Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How Cold Is It? Don't Make Me Punch You

Winter in Ohio is cold, of course. We get ice, we get snow and many of us will whine about it despite this being a yearly thing. Though we weren't expecting the second coming (and going, thankfully) of the ice age for the last week of 2017 and first seven days of 2018.

Yes, you are reading that right, 18 Below!
And those negative numbers at the bottom,
that isn't counting the windchill. And,
yes, I ran on this day.
And still, I ran. With spandex, two pair of socks, two pair of gloves, a skull cap, two head bands (one for the ears and one to cover a portion of my face) and eye wear - I put in my running duty. This, I thought, had better pay off as my first competitive action for '18 would be a half marathon. Yes, the very same distance that was my goal for nearly all of '17.

Nothing like getting right back into it, right?

And speaking of, Bob and W.J. (whack job) have returned from an apparent hiatus. My lovely neighbors took some holiday time off from messing with my stuff (a nice Christmas vacation it was), but returned this past week as my name tag on my apartment mailbox was ripped off a few times.

I took their signature move as a personal sign to me that they have come out of hibernation and their Christmas spirit has officially worn off, but for how long? I assume they would be like Punxsutawney Philor Buckeye Chuck here in Marion, and see their shadow - thus deciding to continue their break from screwing with me (and my things) through April or May. Ahhh...one can only hope.

Oh yeah, so sometime between Friday night & early Monday morning of last weekend, my car was rifled through. I would say broken into, but there was no damage or sign of forced entry. Now my car has automatic locks, so if I don't activate it with my keys - it will lock itself shortly thereafter.
How entry was gained, I don't know.

The exact container taken from my car - minus
the $1's worth of change.
My car sits in my garage slot behind my apartment building and looked undisturbed. Upon venturing out to head to work Monday morning, all of my belongs inside of said vehicle were scattered throughout the seats. I keep nothing of value in my car, so whoever thought they were getting rich quick were sorely disappointed. Though, I was missing two things. An old plastic Eclipse gum container I used to stash random change and my road atlas...from 2004.

So I was thieved of a 14 year-old U.S. Road Map (torn, ragged and faded by the sun) and enough pennies, nickles and dimes for two (possibly three!)  day-old supermarket donuts (the plain or powered kind, not those scrumptiously filled with various jams, jellies or creams). Still, though, quite the haul, I must say. Apparently my extensive three CD library of Michael Buble (It's Time, the good CD from 2004 - don't judge!), The Killers (Hot Fuss, 2004 - a dubbed CD from my brother) and The Slang (a Columbus, Ohio band a former coworker played in from 2010 - self titled) just wasn't good enough. I can't imagine why?

Anyway, the 2018 tour would start with the Brokeman's 3rd Annual Winter Warm Up. I attended this event last January, but took part in the 8 mile event. It was quite cold then as well, but the ice on the all-paved bike trail is what made the going a bit rough. Also, at the time, this was the longest race I had ever taken part in and it was part of an effort to prepare for the inaugural Buck Fifty Race - the 24 hour, 150 mile, 10 person team relay in and around my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. This year I would be much more prepared and battle with Brokeman's 13.1 mile offering.

This race route is set next to Smith Farms and the path is entirely on multi-use trails, paved 2 way bike paths. It starts on the Alum creek multi-usetrail and connects to the Blacklick trail, passing through Three Creeks Metro and Confluence trail head. The course is half shaded and has many rolling "hills".

And this, too, would go towards keeping in shape for year two of The Buck Fifty taking place April 13th & 14th. My squad, the Traffic Panthers, took 19th out of 38 teams in 2017. Officials are pushing for 100 teams this year. In the meantime, I was targeting a top ten finish for the Brokeman's Half Marathon - barring any catastrophes or collapses.

**We back EVERY pair with 
FREE Replacements if Lost or Broken**
**Each order also secures 11 meals 
to fight hunger through 


Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades, by using my promo code: "Simpson"  https://shadyrays.com/  Check them out, I have the X Series - Infrared Ice Polarized

   
                                    Live Hard. We Got You.


As I said, 2018 began frigid then suddenly moved to spring, BOOM! I even ran wearing only one layer as we reached 50-plus degrees. Though on that Friday the skies were to begin vomiting this white, wet stuff and and remind us that it was only January. Thus, race day Sunday was to arrive in the same arctic state it was just a week before. The weather was playing the part of the cat and we were the mice it was toying with.

Local news folks ran their weather models several times in hopes of getting a better idea of what kind of stupidness was to arrive and they came up with a couple of different answers. We were going to get anywhere from 7 to 11 inches of snow - a little less than two days before the Brokeman's 3rd Annual Winter Warm Up. So I was tasked with tracking down some crampons to avoid a "running with ice skates" episode on the paved - possibly snow & ice covered - trail. Whether we were actually going to get an onslaught of snow or a just dry heave of sky dust, Sunday promised to not be vapid in any way.

Spring broke through, was caught
behind enemy lines and the
 torture began.
Friday morning it began to rain and proceeded to pour all early afternoon with some sleet, but it was still way to warm for snow to arrive (dropping from the high temperature of 55 the day before doesn't happen in the blink of an eye) - though the radar kept telling us it was coming. Right at about 3:30 p.m. the graupel, aided by a blustery wind, began flying sideways throughout the region and quickly evolved into snow with help of a 20 degree temperature drop. Thus, the predicted winter uppercut came at us with full force.

As a result, Saturday's event shakeout run and early packet pick up were cancelled due to the four to six inches of snow on top of a nice layer of ice. Though with sunshine all afternoon and the ability to plow the paved trail a couple of times, the race would still be a go for Sunday. So the bitter cold and ice sheets covering the vast majority of the trail would be the only added obstacles. Not wanting to spend my race as if on ice skates, I was able to find YakTrax to give myself the benefit of some traction.

On race day, Lauren B. and I nearly got stuck in the snow as it was not easy to determine the race staging area parking lot from the surrounding grass in the predawn hours. A few maneuvers later, we found our way and relaxed as we waited for the sun to rise, packet pick up to take place and the race to begin. The process of leaving the warm car and walking over to get my race packet was arduous. The negative temperature felt even colder without the benefit of the sun. It was a short sprint back to the car to ward off the chill. With everything ready to go, but some time to waste, we sat there taking in as much warmth as we could until being forced back out into the atmosphere.
Yeah, it was cold before the
 sun woke up

When 8:30 a.m. approached, we gathered our courage and reentered the frozen abyss. I jogged a portion of the route to acclimate myself to the weather and loosen some stiff muscles and - wow - did the sun make a difference (as long as you were moving, that is). Lauren wandered off to get a good spot to take pictures and spectate. I can't imagine how cold it was for her.

Finally in the corral, we get some instruction and a countdown and we are off - and it has warmed up to -2! Hoping to do a better job of staying within myself, I ignore the two folks who are off to beat the world. I did utilize their pace to stretch my legs a bit, but my pace stayed comfortable for me. I could feel the YakTrax helping with traction, even on the ice covered bridges, but it is a struggle to keep my breath from turning to ice on my sunglasses. With only a snippet of visibility, I focused on the colorful outerwear donned by those in front of me. I only had to deal with this for the first mile as we would then circle around and face the sun and thaw my lenses.

Navigating the frozen trail
At about the two mile mark we come to a fork, separated paths, with no signage or direction. I follow the handful of folks in front of me, but minutes later it seemed as though the path we're on is simply circling a small lake and return us to where we began. Damn it....we guessed wrong and had taken the wrong route. Following, now, the remaining half marathoners and eight mile participants we navigate the correct route.

I'm annoyed, but take solace in the fact the vast majority of the lead pack was with me. Trying to ignore the mistake, I keep my pace comfortable and focus on form and breathing. The cold is no longer an issue (as long as I stay upright). I'm passing a variety of runners - who I should be ahead of by now - and casually wonder if my pacing is decent (I only look at my watch unless I feel it is absolutely needed). Nearing the eight mile run turn around and water stop I see the leaders in the far distance. Despite the route mistake, I'm feeling good and glad I don't need to get water because the water jug at this stop is frozen despite the full sun raining down.

Me, the dark silhouette, running
 toward the sun.
At the seven mile mark, we come upon another fork with no signage or direction. I and a fellow half marathoner look at one another - both us are at a loss. Which way are we supposed to go? I select the route that seems to have the most footprints in the snow and he follows. I ask, "Do you think this is the right way?" Through heavy breathing he follows with, "I don't have an f-ing clue." Instead of wasting time, we continue on. Luckily, about a mile later and into a sort of clearing, we see a runner ahead. A sigh of relief is pushed out knowing I haven't, again, taken the wrong route.

Before we know it, we have some of the lead pack headed back toward us. They, too, seemed to be as annoyed with the lack of signage and made sure to tell us - as they passed - that our turn (and water stop) was just ahead, after the bridge over State Route 33. I, and my annoyed running partner for the last two miles, make audible relief groans once we reach the half marathon turn around and water stop (this jug of water is also frozen). Though, just as I slow down enough to make the about-face, my right foot slides on the ice and I come crashing down to my knee. I bounce right back up and feel my running tights rub against my now broken skin and the bruise starting to form. "You okay man?", is bellowed by my running friend. "Yeah, I'm good," I say with obvious annoyance and exhausted frustration.

So we are now on the return trip of the out and back course. Within a minute or so we bypass the folks trailing us and I wonder if I have enough left in the tank to keep pace to the finish or will I come to a snail's pace (as with the previous two half marathon attempts) in the remaining miles? My running partner makes some headway and starts to distance himself, but I don't feel like I'm getting slower. Then another competitor comes up from behind a few minutes later and does same thing. Having run the eight mile race here the year before, I know where we are on the secluded trail and work on lengthening my stride and pick up the pace, all the while bypassing the slower half marathoners.

The finish in the distance -
I can see it!
I can still see the person I'm trailing and eyeball him in order to stray from losing focus and not think about the slippery path below me. I feel better at this point than the previous two 13.1 mile attempts and have even removed the hood from my running jacket, as well as the headband I was using to cover a portion of my face and mouth. I'm either delirious or in really good shape for this race, I thought. Then I wonder how much I've added to my race with that wrong turn back at mile two. And speaking of, I then pass that damn lake again (going the right way this time) and see the finish in the distance.

I don't hear any followers and pass Lauren B. giving me some encouragement. Cruising in, I pass an eight mile run straggler and remember to reach for my watch and stop it as I cross the finish. My makeshift medal is handed to me and I zombie walk through the chute and into a sea of runners. I wobble toward the BODYAMOR Super Drink truck and grab a free orange-mango flavored thing, pop off the lid and tip it to douse my dying thirst and....its frozen...solid. Well, crap.

Race details...
...but Strava says..
Then, out of curiosity, I glance at my watch and see 1:36.30 as a finishing time. Yes, it is a PR (previous best was 1:37.10) - but then I notice that is my time for 13.94 miles! You have got to be kidding me, my wrong turn had taken me nearly a mile further than I should have run! Still thirsty, but astounded, I keep scrolling through my Garmin 935 to examine further details. Turns out my time for the ACTUAL half marathon (13.1 miles) is 1:30.28 (6:55 pace), just 28 seconds off of my goal in only my third attempt at this distance and in arctic conditions. Not to mention a full seven minutes faster than my previous best.

Lauren finds me, offers a congratulatory hug and some liquid refreshment that isn't a block of ice. I'm excited, but now I'm also getting cold since I'm no longer running and its like 7 degrees. We get to the car and Lauren cranks up the heat, then heads over to Cazuela's Food Truck to get the one free taco I'm awarded for finishing - as well as several others for us to scarf down. Finally drinking some liquid and able to feel my face again, I'm laughing at the fact I ran an entire mile further than I should have and still finished sixth out of 146 competitors. Even still, nearly everyone in the lead pack went the same direction as I did.

Before & after the icy half marathon
We proceeded to scarf down several excellent tacos, then headed out for the drive back north - but made a pit stop at Restoration Brew Worx in Delaware to have a beer and warm up a bit more before making it the rest of the way home. That, my friends, was a satisfying beer.

In a worn out trance the rest of the afternoon, I realized my haphazardly cobbled together training regime was starting pay off. And the best part of this race as that I paid attention to what I wanted to do - I ran my race and didn't attempt to set the world on fire. This left plenty in the tank to crank through the second half of Sunday's icy, rolling bike path in southeast Columbus. Not like 2017 when I couldn't find that extra gear near the end of the eight mile race. Then, again, I also had the benefit of running for over a year and not for just a handful of months like last year.

The snow fell again late Sunday night and then again on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, but working for a library means we have this day off as a holiday. And it was a welcomed additional day to recover from another backwards running weekend - Lauren I went outside to goof off for a bit, but that was it.

You know, sometimes wonder if the madness would cease if I stopped running or if I simply quit putting effort into trying to improve, but who am I kidding. I'm enjoying the madness, no matter how backwards it gets....run on friends.

(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)

I, I can't get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)
And I, I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)

I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you mean.

Ooh oh oh

And now I need to know is this real love,
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)
And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had,
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)

And now I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you need.

Mmmm...

(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)

But now I have finally seen the end (finally seen the end)
And I'm not expecting you to care (expecting you to care)
But I have finally seen the light (finally seen the light)
I have finally realized (realized)
I need your love
I need your love

Come to me
Just in a dream.
Come on and rescue me.
Yes I know, I can't be wrong,
And baby, you're too headstrong.

Our love is
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma...)

Madness


Super fun race day pics courtesy of Lauren B.


Frozen Race Day
Frozen Race Day
Frozen Race Day


Race SWAG with frozen
BODYARMOR drink
Azaccaho AIPA
Lauren B. and I at Restoration Brew Worx


Goofing off the Monday after
Goofing off the Monday after


Sunday, December 31, 2017

1262 Miles & Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Runnin' 2017
Three pairs of running shoes helped dragged my 42 year-old self across nearly 1,300 miles of Ohio terrain in the last twelve months. Sounds like a lot (oh..it is...just ask the rest of my body), but putting the running thing aside - I traveled much further as a person.

Brokeman's Winter Warm 
Up in January 2017 
To avoid getting into the backwards details of 2017, this past year saw me become - and in about this exact order - sorely disappointed, sad, frustrated, refreshed, determined, rekindled, alive, competitive, curious, a chance taker, happy, a goal setter (and a goal completer), simply happy, future focused and wanting more. Yeah, I'm worn out...but I wouldn't change it for anything.

The whole return to running was so I could take part (competitively) in the inaugural Buck Fifty Race - 150 Mile, 10 Person Team Relay in & around my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. That took place, but I kept running...and I'm not exactly sure as to why. What did I have to prove? Where was I planning to go? Who was I trying to impress? Was I attempting to rekindle the past? No...it wasn't any of these.

It was about me - being true to myself, not compromising or attempting to please someone else. This was something I wanted to do (albeit haphazardly) and I did it with my personal brand of reckless abandon. I'm not used to things going smoothly, I'm used to them going from point A to point B by way of points C through L and back again. It keeps you on your toes.

Rocks & Roots Trail 
Race in February
I found myself during this time and it makes me laugh because I didn't know I was lost. A figure of speech - yes, but it covers my point. I ran an eight mile race (at the time, the longest race for me ever), a six mile trail race, a St. Patrick's Day four miler, a 150 mile relay, an Independence Day race, a few 5k's, a couple of 10k's, a quarter marathon, a pair of half marathons (now the longest for me ever), a Thanksgiving Day race and even spent a week running the jungle-like trails of Costa Rica while on vacation - my first trip abroad.

The majority of those 1300-miles were spent pounding the streets and sidewalks of my Marion, Ohio neighborhood. These miles, specifically, forced me to think beyond the present and the here & now. It made me look beyond what hasn't worked, what isn't working, why it doesn't work, how to make things work and where to find the things to make it all work. I know it sounds convoluted, but this is the best way to describe how everything went down and evolved. It isn't perfect, but it is much closer to perfection than it was one year ago.




**We back EVERY pair with 
FREE Replacements if Lost or Broken**
**Each order also secures 11 meals 
to fight hunger through 


Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades, by using my promo code: "Simpson"  https://shadyrays.com/  Check them out, I have the X Series - Infrared Ice Polarized



   Live Hard. We Got You.


At The Buck Fifty in April
Through all of this I have froze, melted, been caked in mud, drenched by rain & snow, wondered why I'm a glutton for punishment, exhausted and injured myself. For what? To basque in the glow of "I did it" and push myself beyond what I thought was the tail end. In reality, it's just beginning...whatever it is...I still don't know for sure - but I can feel it.

This is what I've been able to do with running personal record-wise this year:


Running
  • 1 km3:18.82017
  • 1 mi5:36.92017
  • 5K18:272017
  • 10K38:342017
  • Half Marathon1:30:512017
  • Farthest13.21 mi2017













I started running again (in July 2016 after ten years off), but I didn't just want to run again. I wanted to win, beat people, be competitive. I have been able to do that and have a whole new set of goals before my 40-plus year-old legs disintegrate.

So, 2017 evolved from a dark hole in the ground into a firestorm of changes, success, new heights and horizons. There is something to be said about staying the course, no matter what it looks like.

Looking forward, sorry (not sorry) 2018...but you have a lot to live up to...

Sweet disposition
Never too soon
Oh, reckless abandon
Like no one's watching you
A moment a love
A dream aloud
A kiss a cry
Our rights
Our wrongs
A moment, a love
A dream aloud
A moment, a love
A dream, aloud

So stay there
'Cause I'll be coming over
And while our blood's still young
It's so young, it runs
And won't stop 'til it's over
Won't stop to surrender

Songs of desperation
I played them for you
A moment, a love
A dream aloud
A kiss, a cry
Our rights
Our wrongs
A moment, a love
A dream aloud
A moment, a love
A dream aloud

Stay there
'Cause…


The rest of my 2017 running in pictures:



Finisher's Medal & complimentary
beer from the St. Patrick's Day
4-Miler at Kinsale in Powell, Ohio.







My Garmin Forerunner 110,
dying at the New Moon Quarter
Marathon in Delaware, Ohio in May



Finishing the Columbus 10K in May


"THE" It's NOT the Hilliard Classic 10K in June.
The Freedom 4 Miler in Lewis Center, Ohio in July (Look! I'm on TV!)
Swag from the Original Columbus
Half Marathon & 10K at Alum
Creek State Park in August.

My Drawing of Ben Franklin playing catch with a chainsaw,
 at the request of Lauren B. in August. We met in July.


Ziplining in Costa Rica, late July
Celebratory beer after my first half marathon
in Celina, Ohio in September.
At the Columbus Half Marathon in
October. Half marathon number two.
A local 5K, Miles for Marion, in October.
Late October, The Tallgrass Trail 5K
in the snow here in Marion.
Before and after the Thanksgiving Turkey Wattle 5K in
 Grove City, Ohio with my brother, brother-in-law
 & niece.
The Shalom 5K in Carroll, Ohio in 
December with Jailen, the 13 year-old
 dynamo.

Me & Lauren B. - Running 
Photographer Extraordinaire

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Long Short of It

Supposedly people get wiser as they age, but I'm not completely on board with that statement. I believe this applies only to a small segment of the population. It is my view some of those people just get less ignorant, stupid and/or goofy - not necessarily wiser.

I am ending my running year with a flurry of 5k races and it blows my mind at how this 3.1 mile run seemed like a thousand mile journey back in high school. As a less ignorant adult in his 40's, the 5k is over just as it starts to get good. Back in high school, it might as well have been a gauntlet loaded with Pitfall! -like obstacles along with members of the Black Warriors Gang from Double Dragon attempting to extend your pain and suffering to more than just exhaustion. Those 16 to 17 minutes felt like hours.

I'm working on getting back to the level I was back then, but the race isn't as much of an arduous task as I thought it once was. Making sure to get in a long run each week (along with my regular routine) makes the shorter races easier to navigate - making mole hills out of mountains, per say.

Having just run a Thanksgiving morning race, I signed up for the 4th Annual Shalom 5K in Carroll, Ohio for the following weekend. I obviously wanted to compete, though part of my intention was to support my Buck Fifty Race Traffic Panthers Teammate, Gary, who was working on putting it together. The event proceeds would benefit the Shalom UMC Pantry Mission and participants were encouraged to bring along canned food items to further the pantry's focus. Like I said, it may be a short race, but the benefits go a long way toward assisting the community - much further than just setting a PR, simple exercise or feeding my competitive nature.

A simple out & back along Plum Road NW, just off of
U.S. Route 33 East - northwest of Lancaster.
Speaking of, it would be cool to set another PR. I'm inching ever closer to that 18:00 mark and it's pretty exciting. I haven't come anywhere near running a 17- something or other since college and let me tell you how disgusting it is to know that 1996 was 21 years ago. And, oh yeah, I turn 42 on the 20th - holy crap. I'm not one to obsess about age, but time just seems to be flying by...maybe if I blink less it will slow down.

This route would start at about Bloom-Carroll High School and follow Plum Rd NW for about a mile and half before a return trip along the same path. Eerily similar to the path details with the previous week's race in Grove City, though many more rolling hills would be encountered.

And the weather would again keep us on our toes. The Thanksgiving morning run last week came with a bight, sunny sky and a temperature of 25 degrees. It would again be sunny on this December day, but it would somehow be 50 degrees. Sooner or later the bottom of this "bend, but don't break" weather thing is going to fall out and winter is going to arrive with a vengeance. Until that time, all fall and winter (and spring) gear will be readily available. For example, on Tuesday of this past week it was 62...in Ohio...in late November.

When neighbors hate you for existing

Oh, I forgot to mention, my lovable old and crotchety "We Hate Craig, because we're old and crotchety and he isn't" neighbors have embarked on a new plan. For the last week, in our building's community mailbox area at the front entryway - the sliver of paper with my name on it in my mailbox slot (indicating I'm the apartment #1 resident) has been disappearing. I replace it...it then vanishes.
 
So, my subtle retaliation is making use of those free gift, stick-on address labels you get in the mail this time of year. I wedge one of those bad boys in the name slot pocket everyday as soon as I get home from work - it, too, will be gone within 24 hours. Though, you can tell it is a struggle for them to remove it as the floor will then be littered with bits and pieces of the former label - it's sad little ashes unceremoniously scattered near the postal service destiny of which it never had the opportunity to fulfill. I cry a little tear each time just knowing it fought the good fight in the never ending battle of minding your own business versus senility.

It gets even more interesting as I cover the label with scotch tape a few times. On Thursday, I found a rock (garnered from the building's front walk) laying near our mailboxes. You could tell it was used to scrape the taped label off my mail slot, as it was covered with scratches and dents from some intense effort. Funny, but I'm happy to help the haters, as they are quite the sedentary kind of folk. The more exercise I can offer them, the longer and more miserable their existence can be - 'Tis the season of giving. And I have lived in the same place for 4 1/2 years, so there are thousands of those damn labels at my disposal (hoarding has its advantages). This cold war continues and I have a stockpile of holiday issued ammunition thoughtfully supplied by a variety of non-profits preying on our holiday good will.

See what I mean about getting less ignorant, stupid and/or goofy - not necessarily wiser.

**We back EVERY pair with 
FREE Replacements if Lost or Broken**
**Each order also secures 11 meals 
to fight hunger through 


Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades, by using my promo code: "Simpson"  https://shadyrays.com/  Check them out, I have the X Series - Infrared Ice Polarized



   Live Hard. We Got You.


Anyway, race day began with the 90 minute drive south to our (Lauren B. and I) Fairfield County destination. A good mix of sun & clouds gave way to mostly sunshine as the crowd of 40 or so prepared to run or walk. When time came to hit the starting line, Lauren wandered off to find the best spot for photographing the adventure. At the gun this kid of 14-ish years of age takes off like rabbit, hoping to avoid wanting to race him off the bat I attempted to just keep within arms reach. He slowed down a bit, allowing me to reel him in and eventually pass him - but he continued to linger. 

The kid blasts off, I try to stay close

The kid knew what he was doing. Every now and then he would speed up and pass me, but trail off and I would drift by him again. At the mile marker, I find myself at 5:36. Probably a little faster than I wanted, but I had to take it. A quarter mile before the halfway point (our turn around), I get enough of a lead that I don't hear him. As I do the about face to head back, the skinny kid with long legs is around 15 yards behind me. Upon passing him and wanting to be pushed, I yell at him, "Let's go, come get me brother!" I wanted him to, if not leave me in his dust, run alongside me the rest of the way.

The second mile was definitely slower, but I worked on keeping my stride long and pushing my elbows through it. Mile two timed out at 12:00 (6:23) on the dot and I hear folks cheering for the speedy kid hanging out behind me as we start to hit some of the downhills. I try to focus on keeping a steady, but speedy pace and cover mile number three in 6:00. The finish is just ahead and up a decent incline and I can hear the footsteps again, I turn my head just enough to see the stick figure in the black hat inching closer.

Jailen, the 13 year-old dynamo, and me.

We get to the base of the finishing hill and I yell, again, "Come on brother, come get me! Come get me!" A moment later he strides up alongside and just as he attempts to blow by, I match his pace. We run side-by-side for a few steps as we crest the hill and then I let up just enough and he glides ahead crossing the finish line first. I take second with an 18:27 (matching my return-to-running 5k pr set the previous weekend) and Jailen (I found out his name shortly thereafter) is your winner at 18:25. Rather impressive since I overheard him tell someone at the start that he was looking to run the race in exactly that time. I was happy to have been his rabbit.

Upon congratulating the kid, I discover Jailen is all of 13 years-old AND had played in his middle school's basketball game earlier that morning - scoring a deuce and pulling down five rebounds. If there was anything that ever made me feel old, that was it. Quite impressive and if he sticks to the running thing, he has a crazy bright future ahead of him. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be 13 and running 18-minute 5k's.

I'm a geologist, I swear
After the race, Lauren and I traveled further south to visit Rockstall Nature Preserve, a little known jaunt loaded with rock formations & water falls near the Hocking Hills area just outside of Sugar Grove. It is definitely hidden away and most people find it, I'm assuming, by accident. Lauren, luckily, had been there before.

We then headed back north to hit Rockmill Brewery to sample some of their Belgian Inspired Farmhouse Ales, just outside of Lancaster. A visit is highly recommended, as it is on a former horse farm and the tasting room gives you a cozy cabin-like atmosphere complete with a very friendly brewery cat. They had plenty on tap and more in bottles ready to open or purchase for home consumption. For food, we hit Steak & Shake on the way home and more was garnered as we watched Ohio State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game at a local joint back in Marion that night.

Rockmill me amadeus!

Back to running, over the last few weeks I've started adding (again) a long run each week. My plan is to try to tackle some longer, tougher races in the coming weeks. The first major one of those may be the Brokeman's Winter Warm Up Half Marathon on January 14th, 2018. I ran the eight mile race at this event last year (my first return-to-running long race while preparing for the inaugural Buck Fifty Race) and survived, but have since built myself up a few notches.

And having stepped up to the half marathon this year (ran my first two in 2017), my goal for next year is that elusive 1:30:00 mark - 1:39:40 (Grand Lake Half Marathon in Celina) & 1:37:06 (Nationwide Children's Columbus Half Marathon) are decent opening attempts, but they just aren't good enough (I've had training runs faster than those races).

In the meantime, I'll be wearing out my new Garmin Forerunner 935 and Running Dynamics Pod (Thanks Lauren B!) with every backwards running stat you can name. (Early Christmas/Birthday gifts rock!) Follow me on Garmin Connect (or Strava): crsimp01 and share your dorkdom.



You tell me that you're ready but you just don't know
My eyes are getting heavy and it's starting to show
Never seen it coming, never seen a thing
Maybe I'll get through what's ever coming to me

Cause I've been so unlucky I don't know what to say
Running out of money I've been wasting away
I never seen it coming never seen a thing
Maybe I'll get through what's ever coming to me

We fall
We fall down
If we fall
We fall down
If we fall down hard I'll be ready to grow

I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it all

Look me in the eye when I am talking to you
It's easy to get nervous I've been feeling it too
Yeah it's kind of crazy, yeah it's kind of dumb
But never let the pressure overpower the fun

Yeah I'm sure your parents probably said it to you
Follow what you love and you will love what you do
And never let the pressure tell you that you're not
Capable of being everything that you want

We fall
We fall down
If we fall
We fall down
If we fall down hard I'll be ready to grow

I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it all

I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it all

Look me in the eye when I am talking to you
It's easy to get nervous I've been feeling it too
Yeah it's kind of crazy, yeah it's kind of dumb
But never let the pressure overpower the fun

I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it
I'm ready
I'm ready for it all

(Photo spread courtesy of Lauren B!)

 

Jailen for the win

Fun with sticky tack at work, because actual December-like
weather has been hard to come thus far.











...to the finish.
The swag




I bet I could jump to that tree...

Lauren getting serious



Contemplating...









The selections

You want to bring me a beer...

Farmhouse IPA, Rugged Expanse & Holiday Ale
Serious cat discussions