Monday, July 29, 2013

The First Five Grand

My first race (left) and my most recent marathon (right)
This morning's run was much like most of my runs.  No fanfare.  Just me, a few other runners and bikers, and the open road or in today's case the open trail.

However, today's run was extra special.  During the first mile of what would end up being a 7-mile run, I ran my 5,000th career mile.  To some that might seem like a big number and to others who have run for awhile it's not as big a feat.  For me, it was special.

I started this running journey 1,161 days ago on May 26, 2010...much like today on the trail and ironically like today without the Garmin providing me time, pace, and distance.  On that day, I was lucky to run two miles.  I went back the next day and barely pulled out another two-mile run without walking.  It was brutal!  Over the next two weeks, I only managed to run three more miles.

Then, on June 12, 2010, things finally started to click.  That day, I went out to run two miles and ended up running four miles.  I went back out the next day and ran three more miles.  And I went back again.  And again.  And again.  And I haven't stopped going back out.

Running has provided me with countless benefits.  When I started, I weighed in at 235 pounds.  Not awful for a 6-6 guy, but today's weigh-in of 198.5 pounds has me in much better shape.  I'm eating smarter (notice I didn't say less) and drinking a whole lot more water.  I really do feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.  And it doesn't hurt that for nearly half of my running journey (575 days and counting to be exact), I have been on a streak of doing at least 100 pushups and 100 situps each day to help augment the running.

In addition to the health benefits, I have made some incredible friendships.  When I started this journey, I was running solo.  However, soon after running my first race on August 28, 2010, several local runners in Mount Vernon began to get together in the mornings at 6 a.m. and the Mount Vernon Running Buddies were born.  Ever since that day, it's a rare morning that you don't find someone from that group meeting up for the daily run.  Their dedication to running is amazing!

I've also enjoyed meeting numerous runners from Central Ohio and beyond.  Run DMC is a group that corresponds primarily via social media, but people in that group have become some of my very closest friends.  I've also met great people in the midst of races who have gone on to become close friends, too, after we helped each other get through the tough times in a race.

Since this journey began three years, two months, and four days ago, I've been blessed to be able to run in some great places.  I've run on the beach of both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico.  I've run across the Golden Gate Bridge and back.  I've run the magnificent mile in Chicago, under the Arch in St. Louis, and on the track at Daytona International Speedway.  I've run a three-state 5K with a mile at three different state welcome centers.  I've run three marathons (Columbus 2011, Earth Day 2012, and Last Chance for Boston 2013) and eight half marathons (Pittsburgh twice, Earth Day twice, Erie, Xenia, Cap City, and Columbus).  I've participated in two amazing relay races - Hood to Coast in 2012 and Relay Around Columbus in 2013.  And too many shorter races to even mention, yet all have been incredibly fun and provided their own enjoyment to this journey.

Running my leg at Hood to Coast
The journey has not been without its bumps in the road either.  I spent August of 2011 with limited mileage due to shin splints.  Then, about the same time in 2012, the shin splints returned and turned into stress fractures in both legs that sidelined me with only 78 total miles from August 1-October 31.  I had to learn patience through the injuries.  And I also learned the importance of cross-training both on the bike and in the pool as well as with core workouts.  The encouragement and support from other runners was unwavering and helped me immensely as I worked to heal.

As I reflect back on the past 5,000 miles, for me it's all about the journey.  It's not about any personal accolades or even the fact that I've reached this milestone.  It's about the people's lives I've been able to be a part of and the amazing times that we've had.  For those of you who I've had the pleasure of running with, THANK YOU!  For those of you I haven't met in person yet, but who have supported me from afar, THANK YOU!  YOU are what this milestone is all about because without you this journey would be pretty lonely.  I look forward to seeing all of you on the run sometime soon!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Zoom to BOOM! with COTA

Red, White, and BOOM! will light up the Columbus skyline
As we turn the calendar to another month, the summer is really starting to fly by.  When I think of July, I think of hot days, picnics, and of course...fireworks!  And in Central Ohio when you think fireworks, you definitely think Red, White, and BOOM!

Red, White, and BOOM! is billed as the largest fireworks display in Ohio and it takes place on July 3rd in downtown Columbus.  For complete information about all the activities and the schedule for the day, visit the Red, White, and BOOM! website.

This year will actually mark my first ever trip to watch Red, White, and BOOM! in person.  I've always wanted to go see it before, but the biggest reason that I didn't go was because I didn't want to fight the crowds and mess with all that traffic.

Well, thanks to COTA and it's Zoom to the BOOM! initiative I really don't have an excuse to not go any more.  For just $5.50 round-trip for adults or $2.00 for children through the age of 12, you can park in seven different locations (Crosswoods, Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Olentangy/Bethel, Reynoldsburg, and Westerville) and ride an express bus downtown between 5:30-8:30 p.m. and get dropped off near Huntington Park where you can show your COTA wristband and go into the ballpark for free where some of the best viewing seats for the fireworks show await you.  (For details on the Park and Ride location drop-offs, click here.)  There will also be activities at Huntington Park including entertainment by McGuffey Lane and Phil Dirt and the Dozers, face painting for kids, inflatable games, and more.  Concession stands will also be open.

Then, after the fireworks, buses will leave downtown between 10:45 p.m. and midnight from the designated Red, White and BOOM! boarding zones to head back to the seven park and ride locations.  It's that simple!!!  Not only do you get the best seat in the house to view the show, but COTA handles all the driving and stress of traffic and parking downtown.  Sure sounds like a winner to me!

You can find lots more information about this program by visiting the COTA website and the Zoom to the BOOM! specific link.  For tips on riding COTA, you can also go to this link.  And if you decide to join me in doing this on Wednesday, make sure to follow COTA on Twitter and tweet using the hashtags #COTAbus and #RWB13.  It's going to be a fun night!!!  Hope to see you at Huntington Park or while we Zoom to the BOOM!