Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Runners!

Is your spouse, significant other, sibling, best friend, boss, colleague, or neighbor-down-the-street a runner? Are you at a loss for what gift to give them for the holidays? If so, then check out the gift suggestions below. From the practical, to the indulgent, to the whimsical, there's something for every runner in your life. Check it out!

This new line of technical running tops shorts, and other running apparel is perfect for the art lover, tattoo lover, or someone who just likes to add a little flare to their running attire. I've tested the shirts, shorts, and sleeves and they wear great. INKnBURN uses fabrics that are moisture wicking, light and they breathe -- helping you stay comfortable as you achieve your peak performance. Their proprietary technique for getting art on their apparel creates vivid and powerful designs that you can’t feel, and that do not compromise the performance of the fabric. Their designs are all about personal strength and performance. Don’t disappear into the crowd... Distance yourself with INKnBURN and the Art of Running.  

Knuckle Lamps
With the innovative Knuckle Lamps, you get two lights that provide 45 lumens per light, a wide beam, included batteries, free shipping, a 5-year warranty, and a money back guarantee. What more could you ask for? I've tested these lights and they work great. I was worried that them beams may move too much and bother me, but what I got instead was a wide steady beam. They fit securely over your knuckles in a way that you don't have to "hold" them. They just stay in place. They are also very light weight and you forget they are there once you begin your run. So, if day is running in the dark, keep him safe and get him a pair of Knuckle Lights.

Loop Nano
The Loop Nano is a one piece silicone watchband that seamlessly integrates the 6th generation iPod Nano into a high-end time piece. Together they become a single entity, their form and function wrapped into a truly unique comfortable, and stylish wrist watch.

Hood to Coast
On January 11th, 2011, runners and athletes nationwide made their way to see the world’s largest relay race in movie theaters for a Special, One-Night Only screening. The special showing was such a hit that an encore showing took place in February, 2011. Now this awesome documentary can be purchased on DVD and Blu-ray. HOOD TO COAST is an inspiring new documentary that follows four teams with various levels of athletic ability on their epic journey to conquer the world’s largest relay race. Some run to test their personal limits, some to overcome personal obstacles, and others leap in blindly looking for a way to shake up a complacent life. As we follow these four teams, we realize that winning isn’t everything in a film that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary. Hood to Coast is among my favorite documentary and running-related movies.
You can order a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD ($21.95) or Blue-ray ($27.95). Includes over 95 minutes of extras. Free shipping! Click here for more info.

Hood To Coast Movie Trailer #2 for Race Website from Film For Thought on Vimeo.

This cool "low-tech" tool is a must-have for any runner. Touted as the "Portable, Personal Massage Tool" it's exactly what it promises to be. The FlexMassager is the brain child of Steve and Lee, a father and son team who both enjoy outdoor activities and endurance sports. They needed something that was lightweight and compact enough to take on a backpacking trip, but could also provide an amazing massage. After about a year of tinkering in their garage, the FlexMassager was born. It provides deep tissue massage as well as a softer skin massage, and it can fit in your running bag easily! Or, just toss it in your car to have handy after your long run. I personally have a FlexMassager and use it frequently after runs. I also keep it by be desk in the studio. It's great for relaxing tense muscles from sitting at the computer too long. I also use it on my feet to prevent from getting plantar fasciitis. Click here to find out more about the FlexMassager. 

Amphipod Hydration Belt
If your runner is a distance runner he/she definitely needs a source of hydration on those long runs. I've never been a big fan of hydration belts until I discovered the Full-Tilt-Velocity belt by Amphipod. The belt allows the bottle to lay flat and stay secure. No jiggles. I promise. The Amphipod bottles are great too. They do not leak. I've had one bottle from a handheld model for over 8 years and it's still as water tight as the day I bought it. Check it out!
Personalized BibFOLIO

Almost every runner that races keeps their race bibs as a memento of their hard work. Usually they get stuffed in a drawer, in a shoe box, or in a file folder. Surprise your runner with a truly unique gift, a BibFolio. This one-of-a-kind display holder will house their bibs so they they can be displayed proudly and viewed often. There are several styles to choose from, many of which can be personalized with your runner's name and/or photograph. I have a BibFolio of my own, and it truly is a cool way to keep track of your races. Check them out here!
Feetures! Elite Socks
I've worn many different brands of socks, but by far, my favorite is Feetures! Every runner needs socks and can never have enough. I've worn several styles from Feetures and love them all, but my favorite is the Elite. It's their most technically advanced sock. The Sock-Lock support system works to make your foot and sock one. The light cushion of the sock features high density cushioning in just the right spots. The Power Arch is anatomically constructed to provide targeted support where it's needed most. Anatomical right and left foot design enhances fit, delivering maximum protection by helping to eliminate blisters. iWick fibers wick moisture to keep feet dry and odor free. Stinkless socks? That's enough reason to buy them right there! Check them out!

Saucony's ViZiPRO High Performance Reflective Clothing and Gear
Where competing high-visibility apparel falls short, ViZiPRO shines. Made with soft, moisture-wicking Drylete, crisp reflective accents and high-quality stitching makes this night-time line extremely comfortable to wear. I personally wear the Epic Run Vest and love it. It's breathable, yet at the same time keeps the penetrating wind and cold out. It's perfect for all the night time winter running I have to do. From shoes, to gloves, to vests, to jackets, to hats, check out the entire line.
Sprinter Headlamp by Black Diamond
Along with reflective gear (so motorists can see your favorite runner), your runner also needs to see where he/she is going! The Sprinter Headlamp by Black Diamond is a great option weighing only 3.5oz. It has a very bright light (around 70 lumens) which well let you see about 150 feet ahead and best of all the light is focused on the ground right around your feet and a few strides ahead, perfect for runners. The headlamp also comes with a blinking red light positioned on the back strap making it a great safety feature. Probably the best feature of all is that the lamp is rechargeable. There's no batteries!! Check it out here!

Lululemon Athletica Apparel
My favorite: Run Response Short
About a year ago, a running buddy of mine had on a really cool pair of running shorts. They had pockets and the legs were a little longer and slimmer than most running shorts. The fabric looked awesome too. I didn't recognize the brand symbol so I asked him about them. He told me they were his Lulus. I said, "What?!" He said the brand was Lululemon. He was on a trip with some running buddies and the ladies in the group took him and the other guys into the Lululemon Athletica shop. They told him the company was known for their great yoga apparel, but that they had really great running clothes too. He tried on a the pair of shorts and was sold. Shortly after, I ordered a pair too. They are awesome. Recently Lululemon sent me more styles to test out and they too are amazing. (Stay tuned for my upcoming review.) Their clothes are a little pricey, but the quality and comfort is amazing. Check them out!
TASC Running Apparel
Another one of my favorite lines of running apparel (Thriv) now has a new name, TASC Performance. TASC stands for "Technical All Season Comfort" and I couldn't agree more. The company originated with one mission - the reinvention of performance apparel. After 2.5 years of research, development, and engineering, they brought the performance market something completely new and revolutionary with their first generation Bamboo Performance Technology line - Thriv. TASC Performance has taken that original technology and incorporated new fabric structures, fiber blends and technical details and is now staging a coup d' etat on the performance apparel industry. The other great thing is they now have Men's size small!!! (I'm a little dude and originally the Thriv brand only offered mediums as the smallest size for men, but that's all changed.) There are many different styles for men and women to choose from. I've recently tested and really like the Hybrid Fitted SS Crew. This shirt (see photo) has a snug fit making it perfect for a base layer. It's moisture wicking abilities are awesome. That's saying a lot coming from a guy who starts to sweat as soon as his foot hits the ground. The fabric is very soft and non abrasive. I like the snugger fit of the SS Crew as a base layer because it really helps prevent chafing. Don't worry, there are looser fitting options too. Go ahead...check them out!

Great Stocking Stuffer Ideas!

Ultra Pocket Hat
The Ultra Pocket Hat from Gone For A Run has two zippered pockets perfect for keys, gels, ID, money, etc. The pockets feature a velcro closure and holds contents securely and comfortably. Its aerodynamic construction, ventilated mesh side panels, reflective safety piping, moisture wicking material along with these patented outer pockets make this hat a top choice for athletes. 
The   WristSTASH Sweatband Wrist Wallet, also from Gone for a Run is also a great option. You can easily slide your money, music, key and credit card inside and then zip it up to keep it secure. It's woven from soft recycled cotton terry. The Terry cloth is also great for wiping the sweat off your face and forehead during a run. 
Shoe Pouch
The Shoe Pouch from RoadID is another a great option. The pouch is versatile, durable, and will keep its contents dry in its water resistant ripstop nylon pouch. It easily attaches to your shoe laces with a velcro strap. Also, if you already own a Sport ID from RoadID, you can easily attach it to the Shoe Pouch having it double as a form of ID as well as a storage place for keys and money. 

Micropack Land Sport Pack
The Micropack Land Sport Pack from Amphipod is a great option for key storage while on the run. The patented lock-on design of this handy pocket/pouch clamps directly to waistband, securely attaching without confining or chafing. You can stash keys, cash, ID, credit cards, energy food or sunglasses while on the run without bouncing and jingling.


NipGuards have revolutionized the market for protectdion against painful nipple chafing and abrasion. Ask any runner, they'll know what you're talking about. Over 1 million NipGaurds have been successfully used since 1999. Each disposable pair of NipGuards is good for one workout-typically a long distance run or compteition.

Grabber Hand Warmers
 Does your runner suffer from cold hands on winter runs? It can really make a long run miserable. Air-activated, Grabber Hand Warmers keep hands and fingers toasty for over 10 hours. New and Improved! Now 20% larger and lasts 40% longer! These handy portable heat generating packets fit in the palm of your hand.  Perfect for those long cold runs! Check them out! You'll also find Foot Warmers too!

Every runner needs pre- and post-run nutrition to support support their activity. I've recently tested and reviewed PR* Bar and highly recommend them to runners. If you're looking for a nutrition bar that tastes good and really does provide a great source of energy and will help improve performance, then give PR*Bar a try. They're even the offical bar of the U.S. Olympic Team! Check them out!

Warrior Training Bracelet
These cool leather training bracelets are made to wear while running, cycling, working out, sweating, racing, or all day long. Each features a positive and powerful keyword or phrase to help you train, perform, and live with greater strength of body and mind. Mine says "Persevere." Check them out at

Yurbud Earphones 
For as long as I can remember, I've had a hard time finding earbuds that would fit my little ears. Finally I discovered Yurbuds! Yurbuds twist lock into place for a secure fit that never falls out even under the most intense workout conditions. I know. I've tried it! They're ergonomically designed to avoid nerve rich areas of the ear and they're made with medical grade silicone. And best of all, they keep the sweat out! Check them out!     
Note: The runner gift recomendations above are purely based on my personal opinion. I was not paid by any of the featured companies to list their products nor was I encouraged in any way to write a positive review or to list positive comments about the featured products.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No-Cost and Low-Cost Key-Storing Tips for Runners!

One of the most annoying and pesky parts of running, has nothing to do with running. It has to do with your keys. Where do you put your car or house key while you're running? Believe me I've had my fare share of locking myself out of the car at the park and having to call home to be picked up. And unfortunately, unless your car is a 20-year-old junker and you're trying to get it stolen, leaving the key on a tire or in the bumper isn't really a wise idea. It's the first place most thieves look.

Below are several ways (frugal freebies and ready-to-purchase products) to help you safely keep track of your keys while on the run.

1. String it! Secure your key to your running shorts by sliding one end of the draw cord (in waistband of your running shorts) through the hole in the key. Pull the key all they way down to your waist band, then tie a half-knot with the same string just above the key. Next, use both strings to tie a bow as if you were tying a kid's shoe. Double-knot the bow for extra security. The double-knotted bow and the half-knot on the one lace gives you three layers of security! 

2. Lace it! If you don't like the feel of the key at your waist, then try using basically the same method but on a shoelace. Remove one lace from the last hole, slide the key onto the lace, then thread the lace back through the last hole. Next, tie your shoe and double knot the bow.  If the key bobs up and down while running, try sliding the end of the key beneath one of the criss-crossed laces.

3. Pocket it! Most running shorts today have a little key pocket inside the waistband. This is great, however many times it's either too big or too small. Unless the pocket is zippered, don't rely on the pocket alone for securing the key. Reinforce the opening with a safety pin. 
4. Hair it! Ladies (or men), if you have long hair, you have the perfect place to store a key! Secure your key to a stretchy hair band by pulling one end of a head band through the key hole to make a small loop on the other end of the key hole. Then insert the other end of the stretchy band through the small loop and pull. Viola! The key is secured. Now use the band as you normally would to put your hair into a ponytail. Don't have long hair? No problem! After securing the key to the band, slip it onto your wrist and wear it like a bracelet, or just safety pin the band to your shirt or shorts. 

5. Buy it! Today there are several different products on the market aimed at helping you keep track of your keys! Check out some of my favorites below! These inexpensive options also make great holiday and/or birthday gifts for the runner in the family.

The Ultra Pocket Hat from Gone For A Run has two zippered pockets perfect for keys, gels, ID, money, etc. The pockets feature a velcro closure and holds contents securely and comfortably. Its aerodynamic construction, ventilated mesh side panels, reflective safety piping, moisture wicking material along with these patented outer pockets make this hat a top choice for athletes. 
The Shoe Pouch from RoadID is another a great option. The pouch is versatile, durable, and will keep its contents dry in its water resistant ripstop nylon pouch. It easily attaches to your shoe laces with a velcro strap. Also, if you already own a Sport ID from RoadID, you can easily attach it to the Shoe Pouch having it double as a form of ID as well as a storage place for keys and money. 

The Micropack Land Sport Pack from Amphipod is a great option for key storage while on the run. The patented lock-on design of this handy pocket/pouch clamps directly to waistband, securely attaching without confining or chafing. You can stash keys, cash, ID, credit cards, energy food or sunglasses while on the run without bouncing and jingling.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a note of thanks to all the readers of RunnerDude's Blog ! Your support of the blog is overwhelming and means so much. The blog now reaches people in over 90 countries on 6 continents! Your feedback, comments and readership is appreciated more than you could know.

Looking ahead at 2012, I'm excited about all the runners and their personal triumph stories I'll get to share with you. I'm excited about all the upcoming running and fitness product reviews I'll give you the scoop on as well as lots of exciting prize and product giveaways.

I hope I've provided you with good running and fitness tips the past year and look forward to providing more in 2012. I always welcome your ideas for posts. Be sure to send them to

Congratulations to Cindy Houser, the winner of the RunnerDude's Blog Reader Appreciation Giveaway Drawing and the $100 Gift Certificate. Thanks so much to all who entered the drawing. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guest Runner Chef: Matthew Halip

Matthew Halip, a 22-year-old student at Guilford College, is one of my personal training and running clients. Matthew's a member of the Lacrosse Team at Guilford college and he's also training for his first marathon-The North Face Endurance Challenge taking place in San Francisco in just a couple of weeks. This is a bear of a marathon with a 4,519ft elevation gain!! This is a race where it's mandatory to check in at each aid station. Matthew can handle it though. He's a great young man, in awesome physical shape and has a good head on his shoulders. I've been very impressed with his ability to handle the workouts, his race training, lacrosse practices and school (it's his senior year). I discovered that Matthew has a flare for cooking. Actually he said it's a passion for his entire family. So, I asked him to share with us one of his favorite recipes he likes to prepare when in training. Read on to discover his tasty chicken and vegetable dish. 

Matthew's Healthy Chicken-n-Veggies
This is a very simple chicken and vegetable dish, similar to stir-fry but significantly healthier, in the sense that I don’t use a pre-made marinade or soy sauce (both of which have a high sodium content). 

Main Ingredients:
  • Chicken breast
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
(Most any combination of vegetables will work.)

Coating for Chicken:
  • Chili Powder
  • White granulated pepper (black pepper will work. I only use white pepper because I think it looks better)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Garlic powder (use garlic if possible I just didn’t have any in stock, but no more then 4 gloves- it will take over the dish)
  • Onion powder (use an onion if possible I just didn’t have one in stock)
  • All spice
Simple-n-healthy vinaigrette sauce:
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • Dijon mustard
Mix olive oil, vinegar, 2 teaspoons of honey, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. The rule of thumb is 2:1 of olive oil to vinegar, but depending on your preferences you can change the ratio (I prefer mine more acidic). 

Roast the chicken breasts at 350° F anywhere between 15-20 minutes (all ovens are different) or until he internal temperature reaches 165° F. Ten minutes before the chicken breast is cooked, put the vegetable combination in a frying pan and drizzle with vegetable oil (or olive oil). Cook on medium. Make sure you take the chicken out of the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before the vegetables are finished cooking. Once the chicken sets, cut into cubes and combine with the vegetables. At this point, pour the vinaigrette over the dish and let cook for no more then 2 minutes. Once the chicken absorbs the marinade, take off the stove and enjoy. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saucony 8mm: They Read My MInd!

For the past year or so, I've been reading so much about the barefoot and minimalist movement. One consistent thing that crops up in both camps as well as even the traditional running shoe camp is that the traditional 12mm to 13mm drop from heel to toe may be contributing to (if not promoting) heel striking which over time can spur on several running related injuries. But, if you're like me and have some foot issues, barefoot is not an option. Even the minimalist shoes (for me) tend to only work for moderate length runs.

Recently I've been dealing with two dropped metatarsals in each foot which has caused the second toe on each foot (the one beside the big toe) to hurt. I feared one may even have a stress fracture. Luckily that wasn't the case. Here comes the quandary. My minimalist shoes helped relieve the pressure on the ball of my foot, but prompted other issues on long runs. My more traditional shoes provides the needed support on the long runs, but put me up on my heels causing more stress on the balls of my feet.

So, what's a biomechanically challenged runner supposed to do? I had been thinking for several months, "Why can't you just lower the heel keeping the integrity and original support provided in a traditional running shoe? Why do only minimalist shoes get the lower heel?" Well, I think Saucony had a spy planted in my head, because I'm happy to announce that they're launching a new line of shoes with my thinking as the basis for the shoe. Okay, well, it was their thinking. :-)

Their new 8mm line is actually taking existing shoes (the Progrid Guide 5, the Powergrid Hurricane 14, the Powergrid Triumph 9) and reducing the height of the heel-to-toe offset from the average 12mm to 8mm. This is awesome news! Now it will be easier for you to land further midfoot, striking with less impact, giving you greater stability and control.

This lower heel will provide for great alignment. At 8mm your ankles, calves, knees, quads, and hamstrings are in better alignment and are better able to absorb the impact of the road. Also, just the fact that you'll be able to  have more of a midfoot landing will allow you to work with the road, not against it, creating less impact.

The lower heel will also provide great suspension. The new alignment puts you in a more spring-like position, and works with you body's natural ability to coil and rebound.

Better control, alignment and suspension spells greater propulsion allowing you to run stronger and longer.

Saucony is sending me a pair of the 8mm Powergrid Triumph 9. My running shoe of choice is the traditional version of the Triumph so, I'm very excited to see how a shoe I already love will work with a lower heel-to-toe offset.

So, stay tuned! As soon as I've received the shoes and put in several good runs of different distances and intensities, I'll be posting my review. I'll also be giving away a pair of shoes from the new Saucony 8mm line.

It's so cool when your wishes come true!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My First Marathon: Jeff's Story

Jeff  started exercising for the first time in his life in June 2009. Eventually he got into running and he's been improving ever since. He lost 65 pounds running and has completely changed his lifestyle for the better. 
Jeff's first marathon was the Bayshore Marathon 5/28/11. Below is his story of that special day.

Short version:
Stats:  4:12:17 finish time
1/2 split:  1:53:38(8:40 per mile pace)
Second half split:  2:18:39(10:34 per mile pace)
Pace:  overall 9:38 per mile
Place:  800 out of 1,462 finishers
Ranked:  589 at the 1/2 mark
Ranked:  884 at the second half(that means a lot of people passed me!)

Long version:
Wow....what a race weekend it was.  We started off on Friday by driving up to the cottage.  I had a half day off work so we could get up there a little early and beat traffic.  That was a good decision!  We had a nice dinner at home.  I didn't want to eat out that night just in case I ate something that did not agree with me.  It was six of us that went up including my Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law to come and cheer us(my running buddy and I) on along with his wife and my wife.

our awesome dinner the night before
I did not end up getting into bed until 10pm and we had an early morning getting up at 4am!  I think I probably slept 4 hours total since I was tossing and turning all night.

We got up at 4am and I did my usual routine of foam rolling and eating a half banana and a granola bar to get me started along with some water.  My running buddy made some oatmeal for himself and took it along when we left but he forgot to eat it so he had no breakfast before the race!!!  Holy cow!!

We left about 5am from the house and it's a little over an hour drive to Traverse City.  We got there a little after 6am and traffic was starting to build up.  My running buddy picked up our packets the day before so he knew the best place to park.  It worked out great because we were really close to the race start and also did not have much traffic where we parked.  This was one of the great things about running in a smaller marathon.  On the way over, it really started to rain hard but stopped when we got to the race.  Unfortunately, a few minutes before the race it started raining again.  It was not a hard rain but a misting rain.  I tried to stay under a tree until the race started.   Because the race was a small one, only 2200 marathon runners max, I was able to jump into the race start at the last second and off we went!

It was almost a "ready, set, go" kind of start instead of a gun and big hoopla.  We started right next to the high school track and wound around the streets in the college campus there.  There were a few turns to start us out which was good to keep our pace a little slower starting.  I saw Ken from TNT Coach Ken and while I did not have time to talk to him much, I assume he was there supporting all his runners with the TNT.  You could not miss him with his red and white polka dot hat and since he is tall, he stands out.  He was doing a bang up job pumping up everyone!!  He asked me how I was doing and I said good and that I would let him know in about 4 hours!  He said I'd be drinking a beer by then!  Haha!  Ah, my goal of four hours.  I'll get back to that one.

So there we were, starting the longest race I have ever the rain.  All was not lost because at least the weather was in the 50's and it was not really windy either so it could have been much worse.  I chose to wear short sleeves, shorts, arm sleeves and light gloves.  It's a good thing I wore the arm sleeves because with the rain, it helped keep me a bit warmer.

The view was really nice.  There was a water view almost the entire run up and back from the peninsula.  There were also some really nice homes to look at as well so the view helped keep my mind off running.  As far as the crowd support, it was good in pockets.  There were several spots, especially the water stops, where people were cheering.  One spot in particular was really crowded(several hundred people) I think around the 14-15 mile mark.  I love when there is a crowd that can help keep me going.  I pumped my arms up and the crowd went wild!  The first half of the race went really well.  I ran it in 1:53:38 which ranked me 589 through the half.  Unfortunately, that was too fast as you see from my final time.  I should have dialed it back just a notch.  I think that 10-15 seconds per mile slower would have been better for me in the long run.

The course was an overall flat course with some rolling hills thrown into it.  The only real hill was at the end of the split and even that was not that bad.  One thing I did not like was the way many of the road were slanted to one side.  In my opinion, it made it much harder to run instead of being on a flat surface.

My wife said they almost missed the shuttle bus to get there but they were able to get there and only waited about 10 minutes for me to run by.  My running buddy was also about 3 minutes behind me at that time.  Before that my running buddy and I ran probably at least 16 miles together when I got my second wind and picked it up a little so we got separated for a bit.  I'm really glad that they did not miss us so we got some support when we were starting a really difficult part of the race.

One thing I would have liked was a little more crowd support after the 20 mile mark.  It was fairly scarce the last six miles except for the last half mile of the race.  I can say this, the supporters that were out there were troopers.  Since it was raining much of the time, it must have been miserable to be out there.  Probably the worst cheer I heard was "you're almost there".  As many of you know, when you are at mile 16, you are NOT almost there so tell your support crew not to say that to marathoners looking at 10 miles more to go. Haha!

So as I continued to run, I was starting to slip on my times each mile beginning with mile 17 where I ran a 9:01 mile but I was able to keep it under 10 minute miles through mile 22.  I figured if I could at least keep a 10 minute pace, I would meet my four hour goal.  Unfortunately, when I got to mile 23 I ran out of gas and started walking.  That got me at 13:09 mile for mile 23.  I knew after that point, I was not going to make four hours.  At that point, I was just telling myself to keep going.  I walked some and ran some and walk some and ran some.  I kept going.  I even got back to a quicker mile of 12:51 at mile 25 but really struggled at mile 24 and 26.  In the last half mile, my calves started cramping up and I could not run.  Then.....I saw Ken again!!!!!  My leg was really cramping and Ken said WOW, I can see it moving!! Haha!  I said, yeah, I can feel it!! Haha!  He pushed me and helped me get going again and I was able to pull out running to the finish line.  I also saw my support crew again just after Ken and my wife got a picture of this too!
I was completely out of it at this point at about 26.1 miles!
The announcer announced my name which was a nice finish and said, you are a marathon finisher!  We finished on the high school track.  Garmin time - 4:12:55(forgot to turn off my Garmin)  Official time:  4:12:17; placed 800 out of 1462 finishers

The last four miles of the race were the hardest thing I ever did physically.  It was incredibly hard to finish but I just kept my mind to it and kept going.  It did not help that I saw a kid being taken into an ambulance at about 22 miles(hopefully he was ok).  Also, right at the end, just as I was entering the track, I heard a supporter say "that guy looks bad".  I wished I had the energy to say something but I kept on going!  My brother in law did say afterwords that I looked beyond tired!  From mile 23 on, I kept thinking of my #1 goal - finish, just finish and then my #2 goal, finish in 4:30:00.  So that is it, I was able to meet two of my goals but not the four hours.  Given the rainy conditions and that it's only my first marathon, I'll take that automatic PR and be very happy with it!! 

Marathon completed, check!
Moomers ice crea
My running buddy finished about six minutes behind me so we practically ran the entire race together.  I'm really glad that I was able to train and run with him as it helped keep me motivated throughout the process.

After the race, they had all kinds of food....cookies, chips, pretzels, ice cream, bananas, oranges.  They also had a place to get a massage but the line was too long to wait for it.  My running buddy and I brought a change of clothes so we took a shower after at the Phys. Ed building and went to lunch with everyone.  It was nice having that shower available after the race.  My wife asked me if I would do another one and, at that time, I said I could not make that decision so soon after finishing.
The pub we went to for lunch was crowded with all the racers and so many people were wearing their medals, including me and my running buddy!  I ate like I've never eaten before.  I also drank more water that day than I have ever drank before.  My body just soaked up the water and continued to ask for more.  We also stopped at the local running shop, Running Fit and I bought myselfdrank more water that day than I have ever drank before.  My body just soaked up the water and continued to ask for more.  We also stopped at the local running shop, Running Fit and I bought myself a hat.
Waiting for food in Downtown Traverse City!
Having a beer that evening!
Finishers Medal
Overall I thought it was a really great, well organized race.  While I would recommend it and would do it again, my thought is that I want to train for my next marathon during summer so the next one will likely be a fall marathon.  Yes, that's right folks, I've decided I WILL do another one next year.  I've got to get under that 4 hour mark!  God help me! 

Be sure to check out Jeff's blog Detroit Runner!