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~

 

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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~

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!

~Zombie~

Find a way…or Make one!

It just feels, as life moves forward, that there’s less and less time to get things done.  I was sitting down to go over races that I’ve signed up for and others that I’ve expressed interest in for the 2017 running season.  Fitting a large mileage race in each month of the year has proved to be challenging.  Take into consideration my all over the place work schedule (that can change at any moment) along with general life scheduling…it gets tough.  There’s marathon training to fit inside all of this and the hopes that I can stay healthy!  The mind set is…”Find a way…or Make one”!

This week has been tough to get the miles that I keep hoping for due mostly to a lack of sleep.  I’ve never been much of a sleeper and when I do get to sleep, I seem to be getting only a few hours…Stella decides I need to be awake and walk her around Oregon.  I never get mad at her because it’s her release and she just wants to stretch her legs and be with me.  Yet there’s still the part of me that says “how the hell am I going to get through the day on a few hours of sleep”!  We’re working on that…Stella and I!  (Note: Stella is my 2 year old Catahoula Leopard Dog)stellaDogs…once again I realized this week why I started this adventure.  Texting back and forth with Sharon Bryant (who runs BlackJack Animal Rescue), I was expressing my sadness when looking through some of the links that I’ve been introduced to through social media to different animal shelters in southern states.  I have to tell you all…it’s an eye opening problem down there!  Most of these shelters are nothing more than killing machines!  Corruption and money grabbing that leaves so many animals to die.  Sharon has been fighting this battle for some time and with the help of her small army, they do everything they can to save as many dogs as possible.  Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee all have high percentage kill shelters!  In Sharon’s words “The Catahoula Leopard dog is considered a dime a dozen in several states”.  Backyard breeders sell what they can of litters and then just dump the remaining puppies at a shelter, knowing full well they’ll likely be killed.  This has got to stop!  Sharon is very organized and, as I said, has a small army of very dedicated people that want the shelters to become “NO KILL”!  It can be done and they have the volunteers to make it happen.  The hurdle of politicians is the uphill battle.  I will continue to work to bring attention to BlackJack Animal Rescue and would love for everyone who reads this to “like” their Facebook page, follow along and share when they are in need!  Donations are a must and very appreciated!  This rescue relies on good people to keep up their efforts to save more animals and get them to good homes.  If we are to spend money, why not do it to make the world a better place?  Dogs and cats can absolutely change your life and make a home complete.  If you can’t adopt, volunteer to help transport animals from one state to the next!  Become part of a network that saves these beautiful animals!  Donate on a monthly basis or give a nice donation so that this fight can continue!  I’ll be working on getting more things together as the year progresses.  A virtual 5K is in the works (more on that later).  T-shirts are currently available on Blackjackrescue.org and all monies go to save animals.  I’ll also be looking into doing some kind of t-shirt or magnets for the Run Zombie Run part in this!  Help where you can and make me proud!

15977693_10208297764623740_4723280493295590567_nSunday is the Dave’s 10 Miler!  It starts at 2 p.m. and looks to be pretty good weather this year for what can be a very crazy event weather-wise!  I’ll be putting on my new Run Zombie Run racing shirt for the very first time Sunday and will represent BlackJack Animal Rescue with honor!  https://runsignup.com/Race/OH/Delta/Daves10Miler?remMeAttempt=  Feel free to come on out and ring some cow bells!  Runners love Cow Bells!!  LOL!!
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via GIPHY

I’ll keep working on my training and finding a way to get everything done!  Forge ahead…progress!  Keep tuned in and please, take a look at BlackJack Animal Rescue on Facebook!  We’re almost to 5,000 likes…so get on there…Like and share!  Then go outside and play!!

I’ll see you on the road!

~Zombie~

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

http://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!

 

 

RAGNAR!!

Well after over a year of planning the race is now staring us in the face…RAGNAR RELAY-CHICAGO!!  During this year there has been much training, dreaming, worrying and lots of laughter shared among a group of 12 runners that all decided it was time to run this awesome race!

The group was formed from an on-line virtual running club on Facebook known as Runjunkees.  I think you kind of get from the name that we’re all a little on the nutty side when it comes to our running and the desire to seek out new and exciting races and/or challenges!  We all live and breathe running and share the stories on Facebook of all our adventures.  Some of the people on our team (known as the Mighty Minions) have never even met one another in person!  We’re setting out to run this race of about 200 miles, living in two vans with people that are basically new to our lives…how cool is that?!  The added bonus for me is that my younger sister Patti and my bride of coming up on 10 years Karla will also be running on this team!  Super Bonus!!

The Ragnar Relay Series started in about 2003 and I’ve had my eye on it for about 10 years.  The series has grown in leaps and bounds and relays are now held in states all over the country.  They offer both road and trail relays and in some spectacular places.  This particular one we’re doing starts in Madison, WI and goes into Chicago, IL.  Much of the run is along lake lined areas and offers all kinds of challenges for us. We’ll run in parks, on roads, trails, have some hills and a little flat land.  We’ll go from farmland to big city lights!  This will be EPIC!

Back a few years ago, I was running a half marathon in Bowling Green, KY and spotted a Ragnar emblem on the back of a vehicle.  I told my wife as we walked past “one day I’ll have that on my car”!  I’ve never let go of that and I…along with my team will be proud owners of both the Ragnar emblem and the very special Bling that comes along with it!

I told you all that this year was about the “Bucket List” runs and Oh Baby is this ever a Bucky List winner!  I plan on adding some fresh ink on my skin once this journey has been completed!  To some that may seem extreme…but to me it feels right and it’s again part of “my journey”

I plan on taking as many pictures as possible along the way and keeping everyone updated via Run Zombie Run on Facebook!  It looks to be on the warm side so expect messy, wet people with huge smiles! 🙂  I’ll kick out another blog once we wrap things up and get back home.

So please remember to get out there and live!  Take those dreams and turn them into reality!  Set goals and crush them!  I’ve said this before and here we go again…”Life is not a spectator’s sport…go out and play”!

I’ll see you all on the road!

~Zombie~