2010 Detroit 1/2 Marathon

2010 Detroit 1/2 Marathon
Doing Work!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meridian High alum runner dedicates season to missing coach

EDENVILLE TWP. — For the last six years, Jason LaFave is a runner that has pounded out thousands of miles on the roads and competed in road races and marathons across the country.

But last week, he said he lost motivation.

"Running didn't have a purpose," said LaFave, 36, of Sanford. "I could have cared less."

LaFave, a past runner of Bob Cole, the Meridian High School cross country and track coach that disappeared last week while searching for his daughter's dog, said he broke down after hearing the news last Wednesday.

A search for Cole is now in its eighth day. Search crews have covered more than three miles of the Tittabawassee River in Midland County's Edenville Township, using divers, air boats, helicopters and sonar technology. A ground search has given police officials evidence that Cole's body is in the river.

For LaFave, who is sponsored by Brooks, Hammer Nutrition and Runners Performance of Bay City and Saginaw, hanging up his running shoes became an option. In his personal running blog, he wrote that he was filled with mixed emotions.

"This situation just seems so unfair," LaFave wrote. "I had actually thought about hanging up the shoes, even as important as it has been to me."

But it was during a 10-mile run this past weekend that he felt his coach's presence.

"It was exactly what I needed," said LaFave. "Coach wouldn't want me to quit."

Now he's dedicating this year's running season to Cole. He wrote in his blog that he has never dropped out of a race in his career.

"...and the 2011 season is a race," LaFave wrote. "I had a great year running last year and that will be nothing compared to what I plan to do this year. Here is to you Coach Bob."

Going into high school, LaFave had his heart set on playing basketball. But Cole saw more potential in him.

"Maybe it was because I was 5'-3", 110-pounds and couldn't shoot," said LaFave.

Cole told him to come out for cross country so he could condition for the basketball season. LaFave said his coach asked guys from all different circles of the high school to join the team. 

And in the beginning, it wasn't pretty.

"I looked for every way possible to get out of running," said LaFave.

But after training a summer with Cole and his teammates, which included weekend workouts typically followed by ice cream provided by Cole, LaFave said his 5K time dropped by more than 3 minutes. As a sophomore, LaFave decided he could have success in running and it was Cole's motivation that made him feel that way.

In his senior year, LaFave helped lead his team to its first appearance at the Michigan state cross country championship.

It was his junior year, however, that LaFave remembers most vividly. After failing to qualify for the state championship race, Cole asked LaFave and his athletes to compete in a half marathon in Williamston the next weekend. Little did LaFave know that a half marathon meant 13-miles of racing.

"The most I had ever done before that was 8 miles," he said. "It was the worst expeirence of my life, I was sick, I was so ticked.

"It was raining and sleeting, my feet were soaked, my skin was rubbed raw under my armpits and my chest; it was just miserable."

But after the race, Cole ran up to LaFave with a smile on his face.

"He asked me, 'Well, what did you think?'" said LaFave.

And LaFave thought to himself, "I need to do more work."

"I'm not sure if that was a lesson that coach was trying to make to me, that more work needed to be done," said LaFave, "but that's what I walked away with, and that's what I'm going to walk away with forever."

Article from the Bay City Times by Andrew Dodson on 2/16/2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bob Cole - Meridian Cross Country and Track Coach

I am writing this blog with a heavy heart. Bob Cole was my high school coach I referred to in my first blog. He was my Geography teacher when I was a freshman in high school. Every day Coach would try and talk me into coming out for the cross country team. I was a scrawny 13 year old freshman who ran track in junior high but was never very good and quite honestly didn't like to run cause I didn't like to hurt. Coach made it sound appealing enough to convince me and a couple other guys to join the team and I really didn't even know what I had agreed to but I thought if it involved Bob Cole, it was going to be enjoyable. As they saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it. I didn't put too much in the first year and that was what I got out of it. Didn't matter to Coach though. You couldn't tell I wasn't doing well because every time I ran a PR he was as excited for me as he was for every other athlete we had. Coach had a unique was of pulling a group of "misfits" together. I definitely fit into that category. I improved by about 3 minutes in the 5K between my freshman and sophomore year and started to have fun with the sport. It didn't hurt that we had a great leader who was actually making running fun and a great group of friends. Coach had truly created a team. By the time we were seniors, we felt like we could do big things. Coach led us to a Midland County title and the team qualified for the state finals for the first time in school history. I still remember looking at his face in the Ogemaw High School gym, smile just a beaming for what we had accomplished.

I later had the opportunity to coach with him for 2 years and I learned a lot from him. We were fortunate enough to have some great athletes and actually even had a state champion mile relay team. He and I were a great team because he was always open to what I had to say and those that know me, know I often have a lot to say. This past year, I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for Coach to support his Midland County Hall of Fame nomination. Coach was inducted into the Hall with the Class of 2010. An honor he definitely deserved. The outpouring of support from this unfortunate incident shows just what kind of man he was and how many lives he has touched.

Over the past few days, I have had a lot of mixed emotions. I really have not been motivated to go out and run. This situation just seems so unfair! I had actually thought about hanging up the shoes, even as important as it has been to me. Today, while I was out for a 10 miler and it hit me. The last thing he would want me to do is quit. I have never DNFed from a race and the 2011 season is a race. I will dedicate this season to Coach. I had a great year running last year and that will be nothing compared to what I plan to do this year. Here is to you Coach Bob!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Long Run

So today was my first long run after the marathon last Saturday. We ran into 5 of our other local crew, Lisa, Heather, Deb, Jason, and Jen. As we were all going different distances, we all got started. Kris, Jeff, James and our newbie Nick decided we were going to go 16. I originally planned on going 12 today but as we got to the 6 mile mark on the trail, it was not as bad as expected so we pushed through the snow. As we came up on the mile and a half mark, a woman walking her dog that snapped at us, started yelling at us that we needed to give her and her dog more room. That didn't sit well with any of us and we started yelling back at her as we were running. The frustration led us to running a 6:42 mile, a lot faster than we wanted at that point. At mile 7, Nick decided to turn and go back. I thought about going with him to keep him honest but decided to stick with the group instead. As we hit 8 and turned around, I was feeling ok but was definitely noticing the snow in my hips and lower back. By the time we got to 14, I was really wishing I had only gone 12. Rather than slow or give it up, Kris, Jeff and I decided to do what had to be done, we picked up the pace. We dropped 2 sub 6:20 miles and were done! I felt better at the end of the 16 than I did at 14. Funny how that worked out and glad the boys dragged me the extra 4 miles today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Miami Marathon

In the week leading up to Miami, we had some bitter cold temps. I decided to go attempt a 6 mile run on Saturday. Wound up spending most of Sunday and all day Monday sick and in bed. As the week progressed, I steadily felt better. By the time I boarded the plane to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, all I had left was a slight cough and some chest congestion.

Upon getting in to Fort Lauderdale, Kris picked me up and we went to the apartment to crash for the night. We got up and knocked out a six mile run. We hung out in Fort Lauderdale for the day before heading down to Miami to the hotel for the next 2 nights.

Saturday night after I ate dinner, I headed back to the room to crash early and that is exactly what I did....at 7pm! I woke back up at 10:45, 11:45, 12:45, 1:45, and 2:30. At 2:30, I had enough so I got up and started watching some Sportscenter. I started into my prerace meal, showered and headed down to American Airlines Arena, where the race would start.

We had a slight delay at the start due to the course not being closed on time. Once we got underway, I was getting passed left and right like it was a 100 meter dash. I checked my watch and went through the first mile at 6:08. A little fast so I slowed down, or so I thought. Mile 2 was a 6:00. I forced myself at that point to get back to 6:13-6:15 and I did successfully for the next couple of miles. I was feeling real good and at mile 8 some of the half marathon carnage started to come back to me. Just beyond the 10 mile mark, Kris jumped on the course and ran with me until the 11 mile mark. He gave me some positive words of encouragement, asked how I was feeling and told me he would try to meet up with me again at 20. Just before the 13 mile mark, I had a guy sprint up to me, catch me, look over and say, "Holy shit, you are going that fast and running the full?" Nice to hear at that point in the race. As the split occurred on the course, it became very lonely very quick. I saw 2 guys running about 45 seconds up on me and that was it. I steadily worked to bring 1 of them back, running a 5:55 13th mile and a 5:50 14th mile. This would come back to bite me later in the race. I passed this guy at about the 16 mile mark and was completely solo. I could not see the other person he was with and didn't see anyone real close to me. I just continued to click the miles off. I got to 20 and the clock read 2:03:10. AWESOME! I thought if I could just hold back to back 20 minute 5K's, I had a 1:30 PR! Sounded pretty easy at the time.

Mile 21 Kris hopped back on the course with me. He was saying all the right things but I knew he was just being kind. I was still running 6:17 but my stomach was in knots and had been since mile 3 when I took some Gatorade Endurance, GARBAGE!! Way too much sugar and way too sweet. He stayed with me to 22 and told me we were coming up on my favorite part of the course. In Miami there is a 1 mile out and back stretch from 22 to 24 that looks like you have to climb this huge bridge. Instead you go under it but the first time we ran the course we didn't know that. That was also the same place where I started to walk a great deal 2 years ago when I broke my pelvis. As I cruised under the bridge, I missed the hand off for water. I made the decision that the drink was more important that the few seconds so I spun around, jogged back and grabbed 2 cups. This 2 mile stretch really kicked my butt as the sunny was beating down on and I was now paying for my earlier pacing issue. Kris met up with me again at 24 and was encouraging. He asked how I felt and my answer didn't surprise him. My stride had shortened and my pace had slowed. I told him we were going to be hitting 7 minute miles from here on in. He told me not to quit and the thought never entered my head. The fact that my PR was probably safe for the day crossed my mind. As we hit mile 25, I was told the lead woman was about to pass on my left. DAMN! I thought she was way ahead of me. She went by me and then one more guy at the 25.5 mile mark. I had no fight for either of them. As I made my way to the finish, I had mixed emotions. I had given up the PR that was well within my grasp but I was still running as opposed to 2 years prior when I could barely walk into the finish line. I took a look over my shoulder, saw there was no one else close as I neared the finish and got down to Roll for Awareness for ALS. I did this for all of the Blazeman Warriors out there!

While I didn't run a PR this time, I learned a lot again about marathoning. One of these days, I will figure the whole thing out! Thanks to Kris for supporting me on the course. I know the last couple miles were painful for both of us!