My First Marathon

Of course, I didn’t sleep well during the night. I went to bed early, but tossed and turned all night. Were the 5  months of training enough? Did I do everything I could to prepare for running 26.2 miles?

Despite a fitful night of sleep, I got up early (as planned) and had some breakfast with some coffee. I triple-checked to make sure I had everything I would need for running farther than I had ever run before. Linda and I left very early for what should’ve been a 10-minute drive. However, the highway was backed up with 2 lanes of stand-still traffic for more than a mile from the exit – on a Saturday morning at 6:00 AM. We did our best to not worry and keep a smile on.

Fortunately, I noticed on Facebook that a very good friend was announcing for the race and I texted him to let him know that a lot of us were stuck out on the highway. The start time was pushed back from 06:45 AM until 7:10 AM. However, even with that change, I barely made it. When we got as close as we could, I jumped out of the car at 07:08 and ran to the start line.

I made it within seconds of the start of the National Anthem. 

As soon as the National Anthem was sung, we were off. I was at the back of the pack and was nowhere near the pacer that I intended to follow. My goal was to finish in under 5 hours, so I wanted to be with them and stay just ahead. I found the 5:30 pacer and stuck with them and slowly moved my way forward. 

Linda parked the car a couple miles up the road and found me running. It was amazingly awesome to have her standing on the side of the road, cheering me on. I can’t even put into words how much it meant to me to have her there – ringing her cowbell and all!

In fact, Linda leap-frogged the race several times to find me on 4 different occasions – all within the first 8 miles. She had to be in Topeka later in the morning for a job judging a piano competition. Thus, it meant that much more to me that she was sticking around to find me every few miles. 

At one point, I ran past the house of some very good friends – the Khemraj’s – and they were all out there to give me high-fives and cheer me one. Their daughter had even made a sign to cheer me on – it was fantastic.I found Linda for the last time at mile 8 – and a friend of ours was waiting with her for me to show up. Ron is the husband of one of our very good biking friends and he was running the half-marathon. He waited for me to show up and jumped back in to run with me. 

Ron and I ran together until mile 12, stopping quickly for a quick selfie in front of the 10-mile marker. It was fabulous running along with him. Having run a number of marathons, he was able to pass along a lot of advice while we were running. 

As soon as Ron and I parted ways, I was essentially by myself for the rest of the race. There was a huge crowd of runners – until most of them turned at the 12.5-mile mark and the few of us turned the opposite way for the marathon.

The second half was definitely tougher than the first half. I maintained my planned pace until about mile 20 or 21. I started to institute some walking (which I had not been doing in any of my training), as I began to become more and more sore. The left knee was really starting to get sore, but was hanging in there.

My overall goal was to complete the race – but my secondary goal was to finish in under 5 hours. It seem kind of arbitrary, but was still a goal, nonetheless. Knowing that I was walking a number of instances, I kept a close eye on my watch to keep myself within reach of the 5-hour mark.

My Apple Watch kept perfect time, however, by the end of the race it was 1.5 miles ahead. So, I was getting feedback from friends that were following me via my running app, congratulating me for finishing, but I wasn’t even at the 25-mile mark yet.

The final 0.75 miles was uphill and most of it into a 15mph headwind. It was really a horrible way to end such a long run, but I looked up and found Emily there waiting for me at the 26-mile mark. With 0.2 miles left, she joined alongside me and encouraged me to finish strong.

Emily ran along and Anna was waiting there at the finish line. It was so very cool to have both of my daughters there to see me at the end. I can’t say there weren’t a few tears exchanged as we embraced.

I did my best to walk off my sore legs – but a banana and a tall IPA were helpful in putting my mind somewhere else.

After a hot shower (which felt AMAZING) and some stretching and foam-rolling, we went out for lunch and I enjoyed a full pizza and a couple more beers. Like a doofus, I wore my medal out because it seemed like the thing to do. Finally, after a long day of hanging around and trying to nap, I got to hang out with Sally and just rest the legs.

What a wonderful day!

National Bat Appreciation Day

April 17 is National Bat Appreciation Day – which seems like a weird thing to write a blog post about, but we really appreciate the bats in our neighborhood. 


Our neighborhood has always had a bad problem with mosquitos. We tried every possible way of avoiding mosquito bites – sprays, repellants, citranella candles, etc, with nothing working. After a lot of research – and out of desperation – we decided to put up a bathouse on the back of our house in order to attract bats that would eat all of the mosquitoes. 


The bathouse hung for 6 years before bats moved in. The way we knew they were there was the telling collection of bat guano just below the bathouse piled on top of our telephone cable box (we obviously didn’t think through the best placement of the bathouse). 


The bats disappeared late last Fall as it got cold, but returned a couple weeks ago. So glad to have them back just before the mosquitoes start showing up.

Fasting from Social Media for Lent – what I learned

Lent was quickly approaching and I was having difficulty deciding what to “give up”. Over the past 20+ years of being Catholic, I’ve given up many things, including coffee, alcohol, desserts, and all of the many things one gives up during Lent. However, none of these seemed to speak to me as I was looking for something that would allow me to really focus on spiritual discipline.

Someone I respect had recently made the decision to leave Facebook and Twitter – and I was flabbergasted that someone could just up and leave like that without going through withdrawal or having some sort of vacuum exist. Given this reaction, I realized that maybe this was where I had given too much priority in my life – maybe a fast from social media was what I needed. In fact, with honest introspection, I spent collectively an hour or more per day on social media.

The first thing I learned was that I was nowhere near as angry and upset about things. The constant bickering that occurs among my real friends and among those I count as “friends” was really taking a toll on me that I didn’t realize until it wasn’t there. It was refreshing to not have the persistent onslaught of negativity.

Another thing I learned was that I get my news from social media. Once I turned it off, I was in the dark about everything going on in my neighborhood, city, country, and around the world. I needed to seek out other forms of getting news – such as the newspaper and the local TV station, much the same as I did before social media existed. But, this also reiterated the fact that I’d become accustomed to getting my news from various sources with potentially different views (e.g., NPR, CNN, BBC, NY Times, Washington Times, Fox News). Without everything being in a nice tidy list, it was difficult keeping caught up with everything. Oftentimes, I just let Linda tell me about all of the goings-on.

The thing I missed was keeping up with what was going on in the lives of my friends. A good friend was diagnosed with cancer and I wouldn’t have known anything about it had Linda not informed me. I realized I enjoy telling my friends “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. 

Finally, to be honest, I posted an Easter message on Facebook and Twitter upon waking on Easter morning – and then spent 45 minutes catching up on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, I can see me fasting from social media again; maybe more than just at Lent. 

1 Rating at Regional Solo Festival

Emily performed her flute solo at the Regional Solo Festival yesterday and received a 1 rating – meaning that she advances to the State Solo Festival. Congratulations, Emily!


Also, thanks to Linda for being her accompanist. Can’t even think of how much we’ve saved in accompanying fees over the years…

When your legs aren’t quite jello enough 

What do you do after running 20 miles for the very first time? Stretch, foam-roll, rest…of course, you do all of these. My training plans calls for a 60-minute walk the following day. But, what’s a guy to do when his friends invite him along on a bike ride? 

The legs are toast, but it was a fun 32 miles with friends. Looking forward to a real rest day tomorrow (although I’ll be on my feet all day at work). 

Anna plays in Percussion Ensemble at KSU

Anna has been really enjoying her studies in Music Education at Kansas State University. Despite focusing her studies on violin and some voice, she is required to participate in a band comprised of students playing instruments that are not their own.

There was a concert a couple weeks ago and we were unable to attend, but a friend sent us a video of Anna playing the marimba. You’ll find her to the front and left as you are watching. The piece is a theme and variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Marathon Training: 20 mile run done

When one follows a typical marathon training program, he or she will steadily increase their weekend long runs from 6 or 8 miles until they run 20 miles about 3 weeks before the 26.2 mile marathon; this will be the longest run achieved before the race. While training for the marathon last year, I injured my Achilles while during my 16 mile training run and I never progressed any farther. In fact, I was unable to run in the marathon and half marathon for which I’d already paid entry fees.

Fortunately, I was able to return to running later in the summer, but I’ve been quite cautious and, frankly a bit scared, as I’ve increased my weekly mileage. I chose a training plan that was 20 weeks instead of the typical 16 weeks. For obvious reasons, when I completed my 16 mile run back on February 25, I was ecstatic. Each week has seen me progress to longer distances and today I completed the final goal of 20 miles.

I chose to run on the Mill Creek Trail, which comprises a portion of the Garmin Marathon that I will be doing in a few weeks. It’s a bit lonely running 20 miles by oneself, but podcasts and the occasional passing cyclist was just enough to keep me entertained.

IMG_1206

I’m looking forward to the 3-week taper that will allow me to run fewer miles on each of my training run – all with the intent to allow the body to recuperate and rest before the actual race. I will continue to do my strength training and yoga – along with my foam rolling. It’s exciting to see that this day is finally getting here!

The only downside to the run – I forgot my bandaids and Body Glide; my fellow runners will know exactly how I’m feeling right now!