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LIVE TO EAT OR EAT TO LIVE?

FEBRUARY 21, 2020

Food

I keep thinking there has to be a reasonable diet that falls somewhere between perfectly healthy and junk food. I'm imagining this repeatable weekly diet where I find healthy food that also tastes great. I suppose that's the problem with imagination. It allows me to conjur up an image that simply doesn't exist.

I know the problem and it's not an easy one to fix. For most all of my life, I have approached diet with a Live to Eat mindset instead of the more practical Eat to Live target. A fast metabolism only contributed to the problem in making it so easy to hide from everyone! Junk food might taste great, but the best I can hope for on the healthy front is food that tastes good. Well, that's not completely true considering my love for sushi, but it's generally true for me anyway.

For far too long, my eating philosophy has consistently been That was great! So, what's next? I'd like to say that I've had the discipline to keep my weight in check, but what's healthy about going back and forth between gorging and starving? It may work but it can't be healthy!

The good news is that I've imrpoved greatly in recent years with my eating habits. The bad news is that I've still got a ways to go if I intend to move into the Eat to Live category and away from the cravings that tend to keep me on the Live to eat side of things.

My wife and I have put a plan in place to get things on track.

Stay tuned!


HEALTH

FEBRUARY 15, 2020

Health

For many years, I have focused on running. Specifically, I've focused on running as a means toward good mental, physical, and emotional health and fitness. I knew running would contribute greatly toward those things.

Unfortunately, that approach has proven to be too narrow and has allowed things like diet to take a back seat and to get addressed only in the most casual manner. While running served as a great focus for a lot of good results, it left too many important things off of my priority list and out of view.

With all of that in mind, I've removed the term Running here on the website and replaced it with a new and wider focus toward good overall Health. While running will remain a high priority for me, I want to give equal focus to the other things that are so important to my overall physical, mental, and emotional health. To start with, I need a better defined diet plan. I've been successful in cutting back on quantity and losing weight, but I need to take that to the next level and move away from the things I constantly consume that run counter to good health.

Stay tuned!


BACK TO THE GYM!

January 25, 2020

Run

Yesterday, Patty and I went for our annual physicals. Our doctor is awesome and provided some great support to continue my running. And, after a four day break to allow for the healing of a very small muscle pull in my left inner thigh, I was back to the gym today, running strong, and feeling great.

I put in 3 miles and played back and forth with the pace to see if that pulled muscle wanted to say anything. Fortunately, it had no comment and I hit the three mile mark at 27:15 having run various distances while testing paces between 9:45 and 8:31.

Since I'm targeting daily runs, I'll need to determine what kind of regimen will work best for me. I've got the 5K distance under control so it's just a matter of improving upon the pace over a reasonable amount of time. I've got to turn in a time for my March 14, 2020 Pi Day virtual run and hope to be close to my 25 minute goal by then.

Clearly, that's not a 5K pace I want to approach on any kind of a regular basis, but I do hope to work toward that in the mid-March time-frame for a one-time PR at the 5K distance.


THE 2020 I HAVE A DREAM 5K RACE (Update)

January 20, 2020

love2run

Well, I've got good news and I've got bad news.

The good news is that I did indeed get in a couple of 5K's here in January with a couple of pretty respectable times considering the point I am at in my training. I turned in a 27:04 for the virtual race records which included 26:15 at the 3 mile point and an 8:44 pace for the overall race.

The bad news is that I must have pushed my training a bit too hard (it's not hard to imagine for me!!!) and have a slight pull on the inner side of my left thigh. I felt the pain start to build during a faster training run and was forced to back down to a fast walk for the last mile. I can walk as fast as I want, even now, but I cannot handle the added stress on that muscle that occurs when running. I suppose I will be doing some fast walks for a few days until that pull/strain heals up.


ANYTIME FITNESS

JANUARY 14, 2020

Running

On our weekly trip to the library and the grocery pickup, Patty and I stopped by and signed up with Anytime Fitness. It gets us everything we're looking for (see previous post) and the cost is covered entirely by the AARP/United Healthcare Silver Sneakers program. What a deal!

After coming home for lunch and getting a few things done, I headed back up to the gym to get in a run - my first at the gym and my first on a treadmill in a very, very long time! I have to say that I really enjoyed it! I know, it could indeed be the change and the newness, but I think there's more to it than that.

First of all, and probably most of all, I really enjoyed being able to set my intended pace on the machine and then letting it do all of the pushing to keep me on track. I also enjoyed the consistent running surface (as opposed to the pot hole ladened dirt roads I've been on lately) and the cool gym environment on an otherwise unusually warm January day.

I managed to cross the 3 mile point at 26:15 and the 5K point at 27:04. I was quite pleased with my time and the incremental increases in the pace that I took on as I approached each new mile. I'm more encouraged than ever that breaking 25, even at the 5K distance, is going to be doable.

With a towel next to me and all the data I could ask for about my run on the treadmill screen right in front of me, what else could I ask for?


CHANGING THE PLAN ALREADY?

JANUARY 13, 2020

Running

Well, three days after I came up with a plan, I'm already preparing to make changes to it. Truth is, I'm finally being honest with myself about certain obstacles to fitness and I'm changing my approach to better deal with them.

As one who is highly susceptible to skin cancer, running in the sun has never been a good option for me. Unfortunately, running outside is a habit that I developed long before skin cancer showed up on my horizon. And for years now, I've been having to deal with the unfortunate consequences of running in the sun (and everything else I might have been doing in the sun.)

This is really about shifting circumstances and the resulting shift to my priorities. For the first time in my life, the treadmill (aka the dreadmill) is starting to make sense to me. That's because, for the first time in my life, the benefits of using a treadmill have reached a point where they finally outweight the downsides.

As much as I hate treadmills, I hate sunburn and sun block even more. As much as I hate treadmills, I hate the summer's biting bugs and the protective bug spray even more. As much as I hate treadmills, I hate dermatology surgery even more. And, as much as I hate treadmills, I hate the risk of falling on some of these poor running surfaces even more.

With the introduction of free gym memberships via our Silver Sneakers Medicare Advantage Program, and some other benefits not worth mentioning here, I think Patty and I are now looking forward to a shady and climate controlled running environment with the opportunities for music, podcasts, and videos. Heck, with this approach, I can even participate in virtual 5k events. I mean, why not? And, with retired life we certainly have the time to approach our fitness in this fashion.

So, here we go...


SENIOR RUNNING

JANUARY 10, 2020

Running

Since I crossed the 60 yard line of life, I've been bouncing around like a ping pong ball trying to make up my mind about how I'm going to approach the world of running. I remember the day I hit 60. It sounded "old" and I was thinking I should probably make some adjustments to my running goals.

What I've discovered in the past 5 years as a sexagenarian is that old habits die hard and obsessions die even harder! I hate to admit it but there's also a pride element to this challenge. I've tried anything and everything and failed to find a plan that was firing on all cylinders for me.

Over the years, I've always laid claim to the idea that good health comes ahead of goals, achievements, and especially obsessions! Well, that credo was much easier to maintain when I was younger. Now, not so much.

Yesterday's run made it clear that no running plan is a bad running plan. And, that's exactly what I've had here in 2020 - and if I'm honest, for the past few years. My previous posts make it clear to me that the direction in which I've been headed has been heavy on the obsessive side and way too light on the wiser and healthier side.

So, here's the plan:

I'm backing off of the goal to train for and run 5k's and I'm backing off of the goal to run 3 milers without any walking. Frankly, at this point in life I don't enjoy the wear and tear on the body. The goal truly needs to be a healthier plan and not a longer distance or a faster pace or a new PR.

Walking the last 1/10th of a mile in each half mile segment - all over a 3 mile distance, has proven to be a great way to get the heart rate up, challenge the muscles, and maintain some stamina here in my senior years. In addition to all of that, it produces a routine that I enjoy and from which I recover much more quickly.

Best of all, I'm retired so there's time every day to get out there and enjoy that run and reap all of those wonderful physical, mental, and emotional benefits that result from a good cardio plan.

UPDATE:

Just completed a run/walk and had some time to give further consideration to my fitness plan.

I read recently that the count of runners at races is way down over the past few years. I recognize that trends go up and down but I also chalk some of that up to more races equals fewer runners per race.

Beyond all of that, I wonder if there's a growing trend toward these virtual events that I'm seeing more often? They bring so many benefits to a runner that I would not be surprised if they are taking a bite out of the attendance at the big race events.

Running is not generally a team sport unless you count the gathering at the pub after the event or the pictures with friends at the finish line. Virtual race events allow runners to avoid the challenges associated with getting up early, driving to an event, running in unfamiliar territory and at a less familiar time of day with potentially poor weather, and the higher cost of participation due to the higher cost of expenses associated with putting on such an event.

So, is the virtual race a growing trend? I've decided it will be for me! It's something to keep me motivated, connects me with a virtual community via social media, and allows me to conveniently keep to my fitness plan!


IMPROVING MY PACE

JANUARY 7, 2020

low carb

Well, I'm 7 days into the new year and I've racked up 7 three milers with substantial improvements on the per mile pace. With one exception (on a day when I was very low on carbs and calories) all of my three milers have come in under 29 minutes with my best (today) coming in at 26:28 or an 8:49 per mile pace.

Considering that I walked a total of .15 miles over the course of those three miles, and that I'm working toward a no-walking three miler and 5k, I expect to see continued improvement. My goal this year is to get somewhere in the 25 minute range on a 5k, or better yet even break 25 minutes. That will take some more training and speed work but I believe I've got it in me, if for no other reason than my sheer stubbornness.

When it comes to training for faster paces on shorter distances, I've said before that I'm in uncharted waters and it's the truth. I'm fearful of either falling (especially with some of the pot holes on some of the dirt roads where I train) or of tearing a muscle. In 30 years, I've only done it once but it's no fun! I still want good health and fitness to remain the dominant themes for my training. As such, these types of goals will require careful focus and discipline. Most of all they will require a carefully considered incremental approach.

Here's to a better pace!


WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

JANUARY 3, 2020

low carb

From my perspective, weight management is part and parcel to any plan aimed at good health, fitness, and in particular, running. Over the years, I have come to believe that a good weight maintenance plan is probably one of the best things a person can do toward good health. Why go to the doctor and try to battle so many things with medicine and medical treatment that we can better fight at the source by keeping our weight in check?

Here's another important question: Why work so hard toward good fitness (running) and throw it all away with poor eating habits? I'm not talking about the quality of foods consumed as much as I'm talking about quantity of foods consumed. I've been in that place where I'm carrying around more weight on my runs than I should have to. Believe me, it's not fun!

I've found nothing to better support weight loss and management than a low-carb diet! And, in the process of reading, I ran into a question: What is the difference between a low carb diet, the Atkins diet, and the Keto diet since they all basically focus on lower carbs?

Well, it turns out that Keto is known for its focus on therapeutic properties (such as managing epilepsy or improving insulin sensitivity). Atkins is known for reducing carbs for weight loss and, over time, increasing carbs for weight maintenance. And, a simple low-carb diet is just that - a way to use reduced carbs to both lose and maintain weight over the long-term.

I know that low-carbs and higher fats and proteins have worked well for me in the past but it's a struggle to balance that with a running routine. In reading, I learned that a run where I am above 70% of max VO2 (See here for max VO2 definition) requires a faster consumption of energy and that is best accomplished with carbs. A run below 70% of max VO2 does not require the faster consumption of energy and can be readily accomplished with fats.

On the other hand, 1g of carbs provides 4 calories of energy whereas 1g of fat provides 9 calories of energy. My interest is seeking a faster pace runs completely counter to all of that. Hmmm, more decisions!

I should add one other thought: I'm not super meticulous about a healthy diet, but I am quite focused on 1) reducing total caloric intake and 2) avoiding processed sugar! While I'm presently doing pretty good at both of those, the discipline required to achieve each is probably my greatest challenge, especially when considering the bad habits I have acquired over a lifetime of eating!


RUN NUMBER 2 IN 2020

JANUARY 2, 2020

pi day

Highway 367a - the main part of my running course

Well... I was feeling too good, and the day was just too beautiful, not to get out and go for another run despite my original thoughts toward running every other day in 2020. It's clear to me now that I want to shoot for a daily run!

It was sunny and 65 degrees (f) when I started my run just before 1:00 PM. I had just finished lunch a few minutes earlier which included a bottle of water and half a pita pocket loaded with tuna fish, tomato slices, cucumber slices, and dill pickle slices, not to mention a dash of balsamic vinegar to spruce the whole thing up a bit more.

I decided to add a tiny bit of brisk walking to the running mix just to see how the rest factored in with my per mile pace and my over-all time. To my surprise, the results were better than expected. I ran all of mile one (9:02), walked 1/10th on mile two (9:25), and another 1/10th on mile three (9:13). To be more specific, I briskly walked half a tenth at 1.0 and another half a tenth and 1.5 and did the same thing at 2.0 and 2.5. The breaks felt good and contributed to a better overall pace.

My three mile pace including the walking was 27:40 and with the extra tenth I added to the run my 5K pace came in at 28:30. I have no idea how much I can (or want) to improve on that, but we'll see how it goes as I get on into 2020.

I'm also trying to decide if I want to alter my course just a bit to avoid the pot holes in roughly 1.2 miles of dirt side-roads on my course. Staying on the blacktop would improve my pace and make for a smoother stride, but the straight road feels longer and psychologically makes for a more tiring (and boring) run. Tough decision!

As usual, after my three mile run Patty and I did our two mile walk. Our pace always feels good and usually falls somewhere between a 17:30 and 18:00 per mile pace. Today we did a 17:36 and a 17:27 putting us at 35:03 when we crossed our finished line. I'm so grateful for that wonderful afternoon time together with my amazing wife! Yesterday, we saw a group of eagles flying together. From what we could tell about their flying patterns, it appeared that several males might have been interested in a lone female. What a treat to see things like that in this beautiful part of Florida.


MY FIRST RUN OF 2020

JANUARY 1, 2020

pi day

I went out for my first run of 2020 today (3 miles) and conditions couldn't have been better. I was feeling strong and the weather was a perfect 63 degrees (f). I decided to run a strong first mile to see where I'm at in my training coming out of 2019.

The goal was to run at a pace that pushed me, but also one that I was relatively confident I could maintain for the entire mile. I wanted to see how I was feeling and what kind of pace I could maintain for a mile. Turns out I ran that mile in 8:13. The interesting thing is that 8:13 is about 5 seconds slower than my PB half marathon pace, set back in 2008 at age 52.

I'm in new territory training for an running the 5K distance after having run so many distance races (almost all half marathons) over the past 30 years. I want to pick up my pace and, at the same time, avoid injury! The challenge will be to ensure I take a gradual approach to improving my pace. I've made the mistake of running faster than I had trained to run and the result is no fun!

According to the data I downloaded from my Garmin Vivoactive 3 data, most of my 3 mile training runs in 2019 averaged out somewhere 9:30 and 10:00. Considering that I did zero speed work in 2019, I'm pretty comfortable with that pace serving as a starting point for improvement in 2020. It will be interesting to see what type of training provides the best results.


THE 2020 I HAVE A DREAM 5K RACE

December 31, 2019

love2run

As 2020 is only minutes away and 2019 draws to a close, I registered for another virtual race. This one is next month, in January of 2020, and commemorates the life of Martin Luther King.

I'm really excited to kick off my 2020 race calendar and my first virtual run with this race. I can execute the run in a controlled environment where I'm used to running, and there's no getting up extra early and driving long distances in order to run with a crowd.

Now, I enjoy the race atmosphere but the idea of breaking in easy and doing it in such a way that I focus more on my training than breaking records is of particular interest to me. If I decide to work on some speed training this year, that will also be something I will approach very gradually in order to avoid the lower back challenges that have come for me with over-training and/or running at speeds for which I've not trained.

I'll set my sights on the "potential" for more competitive times in the spring if training in the early part of the year is working to my advantage.

Here's to fitness, good health, and good running in the New Year!


600 MILES IN 2019!

December 28, 2019

love2run

Well, today is December 28th and I finally hit my 2019 goal of 600 miles. While most of that was miles I ran, some of it was combinations of running and walking - a strategy that has proven highly beneficial this year on several fronts.

I'm taking the last 3 days of 2019 off and giving myself a fresh start in 2020. The plan is to run 3 miles every other day which should net out to 45 miles per month and 500 miles for the year (with a little room to spare.)

I'm purposely setting monthly goals instead of an annual goal so that I'm not forced to play catch-up if life happens and I fall behind. There is no better formula for injuries than falling behind on an annual goal and having to push to an unhealthy extent to get caught up!

Additionally, I'm hoping that the 3 mile distance will better position me to run some 5K races during the year. I'm looking forward to my first ever virtual run in March and may take on a 5K before that if a local and interesting race shows up on the calendar.

Happy running everyone!


CLOSING IN ON 600 MILES IN 2019!

December 27, 2019

pi day

Well, it's now December 27 and I have 5 days left to put in 10 miles to hit the 600 mile line for 2019. Should be no problem - especially with the nice weather forecast for today and tomorrow (no rain and temps in the lower 70's.)

Our family left yesterday around lunch time so I decided to get out in the early afternoon and put in a 3 mile run followed by a 2 mile run/walk (which mostly turned out to be running - at least on mile 5.) I did a 52:41 5 miler which nets out to a 10:32 pace. I'm aiming to finish up today and tomorrow and take a breather in preparation for the new year.

I need to set some 2020 goals and am leaning toward a 3 mile run every other day, which would put me at around 545 miles for the year. Perhaps I'll shoot for another 600 mile year, or just shoot to beat 500. We'll see...


600 MILES IN 2019?

December 22, 2019

pi day

Well, it's December 22 and I have 10 days left to put in 18 miles to hit the 600 mile line for 2019. I'm hoping that's not going to be a problem. However, the amount of rain on the 10 day forecast and everything going on suggests it may be challenging, especially since I don't plan to run while we have family in town for the holidays.

It will be an interesting count down to 2020 and crossing that 600 mile line may occur right at the end of 2019. We'll see!

Footnote 3:00 PM: Saw a tiny opening in the weather on the NOAA web page and decided to give it a go. Winds were still gusty outside but the temperature was a comfortable 60(f).

Did three miles at a 9:15 average pace and just as I pulled in the driveway with 1/10 mile to go, the rains came and brought a nice cool-down. That puts me at 9 days remaining in the year and 15 miles to go.


THE 2020 Pi DAY 5K RACE

December 18, 2019

pi day

I just signed up for my first 5k in 2020. It's the Pi Day 5k Tallahassee and it will also be my first virtual race event.

Being a self-proclaimed geek (with limited credentials - having memorized Pi to 50 decimal places) this will be my second Pi Day race. My first was the Georgia Tech Pi Mile race back in April of 2014 which actually covered a distance of Pi miles! If you're interested, you can read about that race here.

I'll be running the race out here where I normally train and will both run and submit my time at some point during the month of March as required. Stay tuned!



RUNNING MEDALS

December 17, 2019

3 miles gva 3

There's something pretty special about having a medal draped around your neck at the end of a race. It represents the hard work you've put in preparing for the race and it also represents your successful completion of the event.

Each and every race has a story and a quick glance at the medals hanging on my office wall is sure to bring the story and the many memories to mind from one of the events.

Today I was reflecting upon the Hatfields and McCoys Half Marathon that I ran on June 13, 2009 - just over 10 years ago. I can remember so many fun and interesting things about that trip and the event, and yet I have the same experience when I reflect upon any of the other events.

I'm so grateful for having taken up running back in 1990 and for the encouragement I received from a fellow employee to get involved in the race scene. It changed my life!


3 MILES

December 16, 2019

3 miles gva 3

Most of my recent runs have involved a lot of running and a bit of walking. Early in 2019 I started out by walking a tenth of a mile and running a tenth and repeating that process for whatever distance felt comfortable.

Over time I worked up to 3 miles and with that I started running 2 tenths for every tenth walked until I was walking 1 tenth for each half mile and finally 1 tenth for each mile. It was a very different approach than I've ever taken for building distance and speed but one that really worked for me and one that was made possible by the Garmin Vivo Active 3 smart watch.

Yesterday I ran a 3 miler without any walking for the first time since my 5k races back in 2017. I have to admit that this whole process of building up distance and speed initially felt a bit demoralizing - especially after running so many distance races over the years. But a quick reminder that I'm in this first and foremost for good health and fitness brought me back to my senses and even put a spring in my step.

I dumped the Garmin data over to my phone and discovered that my pace for the 3 miles was 27:30 with one mile splits of 9:09.01, 9:14.7, and 9:06.2 netting an average per mile pace of 9:10. I'm okay with that considering that I didn't push hard on the speed element. In fact, under race conditions I would anticipate a per mile average pace somewhere around 8:30. I'm still not sure if I want to push to that level, even under race conditions, since I'm trying to run for health and fitness and even more importantly for the long-term!


RUNNING JUST GOT MORE INTERESTING

April 15, 2018

Vivoactive 3

If you asked this guy what he's passionate about in life, high on the list would be running! A week or two before Christmas last year, my sweet wife treated me to the latest and greatest in the Garmin family of runner's watches - the Vivoactive 3. Quite honestly, I've struggled over the last few years to decide if the investment was going to be worth it. However, now that I've been using it for almost four months, I can truly say that I had no idea what I was missing!

I could not believe just how much data it was able to capture and I was definitely not prepared for the amount of information it was able to derive from that data. Neither was I prepared for the amount of realtime information the watch was able to provide during my runs and the number of options I had for configuring just what I wanted to see during those runs.

If all of that wasn't enough to persuade me, the sync with my phone app took Running Analytics to the next level. It enabled me to review my pace and heart rate (among other things) in graphical format over the entire period of the run. Was I keeping a steady pace and how did my heart rate compare early on to the end of my run?

I found the GPS to be quite accurate and it opened up a new opportunity that I had always desired, but never expected. Sure, it could plot the course I had run, including mile markers, but I was now equipped to take any turn on my course that I wanted to take and still get a clear read, at the end of the run, on the distance I had traveled and both the pace for each mile and the overall pace.

An unexpected treat was the ability to track my sleep patterns, including heart rate, and do things like keep count of my steps during the day and track my estimated calories burned at any point during the day.

Best of all, running has become more fun for this numbers guy! I like seeing the data in realtime on my runs and especially having the capability to pass the turn off to my house, do a bit of quick math in my head, add an extra leg to the end of the run, and finish that last mile right at my doorstep.

Now that is cool! Cool!


THE MARCHING CHIEFS 5K

NOVEMBER 19, 2017

chiefs

As a former FSU music major, I was really looking forward to running the Inaugural 2017 Marching Chiefs 5k. To be honest, I only attended FSU my junior year and I had not participated with the Marching Chiefs. Still, visiting the campus and checking in on the music program was a nostalgic treat for me! I had also trained pretty well for the run and was looking forward to a good race.

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for me. Actually, the weather was nice but the storm the night before apparently threw the organizers for a loop in terms of getting their monitors out on the course. Somewhere along the lines the wrong person was put in the wrong place and given the wrong information.

The result was something more along the lines of a perhaps a 7K or 8K race. I honestly don't know for sure but I knew when I crossed the finish line that there was no way my good pace translated into such a bad clock time.

I later heard that there was indeed a mix-up on the course but I never did get the final word on the actual race length. To be honest, I was just glad to finish strong on a distance that I wasn't really trained for.

I really hate having missed the 2nd and 3rd annual occurrences of the race, but hope to be ready and running in the 2020 event!


CAN GEEKS BE RUNNERS?

NOVEMBER 19, 2017

geeks

Can geeks be runners? Sure they can, but I don't tend to see that as a natural pairing. In fact, I tend to wonder just how common that duo might really be?

My geek attributes kicked in naturally at a very young age and with literally no effort at all on my part. I was probably building API's for Tinker Toys and my Erector Set before I learned how to read.

I also remember vividly, years later, when I got my first look at a microcomputer (far before they earned the name Personal Computer or PC) and it was love at first byte! Did I mention I often enjoy math puzzles and can still recite Pi to fifty decimal places? I suppose it's a testimony to my geek DNA that I'm even willing to share that last bit of information.

Some ten years or more later after buying that first microcomputer, taking up running was a very different story. There was nothing natural about it at all and there were many false starts before it finally took hold of me.

Even now, I still sign up for races to keep myself focused on training and, in turn, motivated toward good health. It's just too easy to make excuses, get lazy, and fall off the wagon directly into the recliner.

I envy those runners who have a runner's body type. This geek wasn't born and blessed with that. My legs are disproportionately short to my overall body height and most of the good runners that I know have longer legs that seem to extend all the way up to their neck!

I can assure you it takes additional mental strength to make up for my physical limitations, but that also makes it all the sweeter when I pass one of those guys during a race.

Happy running my friends!


THE ENCOUNTER 316 5K RACE

NOVEMBER 4, 2017

Tville

Yesterday I ran the 3rd annual encounter 316 5k race hosted by First Baptist Church of Thomasville, Georgia. I really like these small-town races and especially the beautiful spirit of the members of the host church. From the moment I walked on the property I was greeted warmly by most everyone I met. Unfortunately, the morning had not started out quite as well for me.

I had planned on getting up around 5:45 AM but actually woke up around 5:00 AM with the kind of stomach cramps that often accompany food poisoning. Unfortunately, an extended restroom visit did nothing to alleviate the situation and I found myself going through all sorts of mental gymnastics trying to analyze my options. I just don't give up on goals that easily, but this one was very tempting! Medal

I convinced myself that I would have a number of McDonald's restrooms between me and my race destination and that this would allow me to make a better decision upon my arrival. And so, in a massive step of faith (or my often spoken of obsession with running, races, and goals), I gave my sleeping wife a goodbye kiss and asked her to say a prayer for my stomach cramps, loaded my gear in the car, and was underway on a 60+ mile trip up to Thomasville.

I drove about 13 miles to the center of Crawfordville, Florida and almost turned around as the cramps were getting a bit worse. Another 10 miles and I was north of Crawfordville, still in the pitch-black of night, and feeling a bit nervous about the distance between me and the next McDonald's. At that moment I remember saying, Lord I'm going to need your help on this one! Nothing fancy or super-spiritual - just a simple plea for help. North of Tallahassee, my cramps completely disappeared. I remember looking down at my odometer when the pain departed and was 40 miles into my trip and on the North side of Tallahassee. The pain never returned.

As I arrived at the church there in Thomasville, the next question that came to mind was what to wear for the race. I usually run in technical shirts but had brought a long sleeve cotton shirt with me since the temps were supposed to be in the 50's and since I had no idea how much wind might be around. I put on my cotton t-shirt and walked around the block to pick up my race packet and technical shirt. There was a chill in the air but no wind and I knew I would be warm after the first mile and changed back into the technical shirt for the race.

The kids one mile fun run was scheduled for 8:00 AM and the 5k was slated to start twenty minutes later. I watched the kids come across the finish line and was quite impressed with some of the numbers. The young boy that won the race turned in a time somewhere around 6:30. I was impressed!

Not long after, we lined up and were underway. For the past couple of years, I had mostly been walking and doing very little running. In fact, in my transition back to running again, I had only put in 11 days of training in preparation for this race. I started with 4 runs of 1 mile each followed by 7 runs of 2 miles each - all on 11 consecutive days including the day before the race. The race was going to be my graduation to the 3 mile (or 5k) distance and with all things considered, I thought it went pretty well.

Even with several down-hill and up-hill locations on the course, I was able to maintain a pretty steady pace and had a little left over for a strong push on the uphill run to the finish line. I crossed the line at 26:50:55 and received a medal for first place in my age group. If they had been awarding medals for oldest runner, I probably would have won that too!

I turned in an 8:40 per mile pace which was very much in line with a few of my best training times on my two milers. Today, the day after the race, I ran a 3 miler and turned in an 8:45 per mile pace. The extra wear and tear of a second three miler (two days in a row) was somewhat compensated for by my much flatter (in fact, entirely flat) home course!

Looking forward to the Marching Chiefs 5k in Tallahassee in a couple of weeks!


GEORGIA TECH PI MILE RACE

APRIL 12, 2014

Hutch Pi

Being a real math geek (that means I love numbers and math - but not necessarily that I'm any good at it!) and with my passion for running I just had to run the 2014 Pi Mile (3.14 miles) race sponsored by GA Tech. It takes place on the GA Tech campus and had a few more hills than I expected.

Still, I managed to squeeze out an 8:59 pace today which was not bad considering the hills and the fact that I hadn't done any speed training for such a short distance. It's the fist race I've run in a very long time without my mp3 player but I figured that I would just enjoy the crowd since the race wasn't very long. Kudos to the sponsors of the race - it's a well-organized race and I love the t-shirt!




HALF MARATHON #30 - SAVANNAH ROCK & ROLL

NOVEMBER 5, 2011

July 4th

I ran the Inaugural Savannah, Georgia Rock & Roll Half Marathon today. There were 23,000 runners with 16,000 running the half and another 7,000 running the full marathon.

This was my 30th distance race and one that I was not as well trained for as most other races I have run. In fact, it was the first half marathon where I went over 2 hours in as long as I can remember.

Still, it was a great race and I particularly enjoyed seeing several old friends from Savannah along the course.


RUNNING THE PEACHTREE

JULY 4, 2011
July 4th

I've run the Peachtree Road race over a dozen times but, with my focus on half marathons, it's been equally as many years since I've run it. It's the world's largest 10k, hosting 61,000 runners this year, and it's a 4th of July tradition for many runners in Georgia.

This year over 70,000 runners applied to the Atlanta Track Club for one of the 60,000 race numbers. It's rumored that the total available numbers was increased to 61,000 late in the game to help the race maintain bragging rights as the world's largest 10k.

I didn't register for the race this year, but I did put out a last-minute request on Twitter and Facebook a few weeks ago, to see if I could pick up a number from someone who was going to have to bow out. There's usually a few who put their race numbers up for sale at the last-minute due to a change in plans.

There's also more than a few (like me) who are usually looking for a race number at the last-minute. Just go to Twitter and type in the hashtag #Peachtree and you'll see what I mean. As it turns out, I actually bought mine yesterday at the shoe store and from the guy who sold me a new pair of running shoes. It seems his wife had not been able to train as much as she wanted and was willing to let her number go. Talk about a last-minute find!!!

I'm guessing I'll be in one of the later waves (there are 25 waves) which means I could be crossing the starting line 90 minutes after the first runners crossed it and close to one hour after the winners crossed the finish line. Still, there will be the coveted t-shirt and plenty of refreshments awaiting me no matter when I finish. From there it will be a short walk back to the MARTA station and a short ride home to enjoy some good eats and an evening at the local fireworks show with my wife and our son - who decided to make the trip over from Alabama to join us for the festivities.

Happy 4th everyone!


THE ALBANY GEORGIA MARATHON BAR HALF MARATHON

MARCH 7, 2010
Albany

I was really excited about running the Marathon Bar half marathon down in Albany, Georgia this weekend. I was looking forward to taking a nice 13.1 mile run through my old stomping grounds and making my way through some of the neighborhoods where I used to live back in the 1970's and 1980's.

I was up by 5 AM Saturday morning and down to the river front by 5:30 or so. I was able to park in the civic center about 25 yards from the race start and, considering the 31 degree reading on the thermometer that morning, enjoyed the warmth of my car until about 15 minutes before the 7 AM start time.

The course was great and the support along the course was excellent. I particularly enjoyed seeing all of the men and women from the United States Marine Corps Logistics Supply Base there in Albany - who were providing traffic support at all of the intersections. One young female Marine asked me how I was doing and I indicated I was doing great and asked her how she was doing. She responded, "I'm doing great - after all, I'm not the one who is running!" Pretty funny I thought, considering that I'm sure she must know a lot about running in her line of work.

I placed 8 out of 24 in my age group and finished 182 out of 586 half marathon finishers. My time was 1:58:31 which represents a 9:03 per mile pace. Having battled an upper respiratory infection in mid-February, which caused me to miss my last race and which also took a real toll on my distance training for this particular race, I was delighted to make it in under two hours.

There were 579 finishers in the full marathon for a grand total of 1,165 finishers. I believe there were about 800 registered for the half marathon but I have no idea how many of them actually started the race and dropped out. It was great to have Patty with me and to hang out with her family for the weekend. I've got one more half marathon in two weeks (the ING Atlanta) and then I will be shifting my attention to a more focused weight training program for the spring and summer before making a decision about a couple of half marathons in the fall running season.


TRAINING FOR A HALF MARATHON

FEBRUARY 25, 2010
ugh

The first thing I would offer to anyone looking for a half marathon plan is to carefully consider your reasons for running a half marathon. Different reasons call for different plans. The second thing I would offer is that there are no experts out there. Yesterday's best practice can easily and quickly be ousted by tomorrow's best practice and that goes for footwear, mileage goals, speed, warm-up's and cool down's and all other things in between. You will ultimately become your own best expert.

I'm a big fan of taking in all of the information you can and then testing things to see what works best for you. So test carefully everything I say against all of the variables in your own life's equation. As I've written before, your body will talk to you and if you listen you will learn. Distinguish the difference between a complaint from your body (ignore them!) and a warning (take heed!) If I had to boil it down to one word, it's about approaching everything incrementally! Build your life of running just like you execute a run - one step at a time!

Allow me to share my goals because if they're not your goals then my half marathon plan may not be good for you. I train for health and I register for and run races to motivate myself to train. It's that easy for me. I compete only with myself and I do pay attention to the times I turn in on my races just to ensure that I'm pushing myself - but only to the point where it supports (and does not undermine) my goal of good health.

I'm 55 years old and I've run countless half marathons, 10k's and 5k's in the 20 years that I've been a consistent runner. In all of that I've remained injury free with the exception of one torn muscle which occurred years ago, when I built up too much speed on a severe down-hill section of a run. Lesson learned and a good one it was!

My basic plan for the half marathon comes with a few assumptions. I typically run 5k and 10k training runs as a general rule unless I'm specifically training for a half marathon. I'll run as many 5k's during the week as my schedule will permit (usually 4 or 5) and a 10k run on most weekends.

In any race, I'm generally consistent in meeting my goal for my target time (pretty much anything under 2 hours and somewhere just above 1:50:00 if it's a relatively flat course.) My personal best (PB) was 1:45:54 in 2008. I'm generally signing up for several half marathons a year. Where I live it's a bit too hot and humid to consider them in the heat of the summer so I run a few in the fall and a few in early spring. That means I have to ramp up twice a year and then I can take advantage of the ramping up process to run 2 or 3 half marathons in each of those two seasons.

So, what's my specific training plan for the 13.1 half marathon distance? It's actually quite simple. If I'm getting ready for my races in early spring, I look at the weekend for the first race and I write 13.1 on the calendar for that weekend. The previous weekend I leave blank and then each weekend before that I decrement 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Since I run 6's all the time on weekends it's no problem to start my training with 6 miles and build up 1 mile per weekend with several 5k's in between and always a day off before and after the long training run. Oh, by the way, now go back and write a 6 on the weekend you left blank. It's a distance you are used to and it will keep you loose for the upcoming race the following week without taking a real toll on your body.

My plan nets out to an 8 week plan or roughly 2 months - assuming you are comfortable with 10k's. If you're more comfortable with 5k's then the plan becomes an 11 week plan or roughly 3 months and begins incrementing with 4 miles.

Trust me - there are many more (and much more demanding) plans out there. If your intent is to turn in a sizzlin' time then this plan is probably not the plan for you. If your plan is to simply challenge yourself to run distance races and feel good about the accomplishment and your health, then I would recommend the plan to anyone who is healthy enough to run 3 miles. If you're not at 3 miles yet, then start with a week of half mile runs and add a half mile a week until you reach 3 miles or 5k (3.1 miles.)

Let me know how the plan works for you if you try it out. It's worked for me for many, many years!

Happy running!


UGH!!!

FEBRUARY 1, 2010
ugh

The picture offers a perfect visual description of the way I felt this past weekend - totally frustrated with a situation over which I had no control. I was even frustrated that I was frustrated since I knew I couldn't do a thing about it! But that's okay 'cause I dealt with it!!! Sorta...

The story starts on Thursday afternoon. I returned from a quick overnight business trip to the west coast. Somewhere in the span of ten hours on coast to coast flights, I picked up some kind of flu bug and now my throat was beginning to hurt. I began telling myself that this cannot happen because I've got a big out of town weekend planned for my wife's birthday (and that doesn't even include the fact that I am also sneaking in a half marathon early on one of those mornings while she sleeps in.)

So, now it's Friday evening and I'm trying to do my best imitation of a perfectly healthy husband enjoying the start to his wife's birthday weekend. Unfortunately, my hacking cough and low-grade fever betray me. My wife gives me the first of many hugs for the weekend and it's clear to her that something isn't right. I'm not about to let things fall apart so we hit the highway with a major supply of Tylenol and Halls Honey-Lemon Mentho-Lyptus in tow.

The Tylenol and Halls only mask the reality of things. Still, they work together to get me through a nice drive out of town, wonderful meals together, visits to local attractions, and orchestra seats at a late evening play before heading back to our beautiful hotel room. No killer flu is going to blow this guy's plans out of the water!

Back at the hotel room the Tylenol and Halls were no longer masking my symptoms and it was not pretty. We had completed all of the activities I had planned for Patty's weekend and I had survived. All I had to do now was to get a good night's sleep, skip the race, and Tylenol-up for the two hour ride home in the morning.

Unfortunately, there was this problem. You see, skipping a race for which I've paid and, more importantly, trained is just not in my DNA. So, what if I just ran a half marathon two weeks ago and am registered for two more of them in March? That doesn't do a thing to help me justify missing this one!!!

So, I'm sitting here late in the evening trying to justify running 13.1 miles in the morning before the sun rises and with the flu! I'm guessing that you have a clear view of the obsessive picture by now. Did I mention that the forecast was calling for 27 degrees and winds in excess of 15 mph at race time? This was a no-brainer! (Now I'm not talking about the "I am sick and shouldn't run" type of no-brainer. I was going for the "I have run in much worse conditions" variety of no-brainer.)

Fortunately, I came to my senses and reminded myself that I train and run races for good health and not to be obsessive (although all distance runners are indeed obsessive!) Truth be told, the problem was much more about setting a goal and then having to give up on it than anything else. But even then, I still have to constantly remind myself that training and races are nothing more than periodic milestones toward the over-all objective of good health and fitness.

With that said, I may need to start carrying some Halls and Tylenol with my racing gear.


HALF MARATHON #25

OCTOBER 29, 2009

half 25

I'm looking forward to running half marathon number 25 this weekend. It's the Silver Comet Trail half marathon over in Mableton, Georgia and it will be the fourth time I've run this race. I ran it back in 2005, 2006, and 2007 which were the fifth, sixth, and seventh running of the race respectively. I don't remember why I missed last year but I'm sure there was a good reason.

I particularly like this race because of the flat course. The race course is a concrete path that has been developed on the same route as the old Silver Comet railroad as I'm told. There's nothing any steeper than a 15% grade if I remember correctly.

This will be my sixth and final half marathon for the year. I started a weight training regimen over a month ago and plan to scale back my distance running just a bit to give my weight training extra attention. It will be a new adventure as I learn to balance the two. I'll have to learn just how much distance running my body can take and still allow me to perform well on the weight training side of things.

I decided to work with a trainer to start out my weight training. It has proven to be very beneficial and I have already seen some very positive results and received a great education regarding so many things having to do with the human body. The stretching exercises have actually added great improvement to my flexibility, my sleep habits, and some minor but chronic lower back pain I have experienced in recent years due to excessive lifting related to my humble landscaping efforts. Darn those retaining walls!


GANG SIGNS?

OCTOBER 9, 2009
hutch 13.1

Okay - notice my hands in the picture. This was taken while I was running in the inaugural Atlanta 13.1 half marathon last weekend.

The odd thing is that every time I have a photo taken of me while I'm running, my hands tend to look this way. I'm not a member of a gang and I don't know sign language so there must be something else going on here with my hands.

The only thing I can figure is that I must be wired a bit differently from my peers in the running community because I don't ever see anyone running close by who is a member of the same gang.




THE INAUGURAL ATLANTA "13.1" HALF MARATHON

OCTOBER 4, 2009
13 Point 1

Today, I enjoyed running the Inaugural Atlanta version of the "13.1" half marathon with 2,601 other finishers. The promoters are touring America and putting on the "13.1" trademarked event all over the country and with a different theme in each city. The theme for the Atlanta version was Southern Rock! The event moves to Miami, Florida next.

The race started and finished at Oglethorpe University here in Atlanta. The event kicked off at 7:13 AM and offered some of the best weather I have yet to experience in a distance race. It was a well organized event with a beautiful course - despite several pretty serious hills.

I felt strong today and had it not been for the hills I might have turned in a time in the upper 1:40's. As it was, I recorded 1:53:50 on my runners watch from starting line to finish line - a time with which I was very pleased considering the hills. I'm hoping I can improve upon that time the end of this month with the Silver Comet Trail half marathon. That's one of the things I like about running - you can always compete with yourself.

Happy Running Everyone!


RUNNING UPDATE

MAY 10, 2009
Update

I made a conscious decision to cut back on my running mileage this year. I put in 1,070 miles last year and the weekly requirement to get in four runs of five miles each was simply too demanding while, at the same time, trying to do half marathon training and keep up with everything else in life.

In reality, twenty miles a week is no problem at all. It's just when you try to do it consistently for 52 weeks in a row that the difficulties show up. Miss a few runs due to illness or a heavy work load and now you're forced to play catch up on an already demanding weekly running schedule. There were some weeks when I was forced to run seven runs of five miles each just to catch up.

I set a goal for 750 miles in 2009 with a basic target of five runs of three miles each during any given week. To-date, I am right on target with exactly 250 miles clocked through April 30th. If I fall behind for one reason or another with this kind of goal, playing catch-up is a bit more realistic and doable.

I've already run two half marathons this year (the Martha Berry in Rome, Georgia and the ING in downtown Atlanta) and I have three more on the calendar including one next month. I have a very specific training regimen for half marathons that has been refined over the course of many races and I'm right on schedule for the one coming up.

Here's an updated list of all of the races I have run with distances greater than or equal to 15k (approximately 10 miles):

1991 Atlanta Half Marathon (1)

1992 Atlanta Marathon (2)

1995 Atlanta Half Marathon with Jonathan (3)

1996 Atlanta Half Marathon (4)

1999 Ola Half Marathon (5)

1999 Atlanta Half Marathon (6)

2001 Atlanta Half Marathon with Allie (7)

2001 The See Spot Run 20k (8)

2002 Country Music Half Marathon (9)

2002 The Rock & Roll Half Marathon (10)

2005 Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon (11)

2005 Atlanta Half Marathon (12)

2006 Tybee Island Half Marathon (13)

2006 The Silver Comet Trail Half marathon (14)

2007 Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon (15)

2007 The Carpet Capitol 10 Miler (16)

2008 Half Shell Half Marathon (Key West) (17)

2008 Tybee Island Half Marathon (18)

2008 Albany Marine Base (Run For Relief) Half Marathon (19)

2008 Peachtree City Classic 15k with Josh (20)

2009 Martha Berry College Half Marathon (21)

2009 ING Half Marathon (22)

2009 Hatfield & McCoy Half Marathon (23)

Of the three half marathons I still have on the calendar for 2009, each brings with it a special treat not so common in my races. The first one is in June and is out of state. I'm looking forward to taking Patty with me and making a long weekend out of it. The race is based on an interesting historical event. I'll add another post at a later time and tell more about it.

For the second race, I'll be training with a 13 year-old relative of mine and helping him prepare to run his first half marathon. He and I are working up through a 5k race and a 10k race on our way to our half marathon goal.

The third race is going to be a very cool family event. Josh, Allie, Patty and I are traveling to Virginia Beach, Virginia to join friends and extended family over Labor Day and to run the Rock & Roll half marathon up there on the beach. It promises to be a great time!

Last but not least, I downsized my IPOD in the beginning of 2009 by picking up an IPOD shuffle. It's not much bigger than a postage stamp and has a clip that holds on very nicely to the bottom of my shirt making its presence virtually unknown unless I want to skip a song. Music has always been a critical component to my runs and this new addition serves me well with over 70 of my favorite songs.

Well, that's more than enough for now. If you're running, keep it up! If not, come and join me!

(Updated June 14, 2009)


2009 ING HALF MARATHON

MARCH 29, 2009

ING


2009 MARTHA BERRY HALF MARATHON

MARCH 7, 2009

New Balance


NEW BALANCE

JANUARY 16, 2009
New Balance

This week I had the pleasure of training some great folks up at the New Balance headquarters in Boston. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Sherri, Dan, and Patrick. Their hospitality was second to none!

Sherri fixed me up with a great pair of 1062's (I'm holding one of them in the picture) and I took them out for a short 3 mile spin today.

It only took a few steps to seal my conversion to the New Balance family. Right off I noticed the extra cushion and added stability.

I also noticed that my feet were able to breath better than ever before. The new high-tech shoe laces were also a nice touch.

Carey Plato, Product Manager - Running, went the extra mile and fixed my wife (also a faithful runner) up with a pair that were entirely pink - her favorite color. She hasn't taken them off since I brought them home to her.

I'm now a big fan of Sherri and Carey and New Balance and am looking forward to a long-term relationship with their products. With several half marathons on my calendar in the next few months, I'll be keeping my eye on the new and improved 1063's coming out this spring.


RUNNING IN WASHINGTON D.C.

DECEMBER 18, 2008
dc1

I had a business trip to D.C. this week to teach a class on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I arrived at my hotel before 3:00 PM on Monday and promptly put on my shoes, running shorts, and a short sleeve shirt and prepared for what would turn out to be a 10 miler before all was said and done.

I took a quick glance at a map, stepped out of the hotel front door, pointed myself in the direction of the monuments and set out on my run.

I had thrown my camera in my pocket and made a couple of 30 second stops to catch some of these photographs along the way. Temps were in the 60's and it turned out that there was a big crowd of runners who must have all had the same idea.

Unfortunately, Tuesday's and Wednesday's weather was not nearly so friendly and I had to fly out Wednesday night. Still, with that adventure D.C. has become one of my new favorite places to run...

dc2
dc3
dc4
dc5


RUNNING WITH MY BEST FRIEND

DECEMBER 5, 2008

In December of 2007, I set my goals for 2008. The most difficult goal in that list was probably one of the most difficult goals I have ever set for myself. It took 340 days to complete with physical and mental effort beyond description. Patty

My commitment to the goal took on an added challenge when I accepted a new job with RightNow Technologies on April 1st of this year. Ramping up for the new position while maintaining a focus on this goal would stretch my skills for organizing and prioritizing to a new level.

A few weeks ago it became clear that I would indeed accomplish this goal in 2008 as I had planned. As such, I wanted to find a way to share the experience of the accomplishment, and the celebration, with my best friend.

As an avid distance runner, my goal was to run 1,000 miles in the year 2008. As of last weekend, I was at 990 miles. Unfortunately, my work schedule had evolved to a point where it looked like I would be out of town on the day that I was to meet my goal. As a result, I made a few changes.

I asked my wife and best friend if she would run the last mile with me as a way to include her in the accomplishment and to thank her for all of those evenings where she gave up time with me while I put on my running shoes and hit the streets.

Now, to place this in perspective you have to know that Patty's a treadmill girl and doesn't care to run outside. In addition, I'm sure that the forty-degree temps were not going to be conducive to her idea of having fun - even if she only had to endure them for one mile.

Still, and even with excitement, she agreed. So, with 10 miles to go, I set and met a schedule to complete 3 runs of 3 miles each during my stay this past week in Washington, D.C. I had told Patty I would be flying home Thursday evening and asked if her she would save some time on Friday for us to run together. She agreed.

And so, today during my lunch break we bundled up and made the run on a one mile stretch of sidewalks that carried us through downtown Douglasville and one of my favorite portions of my regular run.

To top it off, she had even surprised me with this certificate commemorating the occasion. It's a simple certificate but the thought, love, and commitment behind it runs immeasurably deep.

That's just like Patty - she's always one step ahead of me. In 33 years, I have found it impossible to out-love my best friend...


RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

NOVEMBER 14, 2008
run for your life

I had an opportunity this evening to watch a documentary about running. Entitled Run For Your Life, and produced this year, it's filmmaker Judd Ehrlich's story of Fred Lebow - founder of the New York City Marathon.

If you're not a runner you probably wouldn't enjoy this film. In fact, even if you are, if you haven't run a marathon you may not find it interesting.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story to me was the way it chronicled the inception of todays world-wide passion for running. It's clear that the NYC Marathon played a major role in running's present popularity.

What I found most interesting though was this man named Fred Lebow and the way he was able to grow the NYC Marathon into what it has become today - even in the midst of what would seem like insurmountable odds to any other person.

Run in 1970 for the first time and with only 50 runners, the event now limits participation to 37,000 runners and entry is largely dependent upon a lottery system. Of equal interest is the fact that it boasts the largest crowd of spectators for any sporting event in the world - nearly 2,000,000.


2008 PEACHTREE CITY CLASSIC 15k

OCTOBER 18, 2008
15K1

At 5:30 AM this morning, with the temperature hovering right around 50 degrees, Patty and I pulled out of bed and prepared to meet Josh and Allie in Peachtree City, Georgia where we would head over to participate in some of the 2008 Peachtree City Classic races.

We met Josh and Allie and piled in our cars and proceeded to the starting line. We arrived just in time to see the kids 1 mile fun run. It was a great site and Allie recognized a number of the runners as being students from the elementary school where she teaches.

The picture was taken by Patty and is a shot of the runners lining up for the 15k. That's yours truly waving at the babe-a-licious photographer from the crowd and that's Josh in the hat and sun glasses immediately to my side.

At 8:30 AM the gun sounded and Josh and I were on our way for a 9.3 mile run along the golf cart paths of Peachtree City, Georgia. By 8:40 another gun sounded and Allie was on her way for the women's 5k (3.1 mile) run.

15K2

Not long after Josh and I passed the 7 mile mark, we passed dad and Lorraine's house and had an opportunity to wave at Dad and Jane and Lorraine. Cousin Kris was there and ran along with us for a few minutes to say hi.

After both races were over, we all proceeded to dad's and Lorraine's for some relaxing downtime and a wonderful breakfast put together by Lorraine. All in all, it was a great morning and wonderful to have an opportunity to get in a good run and hang out with everyone afterward.

Tonight, we'll meet up with Josh and Allie again and head over to the Haralson County Marching Band competition and root for the marching Band (Rome, Georgi High School) where Jonathan serves as the percussion instructor. After that, everyone's spending the night with us and we're sure to have a great time together.

Hope you're also having a great weekend!


CROSSING THE WEST COAST FINISH LINE

SEPTEMBER 28, 2008
finish line

Yesterday, September 27, 2008, I reached the West coast and completed a three year long virtual cross country run. It was a run that began on September 12, 2005 on the East Coast in Savannah, Georgia and finished 2,395 miles across the country on the West Coast in San Diego, California.

The run took me 165 miles along Interstate 16 West from Savannah to Macon where I picked up Interstate 75 North and traveled approximately 81 miles. From Interstate 75 I picked up Interstate 20 in the heart of Atlanta.

The bulk of the trip, some 1,269 miles, was spent running along Interstate 20. On the western side of Texas, half way between Midland and El Paso, Interstate 20 merges with, and becomes, Interstate 10. I ran alongside Interstate 10 for another 543 miles.

Just South of Phoenix, Arizona Interstate 10 splits. From there I picked up the Eastern end of Interstate 8 and ran approximately 337 miles to reach San Diego, California and the West coast.

All in all, the run carried me through 8 states (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California) and took 3 years and 16 days which equates to 159 weeks or or a total of 1,112 days.

Based on an average of better than 9 minute miles, I estimate around 350 hours of actual time spent running. Of the 1,112 days the number of days where I actually ran was 533. This indicates that I ran between 3 and 4 days a week at an average distance of 4.5 miles per run.

I also set a goal to run 1,000 miles in 2008 which would require an average of 4 runs of 5 miles each per week and would deliver me across that finish line in mid-December with a couple of weeks in reserve. As of this week, I am right on schedule with 780 miles completed.


100 MILES TO GO!

AUGUST 28, 2008
100 miles to go

As I approach today's run, I have exactly 100 miles left to complete my coast to coast virtual run across the United States. The run started in Savannah, Georgia and will wrap up in San Diego, California.

I started the 2,395 mile run on September 12, 2005 and, if I stay on schedule, I should complete the run around September 28, 2008 - almost exactly 3 years later. I'm also still on schedule to meet my goal of running 1,000 miles in the year 2008.

2008 has been the best running year I've ever had. I have already run 3 half marathons bringing my grand total to 19. I also achieved a new half marathon PB (Personal Best) by turning in a 1:45:54 at the Marine Base Half Marathon in Albany, Georgia. And, in that same race, I placed first in my age group which was the first time I've ever placed in any race.

Although I want to run one or two more half marathons this year, I'm already looking out to 2009. I plan to cut my total miles by about 25 percent and move my weekly goal from 4 runs of 5 miles each to 5 runs of 3 miles each - not including any training I do for half marathons.

And speaking of half marathons, Allie and Josh and I are talking about running the Tybee Half Marathon next year. We're still in the 'talking' stage on that one so more on that later...


RUNNING ON THE CHARLES

AUGUST 12, 2008
charles

I was up in Boston on business last week and, after asking folks about nice places to run, was pointed to a beautiful run alongside the Charles River right there in Boston. Before it was all over, I put in a good ten miler and probably could have done more with such beautiful scenery to distract me.

I ran from the hotel through town to get to the river and then enjoyed the comfort of exchanges between the bike path and various walk-ways and dirt trails that broke off of it from time to time - not to mention a couple of picturesque bridges that I crossed.

The run was getting long but I just didn't want to turn around. Running an 'out and back' (run to a certain point and then turn around and run back the same route) is always a challenge in a new area because you want to see what is next, but you realize that each step will cost you an extra one. Waiting until your dog tired to turn around is not the kind of strategy that provides for strong finishes.

At one point, my run took me past an outdoor concert shell and later past Boston University and a spot where they launch their sailboats and, I suppose, the row-boats for their rowing teams. I have a few more trips scheduled up that way and plan to include a run across one of the bridges that crosses over the Charles.


410 MILES TO GO

JUNE 20, 2008
theba

This is a specimen of Wulfenite. I've never heard of it either. It was plucked from a copper mine in Theba, Arizona.

I will arrive in Theba, Arizona this weekend on my virtual cross-country run and will reach the 2,120 mile mark of my journey with only 275 miles remaining to San Diego and the West Coast.

Theba also represents a major milestone as I will reach the 500 mile mark for 2008 and be right on schedule to reach my 1,000 mile goal for the year.

When I went to research Theba, Arizona I couldn't find anything on Yahoo or Google about the town. A more extensive web search still turned up nothing except the fact that it is indeed listed as a town in Arizona and is located on Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Dateland - for what that's worth.

For the past two weeks I made a 30 mile trek on Interstate 8 through the Sonoran Desert. That seems only fitting considering the extreme heat we have been experiencing here in Atlanta where the real running has been taking place. In order to complete my 5 mile runs with such hot and humid conditions, I have found myself leaving the house around 7:30 PM and still coming home drenched.


410 MILES TO GO

MAY 4, 2008
410 Miles to go

On my virtual cross-country run I arrived in Tucson, Arizona today. It's a run that started September of 2005 on the East coast in Savannah, Georgia and will wind up, this year, on the West coast in San Diego, California.

I've got about 410 miles to go which means I should be arriving in San Diego right on my birthday (September 15) assuming I am able to maintain my 20 miles per week goal, which was set to achieve my goal of 1,000 miles for the year.

Of course the real goal here is good health and weight maintenance, but I've learned without more measurable (and fun) goals it's just too easy to talk myself out of going for a run from one day to the next.

The snow and ice in Montana, and my hatred for treadmills, set me behind in the last week or two. On the other hand, the weather this week was great - so I piled on extra miles. As a result, I was not only able to catch up, but to get a day ahead of schedule. That's going to help with all of the things going on this coming week with Allie's wedding.

Looks like I've got several more trips to Montana in the next few months. Can't wait to get back on Baxter Road in the spring time...


THE PERFECT RUN

APRIL 14, 2008
Perfect Run 1

I know - the title sort of resembles The Perfect Storm. However, Montana does indeed offer the perfect run - and this is it.

It's a 2.5 mile run from the edge of civilization out a lonely country dirt road to the turn around point - a stop sign out in the middle of nowhere.

Then, it's 2.5 miles back with a view that is more breath-taking than the one encountered on the first half of the run.

Now, before you get to thinking that you could find a run like this anywhere, be sure to consider that this is the kind of scenery I saw (below) whether I looked to the left or the right. Don't miss those mountain ranges in the distance. The picture just doesn't do them justice.

Perfect Run 2

It was nothing but cattle ranches nestled in between two majestic mountain ranges and a couple of farm houses and barns scattered along the way.

Needless to say I left the MP3 player back at the hotel. On a run this beautiful, taking in the sounds becomes part of the experience.

I could hear the gentle trickle of the crystal-clear water flowing through the channels alongside the road, which was actually the run-off from the melting snow coming down from the mountains.

The entire experience is a smorgasbord for the senses and presents a rustic charm that has a romance all of its own...


MORE ON RUNNING

APRIL 4, 2008
More on Running

It's been a few months since I ran this race on Tybee Island, but the memories are still vivid and wonderful. There' just something great about the sport of running and something extra special about training for, and running, half marathons around the state and around the country.

Today I reached the 1,900 mile point since I started my running log in September of 2005. And, because I'll be traveling some with my new job, I decided to add my running log back to my blog, at the end of the Running thread, so I can update it from anywhere I might be.

I'm right on target for my goal of 1,000 miles for 2008. My weekly goal is to get in four runs of five miles each. Twenty miles a week, over the course of the year, will put me over my goal for the year.

Part of my strategy is to do what I can during the week and then use the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to play catch-up with my miles as necessary. I usually push myself on one run during the week with an 8 to 8.5 minute per mile pace and I usually take a more comfortable 9 minute mile pace on the other runs.

I also find that I have to keep a sharp eye on my work schedule and the weather map and plan ahead accordingly. This ensures I don't get caught (flat footed?) at the end of the week with insufficient miles. And believe me, with a new job and the kind of weather we've been having (snow, tornados, and thunderstorms) it's required quite a significant level of attention.

My priority will be to devote serious attention to my new job and the new material that I must absorb in a short amount of time. But, ironically, running will actually enhance that process despite the time commitment. I find that I'm more energetic and able to handle a tougher schedule when I am running. And, I even put the run to good use sometimes by reviewing things I need to have committed to memory.


RUNNING TO THE WEST COAST

MARCH 11, 2008
Goal Digger

Despite the surprise of having met several of my running goals earlier than expected this year, I still have two major goals that remain. One has already taken a couple of years and both will take most of the rest of this year to accomplish.

In September of 2005, I decided to start recording my miles in a running log. I had already been running regularly for about 15 years and, as each year passed, I found myself regretting, more and more, that I had not kept a running log to track my progress. Since starting the log, I've found that there is something very satisfying about logging my miles after a run - not to mention the built in accountability factor of measuring my progress in relation to predetermined goals.

With my log started, I set myself a goal in 2005 to run from Atlanta to the West Coast on a virtual run (where I total my miles and track my progress on a US map.) As I continued to make progress, I later revised the goal to run from the East coast to the West Coast. Measuring from Savannah, Georgia through Atlanta and on over to Los Angeles, California via interstate 20 and interstate 10, it's a total of 2,469 miles according to mapquest.

As of March 10, 2008, I have completed 1830 miles (almost 3/4's of the way) and have 639 miles to go. At my current 20 miles per week pace, I should reach the West Coast by the end of the year. If I maintain that weekly average, I should also achieve my other goal of running 1000 miles this year.

Of course, when all is said and done, the races and goals are nothing more than motivators to keep myself training and in good shape. As I have blogged before, running simply comes with too many benefits to ignore it.


THE ALBANY GEORGIA MARINE CORP HALF MARATHON

FEBRUARY 10, 2008
Albany GA Marine Corp Half

I came across an ad for a half marathon in Albany, Georgia several months ago. Since Martha (Patty's mom) lives there in Albany, I figured Patty and I could both get in a visit, and I could catch the race while we were down that way.

With that in mind, Patty and I traveled down to Albany this past Friday night and I caught my third half marathon in as many weekends. The race was held at the Marine Base there in Albany. I've seen the race advertised several times and thought it might be a fun race to enter, especially considering the flat terrain down that way.

Coming into this race, my PB (personal best) was 1:48:20 which I did at the Silver Comet Half Marathon in October of 2007. However, with my extra training, the half marathons I had run over the last two weekends, and the flat course there in Albany, I thought this race might provide an opportunity to achieve a new PB.

I had set a goal this year to achieve a new PB and thought that if I could get down in the 1:45 range, I would be very pleased. I also had set a goal to place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in my age group (50 to 54 years old) at some point in the future. Placing is something I have never done before and thought I might have a shot at it in Albany considering that this race does not have the draw of a major event like the Atlanta Half Marathon.

I set a strategy for Albany to run strong and fast up front and then just try to hold on and dig deep to finish as strong as I possibly could. When I passed the 1 mile marker my time was 7:30 even. This is a good sign and a good start I thought to myself. I passed the 3 mile marker at 23 minutes. Hmmm - 3 miles at a 7:40 pace. Still not bad I reasoned.

I cranked out the next 7 miles averaging an 8:06 pace and passed the 10 mile marker at exactly 80 minutes (or 1:20:00.) I must confess I was totally spent and I still had the equivalent of a 5k race (3.1 miles) to go. I dug as deep as I could and pulled out that 5k in 25 minutes and 54 seconds (an 8:35 pace) and crossed the finish line at 1:45:54 with an 8:05 average pace over-all and a new PB. As the medal in the picture indicates, I was also delighted to grab first place ahead of the other 6 runners in my age group. At the award ceremony, I was surprised to discover that I had come in only 40 seconds ahead of the next runner in my age group.

By the way, there was a 64 year old guy who ran it in 1:38:36 (a 7:32 pace) and the winner, a 21 year old, finished in 1:16:23 with a 5:50 pace.


THE 2008 TYBEE ISLAND HALF MARATHON

FEBRUARY 3, 2008
2008 Tybee Half 1

Well, as a follow-up to my race in Key West last weekend, and with my love for races by the ocean with flat courses, I ran the Tybee Island Half Marathon this weekend. I enjoyed running it back in 2006 and thought I would give it another go this year.

Patty and I left Friday evening and stayed with Allie for the night. She had a band function going on until pretty late, so we didn't rush to get down there. Allie is always such a wonderful hostess and I'm so grateful that she allows us to stay with her. She and Patty spent most of their time together working on wedding arrangements and plans while we were there.

I decided to skip a Friday night trip to Tybee, since we arrived late, and took care of picking up the race packet and t-shirt before the race on Saturday morning. I arrived at 6:45 AM (for an 8 AM race start) and the parking spaces were already beginning to fill up rather quickly. By 7:30 AM people were riding in circles looking for places to park and the police were out in full force ensuring that runners didn't park in illegal areas or in front of people's homes.

Unlike last week, I was much better prepared for this race. I had taken in sufficient fluids and carbs to feel well energized during the run. I have discovered that a small 'Rice Crispy Treat' is the perfect pre-race energy bar - along with a few sips of Gatorade to wash it down.

2008 Tybee Half 1

The 40 degree temps and low humidity didn't hurt either. Nor did a return to running with my MP3 player - which I decided to do without in Key West at the last minute. Not sure why I did that since I've proven over and over that I run a much more focused race with music to drown out the distractions - not to mention the metal effects of hearing one's own breathing.

This race is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It's well organized, not too large, has a nice flat course that passes by the marsh and the famous light house, and always boasts beautiful medals and t-shirts.

I thought the t-shirt design this year (see photo) was one of the better ones. I particularly like the lighthouse and enjoyed living close to it, out on Tybee, while we were building the house on Wilmington Island, and where we lived for four years before moving up here to the Atlanta area.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:51:07 and an average speed of 8:30 per mile - a result with which I was very pleased. I was 14th out of 49 in my age group (50-54 years old); 179th out of 487 male runners, and 241st out of 1054 finishers of the half marathon.

Including all of the races that morning (Full Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k Fun Run) I believe there were just under 3,000 runners - which was a new record as I understand it. By the way, the winning time for the half marathon was 1:12:13 - which nets out to a 5:31 per mile pace. I cannot begin to comprehend the level of commitment it takes to turn in those kinds of times!


KEY WEST HALF-SHELL HALF MARATHON

JANUARY 27, 2008
Key West 1

I always enjoy my monthly fix - pouring over the latest Runner's World Magazine searching for the next cool-sounding race. The Rock & Roll Half Marathon, The Country Music Half Marathon, and on, and on.

Hmmm.... The Half Shell Half Marathon in Key West, Florida... How cool could that be? After all, oysters are my favorite food! So, why not?

Why not!?!? Who drives almost 2000 miles in 3 days and pays good money to run 13.1 miles? That's not obsessive! That seems more like somewhere between low IQ and no IQ. With that settled, I mailed in my entry fee.

I left the house last Friday and spent the night in Savannah with my daughter, Allie. While there I decided to do one more check for the race-day weather report in Key West. I went to weather dot com just to make sure. Wait a minute - rain? That wasn't there yesterday! They were forecasting sunny and warm!

I decided to Google the Miami TV stations and see what their weather reports had to offer. I found 3 reports and none of them were promising rain - just suggesting it. Good! I can live with those odds. (Getting the obsessive picture here?) I got up Saturday at 4:30 AM and, after filling the gas tank and grabbing a coffee to-go, was on I-95 South by 5:00 AM.

For two and a half hours it was just me, miles of narrow lanes bordered by orange highway construction markers, uneven and shifting lanes, and dozens of eighteen wheelers. Did I mention the blinding rain?

I was thinking to myself - Lord is this one of those 'Hutch, you've been an obsessive fool - turn around and go back to Atlanta' moments or is it one of those 'don't give up and wimp out now you wuss loser pansy' moments that have provided men, all across our nation, starring roles in those 'stupid things caught on video' TV shows? No video cameras around, so I decided to press on.

By 7:30 AM the sun was peeking through and by 8:00 AM it was beautiful and sunny and the clouds were all behind me. And, it didn't rain in Key West all weekend either! By 1:00 PM I was in Miami and by 3:30 PM I was rolling into the Sea Shell Motel and Youth Hostel on South Street in Key West and just a few blocks from the southernmost point of the United States.

The ride in confirmed what I had been told about parking in Key West. It's horrible and expensive. As such, I parked my car at the hotel and walked everywhere. After checking into the hotel, I took a 1.5 mile hike to pick up my race packet and race t-shirt. The location for packet pick-up was the Half Shell Raw Bar. They were also the primary sponsor of the race and located right on a beautiful marina. We enjoyed a nice Pasta dinner to 'carb up' for the race, and a very interesting slide presentation and discussion by an elite runner who had done a 6 day ultra-marathon in Africa. Quite interesting!

I hiked back to the hotel a different and more direct route. On my way, I discovered a very large cemetery - probably a couple of blocks long. I later discovered, from one of the locals, that the original cemetery had washed out to sea in 1847 during a hurricane. As a result, they moved the cemetery to the center of the island. I found that to be very interesting. I took a last-minute detour to visit the southernmost point and catch a picture of the marker that is located there. Key West 2

I crashed early and was on the road by 5:30 AM hiking back over the Half Shell Raw Bar, which also served as the starting (and ending) point for the race. At 7:00 AM the gun fired and we were off. I had already made up my mind that I was going to enjoy the view and not focus too much on a real fast time. As it turned out, I didn't have much of a choice. With no breakfast snacks to supply me with energy and having probably eaten too lightly at the pasta dinner, I was not adequately nourished for 13.1 miles. On top of that, I had no idea how warm and humid it was going to be. I had been training in freezing temperatures and it had been months since I had done any heat training. I was caught totally off guard.

As a result, I simply extended my plan to enjoy the sights of the race and slowed my pace significantly. When all was said and done, I turned in a 2:00:44 time - which is still not that bad for me. I'm happy with anything under two hours and, considering the conditions, I wasn't going to concern myself with an additional 44 seconds.

After receiving my medal, I found the shortest route possible back to the hotel (still over a mile) and showered and was on the road by 10:00 AM. I snapped a lot of pictures on the way back. By 1:15 PM I had hit the mainland, gassed up the car, grabbed some lunch for the road, and was entering the Florida Turnpike. That's where my trip started to sort of fall apart.

Key West 3

I had been warned to take a lot of $1 bills for the tolls, so I did. Upon entering the first toll booth, I headed away from the 'change provided' lanes since I had exact change. What I didn't realize was that I was heading for the SunPass lanes and I didn't have a SunPass. I didn't even know what a SunPass was! But, to avoid getting killed I went on through. I felt as stressed as if I had just robbed a bank and was trying to get away from the police - except I was trying to not get away. I kept thinking a speeding car might catch up with me at any moment. But wait, it gets better.

A short while later, I made a wrong turn. The sign said I-75 and I knew I needed to catch I-75 but it seemed that it was coming up much too soon. With no time to consider my options I took the I-75 exit. It was about 45 miles later that I began to suspect that something was wrong. I pulled out my GPS and discovered I was headed due West for Naples. To continue in my present direction meant I would probably be adding 6 or 7 hours to my trip. I turned around and lost 90 miles and an hour and a half in the process. It still gets better.

Now I needed to get back on the turnpike. I pulled up to a small toll booth and noticed it was only going to cost me a quarter to get back on. That's good, I thought. The machine took my quarter but didn't raise the bar. Well, actually, the bar had been broken off, but it didn't raise the 'stub' either. My logic was, "The machine took my quarter - I'm outta here!" I had no idea what was coming but a light flashed and the machine took my picture. I'm sure I wasn't smiling at the time. But they did get my best side!

The rest of the trip home involved excessive speeds, a couple of gas stops, and a late arrival home at almost 2:00 AM - just in time to catch 4 hours of sleep before starting the work week. By the time it was all over, I had traveled 1,855 miles round-trip which included 912 miles from Atlanta to Savannah and on to Key West via I-95 and Highway 1 and a return trip that involved a more direct route up the turnpike and onto I-75 for a total of 847 miles - if you don't include the 96 mile detour through the everglades. :+) I used 66.68 gallons of gas at an average price of $2.97 (greatly assisted by the lower Georgia prices and careful planning to minimize Florida gas stops) and averaged 27.82 MPG in my Ford Taurus with speeds consistently in the 70 to 75 MPH range. All those miles and I never did eat any oysters.

Still, I would do it all again!!!


THE CARPET CAPITOL 10 MILER

DECEMBER 8, 2007

Varnell 1

This morning (12/08/2007) Patty and I rose at 5:30 AM and hit the road for a full day of activities that had already been on the calendar for a few weeks now.

We made our way to Dalton, Georgia and then a bit further to the tiny town of Varnell. Varnell was incorporated in 1968 and currently has a a population of 1,491 and an area of 2.5 square miles.

The target was Varnell Elementary School where I was registered to run the Carpet Capitol 10 miler. From there we were scheduled for Blueridge, Georgia where I had promised Patty we would spend the rest of our day taking her out to lunch and providing her with an opportunity to browse all of the shops in what has become a really neat place to spend a day.

Varnell 2

We arrived around 8 AM in Varnell, picked up my t-shirt and race number, and hung out with the locals until 9 AM when the race started. The skies were gray and the temperature was 60 degrees with what I would guess were less than 5 mph winds - a perfect day for a long run and it really brought out my best.

I had 'carbed up' last night and when all was said and done I came in at 1:21:54 which is around an 8:12 per mile pace. This is my PB (Personal Best) yet for a run 10 miles or greater. It was just one of those perfect days where I decided to push it.

The course was 5 miles out and 5 miles back with 2 small hills, one each on the last 2 miles, and nothing else but gentle rolling slopes and beautiful scenery.

Varnell 3

After the awards ceremony, we made our way to the car and enjoyed a 'back roads' ride to Blueridge, Georgia. We started out our afternoon in Blueridge with a superb lunch at the Victorian House. The atmosphere was delightful and the food - well, the grilled steelhead trout with herbs was amazing!

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the shops. There are probably 30-40 shops along a small stretch of road right in the historic area and right next to the North Georgia Scenic Railway (an adventure we had enjoyed the last time we were up that way.)

Patty picked up some chocolate fudge and a couple of other small items including a set of wooden spoons and we just sort of browsed our way through the rest of the stores. One of my favorites is the antique book store. That place is packed with first editions and other extremely rare and highly valuable books - not to mention some theological works that were of great interest to me.

By mid to late afternoon we were getting tired and began our trip back home. One of the highlights of the trip was nothing more than enjoying one another's company and the incredible view of life in North Georgia as we purposely stayed off of the interstates and drove the backroads through the mountains. Between the mountains, the beautiful valleys, the cattle and horses, and the farms and log cabins, there was always something amazing to see around every corner. As many times as we have been up there, we still have many roads up that way that we have not yet driven.

I can't wait to do it again!


THE 2007 SILVER COMET HALF MARATHON

OCTOBER 1, 2007

silver comet 7

I would like to say that I'm not very competitive. However, that would be a bold-faced lie. The truth is, I'm so competitive that I have avoided certain competitive events in my life just because I did not want to lose. But, somewhere along the line I was able to pause and reflect on the whole thing and what I came to realize was life-changing.

That we are going to be measured against each other is one of life's challenging realities. If we don't learn to deal with that fact, out existence can be pretty miserable. Whether it's being compared to a brother or a sister, being considered among other candidates for a job opportunity or a job promotion, the contest for the hand of the person with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives, or going for first chair in the high school band, we are constantly faced with the challenge of being measured against others.

Now, here's the epiphany that was in it for me. Being measured against others does not mean that I should, or need to, measure myself against others. Once I realized that I'm actually better off not measuring myself against others, even though some will (and in some cases must) measure me against others, I discovered that I actually perform better. By moving my focus away from my competition and back toward my own efforts, where it belongs, I actually come out stronger against the competition. It's an interesting irony.

Nowhere has this lesson in life been more clearly demonstrated than with my running. In my seventeen years of putting my shoes to the streets, the clear theme has been to 'Run My Own Race.' It's a common theme among runners, but not commonly followed. As a result, I often seen runners walking at the end of a race - the same ones that passed me in the first half mile. They try to run the race of someone else and wind up losing their own race. Today was no different - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

What I have found in running is that I don't have to beat anyone to win. I can beat my last effort and I wind up winning. I can put in more miles than I did last week or last year and I win again. I can run a better training run that I did yesterday and I win. I can finish that last mile stronger than I did last time and, once again, I win.

Running also reminds me of my relationship with the Lord. I can work to become better with both, but neither can be perfected. Furthermore, both are life-long pursuits that provide the most fulfilling and rewarding results only when competing with one's self.

So, back to today's effort, I ran the 2007 Silver Comet Half Marathon and secured an 'official' PB (that's 'Personal Best' time for non-runners.) My time was 1:48:20 for 13.1 miles and that shaved more than 5 minutes off my previous best effort. As a result, it was a win for me.

When compared against others, not only did I not cross the finish line first, but I'm confident I didn't even place in my own age group. But, that's not why I was there today. And, even if I had not bettered my time, just finishing strong would have been a win for me because it accomplishes so many objectives that I have set out for myself in my running pursuits. In fact, there are so many 'wins' to claim in each and every run that it's simply a no-lose situation.

For anyone who stuck around long enough to cross the finish line of this article, I hope you are discovering many similar 'wins' in your own life...


THE TYBEE ISLAND HALF MARATHON

FEBRUARY 6, 2006

2006 tybee half marathon

I was looking for another half marathon on one of the internet based race calendars and I came across the Tybee Island half marathon. It was to fall on the weekend after Patty's birthday so we decided to put the two together and book a trip. In fact, we realized that Patty's mom's birthday was just a few weeks later, so we decided to invite her to go along.

Friday afternoon we made it out to the race expo and I picked up my race packet and T-shirt. I also enjoyed viewing some of Anna Boyette's art (she does all of the art for the race shirts and posters) and picked up an additional T-shirt from a previous year's race. I liked the design because it primarily featured the Tybee light house. Besides, the price ($3 for a long sleeve cotton shirt) was right since the shirt was dated with last year's race.

It didn't hurt that we made it to Paula Dean's restaurant (The Lady and Sons) for supper Friday night before the race. It was an excellent opportunity to "carb up" before the run on Saturday morning. Well, I wouldn't exactly call a serving from a low-country shrimp boil and a helping of turnips a high-carb diet, but I did manage to squeeze in a helping of macaroni and cheese and one of their ho-cakes, not to mention a small helping of banana pudding to top it all off.

As we reviewed the weather forecast, the weather man said we were in for heavy thunderstorms at race time. Fortunately, the storms moved in during the middle of the night and had already moved out by the time I arrived Saturday morning. The race wasn't to start until 8:00 AM on Saturday and our hotel was only 30 minutes away, but I knew parking was going to be a problem on so I decided to get up early and secure a good spot.

I got up at 5:45 AM and, after filling up the gas tank, was out to the Island shortly after 6:30 AM. With race day packet pickup extended to race day, a large crowd was already forming to pick up their shirts and numbers and I got one of the last good parking sports near the starting line and race headquarters. The winds were quite gusty, but the mild temperature and gray skies made for almost perfect running conditions (except for the large puddles left in the roads from the previous night's thunderstorms!)

While pinning my number on my shirt, I met a guy who drove up in a truck and parked illegally next to me. I was impressed that he had driven for four hours that morning from Newnan, Georgia just to come and run in the race. I can't believe that he was planning on running the full marathon after what had to be a tiring ride.

My daughter, Allie, came down for the weekend with a bunch of her friends. Neither of us knew the other was coming down until we had already booked our trips. A couple of her friends were running the half marathon, and Allie and the rest of her buddies came along to enjoy a cool weekend at the beach and to cheer on their friends.

I started out with a good pace, but quickly realized that large crowds of runners making their way around massive water puddles were going to slow things down - not to mention 25 to 30 mph head-winds in some places. The course started South on Butler Ave. (the main street on Tybee Island) looped through some neighborhoods, back tracked North along Butler Ave., looped through some more neighborhoods and past the light house, and then back tracked South along Butler Ave. once again to finish up pretty much right where it started.

A humorous moment occurred early in my 7th mile as I was making my way back to the North along Butler Avenue. I saw a young lady and a young man running on the sidewalk alongside some of us in the race. She was holding up a camera and trying to take a picture of someone. I thought how neat that was that someone was trying to catch a friend or family member on film and was willing to run to get the photo. As I turned to look at her again, I realized this person was taking a picture of me! And, before long I realized, "Hey, that's my daughter Allie!!!" I stopped for a minute to give her a hug and say hi to her and her friend, and then it was back to the races.

I finished up the race crossing the finish line at 2:03:03 (9:23 pace) greeted by much cheering from Allie and her friends. They were great and it was nice to meet them all and spend a few minutes with Allie before she headed back to cheer on the rest of her friends as they crossed the finish line. The race medal had a really nice 3-d sea shell on it with a purple neck strap. It was a great event and I would definitely run it again!


THE 2005 ATLANTA HALF MARATHON

November 27, 2005

silver comet 5

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I ran the Atlanta Half Marathon. In the days that preceded, I had been concerned about the below freezing temperatures that were expected. But, it turned out to be the only day, this week, where overnight temperatures would not drop below 40. In fact, temperatures were in the mid 40's by the start of the race and were close to 50 as we got on into the race. One can't ask for much better than that. There were a few gusts of wind as we got downtown, but by that time they were a welcome event. I pulled my racing gloves off after the first two miles and was very comfortable with two long sleeve shirts and a pair of running shorts and a extra light knit cap for the rest of the race.

There was no official race clock at the start, but I estimated a period of about one and one half minutes between the sound of the starting gun and the point where I hit the starting line. As usual, we each had a computer chip tied to our shoes and a special mat at the start and finish lines registered each individual's official start and end time.

My unofficial time at the finish line was 1:57:30 (minus whatever time interval existed between the starting gun and my crossing of the starting line.) So, I'm estimating I registered a time right around 1:56:00 +/-. Without taking into account that difference, I still managed an 8 min. 58 sec./mile pace and achieved my sub-two hour goal. At 1:56:00, my average would be 8:51 which is great for me considering the number of hills on that course. However, I want to keep health (not competition - if even with myself) at the forefront of my running. As such, I think I'm just going to go out and enjoy my next few races. At least that's the plan right now anyway.

Update (01/06/06): Received a postcard from ATC

My official time: 1:56:03 pace = 8.58.1

Men's division 50-54 placed 108 out of 310

Overall placed 2016 out of 6339

Men's placed 1452 out of 3402


THE 2005 SILVER COMET HALF MARATHON

OCTOBER 29, 2005

silver comet 5

Today, I ran the 2005 Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon. It was the first time I have ever run the race, but it will surely not be the last. The race is well managed and the course is excellent. It's also flat - just the way I like 'em! The race was limited to 1500 entrants, and I believe we had close to that number. It was a great day for me because I turned in a much better time that I would have anticipated. In fact, it was my second-best time for a half marathon - 1:53:31. When I pulled out the calculator, I was pleased to discover that the time represented a pace of 8:40/mile.

I train for health - both of mind and body, but I suppose it just wouldn't be a race if I didn't challenge myself. I ran a 12 mile training run last weekend, and turned in a time of 1:52:00 without really pushing myself. That translates to a pace of 9:20/mile, or approximately 2:02:15 for a half marathon distance. Bottom line, it means that I was able to shave 10:15 off of my time by moving from a comfortable pace to a very challenging pace. The Atlanta Half Marathon is coming up, but considering "heart-break hill" and the rest of the rolling terrain, I'll just be setting my sites to come in under 2 hours. That, in itself, will probably be a significant challenge.


THE OLA HALF MARATHON

September 1, 2005

Blink and you'll miss it. It's the tiny, unincorporated town of Ola, Georgia. It's mostly farms and farmland and sits just to the East of McDonough, Georgia. But, it seems like a slice of heaven when you're running a half marathon along its quiet roads, gazing at the beautiful countryside. I suppose "slice of heaven" is an appropriate description, since the race is sponsored by the youth department of a Baptist church.

I don't think the race even exists anymore. I ran the inaugural run in 1999 before it became the "See Spot Run 20k" in its second year. I also ran the 20k in 2001 in preparation for the Atlanta Half Marathon, which was only two weeks later.

Sorry to see that race go by the wayside.


THE ATLANTA HALF MARATHON WITH ALLIE

November 27, 2003

Half Marathon with Allie

In 2003, my daughter Allie and I trained for, ran, and finished the Atlanta Half Marathon together. It was interesting because, for some of our training runs, I had to drive down to the University of West Georgia and run with her on the college campus - due to her busy class schedule.

Still, the training and the run is filled with many wonderful memories of quality father-daughter time that you just can't get any other way. And, when all is said and done, I thought our 2:15:09 time was pretty respectable - especially considering the very cold and windy weather conditions. Allie was 22 at the time and I was 49.

At the race expo, which the race holds each year, we bought Allie a 13.1 Christmas ornament. Every year, in December, when we hang it on the tree, it brings back all of the great memories of training and running together.


THE ROCK AND ROLL HALF MARATHON

September 2, 2002

Rock and Roll Half Marathon

I ran the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va., on Labor Day weekend in 2002. The course was great, but the constant rain put a real damper on any plans I had for achieving a respectable time. From the experience of my many 10k's I knew the wet shoes were going to be a problem - both for slowing me down and presenting blisters. And, I was right.

Still, it was a great race! And with the last couple of miles taking me down the boardwalk on the beach, well, running just doesn't get much better than that - even considering I was soaking wet! I had planned to drive up and run it, but actually managed to squeeze it in by making a stop-over on my way back to Atlanta after teaching a PeopleSoft class in Washington, D.C. the week before.

My time was 2:24:43 and I placed 5859 out of 10982 total finishers. Of particular interest was the fact that one third of the racers did not complete the race - probably due to the same blisters that I so stubbornly ignored.


THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALF MARATHON

April 27, 2002

Country Music Half Marathon

I ran the Country Music Half Marathon on April 27, 2002. It was a great race and surprisingly absent the large hills that I had feared might show up in Nashville. Patty and I took her mom and our son, Jonathan, up for a couple of days and enjoyed the hotel at the Grand Old Opry. In fact, the drivers in the gum ball rally arrived the night we checked in, and Jon and I had a great time looking at all of the incredibly expensive "cars of the stars."

My race time was 1:59:07, barely coming in under 2 hours thanks to a downhill section at the end of the race. It really added to the race that they had posted country music bands every mile on the course. Most of what they played was more what I might call "country rock", sort of like the Eagles, and I really enjoyed it all during the run.

I was 47 years old when I ran the race, and came in 101 out of 266 in my age division (45-49) and 966 out of 2404 male runners. The medals were very cool, and hand painted.


THE ATLANTA HALF MARATHON WITH JONATHAN

November 23, 1995

Half Marathon With Jonathan

In 1995, my son Jonathan and I trained for, ran, and finished the Atlanta Half Marathon together. Jonathan was only 12 at the time, the youngest age allowed to participate. And, he had only been 12 for about 3 months, so it's quite possible he's one of the youngest (if not the youngest) to ever train for and run the event.

If memory serves me, we completed the event in just over 2 hours and 5 minutes. I don't remember the exact amount of seconds, and I suspect that they no longer keep the times from races that far back. But, I must say that Jon was a trouper and it was inspiring to see how much encouragement he received, during the race, from our fellow runners.

Unlike my experience with Allie, the year Jon and I ran the race was a brutally cold year - not only for the race itself, but for the training as well. I remember that Jon and I did a 10 mile training run at Deerlick Park (20 laps) with temperatures in the 20's and 15-20 mph winds. What were we thinking?

Still, my favorite memory of the race occurred at the finish line. In those years, the Atlanta Track Club did not hand out medals to half marathon finishers (this year, 2005, will be the first year) so we had a trophy put together for him. Patty and Allie surprised him with it shortly after we finished. How cool was that? !!!


THE ATLANTA MARATHON

November 26, 1992

Marathon

In 1991 I trained for, and ran, the Atlanta Half Marathon - my first half marathon. In 1992, I made the (some would call it crazy) decision to train for and run a full marathon. People had told me I would do stupid things like get up to run at 4:30 AM (to avoid the heat) and I didn't believe a word of it. Turns out they were right! What was I thinking?

From where I sit today, that was my first and last marathon. There's just too much cost, in terms of training time, for too little benefit. In addition, the Atlanta Marathon has some pretty serious hills. The half marathon distance is much more do-able. It's a healthy challenge, but can certainly be accomplished with a more reasonable amount of training.

Regarding my marathon experience, we ran the same course that the 1996 Olympians ran so, looking back, there's a bit of nostalgia involved in it for me personally. My finish time was around 4 hours and 20 minutes. The only goal I had set for myself was that I was not going to walk! And, I did indeed meet that goal, although it's possible I set a new world's record for the slowest running pace ever during one or two up hill efforts.


DISTANCE RACES

I keep this post as a formal record of the distance races I've run over the years. In 2011 I ran my last distance race and decided, as I approached and crossed the sixty yard line of life, to move my training back to a more manageable 5k distance. As a senior runner, this tends to better support my goals - especially in reducing the health challenges and risks that result from distance training and the often related weakened immune system.

1991 Atlanta Half Marathon (1)

1992 Atlanta Marathon (2)

1995 Atlanta Half Marathon with my son Jonathan (3)

1996 Atlanta Half Marathon (4)

1999 Ola Half Marathon (5)

1999 Atlanta Half Marathon (6)

2001 Atlanta Half Marathon with my daughter Allie (7)

2001 The See Spot Run 20k (8)

2002 Country Music Half Marathon (9) 1:59:07 2002

Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon (10) 2:23:08 (rain/blisters)

2005 Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon (11) 1:53:31 2005

Atlanta Half Marathon (12) 1:56:03 2006

Tybee Island Half Marathon (13) 2:02:59 2006

The Silver Comet Trail Half marathon (14) 2:01:20 2007

Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon (15) 1:48:28 2007

The Carpet Capitol 10 Miler (16)

2008 Half Shell Half Marathon (Key West) (17) 2:00:45 2008

Tybee Island Half Marathon (18) 1:51:07 2008

Albany GA Marine Base Half Marathon (19) 1:45:54*

2008 Peachtree City Classic 15k with Josh (20) 1:29:28 2009

Martha Berry College Half Marathon (21) 1:57:45 2009

ING Half Marathon (22) 1:52:47 2009

Hatfield & McCoy Half Marathon (23)

2009 Inaugural 13.1 Half Marathon in Atlanta (24) 1:53:49 2009

Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon with Josh and Allie (25) 2:42:00 2010

Museum of Aviation Half Marathon (26) 1:56:22 2010

Albany, GA Marathon Bar Half Marathon (27) 1:58:31 2010

Silver Comet Trail Half Marathon (28) 1:56:58 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon (29) 2:06:54 2011

Inaugural Savannah, Ga Rock & Roll Half Marathon (30) 2:09:18

* Notes:

2008 Half Marathon Personal Best 1:45:54

2008 First place in age group

2008 Most training miles run in one year 1,047


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