Tag Archives: Training

Jeff Baldwin, Cap City Legacy Runner

As we get ready to celebrate the 15th year of the Cap City Half Marathon on April 28, I think it is important to look back at the history of the race.  And what better way to do that than by asking someone who has run every single one of them.

Jeff Baldwin 2017Fortunately for me, I work with one such person.  Jeff Baldwin, the vice president of franchising and development at Donatos Pizza, has completed every Cap City Half Marathon dating back to the first one in 2004.  And what is amazing about Jeff is his consistency.  He finished the very first one in 1:48:25 (which is still his fastest finish) at age 32 and 13 races later finished the 2017 race (pictured at left) in 1:50:26 at age 45.

I decided to ask Jeff about his history with the Cap City Half Marathon and running in general and included some questions from my social media followers who had also chimed in.  This is what I found out:

Was there something specific that made you decide to start running?  “I started running after college when I started working and needed that release.  I tend to daydream when I run longer distances and it seems to give me a break from day to day.  Running gives me time to reflect on things going on in my life now, which is kind of cool since that was never the intent.”

Jeff Baldwin 2004Why did you sign up for the first Cap City Half Marathon in 2004?  He’s pictured at the right in the inaugural race in 2004.  “It was called the ‘Commit to Be Fit’ race, so it was perfect for me at the time.  I didn’t have enough drive to stay fit and I wasn’t playing any other sports.”

What kept you coming back each year?  “I joked with an attorney friend that it was a verbal contract to run the race every year with a sub 2-hour finish, so the joke has just kept going all these years!  Twice, I have been so close to two hours I felt like I could pass out trying to finish strong.  Those memories make me train a bit harder as I get older!  I also joke with my girls that I try to stay in shape so I can keep up with their kids someday.  They just laugh!”

At what point did you realize you had a streak going and is that streak important to you?  “It only dawned on me a few years ago when I realized how different the pre-race atmosphere was than back in the first year.  Music and local celebrities are everywhere.  There are so many runners now and it has turned into a huge event.  It’s very cool to have been part of it from the beginning.”

Which year was your favorite race and why?  “I think 2009 was the first year my older kids were there to cheer and actually understood what was going on.  I stopped to give my wife and kids a kiss.  Today, they understand the value of health and fitness and watching Dad has been a small part of that.”

timesWhich year was your least favorite race and why?  “The second year in 2005 when the race was in early April and it was 32 degrees with driving sleet.  I wore a hat very low and had to look down the entire race.  It was really tough running conditions which I think helped move the event later in April and even sometimes the first week of May.  I also had a bad IT band issue one year.  Running injured is never fun.”

What kind of training do you do each year to get ready for the race?  “I play ice hockey and tennis and normally run 10-15 miles per week throughout the year.  Starting in January and February, I will start to build to 20-25 miles per week with a few races over 10 miles.  I concentrate on pace and also speed training.  When I run distance, I wear a watch so I don’t have a set route and I don’t have to stop!”

If you could change one thing about the race, what would it be?  “I wouldn’t change much really.  There have been several race routes over the years – some good and some too tight for the volume of runners.  It was fun to run to OSU and around The Horseshoe several years back.  The most recent route is fair and interesting, but nobody likes the uphill climb from German Village to downtown near miles 11 and 12.”  (Note:  Jeff and everyone else will be thrilled to run on the new and improved course in 2018.)

What makes the Cap City Half Marathon so special that you do it every year?  “I enjoy the fact that this is something I have done for so many years, longer than jobs, age of my kids etc.  Knowing it’s on the horizon keeps me honest the balance of the year with training and exercise.  There have been a few near misses such as a daughter was born April 7 and a couple of weddings out of state near May 1, but none have disrupted race day.”

I can’t wait to see how Jeff does in 2018.  If you want to join Jeff and I at this year’s race, make sure to register now.  Use code 18VOCDAVE at checkout to save $10.

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The Road to Cap City

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.

VOCCHighResOver 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.

26804815_10100125315185810_7851032349514182247_nOne 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.

Until next time, enjoy your miles!

 

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!

mizuno3

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.

mizuno4

(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)

Oh the Places You’ll Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CapCity Sports Media www.capcitysportsmedia.com

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

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

2010 – 559

2011 – 1818

2012 – 1497

2013 – 2221

2014 – 2488

2015 – 2125

2016 – 3021

2017 so far – 783

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

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

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

Marathons – 11

Half Marathons – 15

Complete List of Races – Athlinks Page

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

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

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13626629_864912178550_4185406107124439085_n
Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, SC at sunrise

Do What You Can

imageIf 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!

imageRace 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.

imageThat 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!

imageIt 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!

2016 – Lots of Miles with Smiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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