Unexpected Goals

Every year, I set a list of goals that I want to accomplish. As my fitness journey has increased, so have the goals increased. For example, one year I set a goal of running a half marathon. Not only did I achieve that goal, but ended up completing my first full marathon as well. Sometimes it’s the unexpected goals that are the most rewarding.

I am closing in on one of those unexpected goals. At the first of the year, I set a goal of running 750 miles this year. The prior year I had run a little over 500 miles, so I figured that increasing it by 250 miles would be a nice accomplishment. I have been keeping track with my Garmin and another app, but they both only showed individual runs and not the total for the year.

A friend challenged me to run 100 miles in the month of November. I accepted that challenge, and was using my old method to keep track, mainly paper and pen. My friend suggested that I use the Garmin Connect website and set a goal. Then the website, along with my app on my phone and my Garmin watch, would keep track for me. It was about time for me to learn how to utilize more of what my watch had to offer, and how to use the website better, so I sat down at the computer to learn how to set a goal.

To my surprise, it was quite easy to set the 100 mile goal. I named it, answered a couple of questions, and set the start and stop dates. Then I figured out approximately how many miles a day I would have to run in order to make the goal.

Then I got the idea to set my 750 miles in a year goal. When I did, what I saw was shocking. I was already over 100% of my goal! I started to wonder if it was possible to reach 1000 miles in a year. I have heard of people who have achieved that goal, and always admired their dedication. So I set a new goal: 1000 miles in one year!

As I type this, I am 71 miles away from my goal. I have 32 days to complete the 71 miles, and achieve a goal that not only was unexpected, but was only dreamed about. If I can run 2.3 miles a day on average, I will make the goal. I am just amazed by what my body is able to endure, how my determination has increased, and how I enjoy working out and exercising. It was only a few short years ago that I could barely run a 5k. Now I have completed two marathons, several half marathons, numerous 5k and 10k races, two sprint triathlons, and many long bicycle rides.

Tomorrow I meet up with my dear friend and training partner Kara, and we will swim and spin as we prepare for a new goal: an olympic distance triathlon. As we train and prepare for our main goal, I have to wonder if there will be any “unexpected goals” that will surprise me yet again.


Live healthy, be happy!


Hot Chocolate 5k

The Hot Chocolate 5k was Sunday, and while it would have been a normal race with the exception for the chilly temperatures and the wind, there was something remarkable about this particular event. It was the first 5k race for my wife Julie! She has been training, and while running is somewhat hard on her due to back pain, she has pushed on and been running three miles with me in our neighborhood.

A couple of weeks before the 5k, my friend Stephanie texted me and asked if I wanted to do the event with her. I jumped at the chance, as Stephanie and I have logged in many miles together and I consider her a mentor as well as a dear friend. I failed to mention to Stephanie that my wife was running, and after our conversation I asked Julie if she wanted to run with us. I was excited when she said “yes”. We decided to surprise Stephanie and kept Julie’s running a well guarded secret until we were to meet up with Stephanie on race day.

We agreed on a meeting spot before the race, and when we arrived I asked Julie to hang back a little in hopes that Stephanie would not see her right away. That didn’t work, as Stephanie spotted her right away. Then she noticed Julie was wearing a bib number! The surprise on Stephanie’s face was priceless. She hugged us both and after chatting for a bit with Stephanie’s husband Paul, and our friend Justin who was running the 5 mile event, we lined up and got ready to run.

The race went well, and Julie stayed consistent throughout the run, finishing with a time of 38:50! She stopped only to sneeze because of the cold, and to grab a water, and pressed on. To say I am proud of her is an understatement. It took a lot of courage to train with a bad back, yet she did and she succeeded! I hope that she joins me in other runs in the future.

Julie and I crossing the finish line together at her first 5k.


Stephanie, Julie, and I at the Hot Chocolate 5k.

Thank you Paul for making us all breakfast after the run! What a great Sunday!

Live healthy, be happy!


The 19 (actually 20) Mile Weekend Run

Runners are a group who love their milestones. Most runners can happily recall when they ran their first mile, their first 5k, first 10k, the first time they went 10 miles. They remember their first half and full marathons as if it was yesterday.

They are also a group that do not subscribe to the “round it up” math method. 3.86 miles is NOT four miles, and nothing you can tell a runner will change that. If they are honest, they will admit to circling their neighborhood until their Garmin registered the full mile. I know I’ve done it, and there are cartoons describing it, so that leads me to think that I’m probably not the only one. Somewhere, out there, a kindred spirit is passing by his driveway for the third time, cursing their Garmin because it seems to be stuck on 9.98 miles!

So, with this little bit of knowledge I tell you about my long run today. It was great in the fact that my dear friend and training partner Kara ran her first 20 miler. My friend Doug also ran his first 20. For myself, it was the second weekend with a 20 mile run, something that I never thought I could accomplish! But now I know that I can do longer runs closer together without fear of failure.

But did I run 20? While everyone else’s Garmin showed the big 20, mine was stuck on 19.02! It seems that while we waited to cross traffic several times during the run, I paused my Garmin and then forgot to restart it! This happened at least four times and for a loss of distance of nearly a mile!

Right away, my friends reassured me that I ran with them, that they ran 20, so I did too. But all I could do was point at my watch and say “but that’s not what it says.” They gently reminded me that I ran twenty last week, and to get out here and to do it again was amazing and not to worry about what the Garmin says.

For a long time, I considered running one more mile to make it legit, but my friends told me that was crazy. But they also told me I was nuts for running 20’s back to back, and I did that. But, I succumbed to pier pressure and accepted the fact that I ran 20 miles.

But my Garmin only says 19.02

Maybe a really short run is in order tonight …

Live healthy, be happy!


The Carbs vs. Caffeine 5 Mile Run

On Friday evening, Fleet Feet Sports in the East Village hosted the inaugural Carbs vs. Caffeine 5 mile run. This was unlike any race I had ever run. We split into groups by choice: carbs or caffeine. Team carbs had 6 members, and their task was to run a 5 mile route with stops in three pubs along the way. They were to have a drink (ideally beer) and then head to the next stop. Once they completed the three stops, they were to head back to the store.

I choose team caffeine, and our task was to run a different 5 mile route which had three stops at local coffee shops along the way. We were to have three coffee drinks and then run back to the store. The first team with three members returning would be the winner!

Our team had only four members, so we were at a disadvantage, but we were ready for a challenge. After a few group photos, the call went out and we were on our way! I was rested for this run and it showed as my first mile was 7:58, and that led me to the first coffee house. I turned around to see where my other three team members were, but they were no where to be seen! Did they take a wrong turn? Did I?? I decided to go have my drink and hope that they would show up and that they weren’t lost.

I realized as I walked to the counter, that an iced coffee would go down faster than a hot drink, so I ordered a small iced coffee. I quickly downed the drink and took off again. I still didn’t see any signs of my team. I wondered where they were.

Miles two and three were going pretty well, until the skies opened and the rain started to fall. I was careful to dodge slick areas, road construction and other obstacles, and still made times of 8:11 and 8:15. I finally made it to the second stop, and discovered that they made iced coffee shots! That was just perfect! I slammed my shot and headed back out into the rain.

I was at the turnaround point, and was heading back towards the last stop when I saw another team member! I told him I was happy to see him, as I thought I had screwed up. He laughed and said “No, you’re just pretty fast” as he passed by. He headed on to the second stop as I, more determined than ever, decided to out run the rain.

Miles four and five came in at 8:18 and 7:59! But, a problem had arisen … I could not find the last coffee shop! There are lots of little shops in the East Village, and I got some strange looks as I stared through the windows, soaking wet, panting, with this “Team Caffeine” bib bobby-pinned to my shirt. I finally gave up and asked someone for directions, and tried to ease their concern by telling them I was in a scavenger race of sorts. I found out I was a block away!

I finally found the shop and walked in. As I headed to the counter, I heard someone ask “What took you so long?” I turned to find my other two team members! I was in shock! “How did you get here so fast?” I asked. They laughed and told me that they made it to the first coffee house, and then the rain started. They decided to run to the last coffee house and wait. Once we got back to the store, they would announce that they did not complete the race, so that way everything was honest. I said the main thing was to have fun, and winning was not important. We finished our coffee, and I took off to the store.

I was amazed to find out that I was the first one back! Then my partner, who did finish the run came in. Then the last two members walked up, and we explained what happened. Everyone was laughing and then team carbs started to show up! We chatted and laughed with them and then there was a raffle for prizes. Almost everyone went home with something, most of all a newly formed bond with fellow runners.

If you live in the Des Moines area, please stop by Fleet Feet Sports. It is owned by great people who love and support the running scene, and they are friendly and knowledgable. They also love to help their customers, from the beginning runner to the advanced athlete, and to give back to the community.

Melissa and I after the “Carbs vs. Caffeine” 5 mile run.

Live healthy, be happy!


The 20 Mile Run

Today I mapped out a twenty mile route to run. The marathon is a little over a month away, and I would like to get at least two 20 milers in before the big day. But after last weeks miserable 15 miler, part of which I walked, I was worried about not finishing this run as well.

The weather was with me today; nice and cool and low humidity. It was much nicer than is was a week ago when I felt drained and worn out. I started out before the sun rise, and the quiet streets allowed me to focus on my running, my gait, and my breathing.

Before too long, I was at the 13 mile marker. It was hard to believe what a difference a little weather was making. Although my body started to tire and get sore, I was able to continue and finish the run. It felt great to see my Garmin click over to the 20 mile mark! I needed a run like this, after such a defeating week of running in the heat.

Some people have been asking about hydration during a run, asking why they are getting chills after a run. I always run with water, and although each person is different, I start drinking water at about three miles. You have to keep the body hydrated, or you run the risk of not only dehydration, but heat exhaustion and other ailments.

Anther question was about fueling (eating) during a run. Typically the body has enough carbs to make a 13 mile run. Anything other than that, and you need something to refuel the body. I use Honey Stinger chews, and I usually eat about half a pack (5) every 3-4 miles after I get 10+ miles in. Today I didn’t need to refuel until mile 13, but you need to listen to your body and not wait until the body is completely drained before refueling.

Someone told me to take an old photo and post it next to a current photo so I could see the difference all this exercise was making. I always see the flaws, but even I have to admit I was surprised with the results so far:



Live healthy, be happy!