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!

58383130_10214160105458597_529960301030801408_n

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).

58461846_10216629089273338_7091699619465265152_n

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.

58462715_10216629089513344_15749997261750272_n

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!

58420415_10211485526608758_732877280765804544_o

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.

58441945_10214068663414909_5975057845341650944_o

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!

59051946_10103995624498572_311730702028636160_o

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.

58442171_10216629090793376_8076502931441975296_n

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~

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!

45276527_10213050099149133_1986090575291482112_n

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.

45260478_10213050100829175_7352013691740487680_n

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.

45208113_10213050101149183_1241418206229299200_n

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!

38482576_10212288153376096_1023793652155023360_n

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.

45305562_10213051284138757_4854195960907038720_n

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!

45225065_10213065025042271_6700958458541244416_n

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.

45433160_10213064939320128_6821824271384313856_o (1)

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~

The Hennepin 50K Wrap Up!

My cousin Marilyn Matevia and I started chatting last year about Ultra Marathons.  She shared with me at that time that she secretly had always wanted to finish one.  It was a bucket list run/walk that she felt the need to tackle.  I personally never really gave too much thought to doing an Ultra, but I told her if it was her desire to do it, I’d be all in!

43166141_10212878854148115_4317156866577661952_o

Due to a crunchy knee from years of running and injuries, Marilyn was planning to do the Ultra as a full walk.  Now, if by chance you’re thinking…what’s the big deal…it’s only walking. (yes, people do say silly shit like that) Take into consideration that this is a 31+ mile walk, done at night and you’ll be on your feet for some 12 hours, fighting your body and anything that mother nature has to throw at you.  That’s some walk…huh?!

My plan was simple…cross the finish line in the upright position! LOL!!  We had almost an entire year to devote to the training and made the decision to sign up.  I broke the news to my wife and my sister Patti.  They both jumped on board with no hesitation.  (Well, maybe a little bit) Marilyn’s plan to walk meant some extra company was in order for her.  A couple of  good friends of hers Tammy Galloway and Pamela Galloway-Anderson decided to join in and walk the Ultra as well.  We were ready!

43375185_10212893468633468_1653411062902423552_n

As you would expect, life got crazy between the conception of doing the Ultra and reaching the starting line.  We chose a great race in Illinois called the Hennepin 100.  The race consisted of a 50K (31 miles), 50 miler and 100 miler.  The 50K was also started at night…or rather late afternoon that quickly went dark…lol!  Finding time to train got tough for everyone.  Long work hours, long commutes (for Marilyn) and family struggles.

My sister Gini Feller has been fighting RA Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years.  This brought about problems with her lungs and she had been getting sicker as the year went on.  It became bad enough that she was added to the Lung Transplant list with Cleveland Clinic and with each check-up, moved further up the list.  It turned out that Gini got “the call”…just a short time before the Ultra race.  She was to get to the clinic because they had lungs donated that were a match!

There were tense moments through the surgery and daily ups/downs.  Once we were given the o.k. to travel…that she was stable, we loaded up our gear, pictures of Gini and decided to make our adventure about her.  This run was for Gini!  There was no amount of struggles or pain that we could encounter that my sister wasn’t already going through to live.  This was a driving force for all of us.

43360929_2121162611269936_5600851887600435200_o

Race day was a mostly cloudy, kind of cool day in Illinois.  We ventured on our bus ride towards the starting line  with all our gear checked and ready.  Once the horn went off, we found ourselves on a crazy trail of grass, stone, old asphalt, you name it, we were running on it!  We had a canal on our left for most of the run and trees a plenty.  Once darkness set in, it was really dark!  We all turned on our headlamps and an extra flashlight to spot any tripping hazards, and just ran.  The aid stations came up about every 5-6 miles.  I found that Pringles and ginger-ale were my new best friends during this long run…lol!  We decided to just count the aid stations and keep a nice pace.

We ran some 15+ miles and then switched over to a run/walk combination to finish.  Running a mile and walking a mile became the standard for quite a while and worked rather well for all of us.  This switched to all walking after about marathon distance.  We were still clicking off a 14:40 minute mile pace with walking and were getting anxious for the finish line.  The rain began to come down on the last couple miles.  The last 1/4 mile or so we decided to run it in and finish strong.  The feeling of crossing that finish line with the official mileage of 31.87 miles was a shot of adrenaline!  I felt tired yet electric!  I high-fived my wife and sister, gave hugs and said “this one was for Gini”.  She kept us strong the entire way and it was my honor to carry her the distance.

44989825_10213023919214651_1648572232487665664_o

 

My cousin Marilyn was still on the course but had sent a text saying she was staying strong and moving through the 20 mile area.  Her group completed the challenge in a touch over 12 hours.  When she returned to our hotel, I gave her a hug and said “You’re an Ultra Marathoner”!  The dream became a reality!  Many fun discussions were had over this weekend and dreams were realized.  Hearts were filled with anxious moments for our sister fighting and deep love for family.  I always try to get people to go out and move and to challenge themselves.  I absolutely hate hearing “I can’t do that”.  Something that I was gifted with from my father.  He wouldn’t hear those words and wouldn’t allow you to be a quitter.  No one quit…including Gini!  She’s fighting hard with her new lungs and has overcome some serious challenges as of this writing.  We all love her and will continue to support her journey.

44249543_10212957971526000_4370135721965518848_o

I was asked by a good friend after the race.  Dan Woods, founder of the RunJunkees online running group.  “Are you coming back to do the 50 miler”?  I smiled and said…”I just might have to do that”!  Never say Never!  Every challenge brings new life.  Isn’t that what life is really all about?  Think about it…

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

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~

 

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.

stellagoosecooper

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~