Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Friday Five...Wednesday Edition!

Can you do a Friday Five on Wednesday? Normally I don't think it is good form, but for obvious reasons, I'll be a little bit busy tomorrow and Friday, so let's just call this an early gift from me to you!

1) Humerus watch. See what I did there? I had a bit of a setback in my recovery timetable last week after having an EMG test. That is a test that has two parts to it: the first involves finding a nerve and sending an electric shock through it to see how well it responds. The second part uses a long, flexible needle that goes into the muscle and checks the kind of signal it gets from the nerve.

The electric shock part of it was pretty painful, but thankfully the needle test wasn't so bad. But the person administering the test discovered that my radial nerve (which controls a lot of hand functions) isn't working and that I have a considerable amount of nerve damage in my upper left arm, including in my tricep muscle, which for the most part isn't firing.

The guy who administered the test called the findings "baffling" and couldn't really tell me if it would be permanent or how long it would take to come back. No one knows, honestly, but I'll have a deeper discussion about it with Dr. Chhadia on Jan. 11.

It's a bummer, sure, but I realized that if I had to live the rest of my life with my arm and hand in this condition it would change the game a little but I'd be OK with it. I've contended since the beginning I'm thankful the accident wasn't worse than it was, and so I am at peace with whatever I have to deal with in the future.

Plus, after I saw this video of Florida guard Zack Hodskins last night, I'll never complain again!

So whatever happens, happens, and I'll learn to adapt.

2) Coach Vince. I've gone running with my new running coach three times in the last couple of weeks. Friday we went for a 4-mile run and then got some dinner at Chipotle, where he showed me a basic overview of what he thinks my training should look like, and we got into some more detail about the first four months of the year leading to the Indy Mini.

A lot of the concepts we talked about weren't new to me, but his explanation of the hows and whys of when things were done was a big help. I want to learn how to structure my training so that it maximizes performance. For example, where do, say 400 or 800 repeats work best? How do I find the balance between strength training and running? That kind of stuff.

I told Vince one of my goals was to run through a distance as opposed to to a distance. I want to be able to race a half-marathon, not run 10 miles and hang on for the last 3.1. At 10 miles I want to be able to up the pace if I'm feeling good. That's where PRs come from!

In the end I have been enjoying my running a lot more as of late, and that's really my first goal. If I achieve that, the rest of the good stuff will follow.

3) Podcast! If you have some driving or gift wrapping to do, it would be a great time to catch a couple episodes of the podcast. Last week I got a little long-winded (again) but in the last half spoke about something I feel kind of strongly about, and how it should be a goal for all of us in 2016.

As great and inclusive as the running community is, we are also a bit "tribal" at times too. You know what I'm talking about...the "real runners" vs. the "hobby joggers" -- for the record if you put on shoes and run you are a runner in my book -- for example, or the "Penguins" vs. the "Legends in their Own Minds".

It goes on and on, but if you look at it in written form, it sounds so high schoolish! My take: next year make it a point to reach out to someone in a tribe you might have looked down at or with a little bit of disdain, find out what they do or why they run...if you want to break 30 minutes for a 5K, go up to the guy or girl who won and ask for a word or two of advice. I guarantee what happens will be a lot different than you think.

Here is this week's episode.

You can also find other episodes on iTunes or my SoundCloud page!

4) Holidays! Over the last couple of years I've been fortunate to have had some experiences that have made me a little more of an enlightened guy (or at least I hope). Whatever your faith or outlook on life, I hope you are having a great holiday season and that you are enjoying the spirit of the season, as well as time with your families.

More than ever, we need more peace and friendship in this world. Instead of focusing on our differences, we should celebrate what brings us together. I don't care if you tell me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", so long as you say it, because you are being nice to me, and that is what matters.

Mean people suck, and there are lots of mean people in this world. But I say this...screw them. Control what you can control, and be kind to the people you encounter in your life, because like I mentioned in the previous point...we are more alike than we think, and deep down we all want the same things and dream about the same things.

Is this world perfect? No, and it never has been. But the people who have made the most positive impacts in this world are the people who have focused on the good in others and tried their best to spread hope, kindness and love. Try to be one of those people, not only during this week but all the time!

5) My Top posts! Next week will be a big one for the blog and podcast as I look back at 2015 and talk about my goals for next year. Here are few of my fave blog posts of 2015:

* My first run in Dubai was an amazing experience!
* I ran my first half marathon in several years and had a blast.
*(Tie) The Bastille Day 5K is my favorite race and I won my first ever age group award.
* Crewing for my friend Noah at the Leadville 100.
* (Another tie) Running in Milan and Running in Rome!
Another run in Central Park, NYC.

Thanks to everyone who has read my blog this year, I greatly appreciate your support. Have a great finish to 2015 and a wonderful 2016! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dec. 6-12 -- The Week In Review

Hi all! I haven't done one of these in a while so I figured it would be a good time to start back up again. When it comes to running, last week was one of the best running-related weeks I've had in a long time.

Let me break it down.

*Running. The weather here has been fantastic around here, which has been a real boost! It's hard to believe that with the exception of the Frigid 5K last Sunday, all of my runs the rest of the week were when the temperature was around 50 degrees!

While it has been damp and foggy at times (as you can see in my photo from Saturday), you won't get any complaints from me! The alternative is much worse, that's for sure! It's going to cool down for a couple of days this week and then we go back to above normal temps at least for the rest of the month.

My runs were all in the 3-4 mile range and outside of the 5K were slow, "base"-type runs. Vince, my new coach -- and more on him below -- thinks that my focus should be about 20-25 miles of fairly easy running for the next few weeks before we start to ramp things up to meet my spring goals.

*Coaching. As I have mentioned a couple of times, I hired a coach to help me reach my goals in 2016, and Vince and I had our first couple of sessions this week.

Tuesday we met for an informal 30-minute run where he got me started on a warm-up routine and I told him about some of my goals. Then we ran four miles on Saturday and spoke about periodization and some other training theories. We plan on running again on Friday and we are going to share and combine our thoughts about my schedule for the next few weeks and put that together.

One thing I like about Vince is that he for sure has a passion for running, which is a big plus to me, and that as a coach he isn't set in his ways or stubborn enough that he is going to make me do things his way. We've talked about what has worked for me in the past -- especially when I was doing my best running in 2004-07 -- and how we can take those theories and integrate them with some new ideas.

He remarked that I've been doing this for so long that I know what I need to do to get prepare, and that he doesn't want to completely overhaul what I'm doing, rather he wants to work with me, which I appreciate. He also knows that I want to become a certified coach in the next year or so and is open to helping me achieve that too. I'm definitely excited to be working with him!

*A couple of other things that have made me happy. I recorded another episode of the Let's Run Forever podcast, which you can find on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play. I got a little long-winded and went over an hour, but give it a listen if you can.

I'm going to skip recording during Christmas week, but already have my shows planned for this week and the week of New Year's. I'm so thankful and appreciate everyone who has helped me with this and who have taken the time to listen!

One other thing I was happy to hear is that Matt, my oldest son, gave me his Christmas list and it includes a new pair of running shoes! I'm just glad that he is wanting to get back into the game a little bit. I doubt it is anything serious, like wanting to run track in the spring or anything, but it's good to see him thinking about running for fun. We will definitely be getting together for some 5K's in the coming months.

That's it for me! I hope you have a great week, what are some of your plans?

Friday, December 11, 2015

LRF Podcast Episode 4 Is Now Up!

Happy Friday everyone! I had a great time putting this one together, and I hope you enjoy it.

Along with a Frigid 5K recap and some cold weather running tips, I address the shorts/no shorts over tights controversy, as well as explain why Randy is my my favorite character from the holiday classic movie "A Christmas Story".

You can also find the Let's Run Forever Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play.
Check it out and have a great week!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Frigid 5K Report

So after having such a good time at the Fox and Turkey 4-miler on Thanksgiving, I was anxious to find another race to run as quickly as possible! Unfortunately, the racing calendar gets a little slim this time of year -- unless you want to head into Chicago, as they have races almost every weekend of the year, but Sunday I was lucky to find a 5K in Lemont, which is about 40 minutes from my house.

The Frigid 5K is one of those runs hosted by a park district that are small in size but are kind of nice gems in their own right. Normally they are pretty well-organized and are a good way to get in a competitive run in a low-key environment.

We have been fortunate in terms of weather around here so far this winter, and Sunday brought more of the same. When I woke up it was 30 degrees and had to scrape a pretty hard freeze off the car, but there was absolutely no wind and no clouds, so when the sun came out it was going to be pretty workable.

I wore workout pants and a hoodie to the race, but ran in two long sleeved shirts, a hat and gloves and...shorts! Yeah at first it seemed a little crazy but by the midway point of the race it was a wise decision. Besides, the race was held at a gym/community center and we were allowed to congregate and warm up in the fieldhouse, so really the only time we'd be outside was to run the race.

I had made it there with plenty of time to get ready, so it was nice to be in the gym to get stretched out and run some strides on the basketball court. The race started at 8 a.m. so the race organizers didn't even call us to the line until about 7:55.

When we got outside the sun was all the way up so it actually felt pretty good. Once at the start line, I guesstimated there were only a couple hundred runners and walkers in the field.

After having so much luck with Episode 264 of Paul Oakenfold's podcast on Thanksgiving, I queued that up again and soon we were off! In terms of race tactics I was going to follow the same thing as on Thanksgiving, run within myself and don't obsess over splits (although I did look at the first two mile markers). My goal was sub-30, which seemed workable after the 4-miler.

It was a good thing the field was small because after the first half mile on a road, the rest of the race, except for the finish which was on the road as well, was on sidewalks and a small running path that wound around some ballfields. We actually made two loops of the property, with a couple of wrinkles through a parking lot to add up to the race distance...which was very accurate! Since the crowd was so small the narrowness of the course was no big deal.

I hit the first mile in 9:38, which I was very happy with as that roughly translates to 30 minutes or so for the race. So I focused on just trying to hold that pace the rest of the way.

That got a little tough about midway through the race when my hilly 7.7 miler in Central Park Friday started to catch up with me a little bit. My legs started to feel a bit heavy and my stride felt like it shortened up a little bit. So I was uncomfortable but my breathing was OK, so I just worked at hanging in there.

Surprisingly, mile two clocked in at 9:18! I was still feeling it but at that point there was less than 10 minutes of running left, so I just tried to hang on. The course was pretty much flat, but there were a couple of small downhill slants where I focused on staying relaxed and let the hill do some of the work for me.

The last mile felt like it went by rather quickly, and we made the final turn to the finish with about 200 meters to go. I tried to pick it up a little but just wasn't feeling it, but then I took a long look at a guy just in front of me and had a quick thought -- there were a lot of women and kids in this race, is an age-group award possible?

Hey, whatever it takes to get motivated!

The guy in front of me looked about my age, so I put my head down and just started turning my legs over. It didn't take long to pass him, and I picked off a couple of other people on my way to the finish. As I got within a few yards of the finish, I was pretty excited to see the first two numbers on the clock read "29"!

The race was a "gun-time" race, so they had me officially at 29:17, but by my watch I was at 29:09 after running mile three in 9:17 and going at an 8:06 pace for the final tenth to the finish. I ended up 75th overall and fourth in my age group! Oh well, the guy that finished third was 30 seconds ahead of me, so no big deal.

After the race it was back into the gym for some hot chocolate and snacks. Overall, I was so happy with the run as I accomplished everything I'd wanted: broke 30 minutes, ran within myself and got faster as the race went on.

And, as an added bonus, I realized that a year ago Sunday I had run the Chilly Chili 5K (you can read about that here) in 29:51, meaning that I'm faster than I was a year ago. That gave me an even bigger boost!

I begin working with my coach, Vince, tomorrow, and with a good month of running hope to line up again on New Year's Day. Can't wait!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

(Another) Run in Central Park!

As I mentioned the other day, I was heading to New York at the end of the week for a couple of days. As I type this we are on our way home (cruising at 36,000 feet and going 495 mph), I can say that it was a fabulous trip! I really like New York -- I doubt I'd ever want to live there, but visiting is fun!

I'll tell you what, NYC is crazy busy this time of year! I couldn't believe how many people were there compared to my other visits. We arrived Thursday night and had a great view of lower Manhattan on the ride in. Good thing we were running ahead of schedule because it got dark a few minutes after this shot!

The last two years we have stayed at the Club Quarter on 51st Street, and that is a great place to stay because it is within walking distance of so many things. It is right across from Radio City Music Hall and just a block away from Rockefeller Center.

We walked over there after dinner and it was a madhouse! Of course everyone was there to see the Christmas tree. We came in early November last
year and the tree had just been delivered, so I was excited to see what it looked like all decorated.

I wasn't disappointed! The tree was so beautiful. You can get a good idea of the scene there in the picture, and it was truly an international gathering as I heard many different accents and languages.

Friday night Darcy and I had a delicious dinner at Ruth's Chris steak house. I won't disclose the calorie count of what I ate/drank there, but hopefully the 12 or so miles I did walking and running worked it off!

After dinner we walked through Times Square -- which was a crazy madhouse -- to Madison Square Garden where the New York Knicks were playing the Brooklyn Nets.

I'm a big basketball fan and had always wanted to see a game in the Garden, so this was a real treat! It wasn't much of a game as the Knicks jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and won, 108-91, but that didn't take away anything from the experience.

If you look really closely on the right side of the photo you can see a guy seated in the front row wearing orange. Yeah, Spike Lee was in the house last night.

OK, travel blog part is over, now let's talk about running! Of course, one of the highlights to the trip was to be able to run in Central Park again. I ran there last year, and you can read about that here.

With Darcy doing work stuff on Friday, I had all day to myself, so I got up around 9 a.m. and walked over to the park. Last year I didn't get really far, I was pressed for time so I only got about to the New York City Marathon finish line before I had to head back, but this time I intended to run the entire park.

One thing about the park is that it is just so stunning in its beauty. Even with things lying dormant in December, you can understand why people enjoy being there so much. I can't wait for the opportunity to come a little earlier in the year and see it a little more greened up. Maybe for the NYC Marathon? You never know.

Speaking of the marathon, of course it finishes in the park, and you can still see some of the markings on the pavement. Here is the 26-mile marker...almost there!

I am disappointed that the finish line isn't left on the pavement. The place is pretty easy to find, but I wish races like New York and Chicago would take the lead of Boston and leave it there.

I just think it would be a cool nod to the finishers and the running community, and besides, how awesome would it be if you live there to cross the line again and again and be able to celebrate your accomplishment all year long?

I stayed on the main road for my run, and ran the park clockwise, which I guess kind of made me the oddball since most of the other people were going the other way!

I talk about it more in my podcast (which you can click on to listen to below), but I never knew the park was so hilly! I mean, I knew it had hills, but not the kind that I encountered on my run. At first, they were a lot of fun, and I absolutely powered down them, but as they started to add up it started to hurt a little.

Here is a photo of one of the long declines, but I don't think the photo really does justice to some of them. According to my Runtastic, some if the elevation changes were absolutely crazy. The last mile of the marathon course has a long climb to the finish, and one hill on the north side of the park had an incline of 73 feet in a mile. But wait, there is a bigger one later!

I went all they way to the north end of the park and checked out the resivoir, which had a soft surface path around it. There are a lot of grassy areas and soft paths to run on up that way. Really, the park has pretty much everything a runner would need for long runs, hill work speed work, etc. And it gets used by the running community A LOT, judging by the dozens of paint markings of various distances on the pavement.

Around mile five (or about where I took the above photo) on the east side of the park, I ran across the statue of NYC Marathon founder Fred Lebow. He started a humble little event in Central Park in 1970 that had just 55 finishers, and since then the race has turned into one of the biggest running events in the world.

Fred passed away from brain cancer in 1994, but his statue welcomes marathoners into the park and the final stretches of the race. I love the pose he has here, it's just so "runner" to me!

That also marks the start of the final stretches of the marathon, and I can tell you, it is quite a test! I'm kind of glad I ran the route that way because if I ever do get to run the marathon I will be prepared.

I can only imagine what this stretch is like after running 23-24 miles and crossing huge bridges. Once you get to the bottom of
the hill in the above photo, you have a mile stretch that includes an incline of 182 feet! Now, once at the top of the hill it drops off the edge of the earth and you go down 154 feet to about the 40K mark, there are a couple of good hills left to the finish line. That makes running up the Roosevelt Road hill at the end of the Chicago marathon seem like you are just jumping over a speed bump!

I exited the park on the southeast corner because I wanted to get a photo of the new building, 432 Park Ave. At just under 1,400 feet tall, it is one of the largest residential buildings in the world. I've been fascinated with tall buildings since I first saw the Sears Tower in Chicago when I was little, so I wanted a nice picture of it. It is the building in the middle, and the more I look at it the more I think it is a giant Pez dispenser. What do you think?

By that point I was at about 7 miles, but I didn't want to stop running! So I ended up running all the way back to
Rockefeller Center to get a photo in front of the tree! And of course I had to flash my Indy Mini Ambassador skills too!

A memorable run, but a good one for sure too. I ran 7.7 miles -- the longest I've gone since summer -- at a 9:37 pace! Granted, I did stop for photos, but the stops were brief and I went out all of those hills!

Next week's long run will be 8 miles of so on the Prairie Path, so we'll see if I can keep up that pace here at home.

I wasn't done with Central Park, though! After I got back to my hotel, showered and changed clothes, I went back to record my podcast at the NYCM finish line.

It was a lot of fun, I got a few strange looks from people as I was sitting on a park bench with my laptop, but I didn't care. It was a cool experience, and I can't wait to do it again on one of our next travel adventures.

Oh, you didn't know I had a podcast?!?! I've recorded three episodes of the Let's Run Forever Podcast, and they are available on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play. Here is this week's for your listening pleasure.

Below are some more photos. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wordy Wednesday

Yeah, I know, it's usually Word-less Wednesday, but I'm a writer, when do we ever go wordless? Not only that, but I'll be busy all day tomorrow so Three Things Thursday is out.

Still, it's shaping up to be an interesting week!

* I went to see my surgeon, Dr. Chhadia, on Monday, and he seems pleased with my progress. I had some x-rays taken and while it still looks broken to me he said it is healing, so I'll take his expert opinion over mine!

He is a little concerned with my wrist and hand, though. When I had my surgery the radial nerve (a big nerve that controls many hand functions) was disturbed and as a result was what they called "shocked". That left me with a droopy left hand and not a lot of movement in my fingers. He said it could be 6 months to a year before it comes back, but has ordered an EMG test to check out what is going on.

After I left his office I went next door and made PT appointments for the next few weeks. Dr. Chhadia did approve some strength training so that is a good thing. Overall I'm really happy with my PT work, I am feeling a lot more normal when it comes to my left arm, and it feels so much better.

Just need to keep moving forward!

* Next week I start working with a coach! I've been tossing around the idea of finding a coach for a while, and with 2016 marking The Year of Epic Running, I thought it would be a good thing to get a little help.

There are a lot of coaches around here, but a lot of them are kind of expensive, so I had to look around a bit. I eventually made my way to, and found my coach! His name is Vince Tagare and he ran XC and track locally and competed in college with the Bradley University club team. He had a couple of well-rated reviews and so I thought I would give him a try.

We have already communicated a little and I filled out a questionnaire for him. Our first in-person session is on Monday and then again on Saturday. After a couple of weeks he will help me work together on a plan for the first part of next year.

Vince is in the Reserves and will be gone for much of 2016, but I am OK with that, I don't need a lot of hands-on stuff, I just want the accountability and someone who will work with me to develop something a little more personalized.

I worked with a coach in 2005 and had some amazing results. From 2005-07 I did some of my best running and would like to get back to that. Yeah, I'm 10 years older but still think I have a lot of good running ahead of me.

I'll let you know how it goes!

* Leaving on a jet plane (again). I'm really excited that tomorrow Darcy and I will be heading to New York for a couple of days. We were last there 13 months ago and had a great time. If you want to read about my run in Central Park (including photos) you can find it here.

Darcy will be there for a work thing on Friday, and we are going to try to cram a lot into a short period of time. We are going to a New York Knicks game on Friday night and then going to Freedom Tower on Saturday morning before we go home.

And of course, there will be Central Park! I hope to run there on Friday morning and cover some ground that I didn't have a chance to last year. It is such a beautiful place!

Then I plan on coming back at noon and recording my podcast from the finish line of the New York City Marathon (you can find it marked with paint on the pavement). I just think it will be fun to sit and describe the park and what goes on there. With good weather on hand and it being lunch time on a Friday, it could be a busy place!

What would be really awesome is if I could find someone who is running to stop for an interview. Who knows, that's the beauty of a "live" broadcast!

So how is your week going? Have any plans going for the weekend?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Podcast Ep 002 -- Race Tactics and Fox & Turkey 4 Miler

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend! In this week's podcast, I discuss race tactics in greater detail, as well as my thoughts about my race on Thursday. Check it out!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fox & Turkey 4 Miler Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you eat too much? I'm not too proud to say that I certainly did! I'll try to do better today. ;--)

Judging from my social media feeds, a lot of you raced as'd it go? Mine was amazing, you know how I talk about epic runs that you remember for a long, long time? I was fortunate enough to have one of those on Thursday.

I definitely wasn't expecting it, after all, I hadn't run a race in exactly four months and my race tactics in the races leading up to that had been less than stellar. My goals were pretty conservative, I just wanted to run more by feel and finishing in under 44 minutes would've been a great day for me.

The Fox & Turkey 4-miler has been around for a while, as Thursday's race was its 19th edition. I had run it a few times in the past, the first time was in 2000 and the last in 2008. What the race is now is way different than the last time I ran it seven years ago.

Back in 2008, the race was pretty small, with only a couple hundred runners, and it was run almost exclusively on the Fox River Trail, a paved path that runs along the Fox River. The scenery was beautiful, but the course was basic, we would run two miles out, turn around, and come back.

Now the race has over 2,000 runners and walkers and is run through the neighborhoods of Batavia, a nice town of about 30,000 people that is part of a pretty good running community. Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles are known as the Tri-Cities and they always turn out great high school track and cross country runners. Dan Huling, a steeplechaser who finished fifth in the World Championships in that event over the summer, is from Geneva, as is Kevin McDonald, who was a great high school runner and is now a 2016 Olympic hopeful in the triathlon.

I had registered in advance, but since I had never run the race in this setup and didn't know the lay of the land, I arrived about an hour early. I was really happy about the weather, as it was in the low-50s, overcast and there wasn't much wind -- a perfect day to race. Those conditions made it hard to believe that we had been dumped on with about 10 inches of snow over the weekend! Thankfully there isn't much of that left.

I lucked out and found a great parking spot about 100 yards from the start/finish line, so I was able to grab my number, walk to my car and take my time getting ready. By the time I got back to the start, I still had a lot of time before the race and I was trying to figure out what to do until the race started.

Then I was approached by a co-worker of Darcy's named Evelyn. I guess she had recognized me from pictures Darcy has posted on Facebook, so we talked running until the race was ready to start. Evelyn had run the Chicago Marathon last month and likes the half-marathon distance, so hopefully I can get her to sign up for the Indy Mini!

When the race started, Evelyn jumped into the crowd a little further up than I did, as I wanted to be near the back to start a little slower. The one thing I liked about this new course is that there is a large hill at the start so it kind of leads to keeping under control at the start, and on the flip side leads to a big finish!

I ran with my Runtastic app going, although I had told myself to just use it for splits after the race, and not to look at it at all while I was running. The satellite must have lost me at some point because in the end it showed I had run 4.1 miles, but I spoke to others that had it closer to four miles, so no big deal. Besides, the race had 13 turns (by my count), so unless you take the tangents perfectly you will end up a bit over.

The first mile has a 65-foot incline, so I was able to stay with my plan and ran the first mile in 10:42, which may not be perfect given my GPS issue, but it was my slowest mile of the day, and that's what mattered. Plus, I never even saw a 1-mile sign, so I was kind of blissfully unaware at that point.

Once things leveled off, I settled into a nice groove and while I wasn't running "hard", I was a bit "uncomfortable", meaning I was pushing a little to the point where I was feeling it, but was still at a pace I knew I could hold for a while.

A little into the race I was still a little bugged that I hadn't seen a mile marker, so I checked my Runtastic and found we had already gone 1.86 the race was almost half over! We went around a corner and there was the 2-mile mark and a water stop. I decided to take my time at the stop, so I grabbed three or four cups of water and just took my time.

My official split for mile two was 9:37, which I hardly expected, but it got even better from there! I ran mile three in 9:45 (which included the water stop) and started setting my sights on the finish. With the big downhill ahead of me, I knew it was just a matter of getting there and letting gravity tow me to the finish.

I was getting a little tired but just tried to hold my pace as best as I could. I wasn't passing anyone at that point, and no one passed me, so I mush have done well at that. As we neared the top of the hill my GPS hit four miles, with my fourth mile split in 9:14. Looking at all the data, it appeared the first mile was the long one so the last three splits were pretty legit.

But the number that caught my attention was the elapsed time: 39:17. Holy cow, I had a chance to break 40 minutes! From there I just absolutely powered down that hill with everything I had, hitting a top speed of over 10 mph (sub 6-minute pace) and gobbling up huge amounts of road with each stride.

As I neared the finish, there was a huge crowd already there, and they had crowded into the street, making our path to the finish a bit narrow. I loved it! I loved the feeling of flying by all of those people while going that fast. It was so cool!

By the time I got across the line, my watch said exactly 40 minutes, but my official time was 39:51! I am so, so thrilled by that, because it was totally unexpected. I didn't feel like I had run that fast in training, and I haven't been logging a lot of miles, so my run was a very pleasant surprise.

I saw Evelyn after the race, and she was happy with her time of 45:21. I also ran into three friends from Aurora: Jeff, Dyzzy and Sean Kramer. Sean was a middle school classmate of Kevin's and I coached him on the basketball team for four years. He is small but has a huge heart, he always played hard and loved to play defense, and I knew with that attitude he would make a good runner. Sean runs at Marmion Academy and finished in 38:10. Dyzzy, his mom, has been a runner for years and finished in 38:59, while Jeff ran 35:44. I was particularly impressed with Jeff, as he had trimmed down a lot in the last few months and didn't really take up running until over the summer.

All in all, it was a great day. I followed my race tactics exactly, ran way above what I expected, met a new friend and reconnected with a few others. I also got to represent the Indy Mini for the first time and was so happy to be able to sport my Ambassador shirt.

I had so much fun that I can't wait to do it again...soon!