Tag Archives: Route 66

Everything I Needed to Know About Racing, I Learned From Ralphie

“Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it’s zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters decend upon us.” – from A Christmas Story

And so it was this weekend.

I mentioned yesterday that I had apparently injured my right calf muscle sometime during my races.  Truth is, I haven’t hurt that bad since completing the Route 66 half marathon last year.  After that race, anytime I sat down, it was very hard to get up, and it took everything I could do to get moving once I got on my feet.

Yesterday was just like that, except only in my right leg.  I have no idea what I could’ve done before, during or after the races.  I didn’t do anything goofy — I wore clothes I’ve worn before, shoes I wear regularly for running, and I stretched the same way I always do.  I don’t remember having any close calls where I had to avoid a collision, or any kind of potential ankle rolling that could’ve caused this.  I am totally lost about the root cause of this injury.

So after a painful, restless night of little sleep, I got up this morning, and was still in a fair amount of pain in my calf, but I was also feeling some pain across the outside of my right ankle, and noticed it was swollen.  I got dressed, and hobbled downstairs for a little coffee and poppyseed bread for breakfast.  By the time I was back at the room, it was obvious to me that four (or more) hours of beating up that already injured leg wouldn’t be the smartest idea.

Could I have finished?  Perhaps, but who know what kind of damage I would’ve done, and how much future racing it might cost me to recover from that.

I talked to Darla, told her what I was seeing and feeling, and she agreed that it was probably best for me not to put 13.1 miles of stress on my already-injured body.  Begrudgingly, I began to pack my bags, checked out of the hotel, and headed for Da Lou.

I’m disappointed.  I mean, really disappointed.  I had such high hopes, and was in such a great state of mind going into yesterday’s races.  Midway through the 5k yesterday, if you’d told me I be writing about a DNS for the half, I woulda told you you were nuts.  I knew I had these races covered.

I talked at the Blogger’s Forum Friday night about trying to keep a positive outlook, and that I really just wanted to run and write about my journey, and hopefully inspire someone else along the way.  Well, kids, this is part of the story too.  It’s not just easy every race.  Some races will challenge you like you’ve never been challenged.  Some will come easy.  Some will kick you to the curb like last week’s trash.

This weekend, I had both ends of that — the heights of revelry, and an unthinkable disaster.

But here’s the cool thing… I was smart enough NOT to push through this injury, and that probably means I’ll be out there running again sooner.  It’s one thing to be smart about running a race — working on pace, stride, breathing, and all the other things that make up a racer’s profile — but it’s just as important to be smart about an injury, and not make things worse.

Of course I’m bummed, and I’m one medal short of where I wanted to be by this time in the weekend.  However, there are always more medals to chase, more races to run, and more challenges to come.  Even if I’m sidelined for a few weeks, I’m still the same dude I was before the injury this weekend, and I’m still jonesing to get out there for my next race, and show this old body what it can still do.

Route 66 Blogger’s Forum

Route 66 announced it today… I’m on the Blogger’s Forum panel again this year — woot!

I did this last year, and met some wonderful folks.  It was cool to just kick back, and talk running and blogging for a little while.  It helped settle my nerves before embarking on my first half marathon, and I really needed it then!

This year, Friday evening (November 18th), from 5pm to 6pm, I’ll be at Cox Center in Tulsa, talking with other running bloggers, spilling all my racing secrets.  (OK, I don’t have any real secrets, but it’s still a fun time!)

I’ll also be volunteering from 2-4pm on Friday at the FanZone.  Find me, and we’ll make some great signs!!!!

If I hear about about any live broadcasting of my panel appearance, I’ll update this post.

Tulsa is getting very, very, very real!!!

What Mad Universe!

In the mid-50’s, Frederic Brown wrote a novel titled What Mad Universe.  In it, our protagonist, a science fiction editor, becomes the victim of a shift left logical event that lands him in a familiar, but not altogether sane alternate reality.  Our editor eventually saves the world, which is not an unexpected result.

In my mad universe, I’m running.

The non-alternate-reality me would say Really?  You’re running?  Well, yeah, I am… and at times, it’s overwhelming.

It’s just over two weeks away from the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa — my second half marathon, and a race I said I’d never run again, and a distance I said I’d never do again.  I was “one on done” with half marathons.  In fact, if you look at the finish photo of me crossing the finish line in Tulsa last year, it’s like some photo for the loneliest runner.  I was spent, and walking slowly across the line, ready for the day to be over.

And yet, here I sit, listening to the eighteen hours of music on my running playlist, overwhelmed by the thought that in just about two weeks, I will finish this race and distance once again, with high hopes to clobber my time from last year.  (We’ll see how that goes!)

In Star Trek IV, Kirk quips, “May fortune favor the foolish.”  Who, other than a fool, would not only chase a half marathon they said they wouldn’t ever do again, but use that one as an excuse to sign up for more of ’em?

Enter this fool.

Last year, at the Route 66 event, I won an entry into the Mississippi River Half Marathon in February.  And after doing the math, I realized that the MS River event and Route 66 were less than 90 days apart.  That’s significant.

Why?  Well, there’s this running group out there called the Half Fanatics, who celebrate running half marathons all over the place.  But, it’s not just a running group for which you sign up… you have to earn your way in.  There are loads of ways to do that, and they range from the just plain crazy to the man, you should be locked away somewhere.  For me, my path of lunacy was three half marathons inside 90 days.

So, you see the problem, right?  A challenge, a calendar, and bookend races for completing this big challenge.

That put me on a quest for a half marathon that was close to Da Lou, and somewhere in between those two races.  I found that race — the Run For The Ranch in Springfield MO on New Year’s Eve.  It’s definitely close, but this isn’t going to be an optimal race for me… it’s laps.

I loathe laps, but this race only has four, so it’s not too traumatic, and frankly, feeds pretty well into my mindset around the half marathon distance.  I try to think of a half marathon as four 5K races, with a little bonus kilometer at the end.  That keeps it sane, and keeps me from thinking just how far that distance is.  This maps pretty well to that view, so I think that’ll be a good thing.  And, they have a six hour cutoff.  That’s well within my ability, even if I have to loaf.

And you’d think I’d be done, right?  Well, not so fast…

I’ve given a lot of props to the Moon Joggers virtual running outfit over the last couple of years, and have run a ton of their events.  The people are fun, and I’ve had a hoot getting to know them virtually.  Earlier this year, they talked about setting up an “in person” gathering of the group at some event somewhere.  Well they did, so…

Yesterday, I signed up for the American Fork Canyon Run Against Cancer.  Yep, I’m running down a canyon road in Utah in June 2017.

This is supposed to be a beautiful race, with loads of support, a cutoff time that oughta be right in my wheelhouse, and a chance to run some really fast miles since the course is essentially all downhill. How downhill is it, you might ask.  Well, it looks like this:

I’ll admit that I gasp just a little every time I think about this race, and what I’m setting out to do.  But I’ll tell ya, half the battle is actually clicking “submit” on the race entry web page, and that’s the harder half to me.  Now that I’m committed, it’s just a thing, and like so many “things” over the last five years, I’ll nail this one, too.

What mad universe, indeed!  🙂

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!  🙂