Monday, December 5, 2011

Luke's Birthday - A Legendary Day

December 1, 2011 - The Birth of Lucas Christopher           

      There are days in your life that will remain in your mind forever.  Those are the kinds of days where you can recall every single detail years later like it was happening again.  This kind of day happened for me yesterday with the birth of my nephew Lucas Christopher.  It was a legendary day from beginning to end with lots of twists and turns like a good movie.  So get your popcorn ready as I regale you with the tale of Luke’s Birthday.
            With my sister Lindsay already in the hospital the night before I knew it could be any moment.  I began the day by dipping into a 5-Hour Energy which got my mind set for a long and exciting day.  I wanted to get to the hospital as early as possible just in case.  There was literally no parking which was great, I figured if I was circling the parking lot while my nephew was being born I would probably burn something down.  I got there at 10:30am to find my sister asleep so I went and sat in the maternity waiting room.  That seemed uneventful but would come into play later on.
            In the room there was nothing going on, Lindsay was relaxing and her fiancée Chris was doing the same.  We passed the time talking about wrestling and performing a bit of the classic Shake Weight South Park episode.  Hey, even the nurse said it was good to use humor to keep my sister’s mind off of the huge baby boy waiting to arrive.  I stayed for almost three hours before realizing that nothing was going to happen until later.  So I went off to continue the day.
            Like déjà vu I went for some Chinese food for lunch.  No worries, since I planned on running later to burn that healthy stuff off.  Chinese is a vice I will never be able to give up no matter how healthy I become.  I had a scheduled write up interview at Common Ground, a local coffee shop at 3pm.  It became clear to me that I would never be able to focus on that so I had to reschedule which made me feel unprofessional, but some things are a little more important.
            One such thing was bringing a set of Allen wrenches to my friend Dorothy.  I wasn’t sure of the size she needed so I was gonna bring my smallest one.  Too bad that once I got close to her work in Hyannis I realized that I forgot it.  Now, I could have gone back home and got it, but I figured it was easier to just go buy a set of the wrenches, never know when you’ll need ‘em, right?
            It’s always fun hanging with Dorothy, we like to talk about a lot of stuff that most people would frown upon, you know, like murders and cemeteries?  Hey don’t judge!  We hung out and chatted, I decided I might like to buy a ukulele since I recently sold my guitar.  Good times.  Then came the final step, running the treadmill at the gym until I got the word.
            I sent Lindsay a text seeing what was up, she said she was 8cm dilated and that it might still be a while.  My mother called me as I ran and was adamant that 8cm meant that labor was imminent.  Knowing that I jumped off the treadmill and grabbed a towel to go shower and rush to the hospital.  Things were going smoothly until I had to get dressed.  That was when I realized that I had forgotten a fresh set of boxers.  Yeah, I could have put the sweaty ones back on, but I decided to go commando, flying free in the breeze! 
            Once I got back to the hospital it was a party scene, I was one of many in Lindsay’s room.  Besides myself, Lindsay, and Chris there was Lindsay’s fraternal twin, Ashley, their friends Alicia and Crystal, Lindsay and Ashley’s father Paul, sister Michelle, and her daughter Karissa who I hadn’t seen in ages.  We knew that it was only a matter of minutes until the delivery so there was time to say goodbyes and good lucks and take a few photos before we all got whisked out and back down to the maternity waiting room.
            I was first in there and staked my claim to the same seat I had taken during the morning.  It was there that I found my sunglasses.  Yeah, I didn’t forget them at home.  They had dropped out of my pocket and had sat there for the taking for 7 hours.  $250 sunglasses untouched, I guess the most trustworthy people are nurses and expectant mothers.
            Being all excited about what was happening a few doors down we all were pretty loud and a bit rowdy.  It was a mini reunion for us so it was all fun.  After rushing from the gym, and downing my 2nd 5-Hour Energy, I was pretty hungry but obviously did not want to even go down to the cafeteria and risk missing the magic moment.  The solution?  Check out the patient fridge.
            Of course lookouts had to be set up in case someone was coming.  I found some good eats in there, ice cream, yogurt, graham crackers, milk.  There were microwave pizzas but I thought the smell would be hard to cover up.  So I began with some ice cream.  As I ate it Alicia came rushing in yelling that she had heard a baby cry.  We all got up and rushed to the door; I tossed my ice cream in the trash before leaving. 
            Sadly, it was not the right baby crying so we all headed back to the waiting room.  I was so hungry that I grabbed that ice cream back out of the trash and continued to eat it.  Hey, I got a new spoon so it wasn’t as bad, right?  We put on The Simpsons, I sat under the TV to see how long it would take me to guess the episode just by the dialogue.  It took about 2 minutes.
            After that false alarm we all began creeping our way down to the door and listening for any sounds.  When a nurse would come outside we would all back off expecting to get tossed back into the waiting room.  It came down to my step-sister Michelle and I deciding that we deserved to be the first to hear little Luke’s first sounds so we stayed pretty close to the door while the others came and went.
            We tried our best to be quiet but some people did not think to put their phones on vibrate, so there would be a loud ring with someone running down the hall to avoid being caught.  Next door another newborn baby, the one that caused the false alarm, kept crying.  It became almost impossible to hear inside Lindsay’s room.
            Then this tall bird-looking woman forced us back to the waiting room.  I raided the fridge more before using my phone as a sort of mirror to check the hallway for the bird lady’s presence.  Not seeing her I ventured back down.  I mean, really, what was she gonna do throw me out?  I found a backup plan with an opened room diagonally across from Lindsay’s room.  It was here that I hid if I sensed any ‘danger.’  My head popping out from the doorway got everyone laughing.
            Things got more serious and we knew the time was coming.  Lindsay’s twin sister Ashley seemed to be feeling her pain as she pushed, it was something that had to be seen.  We were like a football team in the huddle, all hunched over with our hands on our knees.  It was not looking good as trying to push out a nearly ten pound baby can’t be easy, as a guy I can only speculate.  When Michelle and her Dad decided to go have a quick smoke outside, down four floors, I had the feeling that this would be the time that Luke would show up.  I was right.
            Michelle’s Dad Paul made it back but she did not.  Luke was pushed out by Lindsay at 8:31pm and weighed 9lbs. 10oz.  One hell of a big boy!  We all hugged and felt a huge relief that Lindsay did not need to get the dreaded C-Section to get Luke out.  Now, despite the hard part being over we still were ushered away from the door and told to go back to the waiting room.  It was once the delivery was over that the phone calls and text messages began flying out.  I called my mother to tell her the great news and would send a few photos to my friend Emily once I got inside.
            I tried to get a view every time the door opened, even coughing loudly so Lindsay could hear, but we just had to wait.  It was worth it though.  I was close to the door when Chris popped out, he waved me in and I was first to see little Luke.  Yes, I can always lay claim to that.
            I had heard the doctor saying his arm was getting tired holding Luke.  I thought he was just messing around.  Then when I got the chance to hold him I found out that it was no joke.  My arm was tired and that boy was big!  I thought it was going to be a quick pass-around of Luke but with everyone else busy talking to Lindsay or each other I was able to spend a good few minutes just staring at the new life and newest member of our family.  It was a moment I didn’t want to end, but there were so many other people that deserved a chance to share the same feeling I had.
            The funny thing was after all of the waiting and anticipation it was not very long after we got to see Luke that we all decided to leave the parents alone with their baby.  Plus, we all were so worn out from the enormity of the day.  I remember walking out of the hospital through the side lobby since the main lobby was closed and trying to take stock of what had just happened.  It was impossible, so all I could do was smile and feel blessed that I had been there to witness Luke’s first moments on earth.  That seemed to sum it all up for me.  Welcome to the family Luke!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

55 - 10/5/2011 - In My Footsteps Trip

Initial Impressions
Christopher Setterlund

55 – In My Footsteps Trip
October 5, 2011

     Finally made a trip to York and Kittery, Maine.  I had wanted to do it for months.  A total of 330 miles driven today, most miles on a day trip yet.  Actually found gas for $3.26 in NH, haven’t seen it that cheap in forever, and also, it’s not really that cheap, jerks.
     It was sort of a sun sandwich on the way up to Maine.  Cloudy on the Cape until I got over the bridge, sunny all the way up but then cloudy right when I got into Maine.  Luckily that all burned off, temporarily at least.
     The first spot I visited was the Stolen Menu Café in York.  Needless to say I asked for menus rather than steal them, but I did end up with way too many pastries for my own good which is why I needed to share them with others.
     What do you call a redneck from Maine?  Whatever it is there was a jackass flannel-wearing douche who nearly killed me at a rotary so I yelled and called him a redneck, whatever, hope he flipped his truck and his shirt burned up.
     My main target on this day was Cape Neddick Lighthouse, aka Nubble Lighthouse.  It sits on a little rocky island just offshore, it looks further away in photos than it is.  I packed my own lunch thanks to Maui’s brilliant idea at work yesterday and was able to sit and stare at the lighthouse, eat, and listen to WEEI, almost perfect.
     I saw the first of a million monarch butterflies at Nubble Light, I saw tons at Fort Foster in Kittery right after in rained, spent some time chasing them trying to get photos, bet I looked ‘special’ doing that.
I was able to easily maneuver around the rock outcroppings on the edge of the shore at Nubble, the same can’t be said for a man and his girlfriend.  He climbed down a rock and then basically arm dragged her off the rock.  Needless to say she went down and yelled at him, she wasn’t hurt so I laughed once I got far enough away.
     Long Sands Beach is classic Maine.  The rocky shore acts as a sort of funnel for the waves and at low tide the beach goes out a ways making it literally ‘long sands’ like the name, how ironic. 
I love going to take photos of historic homes that are occupied.  I visited one and there’s a guy getting groceries out of his car.  I pull up jump out and snap a few photos and speed off, yeah not too suspicious looking!  Or even better is standing in the middle of the road to get the whole building in the shot, sorry, beeping your horn only makes me have to shoot the photo again fools.
     Of course then it began to rain off and on.  The skies stayed blue though which made it really cool looking.  It also set up a great shot later on in the trip.
     I had to visit the Kittery Premium Outlets for fun.  Unbelievable how many stores they have, went into the UnderArmour outlet.  A cop then pulls up leaves his lights flashing and goes in to check out shirts.  Yeah, left his K-9 unit, lights flashing, for a shirt?  He probably got it free too.
     There are two incredible forts in Kittery.  The first is Fort McClary which was crazy because it was open.  I mean the buildings were open and you could go inside, I was all over that going way up inside the white Block House to get shots of the harbor, and Portsmouth and Whaleback Lighthouses. 
     The second one is Fort Foster which became my second favorite spot of the day.  The fort itself was nothing out of the ordinary but my time there was unreal.  First off it started raining, hard.  Plus the gates were closed so driving to the fort was a no go.  I had to get on my hooded jacket and walk in the pouring rain while others fled.  The thing was the sky was blue so I knew that a rainbow was coming and that the rain wouldn’t last.  I was right on both.
     Once near the shore I could see Whaleback Light closeup as well as a house out on the rocks.  I walked all the way out on a long pier getting soaked but then the rain stopped and as I turned around there was the rainbow.  For a short time there was a second rainbow as well.  It was well worth being soaked to get to see something rare like that.  It was after this rain that the butterflies came out and were everywhere.
It was also this time where I noticed a high school cross country team jogging all around the fort.  I just happened to mention I just ran a half marathon, I quickly became part of the gang once I whacked a random stranger, hey initiation rules need to be followed.
     Being super intelligent like I am I decided not to listen to my evil gps and ended up adding an hour to my trip home.  First I decided to be an idiot and check my phone while driving and ended up heading north on I-95 rather than south.  The gps flipped out and was ordering me to make U-Turns all over the highway.  I had to pay a toll to get off which sucked.  Then I thought that the gps was wrong about the exit to take off of I-95 heading toward Boston so I made my own choice and added more time to my trip.  I swear it wouldn’t be normal for that gps not to try to kill me at least once during a trip.

 Photos of the Day:

Long Sands Beach

Cape Neddick 'Nubble' Lighthouse

Block House at Fort McClary

Whaleback Lighthouse(left) at Fort Foster

Monday, October 3, 2011

Impossible Is Nothing - Zero to Half Marathon

Impossible Is Nothing Part 4 - Zero to Half Marathon in 6 Months
Christopher Setterlund
October 3, 2011      

     I would like to say that my journey from zero to half marathon in six months was easy but that would be a lie.  It has been one of the most difficult challenges I have ever undertaken but it has also been one of the most rewarding.  The fact that I have lost thirty-two pounds is more of a side note rather than the main headline.  My run in the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half Marathon October 2nd was a testament to my own drive and determination.  Hopefully I have inspired others to run since I was positive back in March that not only would I not run, but that I was not physically able to.  If I can do it anybody can.
            My training for this half marathon began shortly after my last race in mid-August, Old Home Week in Centerville.  I upped my mileage from 78 miles in August to a shade over 150 in September.  The most surprising thing to me was that it was not the actual running part of the training that ended up being a problem, but as with nearly all of my races there ended up being drama to go along with everything.
            My drama came in the form of a drunk man on a bicycle only 6 days before the race.  Attempting my final long run before the half marathon, a 15 mile trek from my home in South Yarmouth along Rt. 28 to Wychmere Harbor in Harwich, I ran into trouble.  Well, actually, I hurdled into trouble.  When coming up on a bar less than three miles into my run around 4:30pm a man came out from behind a pair of pickup trucks wobbling and pushing his bicycle.  I yelled but had little other alternative but to attempt to leap over the back of the bicycle as the man swayed forward and back and I had no idea where to go.
            My leap got me over the bike but I landed awkwardly on my left leg, oh it hurt.  Angry I quickly turned and shouted at the drunk.  My adrenaline rush got me moving again along Rt. 28 and carried me a ways until I began to think about my upcoming race and the potential for injury in my left knee.  I began to overcompensate for my left leg by running a big lopsided, focusing on my ‘good’ right leg.  This helped my left leg but ended up straining my hip flexor which any runner knows is quite painful.  I completed my 15 miles, struggling mightily toward the end covered in swarms of black gnats which made it look like I had been doused with pepper. 
            I was in pain and a lot of it, I worried about the race on that Sunday and took two days off from running to let my hip recover.  I ran that Thursday with minimal pain and thought I was fine; then I went to the well once too often.  Running the next day my hip gave out and left me with a searing pain after only four miles.  I had to walk back to the gym nearly three miles, pretty embarrassing when you look like a runner but have to hobble like an old man.  Stretching, ice and heat, and ibuprofen were all I had at my disposal with only 36 hours until the race.  I did it all, over and over, Friday night and Saturday and hoped for the best.  I kept quiet just how badly I was hurt because obviously people would tell me I should just not run.  That was not an option in my mind.  In my mind this was a culmination of a journey, it was a hugely important day in my life.  I was going to run the half marathon for me, to show my family and friends that anybody could become a runner, and I was going to honor my grandmother and my late aunt by wearing the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on my shirt. 

      “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong


            That quote was what I kept in my mind when I arrived at Harwich High School on race day.  I knew my hip was bad, I knew it was going to end up hurting me, I just didn’t know how long it would take.  Sadly for me it would not be too long.

            The sun came out just in time for the race to begin and I was looking forward to running alongside my Uncle Steve in my first half marathon much like I had done in my first 5K race in May.  This dream would last for just under two miles when the inevitable pain in my right hip returned with a vengeance.  I turned to my uncle and told him my hip was on fire, he told me to shout down the pain.  I knew I would have to deal with this increasing pain for the next 11 miles but also looked at the pink ribbon on my shirt and remembered why I was not going to quit.

            Slowly my uncle faded from sight and it became me against the pain.  My goal had been 1hr. 50mins. finish time but that goal was replaced by simply crossing the finish line.  I thought that this was doable for the next few miles as I began to get my second wind around 7 miles deep.  This second wind usually amounts to getting into a smooth groove in my running motion naturally increasing my pace, but this time there was no increase in pace.  There was only a slowly increasing burn in my hip that started getting into my head.  That coupled with the sun beating down on my shaved head made me doubt whether I would ever see the finish line.

            It came to a head as I passed the 8-mile marker.  I began to feel like I was simply going to fall over from the pain in my hip coupled with terrible stomach pains.  I needed a distraction if that was possible when running 13.1 miles.  It came down to concentrating on my breathing and waving to as many small children as I could to keep me from passing out from pain.  The final five miles were a mix of horror and inspiration, the pain would get to me but I would think of my grandmother and my aunt and remember that they were the ones I was dedicating my run to.

            I crossed the finish line in 1hr. 55 minutes, heard my name announced over the speakers, and quickly found a spot to collapse.  My hip hurt so badly that it brought tears to my eyes, I sat against the fence looking down at my right leg and then at the medal that I was given by a young girl as I crossed the finish line.  My walk back to my car which should have taken no more than three minutes took twenty, I gritted my teeth and carried on.  I remembered the quote from Lance Armstrong and knew the pain would only be temporary but the fact that I completed my first half marathon would last forever. 

            So here I am the day after, my hip in pain but a smile on my face knowing that I accomplished my goal.  I went from not running at all to running and finishing a half marathon in 6 months.  It makes me believe that my goal of running the Boston Marathon is not impossible.  It makes me believe that my next half marathon in February will produce a better time.  It makes me believe that anybody who has a dream or a desire can accomplish what they set out to with hard work.  I am proof that impossible is nothing. 



6 months, 5 races so far

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Will Never Forget 9/11/2001

      I remember where I was on that Tuesday morning.  I remember being in the midst of writing a mundane email to my friend Barry.  I remember I was going to tell him I was going to visit Nickerson State Park in Brewster on my day off.  It all seems so small but I remember, I wish I had kept writing that email and sent it instead of turning off the computer. 
     I remember my mother's frantic screams when she heard the first radio reports in her car.  I remember her yelling into the house for us to put on the television.  I remember sitting on the couch and watching as the towers fell.  I remember the memories of visiting the Twin Towers when I was in 7th Grade all came flooding back.  I remember a surreal feeling, like I was floating, or falling down an elevator shaft.  I remember having that feeling for the next few days. 
     I remember my sister Kate, pregnant with my niece Emma, frantically calling my brother-in-law Peter out on a job landscaping, making sure he was alright, and making sure to let him know that the world as we knew it was coming to an end.  I remember my niece Kaleigh, all of 2 and a half years old, staring at us with a mix of concern and curiosity at what was on the television that was causing all of our fear and angst.  I remember not feeling tired though my heart ached for the thousands of people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania affected directly by the attacks. 
     I remember wanting to close my eyes as if it might make it all disappear, but then I remember fearing that I'd reopen them and another plane might be hurtling through the sky toward a populated area.  I remember staring outside at the beautiful late summer day in front of me and contrasting it with the scene of utter horror on the television.  I remember feeling detached and attached to the situation at the same time. 
     I remember not feeling hunger but I still felt the need to venture out to make certain that my world close by was still standing.  I remember driving around town where everything in my little corner of the world looked the same yet I knew everything was different.  I remember feeling so small, but then feeling so much pride and love for the firefighters and police that were walking into the battle zone when everyone else was running away.  I remember sitting frozen still on the couch for fourteen hours watching, hoping in vain that there would be a disclaimer on the screen that said it was all a hoax, like War of the Worlds on the radio. 
     I remember the next morning at work at The Marshside.  I remember standing on the deck with Maui who I had known for 8 years at that point.  I remember still having that feeling of falling as we spoke.  I remember the deep blue sky untouched by the gentle exhaust of aircraft.  I also remember the silence, the overwhelming deafening silence that surrounded those days.  I remember the names coming out over the next few days.  I remember the photos, the interviews, the magazines, the newspapers; I still have them so I will always remember.  I remember each anniversary of the day that changed our world. 
     Please take a moment, even if you knew nobody involved, or have never even been to New York, to remember what happened on 9/11.  We are all part of one family, the human family, always remember that.  Peace and love.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Impossible Is Nothing - Setback and Redemption - Part 2

Impossible Is Nothing - Part 3 - Setback & Redemption by Christopher Setterlund
Part 2 of 2: Redemption at the Old Home Week Race

     In order to get my redemption and carry on with my new found running passion I needed a second race, another race in the same week which was a foreign concept to me.  I found my answer thanks to my Aunt Kelly who told me my cousin Keith was running the Old Home Week 3-mile race in Centerville 5 days later.  It was a quick turnaround no doubt, but it was that or stew about my Irish Pub failure until October.  The answer became even more obvious when my mother said that she wanted to come and see the race; it would be the first time she had ever gotten to see me in action.
            This race was in the late afternoon and it immediately had a different vibe than the Irish Pub race did.  Having family there for support made it easier to focus, and having it start at Covell’s Beach meant that I was able to use the sand and waves to meditate and stretch before the race.  I got another good sign when I was able to do my full range of stretches with no pain at all in either leg.  Even up until the Irish Pub race I had felt some lingering twinges of pain in my knee but now it was gone.  I was finally back to 100%.
            With a renewed sense of confidence I ran my best race thus far.  The weather was cooler and less humid than the Irish Pub race, and the course was shorter and flatter which added up to finishing the race 22nd overall with an average 7:11 min. mile, 21:34 total.  I passed my aunt and my mother as I closed in on the parking lot where the time clocked ticked away at the finish line.  I also passed my cousin Keith who finished 2nd overall, simply amazing, he is the prodigy of the family that is for sure.
            Then as I approached the finish line I got a bit of déjà vu.  From the right side my friend, my running buddy and mentor Emily popped out with her hand out for me as I passed just as she had done during the CapeAbilities race in May.  I had no idea she was going to be there, it really meant a lot to me.  I know I am going to embarrass her writing this but hey people deserve the credit when they help change someone’s life for the better, right?  All of the running I am doing is because she made me believe I could do it when I was positive I couldn’t.  I wanted to say here thank you so much for everything you have done for me, you are the absolute best.
            Now after I finished the race my redemption had come and I was able to release that doubt I had held onto pretty much since before the Gloucester race.  I felt like I was born again and that the future for my running was limitless.  I did let out a loud, profanity-laced, celebration which made my mother cringe but I needed to release it all somehow. 
            There are 7 weeks to go before my true test, a half marathon, but for now I am enjoying the feeling of being down, feeling defeated, and pulling off a pretty good redemption run.  It is sort of a storybook ending but it is not an ending at all.  It all fell into place and I am so grateful for those who supported me, especially the ones who were there with me at the Old Home Week race.  Remember, Impossible is Nothing, I believe it and keep living it with every run I do and every race I compete in.  If you believe it you can be it.  Cheers!

Impossible Is Nothing - Setback and Redemption

Impossible Is Nothing - Part 3 - Setback & Redemption by Christopher Setterlund
Part 1 of 2: Injuries and Irish Pub Road Race


     The first time that I have run 2 races in the same week stemmed from a search inside myself for redemption.  To get to the end I have to start at the beginning and my return to running form following a pair of nagging injuries.
            I had said that there was a real possibility that my race in Gloucester at the end of June could have been my final one as the pain in both my left knee and right Achilles tendon had become so prevalent that it was starting to cause me pain when I walked let alone ran.  Coming out of that race I was blessed that I had not aggravated either injury and took a hiatus from running as I let them heal.  It was a long and frustrating recess from my new found passion as I had to settle for cross training on the elliptical machines at the gym rather than doing what I truly wanted.  I bought gel heel cups, 2 knee braces, and an ankle brace all in the hopes of speeding up the healing process.  Nothing seemed to help until I came up with an idea to sort of cheat my way back.
            The ‘cheating’ I did was a way to satisfy my urge to run with as little damage as possible.  It consisted of a slow burn on the treadmill where I walked for a few minutes, then minute by minute slowly increased the speed until I was running but my legs had been totally warmed up.  It would take 25 minutes but I was able to get the treadmill up to 7.0-7.1 mph which was good enough speed for a run.  For these runs it was not so much about times and speeds but more of being able to complete the run without increasing my pain.  Day after day I gradually increased both the time and speed until I was almost back to where I wanted to be.  It was at this time that I started looking for another race to get me back in the game.
            I chose the Irish Pub Road Race in Harwich mostly due to my friendship with one of their bartenders, Rob Blake, who also had been working with me at the Marshside for a few years.  He had wanted me to run the 5.2 mile race so I signed up.  I felt all right about the race despite only having a few weeks of real running leading up to it.  This was all treadmill running also as I had become afraid of running outside for fear that if I got re-injured I would have to walk possibly several miles to get home and that was not a risk I was willing to take.
            I should have known things weren’t right when I could not get to sleep the night before the race.  Therefore I had trouble waking up in the morning as well.  I did not eat badly I thought, rice cakes and yogurt seemed okay, but once I got to the race I was unable to get focused and motivated like I wanted to.  At the starting line it was a mess, when the gun went off everybody mashed together.  Not wanting to lose valuable time I dashed around to the outside to get away from the crowd which was my biggest mistake.
            My Uncle Steve always says to start slow and build up so you don’t get gassed during the race, well that is exactly what happened.  About 3 miles in I felt it coming, it was a feeling like someone yanked my power cord out of the wall.  The humidity along with my quick pace caught up with me.  I took a few steps and dropped down to one knee totally out of it.  It was there that I thought about giving up, tired and by myself on the road I thought that maybe I should just throw in the towel and forget about it.  Being about halfway through the race I would have to walk back either way and did not want to disgrace myself by doing that so I manned up and kept going.  After that it did not get much better.  I inhaled a large bug which was delicious, and my squeezable carb gel ended up giving me major stomach cramps.  The race could not get over quickly enough.  My goal had been 5.2 miles in 40 minutes, after all of my problems during the running I finished in 42.  It looks good but I was in rough shape and very unhappy with myself.
            I refused food and drink at first and simply went and sat by myself in my car, resting my pounding head on my steering wheel.  The next race I had on my schedule was a half marathon Oct. 2nd and this epic fail at the Irish Pub was going to be tough to deal with for eight week until I could race again.  I stuck around and shared a beer with my old high school friend James Welsh who had also become a runner, that made me feel better as I left but soon the doubts about myself resurfaced.  There was only one way to try to erase them and that was to run another race as soon as possible...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Impossible Is Nothing - St. Peter's Fiesta 5K, Gloucester, Mass.

            Impossible Is Nothing Part 2: St. Peter's Fiesta 5K  by Christopher Setterlund

     For my second 5K in my racing career I decided to take a trip to my favorite town, Gloucester.  Getting the chance to continue my running adventure in the place that I have enjoyed more than any other thus far made it an opportunity I could not pass up.  My first race was for CapeAbilities, this one was for the North Shore YMCA.  The fact that the St. Peter’s Fiesta was going on at the same time only made it more appealing for me.  I had been asked to cover the yearly festival last year but was unable to find the time on short notice.  This year I had at least one day to check it out.
            Unfortunately the weather was overcast and rainy for the race day which made exploring the Fiesta not as appealing.  I did get to see a lot of rides and food booths when I visited the starting line some four hours before race time.  The food was tempting but I know now what I can and cannot eat before a race and that included pretty much everything the carnival atmosphere offered.  I was able to fully enjoy the afternoon in Gloucester despite the weather by visiting a few of my favorite spots.  They include The Man at the Wheel, Stage Fort Park, Hammond Castle, and Eastern Point Light, but those can be found in my In My Footsteps articles featuring Gloucester.
This became more than just another run for me as the time went on.  I had to face my own demons about whether it might be my last race already thanks to a few nagging injuries.  I had begun running in the end of March and had taken to it much better than I had expected.  My mileage continued to increase but I kept in mind that I only needed to be able to do about 5-6 miles to complete a 5K which is 3.1 miles.  That kept my head in the game as far as training went. 
This time I became much more cavalier about how I trained as the runner’s high seemed to be calling the shots.  I went from a high of 7 miles at the time of the first 5K May 14th to a high of 13.1(half marathon distance) on June 1st.  That rapid increase in distance, coupled with not giving myself enough time to recover, and a lack of leg training made my legs feel weak and tired all the time.  My runs became more labored but I did not want to turn back after making it so far so I kept these problems to myself.
I had and still have some pain today in my left knee and right Achilles tendon but this became more than just a 5K for me because of my mother.  She fought so hard to quit smoking and wanted to be a part of the running ‘tradition’ that our family has been starting to build.  She got hurt and has had to be sidelined since and I wanted to make sure that I at least made this race to honor her for what she has done and is doing.
As the day of the race arrived I had this feeling in my gut that maybe it was going to be my final race.  I felt like maybe the injuries I had were going to break me as I ran and it was going to be too much.  I made sure as I stretched feverishly in the drizzle near the starting line that I made a note of where the First Aid station was just in case.  I stood by myself and soaked in the scene, wanting to remember as many faces and events if this was to be my last real run of my burgeoning career.
I made the mistake of soaking in too much of the atmosphere when the race began as I started not on the road but against an iron fence behind several walkers, strollers, and slow people.  Not a good start as I had to dodge up onto the sidewalk to avoid them.  I began my run with my usual song, ‘The Game’ which is the entrance music for WWE wrestler Triple-H, it always gets me pumped.  I admit that I held back some, fearing a tear in my Achilles or a knee ligament, plus the rain began falling too and the course had a few good hills.  I was prepared to have a slower time than the 24:28 I did in my initial run for CapeAbilities. 
The run was awesome, the scenery was amazing despite the rain.  Gloucester is a place I could visit every weekend if I possibly could, so getting to run there was an experience all its own.  I started to sense the end coming and pushed as best I could.  I put on ‘Cowboys From Hell’ by Pantera, a song used by my running mentor to get her going, it was as if suddenly she was pushing me toward the Finish Line, the pain and soreness in my legs vanished and I let it all hang out.  Once I saw the official time in the distance I knew that I had beaten my first race time by nearly two whole minutes and my legs after running, while still hurting, would heal if I gave them time and my running career would continue.
In the end my belief in myself was tested but I came out a bigger believer after.  My confidence was shaken but my resolve to never quit, to show everyone that my running career is not a fad, helped push me through.  Finally, I may have been alone up in Gloucester but I was buoyed by the knowledge that I had the support of so many friends and loved ones.  I wanted to make them all proud and I believe I did.  This is not the end, but only the beginning!  Cheers!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

54 - 5/25/11 - In My Footsteps Trip

Initial Impressions
Christopher Setterlund

54 – In My Footsteps Trip

                Today was a long overdue trip up to Portsmouth and Rye, NH.  There was also an unplanned stop it the little town of Stratham which will be explained later.  $35 in gas, stupid gas prices.  Total of 286 miles.
                Summer is close, which I could tell by the sheer number of cars on the road, so many of them driven by people who need to get their licenses revoked.  Way too much traffic too, ugh, started tiring me out before I got into Boston.  Not good for a 2h 20min drive.
                By the way Rt. 1 past Boston may be the worst paved road in the state.  I mean, can’t we spend a little money on filling the billion pot holes that I was fumbling all over?  Especially after being stuck in traffic and knowing I needed to go faster to make up time.  It was amazing that I didn’t blow a tire or 2 or 3.
                Once past Newburyport this was the furthest north I had gone since I went to Maine last October.  As soon as I got into New Hampshire I remembered why I love that state so much.  It’s like immediately entering a better place, the sun got brighter, everything smelled sweeter, and there were rolling green hills, no lie this all happened.
                Today marked the return of the ‘driving arm tan.’   Got some color/red on my face/neck, but the left arm is pretty bright, that’s what 9+ hours in the sun will do to a body part.
                Stratham Hill Park was an unexpected stop.  After seeing some cool photos of a fire tower at the top of a 230+ foot hill I knew I had to check it out for myself.  The hike up Lincoln Hill as the trail is called was tough, pretty steep, but the views were amazing.  The only way I knew which direction was which was thanks to a marker at the highest elevation of the hill with a compass on it.  It was such a great spot to visit, thank you to Emily for pointing me in the right direction!  Stratham Hill Park -
                It was 15 minutes to get to Portsmouth, a place I had planned on visiting during my Maine trip from last October along with Portland and Rye, NH.  The monsoon rains stopped that from happening but it was worth the wait.  By only choosing to visit two towns I was able to really take my time and enjoy both, it might be the way to go for me from now on.
                Parked in front of a paid meter which was great.  I got to walk out to a drawbridge which leads to Badger Island in Maine.  I got to see a couple of cool old VW buses near the water, neither was driven by a stereotypical burned out hippie though, little disappointed.
                Another unexpected stop was a place known as Prescott Park.  It was on my way to the Strawberry Banke Museum across the street but the park took center stage very quickly.   There I caught sight of a small garden with fountains through a white fence.  It was simply fantastic coming close to rivaling the rose garden at Lynch Park in Beverly.  There were three fountains and these awesome trees that cast half of the garden in shadows.  The photo will show you what I mean.  It was so incredible that I basically passed over what I had gone there for to spend more time sitting among the flowers and trees.
                On a side note there was a house next to the park which was also next to a cemetery.  The crazy part was the huge marble casket no more than 3 feet from the fence, I mean how freakin’ scary would that be out there every night?  Oh and I never went to the Strawberry Banke Museum.  It looked cool, like an old village, but there wasn’t enough time to see it all, plus there was a field trip going on and I didn’t feel like waiting to take photos to avoid the kids.
                Portsmouth Lighthouse was awesome, and getting the photos of it was so dangerous.  The lighthouse is on the grounds of a Coast Guard station, but so is Fort Constitution.  I was able to go in walking on a blue line.  The lighthouse was obstructed by the fort and Coast Guard buildings so how did I get the clear photos?  I leaned out of a small window of the fort, nothing between me and the rocks below but air, the photos were great though.
                I stayed in Portsmouth for 3 hours and still felt like there was stuff I had missed.  I went to Rye next which was all about the beaches.  Wallis Sands, Rye Beach, and Rye Harbor State Park.  They were mowing the grass at Rye Harbor State Park which was one big mass of dandelions.  Isn’t it when you mow them that they multiply?  Thought that was the case.
                When it was time to leave Rye I decided to make a special stop at Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston.  The traffic was hellacious, more than 2 hours stuck in and around Boston, guess that’s what I get for going there just before rush hour, smart.  I will tell you that the trip was absolutely worthwhile though and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I get the chance.
                In the end reducing the number of places to see made the day better, no more feeling like I was being rushed.  The photos will show just what a great place New Hampshire is to visit which is why I need to go back really soon.

Photos of the Day:
View from the top of Stratham Hill Park's tower.
Awesome shot from Prescott Park.
Portsmouth Light
An old man fishing at Rye Harbor State Park.