Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If You Must Fall...

...make it part of the run.

There are lots of mantras out there that talk about falling, getting back up and overcoming failure, and I'm paraphrasing one that Darcy put up in one of the bathrooms at the house. I'm sure you might have a similar mantra posted someplace in your house, too.

Overcoming failure -- or even just a bump in the road -- can be a tough thing to do sometimes. The biggest roadblock is that we equate past results with future events. It's kind of crazy how human beings have the intelligence and capability to send a satellite past Pluto and get pictures back in return, but if we have a bad run it can be so hard to overcome.

As a fan of the history of running, I enjoy looking at old pictures and watching old videos of past races, because there is so much inspiration to be gained from runners who have overcome crazy odds to find their path to success.

Here is a picture I came across a couple of days ago. I have seen it before a couple of times, but it never fails to give me a few goosebumps.

The photo is of great Finnish runner Lasse Viren, who on September 3, 1972, lined up in for the Olympic 10,000 meter final. Then 23 years old, Viren was taking the first step at an attempt to win the 5K/10K double.

About midway through the 25-lap race, Virren became tangled up with another runner and fell off the track into the infield, with Mohammad Gammoudi, who was a step behind, getting caught up in the wreck and going down as well.

An injured Gammoudi would drop out of the race a couple of laps later, while Viren immediately jumped to his feet and rejoined the race. What captures me -- and you can see it in the video I post at the bottom -- is how quickly Viren scrambled to his feet and started running.

Look at the photo again. From the moment he fell, his sole focus was to get back up and start running. He didn't hang his head, didn't feel like the race was over -- his vision was up the track towards the pack. A couple of accounts I read about that race say he looked almost "energized" by the fall.

Viren not only jumped up and caught up to the pack, just 10 minutes after this photo was taken, he had crossed the finish line in a world record time of 27 minutes, 38 seconds and had won his first gold medal. He had also covered the final mile in a time of 4:01.

Buoyed by that win, he followed that up with a second gold in the 5,000 a week later, then won both events in Montreal four years later. Amazingly enough, in Montreal he lined up for the marathon a day after winning the 5K and finished fifth!

But this photo is something we should all think about when we "fall" during a run -- whether that be literal (I hope not!) or metaphorical. If we do happen to go down, we should never hang our heads or feel sorry for ourselves, we need to make it part of the run!

As we rise from that disappointment our vision should never be focused down, or in the past, it should be on the path ahead, with a sense of determination and a never quit attitude. Viren had an excuse to give up, but he didn't -- he instead went on to win. We all have it in us to do the same!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Amita Fitness 5K -- July 25, 2015

So when you look at the above photo, what is the first thing you notice? Hopefully you see that I have not just one finisher's medal, but TWO! That's because for the first time in my almost-16-year running career I won an age group award! I was 46th overall in 29:13 and second in the 45-49 age group! Not a bad result from a last-minute decision to run the race. Earlier this week the trip to Peoria for the Detweiller At Dark cross country race was cancelled due to lack of interest, which was a bit disappointing but I still wanted Kev and I to race this weekend. So after looking at the local race calendar, we chose this one, mostly since it was a night race and looked like fun.

As the day went on I was a bit worried as it was seriously hot! I had decided to wait to just sign up at the race because there was a threat of storms in the area on Saturday, but when they didn't materialize we decided to head on over. Still, when we arrived at the race site on the AT&T campus in Hoffman Estates, it was 88 degrees and the humidity was sitting at about 75 percent.

Still, there was a bit of a breeze so it didn't feel all that bad, and thankfully the temperature dipped a little as race time approached.

It was certainly a busy place to be as they had three races going on at once. The half marathon and 10K started at 5:30 p.m.and the 5K started at 6. 

Kevin and I got there just in time to get registered and watch the start of the earlier race. One thing I noticed early on into the race is that there were Kenyans at the front of the pack! The race paid prize money and so a group of them were there to take their shot.

Personally, I love to watch the Kenyans (and Ethiopians) run. They are just so beautiful, their strides are so long and efficient, and their feet don't even make a sound when they run by you. Like this picture of race winner Abraham Chelanga, it is just stunning. He won the race in 1:09 but back in May won the Cleveland Marathon in a time of 2:16. He won the race by three minutes over Edward Tabut, who won a marathon in Lincoln, Neb. in 2:17 two months ago as well.                    
After a bit of a warmup, we headed over to the starting line to get staged for the start of the 5K. While the 10K and half marathon seemed to have a lot of participants, the 5K field looked a bit sparse. There were over 700 combined entrants in the earlier race, while about 250 started the 5K. Oh well, in the end I guess it worked out!

Kev decided to stay back and start the race with me. That was OK, I knew that he was a bit concerned about the weather as he had never raced in those kinds of conditions before. While I figured since he had been training for cross country this summer he could improve on his time of 28 minutes and change he ran in a 5K back in May, I wasn't too worried about it. It's good to just keep him running for fun, the serious racing will come in a few weeks.                       

Once we got settled in for the start, we were off! The race went through the AT&T campus and the surrounding area, which for the most part was pretty well-shaded, although there were a few hills that needed negotiation.

Entering the race, I had three goals in mind: 1) run the entire way (minus any water stops, since it was in the mid-80s after all), 2) have even splits and 3) as always, pass more people in the last mile than pass me.

The top two goals were the most important for me. While my previous two races I had posted pretty good times -- 28:06 and 28:02 -- they were rife with mistakes and bad pacing. Saturday I went old school, with just music and my watch, instead of using the Runtastic app that I had grown a bit too dependent on.

Our start was a bit on the conservative side, but we must have lined up a little further back than we should have as we passed a lot of people in the opening mile. It was certainly an interesting experience because we could see people running the 10K and half on a different course a handful of times during the race.

As we approached the first water stop at just under a mile, I took a little extra time there as I felt like I was beginning to ramp up the pace a little much. But after a couple of cups of water we turned a corner and hit the first mile in 9:27. Given the conditions and my conservative pacing I was very happy with that.

Just around the mile we encountered one of the more challenging portions of the course, a long uphill that was well over a quarter-mile long. What made it even tougher is that we were running straight West towards the setting sun, and with the wind behind us I warmed up really fast.

Once we crested the hill we turned around on a hairpin and went back the way we came, back downhill and back into the wind. The downhill was nice and while I don't normally welcome a headwind, the breeze felt very good and cooled us off almost the way running the other direction had warmed us up.

After the first water stop I must have pulled away from Kev a little as he was about 15 seconds behind me at the hairpin. I gave him some words of encouragement and tried to get him to surge up to me.

Halfway down the hill we made a right turn and got some relief in the shade, but at about 1.5 miles there was another incline that was a little tough. Well, it was actually the start of a tough stretch that almost did me in!

Near the 2-mile mark we were heading back West again, and it felt like with each stride we were getting closer and closer to the surface of the sun! I needed to give myself a little motivational talk at this point...we were going behind this warehouse and it was just really desolate. Kev referred to that area as Death Valley, and it was pretty accurate.

I hit the second mile in 9:16, which I was REALLY happy with. That put me right on a 29-minute pace, perfect for the conditions and what I was trying to accomplish. But with Death Valley lurking, I had to dig a little bit and keep going. No matter what, I wasn't about to stop!

I kept hoping for a water stop, but amazingly enough there was only the one for the entire race. Normally I don't get too concerned about that but in these conditions I could've used one.

Once we got around the warehouse/office building, we headed back East on a long downhill that paralleled Interstate 90. Just like the early downhill, the breeze in our faces was an absolute lifesaver! I tried not to check my watch a bunch but stole a few glances at it here and there. Just five more minutes of running left...just four minutes...three minutes.

We took a left turn back into the campus and up another small incline. I was looking for the 3-mile mark but it was hidden around a little curve and I didn't see it until I was almost right on top of it. Still, I hit my watch there and was at 9:35 for Mile 3. I was doing a bit of a happy dance at that point because I was so happy to have hit my goals!

I crossed the line strong and finished with a smile on my face. I grabbed some water and my (first) finisher's medal, then hustled back to cheer on Kev at the finish. He was a bit behind me by then, but I looked up and saw him absolutely sprinting his way to the finish!

He crossed the line in 30:33, good for 64th overall. I was so proud of him because I knew he ran the whole way and really battled his way through the conditions. Running in hot weather is tough, and to do even remotely well you just have to experience doing it. This will do him wonders down the road.

More than anything, it was just an opportunity to do something fun together. If you have teenagers you know that their lives hit fast-forward once they start high school. I couldn't believe how quickly those four years went for Matt, who is now beginning his sophomore year of college! I'm glad that Kevin seems to be enjoying his running, and plans on starting a blog to talk about his first impressions of high school cross country.

We got some water and collected ourselves for a few minutes before going over to where the results were posted. I found my name and noticed something strange (well, at least for me) to my name was a large "2" where it listed age group places.

Wait a sec...are you trying to tell me that I actually won an age group award? I have to admit that I was a bit of a skeptic, because I thought the race was bigger and they would update those results sooner or later.

Still, we hung around for the awards and when the 45-49 age group category was announced, I was the second place finisher! It was certainly a cool feeling to go up and get my medal. I usually run bigger races that have faster people, so I have never, ever even sniffed an age group award, so needless to say this is a day I'll remember for a long, long time!

In a lot of ways, I needed a race like this badly. Despite running decent times, my last two races beat me up a little bit and left me thinking that I had to get back to just having fun with my running and not spend a lot of time worrying about times and performance. Sure those are important to me, but Saturday's run was just so much more satisfying because it was just a lot of fun.

With marathon training starting up next week, things will have to get a little more serious, but I have a lot to celebrate this weekend. Not only for the race, but also Sunday Darcy and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary! It's been such an amazing year (not just last year but the four that we have been together) and I am thankful for having her in my life. I certainly dedicate this award to her because if not for her love and encouragement I may not even be running any more. She has made a difference in my life in so many ways, and I'm as crazy about her as the day we first met.

Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Learning Some Running History

Over the weekend, Darcy and I went to Des Moines for the IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway. Having never been to Des Moines, I was really impressed with the city and we did a few fun things.

Before I go any further, let me give high recommendations to Zombie Burger and Fong's Pizza. Two crazy-good restaurants that I guarantee you will not disappoint.

On the way home we swung through Davenport, Iowa, where I was born and lived for several years, and where one side of my family still calls home. I'm a little partial to the Quad Cities since I was born there -- obviously -- but also because my family has a rich history there dating back to the mid-to-late 1800s. In 1949 my uncle, Ken Buckles, was an all-state basketball player and starter on the first Davenport team to win an Iowa state basketball championship, and he later won one as an assistant coach with Davenport West, which is pretty cool.

Outside of the Quad Cities, one of the things the area is known for is the Bix 7 road race. I ran the Bix 10 years ago and chronicled my day in a post back in January. This weekend the race celebrates its 40th anniversary, as the first Bix was run in 1975 as 84 runners toed the starting line. This weekend, more than 20,000 runners and walkers will be participating.

The Bix is a super-tough, 7-mile race that starts and ends in downtown Davenport. In between are several hills, including a trip up (and back down) Brady Street, where the elevation changes close to 100 feet in the first mile!

The cool thing about the race is that it is a huge community event that draws runners -- including elite runners -- from all over the world, and piques the interest of even non-runners as the race is shown live on TV and gets extensive media coverage.

So while I know a lot about the Bix 7, until Sunday I didn't really know about the Bix 7. I knew about its history, but I now know that I didn't totally get it.

That changed after I went to visit the Bix Plaza, which sits and the corner of East 4th Street and River Drive, in front of the Quad City Times building. The race "came to life" so to speak, when I stopped and looked at the statue of Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, two people who in the 1970s and 80s took on -- and more often than not, beat -- the best runners in the world. Rodgers winning the race in 1980 gave the event some legitimacy and brought even more runners to the event, while Samuelson won three times in four years (1983, 1985-86) while becoming one of the people who raised the profile of women in the sport.

The two of them still come back and run the race. Last year, Rodgers finished in 56:15 while Benoit, still a beast on the roads at age 58, ran 43:41. They are both so inspiring!

Behind the statues are brick pavers that lead to the QC Times parking lot. Many of the pavers are there to honor people who have run the race several times, or some who were running veterans but have since passed away. Along each side of the memorial bricks were bricks that commemorated the race winners, the year they won and their winning times.

The pavers are an interesting mix of Olympic medalists, local runners and people in between. The amazing thing is that to my knowledge the course has never changed, and while today's runners are smashing course records all over the world, the men's and women's course records have stood since 1998 and 2004, respectively. Just goes to show how tough it is to run the race, and how tough it is to win it.

Here are photos of the pavers dedicated to Rodgers, Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi, who has won the race twice. I had driven by the statues so many times, but Sunday was the first time I had stopped, and I'm glad I did. While we focus on the great marathons in this country -- as well as all over the world -- there are local races that started small and turned into big deals, like the Bix, the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta, the Falmouth race in Massachusetts, or Bay to Breakers in San Francisco.

There is probably a race where you live that has been around for a while, one that has a rich history and tells a story about our sport. Take like time to find out a little more about one of those races, and maybe even run it once to see what it's all about. Like me, I guarantee you won't regret it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bastille Day 5K -- July 9, 2015

Coming home from Chicago last night, my feelings about this race were definitely mixed. One one hand, I had a great time -- it's always fun to run in Chicago along the Lakefront, and I really enjoyed catching up with my good friend, Scott Goddard, who I hadn't seen since my wedding last July.

On the other, the running portion of the evening absolutely sucked. While my time of 28:01 was right about where I had hoped it would be, it was how I got it done that was so disappointing. But more on that later.

As a suburbanite, it's kind of fun to go into the city on a weeknight. Actually, in all honestly, I kind of prefer it. The only problem is that it's a pretty substantial commute if you want to use public transportation. From when I stepped on the train in Aurora until I arrived near Lincoln Park on the Red Line, it took about one hour, 45 minutes to get there -- and over two hours to get home. Oh, well, like anything else (long car rides, long flights, etc), I'm not too bugged about it, because while it is kind of inconvenient, the payoff at the end is definitely worth it.
So after a train ride, walk to the Red Line, and then a walk to the park, I was there at about 6:15. For some reason, I had it stuck in my head that the race started at seven, but it turns out it didn't go off until 7:30, so I was there in plenty of time!Scott had texted me that he was on the bus (he li ves on the north side) and that he would be there soon, so I just hung out and people watched for a while. One other thing about being in the city is that people watching is a lot more interesting than the burbs! 

Scott had gone to packet pickup the day before and had grabbed our stuff, so he had my number and t-shirt for me. I went with my RaceRaves shirt, of course, which felt a little smaller than the last time I'd had it on.

This was the third time in the last four years Scott and I have run this race. It was actually my "comeback" race in 2012, so it has a bit of a special place in my heart.

After a disastrous Chicago Marathon in 2008, I ran a 4-mile race on Thanksgiving and outside of a couple of Ragnar Relays, that was it for me as I went into a sort of semi-retirement when it came to regular running.

But I met Darcy and in the spring of 2012 started working out with a friend, Bernie Salazar, who was a contestant and at-home winner of Season 5 of the TV show Biggest Loser. Bernie and a friend of his ran a bootcamp on Sunday mornings, and he and I got together for runs as well. His enthusiasm and determination really made an impact on me, and it really stoked my desire to start running again.

So Bernie, Scott and I ran the race in 2012, and though Bernie has moved to California, Scott and I have put it on the calendar the last two years.

With that in mind, I really wanted to run well, but I started out way too fast. Remember how I bragged about my Runtastic app back in the spring? I'm really believing that I am getting too dependent on it and just running to a number instead of just running by feel and letting the race evolve. I think the next time I run a race it will be old school, with just my iPod and my (non-GPS) watch.

The scenery was -- as usual -- beautiful and inspiring, especially while being bathed in the setting sun, but it was such a grind for me. I ended up doing a lot of starting and stopping in the last mile. It was just so frustrating -- I was doing my best but, like Saturday, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't keep going. That and I was way too stubborn to just slow it down and jog it in.

In the end I'm a little glad that I didn't set a new PR because I didn't think I deserved it. It would've been nice to run sub-28 but if I did I'd have a bad taste in my mouth as to how I did it. It's one thing to plan to run/walk a race -- and I support anyone who does that -- but to plan on running the whole thing and walking out of pain or frustration is kind of lame. Did I mention I'm kind of competitive?

I think, at least right now, my eyes are bigger than my stomach when it comes to running a sub-28. I need to take a step back and do what I preach to y'all about -- trusting the process! I start marathon training on July 20 and I need to just train and do speedwork and all of that will happen.

Two cool things about Thursday night. First was that the race was one of the selected race of the Chicago Bladerunners, an organization for runners who are amputees. They have a presence at several races in the city every year, and it's really cool to see the Bladerunners in action. Some of them are pretty freaking fast too!

This photo is of their table, and you can see one of their runners. Scott and I both picked up a pamphlet from their table and it seems like it might be a fun group of people to volunteer with. It's something I'm definitely going to think about.

If you want to learn more about the Bladerunners, check out their website.

The second, of course, was to get a chance to hang out with my friend, Scott. He moved to the area in 2008 and his son, Christian, became a classmate of Matt's in seventh grade, and I coached them in basketball that year.

At the time Scott had been divorced for several years and since my marriage was ending at the time, I leaned on him for lots of support. No matter what, he was always available to talk, and he became one of my best friends.

A couple of years later, he met his wife, Lori, and moved into her place in Chicago when they got married three years ago, and then welcomed their daugther Viv in November, 2013. Needless to say, Scott is very busy so we don't get many opportunities to get together, but he's one of those people that when we get together we pick up in a way that feels like we'd hung out just the week before.

I am forever grateful for Scott and what he did for me back in the day, and though I miss spending time with him I am so thrilled that he met Lori (who is an absolute sweetheart) and they have started a new life together. Good things happen to good people.

So I decided to take off today, but will be back at it tomorrow when Kevin and I head out for a run. Bad patches come and go, hopefully this one goes away soon!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Two-Minute Tuesday!

Check out my latest Two-Minute Tuesday! Topics include:

*Buying smaller pants, which is very exciting!
*Status update on my Achilles injury.
*My role with the Aurora Central Catholic cross country/track program

Look for Tweets and maybe a Periscope or two from the Bastille Day 5K in Lincoln Park on Thursday night. The race starts at 7 p.m.! I'll have a race report too!

Let the Kids Run!

Years ago, when my brother Tim was in his late teens, I rode with he and my dad somewhere, and it seemed like every 15 seconds my dad was telling Tim how to drive. "Slow down...turn here...change that car..."

After about a half-hour I finally got so irritated that I blurted out: "Dad, just let the boy drive!"

Funny as it sounds, I think about that story a lot when I'm at my kids' middle school and high school track meets, when I hear parents screaming things like "PUSH IT!" at their kids, despite the fact they can see their kids are giving it all they have. Or, the parents who are runners micro-managing their kids races from the sideline, chasing them to various parts of the track while yelling brain-cluttering instructions that hurt more than they help.

I'm sure all of the parents I've referenced above mean well. After all, we all want to see our kids succeed, right? But if we really, truly want to see our kids succeed, not to mention enjoy, their running,we have to give in and let them do one thing:

We have to just let them run!

It seems like our society has been trained to the idea that every single thing our kids do should be geared towards some sort of success. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm far from an "everyone gets a trophy" person. I'm actually a pretty competitive guy who doesn't like losing all that much. Thankfully, life lessons have taught me to channel that properly and no matter what I try to act like a sportsman in everything I do.

I believe that winning and losing, not to mention success and failure, all have a place in a kid's development. But just like adults, those lessons last longer and sink in deeper when they have the chance to experience those things themselves. People can tell you about an experience, but in the end you have to feel that experience to really learn its lesson.

Ask a professional athlete what they think about during the course of competition and most of them will usually say the same thing...absolutely nothing. Someone once asked Larry Bird what he thought of during crunch time of a game, and he said often times he wondered if he left lights on at his house or if his grandma was watching the game on TV.

That's because all of the thinking came during practice and training, so that when game time arrived it was time to just shut it off and play. I don't know about you, but that's what goes on when I'm running. The focusing on distance, splits, etc., happens on training runs. When it's time to race, I just want to feel and adjust, and that's about it. Oh, and compete.

That's what good athletes do, and that's what good runners do. When my kids are running, I always try to give them positive encouragement, to let them know that I am on their side. I get pretty loud during races, but Matt, my oldest, has always told me he likes to hear the sound of my voice. Though as a three-time state qualifier in track and cross country he has accomplished way more in his career than I probably ever will, he also respects me because he knows what I'm talking about.

Even after races, if I have something constructive to say to him, I save it until later, because chances are when he's finished digesting the race he will feel the same way. I think (or hope) that what I've done is to create a sense of respect and trust between us that as runners this is something we are experiencing together.

That's the key! When you can create an air of shared experiences, it just makes it that much better and memorable for the both of you.

In the end, I just try and say the same thing to my boys as I would want said to me at a race. If I'm in the middle of a 5K the last thing I would want to hear would be my wife screaming "PUSH IT!" as I ran by. Just like I wouldn't want her to come up to me right after a race and say, "what happened in that last mile?".

When it comes to that kind of stuff I'm usually a "do unto others..." type of person. After coaching youth sports for close to 10 years, I've discovered that kids respond -- and thrive -- when they are pushed along in a positive manner. That's not to say that I won't unload on someone if they are loafing or playing like they are in a fog, because I will, but in the end they want you to know that you are on their side.

After I finished my 5K on Saturday morning, I was getting a post-race stretch in one of the tents when the 100-meter kid's race was going on. When the race started, the kids were smiling and laughing and so proud to be wearing a number. They weren't concerned about what time they were running, or what place they were in, and neither did their parents, who cheered and shouted encouragement until the last finisher crossed the line. It was so awesome to see people sharing that kind of experience with their kids. And no matter what, it should always be that way. Always.

I run because it brings me a lot of happiness and satisfaction, and that is the reason I'm still at it after 16 years. Yes I am always trying to improve and always trying to get better and faster, but the reason it's still fun is the personal satisfaction I get from working hard. I don't think I'm any different from you, or an elite runner, or even a high school or college star. I'm pretty sure most of them run for the same reasons.

In the end, we should let our kids figure out how to run the same way.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Warrenville Firecracker 5K -- July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July everyone! It's hard to believe that we are closing in on the midpoint of summer already. I don't know about you, but around here June was kind of like November, only a little bit warmer. Dreary and rainy, it didn't feel like summer at all!

It seems like we are in for a turnaround, though, as this weekend has been perfect so far, and looks to keep getting even better. While I didn't decide to run this race until this past Thursday, it was for sure a good decision as it was a beautiful morning, with temps in the mid-60s and the humidity actually pretty low.

I was pretty excited to run the race, as it was the first time I have run a race since the Apple Blossom run back in May. Not only had I been training pretty well, I had the weight loss thing going too.

Warrenville is about 20 minutes from Bartlett, and I wanted to get there early so I could get my race packet and get stretched and warmed up before the race started. I was there an hour early...plenty of time! I stretched and did a little warmup run and some strides, and by then it was time to go.

I have to admit, I was really nervous and anxious. I had some high hopes for the race, between the conditions and everything else I felt like I could go under 28 minutes pretty easily, which I guess was where my nerves came from. In retrospect I think I was more afraid in "failing" than I was in actually succeeding. I need to try and change that mindset.

After lining up and hearing a great rendition of the national anthem by a young boy named Austin, we were ready to go.

I went in wanting to run three evenly-paced miles at about 8:45 each. That would put me on pace to run around 27 minutes or so, which I would've been very happy about.

Warrenville is a typical Chicago suburb in that it has a really quaint, tiny, beautiful downtown, surrounded by more and more sprawl. Most of the course went through the "original", non-sprawl part of town, which is very nice. It also incorporated some of the Prairie Path, which brought back some nice memories as I began several Chicago Marathon-prep runs there.

I kept track of my pace on my Runtastic app, and settled into an 8:45-8:50-ish pace. The early part of the race was a bit downhill, which I tried to relax going down instead of just hammering the hill. I settled in and felt really comfortable. There were a couple of people who seemed to be running the same pace as me, so I hung with them for a while.

After heading into the neighborhoods and circling back towards downtown, we jumped onto the Prairie Path, a stellar, crushed stone path that winds through some beautiful woods. Just then I saw the 1 Mile sign ahead, and when I looked at my phone I was at 8:44 and the sign was placed PERFECTLY in the right spot. Thanks!

A little further ahead, we made a right and headed down a HUGE downhill. I mean, absolutely huge. Long and winding, it just kept going and going through the woods. It was pretty sweet! I tried hard not to just hurl myself down the hill, and it seemed like my pace was OK.

A quick right, over a bridge and up a hill, and we were at Mile 2 in 17:28...another 8:44 mile! I was pretty happy, but that didn't last long because about 100 yards later I just hit a mental wall. I'm not sure why, and it hadn't happened in a long time, but my legs just went out from under me and I just lost it.

The last mile was a death march. Every time I tried to keep the pace up, I had to keep slowing down and actually ended up walking briefly a couple of times. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get myself to go. It was so frustrating!

Finally, with about a quarter-mile to go, I just kicked it in. I can take anything for two minutes, right? I passed this sign -- which again, was in the perfect place -- and had run 9:41 for the third mile. From there I just tried to go as hard as I could.

I couldn't see the finish line clock until just before I got there, and was disappointed to see it had already rolled over 28 minutes (it was a chip race). When I crossed the line in 28:06.2, good for 111th overall among 360 finishers.

I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't disappointed, because I was. The race was fun and the course is there for the taking, I would really like to try it again. I think a time trial in the future might be in order!

As bummed as I was, two good things happened at the end of the race. The first one was when a fellow runner came up and said he had run behind me the whole race and even though I had a couple of issues he thought I ran a great race. That was the boost I needed!

And of course, being the voice of reason, my ever-supported wife, Darcy, gave me some great perspective. She reminded me of the recent past where I was trying to break 30 minutes and how long that had taken me, which was most of 2014, and now I'm two minutes below that. I've made a lot of progress and dwelling on a race where I don't PR is kind of a waste of time.

Taking the analytical approach, I think I could use some speedwork, which I haven't done in a couple of months. And I could probably be a little more rested, as I kind of overdid it on Friday, playing 18 holes of golf, running 6 miles and walking around the Bartlett 4th of July fest. So there's that!

Fortunately I get another shot at 27:59 quickly as I'm running the Bastille Day 5K in Chicago on Thursday night. The weather looks to be great and the course is flat. Not to mention running along the Lakefront with a view of the gorgeous downtown is always worth a few seconds.

So let's move forward! It was a great way to start my Fourth and I'm feeling great. Can't wait until Thursday!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three Things Thursday -- July Goals

So I'm combining posts today, putting my Triple T together with my July goals. I hadn't written a monthly goals post in a while, but I figured the start of the second half of the year would be a great time to bring it back!

First of all, I want to celebrate something for a second...I lost 15 pounds in the month of June! I'm really
happy about that, because I'm down to a weight I haven't been for a long time, and I am feeling good! Best of all, I'm sleeping well, which is quite a blessing for me. I'm actually down 30 pounds from my high point a little over a year ago too.

*With that in mind, I want to drop another 15 pounds in July! I'm really feeling clothes are starting to get loose and I want to keep the momentum going. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went down a size in a pair of shorts and a shirt I bought, and that was such a great feeling. It would be nice to add some of those smaller sizes to my wardrobe.

Here's a photo of me with my boys at the Indy 500 on May 24, and again at a golf outing last Friday (June 24). What do you think?                                                 
It should be a good month. Other than this weekend, there are few other "temptations" lurking over the
next few weeks in terms of trips, outings, etc. That and my mileage will be increasing so it's a bigger chance of burning more calories!

*I also want to run 100 miles. I came close in June, I think. I ran a lot, but between problems with my phone and not doing a very good job of logging my runs, I'm not quite sure. So along with trying to run 100 miles I'm going to try and do a better job of documenting my runs.

Not only that, I am planning on starting my St. Jude Marathon training on July 20. That should make for some good miles!

*Finally, I want to run at least three races this month. I haven't run a race since the Apple Blossom run in early May, can you believe it? I'm already signed up for one run -- the Bastille Day 5K in downtown Chicago on July 9 -- and I still plan on the Detweiller at Dark race later in the month.

So that leaves one other. Any suggestions?

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy your time with your family and friends!