It gets hard to imagine spring and warm races when it’s cold and snowy in Ohio in January, but we are now just 102 days away from the 15th annual running of the Cap City Half Marathon along with the Quarter Marathon and the Commit to Be Fit 5K.
Over the next four months, I have the privilege of being one of eight ambassadors or “Voices of Cap City” for this year’s race. What that means is that I’ll be posting about the race on my blog and social media and would love to answer any questions you have and also share some stories along the way as we all journey together to get to the starting line on April 28 geared up for a successful race. As a way to encourage you to sign up to join me, register now and use promo code 18VOCDAVE at checkout to save $10 on any race distance entry fee. Do it now before the prices go up!
One challenge that all of us are having these days is battling the weather to get our runs done. I’m typically a predawn runner and freezing temperatures and slippery snow or ice-covered roads and paths definitely pose a problem when trying to run outside. While I would always much rather run outside, I have come to value the treadmill as a necessary part of my training especially when trying to get speed work in or just trying to stay safe in the conditions. If you don’t currently belong to a gym or have access to a treadmill or indoor track, you might contact a gym in your area to see if they have trial passes that you might cash in for a weekend long run if you can’t get outside. If you do run outside, make sure to bundle up and stay very alert to traffic since the conditions aren’t always great to stop quickly.
One other suggestion I would have as you begin to ramp up your miles as race day approaches is to not do too much too soon. The general rule is to only increase your weekly mileage by 10 percent of what the previous week’s mileage total was. This will help keep you from getting injured. You still have plenty of time to log miles as you train for race day.
Also, cross training is a very important aspect to running that we all too often don’t make time for. Take a spin class at your gym or try out one of the CycleBar locations where typically your first four rides are free. If you have access to an indoor pool, go for a swim. It’s a great workout and your legs will thank you for giving them a break while still getting an awesome workout. Strength and core is also an important component of any running training plan. You don’t have to belong to a gym or have a personal trainer. You can do pushups and planks in the comfort of your own home. It will make a difference and you’ll feel stronger if you do it regularly. Finally, buy a foam roller and start using it daily after runs. It will help get you to the starting line injury-free.
We can all do this together. Feel free to comment below with any questions or send me a tweet at @dponthego. There is a race distance for everyone at Cap City, but if you feel like you aren’t ready to run this year or maybe are battling back from an injury then consider volunteering as a way to get involved. You’ll be inspired by all the runners and I guarantee it will be rewarding.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
What 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.
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.
As 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.
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.
One 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.
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!
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?