It is always fun to have the opportunity to test out new products and especially when it is a new pair of running shoes. Thanks to my involvement with Fit Fluential, I was recently selected to give the brand new Mizuno Wave Sky a try. It was a trial like this a year ago that introduced me to the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 and I was a fan from the first run. I was curious to see if it would happen again.
The timing of this campaign was also interesting for me because I was just coming off a two-month hiatus from running due to a stress fracture of the second metatarsal in my left foot. I was looking forward to getting back to first walking fast and then running, but I was a little cautious as well because I wanted to make sure that I did everything possible to get 100% recovered.
I arrived home from work one day to find a large shipping box and couldn’t wait to see what was inside. Sure enough, there was a plain white box with a label saying Mizuno Wave Sky, Size 12, Prototype on the side. This had me really excited because these shoes hadn’t even had their packaging fully developed yet! I really was going to be one of the first group of people to try them out!
For a neutral runner who logs a lot of weekly miles and puts lot of stress on their feet, I look forward to seeing how these shoes hold up. Probably the only thing I would have changed about these shoes is that I would have loved to have had the black with red trim version (below) for the Peachtree 10K on July 4th that is put on by the Atlanta Track Club in Mizuno’s hometown. They would have totally matched the group’s colors as well as the colors of my local group, Rogue Racers.
(I received a pair of Mizuno Wave Sky shoes in exchange for compiling a review of them. These are my honest thoughts and it has definitely been a positive experience to test these shoes. #Sponsored)
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
If you’ve met me, you know that I love to run. Any time, any place and especially with anyone. I will celebrate my seventh “run-iversary” this coming week on May 26 and over the past seven years I’ve been fortunate to log over 14,500 miles during that span. However, with that high mileage, I’ve also suffered more than my share of injuries with stress fractures in both tibias, a broken fifth metatarsal in my left foot and most recently a fractured second metatarsal in my left foot. I haven’t run since the end of March and won’t be ready to run for a couple more weeks. However, I’ve spent as much time as possible swimming and using the weight machines at my gym for the first time in my life. Last week, I was cleared to start biking and that meant that I ended up logging over 50 miles on my bike. It was good to be back outdoors.
That brings us to this past Monday. My doctor told me that I could start walking for exercise in one more week. I’ve done a few other walks the last couple of weeks but really kept the effort under control to follow his orders. I learned about an open track meet that was scheduled for today at Pickerington North High School when the message went out to all the members of the Rogue Racers about a week ago. I jokingly commented back that if there was a competitive walking category that I would do it. Well, there was (3000 meter open race walk) and it was time to put my money ($6 entry fee per event) where my mouth was and sign up. I had no idea what to expect. I’ve walked in other races before when I’ve been hurt, but never in an official meet on the track where everyone would be watching me waiting for me to finish so they could move on to the other much faster events. Plus, what if I didn’t walk correctly and got disqualified? That would be embarrassing. I went back and forth about signing up, but it has been so long since I raced that I knew it would be just what I needed.
As the week went on, I discovered that they listed who had signed up. Like any good race stalker, I decided to Google my competition. There was Sye Hickey, age 30. Looked like he was a lawyer from Nashville, Tennessee. I figured he must be a serious competitor if he was coming all the way from Tennessee, so I started to get a little nervous. Then, there was George Riser. Age 93!!!! Yes, you read that right! I couldn’t wait to see what Google turned up for him and it did not disappoint with this link from five years ago – http://www.benrose.org/MythBusters/mb_Riser.cfm. I couldn’t wait to meet him!
Race day finally came today and with it some rain and I started to think that none of this would happen due to the weather. I showed up at Pickerington North to find a village of tents set up around the track and the meet was just getting under way. After checking in and knowing that I would have to wait a few hours for my event, I looked around for some shelter and made friends with the two athletic trainers who were from Ohio State. Pretty soon, we all noticed a guy in an inflatable unicorn suit. And he had a bib on. Of course, I had to go ask him what event he was doing and it turned out he had finished dead last in his fantasy football league and this was his punishment. He was getting ready to run the 100 meters and his name was Sye Hickey, so he was also supposed to be in the 3000 meter race walk with me as well. However, when he went to lineup for the 100 meter dash, he was told that he could not do the race in the costume and so he and his buddies left to help him catch his flight back to Nashville. I think everyone in the crowd was a little disappointed to not see him attempt that sprint.
That meant my race was down to just George and I. I knew that George had already checked in and I started to search the track to find him. Pretty soon I discovered him and his son, Bob, at the shotput where no surprise George is a national champion on the Senior Olympic circuit. I introduced myself after he had finished and taken second place in the masters division (over 30). We talked and then worked our way around the track to check in for our event. George got lane #1 and I was in lane #2. Bob said that he thought it would take George 34 minutes and I had turned in 21 minutes as my expected time, but I was afraid that might have been too optimistic of a prediction. The starter fired the gun and we were off!
Wow! I had forgotten how much fun it is to race. Running or walking, it doesn’t matter. The adrenaline of competition is a wonderful thing and it was also fun to finally be able to push myself again. Before I knew it, I had knocked off the first 200 meters and was shocked to see a 10:11 pace on my watch with seven full laps to go. I stayed pretty consistent throughout the rest of the race with splits of 10:54, 10:47, 11:29, 10:34, 10:38, 11:14 and 10:29 as I blew away my goal time and finished in 19:33 for a 10:49/mile pace overall. The crowd in the stands was very kind to shout encouragement throughout the race and I want to especially say thank you to Laura Kaulen and her daughter, Erica, for cheering for me on the back stretch all seven laps.
After a quick cup of water, I decided to walk the last two laps of the event with George. He was doing great and especially on the last lap the crowd really cheered him on and he finished with a big smile on his face. Sub 31:00 and well under his goal time. He and his son told me a few more stories while we waited to get our medals. Like how he started running when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. And that he had been friends with Woody Hayes. And on and on. What a true gem!
It has not been easy to take another long break from doing what I love to do. But I’m kind of glad that I had this setback because otherwise I might never have crossed paths with George. He truly is an inspiration and I plan to follow his example of staying active for as long as you can in whatever way you can. His days of sprinting the 100 are over, but that doesn’t stop him from walking two miles at a brisk pace. Just like my injury didn’t keep me from working out altogether. I just had to modify things. That’s the key…do what you can!
As 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.
March 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fast 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!
I 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).
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.
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.
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.
Miles 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.
The 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.
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.