Sunday, September 28, 2014

Some Days You Have To Stop and Think

Here it is, Sunday night, and I have to say I wrung pretty much everything I could out of this weekend.

First of all, my run today! I went to Hawk Hollow and it was just a glorious place to be. There is still a little bit of color left in some of the flowers and under a clear, sunny sky it looked absolutely fabulous. Just a beautiful place.

My run was decent. When I woke up today my back was a little tight, which when my back is tight, the entire lower half of my body tends to follow suit. So I was back to shuffling along a little, which really wasn't that bad considering the surroundings.

It was also hot! I didn't think about it that much when I walked out of the house, but it really started to hit me on the back half of the trail. It was kind of a surprise to get home and find out that it was 80 degrees outside. Guess I should've checked that before I left and brought some water. :--)

This week I'm going to try and get a few more runs in and throw in some hills or a little speedwork or something. I'm a big believer in to run fast (or faster) you have to train that way. I'd really like to break 30 minutes in my next 5K in four weeks, and that's the way to get there. I'm also going to start logging my runs, because believe it or not I haven't used a log for quite some time. Mostly because of the fact that outside of the 4-5 months I trained for the marathon last year, my running (or lack thereof) has kind of depressed me a little bit.

So anyway, my weekend (and there is a really deep point to it, so keep reading). Friday I drove to Peoria to meet some high school friends for a round of golf. A group of guys had gotten together for the last several years to play and this was the first time I was able to join them. It was a nice time, a couple of the guys I hadn't seen in almost 20 years, but it didn't take long for things to be just like they were back in the day. I had so much fun I already committed for next year!

After that I drove to Lincoln as I was going on to St. Louis for Matt's XC meet Saturday morning. I actually got to indulge in one of my other passions -- auto racing -- as the local dirt track about a mile from my hotel had some racing going on. That was a lot of fun, after going to some of the biggest races in the world, like the Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500, it was cool to get back to the roots of the sport.

Saturday morning I got up and finished the drive to St. Louis, and after a few tense moments finding the park I got there about 10 minutes before the race started. Matt ran a 12-second PR for the 8K distance (30:48) and the team finished third overall, but just one point out of second. Everyone showed improvement and the kids are making a lot of progress this season.

A great weekend, but at times my mind was someplace else. As I was driving to Peoria on Friday morning I received word that another high school friend had passed away overnight. He had been ill for a while and lost his battle at the age of 44. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Ken had been a classmate from the seventh grade on, and he and I had several classes together and our paths crossed a lot during the day. When you go to a small school like we did (an enrollment of around 800 kids), you cross paths with a lot of people! He was always a good student, particularly in history, where he had an amazing recollection of dates, places and people.

What I liked about Ken, and what I grew to respect as time went on, was that he was just a peaceful person who was kind to everyone. It didn't surprise me that he ultimately became a minister, because even when we were kids he lived such a life of kindness, compassion and integrity.

At one time, he was also a standout runner, particularly in track, where he was a sub-2:00 800 guy who competed in the state track meet. His son (a senior this year) is also a very good runner who I got to watch at the state meet this past May since Matt was there with his 4x800 team. I had hoped to see Ken there but he was not in any shape to travel, which really was disappointing as I was looking forward to meeting up with him and talking about our son's running careers.

So he's been on my mind this weekend, and his passing is just another reminder of the preciousness of this life. I've actually been reminded of that a lot in the past year, starting back last December when a co-worker of mine passed away of a heart attack in his sleep.

Earlier this year one of Kevin's classmates lost his mom to cancer, and one of Matt's friends since kindergarten lost his dad to an ATV accident, and a track teammate's mom passed away about a month ago. And back in August, a sportswriter I knew -- who was an avid runner and triathlete -- died of a heart attack at age 39.

All of the people I just mentioned were all around my age, or even younger. It's certainly a scary thing to think about, you know? It's just a reminder to do our best to live our lives and enjoy what we have, instead of wasting time focusing on the stuff we don't. Stuff like this is the reason I'm trying to make positive changes in my life, not just with my health but my general attitude too.

So godspeed, Ken, I hope we meet again someday. Today I run in your memory.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time For a Hill-Related Mantra

After creating my third running route here in Bartlett, one thing is apparent: hills are now a part of my life.

It's quite the departure for me, because in all the years I lived in Aurora, very few of my routes contained any discernible hillage. Sure, there were a couple of rises here and there, but nothing like where I am now.

Which is a nice change, and a new challenge. If you read between the lines of my post of my 5K race on Saturday, you'd discover that I'm not super confident on hills. I tend to tolerate and survive them instead of attacking them like I should.

Now it seems like I have no choice! Since it was another late-night run (about 10 p.m. again) I stayed off the paths and just wound around some streets than I had driven but not yet run on. I was hoping that it would stretch out to about four miles, but I drove it afterwards and it was 3.7. That's easily fixed for the next time.

But by my count, there were six downhills (starting right out of my driveway) and five uphills. I think that evens out. No doubt, lots of chances to practice.

What's nice about my most recent three runs is that the felt kind of easy. Tonight took a shade longer to get loose -- about a mile -- but the rest of the way I felt really, really free. It also helped that just after 2 1/4 miles I got a long downhill that was a great quad workout!

As I approached my neighborhood I turned in a couple of blocks early because the hill on that street is a little longer and steeper than the other entry. Instead of putting my head down and just kind of shuffling up, I really attacked the hill...and it felt great! No doubt it was a nice relief to finally get to the top, but it was a nice confidence boost to really charge the hill a little bit and not be totally spent from it.

It feels good to have the sense that I'm making a little bit of progress. I'm not friends with the hills yet, but things are starting to get a little better between us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

10 Pieces of Sage Marathon Advice

While my own personal quest is all about running the Indy Mini Marathon next May, my mind right now is definitely on the Chicago Marathon.

I love the race, and have since the first time I saw it on TV in 1999...which was the day I was inspired to start running. I have run the race six times, spectated another three or four times and in 2011-12 covered the race for the running website And, during the summers of 2004-05 I wrote a weekly column about the marathon for the Aurora Beacon News, not to mention having contributed marathon-related content to Chicago Athlete magazine.

OK, the last part of that wasn't to brag or name drop, it was just to say that I have no doubt seen this event from every angle, for which I feel very, very blessed. Actually, seeing the race from that side is quite interesting and worth talking about sometime. Probably in the next week or so.

But back on point, I figured since the marathon is on everyone else's mind, I should join in too. I was supposed to run the race myself, but ended up deferring my entry because between getting married, vacations, graduations (and parties), one son's surgery (he's OK, matter of fact he's better than OK now) and another going off to college, the summer quickly got away from me.

So be prepared to be inundated with a few marathon-related blurbs over the next couple of weeks. It will be kind of weird, but for the first time since 1999 I won't be around for the marathon. I'll be in Atlanta attending the Bears-Falcons game with my brother and his wife.

I will be there in spirit, and as my gift to you, I present ten very important pieces of advice about race day.

1) If it's your first, just finish. No matter how long you have been running, or where your abilities lie, a marathon will be an experience unlike you have ever had before. A mega-marathon like Chicago can quickly overwhelm you and can lead to a lot of bad tactical decisions. Tactic No. 1 should be just finishing the race. There will always be more chances to post a time of you want to. In my first marathon, I put myself into "run all day" mode, meaning I found a pace that I felt I could run for a long, long time. It was even slower than my training pace, but it was comfortable and I avoided a major crash in the final miles.

2) Trust your training. If you followed your training to the exact letter, you will have done somewhere between 70-100 runs over the course of the 18 weeks. If you trained with a Chicago Area Runners Association group or a charity group, I can tell you with total confidence that you are ready. Last year I ran with a CARA group and hit the line feeling completely prepared. Whether or not "you can do it" should be out the window by this point. Just tell yourself that you can!

3) Don't obsess about the weather! Control what you can control. You trained through a Midwest summer, there is nothing the weather can throw at you that you haven't seen before. It doesn't hurt to be mindful of the weather as far as your prep and tactics are concerned, but beyond that it is what it is. Don't let the weather get into your head.

4) Start slow. See point one about just finishing. Adrenaline is a crazy thing, so is tapering. You might be going along thinking "yeah, I feel great!". Well if you feel awesome, then the taper worked! Which is good news, because that means physically you are ready to run. But it doesn't mean you are suddenly able to do something you weren't capable of before. In the course of several hours, honestly, what does a minute or two here or there matter? Run well below your means at the start, which will pay off dividends at the end.

Which brings me to...

5) There are no race-day miracles. We all know of someone who has "popped" a race, meaning they came in with one expectation and ended up running something completely different. I've done a couple of those myself, including setting my half marathon PR in 2007 and running what I consider to be my "best" (but not fastest) marathon in the heat at Chicago later that year. The thing is, popping a race isn't a miracle, it is the rare harmonic convergence of several factors, with training, confidence level, experience and conditions being among them. What you have put into the race training-wise is what you will get out of it. Keep that in mind when you set your race-day goals.

6) Tactics. Up at the front of the field, it's ALL about tactics, and back in the pack with us mere mortals, it matters as well. Pace groups definitely help, but over these next couple of weeks think about what you want to do, and be as specific as possible. What works for me is that I break the race into smaller pieces, run the first 5K, get to under 20 to go, get to 10 miles, and so on. Then all I focus on is that smaller goal, and check it off when I achieve it.

7) Be a good competitor. One thing that bugs me about big races like Chicago is that they include rude people. Well, all races do, but when 35,000 people get together for something, the number of rude people that show up becomes that much exponential and much closer to my last nerve. Try not to cut people off, or push people or just do something you normally wouldn't in your daily walk of life. Last year I was moving through a water stop and was reaching for a cup from one of the volunteers, and a woman barged in front of me, knocked my arm away and took the cup! Really? Is that couple of seconds you save going to make that much of a difference? It' like heavy traffic on the cool, be patient and take care of each other, and you will get to where you are going to go.

8) The course is accurate/follow the line. Just a reminder that Garmins and GPS are awesome, but no matter what yours says at the end of the race, the course IS 26.2 miles long. As a World Marathon Major, the course has been checked, re-checked and checked again. Race director Carey Pinkowski loves world records and would love it if it was broken again here someday. And I know any race director would hate having to give up a record because of an inaccurate course. Actually, the way it is done is kind of fascinating and worth reading about. It's all about tangents (a line that draws the shortest point-to-point of the course), and you can cut some distance out of your day by learning some of the course and running corner to corner. Pull up some marathon video of the elite runners on YouTube and you will see what I'm talking about. The follow pretty much the same imaginary measurement line that the organizers use to measure it.

9) Be nice to the volunteers. These are people who are taking time out of their lives to ensure you have a good day. They aren't trained professionals, but most of them work hard and love being a part of the event. Try to say "thank you" as much as you can...I usually do when I grab water or Gatorade. Think about your unsupported long runs, how you have to carry things, leave fluids in bushes and wait to cross busy streets. Then think of trying to do that on one of the biggest days of your athletic life. They take away a lot of stress and make our jobs much, much easier.

And last, and most importantly...

10) Enjoy it! Yes, it's hard and yes, it's extremely painful, but it's also one of the most awesomely rewarding things you will ever do for yourself in your entire life. Ferris Bueller was right, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you'll miss it. A marathon is one of the fastest four, five or six hours of your life, and by the time you know it, you are making that final turn onto Columbus and crossing the finish linie. We live in (or near, in my case) a world class city with wonderful people who support this race, and you are missing out by not taking some time here and there to realize that you are doing something extraordinary.

When my son Matt was running in the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame last week I asked him if there was ever a time that he looked around and thought "man, this is really cool!". He said he did a couple of times. What you are about to do is cool and will be something that you will remember the rest of your life, and you don't want to get so focused that you forget that it's supposed to be fun and the final exclamation point to an incredible journey. When the day is over you'll be happy you did!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Runs Are Just Better Than Others

My dad was a very big golfer. Well, I am too...and so is my brother, Tim, who is a club professional in Atlanta. Anyway, after my dad saw someone hit a good shot or do something out of the ordinary, he would yell out, "THAT'S the one that keeps you coming back!" No matter how crappy you might be playing, or how much you doubt your ability to play the game, there is always a perfectly played shot or a low score on a tough hole that makes everything right again.

My run today fit that category. It was fun and really awesome, and we need runs like that every so often. Even though I was content with most of my runs lately, they were all kind of the run-of-the-mill variety. That's one of the tough things about running, there is a lot of grinding involved. If we didn't have runs that stood out from others, it would drive us crazy!

So I had one of those. I headed out to Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve -- which lived up to its name as I saw a hawk flying around -- the home to my favorite route. It's the one I talked about the other day, a 3.8-mile round trip with a big hill in the middle.

I did something different today, I took a couple of pictures! I had hoped to capture the hill in all its glory, but my not-so-smart-phone's camera isn't the greatest. Oh well, I think this one is a nice one. The other two I took are a bit blurry so I'll just throw them on the end of this post.

You know, not that I have this pic posted, I shouldn't be so mean about my phone, because it was way darker than this photo shows! What it really does show is that fall is definitely arriving here in Northern Illinois. Just a few weeks ago everything you see in this picture was nice and green. This is actually at the top of the hill, and the path ends near the bottom of the hill you can see way in the distance. This is looking east by the way.

It was just a beautiful night. It was about 60 degrees, but at some of the low spots on the path it was really chilly and I could actually see my breath! But to me, the colder the better, and from the start of the run I felt great. This hill was a bit tough but once I got over the top of the hill I really started cruising.

I didn't have my watch with me (I usually only use a watch for long runs and speedwork) but from a "feel" standpoint I was probably under a 10-minute pace, and felt even faster than my race on Saturday. My stride felt a lot longer and my arms were swinging in a little more. One of my struggles as a runner is that my form is pretty good -- with the exception that I use little to no arm swing. So when they are moving and helping to drive me along, it's a good thing.

Not only that, I felt like I was actually running! Sometimes when I'm running my stride is really short and I feel like I am shuffling. Tonight I felt like I was propelling myself forward and there was a little air under my feet. It was a nice feeling...hopefully the more I train the more that will happen.

Once I got turned around, the view was amazing. Going west I could see the faint orange of the day's last sunlight at the top of the trees along the edge of the preserve. Above that the sky was crystal clear, and there were even a few stars, which living here are sometimes tough to see.

No doubt it was very inspiring. So I just kept going at my fast pace until I hit the hill (again), which was a little tough. Hey, it's hard carrying 250 pounds up a hill! But once I crested the hill and got going down the other side I got my mojo back and finished really, really strong.

What a great way to start the week! Looking forward to my next run tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Starting the Weekend Off Right

This weekend so far has definitely been all about running. Yesterday, I drove to South Bend to watch Matt, my oldest, run for Benedictine University in the National Catholic Cross Country Championships at Notre Dame.

Matt ran track in grade school and then ran track and cross country in high school. He qualified for the state meet in XC his junior year and then twice was part of his school's (Aurora Central Catholic) state qualifying 4x800 teams. Benedictine is a small school about 30 minutes from home, and with a small team with 13 runners he is getting a lot of chances to run right away, which is nice.

It was a pretty exciting event. The race was run at the Morris Golf Course on the edge of the ND campus. The course is almost perfectly flat, so on a day with great conditions it's probably really, really fast. Friday wasn't one of those days, though, the temperature was in the high 70s and that made running fast a bit of a challenge.

While everyone ran the same race, the scoring was split into two categories: the Division I teams -- like Notre Dame, Canisius (which won the meet), Dayton and Saint Louis were in one group -- while the rest of the smaller schools had their own division. Benedictine finished 19th out of the 24 schools in its division, which isn't bad considering six of the top 9 runners are freshman.

Matt finished the 5-mile race in 31 minutes, 20 seconds, which considering the conditions was a nice effort. He had run 31:00 two weeks before in an 8K (4.97 mile) race, so the times are pretty similar. They will travel to St. Louis next weekend for the Maryville University Open.

I thought it was such an awesome event. It was almost like when small colleges get the chance to play football or basketball against one of the power teams. It was a Division I meet against some great teams and runners, all in the shadow of such a legendary university. Way cool.

So this morning, Darcy and I got up and headed out to a forest preserve for the Fall Into Fitness 5K. It was a low-key event that was a fundraiser for the Bartlett High School athletic programs. It was an OK event, there were probably about 200 runners and walkers, and by low-key I mean there were no mile markers or any clocks on the course.

Truthfully, I didn't care. One, it's always good to support your community and two, in the end I kind of enjoy events like this. There are plenty of opportunities to go to bigger races with chips and swag and the like, sometimes it's just nice to go out and run with some people and have some fun with it.

The weather was pretty decent, I think it was about 60 degrees when it started, but the clouds added a little bit of humidity. The course was a little like the 4-mile loop I described a few days ago, it was a crushed gravel surface that wound through some grasslands/wetlands and had some hills, which were quite a challenge. Some were really quick and steep, but at about the 2-mile mark there was this long, gradual hill that was probably about a quarter-mile in length.

The thing with hills is that you never make up going downhill what you lose going uphill. It would be nice to charge down hills but I tend to use them as a bit of a recovery until things level off. I've always found that if I fly down a hill when I get to the flat then I feel like I lose momentum. At this point of my running and training, the goal is to just keep moving forward, and I like a steady effort instead.

Anyway, a couple of the shorter hills did me in at the end, and I was very relieved to see the finish. What I did like is that the race had a little XC action to it as the last 100 yards or so was on grass. Unfortunately it was on a bit of a hill itself so there was no big kick to the finish.

I finished the race in 32:30, which isn't bad. The last 5K I ran back in July, the Bastille Day 5K, I finished in 31:39, and being honest with myself I haven't done enough training to say I should have done better. But it's always fun to get out and run on the clock and meet some new peeps, so it was a good day.

Darcy walked the course, so I doubled back and found her and we walked in together. It's just so nice to have someone who is supportive of my running and what I like to do. We are already talking about another 5K in a few weeks. I've already started thinking how I'd like to get under 30 minutes in that one, hopefully I'll get it done!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By Now You're Probably Asking Yourself

Does this guy just write about running, or does he actually RUN???

Of course I run! In fact, I got one in tonight. But for the sake of transparency it was my first run in 11 days, but it was good to be out. I really love running at this time of year, it was 54 degrees when I headed out, which to me is the perfect temperature. In fact, I like it even more when it is even 10 degrees colder!

Funny story: years ago I was training for the Mini and I went for a run during my lunchtime at work. It was in the high-30s that day, but there was no wind and it just felt fantastic. As I finished my run there were a couple of ladies out walking who were bundled up in their jackets, hats and scarves. One of them said to me (as I was wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt)..."Isn't it too cold to run?"

Hey, I live in the Midwest. If you wait for a perfect day to run, you might be waiting a long time. And, one of my mantras is that there are no guarantees the weather will be perfect on race day. You have to be ready for everything...and if you have perused the earlier posts in this blog -- which I hope you have done -- you'll discover that I've pretty much raced in all types of weather, and in every month of the year.

Come to think of it, except December. I've never run a race in December! I've raced on New Year's Day, the 4th of July and Thanksgiving, but never December. Guess I need to fix that.

Anyway, another thing about tonight's run is that it was seriously dark! Which made things a little interesting because much of the route that I ran was new to me. Have I mentioned that I got married on July 26th? Yeah, that's probably somewhere in my profile or on this blog somewhere. :--)

While the married life with Darcy has been off the charts awesome, another benefit of moving to Bartlett to live with her is that there are tons of routes that need exploring. There are paths all through town and outside of town, so there is lots of new ground to cover.

I've already discovered one that I love, it's a 3.8-mile (out and back) track through a forest preserve. Well, not really a "forest" since it's actually native prairie grass, but it's a crushed rock path that has this huge hill right in the middle of it. And, it's steeper going up the back end than the front, so it's something to push through in the final mile or so.

I've hit that one a few times. There aren't a lot of people on it and it's very beautiful and peaceful.

Tonight, though, I just followed the path along one of the main roads in town. Well, on the edge of town, meaning there wasn't a lot of light. Oh well, I managed. It's a nice little run and there are a few kind of sinister hills to it. You know those kind, as you run up to them they don't look like much but they seem to go up for miles!

Then there is one final hill as I enter our neighborhood which is a reminder that I need to do more hills!

Anyway, back to the dark part. I actually love, love, love running at night. Back when I first started running and was working a lot I would often run at 11 p.m. or midnight. It really is a great time of day to run, there isn't a lot of traffic and the temperatures are about as cool as they are going to get.

I don't do that much any more, because unfortunately it seemed as I got older it got harder to fall asleep after running so late. Since I have trouble sleeping anyway (more on that in the future) it just became a bad idea. Still, I have some great memories of some epic night-time runs.

Tonight's run went about 3 miles or so, and I headed out around 10 p.m. It's 11:20 now and I'm kind of tired so I think this time I'm going to be OK!

I hope to get a run in tomorrow, then Darcy and I are running a 5K on Saturday. Should be fun!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Glory Days

One thing you will probably learn about me is that I'm a fan of the TV show Biggest Loser. While I know many people have varying opinions about the show, I watch it for the people, because if you get a good, dynamic cast of folks it's an interesting study in how people can change if they want to, and how there are always second chances in life, you just have to be willing to give in to get one.

I'm also friends with a former contestant and have interviewed a couple of others, and they are really neat people who with the help of the show became who they really wanted to be. I am really in awe of these people, because I have battled with my weight my entire adult life, and am currently losing that battle (boo). It's a tough thing.

So anyway, this season's show is titled "Glory Days". The cast is made up of people who had been high-level athletes during their lives -- Olympians, NFL players, college athletes -- but lost their way and are now having to deal with obesity.

During the show when certain people are talking they show them when they were lean and mean and at the height of their careers. During their "glory days" if you will.

You know, whether we you were an athlete or not, everyone has had them. A time when we looked great and felt great, and we all thought that it would last forever.

I had them. I was a good athlete when I was young. I was hardly a "star" but I was pretty good at most of the sports that I tried. Actually, running might have been my best sport...I rarely lost distance races during conditioning and gym class, and a lot of people thought that's probably what I should've done in high school.

I chose a different path, and it was mostly because I totally HATED running! With a passion! I was one of those people that saw running as punishment or a means to an end (like getting in shape for basketball), not something I necessarily wanted to choose to do.

I might have missed out on a good thing, but oh well. Plus, I love running now, so there's that!

But as I watched the show, the term "Glory Days" kept rolling through my mind. I think we put so much emphasis on life when we are at the tops of our games (and we all have a stretch in our lives that we are) that we seem to think stuff is "over" once we pass that stage of our lives. That those days are long gone.

High school and college, or even our early to mid-twenties are supposed to be "the best times of our lives". And for a lot of reasons, they are. But at the same time, why can't I be in one of the "best times of my life" now, at 45? Why can't we have our Glory Days at another time in our lives?

Granted, it's a heck of a lot harder. We all have jobs and families and responsibilities, but we have a greater sense of it all now that we have some age and experience. And knowledge. I know I have TONS more knowledge then I did then.

So that begs the question: in all other walks of life, age, experience and knowledge is an asset, but when we look at our health, fitness or even our general outlook on life, it's a liability.

What gives? Why can't we live our athletic Glory Days now?

I know part of that, at least for me, comes from quantitative measurements. In running, that equals time. Of course there is no way I could ever run the kind of times I could've run at 18, but why should that be the standard?

We're so hard on ourselves. I know I am, and while I have changed my attitudes towards that (read some of my older posts) I'm still a work in progress. But maybe it's time to redefine our Glory Days. Maybe it's time to flip the script.

So many of us are at great points in our lives and we don't realize it. We live in the past too much or think of the future too much. Remember when you would make statements like "man, things will be awesome when I'm really established in my career" or "it's tough having little kids, it'll be nice when they are a bit older and I can breathe again".

Stop right there and think...many of you are there and don't even realize it. You have a great career, you have a nice place, can go on vacation and the kids are grown and you have more time for yourself. You put your head down and grinded away, and now you are out the other side. If you fit that criteria, you are living some serious Glory Days my friend!

Now, how do we take that attitude and shift it to our running or other athletic pursuits? Good question. I think it's all about changing the criteria. Instead of focusing on how we look or what kind of times we put up, it should be about being satisfied with what we do, being happy with the effort we gave and knowing we did our best.

Like for last 5K time is nine (yes, nine) minutes slower than my PR (22:26), which was set in 2001. Should I be pissed about that? Maybe, but what good would that do? In the end, I knew I did my best, so that's all that should matter. Of course, I'm going to work to get better, but the end result shouldn't be the measuring stick.

For most of us, when our kids were growing up and playing sports one of the first questions we would ask them after a practice or a game was whether or not they had fun. Just because we are older doesn't mean we shouldn't ask that question of ourselves.

Our activities should be a diversion from our lives, so they should be fun, otherwise they would be a waste of time to do. That's not to say we shouldn't give everything we had or compete with others has hard as we can, but that should never get in the way of us enjoying what we are doing.

I know a few  runners who are my age -- or older -- who are living their Glory Days, so I know it can be done. They are awesome people who seem to live in the now and they feel like right here, right now is their time. What I like about them is that they know who they are and what they are capable of, and they go for it.

In a sense, isn't that what we all did when we were young? They are doing it now, and so should we!

I hope by the end of this season of Biggest Loser that the people on that show aren't "reliving" their Glory Days of the past, but instead "living" the Glory Days of the present. It's out there, and it's what we all should be aiming to do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nothing Wrong With a Little Reinvention


So welcome to my new blog? Well, sort of. As you can see, despite the fact that "I'm Gonna Be Faster Than Frank" is a new blog, I have carried over many of my posts from a couple of different running blogs I have written, so you can learn a little more about me and my running past.

So what is this blog about? Well, in simple terms, it's a documentation of my quest to run the Indy Mini Marathon on May 2, 2015. But it's also about a goal, and that is to beat Frank Shorter.

For those of you who don't know who Frank Shorter is, he was an elite runner throughout the 1970s and could be considered one of the greatest American marathoners in history. He won the gold medal in the marathon in the 1972 Olympics and then followed that up with a silver medal in 1976. Now 66 years old, he is a commentator and speaker, and still runs a little bit.

Here's Frank on the course! Photo from the 500 Festival Twitter account
His connection with the Mini Marathon is that he won the original race in 1977. Yesterday (Sept. 9), he ran the course again in a time of two hours, four minutes, 40 seconds. The folks at the Mini have pledged $1 for every runner that beats Frank's time, and I plan on being one of them.

Now, if you had looked at my past history at the Mini you would probably think it would be a shoo-in, right? After all, I have run the race seven times (with a best of 1:42:35) and have beaten Frank's time on six of those occasions.

Quite the contrary. This will be quite a challenge. And it isn't the challenge of just beating Frank's time, it's the personal challenge I am undertaking to make positive changes in my life. Like many, I've been fighting a few battles over the years, but with the help and support of family and friends I want to try to finally make some changes that I've been a little bit afraid of.

It's definitely going to be a leap of faith, but I think in the end it's going to be a game-changer. I'll go into the hows and whys down the road, but let's just say a lot of things have happened in my world in the last year that I just know it's time.

So here we go! Follow me in this space and also find me on Twitter at @run2ohfour39.