Thursday, February 28, 2013

Feb is over?

It's hard to believe that February has come and gone.  I know it's a baby month, but it flew by!  Time to look back at some of the highlights.

28 for 28 Challenge
My birthday was February 1st, and for it, I held a fun little challenge for my Team in Training marathon fundraiser.  It was a huge success, and now there's a whole lot I have to do to fulfill my end of the challenge.

Speaking of fundraising...
A few days ago, I reached my fundraising minimum goal!  I was able to hit the $2900 amount, and now for the next 3 months, every extra dollar that gets raised is just the cherry on top!  It goes a long way to help those affected by blood cancers.

Speaking of running...
It's been going really well!  It's been great running with the team and getting to know them more.  I've hit two 8+ mile runs this month, and I'm hitting double digits starting next week.  As some of you know, I've ran at least one race every month for over 2 years.  Feb's race was a 5 miler, and I set a new PR (personal record) for that distance.

I've reached the teens for weight - and I can't wait to keep going.
Dec 31: 236.8
Jan 31:  223.2
Feb 28:  216.6
Another 6+ lbs gone, and that makes 20 for 2013

I'm trying some new things out for Lent.  And so far, I'm learning, reflecting, and discovering a whole lot, but it's not hitting the conscious thought and intentionality that I had hoped.  Time to make time.  Time to find more meaning.

That's all for this update!  But I have a feeling some big things are coming in March :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


There is a cycle that we sometimes fall into.  The question is "why?"

I read an amazing post today written about a cycle I've battled with for a long time.  I've even written a little about it here

It was written by Ben Davis.  Visit his blog here

I've struggled with the question of "why?" for so long.

I'm not sure if I've ever found an answer.

But now I know the solution.

Never again.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This morning, I reached 100% of my fundraising minimum for my marathon through Team in Training.

This program has two main components: the fundraising and the training.  One down, one to go.

I am beyond shocked that I was able to raise the funds in this short of a span.  I am so appreciative of the support that I have and people who will do anything to help me reach my goals and dreams.

So here I am, 3 months away from my marathon, and I've reached the goal.  But it doesn't stop there.  Every dollar goes a long way in helping find a cure for blood cancers.  And I will do my part.

This does take a whole lot of stress off the process though, and I am excited about that.  Now I can focus solely on the running and making sure my body is ready to go on June 2nd.  I can participate in team fundraisers and help my teammates reach their goals.

Thank you all for your donations and your support.  You're all my biggest fans and my motivation.  I'm so excited to share this journey with you!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Into the Swing

We're now a couple weeks into the Team in Training season, and I'm just three weeks away from my first half marathon of 2013.

This week was pretty good.  I've been having a difficult time navigating the scheduling and consistency of my runs, resting when my body's sore, and still making sure I get all of the runs in that I need to.  I can get away with it now, but I'm on the verge of it becoming an issue.  Work was stressful this week, and I think that ended up being an excuse of not accomplishing everything I need to.  As we go on, I need to put 100% into this.

Here's a few updates from the week:

I only ran twice this week:
-Tuesday's "speed work" run (first Tuesday TNT run, so we're easing into the speedwork) - I made it 3.2 at a little faster pace than normal, so that was great.
-Saturday's TNT long run.  The rest of the team was to run about an hour, but with my race coming up, I had to run more.  I did run with them, and then went off for another 20ish minutes to hit just over 8 1/4.

Running with people
I hate running with people.  I very much prefer to put my headphones in and get lost- get away from the world.  I am learning that TNT scares me a little bit because of this, but it's exactly what I need.  During the long run, I was able to chat for a bit with two people: one coach and one participant.  And the group being together a couple times a week is a blessing.  Such a great and inspiring group of people.

I play volleyball every Wednesday night at my gym - it's been amazing, and I've met a whole lot of great people through it.  But now I've reached a dilemma.  I know the pounding it puts on my legs and how sore I am usually up until the long run on Saturday.  I keep telling myself it's good cross training, but I'm not so sure it's the best idea... what to do?

Personal Training
My PT has been incredible.  I did have to bail on my session this week because I woke up feeling like I was going to puke.  But my trainer has been such an amazing addition to my life.  From teaching me about the workouts I'm doing and how I need to do them right.  Working on form and not quitting.  Focusing on my nutrition.  Convincing me to go gluten-free (yes, that happened).  Being a genuine supportive voice.  Helping me unleash my inner super hero.  If anyone in Denver needs a trainer - I can't recommend her enough.  She will change your life, like she changed mine :) Find out more here.

I'm SO CLOSE! this week I passed the 90% mark for my minimum, and I am now at the $200 to go mark.  I can't wait to pass the goal.  To donate, please click here.  Spread the word!

I'm happy because I'm hitting the long runs I need, but I need the rest of my life to coincide with the training, while still keeping balance in my life.  Any suggestions for how to navigate all this?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snowman Stampede

I was nervous for this race.

A little over a week ago, I tweaked both of my calf muscles, so it's been a painful week.  At times, it hurt to walk.  Now I have to run 5 miles.  Great...

I woke up wondering how it was going to go.  The pain in my right leg was gone.  The pain that has been lingering in my left leg... I couldn't feel it, but my calf was tight.  Really tight.

I went into the race not knowing how I wanted to take it - slow and steady to save the legs.  Push it because I've been a week behind on my training and need to catch up.  Is my goal to just run a pain-free race, or is it to go for time?  No way to know until I would be well underway in the race.

I checked in, got my packet, put on my bib and chip, and headed over to the Team in Training tent.  TNT had a booth at the expo, so I met the people staffing it and had a fun chat about the TNT program.  I stashed all my stuff with them and headed to the start line, trying to loosen my legs up.

The race started and I tried to take it a little easy in the first mile just to test it.  No pain.  Mile 2 was more of the same, but I knew I could really get into a good rhythm and just hope the rest of the race went ok.  If you run races and you're competitive, you do something in every race: scope out the people/person you HAVE to beat.  For whatever reason someone becomes your target.  Just before mile 2, I found mine.  There was an older woman who stopped to walk and started running again abruptly, and managed to cut off 3-4 runners in the process.  I saw the near-collision, and for some reason it irked me.  Game on, lady!  She and her husband took off and were going at a slightly faster pace than me.  Patience...  Mile 3 was great.  I didn't really think about my time much, but I knew if I could maintain my pace, I'd be happy.  I passed my target at about 3.5 when she started walking, and was a little disappointed she didn't make it more of a challenge.  Oh well!  Mile 4 I started getting tired. The legs felt ok, but were wearing because I haven't been able to run in over a week and I was pushing pretty hard.  But I was so close that there's only one option for me: finish strong!  Mile 5 was one of those just put your head down and power through miles.  I started to feel a little bit like I was going to throw up.  My legs were aching.  My breathing was getting pretty heavy.  Home stretch.  I rounded the final corner, sprinted across the finish line, and was happy to be done.

I knew a couple people running the race, so it was fun to cheer them across the finish line and chat for a few minutes!

Official Time: 46:35

When I saw my time, I was excited, but I didn't really put it all together until about an hour after.  The two things I realized:

-This is the first race that I have ever ran a second year.  I did this same race in 2012, and my 2012 time was 51:10 - I beat last year's time by almost 5 minutes

-My 5 mile race PR was set last March in Moab, UT.  That time was 47:47.  I PRed by over a minute :)

Overall 188/447  Age group 9/13

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Marathon Course Revealed

Yesterday, the people of Rock n Roll San Diego marathon revealed the brand new course that I will be running on June 2nd.

When I saw it, two thoughts went through my head simultaneously:

1.  On paper, 26 miles looks manageable.  I can do this!
2.  On paper, 26 miles looks so long.  I'm going to die!

On the one hand, I stare at the map and I get excited.  I picture the adventure that lies ahead of me.  I picture the crowds of people cheering me along.  I picture myself crossing the finish line of my first marathon.

On the other hand, I picture the opposite.  The grueling, pain-filled torture that I will be putting myself through.

Either way....

...this just got real!

I'm getting so close to my fundraising goal!  
Consider supporting my journey to run a marathon - benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Lent

I've always enjoyed Lent.  I have generally found some things to give up for the occasion.  But I've realized a lot of things have lacked significance.  So the last couple years, I've tried to focus on giving up things that can in the end help me out in the long run.  Bad habits like biting nails.  Comforts like my trouble foods.  Things that help me focus on the positive.

But this year, I am realizing that this isn't enough.  Sure, there's a couple tangible things I'm giving up.  But a good friend of mine made this post  about how this time is a preparation for preparation - and that Ash Wednesday is "preparing our hearts, minds, and attitudes to venture into the time of Lent."

So I have been taking a look at myself and asking "What am I preparing for?"  What do I want these things to accomplish?  I wrote at the beginning of the year how I want 2013 to be a year of Discovery.  So where do I want to be at the end of these 40 days?  Is "giving up" something really the answer?

I want the next 40 days...
to challenge me and make me question
to immerse myself in positive relationships with people I love
to live more for others
to focus on health and wellness
to reflect on where I've been
to discover where I am headed
to tap into my true passions
to surround myself with love

so many other things I want this time to be, but above all else, I want this time to bring me closer to God.  I don't know what that looks like, but I want this to be a time for spiritual growth.

And it's not about 40 days... I want this period to be a catalyst for how I live way beyond Easter.  How I live every day.

So what can I do?
Use this moment as an opportunity to explore and discover.  Spend more time in reflection and solace.  Surround myself with positivity and love.  And engage in discussions and learning that really make me take a closer look at my life.

What can you do?
Hold me accountable - ask what I've been thinking about and reflecting on - and talk with me about REAL topics.

And what can I give up?
As comfortable as I am with and as much as I love no structure, no plans, flexibility, change, etc... I am realizing that I have a desire to try to control the things around me.  If I am struggling with things in my life, I try to rationalize and reason my way out of it.  If I am going through a slump, I try to fill my schedule with as much as possible because busy = success and happiness.  But that's not the truth.  Far from it.  I need to find balance.  I need to find more meaning and depth.  I need to let go, and let God.  And I need to trust that things will work out the way I hope.  I consider myself to be a very emotional guy, but even with that, I rarely let myself truly open up and be vulnerable.  So this fear that I have of falling flat on my face through this process?  This desire I have to try to control my outcomes and evade difficulties?  This hesitant and apprehensive approach that I'm finding myself in with several areas of my life I need to focus on?  THOSE are some of the things that I want to give up...

...and french fries.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

First TNT Training Run

Today was the first group training run for Team in Training.

Nothing too strenuous, just a 3 miler to get to know everyone.

We met for a quick breakfast at Le Peep by City Park - not too far from where I live.  We got to sit and chat with a bunch of people from the team we will be sharing this journey with.  After everyone trickled in, one of the LLS staff members gave a great welcome and shared some thoughts about the importance of TNT.  We already met our coaches and mentor, so they said hi and welcomed us.  We got to go around one by one and share why we are doing this.  A small statement, but so profound.

One by one, everyone shared amazing stories: knowing a relative that was diagnosed with lymphoma.  People who wanted to to run but needed a kick in the butt to increase distance.  People who wanted to do something meaningful with their time.  People who never dreamed that they could ever run a marathon or half marathon and they're doing this to prove to themselves that they can.  People who have had a parent, niece/nephew, wife, or someone very close to them die from leukemia & other blood diseases.

I have a more full description here, but here's a condensed version of my story.  My reason is two pronged:
-From a running standpoint, I really started doing it two years ago as a way to lose weight.  I reached my peak weight of 284 and was starting to feel ashamed.  So I trudged my way along some of the most embarrassing and disheartening runs of my life.  But it got better.  I ran my first 5K in Dec 2010 when I was living in FL and was instantly hooked.  For the next few months, it became a pastime.  Then a hobby.  Then a love.  By the time I moved to CO, I knew I needed to step it up.  I ran my first 10K.  Then 15K.  The weight came off, and I felt amazing.  Then I ran my first half marathon.  When I crossed the finish line, I said I never wanted to do that again.  24 hours later, I thought about how I couldn't wait for the next half.  48 hours later, I wanted to run a marathon.  Something I never thought I could do in a million years.  Never on my "bucket list," because it wasn't ever a glimmer of a thought.  But in that moment, I knew I could do it, and knew I needed to do it.
-My grandpa was one of my heroes.  Late in his life, he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.  He always inspired me, and there are several things I feel passionate about today because of him.  Since then, I've known a few other people who have received a diagnosis, and I want to help.  When I found out about TNT, I was sold!  Anything I can do to raise money and awareness, count me in!

Combine those two aspects, and I knew this is what I had to do.  And there's no other way I'd rather run my first marathon.  And I can't wait!

After everyone shared, we headed out, stretched, and set off for a couple miles.  The purpose was to see the park where we would be doing half of our runs (Tuesdays) and get to know the lay of the land. But it was great to be able to run with everyone.  If anyone knows me and my running, they know one thing: I HATE running with people.  I'd rather throw in my headphones and get lost.  Not socialize.  Not try to talk while I'm huffing and puffing.  Not adjusting to anyone else's pace or have anyone adjust to mine.  So this is going to be an experience that's way outside of my comfort zone.

And it was awesome!  At least for the first run.  I ran with a pack and we just chatted away.  One struggles with running outside but she is a treadmill machine.  We tried to convince a few people to run San Diego with us, NOT Steamboat (our team is training for two events - one in CO & one in CA).  Where we live.  Things we do.  Just chit chatting away.  I TRIED to chime in, but it was an adjustment for me.  But lots of smiles and laughter.  Biggest shocker:  one of my teammates is from my hometown!  We went to the same middle school, different high schools, but we know a lot of the same people.  He's a year younger.  CRAZY!

A great first run together, but they all get longer, faster, and harder from here.  But with this team, we can conquer anything!

One Small Step...

It's hard to believe it's February.  It's hard to believe that I just turned 28.  It's hard to believe that this week started my training for my first marathon.  June 2nd seems so far away, but I know will be here in no time!

Although this marks the official start of my marathon training, I have been training hard since January 1st.  I have 2 half marathons leading up to the big day, one in March and one in May, wish a couple other races pieced in between.

Each week, I plan to do a short recap of the week so I can keep tabs of my progress throughout.

Sunday (2/3) - 8 Miles
8.55 miles - 1:26:56 - 10:09 pace
Super Bowl Sunday.  I was tired.  I was lazy.  I didn't want to do this run.  My day was already thrown off because I slept until 9 (first time in months I slept that late - normal is 7:30-8ish).  So I had to go to the later church service.  I got back, and just crashed on the couch.  At about 12:30 I kept saying to myself I had to get out before the Super Bowl.  Finally, at about 2, I got off the couch.  I didn't think this was going to be that great of a run.  Actually, I thought it was going to be terrible.  I thought 6 miles would have been a success.  The first couple miles were fine.  But once I started hitting 4...5...6... I knew that I was going to do it.  Once I started approaching 8, I noticed I still felt great.  So I finished my loop and it felt great.  Super excited about this run!

Splits:  9:37, 9:54, 10:07, 9:55, 10:14, 10:17, 10:33, 10:20

Monday - Rest
Technically, marathon training said I was supposed to run here.  But I am transitioning from long runs from Sundays to Saturdays, so I needed a rest day here.

Tuesday - 3 Miles
3.11 miles - 28:04 - 9:01 pace
I left my apartment hoping this run would be about the 29:00 mark.  I knew in the first mile I would crush that.  I ran harder than I've ran in a while, but it felt pretty good!  I'm really glad my splits became progressively faster each mile (9:12, 9:01, 8:54) and had a strong finish.  I'm a little surprised by this - I'm only about 40 seconds off my 5K PR right now, and at this point when I was in my half marathon training this past spring, I was running at the 9:30s-40s pace - I'm super excited about being ahead of that schedule!!

Wednesday - 4 Miles Pace
2 hours of volleyball, 10 mins elliptical, abs
Sore from last night's run and knowing I have volleyball = no run.  I tried to elliptical it up, but a few minutes in my legs were really feeling the fatigue.  It's not worth killing my legs this early on in the journey.  Time to get ready for tomorrow's run.

Thursday - 3 Miles
2.19 miles - 21:17 - 9:41 pace
Soreness.  Pain.  That's how this run started.  I felt tight.  I felt strained.  But I had to get out.  About 1.5 in, my calf started hurting.  Shoot.  With every step, it got worse and worse.  Finally, I had to call it quits.  Not sure what's wrong with it, but time to foam roll like crazy!

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 3 Miles
2.48 miles - 27:14 - 10:54 pace
First group training run with Team in Training!  Today was all about meeting the team, socializing, getting to know the terrain, and just getting a couple of miles in.  It was just what I needed, because I can still feel my calf hurting.  No pushing it for me.  It was so much fun chatting with the rest of the team, and I can't wait to continue this amazing journey with everyone.  One guy on the team is even from my home town!  Crazy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

28 for 28 Challenge Recap

Friday was my 28th birthday.  In honor of this, I created a 28 for 28 fundraising challenge for my marathon through Team in Training.

A condensed version of the challenge:  If 28 people donated at least $28 on my birthday, each donor could name something for me to do: something embarrassing, challenging, helpful, really... anything!  I was super excited to see the results:

With your help, I raised $1056 from 29 donors for the challenge, with another $143 trickling in during the rest of birthday weekend.  $1199 total raised during my birthday weekend :)

28 for 28 donors:
1.  Sarah Smith
2.  Michelle Stay
3.  Sue Caulfield
4.  Becky Talpas
5.  Amie Stillman
6.  Amanda Cutchens
7.  Kevin Cleary
8.  Liz Dengel
9.  Sister Anita Germain
10.  Mary Pat Dwyer
11.  Paula & Brian D'Amico
12.  Stacy Quintero
13.  Betty & Bob Myers
14.  Anonymous
15.  Natasha Nightengale
16.  Joey Fonseca
17.  Tianna & Ryan Roulette
18.  Amma Marfo
19.  Vince Applegate
20.  Mel Molsberry
21.  Nathan & Julie Hoag
22.  Jason Myers
23.  Michael Parker
24.  Stephanie Parker Price
25.  Tim & Naomi Tatarek part 1
26.  Tim & Naomi Tatarek part 2
27.  Mallory Madden
28.  Stacy Parker Pickerign
29.  Angel Caulfield

Other Donors birthday weekend
30. Jeff Pickett
31. Katie Johnson
32.  Tom & Anne Jones
33.  Jenna Schwartz Degroot

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed in honor of my birthday, and for supporting this journey of mine.

To donate to my training program and to help find a cure for blood cancer, click here

Let the Games Begin!

This morning was the kickoff event for my marathon program.

For those of you who don't know, I am running my first marathon (Rock n Roll San Diego) on June 2nd through Team in Training.  TNT is an endurance training program benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that aims to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  TNT is the world's largest fundraising program with an endurance sport training component, and LLS is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education, and patient services.

I checked in and found my way to our table, which was with some of my teammates on the Central Denver run team.  Teams are separated by event and location- north, south, and central teams - for running, triathlon, and biking.  We were also able to meet some other special people who will be part of this journey:  our mentor (I had already met), who assists us with our fundraising efforts and some of the logistics of the experience.  We also met our coaches (I had met one of the two), who will be helping us with our training plan, monitoring our miles, nutrition, and some of the physical aspects of the training.

We also got to meet our team hero Sharon.  Sharon was originally diagnosed in March 2002 with breast cancer.  After being in remission for almost 3 years, she was diagnosed with MALT Lymphoma in November 2005.  She once again started cancer treatment with the drug Rituxan, which LLS was involved in the development of.  The medication allowed her to live a normal life while undergoing treatment.  She has ran/walked several half and full marathons, and says she "will continue to walk, run, and fundraise as long as there is a need - maybe someday we can walk and run because we want to, not because we have to."  I am so excited to be running with and for Sharon!

A few people from LLS spoke to talk about the mission, the research, and why we're doing what were doing.  It was really great to help solidify the bigger picture of what our journey.  Then we had two amazing speakers- the Board President, who gave a very moving talk about his experience with treatment and how working with TNT has changed his life.  Then, we had someone share her story - a story all too familiar in the cancer world - of how her 10 month old baby girl didn't make it.  Yet her story has inspired so many through the TNT program and wanted to share that reality with us: that there is still a need for what we are doing because they aren't all success stories.

After the tears dried, everyone got to walk the room to learn more about the program, get help with fundraising ideas, and get tools that will help us over the next several months.  We also got to meet other coaches, mentors, staff, and other participants of the program.  I had some great chats with people doing 100 miles bike rides and from other races.  We shared stories, motivations, fears, goals, and excitement.

Before this kickoff, I was super excited about this experience - for the challenge of running my first marathon.  Raising money for an incredible cause.  Running in memory of my grandpa.  Silencing the fear, doubt, and worry that this journey brings.  It was already personal for me.

After the kickoff, it took everything to a whole new level.  Not only can I do this, but I WILL do this.  And I will have success along the way.  The team will help me get through.  My life will change immeasurably through this.  And I will change lives along the way.  I will SAVE lives along the way.

I can't wait for what lies ahead on this journey.

To help me reach my goals and accomplish this feat, consider donating to benefit LLS.  Click here for more info.