Monday, October 30, 2006

The Detroit Half Marathon

Call me crazy, but a week after running the Chicago marathon I decided to run in another long event. Under no normal circumstances would I ask Erin to wake up at 5:30 am two weeks in a row and go stand out in the freezing cold for several hours. It was only because so many of my family was also running the Detroit Half Marathon that I couldn't help but join them.
It was cool that so many of us could run together, especially a father and his 2 sons. It was the first race of this distance for Paul, Steve, Maria, and Derek. They all performed very well, and my little bro even whooped up on me. Conversely, Marv finished first among the 2nd generation brothers.

I did my best to just enjoy the run and have fun with it. It is always great to have such loyal fans. Molly passed the time by trying to get a high five from every runner that passed by.
Final Times:
Paul Soper...1:52:15
Derek Elenbaas...1:56:03
Randy Elenbaas...1:58:42
Maria Bosch...2:02:25
Marv Elenbaas...2:13:13
Doug Elenbaas...2:15:35
Steve Elenbaas...2:15:35

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Halloween

Last weekend Jason and Melissa had a pumpkin carving party. Between all of us we had some pretty good pumpkins. See for yourself...

This weekend we went to a couple of fun Halloween parties. Erin dressed up as a Greek goddess and I dressed as myself, a mad scientist. Honestly, most of my costume is stuff I wear/use daily.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Randy's Most Memorable Sports Moments: #3

When I came up with this list I had no idea when I would get around to posting #3, and I certainly didn't plan for it to fall just a couple days after the Chicago Marathon. My #3 most memorable sports moment is completing the Detroit Marathon.

Completing the marathon was so memorable just because it is such an incredible sense of accomplishment. Training takes better than 4 months and hundreds of miles. This year I ran 408 miles from July until the marathon last weekend, and that is starting with a solid running base since I had already done a 15.5 mile race in May. The training is often tedious, HOT, hard to schedule, and of course painful.

By the time the Detroit Marathon came I just wanted to get done with it because I was so sick of the long runs. Once the race started I enjoyed the first half and had to push myself harder than ever to keep running all the way through the end, but I made it all 26.2 miles without walking a step. The end of the Detroit Marathon course added to the moment because you run down the tunnel and onto Ford Field where I sprinted to the finish which was the 50 yard line. Even now that it has been a year since that moment and I've run another marathon I still can't forget how sweet that first marathon was.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicago Marathon

In 1952 a Czech runner, Emil Zatopek, won three gold medals at the summer Olympics in Helsinki. He'd already established new Olympic records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters when he decided, at the last minute, to enter the marathon -- a race he'd never run before. Not only did he win the gold, he set his third Olympic record.

Zatopek is often quoted as saying "If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience life, run a marathon."

I ran my 2nd marathon yesterday, the Chicago marathon. Along with New York, Boston, London, and Berlin it is considered one of the world's 5 "major" marathons, so it is quite an event. There are about 40,000 runners, 1.5 million fans, and something like 10,000 volunteers.

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This year I was pretty excited about my training and had high hopes to finish in under 4 hours. I'll spare you the suspense and just say that it wasn't meant to be. The race started off great for me as my body felt extremely good for the first 8 miles. I ran hard and fed off the numerous fans that cheered specifically for me (I'll explain below). I was running at about 8:30 min/mi until around mile 10 when my body started telling me that I couldn't keep that pace for long. So I backed off to closer to 9:00 min/mi until about mile 14 but my body was still not happy.

From mile 14 to 18 I kept slowing down more and walking longer through the aid stations in hope of finding a maintainable speed but I just couldn't keep it up. I really started dying at mile 18 and walked more frequently. Mile 22 took me almost 14 minutes, including having to stop and stretch for a minute. About that time Jason caught up to me and we struggled through the next couple of miles together as we both were hurting. Finally, at mile 25 I started picking up speed again and with 1/2 a mile left I used my adrenaline rush to sprint as hard as I could to the finish. Despite my 12 miles of struggles I'm a much better runner than last year and I was able to beat my 2005 Detroit Marathon time by 2:35 for a final of 4:18:56. To give you a better picture of how hard I dropped off here are my 5k split times.

1st 5k...28:45
2nd 5k...26:38
3rd 5k...26:43
4th 5k...28:09
5th 5k...29:10
6th 5k...31:44
7th 5k...36:29
8th 5k...38:02

All I could think about for the last 8 miles was just getting to the finish line. I pretty much ran with my head down and tried to focus through it. I don't know exactly why I didn't have the energy this time because my legs felt normal and I didn't have breathing or stomach problems. I was just sapped of energy and so my body wanted to shut down. Fortunately I made it through the finish line before my body really crashed.

However, shortly after finishing I did crash. For about 15 minutes I felt as bad as I ever have during or after a run (or ever for that matter). I felt like collapsing and I shivered uncontrollably. This is about how I felt at my lowest moment:

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I was lucky to have Erin take care of me afterward. She found some warm covering for me and brought me to a bench so I could curl up and put my head down.
To clarify why fans were specifically cheering for me take a look at what I was wearing:

Wearing this phrase in the Midwest draws lots of responses. Well over a 1,000 people shouted "go blue, " to which I would normally respond back with a fist pump and a "go blue." What I didn't anticipate was about 25% of my cheers were "You're my boy Blue" referencing a line from Old School. I also got plenty of anti-Michigan cheers like "go Irish", "go Illinois", "go bucks", "go buckeyes", "go white", "go state", and "go Iowa." I even got my intended "GO BLUE" response from a group of guys on the 5th floor of an apartment building, a guy with a bull horn, 2 DJs on microphones playing music alongside the course, and the MC of the New Balance tent at the 1/2 marathon point. After about mile 18, however, I didn't feel like responding back and usually didn't.

Overall, I was very happy to run the Chicago marathon. It was a really fun weekend because my parents were able to come and with Erin, Cheri, Melissa, the Schaafs, the Hoolsemas, and the Bos's we had a great cheering section. They were positioned throughout the course so that us runners saw them all about 3 times. It is definitely a big help to have friends and family there to cheer us on.
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The weather held out for us and it didn't rain at all. The temperature stayed around 40 for the whole race and there was a steady breeze but no 40 mph gusts as predicted. Jason finished with me and Darren had an excellent first marathon finishing in 4:10. Jeff and Dick Hoolsema battled injuries during the 4 months of training but both still managed to finish in about 4:41. My friend Lisa from church also ran a great race, finishing in 4:18 and remarkably ran almost the exact same pace the whole way. I passed her sometime early on and she passed me back up towards the end but we never saw eachother because there were so many thousands of other runners. Darren also passed me towards the end and had no idea.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Randy's Most Memorable Sports Moments: #4

One of the greatest traditions in the Soper family is Thanksgiving and Christmas football games. For at least the last 15 years all the Sopers interested in football play a game of touch football no matter what the weather on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. The games range from 4 on 4 to as many as 9 on 9. We've played in the warm sunshine, in the rain and mud, in a blistering snow storm, in a foot of snow, and on a sheet of ice.

Over the years we've adopted standard core teams. Matt and Paul were always bitter rivals so they were on separate teams. My dad matched up with Joel and I matched up with Scott so for as long as I can remember, it has always been me, my dad, and Matt vs. Joel, Paul and Scott. The rest of the players have somewhat standard teams but the core 3 always stay the same.

For ever single one of those 15 years, Matt has NEVER lost a game to Paul. In all the games, Paul just cannot beat his nemesis and as Matt's teammate I've taken great pride in all those wins. However, about 5 years ago that streak was in serious jeopardy. It was Christmas Eve and we decided to play on the parking lot behind my grandparents house. The parking lot was covered with ice and it was freezing out, so basically everyone was bundled up and couldn't run or cut worth anything.

The game started slow as usual until the offenses finally started scoring. Paul's team was playing pretty well and had a huge mismatch between Maria (Paul's team) and Carissa (my team). Carissa couldn't keep up with Maria and Maria could catch pretty well and all of the sudden they were up 3-1 on 3 Maria touchdowns. We scored next to make it 3-2 in a game played to 5. The following drive Paul hit Scott on a deep fly route over my head for a dramatic touchdown to go up 4-2. As Scott crossed the goal line he proclaimed "THE STREAK IS OVER!!"

Our team was on the ropes and we knew we had to play better than ever to stay alive. Matt went into ultra concentration mode and took control at quarterback, calling all the plays and taking advantage of every mismatch. I knew our offense would be able to score with consistency but stopping Paul's team for 3-4 possessions in a row would be nearly impossible. We pushed the score to 4-3 and made a good defensive stand. Then they stopped us and on their ensuing possession they had a 4th and goal from close. Maria broke free and Paul's pass went right through her hands! On the next possession with the score tied 4-4 they had 3rd and 4th down from close to the end zone and both Maria AND Scott missed easy catches.

Finally, after having our backs to the walls Matt lead us down the field one last time for a score to win the game. I remember falling hard onto the ice a couple of times but the streak remained in tact and has never been threatened since.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Halloween came a little early this year

It was supposed to be a relatively uneventful weekend for us since its the first that we've been home since the summer. Unfortunately, Erin's night out with her nursing friends turned into a disaster. Erin was on the wrong end of a glass bottle when a friend of a friend of a friend decided to bump it into her face. Check out her front right tooth. Is something missing?
So I've (Erin now) have been struggling with what to be for Halloween this year, little did I know that after Saturday night I would have a permanent costume. just to decide whether to be a hill billy or hockey player. Anyway, I learned a couple valuable lessons this weekend, first it would pay to have your 6ft 2in husband at your side when "accidents" happen, second don't turn around to ask "tell me the truth how bad is it" because the assailant might run off, and finally it pays to have family with connections. Randy and I were already planning on heading to my parents for dinner on Sunday and my sister Lindsay, a dental hygienist, asked for a favor and one of the dentists came in and fixed my tooth. I am now once again able to smile without embarrassment, but I am back to thinking of what to be for Halloween.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Randy's Most Memorable Sports Moments: #5

There are few things more gratifying that beating someone that you know is better than you. My best memory of a scenario like this is playing basketball at the Calvin apartments. When I was a sophomore there was a junior named Pete that was 6'4", solidly built, and could easily dunk with 2 hands whether in a game or just shooting around. He was no college basketball player but he was certainly a lot better than any of the rest of us that regularly played at the apartments.

One day we had enough guys for 4 on 4 and chose teams by shooting free throws. Pete and I were on different teams and as the biggest guy on my team I was tasked with guarding him. The rest of my team was definitely over matched as well.

That day was a great day for me; I was just as on as I could be. The first game was close but the other team didn't mesh well and missed a lot of shots so we won 15-12. The second game Pete came out with a point to prove. Nearly every possession he would just power to the hole and I did all I could to keep him from scoring every time. My team played tough and we stayed in it until the end. We fought back from down 11-13 until suddenly it was tied at 13 and I made a tough basket to put us up by 1. We stopped them on defense and I got the rebound so we would win if we could just score. I decided to take our fate into my own hands and took the ball to the hole in a bull rush. Being game point I expected them to roughly contest the shot. As I reached the hoop I was drilled from all sides and especially behind. Somehow, while being shoved out of bounds into the grass, I managed to throw the ball towards the hoop, where it bounced around the rim long enough for me fall to the ground, roll onto my back, and watch it fall into the basket for a 15-13 victory!

Monday, October 09, 2006

St. Louis Weekend

It was a supertubing reunion in St. Louis this weekend. The 4 of us hooked up in the "gateway to the west" to visit Darren and had a great time. On the drive down we decided not to fill up in Illinois since Jason thought gas was cheaper in Missouri. We really pushed our limit to the state line and when we crossed, I thought of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer just kept going even after he made it back to the dealership without running out of gas. So we pressed on the final 20 miles to Darren's and boy did we push it. It made for an exciting final 50 miles.

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On Saturday we went to St. Louis's most famous site, the Gateway Arch. It was a great afternoon and the views were perfect. To make it even more interesting, there was a St. Louis Cardinals playoff game going on right then. We couldn't make out the score but we could see the players move on the field.

We of course just messed around while walking around the city and enjoying the afternoon.
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Erin had her own type of fun with apples and candy:
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I've been getting the Christmas season itch lately. Tonight I was happily surprised when Erin agreed to listening to Christmas music while we worked on a puzzle. She's so tolerant! Only a few more weeks until I can put the lights on the house.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


It's been a fun weekend in Indianapolis, besides all the class I've had to sit through. If you want to intimidate your students on the first day, plop this down in front of them and say you're going to go through it page by page:We have gone through the 1000's of slides page by page and its has been long and tedious but at least I have a new work skill now - process hazard analysis leadership.

Erin had a much more relaxing week as she slept in, layed out, and went to the pool while I was in class. Yesterday she went to the Indianapolis zoo with a work friend who happened to be here for the week. They made some new friends throughout the day:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Neighbors to the South

This weekend was the beginning of a prolonged visit to Indiana. Erin and I drove down to spend the weekend with Eric, Amy, and Renae. Eric, Amy, and I tailgated all day for the Notre Dame, Purdue game. As always, the best tailgaters are the chemical engineering and chemistry groups...well we have fun at least.

We played some intense games like the golf ball toss and the pong game as well as cooking a lot of good food.

The game wasn't nearly as exciting. Unfortunately Notre Dame won so I didn't get to witness another stadium full of dejected students. That was fun the last 3 times I went to games in South Bend.

Erin and I continued south and are now in Indianapolis for the week as I take a class for work. Downtown Indy is really nice. We walked around for a couple of hours and ate some good Chinese.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that we could go up to the top of the monument in the center of town. And even better yet, we could take the 350 stairs!! It seems all the cool viewing decks these days can only be accessed by elevators, even when stairs are readily available. A guy like me needs to climb the stairs, so that's exactly what we did. Erin is such a good sport.