Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Post About Not Running

While I am not (yet) training for anything specific, I was supposed to do a long run today and decided not to. Not injured, not burnt out, didn't have any other commitments, I just didn't run and I am totally OK with it.

 I did mow the lawn (in March!) and it was a bit tough (always do that "last mow" in the fall or else doing it the first time in spring will be a big chore - the back yard was like a prairie), so I felt like I got some sort of workout. My legs have been a bit tight since the half marathon last week and I figure that running tomorrow would be better than going out today, so that's the plan.

It's a bit funny that I expect to feel guilty when I don't run and I know many others who feel the same way. I suppose there is a comfort to keeping a schedule, but the truth is, missing or rescheduling a run is not that big of a deal. So, instead of running, I decided to.... watch movies about running.

I watched most of "Spirit of the Marathon" for the second time. If you don't "get" the whole running thing, and especially if you do, I would recommend this documentary film. It follows six runners, two pro and four amateurs, through their training and thoughts leading up to the Chicago Marathon. Their emotions really shine through and I found myself being able to relate in many ways to all of them. It is available on Netflix.
The other documentary film I watched was "Running the Sahara". I've had this in my Netflix queue for a while, but didn't really know if I wanted to watch it. I didn't think watching "elites" run through the desert would be that intriguing. I was wrong for a couple reasons. First, the runners were not just "elites". One was a 2:20 marathoner, but the others were just "normal" guys (who have a great training ethic) with a passion for both running and the desert. The other thing I didn't realize was the complexity of organizing such a massive undertaking. They needed a crew including a guide, doctor, trainer and a "business manager" to deal with the logistics of running over 4000 miles. There was mental fatigue, physical issues, political problems - it was all pretty fascinating.

I didn't run today, but never fear, I'm still sufficiently obsessed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rock CF Half - Great Race

The Rock CF Half Marathon was today on Grosse Ile, an island town in the middle of the Detroit River. It is in Michigan but on the other side of the river is Canada. The CF stands for Cystic Fibrosis and finding effective treatments and ultimately a cure to this disease was the reason for this race.

Because the race took place over an hour from my home, I had to go to bed quite early and got up before 4am. I got to the high school at 6:15 am to pick up my race bib and packet. I walked a bit and then went back to the car to get ready. It was warm enough to go with short sleeves and shorts and, luckily, the rain held off.

At the start area, I saw Megan from Watch Mego Runfor the second straight week. As we currently run at a similar pace, I would see her a couple more times during the race. I didn't see the other area run bloggers (it was a big race with over 1000 people), but hope they did well.

I started out a little fast, but intentionally so. I figured if I felt good, I would try to maintain an 8:40 min/mi pace, which, if I could maintain it, would get me a 1:54 race time. I actually was right on it for about 9 miles. The last 3-4 miles were tough, mostly because of sore legs. While they were sore, they kept moving. So, how did I do?

You see, Jesse says "Yo" and the "B" word a lot, usually in the same sentence

I set a PR by over 8 minutes and beat my "Gold Medal" goal by finishing in 1:56:36. Overall, I am very happy with the race and the result!

Three races with 3 PRs this year so far. I feel like I'm really making some progress on the way to the goals I set for 2012.

So... what's next? I don't have any races on the schedule at the moment. I want to do another 5k, because it is still my "favorite" distance and because I think my 5k PR is soft (I know I mentioned race times a lot in this post. It isn't "all that matters", but one of the main reasons I train is to improve). There are a lot of 5k opportunities - the most interesting being the Big House, Big Heart race at Michigan Stadium. I'm also considering another half marathon - possibly the "Lets Move" one in 4 weeks in Macomb County.

Have you raced this year? If so, how did it go

Is just running reward enough, or do you need "results"?

How do you pick races to run?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Call me "Coach Daddy"

I ran 7 miles today. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty decent after yesterday's race. However, I didn't eat before I went out and it was "hot" out, so it was a bit of a struggle.

After the kiddies got home, I asked my 9 year old daughter, Lil' C (I may need to come up with a better blog name for her), if she wanted to start her training now (She would like to run the Open Door Julie Run 5K in June with me) and she responded positively.

Any excuse to post baby pictures is fine by me

Not wanting to put too much on her at once, since she is young and, while active, is not a regular runner, I decided as her "coach" that we are going to try to do the Couch to 5k program. For this week, she is supposed to do 3 workouts of a warmup walk, then alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes.

We headed out, did our walk and then started running. I think the first couple of intervals were not too comfortable for her, but she seemed to take to it shortly thereafter. I kept asking her if she was OK after almost every running interval and I'm sure she was thinking "Dad, leave me alone, I'm fine" but just said "I'm fine".

Toddler pics are fair game too

I think she liked it and said she would continue. Hopefully, she's still at the age where doing stuff with her dad is not totally "uncool". She liked when I told her that she if she kept it up, she could be beating me in races in a few years, especially when I stressed that I wasn't joking. If she puts a couple weeks in and it really seems like she's going to keep up running, I'll probably get her a real pair of running shoes. She liked that idea too.

I am aiming to be careful not to push her too hard and A) turn her off about running or B) get her hurt. This is why I think the Couch to 5k program is a good way to go (but I will continue to research and see if I can find out anything else - maybe running a 5k is too much to expect from a 9 year old, but tell that to the kids who have beaten me during the past couple years).

Enjoying a hockey game

I also need to manage my expectations and not get my hopes up, thinking that I can turn her into a state champion and get her a college scholarship on the way to an Olympic qualifying race time (One can dream though, especially about a college scholarship). Additionally, I don't want to be disappointed if she decides she just isn't interested in running. I just want to expose her to something that I enjoy and think that she could enjoy and she might even be good at it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

ShamRock N' Roll 10k was Sweet

One of my two "winter payoff" races was today, the ShamRock N' Roll 10k in Plymouth. I originally chose to do this race because it was a 10k (and an almost guaranteed 10K PR), it offered a tech shirt and medal, and I anticipated that it was going to be well run by Kona Racing Co. As a bonus, a least two of my fellow SE Michigan running bloggers, Megan from WatchMeGoRun and Jeff from Detroit Runner were going to be there. (I call them fellow bloggers, but they have blogs which are much more popular, longer running and updated more frequently than this one. To me, they are in the "Pros" of running blogs, while I'm in single A ball. :P)

I wanted to be well rested for this race and, after not sleeping well Friday night (watching too much Breaking Bad on Netflix, trying to catch up. Not since Battlestar Galactica have I enjoyed a TV series this much. A few more episodes and I'll finally be at the current season), I needed to get to bed early. I was in bed at 8pm and asleep by 8:30. Woke up at about midnight and slept off and on until about 3am, then I got a couple more solid hours of sleep.

I had to get up pretty early to eat something and drive to Plymouth. I have had good luck with caramel rice cakes and Gatorade. Yes, that not exactly the "Breakfast of Champions", but it seems to be a combo that my stomach can deal with on race day, so I went with it.

I arrived a bit early, about an hour before race time. Parking was great and check-in was quick. I missed having the family at the race (I don't think they've made a race since Halloween) but they may have been bored getting there that early. I walked around a bit and checked out the setup and the downtown before I found Jeff from Detroit Runner. We took a couple pics and talked a bit, then each prepared for the race. I lined up early about a third of the way back from the start and listened to the National Anthem and watched the dance routine. Very nice start line setup, with great sound (not being able to hear at the start of the race is a pet peeve).

It was a little crowded just after the start of the race, but that probably worked to my advantage. I think it allowed me to ease into race pace. First mile was right pace on and the second mile was faster. I liked the course with the twists and turns which visually broke up the race into sections (I find this preferable to looking ahead to a seemingly endless straightaway). I hit the 5k mark at about 24:30, which would have made it my second fastest 5k if that was it. Alas, the race continued...

Just after 3.5 miles, I heard a volunteer shout out to Megan of WatchMeGoRun. I turned around and waved and continued on. Inside, I was a little scared. Between our blogs and DailyMile, we both know that our race PRs and our training times are really close. Yes, she's a woman and yes, I'm about 10 years older, but we're at pretty much the same place in our running careers in terms of race times. As such, we have been "just jokingly" (but at the same time somewhat seriously) posting about who was going to win between us, usually posting that we are scared that the other will win, rather than taunting each other. :) Knowing she was close strengthened my resolve to try to keep my pace, which I maintained, for the most part, until mile six.

Mile six was a bit of a struggle and I began to slow a little. Slowing to an 8:30 + pace for the mile (after one of my most consistently paced races ever through the first 5 miles), cost me the chance to hit my 50 minute "gold medal goal". I was able to turn it on a little bit and had a nice .2 mile finish, but unless I could run it all at a 4:30 min/mi pace (I can't), I wasn't going to break 50. I finished just before the race clock hit 51 minutes, so I knew that was in the bag. The final result was 50:28.7, which was a 10k PR by 7 minutes.

After finishing, I saw Megan's brother (who I recognized from pictures) and tried to locate Megan to say hello and to see how the race went. We found her and she had finished less than a minute behind me (While, as a competitor, I wanted to finish ahead of her, I didn't really celebrate. I wanted her to get a PR. If she had a better run or if I didn't run what was perhaps my best race ever, she could have just as easily beaten me. We shall meet again next week at the Rock CF Half Marathon). Ryan (her man) finished a couple minutes later and before long, I was able to meet the whole family. I thought it was cool that they all came to the race and many (her brother, Ryan, her sis-in-law and her dad) all raced. RunnerBaby is sure to join in the racing soon.

I tagged along with them for a while and saw Jeff again for some more pics and met Megan from On the Road Again. It was cool that they "adopted" me for a little while and invited me to get a beer and lunch with them at Sean O' Callaghan's. The food and company were both welcome.

Overall, it was a great race day. The weather was perfect, I ran a very good race, the race itself was operated well and I met some nice people. Can't ask for much more than that!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Virtual Race Bag

Hiya! I've done several races where you now get a "virtual race bag". I think the idea is great. Sponsors have a chance to get word out about their product, service or organization while being "environmentally friendly" and they probably save a bit on printing and materials. While the idea is great, the execution is usually lacking.

The main issue is the failure to provide anything of use to the recipient. I recall getting some race bags with goodies such as cold paks, biofreeze, water bottles and other potentially useful items. I would still like to get those items and I guess, if a sponsor is so inclined, they can still give these items out at the registration / shirt pick-up area. It goes beyond just the physical stuff. The issue is that the ads in the virtual race bags are usually almost worthless.

Upcoming race information is useful, certain notifications about services are ok, but if you want my attention and get me to come into your business, just give out some friggin' good coupons.

A good coupon is not 5% off one particular brand of ponytail holders at a running store. Give me something, anything, to get me in the door. How 'bout 10 - 20% off a regular priced item. If needed, put some restrictions on it, but give me some incentive to walk into your business - I and many other runners just might do it. Businesses, you're still going to make money and you might get someone to come into your store that otherwise wouldn't. If they buy one sale thing, it is very possible they'll need some GU, Sport Beans, socks or some other items which you make good margins on. I want to shop locally instead of at a chain store or online. Please give me some reason to do so!

The other thing that I don't like is when restaurants do a similar thing. I don't need a copy of your menu. If I'm a customer, I know it and if I'm not, seeing your menu alone isn't the best way to make me one. Buy one get one free, free appetizer on race day, percentage off - something like that. Most runners are local - get them to try your product and if it is good, they'll come back even without a discount.

Maybe the entire point of this post is that I'm cheap and like free stuff. While that may be is true, I think I'm pretty much on target here. Retailers sponsor things many times because they are good neighbors and part of the community, but I'm guessing that more often than not, they see it as another method of advertising. My thought is, if you're gonna do it, do it right.

What do you think of the virtual race bags? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Me Love Daylight Savings Time!

It is so nice to make it home after a long work day and still have daylight. After a rest day yesterday, I had plans to do a "fast" 5k today. I got home, put on my running stuff (it only took 2 minutes instead of suiting up for cold running, which can take a while) and headed out.

It was warm, my legs felt good and I felt fast upon the start. The first mile was good and then I ended up with a mild side stitch that lasted the rest of the run. It hurt a little and slowed me a little bit. I'm hoping that if I get that in a race, I won't let it slow me too much.

Plan to do an easy run Friday, maybe a walk or very light run on Saturday and then will be ready for race on Sunday!

Well, OK then....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ready 2 Race - R U Red E 2?

I have two big races coming up in the next two weeks. Next weekend, there is the inaugural Shamrock N' Roll 10k in Plymouth and the following weekend, the Rock CF Half Marathon. It will be my second race at each distance and I am ready to go!

The ShamRock N' Roll Run will actually be my first 10k I'll get to run on fresh legs (the only other 10k I've done was the second half of the Iron Turkey run near Ann Arbor in the fall - after a PR 5k). I am looking forward to it, but am not certain how to run it. By that, I mean at what pace should I try to maintain.

I've decided that there will be no "holding back" for the half-marathon the following week. As I haven't developed a "10k pace" I'm thinking that I will run like a 5k and hold the pace for as long as I am able. I feel that my training over the past few weeks has put me in better running shape than I was at the Super 5k in early February and I think I can maintain the pace from that race.

I like to set goals, so here they are:
Bronze: Set a new PR (Below 57:30)
Silver: Below 52:00
Gold: Below 50:00

My winter "payoff" race will be the Rock CF (Cystic Fibrosis) Half Marathon race on March 25th. The race will be run on Grosse Ile, an island at the end of the Detroit River leading into Lake Erie and across the way from Canada. The course looks to be pretty flat and, if the weather is good, it should be pretty fast. As of this moment, my goals for the race are as follows:

Bronze: PR Below 2:04:47
Silver: Below 2:00:00
Gold: Below 1:58:00 (9 min/mi pace)

Besides the races themselves, I'm looking forward to meeting Megan and Ryan from and Jeff from Hopefully, I can meet a few other fellow running bloggers and other Michigan runners who read and comment on those blogs.

As for my recent running activities, I had a very good Saturday 10 mile run. It was just about at half marathon pace, even with the hills and the wind. Those kind of runs are confidence building.

I followed that run up with a 2.5 mile "recovery" run on Sunday and a 4 mile run today. The recovery run wasn't really what a recovery run should be. It was "slow", but the terrain was pretty challenging.

Maybe I should have skipped running today, as I wasn't feeling it at all. I planned to do a 10k trial run at about 90% race speed, but it became clear after about a quarter mile that wouldn't happen. About then I made a deal with my legs that I wouldn't work them too hard if they would give me about 4 miles and not become injured or too sore. Apparently, it was a deal so I ran 4 fairly slow miles. I have learned not to worry about a "sub-par" outing or two, especially if they can be easily explained. This was an easy one to explain - tired legs, tired body, full belly, overdressed (should have not worn long sleeves and long pants - winter running habits are hard to shake), etc.

With warmer weather and more daylight (I don't care what the haters say - I friggin' love daylight savings time!), I'm looking forward to a couple evening runs this week (maybe a faster one on Wednesday and a lighter one Friday) to prepare. Then it's time to SHAM Rock N' Roll!

Do you have any upcoming races?

Do you set specific goals, general ranges, or just wing it?

Will you be running either of these races?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Running / Speed Rock Playlist

I am a fan of rock music. My "handle" of Protometal, which I still haven't quite phased out (you can call me Josh, just don't call me "late for dinner"!), refers to early heavy metal music, such as Black Sabbath and Budgie. With that established, I present the first version of the Running / Speed Rock Playlist.

The songs on this playlist seem to fall into one of a few categories. They include the following:

1. Songs which have "Run", "Running", "Runnin'" in the title, such as "Runnin' Down a Dream" by Tom Petty.
2. Songs which reference "fast" or "speed", such as "Too Fast for Love" by Motley Crue.
3. Songs which are actually about running, like "Marathon" by Rush.
4. Songs about perseverance, such as "Fight to the Finish" by Gamma (RIP Ronnie Montrose).
5. Songs about Detroit, 'cause that's where I live, approximately.
6. Songs about victory or winning, i.e. "Victory" by Megadeth.
7. Songs which are "defiant" or show "aggression", including "I Shoot Back" by Ted Nugent.
8. Songs that are really about speeding cars or trains chugging along (there are more than you would think). I guess I equate a train rolling down a track with me rolling down a track. I have 3 versions of Train Kept a Rollin' (Aerosmith, Motorhead, Yardbirds) alone on here.

I'll try to make a page which is a bit more organized (with Spotify links), but for now... here it is (by artist):

Aerosmith – Road Runner
Aerosmith – You Gotta Move
Aerosmith – Three Mile Smile
Aerosmith – Train Kept A Rollin'
Aerosmith – Get The Lead Out
Airbourne – Runnin' Wild
Alice Cooper – Catch Me If You Can
Alice Cooper – Detroit City
Alice Cooper – Under My Wheels
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Roll On Down The Highway
Bad Company – Run With the Pack
Billy Idol – Speed (Album Version)
Black Country Communion – Burn - Live From Germany/2011
The Black Crowes – Go Faster
The Black Keys – Run Me Down
Black Sabbath – I
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
Bryan Adams – Run To You
Cake – The Distance
Captain Beyond – Dancing Madly Backwards (On A Sea Of Air)
Captain Beyond – Raging River Of Fear
Cheap Trick – Time Is Runnin'
Chickenfoot – Runnin' Out
Coheed and Cambria – Ten Speed (Of God's Blood & Burial)
Coheed and Cambria – The Running Free
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through The Jungle
Damn Yankees – Don't Tread On Me
Deep Purple – Burn - Remastered LP Version
Deep Purple – Speed King - U.S. Album Version from 'Deep Purple In The Rock'
Deep Purple – Highway Star - Live Version
Deep Purple – Fireball
Dio – I Speed At Night
The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Runnin' Shoes
Foo Fighters – Breakout
Gamma – Fight To The Finish
Grand Funk – Runnin'
The Grateful Dead – The Race Is On [Live]
Hawkwind – Kings Of Speed
Heart – Kick It Out
Heaven & Hell – Double The Pain
The Hellbenders – Runnin' Wild
Humble Pie – Road Runners G Jam
Iggy & The Stooges – Search And Destroy - Iggy Pop Mix
Iggy & The Stooges – Gimme Danger - Iggy Pop Mix
Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power - Iggy Pop Mix
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Iggy Pop – Run Like A Villain
Iron Maiden – Running Free
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
Iron Maiden – The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
The J. Geils Band – Detroit Breakdown - Live
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Roadrunner
Joe Satriani – Speed Of Light
John Fogerty – Walking In A Hurricane
Jonny Lang – Hit The Ground Running
Jorn – Push
Journey – Keep On Runnin'
Judas Priest – Breaking The Law
Judas Priest – On The Run
Judas Priest – Turbo Lover
Kiss – Mr. Speed
Kiss – Detroit Rock City
Lenny Kravitz – Where Are We Runnin'?
Lenny Kravitz – Always On The Run
Lindsey Buckingham – Holiday Road - Live
Lita Ford – Can't Catch Me
Locomotive Breath – Speed Driven
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Call Me The Breeze
Marilyn Manson – Running To The Edge Of The World
Megadeth – Fast Lane
Megadeth – Victory
Molly Hatchet – Flirtin' With Disaster
Mötley Crüe – Kickstart My Heart
Mötley Crüe – Too Fast For Love
Motörhead – The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
Motörhead – Speed Freak
Motörhead – Built For Speed - 1987 / Live At Brixton Academy, London
Motörhead – Iron Horse/Born To Lose
Motörhead – The Train Kept A Rollin'
Motörhead – Runaround Man
Motörhead – Built For Speed
Motörhead – Ridin' With The Driver
Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog
The Offspring – Race Against Myself
The Osmonds – Crazy Horses
Ozzy Osbourne – I Don't Wanna Stop
Ozzy Osbourne – Over The Mountain - Remastered Original Recording
Pat Benatar – You Better Run
Paul Stanley – Live To Win
Pearl Jam – Supersonic
The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Mach 5
The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Kick Out the Jams
Queen – Headlong
Queen – Stone Cold Crazy
Rainbow – Long Live Rock N Roll
Rainbow – Kill The King
Rainbow – Run With The Wolf
REO Speedwagon – Keep Pushin'
Robin Trower – Day Of The Eagle
The Rolling Stones – You Can't Catch Me
Rush – Fly By Night
Rush – Marathon
Rush – Finding My Way
Rush – One Little Victory - previously unreleased R30 Live Version
Sabaton – The Price of a Mile
Saxon – Wheels Of Steel (7'' Version)
Scorpions – Bad Boys Running Wild
Scorpions – Speedy's Coming
Scorpions – Sting In The Tail
Slash – Speed Parade
The Sounds – Running Out Of Turbo
Stone Temple Pilots – Fast As I Can
Stray Cats – Built For Speed
Sweet – Fox On The Run
T. Rex – Chariot Choogle
Ted Nugent – Stormtroopin'
Ted Nugent – Weekend Warriors
Ted Nugent – Hammerdown
Ted Nugent – I Take No Prisoners - Live
Ted Nugent – I Shoot Back
Ted Nugent – Motor City Madhouse
They Might Be Giants – Speed and Velocity
They Might Be Giants – It's Kickin' In
Thin Lizzy – Running Back
Thin Lizzy – Warrior - Live Album Version
Tin Machine – Run
Tom Petty – Runnin' Down A Dream
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Running Man's Bible
Triumph – Lay It On The Line
UFO – Rock Bottom
Van Halen – Unchained
Van Halen – Runaround
Van Halen – Runnin' With The Devil
W.A.S.P. – Running Wild In The Streets
W.A.S.P. – The Running Man
W.A.S.P. – Show No Mercy
The Who – Motoring - Shel Talmy - Stereo Version
The Who – Run Run Run
The Who – I Can See For Miles
The Who – (I'm A) Road Runner - Live (1971 / Young Vic, London)
Y&T – Don't Stop Runnin'
The Yardbirds – The Train Kept A-Rollin'
Yngwie Malmsteen – Faster Than Speed Of Light

The entire playlist is available on Spotify HERE.

Please let me know if you have any other songs which are along the same lines as these so that I may add them!

Rock N' Roll!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Wind Doth Blow & Run Book

We have had a relatively pleasant winter here in Michigan. Certainly there have been recent weather events throughout the Midwest that trump any minor inconveniences I may experience, but can we give the wind a rest? Each of the last 3 weekends, it has been crazy windy. 35 to 40 degrees isn't ideal running weather, but it is manageable. However, coupled with 20 - 35 mph wind gusts, it is not very pleasant.

I was able to get a decent 7 mile run in this morning. I wanted to go longer, but I had other things to do and, with the weather, it wasn't too fun. I'll try to do a faster pace run on Monday.

I ordered the book "Run - The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel" by Matt Fitzgerald and just received it today. I'm not really a book guy (though I do read a bunch of articles and such on the web), but there was a description of this book somewhere that made it intriguing to me. On the surface, it seems to endorse following how you feel over rigid training structure - i.e. effort based training. Found it cheap on, so I got it. Haven't gotten past the table of contents yet, but I'll post more about it after I read it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Anniversary – 1 Year of Running!

Hiya! I realized that I now have been back to running consistently for one year this week! In some ways it went rather quickly, but, now that it is a habit, it seems like I’ve been doing it for a really long time.

Running has done a lot for me. For one, I am in better shape now than probably any other point as an adult. Sure, I played softball and did some other activities, but I hadn’t exercised on a consistent basis since high school.

Along with being in better shape, I have lost weight. I was never heavy, but, according to the Body Mass Index calculators you see everywhere, I was right on the border of being what they consider “overweight” about 18 months ago. Really, I was skinny with a big butt and big gut. Now, I am right in the middle of “normal weight” and am down over 25 pounds from my heaviest point, and down 18 pounds from one year ago.

Better shape + less weight = running faster (I think Einstein thought up that one). While I have a long way to go, I am seeing evidence of regular improvement. In the 5k, I am 8 minutes faster now than I was (when I thought I could race with no problem) a couple years ago, and almost 6 minutes faster than my first race last year. I while I don’t really have multiple races at other distances, my training runs are faster now than last fall, using the same perceived effort.

Not only can I run faster, but farther. I never really aspired to do any races beyond 5k a year ago. Now, it isn’t a big deal to run 7 – 12 miles on a weekend run. I’m getting ready for my 2nd 10k and my 2nd half marathon later this month and plan to do races of multiple distances (5k, 10k and half marathons) during the year. While I know I could do it now with a few weeks training, I’ve pretty much decided that I want my first marathon to be the 2013 Chicago Marathon.

Other things that running does for me include relief of stress, increased confidence and better self-image, and it gives me a healthy interest in competition. I like to race. Races are the payoff for the hard work, and I am enjoying the work and effort I am putting forth, so I really like to race! I also like that, strangely to me, I have apparently been a good influence on a few other people.

A lot of people say this, but it is because they mean it: “If I can do it, anyone can”. Within reason, it is very true! Maybe you’re not cut out to run. You can swim, walk, ride, climb, crawl, lift, squat, thrust, repeat… whatever your passion is. I don’t hear of many people who get active again regret it. They might fall out of it (and with all the activities in one’s life, that is easy to do), but I don’t hear people grumble how much time they wasted being active.

In conclusion, thanks to everyone for their support! Thanks to Amy, Matt, Andraya, Michelle, Teresa, Amanda, Megan, Mike, Cathy and everyone else who has supported and encouraged me during the past year! It is greatly appreciated!

(They) say you only improve for the first 7 – 10 years after you start running. Well, I have 6-9 years left to get better. Let’s get after it!