Two Soles to Support the Soul of Boston

A week ago yesterday two cretins from Chechnya decided carry out the message of hatred and violence spewing out from the mouths of insecure people cowering behind the cloak of a perverted ideology. What was the target of these bold and tough warriors of a faith… the innocent and defenseless bystanders at the Boston Marathon who took the extra effort to go out and cheer on participants of the most revered events in the running world. I can only hope there is a special place in the afterlife reserved for the dark of heart. A place that will provide rightful punishment for a pair of cowards that took pleasure in placing and detonating a bomb next to an 8 year old. I personally extend my sympathies To all whose lives were cut short or forever altered by the actions of these terrorists. By definition terrorists derive pleasure by instilling fear in the minds of others. I imagine they achieve satisfaction by the mere thought of someone opting out of a once pleasurable event due to uncertainty and concern for danger. Needless to say this could be the case for millions of running enthusiast around the world. Is someone else going to trying something similar at another race? Do I want to put myself at risk and stand with fellow runners in the starting chutes? Will I be concentrating on picking suspicious people out along the race route instead of watching my splits? Will I be able to feel the pride of conquering a difficult race or too paralyzed at what might happen at the finish line?

The answer to these questions is quite simply: HELL NO!

Terrorists tried to take my sport from me but last night my fellow runners and I TOOK IT BACK!

Our local specialty running store – Running Central – in Peoria Heights put out the call to show  our support and unity for our colleagues and the victims and families of Boston. In their honor running stores across the country were holding fund raisers and fun-runs. Running Central was offering tribute shirts with 100% of donations being forwarded to One Fund Boston, the charity endorsed by the Boston Athletic Association (and the mayor of Boston) to aid bombing victims.

The word went out to their running clientele, Facebook and local news agencies that the shirts would be available for purchase starting at 5:00pm with a fun run beginning at 5:30. Without question I was going to be there and hoped my fellow runners would be doing the same. Immediately after work Linda and I headed down there arriving just before the 5:00 hour. What I saw made me very proud to be a member of the running community.

The community had responded with a generous outpouring of support!  All types had taken up the call, casual runners, distance runners, speed runners, beginners to veterans, young to old were there to show their support for Boston.  By the time we made it to the area the line had nearly wrapped all the way around the courtyard.  I saw the owner of the store surveying the situation and noticed he headed back into the store to pull out a couple more tables.  Once placed he grabbed the microphone and greeted all the supporters thanking us for taking the time to honor the victims of Boston.  He then said something that caught me by surprise – actually disappointed me at first.  An apology came for not having ordered enough shirts – only 160 of them to be exact.  My disappointment wasn’t that I might not get a shirt (far from it), but rather his initial assumption of a low turnout.  Hopefully the turnout that night will forever change that for future events.

Hit the jump to read more about this special event!

Continue reading Two Soles to Support the Soul of Boston

The Whole Cost of a Half

Greetings everyone!  Linda and I recently returned from a day of shopping small.  If you are unaware, there was a movement to shop small local businesses today (11/26).  I caught wind of it due to a local commercial and thought I’d participate in it … it was either that or Occupy Wall Street (hehe besides, I prefer to put my energy into something that has a tangible point).   Anyway, we ran around today (in the rain) and gave some love to some of our favorite local stores – Bushwhacker, Running Central, My Dog’s Bakery, Abe’s, Spotted Cow, Le Peeps and even Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  The latter was a slight reach, but it is owned by a local owner and surprisingly they actually had a sign reminding everyone of the day.

In the midst of all this we made a quick trip to our local Goodwill store to drop off some clothes.  While tending that task, it occurred to me that this would be a quick topic to cover for my blog… not so much the trip itself, but for the reasons behind it.  First, let’s start with a quick quiz.  What do the following numbers represent?  (hint, they start in 1985 and in 2011)

  • 124
  • 155
  • 165
  • 175
  • 185
  • 155

Hit the jump to see the answers

Continue reading The Whole Cost of a Half

Racing Season is Upon Us

Although the guy code was in full swing, I needed to break away and work on some other posts or once again I’ll be struggling to get the quota done. Have no worries, I’ll continue to monitor the comments on the guy code post. Moving on, I wanted to officially kickoff the 2011 race season. Although it was a difficult season last year, I have a big goal for this year and so far I am on my planned schedule.  I do not want to jinx myself so I’ll keep that goal a secret for now. After 8 months of rehab on my damaged quad I’m finally back to near full strength and the miles are definitely far ahead of any other year at this time – this includes a weekly 10 mile run in the hills of Jubilee Park. I usually start with the Caterpillar 5K Power Race, but this year they decided to move it into June which effectively removed that from my race schedule. Instead, my first race was the Chase Corporate 3.5 Mile Race held on May 26th in Chicago IL.

Notice anything unusual about this pre-race picture?

Did you detect a certain feeling of coldness?  Maybe a little bundled up for a race that was being held in May?  Turns out this particular day put the whole gloBULL warming fear peddlers into perspective.  The race actually starts near Grant Park which provides a slightly chillier condition thanks to the wind blowing in off of Lake Michigan.  But the conditions this day lead to a feels like temperature of 38 degrees.  Now I definitely prefer colder over hot and humid days for racing, but this was ridiculous.  From the moment I stepped off the bus, I was second guessing my apparel choices.  But the coldness wasn’t the only issue we had to deal with.

Hit the jump to read the rest of the details on the race!

Continue reading Racing Season is Upon Us

Another Medal Earned… or What Was I Thinking

Start of Steamboat Race 2009

Apparently I did not learn my lesson from last year. Yesterday was the 36th running of the Peoria Steamboat Race (15K and 4M) and as planned, I was at the starting line.  The actual photo was scanned from the Peoria Journal Star so all credit remains with them.  Since they did not ask my permission to put my image in their paper I decided I did not need to ask their permission to use it in my blog.  If you are interested, that’s me in the orange and shades – I could say I was honoring my Illini Alma Mater, but the real choice was based on being the coolest fabric (temp, not hipness).  I made a pact with myself at the end of the last Steamboat that I would not let it beat me and I would attempt it again in hopes of not getting injured early in the race.  I rarely break a commitment to myself so there I was, although this time I was not sure if I was ready.

Unlike last year, we decided to move our vacation to the two weeks leading up to the race day as opposed to last year where we headed out immediately after the race which resulted in serious leg cramping.  Rather than repeat that, we changed the vacation dates which had its own challenges.  The first of these was finding time and places to train while traveling.  As best we could, we stayed at hotels with treadmills and although it was pretty cold out at night (see the other challenge), I did get one road run in.  I am now a big fan of Comfort Inns and Courtyards – both of those hotels had excellent treadmills in them and operating ours that fit my late night running preference.  Luckily, I did not have to compete for the treadmill even once allowing me to get my entire 1:10-1:20 hour training sessions in.  The other challenge was the fact we were vacationing in the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park areas.  Yes folks, that puts me in the 9 to 12 thousand elevation level.  I had no idea how that elevation training would impact my performance other than I knew it was actually harder to run at that elevation than it would be in Peoria.  What I did know is I could not keep the same pace causing me to back off my pace significantly (was floating around 10 minute miles for a lot of it which is significantly off my preferred pace).  So I was running slower than I wanted, running less than the full 15K (due to the slower pace), reduced foot/knee impact from running on the treadmills instead of pavement, but had the unknown of the elevation benefits and it was significantly colder at that altitude over the steam bath that usually exists on race day. .   The reduced impact from the treadmill was somewhat of a blessing because my hip had developed a serious socket pain during the training runs before the vacation.  With the uncertainty, the decision was made to ease into the first two miles to give time to assess the body.

Some starting line number you mind find interesting:

  • 36th Running
  • 4,150 participants (total both 15K and 4M)
  • 480 15K participants
  • Race time – 7:00am
  • Time the alarm clock went off – 4:50am
  • Start Temperature: 68 (I personally think it was a lot hotter or it warmed up quickly during the time I was running
  •  91% Humidity (suckage)
  • 15K winner -48.23
  • 15K Last Place Winner – 2:15:08  (congrats to beating hundreds of thousands of people who decided to stay in their comfy beds)
  • My Finish: 1:20:35 (race stats have me at :49 but I am going with my watch over the timing chips)
  • My Ranking: 285

I did come in ahead of my time last year and pretty pleased with the results based on the thoughts going through me head at  the start of the race.  I attribute some of that to the spectators along the course.  There is nothing and I mean nothing more motivation that having a complete stranger clap for you and give you encouragement along the way.  A special thanks to the couple around the 6.5M mark that was calling out our bib numbers and spurring us on with personal words of encouragement.  I always try to thank them as I pass, but my small gesture never makes up for the large boost of adrenaline that results from hearing people cheering you on.  A few more miles and I was reaching for my medal at the finish line.

Steamboat 08-09

I used the same medal image to save some time (the latest one looks almost exactly the same but does not even have the date on it anyway, so no reason to really scan it again).  A lot of sweat and wear and tear on the feet got me that medal and I clutched it with pride as I headed over to the water station.  As I looked down at my watch those 35 seconds called out a challenge.  You guessed it, I plan to be back next year to break the 1:20 mark.  Nothing like a challenge to keep the rest of the 364 days interesting.  Next time you see someone on the road struggling to make it up the hill or pushing themselves to make it those final miles… give them a wave and smile.. we all need a little encouragement every now and then.

Time to put some ice on the legs.  Tomorrow starts another round of training cycles for the upcoming Bix 7M race.

It’s a Running Thing …

Running with Blinders

Ever notice what happens when a motorcyclist passes another?  If not, make an observation the next time you encounter this situation.  To kill the suspense, they will almost always acknowledge each other.  A wave, a nod a telling smile.  Each acknowledging to the other that they get the lifestyle and share a common appreciation.  This same recognition happens when owners of Jeep Wranglers pass by each other especially when both are topless.  On the Jeep front,  there is considerable more enthusiasm shown.  Unlike the first example, my wife drove a Wrangler for years so I experienced this numerous times.  I do not know how this started, but Jeep has put a brand on this cult like behavior and has a full throttle marketing campaign based around it.  In fact, they label you as an outsider in hopes of peaking your interesting into buying your way into the clique.  “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand”  Side note, we have sold our Jeep and switched to a BMW and they are right, I don’t understand …. why anyone wouldn’t want to be driving a BMW convertible instead of a Jeep!

Now you are probably asking yourself what any of this has to do with running.  If you read this blog it is a good bet you already know I enjoy running.  Scratch that, I really do not get that much enjoyment out of it but it does keep the weight off.  It is a personal struggle to push through the pain to put one foot in front of another until a predefined destination or duration is met.   In exactly the same manner as bikers and Jeep owners, runners acknowledge other runners they encounter (outside of actual races). A quick wave or smile just to let the other person know you feel their discomfort.  Previously I would have said “always” acknowledge other runners, but last week while running in Jubilee College I passed a runner coming the opposite way.  Headphones are prominent in this activity so I generally just go with a quick wave.  Nothing big, just a little sign.  I was taken back when there was no reciprocation.  Nothing at all.  There were no cars on the road, nothing that may have distracted him from seeing my wave and trust me, no matter what running zone you are in, you still observe everything around you…. if for nothing else, to keep from getting killed by a non-attentive driver.  I made a mental note and went about my punishment.

For the record, if I am out running the pavement alone the blinders are off.  I make every attempt to acknowledge other people in the area in case my heart gives out or those devious squirrels try to trip me.