The 1000 Mile Challenge and Reflections On The Past Year

There is a sidewalk square at the corner of East 5th and Walnut Streets in Des Moines that is quite remarkable. It looks like all the other sidewalk squares; same shape, same materials made them all. It’s not marked with paint or worn by erosion. People walk by it every day without giving it a moments thought. But every time I go near that simple square of concrete, I feel a sense of pride stir up in me, and I get a little teary-eyed. I am flooded with memories; laughter and tears, happiness and pain, frustration and ease, and all the hurdles that it took to get to that particular square.

That spot, unnoticed by most everyone, is the place where I crossed the 1000 mile threshold for miles in a year. The original plan was to run 750 miles, but as that goal was crushed (I actually passed it without knowing), a new goal quickly formed in it’s place. “I have almost three months, can I get another 250 miles in?” I wondered to myself. Knowing that I had a marathon coming up, I would have a couple weeks of tapering and recovery. That meant a big push if this goal was to be achieved.

On December 20th, I hit the goal, right on the very square of concrete I described. As I was getting closer to the goal, I kept saying to myself and to others that it was no big deal, that others have run a lot more. That is true, but when I reflected on it, it was a bigger deal than I first thought. It wasn’t just a number, it was an accomplishment. It was hours of dedication and sacrifice that not everyone can or wants to undertake.

The magnitude of the milestone really hit me today. This morning I was warming up to run with the “Winter Warriors” group in the East Village, when a friend who knew about my accomplishment last week (and asked jokingly if there would be cake) smiled and said “Still no cake?” I smiled and said “Sorry, no cake”. That’s when I overheard another runner ask if it was my birthday. My friend explained that I ran 1000 miles in a year last week, to which the runner asking the question said an exasperated “My God! How many miles a week is that?” My friend started averaging it out as I signed up for the run, but hearing that reminded me of how I felt when I would see or meet someone who had run a half or full marathon, or completed a triathlon. I was and still am amazed by those people, even though somewhere along the line I became one of them. It’s funny how it changes and you don’t even notice until someone hears what you are doing or have done, and says “My God!” That is when you realize the transformation has taken place, even though you continually work on transforming and improving.

Some goals were not met this year, among them the century ride. Hopefully as bike training commences, that elusive beast will be tamed. My time in the pool was not as consistent as I wanted, but I think my goals for 2015 will change that.

My plan, along with my training partner Kara (I guess I have to retire the term “running partner”) is to compete in some sprint triathlons, both open water and pool triathlons, and build up to completing an Olympic distance triathlon. We also want to mentor a group training for their first marathon, and I would like to do two other things: a ultra marathon distance of 50k, and one obstacle course race. The 50k will be hard since most are off-road and I would prefer it to be a road race. I may have to just map it out and run it on my own.

It has been a great year! I feel better than ever, and love helping people achieve their dreams and goals. Sometimes encouragement and support is all a person needs to know what they can do. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me and supported me and my dreams this year!

A beautiful gift from my training partner Kara!

Live healthy, be happy!


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