Category Archives: Marathons

Oh the Places You’ll Go

Photography by CapCity Sports Media (capcitysportsmedia.com)May 26 is a special day for me.  Seven years ago on May 26, 2010, I started a journey that has seen me log over 14,500 miles over the past 2,557 days, make countless new friends and experience many new adventures.

It all started by simply lacing up some old gym shoes and going for a run.

I was 38 years old and 235 pounds and knew that I needed to do something to get in better shape.  Yes, I had run one not so stellar season of track way back in eighth grade.  Any other running was seen as a necessary evil as conditioning for the other sports I played.  However, on this spring day, I decided that my jeans weren’t fitting so well and I needed to make a change so I went for a run.

That first run lasted all of two miles and the pace was nothing spectacular to document.  In fact, the speed walk that I did this morning at a 10:47 pace per mile was probably just about as fast as that first run seven years ago.  I found out just how out of shape I was.

But, I came back the next day and did it again.  And little by little over time the running clicked and I started to enjoy it.  I ran my first race three months later and was hooked and also discovered what a great social event running could be as well.  I finished with 559 miles by the end of 2010 and set my sights on going for 1,000 miles in 2011.

Fast forward to today.  I actually haven’t run for eight weeks now due to a stress fracture of the second metatarsal in my left foot.  This is the same foot that I broke back in 2015 (fifth metatarsal that time) when I missed 12 weeks of running.  However, I’ve started my comeback with fast walking miles and even won a 3000 meter race walk last Sunday with a time of 19:32.  I can’t wait to finish my rehab and get back to running full strength in the days ahead.  In the meantime, I’ve become a little more well-rounded by doing some strength training nearly every day for the first time in my life in addition to swimming and biking the last few weeks.  Cross training is so important to not only be the best runner that you can be, but also to stay as healthy as possible.

Some of the highlights over the past 12 months for me included an age group win at the Lake Michigan Half Marathon last June, a Boston Qualifying time of 3:14:09 and negative split second half at the Chicago Marathon in October, a second-place overall finish at the Hangry 4-Miler in November, a then new PR 1:29:40 in the Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon in November, an age group win at the Thanks 4 Giving 4-Miler on Thanksgiving, a PR and age group win at the 5th Line 5K in 18:13 in February, and a new PR of 1:27:49 at the Warm Up Columbus Half Marathon also in February.  I also logged my first 3,000-mile year with 3,021 miles for the 2016 calendar year.

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I also got to vary my running routes up thanks to all the traveling I do for work.  Nashville has become one of my favorite cities to run in and I also added Summerville, SC, Owensboro, KY and Bowling Green, KY to my list this year thanks to new Donatos locations opening there.  One of my most memorable runs was at sunrise over the Cooper River Bridge, which hosts one of the largest 10K races in the country each year.  Just one of the many sunrises that I was blessed to see as one of the biggest rewards of my pre-dawn running.

Here’s a year-by-year look at my mileage totals for the past seven years:

2010 – 559

2011 – 1818

2012 – 1497

2013 – 2221

2014 – 2488

2015 – 2125

2016 – 3021

2017 so far – 783

And a few other facts and figures from the past seven years:

Total States Run In – 17 (Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.)

Different Shoes – Asics Gel Kanbarra (3 pair), Asics Nimbus (16 pair), Adidas Boost (2 pair), Puma Ignite, New Balance 980, New Balance Vazee, Mizuno Wave Rider (2 pair)

Marathons – 11

Half Marathons – 15

Complete List of Races – Athlinks Page

As I get ready to start my eighth year as a runner, I can’t wait to see what the future holds and what new states I can add to my list.  I already have a qualifying time for the 2018 Boston Marathon and would also love to get into the New York City Marathon.  I am also excited to be part of Rogue Racers and look forward to representing them in my upcoming races.

As I close this look back over the past year on the run, I can’t help but think about these words penned by the incomparable Dr. Seuss:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Here’s hoping we cross paths in the days ahead!  Just lace up your shoes and get out there with me.  The adventures are endless.

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Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, SC at sunrise
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Donatos…Chapter Three

It’s hard to believe that Friday wrapped up my third year already of working for Donatos at the home office.  And, this year was definitely one that put the emphasis on the field in my title of Field Marketing Manager.

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You know you travel a lot when you show up on the airport digital board

When the year began for me, we as a brand were just launching our newest store in midtown Nashville.  This was my first new store opening process and it was great to be in on the ground level from day one in this fun city.  I ended up making numerous visits to check on this store over the year to the point that the great staff at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End became like family to me and even had my same room ready for each and every visit.  🙂  Thanks, ZsuZsa, Kim, Gary and the rest of the team!  I earned those Marriott Rewards Platinum and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards A-List statuses.

13668981_550920975098330_6019336125809047661_nAs the Nashville store began to get established and I continued working with all the existing stores and franchise partners, we also made plans for our next new store to open in Summerville, S.C. (left).  It ended up opening at the end of July and let me just say that going around town making business visits is not as much fun when it’s 100 degrees and you are dripping sweat.  Each market presents its own unique opportunities and the town of Summerville is filled with great people we get the chance to meet and share our great food with.  Our franchise partners there are a joy to work with and are out spreading the word about Donatos each and every day.

As the fall approached, it was time to figure out how to gain the business of college students as they came back to school in our markets with stores by universities.  One whirlwind day that seems typical of the year had me helping serve pizza to the 7,700 incoming freshmen at The Ohio State University inside Ohio Stadium (below) at lunch time and then flying to Nashville to feed over 1,000 incoming freshmen at Belmont University that evening.  Fun times!

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For the second straight year, I also had the privilege of running the Donatos summer-long 13-week contest that saw one of our guests win $1,000 each week and also pick a charity to receive $1,000.  It was such a privilege to hear the great stories of our guests as to why they picked the charity that they did and also to connect with these great organizations who are doing so much to benefit others.  I am extremely grateful to work for a company that believes in giving back.

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One other moment of giving to others that was a highlight of my year was getting to attend the Ohio State-Michigan game with three families (above) who had been touched by pediatric cancer.  It was great to be able to let them have this experience and boy did the game turn out pretty exciting with a double overtime win by the Buckeyes that included all of us on the field afterwards.

Two other highlights of the year for me was getting stories of our associates told on local TV stations in both the Nashville and Virginia Beach markets.  The story of Barbie Henry, one of our first hires in Nashville, aired in July and the story of Diego Roma from our Newport News, Va. store aired in November.

As the end of the fiscal year approached, I visited each of my franchise partners over the course of about seven weeks to begin making plans for the 2017 year.  While all this travel could get cumbersome, I try to make the most of it by finding great running routes and making new friends in all the cities that I visit.  I managed to get sunrise or sunset pictures in 9 different states this year while also running in such beautiful places as Lexington, Ky., Newport News, Va., Charleston, S.C., Charlotte, N.C., Nashville and Seabrook Island, S.C.  For those who think that it is too hard to exercise while traveling, I beg to differ.  I logged 3,018 miles running during my third year at Donatos and ran both the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon while also doing four half marathons including lowering my PR three times!

The final two months of my third year at Donatos have been spent focusing heavily on the opening of our newest store in Owensboro, Ky. (below).  I knew from the start that these guys were going to be fun as they were heavily connected in their community and really understood the importance of relationships in selling pizza.  Well, they have been open for one month now and that town has just embraced the store, our product and the partners to the tune of the best first month of any store in company history!

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It seems fitting that in a year that saw me spend 70 nights in hotels while traveling that I wrapped it up in South Carolina working out the delivery area for a store in Boiling Springs that will open in a few months.  It should be an exciting year for Donatos with that store and two others (Bowling Green, Ky. and Murfreesboro, Tenn.) opening in the next couple of months along with possibly others as the year moves along.

As I put the wraps on my third year at Donatos, I have to say that it was my most challenging but also my most rewarding year yet.  It can be stressful at times trying to figure out exactly what works in each new market and also balancing life on the road while also having a personal life outside of work.  However, I feel like I grew more professionally and personally this year than ever before and I can’t wait to attack the challenges and new opportunities ahead in year number four.  #PizzawithPassion

2016 – Lots of Miles with Smiles

139694-051-036h-1As the calendar flips over to January 1, 2017, I think back to 2016 and can’t help but smile as I reflected with a thankful heart on all the places that my running took me and the memories that I made.

The year started for me just returning to running after taking 12 weeks off after suffering a broken foot on August 13, 2015 and then being sidelined.  So, my biggest goal for 2016 was to stay as healthy as possible and just enjoy being able to run again.

January saw me log miles on 29 of the 31 days as I finished the month with 240 miles.  For the first time since I started running five years earlier, I did not race a New Year’s Day race and the only race I ran during the month was the 5th Line 5K which finished on center ice inside Nationwide Arena.  Let’s just say it’s not easy to finish with speed when you are swerving down the hallway underneath an arena, but I still managed a 20:16 that day.  My longest run of the month came on the next to the last day of the month when I logged 18 miles on a gorgeous morning in Nashville, Tennessee with the Nashville Striders the morning of the VIP Party for our new Donatos that was opening there that week.  That was a great way to get to know the city where I would log a bunch of miles during the year!

In February, I logged 248 miles and took advantage of the extra day for Leap Year by running 27 of a possible 29 days.  There were several memorable runs during this month including 14 miles on a track (56 laps!) with the Brentwood Breakfast Club on Groundhog Day while I was in Nashville for work, 20 miles on a treadmill at my gym at a 7:25 pace overall, and a 1:30:50 half marathon time trial at Warm-up for Boston that was my fastest half time to date.

CapCity Sports Media www.capcitysportsmedia.comMarch roared in with numerous double digit runs as the Boston Marathon training was in full swing.  I finished the month with 276 miles spread over 28 of the 31 days.  Some of the highlights were another 20-mile run on the TJ Evans Trail, a 16-mile run in Mount Vernon that included both the Punisher and the hilly Gambier loop, a 16-miler in Huntsville, Alabama, a fast 15-miler in Nashville, and a 10-miler in Summerville, South Carolina as I logged runs in four different states in the span of a week at one point.  I also ran one race – the Scioto Miles 15K – and finished 5th overall despite hitting a deer on the way to the race.

For the second straight year, I was blessed to be able to spend part of my April in Boston to take part in the Boston Marathon.  After running a 3:44:27 in 2015 at less than 100%, I was looking forward to another shot at the iconic race.  I really wanted to requalify (BQ) with a sub 3:25 and felt like I was trained for it, but when race day rolled around with a 70-degree starting temperature I knew that it would be tough to do.  I still went for it, but the sun and heat took its toll between miles 19 and 20 and I had to stop.  After depositing my stomach contents on one of the infamous Newton hills, I did manage to continue on and was really proud of the way I gutted out a 3:28:48 finish time to knock off over 15 minutes from my previous Boston finish.  April ended up being lowest mileage month of the year with 193 miles logged over 25 days of activity as I took five rest days.

I got right back to logging consistent miles in May as I logged 265 miles spread over 28 of the 31 days in the month.  I celebrated my sixth “run”-iversary on May 26 with 10 miles and also paced a friend at the New Moon Half Marathon.  I got to run 8 miles in Lakeland, Florida while my dad road his bike when I flew there to surprise my mom on Mothers Day.  I also raced the RadioU 5K and managed to finish fourth overall in 21:01 on the toughest 5K course I’ve run yet.

The mileage increased to 273 miles in June as I logged at least a mile on 28 of the 30 days of what turned out to be a pretty warm month.  Looking back, I remember calling several of those runs sauna runs and I definitely sweated off a few pounds.  Probably the highlight of the month for me was the lone race that I did…the Lake Michigan Half Marathon in Muskegon (below).  It was my first run ever in the state and I made it a memorable one as I lowered my half marathon PR with a 1:30:19 to finish 10th overall and win the 40-44 age group to score a large sandstone lighthouse sculpture as the prize.  I remember thinking as I ran along Lake Michigan and looked west across it to where Chicago would be that this was going to help me later in the year.

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I’m not sure where to start with July.  I don’t know if I’ll ever top it.  It was my best month ever with 303 miles as I logged mileage on 29 of the 31 days.  I had 17 double digit mileage days during the month including 17.76 miles to honor America on July 4th, 18 miles on July 16th and 20 miles on July 30th.  I also enjoyed running around beautiful Seabrook Island, South Carolina and running a 10K route back and forth across the famous Cooper River Bridge (below) in Charleston, South Carolina.

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I backed the mileage down to 264 miles in August while logging them on 28 of the 31 days.  A few of the highlights were a 16-miler at a 7:02 pace, a 17-miler and a 20-miler.  I also tried to go for a third straight half marathon PR at Emerald City in Dublin, Ohio, but I came up way short at 1:32:49 as the 70-degree temperature and 100 percent humidity did me in.  But, you never know what you can do unless you go after it, so I was glad that I attempted it.

September saw me log 263 miles while running 29 of the 30 days.  This month saw me log one 16-mile, one 19-mile and one 21-mile run as I was attempting to peak my training for the Chicago Marathon in early October.  I also managed to take a 40-mile bike ride on September 11th.

October may have been my favorite month of the year despite being my second-lowest mileage month with 212 miles and four rest days over the 31-day month.  The reason that I loved this month was that the weather was perfect and I got to do the Chicago Marathon.  I went into that race with a goal of 3:20 and I blew that away with a 3:14:09.  It wasn’t my fastest time by a long shot, but I BQ’d by over 10 minutes and also negative split the second half (1:47:05 to 1:47:04) for the first time ever in a marathon.  Plus, the entire time in Chicago was just perfect as I got to explore the city on a gorgeous fall weekend.  Two weeks later, I also did the OSU 4-Miler and set a new course PR in 25:17.

November saw me log 226 miles despite spending half the month on the road for work which meant runs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky as I logged miles on all but two of the 30 days.  It was also my biggest racing month with the Hangry 4-Miler (2nd overall in 28:01), the Buckeye Classic 10K (10th overall in 43:43), the and Thanks For Giving 4-Miler (1st in age group in 24:58).  In addition, I celebrated turning 45 by setting a new half marathon PR for the third time in 2016 by finishing the Cleveland Fall Classic Half in 1:29:40 to take third place in my age group.

I closed out the year with 260 miles in December as I ran all but one of the 31 days.  It ended up being the only month all year that I did not run a race in, but on the flip side I did run in shorts on all but four days as the weather was abnormally warm.  The biggest highlight of the month was the unplanned 20-miler that happened the day after Christmas as I tracked down all 12 items on the #RunChatHunt list while staying inside the city limits of New Albany on what would turn out to be a 68-degree day.  A singlet and shorts the day after Christmas in Ohio?  I’ll take that every year!

I ended up logging 3,021 miles to finish more than 500 miles higher than my previous yearly best of 2,488 miles in 2014.  I logged miles on 336 of the possible 366 days (it was Leap Year don’t forget) which averages out to 8.99 miles per non-rest day.  I also had the opportunity to see many amazing sunrises over the course of the year which is one of the best benefits of being a predawn runner.

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However, more importantly than the miles I logged or the races I ran are the friendships I made or strengthened during the year.  It was great to make new friends in the cities I visited for work as running is one of the best ice breakers around.  And I am incredibly blessed to have an amazing running partner and other close friends who have helped and inspired me more than they know on this journey in 2016.

As I head into 2017, my goal is not to attempt another high mileage year.  That was never the goal anyway until I saw it was within reach the final two months of the year.  Yes, I would love to average 200 miles per month and log 2,400 miles.  At the same time, I would much rather stay healthy and run fewer miles.  I also want to get stronger with consistent strength and core work.  But more than that, I want to continue to help others meet their goals either directly or by cheering them on from afar.  That brings me the most joy and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!

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Giving the Mizuno Wave Rider 20s a Spin


I recently learned that I was getting the opportunity to try out a pair of the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 shoes thanks to being a part of the Fit Fluential network in exchange for writing a review.  Having just finished the Chicago Marathon with no big race on the horizon and also having worn out my latest pair shoes, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a brand and shoe that I had never previously used.

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After a week of primarily walking to recover from the marathon that saw me post a 3:14:09 and qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon by over 10 minutes, I was finally ready to get back to running.  The perfect opportunity to try out these new shoes for the first time came with the Ohio State 4-Miler when I landed a last-minute entry.  So, I broke out the shoes for their maiden voyage.

I have a rule about new shoes.  Regardless of how many miles you run in them the first time, I feel like I need the first run to be fast to teach them good habits and let them know what is expected of them on race day.  Typically, I would not wear new shoes on race day, but I figured that since it was only four miles that I was pretty safe.

I lined up at the starting line outside of Ohio Stadium with nearly 15,000 other runners and was not really sure what to expect since I was just coming off the marathon.  I knew that the excitement of the event would get me going.

Little did I know how much speed I had in me on that morning.  I ended up finishing 49th out of 13,840 runners in a time of 25:17 (6:19 pace) which was a course record for me in the event.  The Mizuno Wave Rider 20s felt great!  In fact, I did not even notice what shoes I had on and they felt light and spacious the whole run.  I was hooked on them right away.

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In 10 runs over the past two weeks, I have already logged 87 miles in the shoes including five runs of 10 or more miles.  They have also already run in four different states (Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee).  I have not had any issues with the shoes and like how lightweight they are.  I’ll be interested to see how many miles I am able to log on them before they wear out and I also have not run farther than 11 miles in them yet and want to see if they have the cushioning necessary to hold up to rigors of marathon training.  Since I am still recovering from the marathon, I really do not have any plans for a long run any time soon and they may be worn out before I get a chance to use them for that.  Of course, if Mizuno wanted to send me another pair of size 12s in the awesome orange (officially clownfish orange), I would gladly accept them and put them to good use.

This line has been an extremely successful line for Mizuno over the past 20 years and they definitely nailed it with this special anniversary edition.  Not that it matters in the scheme of things, but the box they come in is pretty sweet, too, and sets the tone from the time you open them.  Well done and thanks for the opportunity to put these to good use!  I highly recommend checking them out if you are neutral shoe runner.

6 Years & Running Strong

Today is a special day for me.  It was six years ago on May 26, 2010 when I started my journey as a runner on the Kokosing Gap Trail in Mount Vernon.  I was 35 pounds heavier and was looking for some way to get in better shape.

CapCity Sports Media www.capcitysportsmedia.comFast forward 2,192 days later and that running journey has taken me through 17 states, 11,890 miles, and several dozen pairs of running shoes all the while introducing me to many great new friends and exciting adventures.

I shared a lot of my running history last year in a blog and there is no need to go into all of that again.  Over the past 366 days since that blog, there have been ups and downs.  I battled plantar fasciatis throughout the summer and eventually suffered a broken left foot on August 13 while on a run.  That led to 12 weeks of no running and very limited activity until the end of that recovery process.  However, I tried to find other ways to stay involved in running by supporting others and still going to races.  I’m not going to lie…it was HARD!  But, I realized that I can’t take running for granted.  Just like other things in life it can be taken from you in a blink of an eye.  Live in the moments and take full advantage of things while you can.

Ironically, despite all that time off due to the injury, I still had one of my best running years yet as I managed to log 2,229 miles.  I ran my fastest half marathon time in February as part of my training for the Boston Marathon, and I completed Boston for the second year and bettered my time with a 3:28:48 for my ninth marathon finish in 6 years.

One of the highlights of my running this year has been all the time I spent getting to know Nashville on foot as I have been there for work.  It’s a great running town and I’ve made several new running friends there and logged lots of miles.  I hope to run a race there at some point.

I’m looking forward to training hard but smart this summer and staying injury-free while preparing for a fall marathon when the weather is a little cooler.  Who knows where the journey will take me this year!

Back to Boston

13015463_843150638850_7772319922997962584_nI am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to take part in the Boston Marathon for the second straight year this past Monday.  Last year, I posted a 3:44:27 at less than 100 percent.  Fortunately, I still had a qualifying time to get me in for this year.  Despite breaking my foot in August, I patiently worked my way back to at least close to my best shape yet.  I had a big confidence booster in February with a half marathon PR, and I was able to get lots of training on rolling terrain due to traveling to Nashville a lot for work.  I went into this year’s Boston Marathon gunning for a 3:15 and felt like I had a good plan of attack in place to accomplish that.

It was nice to have a day and a half in Boston prior to the race in order to take in a few tourist things and also spend plenty of time at the race expo including picking up that all-important race bib.  After walking over 11 miles the day before the marathon last year, I made sure to not be on my feet as much this time around.  It was also great to hang out with some friends that I don’t see often enough and eat at some great local restaurants.  One of the biggest highlights was going to a special service on Sunday morning at Old South Church which has been around since the mid 1600s and is located right at the finish line of the race.  They honored all of us running the race and had special music with Chariots of Fire on the pipe organ and even a bag piper.  I highly recommend visiting this church the day before the race to anyone who earns that coveted BQ.  I also logged a nice shakeout run along the Charles River after church on a picturesque day (see below).

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Finally, race day rolled around and with it a 70-degree starting temperature.  Yikes!  As someone who runs most of my miles predawn and definitely not in that kind of heat so far this year except when on a treadmill, the temperature and bright sun were definitely real concerns for all of the runners.  However, I didn’t adjust my plan other than to try to grab drinks at as many fluid stations as possible on the course.

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I road the bus to Athletes’ Village with my running partner, Cindy Warner (see below), and it was great to pass the time with her instead of being in the midst of thousands of strangers.  We spent all of our time waiting to start by standing in line for port-a-potties.  We were smart, though, and picked lines that kept us in the shade under one of the large tents.  We were also well lathered up in 100 SPF sunscreen.  Well, except that neither one of us thought to put it on our legs and we both ended up with toasty red calves.  In the midst of all the people waiting, we did see our friend, Dan Bosch, and were able to wish him good luck as he headed to the starting line with his wave.

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It was finally time to head to the starting line and after I made one last bathroom stop we were on our way with 26.2 miles to cover between Hopkinton and Boston.  I stuck with Cindy for the first quarter of a mile and started to settle into my pace.  I finished the first mile in 7:45 and was really happy with that as I didn’t want to start too fast.  Over the next nine miles, I tried to stay steady with splits of 7:24, 7:28, 7:26, 7:36, 7:26, 7:29, 7:34, 7:23, and 7:23 to get through mile 10.  I slowed a little during the next mile with a 7:38, but I quickly got back on task with a 7:30 and a 7:25 to cross the halfway point in 1:38:50…right on track!  Wellesley and the girls of the scream tunnel had lots of energy as always, but unlike last year I stayed in the middle of the road this time and tried not to get caught up in it as I knew that I would need all of my energy and focus to try to meet my goal.

baa2016Miles 14, 15 and 16 went by with splits of 7:33, 7:44 and 7:33 as I stayed on track and started into the challenging Newton Hills.  Then, during mile 17, I nearly came to a screeching halt when I dry-heaved and started to realize that the heat was affecting me more than I realized.  I had been drinking regularly alternating between water and Gatorade and I had also taken a Clif fuel pouch at miles 5, 10 and 16 as well as pouring water over my head to try to stay cool.  I struggled through miles 17, 18 and 19 feeling nauseous with splits of 8:01, 8:28 and 8:05 as if the hills weren’t tough enough without feeling like I was going to throw up.

Finally, between mile 19 and mile 20, I did come to a screeching halt.  I walked to the side of the road and lost everything I had left in my stomach.  Or so I thought because 30 seconds later it happened again.  I felt bad for the poor spectators who were standing a few feet from me on the side of the road and I noticed mothers shielding their young kids’ eyes.  I sheepishly apologized for what had happened, but for the first time in my nearly six-year running career I had tossed my cookies.  Twice.  And I still had seven miles to go to earn my Boston Marathon finisher medal.

I rinsed my mouth out with the water I was carrying, took a deep breath and decided to see if I could get the legs to turn over again as I set out to attack the hill that awaited.  I knew that walking to the finish line would take me another two hours and I really wanted to avoid that if at all possible.  Then, I spotted it…just the fuel that I needed.  I ran to the opposite side of the road and grabbed a green freezer pop from a generous spectator.  The cold, sweet icy goodness refreshed me and I picked up the pace and started passing people.  My Garmin shows that I stopped for one minute and 48 seconds when I got sick, but I still ended up finishing mile 20 in 9:48 and then attacked Heartbreak Hill and finished that mile in 8:05 followed by an 8:07, an 8:19, and an 8:26 to get through mile 25.

baafinish2016The wind had picked up and I was fighting to push through it to get to the finish line that still seemed so far away.  Then, I started to get very light-headed over the final mile-plus as I was seeing black spots.  I’m sure this was because I was scared to eat any more of my planned fuel over the final 9 miles after the initial dry-heaving incident and was just trying to make it to the finish line.  Mile 26 was a 9:35 and then the turn on Boylston Street saw me pick up the pace to an 8:40 to get to the finish line where I crossed with my arms raised in 3:28:48 to finish 7,362nd out of 26,639 finishers overall and beat my bib number which was 8172.  (Boston bib numbers are seeded so the lower the number the faster you are compared to the rest of the field.)  It was great to have made it to the finish line even if I didn’t get the time I was shooting for.  I knew that I had given my all and that’s all that mattered.  Plus, I was 16 minutes faster than last year.  848 people who started didn’t finish and after 48% of the field re-qualified at last year’s Boston only 16% did this year due primarily to the heat.  I was also 5,830th out of 14,471 men overall and 1,077th out of 1,994 men in the 40-44 age group.

Within about 90 seconds of crossing the finish line, I found myself in a wheelchair as things started spinning and I nearly blacked out.  I fought hard to pay attention to what was going on around me because the medical person told me that if I sat in the wheelchair for 10 minutes that I had to go to the medical tent.  I told her to let me know when I was at 9:30 and then I made myself get up because I was supposed to meet Cindy at the finish line and I knew that she didn’t have her phone and wouldn’t be able to find me if I wasn’t at the predetermined spot.  It took everything I had to get out of the wheelchair, but I did and then hung on tight to a railing while I waited for her to finish.  I got another volunteer to give me a bag of potato chips and the salt started to perk me up enough that I spotted her as she was heading my way after setting nearly a two-minute Boston Marathon PR in the tough conditions in her third time running the prestigious race.  What a welcomed sight!  We had both made it!!!

While my time may not have been what I was originally hoping for, I am so proud of my effort and determination in this one.  Sure, it would have been great if the temperature would have been 20 degrees cooler and the sky would have been cloudy.  But, just like in life, things rarely go perfectly and the true test is adapting to the situation and doing the best you can.  I can say that I did that on this day!  I’m also proud of all my friends in addition to Cindy who battled the elements.  Great job, Dan, Ken Varian (sub 3:00 in that heat – Beast Mode!), Bryan Stansberry, Megan Morris, Molly Stout, Ryan Arens, Jason Homorody, Laura Anderson, and Ron Hayes.  I will not be going for a Boston three-peat in 2017, but I’m totally okay with that.  It’s a truly special event and it should be earned every time.

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A huge thank you to the BAA and the city of Boston for putting on a great event and the truly amazing spectators who simply won’t let you not finish the race.  There were lots of great signs along the course, lots of high fives to give, and yes, the dude around mile 14 who had a $1 bill firmly in his hand got a good laugh when I tried to grab it.  He turned to his buddy and said “got another one!”  Ha ha!  Such a great experience and I can’t wait to see what the next adventure will bring.

Happy 5-Year Runiversary

My most recent race...the Playin' Possum 50K on May 16th.
My most recent race…the Playin’ Possum 50K on May 16th.

May 26 marked the 5-year anniversary of the day that I first started running.  On that day back in 2010, I went to the Kokosing Gap Trail, which for the first 20 years of my time in Mount Vernon had gone unused by me.  (That itself is a shame since it’s a great 13.3-mile trail!)  I weighed 235 pounds and needed to make a change because my life as the sports information director at a small college was taking a toll on me.  I worked a lot of late hours, drank a lot of late-night Mountain Dew, and grabbed way too many fast food meals and bad snacks just to take care of my hunger pangs during my busy, over-worked schedule.

I can still remember that first run on that early morning….it seemed like it took forever to get to the one-mile mark to turn around and go back.  I didn’t take an iPod and I really had no idea how to set a pace and just took off thinking that it would be no problem. By the time I got to the one-mile mark and was turning around to head back, I was thinking to myself “what in the world have I gotten myself into?” I was able to finish and headed for home, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

The next day, I came back to attempt two miles again. I was fine for the first mile. However, as I approached the half mile mark on the way back, I was ready to just walk the final 800 meters. I passed an older lady who was walking and had been on the trail the previous day and said to her “I think you’ve got the right idea.”  She came back with “well, you sure seemed to have a lot more energy yesterday.”  Well, that was the kick in the pants that I needed to get back into a jog and finish the two miles without walking.

I only ran a total of three miles over the next two weeks as I debated whether this was something I really wanted to commit to doing or not. During this time, I came up with lots of excuses of why I was too busy or didn’t need to do it. However, every time I voiced one to my good friend, Jay Stancil (a fellow sports information director in Kentucky who had also just started running), he would tell me how busy he was, but that he still put in the time to run even if it meant getting up at 5:00 a.m.

So, after two weeks of coming up with excuses only to have Jay shoot them all down, I headed back to the trail on June 12th with a new frame of mind. I also took my iPod along this time. I went into my run that day planning to do two miles, but kept pushing myself and ended up running to the two-mile mark instead. Before I knew it, I had run two miles out and two miles back and had four miles under my belt in a time that I was pretty pleased with. I went back the next day and ran three more miles. It felt really good to have done seven miles in the span of two days.

My first race...the Knox Community Hospital Foundation 4-Miler in August 2010.
My first race…the Knox Community Hospital Foundation 4-Miler in August 2010.

From June through August, I stayed pretty regular with several solo runs a week while listening to my iPod.  I did all of my runs on the Kokosing Gap Trail so that I would know my mileage since I had not yet invested in a Garmin.  Then, in late August, I found out that there was going to be a 4-mile race in town.  Several people I knew where going to do it and I thought it would be fun to try something different.

Needless to say, I had a blast and I was hooked!!!  I had always been a marginal athlete at best growing up.  But when I finished second in my age group and 21st overall in this race, I realized that I had found something that at least on a small local level I was decent at.  It fueled my fire to work harder and also to run with other people.  I began to train a little more seriously and signed up for inaugural Emerald City Quarter Marathon that was a week later and ended up once again finishing second in my age group and this time 12th overall out of 709 people!!!

From there, running just continued to take off.  I did the Columbus Half Marathon that fall and finished 2010 with 559 total miles.  I was excited to continue my running journey and see what I could do in a full year.  I also saw my health and fitness improving.  My weight was dropping and I was doing a better job of getting to sleep earlier at night since I was getting up to run predawn most mornings.  I was eating a little healthier and had cut soda out while drinking a lot of water.

2011 proved to be a full year of racing with two half marathons (Cap City and Earth Day) in the spring, the Erie Half Marathon in the fall, and then my first full marathon in October when I ran the Columbus Marathon in 3:52:04 even with walking most of the final 6 miles.  I knew that day even before I got home that I would do another full because I had so much room for improvement.  I finished 2011 with 1,818 miles and set my sights on going for 2,000 miles the next year.

About to finish my first marathon!
About to finish my first marathon!  3:52:04

And then they hit….INJURIES!!!  2012 started off well with my second marathon (Earth Day) as I improved to 3:41:39 and only walked about three miles.  I also did the Cap City Quarter Marathon with my oldest daughter who was 10 at the time and then the Pittsburgh Half Marathon the next day.  However, after that, I started to battle shin splints.  Then, they turned into full blown stress fractures.  I walked two races and then was only able to do the first of my three scheduled legs at the Hood to Coast Relay.  I ended up taking about three months off from running and finished the year with 1,505 miles.  However, by late fall and after supporting friends at the Columbus Marathon including some unplanned running, I knew that I was on the mend and I was ready to start fresh in the new year!!!

My van mates and half of my Hood to Coast Relay team.
My van mates and half of my Hood to Coast Relay team.  I want to do this again some day…healthy!

2013 started off with a bang for me as I set a new PR in the First on the First 5K at 19:52.  Then, in February, I posted what is to date my only race win as I captured the title at the Granville Winter Run 7.5-Mile race.  That gave me the confidence that I would need to go after my first Boston Qualifier (BQ) just a week later at the Last Chance for Boston Marathon in Dublin, Ohio.  That day on the one-mile loop course I dropped 28 minutes off my marathon PR and finished in 3:13:33!!!  (Unfortunately, I would later find out when registering for Boston that due to increased interest in the race after the bombing that I was still 11 seconds too slow to get in for 2014.)

I did three more half marathons in that spring (Xenia, Earth Day, and Pittsburgh) and also my second relay event (Relay Around Columbus) and then set my sights on the Erie Marathon in the fall.  I was a little too energetic at Erie, though, and ended up running what would have been a new PR 1:30 first half to that race and then struggled the second half with some walking at the end as my fourth marathon finished in 3:21:47.  I was bummed because I knew by then that my chances of getting into Boston in 2014 were slim and now I would need to work hard again to get another BQ for the following year.

Enjoyed a warm all-night tour of Columbus during Relay Around Columbus.
Enjoyed a warm all-night tour of Columbus during Relay Around Columbus.

So, I did what a lot of crazy runners do….I quickly signed up for the Columbus Marathon that was less than a month later.  I knew that I was well-trained and that if I could just pace myself better that I had a shot at another sub 3:15.  When race day came, I followed my plan perfectly.  I just kept plugging away and ended up knocking 8 more seconds off my PR with a 3:13:25 to secure another BQ.  I finished 2013 with 2,214 miles.

In 2014, I put together my most consistent and healthiest year yet as I credit taking up biking and swimming as some of the key factors to this success.  I was able to pace two marathons (Myrtle Beach and Monumental) as well as set a new half marathon PR at Cap City with a 1:32:04.  After a 1:32:29 Emerald City Half Marathon in August, I again returned to Erie to try to lower my marathon PR.  Running my smartest race so far, I managed to knock three minutes off my PR and finished in 3:10:25 and knew that it looked good for me to get into the Boston Marathon for the first time in 2015.  I went on to finish 2014 with 2,489 miles and felt great!

Closing in on the finish line and a new PR at the Erie Marathon...3:10:25!
Closing in on the finish line and a new PR at the Erie Marathon…3:10:25!

2015 got off to a great start as I averaged 250 miles for the first three months, but all of the miles began to slowly catch up to me especially after attempting to PR at the Last Chance for Boston Marathon in February on a snow-covered course.  However, I have managed to run through them as best I can and really enjoyed the opportunity to run and finish the Boston Marathon in April.  Then, less than a month later, I tacked on my first ultra marathon experience by taking part and completing the Playin’ Possum 50K.  It was a tremendous new experience and will make me a better runner because of it.

Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the orange tank. #MissionAccomplished
Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the orange tank. #MissionAccomplished

As I finish up this recap of my first five years, it is amazing to think that I’ve amassed 9,661 miles during that span or an average of 1,932 per year.  That’s nearly 5.3 miles per day for the past 1,826 days and there have definitely been a lot of non-running days in there…especially when I was injured.

However, more importantly than all the miles or any awards or medals that I have received from running are the friendships that I have gained.  The running community is an amazing group filled with inspiring people who each have their own story to tell.  I have really enjoyed getting to know so many great people on this journey.

Here are just a few facts and figures from the past five years:

Total States Run In – 16 (Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.)

Different Shoes – Asics Gel Kanbarra (3 pair), Asics Nimbus (12 pair), Adidas Boost (2 pair), Puma Ignite, New Balance 980

Starting Weight – 235

Current Weight – 205

Marathons – 9

Half Marathons – 11

Complete List of Races – Athlinks Page

Did you know that running across the Golden Gate Bridge and back is a 5K?  :)
Did you know that running across the Golden Gate Bridge and back is a 5K? 🙂
Two loops around the block that the Arch is on is also a 5K...and I placed in the top 5!
Two loops around the block that the Arch is on is also a 5K…and I placed in the top 5!
And I may have done an unofficial 5K on the Daytona Speedway.....Shhhh!
And I may have done an unofficial 5K on the Daytona Speedway…..Shhhh!
I definitely enjoy myself in races...this one is crossing a bridge in Pittsburgh.
I definitely enjoy myself in races…this one is crossing a bridge in Pittsburgh.
But this running journey is most fun because of the people I've met along the way.
But this running journey is most fun because of the people I’ve met along the way.
And trust me....it's quite a cast of characters!   Which suits me just fine!  :)
And trust me….it’s quite a cast of characters! Which suits me just fine! 🙂

With five amazing years in the books, I cannot wait to see what happens over the next five years!