Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mountain Mania 15k

The Mountain Mania 15k had its third running on June 8, 2013. I really had no idea that Decatur had such a hill. This thing was a beast! The t-shirt and Facebook page have "See the beast. Run the beast. Conquer the beast." And I like the logo.
Typically, the second Saturday in June is much hotter than this past Saturday was. We had really great weather for this race, in the low 60s at the start. The 7:00 AM start is really a great thing for this race, too.

I am not in race shape and I don't really want to race until the September/October time frame. So, it was a late decision for me to run this race. I needed a good marathon pace run, and I have done next to nothing on hills, so I thought I'd give a try at a hilly marathon pace run. I am really glad I signed up for this race!

It's a small race, about 100 runners or so. After the race, during the awards ceremony, the race director asked for feedback to improve the race. One person in the crowd jokingly said, "Make the course flatter!" To which the race director replied, "No, we're looking for a certain type of runner for this race, and y'all are it." I loved that reply!

The Race
I saw several people I knew before the race. Seeing people is the best part of racing. When I pin on a number, I really have to resist the urge to race. But Saturday, I told myself that I would resist that urge. I wasn't really sure who the competition was today. I knew that Colby Phillips could beat me if he were in shape and if he were racing. But he said that he would not be racing, but just doing an easy run. I know that David Rawlings is in killer Tri shape, maybe the best shape of his life. I know that he just ran a 10k PR at Cotton Row. Who else? I see some kids up front. You never know about them. Okay. Marathon pace (6:50 to 7:00) no matter what.

After a prayer (I really appreciate that.) and a few words thanking the sponsors, off we went. One kid shot out of the gate like a rocket! After about 30 seconds, I asked David, "Do you know that kid? Is he really that fast?" To which David replied, "We'll find out." Another runner said, "I wonder if  he knows this isn't a 5k?"

So, I just tucked in about 50-60 yards behind David. I was running alongside a guy named Jonathan and we chatted a bit about the competition for the day We took turns leading the tangents on the turns and stayed together for a couple of miles. Up about 50-60 yards ahead of David was another pair, a young kid and a guy who I would meet after the race, Jay McNeill. Then, way out front, was Ieden Leckenby. At the one mile mark, which Ieden had run well under six minutes, I knew that he was for real.

So, I realized that I was in 5th or 6th place with Jonathan in the other. Marathon pace. Marathon pace. Don't race. Marathon pace.

The second mile has one of the most brutal climbs I've ever encountered in a road race. Yes, it is worse than Cotton Row's Mountainwood. It's really not even close. I was trying to maintain marathon pace effort, and I ran that second mile in 8:08. Brutal. At the top, I was glad for some flat land and I recovered fairly quickly and settled back into the sub-7 minute mile pace fairly easily, and then even faster on the descent.
See, it is worse than Mountainwood.
Jonathan then fell back. Now, I'm in 5th place. The kid running with Jay McNeill dropped off his pace. David eventually overcame him, and then I did. So, now it's Ieden, Jay, David, and me. It stayed that way until about mile 6.

On the back side of the mountain there is a fairly long, straight, mostly flat but slightly downhill section that runs south alongside I-65. Here is where the thoughts of racing entered my mind. Both David and Jay were within reach. I felt like I had run 6 miles at marathon pace, not like I had run 6 miles at tempo pace. I had a lot left in the tank. So, I'm thinking... Can I catch the leader? Did he fall off? Well there was this section where I could see for about a mile. I barely saw the police car. I knew then that I wasn't making up a mile in with about 4 miles to go unless he dropped out.

So, without the possibility of winning the race, I settled back to just a shade faster than marathon pace. I was running about 6:40-6:45 because it was downhill. I passed David a little before 6 mile mark. I asked if Jay was older than 40, and he believed that he was. So, the three of us were battling for masters. Again, I reminded myself, marathon pace. So, I did that. Maybe a shade faster, but never faster than 6:40.

On the way back up the hill at mile 7, I passed Jay. Again, this is worse than Cotton Row. Also, you have to climb this beast twice. Twice. Brutal. I was trying not to go into oxygen debt up the hill. I maintained a steady effort and recovered very quickly at the top. After that, Jay hung close, but I was determined that I was going to maintain a steady effort to the finish and not run faster marathon pace effort. I knew the last mile would be very fast because of the extreme downhill. But I was not going to race. Jay ran very well and hung on pretty close through those last two miles.

I was able to maintain the even effort through the race and finished in 1:05:04 which was good enough for second place overall and first masters runner. Ieden ran 58:39 which shows that he really was nearly a full mile ahead of me. Official results are here. http://www.naolweb.com/rivercityrunner/2013-MtMania_13_OA.htm

I would really like to train for and tackle this course in race shape to see if I could break an hour. It would be a tall order to sub-1 this thing. Kudos to River City Runners for scoring and all the volunteers. This is an awesome, low key, challenging, and well organized race.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chick Fil A 5k

Last year's stress fracture has been one of the most frustrating things to happen to my running for a variety of reasons. I hated missing Rocket City Marathon. I hated missing Lookout Mountain 50 mile. I hated missing Recover From the Holidays. I hated missing Mountain Mist 50k. Those are all races that I had registered for! So disappointing. Then, the lost fitness of the time off and the time to recover... I am still not where I want to be. Patience.

But the Chick Fil A 5k was a really fun race and produced one of the best race pictures I have! Big Kudos to Kathy Youngren for picking out some rockin uniforms for the Fleet Feet Racing Team this year.

Busy Day
Saturday, April 6, was a busy day of racing in North Alabama. Here are the races that I know about on that day...
  • Chick Fil A 10k/5k in Athens
  • 3M River City 10k/5k in Decatur
  • HTC Scholarship Fund Run 8k in Huntsville
  • Lead Me to the Cross 5k in Monrovia
  • Athens State University 5k in Athens
  • Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, TN (Ok, not North Alabama, but it did draw quite a few North Alabama runners)
What to do... I know I'm not really that fit. I just don't have my base underneath me right now. Do I have a chance to win one of the Athens races, to get that first career win? But I've volunteered at the Chick Fil A 5k for the past 3 years, and they didn't reach out to me this year. I could likely nab at least an age group and perhaps some free chicken (even though I'm mostly vegetarian, I still eat meat 2-3 times per week, and my kids would love that). Hmmm. Or should I just not race at all because I'm not really in shape to race.

If I may say this... Some of those races need to move their date.

3M River City 10k is the fastest 10k in Alabama. People who want to set a serious PR go there. It's an old, established race. It moved from the second Saturday in April to the first Saturday in April last year. I wish it could move back. 

Chick Fil A was also on the second Saturday in its inaugural running, but it's moved a few times for various reasons, one being tornadoes in 2011. I think they hurt their participation numbers by holding this event on this day with so much competition. Perhaps its joining the Chick Fil A Connect Race Series affects its choice for a date? This race could be much bigger, especially with the addition of a 10k option. It's a decent 10k course and there aren't a lot of 10k options around.

The Scholarship Fund run 8k has been on the first Saturday in April for as long as I can remember. It's an established race, but it's nobody's favorite. I like it for what it is, a chance for a PR at an odd distance. But it's a double loop on a hilly course. I think HTC is considering moving this race since there is so much competition for runners on this day nowadays.

For the newer events, picking such a busy date is just not ideal planning. As a race director, I know that there are many factors that influence the choice for a race date, not the least of which are RD and volunteer schedules, police schedules, sponsor schedules, etc. So, sometimes, things like this are unavoidable. However, when planning a new race, you should realize that if you choose a date that has 4 other races within 25 miles of your event, you're going to have a very difficult time getting participation. I've held my event, the Duck and Run 5k, on a date when there were 3 other events, so I know it can be difficult. However, when I did that, the other events were newer than my event, so there wasn't a lot I could do about it. Race Directors, please check several race calendars when choosing a date. And, if at all possible, keep your date consistent. Okay... Rant over...

Chick Fil A
The 10k option at Chick Fil A was interesting to me. The 5k, though, was more like what I really should be doing. So, I decided to just show up and sign up for the 5k. This is the premier spring race in Athens. I constantly learn things from this event that I'd like to apply to my event. I also appreciate very much the charity that this race benefits, Bridge of Hope Adoption Ministry. Pure religion is to care for orphans and widows (James 1:27).

As it turns out, I ended up being the top masters runner at the Chick Fil A 5k. Lots of free chicken and a good workout. And lots of time with a lot of really good Athens folk. Results are posted on their website.

I figured I was in about 19:30 shape. I had just run a 19:41 on Tuesday at the Double Helix Dash, but I figured I could do a little better, especially since this was a morning race and we had very nice weather. When I got there, I realized that the 5k was actually the premier event. I had expected the 10k to be the more competitive event, but that was not the case. There were very few 10k runners compared to the  400 or so 5k runners.

Brandon Mader had brought a car load of fast kids with him and I knew that they would dominate the race. So, I knew a podium finish was impossible for me, given the shape I'm in. I figured that unless there were some unknown super fast kid, about 17:00 would win this race and there would be a few sub-18 finishers, and none of those would be me! :)

I saw my friend and occasional Athens Sunday morning 10 mile runner Ben Greene. I know that he generally stays in sub-19 shape, so I had all but given upon taking the masters.  We chatted a bit and he told me he hadn't been running much. I didn't know whether he was sandbagging or not. He looked fit to me.

When we started, I had a few issues dodging the crowd and then getting around the 10k runners to get out front. It really was crowded, and re-thinking this race start would be a good idea. Within a half mile and without wasting too much energy, I settled into a reasonable spot and pace. Ben was sure enough on my shoulder. Again, not knowing exactly how fit he is and not knowing if I can break 19:30, I did push the pace just a bit. Even with the dodging early on, I split the first mile at 6:12.

I was still leading Ben in the second mile, but I could hear his footsteps getting farther back. Just hold on. Hope to battle to the end and have some guts at the finish. Well, as we approached the 2 mile marker, I heard him charge. I figured he was making his move. I was holding steady, and was planning to hang on if he passed. He got side by side and said, "I just came up here to tell you bye! I'm about to drop off. Good luck for the rest of the race!" He stayed there for a little while, so I thought this might be some gamesmanship. We hit the 2 mile mark at 12:24. Really consistent. I said, "Let's go get this done!" He said, "Seriously, I'm backing off." I then pulled away and didn't hear from him again.

As I rounded the square, I looked back, and he sure enough wasn't gaining. I saw some young guys up in the distance, but knew they'd have to come back to me. So, I decided to just make sure that Ben didn't come storming back and to hold as steady as I could to the finish. I hit mile 3 in 18:38 and clocked the final 0.1 (mostly uphill, ugh) in 0:40. That adds up to 19:18 and as consistent of a 5k as I remember running in a long time. I probably had some more left in the tank, but I was plenty pleased with this effort.

My kids were hanging out with their friends at the start/finish area. The first thing I heard when I crossed the finish line was "Daddy, you got chicked today!" Precious. Thanks, I know. She was fast! :)

It was a fun day and a big shout out to a huge crew of Elkmont runners to did a couch to 5k program and had nearly 100 come and run their first 5k here. Barry Pugh and Whitney Hollingsworth really inspire folks to run. I'm glad to call them my friends.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Double Helix Dash 5k

Several guys from ADTRAN put together a couple of teams to run in the Double Helix Dash 5k at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. It is really awesome to work with a great group of runners.

Look at us here.
Photo thanks to Gregg Gelmis
There were others from ADTRAN who ran, but these were our teams. I run with most everyone in that picture on a fairly regular basis. It's really a blessing to work with folks like that. Pretty much any day I can say, "I'm going out for a few miles at lunch today. Anybody want to join?" I'll most likely get a yes from someone in that picture.

Ok... now for the race...

I describe this race as a bad course but a fun race. The course is horrible. Slow. Two out and backs on a 5k and then the last half or three quarters of a mile is on a zig-zag sidewalk that is shaped like a DNA model and goes up and down a slight incline. Miserable course. But the race... There's always a good turnout. It's a Tuesday twilight race. There are just so many people from research park there that it's just plain fun.

Change clothes at work, run over to the race start, socialize for a few minutes, race, socialize for a lot longer, run back to work and drive home. That's pretty cool.

Our teams were divided about as evenly as we could given that Andy, Eric Fritz, and I didn't really know what kind of 5k shape we were in. I had run a couple of tempo runs and they were very miserable. 6:40 pace for 3 miles felt a lot like a race. So, I figured I was in 21 minute shape, maybe a little better. I expected a 3-way battle between Fritz, Jake, and me. But I really didn't know because this was my first 5k since October and my first race since starting back running from the stress fracture (not counting Black Warrior 25k, which was more of an episode of poor judgment than a race!)

When the race started, I hung on to my Athens runner friend Chris Ramsden for as long as I could. I just tried to keep him in sight for as long as possible. I knew he was in better shape than me, but still, hang on and see. Eric and Jake were close by in the first mile. I saw Chris hit the first mile at about 6:18 or so. I hit it at 6:27, and I was thinking, "I feel pretty stinking good! I can hold this pace, maybe even speed up!" So I did. I tried to close the gap on Chris, but he was still running pretty strong.

I headed on down the hill to Mile 2. I was definitely picking up the pace. I hit this one in 6:19. It was downhill, but still, I was starting not to like the pace but still felt pretty good. Chris maintained his lead on me. As I turned around at the last out and back, I noticed that Jake and Eric were far enough back that I would really have to come back to them. They would not catch me without me giving up a lot of pace, and I still felt like I had a strong last mile left.

The third mile was uphill and into a strong breeze before turning on the miserable zig-zag. I passed Jason Mitchell going up the hill, but I heard him stay on my shoulder. Oh well. I'll do what I can. I'm not going to burn up too much energy here because I know what waits on the dreaded helix. He hung on, and Chris seemed to notice that I was close on the turn and put some more separation between us. About 300 meters or so into the helix, Jason made a move to pass. I had nothing more to give to cover his move. It's my first race back, and I'm tickled that I have a chance to break 20! I let him go. When we hit the 3 mile marker and I pressed my lap button, I couldn't believe that was my fastest mile yet at 6:17. Nice. Even with 0.1 to go, I had no chance to catch Jason and nobody was threatening from behind, and sub-20 was in the bag. Still, though, I ran hard through the finish to clock a 19:41.
On the Helix. Thanks again to Gregg Gelmis!

I was very pleased with that! First time back. Fun, and better than I expected.

Our ADTRAN team of Andy Durr, me, Eric Fritz, and Jennifer Bicknell won the team competition with Andy crushing the course, coming in second overall with a 17:49. I am super proud of that dude. He has put in the work and it is paying off. I love to see that! Also, my friend Wendy Hneytenka on the other ADTRAN team smoked out a PR. She keeps improving, too. I love to see runners enjoying it and improving their fitness and confidence.

My 19:41 was good enough for sixth overall and first in the 40-49 age group.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Black Warrior 25k

Well, ready or not, the day to pin on a number arrives. I really thought a lot about this race. I originally signed up for the 50k. I was very hopeful that I would be in sub-4:30 shape for this. When I signed up, Lookout Mountain 50 Miler was my goal race for the season. I really hoped that the endurance I would have built training for that race would translate very well to this relatively easy 50k.

Best laid plans...
Then enter the stress fracture which made me sit out of Rocket City Marathon, Lookout Mountain 50 mile, Recover from the Holidays 50k, and Mountain Mist 50k. So, I knew that the 50k at Black Warrior was a no-go. There is a 25k option to this race, which I was glad to have.

I really debated how to attack this. I've done a few hikes of 10+ miles. I had hiked the 25k course. But hiking and trail running are as different as walking and running. So, part of me thought it would be best to sit back and hike part of the race and run part of it. That would have been smart. I'm not smart. I really debated doing that up until I heard the word "go". 
I managed to jog to the finish for the camera.
When we started, I was at the back of the pack to try to hold myself back. However, I just automatically started passing people. I looked at them and judged that they would not be as fast on the trails as I would be. I judged that they would dodge mud and tip-toe and stop when a blow over crossed the trail. So, I didn't want to be behind them.

Then, halfway to the trail, I realized I was being stupid. But I couldn't slow down. Ok. I have to slow down. I'm not used to this. I'm going to hurt myself. With some mental effort, I did back off just a tad. 

Then, we hit the trail. My oh my how I love to run trails. Especially muddy ones. It was just plain fun. So I started running faster. And faster. And faster. Passing people. When they dodged the mud, I splashed right through past them. Oh what fun. I felt great. I was in total race mode now. See someone? Pick them off.

When I got to the aid station, I refilled my bottle as quickly as I could. I was there less than 10 seconds, passing someone who I was behind as we entered. Oh yeah. It's a race now. I think I can break 2:15 in my first race back! That would be huge.

On the way over, I was riding with two trail newbies, Lance and Chris. This was the first trail race for both of them, and it was Chris's first trail run ever. And I told them that if they break 2:15, I'll buy them a cookie. Or ice cream. Their choice. Unless, of course, the gimp (me) finishes ahead of them. I passed Lance about a mile before the aid station. Now, I'm thinking, "How much of a lead does Chris have?" Swoosh. Pass. Splash. Fun. 

I ran up on a guy who was dodging as much mud as possible. But he was determined not to let me pass him, so I settled in behind him. When we got to a big mudhole, I plowed right through and passed him and determined to drop him. Man, I was having fun.

Uh oh. I haven't been running. I'm not in shape. I see Dan Burleson up ahead. Ok. That's a goal. Man, this is starting to hurt. Go get Dan. At least there'll be some company if you catch him. I got up to within talking distance and we greeted one another. Then, I fell back. I'm hurting. (Not my leg. Not my bone. It feels fine. But every fiber of soft tissue from my hips to my toes is screaming at me.) 

I start to walk any up and run the flats and downs. How far is the road from here anyway? Oh no. I'm done. Now, I'm walking the flats and ups and running the downs. Ok... Let's run. No, my legs won't do it. It's over. I pretty much walked the last 3.5 miles of this race. I was definitely on pace to break 2:15. No doubt about that. But it's a 25k. And I ran it like a 15k.

Here's how not to run a 25k. Don't run the first 20k well above your fitness level and then walk the last 5k. That's not a good plan and you'll be sore for days. And your stomach will be upset. And you'll feel generally miserable.

It's Tuesday, and I just now feel like I could run if I wanted to (haven't decided yet). That was really stupid. But, it was fun until I couldn't run any more. I walked the last half mile or so to the road. I got to the road with 2.6 miles to go in 2:00. I finished  in 2:38. My philosophy was this. Walking doesn't hurt. Running hurts. So, I'm not going to run. It seems like 50 people passed me on the road. I totally didn't care. Lance was among those who passed me, and I think he had an awesome day out there. Welcome to trail running Lance!

I owe Chris cookies. He crushed it for a first trail race. 2:07. Man. Great job! 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

So, next week I see the doc about my stress fracture. I'm hoping everything is okay, and I'm pretty sure it is. I'm ready to run again. However, when I start back, I plan to start back very easily and slowly. This two months has not been fun and I don't want to sit out this long again. So, for the first month or two back, I'll still be swimming to get enough exercise done.

Like Dory says, just keep swimming. I gotta tell you, I'm really bad at swimming. It's a real struggle just to get from one end of the pool to the other. I keep going back, but I do not get better. But, I'm gasping for air and totally hungry and exhausted when I finish a swim, so it has to be doing some good, right?

I grew up "swimming" all summer every summer. I loved to go to the pool or beach or river. I'd stay in the water all day. I could swim well enough to stay alive and to avoid trouble in water over my head. I was never on a swim team and I never have swum competitively. I don't remember if I've even ever raced a friend to the other side of the pool. So, what I'm trying to do now is completely unlike anything I've ever tried to do before. And I'm really bad at it. Really bad.

This week, I did some laps with a few triathlete friends, and they were pretty much in agreement. I have the ugliest stroke they have ever seen. They all laughed at me. Out loud. My kick is sporadic, wide, and just herky jerky ugly. My head comes WAY up to breathe. My feet sink. I'm nearly vertical in the water. I'm pretty sure I'm a prime example of what not to do when learning to swim. Except that I keep going back. I keep getting in the water. Four or five times per week, I'm beating the water, gasping for air, making waves. But I'm touching each end of the pool and I keep on doing that until I've finished my workout for the day. So take that. It ain't easy and I don't really like it, but I'm going to do it.

This is the program I'm following.

I'd love to get up to a mile so I can think about an Olympic triathlon. I won't consider even a sprint triathlon until I can swim a mile straight and I can swim 400m in a reasonable (8:00-ish) amount of time. Right now, I'm mired in week 4 of that program. I've done the week 4 workout about 5 times now, and I am nowhere near being able to complete it comfortably.

Maybe this is where bull-headedness will help me out. I'm going to just keep swimming.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stress Fracture Update

It has been a long 6 weeks. I have two more weeks to go, and I have a feeling they will be long, too.

So, just a bit of history.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I ran a 16 miler with the Fleet Feet 26.2 group. It was  an easy pace. I was tired from the holiday week and I had nearly 70 miles for the week done when the run started. I had about 3 or 4 days in a row where that I just didn't feel good while running at all. About 10 miles into the 16 miler on that Saturday, my right shin started hurting pretty bad. It wasn't just a little bad, it was really bad. I was limping.

I finished that run and went ahead with my scheduled Sunday run. I was  planning to do 16 miles on Sunday. But... My shin was still hurting. Bad. I quit at 12 miles. My leg hurt for the rest of the day. Shin splints I told myself. Everybody who runs has them and I've never had them, so it's my turn. I tried all kinds of shin splint remedies. Ice. Compression. Walk on a golf ball. Pressure roll it until you cry. Everything I had heard to try, I tried. My leg still hurt. It hurt to sit. It hurt to walk. It hurt to run.

Oh well. I'm just going to have to get used to it. People run with shin splints. If I'm tough, I can too. So, I took most of the week after Thanksgiving off, only running Friday and Saturday. Both runs hurt. Bad. Limping bad.

So, I scheduled an appointment with SportsMED. X-Ray showed a tiny crack in my right tibia about 4 cm above my ankle, mostly perpendicular to the bone, but curving slightly downward from right to left. There was a small knot on the outside of the bone where the crack started.

The prescription was two months of no running and minimal impact. For the first couple of weeks, no spinning class and no walking. Basically, don't do anything that hurts. About a week later, walking was possible again. How on earth will I stay in shape? My only options were swimming and pool running, neither of which I wanted to do.

It's been 6 weeks. I haven't been very good about exercising regularly. I've packed on about 5 lbs. I'm learning to swim, but my stroke is terribly novice and I'm beating the water into submission.

I'll update more later. But 2 weeks from yesterday I go back to the doctor. I expect him to release me because it doesn't hurt. I've run a couple of times (very easy and very short) in the past two weeks and I don't feel any pain at all, so I think I'm healed but I'm waiting on the doctor to say "Go run."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 In Review

I've done this every year since I started this blog. I've wondered why. But I went back and read my 2011 review and learned that it really does help me to see where I am and where I've been. As I write this, I'm sitting in a chair with a stress fracture about 4 cm above my right ankle on my tibia. So, it will be difficult to remain positive.

First, though, a huge thanks to Fleet Feet for their generous support of the running community in North Alabama. It has been my honor again to run on their racing team for 2012. Almost every race and training program in North Alabama is supported in some way by Fleet Feet. I've never known a business that gives back to the community the way that Fleet Feet does. I am so thankful that Dink is recovered from his scary stroke earlier this year. He was an inspiration before, but seeing his comeback from this has been nothing short of amazing.

2012 was the year that I did it!
I know, you've seen this. But this is my 2012 highlight.
I believe that I will always look back at 2012 as the year that I did it! From fairly early on in my running, I wanted to run a sub-3 hour marathon. I don't really know what's so magic about that number, but I wanted that goal very badly. In 2012, I did it! I've heard it said that anyone, if they set their mind to it and train and focus, can run a sub-3 hour marathon. I don't know. In a way, I want to believe that. I did it even though I am not very talented and I am not a very hard worker (definitely harder working than I am talented, but still, I don't think I'm excellent in either area). But I know how hard it was to do. It requires work, sacrifice, knowledge, support, and luck. It's the luck thing that makes me reluctant to believe that anyone can do it. I was blessed and fortunate enough to avoid injury for an entire training cycle. I had the support of my lovely wife. I'm not sure I could have gotten from 240 lbs. to sub-3 hour marathon without good fortune and support. So, on one hand, I believe that if I can do it, anyone can do it. On the other, I know that I was not in control of everything that came together to allow me to accomplish this amazing goal. Recaps and thoughts on the big race are here and here and here.

Another highlight of 2012 was the sub 24 hour effort and ultra team win at Ragnar Tennessee. Read my recap, but that was an amazing experience. By far, it was the best relay that I've ever done.

Medical Struggles
Yes, 2012 had its downs, too. I had a retinal vein occlusion. It's a relatively minor medical problem, but it's not supposed to happen to fit guys my age. And, being unable to see made me a bit unsettled. That then mushroomed into lots of blood work and wasted time trying to get my blood thinners all worked out. It turns out that we have no idea why that happened. The treatment is to take an aspirin a day and hydrate. It was scary for a couple of months, but all seems well now.

The depression that I've cataloged here still gave me some problems in 2012. I'm finally off all medication for it and things are really looking up. I'm learning more healthy ways to deal with things and I've mostly removed myself from the situation that was the trigger. 2013 will be a better year for a lot of reasons. I hope to be a pleasant and fun friend again and not such a sad fun sponge.

The year closed with a stress fracture. Fortunately, the doctor says that we caught it early and he expects it to respond to rest. I'm doing some extra things like calcium and a bone healing system. I'm halfway through my rest and I do not have any pain when walking. I'm determined to take it easy on my road to recovery from this injury. The upside is that I'm learning to swim. I can now swim 400 yards without stopping. I'm planning to work up to a mile (1500m, actually). Is a triathlon in my future?

This is the year that I became a master. Yep. I'm over 40. Old man. But, I did win a couple of masters races, so 40 isn't all bad. I also plan for every PR that I have to be accomplished over the age of 40. Look out sub 2:55 marathon. Look out sub-17 5k. Look out sub-36 10k. I'm coming.