Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
- Heading straight to a soccer game from the race to see my daughter tear up the field. You should have seen me shivering as I poured cold water over my head trying to the caked on salt off before I slipped into some dry clothes. Brrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!
- Hot soaking bath where I nearly fell asleep...ahhhh.....
After the bath, I got right to work on my legs, focusing on my right calf. I'm totally sold on the effectiveness of the foam roller and used it again today. Flush the crud out and let healing begin! Hey, I don't have all the time in the world, you know....less than 14 days until I'll be lost on the trails of Oil Country!
Congrats to all who participated today and if you volunteered, a big hearty THANK YOU!!! All of these events are impossible without YOU! Thank you!
Happy Trails, everyone! (no more asphalt!!)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Believe it or not, I've not run one single marathon in 2009. I have run several training runs in excess of 26.2 miles but I haven't actually pinned on a bib number and toed the line of a marathon this year. If I'm going to do one, I'm really happy it's this one. Out of 23 marathon finishes, I'd rank Akron near the top of my favorites along with Richmond, Flying Pig, and Steamtown. It's just such a blast to be a part of. I can't wait for the moments before the start where endorphins are at a fever pitch, the sun will barely be up, and cowbells will be ringing as we take off across the Y-Bridge. Even with all the ultras and hundreds of miles on the trails this year, nothing is quite like the good 'ol marathon. It was my first running "love" and I'll always return. It's always pretty special to me personally this year because both of my brothers, their wives, and Marjie are all participating. ALL of them! Marjie is run/walking the 1/2 marathon with "Agent" Bower, Bill is running his 2nd marathon after Flying Pig this past Spring and his wife is running the 1/2 marathon, and my youngest brother, Jim is running a leg of the 5-person relay that he put together. His wife is running one of the legs as well. A couple of years back, NO ONE ran. Now, they all do. I'm happy.
Update since YUT-C: my philosophy this week has been to evaluate the need to run before every urge to go run...and there's been plenty. I took Sunday off completely and only ran twice more since. One day for 4 miles and another for 3 miles. There was absolutely nothing beneficial to gain from running this week outside of loosening up the muscles to promote blood flow and healing. That combined with the foam roller to work out some kinks and lots of water, I feel really, really good. Lots of rest has worked well. It was pretty tough this morning not to run...I got up in time to run, stood in the kitchen just thinking: "Should I run? Will I really benefit AT ALL?" I decided I wouldn't so I passed. I also think being on my feet for 9hrs at the Expo with Mizuno and Vertical Runner the night before the marathon could take its toll on me. It's very easy to think during the final hours of a taper that you're not doing enough. That's your mind playing tricks on you and it should absolutely be ignored at all costs. Don't worry...your body will remember what to do when that gun sounds at 7am, Saturday. Trust me, it will.
My plan is to simply run comfortably on Saturday and not push for a PR or anything. Focus on the ultimate goal (an Oil Creek 100 Mile finisher's buckle in my hand) will constantly be front and center in my mind during the marathon. NO running hard! NONE! I'm guessing I'll finish sometime between 3:40 and 4hrs. Is that wide enough a prediction for ya? Afterwards for 13 days, it's going to be all eyes on the prize...OIL CREEK. I cannot wait to escape for 24+ hours into the fall foliage of the old oil country of northwest Pennsylvania. Ahhhh....memories will be made.
Good luck and please, HAVE FUN if you are running in any part of the Akron Marathon this weekend! If you don't have fun, it's not worth it!
Happy TRAILS, everyone!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
One thing I really was looking forward to on race morning was driving east towards Youngstown at sunrise. Just like last year, the sun was cracking the horizon just as I entered Youngstown and just like last year, I held my camera out my sunroof for a photo. No better way to start the day!
Milling around the Old Log Cabin at the start, it was good to quickly catch up with old friends and new friends alike whom I'd never met in person and pick up my goody bag which again contained a high quality tech tee. This year, La Sportiva supplied the tech tees. A record crowd gathered for both the 50K and 25K this year which went right in line with the growing demand for trail-running events in northeast Ohio. In all, 119 started the event. After a few brief words from Gombu and his "old-school" method of starting the race (a simple "Go!"), we were off. (photos from this point on are all courtesy of Pebble who has also published over 130 pictures on Facebook...below is a group of us before the start)
I find YUT-C easiest to describe by thinking about a figure 8. By starting at the bottom of the eight and working clockwise first, that's essentially the first 4 miles to the Covered Bridge which is the main aid station for the event (the intersecting part of the number 8). The 50K runners will pass through here 5 times. That first section has some gorgeous scenery along Lake Cohasset and eventually encounters the "Monkey Hills." These hills are so steep in sections that you are nearly dragging your knuckles on the ground to get up them. To add to the difficulty, they are fresh trails with very loose dirt and some very steep descents thrown in. On a wet day, it's slicker and more dangerous than ever. After many ups and downs, the last steep climb is celebrated by greeting the "Love Log"...a log you essentially have to "love" to get over. Once past here, it's a nice decline down to the road and eventually to Lanterman's Mill. As we approached the Mill, you go up and down many wooden boardwalks up over the water and under rock cliffs...to me, the most gorgeous section in all the course. Once the Mill is in sight, the Covered Bridge awaits and it's time to refuel. Thanks to Pebble for catching this photo of me the 2nd time that I came in.
So far, I was feeling pretty darn good. As this was an event more like a stepping stone for me, I was supposed to be taking it easy. Racing was not permitted! Still, a bib number was pinned on which has uncontrollable mental side effects. With that being said, I came up with the idea that I'd run strong and steady for the first 25K and then treat the second half like I was running a 100 miler which of course I will be in less than 3 weeks. Like my rationalization? Us ultra-runners can always make sense out of the senseless.
After leaving the Covered Bridge and grabbing some PB&J, salt tabs, and electrolytes, I headed for the loop around Lake Newport. (Pic at right is typical ultra fare and what was found at the Covered Bridge Aid Station) Think back to the figure 8. We're now traveling up the top right side of the 8. The course does the top circle of the 8 twice and each loop is 4 miles, of course passing through the Covered Bridge each time. This section has 3/4 mile of asphalt on it on the east side, has some very rocky, technical sections, and the rest is gentle, rolling, rooty trail. It's a good breather of sorts after conquering the Monkey Hills. I had the pleasure of running with Pebble's brother, Jeff, and 100-miler Mark from a couple hours south of Youngstown. Mark and I ran the Burning River 100 together a short 7 weeks ago. He was also down at the Mohican 100 in June. It was great to catch up and spend some quality time with another "sane" runner like myself. :-) (Eventually after leaving Mark and Jeff behind, they caught me on the final stretch and dusted me!)
Finishing the top loop around Lake Newport twice and seeing those fine volunteers at the Covered Bridge for the 3rd time, I headed back to the Old Log Cabin, or that "fat" part of the number 8 on the right side thus completing my numerical explanation of the YUT-C course and the 25K (15.6 mile point). From this point on, it's 2 loops of the "fat" part of the 8. The Lake Newport loop in no more. Essentially, two sub-8 mile loops around Lake Cohasset.
Remember the game plan from earlier? My rationalization? Well, I arrived at the 25K point in 2hrs, 37min which translates into a 5:15 50K if run at the same pace. Clearly, I "raced" the first 25K...sort of. Time to shift into 100 mile mode. I brought the pace down and focused on slow, consistent, forward movement. I told Jeff earlier when he asked me what I thought I'd run today and I said between 5:45 and 6:15 and I intended to do just that. Unfortunately for my toes, that meant day-dreaming and not paying attention to the surface in front of me...that being rocky and rooty! Illustration: you know that thing at amusement parks where the big 'ol tough guy (not me) picks up the sledge hammer and slams the base, trying to ring the bell in order to pick out his favorite stuffed pink teddy bear? OK. You know those lights that travel upwards towards the bell? Imagine those lights being the nerve shockwave that I felt when I severely caught my right foot on a rock. I felt a shock of electricity so clearly identifiable that went from my toes of my right foot, up to my waist, across my pelvis, up my left side to my shoulder, and ended in my left ear. YOWSERS! I was fortunate that I caught myself before I got all bloodied up on the ground. That wasn't the last near-miss but it was the hardest one of the day. Speaking of blood, check out John DeWalt's arm at the right. This guy is the epitomy of hard core. He is 73 years old and just completed the Hardrock 100...again. (another reason I can't stand people who complain or give me the excuse of being too old to run) Anyway, he fell in such a way that his skin got peeled right off his arm...probably about 3" long by about 1" tall. The skin just hung there. Yes, he stopped running the race and eventually covered it up. He definitely won the "Best Blood" award! Anyway, I finished another loop (23-24 miles total) and charged on for the last go-around. Luckily, the cool air was being trapped and contained quite well by the thick woods and weather conditions remained dry and perfect from start to finish. Still, the roots and rocks remained and continued to give me wake-up calls. Arriving back at the finish line, the clock read 5hrs, 56min, 42sec. I was dead on target and practically an hour faster than last year's time where was I stung by 3 bees at Mile ONE! It was a lot warmer last year, too.
Afterwards, the whole gang was at the finish line and I expressed my thanks to everyone I could find and consumed some taquitos, pizza, and lasagna. YUM! Great finish line food in fine NEO Trail style. Not surprisingly, the official results were published only 5 hours later. Gotta love it!
I gained a new appreciation for YUT-C this year. I've been so consumed by the trails of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, my normal training ground, that this course's differences were very pronounced to me. I think it's safe to say I know the overwhelming majority of the trails of the CVNP like the back of my hand and I know of none of them which compare to the rockiness and technical nature of that found in Mill Creek Park. It's nothing like the mountain trails of Virginia, I know, but it was refreshing to be on a more "mental" and technical trail...for a change. From what I've heard, this was the perfect thing I needed for the Oil Creek 100 in 19 days.
All-in-all, a super day on the trails with some of the very best people on Planet Earth that I know. Thanks to all who ran or volunteered for this event! It lived up to everything that I've been preaching about for months. I'll certainly be back for more in the future and for other NEO Trail events. For now, it's a quick recovery to the Akron Marathon this Saturday then the 14 day countdown to the Oil Creek 100.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! What a ride!"
Monday, September 14, 2009
- It's great when the grocery shopping and the lawn can get mowed BEFORE the weekend so the weekend is free for everything-family with no to-do lists. It was one of those weekends highlighted by my family's first trip to Kent's 16th Annual Art in the Park. 95 local artists, 2 stages with local musical acts and artistic folks, a kids' craft area, and some good food. We had some kettle corn and bought a few pieces of $1 pizza to support the local Boy Scout troop. I think we spent about 3-4 hours out there. It was a really nice, relaxing time on a brilliant day.
- Another 4-day work-week this week. I love these non-5 day weeks. Friday is my normal every-other-Friday off and the day before Objective #1, the YUT-C 50K. YUT-C is a really fun ultra-marathon with the cream-of-the-crop in local ultra talent. It's got a different "feel" to it as compared to some other local events. Not a good or bad thing...just different. I'm looking forward to 3 trips up and over the Monkey Hills, circumnavigating the lakes of Mill Creek Park multiple times, and seeing new and familiar faces of good friends. After YUT-C, I'll employ a week of recover/taper to the Akron Marathon 7 days later, Objective #2. No time goals for Akron this year. If I dare race Akron, which is hard NOT to, by the way...I should be shot on site. No better way to sabotage Objective #3 and the grand prize of 2009, a 3rd 100 mile finish at Oil Creek two weeks after the Akron Marathon. Ahhhhh.....this is exciting.
- Anyone see the sousaphone player dot the "I" at the Ohio State Buckeye game on Saturday night? It's a huge tradition at "The Horseshoe" in Columbus. I guess someone didn't pass the memo to the cameraman about the actual "dotting" procedure as he got a bit too close to that big 'ol sousaphone as it dove south to the turf. Funny stuff. Unfortunately, our Bucks got run over by a bunch of Trojans...so much for all that trash-talking I was doing to some good friends down south!
- It's hard to forget to mention it when it doesn't exist, but guess what...I continue to remain injury free! Nothing has crept up on me since Burning River and I continue to be blessed with an incredible track record in 2009 absent of any real injury. Sure, I've had some nagging knee issues and little things here and there, but nothing to sideline me and cause me to drop out of any event. All in all, I head into these next 4 weeks in great shape both physically and mentally. How will I come out the other end???
- I nearly missed Grandparents Day yesterday. I normally count on my well-labeled Hallmark calendar on the fridge but it's not up anymore. Luckily, I remembered in time to go see my grandma who is 84 years young, my last surviving grandparent. She fortunately only lives a few miles away now so I was able to drop in as a surprise, have a cup-o-tea with her and just catch up. She is going quite well but will probably require another knee replacement surgery real soon. I can't help but see the irony in her getting her knee cut open while I bash mine in these endurance events. But hey, I'll lean on the researchers who preach these events strengthen my knees instead of the naysayers who preach the opposite. I love you, Gram!
- A big shout-out goes to Vince, owner of Vertical Runner who outright won his first ultra-marathon this past Saturday at the Groundhog Fall 50K in Punxsutawney, PA. Beating out Mark Godale who finished 2nd, Vince finished in 4hrs, 3min., a respectable marathon time but instead 5 miles longer than a marathon at 31.2 miles and on hilly trails. Way to go, Vince! Full Results here.
- Tell me once and I may or may not listen. Tell me again and my ears will perk up. That's what they did when Tom Jennings, Oil Creek 100 race director recently sent out another extremely detailed race-update e-mail. Turns out bears are becoming more and more common out there in the former oil country in PA. He recommended getting a "bear bell" yet again for those of us who will be trudging through the night and have better chances of stumbling upon one of those big 'ol creatures. Enough said, Tom! I finally picked up one on eBay this morning. It has a magnetic silencer so it's quiet when it needs to be. I'm one who does travel very quietly through the woods at night and will be especially so at Oil Creek since I'll be alone the whole way. It's going to be a long night, too, with the sun setting earlier and earlier every day now and the sun rising later every day. Sunset will be at 6:45pm, moonrise is at 11:35pm with 58% of the moon visible (pray for clear skies!!!), and sunrise will not be until 7:25am with first light at 6:58am. Note to self: BATTERIES!!!!
- To many of you, be smart this week, eat a bunch of carbs, drink lots of water, and I'll see you at the YUT-C 50K on Saturday! It's a record for participation this year, too! 113 registered as of this morning! YEA!!!
Happy Trails, everyone!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
What makes you feel "good"? I'll tell you what doesn't: nightmares...or just really bad dreams. I've awoke at my normal 3:30am or 4:30am times three times this week with a sore jaw from gritting and grinding my teeth all night due to downright crappy dreams. I only recall one of them clearly. I was deep behind enemy lines in Afghanistan as an infantry soldier in the middle of a firefight. In the Navy, this is not my role, by the way...it never has been. But in this dream, it was...and it felt more real than ever. That dream stayed with me all day that day at work. I was physically drained and upset for hours. Anyway, the week progressively got worse and today ended up being a mental health/re-charge day and a day called off sick from work. At this past January's Buckeye Trail 50K when it was 22F for the high temp, inches of snow on the trail, and I was snifflin', coughin', had a fever, I still ran that race and placed 5th overall...and felt wonderful while running it. Immediately thereafter, I was more sick than before...but the race was worth it. Today, I was not nearly as miserable but I took my own advice and laced up the Wasatch's and hit the trails for 13 euphoric miles...alone. Some leaves had already started to fall on the Buckeye Trail and the smell of Fall was in the air...just unbelievably perfect in every way. I averaged about 10:36 per mile which is a really nice pace on the trails...around 5.7 to 5.8 miles per hour and it felt E A S Y. That'll be the longest I'll run before the YUT-C 50K in less than 9 days from now. Speaking of YUT-C, they are way ahead of registration numbers from any previous year so if you want in, you'd better get in now before it sells out. Next week will be treated as a taper week like any other and then it's game time: YUT-C + 7 days = Akron Marathon + 14 days = Oil Creek 100 Mile Endurance Run. Time to run smart, use my head, do nothing stupid, and have 3 successful races, celebrated with one big mutha of a buckle at the end.
Happy Trails, everyone!
Monday, September 7, 2009
- Day 4 of a 4-day weekend for me. I'll be running in the 25th Anniversary of the Labor of Love Run 5-Miler at The Chapel in Akron this morning. It's certainly the most family-friendly event I've ever done and has become a tradition on this holiday much like my Turkey Day 4-miler has become. My girls love the 1-mile fun run and well, the 5-miler is brutal twice during the run with the same lung-burner of a hill. I'm not so optimistic about my time this morning. The last 2 years, I've kept my times sub 35min but I don't believe I'm in that kind of shape anymore. I'll shoot for 35min but highly unlikely I can crack that barrier this year. That's OK, though! Anything close will be a reminder my "road legs" still work!
- Saturday was another one of those days where I stood in awe. I posted a group run about a week ago to run on the Blue Line, the Akron Marathon course, as we are now less than 3 weeks to race day. I mapped out a 20 miler which covered the whole course with the exception of the south part of the course as well as the part that winds through the University of Akron. I projected 40-100 runners (kind of liberal, I know) and we certainly hit the 100 mark. Seeing that many people out from just a simple internet post was pretty cool. A great day with friends and another day to spur the buzz surrounding a great marathon. The northeast Ohio running community is certainly alive and well. We also saw many, many others on the course outside of our group. 19 days to race day!
- After the 20 miler, I packed up my family and hit the road for Cleveland. We've had perfect weather for quite some time now and Labor Day weekend has been no different so why not a Cleveland Indians game?! Yea, they stink this year, but it's one of those things I hope my family remembers for awhile. Before the game, I found some free parking over near 6th Street by the Starbucks then took a walk, a L O N G walk. I had no idea my 30min walk would be over an hour...to Great Lakes Brewing Company. They are located across the bridge near the ballpark. I've always wanted to visit there and have lunch or dinner and with a game time of 4:10pm, we had plenty of time. Well, with blazing sun and legs much shorter than my own, other members of my family were great troopers and enjoyed the walk. Icing on the cake was flyovers by F-15s above us for the Cleveland Air Show while we crossed the bridge. The brewery was really good, super good food and atmosphere, and a band playing on the square outside. Afterwards, we slowly walked back over the bridge to the ballpark. I noticed this billboard on way back. I'm sure many of you have heard of the Hoyt's. Great inspirational sign, eh?
- Training related, it's time to put my game-face on. 12 days from now will be event #1 of 3 that will take place between now and October 10th. After this past Saturday's beating on asphalt on the Blue Line, I'll be taking a very heavy down week this week and will run nothing over 10 miles and will totally take this Saturday off. Maximum rest is my goal but also staying limber through my mid-week runs. After the YUT-C 50K on September 19th, I'll have only 7 days until the Akron Marathon. No goals are being set for the Akron Marathon as any racing would be "100 mile suicide." I simply want to enjoy the event and enjoy seeing so many friends during a super-fine event. I do expect 26.2 miles of asphalt to require focused rest and repair. I gotta tell ya, that 20 miler this past Saturday did beat me up a bit. It reminded me of how much I love the trails and how they are so nice to my body regarding recovery. Anyway, after the Akron Marathon, I'll only have 2 weeks until the Oil Creek 100 Mile Trail Run. The goal? Get through 157.4 miles of "racing" over 3 events in 4 weeks injury free and 3 succcessful finishes. It will be a true test of smart running, smart recovery, and how well I can "listen" to my body and respond appropriately.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Well, not exactly. I checked the moonrise/moonset last night before bed after seeing the moon rise before I went to bed…full and bright. I thought by setting the alarm at 3:15am, I might better my chances of running with Mr. Moon today. So 3:15am it was. I popped out of bed fully anticipating a brilliant run absent of a headlamp but instead guided by Mr. Moon's light. Based on my energy at 3:15am, I believe the triple shot of fresh-brewed espresso from last evening was still flowing in my bloodstream. However, upon checking the moonset chart, I realized my goal of running with Mr. Moon would not be realized on this day as he was scheduled to set just before the 4am hour. Still, I continued on my morning routine of brewing my espresso, unloading the dishwasher, and listening to some radio drama on WCRF. "I really just want to go and not come back today. If only a job weren't waiting and the rest of life beckoned…" Chores complete, e-mails answered, I donned my favorite pair of Brooks Radius with over 420 miles on them and stepped outside my garage door only to find Mr. Moon! He shined as bright as ever right in front of me in the western sky. So much for that moon chart I had referenced from the National Observatory. I considered not even taking my headlamp but left it on just in case a canine or rabid animal wanted to give chase on this God-send of a morning.
"Good Morning, Mr. Moon! I've got the perfect course for us today…yours!" I set out on his course, a rolling, farm-laden, pristine part of southern Portage County that I've deemed to him…and me on these days. It's hard to believe that looking back, I haven't had one of these days since May 13th of this year. It truly has been too long. I left the artificial light of my development and embarked along the country road almost always absent of vehicular traffic this time of day and stared straight ahead at Mr. Moon, the road fully illuminated by his light. As I approached the 1 mile mark, his light illuminated the entire countryside and the blanket of fog sitting atop the ready-to-be-harvested corn. It looked like silk with no sharp edges and soft and gentle. I look above and stars are there, but nowhere as bright as they were a few days ago. They are being dimmed this morning by Mr. Moon. Just ahead, I dip down with the road and enter the other end of this fog and can feel it on my skin. Above, Mr. Moon has gained a few rings of color, mostly orange, some green, and a hint of red created by my vision through the water vapor. Emerging from the other side, the rings disappear and he shines in all his brightness once again.
Turning left onto the rolling road, Mr. Moon is on the right and as of now, I haven't even thought about the fact that I'm running. Effortless, blissful, and in a state of euphoria…yea, that's how I'd describe it. "How can I bottle this up and share it with people…show them what they're missing out here?" This makes me wonder and recall a text my youngest brother sent me a few days ago. It went something like "Do you realize your wife and all of your siblings and spouses are now running?" I hadn't ever really thought about that before, honestly. But yea…he was right. None were before. Now, they all are. I responded with "yea…I'm smiling down deep inside" since credit is not what I seek nor anything like that. If I had anything at all to do with any of it, that is wonderful. But, to take credit? Heck no. It's one thing to inspire others but to motivate them out the door to get moving, they have to do that on their own and they all have…every one of them. In fact, that brother (Jim) was out at this very moment with Mr. Moon himself…I think he's found the magic that I've been loving and craving for so long…and realized this morning.
As I passed down and up the biggest "bowl" of a hill on the course, I approached the one farm house that always concerns me. It has giant trees which cast big shadows in the front of their home created by their buzzing light. It is here where one or two dogs…big dogs…have emerged lately. I slowed my pace and began running as if on clouds, not trying to make a sound but also peering as hard as I could into the pitch black shadows…ready to stand my ground and blind them with the 4 LEDs from my headlamp. Luckily, I pass without incident…surprised, though. At least one of them, the big white one, is normally out at all times…free to roam as he or she pleases. The last time it came right out into the middle of the road.
As I pass through 2 1/2 miles, I give a nod to the horses in the nearby pasture and also notice the moon is taking on an orangey harvest-moon type of look and rapidly descenting down to the horizon. "I sure do hope I can make it home before it disappears," I think to myself. As I turn the corner by the Catholic church, the geese are in the creek-bed nearby and a truck flys by from out of nowhere. I was on his opposite side so he paid me no attention. Good thing, too. I am in such a state of "un-touch" with reality, I could easily see myself getting hit by a car. Just past the church it gets dark due to tall trees and thick woods. The remaining light in the sky gives enough illumination but not too much. As I make another curve in the road, I notice a man on his enclosed front porch, reading his morning paper and having a cup of coffee, and his dog barking outside…tied up, thank goodness. Just past him is the spot where I spotted the mysterious smoking man last year. I remember only seeing the burning butt of his cigarette walking down his winding driveway. I always remember the irony of that moment as he puffs away days of his life and I'm out here ADDING days to mine. Well, he's not out today and I make the turn-around just past his house at the 3.5 mile point and head on home, Mr.Moon now directly behind me.
Entering back into that very dark corridor, overshadowed by trees, I'm immediately drawn overhead to the millions of stars which are now starting to take center stage on this early, crisp, 52F morning. I think to myself: "It's amazing how Mr. Moon, so grand and bright, can overshadow the 'big picture'…that being the landscape in the sky. He, on this morning, is grand and stands afront to all. On the big 'universal' stage, though, he is nothing more than a spec in the galaxy, if that. It's like that in life, isn't it? Things that appear to be the only thing important take center stage in our life and we ignore everything else. In reality, wouldn't it be better to notice it all? I mean…look at this sky!!! It's brilliant! It's beautiful!!" For me, I'm a runner, an ultra-runner in fact, any many believe that defines me. I'd be fooling myself if I said it wasn't a major part of my life…because it is. I'm also a dad, a husband, the guy who heads up the team at church that projects the words to the songs and images behind them on Sunday morning, a Navy officer, a neighbor, a son, a brother, a civilian employee of Uncle Sam (notice where I put that?!), and a friend to over 250 Facebook friends! (how did THAT happen, by the way?!) Geez, to only look at the moon and not the universe would be a sad mistake.
As I near home, I think about running and how I haven't thought about anything regarding it so far…my pace, my gait, my effort, future events, nada! My legs just keep churning away and carrying my body along for the ride…a sweet ride, I must say. I turn over my right shoulder and the moon is a brilliant orange and just barely visible over the tree-tops. The spotlight-white is gone and has been replaced by the fall glow we'll all be adorned here with soon in NE Ohio. In front of me, the horizon is beginning to show signs of the morning sun as the brilliant blue is glowing in the east. Above, the stars are starting to fade and soon will be invisible. They are still there…those stars, you know. They never go away. The universe always remains…begging to be noticed, to be recognized, to be appreciated.
Arriving back home at my garage door, I look to the west and Mr. Moon has gone away but will soon arrive yet again this evening in all his brilliance. A glance at my watch reveals 7.00 miles and shockingly, a pace just over 8min/mile. I always take a guess at my pace before I look and this time, I was guessing somewhere between 8:50/mi and 9:05/mi pace. "Wow!" For some, the 8min/mile is nothing. For me, it's been that way before. However, with months and months of training for the 100 mile ultra-marathon event, I have focused on slow, consistent L O N G miles. It is incredibly refreshing to have a run so nice, so peaceful, so easy…and have it be at a pace where I didn't even try to be at, but just happened. It's reassurance that I still have my "marathon legs"…good thing, too! The Akron Marathon is only 3 weeks away so those guys need to spruce up and put up! I guess those tempo runs mixed throughout the past several months have paid off.
Mr. Moon is awesome…better than awesome. I love my runs with him. I also love looking at those stars…millions of them…and noticing them. I just hope I do the same in life. Here's to a great run and a great opportunity to sit back and just simply…notice.