A Time For Reflection

2013 is almost over, and while I’m already planning for events in 2014, I would like to take a moment to look back at what has transpired in 2013. It was an amazing year!

1. Des Moines running clubs quickly put together a solidarity 10k to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. I wanted to show my support, and in doing so I met someone who has become a dear friend and running partner. Kara didn’t have to talk to me that morning, but she did, and in doing so she has helped me become a better runner, a healthier eater, and a better person.

My friend and mentor Stephanie, who never ceases to amaze me, became more inspiring than ever! She got me into a running group that I initially did not get accepted to, she showed me how to stay positive no matter the circumstances, and how to use a foam roller! She took the time to train, encourage, teach, inspire, and more than anything else she made me believe in myself.

Truthfully though, if these two amazing people were not in my life, I doubt that the rest of my list would even exist. I say thank you, but words cannot express the gratitude and esteem that I have for both of you. I can only hope that I can pass along some of the love that you showed me on to others.

2. First half-marathon: I could not believe that six months after I told a friend that I could never run 13 miles, I ran my first half-marathon. I was training for my first Dam to Dam, but could not resist the chance to finish on the Drake University famed “Blue Oval.” I set a goal that if I finished under 2:30, I would start training for the IMT Des Moines Marathon. I finished in 2:15. More on that later.

3. Dam to Dam: This was my first 20k, and what a race to run! The fans cheering you on were everywhere, the bands playing alongside the road, the food and music afterward . . . it all was amazing! If you have never ran this one before, I recommend that you do! I could not believe the number of people out to cheer us on!

4. IMT Des Moines Marathon: I did it! Thanks to my friends Stephanie, Kara, Stacie, the iCan running group, and to everyone else who helped me along the way. It was a life changing experience to cross that finish line after 26.2 miles. It showed me that the only barriers I have are the one’s I set in my own mind. I did what I thought was impossible! Now we are looking at doing more. There is no stopping us now!

5. ICan Running Group: Thanks to the kindness of coach Loren, I was able to join along with this group to train for their first marathon. Coach only accepts a dozen people each year, and unfortunately I wasn’t one of them. But my friend Stephanie knew that I was running alone or with Kara to train for the race (Kara was training for the half) and asked coach Loren if we could run along. This one thing could be considered the “make or break” moment for my marathon run, because of the training I received on nutrition, stretching, running, recovery, and even tapering (I hate tapering, but I obliged, and I’m glad I did). I hope that I can help next year with the new runners while training for my second (or third…who knows what next year will bring).

The list is really so long that it could go on forever. The 75 mile bike rides, the 2 hour spin classes, the sprint triathlon, the 5 and 10k’s, the swimming . . . it has been a blast and a blur. 15 running events (including the sprint Tri) and countless hours with friends old and new. I have met and made friends with some of the most positive, helpful, kind, and happy people who could ever want to meet. It’s hard to be down when so many wonderful people are there encouraging and inspiring you. You know who you are, and I thank each and every one of you.

Somewhere in the midst of all these events and training sessions, I turned 50. For the first time, I looked forward to my birthday because I planned and ran a half marathon that day, and I became the youngest in my age division. I like looking at it that way. My wife, upon coming home from work on my birthday, asked what I did. I said “I ran a half marathon for a half century.” She said “I can’t wait to see what you do when you turn one-hundred.” A century run??

Remember, anything’s possible.

Happy New Year!

Live healthy, be happy.