What can I say? I love to run. I've run 4 full marathons and 6 halfs. But I love God more and I'm determined to run this race of life for Him to receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. I'd like to share my thoughts with you. You can agree or disagree. Comment or don't. You can read or not read. But it's here if you want it. Enjoy! .

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twenty Ten. Let It Begin. Goals for 2010.

9:20 PM

As tomorrow is New Year's Eve, I figured I'd better close out this year 2009 with one final post. And what better way to close it then to let you know some running goals I have for next year. 2010 will begin in a little over 24 hours and as I look back to what I've accomplished this year, I can't help but think about what I'd like to accomplish in the new year. So I submit below some running goals I've set for myself to be completed by this time next year. I tried to keep it at 10, but there were a couple left over that I couldn't just get rid of. So there are 12 goals instead. I'll comment about each. They are in no particular order:

1. Register for Goofy 2011. I really hope this works out. I've talked to Susan and I think I'm good to register but I won't believe it's real until I actually press that "confirm" button. I should know in less than 2 weeks. This will be a dream come true if it happens.

2. Improve my half-marathon time. I'm running the Country Music half in April and I'd really like to PR. I'll have to beat 1:34:44. It won't be easy but it'll be a goal. It'll all depend on how I'm feeling, the weather, etc. Stay tuned.

3. Register for a fall marathon, preferably Chicago. I don't know if Chicago will work out with my schedule and money, but I really want to do it some day. If I can't do it in 2010, I want to run some full marathon next fall.

4. Run at least two 5k's. I'm already registered for the Zoo 5K in January, but I'd like to do at least one more at some point, maybe the Cedar Hall one again on Halloween. That was a lot of fun, but it might be fun to try a new one.

5. Run my first 10k. I haven't done this distance yet in a race and I'd really like to. I'll have to do some internet searching to find one close by.

6. Run more with my wife. Susan has gotten into running a little more and the couple of times we've run together have been great. I'd also like to convince her to run/walk a half marathon. I thought she might do the CMM in April but it's gonna take some more convincing.

7. That surprise thing again. I made this #7 again like I did with my "look back" below. Can't talk about this one yet but I promise I will soon. It will definitely have a goal along with it for the new year.

8. Run 1300 miles. I think this is a very reasonable goal. I almost put 1400 but I'll play it safe. I'm pretty sure I've run 1300 this year, but I lost my log from before June so I can't be sure. I'll have to keep my long runs on Sunday pretty consistent to meet this one.

9. Run a 50 mile week. I came pretty close while training for this recent marathon. 45 is my record. This one will probably have to wait until I'm training for a fall marathon but I think I can do it.

10. Keep my weight in the 150's. This one is pretty important. Eating is so hard for me so I'm going to really try to watch it. I don't want to let myself go again. Gotta keep looking at that picture below.

11. Stay injury free. It could really make a lot of these goals difficult if I were to get injured so it's very important I stay healthy and watch my step.

12. Run at Disney. This one is pretty specific and kindof minor, but in all the trips we've taken to Disney, I've never gone for a morning run. Mostly because we are out so late and up so early that I need the sleep, but I'd like to do some exploring and go running at least once. So I plan to do that when we go this coming May.

So there they are. I'll put these over on the right soon and keep up with them throughout the year, letting you know when I've accomplished one. Happy New Year to everyone. Hope your 2010 is the best year yet!

Keep runnin',

Sunday, December 27, 2009

SCREECH on Mile 9!


First of all, I don't mean this Screech. Although I have to give a shout out to Samuel "Screech" Powers. I grew up on "Saved by the Bell." Great show. Extremely cheesy but I watched it. I'll admit it. Gotta love Screech - that crazy character. Don't get me wrong, he's a psycho now, but back in the day he was classic. But again - that's not the screech I meant. I actually heard a screech this morning and it WAS loud. Wanna hear the story? Too bad - here goes:

I'm in Athens, Georgia visiting my in-laws for the holidays. I knew I wanted to do a long run this morning. Just because we go out of town doesn't mean I get to skip my Sunday morning long run. It would be a good excuse, but I knew I wanted to do it. Plus, I kindof like running in new places. So I mapped out a course on Google Earth. It was basically a big loop that turned out to be 11.3 miles. I had no idea how the roads would be or how hilly they would be. But it turned out to be fine. There were a couple of huge hills, but the roads and traffic were fine. I started the run around 7AM so I could be back in time to go to church with the family at 9:30. Everything went well. I felt fine. I was listening to my IPod. This morning it was a podcast about the Disney marathon weekend coming up. So I was very interested. Even though I'm not planning to do it until next year, it was still a very interesting topic and they were going through the whole weekend detail by detail. I had just gotten to mile 9 when I heard the screech. I'll admit - I listen to my Ipod fairly loud especially when I'm listening to podcasts as opposed to music. I want to be able to hear the people talking even if a loud truck or something goes by me. So the fact that I heard the screech over my Ipod meant it was pretty loud. Plus, I was probably close to 1/2 mile away from the source. So I repeat - it was LOUD.

I remember that my first thought was a wreck. But then I quickly dismissed that as I looked toward the direction the screech came. I couldn't see anything because of the trees blocking the view. Plus, I was coming up a hill and the screech was out of my view. My 2nd thought was just someone braking hard or stepping on the gas pretty hard. I assumed it was one of the two. Some crazy person trying to show off I guess. That was what I assumed, but I should've stuck with my initial reaction.

As I turned on the next street just 30 seconds later, I could tell that something wasn't right. There were 3 people standing in the road looking at something in a yard. I ran a little faster and pushed pause on my Ipod. It hit me then that I was coming upon a wreck. But I had no idea how bad it was going to be. It was a single car wreck - a truck had swerved into a yard, cut a metal sign in half, and run into a large tree. The truck was totaled. The front of the hood was nearly touching the windshield if that gives any indication of how fast this man was going. I was the fifth person to come upon the scene. A couple driving the other way had watched it happen. He was a doctor luckily. The other couple out there was from a house close by. They had heard the screech too. They would later tell me that it was the 3rd wreck at that spot within a month. (In fact one person flipped their car into the brush and left the car there. The man found it while mowing. Yikes.) Anyways, I came upon them and asked if the man was okay. The doctor was tending to him, holding a rag on a pretty large gash in his forehead. The airbags had deployed. Not sure if he was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. It was off when I got there. Fluids were leaking out of the engine like crazy. The doctor's wife said he was swerving all over the road before he went into the yard and hit the tree. Nobody had any idea why. She said she didn't think he had been drinking. He was going to be okay, thankfully, but he was pretty out of it. I heard the doctor ask him what day it was and I don't think he knew. A few others stopped. A couple minutes later we heard the sirens. I actually had to direct the ambulance to the right spot because they were up on the other road, where I was when I heard the screech. I ran towards them waving my arms and they turned down the road. 2 police cars came and a firetruck. I stuck around for about 10-15 minutes and then decided to leave. As I ran off with a mile and a half to go, it hit me that if I had been there just two minutes earlier, he could've easily swerved and hit me. Glad I didn't leave earlier or run faster.

So that was my morning adventure. It just goes to show that you never know what you'll see out running. I've seen wrecks before but never that soon after it happened. I hope the guy will be okay. I may watch my back a little closer running on that road this week. Be careful out there.

By the way - our family made another video, kindof a post-Christmas adventure. Check it out on Youtube if you have the time. Click here.

Keep runnin',

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Somebody's Following Me So I'll Look Back

9:38 PM

Ok, nobody's following me. I just wanted to get your attention. But here's why I put that. I often run at night, which I enjoy doing b/c it's peaceful and the roads are clear. But the multiple street lights make several shadows of me on the road and I always think somebody is running right behind me. It actually scares me for a split second every time. I have to move my arms in some crazy way to make sure all the shadows are in fact me. And I'll often look back to make sure nobody is there. Happened again tonight. I'm paranoid. I know. Just another thing that makes me a little crazy.

But here's the real reason for the "look back" in the title. I thought I'd look back on 2009 and list the top 10 moments in my running or related to running. 2009 was a great year for running. In fact it was by far the best running year I've ever had. Listing 10 favorites was pretty easy. So here they are with a little comment about each:

10. Trek in June. Now technically this was not "running" but we sure did do a whole lot of walking. We walked many many miles to get to the top of Mt. Antora in Colorado. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I will never forget it. So it has to go on this list.

9. Losing a good bit of weight. I don't know how much I actually lost this year. But when I weighed myself the Sunday before the St. Jude marathon and saw 149, it was pretty exciting. I do like being semi-skinny again.

8. Co-hosting the Runners Round Table podcast last week. I know this just happened, but it was a lot of fun and it felt good to be a part of that. It just made me realize what a great group of runners are out there and it's so much fun to talk with them and share stories. I'm already in talks to do another show and am very excited.

7. It's a secret. I'm not at liberty to mention #7 yet, but I promise I will very soon. Let's just say something happened related to running that I'm very excited about but I have to wait a little longer to share it. Sorry. Soon, I promise.

6. Starting this blog. I have really enjoyed keeping up with this blog and it has enabled me to get in touch with a lot of runners out there. It helped me with #8 up there. It's a great way to keep track of what I'm doing and share with others who are interested as well. Plus, I really enjoy reading other blogs too.

5. The trip to Memphis. I'll mention the actual race in Memphis in a second, but just the trip was fantastic. It was my first "running trip" and it was a blast. It made me want to travel more to run races. It's fun and easy to run local races but there is something about traveling, exploring a new city, and being part of a new race that makes it really special.

4. Placing 2nd at the Cedar Hall School 5K on Halloween. I had no idea what to expect that day and the race conditions were less than favorable. But it ended up being a great day and I was pretty proud of my performance.

3. Finishing the one mile race with Carter in April. Carter and I ran 25.2 miles together, one mile at a time, before the one mile race downtown on the night before my first marathon. So together, we ran 26.2 miles and had a great time. He did so well that night and running with him, finishing with him, high-fiving Coach Jeff Fisher at the end, and seeing the smile on his face when we had a great time was awesome. I loved running with my son and am excited we're doing it again this year.

2. The marathon in Memphis. It was my 2nd marathon to finish but my first one to run completely and my best time with 3:38. It was such a great day. One of the best of 2009. I will never forget this marathon. It's almost a tie with #1. I absolutely loved running this race.

1. Finishing my first marathon ever. April 25. Country Music marathon here in Nashville. No, the race didn't go exactly as I'd hoped and the heat was brutal, but it was still my first. I did finish it and so it has to be on top. I never dreamed, even a couple years ago, that I would ever finish a marathon. And so to actually be able to say I did was such an unbelievable feeling. It filled me with so much happiness and self-confidence. It was a life-changing, once in a lifetime, experience.

So there they are. In my next post, I plan to list my 10 goals for running in 2010 so check that out. I'll try to post it over the weekend. I am having a little bit harder time getting motivated to run since my marathon. It's hard when my next big race is so far away. But I've still been doing pretty good. I ran 11 on Sunday and it felt good. Planning to do another long run this Sunday.

Since this is my last post before Christmas, let me say Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope everyone has an amazing holiday and a very happy new year!

Keep runnin',

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Co-Hosting Gig. The Runners Round Table.


Ok, I never thought I'd use the word "Gig." But anyways...

I was privileged to be a part of an awesome experience last night. I was invited to serve as co-host of the Runners Round Table podcast. Mike was the host and Lesley and I co-hosted. We interviewed Jan Seely and Joe Henderson from the magazine Marathon and Beyond. Jan is one of the owners and editors of the magazine and Joe is a regular contributor and has written many books himself. You can find, listen and download the show here at the Runners Round Table website or on iTunes. I'll be honest. I hadn't heard of "Marathon and Beyond" before I was asked to do this, but after reading about it in preparation for the show and talking with Jan and Joe, I would love to get this magazine. I think I am getting a free copy in the mail because of a special offer that was made on the show but this may be a late addition to my Christmas list. Their story about how the magazine got its start was amazing and the features inside sound very appealing. It is over 200 pages and is bound more like a book than a magazine. It is something you keep and refer back to. Not something you throw away like most magazines.

Anyways - I loved serving as the co-host and hope to do it again sometime. Yes, I was a little nervous before it began and I wasn't sure what to expect, but once it started, it was smooth sailing. I sat next to my computer with my cheesy mic headset, watched the chatroom, listened and threw a question in when I could. It was just like having a conversation around a table with a great group of people. Hence the name of the show I guess. Oh well - check it out if you have some time. This is a great podcast and I've listened to several other episodes while running.

Shout out to Mike and Lesley. Thanks to you both. It was an honor to work with you and I hope to do it again.

Keep runnin',

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Flight is Booked. Yee-haw.


Booked our flight to Disney today for our trip in May. I knew Southwest opened up their flight schedule through August today and so I was watching and waiting all morning for the dates to switch. Had to be first, you know.

We'll fly out at 8:35 AM. There was a 6:10AM flight and I really wanted to take it. Again - have to be first, you know. But then I thought, do we really want to get up and be at the airport at 5AM? Sure. But who is going to take us to the airport at 5AM. So for the sake of our driver (whoever it may be) I picked the slightly later flight even though it wasn't easy. You're welcome - whoever you are. We'll still get there around 11AM and hopefully be at our hotel by noon or so. We won't even be able to check in but that'll give us plenty of time to eat lunch, maybe take a swim that afternoon and get ready for dinner that night. No parks on that day. Our flight home is at 2:00PM. A little later than we wanted, but otherwise it was get to the airport really early or have to make a stop somewhere. I didn't want to have to stop and change planes. And I really didn't want to have to get up super early on our last day. That just makes it even more depressing to be leaving DW. 2:00 will give us time to eat a nice breakfast and have plenty of time to make it to the airport. We'll still get home around 3:00 with the time change.

So it's booked. Done. Official. Awesome. Can't wait. The countdown begins. Disney 2010!!

More to come.

Keep runnin',

Sunday, December 13, 2009

At Least I Made the Effort - Quick Update


Quick update from last night's post -

I got up at 4:30 this morning to run. I really did. I was going to do it. But it was pouring down rain. I guess I could've run in the rain but I really didn't want to get drenched for 10 miles this morning so I went back to bed. I can't lie. It felt so good to go back to bed. So I'll take this week off from my long run but I promise I'll do one next Sunday. Rain or shine.

Did I just promise? Can't back out now.

(Later note - I ended up running 5 miles today so that's not bad.)

Keep runnin',

Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Run or not To Run


That is the question. I'll tell you what I mean in a second.

First of all - I've discovered I have a strange habit. Whenever I'm listening to music while I run, I always try to beat the last song to my driveway. In other words, if the timing is right and I think a song is going to end before I get home, I'll sprint and try to beat the song home. I usually end up killing myself and am coughing up my lung when I get there but I feel so good when I beat the song. On the other hand, I am sad and feel like a loser if it beats me. Tonight, I ran three miles and beat the last song by 8 seconds. I was so proud I almost spiked my Ipod into the ground. I know - I have issues.

Ok, back to the title. I'm trying to decide if I should run a long run in the morning. I have run long runs every Sunday morning for the last 6 months with very few exceptions. The only exceptions have been when I was out of town and even then, I sometimes ran on Monday mornings. Tomorrow, I have no excuse not to run unless I use the 'marathon is over. I deserve a break' excuse. Part of me feels like I do deserve a break. "Take a Sunday off, dude. Sleep in. Enjoy the morning." But the other part of me is saying, "keep the streak alive. You'll feel good about yourself. Don't break the habit. You haven't eaten well this week. You need to run off a couple of pounds. Just do it." Which part do I listen to? If I do run, I'll probably do between 8-10 miles. I thought about not doing a long run again until January but I would hate to start my long runs back at 4 or 5 miles which is what I'd have to do.

I don't know what I'll decide. I really don't. I'm torn. Guess you'll know when you check my running log over there to the side.

I only ran 14 miles this week. That's the lowest in a long time but I was trying to let my body recover from the marathon. I think it's fine. No pains and running still feels good.

One more thing - I meant to put the link to our Youtube Christmas video on here in case anyone reading didn't see it on Facebook. Check it out if you want. Here's the link. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Keep Runnin',

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Post-Race Depression (But I'm just "Dimpled")

8:31 AM

First of all, don't let the title scare you. I'm not depressed. I'm not even sad. I'm actually quite happy. It's almost Christmas. I'm about to have a 2 week vacation. I just had a great time and race in Memphis. My family rocks. Lots of reasons to be happy. But I am just a little....what's the word...."nostalgic" maybe? Not sure if that's the right word. Maybe "dimpled" b/c a dimple is a slight depression. My depression is slight. It's small. It's low. It's wee. Ok, way too long of an intro.

The point is, I miss Memphis and the race. I have been preparing for this marathon since the beginning of summer. June. And now it's done. It's a little sad. I had such a great experience. Great trip. Great friends. Great basketball game with great dinner. Great hotel (ok, "Great" is a strong word but it was adequate and memorable). Great weather. And great, great race. Near perfect. And so I can't help but wonder - is that it? Will I ever again have a race that goes so well? Is that the best time I will ever have and it's downhill from here? It's just kindof a nostalgic feeling. Again, not sure if that's the right word but I looked it up and nostalgic means "a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life" and part of me wants to be back there doing it all over again. I'm sure I'll get over it, but just curious if any other runners out there have ever felt this way after a big race.

Ok, on to new things. I'm sure that's what I need to do is focus on a new race. And I have a couple on the horizon. I did decide to run the Zoo 5K on January 23. I'm looking forward to it. It was a fun race when I did it 2 years ago so I'll start preparing for that. I am going to take it easy this week and let my body fully recover from running 26.2 miles. So my mileage will be way down this week but it'll start picking up again.

I'm also registered to run the Country Music Half Marathon in April. I decided after last year not to do the full again. I think that's a marathon where once is enough. It's not the best of courses and my experience wasn't great, mainly b/c of the heat which I know is not the race's fault. But I decided I would go back to the half b/c I wanted to make a goal of improving my half time of 1:34:44. Granted, that will be tough to beat, but I'll try. I'll talk more about that race as it approaches in April.

As far as the future after that...who knows? I would love to run the Chicago marathon next fall. That is definitely a goal at some point in the future. I just have to see about funding and timing. But I've heard nothing but good about that race. I also am still planning to do the Goofy challenge in 2011. I will most likely register for that race in about a month. Again, funding and timing will be an issue that I'm still working out, but I'm very hopeful.

One new feature I'm adding to this blog. It's "What's on my IPOD?" My Ipod and music is vital to my running. I really enjoy listening to music, podcasts, and other things so I thought I'd share what's motivating me each week. It might be a podcast, a particular music artist, or just a specific song that gave me a running boost. I'll try to update it each week.

Ok, that's it. I ran my first 3 miles last night since the marathon. It was pouring rain and very windy so it was tough. It felt good, but I was completely drenched when I got home. I'll try to run again tonight. Thanks for all the positive comments from my race-post. I appreciate them all.

Keep runnin',

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2nd Marathon? Check. (The Report)


It's over. My 2nd marathon is in the books. It's hard to believe it's done. So here's the report in a lot of detail. If you want the "Cliff Notes," let me know.

I slept so good last night. I was in a run down motel in a scary part of Memphis, but I slept great. I was so tired. It was so cold outside but so warm in our room. It was a great sleep. Mark agreed. He slept good too. He said he hadn't gone to bed that early (11:00) since high school. I believe him. Our cell phone alarms went off at the exact same time. Exactly. No lie. It was freaky. 5:30AM. We got up, showered, put on our race stuff and checked out of the hotel. Went out to our cars, crossed our fingers that they would still be in one piece, they were, loaded up, and headed to the parking garage downtown. Oh yeah - it was stinkin' freezin'!!! I mean cold. In the 20's. It was 26 at the start of the race so it was even colder when we got there. We walked to the finish which was at the baseball stadium so I could check my bag. We had to shed our coats at that point because otherwise we would have to leave them when the race started. Now, Mark already had on shorts which I thought was crazy, but when he took off his jacket and had nothing but a t-shirt, I knew he was nuts. I had on long pants and 2 shirts (one long, one short). And I was freezing. How he didn't die on the spot of hypothermia I'll never know. We walked back to the Forum and thanked God when we saw it was open and warm inside. We just hung out there for a while and talked and watched people. They had bagles and water. I was a little unimpressed with the breakfast selection. Nashville is better in that regard but that's about it. Keep reading.

At 7:30 we decided to head toward the start line. We got in corral 4. You could choose your corral based on your projected pace. I decided I was going to try and stick with the 3:45 pace setter. I knew I was trying to break 4 hours so I figured sticking with him would give me a little cushion if I needed to slow down later in the race. It was very cold just standing out there. Everyone was jumping around, moving, and stretching to keep warm. I had my trusty socks on my hands since I forgot gloves. They weren't doing squat. I might as well have been holding ice cubes. But I guess it was better than no gloves. Sorry Mark. The race started right at 8. Our corral slowly moved up. They were letting a corral go every 1-2 minutes. Our corral got up to the start and the announcer said go. My 2nd marathon had begun.

I was excited that I was going to try and stay with a pace setter. I've never done that before. I don't know why. One of my biggest problems in my previous races has been going out too fast every time. This would force me to stay on pace the whole time. The start was great. The first few miles were great. Right after mile one, someone threw a knit hat into the bushes right in front of us. Mark did a spin move, stepped into the bushes and grabbed that hat. I told him I saw lice falling from the guy's head but he didn't care. He tried it on. Didn't fit well or something. He left it for someone else. Mark and I stayed together for the first 7 miles or so. Around mile 2 or 3, I guess we both realized that 3:45 pace setter was going a little too slow. We sped up and caught up to the 3:40 guy. I thought that still wouldn't be too fast but would build an even bigger cushion, plus I was starting to slightly fill the urge to go to the bathroom so I needed a little extra cushion when bathroom time hit.

It hit Mark around mile 7. He ran for a port-a-john and said he'd catch up to me. He never did but that was fine. I was happy we'd stayed together that long. He was doing great and I was very impressed, especially since 8 miles was the longest he'd run in his training. He would end up running the whole way and getting 1:50 in his first ever half-marathon. That's awesome and I'm extremely proud of him. He had to leave right after the race to go back to Harding, but we talked on the phone later. Let me just say here that it was so nice to have a friend there to room with, run with, and talk with. It made the trip 1000 times better. Ok, back to me.

I was having a great race. The weather was PERFECT!! It was cold for the first 3 miles but after that I wasn't cold anymore and the cold air felt great! I could've shed my sock gloves but I kindof didn't want to. My hands were still a little cold, plus they made a nice sweat and (sorry this is gross) runny nose rag. Only problem - I had worn those socks the night before so every time I wiped my forehead or nose, I had to smell them. They stunk. I would end up wearing them the entire race. They eventually didn't smell as bad or maybe I got used to it. But those socks were good to me. I hated to throw them out, so I didn't.

Around mile 10, I knew I would have to use the bathroom soon. I just can't go a whole marathon without going. I repeat what I said on my last marathon report - "anyone who can go a whole marathon without using it is a hero in my book, bladder of steel." I hated to stop for 2 reasons. One - sometimes when you stop, your legs will stiffen up and it's very hard to get going again. Two - I didn't want to lose my pace guy. So I sped up and got a little ahead of him. But I soon had to stop. I found a port-a-john at mile 12. I was done in 25 seconds. It would've been 15 but I couldn't get my pants untied. Stupid knot. I came out of the john running. I decided I just had to go for it and hope my legs wouldn't stiffen up. They didn't. When I came out, I could see the 3:40 guy up ahead. I would have to speed up a little to catch him but it wasn't too hard to do that. I caught him.

Now, mile 14 was where I had to stop on the last marathon. When I got to that and felt great I knew this race was going to be different. Let me just say here that I listened to my Ipod the entire time for this race and it really helped. I know it's "frowned upon" and "real racers don't need music" blah blah blah, but I don't care. It helps me. I find myself really listening to a podcast or singing along with songs and it's great. I don't care what anyone says. It helped and I'll probably do it the next race.

Miles 18-20 were probably the hardest but even then, they weren't that hard. This race just went really well. I love the course. I love the crowd. I love the spectators. I meant to say that from mile 5-6, we actually ran through the St. Jude campus and there were many kids cheering us on. That was awesome! But I loved this race. I would love to do it again some day.

22 miles is the longest I've ever run without stopping. When I got to 22 and still felt great, I knew I was going to run this entire race without walking. That made me feel really good. I felt so good that I sped up a little and moved ahead of the 3:40 pacer guy. I could see downtown approaching again and I knew the finish was getting closer. That was motivation to go a little faster. Now mile 25 seemed to last forever. I guess I was really anticipating the finish. Plus, at the end of mile 25, they make you go up this short but very steep hill. I, along with everyone around me was saying "what in the world???" But when you get to the top, you see the "mile 26" sign and it's all downhill from there into the baseball stadium. The stands were full of cheering spectators. The announcer was looking at numbers and calling out names. Not sure if he called mine or not. I was too busy listening to the cheers and screams. I crossed the line and stopped the timer on my Ipod. It said 3:38. I couldn't believe it. Not only did I beat four hours, I beat it bad.

They put the medal around my neck. It felt great. We were ushered to the food/drink area for runners. Very awesome. So much better than Nashville (which is granola bars and water basically). Memphis had pizza (!!!), doughnuts, cookies, fruit, soda (!!!- that was the best tasting Sprite I've ever had - I'm serious), hot chocolate, water, powerade and probably more. I pigged out. I felt I deserved it. I ran into Nate and Andrea again. They took the two pictures you are seeing. The small figure in black is me going through the finish line. I walked to my car and drove the three hours home. It went by fast because I was having that runner's high.

Needless to say, it was a great day and a great trip. I had an amazing time and I can't wait to run the next one. Who knows when the next full will be? I'm running the Nashville half in April but that's all I have on the calendar right now. My official time, after looking on the results webpage, was 3:38:55. I'm very pleased with that. It'll be hard to improve upon but we'll see. I was also very proud that I didn't walk like I had to back in April in Nashville.

In April, I finished my first marathon. Today, I ran my first marathon.

Keep runnin',

Friday, December 4, 2009

We're Here. We're in our Hotel. And We're Alive!


Well, we're here. I'm sitting in my Super 8 hotel room as I write this. Mark's sitting on his bed watching the movie "300" on TV. I've got to get to bed soon so this won't be too long, but so far, so good. I got here around 4PM and came straight to the hotel to check in. It's not that bad....yet... I realize we haven't left yet. No, it is not a luxury hotel and many would call it "dirty" or "run down" but it's your typical Super 8. Our room has heat, hot water, 2 beds, a TV, a fridge, a microwave, a safe, towels, etc. etc. It's fine. It's actually a lot better than I thought. The parking lot is well lit and there are security cameras all over the place. I'm feeling pretty good about it.

However, there is a slighty scary moment from today...
After I checked in and rested for just a few minutes, I drove downtown to the expo center to register. I found a free parking lot. Free. Yahoo! I found a spot pretty quick and pulled in. When I got out of my car, I just happened to look at the car parked next to mine and noticed something was different. Was it the dirt on the car? Was it the slightly old paint job? Or was it the busted window and glass all in the seat? Yes, that was it. It had been broken into. I mumbled under my breath, "you have got to be kidding me." About that time a lady came running up to me and said "Are you the police?". Did I look like the police? Yes, I have a white Honda but it's missing those things - what are they called - blue lights!! I told her, no I was not the police, but I immediately had a question for her. "Should I not park here?" It was an obvious one. The security guard came with her. He was old and didn't seem to care too much that a crime had occurred. I asked him the same question - "Should I not park here?" He said, "I got 4 levels and I can't watch them all." The lady informed me they were waiting for the police b/c obviously her car had been broken into. The police arrived about that time and I just decided to leave my car. I didn't want to find another spot. And what are the chances of them hitting 2 cars right next to each other? I said a prayer as I walked away and looked back one more time at my car. I thought it might be the last time we saw each other.

I went to the expo. It was good. I found Nate and Andrea. Met their friends. Called Mark. He was running a little late so I went with Nate and Andrea and friends to the Forum for the Grizzlies game. It was freezing outside. Still is. We had to wait for a trolley and I realized waiting in that cold that I don't have enough clothes for the race tomorrow. I don't even have gloves. I'm going to have to use my socks as gloves and then pitch them. Not kidding. The game was fine. I'm not a huge NBA fan, but they were winning when we left after 3 quarters and I think they were supposed to get beat. The all-you-can-eat pasta supper at the game was good. I probably ate too much. Mark finally showed up at the game. It was good to see him. Plus he said we could walk to his car which was close and then he'd drive me to mine which was far. That was good b/c I really didn't want to walk to scary lot by myself.

Moment of truth. Would my car be there? I was seriously nervous and had my doubts. I figured if it was there it would at least have some damage. When we got to the parking lot my car was THE ONLY ONE THERE. The only one. It had to be damaged. It was in the middle of a dimly lit garage and Oldy McCareless was nowhere to be seen. I slowly approached. I didn't see any glass. It had made it. God is good. My GPS was still in the console. Now, if it can just survive tonight.

So that's it. I'll write a race report either tomorrow night or Sunday and let you know how it went. I'm excited but anxious to get to bed and get this race started because I know I'll be freezing until it starts.

Ok, I'm off to bed. More to come.

Keep runnin',

Monday, November 30, 2009

Old Me vs New Me. Yikes!


My 2nd marathon is in 5 days. 5 days. 5 stinkin' days. I should be freaking out. Maybe I am inside but I'll keep it hidden so as not to scare anyone. Actually, I'm not freaking out. I'm not even nervous or anxious at this point. Oh, I will be. When I wake up Saturday morning. When I put on my running clothes and bib number. When I get into my starting corral. When the gun goes off. But then it will be over. The nervousness will be gone when I actually start running. And then God only knows what will happen for the next four hours (hopefully less than 4 hours). I'll give it all to Him at that point and just trust in my training, my supportive family, but mostly in Him. I can't believe it's in 5 days. It hasn't really sunk in I guess.

Nate and Andrea from church will be there running the 5K. They are both awesome and amazing runners. They also offered to order tickets to a pasta dinner and Grizzlies game. $25 for all you can eat pasta, bread, and drinks as well as the game ticket. Not a bad deal. So Mark and I decided to do that too. That'll be fun. I've never been to a Grizzlies game. In fact, it's been probably 20 years since I went to an NBA game. It's going to be a fun weekend. I can't wait.

Oh, by the way, the title of this post is attributed to the fact that we found a picture recently. We were searching for old pictures of the boys and Santa and found the picture below hidden in one of the frames. It was shocking! Susan was shocked. I was shocked. Not to offend anyone here, but I look like I ate a cow. A whole cow. Bones and all. I'm huge. Shout out to Courtney who also has a similar picture of the past me. But here's the picture.

I would say I'm close to 200 pounds in that picture. Now, here's a picture of me recently at Disney World.

Looks different, huh? I weighed myself yesterday after my 10 mile run and I now weigh 149. That's my lowest weight ever - well at least since I weighed that back in high school on the way up. So I've probably lost about 50 pounds since I started running about 3 years ago. I guess it's like one of those magazine adds for diet pills. The before and after me. " Look what these diet pills can do for you." Except I don't take diet pills. I just did it by running. I still don't eat great. Susan will tell you. That's my hardest thing. But I try. Sometimes.

(A kid brought me a chocolate doughnut as I am writing this. Not kidding. I have to eat it or the kid will feel bad, right? Chocolate doughnuts are my weakness. Mean kid...who is now my favorite student. Ok, this doughnut is so good. Sorry, back to the post...)

Oh well, I told Courtney and I'll tell the world now. If you ever see me starting to balloon back up, show me this picture and just shake your head in a negative way. I'll get the message.

I'll try to write from Memphis on Friday and let you know how things are going. Not sure if the old Super 8 will have wireless. If they ever did, someone probably stole it. We'll see. Until then...

Keep runnin',

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Official. We're Going Back to the World!!


One week from right now I will be a little....what's the word? Anxious. Nervous. Excited. Stressed. Adrenalineized. Is that a word? One week from right now I will be sitting in the scariest hotel room ever (see a couple of posts down) on the night before my 2nd marathon. I should be asleep one week from right now, but I know we won't be. Mark and I will be talking in our hotel room. Or we might be pushing the dresser in front of the door for the night. Whatever. The point is - I can't believe it's just one week away. It seems so long ago when I decided I wanted to do another marathon. I actually decided the day of my first marathon. I had thought about doing a 2nd but that day was when I decided I had to do it again. There were so many good things that far outweighed any bad. I knew I wanted to experience all that good again. And I knew Memphis was the place And it's almost here.

Well, it's officially official. Today, we called and finalized our reservations for our next trip to Disney World. Our tradition of going once a year continues. For the past three years, we have gone in October during Fall Break. But for a couple of reasons which I'll discuss later, it will be better if we go at a different time next year. So recently, we decided on May, right when school lets out. I will love that. I always enjoy having trips to look forward to as school closes. Last year, it was Holiday World which we loved. This year, it's THE World. We're only staying four nights instead of our usual five. Money's a little tight. And we're only going to three parks instead of our usual four. We're skipping out on Animal Kingdom this time. I'll miss it, especially some of the rides (Dinosaur - my favorite), but it's the easiest park to give up. We have it done in just a few hours. There's just not much there so it'll be fine to give it up for this trip. We'll go back in the future. We also booked our restaurants today and got everything we wanted. I'm very excited as are Susan and the boys. Yes, we went ahead and told them. No surprises this time. Oh well - I'll talk more about the trip as it approaches. It's still 6 months away but it's always fun to get it on the calendar. I'm hoping my next trip to Disney after that is also on the calendar - the Goofy Challenge. Registering for that comes up during the first or 2nd week of January so I'll keep you posted.

On a side note - this post is taking me forever to type because I'm watching "Footloose" in the background. Haven't seen that one in a long time. I still think it's a pretty good movie. Maybe I'm crazy. Well, I know I'm crazy, but does anyone else think that's a good movie? Sorry - back to important things...

I got the first half of the outside lights up. I'll finish up tomorrow. I guess I should've kept a count of how many lights but it's gotta be several thousand. I'll try to get a picture or video on here or something. Just call me Clark.

Doing my last long run Sunday - 10 miles. I'm still deciding on the 5k for January. I'll probably register for one or the other next week at some point. Ate a huge Thanksgiving lunch yesterday and then ran home from my parents (5.5 miles). My dessert(s) hadn't quite digested yet so my stomach hurt a little but at least I ran off a few of the thousands of calories I most likely ate.

One last thing. My Auburn Tigers lost a hard fought game to Alabama today. 26-21. I was very proud as I was expecting a blow out loss. So it's still great to be an Auburn Tiger. And I hope Florida kills Bama next week. I never root for Florida, but go Gators!

Keep runnin',

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Animals Versus Predators


Just got back from Opryland. Yes, I still call it Opryland and I always will. I miss that place. Susan and I actually got to talking about it tonight. We told the boys all about all the rides and what each one did. No mall, no matter how big can ever replace what was Opryland. Sorry - short rant. We do enjoy the hotel and went to the Delta tonight to enjoy the water show, boat ride and Christmas decorations. We'll start decorating our house tomorrow.

I'm looking for a 5K for the Winter. I'll probably take a week off after the marathon but I certainly don't want to get out of shape or stop for very long. I need another race to look towards. I am doing the Country Music 1/2 in April but I felt like I needed something in between to keep me motivated. So I've narrowed it down to two races: The Zoo Run Run 5K at the Nashville Zoo OR the Nashville Predators Fangtastic 5K. The Zoo run is at the end of January and the Predators race is at the beginning of February so they are around the same time. They are both $25 so money doesn't make a difference. But there are pros and cons for each.

Zoo Run Pros - I've done it before so I know the course. Smaller race which I like (not too crowded). Got a nice T-shirt last time. Enjoy supporting the zoo (we're members). Fun course as you run throughout the zoo and see the animals as you go.

Zoo Run Cons - I've done it before (do I need something new?). Some running on trails and rough surfaces. Not an easy course (some hills).

Predators Run Pros - Never done it before so would be something new. Run downtown and most likely a little flatter. Get a free ticket to a Predators game plus the t-shirt.

Predators Run Cons - A lot bigger so more crowded and less chance to place well. You only get one ticket to a Predators game (like I'm gonna go by myself). Unfamiliar course.

So I'm still deciding. I'm leaning towards the Zoo run but I'll let you know in the next week or so. I'm just excited to have another race almost on the calendar with Susan's approval. That's always a big step.

10 days. 10 days!! until the marathon. Holy cow! I'm getting excited. I'm in the taper so I'm not running as much which feels a little weird but it is nice to have a little extra time to sleep.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I'm very excited to be out of school and love this time of year. I'm going all out on the outside lights this year. More about that later. It's gonna be crazy!!

Keep runnin',

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hotel from Down Under - And I Don't Mean Australia

10:01 AM

I had every intention of running last night but I was so tired. I think I'm on a bad schedule where I am getting tired really early (7-8 PM) and am waking up early (4-5AM). I can't seem to get off that schedule. I would rather get tired around 10-11 and wake up around 5-6 but I'm about an hour or two off. Anyways, I got up this morning around 4 and ran the five miles. So technically I did it today (Wed.) but I'm counting it as my Tuesday run b/c I have every intention of running tonight after church. But I may do it tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Well here goes. The hotel story. As you know if you've read any of this blog, I am running a marathon in a little over 2 weeks in Memphis. About 3-4 months ago, I decided I needed to start looking for a hotel. The race starts at 8AM so I didn't want to drive from Nashville that morning, plus I needed to register on Friday anyways. So I began looking for a hotel. I knew that Susan and the boys weren't going to go for good reason so I began looking as cheap as possible. My feelings on hotels has always been that it's just a room. Now don't get me wrong, I like nice hotels and the few times I've been privileged to stay in one have been great, but I'm basically fine staying in anything with a bed. That's why we stay cheap at Disney. We're only in the room awake for a couple of hours at most so what's the point of paying a lot of money for a huge room. I realize that if I had the money, I might feel differently, but I would hope I wouldn't. All that to say, since my family wasn't coming to Memphis, I knew I would just find a cheap room and go with it. On the race website, they had a list of hotels, how far they were from the start line, and how much they were per night. I scrolled down and down and down until I found the right price. Distance didn't matter as much since I will have a car. I knew when I saw the Super 8 only 2 miles from the start at the low low price of $45 a night, I had found my room. I clicked on the hotel website to get the number and happened to notice the reviews. Holy cow - the reviews!! Pause on that story because it leads me to another story....

In 2005, I was in charge of planning the reward trip for our church. I work part time at our church with the youth and have been in charge of the reward trip for many years. The reward trip is just that - a reward for those that have participated in a certain number of service projects throughout the year. In 2005, the reward was King's Island in Cincinnati. I was in charge of finding hotels, getting park tickets, getting a list of those going, etc. etc. I always find several hotel choices and then take them to the youth minister so we can discuss the best options. We decided (and I'm gonna use "we" here so everyone can't put ALL the blame on me) to go with the Econo-Lodge in Erlanger, KY for our first night. It was cheap, not too far outside of Cincinnati, and looked pretty nice on the internet. On the day we were supposed to leave, I just happened to be watching the news and noticed the top story about how a couple had escaped from prison (from right here in TN by the way - ironic?) and had been caught in Ohio. Click here for the story if you just really have a lot of time to waste. Before the couple was caught (after murdering a prison guard no less), they had stayed in, you guessed it, the Econo-Lodge in Erlanger, KY. I called my youth minister immediately. We called the hotel. They said the hotel had been cleared and all would be fine. All would not be fine.

When we arrived at the Econo-Lodge that night, it took forever to get checked in. I had specifically asked for non-smoking rooms and I think 4 out of 15 rooms were non-smoking. The hotel was next to a very loud bar with music. The rooms were disgusting and didn't seem to have been cleaned in months. So while I was dealing with all that, I kindof forgot about the news story. It never crossed my mind that the room where the fugitive couple had stayed would be given to us, or for that matter, be available to anyone. But as you've probably figured out, room 111 was assigned to us. We still didn't know that was THE room and we hadn't told the kids about the news story, but some had already heard and it spread quick. We assigned four high school boys to room 111. They quickly came and told us about the room. I still wasn't convinced it was THE room until I got to the room and some scary looking lady was sitting in her car in the parking lot and said (and I quote), "Room 111, right thar, that's them criminal's room."

Why me?

It was filthy (which matched all the rooms) but there was a very specific and large blood stain on the bed spread (by the way - the fugitive had been shot in the escape).

I am realizing as I'm writing this that I still can't believe it really happened. Sorry - got off track.

Now the boys were okay with it. They were a little upset but in a funny way. They filmed it and made jokes. We realized afterward that we should have asked for another room, but it was so late and we were so confused by it all that for some reason we didn't. These boys' parents were less than happy when we got home and rightly so. It was a nightmare come true. We laugh about it now but it really wasn't funny at the time. By the way, I would later complain and get an apology letter from the hotel management - didn't help much. I will never stay in an Econo-Lodge again. Period.

Now, I told that story because one of the boys in room 111 that night was Mark Slagle - the same Mark I previously wrote about who will be my roommate in Memphis. I booked the hotel before I knew he was coming. When he offered to run and I asked him if he wanted to share the room, I forgot all about the reviews and the above story. Click here to read the reviews and you'll see why this story is funny. The reviews match the description of the Econo-Lodge from 4 years ago. In fact the 2nd one matches the title of this post - just not quite as nice as I made it. When I told Mark about the reviews, he just laughed. He might not be laughing in 2 weeks. The picture makes the hotel look pretty nice but I'm sure that's deceiving. I really want to run this race so I'm just hoping I make it to the start line after a night in this hotel. I'm assuming it is probably also in a scary part of town as I've certainly heard that Memphis has some scary parts, actually a lot of them. No offense, Memphis. Well, at least we'll have each other and won't be alone, which was my original plan. I don't mind a dirty room too much as long as the bed is sleepable. Is that a word? I guess if someone scary comes knocking on our door, we can throw Super 8 soaps at them and hit them over the head with the ice bucket, if we even get one. Please pray for our safety - and I'm pretty serious about that. I'm sure we'll look back and laugh on it as we already have but I hope nothing happens to take that laughter away. Oh well - I know this is way too long, but I had to share.

Better go work on my karate.

Keep runnin',

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last Long Run


Just a quick post to say my last long run before my marathon is done. I just finished 22 miles in 3:06, averaging just under 8:30 per mile. I am very happy with my time. I was expecting around 3:20. This gives me even more confidence that I can do this marathon under 4 hours. It felt great this morning. I could tell I was going fast. My legs did start to get that numb feeling with about 3 miles left but I made it home fine. I just hope I can do that last 4 miles on race day. It's a little scary to stop at 22 miles but that's what all the programs recommend.

Now I'll start my taper with 12 miles next week and probably 10 the week before the race. I'm about to go turn on the oven to surprise the family with cinnamon rolls this morning. That's just as much my reward as it is theirs. But I figure I deserve them after running 22 miles. And Max picked California Pizza Kitchen for lunch today. Even more reward.

I'll write more about the marathon at some point this week. Hope everyone has a great week.

Keep runnin',

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Mark


My heel was a little sore after Monday's long run. I ran 20. It took 2 hours and 53 minutes. 2:35 AM-5:28AM. Not bad. By the way, I did four 5-mile loops this time instead of my one long 20-mile loop. Decided to try something new. It was a little boring but I think it was a little easier. I stayed close to home, passed it four times. Flatter streets. But like I said, my heel hurt pretty bad, especially on Tuesday, so I took Tuesday off. Figured I'd give my feet an extra day to rest. It helped. I felt better yesterday and ran 5 last night.

The marathon is a little over 3 weeks away. Very close. Like I said last time, I'm looking forward to it for so many reasons. It'll be nice to run a new race. I've heard many good things about this race. It'll be interesting to see how I do. It's a trip and I enjoy any trip, no matter how short or close. But I'm really looking forward to it because of Mark. I mentioned Mark Slagle last time. Since my family isn't going for very good reasons, it'll be very nice to have Mark there. Mark is like a brother to me, since I never had one. We met when I was Mark's teacher and camp counselor at church. Even though he's about 15 years younger, I have always enjoyed any time we've had together. We've had a lot of laughs together over the years and Mark is one of the most talented people I've ever met. He has been the star of many of my camp skits and I couldn't ask for better. He made those skits legen....wait for it...dary. (Sorry, I watch "How I Met Your Mother".) Mark is just awesome in so many ways.

This summer, I experienced one of the greatest weeks of my life. I went on Trek with 14 other guys from church. We flew out to Salida, Colorado and climbed Mount Antora. It was an incredible, spiritual, memorable, life-changing adventure and I will never forget it. Mark was one of the two guides that led us up that mountain and for that I will be eternally grateful. He was already a best friend but through that, our friendship grew even stronger. On our last night, we were eating at Sonic and somehow the Memphis marathon came up. I told Mark he needed to run with me. I was surprised when he quickly agreed. That's so Mark. He will do anything and be anywhere you need him to be at the drop of a hat. He didn't even think about having to run several miles and the pain he might have, he just said, "I'll be there.". Now, being that he has never done a major race that I know of, I'm glad he'll be doing the half marathon while I do the whole. And I'm sure we won't stay together. But just the fact that he's been running, training, and preparing for this is just awesome. It's a true testament to what a great friend he is.

I talked to Mark yesterday and he said he's still good to go. He's been running and can't wait for the trip. Our hotel is a whole other post and I'll talk about that soon. There's a definite story there. Let's just say neither of us needs to be by ourselves in that place. But it will be awesome and I certainly can't wait. It'll be another one of many adventures with Mark.

I'll be running my longest run this Sunday morning before I start tapering. I'll do 22 and it'll be a big loop instead of short ones. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Until then...

Keep runnin',

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Four Weeks and Counting

10:03 AM

I just completed a 41-mile week. I don't think I've ever done over 40 miles in a week. I could be wrong but I don't think I am. And that was with a class trip this week. I went to Camp Cosby in Alpine, AL with my 6th graders. This was my 10th trip. I love it there. Absolutely awesome. And this year's 6th graders are just outstanding. I can't say enough. But I was very proud of myself for getting up early Thursday and Friday while up there and running 4 miles both mornings. They were both great runs. It's beautiful up there and it felt so good to get a morning run in both days. I just finished 5 for today and that makes 41 for the week. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot a little. Sorry - just celebrating. I'm done now. On to bigger and better things.

Today marks exactly 4 weeks until my next marathon. As previously mentioned, I am running the St. Jude's Marathon in Memphis, TN on December 5. That is four weeks from today. I know I'll be nervous and anxious as it approaches, but I am really excited. I have heard so many good things about this marathon. Mainly the flatness of it. That's always good. But I've also just heard it's a great race. It's well organized and fun to run. Plus the fact that the money is going toward such a good cause with the hospital there and all. I've heard that some of the kids come out and cheer. Not sure if that's true or not.

I have three goals for this marathon.
1. Finish. This is always goal one. Finish without quitting and without getting injured.
2. Don't walk. This is so much easier said than done but if I can run 22 without stopping (my longest), I can surely do 4 more measly miles.
3. Finish under 4 hours. I was so close in April at the Country Music Marathon. 4:11. So I think it's more than a reasonable goal. I'm hoping for much cooler temperatures this time. That's what got me in April.

I am also just looking forward to the trip. I know several people that will be there either running or cheering. The Hall's from church will be cheering. My cousin's wife will be running. Go Susan! And one of my best friends will be there with me. Mark Slagle agreed to do the half while I run the whole. I am so proud and honored that he'll be there. I'll talk more about him later but we're sharing a room Friday night and it will be so much easier having someone there to talk to and take away the pre-race jitters. Susan and the boys seriously thought about coming but decided not to and I don't blame them. We really can't pay for a nice hotel and I wouldn't dream of having them stay where I'm staying. More about that later too. Plus there are things going on here at home that weekend. It's just better for them to be here. So Mark will be my family that weekend. He already is.

Well, I'm about to head to the state Cross Country meet to cheer on our HS team. Can't wait for that. They have had an awesome season and I'm hoping for victories today for both girls and boys. After that I'm headed to our church youth retreat where I'm speaking tonight. I'll run just 3 miles there tomorrow morning and save my long run for Monday morning before school. Yuck. I don't like doing it that way but I don't really have a choice. 20 miles Monday morning.

Keep runnin',

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Just Swam a 5K - More or Less

12:13 PM

I finished a 5K this morning. I hadn't done one since January of 2008 so I was pretty due to do another. As I posted previously, I got an email about the "Cedar Hall School Trail Run 5K" about a month or so ago and decided to give it a try. It rained all day yesterday and was raining slightly this morning so I knew it was going to be a mess. I told Susan and the boys they didn't have to go with the rain, but they were persistent and I was glad. We all packed into the van at 7:45AM and headed to Christiana, TN.

This race was out in the boonies. It was actually beyond the boonies. We passed the boonies on the way there. We drove to Murfreesboro but then went another 10-15 miles on back roads. The flyer had said there was a 200 person limit but we all knew there wouldn't be that many people there. With the weather and being in boonie-ville, we knew it would be less. There was probably around 70 that ran. We got there around 8:30 and there were only a handful of people there. It was on a farm with a ton of land. They had a fire going and a tent to register. I registered and got my t-shirt. Pretty nice. Long sleeve. White. That's half the reason to do these races anyways, right? I could tell it was going to be a muddy course, just by how the field was where we registered, but I had no idea what was to come.

They started us at 9:00 and told us there would be some mud and water. That was the biggest understatement I've ever heard. When we started, "Mr. No Shirt" got out in front. He was the only one without a shirt. It was too cold for that, even if you're a great runner. Hey, I was cold with my shorts and t-shirt. Most had on pants and long-sleeves. I decided to get out quick and not get caught in the crowd so I got right behind no-shirt. I figured someone would eventually pass me, but nobody ever did.

The course was awful. Now don't get me wrong - on a dry day, it would be a great course, but today, not so much. The first half mile was probably the toughest part. See, I was trying to avoid the mud and puddles. Note to self - just run through them. It's so much easier. The ground was very soft and extremely lumpy all over even on the course. I know the guy behind me (which was actually a boy - who stayed in 3rd the whole time) thought I looked drunk. I was stumbling all over the place. How I didn't twist and ankle I'll never know. This was by far the most "cross country" course I've ever run even all through high school. It went through woods, on trails, over rocks, through streams, rivers, puddles, lakes, whatever. It was extremely twisty and bumpy and unbelievably wet and muddy. There were many many times I ran through water that was shin deep and I'm not exaggerating. But like I said, it was much easier to just run through it than try to avoid it. I stared at my feet through 90% of it. You had to.

It was pretty well marked, I will say. I only questioned myself once if I was on the course of not. I tried to keep no-shirt in my sight and did for most of it. My ipod was acting up. I think it got wet. It was too loud or too soft or was repeating the same song. I should've just gone without but I usually run better with it. I listened to it for most of the time but eventually turned it off when I knew I didn't have much left. The miles weren't marked except for the first one so I had no idea how much I had left. I didn't like that. I knew around mile 2 that I was going to get second. I was shocked. Granted there were only 70 people or so running but I would've never put myself in 2nd. I came out of the woods and saw the finish line. That's a beautiful sight. I saw my wife and boys cheering. Even more beautiful. I high-fived the boys before I crossed the line in 20:28. Wow. Not to toot my own horn but that was so much better than I was hoping for. I was hoping to beat 22 minutes. And with the conditions, I was especially surprised. I'll take it. New PR for me. 2nd overall and 2nd in my age bracket. By the way my age bracket was 19-35. What's up with that? That's huge. The guy that won was 20. I'm 34. I guess once everyone registered, that's what they had to do to make the brackets fairly even b/c I think there were only 5-6 in my age bracket.

Oh well. I got a medal. I had a great time. I got 2nd overall. I got very dirty, wet, and tired. But it was a blast. I loved it. I need to do more of these. How often do you get to run through water, not care about how dirty and wet you are getting, and get rewarded for it. It was worth every penny of my $20 registration.

Carter and Max asked if they could run it next year. Why not?

20 miles tomorrow morning. Thank you daylight savings!!!

Keep runnin',

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decent Time, Full Stomach


Quick update.

I ran a practice 5K tonight just to see what I could do if I pushed myself. I ran it in 21:26 which is a decent time compared to my only 5K race over there in my records. Makes me optimistic that I can PR this Saturday. And I didn't feel great while I ran. I ate terrible today - Chick 'Fil A for lunch and too much for dinner so my stomach felt full while I ran. So I could probably do a little better if I had felt a little better. On the other hand, Saturday is a "trail run" and I ran on fairly flat streets so it might even out. Still hoping for a PR. I'll let you know.

Keep runnin',

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Foot, Five-K, and Five Weeks


My foot pain is all but gone. I am very happy. I was really afraid it would be this long, drawn out road to recovery but I think and pray that I've seen the worst. It hurt a little yesterday morning but yesterday afternoon, evening, and right now, it doesn't hurt at all. I even ran 5 miles last night. It hurt a little when I woke up this morning but that's always the case. Have to get the morning stretch in and wake my legs up before I can tell if there is lingering pain.

My first 5-K in almost 2 years is this Saturday morning. The Cedar Hall School Trail Run. I still have no idea what to expect. I sent my money in and have heard nothing back. I finally called just to make sure I was good to go. They did tell me there would be other adults there so that will be good. I'm a little worried it's called a "Trail Run". I was hoping to get a good time and possibly set a PR since I only have one 5K in my past where I know my time. But I'm not sure if these "trails" will hinder that. Guess we'll see. I think I'll simulate a 5K in one of my runs this week to see what I can do as a practice.

It is now only about 5 weeks to my next marathon (12/5). Yikes. Hard to believe. It has come up quick!! During the month of November, I plan to write more about it - what I know about it, who's running with me, our hotel (scary), etc. etc. so be watching for more info. I'm excited though. My training is on schedule and going well. Planning to run 20 miles this coming Sunday morning. I know it's Halloween night Saturday night but we gain an hour so that will help immensely.

Finally, I have decided to add a feature above - the Disney "Tip of the Week". We enjoyed our trip so much and plan on going back each year if we're able. People ask us all the time about tips and how we manage to ride everything with virtually no lines. So I thought I'd add a new tip each week and keep a log of them. We made a video of our trip this year and the link is below. You might have already seen it but if not, check it out. Slightly embarassing but well worth it. We had a blast. Can't wait for our next trip.


I'll try to write again Saturday after the race and give a race report.

Until then.

Keep runnin',

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh Deer!


I did it. I just finished 18 miles on a beautiful, cold, Sunday morning. But the cold was perfect for running. I love running in cold weather. Best news - my foot didn't really bother me. I only noticed pain a couple of times and mainly the last 1 1/2 miles. I noticed it a couple of other times throughout the run but only when I thought about it. I'm sure it will hurt later today but I'll ice it and I think it will be fine. God answered prayers and gave me a great run. It took me about 2 hours and 38 min. which is a little over 8:30 per mile so I'm happy with that. It feels good to be able to do a long run after 2 weeks off.

Quick story from this morning. I always am a little wary of running in the dark. I love it b/c there is nobody on the streets. I maybe pass 4 cars when I run early on Sunday mornings and it's so nice to have the road to myself. But being so dark and being that there are some crazies out there, I always gets a little paranoid if a car drives really slow passed me or especially if there is a stopped car. So on about mile 12 or 13 this morning I got that paranoid feeling when I could see headlights up ahead and flashers on. And of course this was a section with NO street lights so it was pitch dark except for the car. As I approached, I looked around to see if I could figure out why this car was stopped but didn't notice anything.

I then began to think about my standard defense methods. Oh believe me, I've thought many times what I would do if someone or something did attack me. I think everyone had to consider options like that. I mean I've seen coyotes, foxes, deer, snakes, etc. and isn't it possible that one of these creatures (like a rabies infested rabbit) could go psycho on me and attack? I'm not joking - it wasn't 2 weeks ago that a squirrel jumped out of the woods and ran through my legs while I was running. No lie - I jumped 6 feet in the air. It scared the living willies out of me. And what are the odds that some crazy person would attack a runner? I mean what's the point? What would they gain? A free ipod I guess but I figure people have better things to do at 5:00AM. But on the other hand, like I said, I know there are some crazies out there and so I have to be ready. So, here are my standard defenses mentioned above. If someone (or something) attacks I can:
1. Throw my water bottle at them. It's small but full of water, it could pack a real punch.
2. Take off my shoe and beat them with it. Maybe not quite the punch the water bottle would pack.
3. Wrap my headphones cord around their neck and pull. Might be hard to maneuver this, but I could try.
4. Quickly put the headphones in their ears and play some annoying music, except all my music rocks.
5. Any other suggestions?

Ok, back to the story. As I got close to the car, I pushed pause on my ipod. If someone is about to attack me, I want to hear them coming so I can quickly ask, "Why Me?". I didn't hear anything or anybody. I passed the car slowly and decided to look. I'm not sure if you're supposed to look. Sometimes people can get offended by just you looking at them so it was a gamble but I had to take it. There was nobody inside the car!!! What in the world? Why is there an empty car with it's lights and flashers on? Now I was really confused. That's when I saw it.

I had taken only 3 steps past the car when I looked ahead of me and saw the shadow of a figure in the road. My heartbeat doubled. Remember - no street lights. All I could see was a black figure. In the middle of the road!!! Middle. Not side. I was running in the middle b/c of the car on the side. I was in line with the figure. Water bottle ready. Headphone cord is the backup.

I approached the figure slowly. Do I say something? Do I immediately go into attack mode? Do I turn around and run the other direction screaming? I decided to face my fear and just approach him, her, it. As I got right to it, she spoke. It was a female and apparently from another country because she had an accent. She said, "I've just hit a deer and I'm picking up the pieces of my car." Wow. I wasn't expecting that. I had never planned that scenario in my defense planning. So my first question was probably a stupid one. I said, "Where's the deer?" Nevermind this poor woman who is trying to find her side mirror. What about the deer? I guess my first thought was that I didn't want to trip over a half-dead deer in the road. She told me it was in a ditch. I never saw it. Maybe it didn't die. Who knows? I then came to my senses and asked "Are you okay?". She said she was fine. I then kept running. I felt bad at first. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to stop but what help could I possibly be. I guess I could've looked around for car parts but to be honest, her car looked fine. I certainly didn't notice anything as I approached it. I thought about turning around but I didn't want to scare her. It was then that a police car passed me and turned on it's lights. Apparently she had called. So I definitely kept running. Hope she was fine. And the deer? Well, hope it was fine but who knows?

So that's my "quick" story. Sorry it wasn't quick. Always an adventure which is another reason I love running. You never know who or what you'll "run into".

Keep runnin,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's Up With My Foot?


Pain. I've got pain in my foot. My left foot is still hurting. It began in Disney as I mentioned in the previous post. It got better the last couple of days, probably b/c we didn't walk as much. I thought it was gone but it's back and hurting worse than it ever did on the trip. I ran 5 miles Thursday night and it started to hurt as I was finishing up the run. Then yesterday, Friday, it hurt badly all day long. I decided not to run on it yesterday and ice it down last night. I think that helped. I iced it again this morning and will continue to do so all day today. This is scary for several reasons:

1. I've never had an injury like this where I couldn't run. I've had minor knee pain but it usually goes away when I start to run.
2. I haven't run this week much at all. Because of Disney at the beginning of the week and now this, my week total is pitiful.
3. I'm supposed to run 18 miles tomorrow and I really don't want to skip it. I didn't do a long run last weekend b/c of Disney so I hate to take off 2 long runs in a row.
4. I have a 5K next weekend. My first one in a long time and I really want to run it.
5. I have a marathon in a little over a month and I have to keep my training going for it.

I'm sure there are other reasons this is scary but I don't want to be too scary. I think what I'll do is ice it a lot today and not run today. I'll try my 18 tomorrow and see how it goes. I'm sure if I make the 18 I'll be in a lot of pain Monday. I can continue to ice it all week and be ready for the 5K. I'm just hoping and praying it gets better quickly and it's nothing serious. I also hope it doesn't need a doctor visit b/c I really don't have the time. This next week is going to be very busy. It's the Region meet on Thursday for the HS which I've been helping with. And the MS awards dinner is Monday night. No time for doctor visits.

I'll keep you posted on how I'm feeling. This is annoying and frustrating. I don't like not running. It feels weird.

Oh well even though I can't right now....
Keep runnin',

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The GIANT Disney Post


Well here goes. Probably more than you'll ever want to know so read what you want and stop when you get tired of it.

We just got back from Disney World last night so here's a trip report. I'll try to include most of everything and even put some pictures at the bottom. If you're a Facebook friend, you can see all of my pictures on my page.

We left last Wednesday. I left school at 11AM and we had a friend take us to the airport. We have never left that early but we loved getting to Orlando by 3:00. We were at our hotel by 4PM and checked in with no problems. We have stayed at the All Star Sports the last 3 years and love it. It's cheap and if you have to stay at one of the cheap ones, stay there for this simple reason - the busses come there first. An empty bus always picked us up. Once we unloaded in our room, we went to dinner at the hotel. It's basically a food court but has a lot of choices. We used one of our counter services on our dining plan but I did buy the refillable mug. I didn't use it as much this year as I have in the past but I love having it for the hot chocolate alone. We needed hot chocolate this year. Keep reading.

After dinner, we decided to go swimming - well the boys and I did. Susan took pictures and relaxed in the room. She also got stuff ready so we could be up and early the next morning. And I mean bright and early!!

Thursday was Magic Kingdom day. We always start there. You almost have to. It was extra magic hour morning so the park was opening at 8AM. Since the busses start coming at least an hour before opening time (it's actually closer to 2 hours we later found out), we got outside to the bus zone around 6:40. We missed the first bus (we got out there earlier the rest of the time) but got on the 2nd. We were still first at the turnstiles when we got to the MK. We ate our breakfast and chatted with the cast members there. They let us come through at 7:45 and the park officially opened at 8. We ran like crazy to Dumbo - our tradition. We were the first ones on. We had Fantasyland (Dumbo, Pooh, Snow White, Peter Pan, Small World) done by 8:40. We then ran and did Splash Mountain and got fastpasses for Thunder Mountain. We noticed that Haunted Mansion was closed and it didn't open back up until around 3PM. We got rides done very quickly. The park was not crowded at all. The longest we waited in line was 10 minutes until Haunted Mansion opened back up and everyone ran there. But that was probably only 20 minutes. Lunch was in Future World and dinner was at Crystal Palace. We skipped that last year so it was good to be back. Great buffet. Max slept through dinner. Doesn't remember a thing. We had to leave the park at 7 b/c we weren't doing the Halloween Party but we were ready to go. We were tired and had ridden everything there is and several things twice.

Animal Kingdom was the next day. It was opening at 9 so we got to the bus stop at 7:30. A bus came pretty quickly and we were definitley the first ones there. We once again chatted with the cast member and waited patiently. The boys always do great getting there early. We ran to Kilamanjaro Safari at the rope drop and were the first ones on. I then ran to Everest to get fast passes. We then went to our breakfast reservation at Tusker House. The buffet there is amazing. They have every breakfast food you could possibly imagine. After breakfast, we went to Everest. Max decided he was going to try it. He hated the backwards part. Some tears were shed and he was done with that one, but I was proud that he did it. Carter and I would do it again later. We've decided that Animal Kingdom is definitely our least favorite. There just isn't a whole lot to do there for kids. It does have my favorite ride - Dinosaur which I did twice by myself b/c nobody else in my family likes it. But we were pretty much done with most everything by lunch and just did stuff again. It does have a couple of great shows. The boys were picked again to be in the Lion King show. I've decided I like that show better than the Nemo show there. We left the park around 6 to get on the bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had dinner reservations at Boma there. This is our new favorite restaurant. It was outstanding. Great, great food. We'll go back for sure. We had to take the bus back to Animal Kingdom to get a bus back to our hotel. It was NOT a Disney bus that picked us up but a random charter bus. We were a little hesitant to get on as was everyone but the driver did take us back to our hotel.

The next morning (Saturday) was Hollywood Studios. It was opening early at 8AM for hotel guests so we got out to the busses at 6:20 or so. The first bus driver thought we were wacko (and we didn't argue) for being out there so early but she took us anyway. She wanted to make sure we knew we'd be standing out there for 1 1/2 hours. We said we understood. She shrugged her shoulders and said "ok". It was still dark when we got there. Security wasn't even there yet. I love my family. I know we're crazy but it's so much fun. We ran straight for Toy Story Mania. We've learned that the best strategy here is to go ahead and get fastpasses and then get on. By the time I got fast passes, we were probably 50th in line or so but it was worth it. Fast passes for this were gone by 11:00 or so. We got to ride it 3 times. It is becoming my favorite. We all rode Tower of Terror. Once was enough for Max. Carter and I did it again that night. Lots of great shows at HS. Oh yeah, Susan had been picked to be in the Indiana Jones show the last 2 years so we decided this year it was my turn. Susan told me to wear red and stand up and wave my hands right when the lady says "I need a volunteer". We had gotten there early (of course) and so were in the 4th row or so. So I did it and I got picked. It was a lot of fun. Susan got picked later in the day to be in the short movie during the backlot tour. She got drenched and was visibly scared but it was fun to watch. I got in on video. We had a great dinner at 50's PrimeTime cafe. The dessert there (smores) is my favorite of all desserts at Disney. It started to get cold on this day. The morning had been pretty cold but the night was freezing. Susan and Max went back early but Carter and I toughed it out and rode ToT one more time. I was a little worried about the next day as I brought no warm clothes. NONE. I had shorts and t-shirts. That's all. I would regret it.

Sunday we were up early again. Had a family devo and got out to the busses by 7AM. Epcot was going to open at 9. We were first in line yet again and this time it paid off. We got to open the park which meant we got 2 fast passes for the four of us and some other souveniers. The boys liked getting to countdown to open the park. We ran to Test Track (Susan's favorite) and rode it immediately. We then went and got fast passes for Soarin' since they usually go quick. We rode the recently updated boat ride "Living with the Land" but couldn't tell too much difference. Padded seats now!! We ended up not really needing the fast passes we were given for opening the park. We got to ride everything several times. But we used them anyways and gave away some fast passes we had gotten. I enjoyed making a couple of families very happy. Dinner at LeCelier in Canada was amazing as usual. This is one of our favorites. Their cheese soup and pretzel bread is outstanding. Oh yeah - it was freezing that morning and that night. The boys and Susan bought sweatshirts which were selling like crazy by the way. I should have but hated to spend the money so I just toughed it out. Susan went back right before the fireworks but the boys and I stayed and watched. We had told Max he could spend his money at the end of the night so we headed into the gift shop after the fireworks. Susan had told me not to come back with anything too big. But when Max saw the giant model Epcot Ball, he had to have it. And I'm the sucker dad that gave in. Getting that thing home on the plane was not easy. It didn't fit in the overhead bins so the steward had to put it who knows where. But it made it home even though the box was pretty banged up (it got stuck in the security check at the airport).

Our flight Monday wasn't until 3:35 so we got to sleep in (finally!) and eat a nice breakfast at the hotel. We had 10 snacks left on our plan so we stocked up for the trip to the airport and the plane. We found out at the Orlando airport by email that Max had a makeup baseball game at 6PM. We got to our house at 5:30 and pretty much left immediately for his game. I stayed in my shorts and t-shirt and it was freezing last night. When will I learn??

By the way - I didn't run in Disney. I figured we walked several miles and much of it was at a running pace. I did hurt my foot pretty bad but I don't know how. It was very sore - especially the first couple of days. Weird huh? I can run 18 miles and have no pain but then I try to run/walk around Disney and it hurts severely. Oh well - it's going away and I'll start running again tonight.

Way too much - I know. Pictures below.

Keep runnin',