Today, I returned to the streets. I took a long walk for the first time since my injury around New Year’s Day. The good news is that I had no issues with pain in my foot. The downside… a little bit of swelling in my foot, and some shin splints on the right side. Not a biggie, and nothing that hasn’t happened before. On balance, I’d say this was successful!
I also used my Under Armour “sport” underwear for the first time. I’ve had some real problems with chafing and heat rashes in a “cheeky” location during longer walks/runs. Supposedly, these things could help that with some wicking technology to pull the moisture away from my backside. My walk today bore that out. I was way overdressed for the 50 degree day, so I was sweating like crazy. If that’s not gonna set off a bunch of pain in the backside, I don’t know what will.
So, hooray! It looks like I’m back on the road/trail again. We’ll see where it leads me!
2014 was the first year that I was serious about running races. Frankly, if I’d been more serious about training, my races would’ve been dynamite! As it was, my fastest time for the 5K was in April, with a few other races approaching that time.
Unfortunately, the end of year brought a foot injury that hobbled me after a race in Shawnee KS, and left my skipping my last race of the year (and first of 2015). That’s a subject I’ll address when I work on my resolutions for 2015. 🙂
So, this year’s numbers:
11 races @ 5K, 1 race @ 4K, 1 race @ 4M
Slightly more than 40 miles of racing this year
3 destination races (Kansas City MO, Tulsa OK, Shawnee KS)
1 “delayed” race run in the Caribbean
Shortest time between races: 24 hours (Rock and Roll 5K Remix)
Lowest bib number: 9 (Tap ‘n’ Run 4K)
Highest bib number: 31212 (Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K)
Closet parking to start/finish line: Operation Jack KC 5K (about 50 feet)
Farthest parking from start/finish line: Mo’ Cowbell 5K (about one mile)
Kudos for Becky for winning “Best Costume” at the Undy 5000
Only one weather-impact race: Route 66 5K (Tulsa OK), with some rain
LOTS of new attire: new shoes, jacket, running pants, toque, neck gather, running socks
Three races in Forest Park, two in St. Charles, one in Soulard, only two in downtown St. Louis
A few weeks ago, I was looking for races to close out the year, and found this one. It was a close race — Shawnee KS (a Kansas City ‘burb) is only about 3½ hours from here — and benefitted the local KC Autism Society. How could I go wrong?
I also had a secret, hidden reason for going to this race: Shawnee KS is home to the closest Runza I know of!
Friday, I cruised into town, got checked into the hotel, and set about finding the Autism Society office. When I got to the building and walked downstairs to the race pickup area, I noticed someone had been eating Runza for lunch. I chit-chatted with the folks doing race registration, and as it ends up, one of them had also been in Nebraska for a while, fell in love with Runza’s, and understood my mania. After handing me my race materials, she directed me to the nearby Runza.
I haven’t eaten in a Runza since our half-cross-country road trip in 2008, so this was a treat — a regular Runza, onion rings and a root beer. That was an awesome, awesome way to start race weekend!
I got back to the hotel, relaxed for the afternoon, and eventually wandered outside my room to find a pile of laundry appearing to contain every piece of linen from the room next to me. I don’t know if there was some kind of plague in that room, or a crazy game of Wesson Oil Twister — either way, I stepped gingerly around the pile, and sequestered myself until the morning!
I figured out that the race site was about five minutes’ drive from the hotel, so I headed toward the park around 8:15am for a 9:15am race start. And when I got there… there was almost no one there. I parked within fifty feet of the start/finish line, which is as close as I’ve ever been to the line of any race I’ve attended. Through the next forty-five minutes, runners filtered in, with maybe about 150 runners lining up for the half marathon, and about half that for the 5K.
When I walked to the registration table to make sure I had what I needed for the run, one of the folks from the office recognized me, and said, “You’re the Runza guy, aren’t you?” I guess it’s good to leave a positive impression on folks!
There was no electronic timing, no banners, no post race activities… just a simple run that maximized the proceeds for the Autism Society. That was nice to see, but I didn’t realize how much I missed having the post race hubbub, and the bigger cheering crowd. And I missed having chocolate milk at the end of the race!
My time was really slow in this race, and I’m sure part of that was the crazy cold weather. It couldn’t have *anything* to do with my lack of training this winter!!!
The temperature wasn’t really any colder than any other event I’ve run in, but there was a ton of wind and moist air to make things really cold. For this run, I added a Buff reflective neck gather, and a new Saucony DryLete Skull Cap. These kept my head, face and neck really warm.
I also had a new Nike Element Shield jacket, partly in preparation to stay warm in the upcoming Lincoln races. I had a long sleeve jersey on as a base, and a short sleeve atop that, and then the jacket. I was waaaaaay hot with all that, so I think they’ll do later this week for Lincoln.
However, my new Brooks running pants proved to be warm, but not warm enough. Same with my gloves. I have some Saucony gloves, but they’re proving not to be very useful once you hit 30 degrees or so. I’ll need to resolve both of these pieces of human real estate before Wednesday.
In all, it was a good trip, and another medal for this year!
In fairness, I haven’t exactly been keeping close track, but recently decided to chronicle my races since I started down this crazy path nearly three years ago.
You see, almost three years ago, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. And while I put on a brave face to everyone around me, to my ears, it was like a death sentence when my gastroenterologist told me there was a two-inch tumor inside me. I was petrified until a few days later when Becky described what the doc had actually said, and it began to hit me just how lucky I was … I had a completely curable Stage I intruder, with great prospects for my future survivability.
Shortly thereafter, I heard about the Undy 5000, which was a fundraiser for the Colon Cancer Alliance. The folks in CCA are awesome, and I knew I had to help support them. So, three months after being diagnosed and subsequently cured through surgery, I ran my first 5K. Having never really run before, this was new territory for me, and I kinda got hooked. This would be part of trying to get me to a healthier place in my life.
And I kept running… and yesterday was #20 since that first race in March of 2012.
This was the first time I’d actually run the course for this race. Last year, there were nine inches of snow on the ground, and I didn’t make it to the site. Instead, I opted to run my North Pole Dash aboard ship while docked in Dominica on my 50th birthday. Not a bad way to run a race, or spend a birthday.
As the race participants lined up, I took my place at the slowest pace sign they had (14 minutes — my pace ended up being about 17:57, which is pretty dang slow, even for me). Conveniently, that was near the only speaker system they had. In fact, the announcer said that he hoped the folks at the front of the race would know when to start, because he was sure they couldn’t hear him all the way up there.
I’d run in St. Charles a couple of times previous (both in the Mo’ Cowbell), but never on the uneven brick/cobblestone roads of Main Street. That was not the most pleasant thing in the world, and by the time I got to the end of Main Street, my shins were barking bad. In fact, if you look my pace through the race, it is substantially different on the bricks than it was on the paved roads.
Aside from that, the course was nice enough, winding past the businesses on Main Street, and then past the homes in Frenchtown. The folks in the neighborhoods were gracious, cheering us on (even the slow turtles like me!) as we clogged the tight roads of their neighborhoods. I know that had to be a pain for the folks that live there!
The one complaint I’d have about the course was that there was no water! I always carry water — I’m usually drinking before the first kilometer is down — so it wasn’t a thing for me. It was surprising though.
And despite having something like 4000 people there, there was very little in the way of fanfare or post race festivities. At most of the races I run, there’s either chocolate milk or beer, and while they had hot chocolate and a pub crawl later, those two niceties were missing. And, aside from a few booths on the Katy Trail, and several more in a parking lot, there just wasn’t much to do after the race. I hoofed my way back to the Jeep, and headed home. But not before pulling the Jenny Craig flyer from under my windshield. Someone must be trying to tell me something.
This was a race I really wanted to do, and I’m glad I did, but I sure was expecting more of that “big race” experience. I’ve seen that with the Mo’ Cowbell, and given the holiday-theme, I expected more. I did get my photo taken with a miniature donkey, though, so that should count for something!
As the year comes to a close, I find myself planning to take off the last two weeks of the year. And of course, I don’t want to just spend the time sitting around. So, why not run?
So, like the nut that I am, I signed myself up for the Operation Jack KC Run/Walk 5K in Shawnee KS on December 27th. Yep, I’m gonna drive across the state, spend the night, run three miles, and then come home. Nuts, eh?
Well, you might wanna hold off on rushing to any judgement…
I also decided I’d like to run on New Year’s. Enter the Last Run / First Run in Lincoln NE. New Year’s Eve at 10pm, there’s a 5k run. New Year’s Day, it’s run again just 12½ hours later at 10:30am. So, I’m gonna drive 6½ hours each way, to run six miles.
The Undy 5000 has come and gone, and I ran my race.
OK, so I didn’t set any land speed records, and I didn’t run faster than last year — slower by about two minutes, in fact — but I ran a better race this year. I was crazy nervous about this race. You see, this was my first race since Race for the Stars last summer, and while I knew I could run the distance from my treadmill work over the winter, it’s a whole different thing when pounding the pavement.
Add to that the cold, cold weather — about 35 degrees at racetime — and I was a nervous wreck.
Becky brought Bailey, which helped ease my nerves, and while we were standing there waiting to get going, a good friend of ours from work, Scott, showed up to run with me. Now, I’d tell you that I’m probably taking great liberties with the phrase run with me. I ran my 5km in just over 51 minutes; Scotty blazed the trail in under 30 minutes!
Like they say, even slow miles are better than no miles. I’ll take my slow miles, any day of the week.
And my slow miles actually went pretty well. The course is configured with the finish line sitting atop a rise. Last year, it’s all I could do to sorta jog (and mostly walk) up that rise. This year, I zoomed right up it. Part of that’s probably that I’m in a little better shape this year than last year, but it might also be that I paced myself better this year. Last year, I zoomed through the first half-mile or more in a big ol’ pack. This year, I didn’t start in the big pack, and I kept a little more consistent pace throughout the whole course.
Once the race was over, I got a little post-race sustenance, and waited for the Survivor’s Ceremony. This is a special time for me. All the survivors gather at the stage, and are honored for their successful fights. And once they’re honored, folks who’ve lost someone to CRC are brought up, and are honored. It’s a moving, moving ceremony. This year, though, the folks from the CCA added a little extra touch.
Each of the survivors got a finishers medal to honor us for running our race, and raising our funds.
I’m not one to toot my own horn, and I’m generally a little uncomfortable when someone does that for me. This was no exception, and I had a tough time holding myself together when the gal put the medal around my neck.
So I’d call it a success, both personally and for the CCA. I ran well and strong, I raised some money, and I got a medal. There’s just not a much better way to start a Saturday morning!
Today is the anniversary of one of the biggest changes in my life. A year ago yesterday, I had colon cancer. A year ago today, I didn’t. I was NED… “No Evidence of Disease.”
It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a year. I had really intended to use the gift of what I consider to be “bonus time” to do some big things. And I have done some big things, but I’ve still got plenty of road to travel.
So what were those big things for me this year?
I ran. For the first time in two decades, I ran. Now, I haven’t been very regular about it since the heat came during the summer, but now that the cold weather is here, I’m really driven to get back on the path.
I biked. I returned to the Katy Trail after a four year absence, exploring the new trailhead in Research Park. I thoroughly enjoyed this return, although I shoulda put more miles under my butt.
I started a new job. During my recovery from surgery, I accepted a new position within my company, returning to a team and technology that I left nearly a decade ago. It’s been a blast, and I have found a new joy in going to the office every day.
I returned to Florida. When I was a kid, I spent a ton of time on Pine Island in SW Florida. Becky and I returned there in September, marking at least 30 years since I was last there. And it was amazing! I desperately want to return to the island soon, and put some more “relax” in my soul.
Those are pretty big steps. This year, I have a few new things in mind, and I definitely want to expand on some the things I’ve learned through this last year. The thing that I learned through this is that I have more strength — with God’s help! — to tackle much higher obstacles than I ever knew I could. Remembering that and applying that to my running and cycling, as well as other parts of my life, is the biggest goal for this year.
Oh yeah… I’ll also try to write more here, and I’m thinking about taking up a “Project 365” effort again this year.
Today was our 8th day in a row of 100°+ highs, and our sixth record temp in this spell. There hasn’t been a run like this in 75 years. And, if the forecasters are right, there’ll be at least two more of these really hot days before we get a break.
I drove home tonight with the windows down in the Big Green Box, trying to make the best of the air flow, along with increasing my gas mileage ever so slightly. By the time I got home — about 25 minutes — the 105° temperature nuked me. I was wobbly, and just didn’t feel well. And I’d been drinking water all day.
Needless to say, I haven’t run in about two weeks. I badly, badly wanna get out there and continue my journey-on-foot, and the weather simply hasn’t been cooperating. I’ve discovered that my prime running temperatures lie between 45 and 65. I’m no math major, but I’m pretty sure 105 doesn’t sit in that range.
Yesterday, I ran in the Undy 5000. I’ve gotta tell ya, it was a blast.
I got up early, and ate a breakfast suggested by the folks at Fleet Feet — English muffin, some peanut butter, a banana and water. Becky, Sio and I headed to Forest Park right after breakfast, and started walking around the site once we got there… and then I got an incredible surprise.
Jay showed up.
Jay’s been very supportive during my fight with colon cancer, so having him show up to run with me blew me away. And even though we didn’t run together — he was quite a bit faster than me! — it was great to know there was someone in the throng of over a thousand folks that was running for me. Way cool!
And I did finish the 5k run, walking at least as much as I ran. I had been targeting a finish under 50 minutes, and I was just able to do that, with my chip time coming in at 49:22.
More importantly, I helped. I helped the cause of fighting colon cancer. And I’ll be back next year, running again, and running faster!