Tag Archives: Fit Fluential

All the Miles of 2017

It’s been nearly two weeks since we flipped the calendar to 2018 and I’ve finally had a chance to look back and reflect on my fitness journey in 2017.  It was year of ups and downs, new experiences and trying to continually work to be the best that I can be.

21150252_989462024660_4375247611170921058_nI finished the 2016 calendar year with my biggest running mileage year ever as I logged 3,023 miles and managed to stay healthy the entire year…which has been a rarity for me.  As 2017 began, I knew that I needed to not worry about trying to repeat that mileage total because it would catch up to me at some point with my propensity for overuse injuries that I’ve experienced over my seven-plus years of running (two tibial stress fractures, a broken left foot and plantar fasciatis just to name a few).

January started as it typically has for me with a New Year’s Day race as I did the First on the First 5K.  (I love the post-race Yabo’s tacos!)  It kicked off what would go on to be a 245-mile first month of the year, which was my second biggest January ever trailing just the 275 miles I logged in 2015.

Photography by CapCity Sports Media (capcitysportsmedia.com)
Photography by CapCity Sports Media (capcitysportsmedia.com)

February got under way much the same way as I competed in the 5th Line 5K on the first weekend of the month and set a new 5K personal best with an 18:13 to win my age group and finish 15th overall out of 2,782 runners.  The month continued to go well as at the Warm up Columbus half marathon I set a new PR with a 1:27:49 as I dropped nearly two minutes off my previous best time.  I finished February with 232 miles which was once again my second largest February total trailing just the 248 miles I did in 2016.

I was really feeling good as March got under way and had my sights set on some other races to try to PR at.  I had logged 256 miles heading into the last week of the month and felt very confident about the speed I was building.  And then it happened.  My left foot, which I had broken 18 months earlier started to hurt.  I had developed a stress fracture.  It was the second metatarsal this time and not the fifth which I had broken before, but it put an end to my running for eight weeks nonetheless.

Thankfully, I was not signed up for the Boston Marathon in April after running it the previous two years.  I managed just 10 total miles during the month and all were walking with half of them coming at the end of the month spectating at the Cap City Half Marathon.  I did, however, find other ways to work out as I started an upper body weight routine at my gym for the first time ever and also managed my highest single-month swimming mileage ever with 7.75 miles including my first two-mile swim.

imageAs May rolled around, I gradually began walking for exercise again but took it pretty easy.  The foot was starting to feel better and I heard about an open track meet with a 3000 meter race walk on May 21, so I decided to enter it.  It didn’t matter that there were only two other contestants – one who got disqualified from the meet for wearing an inflatable unicorn costume and the other was a 90-year-old senior Olympian (left).  It was a race and I was going to give it my best.  I ended up winning, but the best part was just being able to do something competitive again…even if it was mainly against myself.

I ended up getting my first run in on May 27 by accident when I was riding my bike and got a flat tire and had to run it back to my car.  It went well and I gradually started to get back into running from there.  I finished May with 62 miles with most of them being of the walking variety.

June for me was about gradually getting back into running.  Lots of easy miles early on and trying not to do too much.  However, that all changed on June 17.  After doing a 13-mile run in the morning followed by taking a Body Pump class, I saw on Facebook that a guy I didn’t even know needed a pacer at the Mohican 100-mile race.  I was probably the closest person who could get there, so I quickly ate a bagel, grabbed a gel and a Gatorade and headed out for what I thought would be an 8-10 mile gig as a pacer.

19225253_964218173540_7538623562995076134_nWhat I didn’t know when I got there was that once I started the loop with my new friend, Steve, that I would have to stay with him for 20 miles.  Yes, 20 miles!  That meant that I would be setting a new single-day distance record with 33 miles after barely logging twice that the month before with injuries.  (I guess technically I didn’t get all those miles on the same day since what I thought was going to be a two-hour jog turned into a seven-hour excursion in the woods in the middle of the night with only one headlamp between us.)  I have to say….this was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had as Steve battled back from nearly being pulled out of the race at the 75-mile mark to go on to complete the 100-miler and earn the coveted belt buckle.  It was truly a privilege to get to watch his determination first-hand and to make a new friend in the process.  Thanks in large part to that one day, I ended up with 230 miles in June and began to start feeling like I was on my way back to being 100 percent.

July started off with miles in multiple states in the first week alone with runs in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina as I was traveling.  I got to experience the largest 10K in the US and finished 995th out of 55,234 people on a very hot day on the fourth of July on a hilly course.  I also spent a day hiking two portions of the Appalachian Trail.  I finished the month with 259 miles on foot.

One other highlight in July was logging 120 miles on my bike.  This started with a 30-mile ride, continued with a 40-mile ride, and then on July 30 I posted my first-ever 50-mile ride in just under three hours as I journeyed through Licking, Franklin and Delaware counties.

20840785_984551001390_872213289273606592_nAugust brought with it heat and more races.  I finished second overall at the Feet for Hope 5K and also managed to break 1:30 at the Emerald City Half Marathon with a 1:29:47.  However, my biggest accomplishment of the month was attempting and completing my first triathlon – a sprint one – in Delaware on August 13.  After a panic attack in the pool on a very short swim, I bounced back to pass people on the ride and run to finish eighth overall out of 65 competitors in 1:05:24.  I logged 253 running miles in the month.

September saw me dial back the mileage just a little bit as I began the taper for what awaited in October.  I still managed to log 221 miles and participated in the Run for the Health of It 4-Miler.

22489673_10100100772923700_8548369684524733274_nAs the calendar turned to October, it represented a month of challenges for me.  On the first day of the month, I paced the Wineglass Marathon as a training run and finished in just over 3:47 on a nice, cool fall morning.  Two weeks later, it was time for my goal race on a warm, humid morning at the Columbus Marathon.  I ran the first half at near PR pace (1:35:20), but the weather took its toll on me and I slowed the second half by eight and a half minutes (1:43:50).  However, I was extremely proud of the way that I pushed through and finished in 3:19:10 (right) for a BQ time of more than five minutes to earn the right to register the first week for the 2019 Boston Marathon.  A week later, I ran the Ohio State 4-Miler and won my age group to cap off a busy month that ironically saw me run 192 miles for my lowest monthly total besides my injury-sidelined April and May.

November saw me log 210 miles and participate in the Buckeye Classic 10K and the Thanks for Giving 4-Miler.  I closed out the year with 250 miles in December to finish with 2,420 miles overall in 2017.

In addition to the running miles, I finished the year with 266 miles on my bike and nearly 27 miles in the pool including meeting my goal of at least one 1-mile swim per month for the entire year.  I also stayed consistent with my upper body weight workouts and know that this is an important aspect of my fitness moving forward.

IMG_5485.JPGOne other funny side note is that I decided at the beginning of the year to save all the change I found on my runs.  I ended up with $5.23 in change (left) in my first year of ‘getting paid’ to run.  Ha ha!  I almost made 1.5 cents per day.

I’m extremely thankful for the people I was able to log miles with in 2017.  You made me a better runner but more importantly your friendship means so much to me.  I’m also thankful for the entire Rogue Racers team that I was privileged to join.  I may not have gotten to train with you much due to where I live and work, but I have learned so much from each of your experiences and knowledge and have been inspired by your performances.  Teamwork does make the dream work.

I can’t wait to see where my fitness journey will take me in 2018.  I’ve set a few big goals and look forward to sharing my adventures as they happen.

Running in the Mizuno Wave Sky

mizunoIt 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!


Over the past two weeks, I’ve put nearly 50 miles on the shoes including a long run of 11 miles and a couple of speedier runs with sprints in the 6:45/mile range as I’ve tried to balance my need to ease back into things and my desire to get back to my normal running and to also give the shoes a fair workout.  One thing that I can say without a doubt is that these shoes are extremely comfortable right out of the box.  As someone who is being a little cautious coming back from injury, I truly feel that these have been the perfect shoes for me during this time.  The Mizuno website gives this description of the shoes:  “Maximum cushioning meets maximum comfort in the new Wave Sky, built for neutral runners. A full length U4icX midsole works in harmony with new cloudwave technology for a plush and lively ride.”  I agree with this and am so glad I had the opportunity to try these 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)

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.


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!




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.


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.

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!

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!

Achieving a Goal…Finishing the Boston Marathon

10421250_777244430420_6732269230097349489_nWhere do I even begin to try to start with a race that has been several years in the making?  After qualifying for the 2014 Boston Marathon in 2013 at Last Chance for Boston with a 3:13:33 after battling back from stress fractures in both legs, I missed getting into it by 11 seconds since they lowered the qualifying times due to increase interest after the bombings.  I worked hard to get even faster so that this year’s race could be a reality by running a 3:10:25 at the 2014 Erie Marathon.  However, the dream to even get to Boston started right after running my first marathon when I made a solid attempt to BQ (Boston Qualify) in my second marathon and realized that if I worked harder I might just be able to do it.  With eight marathons under my belt that included three BQs (each sub 3:15) and two marathons pacing, the Boston Marathon was set to be my ninth marathon in less than five years of running.

The trip to Boston started on Saturday with a 5:30 a.m. flight and then a trip to the Expo as soon as I got to Boston. More sightseeing followed and then continued on Sunday. It was great to run into some of my central Ohio running friends and also very cool to watch Shalane Flanagan get in her warmup on Sunday morning and then snag a pic with her. I also managed to get in a shakeout run around the Boston Commons on Sunday afternoon before heading to the pre-race pasta dinner.

Marathon Monday finally arrived and with it 40-degree temps, rain, and 20 mph winds. I took the bus to Hopkinton with my running partner Cindy Warner and we arrived with only about 35-40 minutes to kill before we headed to the starting corrals…just enough time to make it through the port-a-pottie line. Once in the corral, we were soon marching what seemed to be almost a mile (the guy on the PA said it was .70 of a mile if we wanted to tack it on to our mileage for the day. ha ha). As we all took off our throwaway clothes and rain ponchos that had kept us warm and dry, the rain started. Then, the gun sounded and we were off!!!

The first mile was super crowded as we all tried to find whatever space we could. I clocked a 7:54, but I was fine with that because I went into the race not knowing what my legs could do since I had been battling a sartorius muscle issue in my right leg for a couple of weeks. However, I quickly settled in and knocked out the first 10 miles with pretty consistent splits – 7:25, 7:21, 7:26, 7:38, 7:29, 7:26, 7:29, 7:26, 7:32.

The rolling hills started to take their toll on my right knee over the next three miles as my splits slipped to 7:40, 7:36, 7:44 and I hit the halfway point at 1:39:37 for a 7:35 pace that I was really pleased with.  One of the highlights of the entire race was running through Wellesley College.  You could hear the Scream Tunnel almost a mile before you got to it as girls lined the right side of the road for hours in the cold and rain with some of the best signs on the entire course as they tried to get runners to stop for kisses. It was definitely fun going through Wellesley as I slapped hands with all the girls along the line (no kisses although one girl grabbed my hand and nearly succeeded in pulling me in! LOL). However, it was a real letdown emotionally for the half mile or so after Wellesley as that was probably the one lull in the spectators.


The second half of the race became a struggle for me as by mile 15 I was having trouble extending my right leg due to the sartorius issue. I got through miles 14-16 with splits of 7:57, 8:13, and 8:07 and then I hit the true hilly section. I got through the first four miles of it pretty well considering how my leg felt with splits of 8:38, 8:46, 8:38, and 9:07. Then, as I crested Heartbreak Hill at mile 21, I decided to make a quick detour into the medical tent because I knew that I needed something to perk me up. I ended up with a handful of potato chips and then some amazing broth that I took with me in a cup (guess this is practice for an ultra). That mile ended up my slowest at 12:23 with the 3-minute pit stop that also included a quick trip to the dirtiest port-a-pottie I’ve ever been in. Just glad I wasn’t planning on sitting down is all I’m saying.

From there, the last five-plus miles were sheer willpower as I was determined to finish and to not walk at all in this one even if slowed to a shuffle (which I did). I did manage to eat a pretty good meal thanks to the spectators as I grabbed orange slices, pineapple chunks, a popsicle, two pieces of licorice, and a Milky Way bar to help me get the rest of the way (again, ultra training). My splits were 9:43, 9:57, 10:26, 10:03, and 10:31.

Turning on Boylston Street was so emotional! My calves were both cramping by this point so there was no sprint left in me, but the crowd was so loud!!! I managed to get the pace back down to a 9:48 for the final .20 and crossed the finish line with my arms held high. I had done it!!! I had run the Boston Marathon!!!  (Big thanks to Alex Connell for his great screen capture work on the video feed to catch me running under the clock to cross the finish line!)

11134131_777227993360_327880621348606134_o (1)

The kind volunteers helped me get a poncho on because I was freezing and put the medal around my neck. I slowly made my way a couple of blocks to the corner where I was going to wait for Cindy when she finished. I had only come to a stop for about 30 seconds when she appeared with a big smile on her face. The emotion of the race and all the training that had been done as well as all the ups and downs of my running journey hit me hard at that point and I broke into tears as I stumbled towards her and gave her a hug with what little strength I had left.

While a 3:44:27 is my second slowest marathon aside from ones that I have paced, I could not be more proud of my effort in this one. I was worried going into it that I might not finish or that I would finish and it would take me over four hours with a lot of walking. However, I made it! It was also great to see how well my friends did! Cindy, John and Carrie Jarvis, Dan Bosch, Ken Varian, Bryan Stansberry, Ron Hayes, Keith Exel and a bunch of other running friends I’ve connected with through the internet all had great races and I’m so proud of them!!!

What makes the Boston Marathon so special is definitely the volunteers and the amazing crowd of spectators. They stood out in horrible conditions and willed each and every one of us to the finish line like it was their own personal responsibility to make sure that we crossed it. I said thank you to as many volunteers as I could and I gave out more high fives along the route than in all my previous races combined. I may not have had what some would say is a good race based on my finishing time and my qualifying time to get there, but I definitely enjoyed the experience despite the discomfort in my leg. I was also proud of the way that I didn’t let the conditions get to me and just embraced them.

I would love the privilege to do this race again and with healthy legs. To be continued, Boston….. 🙂

Picking up the Pace with Puma Ignite

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a pair of the brand new Puma Ignite running shoes as a Fit Fluential ambassador.  I had never even tried on a Puma shoe before and I was excited to see what they were all about.

IMG_2405I received two packages…one with the shoes and one with a nice short sleeve tech shirt and a pair of running shorts.  While I know that this product review is mainly about the shoes, I do have to say that they shirt is really nice and the shorts may be the best shorts I’ve ever worn from a sweat-wicking standpoint.  I sweat a lot when I run and these shorts did the best job of any that I’ve worn to date of keeping the moisture to a minimum.  That alone made this product review a win for me.

Now to the Puma Ignite shoes.  I really was not sure what to expect when I agreed to do this review since I had never worn any shoes manufactured by Puma.  I was pleasantly surprised when they felt comfortable right out of the box and I ran eight miles in them successfully with no issues on their first outing.

Puma touts the Ignite as their most responsive running shoe ever.  There is full length foam midsole for high rebound cushioning and more foam in the heel to disperse impact and provide extra durability.  Probably the feature that I like the best is the fact that the foam provided an instant comfort feel from the moment I stepped into the shoe.

Since I’m in the final stages of Boston Marathon training with the race just three weeks from today, I did not do my 22-mile run on Saturday in these shoes because I had never gone double digits in them and that is one of my rules with any new pair of shoes and I did not want to take the risk of possibly getting blisters.  However, on Sunday, I decided to see how they felt on tired legs and managed to run a 6:14 mile on an indoor track on the way to a 6:32-paced 5K.  Then, I tackled my longest run to-date in them with 12 miles this morning before work and they felt great.

IMG_2498These shoes have many positives.  They look great and feel great right out of the box.  They get good traction on the road surfaces I’ve used them on and on the indoor track, and I also had one run on wet pavement that was not an issue.  They feel light and definitely allow for speed.  The only thing I can’t report on at this point with clarity is how durable they are with total mileage before needing replaced and how well they do at marathon distance.  However, from everything I’ve seen, I’m sure I’ll have those answers in the coming months.  I’m definitely glad that I had the opportunity to Ignite my run with these shoes while also finding out more about this brand.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of PUMA.


Take a Minute to Learn a Name

Photo courtesy of BusinessInsider.com
Photo courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

For those of you who know me well, you know that I love to get to know people and their stories.  You can learn so much just by listening to others.  However, sometimes just listening isn’t enough…make sure you take the time to really get to know them.  And this starts by learning their name.

For almost a year now, I’ve been going to a gym near my work (Next Level Fitness) primarily to shower after getting my runs done outside since I commute almost an hour to work.  Typically, I end up in the locker room about the same time every day and I end up crossing paths with the same group of guys.  After a little while, you get comfortable enough to make small talk.  Soon you find that you know a little bit about each other and learn a little about what brings them to the gym each day.

I was telling my running partner about these guys and the different things they were involved in.  And then it hit me…I didn’t even know their first names!!!  I had talked to them nearly every day for almost a year and I wouldn’t even know how to holler at them across the parking lot if I wanted to get their attention.  I was challenged right then to learn their names because the longer it went on the more awkward it would be to ask.

So, this week, I made it a point to officially introduce myself to Kevin, Gary, and Mike.  Kevin is training to possibly run the Pittsburgh half marathon in May (which I’ve run twice) with his college-age daughter, while Gary and Mike come in every day to work on different levels of fitness to meet their goals.  Our conversations this week have been even better since I took the time to throw potential social awkwardness aside and just simply ask them their names while telling them mine.

And what is cool is that these guys have helped me a lot with my training this week.  I’m running my ninth marathon on Sunday – Last Chance for Boston in Dublin, Ohio.  So that means that I’ve really cut back my miles and my pace.  All three of these guys know that and they’ve helped hold me accountable by reminding me of that.  And to top it all off today, Gary ran a mile next to me on the treadmill on his non-running day to make sure I went slow and then Kevin added three miles next to me as part of his training.  And they will all three be cheering for me this weekend and looking forward to hearing all about the race on Monday when we get back to the daily routine.

It’s amazing how much power there is in just taking the time to learn someone’s name!  Who do you encounter every day that you need to meet again for the first time?

Winter Running – You CAN Do It!

66410_622360538980_1763080193_nAs a runner, one of the toughest times of the year to stay motivated and get your running done especially in the Midwest is December-February. The daylight span is shorter, the temperatures drop, and snow and ice can make outside routes treacherous at times. However, I’ve actually found that with the right frame of mind, appropriate planning, and the help of a good running partner and other running friends you can actually have some of your most productive running. In fact, I experienced that in January when I logged 275 miles (mostly outdoors) – my highest monthly total ever!

I am predominately a pre-dawn runner. With nearly an hour commute to work each way, I have found that the best way for me to ensure that I get my workout in is to do it before work. Yes, this means I can’t stay up very late and most days I’m hearing my alarm at 4:45 a.m. However, I also beat most of the rush-hour commute as I get most of my drive done and then run routes close to where I work. One of the big keys for me was joining a gym just a block from work so I can shower after my run and also have a treadmill on the days when outdoor running just doesn’t happen due to the weather or road conditions.

Since most of my runs during the winter months are done in the dark, safety is my first priority. This means wearing appropriate gear so that you are visible to oncoming traffic if you run in the road like I do the majority of the time. I highly recommend the NoxGear Tracer360 as a very lightweight and extremely visible way to make people aware of your presence on the road. I’ve had several people tell me that they really appreciate me being so visible. And honestly, I forget that I have it on because it’s so easy to wear.

One of the best ways to guarantee that you’ll stick to your running plans especially in the winter is to find a great running partner who shares the same passion for running that you have and possibly even some of the same goals. This doesn’t mean you will always run every single mile with them because you might not run the same pace, but on days you don’t run together you can still push each other virtually with the workouts you do on your own. Knowing that you are meeting up with someone helps hold you accountable to not hit the snooze button or to wimp out because it’s cold outside. And sometimes having a running partner helps you make the good decision to forego the outdoor run because the conditions are unsafe and a better workout awaits inside.

Speaking of conditions, it really is possible to run in cold weather. You just have to dress appropriately. However, more than the temperature, I take into consideration the traction I can get on the routes that I plan to run. If I’m just doing an easy run, I’ll run in almost anything except ice. However, if my plan for the day calls for tempo or speed work, then as much as I despise the treadmill I will use it to help me accomplish my goals for the run. While it’s fun to post pictures of ice beards or -22 degree temps on your car thermometer, there is also no shame in nailing your run in a warm, climate-controlled environment.

Another way to break up the monotony of winter training is to invite a bunch of friends you don’t normally run with to join you for a long run on a weekend. Thanks to dailymile.com and Facebook, I have a group of friends scattered about the Central Ohio area which I follow and keep daily tabs on their running exploits. A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to a bunch of them to see if they wanted to join me for a 20-mile run. We ended up with a great group and the run seemed to take no time at all as I got to introduce a lot of them to the area for the first time. And it didn’t hurt that there were donuts at the end.


One final thing that will help you stick to your running is to sign up for a race. Whether it’s training for a spring marathon or a local 5K, putting some of your hard-earned cash on the line will help you get out there and log the miles necessary to meet your race goals.

So, grab some cold weather gear, reach out to a running friend, and hit that pavement to log some miles. Before you know it, the days will be longer and you’ll be rooting for cooler temperatures. Oh, and it’s only 40 days until spring!