Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Air Force Marathon --- HALF to be FUN!

Howdy Internet! It's been awfully quiet on this blog. Unfortunately, I mostly blog about running and there really hasn't been any running to speak of. I normally run about 1200 miles per year. I have only run 100 miles since the first of the year. Crazy! I would usually run 100 miles in a month, but haven't done that for nine months. Yep, I'm going a bit stir crazy. I miss my running friends. I miss the races. I miss the emotional journey that running has taken me on.

It's been a sad set back by the knee injury experienced at the New Years Double race. I had knee surgery to try to fix things, but have not fully made my way back. Recently I had knee injections on both of my knees to try to relieve the osteoarthritis pain. It’s slightly been helpful.

This Saturday is the Air Force Marathon. Yep, it's race week for me! I've been wanting to run this race for quite awhile since it's held on the Air Force Base that I spent the first 4 years of my military career - Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. I had a lot of great memories at this base. The biggest highlight is that WPAFB is where I met the love of my life, my wife, Ursula. Ahhhh... memories.

The crazy thing is that I hated running while in the Air Force. We had a yearly fitness test of 1.5 miles in a certain time. I completed it every year, but I thought I was going to die every year since I didn't really train for it. My physical activities at Wright-Patt were racquetball, golf, bowling, and short sprints chasing my bride.

I'll be running, walking, and skipping the race with Denise, my uber cool running sister. We were suppose to run the full, but opted to drop down to the half because of our physical setbacks. My base mileage has not been very high, but I was able to complete a 10 miler this last weekend. I’m about 2-3 minutes off of my old pace and I take a bunch of walk breaks. The worse case is that we'll do a lot of walking, but that's OK. My goal for this race is to have fun. Enjoy what I can do and make the best of it! This has been a hard journey for the last 9 months. My mind yells at my body and is frustrated that the body cannot do what we did last year. I have to get used to the new me. I have to FB_IMG_1442334072582 - Flipsomewhat start over in my running career.

My sister and I will be representing Team RWB. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. We’re the ones carrying Old Glory during races. I love running with these guys. I have so much pride running with the flag especially when cars are honking at us during training runs.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Knee Surgery Update

Good news! God is awesome! As mentioned in my previous post, the MRI showed that there was a radial tear of my meniscus. However, once they got in there with their HD camera, they found out that it was not torn and that there was a bunch of fraying of the meniscus. The doctor was able to clean up the fraying.

image    image

Above are the before pictures and below are the after pictures. Since the meniscus does not have to be stitched together, I can definitely run again! As well, my recovery should be easier and shorter.

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Thanks for everyone’s well wishes and prayers! I really do appreciate them! I cannot wait to see everyone out running! Vroom vroom!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Knee Surgery

nychalf-croppedHey, running friends, non-running friends, and family!

For my very observant running friends or non-running friends that were tired of hearing about my running or races; there has been a lack of running posts since New Years Eve. Unfortunately, I tore my meniscus in my right knee during a Half Marathon that I was running. Reader’s Digest version: I’ll be having surgery on my knee tomorrow morning.

I’ve been pretty bummed that I haven’t been able to run with friends and experience the sport that I love. The picture on the right is the last picture of me running. Yes, it was cold on New Years Eve. I have suited up several times since, but have not been able to run more than a block to get past the pain.

Initially I thought the injury was my hamstring because of the initial location of the pain. I was seeing an awesome Chiro-sports doctor who has taking great care of me. With treatment, I still couldn’t run more than a block without the pain being killer. I experienced the pain when I ran with each impact of the ground. We finally had an MRI done and saw the damage.

I’m not 27 Anymore!

10690058_10203417413937761_3720933618893094766_nHere's how it happened. I've volunteered in the New Years Double race over the last few years and thought it was my time to run it. I was going to run a Half Marathon on New Years Eve and then another on New Years Day. I was thinking of it as a Marathon with a very long break between the first and second part of the race. Anyhow, I'm in the middle of the race, having a good time, pacing well and I'm coming out of a tunnel underneath a road. At the end of the tunnel is a ramp. Along the ramp, there's a handrail. Thinking that I'm 27 instead of 47, I grab the handrail to swing myself around the sharp turn. BIG mistake... I had a huge pain shoot through my right leg. I thought it was my hamstring as the pain was more in the back of my leg. I walked up the ramp and tried to run again, but the pain was too much as I couldn't plant my leg from the impact. 

I had a friend that was working the race drive me back to the start line. I met with the medical staff and they didn't see anything major from a torn ligament standpoint, however, recommended that I don't proceed. This is the first race that I couldn't finish in close to 100 races. I was totally bummed!

The Prognosis

imageAs I mentioned, I met with an Orthopedic Doctor which shared the results of the MRI. This doctor was highly recommended to me and is also a triathlete. So, he knows what’s going on in my head. In his words, he would have preferred that I break my leg instead of this injury. I could heal from a broken leg. He explained that a radial meniscus tear is one of the worst injuries for a runner. (It’s the tear shown on the right in the picture) My heart almost broke when he said that this injury might be career ending. I felt like I just lost a best friend in that doctor’s office.

He explained the knee arthroscopy surgery and how he could possibly stitch together the torn meniscus. He definitely didn’t have a lot of optimism during this explanation. He said that he gave the procedure a 50/50 chance of repairing the meniscus, A big challenge is the meniscus is like crab meat and might not be able to get a good stitch. He won’t know until he gets in there. If he cannot stitch it together, he’ll clean it up as well as possible.

Besides wanting to run, I’m also having the surgery done to prolong the signs of arthritis that are appearing in my knees. If I don’t have this surgery, then the onset of the arthritis would be sooner. It’s rough getting older!

He’s in control

I haven’t mentioned any of this on Twitter or Facebook as I like to keep all or most of my posts as positive as possible. It’s easy to be a bit down when you cannot do something that you love. However, the positive in this is that God has given me a peace throughout the experience. Yes, I miss being able to lace up and run, but there are bigger things… such as my comforting and loving family.

I’ve been planning on the worst and hoping for the best. I might have to take up cycling as I can handle no-impact type of activities. However, I’m not sure if I can get into wearing spandex, lycra, or whatever you call it.

I’m ready to get the surgery over tomorrow to see what can be done, what I can do, and ultimately, what He will do. I’ll post an update after the surgery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

50K FUN – Glow in the dark race shirts

In all of my training, my goals remain the same – get stronger, faster, and be able to run farther. However, my sister, Denise, and many other running friends have reminded me to RUN HAPPY! As well, my favorite shoe manufacturer, Brooks, has probably mentioned that as well. :)

This was the year that I was going to jump from the 25K to the 50K for El Scorcho! It’s pretty easy to keep track of 5 – 5K loops, but 10 was going to need to be creative.


20140712_150651One thing I wanted to do was to have FUN during this race.  I knew that it was going to be a tough one.  As I was running those long summer training run I thought a lot about how to make the race fun.  I kept thinking about how to count down the laps.  I thought Sharpie hash marks on my arm could work, but I wanted something a bit more FUN! 

After running 18 miles a round a high school track for Relay for Life it dawned on me of how much I loved changing into a dry shirt.  I then figured I’d change my shirt with every lap.  Every shirt would have the number of laps that I’d have to go.  So, I’d start with 10, then 9, duck tape8, 7… until I got to 1.  I used Glow in the Dark Duck Tape that I bought at Walmart.  I had the number on the front and back of the shirt.  I wanted to be seen coming and going.  In all, it took 4 and a half rolls of tape.  The Glow in the Dark tape does not come as the usual 20 yards, but a shortened 10 feet.  It was kind of costly to do this art project, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Up above and below are the shirts as I laid them out before heading to Fort Worth. I placed them on the dining room chairs to get them to charge up.


During the race in the darker parts of the course, I looked down to see if I could see the number on my shirt.  I could definitely see it glowing.  I’m wondering if others noticed it and noticed the countdown.  If you saw me and the numbered shirts, let me.

There were a couple of women near the finish line that hollered at me, “Go number 10”, then at the next loop, “Go number 9”. I had to told them about counting down the laps.  They caught on and starting yelling out how many laps that I had to go.  They must’ve been running the 25K because I didn’t see them anymore with half of the laps to go.

Thanks to my family, they always had the next shirt ready to go.  I never had to dig it out or find it.  It was funny at one point when my wife told me that she couldn’t find shirt #3. I told her exactly which shirt it was, color and cut… and she was able to find it.  I think I was looking forward toward each shirt more than anything.  The luxury of a dry shirt is incredible!

Race Photos

There aren’t too many races where I purchase the race photos, but I had to for this race for a couple of reasons.  1) 10 Wardrobe changes! 2) the finish with my daughter 3)  and 36 photos which came out to a reasonable price for the medium resolution download.

0089 Shirt 10 – Lap 1
Miles 0 – 3.1


Shirt 9 – Lap 2
Miles 3.1 – 6.2

8-2 Shirt 8 – Lap 3
Miles 6.2 – 9.3

7-5 Shirt 7 – Lap 4
Miles 9.3 – 12.4

6-4Shirt 6 – Lap 5
Miles 12.4 – 15.5

5-2Shirt 5 – Lap 6
Miles 15.5 – 18.6

4-1-cropped Shirt 4 – Lap 7
Miles 18.6 – 21.7

Shirt 3 – Lap 8
Miles 21.7 – 24.8

2-2 Shirt 2 – Lap 9
Miles 24.8 – 27.9

1-3Shirt 1 – Lap 10
Miles 27.9 – 31 FINISH

Get stronger, faster, and be able to run farther… and RUN HAPPY!

Monday, July 21, 2014

El Scorcho 50K Recap

El Scorcho 50K lived up to everything that it had to offer… anticipation, training challenges, fear, doubt, FUN, heat, relief, and elation.  There are so many other words to describe this race, but you have to do the 50K at least once.  CHECK… I’m good!

I did the El Scorcho 25K for the last 3 years and figured it was time to jump up to the 50K. I was definitely nervous when I clicked on that register button.  I knew that there’d be a lot of early morning training runs.  Most of my training runs started in the 4am hour to beat the heat.


Chris and I got our packets on Friday with a longer than usual lunch.  After we got our packets, we took a drive over to Trinity Park. I showed Chris where the Start/Finish line would be.  It was so crazy weird to see this park during the day. Chris and I have been running and carpooling for quite awhile.  He’s been hearing about El Scorcho for the last few years that he had to see what this insanity was all about.

It was great to see Chris run his farthest distance of 25K while tackling El Scorcho.  The pride was all over his face as he finished!


20140712_150651 As you might’ve noticed, I bolded the word FUN up above.  One thing I wanted to do was to have FUN during this race.  I figured I’d change my shirt with every lap.  Every shirt would have the number of laps that I’d have to go.  So, I’d start with 10, then 9, 8, 7… until I got to 1.  I used Glow in the Dark Duck Tape that I bought at Walmart.  I had the number on the front and back of the shirt.  I wanted to be seen coming and going. 

To right are the shirts as I laid them out before heading to Fort Worth. I will have an upcoming blog post that will go into a little more detail and pictures of the shirts.

The Race

I chose to go with the early start so that I could start at a decent hour… 10pm versus midnight. As well, it seemed that most 50K runners were starting at that time.  I also wanted to have the cushion of 2 more hours to finish the race.  I didn’t want a 6 hour limit hanging over my head as my goal finish was between 5:30 and 6:00.  Those times seemed very reasonable.  I’ve completed one other 50K at the Cowtown Ultra Marathon. The difference being is that this race was in July vs. February.

I wanted to run at a 9:00 min/mile pace and then rest at each loop when I saw my family.  As well, I’d be changing my shirts.  That was the original plan, but that 9:00 min/mile pace was pretty hard to keep.

Splits-1-15Above is my Strava details of the race. It shows 30.7 miles because I didn’t turn on my Garmin until after the race started. Yeah, I freaked out a bit. I really do like have the numbers to look at to see how I’m doing.

The first half of the race I pretty much kept up with my plan… run 9:00 min/mile.  You can see when I took longer breaks every hour to get GU and Endurolytes.

It was fun changing shirts every lap. It gave me something to look forward to and the dryness of the shirt was very welcoming.  I think if I wore the same shirt that it’d be totally drenched!


The first few laps were pretty uneventful and easy. I opted to not run with a headlamp. I have a few headlamps and a really good one, but I don’t like wearing them in the heat. Anything on my head during the heat tends to give me a headache. I did carry a small little halogen flashlight that I used occasionally. I had it in my pocket which was 30% annoying as it bounced around a bit.  I did finally toss the light about half way through the race. 

There was a brilliant full mount which was pretty cool to light up the way.  I also relied on other’s headlamps here and there.  It was almost like sharing their umbrella on a rainy day, but less intrusive.

The course was pretty smooth/flat except for a few spots that had a lot of erosion type of crevices.  After a few laps you knew exactly where those spots were coming up.

Tank Tops & Compression Sleeves

4-1-cropped I strategically numbered my glow in the dark race shirts. All of them were the thinnest running shirts that I had.  As well, I had a few that were tank tops. I normally don’t wear tank tops, singlets, or sleeveless shirts since I don’t think I have the guns for them. However, in the dark, anything goes except for shirtless running.  With 3 tank tops available, I placed them at loops 4, 3, and 2. I wanted to finish in last year’s El Scorcho short sleeve shirt.

After 6 laps (18.6 miles) I was really looking forward to a tank top.  Another reason that I’m not crazy about tank tops is that since I don’t wear them, I’m usually sporting a farmer’s tan.  It was an awesome feeling to get that tank top on. It symbolized that I was on the downhill of the race or was it the uphill… not sure.

I also took this break as an opportunity to get my CEP compression sleeves on. Oh, I love these things!  It was like a nice warm hug!

Family Support

I cannot brag enough on my family! Ursula, Briana, and Briana’s boyfriend, Chris came out to cheer me on!  Cairo had to work both Saturday and Sunday.  Cairo’s been there at previous El Scorcho races.

We set up camp right after the finish line. I was really surprised when my family always seemed to be there waiting for me. Heck, they could of been dosing off and catching some ZZZzzzzz’s. They were always ready to help me change my shirt. I never had to look for the next one.  They also had my drinks, GU, and Endurolytes ready to go.

Splits16-finish Besides the physical help, they were full of encouragement.  When I had three laps to go, I was moaning and groaning to my wife about the pain and not wanting to be at the race anymore.  She told me that I could do it and it was ONLY 3 more loops. It sounds easier if you say 3 laps instead of 9.3 miles.  :)  She wanted to see me finish this craziness to the end.  I’m so thankful for her selflessness of being there for 5 hours and 41 minutes to only see me for 30 seconds to a few minutes at a time.  She rocks!

During the last few laps I started walking during strategic points along the course. This is especially true with the one hill/incline that was before a water stop and a couple of other points.

Erik Encouragment

I was moaning and groaning again when I had 2 laps left to go.  Actually there was a lot of negative talk in my head for those last laps.  I kept telling myself that I did the training and shut up. I was going to finish this race even if I had to walk the last 2 laps.

When I was changing my shirt with 2 laps to go, I was complaining to my friend, Erik.  I said, “Why am I here?” He said, “You’ve done the training, you’re strong, and you’re awesome!” He said it in such a quiet, but powerful way. It was energizing to hear it from him.  He probably doesn’t know the impact that he had on me, but it was huge!


20140713_034439-cropped I’ve been running with Jeff for quite awhile with the Frisco Running Club. On our Wednesday night and Saturday morning runs, we’ve talked about my upcoming El Scorcho 50K race.  We talked about how he might come run the last couple of laps with me. I really didn’t think he’d come to Fort Worth from Frisco at 2am to run 3 or 6 miles with me.  That’s a long drive at an ungodly hour to run a short distance.

When I didn’t see him with 2 laps to go, I really didn’t think anything of it. I know that I’d have a hard time dragging myself out there at the crazy time!

Below is a video of me which captured my unbelief that he came out for the race. I really couldn’t believe it! I love my running friends! I couldn’t help, but scream out in pure joy that he was there!  CRAZY COOL!

It was awesome to have Jeff along for the last lap. He tried to give me some tax advice and accounting jokes. We’ve got a long history of doing this to each other. The conversation and emotional boost was tremendous!

Briana Finish

Before Jeff showed up, I mentioned to Briana that I’d love for her to finish the last mile with me.  With Jeff showing up, Briana thought she was off the hook. However, I was still hoping she would finish this out with me.  She showed up at the water station that I asked her to meet me at.  You can tell her reluctance, but she begrudgingly came along for the end of the journey.  I assured her that I was not sprinting and we were taking walk breaks.

We were running for awhile and she tells me that she doesn’t have her sports bra. 30 miles into this race and I’m not really sure how to process this bit of information.  I told her that we’d be taking a walk break during the next water station.

1-3As we were walking past that water station, Jeff was making friends and talking it up.  Briana asked me when we were going to start running again. I told her that we’d start running once Jeff notices that we’re still walking. I also told her that at this point finishing 1-2 minutes sooner would not make any difference at all. Finishing upright and happy was the goal. That goal was within reach as we saw the red glow of the finish line clock.  Nothing looks better than those red numbers which you can see about a half mile away.

As we neared the finish, Briana got a bunch whoops and Gig Em’s! Very cool! I told her that we needed to finish strong and we sprinted toward the finish line. I let out the second primal scream of the night as we crossed the finish line!

It was the perfect ending to an incredible race! Thank you, Briana, for stepping out of your comfort zone!

Briana also manned the video camera throughout the night capturing all of the wardrobe changes. :)  Below is a video of the night’s happenings.

If anyone asks why I do the things I do… it’s because of moments that I shared with Ursula, Briana, Erik, and Jeff. You cannot experience all that life has for you unless you get out… get out of your comfort zone and live life!

Friday, May 9, 2014

OKC Marathon Recap

I’m a bit late with recapping the OKC Marathon that I ran a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t really have the race I was hoping for.  All in all, it was a decent race for having minimal training after being off from my bum knee.  The weather definitely didn’t help, but I’ll get into that in a moment.

20140426_164015I’ve run the OKC Half Marathon a couple of times in the early days of my short running career.  The only thing that I recall from those previous races was the southern wind. I would not be disappointed, the wind was definitely in full effect.

Ursula accompanied me on the trip.  She was super happy after she found a pair of bits at the Shepler’s near the hotel.  Note to self: take Ursula shopping for boots before the race.  :)

Leading up to race morning there was a lot of anticipation about the weather.  This is a norm for most marathons, but more so with this one as there was a storm front developing.

The Wait

20140427_065739 The forecast held true as there was a 2 hour delay for the race. Normally it starts at 6:30am, but we didn’t get going until 8:20.  As you can tell, I wasn’t happy with the delayed start.  When I get up in the 4-o-clock hour, I’m ready to get the party started!  We pretty much had to wait out the storm in a parking garage.  There was lots of angry thunder and lightning happening!  You could definitely feel a cold front come through.  The cooler temps didn’t stick around for long.

1941380_10152147750415892_3124354081147487691_o While waiting in the parking garage I got to make new friends.  I love how all runners have a common bond of their training and their goals.  Once we were signaled that the race was going to start, we were on the way out of the parking garage.  Right before we were about to get out of the parking garage we were stopped.  From where I was standing, I could barely make out the helmets of a procession of firefighters marching to the Start Line.  It was very poignant as all of the runners in the parking garage started to applaud the firefighters.  This was worth the experience of waiting out the storm.  Next was the national anthem.  We could hear it through the PA system.   What was even better was when the women started singing along.  It sounded so awesome in the parking garage that I got chills from it.  I never thought that the national anthem would sound so good in a parking garage… must’ve been the acoustics.  I later learned or figured out that the firefighters walked the Half Marathon route with their full gear.  Crazy cool!

The Race

I had high hopes and expectations that I could hit a Sub-4 hour time in this race.  I think I should have wrote this off from the get go because of the 2 hour delay.  The forecast was calling for temps in the 80s.  I was a bit stubborn and didn’t listen to my head until my body told me too.

SplitsThe early going of the race was very crowded because of the delayed start.  People definitely didn’t line up in the appropriate corrals since we all just headed to the start line instead of the assigned corrals.  This meant a bit more dodging in the beginning couple of miles.  I love when a race thins out so I can get into a comfortable race pace.

The delayed race threw off my pre-race potty routine.  I could’ve used another porta-potty stop before the race started, but decided against it since I really needed to get this race started.  I didn’t need to go that badly, but knew that I wouldn’t stop until after the Half Marathoners split off from the combined course. I finally decided to hit a stop after mile 11.

Back on track after the stop, I could definitely feel the heat of the day.  I was pretty much dripping in sweat by this time.  In a way I looked forward to running into the wind as we were going to be heading south for the majority of the remaining of the race.

Once we started heading south around mile 14, I definitely had different thoughts about the 20+mph winds.  The resistance and the havoc that it was playing on my breathing was something else!

I really wanted Ursula to enjoy coming to OKC for the race weekend so we just planned for her to come to mile 20 and the finish. I think it was about mile 12 that I started counting down to when I would see her… only 8 miles until I get to see her, 6 miles, 2 miles, etc. :)

I took a couple of walk breaks before I got to see her at mile at 19.  Once I saw her, I was pretty well spent.  We talked for a bit and she gave me some great encouragement.  Next stop was the finish line.  There seemed to be a greater number of water stops for this race.  I made sure to keep my hydration up while going through them.

Funny thing that I saw during some neighborhood miles in the 20-something miles… there was a Jack Russell Terrier dog that was following along with the runners for at least a mile or so. It was so funny to see him just running with everyone.  I looked for an owner of the dog, but didn’t really see one that was calling out for him or that he was following.  He was just having a good old time.  The looks from the race spectators were priceless.  I wonder what the story was about that dog.  Did he ever get back home?

I love the ability to see the finish line from a far way off.  It gets me to that darn finish line!  As I was running through the finishing chute, I heard someone yell out, “Go Johnny Marathon!'”  Very cool since I was wearing my black A&M shirt.

Post Race

20140427_130315 20140427_130354

It was great meeting up with Ursula after the race. The heat really affected me as I felt like crap… more than usual after a marathon.  I was so glad that I found a place to sit. :)  I couldn’t believe that someone threw out some perfectly good ice on the ground between a couple of trash cans.  After plopping down in the ice, I got a lot of laughs and a bunch of comments. My favorite comment was “The throne of champions!”  I had to move over to make room for another marathoner.

I didn’t have the race that I wanted, but I had the experiences and memories that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks so much to Ursula as she drove us back to Frisco.  I normally cannot sleep in a car, but that day was definitely an exception.

DRC10Mile-SplitsThe DRC White Rock n Roll 10 Mile Race

I always like to hit a 10 miler the week after a marathon, just remind my body who’s boss.  However, I usually don’t race those 10 miles.  I knew that I’d be running on heavy legs and wanted to hit a race pace of 8:00 per mile.  I pretty much nailed that pace.  At first, I felt sluggish the first few miles, but everything fell in place.

I love the feeling of being able to run a race that you had planned.  Yes, you cannot predict what’s going to happen on race day, but there’s no better feeling when it comes together.  I really needed this race to make me feel better about the last bunch of weeks of training.  It’s crazy how much running is mental as it is physical.  I love this crazy sport!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marathon Week – OKC Version

banner I love Marathon Week!  The anticipation before a marathon is like nothing else!  I’m so looking forward to what Sunday has in store for me at the Oklahoma City Marathon. I’ve run the half marathon there a couple of times, but haven’t tried the full marathon. After being laid off for awhile, I wanted one last time to knock out another marathon before the summer heat arrives.  It’s almost here in Texas!

My plan is to average 8:40 per mile to comfortably get under 4 hours.  I’ll be happy with anything with a 3 as a front number.  If everything gets stupid, I’ll be happy with finishing my 13th marathon.  I really do plan on enjoying the race.  Run quick with a smile!

Ursula and I will probably go down memory lane as we used to live in the OKC area when I was in the Air Force at Tinker Air Force Base.  It’s always cool to drive by where you used to live and visit familiar places.

Here are some Marathon Week Pre-Race Rituals that I go through to get mentally prepared for a marathon:

If you’d like to track me on my progress, you can register for Runner Tracking here.  My bib number is 1976.  It would’ve been even cooler if it was 1967.  :)  I’ll also be posting my splits on my Facebook timeline.