Race Recap: 2015 Delaware Half Marathon

This past Sunday I have a privilege that I am so happy to have had.  This Sunday I ran with Bride during her first half marathon.  She came to me before the new year and said that she wanted to make a New Years Resolution to run a half marathon.  Obviously I was very excited that she made this commitment.  I told her I would help her all I could and I would run with her during her race.

To begin the year I wrote out a training plan for her to follow and help introduce her to the best parts of running. She followed my training plan the best that she could (missing just a couple of runs when she felt under the weather) and she grew to actually like running!  I let her run by herself during her shorter runs but made a point to join her on the longer ones including an 8 mile run up Mill Mountain in Roanoke, VA and a 10 mile run in Williamsburg, VA.

Leading up to the race I could tell that Bride was so excited for the event and I was even more excited for her.  I knew that she would struggle at times but I always knew that she would finish.  Not only did she finish but she got a better time than I thought she would get.  I will not take away her thunder and will let her tell everyone about her run.  I will just review my run and my opinion of the whole event below.

MY RACE:
The weather could have been better for this race.  The day was VERY hot and VERY humid (92%).  Although the rain held off it did not help.  The heat has to effect any runner and it definitely made the run harder for us.  The route took us all around Wilmington, including past the minor league ball stadium, the waterfront, the downtown, the zoo, a beautiful city park, quiet neighborhoods and their little Italy.  You could not ask for a better tour of the city, which to me says a lot about the race.  We finished strong, despite the many hills throughout the course and I am nothing but proud of Bride’s performance.

Race Organization: 10/20

This is a small race, so it will inevitably have some hiccups along the way.  The race organizations revolved around a beautiful little park on the water in Wilmington, Tubman-Garrett Park which provided a beautiful starting point and location for the expo.  Except, the size of the park limited the size of everything.  The park is not a large park and the expo had to resort to only having a couple of tents with just two vendors and one tent for the title sponsor (Discover Card).  This park also caused the start line to be congested and chaotic the morning of.  The bag drop off was hard to find, the corrals were almost non-existent (a 4-hour marathon runner lined up next to us behind the 11 min/mile sign because there was no room near the front) and the areas for the crowds were tight and caused more congestion on the streets. I told Bride before we stepped off that this race had out grown this park.  In the future I hope that the race either rearranges the start line to better accommodate the size or works to stagger the start so that everyone can have a more enjoyable beginning.

Expo: 8/20

This rating might seem harsh but I cannot but help rank this expo compared to other races that I have been apart of. This race is small but it is the premiere marathon in the state and should have a better expo.  As mentioned above, the primary reason that the expo is so underwhelming is because it is confined to the small footprint of the waterfront park.  They try to make the best use of space that they can in this small area but there is no way that a proper expo can be accomplished in this small space.  I would suggest that the organizers look at using the parking log of the neighboring waterfront market as the base for their expo in the future to allow for a larger one that can hopefully attract more vendors.

DE Half Marathon CourseRace Experience: 18/20

My race experience after I started the start line was amazing.  The route started along a beautiful water front trail winding through a lot of new development, office buildings and their minor league baseball stadium before heading into the city around mile 3.  From miles 3-5 you went through parts of downtown and began the your run through Brandywine Park.  In Brandywine Park you got the chance to run right next to the Wilmington zoo (close enough that you can hear and smell the animals) before making a u-turn our of the park and onto Park street where the hills truly began.

The next two miles included a constant incline before leveling off in a beautiful neighborhood.  After running around the neighborhood you went into Little Italy where the greatest mid race snack I have ever had awaited.  This snack was even better than the gummies at mile 23 of the Disney Marathon.  Around mile 9.5 Bernies Italian Ice (Title Sponsor of the Wilmington Italian Fest) was passing out their signature Lemon Italian Ice.  There could not have been a better mid race snack on such a humid day than a small cup of this delicious flavored ice!!! Around this same time we heard the police sirens that were with the lead runner, and defending champion Titus Rotich.  As he passed us Bride was able to see up close just how fast he was running.  We got to see him climb a small hill over a train track and experience just how impressive his athletic ability is.

To close out the race you run down the Park St hill we ran up after Brandywine Park and at mile 12 we turned towards the finish line for the final mile downtown.  Only to realize that there was a final half mile hill facing us.  We finished under our goal and looking back on the course I realized that I felt like I saw all of Wilmington while being challenged with the hills, the heat and the sun.  It was a great course and such an enjoyable race.

DE Half Marathon MedalPost-Race: 17/20

After finishing the race we sat down to relax and quickly was able to pick up our bag from the small bag check and got in line for the food that was provided.  The food included sliders, chips, fruit, and drinks that all tasted good after the run.  But what stole the show was Bernie’s Italian Ice being there with two extra flavors (coconut and cherry) along with their lemon that they had on the course.  On top of all of these the race medal is one of my favorites and includes a spinning boat at the top along with sights from around the course. This race is an example for others to follow on what to provide to its runners.  Finally, the park’s location along the waterfront provided beautiful scenery and after finishing any race it always feels good to relax after knowing you have worked so hard for the whole morning.

Extras: 18/20DE Marathon Headsweats Hat

Every race tries to have their perks that make the race memorable and worthy of the entry fee.  The Delaware gave perks that few other races, at its price point, can provide.  While at the race we were able to get a free Headsweats Hat, pint glasses with the marathon logo, a (with a discover card) a car magnet themed for the race and a mesh bag that I will definitely use again.  The hat is one that I will definitely wear on future runs and is a much better hat than the one I received at the Shamrock half in VA Beach in March.  This race is an example for others to follow on what to provide to its runners.

MY OVERALL EXPERIENCE: 71/100

This race had a little bit of everything.  It had a great course that included urban, trails, hills, hot weather and fun. The expo could be improved but I think that this race is one that I would suggest others run.  My two pre-race categories (expo and race organization) are low but all the categories that take into account the actual race and afterwards are very high.  The race itself is a great race and has many positive aspects.  I would suggest that this is a hidden gem, especially on the east coast were many high profile races take a lot of the attention.  I am glad that Bride chose this race as her first half marathon and I hope that it will not be her only one.

-Runner

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Six Pillars Century 56 Mile Ride

This past weekend I had a new experience…a bike race!  As most of you know I am currently training for the Eagleman on June 14.  This past weekend an organization called Character Counts Mid-Shore hosted a century bike ride as their largest annual fundraiser. One of the levels of this ride was a 56 mile option that follows the Eagleman course.  It was obvious to me that this opportunity to train on the actual course is one that I could not pass up.  Despite the great opportunity it was also a brand new experience for me.  I had never participated in a bike ride like this before and I have to admit that I had some nerves leading up to the start.

Unlike every road race that I have ever ran, the start here was not all at once but instead the said you could start anywhere between 7am-9am with the only restriction being that the course would close at 4:30pm.   This relaxed start caused many of the other riders doing 56 miles to start later in the day but I had to be back in DC early that afternoon so I was one of the few that started early in the morning and that early start caused me to spend a lot of time alone on the course before many other riders had started their day.

Six Pillars Century Ride

The course winds quickly out of the beautiful town of Cambridge, MD and into the flat country side of Dorchester County, MD towards the Chesapeake Bay.  As you wind through the miles I got to pass through many parts of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge including many unique grasslands and swamps.  The course is pancake flat and includes long stretches of strait flat roads.  These roads allow you to easily sight other competitors to remind you that you are not alone but unfortunately these roads also give plenty of opportunity for the wind to whip and blow consistently. As the miles ticked by I realized that the wind was not only blowing from one constant direction but it seemed to blow from every direction.  Whether I was going west, east, north or south, there seemed to always be a wind.  The weather is the most unpredictable part of any race, but I hope that the wind in June is less than what I experienced during this ride.

After the ride there was a lunch provided but before I relaxed for the rest of the day I knew I had to get out and get a few more miles on the pavement.  I have had some issues with my lower calves being sore when running lately but I pushed through to get a 5K done after the ride.  After almost 60 miles for the day it was finally time to relax.  Looking back on the ride and the short run afterwards I am even more excited about putting in the extra 10 miles to reach my 70.3 goal in just a few weeks.  My training is still going to be heavy in the weeks until the race but with moving 800 miles back to IL it will cause some obvious disruptions.  Knowing that I am going to have those disruptions I am very happy that this ride and run have provided a lot of confidence for me when I approach the full course.

-Runner

Thoughts on Leaving Ophthalmology

First of all, ophthalmology is a difficult word to spell. This you will learn on your first day. However, I guess it could be worse, otolaryngology comes to mind. To keep things simple, I’m and eye doctor’s assistant who works in the eye clinic; but not for much longer.

I was hit recently with the overwhelming emotions that come with doing something for the last time EVER: sadness, elation, nostalgia, happiness. It’s not that I’ve never quit anything before — soccer and clarinet come to mind — coincidentally I participated in each of those for 8 years. It certainly is the end of an era, but an important part of my life as a young professional that is sure to follow me as I move on in my career.

IMG_0277 To even be considered as a candidate for PA school admission, I had to have clinical healthcare experience. Over the past 6 years, I have spent day after day examining the eyes of anywhere from 2 to 28 patients/day. This work has inspired me to go farther with my education so that I can continue to serve patients in a greater capacity. It’s taken a lot of work to get where I am today.

One of the hardest parts about starting a new job is the time it takes to get comfortable in the position. In my experience, it usually takes about one year for me to really ease into the job and to let go of all my anxiety about “not knowing enough.”

This was especially true in the position I’m currently leaving. Three years ago, during my interview for the hospital, I made promises to learn many new examination skills. I struggled a lot to catch up. The learning curve was very steep! Especially due to the fact that my manager believed that everyone should know how to do everything (not an easy thing for the lowest man on the Totem pole to hear). I finally cut myself a break when I realized that I was doing the same work as a 1st year ophthalmology resident. This occurred to me on the day I was required to attend a medical school lecture given by my boss. However, with hard work comes great pride, and I felt like a rock star (eventually).

It seems like a shame that I have skills that will not be used again like determining a person’s glasses prescription, measuring motility through prisms, testing 3D vision. At other times it feels like a relief that I will never again have to perform a Humphrey visual field (aka watch someone’s eye position in the dark for 20 minutes), clean a rack of lenses, or tell an impatient family that the eye drops takes 40 minutes to work. But, I will miss my awesome drawer of fixation toys, getting to put a sticker on my nose and moo like a cow to get a child’s attention, and putting glasses on a child for the first time.

Is this a great toolbox or what?

Is this a great toolbox or what?

I will definitely miss my coworkers. After I was hired, we eventually acquired two more technicians. We have gotten close and can relate to the struggles and joys of the job. Our orthoptists are incredibly knowledgeable and excellent teachers. The front desk staff has always kept it real and kept it fun. Working with 8 different attending physicians makes you quick on your feet. Learning their quirks takes time but it’s so nice when you can really get it the groove working with them. This relationship has revealed to me how important it will be to find a good supervising physician.

One of the first pieces of equipment that we are required to buy for the PA program is an ophthalmoscope. So, I’m pretty grateful to have one subject area firmly under my grasp as I begin my studies. Many people have asked me if I’ll return to ophtho. While I don’t want to close the door to that possibility completely, I don’t see it as a good fit for PA work. There is already a large network of allied professionals in place – optometrists, orthoptists, technicians and nurses. What I have learned is that I love working with kids and (for the moment) am leaning toward pediatrics. Parents have told me that I’m good with kids and I have a lot of patience. I really don’t mind the crying either. We shall see… I’m keeping an open mind for what PA school has in store.