Sunday, May 26, 2013


Running is pretty awesome, wouldn't you agree?  One of the reasons it's so great is all the reasons that someone can get into the sport.  Losing weight, competitive spirit, grew up around runners, or maybe you just want to eat a lot of donuts..  Maybe it's a love for shiny things.

Running has many opportunities for obtaining shiny things.  Race medals.  I have a small collection of them, and other running stuff, in a dresser drawer of mine.  It started as a sock/unmentionables drawer with my first medal in it.  It's two years later and I've removed the socks and undies.  Running/racing/triathlon has taken it over.  Everything from my first 5k race bib to a green wrist band that I adorned for my first, and only, triathlon.  In it there are also some non race items.  Newspapers, magazines, results books, etc etc.

I don't go into the drawer too often.  Nor do I really think about it.  My mind always is looking towards the next race.

Early on in my running "career" I thought of doing something to display my medals in my home.  Something to motivate me or perhaps a conversation starter when guests come over.  I quickly discounted this idea.  Isn't that bragging?  Or being prideful?

A couple months back we had a Bible study with some friends from our church.  We talked about altars.  In terms of the Christian faith, I thought of altars as a bad thing.  Almost confusing it with idolatry.  I thought that  it was praising something that we turn into a god.  After some good, hearty, discussion I changed my stance. Altars go all the way back to the first book of the Bible.

For example: Gen 12:7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Altars were a way of reminding yourself of the amazing things God has done in your life.  In the Old Testament there are examples of altars being built, and then revisited later.

In comparison, my running may not be yielding fields and fields of fruit for the kingdom of God but I'm not here to compare myself.  Everyone is called in different ways.  What that drawer has inside, and what those medals represent, is an altar.  From where I've begun to where I am now is amazing in my book.  Maybe I should take them out and remind myself every once in a while..

Also, isn't being proud of not sharing race accomplishments still pride?

Any altars in your life?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Family First: My Cleveland Recap

Hello everybody.

Yesterday was a weird, yet exciting, day.  I made the mistake of going to bed past 11 p.m. the night before the race.  Race day started with a 2 a.m. wake up from my coughing daughter, Savannah.  The poor girl was going through allergies, or just a general illness.  Once I got her some water, and applied large amounts of Vicks, I laid in bed and couldn't fall back asleep.  Race excitement?  Too hot upstairs?  Still hearing Sav cough?  Could be any of those reasons, or a combination of all three.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, and have a lot on my mind, I just kind of lay there and stare at the alarm clock.  After a good thirty minutes I had an idea!  I got up, and turned on the fan in our room.  This got rid of the hot upstairs and hearing coughing.  With only an hour and fifteen minutes left till go time I headed back into the land of slumber.  Or so I thought.

I heard something over the fan noise.  A little boom.  I thought it was just something falling off of one of the girl's beds.  A minute or two later I felt the need to investigate.  I made my way to the door to check and see if the girl's door was still closed.  As I swing the door open I look down and see Savannah.  She was RIGHT in front of the doorway.  Scared the crap out of me.  My first reaction was to hit the deck.  In a half sleeping/half awake daze I hear my wife laughing.  Looking back on it now I don't feel like I could adequately protect my family against a burglar if that is my natural reaction, to a 3 year old...

Needless to say I was not going back to sleep.  With all of my race gear ready to go the night before, I came downstairs and got ready.  I'm glad that I take the time to get ready beforehand because I still had a little mini panic session.  For me, race preparation is a little OCD.  My race inventory was checked and double checked.  All ready to go.  My breakfast consisted of a cool mint chocolate Clif bar and a low-calorie, purple, Gatorade G2.  Time to hit the road.

Departure time was a little past 4 a.m., because it takes an hour to get to the Cleve.  I made my way up 77 and there is nothing to report on the trip.  Aside from starting to get tired.  Aimee made an observation a couple weeks ago that I will rub my knee, arm, neck, or really any part of me, when I'm tired.  Nearing Cleveland I noticed I was rubbing my leg.  This realization shocked me awake.  It's hard to run a race when you get in an accident from falling asleep at the wheel.

Arriving downtown, I got on 90 to exit near the rock hall.  Captain America had other plans for me.  They're filming the new CA movie in Cleveland so they shut the exit down that I wanted to take (even though they aren't filming on that stretch of highway till May 30).  Luckily there was someone in front of me with a 26.2 sticker, so I blindly followed them.

This "Cleveland Experience" was a weird one.  I've always done big city races with someone there accompanying me in my journey.  I was flying solo.  You don't realize how important it is having someone there with you, even doing the most mundane of actions, like walking to the stadium.  I missed not having my wife with me.  The time alone (surrounded by 20k other people) was an odd feeling.  I made my way to the 9:30 corral and waited for the race to begin.  Because of the extra fluids of the past days I went to the bathroom a couple times and still felt like I had to go as the race was about to begin.  This caused flashbacks of two years ago when I stopped to go, during the race, and couldn't run anymore.  Instead of rushing to get in the bathroom lines I held it in.  For 13.1 miles..

The loud speakers didn't reach too far back so I  had no idea the race had started.  Luckily there is a solid 7 minutes of walking before you reach the starting line.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I did not have a training plan for this race.  I followed somewhat of a plan for my first triathlon and just extended the training into May, aside from adding two longer runs of 8 and 10 miles.  I didn't have much confidence as I started running.  Chalk it up to nerves.

My lack of confidence turned to optimism as I passed the first mile marker.  In my head I was thinking "Wow!  Already a mile in.  I feel great!".  The miles were just chipping away.  Optimism would be important because I was feeling some foot pain from the start of the race.  It came and went throughout but never hurt enough to slow me down.  At four or five miles in I noticed how close everyone was to each other.  Also, I didn't want to think of my pace so I tried my best to not look at the clocks at each mile marker.  This was to enhance the enjoyment of the experience.

In most races you can shake out of a group within a couple miles but today was a little more crowded than I remember.  Because of this, and people not starting in the proper pace area, I was doing my best Patches O'Hoolihan impersonation with my dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging of other runners as I passed.  As I reached mile nine the clouds made way for sun.  The sun reminded me that I forgot to apply sunscreen.  D'oh!  Luckily a woman threw an over half full water cup on the ground and got me soaked.  Thank you..

Throughout the run my breathing was great.  Cardio would not be a problem.  Mile ten, before heading back into downtown, was when I started to feel my legs tiring.  At this point in the race we head up the bridge towards the Jake and the Q.  Usually hills are my strong suit but my body didn't want to push it up this final climb.  I didn't stop to walk but I didn't put forth much effort to fly up the hill.  The crowds built up as we headed downtown.  One of the supervisors at my place of employment was there to cheer on a friend and I saw her at mile 12.  Pleasant surprise seeing someone you know in all the crowds.

Right after mile 12 is the turn for the full marathoners.  I was extremely excited that I was only running 13.1.  For the first time in the race, I looked down at my legs and I had actually created soap suds from all my sweating (combined with the swishing of the legs).  Some call it disgusting. I wear it like a badge of honor.  My joy switched back to pain when the back of my knee started stinging.  I was less than a mile to the finish.  No plans of stopping now..

I made my way to east 9th and it was a downhill to the rock hall.  Unlike the other downhills prior, I kept my eyes open and gave as many high fives as I could.  No zen running at the finish.  I turned the final corner and there was the finish.  It was just over 2:09 (gun time).  I now had a mission to beat 2:10.  I knew I ran a good race when I couldn't belt out a last minute sprint.  My body had run the course very well.  I was able to cross right as it hit 2:10.  The excitement of finishing created a celebratory fist pump.  Now where's my chocolate milk...

Side-note: When I got home I checked my official time.  2:03:49.  New PR for the half marathon.  Beating my best by 17 minutes, and over 20 minutes faster than my first attempt at the Cleveland 13.1.  Ka chow!

I'll spare the details about leaving the race and the drive home.  I will, however, share a picture that I sent my wife.

The face of a PR (That's my running hat on my head, not a weird hair-do)
I will now leave you with a few thoughts, followed by an extremely cute closing:

-I won't go to a big race alone.  All the excitement of a PR doesn't beat the feeling of sharing it with someone you love.
-I will not run the Cleveland race again for the next few years, as it falls on my wife's birthday weekend.  I signed up for this race because I love the city, and I think that was why I was selected to blog for it too.  I just don't want it getting in the way of time with my family on an important weekend.  Looking at the calendar, if CLE keeps the race on the third weekend of the month I may be able to do the race again in 2021... 
-Aside from the Saturday Team Active:Water Run I am going to take a few weeks off from running to let my feet completely heel.  I REALLY don't want planters fasciitis.
-When I blog I usually get the title of the post done first.  I couldn't think of one so I thought it would come to me while writing the post.  As you can tell, it did not.  **Update** I thought of one :)

When I got home I called Savannah over and I put the medal on her.  She was elated!  She then said "When I get bigger, I'll run and get you a medal, Daddy"...

Hearing that was better than any race finish or PR I could ever run...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Been a While

Hello everyone.

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Two and a half weeks to be exact and even then my last two posts were just regurgitated memories.  Maybe you were wondering what I've been up to in the past two and a half weeks.  Here are a few bullet points before I go into some running stuff:

  • I was cat called by a young teenage girl in my work parking lot.  I don't share this with pride.  The parking lot was empty because I had to leave a few minutes early.  While walking through the parking lot I hear "look at him!"  "oh, what I would do to him, mmm MMM!".  I avoided any eye contact.  It was extremely awkward.  Later I was told  by a friend "hey, you've still got it!"  I've got great friends...
  • I finished my semester of college.  My course load isn't immense since I split the semester up into two different online classes, but I was still feeling the pressure.  Intro to psychology was the class.  B was the grade I earned.  Earned is a relative term.  I don't feel like I did much to earn it.  If I did the amount of course work for this class in an actual classroom setting I would have been close to failing.  So is the life of an online student...
  • There was a single deer on my run yesterday.  It still frightened me.  They're so weird and all muscle.  
  • I rode my bike on a local trail a couple times, and there were geese on said trail.  Geese frighten me too.  I'm a city slicker in every sense of the term...
  • The Boston bombing has still been fresh in my mind.  I joined the local running community and purchased some shoe laces saying "We will run, We will remember" "4/15/13".  I also ordered a t-shirt from my favorite band from yester-year: the Dropkick Murphys.  All of the proceeds went to a fund for the families hurt from the bombings.  

    New laces
  • A couple people made comments about my weight loss for the year.  One told me I looked like I lost a lot of weight and the other told me I looked too skinny.  This is said with a little more pride than the teenage parking lot girl.  I'm down 33 lbs this year and I did it with eating right and exercising.  All of my clothes are beginning to be too big for me.  I noticed the clothes but I looked at myself and didn't see the weight loss.  Until something else happened....
  • I shaved my beard.  It was my first hot run of the year and I wanted it gone.  It was a good 14 to 15 weeks in the making.  Shaving the beard did let me see myself slimming down: 

    Beard-fore and after
    It may not have looked great but gosh darnit it was mine.  The longest beard I've ever grown.  I think I'm going to start letting it grow after my last big race of the year until the spring of the next.  
  • The times were released from my first triathlon: 1:27:57 total.  17:05 for the swim (including getting dry and bundling up, which not everyone did) 56 out of 62.  Bike was 43:52.  Good for 23 out of 62 (This was very exciting to me!)  T2 was 57 seconds.  I didn't have to change anything.  Because of my brick workouts leading to calf issues I took some time to stretch first.  My run portion was 26:02 which is 40th out of 62.  If you would like to read about my first triathlon click HERE!!
  • On Saturday I went to an all day bachelor party for my good friend Aaron.  I joined him, my friend/running partner/small group leader Scott, and some other friends and went to an Indians game (which they won) and ate in Little Italy (which was my first, and not last, trip).  I ate.  Lots. 
So those are the highlights from the past couple weeks.  On to a little bit about running.

The Cleveland Half Marathon is next week, and I'm pumped.  I feel like I am, today, in the best shape I've been in in my entire life.  This is the first big race I haven't been on any training plan.  Having done a few half marathons before I know how to not increase the miles too quickly.  Plus I was training for a triathlon since the beginning of the year so my cardio has been way up.  I'm still actually swimming and biking during the week.  I only make it to the pool once a week, but even once a week is making me feel more confident.  

For this race I have only been running two to three times a week but my times are going down.  Another plus is every run has been enjoyable and not monotonous.  The race will take place next Sunday.  Friday morning I'm going to go up to the expo with my oldest daughter Savannah for a day date.  Probably stop and get donuts on the way... Mmmmmm... Donuts.....


One last item to share.  I finally took a step of faith and started the running group at my church.  Starting this Saturday we are meeting once a week to run together.  We are going to meet up for a quick five to ten minute study, some prayer, and then hit the streets together.  God put this on my heart a little over a year and a half ago.  I spoke in front of my church fam on Sunday.  I was nervous but feel like I got the point across well.  A good amount of people came up for information afterwards.  Also, a couple people want to start something to raise money for Active:Water, which is awesome.  I've invited anyone and everyone to the group runs and team Active:Water Canton will also use those Saturdays as our training runs for the Akron Marathon races at the end of September.

It's easy to get caught up in all the equipment, blogs, running clothes and shoes, big name races, and PRs.  Those things are not bad at all.  I mean I'm blogging RIGHT NOW.  I just want to remind myself of why this journey of running started in the first place and never lose sight of it.  

Thanks for reading everyone.  I've got another post set up before the race.