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~

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!

~Zombie~

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!

~Zombie~

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!

~Zombie~

Training, Racing, Planning and looking towards #30

Sorry for the long delay!  There have been several events going on in my life and of course work just loves to suck the life out of me!  Training has been going very well!  I’ve been maintaining my once a week-long run and an assortment of distances throughout the week.

July 2nd was the Woodville 4th of July celebration 5K!  Although I worked during the day, I managed to hold onto enough energy to get through the 5K and also managed to stay in my wheel house on time. (24:19) was my Garmin time!  I’m finding comfort in the mid to lower 24’s for 5K’s these days and enjoying that!  My best was at the National Running Day run at a full minute below that!  23:19 was Garmin time for that one!  I’ll try to muster a lower time somewhere along the way but again, I’m more focused on the long haul and getting all 30 races done!

team zombieThe Woodville race was a lot of fun!  Beautiful sunshine and moderate temperatures helped to make the run quite special!  That along with the fact just a few days earlier, Woodville suffered a huge flood putting the entire set up (tents and all) under water!  6 plus inches of water hit our entire area and caused major flooding issues everywhere!  That being said, Woodville pulled off an excellent celebration in spite of Mother Nature’s smack!  Way to go Woodville…I’ll be back next year in my Pink socks to run that one again!

During this week I was able to get an address for our Pink Warrior Valory Newton!  I mailed a Run Zombie Run tank top to her so that she could feel the love that we Zombies have for her and know that we’re carrying her on every run!  Keep Fighting Valory!

Friends Tom and Dianna rock the limited edition "Run Zombie Run" tanks.

Friends Tom and Dianna rock the limited edition “Run Zombie Run” tanks.

I also managed to get a few tanks out to just a few running friends!  Don’t feel slighted if you didn’t get one…there will be a huge Long sleeved T-shirt event as we get closer to the magic #30 race!  Stay tuned on that one!  Anyway…I only had 20 of the tank tops and decided to switch the lettering to Pink in honor of all those fighting or surviving Cancer!  I called this my limited edition tank and added TeamValory on the back just below my Mobile Meals logo!  I’m so happy when I see these tanks on people and the smiles they have wearing them!  Thanks runners for helping me keep this show going!

As I’ve said before…I don’t have the exact date set yet for the 30th race.  I’m guessing by what I have (kind of) planned that it should hit somewhere in the late October or Early November time!  Fall is my most favorite time of year and I can’t tell you how awesome it feels knowing that I just might hit this 30 races target!  I’m forever thinking about when this started, how it started and how absolutely grateful I am for all the help and support I’ve received to make it just this far!  From the people who keep me held together physically…Becky at Massage Works…Doctor Odeh at Genoa Medical center, my lovely bride Karla Neeley…they’ve all been a huge part of my success!  Then there are all of you!  The ones that follow me on here and Facebook.  The wonderful people who believe in what I’m doing and have donated so much to Mobile Meals!  I just can’t believe how well this is going!  I promise to keep this going and never disappoint you!

I’ll get back with you after this Thursday’s race in Sylvania.  (The Ohio/Michigan 8K) I’ll post up my thoughts about the race, how I felt, my time and of course some pictures before and after!  More to come this month!  A couple of back to back runs in late July and then rolling right into a busy August!  This Summer is flying!

Be well my friends!  Keep moving and enjoying the sunshine!  Keep Valory in your thoughts and prayers!  We want her healthy and happy!  Keep following the Zombie and I’ll…See you on the road!

~Zombie~

Running for others

While I always go out and enjoy each and every run, I feel even better (before, during and after) when there’s purpose!  I’ve found that my celebration of the 30 years I’ve been running has been one of the most fulfilling times in my life thus far!  I teamed up with Mobile Meals of Toledo to raise funds and awareness of hunger and the need to help feed those in need.  Along with this, I’ve had numerous people in my life come upon hard times.  Sickness and health issues seem to be hitting many that I care for.  While I’m unable to assist in their recovery first hand, I can bring attention, show compassion and care for them as a person.  I can let them know that they matter and that others think of them.

Valory Newton, from her public Facebook page

Valory Newton, from her public Facebook page

I’ll be running for a 9-year-old little girl this weekend and probably for several other races.  Valory Newton is fighting bone cancer at this time.  She’s lost a leg but continues to be a positive and loving little girl.  I want nothing more than for her to be able to feel better and live the life that so many of us enjoy.  My sister Gini Feller shared her story with me and asked that I dedicate some miles to her.  I will do so with great honor!  I’ll throw some pink into my wardrobe, place her name upon my arm and carry her as far as I possibly can!  Thank you so much Gini for bringing this to my attention and for asking me to share in her recovery.  Again, I’m honored.

Valory…I want you to focus on getting well!  I want you to stay strong and overcome this illness that’s come into your body.  I also want you to know that I care!  I want you to be able to dance again one day soon!

For those of you out there that run or walk, dedicate some miles to this beautiful little girl.  Visit her Facebook page:  Valory Fighting Dancer.  I think you’ll agree, she’s worth our attention!  I look forward to running this Sunday and just know that by having this young lady’s name on my arm I’ll run well!  I continue to run with purpose!  I will also continue to run for others!  My message today is simple…look beyond yourself, think of Valory, think of my friend Ann who continues her journey to become healthy again.  They need us and it’s our duty to help!

So get out there and run for others and I’ll see you on the road!

Zombie

Working on the Halfway Point!

Well we’re hitting full stride and coming up on the Half Way Point in the 30 races!  This Saturday I’ll be running the Dart Frog Dash 5K at the Toledo Zoo and will mark it off as race number 15!  May is a packed month of races and I’m hoping to pick up a few during the summer months as well.

Fall is my favorite time of year for running and I have no doubts I’ll load up on the races then.  I’ve already planned on doing back to back half marathons in the beginning of October up in Michigan!  September will have the Smoky Mountains Half marathon…which will be a thrill because Karla will be back in the mix for that race!  It’ll be her first half in some time due to injury issues.  I hate to push the year along but I always get excited about Fall colors and temperatures. 🙂

I’m not sure which race will become the number 30 race as of yet.  I plan my races on a month to month basis due to work schedule and what’s available.  I really want to make it a local run so that we can all have a huge celebration!  It’s all about the party…right?!!

On the injury front…the hamstring seems to be behaving lately and the groin issue that surfaced after the Glass City has settled down a bit as well.  (Crossing Fingers!)  I have to say that finding the HOKA ONE ONE (Clifton Model) shoe has been a huge help!  Not only are these shoes ridiculously light but they seem to take the beating out of the body!  That means that I can do a long run and my hips, back and knees are feeling pretty good afterwards!  Bonus!!  I highly recommend this particular model (Clifton) by the company stated…its full name is HOKA ONE/ONE.11258480_960032267382982_4529475506016623648_n  Go out and get yourself a pair and give them a try!  Rated as a Neutral shoe, they seem to have found a market with a guy like me that usually takes a Stability shoe.  I’ve found that the less than 8 oz. weight of the shoe is amazing!  You get the benefits of a super lightweight shoe with the padding of a stability!  I love these shoes so much that I’ve cleared out a big part of my stable of shoes by other manufacturers.  Nike, Brooks and Asics have all been pushed aside for this model.  That’s huge!

The temperatures are coming back up and that means more water is needed for the miles!  Be sure that if you’re going out during hot and or humid days that you properly hydrate the body!  Anything longer than 3 miles for me and I must carry my water bottle along.  I have a hand-held Ultraspire (http://ultraspire.com/) that I bring with.  It has a pocket just the right size to bring GU or Powerbar gels. (also a must on longer runs)  Just be smart and safe when out in the heat.  Things can get ugly quick when the sweat is pouring out of the body.  That being said…it’s time for the gym and a short hop before work!  Have a wonderful day!

I’ll see you on the Road!

Zombie