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.


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!


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!



Glass City To Big Sur!

April ended up being a big month for running!  Both in total miles covered and two of the finest races of the year for me.  I ran 120 miles in the month of April and did my last full marathon ever.  I swore years ago that I’d never put myself through everything it takes to do a full marathon.  Then…Big Sur International Marathon happened!  18155864_10209150280216097_4137739708225761934_o

The ultimate in bucket list races on the planet…really!  If you have the desire to run at least a 21 mile race, the Big Sur is an absolute must for any runner!  The course is drop dead gorgeous from start to finish!

Calling it challenging is truly an understatement.  Rolling hills and the ever-changing tilt of the road will make any runner question whether they’ll make it the full distance.  This race has you waking up at a crazy early hour to catch a bus at about 3:30 a.m.  From there you’re hauled the entire course from Carmel, CA all the way to Big Sur for the starting line.  Once there you get yourself comfortable on a slab of ground, finish hydrating, snacking, etc and then just wait (and wait) for the gun to go off.  It’s kind of a runner’s village.  Bodies are all over the place – eating, stretching and chit-chatting.  Potties are all around the village…lol!  This is always a welcome sight when you’ve had your “runner’s routine” thrown off by the early hours.  The first call for Wave 3 to line up comes at about 6:15 a.m. and from there they go down to the super fast people and the “Elite” runners.  Once everyone is bunched together, they start rolling out the waves every 5 minutes.  Karla and I went out in wave number 2 and I have to tell you…I thought my heart was going to explode with excitement!  So many things were running through my head.  Could I make the full distance?… Would I beat the sweepers who pull you off the course with a cut off time of 6 hours?… And most importantly, did I train enough to handle the beating my body was about to take?  All those questions and more seemed to just fade away as the views of the course started to catch you.  I was lost in the beauty of the California coastline from the word go!  There were people in all areas of the course to cheer you on, feed you, make sure you had enough water or Gatorade plus the all important first aid areas if you had any issues.  Bands playing, guitars cranking, a huge group of people playing drums and at the half way point…a gentleman playing a Grand Piano!  Yeah…a piano! 18157979_10211196024370111_1813955384630513255_n Breathtaking!  I have never enjoyed a race so much in my entire 32 years of running!

By mile 19 I had developed a stomach issue caused by GU.  I know better than to use the stuff for high mileage races but for some reason grabbed one at an aid station anyway.  By mile 21 it seemed to have faded away and by mile 21.2, Karla and I knew that we had enough time in the bank that we could walk the rest of the way in and beat the cut off time. 18157190_10211196028570216_3846343117360549278_n So for “most” of the last few miles we walked and just enjoyed everything that this course had to offer.  We did pick up and cross-country shuffle on a few of the down hills and of course towards the end when you could hear them calling out names.  I took my bride by the hand and we crossed the finish together!  Strong and happy!

I fell in love with this race and Carmel, CA in general.  I will try to return and run the 21 miler or one of the other numerous distances they have to offer.  I will absolutely return to Carmel, CA as I believe Karla and I have some unfinished adventures awaiting us there.

Now to back track a touch…  The Sunday prior to leaving for California we ran in the Glass City Half Marathon.  It fit into our training schedule and hey… it’s home turf!  The expo and packet pick-up were super fun!  Lots of running goodies to be had and maybe even a few running friends there to chat with.

While Toledo is a smaller market, they put on one hell of a race!  Quality shirts, beautiful bling, race tracking/timing… you name it and they’ve thought of it!  The race runs through some fun neighborhoods with loads of people out cheering you on.  If you go the distance and do the full marathon, it takes you through Wildwood park and out into the Sylvania area.  The course is well thought out and executed to perfection!  Toledo RoadRunners (the local running club) is an awesome group of people who want to make sure everyone has a great experience.  Attention to detail is what sets them apart from other races and it shows.  I just can’t say enough good things about my RoadRunner’s club.  I’m proud to be a part of this group!

I’ll continue to run throughout the Summer and into Fall of course.  I’m done with the 26.2 mileage for good.  I have no regrets in saying that I’m done with marathons.  My distance of choice has always been 13.1 or the Half Marathon.  I’ll be running with a team in the Market to Market Relay in September this year and can’t wait to share that experience with you all as well!  We’ll be running as a team of six and will cover some 76 miles with 19 exchanges.  It’ll start in Cincinnati Ohio and travel back to Dayton for the Finish.  Kind of like the Ragnar Relay but with a shorter distance to cover (and hopefully a less “aromatic” van life ;-).

I’ll be running the 419 Series starting this month and ending in October.  I’ve listed the races below.

Long Track
WTOL River Run 10K
Muddy Mini Half Marathon
Boy Scout Half Marathon
MacQueens 10K

I’m staying with my promise to run at least a 10 mile race each month of the 2017 running season.  I’m doing this because I love running…duh!  I’m also doing this to raise more funds for BlackJack Animal Rescue.  I ask on a regular basis for anyone to share a few bucks with this worthwhile organization and save the lives of fur babies.  BlackJack works tirelessly to make sure they save as many dogs as possible.  They’re based out of the Tennessee area but stretch all over the country with fosters and other fine people who do everything for the dogs.  I ask also that you Like and Follow them on Facebook.  This will give you first hand knowledge of which dogs are available for adoption and also the stories on how they’ve come to find some of these special creatures.  I’m humbled by the amount of work that they do and proud to wear the BlackJack logo on the back of my race shirts!  Please go to http://blackjackrescue.org/ and donate.  They even do a $5.00 Friday each week!  You might be the difference maker in a dog’s life and that…is priceless!mikesraceshirt

Summer is sneaking up on us and I know that I’m in need of cleaning up my eating habits.  I have volleyball to think about and I absolutely need to focus on my core strength.  I want to be the healthiest and most fit I can be at 50 years old.  I’m also asking that you make a change in your life too.  Go out and take a walk each day or go for a bike ride.  Take up running… it’s never too late!  Can I just tell you that the oldest runner at the Big Sur Marathon was 80 years young!  Think about that for a moment – 80 years old and doing a 26.2 mile marathon.  Just throwing that out there because people like that inspire me to keep going and keep moving.  You don’t have to be a runner to stay active, you just need to go out and play!  Turn the child inside of you loose for a while and see what happens.  Who knows… you just might find yourself lined up at the next Glass City Marathon or out in California doing the Big Sur!  Never say never!

I’ll see you on the road!




The Big Push!

Hey out there my fellow Zombies!!

Once again I find myself having to apologize for not getting on here and blogging enough.  (Sorry Marilyn. :))  Whenever I find a moment that I think I should blog, I end up dozing off due to training, work and just getting through a nasty Spring Crud!  I’m feeling better, took a little time away from work and finding myself in the home stretch for my Bucket List race!  The Big Sur 2017!!!

Big Sur by Rod Jones Photography; creative commons

Just to bring everyone up to speed…the whole idea was brought about from having conversations with my brother-in-law who has run a marathon in all 50 states (and D.C.).  I posed the question at some point…”What race stays fresh in your mind that you feel was your favorite?”  Now mind you this man has been to the Grand Daddy of them all …BOSTON!  His response was pretty quick : “The Big Sur out in California.”  He stated that the entire course was beautiful and he never got bored running it.  I researched the race and found that it was done on a lottery system to get in.  In other words…you put your name in a hat and hope for the best!  Well, after several failed attempts to get in…Karla and I both found ourselves with emails stating that we had been chosen to participate in the 2017 Full Marathon at Big Sur!  I almost cried when I received the email…lol!  Then I found myself thinking: I’ll have to start training for a race that I swore I’d never do again…the Full Marathon (26.2 miles).

Karla joined Dave’s Running shop’s Marathon In Training group and with my schedule decided that I’d have to wing it!  We both decided that this race is all about the fun and beauty that the California coastline has to offer.  No worrying about times other than beating the “sweeper” that scoops you off the course if you can’t make it to the finish within the 6 hour cut off.  So that’s the goal…to Finish The Damn Race!

Training has been going fairly well and no major injuries have crept up to bite me at this time.  I’ve completed just over 20 miles as my longest run -with some walking involved- and felt pretty good.  It took me 3 hours and 55 minutes which still leaves room for the final 6 miles while also taking into consideration the hills!  We have a plan to walk all the major hills to keep energy in reserve and take advantage of all declines with a nice easy pace.  Like I said before…this is all about finishing!

Running the Great Scott 25K with Karla

Ann Arbor Half Marathon Finishers!

I’ve been keeping up with my pledge to run at least a 10 mile run for each month thus far.  January was the Dave’s 10 miler, February was the Great Scott 25K, March we had a couple big runs and I threw in a couple smaller runs just for kicks.  The Great Black Swamp 25K was followed by the wearing of the Green 5K on the following day. The next weekend it was the Gibsonburg 10K and the following day we drove up to Ann Arbor for the Half Marathon there.  Ann Arbor has some challenging inclines and helped us prepare a little for California.  Now we’re in April and have plans to run the Glass City Half Marathon just one week prior to our Full Marathon out West.  Maybe a little crazy but hey…WTF!

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

So now to the Big Push part.  I’d really like to make a BIG Splash during the next couple weeks and get some sponsors/donors to pledge some money to Black Jack Rescue.  The whole reason I wanted to do these races this year was to bring more attention to a very small and loving outfit that works tirelessly to save dogs.  Catahoula Leopard Dogs in particular!  They’re based out of Tennessee but branch all across the country.  They save dogs out of some of the toughest states.  Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and more are all full of shelters that will not keep dogs for very long.  Which means they’re put to sleep on a regular basis.  Just typing this makes me feel kind of sick.  Blackjack has a network of people who work to find these dogs, pull them to safety, get their health needs addressed, put them into foster care and then find them a forever home.  The challenges are many and great but they continue to do great things!  So please take a moment to like their Facebook page and send a few bucks via paypal or even snail mail!  I’d be thrilled if everyone reading this would just take $5.00 and send it to them.  The difference we can make as a group is huge!  Tell BlackJack Rescue that you want to make a donation because you’re a Zombie Supporter!  Call it a sponsorship for our big runs this month!  If you’d like to send a check…make it out to BlackJack Animal Rescue and send it to 260 Old Stage Trail Bristol, TN 37620.  Sharon Bryant is the Angel that makes this all possible and I want to see her continue to save these pups!  Pass this information onto your friends and family.  Like I said…$5.00 multiplied by many can change the lives of so many animals.  They’re worth it for all the joy they bring to our lives!  I can tell you first hand because my Stella is a BlackJack Alumni and she brings me joy on a daily basis!  My sister Patti has two from BlackJack…(Goose and Cooper).  I’m sure I can speak for her and tell you that they’re her world.

I’ll keep doing what I do and try to bring more attention and donations to BlackJack Animal Rescue.  I’ll do it by wearing my Run Zombie Run race shirts to the races with BlackJack on the back!  So come on Zombies…let’s do this!  April needs to be a huge month for our peeps!  Let’s see some local donations showing that you care about the Run Zombie Run group and want to see us crush the Glass City Half Marathon!  Let’s see some donations come in for the challenge that Karla and I have stepped up to run: a Full Marathon on the West Coast!

I need help Zombies, because I can’t do it alone.  If you make a donation and want to post a little something on Blackjack Animal Rescue’s Facebook page…go for it!  Say “hey…I love what you’re doing and I want to make a difference!”  Tell them Zombie sent you…lol!  Sharon will smile over that!

As always…get outside and play!  Walk, Run, Bike, Swim…just move!  I’ll see you on the road!


Ragnar contest…what it means

I know that you’ve all been seeing me post at a ridiculous pace on Facebook and I’d like to apologize for blowing up the feeds.  This contest that our Ragnar Relay Chicago entered could allow our team to run another Ragnar and have the entrance fee paid for!  That’s some $1,300.00 and the opportunity to live the dream all over again!

This may seem a bit silly to some but let me just say that this Ragnar (my first ever) changed me!  When they say in their advertisements that “you’ll find your inner wild”…it’s for real!  I found something inside of myself and learned so much about life, being part of an amazing team and how to overcome adversities that I never thought possible!  It was more than just miles on the road.  It was a true “Journey”!

Sharing your life inside of two vans with 11 other people over 2 day and running some 200 miles…no matter what is thrown it you…AWESOME!!  We all came together as one functioning unit during that time.  We all felt for one another and became stronger for it!  To say that I want to go back and do it again may sound crazy to some but to me…it just feels right!

So when you see our pleas and begging for votes on Facebook or by text, understand that the passion we have for this race is real.  It’s moved all of us in some special way.  If you ask any of my teammates, they’d be quick to tell you how much they loved the experience and that they’d do it all again in a heartbeat!  It’s safe to say that we all care a great deal for each other and have a passion for our running.  So please, take the minute to vote for our Mighty Minions team and please pass the word to everyone you can!  This is our last day to get votes and we are in a heated race to win with one other team!  I know they have passion for the event or they wouldn’t be fighting day and night like us.  We just need you all to back us and show the Ragnar folks that the Minions have something more to prove out there.  We need to set free our “Inner Wild” once more!  Make it happen for us…be part of this special race!  Voting ends at 11 p.m. today…Monday 6/20/16!  It’s go time!

Thanks for the continued support from all and let’s get this done!  I’ll see you on the road and hopefully…at the next Ragnar!!  ~Zombie~

The link is listed below and you can also find it on my Run Zombie Run Facebook pagehttp://offerpop.com//campaign/807684/entry/6549528


The Ragnar weekend wrap-up

Over a year ago, a group of runners decided it would be a good idea to run the Ragnar Relay series from Madison, WI to Chicago IL…roughly 200 miles.  I’ve had my eye on Ragnar for years now and considered it high up on my bucket list of runs to do!  When the team started to form I threw my hat in the ring!  So much talk and planning went into this adventure.  We created our own private Facebook Group to keep in touch with one another and to share motivational pieces.  Chicago Ragnar was now alive and the dream was becoming more of a reality for me!

As the year passed, there were a couple of changes to runners due to life issues and injuries.  My sister Patti was part of the group from the start and my wife Karla was added with just a few weeks out.  Many of the people on our team I’d never met face to face and was so excited to expand on these friendships that had formed over the year.  Keep in mind that our team was formed on-line and we were from numerous different states.  Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio!  The logistics of getting this thing together were mind-boggling!  Our Fearless Leader and team Captain Russ Beaver was the perfect person to captain this group.  He’d done a Ragnar before so he had knowledge on how things should go and handled all the preparations.  I’m still amazed at how he kept this thing together!  As the travel time grew closer I was riding such a high…nothing could break my spirit!

Travel day!  There were a couple of people coming out of Ohio so we decided to cut down on the number of cars and rode together.  Amy, Stan, Karla, Patti and I took off in a rented mini van.  Let me tell you…it was like Holiday the entire way there with this group!  We were all so stoked to be doing this run…the van was just spilling over with excitement!  Lorelei was coming out of Ohio as well and had close friends in the Michigan area on our team.  They too got together and car pooled into the Chicago area.  I’m told there may have been some silliness inside of that car for the ride as well. 🙂  Our team Captain was flying in from Minnesota.  He was scooped by Illinois’s happiest traveler Melissa!  Super runner Ken (also out of Ohio) was dropped off by his wife and kids at our designated meeting area and Kris (also from Illinois was dropped off as well.  The team of 12 was to meet in Chicago at an Enterprise rental shop so that we could scoop our big white vans and head to Madison, WI.  Traffic was an ass kicker in Chicago!  A group of us arrived early and decided to hang out at a local snack shack.  This place became our true meeting place over the next several hours as the remaining members found their way through the traffic nightmare!  Once we were all assembled, we loaded up the vans and hit the trail for Madison!  Hotel check in and the all important shopping trip.  Once we checked in we headed for the grocery store, loaded up on runner snacks…lol!  Gatorade, Peanut Butter, bagels, water, pretzels, all the fun things you’d eat while running this crazy race!  We all grabbed a quick dinner after this and hit our rooms for the last bit of normal sleep for days!

Friday…Ragnar Morning!!  I have to tell you at this point I felt like my head was going to explode!  Emotions were running so high and I was so ready to get this running going.  I was set to be the first runner to leave at 8:15 a.m.  I felt honored to represent this team and wanted to make a good showing for the group.  The morning before we reached the starting line was really a total blur to me.  I remember telling myself to run my own race and keep calm.  The music was pumping and people were screaming and cheering everywhere!  The start of this race is unique because there were almost 500 teams involved!  (That’s a lot of white vans and bodies) They started at about 5:30 a.m. turning teams loose and did this every 15 minutes all the way into the afternoon hours!  I took my place with a good-sized group (towards the back) and just waited to be turned loose!  Once they started us out…I settled right into my running groove and just enjoyed what Madison had to offer.  The parks and streets were full of charm and beauty.  I felt as though my head was on a swivel the entire run.  I did notice that the temps were picking up quickly and was a little worried about my lack of water for this 6 mile hop.  Once again I told myself to trust in my training.  I’d trained prior to getting there on several runs with little water at about the same distance…just in case.  I passed off the slap bracelet to my sister Patti at the first exchange and we hit the road to get in front of her for the next exchange.  This was pretty much what we did the entire way!  If you weren’t running,  you  were checking maps to see if there were spots to help your runner who was out on their route or prepping your food for your next run or driving the van to the next exchange point or dare I say it…trying to rest!  Just constant motion the entire time!

Our last runner to go out on the first leg was my bride Karla.  She was positioned to run the longest leg on the course at 9.9 miles.  I’ll mention here and now that the weather was most unkind to us for this race.  Temperatures went past the 90 degree mark and humidity was way high!  We had the full sun with no clouds the entire first day.  Conditions set to wreck runners for sure!  Karla was prepped and loaded up on fluids.  I gave her a pep talk about staying hydrated and we checked the course for water stops.  She had two on her course and figured that would get her through.  We had no way to support her on this leg because of the trail she was running on.  No areas for vans to get to her.  I was nervous as was the rest of the team.  Well as we waited at the next exchange, we were all checking our watches and figuring she should be there by now.  A text alert came to our captain from race command stating that “team 372 (that’s us) had a runner down…being transported by ems to the local hospital.”  My heart exploded with fear and I immediately became a wreck mentally.  Once we got the address to the hospital, we turned over the running to our second van and headed to the hospital to check on Karla.  I called her cell phone and a nurse picked it up.  She stated that Karla was unsure of her address and vital information…they were concerned and she said she was “freaking out”!  I told the nurse what she’d been doing and said I had no doubts that she was severely dehydrated.  Once I arrived and was let in to see Karla I asked her “do you know me”?  She said yes…my next question…”do you remember Stella”?  She said yes I do…lol!  She was scared and cold at this point but as the fluids went back into her body, the better she felt.  The total time at the E.R. was around 3 hours and it was decided that we would continue the run but take over the remaining legs for Karla.  I offered to run all of her remaining legs but the captain said he’d take one and I could do the other.  Karla was to stay calm and cool for the remainder of the race.  She was really tough on herself afterwards and felt as though she wrecked it for everyone.  The team rallied behind her and told her that she was part of our team and we would carry on for her!  Amazing people on this team.  Karla never gave up in spirit, her body just didn’t have the fluids to get her through such terrible conditions.

We headed to our next major exchange where the two vans would meet up and our van…#1 would start our second set of legs.  This was a good time for us.  We had a small window to eat regular food and actually sit in some shade for a bit.  We were all being weather nerds and watching the approaching storms.  Very ugly and severe thunderstorms were on the way!  Once the time arrived, I geared up for my night run.  Headlamp, and extra lights so that I could find my way down some streets and then a bike trail for the next 4 miles.  I won’t lie…I love running in the dark and just knowing that a storm was coming made me haul ass that much more!  I shot through the 4 miles in sub 8 minute miles to get out of the upcoming storm.  Once I reached the next exchange point, I was told to take a “lightning card” and head for cover.  We were basically in time out until the lightning passed.  We had to skip past the next leg due to storms all around the area.  All the teams were pushed ahead and once we finally got clear of the storms, our captain set out on the road to keep the party going.  Once we went through all of our runner’s second legs, we headed for the next major exchange point which was right on the lakefront.  There we had time to try to nap before the morning take off again.  There was no sleep to be had inside this van…blah!  My big body didn’t care for the cramped seats at all and I didn’t bring extra gear to sleep outdoors.  Morning light broke and it brought me back to life!  The view on the lake was awesome!  I cleaned up, got my gear on and headed for the exchange point to take up my third leg of the race.  I was again blessed with some of the most beautiful views that WI had to offer!  Both beautiful homes and fantastic lake views…so peaceful for this tired runner.

We rifled through our runners quickly Saturday morning and I jumped into my last leg.  This was original Karla’s 5.1 mile run but I picked it up so that we could keep things moving.  This was the toughest leg for me.  Wide open, no shade at all, on gravel, no views to keep me distracted and HOT!!  My team told me they would catch me at around 3 miles and they were true to form!  I picked up a Gatorade, cold wipes and an ice-cold hat!  It carried me on down the trail but I still felt like my neck and back were on fire!  I fellow runner and Ragnarian on the route offered to put ice cold water on my back at one of the crossings.  She may have saved me there!  I really needed to cool my body back down and quick.  Thank you random runner…proof that runners are special people!!  Once I reached the exchange I was ready to be done.  I turned over the honors at that point to Super Man Ken!  Van #2 took over from there and I passed on the information that it was terrible conditions so that they could aid their runners for the remainder of the race.  Well Van #2 did not disappoint.  They took good care of one another, aided each other on several occasions and just rocked it!  Nice team work yet again!  Stan the Man was our last runner to finish the race.  He too had a miserable 9+ mile run in order to find the finish line.  He was loaded up with all the necessary gear, he was aided several times on his run and with the last few miles to go…we all met at the finish and prayed that Stan would keep it together and find his way home.

The remaining 11 runners all found our way to the finish area.  We checked our watches and waited on Stan.  Once we thought he would be close, we headed towards the area where he’d be coming off the trail and heading for the final short stretch to the finish.  The team huddled together and I walked a little closer to the trail.  I guess I just felt like I needed to be right there to make sure Stan was going to be alright.  After going through the ordeal with Karla going down, I was seriously worried about Stan and his health.  Well, Stan came around the corner and you could tell by his face that he was done!  I gave the thumbs up to the team and we all gathered around Stan and raced into the finish area.  It was such a proud moment that we all got to share together.  After everything we’d faced, we were standing at the finish!  Never in my running career that spans over 31 years have I been so proud!  This moment was just magic!  Our captain collected the medals and passed them out, we did lots of pictures together and apart.  Talked about all the craziness that we’d been through and shortly after said “I’d do it all again”!

The Ragnar Relay series is for real!  As my fellow team-mate Kathleen stated “this was tougher than my marathon” and “this is a totally different beast”!  How true those words are.  It’s not just the miles that you cover, it’s the lack of sleep, the living in a van with 5 other people, trying to keep your body running on a schedule that can change at anytime and finding a way to overcome all of your adversities.  Yes, the Ragnar was an amazing event and has once again changed my life forever!  I’m grateful to have spent this time with a group of people who inspired me, cheered for me and in the end shared the love of running with me!  We found our inner wild this past weekend and we also found true friendship!

Thank you to every one of my teammates for sharing this bucket list adventure with me!  I want you all to know that you’re all very special people and that we shared a wonderful part of our lives together that no one can ever take back.

This is your Zombie saying…I’ll see you on the road!



Fine tune the machine!

Well April has arrived!!  Now that we’ve enjoyed some pleasant temperatures during the last month, April decided to throw a little surprise of its own.  The Ann Arbor Half Marathon was on my docket for April 3rd.  Little did I know the temperature was going to take a nose dive the night before the race!  Driving up North we had high winds and snow!  Nothing over an inch but it was quite miserable on Saturday April 2nd.

This race was picked out because I struggled on the course last year at this God Awful hill around Mile 10.  I have my own personal push to never walk on a hill.  Those that have run with me know that I always say to “embrace the incline” or “charge the hill”.  Well…I charged the hill last year and the hill just kept on going!  Zigging and Zagging through a park setting you’d swear the hill would go on forever!  It broke me just a short bit from the top and that sat with me for the entire year!

Race morning was a feel like temperature of 16 degrees but the winds were only around 4 or 5 mph.  The skies were clear and the sun was on the rise!  This race starts out right next to the “Big House” (Michigan Stadium) and goes on through city streets, campus area, and beautiful neighborhoods.  The streets suck as most Michigan roads do…lol…but the sights make up for all of it!  You get the roads, some gravel area and a mix of gravel and dirt for the park section.  As my sister says…”You feel like you’re on a constant incline”!

I ran with my sister for the better part of the race as she is my training partner and I always enjoy sharing the sights.  Right before mile 10 I pushed a little ahead and there it was…THE HILL!!  From the beginning of it all the way through I kept telling myself, embrace the incline, charge the hill, run your race and don’t look up!  Well Hot Dog when i reached the top and cleared the hill I almost burst into tears!  I kicked the hills ass and still had something in reserve!

It was just a few miles to the finish and I thought it was time to turn it on!  I picked up the pace to an 8:22 at mile 12 and added a bit more after that.  I felt a shadow for the last few miles and sure enough, I had a young lady who had been pacing me.  She came along side and then passed me just after the mile 12 marker.  So I decided to pick up the pace and see if she was going to race it in.  Yup…She stepped up the pace again when I got beside her!  What an awesome challenge!  From there I ran along side of her and forced her to push her hardest to keep with me and/or pull ahead.  In the last block I said “lets go…don’t let the old man beat you”!  We ran across the finish line side by side and after crossing she turned around and said “Thank you”!  She said she needed to push and I was very happy to assist!  The competitive spirit in a runner is so strong and yet we are such good sports!  It made the end of my race so much better to know that I helped someone reach their potential and finish strong!

This race was a “tune up” if you will for the Glass City Half Marathon.  I wanted to run a nice steady pace and do a hard push at the end.  I also wanted to punch that hill in the face and I did it!  I feel pretty strong and have high hopes to PR at the Glass City!  It’ll be a challenge and you never know what the body or mother nature are going to bring.  Last year was a 1:50 and some change so I’m within reach!  If the weather is good and I don’t break anything…I just might break that number!  Always reach and never be afraid to fail!  Failure teaches us and forces us to evaluate, train and try again!  I beat the hill that took me last year in Ann Arbor…now I need to beat the time I set last year at the Glass City!

Thank you to all that follow and support me!  Thank you to everyone that continues to help me raise funds for Mobile Meals Of Toledo!  Let’s keep going and make this a great year!  I’ll see you on the road!


Closing in on Glass City

First off, sorry for taking so long to get going on my blog!  I’ve been super busy with several different projects and one thing in particular is very important to me.  More on that at a later date!  (I know…that’s kind of rotten to tease.)

mike-off-to-raceThere have been several races of late that I just wanted to share a little about.  Recently, Karla and I went to North Carolina to run The Asheville Half Marathon on the grounds of the Biltmore!  Can I just tell you that this race was everything they billed it to be!  The course was not only super challenging but absolutely beautiful!  Rolling hills (and I do mean hills!), both paved roads and gravel, spectacular views of the estate and the mountains…it had everything!

mike_ashville_blingKarla has had an injury that just now is starting to allow her to run on a more regular basis.  She took the place of my sister Patti in North Carolina and did very well!  She cussed at me for being too motivational at about mile 10 or so, but other than that…all went well!  I highly recommend putting this race on your “must do” list!  Well organized, great swag bag and some super sponsors!

mike_great_black_swampThis past weekend was the Great Black Swamp Festival of Races!  I decided to run the 15K this year as I may have been a little bored on the 25K last year…lol!  The 15K is a wonderful distance for me as it’s what I train as my long runs.  I felt great during the race and stayed at the pace I set out to run.  I’m on target for what I’d like to run for the Glass City Half Marathon on April 24th!  I’d like to better my time at Glass City this year and that means cutting below the 1:50 time.  It will be a challenge and I’m sure it will hurt a bit but I feel the need to do this.  It’s just for me…my own little mental game I like to play.

mike-coworkersThe Black Swamp brought out friends, family and co-workers!  Several of the ladies I work with decided to walk the 5K and did a wonderful job!  Very proud of all of them for committing to it and then getting it done!  Nice work and I hope to see all of you at another race or two this year!  My major supporter…Antie N was there!  She shows at almost every race we run here in the Toledo area.  She keeps me motivated and does regular donations to Mobile Meals!  She always has a great hug and a warm smile and that means the world to me!

The Black Swamp is special to me because they have the last mile (the memory mile) covered with signs of the names of so many people we runners/walkers have lost over the years.  It’s our way of remembering them and showing how special they were to our lives.  Both my parents names were on the mile and it’s always bitter sweet to see the signs.  This too should be a “must do” race!

As I said above…the Glass City Half Marathon is April 24th!  I’d so love to have people come out and support all the fine runners and walkers!  It’s the largest event in Toledo during the year for running and the more people that show, the more other runners will talk about the race and come from all over to run here!  Did I mention this is the 40th Anniversary of the Glass City Marathon??  Yup…just another reason to come out and support the event!  The other thing I’d like to see is a push in donations for Mobile Meals of Toledo!  If you’ve ever wanted to donate or if you’d like to help out again…please…before, during or after the Glass City would be so appreciated!  It shows how much we care for this organization that continues to do great things for those in need in “our” community!  You can just go on my web page runzombierun.net and click on the donation button!  There’s a spot in there for any kind of message you’d like to leave as well.  If you want to donate in honor of someone or you want to just see me crush this Half Marathon…put it in there!  I do get to see a copy of your message via email and love some of the things people post. 🙂  All monies go directly to Mobile Meals of Toledo!  I get nothing more than the satisfaction of making a difference.  I want to do well for this race and I want to do even better for the organization that I’ve taken great pride in helping all of last year and again this year!

More races coming!  Before the Glass City I’m traveling back to Ann Arbor to run the Half Marathon there!  It starts right next to the “Big House”!  It’s a great course and last year caught me off guard.  I actually had to walk for a short section on a hill.  If you know me…you know that I absolutely hate walking on hills and demand more from myself!  So this year…I’m crushing that hill!!  Silly??  Maybe…but it’s who I am!

Stay tuned for more episodes!  I’ll get back on here after I handle the Ann Arbor Half Marathon and give you all a report.  Remember to help me with Mobile Meals of Toledo and also to get out there and move!  The body was meant to be in motion…not on a couch or in a chair!  Thanks again for all the support and I’ll see you on the Road!


The Final Four!

I’m so excited to say it…The Final Four Races!!  Early on in this adventure I thought I’d fail for sure.  The injury bug came to visit early and often during the first couple months.  With some good workouts, a great massage therapist (Becky at Massage Works) and of course Dr. Odeh at Genoa Medical I’ve made it this far!

The Final Four are as follows:

10/11/15 http://runtoledo.com/macqueens-run-for-your-life-10k-5k/ The MacQueen’s Run for your life will be tomorrow morning in Holland, Ohio!  Run begins at 9 a.m.

10/17/15 http://www.davesraces.com/ The Trick or Trot 5K and Zombie Walk!  This one starts at 9 a.m. also and will be at Fallen Timbers Mall.

11/8/5 http://www.monroehalfmarathon.com/  The Monroe Half Marathon!  My favorite running distance and just a stone throw from the Toledo area.

11/14/15  The Big Race #30!!  http://www.davesraces.com/  The 48th Annual Churchill’s Half Marathon!  One of the oldest races in the area and of course…13.1 Miles of Awesome!  I felt that the last race had to be a good one and I wanted to stay local for the finish!  This race has always been a challenge.  It will start at Perrysburg High School at 9 a.m. and finish at Fallen Timbers shopping Mall!  I invite anyone and everyone to come on out!  I would love to see Zombies all over the course with smiles, cheers and maybe a cow bell or two!  I do run faster with the sound of a cow bell…just sayin!

Please feel free to go back through some of my blogs throughout the year.  I’ve done this a few times to reflect!  I’ve also gone through my Facebook page Run Zombie Run.  So many pictures of the things I’ve seen and the places I’ve traveled through the year!  All of the amazing support I’ve received!!  I can never thank my friends, family and co-workers enough!  All the funds that have been raised for Mobile Meals of Toledo!  I’ll get together a grand total at the end of the year along with some fun stats on how many miles I’ve covered racing, how many miles (approximately) I’ve run in training and some of the challenges that I’ve faced through the year.

The past couple of races have been fantastic!  The Smoky Mountain’s Half Marathon in mid September was very hilly and beautiful!  My sister Patti and Karla both ran this one and had a blast!  I posted a much better time this year on the course at 1:58:30.  I was super thrilled with it due to the hills and humidity!  Mid 60’s and 95% humidity!  I was soaked all the way through by the finish line!

The next Half marathon was in upper Michigan.  The Sleeping Bear Dunes Half!  Outstanding course!  Seriously!  If you ever get the chance to run this race or just go and visit the area…do it!  Cool temperatures with a touch of wind at the start of this race.  My sister and I both felt really good and kept a positive attitude the whole way through!  It paid off!  1:51:47 was my time and a new PR!  With the conditions and the hills in the race…I was just floored!  My sister broke into tears after coming across the finish at 1:51:51!  Not only was it a huge jump in time for her but she scored 3rd place in her age group!  So proud!

So here we go!  The Final Four!  The Big push to reach the Finish!!  I need all the help I can get to make this!  The time for Zombies is now!

I’ll see YOU…on the road!


Loss and the road ahead

Robert W. "Bob" Neeley, December 1, 1936 - August 6, 2015

Robert W. “Bob” Neeley, December 1, 1936 – August 6, 2015

On August 6, 2015 my Father, Robert W. Neeley passed away.  A strong-willed and passionate man passed these very same traits onto his children.  The words “I can’t do it” were not allowed in our home.  While we didn’t always see eye to eye over the years, I admired his drive and wanted so much to be noticed by him.  During the last weeks he was alive, I was able to have some good conversations with him and found that he was a fan of the Run Zombie Run campaign.  He asked how I was feeling and was I looking forward to getting all 30 races completed.  I told him of the many obstacles I had faced over the past months: the hamstring, the groin and several different foot issues.  He kind of chuckled and said…”You’ll be fine and you’ll finish this because you’re my son.”  That was an amazing moment for me!  My Father was never very good at telling you how proud he was of you.  He had no problem telling others all about your accomplishments, but to say them to you…very rare.  I was kind of choked up and said, “Wow!”  He chuckled again and told me to just keep running and he’d be proud to see me finish the 30 races.

Well, he decided to leave before the big party for the 30 races.  I’ll be at #24 next weekend.  He may not be here to share in the festivities then, but he’s with me now as I run every mile!  I’ve been challenged to run 100 miles during the month of August by my good friend Brian “Monk” Taylor.  I decided to take on that challenge and dedicate the miles to my father – the man who has given me the strength to always push, never quit and to be the very best!  Dad may have had a hard time sharing his feelings but I know in my heart that he loved me and was proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far in my life.

I’m over 70 miles for the month of August and just 7 races away from completing the 30 races I’ve set out to run.  I know I’ll get it done… my Dad told me so and I won’t let him down.  I’ll continue to have my chats with him on the open road.  We all know that’s where I find my serenity.  Strength, drive, passion…yeah…that’s my Father.

For my friends at Mobile Meals of Toledo…I’ve got your back!  I’ll get this done and continue to raise awareness of the many needs you folks have.  To those that are fighting and surviving cancer…I’ve got your back as well!  I’ll carry you on my skin, on my clothing and in my heart. For you Dad… I’ll never quit!

See you on the road…