Race #89 – Runner’s Best Friend 5K

This morning, I’d intended to take on ten kilometers, but I also wanted to take on a new route.  The route won, and the 10k will have to wait for another day.

The city (county?) has been working to extend the Greenway eastward, with a connection between the Wildwood end of the trail all the way to Hutchinson Road.  I only ran on about half of the new extension, but it seems to be nice, and doesn’t feel as hilly as it looks.  There’s still work going on to clean up the trail, get signage in place, etc., but it seems like a terrific extension.  In fact, I think this will allow me to run from the house to the Greenway.  My only complaint is that there are a *lot* of traffic crossings, with the trail crossing back-and-forth across the access road that parallels Highway 100.  I’m sure this is done for safety, but it really hinders getting into a nice rhythm.

There’s no question as November comes to a close that this year has been transformative for me.  When this year began, a cold, cloudy day like today would’ve kicked my butt, and I would’ve struggled, walked, huffed and puffed through the distance.  Today, I ran almost the whole route at a comfortable pace, enjoying the time out on the trail, and not feeling like I was gonna fall over.  Running — at least at a 5k distance — has become enjoyable, and something I look forward to.

What a difference 2015 has made in my life!

This race benefitted WaterAid.Org, an organization that provides clean water and toilets that are essential for life. 

Race Course

Race #88 – Mustache Dache 5K

Yesterday, I returned to the Greenway for my first run since the half marathon in Tulsa on Sunday.  I’ve been taking it a little easy, as I could feel that the effort on Sunday in the cold had really exhausted me — although my body wasn’t sore, which was great news.  The only fallout from Sunday seems to be the beginning of a “black toenail” on the third toe of my right foot.  This seems to be a real rite of passage for the longer runs, so that’s not unexpected, although I’d rather I didn’t have one.  It feels weird.  :-)

The weather yesterday was dreadful.  It was cold, and rained the whole time.  I know I’ve said that I love running in the rain — and I do — but there’s a huge difference to doing that at 50-60° than in the low 40s.  I dolled up in my Zippy’s, my new bright orange CEP calf sleeves, my freshly won Route 66 running shirt, and my running jacket.

I’m really finding that I enjoy running in my calf sleeves, rather than my compression socks.  It feels as though I have more choices that way, as I can vary my sock (thin or thick), while still getting the benefit of compression in my calves.  That may be the new path for me!

I’ve been wanting to run the Mustache Dache for a while, but only just noticed this year that they had a virtual option.  With that, I signed up, and finally picked a day to run.

Once I arrived at the Greenway, I stretched out, and began to run.  And run I did.  In fact, this became the first 5K I’ve run where I ran the whole distance.  Yep, the whole thing.

I didn’t have great speed, as I was taking it slow due to the wet conditions, but also because I didn’t know what my body was gonna do.  Would it give up?  Would my goofy black toenail start causing trouble?  Fortunately, neither happened, and I just kept chugging.  Looking at my cadence data, I was really up and down on steps-per-minute, but I was never as slow as my walking pace.  The was cool to see.

I really think the half on Sunday gets the credit for my success yesterday.  I kept chugging, hill after hill — none as big or long as the ones in Tulsa — and I could just put the distance in a little box in my mind, knowing what I’d just done a few days earlier.  Every hill was “just” a hill, every kilometer was “just” another.  And at the end of the slog, I’d run my race, and heck of a good race at that.

This race benefitted ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer.

Race Course

Race #86 – Route 66 Half Marathon

This was the big one — the race I’d been chasing most of the year.

After the nice races on Saturday, I tried to just relax in the hotel, awaiting time for the half on Sunday.  I laid out “Flat Colin,” trying to make sure I had everything I could think of ready to go.

Corral D
Corral D

After a quick peanut butter and honey sandwich Sunday morning, I got dressed, and walked downstairs to the hotel lobby.  The start line was only about two blocks from the hotel, although starting corral “D” — mine — was about four blocks away from there.

The weather didn’t feel nearly as cold as Saturday.  While the temperature was a little colder, there wasn’t much wind, which helped make for a nicer morning.  I walked up the street to my corral, and waited.

I’d made a sign — “My First Half Marathon” — for the back of my running jacket, and that ended up being the best thing I coulda done.  It was a license for folks to pat me on the back, congratulate me on doing this race, and to remind me that I had this under control.  Best mobile cheerleading section I coulda asked for!

Slowly but surely, my corral moved forward as the race officials spaced each group out.  After fifteen minutes or so, we were up to the start line, and after a countdown, the confetti cannon went off, and we were on our way!

I jogged along for the first couple of kilometers, which was my plan.  I wanted to get warmed up at a pace that was familiar, and cement a solid first five kilometers.  And frankly, that was how I approached this race — four 5k races.

In that first quarter of the race, I started to see the neighborhood involvement in the race.  There were folks with snacks like pretzels and bananas, and others with stronger things like beer and shots.  About two miles in, I took a shot of vanilla rum from some friendly folks.  Warmed me up from the inside!  My first 5k went along at a pretty normal pace for me — about 51 minutes — which kept me at a conservative pace, knowing that I had three more 5k distances to go.

The second 5k wound through more neighborhoods, more block parties, and started to open up into a business district.  The wide road had a good chunk of it blocked off for us, and the businesses were fully engaged — loud music, free beer and lots of cheerleading.  This was probably the most enjoyable part of the course.  My 2nd 5k took about 53 minutes, and with that, I had 10k in the books, and about seven minutes faster than my 10k at Hospital Hill in June.

My third 5k became more of a struggle.  I was starting to lose my pace, and around the 10th mile, I could tell I’d hit a wall.  I was exhausted — fortunately, I didn’t have any real pain — and was really just on autopilot by the time I finished this chunk of the course.  My 3rd 5k was about 57 minutes.

The last 5k was brutal.  It was a real mental struggle to get through this part of the race.  I met some wonderful people along the way, who chatted with me as I walked, and helped keep my mind off what I was doing, and how much further there was to go.  This is where I really found some goodness in habing my Garmin set to alert on half kilometers.  With my arm buzzing every so often, I got a frequent reminder that I was making progress.  This last 5k took 66 minutes.

And after that was done, there was only a little over a kilometer to go.  I had grandiose plans about how I was gonna run through the finish line, maybe striking a pose or doing something silly.  The honest truth was that I was tired, I just walked across, smiling to the photographers.

I had done it, tackling one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and also one of the coolest.  It ranks right up there with driving my Jeep at Talladega, riding my bike at the Indy Speedway, and cycling a 75 mile course in Columbia MO.  This was big.

Half Marathon Finisher!
Half Marathon Finisher!

I got my medal, had my finishing photo taken, and wandered through the finishing line.  I gathered up a bowl of spaghetti, some water, and found a place to sit down and rest.  Once I’d finished my grub, I gingerly got up, and wandered over to the Route 66 tent.  They’d sent an email Saturday night that they had something special for the “doublers” — folks doing the 5k and one of the marathon courses.  It was a very nice pint glass, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the race.

I had planned to ride the start line shuttles to get me back to the hotel.  However, with all the roads closed for the marathon, the busses couldn’t navigate very well, and they’d stopped shuttling folks back.  The person at the busses said the start line was “only” seven blocks “thataway”.  For someone who’d just left their blood, sweat and tears on the course, this was awful to hear, especially in a town I didn’t know.  As it ends up, it was about ten blocks to the hotel.  I made it back, but I had to make several stops along the way to get a little rested.


So… what’d I learn?  Well, I forgot my sunglasses, so that’s a thing.  My gloves were not very warm at all, so I’ll need to replace those.  I had one too many layers on under my coat, and was pretty hot by the time I got into the race.  And lastly, having a big jar of dill pickles in the room fridge woulda been nice.  The pickles and juice really help with recovery, and I think that would’ve been good.  I also think that I shoulda been drinking Gatorade occassionally, instead of only drinking water.  I’m not a Gatorade fan, but I did have some at the last rest stop, and it seemed to help.  I was well hydrated, but it was just water, and no electrolytes.

The most frequent question I had was whether I’d do another half marathon.  On Sunday, my answer would’ve been an emphatic “NO!”  I had a bunch of folks on the course tell me I’d picked a tough course for my first half, which made me feel a little better about my misery.  After some reflection, I think I’ll probably do another one.  I’m already signed up for on in Chattanooga in March, and I learned last night that I’d won a free entry into the Mississippi River Marathon for February 2017.

I guess I’ll be doing another half.  Or two.  :-)

Race Course

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Races #84 and #85 – Route 66 5K and Fun Run

This is the big weekend for me … it’s the Route 66 race weekend.

I got into Tulsa yesterday morning after an uneventful drive from Da Lou.  It was nice weather, sunny and 50ish… if only that were to last!

The Holiday Inn was awaiting me, and was able to do an early check-in for me.  This was great, letting me get unloaded and parked for the weekend.  I walked to the Cox Business Center, which is where packet pickup was.  Things were about to get… interesting.

I walked in the exhibit hall to pick up my packet, and stood in one of the longest lines in which I’ve ever stood.  And while I stood there, the line continued to grow and grow.  After 35 minutes or so, I had my bibs in hand, and went to sign in at the volunteer table.

I’d signed up to help out at the t-shirt tables, and still had an hour until my shift was to start.  When the volunteer director saw me, he asked if I could help now, and sent me to registration.  By this time, the line was truly amazing, and from what some folks said, it was at least an hour from the end to the tables.  Yikes!

Packet Pickup
Packet Pickup

So for the next two hours, I ran back and forth, grabbing bibs for folks checking in.  At the end of two hours, the line was down to almost nothing, and I’d earned my first medal through my running around.  The funny thing is that my Garmin said I’d gone just about 5km… on a course that was about 75 feet long!  :-)

Medal #1 in hand!

The Stage!
The Stage!

Later in the afternoon, I was part of a running bloggers panel at the expo.  This is the first time I’d done anything like this, and sharing the stage with three other much bigger names than me, we talked about blogging, running, and what made us tick.  It was a great time, and hopefully we inspired someone in the audience to blog their travels.

I got back to the hotel, and laid out my stuff for this morning’s runs.  It’s really amazing just how much gear it takes to put me on the road at one of these races!  This morning, it was about 37°, with 20-30mph winds, so it was multiple layers and all the winter gear… and it still wasn’t quite enough.

The hotel shuttle took me up to Guthrie Green, and like many others, I began looking for shelter from the biting wind.  The gear check tent worked great as a shelter, and kept most of the wind off.  Race time started to get close, so a bunch of us worked our way up to the start corral.

2000 of My Besties
2000 of My Besties

Eight o’clock came, and our throng — two thousand strong — flooded the streets of Tulsa.  With the confidence stemming from so many 5k’s this year, I set out confidently, and ran most of the course.  I was trying to stay in a steady rhythm, and that really worked for me, keeping all my kilometer splits within thirty seconds of each other.

Last year, I really struggled with this race, although I fought hard and brought back on of my best finishing times of the year.  This year, I shaved 4½ minutes off last year’s time.  Wonderful!

Medal #2 in hand!

I was also signed up to run in the Fun Run.  Originally, Darla was gonna walk this with me, but she had a knee injury that kept here in Da Lou, so I decided to just continue my nice pace from the 5K, which seemed to work for me.  Again.  In fact, my mile averages for each race were identical.

Medal #3 in hand!


I called the hotel shuttle to have them pick me up at Guthrie Green.  The driver came by — a guy a little older than me — and we started to chit chat about the race.  He commented how impressed he was with people that ran, and that the challenge really seemed to be with getting started.  I told him my story, explaining about my colon cancer, and that being the catalyst for my beginning this journey.  We talked about my cancer, and my early diagnosis.  And then he said he’d been putting off having a scoping, and that he was rethinking that after hearing my story.  Man, that was cool!

Major Awards
Major Awards

So now, I sit in the hotel, pondering my first half marathon tomorrow morning.  I’m both confident and terrified, which I suppose is normal.  I really feel confident that I can finish.  I’m not going for any kind of speed, just a finish.

And I think I can do that.

Race Courses

Route 66 Blogger’s Forum

I know I don’t have the biggest blog following, but I know that the folks that do read my stuff — via the blog, Facebook, or Twitter — are diehards.  Despite me being like Grandpa Simpson spinning yarns about the lemon tree, y’all keep coming back for more.

Well, there’s a chance to get even more.

This weekend is the Route 66 Marathon race weekend, and anyone who’s been around me over the last six months knows I’m going.  I’m running in the 5K and Fun Run on Saturday, and am going after my first half marathon on Sunday.  (GULP!)  I think I’ve been telling folks about this so much just so I can steel my resolve to cross the finish line, and add this to an already crazy year of running.

But wait — there’s more!  The folks at Route 66 and Social Media Tulsa have decided to put me on the stage Friday (that’s tomorrow!) at the #RT66Run Bloggers Forum.  This is a huge honor for me!  Friday at 5:15pm, I’ll be sharing the stage with Sarah Mohler (@Run_Ginger_Run), Amanda Boyer (@cupcakesnmiles) and Angie Whitworth-Pace (@AngieRunsSLC), and we”ll be talking about running, blogging, and who knows what else.  I guarantee, I’ll make some doofus comment along the way, and that alone is worth the price of admission!  (Which is free, btw.)

There’s also another bloggers forum Saturday afternoon with another collection of fine folks.  You can see the whole schedule here.

If you’re in Tulsa this weekend — either running, or just hanging around — c’mon downtown and root us all on.  And if you notice some old, bearded guy sitting in Andolini’s Pizzeria Sunday afternoon after the half marathon, munching on a pizza, having a brew, and mumbling to himself about lemon trees, stop by and say howdy.  I promise, I don’t bite!

Unless, of course, you’re the unfortunate pizza pie that I’ll be scarfing.  In that case, I’ll definitely be biting, and I’ll apologize in advance for the unspeakable gluttonous things I’m gonna do to you!  :-)

Race #83 – Carpe Diem and Be Thankful 5K

I love it when things come together.

Tomorrow will be 47 months since I was declared NED (no evidence of disease) after surgery to remove a two-inch tumor and about a third of my colon.  Definitely something to be thankful for!

When I saw that the medal for this virtual race was coming today from Agent Outerwear, I knew this was the race to run today.  Carpe diem!

Today, the weather was so much different than yesterday.  The deluge — almost 4″ of rain — was gone, and made way for sunshine and very windy conditions.  Keeping a hat on my head was a real tough gig.  The wind was blowing across the trail, so every time I’d run next to a pasture or highspot, I got blown all over the place.

I’d intended to take it kinda slow today, using this as my last run before the fun times to come at Tulsa this weekend.  With that in mind, I started out a little slower on the Greenway than I did yesterday, chugging through the first part of the trail.  And once again, I found myself a third of the way through in what seemed like no time.

I switched back to Sport Beans today, and started munching on those at my turnaround point.  Ya know, I still haven’t decided if they really help or not, but I firmly believe that half of running lies between the hips and feet, and the other half is between the ears.  So, if I believe Sports Beans are helping, that’s nothing but good!

I ended up finishing strong, running most of the last half.  It’s amazing to look at how I run now compared to even earlier this year.  I’m so comfy taking on the 5K distance, and have no anxiety about getting through the course, even if it’s a course I don’t know — like Philly last weekend.  That confidence has probably been the biggest thing I’ve built this year, and something that is helping me, no matter what kind of run I’m on.

In preparation for the on-again-off-again rain/snow for Tulsa this weekend, I picked up some CEP calf compression sleeves — bright orange! — so I could still wear wicking socks if it rained.  I gave ’em a trial run today, and I love ’em.  I think I even like them better than the compression socks I usually use.  It’s nice to bump into something new that seems to help.

Oh, and an update on the new Hoka One One’s.  These things totally rock.  I’ve had much less knee pain, shin splints and fatigue in my legs when running since switching to the Hoka’s.  These things are just great, and are sooooo comfy!

So, I’m thankful to still be here almost four years after my diagnosis.  I’m thankful that I’m living in a country where I can run (among other things), and I’m ecstatic that I can seize the day, just about any day, and strive to make my little corner of the world a little better.

Race Course

Race #82 – United We Stand 5K

Ya know, I’m really digging my “running lifestyle.”  My runs are getting more comfortable and predictable, and I’m finding it’s a great way to work through stress and challenges, while doing something good for me.  Cool.

I’m also enjoying that what I’m doing is helping others.  I know that my little races alone aren’t rocking the world, but with enough other folks running them too, these races are making a difference here and there, and that’s another great reason to run.

I’d been waiting for this beautiful medal to come from Get Fit for Bling for a while, and while I was in Philly, it arrived.  Given the global events of the last few days, it seemed very appropriate to take on this race.

We’re in the midst of a multi-day deluge of rain in Da Lou.  Today, I think the prognosticators are expecting about 3″ of rain.  Knowing that the forecast for Tulsa this weekend is for rain, I figured it made sense to get my Hokas and wicking socks on the trail, and see how they did with very wet conditions.

I’d been watching the radar this morning, waiting for a nice long stretch of rain, and finally the next wave started to make its way through.  (Silly, eh?)  When I dropped in at the Greenway, it was drizzling.  I started running, inspired by the great run I’d had in Philly, and trudged down the trail.

The rain was gentle for the first half of the course, and I made pretty good time.  Typically, I’ll have some Sport Beans around the halfway point, but today, I decided to try a pack of Gu Energy Chews.  They were good enough, but I was still tasting them after I got home from the race, which wasn’t something I was expecting.  That’s why I only experiment at home!

With about a kilometer to go, the wind and rain really picked up… and I totally loved it.  There’s just something energizing to me when the rain falls, and I can’t imagine better running conditions.  Now, when it rains in Tulsa this weekend, it’s gonna be much colder, but I knew I needed to get some wet running miles in before I got down there.

In short, it was a great run, and a great way to escape the state of world for a brief bit of time, as well as continue preparing for Tulsa this weekend.

This race benefitted the American Red Cross.

Race Course

Race #81 – Rocky Run 5K

What a whirlwind weekend!

This weekend was the Rocky Run 5K in Philadelphia.  When I heard about this race, I couldn’t resist signing up for it, and putting on my best “Yo, Adrian!”

I’ve said before that I love road trips, and this was one of the sillier ones I’ve ever done.  Think of it as an 1850 mile out and back driving course, punctuated in the middle with a 5k out and back running course.  In fact, I only spent about seventeen hours in Philadelphia, while I spent about twenty-eight hours on the drive itself.

Leaving Thursday after work, I got to Philly late on Friday, and arrived at Lloyd Hall to pick up my packet with an hour or two to spare.  Frankly, I was surprised at the packet pickup.  It seems like many, many races I run have some kind of health expo at the packet pickup site.  It’s a chance to pick up things you forgot (like gloves, for me on this trip), as well as supplies like Gu and Sports Beans.  Here, it was packet pickup, and that was pretty much it.  It made things quick, though!

I got to the hotel after a little exercise in one way streets, was checked in, and landed squarely on the couch to rest a bit.  I flipped on the TV to find something silly to relax with.

And that’s when I heard about Paris.

I’ve bled myself off the news.  There’s so much awfulness in the world reported a 24×7 basis, and this incessant blast of bad news has had an awful impact on me.  So, I elected months ago not to watch the news (aside from CNBC — that’s just playing with numbers all day, and is entertaining to my inner math geek).  I don’t need to recount the atrocities that unfolded on Friday night, but needless to say, Paris was on my mind all night.

I got up early, and started my race morning routine, knowing that I had about a mile to walk to the race site.  I got dressed, and headed toward the Philadelphia Art Museum.

As usual, I arrived at the race site early, and got to watch the crowd filter in.  There were all kinds of Rocky’s, Hulk Hogan’s and other costumed characters showing up, all ready to take on the courses.  Folks milled around, while the DJ worked on getting everyone up for the race.


I knew I had to go over to the Museum, and take my picture with the big statue of Rocky.  It’s a pretty cool process.  You stand in line — about twenty folks deep when I showed up — and hand your camera to the person behind you in line, and they take your photo.  And this goes on and on until everyone’s done.  Pretty cool.

No Corral for Turtles?
No Corral for Turtles?

We started lining up for the 5k, by corrals.  And as we all stood there in our running gear, it was hard not to think of Paris, standing in one of America icon cities at a large event that could be thought of as a “soft target”.  That’s probably the first time I’ve ever felt a little nervous like that at a race.

We stood, and the singer began belting out the National Anthem.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung so boldly.  And man, did he have some sustain!!!

After a couple of four minutes “waits” for waves to get off the line, my wave — the final one — finally got going.  And what a throng of folks!  There’ve been plenty of races I’ve done around here where the entire group of race participants didn’t equal the number of folks in my wave.  I couldn’t believe the mass of humanity in front of me as we took off.  In fact, starting eight minutes behind the leaders, we starting passing them on their way back just a few minutes into our run.  Normally, that’d be a little disheartening, but I was having a great race.

And in this race, I ran about 90% of course, which is big for me.  Something just clicked, and I found a great pace to hold through most of the course.  I hope that happens at Tulsa next weekend!

Some Surprise Encouragement
Some Surprise Encouragement

Just before the finish, I saw someone holding a sign saying “Way to Go Colin!”  I told her my name was Colin also, and I took a quick selfie.  The other Colin finished about 15 seconds ahead of me.

Post race, I was interviewed by a guy and his cameraman.  I have no idea where that video was gonna wind up, but they asked about the popularity of 5k’s in America, and whether the funds raised for the race beneficiary was a driver for me.  They were also quite amazed that I’d driven from Da Lou for the race.  If you see video that sounds like that, let me know!  :-)

And with 1850 miles of driving, I encountered some weird driving stuff.

In Ohio, I encountered a line of what we call out here “gang plows”.  This is when the snow plows stagger, lane by lane, pushing the snow from lane to lane at high speed.  I have no idea why these plows were out, but their blades were painted.  One had The Hulk, and others had other characters and scenes.

Also in Ohio, there was a highway information board touting the number of fatalities on the road this year.  The next screen on it said “Focus on driving”.  Kinda ironic, eh?

I’ve also figured out that the folks in Philly don’t know how to merge.  Every traffic delay I encountered either entering or leaving Philly had to do with the fine art of merging.  That was pretty ugly.

And lastly, I realized pretty quickly the the posted speed limit in work zones on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is really just a suggestion.  :-)

That's Heavy!
That’s Heavy!

So, it wasn’t a PR — although it was close — but it was a very successful trip and race.  I was really pleased with my run, and how close I came to running the whole distance.  What an amazing improvement over this season!

This race benefitted Special Olympics Philadelphia.

Race Course

Race #80 – Veteran’s Day 5K

Tonight, I ran the Veteran’s Day 5K.  Yeah, I know that Veteran’s Day is tomorrow, but we’ve got heavy weather coming in tomorrow, and I knew I wouldn’t get to do this race on time.

I decided to return to an old course of mine, taking me through the neighborhood.  One of the things that drove me away from this route a while back is a huge hill right at the turnaround point.  That hill is still there, and it’s still awful to climb.  But, climb it I did, and even on this tougher course, I still was under my goal time.

I am thankful to live in a country where I am free to chase after crazy dreams like the running I pursue.  I am proud to have served my country in the US Air Force, and to have a brother, father and grandfather who served in the military as well.

If you’re a veteran, I hope you have a great Veteran’s Day.  If you’re not, shake the hand of a vet, and tell ’em, “Thanks.”

Race Course

Race #79 – Honoring Those Who Served 5K

Yesterday, I ran yet another 5k virtual race.  As we approach Veteran’s Day, there’s been a bunch of veterans related virtual races, and I’ve glommed on to a few to run over the next couple of weeks.

Once again, I went into this run at lunch just planning to walk, with the occasional trot thrown in for good measure.  As it ends up, I started chugging along at that aforementioned good little trot, and in short order found myself way down the trail, and heading back to the Jeep.

It’s still astounding to me to see how far I’ve come this year.  I’ve really committed to running this year.  What used to be goals I only reached once a year, are now finishing times I achieve the vast majority of the time.  If you’d told me a year ago that I’d regularly take on the 5k distance, and complete it under 50 minutes, I would’ve thought “no way.”  Well there is a way, and I’ve apparently discovered that way.

I think it’s just heart and determination.  It doesn’t hurt that I’m enjoying the chase for the medals, and loving how running makes me feel.  Those things are just gravy.  :-)

This race benefitted the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Race Course

can·a·peel (noun) ˈkan-ə-pēl – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.