Sometimes it’s just a line in the dirt, a chalked line across a bike path, a marker on the side of the road, a blow up arch. Few things in life grabs a runner like the gravitational pull of the starting line. This ‘undeniable force’ pulls runners across State boundaries, over oceans, through airports, down freeways, up highways in the middle of the night. It pulls our bodies through ridiculous programs lasting four months and 500 miles of training. It gives us reason to go to bed early, and be done with our workout before the sun blinks. It drains our bank accounts. It makes us tired, hungry, and exhausted. This same pull also releases us to eat our weight in food, see places we would have never seen, gives us more energy than we know what to do with, and enjoy a genuine camaraderie with complete strangers.

I found myself standing just 30 feet from the starting line in Big Sur. The only thing between me and the finish line and completing marathon 26 was some 40,000 steps. In about the same time it takes to watch a football game I would be done. 3 hours! That was my goal. This race, this marathon journey would be different for me. I was running with a purpose. I was going to run this race in honor of my sister Mindy, who is fighting cancer.

Every marathon, every 26.2 mile race, tells a story. A story about perseverance, of pushing past excuses, working through new challenges, finding new inspiration, breaking the limits of your mind and brushing shoulders with others who have overcome. The story begins as soon as you hit the ‘Enter’ key on your computer and the charges hit your credit card for the cost of a race registration.

My story began as the impulses travelled from my brain down to my index finger there was only a slight hesitation as $150 was added to the balance on my credit card. It was at 702am on a Monday morning that was still 10 months before the race. The Big Sur Marathon was expected to sell out quickly. Sure enough, the ‘Enter’ keys stopped working 50 minutes later. Thoughts quickly gathered as to when I would to start my training. A goal time was quickly settled on.

So much can happen in ten months before a marathon. A sprained ankle, an illness, life events can prevent a person from running 26.2 miles. For this race there is no refund and no transfers. It’s hard to sign up so early for a race. To give myself an added peace of mind I tacked on the insurance. Workouts for Big Sur would start in December and hopefully hit full stride in January and especially February.

Big Sur is one marathon I could run every year. Hands down the most beautiful one I’ve ever done. A dozen runners from my Antarctica trip would be coming out to run this race.

You can run the same course twice, three, and four times and still have a completely unique experience. The weather will be different. You meet people with different backgrounds. Different reasons for running. Life alters our perfect training schedules, but yet we adjust, roll with the punches. You hope it doesn’t rain and that the wind will be at your back. The only thing that can be constant with marathons is the course. The unforgiving hills, the canter to the road, another hill! What you think about, your thoughts, your feelings during the race. Each marathon gives you more experience, another idea on what you can do different, adjust your training.

Behind me was a mass of 4000 runners. I hung out closer to the start because I would be going for a faster time on this day. Much less chatter in this group. Much more focused, more determined. Most marathons I’ve been running lately involves leading a pace group, which is a lot of fun for me. It’s my chance to give back to the sport that has helped me so much.

Just 15 minutes before we were milling around the small parking lot, sipping on coffee, relaxing on the curb, socializing with complete strangers, and of course waiting in line for the blue plastic bathrooms. Most will be going the full distance of the marathon, the others have split up the 26.2 miles with 4 other people. I’m amazed how the announcer skillfully guides and goads us away from prep area. The runners going at a slower pace head further up the road. Most are slightly anxious and simply want to run. Some have been here since 430am.

Some of us lingered in the prep area for the last possible moment before we had to join the thousands of others lined up behind the big blow up starting line. The blow up starting lines always make me think of bounce houses.

I chose to take the early bus leaving out of Monterey. By early, it was the oh-dark 30 early bus! By the time I left the hotel at 320am and walked the three blocks, there were some buses that had already filled and headed towards the starting line some 28 miles away. In line I struck up a conversation with Atif, who had come all the way from Florida to run Big Sur. His attitude that morning epitomizes why people run. There was an underlying sincere enthusiasm for being there that day. He knew the course was going to be tough but you could tell he was going to enjoy every minute of it. It didn’t help his training preparation that the only hills he has back home are the overpasses. His first long distance race was a half marathon a few years ago. He had made the decision to run it just the night before, without any training. I think this was Atif’s only second marathon.

On the bus we sat next to Kim. Kim had grown up in Florida so her and Atif talked about familiar places and events.

Kim had flown all the way from Anchorage, Alaska to tackle this slightly challenging course. With a few marathons under her belt, I sense that Kim is still in the early stages of her ‘marathon career’. You could tell she was also very happy to be there running this race. In her hands was a partially eating bagel and a banana. I had eaten those items just a half hour earlier. Include an energy bar and a sports drink and there you have my staple pre-marathon meal that I’ve eaten since I ran my first marathon in 2004. I consume the ‘ritual’ meal a good three hours before a race to ‘top off’ my energy stores.

In describing her training leading up to the race she said it wasn’t that long ago that she was still running in studs and had only recently just been training in regular running shoes. For clarification, I asked her what ‘studs’ were. At that moment I think she realized I wasn’t from an extreme cold weather climate. She explained that studs go on the bottom of your shoes to give you traction on the ice. The coldest temperature she ran in – ‘negative ten’’! Minus ten is a cool 32 degrees colder than when I ran in Antarctica.

Although both Kim and Atif didn’t have the most ideal training conditions to get them ready for Big Sur, I knew they were in for a treat. Hands down the most beautiful one I’ve done. This would be Big Sur Marathon #3 for me. .

I was thankful for the conversation. It kept my mind from hearing the groans of the engine as the school bus snaked its way up and down the hills to the starting line along Highway 1. The shortest path to the starting line was the actual marathon course.

All of us at the starting line on this chilly late April morning had our our own and individual reasons for being there that day and running this race. For some they were would going after a goal of running marathons in all 50 states.

The idea to run the Big Sur Marathon in honor of my sister Mindy, who is fighting cancer, came just two weeks prior as I was pacing the Santa Cruz Half Marathon. When those thoughts skipped through my consciousness, it pressed on an emotional pressure point. It was a slight watering of the eyes and a pause in my breathing. I knew right then it was something I needed to do.

Running in honor of other people is not a new idea to the running world. Team in Training is known for running and training for running races for people who are fighting cancer. 15 year old Winter Vineki has run marathons around the world in memory of her day who passed away from cancer. The Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa is dedicated to the memory of those who fought in World War I.

Grant at Merlin Graphics was kind enough to customize a shirt for me for this race. He had the shirt to me just a few short days after I sent him the words I wanted. This was going to be a complete surprise for Mindy.

Since I got the phone call from her several years ago on a warm day in November telling me that she had this unfortunate disease, she has remained strong and positive. In addition to being very disciplined with her diet, she has weathered all the differing opinions and well meaning advice on how how to treat the cancer. She has four kids and works full time. Her husband has been amazing throughout this entire process. The entire immediate and extended family has provided amazing support. At the end of the day, she always finds something positive or encouraging to focus on.

The day and evening before the race was spent hanging out with marathon runners from the 2013 Antarctica trip. If there’s one trip than can make lifelong friends out of complete strangers that 2 week trip would be it. There was just over a dozen of us that had planned 10 months ago to get together and run this race. Most came from here in the States. One guy flew all the way from France. Also had a chance to reconnect with a college buddy I hadn’t seen in 15 years.

Like the ocean there is an ebb and flow to our emotions during the race. They can sway from high to low and back again. We have the ‘being on the top of the world’ feeling all they way down to ‘I want to quit’ and ‘running this marathon was a terrible idea!’ When you get that 2nd and 3rd wind, your confidence starts to soar again. It starts to flutter and waiver a bit on those last few hills. You get picked back up by an encouraging word. Finally that last push when you start to hear the announcers and finally see the finish line. You want to finish strong no matter how bad your legs and body are hurting.

Holding us back from starting the race in a full sprint is personal experience and knowledge we’ve gleaned from others. With proper training, most of can ‘cruise’ through the first 18 to 20 miles. For the last 6 to 8 miles we’re relying more on our blood glucose instead of the energy rich glycogen stored in our liver and muscles. Our leg muscles have also tired out the slow twitch muscles and are now relying on the fast twitch ones.

The first five miles are mostly downhill. Legs are feeling good and my breathing is deep. I can’t quite push out of my mind of what’s up ahead from miles 10 to 12. It’s two miles of quad busting uphill.

Under the umbrella of an overcast sky we hear a few motivational words by legendary Deena Castor. We start the race flanked by tall trees on both sides of the road. The clean, crisp air makes breathing much easier. Dave and I exchange a few words during the first two miles. He lets me know the pace at the first two mile markers. A little bit ahead of schedule, but within reason. Soon after he tells me to go on ahead. Dave was just three weeks removed from running a 50 mile race. I knew it was going to be a ‘push’ to get a sub 3 hour marathon. I knew I wasn’t trained up well enough. This race would be more more about guts and desire.

I braced for a head wind as we excited the tree cover. To my relief there was hardly even a slight breeze.

I knew there was a few hills after mile 5 interrupting my path to mile 10. Wishing I had looked more closely at the elevation profile, I noticed my legs start to labor on the uphill.

Thinking about my sister and knowing I was running it for her, really helped me push through the ups and downs of this race. It truly is a mind battle when you run a marathon. So many questions float through your mind. ‘Can I maintain this pace?’ ‘This downhill feels really good!’ ‘When will the uphill ever end?’ It will be over in just a few hours. You trained too hard for this to stop now.

I waited until the last few minutes before dropping off my sweat bag that contained cloths I would need at the end of the race at the truck and head towards the starting line. Because I was gunning for a faster time I hung out in the first corral. The plan was to run with Dave, whom I known almost since I first started running marathons just 10 years ago.

I would not be taking pictures today. I would not stop and listen to the drums at the bottom of the hill. No hanging out and taking in the scenery at the top of Hurricane Point. I would take it all in and use it has a much needed distraction.

I felt I was pretty close to being on pace for the first five miles. As I started climbing more the of the hills, my legs were feeling much tighter than I wanted. I was hoping they would loosen up.

As I felt myself get behind pace on the uphill, I still kept up hope. I made up some ground on the downhill, hoping my legs would hold up.

The clock read 1 hour 35 minutes as I crossed the Bixby Bridge. My second half would have to be a 125.

As I felt my goal time slipping away I knew I couldn’t give up. Thoughts of stopping to walk increased. Dave would pass me at mile 15 and finish the marathon 11 minutes ahead of me.

Thoughts of my sister would sweep through my mind and I pushed harder. My pace continued to get slower on the uphill. I ran as hard as I could on the downhill. I popped in a few salt capsules as leg cramps started to set in.

The words, ‘This is your last hill,’ by a race official was music to my ears. I was ready to be done.

I crossed the finish line 22 minutes short of my goal, but very happy with the effort and the person I was running this for.

There is nothing else like the gravitational feeling of a starting line. Nothing will get in your way. Injuries won’t, weather and delays are just hiccups and speed bumps. Running in honor of someone makes it that much more special. I was blessed in the process.

The next starting line is waiting.

That ‘Enter’ button is waiting.

This Big Sur Marathon was for you Mindy! Fight on sister!!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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