Chasing 42

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Archive for the tag “Vardos”

Market to Market 2015: The Speedy Streakers Strike Again!

It’s still hard to believe that my 10 years in Ames was at an end. Quite a bit has changed in my life over the course of those 10 years, not the least of which is my passion for running and the friends that I have picked up as a result. Thus, it was only fitting that my last weekend in Iowa was spent with an amazing group of friends doing what we love to do…run! This was the third year in a row that we’ve participated in the Market to Market Iowa Relay, and our Speedy Streakers team has the relay and the preparations down to a science at this point, which made for an amazing weekend. This race was my farewell of sorts as well, so there was plenty of chatter leading up to the race, and I was looking forward to a fantastic weekend of running and shenanigans!

Our goal, as a team, has always been to have as much fun as possible, with a little running thrown in, and we certainly hit the mark this year! We always find a theme so we can prepare costumes accordingly, and we landed on “Barrel Full of Monkeys” this year, although “What Does the Fox Say?” was a close second. The opportunity to dress up in a monkey costume was just too good to pass up, obviously!

We made it out of Ames eventually :)

We made it out of Ames eventually ๐Ÿ™‚

The 78-mile relay begins in Jefferson, IA and follows a series of trails all the way to downtown Des Moines. We packed up the rented 15-passenger van on Friday afternoon and took our time heading down to Jefferson and our hosts for the evening. Interestingly, we managed to have a bit of trouble even leaving Ames, but only because we clearly had to stop at a few bars on our way out-of-town to help condition ourselves for the following day (minus our driver, of course). It’s carb-loading, right? The drive down took us to two other bars, including a stop for dinner, and a stop at a teammate’s Aunt’s house for more carb-loading. Did I mention that our team could easily be called the Iron Livers? ๐Ÿ™‚

We awoke bright and early on Saturday morning (May 8) after a short but restful burst of sleep and donned our costumes before heading down to the starting line a few minutes away. We met up with some of the other Vardo teams and cheered folks as their waves took off. It was quite convenient that M2M was giving away bananas- we took advantage and grabbed plenty to hand them out to other runners. What else is a monkey to do?

Would you care for a banana?

Would you care for a banana?

From the beginning, our relay experience was about equal parts running and delicious Jello-O shots, and we made the most of the day. In previous years, I’ve added on additional miles by running various legs with other teammates, and I crafted a repeat performance again this year. However, everyone was in a nostalgic mood and wanted to make the most of the day, so we had multiple runners for 14 of the 17 legs of the race, and we easily tallied the most collective miles of any team out on the course!

Truly a team effort!

Truly a team effort!

We treated each exchange point during the relay as a mini-party and did our best to embrace the crazy of the day. The legs all blended together a bit for me, and the weather was relatively cooperative (not too hot, and some wind off and on), so it made for a beautiful day to be outside running. My legs felt great for most of the day, and I did my best to scale back my pace a bit this year. In past years, I’ve logged some significant miles, but forgot I was going long and also proceeded to run the entire day at more of a 5K than marathon pace. I was determined not to be quite as tired this year, and I succeeded for the most part. My legs were still plenty tired by the final collective leg, which several of us ran together and then met the rest of the team to run in the final 1/4 mile to the finish, but overall I felt great. I ended up collecting a bit over 33 miles for the day, which suited me just fine!

M2M15-4

We crossed the finish line, collected our pint glasses, and were all smiles after another successful relay! We were committed to having as much fun as possible during the after-party this year so we decided to rent a hotel room in downtown Des Moines, not far from the finish, which meant no driving needed. We stopped by our hotel room to shower and then headed back to the after party to meet up with all of the other Vardos. I was able to see a lot of folks and inevitably, the line of “goodbye” moments began. It was wonderful to see so many people but talk about an emotional rollercoaster! Good grief, I love this group!

M2M15-5

 

The rest of the evening was a blur of toasts, cheers, antics, late-night pizza, and some memories that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Throughout the day and night, I did my best to forget that I was leaving on Monday morning and just enjoy the time. What actually happened was a mixture of bittersweet moments with some of the best friends anyone could ask for…I went out with a bang doing what I love with folks I love, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Transition and change are rarely easy, sometimes necessary, and hopefully a part of the relentless forward progress of life. I woke up Sunday morning and we stopped for breakfast on the way home. I’d fought the tears off up until that point, but the dam broke and the tears came flooding out into my coffee. I knew it was happening, knew it was the right choice, but saying “until next time” is never easy. This weekend wasn’t just about running, or having fun- it was about cementing relationships with some amazing people and being reminded what true friendship is all about. I knew I could take those things with me when I drove off on Monday morning…and I did. #chasing42

Pacing Chronicles: The Lincoln Marathon

Have I mentioned that April and May were busy running months? So, as soon as I got home from running the Iowa Able 5K & 10K on May 2nd, I hopped in a car with a few friends and headed down to Lincoln, Nebraska to run a marathon the next day. Are you still following? I should probably back up and explain how I ended up in such a whirlwind scenario, although if you’ve read my blog in the past, then you probably aren’t surprised by this series of events.

Many months prior, as I was beginning to pull together my spring racing schedule, a friend suggested the Lincoln Marathon. I hadn’t given it much thought because a) I’d run the GOATZ 50K in Nebraska, thereby checking the state off my list, and b) I could probably live content for the rest of my life having never returned to the state again (no offense to my Nebraska friends ๐Ÿ™‚ ). However, I knew that of the two major marathons in Nebraska (Lincoln & Omaha), this was by far the better of the two in terms of organization, crowd support, and course appeal. What I didn’t realize until the week before was that it also sold out ridiculously quick. I was alerted to the need to register the morning that registration opened in order to ensure my spot, a fact that I laughed at a bit. However, registration opened on a Saturday morning at 3 or 4AM, and I’m normally up early for a long run anyway so I went ahead and registered to lock in my place. Sure enough, the race sold out in around 8 hours, which surprised me to no end, but I had my slot, and a smile on my face.

The main motivation for running this race was so that Eric and I could pace our friend to her first sub-4 hour marathon. Although neither of us had any extensive pacing experience, aside from my recent half-marathon success, we ran with her consistently every weekend so we knew we could push her while keeping her out of her own head as much as possible. The same wildcards (weather, nutrition, terrain) applied, of course, but it was also an additional opportunity to take another racing trip with a couple of good friends before heading out east. So, fresh off of a 5K PR and plenty of energy, we hopped in the car and headed for Lincoln.

We got to town in plenty of time to hit up the expo, which was surprisingly large and full of some excellent vendors. Perhaps I had pleasantly underestimated the quality of this race, eh?! We picked up our packets, and took some time to wander around the expo and resist the temptation to buy unnecessary running gear. We then headed over to the free pasta dinner, which was a great perk and quite convenient as well. After dinner, we drove back to the friend’s apartment that we were staying at, and settled in for the evening. It was a nice, low-key evening and we were able to get plenty of sleep before waking up early to head over to the start.

An expo photo-op!

An expo photo-op!

Eric and I were doing our best to inject plenty of levity into the morning, and it made for a light-hearted pre-race routine. The starting area had plenty of access to indoor restrooms and porta-johns, and everyone was milling about. With temps in the 50’s and the sun coming out slowly, I could tell that heat might be a factor later so it was really just a question of how far we could make it before the temperature began to impact our pace. Eric had been nursing a sore foot (which he later found out was a stress fracture) so he was uncertain of how the race would go and decided not to stick with us, which left the pacing duties to me. Since I knew the heat might be a factor later on, I decided to try and go out a bit faster than the needed 9:09/mile pace so we’d have some time in the bank for the later miles. We waited for about 10 minutes after the initial gun went off, and we were on our way!

Let's get this party started!

Let’s get this party started!

The first few miles ticked off smoothly, and the crowds thinned out pretty quickly so we didn’t need to do much weaving to stay together and on pace. I wanted us to stay ahead of the 4-hour pacer and I used him as a guide of sorts, while also monitoring our pace every 1/2 mile or so. The whole first half of the race was run along with the half-marathon, and the crowd support was superb. It was wonderful to be able to feed off of the energy around us, and we ran the first half below target pace, just as I had hoped. We hit the half-way mark with a few minutes in the bank (1:57:40), and the sun beginning to loom a bit heavier as the clouds parted and the mercury rose. It wasn’t a particularly hilly course up to that point, but we had logged around 1100 feet of elevation gain, which is still more than either of us were typically accustomed to in Ames.

Alas, the second half of the race was another story. Once we left the half-marathoners to cross the finish line, the crowd support tapered off. As the heat and sun-exposure increased, our pace tapered off as well. It seemed to hit my pacing charge all at once around mile 14, and I could tell she was beginning to struggle a bit. Had the conditions been the same for the second half as the first, it would have no doubt been a very different story. However, the weather in Ames during the spring had not allowed for any amount of heat acclimation (2-3 weeks needed for proper acclimation) and it was taking its toll on her. Despite a few angry miles, especially during an annoying out-and-back portion of the course, she kept pushing and I kept us moving forward. This was by no means a result of under-training or lack of fitness, as she had pushed hard this spring and had a stellar training stint. We kept moving forward, focusing on relentless forward progress, and with the aid of plenty of water and ice, some forced nutrition, and some motivational preaching on my part, we kept knocking out the miles.

When a race goes really well and every clicks, it is almost always an amazing feeling. However, I truly believe that we learn much more about ourselves when the race gets hard and our body isn’t sure it wants to do what our mind commands. Those are the moments that prove why we love running, love the thrill of the race, and why we voluntarily struggle and push ourselves beyond our limits when it would be much easier to give up or stay home for that matter. There was no giving up and her love of running pushed her forward, and it was a pleasure and an honor to be a part of that, and help in some small way as we made our way to the finish line. With a few miles to go, the burden seemed to be lifted a bit, and we picked up the pace and pushed toward the finish. One of the perks the race is finishing inside Memorial Stadium, and you can’t help but feel a thrill of energy as the stadium comes into site, and you round the corner onto the field. One final kick gave way to a strong finish on the comfortable turf of the 50-yard line and we crossed the finish line victorious in 4:23. We had conquered the beast once again, and it was a wonderful feeling!

All smiles at the finish!

All smiles at the finish!

We found Eric pretty quickly, as he had finished just two minutes prior (doesn’t everyone run a marathon on a stress fracture?!), and we celebrated by helping ourselves to the generous post-race spread of food, water, and Gatorade. We might not have hit that 4:00 mark for her this time, but there’s no doubt that it will happen. It had been a challenging race, and although it had not necessarily transpired the way we had hoped, it was still a marathon finish and I have a feeling there were some lessons learned along the way that wouldn’t have been possible had things gone according to plan. Sometimes those experiences are even more valuable! #chasing42 #chasing42reports

Lincoln 4

Race Recap: HyVee Half Marathon

The quest to play catch-up continues, and April/May were quite busy racing months! The HyVee Half Marathon was held on Sunday, April 26th as part of the HyVee Road Race series. It has typically been the culminating public race event in conjunction with the highly competitive Drake Relays, and this year also lined up with the RRCA National Convention. Since I was participating in the RRCA Coaching Certification program, it only seemed appropriate that I sign up for the half marathon as well. I’ve run this race in the past, most recently in 2012. At that time, it was known as the Drake Relays Half Marathon, and it has since been bought out by HyVee and restructured, including a new course. I had heard mixed reviews from friends about the new course, but the opportunity to run another “final” Iowa race with friends was too much to pass up!

Not only was I running the race this year, but I had been asked by a friend to pace him to a 1:45 finish, which was his half-marathon goal. Having just completed the Gambler Half Marathon, I knew that I could hit that mark, although it was a bit faster than one would normally aim for in a pacing capacity. I woke up far too early and met up with a few friends, including Tim, who I was pacing, and we carpooled down to the race in Des Moines. I often wonder how many additional hours of sleep my body would receive if I wasn’t a runner, and the early morning drive reminded me of that once again. Of course, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world!

The calm before the race :)

The calm before the race ๐Ÿ™‚

The course is fairly flat, with a couple of more significant hills at miles ย 5 and 10, but still with only a hair over 400 feet of elevation gain. We got there in plenty of time to pick up our packets in the morning and walk back to our conveniently close parking space to drop off our bags, which was nice. Since it is a local race, there were quite a few fellow Vardos in attendance, so it was great to hang out and chat with everyone before the race. The weather was cool and comfortable, perfect for running. Tim and I did a few strides near the car to loosen up our legs, and then we headed to the starting line. We found the 1:45 pacer as well, so we had an additional gauge of our time and proximity. It’s a fairly large field, but still very manageable, and we were off within about 30 seconds of the gun sounding.

The first few miles ticked off smoothly, and we kept our pace around 7:50, which gave us a few seconds buffer for the later miles. The route itself was actually quite enjoyable, and the crowd support was decent as well, which helped energize us and keep us on track for our goal. As expected, we gave a few seconds on the hill around mile 5, and again around the later hills. The aid stations were about 2.5 miles apart, and large enough to allow us to run through them and grab a glass of water as we passed. I’m a fan of running through aid stations in shorter races, and especially when they are large enough to prevent any major traffic jams as the running flock to the left or right for their water and Gatorade fix.

It was a great morning for a race!

It was a great morning for a race!

We rebounded after the first hill and knocked out some fast miles before approaching the longer hill around mile 10. At this point, we were squarely on pace and feeling good. I was able to keep chatting with Tim and run next to our ahead of him the whole time once the crowd thinned out a bit, which was nice for offering some encouraging words. He was cranking the miles out and looking strong, and our consistent mile splits were making me quite happy. By the last 3 miles, our pace was solid, and sticking to it became a bit of a game for me. Pacing has been one of the last skills for me to better understand in my evolution as a runner, and it was exciting to be having such a successful outing. Although there was certainly no actual pressure, I still felt a bit when it came to helping a friend achieve his goal, and I think that added intensity was just the boost I needed to stay on task.

HyVee Half 3

We entered Grays Lake with a few miles to go, and knew that end was closing in. One of the highlights of this particular race is the opportunity to finish on the iconic blue oval at Drake Stadium. As soon as we neared the finish and could see the stadium, we picked things up just a bit to ensure we would hit our mark. We made a final surge to the finish line and crossed in 1:45:17 (Garmin time)! It was fantastic to see the time and we were both all smiles at the end ๐Ÿ™‚ We found friends that had already finished, and waited a bit for others, and then we headed over to the after party to replenish our calorie stores and celebrate a wonderful morning of running! Tim ran a fantastic, consistent, and well-paced race, and it was a pleasure to share the experience with him. Another #chasing42 opportunity was in the books!

Cookies and Donuts Fuel Ultras

Hi there! Did you miss me? Remember when I shared just how chaotic the month of March was for the Epicurean and I? Well, April hasn’t been much better! Regardless, my apologies for the gap in my posts. On the bright side, I have a lot of wonderful stories to share, as this has been a busy month in my running life, as well as my life overall. You can expect some “catch-up” posts over the next few weeks as I share some of the exciting races, classes, and experiences that have enriched my running life this month.

The 3rd Bi-Annual Vardo Slumber Party

Training for longer endurance races involves a lot of planning, logistics, and miles. It also means training your body to run through the night and fight off the fatigue that comes from simply running at 3AM when you should be sleeping. Over the past few years, I’ve planned several overnight runs for the purpose of training my body to acclimate to those evening miles, as well as pace myself for the 50- and 100 mile distances. Luckily, I have an amazing group of friends and they have always been more than willing to come out and join me for some of those miles, and keep me company in the dead of the night.

I’ve been trying to squeeze in as many “one more time” experiences as I can in my final weeks in Iowa, and I wanted to fit in one more overnight run as well. So, on the evening of Friday, April 3rd, I scheduled yet another run. I used the same 5-mile route that worked so well last time, allowing for one loop each hour so folks knew they could join in on the hour no matter what.

I headed out to the party early, arriving at 9PM, and ran the route once by myself to make sure there were no problems with the course. It was a bit chillier than I would have liked (33 degrees) but the 30 mph winds from earlier had thankfully died down considerably. I probably went out a bit fast, which I seem to do quite regularly, but I was at least consciously trying to slow down. That counts for something, right? The run was scheduled to start at 10PM, and I had a surprisingly large number of folks come out to join me, which was AMAZING. The friends I’ve made and the conversations I have on runs have always been my motivation and source of energy, and I could feel all of that this time as well. The “event” has gotten to the point where it’s a part of our local running culture and people know what you mean when you mention it, which I think is really cool.

The first few loops went by rather easily, as they always do. We picked up some more folks at 11PM and midnight, with others heading to bed. It meant so much to me to have so many people come out, whether it was for one lap or five. I just loved seeing everyone. The infusion of jello-shots and pudding-shots from one of my friends offered a nice energy boost as well. Seriously, people, jello-shots are not given the attention they deserve as a refueling option! ๐Ÿ™‚

You try getting a bunch of runners to stand still in the dark for a selfie ;)

You try getting a bunch of runners to stand still in the dark for a selfie ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

After 4 laps (20 miles), my legs still felt really good, which I took as a good sign of things to come. On the 5th lap, we made an important detour to Insomnia Cookies for a late night snack. Now, normally I would recognize that a giant chocolate and peanut butter cup cookie might not be the best nutritional choice in the middle of an ultra, but the craving was real, the energy was high, and I had plenty of friends to support and partake in my bad judgment!

Insomnia Cookies- sound nutritional advice for any ultra!

Insomnia Cookies- sound nutritional advice for any ultra!

Luckily, the sugar bomb remained a dud in my stomach and I was able to tick off the next 2 or 3 laps with minimal additional discomfort. By 3AM, the crowd had thinned out considerably, but I still had an intrepid soul with me. I was 30 miles in and feelings pretty darn good. The normal late night nausea that usually hits me was a bit more mild than usual, and my legs were tired, but not sore. We picked up another runner at 4AM (well, traded one for the other), and kept on moving. By 5AM, I could once again feel the excitement of an impending dawn, and I perked up a bit. Daylight also meant more runners showing up for our regular Saturday morning run (which the route masters were kind enough to start at the same park).

The large group showing up again at 7AM was all the extra energy I needed to make a final push and knock out the remaining loops. The final loop may or may not have involved a much needed detour to Dunkin Donuts for a Boston Creme. They should probably sponsor me as a runner. Just sayin’. I’ll let the evidence speak for itself ๐Ÿ™‚ I finished with 53 miles, and decided to stop around 8:30AM. As usual, I was wide awake again, although I knew that wouldn’t last much past my much anticipated hot shower. Despite some questionable nutritional choices, I had fueled really well, and stayed hydrated despite the cool temperatures. Both were facts I was quite happy about.

You're asking yourself why you've never stopped for a donut yourself, aren't you? It's ok. You can change that!

You’re asking yourself why you’ve never stopped for a donut yourself, aren’t you? It’s ok. You can change that!

Once again, this was a fantastic experience due to the friends that came out to run! As I drove home, I was a bit sad and wistful at the realization that this was indeed the last time I’d be able to have the event here. Don’t worry, though, the 4th Bi-Annual Vardo Slumber Party is being planned virtually, and I’m going to be all over Facetime. I might get a few different looks running alone in Delaware at 3AM and talking on the phone, but that will just add to the allure of the experience!

...and 12 hours of sleep :)

…and 12 hours of sleep ๐Ÿ™‚

Training During Chaos!

Ahhhhhh! That was the sound of a deep breath after two weeks of complete and total chaos. My training for the past few weeks has been nothing if not interesting, and filled with alternative plans, added and subtracted routes, and unconventional strength-training. I’m sure everyone has found themselves in a position where training simply couldn’t be a priority in the grand scheme of other life events, and that was certainly the case for me over the past few weeks. However, as of yesterday at 1:30PM, some level of normalcy will hopefully be returning to my life. Sort of, anyway.

The chaos was the result of our packing up our life, fitting it into a POD, cleaning and selling a house, and moving in with a dear friend for the next 6 weeks. All of this happened while working full-time, and, in my case, job searching. It sounds like the perfect time to try and ramp up for some long spring miles, right?

You might recall me mentioning that the epicurean and I will be transitioning to a new home in Delaware this spring. Well, the time came to finalize the sale of our house, and that meant packing up everything we own and getting set to move it across the country. As it so happens, packing up a house is considerably more work than packing up a small apartment. Who knew?! (Ok, anyone who has ever done it realizes that, but it was new to us). It’s amazing how much you learn about your lifestyle when you pack up your home and get ready to move. You realize how much extra “stuff” you have but don’t need, and you get excited about living more minimally in the future. Well, at least that was how we felt. At any rate, the packing and cleaning took longer than we thought, as they always do, but we managed to empty our house and pack our life into a 16′ x 8′ x 8′ POD with no small amount of help from some incredible friends.

Moving with some great friends!

Moving with some great friends!

Working out to move, or moving to work out?ย 

Yesterday, we closed on the house and officially turned over possession. After many long days and long nights, it felt great to sit down for dinner and know we didn’t have to start packing and cleaning again when we were done. Throughout all of this, I’ve had to adjust my running schedule considerably to get in the miles I wanted and needed. This meant a few extra early morning mid-day runs (because getting up early on Saturday isn’t bad enough ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and some strange routes. I somehow managed to keep my training on track.

Last night, as I was finishing up a celebratory 17 mile day, I realized my knees and quads were a lot more sore than they normally are at this point in the week. That’s when I realized just how much “cross-training” I had been doing for the last two weeks. I’ve gone up and down more flights of stairs, lifted more boxes, bent over to clean more surfaces, and stayed up later doing it all in the last two weeks than I ever remember doing. Moving was indeed the best “cross-training” I’d had all year, and I’m strangely thankful for it. My long run tomorrow morning is going to hurt more as a result, but as my legs repair themselves, I’m going to be better for it moving forward.

Finished packing and cleaning- our last night in our first house!

Finished packing and cleaning- our last night in our first house!

Life is going to be full of transition in the next month and a half. We will be living out of suitcases and traveling considerably. I’ve signed up for quite a few “last races” in Iowa before I leave, and I’ll be going through RRCA Coaches Certification training at the end of April. All of this will be happening while work carries on and the end of the semester brings with it much more work. However, there’s a lot of excitement on the horizon. There will be new roads, neighborhoods, trails, and races to explore, and new challenges to meet. You can expect some optimistic uncertainty from me over the next few weeks, but plenty of adventures as well.

Spring is finally in the air, so it’s time to get those legs moving! Get out there and make it happen ๐Ÿ™‚ #chasing42

 

2014 in Review: Reflecting & Giving Thanks

It’s a bit hard to believe that 2015 is already upon us. It’s been an incredible year of running for me, and has left me even more excited for what is to come this year! The new year is typically a time of reflection, resolutions, and giving thanks for those things in your life that you are…well…thankful for. I’m not much for resolutions, as I think you should be able to begin something new or change something for the better in your life at any point during the year. In truth, I hear and read more about people breaking “resolutions” that they began on January 1st, whereas I read countless stories about people who decided to change their lives at other points during the year and are ultimately more successful. You need look no further than the change in gym attendance between January 1st and March 1st (see, 2 months…that’s about as much optimism as you’ll get from me ๐Ÿ™‚ ) to understand broken New Years resolutions! While I may not be one for resolutions, I certainly understand the value of reflection and giving thanks.

I began this year riding a bit of a running high after just completing the Across the Years 24 Hour Run and hitting the 100-mile mark for the first time. This fed my running enthusiasm, and I was eager to begin planning my race calendar for the upcoming year. In the process, I set two larger goals for myself, and decided to let the rest fill itself in as the year unfolded. I wanted to complete my first 100K race, which was a distance I had still yet to race, and I wanted to tackle a true trail 100 mile race. My first 100K attempt taught me a lot, including how to endure my first DNF, and I bounced back to summit the distance a month later. This accomplishment left me feeling great heading into the summer months, and ready to take on my Mark Twain 100 adventure. My training over the summer months went splendidly as the miles added up, and I traveled down to the Mark Twain National forest feeling ready and eager to hit the trails. The experience proved to be more challenging than I could have imagined, and I learned quite a bit about my running and myself along the way. I ultimately completed the race with the help of an incredible partner & crew chief, and some amazing friends. That belt buckle was certainly the highlight of my running year, and has left me excited for future 100-mile (and beyond!) adventures. Along the way, I tossed in some wonderful relays with friends, as well as several marathons, and some unexpected PRs.

Adam- 2014

For as many races as I ran, there were and are always others that I’ve yet to run. The beautiful epicurean will attest to the fact that I’m constantly talking about exciting race destinations, and there is a part of me that would probably travel every weekend if I could. However, this year has given me pause to appreciate the daily miles, the early morning runs with friends, the solo lunchtime runs, and the opportunity to explore my daily existence in a new way. In total, I covered more than 3,100 miles this year, a number I could hardly fathom just a few years ago. I didn’t set out to break the 3,000 mile mark, but I did find new value in consistency. I finished up that consistency with the #RWRUNSTREAK with a group of friends this year, and ran at least once every day fromย Thanksgiving until New Years Day. In all, I tallied 313 miles during that period, but also grew to love the consistency of regular running even more. Today is my first potential day off, and head is telling me to rest so I can be ready for a long run tomorrow morning, but my heart is itching to get out there for a few miles. We’ll see which one wins out!

More than the races, miles, and accomplishments, I find myself thankful for quite a few things this year. Running is so much more than exercise. It truly is a way of life, however clichรฉ that may sound, and I feel more alive, more energized, and more passionate every day because of it. It is a constant reminder of so many things, as well as an opportunity to clear my head. The beauty is, of course, that it’s also the best time to fill my head back up with crazy running plans, philosophical monologues, and stories yet to be written. The opportunity to run with so many amazing people on a regular basis leaves me incredibly thankful for such a generous, caring, energetic, sarcastic, and sincere community. Running with someone allows you to be yourself in a way that few other activities do, and I’m constantly amazed and grateful for that. On the whole, we spend far too little time truly being ourselves, and we should all be so eager to slip on a pair of running shoes and let the thoughts, emotions, and opinions flow. In particular, I’ve met some of the most amazing friends I’ve ever had through my running adventures, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Everyone brings something just a little bit different to the table, shares something unique with me, trusts me and allows me the opportunity to open up to them. I’ll always be convinced that true friendships are forged through lived experiences, adventures, and miles traveled. I am constantly honored to share those miles with the such an amazing group of friends.

Ending the year with a fantastic Holiday party!

Ending the year with a fantastic Holiday party!

This year of running has also left me that much more aware of what an amazing, loving, and supportive partner I get to spend my life with and share in adventures. There seem to be plenty of articles out there about “how to live with a runner”, “how to live with a ultrarunner”, or “how to make sure running doesn’t take over your marriage”. There are just as many stories out there by frustrated runners with partners that aren’t as supportive as they would like, tell them they are crazy for what they love, or view running as an impediment to a strong relationship. I would venture to guess that if you are blaming running for problems in your relationship, then you may just have some other concerns to address. I have no doubt that running makes our relationship stronger each and every day. I see that in the excitement in her eyes when I share my running thoughts, the intentional inquiries about how my runs went, and the detailed support at races and the daily adjustments she makes so running continues to be a part of OUR lives.

So, as I cross the starting line that is 2015, I know that as long as I have a pair of running shoes, I have everything. Not just health and fitness, but community, friends, thoughtful contemplation, and a life partner. What more could I ask for?

October Running Report

The past month turned out to be rather eventful, so I thought I might share some of the highlights. I just finished raking leaves, and the temps are on the decline so I know the white stuff isn’t far behind. However, this has been one of the more legitimate fall seasons I can remember in quite some time, and it’s been perfect running weather. The result was an enjoyable mix of running activities that kept things interesting and entertaining! I managed to rack up some decent mileage along the way as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Run for the Roses 5K/10K: As previously reported, I began the month with a great pair of race PRs. They came out of the blue considering the significant distance I had logged the day before, and it felt great to feel like I had some of my speed back after feeling a bit sluggish that past few months. Earning 3rd place finishes in my age group for both races was a nice surprise as well!

Vardo-Style Slumber Party: When it comes to ultra-training, it’s always nice to train for the overnight portion of longer races. The distances are pretty straight forward but there is no way to simulate running overnight without just doing it. So, I thought it would be fun to turn an overnight training run into more of a group event and invite everyone out to stop by when they wanted, and for as many miles as they wanted. I started running at 10:00PM on the 10th, and kept running until around 9:00AM on the 11th. I was really happy that so many friends decided to come out and log some miles throughout the evening and we had a blast. I stuck to the same 5-mile route so folks would be able to join us on the hour, and it worked out perfectly. I had company the entire evening, with other folks running anywhere from 5 to 25 miles. We got expectedly loopy in the wee hours of the morning, but the constant flood of energy kept me going, and I was happy with the 51 miles I logged. I managed to stay away until Saturday evening before crashing pretty darn hard!

Des Moines Marathon: October is prime marathon season, and the DSM marathon is becoming a nice little tradition for me. I can always count on other friends being down there, so it’s a wonderfully social race, and it didn’t hurt that I ended up with a marathon PR this year either!

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Niland’s Cafe Run: Last week, a good friend decided he wanted to run to a cafe in a neighboring town for breakfast. This random run is one of the reason I love my group of friends so much! The cafe was 20 miles away from his doorstep, and the route was a straight shot down a former highway. I’ve biked this route on many occasions and have always wanted to run in this general direction, but this was my first chance to do so. Six of us in all made the journey, I logged 24 miles, and there was a stack of chocolate chip pancakes waiting for me at the end. Does running get much better than that on a beautiful Saturday morning? I think not!

Halloween Run: Our running group has a nice little Halloween run tradition that we kept alive this year as well. Everyone donned their best costumes or selected from the handy costume bin that one of our wonderful group members keeps on hand for just such occasions. Our route this year meandered around town a bit more than in past year, but it meant we were able to stop at several houses, as well as pass out candy to people in their cars while they were stopped in traffic. We even swung by a friend’s house to give her daughter a personalized reverse trick-or-treat experience, and she made out like a bandit with her candy stash! The Jello-O shots a few of us snacked on as we made our way around town helped put us in the spirit as well!

This picture managed to get even more creepy!

This picture managed to get even more creepy!

Overall, it proved to be an excellent month of training and racing. The numbers and the experiences will make the impending winter months that much more enjoyable. How was your month? What do you have on the horizon?

Total Runs: 26

Total Miles: 292.69

Year-to-Date Miles: 2,614.3

 

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