How did I get the name theBrainrunner?

Well it's a long story but I'll keep it breif. On November 3rd, 2008 I was getting ready for work and passed out in the shower. Luckily, my wife was home at the time and ran upstairs to find me and after having trouble reviving me she then called the paramedics. After an ambulance ride, followed by a CT scan, then a helicopter ride to another hospital I ended up having surgery to repair a ruptured Brain Aneurysm. 5 months later I had two more aneurysms clipped. I was thankful to be alive, as 40% of ruptures are fatal, and 66% suffer from some permanent neurological deficit. I use to be a runner in High School, and after I had recovered from the surgeries I wanted to be healthier than I had been at that time so my wife and I started running again. Every time I run I'm thankful to be alive and able to be outside doing what I love. Thus, theBrainrunner was born.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011 My First - Part 2

On the way to the start line riding the train.
As the horn sounded the crowd began to surge forward and before I knew it, I was crossing the starting line. I was on my journey to completing my first marathon.

There was a cacophony of beeping from watches, including my own, as all 45,000 runners crossed the starting line. It was music to the ears. This was quickly replaced with the crowd giving tremendous encouragement as the runners headed off on their 26.2 mile quest.

I fell in line behind Bob (one of the four hour pacers) and decided I was going to follow him since he was the easiest to recognize. We headed up Columbus Drive and under a bridge where there were hundreds if not thousands of spectators watching from above. It was an amazing sight to see and one that I don't think I will ever forget. I just followed Bob, as we were bobbing and weaving through people. It was so crowded it never felt like I could open up and just relax. Running through downtown Chicago was amazing. The sound from the crowd reverberating off of the buildings just intensified the noise, energy, and emotions. At around 3 or 3.5 miles we started to head north and away from the massive buildings of the Loop and toward Wrigley Field, which I tried to see but never did. Somewhere between 7 and 8 I met my wife, who passed off some gels. I grabbed them and headed off again to catch back up with Bob.

I was feeling good, my pace was on target, we had placed about 29 seconds in the bank, thus far. My legs felt fresh, I was hydrating well, everything was going according to plan. I gave some kids high-5's and kept on moving. At about mile 10 I started to get some feedback from my body that I may have hydrated too well, so I began to look for another port-o-potty. Somewhere between 11 and 12 I saw one just off of the course without a line. I hurried up and did my business and got back out there. I knew that I'd lost my pace group, but I was feeling good and figured that I could slowly pull them back over the next few miles.

Between mile 12 and 13, as the course makes a left onto North Franklin Street, my worst fears became true. It started as just a little twinge of discomfort in my arch. (I'd had some issues in my right arch leading up to the race and had been trying to get mostly healed before Chicago.) I thought to myself, just ignore it and it will go away, don't think about it.

Mile 13 was hit in 2 hours 2 minutes and 30 seconds. I was two and a half minutes off  my pace and I'd stopped once to use the restroom... not bad. But, my arch was starting to hurt a little more. By mile 14 I was finished! My 4 hour marathon was done. I remember texting my wife: "not great."  At 25k which is only about 2 and a half miles from the half way point it had taken me just over 26 minutes to complete that distance. By this time I was suffering, and suffering severely. All I could do was to keep moving forward. My arch felt like it was on fire, so I stopped and tried to shake and stretch it out.....nothing. Keep've got to go.

The next five miles I have no recollection of, other than my wife texting me her location on the north side of the road at mile 20, to which my reply was, "which way is north?" She replied, "on the left."  I found her, or rather, she and our friend Matt found me. I stopped to get a couple more gels, and to bitch about my foot. She was so supportive. I was in so much pain that the fire had turned to flaming hot daggers. I knew I was probably damaging my arch and that I would probably have to take some time off for recovery, but I was going to finish. However, I was pissed off! I was having my own little pity party in my mind. I'd trained so hard for this day and it wasn't going like I had planned. I kept moving....

Mile 20.. Temp on bank sign 84
I was into new territory now, my longest run to date was 20 miles. I just wanted to finish now. No, I'm not talking about me wanting to finish as in quit. I wanted to be at the finish line NOW. But I wasn't, I kept moving. I implemented a run walk philosophy. I'd run until I couldn't stand the pain in my arch any longer, then I'd walk until I could get up enough courage to run again. I remember running under the Chinatown gate, and the dragon dancers. I remember running through mile 23 where someone was handing out beer. I like beer, but at that point in the race, with the way I was feeling, the smell was so overwhelming it made me nauseous. I vaguely remember the long straight run up Michigan Avenue toward the finish. Somewhere along this stretch of hot pavement I saw my wife and handed her my iPhone, because I just couldn't stand to have any extra weight that I didn't deem necessary.

Mile 25, dumping the arm band.
Then, I made a right hand turn onto Roosevelt Road and  knew from the course map that the finish was near. All I had to do was go up this little hill which seemed like Everest at the time, and then make a left hand turn onto Columbus Drive. Nearing the top of the hill, I had to walk again because the pain was so excruciating I thought I might puke. I then began to think. I thought of all the training miles, I thought of where I was just a couple of years ago after my brain aneurysm surgery, I thought of my wife and daughters, I thought I'm only zero point two miles away from completing my first marathon. Then I began to jog, slowly at first, then faster. I made the left hand turn onto Columbus and I could see the finish line. The crowd was screaming, and I pushed faster. I was in an all out sprint. I was moving so fast, for the moment the pain was gone. Nothing mattered except crossing the finish strong. I'm guessing I passed probably close to 100 people in the final 0.2 miles. Then, it happened I raised my arms in my own personal victory as I crossed the finish line in 4:45:08.

Tammy, and I
After crossing I got my finishers medal, which I was happy about, but I was disappointed in my performance. After talking to my wife she reminded me that you can't control what your body does, and that I should be proud to have finished under the circumstances. In retrospect I am. But the 26.2 monster and I shall meet again after I'm healed. Hopefully I'll win that battle.
After the race, rubbing the arch. Ugh, that arch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011 My First - Part 1

We arrived in Chicago Saturday October 8th and took the subway to the marathon expo. Let me just say, WOW! This was the largest expo I'd ever been to, it had everything a runner could want. All the big names were there but I was really excited to get to the Newton booth. My wife and I went to the packet pick up and got my bib number and headed into the main expo room where they smartly made you walk the entire length of the expo to pick up your tech shirt. On the way I saw the Newton booth and got even more excited. We picked up my shirt and made our way back through the expo. I eventually went to the Newton booth and after having a lengthy conversation with one of the representatives there I bought some cool Newton stuff.We met up with a friend and finished walking the rest of the expo, where I also bought another shirt. Then I took him back to the Newton booth and talked to him about the shoes and natural running etc, etc.

We had dinner that evening with some additional friends who live in the area and got to catch up on everything that had been going on in with each of our lives. It was a great time to sit and relax before the big day. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I checked all of my gear again to make sure it was all ready for the morning. We went to bed and as is mostly the case I didn't have much problem going to sleep. Although, I did wake up a few times anxious that the 4 alarms I had set wouldn't go off and I would over sleep. (I usually have this happen when I have a big event the next day.)

Four fifteen came fairly early and it was Race Day! I got ready and we headed out of the hotel where we met up with our friend Matt who would hang out with my wife while I ran. We drove to the train station where we boarded the train heading for downtown. It was about a half hour ride or so, and at almost every stop someone else got on the train who was headed to the race. I must say it's a very surreal experience to see so many like minded individuals who all spent so much time and effort training for one event gathering and making a trek to one destination.

Once we arrived downtown and walked toward Grant Park it was time to say my goodbye's to my wife who's been so supportive of this goal of mine. I finished my preparations, gave her a hug and kiss and told her I would see her at about mile 7 where she would meet me for the first time. I crossed inside the gated portion of the starting areas and began immediately looking for a port-o-potty, because I needed to go REALLY BAD. The lines were excruciatingly long everywhere I looked, and a little bit of panic started to set in. Then I noticed something very odd, that I'd heard about but never thought it would be so blatantly obvious. I saw many a runner near a single tree standing extremely close to the said tree. It dawned on me then what they were doing. Now, myself growing up in the country had done this thing many times but generally without an audience. But, hey I had to go and it was getting urgent. So, I went.

Then I headed over to the D corral where I found that my pace group was actually in the open corral. So I moved back a little bit and found the four hour group with their signs where I settled in for the wait. It was an amazing sight, every direction I looked was a sea of runners. As the start approached, the announcer began to introduce the elite athletes and there wasn't much of a reaction until Ryan Hall's name was announced, then the crowd had an obvious reaction to his introduction. I must admit I had goosebumps.

As the horn sounded the crowd began to surge forward and before I knew it I was crossing the starting line. I was on my journey to completing my first Marathon.

To Be Continued...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Am I doing this thing right?

I'm running the Chicago Marathon on October 9th, 2011. I'm now less than 2 weeks away from this race and this will be my first full marathon. Having never run this distance before, I'm kind of freaking out!

With only 10 days left before race day (as of this writing) I know at this point there is nothing I can do to improve. But, I keep having the question "Are you ready?" flash in my mind. I know I've put in a lot of miles preparing for the BIG DAY. I know I'm registered, I have the hotel booked, I even know I can cover the distance. That's not the issue! The issue is this: I'm very goal oriented, and I've set achievable goals (at least in my mind they are achievable.) I want this race to be special! I know it will be special in all the normal ways a race is special. But I've put my heart, and brain into this race.

After all of my brain surgeries were completed and I ran that first 5k race with my wife I decided I wanted to run a marathon. This was a way for me to prove to myself that I'm back to normal after having a life altering brain aneurysm rupture and nearly killing me. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks. The first week fighting to stay alive even though I was not conscious for most of the first week (at least that I remember)

I read some books on marathons and some training plans, but how do you know if you're doing all the right things for success? Did I pick the right training plan? (I really didn't use one, I made up my own because of my crazy schedule) Did I run enough miles to hit my time goal? (Who the heck knows) Will I hit the wall? (I hope not, I hope the gels and hydration will prevent it) Am I setting too lofty of goals on my pacing? (I've added a minute per mile to my pace from my half marathon pace) I'm tapering now, am I doing it right or am I not running enough? (I feel well rested, but will that result in over-rest where I feel sluggish on race morning) I had some chaffing on my 20 mile run, was that just because it was 90 degrees with high humidity, or will I have that same issue on race day? (Who knows but I'm buying some Body Glide)

I've heard a lot of people say it's your first one, your goal should be to just finish. That's fine and dandy but I don't operate like that. I want to finish but I want to finish strong. I want to finish with a final kick after I make the left hand turn off of Roosevelt Road onto Columbus Drive. I want to maintain a 9:10 per mile pace through at least 20 or 23 miles and then let it fly. I want to be under 4 hours.

But having not done this before I don't know if I'm doing this right? Is this what is suppose to happen? Am, I suppose to feel like this? I've run in some big races before but I've never felt this level of anxiety, especially so far out from race day.

So....... I hope! I hope I've done this right, I hope I'm ready. I guess I'll find out when the gun goes off on October 9th 2011 at 7:30am

To be continued.........................

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sidenotes vol. 1

Since I last updated you I've had quite a bit going on, I'll try to be fairly brief and bring you up to speed.

Jeremy Wright Memorial 5k: 
I ran the Jeremy Wright Memorial 5k on August 13th as planned, and although I had an age group positioning lower than last year, my time was faster. I ended up going out a little too fast at the start and paid for it a little later. My first mile split (my tracker had poor reception so these are close guesstimates) was 6:45, followed by 8:21, and a 7:49 plus the point 1. This came out to an official time of 23:26 which just happens to be a PR for myself. I was happy with this as I'd not been doing any real speed work since I'm actually in training for my first marathon attempt in October. I did not win my age group this year but I did get a door prize which was nice.

Marathon Training:
I've really been trying to increase the long runs this month as we're getting close to race day. The Chicago Marathon is on October 9th this year, and I'll be there running it with 45,000 other runners. I ran my first 20 mile long run with some success. I took it nice and slow just wanting to make sure that I got it finished. I did finish it, however, I did experience a little chaffing. Then it was time to try my hand at my first ice bath which was cold but relaxing. Work has been a little hectic and has made my training difficult to get in at times but I continue to be creative and find ways to make it happen. I run at night, or early in the morning. I do not run super early in the morning though, mostly because I can't seem to get my body moving that early unless it's race day.

My Brain:
I had a brain scan to see if any additional aneurysms have formed since my last surgery. I went in to the hospital and was hooked up to an IV so they could inject a dye so they could see the contrast in the veins better. The nurse told me that I might experience a hot flash when they inject the dye and I didn't think much about it but WOW! When that stuff started flowing through my veins the hot flash was like a giant wave that washed over my entire body. It was extremely hot and uncomfortable but it only lasted for a few seconds. I did get the results back a few weeks later and my doctor informed me that I am clear of any abnormalities. I'm so excited, as was my wife and family. Thankfully I still get to run the marathon. I had a deal with my wife that if it came back and I did have another formation I would not be running the marathon this year.

Until next time..... keep on running!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jeremy Wright Memorial 5k

All of us that run races have experienced a race or two or three that hold a special place in our heart. Each of them hold that place for different reasons. Maybe we set a new P.R. last year, or it was the first race we ever ran. Maybe we have a special memory that set that race apart from the others, etc. etc. etc.

I have one of these races approaching in August. It's not a big race, typically there is less than 100 particpants in the 5k race. But, this race holds a special place in my heart for a reason not related to me but for the person the race is named after. The race is the Jeremy Wright Memorial 5k.
Jeremy Wright at Wabash College

Jeremy grew up in rural Shelby County, Indiana as did I, however he attended Southwestern and I attended Triton. We were on rival teams growing up, but as our teams competed I did admire him. He was a great distance runner and a tremendous competitor. Not to mention that he was much faster than myself. After High School I went on to do my thing, and so did he.

Jeremy went on to Wabash College where he was the the most decorated distance runner in Wabash athletics history, and was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. Wright was a two-time All-American cross country runner, First Team Academic All- American, NCAA Great Lakes Regional champion in 1993 and Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference cross country Most Valuable Runner in 1993 and 1995. He won a total of seven ICAC distance-running championships, including three in the 10,000 meters, two in cross country and two in the 5,000-meter run. Then after college in the late 1990s, Wright's trail running achievements piled high. He was a two-time champion of the Pikes Peak Ascent (Colorado Springs, Colorado), a half-marathon climb to the summit of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak,  and claimed many major snowshoe championships. Most remarkably, Wright represented his country on the U.S. Mountain Running Team four straight years, from 1998 to 2001.

Then after September 11th of 2001, he enlisted in the US Army, and went on to become a Green Beret. He was stationed in Afghanistan where he would continue to run up mountains. However on January 3rd 2005 Jeremy's Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb and a great runner, and patriot was killed.

 As a way to honor what he meant to running, and those that loved him every year since 2006 there is a 5k run in his hometown. Proceeds go to fund a couple of different scholarships. For me this race is a time that I remember Jeremy and it's a way for me to honor the sacrifice he and his family have made.

Here are some additional links about Jeremy Wright, and if you're in the area in August I urge you to join this race.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Youthful Runner

The other day I was reading my June issue of the Running Times magazine. I was reading a great article titled "Kids Going Long" by Jonathan Beverly. The article looks at opposing viewpoints on the subject of how many miles should young runners run, and can too many miles ruin young runners? I believe this article does a good job at highlighting these viewpoints but the thing I took away from this is that the miles are fine as long as the kids want to run, and they build gradually.

One of the main runners Jonathan Beverly looks at is Alana Hadley and her 70 plus miles per week at age 14. There are those that say this is too much for these young kids, but she's gradually built up to this mileage over the course of 8 years. If she's not having fun or is being pushed by her parents then it's probably not a  good thing. But if it's her choice then let her be and let her have fun.

For me I found this article interesting because my oldest daughter has begun to ask about running some races with her mom and myself. I couldn't be happier with her interest in running. While I was running through school I found the experience to be very enriching and hope that if that's what she chooses to do that she will find it to be the same. At only eight years old and a bundle of energy I can see in her a young distance runners body. But, I've never been sure about how early to start letting her run. I'd been doing some research on youth running and when it was safe to start letting kids run. I've also noticed that I'm starting to see kids her age at some of the races I've attended.

After seeing the progression that Alana Hadley had gone through over the years I have decided to allow my daughter to begin her training. We will however have some ground rules going into this, and it will be her choice and I will be there to encourage, and support her in whatever she decides to do.

If you have a child, I suggest you read this article and then let them run responsibly.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Running My Town, In and Around

Plainfield Pedestrian Bridge

Have you ever been out on a run, or bike ride, and seen a store, shop, or business that you’ve never seen before or didn’t know existed in the town where you live? I’ve lived in my town for 6 years now, and this still happens to me on occasion. When it does, it provides me with a sense of wonderment and adventure... knowing that this place has been here for some time now and I had no idea that it even existed. Yet I’ve been down that street before, but never realized or paid attention. It starts me thinking while I’m running that maybe I don’t know my town as well as I think, or I wonder what else I’ve missed and what else could be here.          
I live in a small Indiana town called Plainfield. The name used to say it all, but not any longer. The town is anything but plain. It’s continued to grow and expand even during the economic downturn the country has been experiencing over the last several years. In 1990, the population was just over 10,000 residents and as of the 2010 census, the population has grown to 27,631. The town of Plainfield IN was incorporated in 1839 and got its name from early “Friends” (Quakers) who were a “plain” people. US route 40 runs through the center of town as Main Street, on which in 1842,  then President Martin Van Buren was deliberately spilled from his stage coach in the thick mud of the highway. This was due to his vetoing a bill from Congress to improve the highway system. I wish we could sometimes do this now with some of our lawmakers and government officials, but I digress.      
My town has over 26 miles of paved bike/running trails and they continue to add more all the time. (For those of you keeping track that’s enough to run a marathon on, right?) I live on the west side of Plainfield, nearing the town limits, and from my house it’s only a short warm-up before I’m on the trail system. Once on these trails I can travel through and around my town. I often run the same initial stretch of trail, but on my longer runs I get to see many more areas of town. On one such run I became aware of how many pizza places we have. Evidently Plainfielders like their pizza because at last count, we have 12 pizza shops. I think we’re approaching 25 hair salons but I’ve not actually counted these.      
There are several gyms, a bike shop, 3 or 4 karate studio’s, yet there isn’t a running store. I would love to open one up but that would take a lot of capital that I just don’t have. With all of the trails and activities, we’re becoming a more active and fit community, so I would venture to guess that before long someone else will get the idea of opening a running store. When they do, I can't wait to visit and shop there. I just hope they have the kind of shoes that I like, but if not, it will be a convenient place to pick up gels and the like.  

Plainfield Aquatic Center Splash Island
 A typical run for me will start out on a long stretch of the Vandalia trail that used to be a railroad trackbed. I sometimes wonder how many trains have passed through there over the life of the train system. I'll head east for about a mile and a half before reaching the Plainfield Aquatic Center. During the summer months as I pass I can hear the children playing in the Splash Island pool. From there I traverse a slight hill, which drops me down toward Franklin Park, and in the spring & summer I can see little league games being played. This reminds me of my youth, when I played on diamonds that were less fancy than the ones here, but I can remember the joy of contacting the bat with the ball and the sound it makes as it flies into the sky. Heading south  on the White Lick Creek trail during the fall, I can smell the leaves and grass as they near the end of the life cycle. This smell reminds me of my high school days and the fragrant smell of many cross country meets. During the winter when it snows, this is my favorite part of the trail.  All of the trees catch the flakes and the blanket of white shuts out all other sound except the sound of my footfalls and the water of the creek nearby. I'll cross the pedestrian bridge where during my night runs, the sign above the bridge is lit up so it can be seen by passing cars.  A little farther and I will come to an iron bridge, where I can remember the thrill my family and I had when we found our first geocache.
White Lick Creek during winter

Sometimes running isn't about your split times, PR's, races, etc... Sometimes, it's just about getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other and experiencing your surroundings. The smells, or the sun on your face, or rain in your eyes, and sometimes it's about the snow encrusted hair on your head. Running is, and should be, fun. It's not just about getting faster, or losing weight. But it should be about the joy of being alive and experiencing everything life has to offer, which sometimes can be painful during the long runs when you're pushing it. But it can also be easy, like when you're running with a friend and having a good conversation as you run.
The purpose of me writing this is not so much that you’ll know what my town is like, but to inspire you to get out and see your town on foot. You can experience so much more when you’re on foot than if you were driving around in a car. Even if you are a much faster runner than I you have the ability to see your town for what it is. You can experience the sidewalks, streets, or trails with your own two feet and revel in the beauty of the place that you live. Not every street may be beautiful, but even then sometimes the lack of beauty is beautiful in and of itself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The 35th Running of The Mini-Marathon.

I started just behind the white bucket truck.
                In preparation for the first Mini-Marathon in 1977, the race was originally slated as a bicycle race. However, organizers decided that having a bike race in the month of May would take away from the annual Little 500 held every year at the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, Indiana. (See the movie Breaking Away-- a favorite of mine) So, they decided to organize a running race instead. The first two years of the event included some legends of the sport such as Frank Shorter, who won the inaugural event in 1977 in a time of 1:03:56. Year two was supposed to pit defending champion Shorter and running legend Bill Rodgers against each other. However, Shorter suffered an injury and opted for a ride in the pace car yelling out split times to his friend Rodgers. Rodgers won the event in 1:03. In the women’s race Boston Marathon winner Miki Gorman won in 1:20:56. 
                In 1979, the event became part of the 500 Festival, for the famed Indianapolis 500. The event continued to grow throughout the years. In 1991, my first ever Mini-Marathon, the continued growth of the race had increased to 11,032 participants. In 1993, the decision was made to move the finish line from the famed Yard of Bricks, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to downtown Indianapolis. In 2002 a record field of 25,000 participants made the race the largest half marathon in the nation. This has continued through the present time where organizers have capped the field at 35,000 participants. According to, this race is the 3rd largest half marathon in the world as of 2009.
                This year would be no different; the field was set at 35,000 participants, of which I was one. It’s an amazing feeling standing “at the starting line,” or somewhere behind it, with 34,999 other racers. The sheer magnitude of the event and camaraderie is amazing.
                At 4:30AM my alarm clock decided it was time to get me up and ready to go for the 7:30am gun time. I had laid out my things the night before so that I wouldn’t forget anything on the morning of May 7th, 2011, race day! I got out of bed and headed for the shower to help warm my legs and wake me up. For breakfast I had a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with raisins, maple syrup, and a touch of molasses. I then followed that up on the drive with a small coffee and a banana. We arrived in downtown Indianapolis at around 6:15 or so, and parked the car. As is my “M.O.”, I do not wear my running shoes in the car, so I began my routine of dressing out of the back of the car. My checklist goes something like this, although I don’t have it written down, yet. (After the mistake I made I shall make a real checklist in the future)
                The unofficial checklist for TheBrainrunner: Vaseline between the toes, running socks, shoes, shorts, warm up pants if it’s cold, tech shirt, sweat shirt if it’s cold, race number, timing chip, safety pins, watch, iPod and arm band, headphones, gels, gel clip on pocket, sunglasses, a smearing of lip balm, gloves if cold, hat if cold, bottle of water for pre-race, my wrist band, and band aids...all of which made the trip with me for this morning's race. (I know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of stuff. And it is but, at least I’m prepared, right?)  I was in good shape for the start, I had everything I needed, or so I thought.
                My goal for this race was to run sub 1:50 which is just under an 8:24/mile pace. I was in corral E so I could actually see the starting line from where I was and ended up crossing only 3 minutes or so after the gun. At 7:15ish I took on my first gel so it would have enough time to get into my system before the start of the race. The National Anthem was sung, the gun fired and the green flag waved. I was off and running the 2011 One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
                The thing about running in such a large race is that there are so many people and so many strategies it’s sometimes hard to follow yours. As we headed west on Washington Street passing the Eiteljorg Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Indianapolis Zoo, it became evident to me that somehow there were some mix-ups in the seeding of some runners. Either that or they somehow got in the wrong corral. This was evident because of the excessive left to right movements I had to do to avoid running over anyone. But, for the most part I found everyone to be fairly courteous, and if I accidentally bumped someone's arm I apologized to them, not wanting to be “The Rude Runner.” At the first mile I checked my split against my watch and realized I was going much faster than I thought I was, with a 7:46 split. So I backed it down a little and began counting shoes of the same brand that I have. The number got up to six or seven pairs of Newtons over the next mile as my split came in at 8:19. I was feeling good. My breathing was regulated; I didn’t feel anything other than pure joy. I decided I should just go with it and run from effort instead of trying to regulate my pace based solely on split times.
                I began to look for a friend of mine who started a couple of corrals ahead of me, but who had been nursing a foot injury over the last eight weeks. I knew he was going to run the race, but that based on what he was telling me, he would be slower than he normally is. I also knew that this burned him up inside. After about a mile or so I stopped looking for him. My thinking was that with this many people the chances of me being able to pick out a single person were slim. Then I realized that I needed to use the facilities, translated, I had to pee. Somewhere between miles 4, which happened to be my fastest mile at 7:41, and five I found a pit stop row of port-o-potty's. This slowed me down just a little bit.... I clocked that fifth mile at 8:54, but was back at it.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
                Just a little bit after mile five you enter the town of Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500. Looming in the distance was the famed track, and I, along with 34,999 of my closest friends of the day were going to run on the same track that other racing legends had logged so many miles on in their cars. Just past mile six, and at an 8:02 pace, I enter the back stretch of “The Brickyard.” The track got this nickname because when it was first paved with bricks, it took 3.2 million bricks to complete the project. The front and back straightaways are 5/8 of a mile long with 9 degree banking. Each of the four turns has 12 degree banking, making up the 2.5 mile track. The seating capacity of 250,000 permanent seats makes this the world’s largest sporting facility.
Turn 4 of the Speedway
                At mile seven (8:10 pace), I passed a gentleman who had a tic mark on the back of his shirt for each of these races he’d completed, which was twenty in all. What an inspiration he was! We spoke briefly and parted ways as I pushed on, exiting turn four then heading for the remaining stretch of bricks, which marks the Speedway's finish line. By chance, I spotted my friend up ahead and caught up to him so that we could pass over the bricks together. I wished him luck, and he said he was doing okay for someone who hadn’t trained in 8 weeks. He wished me luck and said I was looking good and seemed to be on pace for a PR. Mile 8 found my pace at 8:12 and I was having a great time. I even picked up a Hawaiian lei from one of the local high school cheer groups. I ran with that for maybe the length of two football fields, then decided it had to go.
                With the track behind me and an 8:03 mile 9, it was time to begin the path back toward downtown to the finish line. Shortly after mile 10, with a pace of 8:17, I began to feel a slight burning sensation around my left pectoral muscle. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I brought my band aids, but I didn’t put them on. I had forgotten to cover my nipples, which were now chafing. Crap! "How could I have been so dumb?", is what I thought as I pictured them sitting on the fourth floor of the parking garage, in the back of my wife’s car, in the side pocket of my duffel bag... unused. I made a quick stop at one of the medical tents to ask if they had any band aids, which they did not. I guess they were more prepared for bigger issues than my now slightly bloody left chest. On I pushed turning off of 10th street and onto White River Pkwy, completing mile 11 in 8:11.             
Heading toward the finish
                I could feel myself beginning to get a little tired, so right before the next water stop I consumed the last of my four gels just in time to wash it down with some water. Then I found myself at mile 12 with a pace of 8:10.  Looking at my watch,  I knew my PR was going to happen today. I tried to pick up the pace to finish strong, but I started the kick a little early, having to slow with only a half left. Then a kind lady from the crowd saw that I was struggling, and thankfully read my name on my bib, yelling it out loud enough so that I could hear. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to dig a little deeper, and I was off again to finish strong. Both sides of the finishing stretch were lined with spectators and bleachers. I kept looking right to left for my wife and my two little girls who had made signs for me. But through all the crowds and my determination, it was hard to pick out any one thing. Sadly I didn’t get to see them cheering me on. As I pushed hard toward the finish line I was trying to do the math from the gun time clock to subtract what I thought was my finishing time.
                I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:46:58, which was revised from 1:47:01. Either of them would have been a PR for me, but going under the 47 minute mark seems a little sweeter. Before I was even halfway through the finishing chute, my wife had received a text that I had finished and she was calling me (you have to love technology.) We met just after that while I was still in the chute, so that I could grab a dry shirt and get some pictures taken with our girls.
                What a spectacular race! I look forward to running it again and again. Hopefully one day, I can run it with my daughters, which is a day that I can’t wait to experience.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Foray Into Trail Running

Trail running. When I think of trail running, I normally think of ultra-marathons run in remote places of the country or globe. I've never run an ultra-marathon. Heck, I've not even run a full marathon yet, but the idea of running on trails seems interesting to me. I listen to a couple of podcasts that talk about trail running and ultra-marathons but I've never done any of that type of running before. During our vacation a couple of weeks ago, we were staying just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As part of one of my runs into the park, I noticed a side trail that I knew lead to the visitor center near the entrance. So, being adventurous, I jumped on the trail and took off.

I noticed another runner ahead of me and tried to pick up the pace, so that I could chat with him as we ran together through this beautiful scenery. This trail is very well manicured and had a fine layer of crushed stone, making it softer than, but as smooth as a road, and I was able to catch up to him fairly easily. Upon striking up a conversation, I found out that the other runner was from a neighboring city to the one that I live in three states away from where we were running now. We ran together for 20 minutes or so, then split up once we reached the visitors center. On my run back to where we were staying, I thought about trying to map out a more adventurous trail run for the next day.

Log Bridge, over troubled water?
So I jumped on the internet and found a trail map for the park then decided on a loop run that would be about 12 miles. The trail map didn't have any elevation notations on it so I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. So the next morning I filled my fuel belt, ate some breakfast, then headed out for my first "real" trail run. I've done some hiking in the Smokies before, so I knew what the trails were like, but I'd never even thought about running on them. I started down the main drag in Gatlinburg, then headed onto the trail that I'd run the previous day. At about three and a half miles I got to the trail head of my adventure and started up a slight incline. This slight incline quickly turned heavenward. I knew I would be a little slower than I normally run, but I was sadly unprepared for just how quickly my pace would slow. Over the first three miles, my average pace was in the 9:20's, with only 38 feet in elevation gain. However, the next four miles were all uphill. The time it took me to run those next four miles was just over an hour, with 1,108 feet in elevation gain. Being from a fairly flat part of the country, I'm not used to this type of elevation gain so I was spent. However, I was having fun and enjoying the scenery, which to me is part of the enjoyment of running, wherever you are. Near the top of the mountain, I came to a stream crossing, which I had to walk vs. run because the "bridge" was a cut log. I didn't feel like I should take a chance since I hadn't seen anyone else in about an hour and the cell coverage, if I was to get hurt and needed help, was nonexistent.

Throughout the run so far, I'd come to three trail markers, each one with other trails veering off in other directions. According to my research, I should have only seen one until I reached a scenic access road, which I was planning on taking back down the mountain and back toward town. I am fairly gifted (according to my wife) with directions, and being able to know which way I'm facing, where we are headed, etc. But being out here for as long as I had without a map, other than the one in my head, I was starting to get a little nervous because I thought I should have come to the road by now. I knew the names of the trails that I was supposed to take from my research, but all of the signs at trail intersections had different names on them. (I know what you're thinking, and that is, "What the heck are you doing; turn around and go back; you're lost, you idiot; are you trying to get yourself lost in the forest without any real supplies?") Nevertheless, I trudged on. After about another 1/2 mile of normal hills, I almost ran into a van, which came out of almost nowhere. It was kind of foggy, hence the name "Smoky Mountains", and I didn't even see the road, but there it was. A nice elderly couple was out sight seeing and I think they were as shocked to see me as I was them. The gentleman rolled down his window to ask for directions and I kind of chuckled to myself and explained to them that I wasn't sure about where they were heading. He then asked how rough the trail was, to which I explained that the last 1/2 mile or so was fairly easy and that there was some great sights to see.

We parted ways and I headed down the road. The road was, you guessed it, downhill. On the way down the mountain, I came around a bend to see a line of cars stopped with camera lenses sticking out the windows. This made my heart jump! Having been to the park at least 12 times I knew that this meant wildlife was near, and that sometimes this meant black bear. If this was the case, it looked like a great time to catch my breath and start walking.
Black Bears in the Smokies
I raised my glasses so that I could see more clearly, and was relieved when I saw not bear, but wild turkey strutting through the woods. Whew was I relieved to see Tom walking and not Yogi! The rest of the run was normal and without incident. I ended up with 11.98 miles and my first real trail run in the bag. I loved the experience, and got a real sense of nature just being out there with the mountain. I look forward to running some more trails in the future and think that I will have to add this to my training regimen if for nothing else than to break up some of the monotony that roads can sometimes have.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Short & Sweet

Since my last entry I've had a lot going on. I was actually on vacation when the last post went up. My family and I took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN for some rest and relaxation. I ran my first "real" trail run in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was awesome and humbling at the same time. After we returned, I had to exchange my 3 week old shoes because of some stitching issues. My replacement shoes were on back order, but after about a week I got the problem resolved. I'm now just recovering from a cold, so my running has been very minimal over the last two weeks.

On April 23rd, I'll be running in the Bricks to Bricks 10 Miler, which is a training race for the Mini Marathon.  I'm looking forward to this event because I love running in big groups. It's run in downtown Indy--check out the course map here.  I'll give you an update on the run after I've completed it. 

That's all I have for now. Sorry for the short post. Please click on the "follow" button to the right to get updates when I post new entries. Thanks for reading, please leave a comment or post a suggestion below.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My First 1/4 Marathon

Over my life, I've run several half marathons with my next one coming up in May, but I've never run or heard of a quarter marathon before this race. My wife signed us up for the Sam Costa quarter marathon, as a training run for my upcoming half. We both like the races as they keep us motivated and pumped up. There's also a half marathon at the same time, but we opted for the quarter.

Never having raced this distance before (6.55 miles),  I thought about my goals going into the race and came up with a formula for what I thought I should be able to run. My last half marathon was run in November of last year with a time of 1hr 57min 31sec, and my last official 10k was in June of last year with a time of 59min 15sec. So I did some math on the way to the race, and figured out that I should be able to run an 8:54 pace and finish in just under 58:30.

It was 28 degrees outside and I was planning on wearing a long sleeve tech shirt and shorts, but thankfully I brought some other clothes with me just in case. On the drive, I noticed some flags and trees blowing significantly in the wind and I kept thinking that maybe it will warm up a little before the race start at 9:05am. But the closer it got to start time the more I realized that it was not in the cards. So, as I climbed in the car to change into my running shoes I also grabbed my tights and a second long sleeve tech shirt. With the windchill it felt like it was 19 outside, so I was happy to have the extra layers.

At a little after 9:05am the half marathoners started out on their course, some of which we would share over the 1/4M distance. At about 9:10am we got our instructions, warnings, and the countdown to the start of our race. With 317 runners in my race I started toward the front middle of the pack.

Within the first quarter mile there was a sharp turn and a steep decline where I could see the race leader begin to pull away from his contenders, and he was flying. (The winner ran a 36:28 for the course) The course wound through some neighborhoods and onto a bike path. At the first mile I realized I had gone out much faster than what I thought I should have with a split of 7:57. I thought that I was going to pay for my faster pace later. I tried to taper back my pace a little as I pushed on, but I had put together a really great playlist for this race so it was hard to slow down. Then mile number two came and went with a 7:58 mile. But, I felt good and didn't feel like I was pushing it too hard so I decided to try and keep a steady pace. If I felt like I was pushing too hard, then I would have to slow down. At this time though, I already had about a minute cushion in my pocket, so at the very least I would be able to catch my breath and get back at it.

Making a left hand turn after mile two, I was confronted with a decent hill, climbing over 50 feet in less than a half mile, which may not seem like much, but Indiana is a fairly flat state. I've not begun to work on any hill training as of yet, but I don't think I did terribly. I just shortened my stride and tried to increase my turnover a little. Mile three was finished in 8:28. The hill wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be and I kept pushing on.

Miles 4 through 6 were about the same, and nothing major happened. However, I did get the pleasure of grabbing a cup of Gatorade that was mixed heavy on the powder and light on the water. WOW! That's a shocker to the the taste buds. The splits were 8:11, 8:17, and 7:59 respectively.

The last .55 miles were ahead of me and I knew there was a good hill waiting for me near the finish line so I picked up the pace trying to push it home. I finished my first 1/4 marathon in 52min and 9seconds.

After my wife finished, we went to check the official times and found out that I finished 3rd in my age group and 39th overall. I even won a little plaque for the age group finish. My hope is that I can carry this forward as I prepare for one of my "A" races in May. It was a great day, and as much as my time goal being beaten means to me, it means even more that I can get out there and have fun running.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A look back at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

So, I haven't had any races recently, and my training  has been boring to say the least. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a race report from my first half marathon in nearly 15 years, and the first since my brain surgery. The race was on November 6th, 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana, it was exactly two years since my first brain surgery. Needless to say I was a little nervous, anxious, emotional etc...

It was a cold morning at 26 degrees, I was meeting Roy, a friend of my wife and myself near the start. He and I were going to run together for the race. Most of my long runs up to that point I was running between a 9:30 and 10minute pace so my dream goal was to run the half marathon in a two hour pace. My realistic goal was to run the race at a 2hr 10 minute pace.

Lucas Oil Stadium
The first mile travels from Washington Street near the Capital building over to Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. At the stadium the Colts cheerleaders were out cheering on the runners, so me being the goofball that I sometimes am had to run out of the pack and go over to give them high-fives. We completed the first mile in 9min 14sec. We were only 4 seconds behind the 2 hour pace.

Mile two runs back up toward Monument Circle and we clicked that one off at 9:09. It was starting to thin out a little by this point so Roy and I were able to run more freely without having to dodge too many people so we picked up the pace a little.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Miles three through five run through the art district, up to the old Herron Art school buildings. I had a smile as I passed the school remembering some great times I had there when I was a painting major. Our splits were 8:37, 8:33, and 8:56 respectively. I remember feeling good through this point

Miles six through nine were good and I knew that at about 9.5 miles there was a nasty little hill as I approached the "Worlds Largest Childrens Museum" The splits, 8:50, 8:55, 8:47, 9:12 respectively. Somewhere during mile nine I got blocked in at a water station and lost Roy. We had made a deal that if the other felt good we wouldn't want to hold them back, so they should go ahead. I saw his head bobbing about here and there for a little while but didn't want to risk trying to catch up in a quick burst. So I decided to run my own race. 

Methodist Hospital
For miles 10 and 11, I felt like I was struggling. There were some longer uphill sections, although the inclines weren't that large, my legs felt like they were getting heavy. Mile eleven was emotional for me as I could see over a couple of streets to the hospital where I had my surgery and fought for my life only two years earlier. I remember thinking to myself that my aneurysm didn't get me and that I was going to finish this thing. It's amazing how emotional you can get during the middle of a run or race by some small things. Splits for 10 and 11 were 8:53 and 9:10.

Mile 12 to the finish: As I was approaching Monument Circle for the second time of the race, a very patriotic song began playing on my IPod and again I was fighting back the emotions. I also now knew I had at least a 2 minute cushion on my two hour goal. Once I made the final left hand turn I turned on my afterburners to finish strong. Then after I finished, my wife met me at the end of the finishing chute and all I could do was give her a hug and finally cry as I had beaten my aneurysm and been able to be active once again. Splits and finishing time: 9:01, 8:55, with an overall finishing time of 1hr 57min 31.2seconds. Roy finished in 1hr 54min 01.7min. Next time, I hope the gap is a little closer.

Me at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Non-Bulldog Jog Race Report

Saturday March 5th was the Bulldog Jog that I had mentioned in the February 27th post. The day was chilly at 36 degrees when I awoke. There was a steady rain and as race preparations began I was not among the those that were to partake in the running events of the day. When I had inquired with my wife if she had signed us up  for the race on Feb. 27th she hadn't. So, we went to the race website to sign up and to our astonishment the early registration was closed already. This meant you could no longer register online. You'd have to go stand in line on race morning and try to register along with all the other procrastinators, not knowing if you'd be able to get in because they only allow a limited number of walk ups. As we remembered last year that process was kind of crazy, so we opted to not run the race. However we did sign up for the Sam Costa quarter marathon, which can be found at and is run on Saturday March 26th along with the half marathon. I'm using this as a fun run, as it's not one of my "A" races for the year.  My first "A" race is the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon which is one of the nations largest running events at 35k participants.

It's probably best that we didn't run the Bulldog Jog this year anyway. I've been having some issues with my calves being extra tight. It's not really a cramping issue they are just really tight so I've been working on stretching, mesage, rolling them out etc...

This week I've only run 12.6 miles, to give my calves a bit of a rest and hopefully get them back to normal.

Until next time enjoy your runs.
Thanks, theBrainrunner!

Cramps = Pickle Juice?

Recently, 10 healthy male college students filed into an exercise laboratory at Brigham Young University in Utah to drink pickle juice. Many people involved in sports are convinced that the briny fluid combats muscle cramping. In a 2008 survey, a quarter of the athletic trainers interviewed said that they regularly dispense pickle juice to cramp-stricken athletes. Many also report that, in their experiences, the stuff quickly brakes the cramping. The athletic trainers have told researchers that they believe the pickle juice must be replenishing the salt and fluids the athletes had lost to sweat. But no laboratory science had verified that theory.

Until now? Read the rest of the story at

I thought this was an interesting read so I thought I would post a link to it on my blog.

Thanks, theBrainrunner

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New to this blogging thing

I'm new to this blogging thing. I've never written a blog before today. I've read several but this is a whole new experience for me. My plan is to share my training, trials and tribulations, race reports, etc... I'll keep you updated on my brain of course, as I am supposed to be going back for scans regularly.
My next race is the Bulldog Jog coming up on March  5th, I think. I've not registered yet, that I'm aware of, as my beautiful wife takes care of the registration stuff for us. Last years race was her first ever and my first race in many years. I ran it right by her side and we had a great time. But, this year I want to push it, and see what I can do at this race. The course is mostly flat and or down hill, so it is FAST! I'll let you know how it goes! If your interested to sign up for this race you can at
Thanks, theBrainrunner