Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Wrap-Up

Taking a look back at running in 2005 is kind of encouraging.

In February, having only been running (again) for 6 months at the time, I set two goals for the year. One, to run the half-marathon distance once in every month. Two, to run a 10km race at a better-than-9:00/mile pace.

On the first count, I missed in February, July and August. All other months had at least one 13.1 mile run in it. On the second count, I made it, in spades, running a local 10km race in 52:19, an 8:24/mi pace. I’m encouraged with the year.

Total distance for the year was 1,304 miles. Kind of amazing. This included 12 races, 4 of which were half marathons, the rest shorter. No wonder my closet shelf is looking in disarray with all the T shirts…I need to give some away!

And, oh yeah, I started this blog. I’m not sure anyone is reading. But it serves a very useful public service anyway in that a) I have a place to talk about running and the lessons one learns from it and b) my family doesn’t have to listen to me blather on about running. They’re happy, I’m happy…what a country.

A cool year. Tomorrow I’ll write about the 2006 goals I’ve settled on.


Do Webbed Feet Freeze??

ORN: 12.3 miles, 1:59:02, 9:39/mile

Go figure.

It was/is an ugly spate of weather here in Indiana, typical of what we'll see through the next two months. 36, damp, gray, 20 mph West wind. So gloomy you want to close the blinds for fear the outdoors will suck all the light out of the house. Plus, I'm fighting a head cold and felt pretty lousy this morning anticipating the week's long run. I thought (for a short time) about bagging it altogether. But, out I went.

And had a super run.

I'm trying to do my long runs at 9:50/mile and I couldn't hold back today. Kinda neat (splits at the end). A Gu at mile 6 was a bigger-than-normal boost, kind of surprising to me. Felt good and the last set of miles were quicker than the first.

And a peculiar thing. My route takes me past a lake, now frozen, that is home to a large flock of geese. And today, they were all just walking around the middle of it, on the ice. Don't their feet get cold? Is it like sticking your finger on a frozen metal surface and having it stick? They didn't seem to mind, though. Fun to contemplate.

Another reason why running is good. You do the right thing, even when you don't feel like it. Feelings follow. They do not govern.


9 14
9 51
9 46
9 49
9 33
9 41
9 48
9 32
9 39
9 38
9 51
9 29
3 05 @ 9 21 pace

Nice way to end the year.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Planning for 2006

ORN: 4.5 miles, plodding, windy

Wow, did I not want to go out this morning. And once I got outside, I really didn't want to keep going, as the balmy temperatures for yesterday's long run gave way overnight to a chilly NW wind.

The run itself came in two parts.

The physical side stunk. The legs just were lead-filled, very clunky. The wind was no fun and it remains really, really dark here at 5:30am.

The mental side was, by contrast, quite enjoyable. I have been working through my running goals for 2006 and made some headway, specifically bringing some rationality to a few ideas I had. Plus I solved some issues in my mind at work and at home.

Which made it worth it. And which is why I make myself get out each day.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

49 in Late December?? Wow!

ORN: 8.2 miles, 1:20:21, 9:45/mile

Wow, what a switch, to wake up at 5am and see 49 on the thermometer! Running in the dark in shorts, with just a wind vest and a LS poly shirt.

The long run didn't feel as great as the temperature. The legs were surprisingly heavy. Perhaps due to the 16 miles on Saturday. The run just didn't flow all that well. But sometimes that happens.

What did I write last time?? One step after another??



Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What is Running??

ORN: 4 miles, no watch, went fine.

What is running?

At its most basic, it is simply putting one foot in front of another at a gait faster than a walk. Repetetive. Over and over.

And it gets you somewhere.

And this is helpful to remember the basics.

Work life is much the same. Do the task. Keep at it. Remember the basics. Keep the form. Keep at it.

Running helps me learn.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve, 2005

Since I started my professional blog, Learning about Lean, I’ve written on family items on Christmas eve. I did so again today and paste the post here as well. It’s fascinating to look at my comments from 2002, 2003, and 2004. Things progress and grow. And some things remain the same.

We were thrilled in late July to have David return safely from his tour of duty as a medic in the Sunni Triangle in western Iraq. Words don’t really capture what we felt to have him there and the joy of his return.
He, Susan, Nathan and Andrew are now together, stationed in Colorado Springs, spending their first Christmas together in three years.

Our middle son
Nathan is really finding a niche in Human Resources in Portland, Oregon. Hard to believe our youngest Matt is deep into planning for college. But I guess the math works, as Gretchen and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year. Oh my.

I remain very grateful for my
Dad, who died 12 years ago today. The values and insight I learned from him will never leave. I hope I’ve passed those same values on to my sons. I’m a very fortunate guy.

Where will 2006 go? Don’t we wonder about that every year?! To the degree that we each focus on others, apart from ourselves and seek to serve in the worlds we find ourselves, we will have opportunity.

I’m grateful for Immanuel, God with us, as we celebrate the birth of Christ tomorrow. This faith undergirds everything for me. It is an exciting and humbling journey.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Running in Shorts on Chrismas Eve!!

ORN: 16.5 miles, 2:43:57, 9:56/mile

With a "balmy" 38 degrees when I headed out the door, I left the tights in the drawer and got back in to shorts for the first time since Thanksgiving. Boy, did that feel good.

I needed a long run today and I got it. Nothing really spectacular other than the fact that it was long and I kept going for just shy of 3 hours, when I add in the warm up and cool down. THAT is kind of cool. No twinges, no pain. Just kept going. I spaced out some sports drinks and downed 2 Gu's along the way. It felt great.

My overall pace was a little slower than the 9:50 I targeted. But, hey, why worry?? This is only the second time in 25 years I've run this far.

For reference, here's my splits:

4:53 (9:44 pace)

And did I mention I wore shorts?? Didn't see any other runners in shorts which, by itself, is kind of fun. Dialogue in cars: "Ethyl, did you see that crazy guy? Does he have shorts on? With snow on the ground?"

Note to self: 16 mile route: normal trail, with Morehead extension, one loop around Purdue's CoRec, back north, take Lindberg extension, then home. To get 18 miles, add one more pass on Morehead extension. To get 20 miles, add the Kalberer extension.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Wind and Ice

ORN: 4 miles, no watch, comfortable pace

Wow, 20 mph winds at 5:30am, very unusual here in Indiana to have this much wind at this time of the morning. Temps were right around the freezing mark and the trail surface and street crossings were slick in spots. Getting set for 16 tomorrow. I'm interested to see just how a four day sequence of 4-8-4-16 feels.

And it's almost Christmas. Much to be thankful for.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Frozen Fog

ORN: 8.2 miles, 1:20:30, 9:47/mile

I really enjoy these long, mid-week runs. I delayed this week’s version by a day to avoid super cold weather. It was 19 this morning, which is starting to feel surprisingly comfortable. A very enjoyable run today.

A big part of the enjoyment was the beautiful
hoarfrost on every tree and surface. The wind swung to the south overnight, bringing more humid air with it. Hitting the very cold surfaces, that moisture froze. The trees and bushes were all sheathed in white. With a quarter moon shining two hours before dawn, there was an almost dream-like element to the surroundings. Surprisingly bright, since every twig reflected the minimal light. At one point, I could almost imagine the trees as Ents, conferring and deciding to march on Isengard.

And everyone else missed this beauty of this strange, marvelous light.

One of the joys of early morning running. The creation is still and beautiful A winter morning, with the fog freezing everywhere.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Catch a Falling Star and....

ORN: 4 miles, no watch, quick

Back out again, as the temps got to a "balmy" 19 this morning. Much better than the single digits the past two mornings. I shifted all my runs this week back a day to catch some "milder" weather.

No twinges or concerns after the debacle in the snow last Saturday. Actually felt good to run hard this morning. The Trails were now clear of snow, so I had a good surface to run on, away from traffic. Much, much better, thank you.

Saw a very bright and spectacular shooting star around mile 1. Very cool in the still-dark sky. I would have missed that had I slept in.

8 miles tomorrow.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Race Report: The HUFF, 17 Dec 05; The Better Part of Valor

ORN: 12.0 miles, 2:20:09, 11:40/mile

Quick Summary

The race did not go as I hoped. 12” of dry, powdery snow on top of a rough bike trail is not a wonderful way to run. I did one lap of the 10.8 mile course and started the second lap, when I felt my right hamstring start to go. I decided to hang it up and not injure myself. A beautiful winter day, but not an enjoyable running event.

All the Gory Details

OK, if you are a glutton for punishment (also known as a runner), here’s the full scoop on the race.

You know a race is set for cold weather when at registration they give you an ice scraper and a stocking cap along with the obligatory T shirt. Yep, this is a cold one.

Having run this race a year ago, I was psyched to run it again. The
2005 Trail Map here shows the 10.8 mile loop around a man-made reservoir on the Wabash River. Race HQ was at a campground on the middle of the north side of the lake.

I was out of bed at 4:30am, on the road 20 minutes later for the 90 minute drive in the dark. One bank thermometer said 18, the next one said 12. Yeah, it was cold. Had a great time driving and thinking through some issues that early in the morning, with
Twila Paris on the CD player. I pulled into the pitch-black campground that was buzzing with activity around 6:45am. I found the registration tent (well heated with propane flame-throwers!) which was way better organized than last year, and I was all set before 7am. Back to the car, popped in my contact lenses and relaxed, wondering what 20 miles would be like. Oh yeah, I’ll just let you imagine what a pit toilet at a campground in these temperatures was like.

The 8am start was, well, chaotic. I knew that they intended to let the 3 lap runners and the relay teams go at 8, with the one lap runners 15 minutes later. Apparently few others did. It reminded me of the old Charlie Brown films, where the adults are off-screen, going “blah blah blah” while the kids did what they wanted. The race director had a bull horn and was talking, but it was unintelligible.

At 8:03am, the cannon (yeah, a real Civil War era cannon) went off and so did we, nearly 450 in the first wave. We did a half mile on the main road into the campground, feeling very much like a normal race start.

Then, it really started.

We made a left turn and went on the trail. How can I describe the surface?? They had around 12” of snow in this area in the previous 10 days, then bitter cold. So the snow was dry, powdery and refused to pack at all. So, we all moved ahead, crammed into single file in the snow. All trying to find a path that was about 9-12” wide. Seriously. It looked like
this; all in single file. For the first 100 m or so off the road, we had to walk. It was a traffic jam, 8 lanes of cars funneled through a single lane.

Underfoot, it was awful. The snow was very soft and movable. There was no grip for my feet and it was very uneven. So, we all expended much energy just trying not to fall or run into someone. I felt very bad for relay teams who wanted to do well, as there was no way to pass unless you ventured outside the 9” wide path and plowed through undisturbed show, thus burning even MORE energy.

So, there I am, after spending much of the fall getting psyched about this, in a slow moving conga line through the trees, getting well acquainted with the water bottle the guy in front of me was wearing on his fuel belt.

After three miles of this, we emerged on the dam at the west end of the lake. And, just like the freeway when it opens up, there was a surge of traffic. Everyone spread out, there was much passing and we did a lot of work to better sort out the pace. And I was astounded just how much better a flat surface felt. I noted on my Garmin that I was pushing under a 9:00 pace, so I had to back off, knowing that was foolish.

At the other end of the bridge, we had our first water stop then back into the woods. Same condition. Still single file. Just like NASCAR at Watkins Glen…no room to pass. You got stuck behind slower runners and/or were holding up faster folks behind you.

Around the 6 mile mark, we had about a third of a mile on the trail where a bulldozer had been a couple days previous. Wow, was that nice. Two wide, flat packed paths. We quickly spread and enjoyed the comfort. But then, back to the snow.

Just past mile 7, we emerged on a bridge at the east end of the course. Again, almost instantly, I was down to a 9:00 pace. Encouraging, as it felt almost effortless, even after slogging through that much powder. A little before mile 8, we turned back west to head for the campground, 2 miles away.

A year ago, when I ran this course on bare dirt, I was really almost wiped out by this part of the course and struggled. This time, with a much stronger mileage base, it was not bad, except for the footing. I was joined by my work colleague, Jay, at this point. He’s a veteran ultramarathoner, but he told me his Achilles was tweaked and he was going to call it a day after one lap. Wow, the conditions must be tough if a well-skilled guy like Jay is struggling.

I got back to the campground and crossed the mat with one lap down. Grabbed some food and drink and headed out on the second lap. The crowd had thinned by now, as the one-lap runners were warming up again in the tent. But the snow was still deep. And, whether it was psychological from my talk with Jay or not, I noted my right hamstring starting to strain. I cut off the course to run on the asphalt. It felt fine there. I carried on to the first turning off point on the trail, hoping the problem was gone.

In 200 m of snow, I could tell the hammy was only going to get worse. My next “jumping off” point was 2.5 miles away. I had to decide. Now. I thought about my goals. My main goal is to run, injury free, into my 70s. Hey, I’m 52 now, so I have a ways to go still. What will I prove if I run now, injure myself and then be stuck inside all winter? Not much.

So, I packed it in. I ran back down the trail, onto the main road, ran up to the campground and logged 12 full miles on my Garmin. Turned in my chip, told the folks I was a DNF, grabbed some cookies and walked back to the car.

A disappointing day, mostly in the lost chance to enjoy a race. It was a beautiful winter day. The woods were pretty, geese flew overhead; but one had to concentrate so much on the course that one could not enjoy either the day or the scenery. The course was so narrow, I couldn’t talk to anyone, an important part of racing for me.

This is probably my last trail race. I know lots of folks enjoy it, but I’ll focus on the roads.

Thanks for listening!!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Last Tune Up

ORN: 2 miles, no watch, quick pace

OK, we're set. Rest day tomorrow and are set for the Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty (link:

The past week has been an encouragement, in that I've renewed my confidence that I can do two of the three laps in this race. The weather should cooperate; however, I don't know what the surface will be like as I understand they've had nearly a foot of snow in the area.

Race report will be next on Saturday...should be fun!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Buying Power

ORN: 4 miles, nice pace

The taper is done...2 miles tomorrow, then 20 miles in the snow on Saturday.

Why does a Clif's Bar cost 96c at Wal-Mart and $2.25 at a sporting goods store??


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rhythm Lost and the quest to regain it

ORN: 3 miles, no watch, felt good

Got no rhythm. And I never really sensed it.

We had a big snow last week. That wiped out the trails I normally run on. It narrows the streets, makes them a mess. No solid footing anywhere. It's cold and dark most of the time.

I'm in the tail end of a taper, getting set for a 20 miler this Saturday. I've never tapered this intentionally before. Haven't done a decent long run in 3 weeks. Yeah, its a taper. That 8 miler last Saturday was not even worth blogging about. This taper has really thrown me for a loop.

Got no rhythm.

And it hit me this morning, when I still hauled myself out of bed, into the cold for a "mere" three miler. I altered my route, found some streets that had bare pavement. And it was nice.

I found some rhythm.

This is one of the reasons I learn so much from running. Running is about rhythms. From the micro, step-by-step patter of feet and breath, to the rhythm of each run (warm up, cruise, push, cool down), to the rhythm of a training week, to the rhythm of race preparation, to the rhythm of the seasons (at least here in the Midwest).

And I don't have enough experience in this most recent running dispensation to recognize the longer rhythm cycles. It only hit me this morning what was going on. And it helped a lot when I recognized it for what it was.

The spiritual disciplines restore/drive rhythm to the spiritual life. The scripture readings, the prayer, the silence, the meditation. All in good order, in the proper time. Give peace.

And it is peace that we need so badly in an un-peaceful, chaotic world.


Friday, December 09, 2005

No Go for Joe in the Snow

ORN: Zero

Up and headed out this morning at 5:30am for a short 3 miler, as part of the taper plan. Forecast said we'd have around three inches of snow by morning.

So much for forecasts.

A full seven inches of new snow on the ground. No snow plows through yet, no tracks, and I realized my car would never get out of the garage unless I did some serious shoveling.

So, I swapped the run for some "lower back exercise." Dark, early. And could scoop the driveway before I'd packed snow into the tracks! What a concept. We'll catch the run this weekend

And I saw something else cool, out early and dark. My neighbor, the father of four boys, had built one of the coolest and biggest snow forts I've seen in quite a while. Some serious snow excavation going on here. He had his 10 year old out with him last night and wow, what a neat thing for little kids to go outside and burn up lots of energy.



Thursday, December 08, 2005

Heat Wave: Double Digit Temperatures!

ORN: 6.2 miles, 59:38, 9:40/mile, 11 degrees

The midweek run, postponed from yesterday, happened this morning. When I have more time, I'll write about what I'm learning about dressing for such weather.

These midweek long runs have really been a treat, though. I've never done them and this is the last long one as I taper into the HUFF a week from Saturday.

As with many long runs, the good stuff doesn't happen until after mile four or so. At that point, the rhythm sets in, the body is in synch and it is pure joy. Even in the dark in 11 degree weather.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Way too cold

ORN: Zero

First time this happened in a long time. Got up to do the midweek long run, and saw it was zero degrees went back to bed.

Warming trend tomorrow...all the way up to 10!! I'll be out then!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why Run?? one more answer

ORN: 4 miles, no watch, 9 degrees.

Why run? Saw an example yesterday at work.

We spend most of our time running alone. Training miles. Up early. Alone. Getting in the miles. Mile after mile. Some days are interesting, some are tough, many are just there.

And, a few times each year, we get to a race. On a beautiful fall morning with a couple thousand others and it all comes together.

And if we don't train, it never comes together. Even if we sign up for the race, if we shortchange the training, we don't do well.

Much of work is like that. Just doing it. Day in day out. Not a lot of "euphoric" moments. But they are there. But if we don't do the day-to-day, it will never be there.

Much of faith is like this. Day in, day out, staying with the necessary spiritual disciplines. Prayer. Reading and meditating on the scripture. Fleshing out kindness to others. Often alone. Dry times happen. And, still, there are moments when it all works. And great joy.

Running illustrates all of this.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Is it weird to number running shoes?

So I got a new pair of shoes in the mail this week. My fourth pair of identical Brooks Adrenaline GTS5s.

I've determined to be very careful about my shoes as I am 52 and want to run well into my 70s. The shoes are the most key part of the whole equipment thing. So, I only run in the newest pair; the next newest pair goes in the closet as back up running shoes; the next newest after that is what I wear to walk the dog; older pairs get given away to a local charity.

And, so, geek that I am, I mark the shoes. Is this totally weird or just practical?

Here's the back of my new pair. I used to draw a "1" or "2" on them, but that seemed a bit much. So I went to the more subtle "dots" and here you can see a humble and understated four of them on each shoe.

If this is really odd, well, so be it...few will notice. If you've seen it, I'd be interested in knowing!!


Even if you have dotted shoes....

A Lollipop Run, a Long Lollipop

ORN: 12.2 miles, 1:56:35, 9:33/mile

Took a different route today, a long lollipop. The "stick" was 5.5 miles on my normal route on the West Lafayette Trail System. The candy was a mile loop around the intra-mural fields at Purdue.

I picked this route because the top of the lollipop was a wood mulch, hilly, trail-like path. Since the HUFF, two weeks from today, is 2/3 on a trail, I needed to get the legs/feet a bit used to the difference from my normal asphalt pounding.

Wow. Good move. And two big things to ponder on the trip home along the lollipop stick.

First, I had forgotten from last year's HUFF race just how much things change when you get on uneven ground. First off, the same effort is about one minute/mile slower pace. Soft ground, picking your way, poor traction all combine to make it really tough. Note to self: cut the expectations on the trail in 2 weeks. Relax and just enjoy the run, forget about the pace.

Second, I felt like I was plodding on the way home. So, I simply cranked up the pace, 8 miles into the run. Didn't figure the legs would respond for any length of time. Wrong. After some 9:50 and 10:05 miles midway, I did the last four in 9:16, 9:30 (into the wind), another 9:16 and 9:07.

The base is holding up.

Two weeks to go. The taper continues, and it is fascinating how the strength is staying in the legs.


Friday, December 02, 2005

New Shoes

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, quick pace.

I must be a little kid at heart. Alternatively, a poster boy for the old saying "The only difference between men and boys is how much they go and pay for their toys."

Got my latest pair of Brooks Adrenline GTS5s in the mail yesterday from my pals at Athletic Annex in Indy. Great running store, but that's the subject of a different blog when I have more time. Put them on for a simple 5 miler and they felt great, right out of the box. Which is what I like so much about this model. It seems to fit my particular foot strike perfectly. My fourth pair in a year. And well worth it. That too is another blog.

This taper business is indeed wired. It feels really funny and I still have two weeks till the 20 miler. Others have described it well and I'm sensing it more for this long race than I have for various half marathons. Only 12 miles tomorrow, Saturday. Will feel like a very short stroll in the park! How cool is that??


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Only" 8 miles

ORN: 8.3 miles, 1:21:55, 9:54/mile. Cold, windy

As I hit the 7 mile mark on my way back home this morning, I thought a bit about this weeks long, midweek run. "Only 8" I said to myself. "This is week one of the three week taper. Only 8." Ho hum.

Then it hit me. "Only" 8? I recalled that it was just a year ago when I ran 8 miles for the first time. I got home, told my wife, worried about my legs, feet. I ramped "all the way up" to 8 in preparation for doing one lap of the HUFF that I'm doing two laps of on Dec 17.

I went back in my running log. Indeed, on Dec 8, 2004, was the first time I ran 8 miles. I marked it with a star...a new record at the time. It was a big, long, weekend-type run.

Now it is part of a taper, done mid week.

Amazing what can happen in a year's time.



Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What a Difference a Stretch Makes

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, windy, cold, pretty miserable

My usual routine is to run about a third of a mile to a spot where a guy has an old box van parked on the street. Makes a nice vertical surface to stretch against.

This morning, I could feel the effects of the 16 miler on Saturday. The achillies, calves and hammies were tight. Slow, gentle stretch, in the dark. Nothing popped. And what a relief when I started running again! Did another stretch at the end. Nothing popped. Good.

Legs still felt heavy, though. The ugly weather probably didn't help. But, I was out there! And this is the start of the taper into the 20 mile trail run.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Learning from a Long Run

ORN: Zero. Rest day today, Monday

It amazes me what running teaches me sometime.

Had a very hectic day at work, got in before 7 and will be going till 6, almost non stop. I've set up a number of "pacing" times for myself and it hit me just how much those are like a pacing band for a race...knowing you hit (or miss) the splits at the mile markers, knowing if you are on track, going to have to push it or adjust your brain to having blown it, early.

And some runs require you just to keep plugging. As do some days.

And plugging along is usually rewarded. Even when you are shot.

You learn a lot.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Longest Run in 25 years

ORN: 16.2 miles, 2:42:07, 10:00/mile

Running Stuff:

This was the long week, now to taper into the HUFF on Dec 17. I wasn’t sure, for several miles, just how today’s long run would go. I tweaked my R calf in Wednesday’s 10 miler, it still felt tender after the race on Thursday. This morning, I just couldn’t tell what it was going to do. Plus, the weather was unpredictable, so I couldn’t decide just what to even wear. Yeah, what a way to go out and run…

I decided to do a couple of 8 mile loops, giving myself a stopping point midway if I needed to. Actually, I couldn’t even make up my mind to continue until I was about 3 miles in. I didn’t want to strain something…yet I needed to get this long run in. Not as schizophrenic as Gollum and Smeagol, mind you, but still.

As I closed out the first 8 miles, I decided to take a brief hydrate/de-hydrate break at home (thanks
Dianna for that example!) and I also added a sleeveless windbreaker and a baklava. Feeling better, I went out for another 8 miles and the calf actually loosened up as I went and was OK by the 10th mile.

Last week, in my 14 miler, I felt I still had some miles left at the end. Not so today. This was pretty much it. But even as I write this at 10pm, the leg feels pretty good. Two days of rest may well take care of it. Only 12 miles next Saturday!

I realized later that this is the longest I have run in one session for over 25 years. I couldn’t recall doing 16 since my last marathon in January, 1981. Cool.

Learning Stuff.

Long runs, especially, teach you things. Today’s lessons:

Push yourself a bit. I was tentative on the condition of my leg. I listened, took it easy and still got it done.

Don’t bore everyone else. Running is an introspective time for me. I’ll put those lessons here on this blog, but others, including my family, can choose to read this or not! I don’t have to subject them to this.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Race Report--Drumstick Dash, Nov 25 2005

ORN: 4.5 miles, 42:51, 9:27/mile

What a fun little race! Entirely unlike what I expected…which made it fun.

I normally wouldn’t drive to Indianapolis (75 minutes, one way) for a 4.5 mile race, but I had to be in Indy early today, as I took my youngest son Matt to the airport to let him fly to Colorado Springs to spend Thanksgiving with our two other sons. So, hey, I’m in Indy anyway, I found this
Drumstick Dash race a few weeks back, so entered.

I expected a small gathering of running enthusiasts on a Thanksgiving morning. HA! 1267 finishers in the 4.5 mile race…which surprised me tremendously but added to the fun.

I got Matt to the Security gate for United and then left the Indy airport at 8:07am, drove halfway across Indy for a 9am race. So, finding parking in a fairly dense neighborhood was no small task. Parked, ran to get the packet and, to their credit, I got in and out of the gym for registration in less than 90 seconds…seriously.
Tuxedo Brothers does a nice job organizing these events. So got the packet, ran back to my car, got the right shirts on for the heavy wind, ran back to the start, found the restroom, stretched and was in the pack a good five minutes before the 9am start. WHEW!

I was concerned about my right calf, after tweaking it a bit during yesterday’s 10 miler, so decided to take it easy and set the Garmin to pace me at a 9:45 pace. I’ve never entered a race with such a relaxed attitude…an odd view for the competitive me. But my current objective is doing 21 miles at
The HUFF 50K Trail Run (2 laps of the 3 offered). So, I don’t need to damage anything in this race…just a training run.

And it went well. My splits were 9:28, 9:21, 9:28, 9:40 and 4:50 (at a 9:24 pace) for a total time of 42:51 on my watch, 42:39 chip time. Quicker than I wanted…but I explain.

This was a truly fun, social event. I just had fun talking to folks. Met a guy in the start pack who was a fellow Purdue engineer learnig Lean Manufacturing!! How many people know what Lean is? And that’s the subject of my
professional blog. His girlfriend couldn’t quite believe that. Then, in the first mile, I got a great rundown of the Marine Corps Marathon from a recent participant. That race is on my wish list…we’ll see.

The best, and most extended conversation, came with Chris, who I met around mile 1.5 and we did the rest of the race together. She’s a talented school administrator and we had a lot in common. Much conversation and insight and the miles really clicked by. So much so, I really have little recollection of the course itself or much more that was going on. Just a comfortable pace with fascinating conversation. She and I both chuckled at that, as we both spend most of our training time all alone…thus the social element was part of the enjoyment and contrast.

All in all, a surprisingly pleasant little race.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…we have much to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In the snow, in the dark, in shorts

ORN: 10.2 miles, 1:42:36, 10:03 pace

Wow, the midweek long run. This is actually the longest of all the midweek runs, so it is now behind me.

I got fooled by an inaccurate thermometer when I took off this morning...thought it was 40, when it was 31. Did not wear tights. A bad move. I didn't feel so bad while I was running, but as the day has gone one, my right calf has been tighter and tighter. May have strained something slightly and had I kept more warmth in the muscle, perhaps it would not have happened.

That said, it was a great run. No snow when I started, then gradually increasing snow as I went along. A fair amount was stuck to the running path as I got back home. Kind of cool to be out that early, doing something viewed as crazy...I'm sure I got a lot of second looks from cars who drove by. "Is that guy running? Does he REALLY have shorts on? Am I seeing things? Is he nuts or what?" Yeah, whatever.

A week ago today, I learned a lot about doing the hard thing. I thought of that again today. The run wasn't as hard, much more joy in it. And the perspective was better.

And I'm closer to getting set for the 20 miler on Dec 17.

Tomorrow, a small Thanksgiving day race in Indy. We'll see how the calf feels to decide at that time if I run it or not, and if so, how hard.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Quick in the Dark

ORN: 5 miles, solid pace

As the temperature drops (31 this morning) it is interesting to me that my pace quickened. It could be I'm just trying to stay warm, though I was dressed properly. But I kept pulling myself back, not needing to set any major pace records today. I have a mid-week 10 miler set for tomorrow and I need to handle that well.

Cloudy, no moon, not a hint of sunrise, even at the end of the run. Winter is here. Snow tomorrow?? Oh my.


Sunday, November 20, 2005


ORN: Bike, 45 minutes

I'm trying some cross training on Sundays, to give my legs a break from long run on Saturday, yet still be active.

A beautiful day today, though one feels autumn slipping away and winter coming.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Setting Up for 20 miler

ORN: 14.2 miles, 2:21:22, 9:57 pace

Continue to dial up the miles in preparation for doing two laps, about 21 miles, of the HUFF (actually a 50km ultra trail race) on December 17. Today marked the next-to-longest run in my prep.

And the run felt great. I have no time target for the HUFF, as it is a trail race. Last year, I did one lap in just under 2 hrs and that was an 11:00 pace. So, I'm not worried about pace right now. I just want to get the miles in.

I felt a "something might be letting go" type of feel today around mile 5 in my right quad. Boy, that wasn't good. Checking my Forerunner, I noted I had sped up to a 9:25 pace, so I just backed that down. By a mile later, it was unnoticable. I didn't feel any other twinges. Legs were a bit tired around the 11 mile mark but not bad. I did a Gu packet at 5 and 10 mile marks and that seemed to help.

I wondered just how far I could have gone today. I was, in no way, out of gas. I thought about putting on a couple more miles, but thought better of that, in light of the total miles I did this week. But I do think I could have easily done 4 more. Probably could have gutted out 6.

Next Saturday--16 miles. That's tops, then taper for the next two Saturdays into the race.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Welcome to Winter Running

ORN: 5 miles, solid pace

Wow, 18 degrees this morning. Only a 10mph wind today but it was cold. Got to try out the new Brooks Nightlite Tights I got in the mail yesterday...they seemed to work fine. I've been running in navy blue long underwear thhis is a step up, so to speak.

Had a great day yesterday, after the realization of "hard things" about which I wrote in my last post. Will continue to learn more on this.

No run tomorrow, 14 on Saturday.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Very Fruitful (and unlikely) Run

ORN: 9+ miles, 1:33, a little over 10:00/mile. 30mph wind, 36 degrees, 5:15am

Why would any fool go out and do a mid-week long run on a morning like this? A huge cold front coming through, I’m warm in my bed, why go out? I didn’t want to go, yet I did. And I’m glad I did.

I learned more on this run than any I can remember.

Running today was hard. Going into the wind was an exercise in near-futility. It pounded me. It was very early and very dark. Yet, I needed to get the long run in to be prepared for the 20 miler on December 17.

And as I ran, it hit me why I ran today. It was hard. And we have to do hard things.

On my to-do list at work were a number of hard things, probably 10 in total. And I really didn’t want to deal with most of them. Yet I had to.

So, as I piled through the hour and a half run, an idea hit me. I would pick only two of the hard things and get them done today. The rest would wait (hey, they’ve waited for weeks already…what’s another day?). Then, tomorrow, I’d do another two…and so on. Kind of like training. You get the miles in every day. Whether you feel like it or not. And the cumulative effect lets us run long races. Amazingly.

I’m sure I provided some early-morning comic relief to folks out driving as they saw this crazy guy, head down, into the wind and cold. But better was the lesson I learned.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Upping the Ante

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, comfortable pace. Dark and foggy.

Made the decision over the weekend to go for 2 laps of the HUFF race on December 17. Will be about 20 miles, my longest in this current dispensation of running. So, I'm adopting Hal Higdon's Novice Marathon training plan and cutting down a bit on the long Saturday run.

Big test will be doing 9 miles tomorrow, Wednesday. Never have done that midweek. Stay tuned.

It's also supposed to snow tomorow!!!


Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Nagging Little Twinge

ORN: 3 miles, no watch, windy, sundown

Nice easy run...until almost home at the 2.8 mile mark. Felt a little twinge in my right hammy, just behind my knee. Stopped, stretched. Ran some more, still there.

I then did a very un-Joe like thing. I walked it home.

When I got home, I added up my weekly mileage. 31.3 for the week. I did 17 last week. First time over 30 since late September.

Duh. Of course. The 13 miler yesterday pushed it a bit.

Let it rest. Get set for the 20 miler on Dec 17, Joe.


What is "ORN"?

I lead most posts with an item called “ORN.” I best explain it.

I saw this on John “The Penguin” Bingham’s
blog The Penguin Times and liked it. ORN stands for Obligatory Running Note. Here is his full explanation of ORN and I like its link back to the early days of the Internet. In short, he said:

To make SURE that at least SOME part of the post had SOMETHING to do with running they imposed the "ORN" rule. It stands for Obligatory Running Note. And it required the writer to describe their latest run.

This means that ORN will describe that day’s run…and everything else in the post is my current thoughts on running, life, faith, gadgets and whatever else is on my mind. I hope you enjoy the ride.


About My Running

I hated running in High School, much preferring baseball to anything else. I did run some track, but only did that to assuage the football coach at our small, rural Nebraska school.

After our first son was born in 1978, I became aghast at my lack of physical conditioning and decided, reluctantly, to start running. We lived in southern Africa at the time (another story there!!) and I was amazed to find that I actually began to enjoy running!

About that time, Jim Fixx published the now-famous book “The Complete Book of Running” which was the first time I read about running at all. That hooked me further. I ran more and started entering races in various places in southern Africa. Eventually, I started three and finished two marathons in 1980 and 1981. What a thrill…I still remember it well. Hitting the wall and nearly passing out in my first start (80 degree weather, 3 water stations…bad news), then finishing twice, in 4:17 and 4:16.

We moved back to the US in 1982 and I kept running. With (then) two little kids and a job, I mostly did about 15-20 miles a week and ran the usual 10k/5 mile races and enjoyed it. But another job change in 1996 required 70 minutes of commute time a day and just running on the weekend really didn’t work well. So, the miles drifted off. I missed it but couldn’t do much about it.

Then, in May 2004, I was recruited into a new (and very cool) job at a place 4 minutes from my home. How cool. In the interview process, it hit me that I’d now have the time to run again. At the same time, I discovered that the city had developed the
West Lafayette Trails System. One of the terminations is just three blocks from my house. Boom, I had a place to run with nearly 10 miles of pathway out of the way of cars.

I started in again and it was like having an old friend back after a long absence. It took a few months to find shoes that worked but when I did, I just started ramping up the mileage through the fall and winter of 2004-5.

As of this writing, in November 2005, I’ve had a full year of pain-free running now and it is a joy. I hope you can participate in this enjoyment with me.


About Me

My name is Joe Ely. I’m 52 (as of November 2004), married to my wife of 30+ years, Gretchen and we have three sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandsons..

David is 27, married to Susan and they are the parents of twin sons, Andrew and Nathan. Plus, they are expecting another child in June, 2006. David is a medic in the US Army and just returned in August from a year-long tour in Iraq. We were all thrilled to have him back safely.

Our second son,
Nathan, lives in Portland, Oregon. Like his mom, dad and brother, he’s a Purdue graduate. Nathan is an account executive with a temporary help agency in Portland. It is a great match for his skills in communicating and reading people. He’s 25, is thrilled to have a nephew named after him and is enjoying living on the West Coast.

Matt, is 17 and a junior in High School. He’s a deep thinker and a perceptive kid. He is a very good student, active in Debate and considering his college plans.

Gretchen is my best friend and a wonderful woman. She is a remarkably giving and caring person and this shows well beyond our family and into our neighborhood and community. We met while undergrads at Purdue in the early 70s and were friends long before we started dating. That’s a good recipe for a great marriage.

I’ve been doing technical management for most of my career. The most absorbing thing I’ve ever done is to implement a concept called Lean Manufacturing over the past 6 years. It is the best shot we have at preserving good manufacturing jobs in the US and it absorbs much of my time.

My faith is important to me. As a follower of Christ, I seek to have my faith impact the way I deal with my family and work worlds in a positive and helpful way.

The name of this blog, “Run with Perseverance” flows from my faith. This is a phrase from the Bible that says, in full, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1). This is good advice for life and running illustrates this so well. Thus, I’ll mention how I see my faith interacting with my running and life from time to time in this blog. I hope you find it helpful.

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope it is an encouragement to you.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

13 Miles, Whadda ya get?

ORN: 13.1 miles, 2:08:22, 9:48 pace

First real long run since the Half Marathon on October 15. Wow, it felt good. Settled into a good pace and just kept rolling. It was another beautiful fall day…started out at 52 degrees, ended at 62, very unusual for this time in November.

Took my usual long route down around the Purdue campus. With the Purdue-Illinois football game kicking off at noon, there was a lot of action there. Plus, I had police to hold traffic as I crossed the streets there…hey, just like a race!

Also concluded today that I’m going to go for 20 miles in the HUFF on December 17. It is a three lap race around a reservoir. Last year I ran one lap. This year, I’m going for two. So, we ramp up the training. 14 miles next Saturday, 16 the week after that, 16 again on 3 Dec, then taper to the race.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Back Home

ORN: 5 miles, comfortable pace
Wednesday 5 miles, 53:20

Spent 3 days on a business trip and am back home for a while. Ran on Wednesday in a state park in the dark at 5:30am. A nice run, but not relaxing, as I didn't know where I was and had to focus on the road, not the run.

Got home this afternoon and snuck in 5 miles before dinner...nice, gorgeous fall day, temp around 46, sunset on crisp blue sky. Saw Venus and Mars as I concluded the run.

Will go for 13 on Saturday and then decide how much I will run at the HUFF.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


ORN: Over
Monday 5 miles, early evening, easy pace

Spent Fri-Sun in Colorado Springs with my oldest son David, who is just back from Iraq. He's an Army medic and I hadn't seen him since his safe return. Wow, what a wonderful reunion. He's doing well and I'm sure proud of him.

And I didn't run at all. Had some marvelous weather and I stayed inside. Why? Because of the time with David. My time with him was precious and I didn't want to lose it.

Years ago, I heard a wonderful quote from Howard Hendricks who said "If you own anything you cannot give away, you don't own it, it owns you."

Yeah. Which includes running. It was a good exercise for me to "give away" running for the sake of wonderful time with David.

As much as I enjoy running, it can't become an idol, a "little god" that must be daily worshiped. So, it was good to not run. And it was nice to come home and run again.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Windy 5

ORN: 5 miles, medium effort

Very windy this morning, something I don't see here in the summer. 56 degrees, so only needed a LS technical shirt and gloves to be very comfortable. But the wind is a harbinger of the winter weather to come. Running, daily, in dark and cold and wind.

Which is why I find it helpful to have my spring race schedule worked up soon.

Seasons. They are good teachers.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Workin' out the Kinks

ORN: 3 miles, easy

Always interesting to me how the first mile is the hardest mile. Funny feelings as I crank my bod up in the morning. Creeky feelings, twinges, odd pangs.

And the key is always to just take it easy and keep going. These things always work out. By the first mile marker, they are forgotten.

Good lesson there, way beyond running.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mid-week Hard Run

ORN: 5.0 m total, including 4.66 m @ 8:36/mile

This week a pace run. After a warm up, did 40 minutes at a target pace of 8:40 (on the Forerunner). Beat it slightly.

I want to get my legs used to running quickly, at least once a week. It does help with the total least 8:36 is not completely unknown territory.

Damp but not cold, on this first of November. Dark, though, very dark.


Monday, October 31, 2005

A new week

ORN: about 4.5 mles in about 43 minutes

Yeesh, it is even dark at the end of the run now. Nice run though, legs fully recovered from the 10 miler on Saturday.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Long Run with Wooly Worms

ORN: 10.3 miles, 1:34:28, about 9:40/mile or so

What a specacular fall day to run! All winter and all summer I dream of such a day. Full sun, temp in mid 50s, trees turning color, mild breeze. Could not be any better.

The legs are back. After really cranking my R calf two weeks ago in the Half, I'm back to regular running. Originally set out to do 9 miles, and threw in an extra mile just because it felt good.

Winter awaits, though. Saw many, many wooly caterpillars slowly crawing across the trail today. To my knowledge, I didn't squash any but it was a hazardous place for them to be. Typically, the weather holds out OK through early December, then into the deep freeze through February.

For now, I enjoy what we have. And am grateful for it.


Thursday, October 27, 2005


ORN: 5 miles, 50:13,

The legs are back. Felt good. Intented to do 4 miles, just carried on the Morehouse Spur and did 5. Lost track of time on the way back, good sign. Travel on Friday, do 9 or 10 on Saturday.

Quite a smell of decaying leaves as I ran past Cumberland Woods. Fall is here and winter is not far away. Exacerbated by baseball season ending last night with the awful White Sox winning the whole thing. Tough news for a Cubs fan

Mars looked a dusty orange this morning, not red. Interesting.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Road running on the Road

ORN: 4 miles (about), 10:00/mile (about), as the sun set

At meetings in Bloomington, IN. As usual, the meetings broke up around 4:30, no dinner plans till 6:30, got in a run late. Ran along 3rd street, along the IU campus, along Frat row on the south side of campus. Lots of traffic and fumes, sure made me miss the clean trails in West Lafayette. But, it was a good run.

Calf feeling better each day. Stretching helps. Actually didn't notice it during the last 3 miles of run. That's cool.


Monday, October 24, 2005

First Cold, Dark Run

ORN: 4 miles, 10:30 pace; 43 deg, windy, damp, dark

After running at 5pm yesterday, I was out again 12 hours later. The run felt good. Stretched three times during the run, that helped. Still feel both the calf and, to a lesser extent, the right hammy.

Will take two days off now, as I’m in Bloomington for meetings. Will run again on Thursday morning. Maybe go long on Saturday???


Sunday, October 23, 2005

First Run after Injury

ORN: 4 miles, 47min, 11:00 to 11:30

Amazing. Went out not knowing if I could run or not. Gingerly took off. Stretched early, then four times along the run. Amazingly, I could roll forward on the ball of my right foot without hurting my calf…and that’s the first time that has happened in a week since the half marathon.

So I decided to see what I could do. As it felt OK after one, I decided to try for four. Made it to my two mile turnaround and felt fine and ran all the way. No walking, eacy running (see pace!!).

Man, did it feel good to run again. And the longer I went, the looser the calf felt. Still feels fine tonight. Will have to see how it feels in the morning when I attempt another four miles.

Oh, and I wore my $2 running vest. Worked well, both into and with the wind. More on that later.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

A steady-state plan

ORN: 4 mile walk. Ran maybe .4 miles.

The pull on my right calf seems to be taking a long time to heal. Which is making me think that the plan I had to run two laps of the Huff is not going to make it…the time was close anyway and I’ll be lucky to get back to decent mileage even by next Saturday.

And so I consulted my Hal Higdon plans today. Eureka. I can toggle between weeks 8 and 9 of the half marathon plan aud infinitum. Speed work each work, 9 miles one Saturday, 10 the next. Right at 30 miles a week.

By so doing, I’m always 6 weeks from tuning for a half marathon and 10 weeks from a marathon. Makes sense. And doable. And I can relax.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Indianapolis Half Marathon--October 15, 2005

A beautiful fall day for a race…sunny, little wind, temps in mid 50s, to low 60s at the end. On a nice course in and around Ft. Ben in Lawrence.

Here’s how it went.

Did not sleep well at all, was pretty anxious to get going. Finally, the alarm went off at 4:50am, got up and got set. Got Matt up at 5:25am, as he had to go to Indy as well for his first ever HS Debate team event…then I head to Indy. Twila Paris on the CD player…a great way to start.

Got there and found, eventually, a place to park, a long ways from the registration spot (why, when anticipating running 13.1 miles, would I complain about walking 4 blocks?? Pretty lame). Quckly in and out of registration, though. A good, LS t shirt. Went to car, picked up race stuff. Dang! I forgot to pack my pace band which I had so carefully prepared for a shot at a PR!! I pull out my running notebook, write 8 splits on my left hand in ink, that’ll have to do. Dropped off gear bag (wow, I’m grateful for that service at races..) queued a few times in the porta johns.

My objective was to set a PR, to improve on the 2:06:35 I ran at the Sam Costa in March. I hoped to run 9:30 miles, which would end up at a 2:04:40.

If you’re up for it, here’s the mile by mile summary:

Mile 1—Nice start, the usual struggle to find a rhythm, but it was nice. This is, after all, Indiana, where people are nice. Beautiful loop through Ft Ben Harrison officer housing. Did it in 9:37. Good.

Mile 2—more in the Fort. Beautiful. Found some folks to talk to. 9:29. A bit quick, I back off.

Mile 3 – Leave the Fort, head down E 56th street, fully blocked off. Big, long, downhill late in the mile, I let myself fall freely. 9:06.

Mile 4 – into a residential area, big loop, well-proportioned people standing in front yard watching this spectacle. Walk through water stop, 9:33. Feeling fine. Start to run with a group of ladies who have an Internet running group and all met Indy to run. Nice folks.

Mile 5—back the other way on 56th, now up the hill. Some nice fan support here. 9:39. Surpised how good I feel. Eat a Gu. 4 seconds under my needed split.

Mile 6, 7, 8, 9 – Click off quickly. Very nice. Beautiful day, in a groove, nice conversation. The mile markers surprise me at how quickly they appear. Times at 9:26, 9:39, 9:35, 9:47. Feeling good.

Mile 10 -- Loop into a park, onto a bike trail. Wooded, hilly, pretty. Take another Gu at the bottom of the hill as we circle a lake. 9:20. What’s that twinge I feel in my right calf?? Choose to ignore it.

Mile 11—Climbing up from the lake. That can’t be a cramp…that can’t be something to stop me…this isn’t really happening. And I have to walk. It eases…then it picks up again. 9:51. I’m losing it. And start to panic.

Mile 12—Out of the park. What do I do? I decide I need a slow, careful stretch. My conversation group passes me. I find a car with a bike rack and hope the owner won’t mind me leaning on the bike rack to stretch the right calf. A long, slow stretch. It feels a bit better. I head down the street, wondering what to do. I decide to pop another Gu. I’m thinking it is a cramp. I gradually pick up the pace, but feel each and every step with my right leg. And I decide to relax, work through the pain and keep going. Mile checks through at 10:03. I figure my PR is toast.

Mile 13 –Amazingly, I feel a little better and catch up to the support group. They were surprised to see me. Have enough wits about me to smile for the race photographer. Only a mile and change to go, so I just keep plugging. As I run with the group, I do a quick calculation and observe I’m only 75 seconds over the pace I need to hit my 2:04:40. I wish my team well and decide to make a push and see if I can get the time. I start passing people and choose to ignore my right calf. Passing more people. They are all panting…I’m not. I just hurt. As I come to the 13 mile sign, I can see the finish. Mile clocks at 8:41. Wow. I look at my watch, I look at the finish line, I see I have a shot at making the goal.

Mile 13.1. A flat out fast run, an interval, if you will. Hit the mats at 2:04:37 on my watch, later find out the chip time is only one second higher. By both counts, I beat the target. An exhilarating feeling!

Post Race: Chip clipped off, medal on, I’m limping but don’t notice it at the time. grab 3 bananas and Gatorade and greet several folks I ran with. As I leave the finish area, I realize just how much my right calf hurts. And I’m starting to wonder if it is more than just a cramp. But that’s not a worry now.

Get to the gear pick up and it feels great to put on a dry LS T shirt. And then gimp over to get some food.

This race had the best food line I’ve seen in a race. Actual hot food…fresh burgers and bratwurst off the grill, baked beans, cole slaw, cookies, donuts, Gatorade, water, all in abundance, all served with genuine good cheer. Wow.

Find a place to sit down and start talking with a fellow runner. Turns out it is Dedre, who is an originator of the website We talk running and blogging and have a great time. She also tells me to take more salt during a race. Easy way to do it?? Grab a handful of salt packets from a fast food place. Yeah, I’ll try that. Wonderful conversation.

Gimp back across the street and head home. Happy with the PR. Wondering what happened to the calf. Thinking what could have been, as I felt fantastic, except for the silly calf thing. Thinking it might be more a pull than a cramp. Oh well. A fine way to spend a beautiful fall morning.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

South Bend Half Marathon -- June 4, 2005

WOW, was that a cool event!!

I got home just a while ago and what a fun event this race in South Bend turned out to be. It went every bit as well as I had hoped...and things often don't turn out that way. But this one did.

The T Shirt just blew away everyone I told the story to. Each and every person was speechless at first, then would say "Now, let me look at that again!" and then they just smiled and said "Now THAT is SO COOL!" Most really got the fact that this was a wonderful family event for us.

Wow...who did I tell the story to, let me think. On Friday, I wore my gold version on the way up. At the pasta dinner in the College Football Hall of Fame (CFHF, as we say in the trade...) I got talking with a couple about it. He was a prof of Electrical Engineering at ND, she taught freshman composition in the Dept of English at St Marys. Very nice couple and they thought the shirt was amazing. Then before the race, I asked a guy to take my picture next to the main CFHF sign and he was just amazed. We got into the race and (as always happens) I found some folks running at the same pace I was comfortable with and we glommed on to each other. I got to tell them an extended version of the story (hey, it took over 2 hours to complete the race...) and they were pretty astounded. After the race, (more on this later) I got my camera back and was sitting in the south end-zone seats of ND stadium, kind of just enjoying/absorbing the atmosphere. Got talking to a guy who was born in SB, now worked in Atlanta, and flew up just to run the 10km event today. He was a HUGE ND football fan and he just thought the story was awesome. He took several photos of me and the photo from south end zone, looking down on the field. While waiting outside the stadium for the shuttle bus to come back and give us a ride downtown to the starting line where we had left our cars, I got talking with two female cousins who came down from Chicago about the shirt. Had a long talk with them, as it turned out we had a lot in common. But they just thought it was a marvelous and appropriate and creative tribute to Dad. After I had talked with you, Geege, (more on this later) I was eating some pancakes in a Bob Evans and writing down my splits from my watch and writing down my initial impressions of the race. And a couple came up and asked me about the race, as they had run the 5km event. She was a St Marys grad and there was a Very Large Reunion of St Mary grads today as well. Then she looked at the back of my (now gold) T shirt and asked about it...and, yep, same reaction. ND people in particular really "got it" and just thought it was so cool.

As I told the story, so many were so impressed that all four of us were involved and, in particular, the terrific job Karen did in setting up the photo. And, that we did it over large distances, digitally, seemed really cool. More deeply, several folks seemed really impressed that four siblings got along so well to pull something like this off in such a short time. And I said, "Yes, and that's a tribute to the guy on the back of the shirt and his wonderful bride!"

So, all of this was cool.

The race itself?? It went well, as well. Far differently than four weeks ago in Indy. I felt strong throughout the race, ran the entire distance, and, as I wanted to do and had really tried to plan for, I was strong at the end. The race started downtown, then went north along the St Joe River on Riverside Drive for about 4 miles, then turned around, retraced the steps to downtown, then flipped to the other side of the river and kept going south, flipped again, retraced more steps and then cut north to the campus. Some hills but not bad. There were about 1,700 people running the half where nearly as big as the 26,000 in Indy, but still I was with people all the way. Lots of nice conversations with people along the way. The weather started out reasonably (start time was 7:15am) but it really warmed up and was well over 80 by the end. So the last three miles were pretty hot but I was careful to take water at the plentiful water stops they provided (one every mile...well done) and I never came close to dehydrating. I was glad that I didn't wear a cotton shirt but rather got Dad's image onto a very lightweight synthetic running shirt. This was a major error I made in Indy and the shirt worked well today. And I knew the whole objective was to finish strong and be able to fully absorb all that would happen at the finish. But I didn't even dream it would be as amazing as it was.

The big draw for me in this race was, of course, the finish, and it was the same draw for most of the entrants. There was a lot of talk among folks during the race and you knew this was a big deal to finish in ND stadium. The drama really built over the last two miles. We approached campus from the south and then ran up the street immediately west of the stadium (lots of new buildings stretching south there along Notre Dame Avenue). And all the familiar sights drew closer and closer. It built and built and then we then rounded to the north side of the stadium, went up a ramp and down the tunnel leading to the field. I have to tell you, entering that tunnel, going down the ramp there, seeing the daylight from the field at the end of it was a HUGE rush. We were almost sprinting at this point, yelling and whooping and living it up. They had the ND fight song on a continuous repeat on the loudspeakers in the tunnel and it really felt wonderful.

We got to the field and I just let out a whoop, with both arms in the air as I got there. Pure joy. And then, almost overwhelmed by it all, I slowed to a very slow jog to cover the last distance to the 50 yard line. I was thinking so much of Dad, looking all around at that huge, famous stadium, reflecting on the many blessings I and we have received and I just was in no mood to let it pass. The race was interesting but rather irrelevant at that point. So, I jogged slowly down the field and it was an awesome moment. It is impossible to fully describe, but it was a very, very special moment. And I thought a lot of all of you as well. What a flood of I was in no mood to rush it. Thanks for all your interest and support...that made a big deal of it too!!

I crossed the finish line and the sponsors were well organized (as was the entire event....very well run). They had medals for all the marathon and half marathon finishers, so I can add that to my (now growing) collection. They also had hand-towel sized towels, soaked in ice water and gave one to each finisher and man did that feel good to put on my neck at that point. I congratulated a few of the folks I ran with and then just walked around on the field for about 10 minutes. It felt good on the legs to walk after running for 2:09+. But it was more of just soaking up the atmosphere. There were over 7,000 total participants in all the races today. So there were a lot of people there and it was fun. Picked up water and they were handing out Popsicles liberally as well. The medical tent was doing quite a bit of business, looked mostly like dehydration cases. The massage tent had a long line waiting there...I didn't bother.

One nice well-organized thing they did for the full and half marathoners was to let us drop off any extra gear we had at the start and they took it to the finish area. I've done this before and have learned that a dry shirt and dry socks are the most welcome thing at that point! So, I put a bag together for the event and threw in a disposable camera, hoping not to lose it. I took a number of pictures with it at the start, then dropped it off and, right on cue (queue?) at the end, there it was. So, I picked that up and the snapped a bunch more photos of the event as I sat up in the south end zone, just absorbing it all. The organizers just did a super job on a big event. I just took the camera over to our local drug store and discovered that for a mere $3 more, I can get all these regular photos scanned in their machine onto a CD! So, I might have pictures tonight to post. We'll see.

The race organizers also had a company there to take Official Photos To Offer To Participants For Sale Later. I saw at least three of them on the course, plus at the finish line. On two of the occasions on the course and again at the finish line, I turned around and ran backwards for a while, wanting them to take a photo of the back of my shirt. I don't know if they did or not, or if they will link those images to me, but we'll see.

Anyway, got done with the race, I hung around the stadium for another 45 minutes or so just to enjoy it all. Got back to my car, went to the motel, took a shower. Had a nice drive home and here I am.