Friday, December 25, 2009
Enjoy each moment. Appreciate all you have and remember those who are struggling one way or another. Keep them in your prayers and let's all endeavor to help those who might need a boost from a kind heart.
Thanks for all your support and friendship this year. I really feel blessed from all your kindness.
I'm looking forward to a great 2010. Let's run it together!
Take care & God Bless!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
After lots of consideration, I've decided to run my next marathon on May 2, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 12th Annual Flying Pig Marathon! I've heard nothing but great comments about this race. The crowd support, course, timing, travel, and family schedules all pointed to this race as my next marathon. With so many great marathons to choose from, it's hard to go wrong. That's why I'd like to try some new ones each year to experience various venues and races.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
He's a rough-coat, pure bred who shows high energy and affection each day. Zip has brought a lot of happiness to our family and I'm grateful for such a good little boy (er, dog).
Zipper has a PR just about everytime he runs. He's great for speedwork!
Thanks Zipper and Happy Birthday!
Here's to you Zipper!
Friday, November 6, 2009
“The People’s Marathon”
October 25, 2009
Wow. The Marine Corps Marathon and weekend were absolutely spectacular! I could not have asked for a better experience. The logistics all worked out just fine. The setting was perfect. I met fellow runners throughout the weekend. The race itself was challenging, but so gratifying. Let me hear a big “Ooh-rah”!
It’s hard to believe that it’s over. I’ve trained and looked forward to this race for quite a while now. To anticipate something for so long and have it come to an end seemingly so quick is a striking contrast.
When I decided to target this race, the “People’s Marathon”, I was determined. My doctor had warned me about my weight and my knee. He had diagnosed that my left knee had a torn meniscus. The doctor urged me to try another sport.
I decided instead to slowly build up the miles and also cross train until the knee healed and I was better able to focus more on running. As it turned out, this strategy worked quite well. My knee has not bothered me at all in the last couple months. In retrospect, I think I had a strained LCL and not a torn meniscus. I also credit a shorter stride and slower pace. In fact, I did no speed training for this marathon.
There was another aspect for my reflection. For the last six years, I have spent much of my free time volunteering for my kids’ sports teams and their school. I have coached many sports and later ended up running the board of directors for the school’s athletic program. This responsibility, along with owning my own business, has taxed most of my free time. Now that my youngest has graduated from grade school, I “retired” from my board duties and decided that I would get back into running and better health. Boy, did I ever miss it!
Having set my goal for the Marine Corps Marathon, I created a training plan based on the Hanson beginner plan. This is the same Hanson as in the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project. They’re based in Royal Oak, Michigan, right in a neighboring town.
I followed my training plan well and sure enough, my knee got stronger and the weight came off slowly, but steadily. With these measured and deliberate paces, the marathon was in my sights.
With the race now behind me, it’s fun to look back and be happy with my progress. But it’s even more exciting to look ahead to see what could be next.
This post is rather lengthy. Please forgive me. I’m essentially closing one chapter with my training and life while also opening another. I appreciate you joining me in this journey.
Welcome to Washington, DC
I flew to Washington, DC with my wife and two kids on Friday, October 23rd. When we got off the plane, I was surprised to see my congressman, Thaddeus McCotter. He was not there to welcome us to DC, although that would have been pretty cool, but rather he was waiting to board the plane for a return trip to Detroit.
We had a nice conversation. He had gone to high school with my college roommate. My son currently attends a rival high school. We had fun joking about both schools.
Thad is on the Dennis Miller radio show every few weeks. It’s always a fun show when “T-Mac” is on with Dennis. Thad’s a good guy trying to do what’s right for America. Try to give him a listen live or download the podcast.
We caught the Metro to our hotel. We immediately noticed the heat and high humidity. Detroit has been about 15ºF cooler than normal these last few weeks, so the contrasting weather was attention-getting.
We checked-in to the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania (I was fortunate to get it for free with my points!) and quickly went out for a nice dinner. We ate at the M&S Grill on 13th Street. We had no trouble wolfing down a nice meal and toasting each other for a great weekend. We were excited!
After a lazy wake-up, we grabbed a Starbucks and headed outside. It was muggy and a little rainy, but we didn’t care. We were ready to get the lay of the land.
I have been to DC many times on business and I took the kids there years ago. This trip would be better remembered with the kids now 14 and 15 years old.
On the way there though, a girl asked if I was a runner and after I said yes, she smiled and asked for directions to the nearest Starbucks. So there you go, runners know runners! It’s like a club, but open to all with an interest.
We then headed up to K Street and caught the Georgetown bus. We got off at Wisconsin and walked over to the university. The campus was gorgeous and we stocked up on a few items in the bookstore. My son is eyeing the school for college, but is still hoping for Notre Dame.
We grabbed some lunch at a cool little sports bar back on Wisconsin near M Street and then caught the bus to the expo.
I was getting pretty excited by this point. As we neared the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, I began to see other runners heading to and from the expo. It was a little surreal for me since my last visit to this convention center was for a U.S. Army convention for my business back in 2003. Little did I know back then that my return trip would be for the MCM!
After getting my bib, D tag, and goodies, we made our way to meet up with a bunch of runner friends that have been in touch online but here-to-date had never met in person. Gathered together were:
For dinner, we just hung out in our hotel room so I could rest my feet. We watched the last quarter of the Notre Dame vs Boston College game and my son and I were very happy with the Irish.
My family had a good night sleep. It took me two or three hours to fall asleep. I was anxious. When the alarm sounded, I snapped up like I had heard reveille from the base bugler. I was ready!
This was my fourth marathon overall, but it has been four years since my last one. For me, it was great to get back into the saddle. A marathon today represents for me a renewed commitment to running and a healthier lifestyle.
I have done six half marathons, with the most recent ones being this year’s U.S. Air Force and Worldwide Festival of Races half marathons. These two recent races were just two weeks and five weeks prior to MCM, respectively.
The USAF half was an especially fitting warm-up to MCM. I love the patriotic theme and I also work in the defense industry so these races bookended a nice set of outstanding race experiences.
The other purpose for running MCM was a means to salute our Marines and all who serve in our military as well as their families. I especially am humbled by those who have given their lives for the defense of our country. It is not lost upon me that brave men and women risk their lives every day to protect our great nation. I run in part to honor them, their wounded, fallen, as well as those preparing to serve.
As I made my way to the back of the pack, I peered down over the starting line. There it was in all its glory. What a sight. Marines stood at attention marking the demarcation between the opening ceremonies area and the line-up of runners. The cyclers were lining up getting ready to race. The Quantico Marine Corps Band was playing patriotic music. They would also play the national anthem.
It took about 16 minutes to cross the start line due to the congestion of so many runners. I began at an easy pace and went under the viaduct of Arlington Memorial Bridge and when I emerged on the other side, I looked to the west and saw the rows and rows of headstones in Arlington National Cemetery. The sight deepened my resolve. I was so grateful to be running on that glorious day.
The emotions ran high at the start. I continued my tradition of dedicating each mile for someone special in my life. I thought and prayed for them, bringing them with me for that mile. I ran a mile for all my running friends that I’ve met online through blogs, podcasts, and other new media. You have all been such an enormous source of inspiration. I also ran for my family as well as special organizations that have really impacted me and my family. Of course, I dedicated a very significant mile to our Marines. You’ve got to love the Corps!
These heartfelt thoughts were dramatically interrupted when a sudden urge for an immediate bio-break got my attention quick. I couldn’t believe it! I had gone twice right before the start and here I had to go again. Luckily, there were a large number of available porta-johns in Rosslyn. I did my duty and hoped that would be the last such stop. Sure enough, it was.
Rosslyn had several buildings bearing the names of some of my best defense customers. That was fitting. I then noticed a familiar race shirt of the USAF Marathon, where I had run the half and had also seen quite a few customers. I said hello to the runner. He had run in Dayton as well, where he had run the full marathon. Doing back-to-back marathons is tough. Talking to this runner was a nice way to get the blood pumping.
After the first two miles, the course got a little hilly. I just kept a steady pace. Many people decided to walk. I was still not that warmed up yet so the hills felt pretty good.
Soon after, we were heading downhill along the Spout Run Parkway (a spur of the George Washington Memorial Parkway) headed toward the Potomac. It was cool along this section and my pace began to pick up.
What a thrill it was to see Georgetown across the river. The bridge ahead was a short rise ahead. The sun was well out by now. It was a magnificent morning.
We crossed the Potomac at the Francis Scott Key Bridge. I could hear the crowd on he other side. They roared loudly as we reached the east bank and headed north and also saw the elite runners already heading south on their return trip. My pace quickened naturally. All systems were “go” here at the five-mile mark.
The next portion of the race followed the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. We were running along the canal in what was a relatively quiet, but scenic stretch of the race. My pace was comfortable. Many runners though were stretching at the road side or relieving themselves on the hill. How terrible to be feeling off so early in the race. I was glad to be feeling so well.
We soon turned around and ran uphill for the return trip south during mile 7. We came upon the Georgetown Reservoir and the great vistas looking downriver. This stretch ran along MacArthur Boulevard and had some fun local crowd support. It was a bit of an awakening from the last relatively quiet mile.
The pep band of Georgetown University was out to liven up the runners and the crowd. The Hoyas wore their striped blue and gray rugby-style shirts and blasted out the tunes. They looked like fun kids.
At mile 9, the course cut through Georgetown along M Street and then turned south on Wisconsin. The crowd support was huge here and I really felt pumped.
I should note that I ate three Clif Shot Bloks every four miles. I used what I had trained with, the margarita flavored 3x sodium shots. I also drank water at every aid station. As the sun and heat rose, I did sweat quite a bit and tried to replace the fluids that I lost. I did sneak a few gulps of Power Ade at the very last aid stations. It was also very cool that each aid station was run by active-duty Marines. They were all so supportive.
As we headed further south, we ran along the Rock Creek & Potomac Parkway. I could see Roosevelt Island. The Potomac glinted in the sunlight.
All was well until I started to feel my left hip getting a little aggravated. I had felt soreness there since the WWFOR Half Marathon. The rest during my taper was not enough. I had a hip flexor problem.
I was concerned prior to the race that my hip might really rebel during my run. Sure enough, with each step from this 10-mile marker till the end, the pain just got worse and worse.
I was suddenly cheered by the sight of my wife and two kids at mile 10. What a thrill to see them. I told them all was fine and that the race was going great. They looked like they were having fun too. With a new boost in me, I ran down West Potomac Park.
I then headed into East Potomac Park. My pace here slowed all the way down to the very end of the peninsula to an area called Hains Point. This was the halfway mark. My chip time was 2:36:07. By this time my right ankle was also throbbing with some pain, perhaps from any minor change in my gait due to the hip problem. The soles of my feet began to get very sore as well.
Nonetheless, I just barreled on, trying to keep forward motion going. I did not let the pain get in the way of enjoying this race. I walked for a minute to ease the soreness. The pain did not ease, so I stuck with running from there on until the last stages of the race.
The Washington Channel provided more great views for the return trip north up the peninsula. We made our way up to the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin. I was glad to get off that peninsula. It had been a tough stretch.
The eye-candy sights from here on out really made a big difference in compensating for the hip, ankle, and feet pains. The crowds and various musical bands were also a huge help. They were raucous, spirited, and loads of fun.
During mile 16, my family surprised me again. I just loved seeing them. They said they were going to see me in a few more miles, but it turned out they missed seeing me again until the finish. Metro traffic was choking their progress to leap-frog me. They did not want to miss the end of the race, so they headed to the finish. I wish I had seen them a few more times. It would have helped for sure, but I understood it was hard to navigate quickly amongst all the crowds.
As we turned around during mile 19 and ran west on Jefferson Drive, I knew that I would make it to the finish. There was pain to be sure, but I felt no bonking sensation.
The route then turned south on 14th Street. I had easily made the “14th Street Beat the Bridge” time. Runners who didn’t make it on time had to be bussed across the bridge to make way for reopened traffic.
The scene on the bridge was not so pretty. Legions of runners turned into walkers. Many were stopped along the side, stretching out their complaining legs and backs. An ambulance sped a man away for treatment.
The next couple of miles were run through Crystal City. The crowd support was loud here. I refused the free beer, tempting though it was.
The walkers were stumbling forward, looking like zombies. The heat picked up a bit. I was sweating too much and even noticed a huge salt stain on my shirt. Just then, I noticed a runner wearing full leg tights, jacket, hat, and gloves. He a salt streak running down his cheeks. I couldn’t believe he was so overdressed. He must have been boiling.
As I left Crystal City, my energy brightened despite my slowing pace. My hip, ankle, and feet were pretty mad at me. I made my way around the Pentagon and thought about September 11th. My best man in my wedding is a firefighter for Arlington County and was one of the first to arrive at the Pentagon that fateful day.
As I and the other runners gutted it out, we knew the finish was just ahead. We came upon the start line and it seemed odd that it was only a short while ago where this day began, yet it seemed very distant at that moment.
When I ran past the headstones again, the race came full circle. I felt alive. I felt blessed. What a great experience this run had been. I had run physically and spiritually with so many wonderful people. I was so thankful.
I thought about the early and cold days back in winter with my injured knee wondering how I could run a few miles. I thought about all my training runs from that time to this wonderful moment. What a fantastic journey!
There, up the last hill, was the USMC War Memorial, depicting the flag being raised atop Iwo Jima. I saw my wife and kids cheering in the stands. I had really missed them and was so glad they were safe, happy, and yelling like crazy!
I crossed the finish at 5:27:17. A Marine put a mylar blanket on me. A second lieutenant congratulated me as he draped the race medal on my neck. They took my picture in front of the memorial and then I was ushered through the food line and out into Rosslyn. It took about 25 minutes to reunite with my family. We had a tremendous group hug. I didn’t want to let go.
After a few pictures, I hobbled with my family to the Metro for the trip back to the hotel. I showered at the health club there and then we hustled to the airport. As much as I would have liked to stay, we had to get back home for the kids and school the next day.
After a relaxing meal at the airport and a cold tasty glass of beer, we flew home. In a flash, the day that I had so anticipated had now come to an end. What a great day it was!
As I have had a chance to collect my thoughts, I can honestly say that it’s hard planning the next adventure. I am still enjoying this last one. It has taken a full week and then some for me to even begin to come down off that marathon high.
There will be a spring and a fall marathon for me in 2010. I am enjoying looking at all the possibilities.
With this planning process, I’m setting some new goals. I’m not ready to share what they are just yet, as they are still just in the works. I can say though, that I am setting some ambitious sights and I’m doing so on a longer-term horizon.
It is my hope that the Marine Corps Marathon will serve as a firm foundation to build upon for the years to come. After a four-year gap, I am back on the marathon race course. I’m so happy.
Thanks for allowing me to share my journey with you. Please stay tuned and let’s look forward to new opportunities. I hope to soon run with you again!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan
For those of you who may not be familiar with this race, the Worldwide Festival of Races was created three years ago by a small, but enthusiastic group of runners with the aim of helping connect runners from all over the world. With a theme of “Think Global, Run Local”, the organizers desired that fellow runners put aside any political or socio-economic differences and instead create a kinship based upon common values and a love for the life of running.
Runners register for free at a website and log their training and race experiences in forums, blogs, audio clips, movies, and pictures. A 5K, 10K, and a half marathon are offered as race choices with runners selecting their own specific location of their race. A race could be run on a personal route or on a course from a larger, organized race. Each runner decides for themselves.
Results from the race are based on the honor system with runners individually reporting their times. The website tallies the results and with all these elements combined, a worldwide experience was launched and has now grown to include over 1000 runners from 45 countries.
This race has been a great vehicle for helping me with my training while also building friendships with runners from around the globe. What a great way to create a community of friends that inspire each other for better running and overall good health!
This year’s WWFOR came at a perfect time in my training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Just two weeks before MCM, and three weeks after my USAF half marathon, my running of the WWFOR filled the training gap with a much more interesting and meaningful run than my usual weekend long run around the neighborhood.
I decided to choose a local, yet scenic course about 25 miles from my house in a municipal park called Kensington Metropark. This park is beautifully maintained and well represents the natural beauty of Michigan.
The Huron-Clinton Metropark system comprises a series of parks that start in the east and north along the shores of Lake St. Clair all the way down the Clinton River and the Huron River to the west and south to Lake Erie. These parks form the primary recreation and conservation centers surrounding the Detroit metropolitan area.
At Kensington, the main geographic feature is Kent Lake, which was formed by an overflow basin in the pathway of the Huron River. The lake empties into the Island Lake State Recreation Area in the south, where I had earlier spent several training sessions on trail runs through its rolling hills and deep forests.
There is a hike/bike paved path around Kent Lake that is about 8.5 miles long. This route formed my WWFOR half marathon course. I just ran around the lake and then some, doubling back until I reached 13.1 miles.
The weather on October 11th was perfect. It was a cool and sunny 45ºF with little, if any, wind. The fall season here in Michigan is well underway with the leaves turning yellow, golden brown, and burning red. The park was shared that day by runners, walkers, bikers, skaters, ski-skaters, and boaters. It was nice to seeing so many folks outside enjoying such a beautiful day.
I have run and biked this lake route many times over the years, but I had never raced it. The course follows the lake over a few small rolling hills, but none are tough. The path is wide and paved the entire way. This was certainly not a trail run, although the scenery made it seem like one.
I decided again to dedicate each mile to someone special rather than count the miles up or down. I have always felt this makes the race even more special. I just think about and pray for someone throughout the mile. It gives me strength and motivates me to run on their behalf as well.
Given the theme of the WWFOR, I made sure to dedicate a mile to all my fellow runners who were out on their runs all over the world. These runners have helped inspire me throughout my training to really give it my best. I have also been fortunate to build so many nice friendships.
I began the race at what felt like a comfortable pace but did not pay any attention to my GPS-indicated pace. I just ran at what I thought was a good clip.
Before I knew it, I was putting on the miles and noticed I hadn’t eaten or drunken anything. I wore a CamelBak hydration pack and decided to take a few swigs at about the 5-mile mark. I also ate three cubes from one Clif Shot Blok pack. That was about it for drinking and eating for the entire race. I couldn’t believe I didn’t want more. Instead, I just listened to my body and I guess that’s all I needed. It all worked out though.
My pace seemed to pick up as I warmed up. I still felt it was manageable and not too stressful. I did not check my actual pace. I just let my legs go!
I listened to running podcasts while I raced. I enjoyed the WWFOR special episodes out there from fellow runners. It was easy to feel connected with everyone else running around the globe.
About half way through, I came upon two great blue herons. They did not seem startled at all as I neared them on the path. They just gave me a look as I ambled passed them. I guess they didn’t peg me as a threat, but hey, I’m a runner, they know we’re the friendly type!
There were many walkers out that day enjoying the perfect weather. Most were not taken aback by the sight of me running this route, but there were a few folks that gave me that look that seemed to convey that they thought I was nuts for running the darn thing.
As I neared the finish, I was feeling really good, so I started to pour it on a bit. Now, remember, I’m not trying to leave it all out there for this one, but I admit that I did get caught up a bit with excitement near the very end.
As I plowed up a small hill, I concentrated on my breathing and form. I pushed it a little and even found myself grunting out loud with each step. In fact, I was pretty forceful with each dig uphill and I must have been heard by someone nearby. I thought, however, that I was the only one on this portion of the path. The course felt as if it were my own. I was getting into the run but I felt like I was smoothly flying at the same time. I know it’s quite a contrast but that’s what it was like.
I was then startled out my trancelike focus by a speedier runner that passed me from behind. I laughed and he said he understood. He was quite a bit faster and admitted he grunted quite a bit too during his runs. He was training for the Detroit Marathon. He was happy to hear about me and the MCM.
As I barreled down on the last steps to my finish line, I imagined the MCM finish. It was only two weeks away. I could see it and feel it. I could also sense all my running friends crossing their finish lines also. What a race this WWFOR has become!
I looked at my GPS and was amazed to see that I just recorded a PR! It was a 2:22:27 finish which was a 10:52 average pace. This was ten minutes faster than the USAF Half Marathon a few weeks prior! I couldn’t believe it!
While this finish time may not seem fast at all to you, believe me, it was a nice result for me. I was pleasantly surprised.
I felt so good. The training has been starting to make a significant difference in my runs. I was not really that tired. My legs and heart felt just fine. My breathing was even and not panting. It was a nice, strong finish yet without the usual pains I expect to endure.
As I walked it off back to my car, I reflected back on how the training had started earlier in the year and what a struggle it had been at times. I was satisfied that I was on course and that the MCM would be a great experience.
As I drove home, I had some water, a banana, and three more Shot Bloks. I was not hungry or thirsty, but I gulped it down knowing how important a good recovery was needed so I could keep up my training.
It was a great race, the WWFOR! I appreciate all the support and good cheer from all my running friends around the world. I hope your experience was fantastic and satisfying as well.
Next up is the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th in Washington, DC. I can’t wait. It will be a great adventure! It will also be a fantastic occasion to meet a lot of fellow runners in person.
Till then, run together my friends.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
On September 19, 2009, I ran the United States Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton, Ohio at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It was my fifth half marathon and first since the spring of 2008. This race could not have gone better!
I am training for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, D.C., which will be held on October 25, 2009. This marathon will be my fourth, but my first since 2005. The USAF Half was a fitting warm-up and a great way to salute our dedicated men and women serving in our armed services.
This race also struck accord with me since I began my career 23 years ago working for McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing). We supplied F-15 fighter aircraft to the USAF at WPAFB. I continued my career in the industry and founded an aerospace and defense company 12 years ago. Aircraft and the USAF are in my blood.
When I discovered this race, I knew I had to run it. Not only would it be a great training run for the MCM, but it would also be a patriotic way to dedicate some miles to our fantastic USAF! Adding to all this with my background in aviation, I was amped to be a part of this race!
Little did the Wright brothers know what would become of their ingenuity in that Dayton bicycle shop over 100 years ago. Designing and building the first “flying machine”, they dared to do what was previously thought impossible. A heavier-than-air craft indeed flew through the air and safely landed, the result of which shook the world to marvel in some measures awe and in other measures disbelief.
Although the first flight took place in North Carolina at Kitty Hawk, the Wright brothers flew their powered aircraft, the Flyer II and the Flyer III, at a small cow pasture named Huffman Prairie which is adjacent to what is now WPAFB. It was at this field that the Wright brothers continued their development of independent flight controls for each of the three axes of flight (pitch, roll, and yaw). The Huffman Prairie Flying Field today is much like it was in the yesteryear and will remain protected as part of Dayton’s Aviation Heritage National Historic Park (http://www.aviationheritagearea.org/ww.aviationheritagearea.org/). Nearby, the Wright brothers are honored with the Wright Brothers Memorial Monument. These sites and other classic areas are highlights along the race course for both the marathon and half marathon races.
The race begins and ends at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/). This museum is absolutely first rate. Featuring historic as well as modern aircraft, the museum celebrates our nation’s pioneering and brave achievements in aviation. It is just not possible to walk among these classic aircraft without feeling such an immense sense of admiration for all the talented work that was devoted to the design, production and flight test activities over all the years. What amazing feats!
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (http://www.wpafb.af.mil/) was a perfect setting. Home of the 88th Air Base Wing, the base is the nerve center for our Air Force’s operations in advanced aircraft technology. The base is home for the Air Force Material Command, the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Air Force Institute of Technology, and many other vital units of the U.S. Air Force.
I was in awe running in such a hallowed area. What a great setting Wright-Patt made for this race!
Permissive TDY allowed many men and women to fly in to race at Wright-Patt. For other deployed personnel who could not make the trip, they had the opportunity to run at the following locations: Al-Udeid, Qatar; Bagram, AB, Afghanistan; Joint Base Balad, Iraq; and Sather AB, Iraq. These locations together with Wright-Patt completed the field and widened the scope for the 2009 USAF Marathon.
Wright State University (http://www.wright.edu/) hosted the race expo on Friday night. The expo was located in the Nutter Center, home of the WSU Raiders.
I had left work early in suburban Detroit three hours earlier and made the drive easily to the Nutter Center. As I parked the car, two F-16 fighters flew overhead to mark the start of the 5K race. How great that the USAF arranged a flyover for each race this weekend!
I picked up my bib, timing chip (a disposable one with the USAF logo, very cool!), and technical commemorative race shirt. The logo for this race changes each year to feature a different aircraft in the USAF arsenal. The emblem this year is based on an unmanned aerial vehicle called the RQ-4 Global Hawk (http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/ghrq4b/index.html). The logo was created by Roland H. Stinnette, USAF AFMC 88 MSG/SVK. The logo was displayed on the shirt, patch, towel, and medal.
I strolled through the different booths in the Expo and saw lots of the usual running exhibits. I stocked up on some Clif Shot Bloks, New Balance running socks (I can always put them to use!), and then I looked at the Armpocket. I met the founder, Jytte Nielsen, and was impressed with her and her products. I’ve wanted to get an arm pouch for some time so I can carry my cell phone and iPod. Her product was just right, so I bought the Sport 20 and was happy to support a small and growing business.
While at the New Balance booth, a man saw me looking at the different socks on display and commented that he sweats too much when he runs and wanted to know which type of sock to purchase. He was new to running and was clearly a little intimidated about his race. He also complained that he sweats through his shirt and shorts and asked if the runners will be bringing a change of clothes to switch into sometime midrace. I’m not sure why he picked me to share these concerns and thoughts, but he did, so I tried to encourage him that all will be fine. He nervously smiled and seemed somewhat relieved and then he strolled away. You never know who you’ll encounter!
I then strolled over to the Boeing booth. I had to chat with whoever was there to get the latest from my old company. As a side note, Northrop Grumman was also there as a sponsor. NG is one of my current customers. This made the race even more personal.
Sure enough, I met a nice guy from Boeing who works in new business development. As we talked further, it turns out we had worked together on several programs some 23 years ago! Although we did not remember each other, the programs we had worked on were the same (there were many people working these big aircraft programs and it has been a long time!). It was fun catching up with this very nice man and it was also fun to recall my early days and fond memories of McDonnell Douglas (the Boeing acquisition is still hard to swallow!).
As I left the Expo and headed to my hotel, I saw the setting sun casting a calm orange glow over Wright-Patt. I smiled and thought about the morning to come. I was ready.
Despite getting up and out early on race morning, the line of cars trying to get on base was stretched for a couple of miles. It took over an hour and a half to get into Wright-Patt. Security was observing each car and randomly checking people for identification.
As I waited in line, I saw a pair of F-16s flyover for the start of the marathon, which was an hour before the half marathon start time. I was getting excited, but felt cooped up in the car, stuck in traffic.
Once through security, I parked the car and caught a bus to the museum. This is a very large base and the organizers made sure all was in order. Each bus was packed with runners eager to get to the start line.
The weather was perfect. It was about 50ºF with a sunny and scattered cloud-filled sky.
Of course I had had to get to the bathroom before the race began. It was getting urgent. However, the lines at the museum and the portable outside toilets were long. Nonetheless, I gutted it out and finished my business in time to hear the announcer readying the half marathoners.
I jogged to the start line as a pair of F-16 flew over for my race. I knew now this was it! My heart was pumping fast. The historic planes on display on the tarmac at the finish line also got me fired up.
I had toured the National Museum of the Air Force with my family about six years ago. Little did I know then that I would be running here now!
I had so many thoughts and emotions running through me that I really had no time to collect them all. I did not have time. Once I reached the runners gathered at the start line, the gun fired and we were off!
I crossed the start line, said a prayer, and smiled one of my biggest grins. I was back! This was it! Let’s roll!
My tradition with endurance races is that I don’t count the miles up or down. Instead, I dedicate each mile to someone special and pray for them along the way. This has always helped me through the miles and it made my steps more memorable.
For this race, I sorted out the people I wanted to dedicate miles to and made sure I included a mile for all those serving in the U.S. Air Force.
We headed down a runway and then down a narrow road leading into the National Historical Park commemorating the early days of aviation. The pace was quick and the field of runners were bunched together to get into stride, finding their place in the pack.
The small road was tree-lined and provided some shade to the rising sun. I tried to get into my own pace, trying not to get too caught up with everything and going out too fast.
I should mention that I had set no time goals for this race. My only goal was to safely finish. From a training perspective, this race was a long run in my preparations for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. The USAF race was not a race to leave it all out on the course.
I heard a gal trying to move further ahead into the pack. She said to her friend running alongside that she felt like a bowling ball making her way through all of us other runners. I asked her if she was calling me a pinhead and she laughed. Everyone was in a good mood.
As we entered the Huffman Prairie area it struck me that this was the world’s first airport. There was even a sign to that effect. I tried to imagine the Wright brothers attempting to perfect their flying machine. Sure enough, I looked up and saw a replica of the Flyer III flying overhead. This was really a first-class race!
Throughout the race, several aircraft flew overhead for our inspiration. We had our own mini air show!
Beyond the air fields we entered into two other areas of Wright-Patt. One was an historic portion of the base with late 1800-era buildings while the other area was more of a 1950s-era section. It was fun admiring the different types of architecture of all the buildings.
We also passed the operational airport at Wright-Patt. There are runways everywhere, but most are no longer in use.
There were many recreational areas also for base personnel. There was a rod and gun club, golf courses, and a tennis club. We were running around the perimeter of the golf course for some time. The golfers gave us a few gazing looks.
There was some decent crowd support along the way. For the service personnel guiding us at each turn, we received lots of encouragement. The base residents were all out along the streets cheering us on. At the base outskirts, local fans gave us a hand too.
The runners got a lot of support from the aid station volunteers. Each station was well equipped and made for an easy exchange of water, Gatorade, orange wedges, and gels.
Two aid stations were themed. One was a rowdy beach complete with Margaritaville blasting and several volunteers wearing coconut bras and straw skirts (some men and some women!). The other was a Gilligan’s Island theme. I don’t know how those volunteers listened to that theme song over and over again!
My run throughout the race was amazing. Let me first say that I am not fast and I did not even pay attention to my time. I just tried to keep an even pace.
I had no problems with any of my body parts. My left knee, which had caused so many problems earlier this year, was not causing me any pain now. My breathing was fine. I had no stomach problems. I tried to use only water and I did not take water at every aid station. I just tried to replace what I was sweating out. I ate only when hungry. I really tried to listen to my body.
If I had to complain about something, my feet were a little sore near the end. I think this is due to me still getting used to my cushioning shoes. I had always run in stability shoes but I noticed I was supinating too much. The wear on my shoes showed this as well using a foot load sensor in a local running store. Since running in my cushioning shoes, I have felt much better.
This race, more so than any others, was the least problematic. I think this is due to really sticking to my plan and running my own race. I did not force a thing. I really enjoyed this race. I just soaked it all up!
The largest hill was a highway overpass we ran. It was no big deal though and offered a nice change of pace from what was a very flat course.
The runners were great. Everyone helped each other with shout outs of encouragement and good race etiquette. I really liked seeing the young men and women of the Air Force. We should all be so thankful for their service.
As we neared the finish line, we could hear the announcer urging us on. The route to the finish is along a long runway which never seemed to end. These runways are much longer than they look! We ran toward the museum, and then turned to run down the tarmac between the historic aircraft and shouting fans who were cheering loudly.
I saw the finish line banner and my heart jumped. I felt the crowd. I thought of the entire race in a flash, my training, and it just all swelled up at once. I felt like I was flying!
I crossed the finish line and said a quick prayer of thanks. The base commander shook my hand. I thanked him and then received my medal. What a great feeling!
I didn’t know until later, but I had finished in 2:32:52 or an 11:40 pace. My last half marathon was some five minutes longer. I was just happy to have finished and with such a great experience along the way.
I proceeded to the aid tent and grabbed some food and drink. They had plenty for everyone. The race organizers really did a great job.
I took the souvenir towel they gave us and dried off a bit and then laid down on the aluminum wrap blanket to stretch out and relax.
As I recapped the race, I noticed above in the clouds a formation that perfectly resembled a dove! I saw the wings, head, and tail. It was like a picture! I smiled and thought what a fitting end to a great race.
I watched runners cross the finish line and then saw the presentation of the awards. General Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, was present. I thought it showed a lot of dedication for him to invest significant time to this event.
I then stretched my legs by walking back to the museum. I strolled through the museum for 45 minutes along with many other runners. I checked out all the historic aircraft, including several I had worked on over the years. This is a large museum spread out through three very large hangars. I admired our aviation heritage as I got the blood pumping in my legs again. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to get back home.
I was tired, but overall, I was feeling great. I went to the bathroom and a little boy asked me if I was OK. I guess I looked pretty tired. I said, “Son, I’m feeling great.” He then asked me why I called him son when clearly he was not my son. Too funny!
I caught a bus ride back to my car and changed my shirt for the race shirt. I have this tradition of not wearing any race shirt until I finish the race. This day was no different, so when I put the new Air Force shirt on, it felt great. I was satisfied and proud.
I called my family and let them know I was feeling great. They were happy too. I then grabbed a Starbucks (yes, I got a hot one – it’s a habit). The place was filled with runners. We all shared congrats.
I then started my drive back home.
As I drove away, I saw a final view of WPAFB. I gave my final salute and with a smile I knew I’d be back again.
I really enjoyed this race. Everything could not have been better. I am so grateful.
Thank you family, friends, and fellow runners. Thank you Wright-Patt. Thank you United States Air Force. God Bless!
Next up is the World Wide Festival of Races Half Marathon on October 11th. I’ll run it at Kensington Metropark in Milford, Michigan.
I’ll then head to Washington, DC to run the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th.
Till then, run strong my friends.
All the best,
Monday, August 3, 2009
We did Disney of course. We love that place. It brings out the kid in all of us. I also loved seeing the kids and their grandparents explore all the cool stuff that is Disney. The Magic Kingdom brought out the nostalgia of Disney. We still love the "Jungle Cruise" and "Pirates of the Caribbean". I can't help but think how quickly my kids are growing up. I'm glad the Magic Kingdom was not too kiddie-like for them yet.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
A new day brings new challenges and opportunities. I have had my share of challenges and opportunities as I am sure you have as well. But what do we make of them?
Since Christmas day of 2008, my mom has been hospitalized due to the effects of diabetes. She has suffered from being overweight, lost feeling in her limbs, lost most of her vision, and now has required a tracheotomy to be able to breathe sufficiently.
Three weeks ago, she was discharged and in now under the care of my father, who is struggling to adjust to a changed life. I am so grateful she has survived this most recent struggle but remain very concerned for both of my parents as they adapt to a new way of living, which includes dependent care, trach maintenance, and essentially no sleep.
Since my folks live in Chicago while I live in suburban Detroit, I have been making frequent trips to help as best I can. While this has been a challenge, I am hopeful for creating a better relationship with my parents while also reinvigorating myself and my family to live a healthy life.
Meanwhile, I have been recuperating from some knee problems. I have been training nonetheless with biking and walking and swimming on occasion (I need to learn to breathe without taking in water or holding my breath for so long!).
Last week, I began running just a bit to test out my knee. Although it is not 100%, it is so much better than before that I think continued low to moderate workouts should help rejuvenate the knee.
Now if things take a turn for the worse with my knee, then I'll have to play it safe for the long haul and scale back my running and even possibily cancel my marathon this fall. I don't think this will happen, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared to make disappointing, yet necessary decisions.
No matter the outcome with the Marine Corps Marathon this fall, I am embracing a: "Next Year is This Year" attitude. What I basically mean by this is the objective of living today to the fullest, taking action now rather than presuming tomorrow will present better circumstances.
I have too often thought about doing several things only to eventually put them off till later. Life can delay plans, but we can all try our best to ensure we live fully each day, no matter the conditions of the present.
As we celebrate the 4th of July, remember those who have served or are serving our country so that we may have the opportunity to live fully today and with each day to come.
Happy Birthday America! Let's run our "race" today and take special care to realize all the joys that come with making life our best!
Monday, June 8, 2009
Although I have run 3 marathons and 4 half marathons previously, I am training for this upcoming marathon using a beginner plan to help ensure a safe re-entry into distance running.
The Hanson's beginner plan (see title link above) is from a local running shop here in Michigan. These are the same Hansons as in the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, which is a well-reknowned program to help train American athletes for the Olympics. Brian Sell, for example, is a team member and he finished in 14th place at this year's Boston Marathon.
I chose this plan not since I'm expecting Olympic results for myself, but rather for the moderate and consistent approach the Hansons promote. In addition, the long run is capped at 16 miles. When complemented with biking, especially during the initial portion of training, I think I can build up my running body safely and effectively.
I'll begin on June 21st. I'm very eager to get running again. As much as I did not like getting injured, my hope is that my cross training has and will really help my running so that I may continue running for many years to come.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Today, my family is celebrating Alec. It's his big day. An avid White Sox fan and Band of Brothers Easy Company enthusiast, Alec is also loading up with loot on both interests.
So Alec, I salute you! Thanks for all that you do and all that you are! I could not ask for a better son! Happy Birthday & God Bless!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
For those of you who may not know already, my left knee has been bothering me for a couple of months. After a lapse in running, I started back up and quickly noticed a pain throughout the inside of my knee. Rest, ice, compression, & elevation helped. However, the pain remained.
I remember when it first really flared up. I had driven back to Detroit from Chicago. I was in a great mood (my mom has been slowly recovering from respiratory problems - see earlier post). I decided to run in the light snow. It was a beautiful day.
I had no particular distance planned. I just ran and enjoyed the moment. In fact, I took a few videos that day (see them on RuncastTV). I was feeling so good, that the miles went by fast and before long, I was at 7 miles. I then felt a disctinct pain in my knee. I walked home concerned but hopeful that this would be a temporary problem.
Sure enough, the knee has been sore or painfiul ever since that run. Despite weeks of rest or limited activity, I was frustrated by the lack of recovery.
My primary physician thought I had some tendonitis. He referred me to a specialist. The sports doctor could not see me though until May 1st.
Last Friday was not fun. The doctor examined my knee and body mechanics and quickly diagnosed the meniscus problem. Running too long too early was a chief culprit. Also to blame, were a pair of running shoes with too many miles. The main cause of the problem, however, was that I had gained too much weight in the winter. As a result, he was very disapproving about the Marine Corps Marathon.
I explained how important this marathon is for me and he agreed to create a plan to make it possible:
- No running for 3 weeks
- Buy new running shoes - Done! Hello New Balance 1224s!
- Walk 15 minutes each day for flexibility
- Cross train - bike, swim
- Lose weight - no more late night dinners
- Core workouts, upper-body stength training, no lower-body strength training
- Stretching + RICE
- More sleep
- Naproxen 2 times per day
- Check-up appointment in 3 weeks
- Slowly get back into running after 3 weeks: Reduce initial training to 25% of previous training.
So far, after 3 bike rides and a swim, my knee feels remarkably better. I know I need to be patient, but I also am determined.
Don't get me wrong, I will be careful. I just need to heed his advice and take a positive step each day.
I remain optimistic. I'm visualizing the MCM finish line. I can see it clearly.
This is a new day for me. I am committed to transforming my life and to becoming a healthier person. The marathon will come, but I will be sure to enjoy and be thankful for each new day as I recover and achieve better health.
Please come and join me on this journey! I appreciate your well wishes thus far and will certainly continue to be thankful for your support! Together, we can cross any finish line!
All the best,
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I can't help but chuckle now at how I had run this race. Despite my experiences with other races, I still messed up and began the race in a wave of runners whose pace was well beyond my own.
2007 Michigan Trail Half Marathon Race Report
“On the left!”
Well fellow runners, this one’s in the books. I finished. I ran the hills, more hills, and even more hills. Up and down, over and over again. It was a tough course!
I’m now reliving this race more comfortably with my feet up and drinking a pint of Guinness! After today’s run, I figured I needed something more potent than a Sam Adams.
It was a gorgeous setting: lakes, rivers, and a lush forest on a sunny, 65ºF day. I had everything all set before race time: Getting there on time (an hour away from my home), race packet, water, gels, bathroom.
I have run two Chicago Marathons and one San Diego Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. I have also run quite a few shorter races including the Martian Half Marathon this last April 1st.
Yet was I ever an idiot! I should have known better. However, I made a big rookie mistake.
I decided to go to the bathroom one more time. The line was long of course. While in the bathroom, I missed some announcements about sending us off in “waves” according to our expected pace to ensure minimal passing on the trail, which was primarily a narrow singletrack.
When I left the bathroom, it was past the start time, and there was a lot of commotion as I saw the runners heading out through the starting line. My heart was already racing with excitement. Seeing all those people heading out, I jumped into the pack and was swept away. How dumb is that? I have a timing chip on my shoe. There were tons of people standing by lining the runners going out. Did I stop and check that most were other runners waiting for their wave? No, I just darted out.
First of all, I am not a fast runner. My plan was to start at the back of the pack, collect my thoughts, say a prayer, and “run my race”. Did I do that? No! That would make too much sense!
Instead, I flung myself into the running masses, crossed the starting line, and as I ran out, I heard the announcer remind the crowd that only the 7:30 minute per mile runners should be in this first wave. Oh crap! What did I just do!? She probably saw me cross the starting line, sized me up as caboose material, and reminded the crowd for what was probably her 3rd or 4th time to prevent the likes of people like me from screwing everyone else up!
Having “clocked in”, I figured it was too late to undo my dumb move, so I headed out on down the trail with my heart beating like mad.
Guess what my next rookie mistake was? You got it. I ran the first couple of miles at an insane pace even while screaming at myself to slow down and forget about my goofball start. At first, I rationalized the pace thinking these other runners sure don’t seem like 7:30 runners. I figured maybe my heart was just beating hard from excitement.
Well it didn’t take long for the starters to leave me in the dust. I then settled in and thought I should just mentally restart and enjoy being out on the course on this beautiful day.
Then came the second wave. It did not take long for them to hunt me down and pass me like a runaway train. At first it was a couple of runners. Then, it seemed like an unending mass of people all politely announcing themselves right behind me with the exclamation “On the left!”.
This was my punishment. I accepted it. I hugged the right side of the trail in shame. I started to get down especially when my right foot started bothering me due to the pitch on the right side of the trail when I tried to get out of the way.
I shook out of it. This was my race too. I had made a dumb mistake. So what! It was over. Now I had to get on with it and enjoy the race! I hardly slowed anyone down. Heck, I probably made them feel good as they blew by me!
I then focused on why I run.
When I run distance races, I don’t count up or down the miles. Instead, I dedicate each mile to someone special. I think and pray for and about them and ask them to help me through to the next mile. By the time I get through the race, I realize how blessed I really am. In the end, it seems more like life’s victory lap!
Well, I focused on my dedications and I ran through the beautiful woods. Everyone passed me. I do mean everyone! It was pretty funny after a while.
I got thinking about all our fellow Fdippers and decided to run Mile 10 for all of you. I thought 10 was a good number in honor of all of Steve’s listeners!
It has been really a great experience to learn more about all of you. What a great way to be connected with so many good people from all over the globe!
I am very thankful to Steve for all his time and dedication in getting Fdip off and running. I am very thankful to all of you for your well wishes and shared experiences. I am also looking forward to all of our new adventures as we cross more starting lines.
I finished the race with an unofficial time of 2:48. Slow, but sure. I think I was dead last or close to it. For me though, it was a success. I started. I finished. I enjoyed.
That’s my race report for the 2007 Michigan Trail Half Marathon.
Run long & strong!
All the best,
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Join me and fellow runners throughout the world in recruiting and motivating others to join us in this year's running of the Worldwide Festival of Races. I'm putting myself out there to help organize runners in Michigan to run solo or together during this race - just run! We can all do our part in recruiting. Imagine connecting runners from town-to-town, state-to-state, country-to-country! Lend a hand and join us in creating a wonderful adventure for everyone!
See www.worldwidefestivalofraces.com for more information about the race. Registration opens March 20th!
Friday, February 27, 2009
There are no crowds here. It's just me and the lonely, cold road. Winter in Michigan may not seem too inspiring, but to me, I'm pumped for a new season of running.
It's been a few years since I've run my last marathon. I've run half marathons in 2007 & 2008, but it's been since 2005 since I ran my last full marathon. Foot surgery in 2006 and work insanity since have been barriers. Not now though. No more sidelines for me. I'm ready to get back on track!
It begins now. Despite the unpleasant weather conditions, I'm thrilled to be outside and invigorated with a new mission. Why not? I can run. I can stretch to new limits. This is the beginning of a new route. Call it a renewal. Call it whatever, but the time is now to make the commitment and reach for new heights. I should do this everyday.
As many runners know, running is more than just running. The possibilities. The opportunities. There is so much to run for and so many places and experiences ahead. I feel great. What an exciting new adventure to look forward to!
It looks like this year's marathon for me will be the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. It seems very appropirate on so many levels. A victory lap through our nation's capital. Veterans. Runners. Family. Friends. I can hear the cannon fire now. Imagine crossing the finish line. I'll remember this beginning and all the points in between. The finish will be so sweet!
Join me on the journey. It starts now! Run with me as we head out on new adventures. I now know the endpoint to strive for, but I'm sure to enjoy the path from here to there. Thanks for pacing me. We'll be sure to enjoy the path along the way!