Monday, November 30, 2015

Monkey Games ~ A Survivor's Tale

It has been seven days. There's still remnants of the battle scars. My body hasn't hurt this bad since last year, which hadn't hurt as bad since the year before, and prior to that it had never hurt that bad. But yet I keep coming back for more. There are 7,200 plus feet of elevation change. 10 hills and some 3 mountains. Two of these, one at mile 5, the other at mile 10, are hard but very doable. I ran/walked up these two without much consequence. The mother of all came at mile 19. I think I crawled. There was no running, there was no walking. I have no memory of this. For my protection, my mind has blocked this out. I'm not sure there is any human alive that after running 19 miles could physically run up this behemoth. Except of course my friend Scott W. I think he ate this one for lunch. Or was it breakfast? He was done way before lunch.

The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon is held at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN. The 10th Annual Monkey Games did not disappoint. It is a small, locally organized event. No one knows how many folks are accepted into the race. It is a tightly kept secret. As is the selection process. You have to enter a lottery, you have to wait for your fate. This year, 324 marathoners finished, most of us bruised and beat up but with bragging rights intact. Reports are that 8 runners did not survive the Monkey Attacks. These reports have not been confirmed.

This was my third monkey kill. Some of my friends have killed all ten. They are my heroes. We all plan our fall racing schedule around the infamous "Monkey". However, no one ever trains for this race, because everyone knows that you can't train for the monkey, for each year is different. Same course, same miles, same hills, but a very different experience.

I'm not going into step by step, turn by turn detail of my day. I'm not going to tell you how my friends Rick, Scott J, Aine, Luc, Alison, Steve, Leigh, Jason, Karen, Tammy, and Charlene provided some much-needed support along the way. I'm just not going into how special a hug from Season at mile 20 was, nor how good it was to see my friends Paul and Kennette. I'm not going to tell you how magnificent "Water Station 23" was, and what a sight it was for me to see my wife's smile and support.  Nor am I going to tell you how an angel caught up with me after stop 23, started some small conversation and brought me home. I'm just not going to tell you. I will tell you, however, Marathon #14 is now in the books.

Next year is the Chinese Year of the Monkey. First one since the marathon started and the next one not for another 12 years.  Will the hills have special treats for us? Will the monkeys multiply and fly high? Will we survive the monkey attacks? One way to find out. We'll see you there, we'll see you at the finish line.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon 2015: A Journey Of All Journeys

Marine Corps Marathon 2015
Training exclusively for a full marathon is serious business. It should not be taken lightly. A commitment has to be made and wavering is not allowed, permitted or accepted. That is, of course, if you want to achieve specific goals.

Going into the Marine Corps Marathon, I had no idea what to expect. I usually do. I can pretty much tell, bar any unforeseen's, how my race is going to go. Today was different. For the first time in nine-plus years, I had been nursing an injury before a race. For three weeks, I had been walking on egg shells, literally walking on egg shells. My groin was not happy and I couldn't figure out why. The pain and discomfort had moved to the hip, to the hamstrings, quads and had settled nicely into the knee. I believe all this was due to... no, who am I kidding, I had no idea why this was happening. I couldn't even begin to guess. I had only two very short runs during this three week period leading up to the race. Both of these runs were an exercise in futility. I had adopted my bike trainer in an effort to keep as much of my endurance as possible. This caused no pain. The elliptical also came into the picture.

The good news in all this was that I would be well rested. I took tapering to a new level. But with all this "good news" questions began to rise, most of these having to do with physical fitness and pain management.

When I started this journey my plans were clear, my goal was set. At the very least, I was aiming for a marathon PR. At the very best my goal would be a sub-4 hour finish. However, neither would happen this go around. But as those that know me well know, I always have a plan "B".

Along with my coach, we devised a plan. Well, he devised the plan, I just followed it. And if I may say so myself, followed it to the letter, never missed a beat, never skipped a step.

Gear Ready Night Before
As I woke up race morning I took inventory of all ailments. It appeared that all systems were go. At least as ready as they could be, they did appear to be.

I had visited my chiropractor, had an MRI taken, went to a masseuse and foot doctor. I had done what I thought best. I did my stretches religiously and everything else as prescribed and as directed. Because of lingering plantar fasciitis, I had cortisone shots in the bottom of my feet, both feet. I have an electric muscle stimulator, so this was put to good use. Nothing was left to chance. Nothing.

I was up and getting ready at 3:45 AM. I had a cold waffle (it had been cooked the day before) with peanut butter, a splash of syrup and a cup of coffee. I can't function without coffee. We made it to the hotel lobby at 5:10 AM. The shuttle to the Metro left around 5:20 and if dropped us off around 5:30. The station was not crowded at this early time. Apparently, not everyone was as nervous as I was. We took off towards the Pentagon at 5:40 AM. The ride took 20 minutes. Still small crowds when we arrived. This would change quickly. Oh. My. Goodness, would this change quickly!

I had opted not to Kinesio tape my feet before the race as I would often do. Sometimes as my feet swell during the race, this applies undue pressure and they become uncomfortable. I did wear my ankle, thigh, and knee compression sleeves. I wondered if one sleeve could be purchased that would replace these three? This proved to be very beneficial as the race progressed.

We made it through security check at the Pentagon staging area in about 20 minutes. This is where the crowd began to grow. We were glad we had left and arrived, early. The sun hadn't come up yet and the temperature was still a bit on the chilly side. It was 6:23 AM.

Sometime without much notice it had begun to mist. On and off it sprinkled before the start. We had found a spot under a tent so the rain was of no consequence. Here we waited for about an hour. I was afraid to sit on the ground because I knew getting up would be tough. My daughter found an empty chair, which she quickly offered to me. I resisted slightly, she insisted, I took it. This was a blessing. I did manage to make it to the portables three times. I was drinking my water, but it seemed to be just going right through. Nerves were getting the best of me. They always do. But today, the expectation of what would happen with that first, second, third step, added to the angst.

I first felt the pain during a training run in Cincinnati. Not exactly during the run, but later that afternoon. The family had gone up to spend the weekend with my youngest and she invited me to run with her training group. She was training to run her very own first marathon.

Cincinnati is a very hilly city. The course we ran was tough. I will not be doing the Flying Pig Marathon any time soon. But I managed to finish. I had to run three more miles than my daughter did, so when I finished she was waiting for me. Later that afternoon is when the pain appeared. My walk was difficult, my feet got heavy. When I woke up Sunday everything was back to normal, so I just chalked it up to the "long run" wear and tear, to the monster hills of the Queen City.

On Tuesday, I joined our training group on our usual hilly run. As it turns out this would be the last time I would be able to join them. Of all the workouts, I miss this one the most. I couldn't do the entire loop as we usually do. I had to cut it short. I thought this was due to tired legs.

The following Saturday I joined other friends on a 16 mile run in a Nashville greenway. The first 12-13 miles were great. Then the stabbing pain inside my upper right leg got intense. I finished the run, but I got concerned. I still had no idea.

By mid-afternoon that day, the pain was so intense I had to take some medicine. I don't take medicine. When I woke up on Sunday, I couldn't walk. No, really, I couldn't walk. I rested all day and decided it was time to get it checked.

The good news I was delivered was that the MRI came back "normal". This mean I had no tears. But still, I had no concrete answers.

The walk to the starting line was silent. Time to focus, time to run through the plan. One. More. Time. Took some final photos with the family and stopped at the portable, one last time.

I had eaten a banana at 7:00 AM. Now it was 7:45 so I took my first of five gels. All systems seemed to be set. Kissed my family goodbye and walked to my staging area.

The pre-race ceremonies were unbelievable.

The Army Parachute team and the flyover by a couple of fancy airplanes I couldn't begin to pronounce their names. This was amazing, to have the honor to be part of this. WOW. The national anthem was sung, the wheelchairs took off, five minutes later the race was on.

I had begun to worry about my endurance two weeks before the race. Not running for that long couldn't be good. Would nine months of intense training be for naught? The race is always the payoff; for the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices made along the journey. But would today fall short? This was a big concern. Not so much that I wouldn't meet my goals, but how I would handle the disappointment.

Yes, I had big plans and huge goals. But the time has come to realize that maybe, just maybe, finishing the race without any more damage should be number one priority, "damage" I say because at that moment I didn't know
better. This was a hard pill to swallow, but one that had to be taken. There would be other races, other opportunities.

The field was crowded, and when I say crowded, I mean elbow to elbow crowded. Due to the rain, the road was wet. Wet and slippery... and crowded. This I remember thinking would be some sort of blessing because, even if I wanted to I couldn't run fast off the gate. I didn't.

30 thousand runners in a course that was mostly on two-lane roads, on divided highways made it for an interesting go. I overheard some folks complaining about this throughout. My only thought was to just enjoy and try to forget the pain. Yes, the pain had begun to show its ugly self before the first mile. So, slow I went and enjoy I did.

For the most part, I followed six soldiers, four male, two female. They were in full gear carrying the flags of the services. They had settled into a pace I could keep up. I ran the first 13 miles more or less. The next 7-8 miles I turned to intervals, 4-1, then 3-1, 2-1 and the last 5 miles or so, it was half run half walk. Until the last half mile. Here I ran. Slow, but I ran. The last couple hundred feet of the course was lined up with Marines. Encouraging runners to run and to finish strong. I couldn't not run. So I did.

And then came the finish line. At the feet of the Iwo Jima, The Marine Corps War Memorial, a young Marine looked at me and saluted. "Thank you SIR and Congratulations". "No sir, thank YOU!" I responded, and then he hung the medal around my neck. Best Finish in a Marathon Ever. Marathon No. 13 was now in the books.

Marine Corps Band
There were many memorable moments throughout the race and course. I kept hearing about "beating the bridge". Which I did. At the back side of the Lincoln Memorial, a Marine Corps Band delegation played the Marine anthem. Chills. The "Blue" mile. Amazing. And running into my family just at the right time gave me the push needed to complete the journey.

Since the return from Washington, I have had the opportunity to consult with Specialists and the diagnosis is Osteoarthritis of the Hip. Roughly translated it means I've gotten old. Nothing can be done to reverse this condition, both conditions, but plenty can be done to help me manage the pain.

On to a new phase in my life. New Goals, New Challenges. Perhaps a New Journey.

It has been well over three weeks since the race. A lot has happened since. This is one of the reasons why I've hesitated to post this entry. I do not regret anything that has happened nor I regret any of the decisions I've made. The time, however, has come to do some serious soul searching and analyze priorities. I'm not getting any younger and my body has abruptly reminded me of this.

In the meantime, I have two more marathons to run before the end of the year. So I guess, I'll see y'all at the finish line.

Finisher's Medal Marine Corps Marathon 40th Anniversary

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Franklin Half Marathon: One Tough But Rewarding Race

Since defining my goals for this year, and writing, along with my coach, the course of action to follow, work begun in earnest. Being the very transparent person (in matters of personal development) that I am, and having always shared my every goal with my friends, I have decided that this time around I would be a bit more reserved.

I continue to share my journey with anyone willing and wishing to follow via facebook; sometimes on my personal page, sometimes on my Journey Beyond Ironman page, and sometimes on twitter. What I have chosen not to do is to make constant reference to my ultimate goal. This is something that at this moment is very personal. I have kept it very much between my family, my coach, my nutritionist, two very good friends and myself. And this I have done, because for the first time ever, in my athletic journey, this goal is extremely specific.

As with my goal, my training has been very much #WithPurpose. Everything done is measured and analyzed in order to be improved upon.

And the plan is working.

Earlier this year I registered for a couple of half marathons and a 10k with the sole purpose of measuring progress. What I have seen is beyond any and all expectations. Perhaps the true lesson to be learning here is that I had been underestimating myself all these years. But I also believe that things are meant to happen at the right time in the right place. Perhaps I was not physically or mentally ready to do what I'm asking of myself at this moment in time. Perhaps I was not ready to commit to such a goal. It appears that now I am.

Last Saturday's Franklin Half Marathon was one of those surreal experiences we sometimes have. This race is very "hilly" to say the least. The weather this time of year is always very hot and humid. Saturday was no different. It was very pleasant at gun time, but that quickly changed. The hills lived up to all the hype.

A few weeks back Coach told me that I would have the training needed to have a good race. Having crushed my half marathon earlier in the year, we knew that it would be a tough act to follow; this race would not be about a PR, this race would be about doing the very best possible; I would have to race smart and I would have to avoid injury.

I had my plan. I race by heart rate and coach said to keep it in Zone 4, in this course I thought, this would not be a problem. My nutrition strategy was also set. I knew what I had to do.

I warmed up with a light jog before the race began. I have been doing this, this year and it has worked like a charm; when the race starts my heart is ready to go.

The first mile or so, I used to get set and into my racing Zone. This part of the course was easy to navigate, except on a short out-n-back  there was slight confusion as to which side of the road to take. Runners coming back where crossing over to the side where the runners going out were. No big deal.

I will not go into a full description of the "hills" for it would suffice to say that there were plenty and they never stopped. After mile five, the big one was upon us. They call this one "Heart Attack Hill". My heart rate spiked to Z5. I had to slow down a bit.

My concern most of the race was with the horizontal grade of the road. It was rather large. I was worried about an injury to the IT band, I had to run with caution.

The whole race I felt good. I was running at a good pace, I was running the hills, not attacking them. With my Garmin, I keep track of my HR Zone and total distance. The distance mostly because this is how I work my nutrition plan.

Upon reaching mile 12, I decided to see what my total time was. This to see how close I was to a sub-2 time. With some very quick calculation, I knew that if I cranked it up, around an 8:00 mile, I could, in fact, finish in less than 2:00 hours. That last mile was clocked at 7:51. Fastest "last" mile of any race I have ever done.

Garmin time: 1:59:16.  9:06/mile.

I was thrilled. It was not in my radar to run a sub 2 hour on this course, on this day, under these conditions.

When results started coming in, I approached a pool of laptop computers made available for everyone to check their individual results.

Bib number 257. Official Time 1:59:11.

Age Group: First

Senior Grand Masters: First

Wait... What?! Who? Me?

When I was presented the award, I found that this was the "RRCA State of Tennessee State Championship", hence this makes me a "State Champion".

Wait... What?! Who? Me?

This race is, was and will be, one of the toughest, if not the toughest half marathon I have ever done, anywhere, any time. Period.

God Willing, I'll be back to defend next year. Come join me!

To all those of you that continue to support me, I extend a great big Thank You! Your encouragement throughout this journey is priceless. Stay with me! I'm not sure where this is going and how it will play out, but together I'm sure we'll get there.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Giving Back Pay It Forward

It is often said that "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

I believe that as a group, endurance athletes... runners, triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, etc. are one of the most giving bunch of individuals I have ever met.

A helping hand, an encouraging word, a piece of advice, these  are never far from the will of these athletes. They're every where, you're never truly alone, if you find yourself in need, someone's there to help. I know this first hand. Over the years, I have been the recipient of much of these. I am and will forever be grateful to each and everyone that came to my rescue, to answer my endless questions, to push me and to give me a swift kick in the back of my head when needed. And lord knows I've needed this.

Giving back should be second nature. Paying it forward should not be an option. I believe that everyone that has received should reciprocate. I also live by the mantra that "What I Have Learned and What Has Been Given Me is Not Mine To Keep". I understand everyone lives in different circumstances and conditions, everyone's priorities and goals are not the same, and they shouldn't be. Therefore I speak for myself, never for others. I don't judge anyone's decisions to or not to. However, I will always encourage you to give a little.

All this I say to bring you to the point of this writing.

About three weeks ago, the mother of a young man with some challenges posted on our running club's facebook page information about a Foundation she had started: RUN for ME Foundation. The premise is simple: She matches young people (pals) with physical disabilities that cannot run, or exercise, for themselves, with athletes (buddies) that are willing to do this (virtually) for them.

She doesn't ask for much. When you run, swim, bike, etc. dedicate your session to your match, your pal.  Post something on her Foundation's facebook group page.

After reading the information she provided on her website, I immediately signed up! I wanted my "pal". I wanted to run for someone, someone that needed me. However, immediately I found that this was a two way street. I found that Running For Caleb, "my pal", added that extra bit of motivation to get out and get it done.

I have had the opportunity to meet Jamie, the founder of RUN4ME, and as it happens to be, she's also Caleb's mom. She's a tremendous person, with so much "give" in her heart. I was honored beyond any explanation possible when I was introduced to her and her mission. I have embraced it and I am committed to helping her make this succeed.

And then I met my pal Caleb. This put it all together.

As of this writing there are 16 matches; sixteen pals have their buddies running, swimming, cycling, etc. for them. All this has been accomplished in a matter of about three weeks!

I encourage anyone, everyone to find out a little more about this. You will be glad you did. If you know someone, or know of someone that may need a buddy or would like the idea of being a pal, share this with them.

Our goal today is to double the number of matches in the next 30 days. You can be a part of this, you should be a part of this.

To find out more about the RUN4ME Foundation, click here to access the website.
To join the RUN4ME facebook group, click here.
To follow RUN4ME on facebook, click here to "like" the page.

To Follow my "Journey Beyond Ironman" facebook page, click here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Find Your "Fight"

I may not be able to tell you how to find your "fight". But I can certainly tell you how you'll know when you've found it. Days will turn into weeks, weeks will run into months, months will turn into years without ever having to start over, you'll just keep moving forward. You won't complain about the struggles, you'll embrace them, because you know that your ability to push through is what will ultimately separate you from the rest of the pack.

There will be no more New  Year's Resolutions, only daily ones. And sticking to them will no longer be an option... it will be a necessity.

You will not find excuses. You'll find ways. You'll stop looking for short cuts and quick fixes, because you'll know that a worthwhile mission lasts a lifetime.

I'm not telling you this is going to make the road any easier to travel. Excellence is never easy - That's the point. There will be ups. There will be downs, adversity and setbacks. There will be days where you will absolutely want to quit.

But when you know what you're fighting for, you will find a way to persevere. This is YOUR life. The obstacles are never-ending. That's why it's imperative that you find a true reason to keep going, not some make-believe, self-induced one.

It will not be easy. It never is.

"The brick walls are there for a reason.
The brick walls are not there to keep us out.
The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show
how badly we want something."
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Direction of the Wind is Changing

"I can't change the direction of the wind
but I can adjust my sails"
 ~ Jimmy Dean

Up until recently, my annual racing schedule had been decided by this time of the year. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to my plans; I need to know where I'm going and most importantly, I need to have plans to get there.

After Ironman Chattanooga last year something changed; something drastically changed. Immediately after crossing the finish line, I knew things would be different, I just didn't know why, or how. I had to figure it out.

Crossing the finish line at Ironman Louisville in 2011 was magical, a feeling that to this day, I can still remember and feel. I get somewhat nostalgic when thinking about it.  I'm not sure what happened but this same feeling escaped me at the finish line in Chattanooga. It was somewhat of a disappointment. I expected bells, whistles and fire works. There were none. With all due respect to all other races I've done, it felt like it was "just another race"

Had it not been for the fact that my daughter Juliana had already finished and was waiting for me with the rest of my family, this finish line would have been a total disappointment. Again, I'm still not sure why!

Don't get me wrong, I loved the journey. I wouldn't trade it for anything, nor would I do it any different. All those laps and miles, lots of them alongside my daughter, I will never forget.

As time passed, I found distancing myself more and more from a triathlon schedule for 2015. At the same time I found myself more and more rediscovering my love for running, after all, this is how it all started.

So I put this to the test. I started a running streak. I wanted to see what would happen. Would I totally love running every day, for an undetermined number of days, or would I find myself drifting back into the triathlon world?

As the streak grew, I found myself looking forward to next day's run. As it turns out, the streak lasted 101 days.

And then, just like that, it came to me. I knew what I had to do.

Every race I've run, over 70 of them (all distances combined), I have raced with only one goal in mind: To finish strong. To give everything I had that day. To leave everything on the course. To be able to come home and say that I gave it all. Looking back, I think I did this each and every time.

With one exception, I never ran with a "time" in mind. This was at the Middle Half Marathon in 2013. I trained and raced with the goal of breaking the 2 hour mark; I had never done this before. And this I did. My time was 1:57:51.

Looking back at this phenomenon, I can safely say that this was my "safety net". I did not want to commit, so I didn't. There would be no disappointment, there would be no let down.

And then it occurred to me. What if, just what if I trained to achieve something "specific"?  What if I trained to meet a time? I honestly don't know what I have in me, because with the exception of the before mentioned race, I never ventured to find out.

So I have this year's goal. I'm training to run a 4:25 marathon. My best time is a 4:51:27. Soon I will select a fall marathon in which I will attempt this. I have a couple in mind. This will be 26 minutes faster, or one minute per mile quicker than my best to date.

And what will happen after I reach this goal? Perhaps time to set a new, more specific goal. Perhaps it could be a return to a tri venue to challenge courses and times. Perhaps more specific and aggressive running goals. Only time will tell.

I have by no means given up on triathlons. It's just time to take a little break. I will volunteer at both Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and Ironman Louisville this year. I have close friends racing both. I am sure that my coach will find time in my schedule to do some swim and bike cross training along the way.

"When the winds of change blow
some people build walls, others build windmills" 
~ Chinese Proverb

Friday, February 6, 2015

What I Learned During My 101 Day Running Streak

Last week Wednesday, January 27th I woke up at 3:30 am, some thirty minutes earlier than usual, made me a strong cup of coffee, checked the weather ~ mostly because I have learned not to trust the forecast in our area ~ strapped on my heart rate monitor, put on my Garmin, laced up my shoes and along with my wife, drove to meet our 4:30 crew for a run. This would be my 100th consecutive day running. Today on the agenda was a 4 mile tempo run. And as it turns out, there would be one more day after this one, simply because you never stop at the finish line. Total streak: 101 Days.

It all started very innocently back on October 20, 2014. And the next time I took a day off was on Thursday, January 29, 2015. I say innocently because I really had no intention of doing this, and I'm not sure why it happened. I just know it did. Okay, maybe that's not the whole truth.

I'm always motivated by a good challenge, and after lunch with two friends, I felt compelled to try something different, so the idea of a running streak, of unknown time and distance, was born.


Total Consecutive Days: 101
Total Miles Ran: 551.8
Average Run: 5.5 miles
Earliest Run: 3:30 am
Latest Run: 6:30 pm
Shortest Run: 1 mile
Longest Run: 26.2 miles
Shortest Weekly Volume: 27.1 miles
Longest Weekly Volume: 57.3

Number of Marathons During Streak: 2 (The Flying Monkey and WDW Marathon)
Number of Half Marathons During Streak: 2 (Memphis St. Jude's Half and WDW Half Marathon)

I ran on flat, I ran the hills, I ran in the park, the big park, the greenway, the roads and sidewalks. I chased "The Monkey" and ran with "Mickey". I was a little "Goofy", somewhat "Dopey". At times I was cold, and once it was hot. I even got lost. I ran the treadmill a time or two.

I ran for Jerry's Kids, I ran with my wife, I ran with my daughters. I ran with my friends. I wish I had ran with my brother. I ran solo at times. I shared my story a time or two.


Rule #1). Run at least one mile per calendar day, at any pace, anywhere.
Rule #2). There were no other rules.

I have always been a fan of rest. Rest days are very important to me. The high volume of Ironman training has taught me to respect my rest days. So what did I expect to get out of this?

I went in with no real expectations and not a real number of days in mind. I did not start out saying "I will run 100 days straight". I started out saying "Lets start this and see what happens".

Two weeks prior to the start, I had done the Chicago Marathon, and two weeks before that, Ironman Chattanooga. I was tired and spent. I needed a break.

I did not tell anyone I was trying to streak. I went on my merry business. I didn't start posting my daily updates on facebook until much later into the streak. However, some time in the first couple of weeks my wife and daughters asked me what I was up to. I had no answer. I did not really know.

It was hard at first, those initial two weeks were tough; my body was used to resting every-so-often and now it wasn't. On those days that I should have been resting, I did my run(s) at a very easy pace. And as I did this, I began to realize something...

The easier I ran, the longer I could run. The more often I was able to run without feeling drained and the more enjoyable running become. It was fun.

Curiosity spiked. Could I be doing some damage to my running? Was what I was doing helping my running? So I started researching. This is when I came across the book 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald. This book explained perfectly why and how I was able to do this. I encourage each and everyone of you interested in running better and longer to read this book.

As my volume increased, my pace improved. I was able to run distances at speeds never seen before. All of the sudden I found myself running an 8:30 min/mile for distances I never had before.

As the days added up, I felt more at ease with the runs. I looked forward to them. Not sure if because I could add one more to the tally or because my body was getting used to the daily run. I would soon find out. The most miserable day of the streak was the day after the streak ended.

My first goal was to make it to 30 days. When that came and went, the next goal was 50 days. I remember that being a special day. I wasn't questioning, at this point how long I could keep going, just kept going. The days kept adding up and all of the sudden 100 days was within reach.

I learned discipline. Not that I didn't have any before, but this elevated my discipline level to a new level.

I learned to remove limitations. Most often these are self-imposed limitations. The idea of running 101 days straight, or a 57.3 mile week with a half marathon and a full marathon in it, was unheard of. I could never do that. I was too old, too fat, too tired, too everything.

I learned that it was easy to re-light the fire. I fell in love with running again.

I learned that the best runs come to you unexpected.

I learned that running every day can make you a better person. The daily sessions of short(er) runs can do wonders for your nerves

I learned that daily running can be very addictive.

I learned short(er) runs are a great way to start off your day.

I learned that there's always room for improvement and if you focus you can improve quickly.

I learned that there really is time enough in any day to go for a run.

I learned that it's really all about the journey, not so much about the destination.

I truly learned to appreciate my abilities.

I learned that you're never too old to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

I learned that I'm stronger than I thought I was.

I learned that bad days are followed by good ones.

I learned that it really is all mental.

I learned that I'm still able to dream bigger and bigger.

I learned that bad weather is not an excuse.

I learned that the beginning is always the toughest part. Sticking to it Changes Everything.

I didn't know how I would feel the day the streak ended. I was dreading it. All I knew is that I would not stop running. I ran the day after my goal of 100 because stopping at that point would be like stopping at the finish line, and we don't do that. We never stop at the finish line.

I will not streak again anytime in the immediate future, but I cannot tell you that I will never streak again. When the time comes again, when it feels right, when the body and mind tell me that it's time, we will do it again.

I do know one thing though. Next time I do this, I will take someone with me on each and every run. I will ask a couple of friends (or more) to join me on day one. I will ask the same friends to join me on my last run. Wish I had thought of this before. You in?