This one’s all about the NYC Marathon!

Let me start this blog out with the email that I received on 2/28/18 at around 10:20 p.m.

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Congratulations, Robert!

You are officially in the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon this November. This is the world’s biggest marathon—a life-changing race that draws runners from all over the planet. It will test you, challenge you, and above all move you. All of us at New York Road Runners are thrilled to have you with us!

Be on the lookout for regular newsletters to help guide you on your marathon journey. In the meantime, learn about how to book your trip to NYC, pick a training program, and ensure you have an incredible race week experience.

Learn More 
#MovedMe

#TCSNYCMarathon

I’m not going to lie…this brought tears to my eyes.  I entered with absolutely no expectations of ever getting in.  I’ve read the stats over the past years and know that the number of runners that get into this race via “Lottery” system is very small.  I’ll give you a rough run on some of those numbers.  For 2018, over 105,000 people applied to take part in the Lottery to run the NYC Marathon.  The number of open spots would be just over 15,000, and out of that you have to account for people being allowed in from International, the state of New York itself and then the remaining 49 states.  They stated in the Runner’s World article that it would be easier to get accepted into the University of Notre Dame! #GoIrish

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When 2/28/18 rolled around and these 105,000 runners became glued to their computers and smart phones for some idea of their fate for the marathon, I become one of the ever hopeful.  #Nevergiveup is a hashtag I use often when posting.  I’ve been told numerous times by my wife and family members to “take chances” and believe that “things happen for a reason”.  Well, I took the chance and the running Gods shined down on me that day.  Me, a very average runner that just won’t quit.  I’ve been given the opportunity to stand at the starting line with some of the planet’s greatest athletes!  I will make NW Ohio proud!  I will run for my sister who’s fighting rheumatoid arthritis, I’ll run for my parents that have passed on, but never forgotten and I will cross that finish line!

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It’s funny how life throws different things your way…both good and bad.  I struggled with illness most of January this year.  This of course has left me behind on training and out of shape.  I’m back at it and hopeful to keep all the moving parts moving.  I’ve signed up for the Black Swamp 15K race that’ll be this month.  I’m shying away from some of the other races until the Glass City Half Marathon.  That’ll be a training run for our 21-miler out in California just one week after. (Big Sur!) I’m hoping to relax on the West coast and recharge batteries.  The course is absolutely stunning and the atmosphere is stellar!  This will be a year of just really taking it all in!

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Big Sur by Rod Jones Photography; creative commons

While the NYC Marathon is not until November, there are so many things that I feel the need to get in place.  I want to make sure my body is kept in good shape and have asked my massage therapist (Becky Koskinen) to set me on a regular schedule so that I keep everything stretched and working well.  The next order of business is to find a place to stay!  There will be 50,000 other people looking for a place to stay and I hate to wait until last-minute with that kind of crowd coming in.  I’ve reached out to an old friend that lives in New York (Jolene) for guidance on where to stay to maximize what the city has to offer.  I have a few places that are a must see in my mind.  I’ll do what I can, but need to balance that with keeping legs from getting too tired.  There’s also the New York food!  You just know that I’d like to check out some Italian food there!  I just know it’ll be the bomb-diggity!

I’ve been watching videos, reading articles and just breathing this race from the moment I found out that I was in.  Learning everything about the course and what it has to offer, how to set a pace with the adrenaline pumping and trying to comprehend there’ll be thousands of people lining the entire course screaming and cheering for all the runners!  I have no doubt that emotions will be running super high!

 

I’m hopeful that my bride Karla and my sister Patti will both be able to come along.  It just wouldn’t feel the same if my traveling Zombies couldn’t be a part of this.  There’s no better face to see at a finish line than that of the one you love the most.  Cross fingers that her work schedule works out.  If not, I switch to plan B and Patti goes along…maybe reach out to another family member or friend to go as well.  Hell…anyone that wants to come out to NYC and spend some time is more than welcome!  Reach out if you’d like to make it a group thing!

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I’ve decided that after completing this journey, I must have a tattoo to celebrate.  (Duh!)  Prior to that I’ve gone and had my tattoo artist (Sailor Woody…a.k.a. Robert Woody) place the simple words on the side of my hand. (JUST RUN)  It’s right where I need it to be when I struggle, when I need a reminder that when nothing else makes sense…Just Run!  I tell you folks all the time that I’ve felt from the very beginning of my running career, I believe that “All things are possible through running”.  I still believe that to this very day.  When I’ve had a tough day, when I want to move through sadness, when I need someone to listen to me…I go to the road.  The road understands us Runners!  It gives us exactly what we need, when we need it.  So to honor this, I now have this wonderful tattoo on my hand to reflect all of that!

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I always want to put my shout out to Blackjack Animal Rescue.  You know that I always think about my puppies!  Still working with Sailor Woody to get a design finished for t-shirts.  Stay tuned!  I’d love it when we get closer to the marathon if you all could make a small or large donation to the rescue in honor of my journey to New York.  The lives we can save would make the journey worth so much more!  By all means feel free to reach out to the rescue at anytime and help with supplies or donations.  Look through the puppies that are up for adoption or become a foster parent to one or more!  Fostering saves lives too!  If you take one in, that opens up a spot for another one to be pulled out of the High Kill shelters in the south.  Stella approves of this!

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Please, stay with me this year!  I’m just overflowing with emotions this running season.  I want so much to do well and help my pups.  I promise to keep the blogs flowing!  I’d like to thank those that have reached out to me with congrats for getting into this historical race.  The kind words have kept me smiling daily!  I’d also like to thank all the regular supporters and followers to this blog and my Run Zombie Run Facebook page.  I enjoy the likes and comments…truly!  Let’s keep this Zombie running…all the way to New York Baby!

I’ll see you on the Road!

~Zombie~

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The Race I Love To Hate!

Ahhh yes…the Dave’s 10 Miler!  “The Race I Love To Hate”!  This is the third year that I’ve made the long trek across town to Delta, Ohio where they hold the annual Dave’s 10 Miler.  It’s a good 40 minute drive from our home, but for some reason, I keep returning to this one.  27164524_10213380004768256_277112797574721187_o

The first year I ran was in 2015 and OMG!!  Quite possibly the worst running conditions you could ever ask for!  Blowing and drifting snow/sleet, big swirling winds and just enough cover on the roads to keep you from strapping on Yak Trax!  That being said…I made it through the entire 10 miles (Frozen facial hair and all).  This race is always run in the mid part of January and in NW Ohio, that could mean anything for weather.

The 2017 run was a complete turn around from 2015.  We had 64 degrees and sunshine!  What the hell?!  While I enjoyed the temperatures and running in shorts, I kept thinking back to the 2015 run and was just blown away.  You really can get just about anything for weather at this time of year.

2018…the conditions looked to be pretty good going into the week prior to the event.  They were calling for a chance of rain and about 40 degrees on race day.  As it turned out, we did get 41 degrees, but also received a monster FOG!  Holy Hell!  Lining up for the race I just had to chuckle and told my wife, “every time I come out for this run I’m handed something unique!”  There was very little wind and with the temperature being basically perfect, we knew it was going to be a good run.  Both of us had been fighting the “Ohio Cruds” in the weeks building up to the race.  I was able to get out once just a week before to try to get my running legs back.  So, the idea of setting a new P.R. were tossed out the window and we both just decided to make it a training run and survive.  I paced with Karla for the first 6 miles and it was pretty wonderful.  We don’t often get to run together and sometimes that’s alright…lol!  Just kidding honey!  We clipped off the miles and enjoyed the thick haze out in the middle of no where!  I wore a High Viz Orange shirt due to the conditions.  I figured if I’m running on a country road and the speeding locals are not aware there’s a race going on, I’d like to be seen before getting run down…lol!  Most of the miles went pretty easy and my breathing was much improved from the week prior.  I did however have a small equipment problem with my shoe and sock combination.  The shoes I chose had a shift with the insert and it started to rub the side of my foot something awful.  I thought for sure there’d be a huge blister once we got home.  No blister but a bright red pinch mark.  All good now!26730829_1984847188210913_1541023208032878146_n

The end result was a 9:39 pace for the 10 miles.  Not what I’m used to but, like I said, this was a survival run.  Karla did awesome and was just a few minutes behind me.  I think she placed in her division!  She always claims to be slow but for some reason has no problem placing in her division…time and time again.  The shirt and bling were totally fun!  They hit the mark when they came out with that design!  I was planning on skipping the run this year and then the bling came out…damn you Dave’s!  All in all it was a good time.  We survived another strange weather event and finished a 10 mile training run.  Just one step closer to California and the numerous other fun runs!10155836_10201807798138634_1189736724_n

As I stated on my Run Zombie Run Facebook page, I’ve signed up for the http://www.hennepinhundred.com/.  The 50K (31 miles…32.7 for this course) is now on my list of things to do this year!  This will be my first Ultra Marathon and I just can’t wait to get it on!  I’ll be running with a guest Zombie, but I’ll reveal who that person is at a later date.  I will tell you that it’s a female and she’s been wanting to run an Ultra for a very long time.  This is her ultimate bucket list run and I’m very excited to run it with her.  I’ll also be raising funds for RA (rheumatoid Arthritis) in honor of my sister Gini Feller who suffers from this debilitating disease.  There’ll be more blogs as the year goes about my sister’s numerous struggles and how she finds ways to keep going.  She’s much tougher than I!  A career nurse, she still works full-time and manages to do so much more, even when her body tries to stop her.  I’m honored to be able to run for her!25311286_1934138480180051_6468389338526585126_o

So, the first organized run is in the books. Training needs to start cranking up and “there are miles to run before I sleep”.  I’ll continue to stay after my blog and keep everyone updated on what’s going on next!  I’ll fill you in on upcoming races, training and I’d like to do a sit down (question…answer) session with my sister Gini about her struggles and what she’d like all of us to know about RA.  Stay Tuned.

I’ll see you…on the road!

~Zombie~

2018…The Year We Turn Everything Around

Well, I know it’s been a little while since I’ve sat down and knocked out a Blog entry.  I never expected to go into the new year with a serious case of the Ohio Cruds!  I can almost always roll right through a cold and not miss a beat, but this one was a WOW!  I’m just now starting to feel like myself again and I know I’m improving because I’ve become stir crazy and focused on getting back out on the road again.   My very first run of 2018 was just a few days ago and only about 4.5 miles, but damn it felt good.

Let’s take inventory on what I’ve signed up for so far and some of the highlights to start out the 2018 running calendar.

The first organized run of 2018 will be the “Race I love to hate”!  The Dave’s 10 Miler out in Delta.  January 21st at 2 p.m. is the start time.  This race has been celebrated for numerous years now and is known for giving you a full on Ohio Blizzard (2015) or as we got to enjoy last year, 64 degrees and sunny!  The insanity of it all!  In 2015, this race almost broke me with the terrible conditions.  It seemed that at every turn the wind was blowing directly in your face and there was a combination of snow/sleet coming down.  I did a blog entry shortly after the 10 Miler that year…titled “Digging Deep.”IMG_20150322_080725328_HDR

The second race that I’ve not signed up for yet, but totally plan to is the Great Scott 25K. (February 18th) This is a double loop road run done on property of Oak Openings Metro Park.  This is a Toledo RoadRunner only event and once again, can be a serious challenge.  I’m always a little rusty during the first couple winter months and throwing a 25K or just over 15 miles into the training schedule is usually cause for laying in my recliner for the remainder of the day…lol!  It’s a nice event and a good tune up for the races ahead in the spring.  Besides, it’s an excuse to run at a cool park and grab an Awesome sweatshirt for signing up!  Love my Swag!

March 17th will bring the Black Swamp Festival of Races.  I dig this run mostly because of the “Memory  Mile”.  The last mile of the race is covered with signs that have the names of loved ones that have left our world.  It takes everything to get through this mile when you’re reading all the names and just feeling all the love these runners have for their family and friends.  I struggle with my breathing and usually have tears during this stretch.  I fell apart the first year I ran this after the passing of my Mother.  Seeing her name brought such a rush of emotions.  Believe me, these are all good things and I love that they do this each year.  I’ve asked that both my Mother and Father’s names be posted on a sign for this years run.  Love you Mom and Dad!  I just know they’ll be looking over me as I come across the finish line.

Alright, onto April.  April has a double whammy!  First is the Glass City Half Marathon on April 22nd.  This is the 10th Anniversary of this event and it’s the Home Town, so that makes it a must run!  The course is super scenic and the finish is inside of the Glass Bowl at UT (University of Toledo).  This race will be a training run for our big trip to the West Side of the Country!  April 29 The Big Sur International Marathon…for which we will be running the 21 miler this year!  (We wanted a different medal to add to our collection) They call this “Running the Ragged Edge Of The Western World”.  Every step of this course is just breathtaking!  I fell in love with California last year and feel the desire to go back and try my best to tame the course.

May 20th brings the Ann Arbor Half Marathon!  I’ve run this for the past few years and really enjoy the course.  It’s an Ass-Kicker!  Lots of hill challenges and one big mother of a Hill at just the right time to make you scream!  My sister complains each and every year about signing up, but she keeps right on going back with me…lol!  It’s a love/hate thing!  This year will be a touch different because they’ve changed the month from March to May.  While it’ll be much warmer running weather for us, it could prove to be more taxing on the system if we get some serious heat.  Time will tell!  Stay tuned!

June 17th I’ll be running the Towpath 10 miler. This race will be in the greater Cleveland, OH area and will be my first go at this one.  The H.R. direct at my workplace told me about it because his wife is the organizer of the Trilogy of race in the area.  I thought, Cleveland, Summer heat, 10 miles…WTF…I’m in!  I always get excited about trying out new destination runs even if they’re just a short hop down the Turnpike to get to!

I don’t want to jinx anything, but the next big event that a group of wild and crazy runners are working to organize for Mid-September is….wait for it…. Going On A RAGNAR RUN!!  Ragnar NH for the 20th Anniversary!  https://www.runragnar.com/event-detail/relay/reachthebeach Two Vans, 12 runners, running some 200ISH miles NON-STOP!  I went absolutely crazy after our first Ragnar and told everyone that it’s a life changer.  That’s for real!  Nothing but fun and raw emotions throughout the entire trip!  I highly recommend that anyone reading this consider doing one in your lifetime.  It’s a bucket list thang!  I’ll keep you up to date as more details become available on this run.

So there’s a look into Run Zombie Run 2018!  I’m running again this year to continue to help .  I have plans to get a new Run Zombie Run 2018 shirt together…not just for my races, but for you all to purchase and enjoy!  I’ve asked my favorite Tattoo Artist (Sailor Woody) at http://www.iatattoo.com/  to draw up a Zombie Dog for the front of the shirt.  Once we get that together, I’ll go to the fine folks over at https://www.jupmode.com/ to get the printing and such underway!  More details on this will be coming very soon.15823162_10208205482236738_934814482490240172_n

So, you know the drill from here!  Keep moving, go run, walk, pump weights, but do something!  We were meant to be moving!  The human body demands that we exercise to keep it happy!  Go rescue a dog and walk it at the park!  I just happen to know numerous fuzzy critters that would love to have a forever home…lol!  Seriously…look up blackjack and enjoy the sweet pups!  I’ve been out for a bit, so please like my Facebook page RunZombieRun and share it with all your pals!  I want to build things back up so that we can raise awareness of all the pets that needs love and homes as well as find new and exciting ways to stay in shape.  I’ll hit you up in the coming days with another entry…probably just before and/or right after the Dave’s 10 miler run.  I’m sure I’ll have something to say about that one…lol!  Take care of yourself and be good to one another!

I’ll see you on the Road!

~Zombie~

 

The Market To Market Relay (OHIO)

One of the races I had marked as a bucket list run was the Market To Market Relay Race.  This race is much like the Ragnar Relay Series minus the overnight running.  The idea is that some 200 teams (that’s the cap) start out running from the Cincinnati area and go continuously until they reach Dayton.  The race starts with a first wave going out at 5 a.m. and then roll through every 20 minutes until all teams have started.  We were wave 5 and launched at 6:40 a.m. on Saturday 9/9/17.21368767_10212394940022253_2995443330828422284_o

The team was really a smaller group of our team from the Ragnar Relays.  Made up of Karla Neeley, Stan Roberts, Amy Browning, Vicki Lynch, Patti Neeley and myself.  We were part of the over 40 division…lol!  Four of us were over 50 and two were at the tender age of 48!  With all that experience and silliness, this was going to be epic!

Pre-dawn out of Milford, Ohio is when we started rolling.  Amy would be the first of our Freaks On Parade (yeah…that’s our team name) to start the 76 mile hop to Dayton-town.  I was excited right from the get go!  The weather looked to be great, the winds were light and we had a touch of cloud cover hovering over us for the first part of the relay.  95% of the run was on a bike trail, so we didn’t have a lot of worry of vehicles flying by as we ran.  The trail was covered by mature trees and had beautiful wild flowers along the route.  Passing by small towns, parks, rivers and just stunning scenery was perfect!21559052_10212398547152429_6885560827382982748_n

There were 18 exchange sites that we needed to get to while a runner was out on the trail.  This made for even more fun as you hit the back roads of Ohio and got to see towns that I’d never seen.  I kept saying that it was hard to believe we were actually moving forward because it seemed like we were just driving in circles and around curvy roads.  The exchange areas were anything from parks to a Big K or Kmart store…lmao!  Everything was very well-organized and with Karla keeping track of everyone’s in and out times…how could we go wrong?!  21557903_10212396805228882_4191596888514505318_n

While in the van there was plenty of time for chit-chat, laughter and of course snacks! If you run all the miles…you get to eat all the food!  With each exchange, there was a new buzz of excitement.  When a runner returned from their leg, they’d share what they had seen on the run, how many runners that might have passed and conversation they had along the route. Sharing the experience was fun and let you enjoy what your teammate went through while running the trail.  As for passing other runners.  In the Ragnar Relay Series, this is referred to as a “Kill”.  Well, being that we were running to raise awareness and funds for Blackjack Animal Rescue, it just didn’t feel right calling it a “Kill”.  So the idea of calling it a “Wag” developed…lol!  We believe in no kill shelters for all dogs so it was agreed upon that if you passed another runner, it was a “Wag”!  I can tell you that we had quite a few Wags along the way!  Very proud of my team!  To go with the theme, we had a mini-van with a giant blow up dog strapped to the roof and Patti drew several super cute dogs on the windows of our van.  Karla had purchased dog balloons to add to the fun.  We ended up tying them to the back seat and every time we opened the hatch of the van, out popped the dogs!  Just “letting the dogs out” is what I’d say at a stop!

Once we got into the Dayton area and everyone had finished their run other than Patti, she was our clean-up or our Final runner that would cross the finish line.  We collected the dog balloons, waited for her to be about .02 miles away from the finish and ran to the finish line with our dogs in tow.  It was big fun and I’m sure had people chuckling as we came in.  Once we finished, our next mission was to find some cute kids and pass the dog balloons off to them.  What kid doesn’t like a balloon?!  Mission Accomplished!  Some of the sweetest little faces were thrilled to receive a balloon to take home with them.  I’m smiling just typing this and thinking about the adorable little girl that I gave my balloon to.21369399_10212394867780447_7320893948158576631_n

Once we got back to our hotel, everyone was absolutely spent from the day.  We shared a quiet dinner together at our hotel, enjoyed adult beverages together and shared more stories from the day.  This adventure turned out to be everything I could have hoped for and more!  Everyone got along so well, ran like the wind and enjoyed the experience.  76 miles covered in under 12 hours.  We ran an average pace of 9:05 minute miles.  No one was injured and everyone had a blast!

We took quite a few pictures and of course shared all the van pics with Blackjack Animal Rescue.  I’m hopeful that people get to know Blackjack better and understand the fine work they’re doing to save pups!  I’d love it if anyone could throw a few bucks their way in honor of this fun-filled race!  blackjackrescue.org.  Even $5.00 can make a difference in a dog’s life.21457406_10210193990868211_2093821647078098802_o

Thanks for following the Run Zombie Run group and for taking the time to read about the adventures of the Freaks On Parade!

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

 

Vineyard 2 Bay 25K!

Hey Peeps!

Next run coming up on my calendar is the Vineyard 2 Bay 25K!  Where do I start with this run?  First, just let me say, it’s Amazing!  This run is located in the sleepy little town of Suttons Bay, MI.  It’s just a click North of Traverse City, MI and offers spectacular scenery as well as some challenging hills.  This will be my third year going up North and I look forward to it every time.25kblingforblog

The race is more of what you’d find at a smaller local event.  It has a certain down home feel to it and the race coordinators Ross and Nancy Deye are quite possibly two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!  Ross has roots back here in the Toledo area where he was a member of the Toledo Roadrunners Running club.  A cross-country runner and a Boston Marathon finisher!  It seems he’s found his happy place in the upper parts of Michigan and after going there, I can understand why.

Back to the race…lol!  This race starts out at an actual Vineyard!  You catch a school bus down at Suttons Bay and are then shipped over to the Starting area which is located at the Brengman Brothers driveway and the tasting room.  Yes, the tasting room…lol!  The property provides some beautiful views of the vineyards and the rolling hills of Michigan.  Watching the sun come up at this starting area is a must see.  Once you roll out of the starting area, it’s just a few miles before you’re put on the Leelanau Trail.  This trail goes through farm country and again, provides some of the most calming area I’ve encountered to run in.  Nature at it’s finest! 11900055_1018261058226769_5851362113200437942_n

There’s an area of this race that has a pretty serious incline. (Hilltop Rd.)  While you may be cursing your brains out climbing up this (what seems like forever) hill,  you reach the summit and WOW!  A spectacular view of Suttons Bay!  Beautiful water for miles!  It just takes your breath away…well, whatever breath you have left after climbing Hilltop Rd!13912372_1232432143476325_5057339905960221233_n

The race finishes up in the town of Suttons Bay just about the same spot that you caught the bus in the early a.m. hours.  Ross is right there at the finish to congratulate everyone and give you your finishers award.  The finishers award is an actual tile made by a local artists from the area (Sporck Tileart).  Each year they’re different and just wow!  They’re worth the few bucks to enter this race alone.

We usually go for the weekend but this year have opted to go for an entire week prior to the run.  The area just speaks to Karla and I and you all know we love adventures!  August 27th will be the day of the 25K and I just can’t wait to hit this one again.  Do yourself a favor and mark this run on your bucket list…you’ll thank me later for doing so.  Absolutely take a few extra days to venture around and see everything that Northern Michigan has to offer.  Enjoy all that is Suttons Bay, MI.  I’ll of course post up lots of pictures for this one!  If you’ve booked something already for this year, throw it on your calendar for next year.  Get a cabin, a house or a hotel room early!  This is a popular area to be in and places book up quick.

Thanks for keeping up with me and I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

Running For Rescue Dogs

For those of you that know me well, I’m a huge fan of dogs!  Well, pets in general but I prefer my pups more than anything.  When setting out to begin my 2017 year of running I wanted to make a difference in the world of Dog Rescues.  My choice was to team up with BlackJack Animal Rescue out of Tennessee.  They’re the people who found Stella and once I got to know their story, I had to step up my game.15823162_10208205482236738_934814482490240172_n

Blackjack Animal Rescue is a small group of people out of the Bristol, TN area (and beyond) that are doing everything they can to make a change in the lives of dogs.  The work hours are long and the job can be overwhelming at times.  The southern states especially seem to have problems getting these dogs into homes.  At times, it seems easier and more cost-effective to just put the animals down.  This doesn’t sit well with the owner/operator of Blackjack Rescue Sharon Bryant.  She sees dogs (especially Catahoula Leopard Dogs) the same as I do, amazing spirits that want nothing more than to be with humans.  The soul of a dog is special and Sharon, along with her team of angels work tirelessly to save as many dogs as they can and find them good homes.  The average adoption fee is $300 but let me tell you, this covers the animal being fully vetted, micro-chipped and usually transport to just about anywhere!  The fee also helps to cover the never-ending costs of maintaining all the animals in foster care but also helps to save more dog’s lives.

After getting to know Sharon more and seeing all the faces that she works to bring back to health, train, foster and eventually get homes, I knew I had to step up and help.  I’ve been working on bringing awareness of this population problem and lack of help in the southern states as well as raise funds through my running of races, blogging and regular postings on Facebook.  The hope is to get extra donations to this amazing outfit so that they can turn the tide of killing these animals.  I’ve reached out to the running community, co-workers, friends and family to assist in my efforts.   http://blackjackrescue.org/ is the website and they have a paypal system set up so that you can do either a one time donation or a regular monthly one!  If you prefer to mail checks, just send one off to Blackjack Animal Rescue 260 Old Stage Trail Bristol, TN 37620.  There’s also a wish list on the website if you’d like to help with food, toys, bedding or a Thundershirt!  Yes, I did donate a new Thundershirt to the rescue this year so that some wonderful pup would feel safer during storms.  Everything is tax-deductible as Blackjack is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

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Stella (right) and her cousins Goose (bottom) and Cooper (top left) are all BlackJack Rescue dogs!

I have a little more that I need to share about rescue dogs and what they can do for your life.  This being my own story.  I had an Aussie Shepherd/Catahoula mixed dog (Silver) that was part of my life for a very long time.  He lived to be 17 years old and was my world.  When Silver passed, I realized that I had a hole in my heart that only a dog could fill.  I hated coming home to an empty house and missed that wagging tail at the end of my work day or upon any return home.

I started my search locally and eventually found Blackjack Animal Rescue.  They specialize in Catahoula Leopard dogs, so I decided to keep watching the intake and hoped for another silver.  I contacted Sharon and told her my story which in turn prompted her to start sending my pictures of so many beautiful dogs!  I just couldn’t believe all these adorable speckled pups were in need of a home.  Well it happened, she notified me of a dog that was running loose on an expressway and was brought in by a member of her group.  She was a bit skinny, no tags, not fixed but pretty much healthy.  She sent pictures to me of “Stella”.  I just knew I had to have her.  We were heading for the TN area for vacation and made arrangements to meet Stella at a local dog park.  Wow!  She was not only beautiful but so playful and full of love.  Needless to say…the rest is history!  A couple of years later Stella is living the good life here in Ohio with us and my heart is once again full.

While she’s not Silver, she brought all new and exciting things to our home.  Stella is scared of the back yard (long story) so she requires regular walks just to go potty.  This means that Karla and I have to walk the neighborhood 3 or more times in a day.  While at first it seemed like craziness, it’s turned into a blessing in disguise.  We’ve met numerous people in our neighborhood and have become good friends with them. (Thanks Stella) We’re walking and getting more exercise than ever before. (Thanks Stella) We’re able to spread the word about Blackjack Animal Rescue and teach people more about the Catahoula Leopard dog! (Thanks again Stella)  You see, as Cesar Millan once said “You’ll never get the dog that you want, You’ll always get the dog that you need.”  I needed Stella in my life and she’s changed it forever.  Keep this in mind if/when looking at rescue dogs.  They’ll bring more to you then you’ll ever be able to give to them.  They want nothing more than to be loved by you and be with you.stella

I needed to share this so that more people will understand how important dogs are in our world.  I also want more people to get involved and help rescue these special animals.  We have several great dog rescues in our area that can always use help.  I’d love to see more people help me with our friends in the south.  They need us up here in NW Ohio!  We need to bring more Catahoula Leopard dogs this way.  We need to save lives that are being snuffed out at an alarming rate at the high kill shelters in Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee.  So please, take some time to get to know Blackjack Animal Rescue.  Like them on Facebook and follow along!  Donate and save a life!  I need you to help me make this happen.  Runners…it’s time to shine.  We can do this…Together.mikesraceshirt

I’ll see you on the Road!

~Zombie~

Running the 419 and beyond!

So…here we go again with having to apologize for staying away from my blog for so long.  I’ve been caught up in the usual things (WORK!)  LOL!!  I have been able to spend a little bit of time out on the road running and even hit a few more races from the last time we talked!  I had to cut down a little bit due to an injury that seems to want to cause a bit of pain to my right foot, but I’ve done a round of steroids and feel much better!  Crossing fingers to keep logging the miles.

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I signed up this year to run the 419 series of races.  They included the Channel 11 River run, the Muddy Half Marathon, the Ohio/Michigan 8k race, the Boy Scout Half marathon and the final run of the series is the Run for your life 10K.  The River Run brought back memories of yesteryear with the running over the High level bridge and doing a quick hop through the EastSide of Toledo!  My old stomping grounds…lol!  The Muddy Half Marathon was a very warm and humid day.  The first part of this Half marathon was beautiful as far as the scenery and we did have some tree cover to help cut down on the sun crushing us.  Once we hit about mile 8…it was wide open and just Hot!  There were tons of people walking along the race course and just trying to survive.  I ran this one the entire way with my kid sis Patti.  We had a blast and took in the sights, cussed a little bit about the heat and then enjoyed being sprayed by some wonderful Toledo folks with a hose on Broadway in old South Toledo!  (that was a life saver…for real!)  The shirts for the race were fun and bling was pretty swell too!

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This next run up is the Ohio/Michigan 8K run.  It always draws a big crowd and there’s a bit of fun because it covers roads in both Ohio and Michigan on the course.  The shirts for the race can come in Ohio State colors, Michigan colors or what looks to be Michigan State colors…lol!  Kind of cool!  It’s a night race and starts at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday 7/13/17.  Now I’m going to try to run this one quick enough so that I can jump in my car and go to my volleyball game on the same night!  I may miss a few minutes and be a little damp but I love Volleyball almost as much as I love running.  Should be interesting.

We have a road trip planned to an area just north of Traverse City, MI.  the Vineyard to Bay 25K!  This run is just a gem and is overlooked by so many runners (which is fine by me).  The rolling hills and beauty of the area make this a must do for anyone.  I say add it to your bucket list and you won’t be disappointed!  In fact, I highly suggest you take a little extra time either before the race or after and enjoy the area of Sutton’s Bay.  Fun shops and beauty are everywhere you look.  We’re planning on enjoying a week prior to the run to just slow down and take everything in.

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September will bring the Market to Market Relay race from Cincinnati to Dayton.  6 wonderful people all loaded up into one van…yeah…you get the idea!  We jump out and run one at a time, jump back in and send another runner out.  This continues for the entire day/night until we make it to Dayton.  It’s kind of a mini Ragnar and I do love my Ragnar Relay races!  I can hardly wait to get this one going!  Expect tons of pictures from this event!

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I’m doing a bit of hiking this year as well.  Karla and I have decided to head to Hocking Hills right here in Ohio to take in everything it has to offer.  Something new and exciting for us.  We’re staying in an area called Fiddlestix Village.  It has places that were once old General Stores, a caboose from an old railroad transformed into a cabin…just really cool and unique things.  We’re staying in the General Store…lol!  I’m kind of excited to see this in person.  Pictures will of course be posted for all of this as well.

The other major hiking trip will be to…you guessed it!  Tennessee!  November we will get together for a mini family reunion once again to share in the beauty that is Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.  I’m always excited to be going back to what I refer to as “home”.  I’m curious to see what damage can be seen from the major fires that hit there.  Many of the cabins that we’ve stayed in over the years were wiped out.  So many good memories.  I know they’ll rebuild and it will be wonderful once again.  The park is just…well, Home!

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We continue to work with Blackjack Animal Rescue to raise funds and awareness.  I can never express how wonderful these people that volunteer to help these beautiful creatures on a day to day basis.  They work tirelessly to save as many pups as possible and do it on a shoe string budget.  My Stella is living/loving proof that they do wonderful things.  She was found wandering on an expressway in TN where she was saved, brought to health and eventually adopted out to Karla and I.  Stella has been a blessing in our lives and I love my crazy Catahoula dog.  I invite others to look into adopting, fostering or donating.  Everything helps and is always appreciated.  blackjackrescue.org

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Well, I should get something more done on my day off.  I’ll leave you with this.  Life is made up of days.  How you fill those days becomes your life!  I’ll just let that sit there for now.  Go outside and play and maybe, just maybe…I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~