When you lose the feeling that traveling from one coast to the other is not unusual, but ordinary, your perception of our nation becomes…..that it is almost small. In any given week, I will spend time in 2-3 of the time zones, except when I go to Arizona, because they don’t believe in the whole daylight savings thing and it completely messes up my TV viewing…. when is the 6 o’clock news on…..7 o’clock!
I have often said that there are times I feel like you could use a passport as you travel the U.S.A. Leaving the Mid-West and traveling to either coast can be a culture shock if you are new to those areas and of course there is always Texas. Texas wants no part of the title Midwest, Southwest, or West, Texas has its own identity and really good food.
How does this all play in to an article about running? Because over the last 15 years I have traveled on average 150 nights a year and in the last 6 years – that travel has included my running. There was a time that my night ended at the hotel, with extensive snacking, sodas and laying around. Those days are gone, the hotel room is now, no more than a launching pad to whatever run is on the schedule for that night. I have run in all parts of this country, Central Park in New York, Miami Beach, Lubbock Texas, Hiram GA, Lacey WA, Sunnyvale CA, Peoria, AZ, Boulder, CO and there is a great story about Gillette, Wyoming, the list could just keep on going.
But it was a short run in 2011 that I allowed the title of Runner to be connected to my name. I wrote about it one time years ago and it happened in a town named Kearney, Nebraska. I was early into my running and still was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. I awoke very early in the morning with a 3 mile run planned and it was pouring rain outside. I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark having that all too familiar fight with myself, that all runners have, trying to convince myself that I needed to get out there and run. (The argument was not internal, but out loud and I am sure the room next to me thought I was crazy). I did run that day, in the pouring rain and cold wind blowing, and I loved every moment of it. I got back to my room, which was still dark, and I was on cloud nine. I had no idea what was going on, but I felt like the king of running that morning and I couldn’t stop telling everybody that I came in contact with that day. The server at the restaurant, got a 10-minute breakdown of the run before I ordered my lunch, the young guy I was training had a full day of me giving him a second by second recap of the that epic 3 mile run. I would later learn that I was seriously hopped up on endorphins and the cashier at the gas station did not care about the negative splits that occurred during the run…she said she didn’t care…. twice.Time has passed and there have been epic runs and epic failure runs, but what is consistent is the joy of running all over this country. I have seen downtown L.A. like you can’t see in a car and felt the serenity of western Iowa’s peaceful countryside. I’ve run the trail that halfway circles Lake Murray outside of San Diego, not forgetting to punch the red dot on the sign at the turn around. Took off for a run in Flagstaff, Arizona and wondered why I was out of breath so quick, only to find out I was higher up in the air than even Denver. By the way, I may have looked ridiculous gasping for breath in the hotel parking lot. Circled the town of Key West, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the ocean, making sure to reward myself with a pancakes from the Blue Heaven Restaurant, and then Key Lime pie. (it’s ok, I earned it) I once went for a run in Ashville, NC. It was to be a simple 3 miler, but sometime into the run, my contact popped out of my eye, I could not see signs or my Google maps and well…..to make a long story short. I ran 10 miles that night and here is a fact, Asheville has got some hills.
This is an introductory article to what I plan on sharing with you all. It will be stories of this amazing country seen from my running shoes. I have met so many people in my travels and their stories are interesting, sad, and funny. I have had skunks chase me (Nashville) and Grandmas high5 me as I finished a run (Utah). I have gotten lost (more than once) and ended up in a race by accident (Central Park). Running has challenged me, helped me find my competitive edge again, and allowed me to experience our country (and maybe a Caribbean Island or two). I want to encourage you all to do the same. Stories are coming, but for now why don’t you go for a run and experience your own story?
Runners always get asked how and when they started running and there answer almost always starts with, “I never thought I would be a runner”. I am no different, but how I started was a bit stupid, I was a bit stupid.
In 2010 my sister in law up and decides she is going to run a marathon in honor of her mother, who has beat breast cancer twice, at the 26.2 with Donna Marathon in Jacksonville, FL. When she finished this race, she was very clear to challenge her unsupportive brother in law (me) to try and run a marathon. I accepted the challenge and then I didn’t train very well and when I stood at the start line in my cotton socks, no band-aids and never having run more than 8 miles, I figured I was ready.
Here are some things that happen to an unprepared marathoner:
-You don’t eat or drink because you are afraid to stop and use the porta-john (as if time was an issue!)
-You are confused why people keep offering you Vaseline; I figured it out in the shower later.
-I started with a banged up foot, I ended up with 2 displaced fractures and a broken toe, Nice.
-Medics followed me from mile 23 begging me to quit and when I finished, they put me in a wheelchair while calling me names. (Deservingly so)
But guess what, I was hooked. I finished in 5:43:44 and I made the loud proclamation that I would be back and I would break 4 hours. I subscribed to Runners World, I went to the running store and got the correct shoes, I trained my butt off, and I was doing it right this time. And when I returned one year later, I ran 3:59:10.
p 2012 Finish 3:59:I knew I had found something that drove me to set goals and then work to accomplish them.
I have run 10 marathons up to this point and my desire for the finish-line never wanes. What I didn’t know was, what an unbelievable community that we as runners are a part of and I wanted to try and make it better. I travel over 200 nights a year all over the U.S. and I get to run in so many different states and towns. I have been able to see all types of runners, fast, slow, big, or small and they all have one thing in common, they run. I am part of a community that survives on support from others. I started a page for my family as we all started running, to help encourage each other and at times talk a little smack. That page has grown into something I could have never imagined and it is so inspiring. Runners that I will never meet find and give encouragement through the page. Nobody cares who’s fast or how far they run, because all runners deserve a high-five! The page name came from my wife as I ran that first marathon. She stood on that course all day and found me at so many mile markers and screamed “Run Hard, I know you will Finish.” She believed in me and I figured I better believe in myself, so I finished. What drives me to run? I want so badly to qualify for Boston. My marathon PR is 3:41:42 and my qualifying time is 3:25:00. It seems like a stretch, but I believe I can do it. So I keep pushing and I keep running. I run because I want to encourage others to keep fighting. I want everyone to experience the finish line at least one time. It can be that one time that sparks a fire. Running has shown me that I am tough and that I have a little bit of awesome inside me; I just need to believe it. Quotes that help me:
Let effort, not speed define you as a runner.
You are STRONGER than you know.
Time – 8:00pm
Distance – 6.23 miles
Duration – 53:29
It is amazing how many excuses I can come up with in a short time on why I am not going to run. I was making them up so fast tonight a stenographer couldn’t have kept up with me. Here’s the deal; Monday’s are a hard day for me, especially when I am traveling to the west coast. This morning I was up at 3:30am, on the plane at 5:40am, as we were just ready to take off, I mean seconds before the pilot hit the throttle, a woman decided she didn’t feel like flying and made it clear to everyone. So, we turned around and went back to the terminal. This set us back a hour, I arrived in Portland late, drove several hours to Bend/Redmond and by 7pm I was making excuses(solid ones, I might add) to not run, but I did. The Deschutes County Fairgrounds was next to my hotel and proved to be a great place to run, with awesome scenery. The training plan called for 6 and I was an overachiever, by a little. Tonight I almost didn’t run, which would have been sad, because I felt so good when I finished. Tomorrow is speed work, 12×400 meter repeats, my feeling after that may be a little different.
“The will to finish”, should always defeat “the want to quit.” – Reist
The “Fairgrounds” run has been crushed
Shoes – Red/Black Adrenaline GTS15
Total Training Miles – 25.58 miles
Time – 8:15am
Distance – 5.01 miles
Duration – 44:54
1.2 It figures, I start my training cycle and BAM! I wake up on Friday with a cold, the kind of cold that starts in your chest and explodes through your nose…ugh. With a foggy head and a 5 hour drive to Branson, MO for a family reunion in front of me, I took a day off. That’s right, the second day of training was an unplanned rest day, double ugh.
1.3 The room is quiet, despite it being occupied by myself, my hot wife and two teenagers at 6:30am. The long drive and good food at the reunion has everyone sleeping soundly, but not me. Behind our hotel is a church with a huge parking lot, I have been sedentary long enough (25 hours), I am going to run. I got changed, left the room dark and walked to the church. It was already pushing 80 degrees and humid, I figured I would just sweat the cold out…triple ugh. The schedule called for 6 easy miles, I ran 5. I listen to an interview with Katherine Switzer while I ran and was inspired by her dedication to the sport. I finished, felt both awesome and extremely drained all at the same time. I walked back to the room kind of expecting a reception of “nice job dad”….they were still sleeping, so I loudly opened curtains and turned on the TV. (Dad of the Year nominee). My run today was fueled by cold medicine and the obsession. I have convinced myself that if I am sick with a cold, that a good run will fix my stuffy head, running nose and scratchy throat, better than NyQuil can. I am a runner, of course I think that, don’t you.
Days 1.2 and 1.3 done
Shoes – Orange/Red Adrenaline GTS15
Total Training Miles – 11.22 miles
It was anything but warm this morning in Santa Clara. The chill was just enough to make shiver and wonder if I should have dug around my suitcase for my gloves, but that would just be crazy, it is June. I set off on the familiar path that I have been running for the last month while working in California. The first mile borders a busy road and is very nosy, and then it angles back into neighborhoods and is surprisingly peaceful amongst this busy city. The path was busy today with bike riders commuting to work and retirees out for morning walks. I was scheduled to run 6 easy miles for Day 1 of training and I was doing a 3 mile out and back from my hotel. The first 3 were a bit uncoordinated and I could find no real rhythm.. As I was approaching the turnaround point, I passed another runner coming towards me and I recognized the familiar Boston Marathon Finisher shirt she had on, the shirt I so strongly desire to earn one day. I waved and made my turn and proceeded to fall in behind her about 75 to 100 meters back and we ran. I say “we” ran, but I don’t think she had any idea I was behind her. Her pace was so even and her stride so smooth, I began to feel my own run smoothing out. I followed her for 2 miles, until we hit a crosswalk where I caught up and to be honest may have freaked her out when she saw a 6’3” Clydesdale rolling up behind her. She slowed to the side and gave me an odd look, so I smiled and said “nice run” and kept on going, she waved smile back and said “Thanks!” I noticed she then fell in behind me for the remaining of the path, then headed into the neighborhood. Little did she know how she helped me on this run, I am grateful to my “Pacer”
For all 10 marathons, I have trained almost every mile by myself. I wonder what it would be like to run with a group. Being on the road 200 nights makes this difficult, but I think there should be a way.
Who has a suggestion on how I could find running partners as I travel the U.S.?
I love watching a good TV series. Spending the time watching a show, seeing the story develop, and getting excited for the finale at the end of the season. What makes this even better, is when the season finale lives up to expectation and leaves you wanting more. The other side of this scenario, is the off-season, the season of reruns. Yes, I love the show, but I have already seen these episodes and it just doesn’t have the same effect on me, I struggle and I often don’t watch the rerun, the thrill is gone. This is how I feel about my training in between marathons. I love running the marathon, it is my favorite distance, (don’t ask me if it is my favorite at mile 22), and when I am in between races, my running has always felt like TV reruns. I love the run, but it just doesn’t have that same pizazz as it does when I am training for a race. (I used pizazz in a sentence….solid) I have always thought that everyone needs some sort of motivation or goal to that inspires them to run. Mine just happens to be, running 26.2 miles, getting a medal and eating all the food. But this year after running my last marathon in February, I made a choice to look at the “Rerun season” with a different attitude and mindset. I was going to put a plan together to train for the training. And I tricked my feeble brain into being excited about my running during this time of no suspense, no new plot line, but what did happen, a new character was being developed for the upcoming season, me. I started on February 23 with my “train to train” program designed by me. I increased my runs each week by 1 mile until I got to 9-10 miles a run 4-5x a week. No pressure, no time goals, just running….and I got stronger. I started eating better, which means I stopped snacking all day long and lost 15lbs, and most importantly I was engaged and motivated to run. I can’t wait for the season premier and for the story to unfold, because the finale is going to be EPIC.
Now here we are, starting another cycle of marathon training and I want you all to be a part of it. I will write a recap for each run, and publish them for you, these recaps will include:
Location of the my run
Short description of the run
Attempt to be humorous
I will go on and on about how much I love running
I will also be doing video blogs, because frankly, I am much better at talking then writing. I might even be inclined to start a Podcast…I don’t how but it sounds cool.
Here are some facts about me and my running you may or may not care about.
Shoes – Brooks Adrenaline GTS15 Size 12 / I have 5 pairs, all different colors. 3 are in rotation now, with the other 2 being moved in during the summer as the others mileage out. (usually at 350 miles)
I wear a belt for my phone. It is the same belt I have run with for the last 4 years.
I rarely listen to music anymore. No reason, I just stopped one day. I do like to listen to books or podcasts on really long runs. But every so often, I can be found jamming along roads of the U.S.A.
Favorite Artist to listen to while running – Andy Mineo
GPS – Garmin 10…..for now
Training plan – based on the Hanson
Wednesday will be my rest day
If you have questions, just ask
Where/When: 10/5/2015 MO’Cowbell Marathon – Saint Charles, Missouri
Goal: BQ (it is a stretch, but hey I am a dreamer) It is a stretch because my PR in the marathon is 3:41:42, my BQ is 3:25:00…stretch. But I am up for a challenge, and I know my running family will cheer me on.
If you see I am running in your town, please let me know if you want to go for a run!
Here is a cool little story:
Yesterday we traveled to Gastonia, NC to spend Easter weekend with my family. During the afternoon we all went to the park and my hot wife and I went for a run. I had finished my run and was sitting with everyone while Andrea finished her run. As she passed us on the path, every niece and nephew took off running to chase her and ran the last half mile with her. They all wanted to beat Aunt Andrea. #coolrunningmoment
This is a home week for me from traveling, and an off day from running. I decided it was a good day to organize my closet and running gear (maybe I was encouraged to do so by my wife). As I was putting things away, it got me to thinking about how running has changed the way I view things. So, I have decided to share a few:
I was at a stoplight the other day and saw a girl running towards me. Her gait at best was a bit awkward with very small steps and almost no arm movement. I am sure in my BR (Before Running) life; I would have had a sarcastic comment ready to fire as she passed me. Instead I yelled out the window “your stride looks great, run hard!!” Who am I??
In my BR life if I saw a runner on the road instead of the sidewalk I would give him the “get off the road that is what sidewalks are for” glare. Now as I run on the road I give the drivers the ….wait I don’t give them any look, I run on the curb till they pass. In my head though, I am glaring. On a side note, who knew sidewalks are so uneven and so easy to take a biter on, especially at night.
I can honestly say I think motivational running quotes are cool, such as this one:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle when the sun comes up you’d better be running.
Ok, come on – that’s a cool one.
I think green shoes are cool. Nothing else really to say.
For my birthday this week, my wife gave me a GPS watch that tells me everything I can possibly need to know while I am running. I believe if I move that Bezel fast enough it will tell me this week’s Powerball numbers. My wife is awesome, by the way.
I preach the awesomeness of Body Glide. Just say “amen” and move on.
I have begun writing a blog about my experiences with running. (https://runhardalwaysfinish.com). Dude, I wouldn’t even write a term paper in college and now this…
Here is one last thing. August 14, 2011 I barely was able to finish 2 miles, on November 12, 2011 I ran 20 miles in 3:13:24 9:39min/mil for my week long run. Now that is a BIG change.