2020…The Year That Wasn’t

I’m wondering where exactly to start with all of this.  I guess we’ll go with what’s happening in pretty much every corner of the world.  The words Covid-19 have found their way into pretty much everyone’s vocabulary these days.  One day it seemed that everyone was out doing their thing, planning spring vacations, working, shopping etc.  Then it all came to a screeching halt!

I’ll share this from my perspective and try to touch on what I see and what I hope for.  I began this year full of excitement and promise.  I struggled last year with injury and illness and had hoped to make a dramatic turn around in the 2020 year.  Things were starting to fire on all fronts…running, walking and even my lifting was going well.

My wife and I had planned an early spring trip to Utah to get a run in that we’d had to put off for a year, due to my stated injuries/illness.  The Zion Half Marathon was everything that we’d hoped, and the state was absolutely beautiful.  Zion National Park was so different from anywhere we’d ever been and I felt a new sense of purpose being in the area.  I was excited by the open range, and the stark look of the mountains. The half marathon course was breathtaking!  From a very chilly morning start, that warmed into a sunny and beautiful ending, the race was just perfect!

We’d been keeping an eye on the news and following the spread of the virus, even noticed that some people from the Utah area were found to be positive hits after being on a cruise.  We were cautious, but didn’t feel the need to panic at that time.  Even on our flight home, things still seemed to be pretty much normal.  We found out later that we had returned through Detroit Airport on a day that was known to have been considered “hot” by Michigan officials.  Karla and I still didn’t get panicked at that time.  We had already returned to our work places and felt fine, showing no signs of any kind of illness.  (Super grateful for that) I’m a bit of a weirdo anyway when traveling, and hate to touch anything in public places…or if I do, I wash may hands on a regular basis.  The thought of going somewhere like Cedar Point, where people hang all over metal rails, kind of makes my skin crawl…lol!

Upon our return, I realized that things were starting to get much more serious.  Races that I’d signed up for were in question, and eventually were cancelled.  The biggest marathon in our country was even pushed back (The Boston Marathon) due to fears of the virus.  It seemed as though daily something more was falling to the way side, concerts, races, just gatherings of any kind.  The bottom appeared to be falling out.

So, here we are, crawling into Spring.  The stores are pretty much all closed, except for grocery.  No one is traveling and moving about has become a hazard.  People are off work or working reduced schedules.  There are some that are at least lucky enough to be working from home, but that too brings a whole different set of issues.  Children are out of school, day cares are closed or reduced to just persons that are considered to be essential workers.  Everything seems to have stopped.  Life has changed, and the question now is, will we ever be the same when we come out on the other side?

Let me say this…I’ve never been good at just sitting still.  Those that know me understand how crazy I become when made to “sit still”.  It’s never a good thing.  My mind is always racing and my desire to “do” never quits.  If you’re wondering just exactly how to get through something like this and remain whole…Go outside and play!  How odd that the very thing I’ve been talking about on here for years now has come full circle.

I get up in the morning and get my dogs walked.  Then it’s my turn!  I go out on my own or with one of my sisters (with a 6 foot gap between us) and we walk.  I don’t need a park, but I do enjoy them.  I don’t need a gym, or people, or anything really.  What I have always desired is already out there.  The blue sky, the birds, the squirrels, everything, just everything is already there.  It’s always been there, it’s just been waiting for us to take the time, take a breath, and discover it.  Well, now is your time to discover.  Maybe mother nature is sending a wake up call to the world.  To be better humans.  Maybe we need to re-think how we act, what we treasure and how we speak.  Tough times will show you the best and the worst in people.  I do my best to stay focused on the good, the stories of people helping people.  The “Bear Hunts” that are now going on in neighborhoods all over America.  (Not really a hunt…it’s just bears in people’s windows…lol!)  We have the ability to adapt and to change.  Well, maybe now is that time.  Find out something special about yourself while staying home.  Read more, write poetry, or stories.  Read to your children, listen to music and really let it touch your soul.

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Yes, there are things that we may be missing out on this year.  Remember that some are not coming out of this, some are losing loved ones to this terrible virus, and are unable to even be next to them when they leave this world.  I think of this often…and I hurt for them.  I’m grateful that during this time I’m still able to work.  I’m grateful that I’m in “lock-down” with my most favorite person in this world.  I’m grateful for those that love me and for the freedom to be able to still express it.  I’m also grateful that I’m still able to go outside and play, to wander like I always do.  I’m perhaps now…even more grateful for that time on the road.

We will get through this.  “This too shall pass” was something my Mother always said to me and I’ve heard it spoken now more than ever.  I’m going to do what is asked of me, so that everyone will be able to enjoy tomorrow.  I’m asking all of you to do the same.  Stay home, go out only when you have to for essentials.  Exercise as much as you need…but do so at a safe distance from others.  If you’re like me…I just wander the roads with no set destination and usually run into pretty much no one.  Can’t get much safer than that.

2020…the year that wasn’t?  No, I choose to call this 2020…the year we discovered ourselves.  Be better humans.  Be kind to one another and please stay healthy…until we meet again.

“I’ll see you on the road!”

~Zombie~

Utah and beyond!

Hey there all you Zombies!

We’re quickly closing in on our 1/2 marathon challenge in Utah!  The race is on the outside of Zion National Park and promises to be beautiful.  I’ve never been to Utah, so it goes without saying that I’m super stoked!  This will probably be a run/walk situation as Karla is still nursing a bum knee.  I’ve not gone the half marathon distance in awhile, but hey…they’re only miles…yes?

I’ve signed up for a 5K coming next weekend…the Get Lucky 5K held in Lucky Ohio.  Fellow running nerd Dianna Ashton is the race director and all around cool lady, so how could I miss this?  It’s mid February in NW Ohio…what could go wrong?  LOL!!

 

The next run up following Zion…which is held on Leap Year (February 29th) will be one of my local favorites.  The Great Black Swamp Festival of races.  This will be in the later part of March and offers a 5K, 15K and 25K distance.  I’ll be slugging through the 15K this year.  I’m feeling pretty confident with the 10 mile range right now.  Nice training run prior to the big local event in April…The Glass City Marathon.  I’m doing the full marathon for the first time here in my home town.  My sister Leanna has offered to run along and keep an eye on me…lol!  Keep me from mis-behaving. 🙂  The Glass City will also be a run/walk go for me.  My goal is to beat the 6 hour cut off and finish.

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I received in the mail today my “In Training” shirt for the Dayton AFB Marathon that’ll be in September.  Anytime you have an “In Training” shirt it gives you an extra boost when training.  Well, it does for me anyway…lol!  My sisters and I will be returning after doing the full marathon 20 years ago this year!  I’m very excited to knock this one out and get another great memory photo with family to add to my collection.  My sister Gini and I did this same marathon a short bit after I finished it with my other sisters.  We trained an entire Summer together and I have to tell you, it was one of the highlights of my lifetime.  Gini finished her first marathon and I was a part of it.  I was so happy for her and super proud.  In 2018 only 1,298,725 people finshed a marathon…World Wide!  That put my sis in some good company.  A very small percentage.  Gini was the recipient of a double lung transplant in 2018 and is no longer able to compete.  So, while she can’t compete in Dayton come September, we’ll be out there doing it in her honor.  Like I’ve said before, running is always better when there’s a purpose.  We got you sis!

New York…what can I say, I’m a sucker for the call of this race.  This year is the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Marathon.  My bride and I have put our names into the lottery in hopes that lightning will strike twice!  I was lucky enough to have my name pulled back in 2018 and completed the marathon on a picture perfect day.  I was truly moved by the people of New York and the way in which they organize and run this race.  I can’t tell you how many times I found tears streaming down my cheeks or the constant chills when I’d see entire streets covered in a sea of people…all cheering for the runners.  I’ve never had a feeling like this in my life while running a race.  That being said, the only thing that was missing in 2018 was my bride next to me.  She was there and cheering me on, but not in the race.  I was willing to beg to get her to sign up and be a part of it this year.  The 50th running is going to be something super special.  I’ve already decided that if my name is not pulled, I’ll look to gain entry through a charity.  This goes back to what I was saying before…running is always better when there’s purpose.  I’m considering just getting in with a charity now…because it feels like the right thing to do.  New York was so very good to us and we were able to share some quality time with an old friend of mine from High School (Jolene Siana).  Jolene was a fantastic Ambassador of the city and had much to share with us.  I hope to see her again on this next trip!  Thanks Jolene! (Photo credit Jolene Siana)

 

I’m feeling pretty good still and staying with my work outs.  I hit the gym today to continue to build strength needed to complete these races.  The stronger I can get, the easier it’ll be to complete the heavy mileage needed.  Diet is getting better and I’m hopeful that I can get leaner as we get into the Spring, Summer months.  I’d like to be in peak form for both Dayton and New York City.

I know many of you reading this are looking out your doors/windows and seeing the snow.  Cold air bites at you at every turn.  Don’t let it get the best of you.  I like to find the good in each season.  I’m not a fan of Summer, but it does have it’s beauty and benefits.  Winter can be looked at the same way.  Trails are less traveled and that leaves the door open for you to adventure.  YakTrax are a nice idea to purchase if you want to get better footing during the Winter months.  They make a couple different versions and are wonderful for getting moving.  Winter gear in this day and age is far superior from what it was years ago.  You can buy items that are thinner and warmer now.  Layering is the key.  So get outside and play!  If you really don’t feel like that’s for you, join a gym and pick up some heavy stuff! LOL!  Whatever it is that keeps you moving and feeling good, do it!

I’ll keep doing my thing and will continue to post more updates on everything going on with my running.  I feel good about this year, and motivated!  Let’s make 2020 one for the record books.

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

The Race I Love To Hate!

January running in N.W. Ohio can be a challenge…I think we’d all agree there.  A particular race that is always scheduled around the third week in January (The Dave’s 10-miler) is said to be the race that can give you blizzard conditions or 65 and sunny…lol!  I’m here to tell you that it’s very true and I’ve experienced both…several times now.

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I signed up for the 10-miler, scheduled for Sunday, January, 19th this year.  Mother nature was not messing around!  This race starts at 2 p.m., which this year was a very good thing.  We had a major storm roll through the day prior that dropped 4-5 inches of snow, which then turned to freezing rain and then rain.  Temperatures steadily dropped until they reached sub-zero during the overnight (the night before the race).  Winds of course had to be a factor and cranked up.  This was both good, because it cleared the moisture off the road, but also bad because it kept the temperatures in the single digit range all through the run.

My lovely bride and I got to the race, picked up the bib/shirt packet and prepped for the start of my run.  I was originally scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., a full half-hour before the regular start as I’ve been doing mostly run walking and have just been working my way back up to higher mileage.  2019 was a nasty year for my body and I had concerns of not being able to finish all 10 miles.  Once I had my bib in place, we headed out looking for the starting line.  In true Robert Neeley fashion, I never checked inside the school to see where exactly the starting line was at.  In prior years, this race was run from a different school, so it had an all new starting line.  Once we realized we had no idea where the starting line was, we found a friendly runner that gave us a heads up on where to go.  By the time we reached the start line, it was 10 minutes past my 1:30 p.m. start.  The starting line dude gave me the choice of taking off on my own or starting at 2:00 p.m. with the regular race people.  I opted for the 2:00 p.m. start so I’d have people to follow…lol!

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Just walking back and forth between the car and the starting line let me know that this was going to be a serious challenge.  My face quickly became numb from the cold and once again, I had doubt running through my body.  Once the rest of the runners came outside and packed together for the race, I realized I had to make the best of this.  Along with that, I had promised numerous friends and family members that I would represent them during this race. My Pink Warriors!  Women that are currently fighting or have fought through breast cancer.  This disease has plagued so many around me…I needed to get out there and do this, carry them and remember how they’re fighting.

Once I got rolling, I realized quickly that my face and eyes were going to be an issue throughout the run.  My eyes watered steadily during the first mile or so due to the heavy winds.  I’m one of those people that is unable to cover my mouth/nose area when I run.  I so wish I could, but I tend to panic when they’re covered.  Most of my body felt pretty good and I felt like I’d prepared my clothing well enough.  The wind was just freezing!  Thank goodness the roads were clear and not until later in the race did we get any kind of snow.  The first 5 miles went pretty good.  I slowed a little during mile 6 and when I reached mile 7, my knees were just cold.  The joints in my body felt like they were seizing up and it was hard to keep a steady pace.  I decided then to start alternating my walk/run routine.  I had to be careful with the extreme cold not to let my body get too cold during the walking portion.  I only allowed myself shorter walks to stay as warm as possible.  I was lucky enough to have my best cheerleader (Karla) find me several times on the course and gift me with a kiss each time.  By around mile 9 I was really cold and my skin felt burnt.  This was again one of those moments that you have to find something inside of you that says “Don’t quit!”  I once again reflected on the many women that I’d come here to run for and how much they’d been through.  I truly believe that running is something that comes to you easier when you’re doing it for someone else. (Running with purpose) I pushed on, found Karla once again, walked with her for a short stretch and then ran the final 1/4 mile into the finish line.  What I found waiting at the finish made everything worth while.  My good friend Martha Shearman, one of the Pink Warriors was waiting there with my medal and the greatest hug you could ever ask for after running such an awful race.  This made it all worth while.  Thank you Martha for being an amazing person…you’re a bright spot in this world for sure!

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The drive home was a cold one…lol!  Karla and I had the heat cranked up and the seat warmers cranked full blast all the way!  Pizza was on tap for the evening, along with some down time with family.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my day.

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Remember that we all have moments of wanting to quit…don’t! Whatever the problem, give it your best!  Find whatever it is inside of you that won’t let you give up and hold it tightly!  When you struggle, I’ve got you!

 

Future Plans

 

I’m currently looking over race schedules and trying to decide what I want to take a chance on.  I love the Black Swamp Festival of races in March and might give the 15K a go this year.  I’m signed up for the Glass City Full Marathon and look forward to completing that for the first time ever.  I’ve been going to the gym on a more regular basis and watching my food intake.  So far, so good.  No major issues with the body as of yet, but I’ve changed up how I train…hoping that keeps me injury free!

Don’t let the Winter stop you or slow you down.  There are many things that you can doing during these months.  I’m not a fan of indoor cardio but will on occasion jump on the Stairmaster…I don’t recommend it unless you enjoy torture…lmao!  Getting outside and just walking on a Winter day can be just as much fun as in the warmer months.  It’s just a matter of wearing the right gear.  If you have questions or need tips on what I train in while walking, just shoot me a message and I’ll let you know.  I find it very peaceful during the Winter…good time to reflect on life.

Thanks for following along and I’ll be sure to do another blog entry soon!  As always…

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

New Year With New Challenges

So here we are, the year 2020.  Like most people, the end of a year brings reflection, with reflection brings to mind all the things that went right in 2019 and the not so right.  The amazing adventures, the sights, the accomplishments and surviving difficulties.  If I were to say that 2019 sucked, that would be a very generalized and knee jerk response. There was plenty to love about 2019 (we’ll save that for another blog though.) The truth of it is that 2019 had set backs for me physically.  I struggled with my running right at the beginning of the year.  Numerous body parts were giving me problems.  I tried to get back to the gym and get stronger and that led to an injury that would sideline my running for many weeks.  It also brought about a fight with pneumonia.  The whole while I was going through this, I began to wonder if I’d ever step to the starting line of another race as a runner.

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I recovered from my injuries and went to the West Coast to do the Big Sur 21-miler with my bride.  I anticipated walking, but found the runner in me was in need of showing up…at least for a little while.  I gave my wife all that I had to finish that race and walked away content.  Knee and calf problems plagued my training  pretty much anytime I attempted to run distance.  I decided to keep myself healthy and continue to train as a walker.  Walking kept me sane and I found a new love for something I’d looked upon as failing while being a “runner”.  There is no failing as long as you’re moving.  Starting something and completing the task is what’s important.  This was a good lesson for me and a welcome one.  By the end of 2019 I’d covered over 1,600 miles via walking and running.  There is no quit in this body, only adapting to whatever life throws my way.

This brings us back to the now…2020 and what challenges I’ve set myself up for.  I’m currently back to the gym, I’ve dug out my journal for monitoring food intake and have found that I’m able to run again.  I’m cautious and hopeful that with time and training, I’ll be able to knock out the events I’ve signed up for in good form.

My personal goals are as follows:

  1. Drop some weight. (the body functions better when it’s leaner and you’re feeding it properly.  I have a better chance of staying injury free if I’m not crushing my frame)
  2. Finish multiple marathons this year.  I know what you’re thinking…I said I’d never run another marathon…lol!  My wife reminds me of this on a regular basis (sorry Honey)  I feel that I have unfinished business and something to prove.  Not to anyone else, just myself.  I’m 53 years old and still think that I can achieve anything I put my mind/body to.  The marathon is a serious challenge to all aspects of your life. It demands work, work on all levels, and I’m ready to do it!
  3. Allow myself to walk. If you see someone on a race course walking, it doesn’t make them any less of a runner/athlete.  This is part of my reflection from 2019.  I can walk if and when needed and still cross the finish line.  My medal will look the same, shirt will have the same wording on it, and my body just might feel a bit better getting the break.
  4. Give everything I have at every moment to achieve true happiness.  Nothing more needs to be said with that.

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Some of the challenges that are already on the calendar.  Utah/Zion Half Marathon! We were scheduled to run this in 2019, but I decided to screw up the plans by breaking.  We deferred to 2020 and on Leap Year (February 29th) Karla and I will step to the starting line of what should be a beautiful half marathon.  This is a state we’ve not been to and have plans to go out early and do some hiking in the park prior to race day.  Yippee!

The Glass City Marathon!  The home town streets are calling me and while I’ve been in this event over the years, I’ve never claimed a medal for doing the entire Full Marathon.  So in my 35th year of running, I’m finally going after that bling!  There’s a 6 hour cut off for the course, so I’m going to have to work hard to get myself in shape for a finish.  Challenge accepted!

The Dayton Air Force Base Marathon.  I walked this course with my sisters some 20 years ago.  Leanna, Patti and I finished it in 6:09…again, 20 years ago exactly…come September.  My sister Gini and I went back a year or so later and walked it again!  This race holds a special place in my heart and I have nothing but great memories with all of my siblings out there.  I can think of no better race to go and celebrate our lives together than this one.  It will be a walk/run mix and the object is to just have fun!

I’m eyeballing a few other local events, but will save all that for another blog entry.  I know my stepping away has probably lost me some support, but I wanted to get back on here and let everyone know that Zombie still lives!  The RunZombieRun title is still something I’m very proud of.

So, what does 2020 have in store for you?  What is it that you feel you need to go after?  I’m always listening and willing to have chats with anyone that is in need.  I’m hopeful that by me getting back on here and sharing, it’ll motivate some of you to step up and challenge yourself this year.  Find that inner child and just get after it!

I’ll continue to post on my RunZombieRun Facebook page, post pictures on Instagram and I’ll be better about doing blog entries…lol!  I also would ask that you all hold me accountable for staying after these goals.  If you see me, let me know you’re watching…lol!  (Stalker) If I know others are cheering along, it just makes the whole thing a touch sweeter.

I’ll see you on the road…

~Zombie~

The Ragged Coast (Big Sur)

Well, we’ve arrived back home after our adventure to the West Coast.  Carmel-by-the-sea was the town that we stayed in yet again this year with our favorite Hostess (Michele)!  She treats us like family and shares her lovely home with us crazy Ohio peeps. Shout-out to Michele and her cutie of a dog Ben…much love to you both!

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We spent most of the week wandering, as we always do.  Walking the coastline, hiking parks and just being looky-loos.  This year, we traveled a few miles up the road to Big Basin State Park.  This park is known for it’s beautiful redwood trees and challenging trails.  We set out to roam the 10-mile loop trail on a beautiful sunny day.  Once we arrived and figured out where the path actually started, along with navigating a few closures, we headed into a stunning forest full of trees that seemed to reach the sky!  The first part of the loop was going really well, but I did notice the temperature jumped quite a bit as we were doing our trek.  Surprise!  The temps in California can jump substantially in a short distance of travel.  We were used to upper 50’s and 60’s in Carmel…well, it had jumped all the way to 88 degrees at Big Basin.  This almost caused a “meltdown” in me big time.  We hadn’t figured in the higher temps when loading up our gear with hydration.  I had a 20 oz. bottle of water along with a snack.  For a 10 mile hike in cooler weather, that’s perfect.  In 88 degrees of sunshine, not so much…lol!  I’m typing this now, so you know we made it…but it was close.  I slammed some fluid the minute we reached the ranger station and snack facility.  That brought me back to life!  All in all, it was a beautiful day, and hike.

The race this year was spot on for weather.  We had overcast skies, cool temps with just a touch of humidity (75%) LOL! Karla and I had a case of the sillies on the bus ride to the start while taking a selfie, and then there was an issue with the window next to Karla.  It kept falling open, bringing chilly air into the bus.  Now, I don’t mind the cool air, but there were plenty of other runners (Karla included) that didn’t care for that.  So, Karla ended up holding the window a good portion of the trip to the starting line. (You’re a good egg Karla Jean).

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We met a fellow Ohioan on the bus who just happened to be from the same area that Karla’s brothers live in.  She was nervous as all get out because she didn’t think she’d make it before being swept from the course.  They allow you to go an 18:30 mile pace before being removed due to time allowed for the road to be closed.  We did our best to calm her and gave her some helpful strategy to get through on time.  I told her the most important thing was to enjoy ever minute she was out there.  Take in the beauty of the course.

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We got lined up for the start which consisted of walking up a serious hill from the park we’d been stationed at prior to the race.  Once at the top, you cross the timing mat and off you go.  I told Karla that I would start out running and we’d just see how the body responded.  Who knew my body would feel so good that we just kept running!  The first stop wasn’t until about mile 3 and that was to shed clothing and take on fluids.  We kept with the run walking thing for over the first half of the race.  I thought it best to switch back to walking, as I’d been training for walking over the past month.  I didn’t want to temp the running Gods too much…lol!  We maintained a very nice pace in the 14 minute mile area.  The course was every bit as beautiful as I remembered and I just really took everything in.  We stopped and took some pictures, enjoyed the music, dancing and other goodies along the way…including free beer!  Right Karla?  Everything was just great!  Karla hadn’t pushed me too much about running until we reach the last .2 of the course.  She absolutely wanted to come across the finish line running.  I grumbled, but gave into her request and started hauling butt!  We came in pretty fast…which in turn gave us some pretty special finish pictures…lol!  (see Karla…we should have walked in and taken better pictures) 🙂

If you ever have the desire to visit California, this is a great race to do and they offer numerous distances to attempt.  From a 5K all the way to a full marathon.  Getting into the full is done by lottery…so keep that in mind if you sign up.  The 21 miler gives you all the great views and more time to complete.  So, it’s walker friendly.  This race is definitely a bucket list run…so go do it!

For 2020 we’re taking a year off from California and seeing what other races peak our interest.  I’ve put my name in for the London Marathon, but it’s a lottery and chances are super slim.  What the heck…there’s only one go around…yes?

In my closing this time, I’d like to give shout-outs to some people that accomplished some goals they’d set out to crush.  Alicia Colombaro completed her first ever Half Marathon this year at the Glass City in Toledo!  Way to go lady…I’m super proud of you!

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Big Michael J. Porter ran his first sub 3 hour Marathon this year…also at the Glass City in Toledo.  That is a serious accomplishment brother, I can’t even put into words how cool that is.

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Jessica Knapp…who continues to do amazing races all over the place!  She marched through tough weather to finish multiple distance races over the weekend…on trail!  Congrats Jessica!

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Thanks to my wife Karla Jean for helping believe in myself during the 21 miler.  As some of you already know, I had a rough patch this Winter that caused me to need a surgery, followed by getting pneumonia.  Prior to all of this, my left knee was giving me all kinds of issues.  I’ve stayed true to my walking, pushed every day to reach recovery and with Karla’s belief in me, we had an awesome race!  I’m proud of myself for knowing my limits and yet, still pushing right up to the edge of them.

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The Big Sur 21-miler is in the books for 2019 and I’m hopeful for an excellent training season this summer to prepare for my first attempt at a 50 mile Ultra Marathon.  More on that as we move through the season.  Thanks to all that continue to follow, and please, keep on following.  Things will get interesting as the year passes.  You never know where and when I’m going to show up!  This Zombie can still run!  Continue to push yourselves for whatever goals you’ve set and rock them!  I’m always available to meet up and do a hop with those in need of a partner.  I have a great cast that are also available. (Karla, Patti and Leanna) Now get outside and play!

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

The Aging Athlete

Hey everyone!  I know it’s been a long time since the last Blog post on here.  I had several issues creep up over the winter months that brought me to a grinding halt.  While trying to work on my strength at the gym, doing body weight lunges, I herniated the upper area of my right quad/groin.  Needless to say, it was something that required almost immediate surgery.  I have a fantastic surgeon that repaired almost the exact same area on the left side numerous years ago. (Props to Dr. Thusay) He took excellent care of me, repaired the area, and got me back on my feet quickly.

I’d love to tell you that I shot right through the recovery and bounced back to running…but NO!  During the second week of recovery, I got pneumonia!  I’ve never had it in my life and this kind of scared me.  I was unable to breathe properly, congested, fever and had zero energy.  I slept in the upright position in my recliner just to maintain an airway.  My family doctor (Dr. Odeh…also a hero of mine) attacked the illness immediately and with heavy doses of medicines.  It was a slow recovery and I’m ever so grateful for the caregivers in my life.  Huge props to my work people for keeping tabs on me and sending positive MoJo my direction!  It was much appreciated.

Once I was given the green light to get back to walking, I went after it with a fury.  I knew that it was in my best interest to get back to moving as much, and as often as possible in order to restore the bodies flexibility.  In my mind I was thinking, it’s not running, but I’ll take it.  As things turned out, I began to really enjoy my walks.  I found myself catching glimpses of things that I may have missed while out on my runs.  Strangest thing to me was that I felt just as good, if not better than when I was running!

I had to do a follow-up with my family doctor and had a lengthy discussion about my different aches and pains prior to surgery and the new-found happiness with walking.  The doc kind of chuckled and said, “well, you’re not getting any younger”.  For the first time in a long time, those words really hit me.  I’ve always pushed my body to the breaking edge and did so with a recklessness of a teenager!  Yes, I’m an athlete, and yes, I’m growing older.  It was time to set up a plan on how to best approach getting back into shape and not breaking anything further…lol!

Going back to the basics.  That’s what I’ve decided to do.  When I first started running some 34 years ago (this June), I started out walking.  I went from walking to running from tree to tree, and expanded the distance every two weeks.  I’ve decided to continue the walking and do it at a rapid pace to give my body a workout, but give the joints time to heal from the many years of abuse.  I’m getting the cardio that I crave, the “runner’s high” is still there, and I’m enjoying every step!  The strength training has also been reduced to the basics.  I’ve started out with basic push-ups and crunches.  I’ll continue to up the number each day and begin to add in side crunches, planks and a few other exercises to get things in order.  The most important change I’ve made was switching my diet to 12 hours on (eating) and 12 hours off…along with writing down everything that finds its way into my stomach!  If you have to write it down and look at it, you’re more likely to really think about what you’re doing.  It’s just holding yourself accountable.  I’m about 6 weeks into this and at  4 weeks, I’d lost 6 lbs.  I have a set goal in mind that I’d like to achieve by fall, but that’ll be kept in my  own head…lol!

I signed up last year for both the 21 miler (Big Sur California) and a 50 miler Ultra Marathon in Illinois (Hennepin 50 miler).  I totally plan on achieving both of these…walking!  I’m excited for California because it’s such a beautiful coastline and again, if I’m walking, I’ll probably see things that I wasn’t paying attention to when running.  The pressure is far less as the cut off pace is an 18:30 minute mile.  I’m currently training at a 14:30 or lower on most walks.  The 50 miler will be a challenge no matter how you slice it.  Anyone that’s ever walked higher distances knows, it can be brutal.  I have a training schedule set up and will work the entire summer to get it done.

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So, for those of you out there that may be in the same boat as me, or you just want to change things up in your life.  Go back to the basics.  Allow yourself the time to make things right again.  Allow yourself to find beauty in every step you take.  There’s a great big beautiful world out there just waiting for you to see it!  I highly recommend you do so on you own two feet!  That’s my plan as an aging athlete.  I will still tell you to #neverquit and #neverstop !

So it’s off to the West Coast and taking in the Ragged Coast!  I’ll share my adventure, as I always do.  Just know that I’ll have my mind on Record the entire time.  I don’t want to miss a single moment!

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

New York City Marathon Wrap-Up!

The anticipation of waiting 9 months for a single race, at times can be overwhelming.  I signed up for the lottery drawing sometime in January for a race that is held in November.  The odds were heavily against me getting in, but I thought…what the hell!

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I’d sworn off doing another marathon after getting into the Big Sur last year.  The distance is tough and the training is time-consuming.  Not to mention, I’m getting older and things just love to break…lol!  I’d had to go to my favorite foot doctor (Dr. Gregory Black) in the previous year and was telling him about the Big Sur Marathon.  He then told me, “if you want to make a marathon your last…make it New York City”.  He went on to tell me all about the race and that it was bucket list run for him.  When I’d left his office, it seemed to stick in my head…I really should do that race.  Thanks for that Dr. Black!

So, after the craziness of going through the sign up procedure, handing over my credit card number first, the waiting game began.  The lottery system is done in a single day and they tell you that the way you usually find out first, your credit card is charged the almost $300.00 entry fee. (ouch!) I was working afternoon shift on the day of the drawing.  I kept checking emails and my credit card account through out the day.  Just before I left for work, I got a hit on my credit card for the entry fee!  I was pretty sure at that time that I was really getting in.  I started seeing social media light up with people who had received emails and was stressing because I hadn’t received an email.  Deep into my shift…around 10:20 p.m., I received “the email”!  I read it through several times and it really didn’t sink in at first.  Then the rush of emotions hit…I announced to my co-workers that I’d been selected to participate in the New York City Marathon!  I’m a crybaby….so, I may have been in tears…lol!  The people at work were super excited and very supportive.  They knew how much I wanted to get into this race.  Now, the date was set and it was official.

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The year of races and training went well and I really had no stresses about going to the marathon.  Then, one of the races I’d planned to do a month prior, my first Ultra Marathon came up.  The Hennepin 50K.  I blogged about this race in a prior entry.  The race was amazing, the people were so cool and I was with family.  The race went well, we all felt great and finished!  It wasn’t until I returned home that I noticed my hip didn’t want to settle back in.  I had a limp and was sore.  I headed for my super Doc (Dr. Odeh—at Genoa Medical).  I gave him the run down on what was happening and that I was less than a month away from the New York City Marathon.  Once I explained how hard it was to get into this race, I then said…”Doc, you have to get me through this race”!  He gave me a shot in the hip and told me to take the next few weeks off entirely from running.  Talk about stressful words…stop running?  How would I ever finish a marathon if I didn’t keep training.

The day drew closer to leaving for New York and the body was easing on the pain front.  I would just have to rest and believe that all the training I’d done during the summer and my ultra would be enough to see me through the race.  While the hip felt better, the demons of doubt were hanging around in the back of my mind.  Would this be my first DNF?!  No, Not the New York City Marathon…I wouldn’t let it happen!  There was too much riding on this one.

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I’ve shared all about my sister Gini and her fight for life.  She received the gift of life in September and received new lungs.  She’d been fighting ever since the operation to stay alive and the stress on the entire family was mounting.  I wanted to make New York about Gini.  This race was dedicated to honor my sister who has been a care giver for her entire life.  I can think of no one more deserving in this world than her.  The pain I was going through and would be going through to finish this race was nothing compared to what she’d felt for so many years.  The pain she was feeling trying to breathe again and survive.  Yes…New York was Gini’s race!  I’d finish if I had to crawl across the finish line!

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The big day arrived in New York.  The city was just a buzz with excitement and you could just feel it in the air.  I woke up completely free of stress, none of the usual nerves were going.  The calm was almost surreal.  I prepared my gear, said a prayer, kissed my wife and left for my bus ride to the runner’s village near the starting line.

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The day could not have been more perfect!  Cool temperatures, no wind, low humidity and perfect cloud free blue skies!  The bus ride to the starting area was wonderful.  Getting to see the city in all it’s glory…it just shined that morning!  I get it now, why so many seek out New York as their home.  It took my breath away.  I arrived at the runner’s village, found my area to wait and found a piece of ground to call my own for the next couple hours.  I enjoyed a bagel and some other pre-race snacks and listened for my corral to be called to line up.  When the moment came…I was ready!

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While waiting in the corral with a portion of the almost 54,000 runners that had showed up, I just took the time to take everything in.  I was really here and this was the day!  I’m not sure if she could hear me, but I was talking to my sister while waiting for the cannon to fire.  Telling her that it was time…time to make a turn for the better, time to reach out and grab life!

This race is everything that I’d ever heard and then some!  I was greeted at every single turn by thousands of screaming people who were just happy to see you and cheer you on to success.  The city wanted you to make it…they wanted you to finish this race, and you could feel it.  The love that I felt on this day, at this race can never be matched.  In all of my years of running, I’ve never felt anything so wonderful.  There were neighborhoods that were having block parties, people sitting on roof tops, hanging out of windows, lining every single street.  They were all there to greet you and welcome you to the greatest race in the world!

The miles went by quickly and my lovely wife was seeking me out at several different locations on the course.  We first met up at mile 7.  Just seeing one another brought tears to our eyes.  The emotions from the race, the love from the city, the thoughts of my sister and seeing the woman I love just brought everything to a head.  I ran up to her and we hugged and gave a quick kiss.  My good friend Jolene Siana (who lives in New York) was standing by, taking pictures and video of our meeting at mile 7.  Thank you Jolene for being so amazing to both of us!

Karla was hoping to catch me a couple more times, but getting around the city with the race going can be tough.  She caught me at about mile 22…asked me how I was doing.  I gave her the standard answer…”everything hurts, but I’m good”.  She knows me well and knew at that time that I wouldn’t let anything stop me from getting to the finish.  The next miles were just beautiful!  I was in the area of Central park, it seemed as though there were even more people lining the streets now.  Screaming, cheering fans of all of us runners were just everywhere!  I stopped a couple of times to just really take it all in.  The beauty of the moment.  I wanted to remember this until my last day.  I was just about to the finish when I came upon a lady who was suffering greatly with cramps.  Her steps were small and you could see the pain she was in.  I stopped and offered to help her in…at the very least be emotional assistance.  This was when I got to see the strength and drive of a runner.  She said “I’ll make it, I’m going to finish, now you go…go on and run”! She kissed her hand and tapped me on the shoulder with it…wow…just wow!  I crossed the finish line…it was everything I knew it would be…and yes, I checked on the lady I met…she finished as well!  I pulled my phone out and took a picture of the medal resting on my chest.  The first person I sent it to was my brother-in-law Jeff Feller.  I said “This is coming home for Gini”.  When I arrived back in town, we went up to see Gini at the Cleveland Clinic, where I was able to present the finishing medal to her.  To see her eyes full of life and the smile on her face, well, it touched my soul.

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If you ask me today would I run it again, I’ll tell  you No.  I could never script a more perfect day!  I’ve been spoiled by this beautiful day, perfect weather and a wonderful cast of runners.  This was not only a bucket list run…it was a run of a lifetime!

Thank you to all the many people who followed me during this race.  To my co-workers for being so loving and supportive.  To my wife for going many miles around New York just to see me for moments. To my friend Jolene for making us feel how wonderful her city can be, and to all of you people that continue to follow me through my running and life adventures.  I’m grateful for every step I’m able to take and enjoy sharing them with all of you.

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~