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 well...how'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 miles...so 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!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Things I'm Thankful For (In Pictures)

So 2015 is quickly rolling to an end, and we have reached Thanksgiving again. I know that it's pretty typical for bloggers to write about what they are thankful for, but this year, for lots of reasons, I feel especially thankful for the things that I'm blessed with in my life.

Like my wife, Darcy. I kind of consider myself romantic, but I have to admit that I don't believe in the term "soulmates" (But if you do, that's OK). That said, I wouldn't be where I am in so many areas of my life without her support, generosity and encouragement. She is a true rock star. I just try and keep up.


My boys. I'm so proud of both of them, and feel so fortunate to be their dad. I'm thankful every day for my relationship with them, and how it keeps growing stronger as time goes on.

My mom. I'm 46 years old and I still have one of my parents, that's something I can't put into words. I've gone through a lot over the last few years, and we both went through losing my sister (and her daughter) four years ago. My mom has always been there through everything, and I feel closer to her than I ever have been.

Friends. My buddy Scott is another person who has seen me through a lot and talked me down off of the ledge more times than I can count! We don't see each other a lot -- he remarried four years ago, moved to Chicago and has a 2-year-old daughter (!) -- but when we get together it's like we only haven't seen each other in a couple of days. Scott (and many others) are in it with me no matter what, and my gratitude for that is endless.

Traveling. All my life, I have wanted to travel and see other parts of the world, and the wait has been worth it. This year I traveled to Mexico, Dubai (I'm standing in front of the Burj Khalifa in this photo), Italy, Colorado and a few states I had visited before but hadn't been to in years. My six days in Dubai were life-changing and eye-opening in so many ways, especially given what is going on in the world right now, and I've seen places that have brought tears to my eyes. I'm a lucky dude.

Modern medicine. I know this photo is gnarly, but you should've seen my left humerus right after I broke it! I'm thankful for the gifts and talents of my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chhadia, for putting my arm back together, as well as the nurses and physical therapists who have helped me progress so far since the day my accident happened. I'm also thankful that it wasn't worse, because it certainly could've been. I still have a ways to go, but the road is a lot shorter now.

I could go on all day, but I think you get the gist. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!




Monday, November 23, 2015

Playing to Your Strengths

As you can imagine, I'm thinking a lot about the Fox and Turkey 4-miler on Thanksgiving Day. No doubt a lot of my excitement is to be finally running a race again since the last time I ran on the clock was on July 25, but after a few "bad" races in terms of tactics over the summer, I've decided to be really dedicated to following a plan that works for me on Thursday.

Time-wise, I had a pretty great summer. After starting the year with a 28:32 5K in March -- to set an over-40 personal best -- I set my eye on breaking 28 minutes with the hope of going even lower. I almost got there a few weeks later when I ran 28-flat at a race in early May.

Though I flirted with sub-28 in my next several races, I never made it there, and bad race tactics were my undoing. I started getting into the habit of "running to my watch" by setting the exact pace I needed and tried to run to that number.

It just didn't work because I wasn't going by my natural rhythm of my running style. I was trying to force myself into a style that my body wasn't comfortable with, I was just forcing things too much.

It wasn't a matter of starting out too fast, because I often do that and it's OK. It hurts, but it's OK. My first mile in my 28:32 run in March was 8:38, but it didn't feel forced because part of the mile was downhill and I adjusted accordingly from there. I wasn't telling myself "you HAVE to run THIS pace!", like the habit I worked my way into, I was just running hard.

The best races are ones that just evolve that way, many times since I've started running I have run that way and had the best results. One that stands out to me was the 2007 Indy Mini Marathon, I just went out and ran, and in the course of running my half PR (1:42:35), I actually ran under my 5K and 10K PRs as I closed out the race!

"I guess if I really got to thinking about it, I just drove" -- Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

That was really my attitude about that day, and it worked! That is how I (and probably lots of people) run my best!
I started thinking about this after my run Saturday. I hadn't been using my Runtastic app, just running for fun, in a while, but decided to use it just to record my distance since because of the snow I had to make up a route and wanted to keep track of the distance.

I didn't look at my time at all, just went out and set a comfortable pace, and was surprised to find that I ran the first mile in 10:37, followed by miles of 10:44 and 10:43. I was feeling good so I decided to start upping the pace and blasted the last .75 miles at a 9:35 pace to drop my overall pace to 10:27 for the entire run!

Now, I ask you, if I had gone out and run to a 10:27 pace on the clock, do you think I would've had the same kind of run? I don't. The run evolved, which made it so cool, and when I look back at other epic races -- and even just training runs -- that were so good they will stick in my mind forever, that is the common theme.

So on Thursday, I'm just going to run like that. I have a time in my mind what I would like to run, but I'm not going to worry about times or splits, I'm going to run the race and see how it plays out. I'm looking forward to a great run...who knows, it might even be epic!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Quick Takes

So it's 12:50 on Saturday morning, and I can't sleep...so why not blog? Since we are no longer Friday Five eligible, I thought I'd throw out some quick thoughts to start the weekend.

*This week's blog hop was a success! Huge thanks goes out to Kristy at Runaway Bridal Planner for hosting the hop and getting people connected! It was a lot of fun reading new blogs and meeting people and hearing their stories.

Darcy once said that everyone who gets to the starting line has a story, and she's right! This week's hop was a perfect example of that.

*Let it snow! Wow, we didn't even pass go, we went straight into winter! I don't think we had even had flurries yet, and tonight there is about three inches of snow on the ground!

One thing I do like about snow is running in it...which I plan to do sometime tomorrow!

*PT is going well. I hit the 12-week mark since my accident and things have really improved the last few days. My therapist said this morning that she could tell I'd made a lot of progress over the last couple of weeks.

Even better is that one place I had still been having pain -- the back of my left hand -- has started to calm down.

Dr. Chaadia and the therapists have all said the pain was because of the nerves trying to fire back up, which was good to hear, but it was still horribly painful. Just one more step closer!

*My podcast is online! I recorded and posted my first podcast today, and I'm pretty happy with it. It's a bit rough and I say "ummm..." a couple hundred times, but it's a solid first effort, if I do say so myself.

Check it out here. Enjoy!


Have a great weekend, and remember to stay warm!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hitting The Reset Button...Again

How has your weekend been? Hopefully full of good times and even better runs!

My weekend has gone well...if you follow me on social media platforms, I posted last night that Darcy and I attended the Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township's annual gala. Darcy is on the Board of Directors of this great organization, and as always we had a great time. I even won a couple silent auction events!

At the same time, a couple of things friends of mine did this weekend really made me step back and make a few decisions. First, my friend Brent, who I had a good time with running the Viking Half Marathon back in March, emailed me that he had finished his final 20-miler in preparation for the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis on Dec. 5. He has been very happy with his training and hopes to maybe run 3:30 on race day.

As I'm typing this, two of my other friends, Wally and Larissa -- who, by the way, will be guests on a really epic podcast in the near future -- are lining up to run the Rock N Roll Las Vegas half marathon.

What does that have to do with me? I was registered to run both of those events with them, and unfortunately I will be doing neither. I know, circumstances got in the way of both of those things, but that doesn't mean I can't be disappointed, and I am.

So, it's left me thinking...it's been 80 days since my accident, and it's time to get back to work. I've been in recovery mode long enough, and it's time to try to get back to normal. In many ways "normal" is still a ways off because it will be a long time before I regain full function in my arm, but I have to kind of stop using my accident as an excuse for my sins.

I know, I'm being too hard on myself, aren't I? I did suffer a major trauma, one that did a real number on my body, so a recovery period is necessary. And it was hard, for several weeks I was in considerable discomfort and pain, I had trouble sleeping and just overall felt terribly crappy.

That part I accept, but what I'm disappointed about is that I used it as a reason to slip into some bad habits. I didn't really eat all that well, didn't drink much water and threw down a TON of energy drinks (Monster is a vice of mine). While I did some fun things and got some runs in, especially on our trip to Italy, I also blew off a lot of good running days too.

The thing that upsets me the most? I've gained 15 pounds! I had been doing well over the summer, losing 20 pounds in the course of a few months, so I'm kind of back where I started.

Ugh.

Oh well, because tomorrow is a new day, right? It's just time to go back to what was working in the summer: eating right, hydrating, logging steps on my Fitbit, and of course, lots of running! I have a couple of races scheduled in the next couple of weeks, of course, and in the end, if I can tack on some mileage on my long runs over the next few weeks, I'll be back to where I was at the end of 2014, and that was a great start to 2015.

This is a good time to get going again, I've set a couple of goals and physically I'm feeling better. I'm pretty much off the Norco pain meds I was taking, whose side effects had a lot to do with my feeling crappy, and I know that will make a big difference too.

It's also pretty important to get back on the stick with the holiday season beginning as well. If you don't keep yourself in line over the next few weeks, it can get out of hand in a hurry!

With six weeks of 2015 left, I'm not expecting this massive, Biggest Loser-type transformation, but I'd be happy if I could get half of what I put on back. At least that's my goal!

I know that usually I'm very positive in this space, but right now I felt that I needed a bit of a butt-kicking, and figured I'd hold myself more accountable if I put it out there publicly. So here it is! More than anything, I just want to finish the year on a positive note.

Do you feel like you need to challenge yourself? What is one goal you have for the rest of 2015?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five For Friday

Welcome to the weekend! I screwed up what day my featured post was for the blog hop, so make sure you scroll down and keep reading to my Top 25 post. There are lots of great tidbits there that you don't want to miss!

In the meantime, let's talk about a few things.

*Last Saturday I went to the IHSA state cross country championships and had an absolute blast. I love XC, it's such an amazing sport and I'm glad that my boys have been involved over the last few years.

Since attending my first state meet in 2001, I've been to at least 10 more, and it never fails to disappoint. It doesn't hurt that Illinois is one of the best states for XC in the country, either, as I have had the good fortune of watching runners who have gone onto success in college and even to the professional level where they have competed in World Championships and Olympic games.

This photo was from the boys Class 2A race (Illinois has three classes) and it gives you a really good feel for what XC is about. Many people think XC isn't a spectator sport, but that isn't always true. The state meet course is a loop that the runners navigate three times, so you don't even have to move in order to be right up on top of the race.

The girls 2A race was the one I was most excited about as two Aurora Central Catholic runners -- Abby Fioresi and Karina Liz -- were running in hopes of placing in the Top 25 to capture an all-state medal. Abby (on the left of this photo) ran a great race and finished 19th! Karina, who has been battling health and breathing issues all season, placed 82nd but as always finished with a smile on her face.

It still turned out to be a good weekend for Karina as she committed to the University of Missouri to continue her running career an education. She plans on studying to be a teacher, and given how well I've seen her work with kids, she will be an asset to the profession.

No doubt Abby will be able to continue her career in college, but since she is a junior there is time to make that decision. Both are primed for a great season in track, Abby holds the school record in the 1600 and Karina has won back-to-back state titles in the 800.

The best part about their success? Both ladies are good people, good students and great teammates. The legacy they leave when they move on from ACC will go way beyond just what they did as athletes.

*As promised, I signed up for races! I signed up for the Fox and Turkey 4-miler on Thanksgiving and the Chilly Chili 5K on December 5. Hard to believe Thanksgiving is coming but I had an awesome 4-mile run Wednesday night and I'm ready!

Right after I signed up for the 5K Darcy called to say she is going to New York for an investor conference and invited me to go along, which means I'll miss the 5K. Oh well, guess I'll have to run in Central Park that day instead! ;--)

*Speaking of NYC...if you live there and could join me for a run there on Dec. 4 or 5, let me know, it would be fun to go for a run and meet new people! Last year I ran in Central Park and found the NYC Marathon finish line. Hope to someday cross it for real!

I'm looking forward to heading back there, as our last trip a year ago was epic! Here's a post from the archives that tells all about it.

*I made a decision the other day that I'm going to try podcasting! It is an idea I've kicked around and I have decided to just go for it. I think it will be fun and I plan on premiering it in the next week or so.

Do you listen to running podcasts? Which one's are your faves? What kind or topics do you like to listen to?

*What are your plans for the weekend? I plan on running, of course, and Kevin is coming to spend the weekend with us, which I'm excited about since it will be his first weekend with us since before we went to Italy. He loves remote control cars, so I know a trip to the hobby store will be part of the plan!

Saturday night Darcy and I are going to a fundraiser to support the Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township. Darcy is on the board of directors of this great group, and it's always a fun time. I'm already crossing my fingers that we win Chicago Bulls tickets in the silent auction.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Top 25

Hi there! This week I am participating in a Blog Hop, which means lots of new people are visiting my corner of the blogging universe.

With that in mind, I thought I would go a different route with my spotlight post. I'm pretty open here, and if you scroll down through my blog you can learn a lot about me, my love for running and travel, races I've run in the past, and other stuff like that. Still, there is a lot you don't know about me so I thought I'd share 25 facts that will help you get to know me better.

These will be in a pretty random order, but that's kind of how I live my life!

Ready?

1. My running and writing careers both began the same year...2000.

2. One of my other passions is IndyCar racing, and I am an amateur historian of the Indy 500. I have been to the race 18 times, and I also write an IndyCar blog, 15 Days In May.

3. My favorite music is pretty much anything from the 1970s and 1980s. I would have to say two of my fave all-time bands are Simple Minds and Tears for Fears. I also listen to techno music, especially when I run.

4. I didn't run in high school, I hated it then! Instead I played golf, basketball and baseball. I played baseball against future Hall of Famer Jim Thome, and one of my golf teammates, Renee Heiken, played on the LPGA Tour for several years and is now the women's golf coach at the University of Illinois.

5. I have three older sisters and a younger brother. My sisters Vickie and Karen live in Indiana and my brother Tim is a golf pro who lives in Atlanta. My sister Joni died from cancer four years ago.

6. I am a true Chicago sports fan as I root for the Cubs, Bears and Bulls. Notre Dame is my favorite college football team and I root for Indiana, Butler and Duke in college basketball.

7. My dream job would be as a beat writer for a major league baseball team or major auto racing series.

8. I love coaching, and have coached middle school basketball for the last eight years. I hope to get certified soon to become a running coach, with my focus being on cross country and the marathon.

9. My first car was a 1980 Ford Mustang that I bought when I graduated from high school in 1987. It topped out at 125 miles an hour, which I know from personal experience.

10. Speaking of high school, I joined the marching band when I was a senior and played the cymbals. It was the best experience of my time in high school.

11. My favorite book in middle school was "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

12. I love confidence but can't stand arrogance. Get over yourself...in the big picture you are nothing special.

13. My fave movie is Back To The Future.

14. I hope to live in Italy someday.

15. I've worked at the same job for 17 years. I'm in the IT department for a company that manages the health insurance benefits for a labor union.

16. In the eighth grade I was part of a sporting goods commercial that was shot in my family's driveway. I earned $35, enough to buy a new baseball glove.

17. I would love to interview Meb Keflezighi or Bob Kennedy for my blog.

18. I enjoy driving, especially long distances. If you are riding in a car with me, be prepared to be a passenger.

19. In my early 20s I drove a delivery truck for two years. One of the best jobs I've ever had.

20. I am a HUGE cross country fan. In fact, my next post later this week will be about XC.

21. I'm fascinated by tall buildings. If I visit a city with an epically tall building, I try to go there. Earlier this year I went up in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and plan to see the Freedom Tower when I travel to New York next month.

22. I like Mexican and Italian food, and I make a pretty good risotto! Oh yeah, I like making chili too.

23. Greg Maddux is my favorite all-time baseball player. No one else is close.

24. I love to make people laugh and I love to laugh...unfortunately at the most inappropriate time on occasion.

25. I can't wait to run the Boston Marathon someday.

So there you have it! A little more about me! To those who have been readers of this blog in the past, thank you! And to my new readers, I hope to see you again!










Thursday, November 5, 2015

Three Things Tursday

Hey there! I hope you have enjoyed my accounts of my recent travels. I'll have one more post later about my run to the Olympic Stadium in Rome, then it's back to the grind!

*I'm bummed that summer is officially over. OK, I know the solstice was six weeks ago and the end of daylight savings time has plunged us into darkness for the next few months (sunset here today is at  4:42 PM), but the pleasant weather has hung on for a while, as we have been enjoying 70-degree temps up through this week and have only experienced a couple freezes.

That ends later tonight, as a front will move through and beginning tomorrow we will get back to normal, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s. Pretty good running weather, actually, so I am going to take advantage until the cold weather sets in.

I don't really mind running through the winter, though, the thing that bothers me the most is the wind. I tend to sweat a lot and when the wind hits me...wow! But on the flip side, I've found when I run outside a lot during the winter I seem to adapt better and the conditions don't bother me as much when I'm not running. Does that make sense?

*I am putting the watch away for a while. Since I'm still in recovery mode, I haven't been doing many runs on the clock lately, and I have discovered I am kind of enjoying it! So for the time being, I'm going to just keep it that way and run at whatever pace I'm feeling that day.

If you remember back over the summer, I got a little too obsessed with the clock, especially when it came to my 5K time. As a result, I ran training runs too hard -- making them less than fun -- and put too much pressure on myself in races, which left me disappointed.

Running shouldn't be that way, and I know better. So it's good to every so often just step back and run for fun. If you do that, and do it consistently, everything takes care of itself!

*But I do plan on going on the clock soon...as in I'm scheduling a couple of races! Kind of excited about that as the last time I ran a race was in July. I'm hoping to run the Fox & Turkey 4-mile race on Thanksgiving, and then the Chilly Chili 5K on Dec. 5.

It will be nice to have a goal to shoot for over the next few weeks. I last ran the Fox & Turkey in 2008, but had a great run at the Chilly Chili last year, breaking 30 minutes for the first time in a long time! You can read that race report here.

*Bonus! I just realized the other day that I had a Runniversary a couple of weeks ago. October 22 marked the 15-year anniversary of my first marathon, the 2000 Chicago Marathon. That race will always hold a special place in my heart, especially given how I started running in early 2000 specifically to run the marathon.

Here is my medal, and you can read my race report here. I finished in 4:27:42, and that day certainly changed my life.

My oldest son, Matt, also is celebrating a
Runniversary, as it was three years ago, November 3, 2012, that he competed in the Illinois High School Association Class 2A state cross country meet.

Here he is starting the race with his Aurora Central Catholic teammates, he is in the middle of this photo in blue, second to the right from the runners in the black-and-white striped singlets.

Matt ran the 3-mile course in 16:34, which turned out to be his PR on that course. I was so proud of him and all of the hard work he had put in to get there. The previous spring he had finished eighth in the JV mile at the conference meet, but six months later at the end of the cross country season he was the No. 2 runner on the team.

That was the only time he ran in the state XC meet (he was a 2-time state qualifier in track), and while he was disappointed with how he ran that day, now that he is older and not running competitively, Matt understands how special of a thing that was and what a privilege it was to run at that level.

The state meet is this weekend and I'm looking forward to heading down to watch a couple Central runners, Abby Fioresi and Karina Liz, competing in the 2A girls race. Both have a chance to earn all-state -- Top 25 -- honors, so it should be exciting! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Run in Rome!


It was a great 10 days in Italy, the last five of which we have spent in Rome. The Eternal City is certainly an amazing place, Mom, Darcy and I have had a great time and look forward to coming back again, hopefully for the 2017 Rome Marathon!

I went for two runs while I was here, and this post will be about my first one -- a run from our apartment near the Vatican to the Colosseum.

(Travel tip: If you travel to Rome, look to find an apartment or B&B as opposed to a hotel. Not only will you save a lot of money, you will have a much more comfortable experience.)

Last Tuesday we took the fast train from Milan to Rome. And by fast, I mean fast, the train reaches a top speed of 300 kmh, or just under 190 mph! It is roughly 350 miles between the two cities and we made the trip in right around three hours!


Wednesday started out a bit rainy and our day began with a public audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square. Explaining the whole "audience" thing is a bit difficult for a one-handed typist like me, so let's just say it was awesome. The audience began with Francis riding through the crowd in his vehicle, and I was about 20 feet away when I took this photo.

After doing a couple more things during the day, I finally made it out in the late afternoon, during rush hour no less! The trip would be right around five miles.

Like my run in Milan, it was very urban, albeit with much better sights! After leaving our apartment I headed out onto one of the main streets, and first had to go through this massive tunnel, which was kind of symbolic because when you get through the tunnel, the city opens up in front of you.

Next, it was across the Tiber River, which like the city it runs through has a history of its own. While crossing the bridge I noticed a nice running path along the river, but didn't get the chance to run there. Next time!

Once across the river, I began getting closer to the heart of Rome, and the activity around me started picking up. There were lots of cars, buses, motorcycles and scooters, and tons of people. At times the sidewalks were so busy I had to jump down onto the street, which was kind of cool because I kind of imagined I was running a race and they were spectators.

I didn't run all that fast, mostly because of the people but also because I was trying to focus on my directions. Like Milan, streets and alleys go everywhere, and I admit that I did get off track once, meaning the run probably added up closer to six miles.

I went past a lot of really cool and beautiful things, and as I got closer to the Colosseum I came up on a place I knew nothing about but was absolutely struck by its beauty. This is Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and it is just MASSIVE. It's a very imposing place, not just because of its size, but the fact it was built on top of a hill means it towers over everything around it. 

I actually explored the area a little, and drew some inquisitive looks in my running garb! I think that will also be on the list of places I want to see the next time we visit.

From there it was about a half-mile to the Colosseum, which sits at the bottom of a bit of a downhill. The area around it was crazy busy...I found out the next day the time I was there was the time the Colosseum closed for the day. Still, like many things in Rome, I was stunned by the Colosseum, and a little bit in disbelief that I was there and seeing it with my own eyes.

I took a few photos and walked around the area a bit. It's just so hard not to look at the Colosseum and
imagine the history, to realize you are walking in the same footsteps of people who were there almost 2,000 years ago. It's very awe-inspiring.

I didn't stay long as I wanted to be back to our apartment by dark, which on that day was about 5:30 since in Italy they had turned their clocks ahead the weekend before we did here. Like my run in Milan, I just followed the same path back that I had taken out, just to be safe.

Still it was an awesome run, and you can see more photos below. On Saturday I went on a run up to the historic Olympic Stadium, and I'll put up another post on that one.

Enjoy!