Well life got away from me and I’m dreadfully behind on this blog. But trust me I’ve been running and hammering away at my goals, and I managed to get in three marathons and my first ultra-marathon.
CIM, you were a heartbreaker. I typically do well on this course and two weeks before the run I switched up to using Brooks. I’ll admit that I didn’t give myself enough time in these shoes to ‘bring them to life’ and paid for it. At mile 8 I felt my legs were a fit fatigued, I felt I was pushing way too hard to turn in the desired pace times. I did meet my 13.2 time goal, but could tell things were about to become a real struggle. Let me say again that I love this course and have signed up for December of 2023, but seeing waves of runners pass me during the last 5 miles really tested my emotions.
In April I was off to Las Vegas to run the Mt. Charleston marathon and to cut to the point, I got my ass handed to me for the last 10 miles. From miles 1-15 I crushed it with some outstanding mile times, but alas a marathon is 26.2 miles. At the start it was 23 degrees with snow and ice on the course.
Being on April Fool’s Day I had a little fun with my shirt design, and being a downhill course I hope I at least made a few people smile.
As we entered the Las Vegas valley the temps came up and we were treated to a great Spring day as my quads begged me to stop. I ignored them and did press to the finish, although slowly… I still made it. I celebrated a runner that just found out they ran a BQ, and at the same time I felt such a disappointment in myself for not rising to the occasion that day. But I shall and will carry on.
As you can tell I’m still trying to keep up with all things 2022, and what has transpired since I last updated in July.
The Dolittle Marathon in Wisconsin was a hot and humid run, September can be that way in the Midwest. By far the smallest field I’ve ever participated in. At mile 15 a runner told me that the entire marathon is pretty much organized by one guy that just wants there to be a running event in the area. And I love him for that.
The Monumental Marathon was… stupid windy. The wind was clocked with having 40mph gusts from the south, and the last have of the marathon faced that direction most of the time. We had a little bit of rain, but that wind was fierce. I hit my half time but knew once I turned into that wind a PR was probably not going to happen. And it didn’t, but I honestly felt as thought I had an overall great effort on this run. Every marathon this year up had a weather challenge, the snow and cold or Carmel, the rain an mud on the trail with the Light at the end of the Tunnel, the heat and humidity of the Dolittle… and lastly that wind of the Monumental. Surely I can turn this around at the CIM.
2022 is flying by, but I've been fairly busy. Too busy to update this dang blog, but fear not! So The Carmel Marathon was in April (yes, I'm that far behind). It was a cold one and snowed from mile 7-11, but that builds character right? It was one of those runs that I knew would be a bigger struggle than your typical 26.2 miles. But let's face it, they are all a unique challenge. After the first 5 miles I knew a PR was not in the cards and the best thing was to keep pushing and lean into the wind. No PR and even 15 minutes off my pace from last year, but I totally accepted that. Not upset because I gave it my all and wonderful company of other runners.
So next up was Seattle and the 'Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon' on June 12th. With this run I had very high expectations, a PR... and maybe that BQ I've been chasing. This marathon had several cool features, but the standout was the 2.4 mile run through the mountain via an old train tunnel. Feeling the temps drop by 20 degrees and seeing your breath in the beam of your headlamp was pretty awesome.
The scenery was amazing too, the main challenge was the rain the night before and it being a crushed rock course. But hey, like I said they are all unique. I took off hard and slammed out a 7:06/mile average until mile 17, and then my body had other plans. at mile 20 I knew I was in trouble, and at mile 21 knew a BQ was not happening... my best possible outcome was a PR, and I'd struggle for that. When I hit that last flat patch my gut told me the finish line was near so I pushed HARD. The end result was a PR and an education on what experienced, and what I need to do next. As I've been doing these marathons, the medals come home for Pirate Cat, as I will continue to do so. Up next, marathon 23!
Mental health doesn’t care from what political ideology you subscribe to, but it does affect all of us at some point. And that’s a fact. As of March of 2022 there nearly 240 anti-LGTBQ laws were passed in this country by Republican controlled states. I could also touch on how science in the past 20 years has shed more light on human sexuality and gender identification. Which it has in very concrete ways. Basically, what the Republicans are doing is using their power to suppress a group with less power, this way they can tell their base ‘look, we’re doing something.’ Don’t believe me? Look at their track record.
More broadly what they’re doing is contributing to the rising suicide rates in the LGTBQ community. As we all know, it’s hard enough growing up and coming of age. Now put yourself in the shoes of a person that’s also being marginalized while also navigating the pressures of life you’re also experiencing or have experienced.
LGTBQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempted suicide than their peers. Let that sink in… Now review your voting record. Now, consider that you have a friend or relative in this group, probably more than you ever realized. Whether you know it or not. On my recourse page I’ve updated it to now list The Trevor Project. An outstanding site that offers help to the LGTBQ community. To those in the group please know you are loved, and we have your back.
So I’ve been busy/So where to begin… I’m wrapping up 2021 on several high notes and a few injuries, but those are the clouds that will pass.
I pulled of marathon #19 on November 6th running my 6th Monumental Marathon. Everywhere I go I brag about this course and event, it’s such a great tour of Indianapolis and very well managed. I can honestly say I ran a really strong half-marathon with a few struggles starting around mile 15-23. But what can you do except slug it out. Which is what I chose to do and there is beauty in the struggle and beauty at the finish line. I missed my personal record by about 28 seconds which I set in Carmel Indiana in April.
On December 5th I was in Sacramento for the CIM, my 20th marathon and 5th for the year. Like in 2019 I made the error of trying to get into my starting wave later than what I should have and started way behind my desired pace group. But like in 2019 I just went with the flow and found zin in every step. Somehow I pulled off the strongest 18 miles of my life, the wall found me at mile 20, and I found the strength to push through. So… I ended up pulling off a personal record by about 3 minutes and moving the needle much closer to a BQ.
And I ran these worth a purpose for two missed souls. I brought back some medals for Pirate Cat and for my friend Leslie, who I still miss dearly. Just a few runs left as I nurse my injuries, but a record number of miles has already been reached.
If you're a runner, walker, biker, or just like to stroll on the Monon Trail on the Northside of Indianapolis then you've probably heard of Pirate Cat. If not then do yourself a favor and look him up on social media. He was our friend, and sadly left this world on April 6th 2020, but he set up permanent residence in our hearts.
I had the pleasure of meeting this little scamp in 2017 on a long run and was immediately befriended by him. I later learned of what a celebrity he was. Over the years I would head out on that trail and durning my 4 mile point would nearly always see Pirate Cat lounging at the Monon Trailhead soaking up the sun and attention (on his own terms). It became a happy routine for myself and others. But as we know we are not meant to live forever and while you're here you need to make it count. Live the life you desire in your heart, love others intensely, and soak up that sun and may your cup of rum runneth over.
I knew there was a permanent maker being placed on property generously donated by the United States Tennis Association. I even cleared my Sunday plans and cancelled my Ann Arbor marathon trip for this event. But on my Saturday run the day before I wasn't expecting to see it, at least not in that location. After placing a Jolly Roger in his favorite spot I hooked left up a trail, crossed the barrier of hedges, and saw the face of my friend. He stopped me in my tracks, I was motionless, and I wept openly. Once I pulled myself together I smiled and somehow said, "Hey Pirate Cat" with joy.
I could go on and on about the mental and physical positives of pet ownership, but cats are a few degrees of 'different'. Living with four I know this well. And I'm sure you know of this as well.
Once again a HUGE thanks to the United States Tennis Association/Midwest Section for the lovely spot. They stepped in and opened their hearts when others did not. Park at the 96th street Monon Trailhead and take the path on over for a visit. The town council of Carmel Indiana decided to be complete dicks and said no to a marker in his favor spot. Pirate Cat did leave them looking embarrassed quite a bit, so that theme continues. Much love always little buddy, and thank you.
Three weeks ago the Big Cottonwood marathon broke my heart, and almost my spirit... almost, it was a close one. This was supposed to be 'the one', my BQ marathon. I did nearly everything correct in prepping for this one, but sometimes even the best laid plans crumble before our eyes as they descend down a mountain side.
But that's just it, the incline really got me. This being my third downhill marathon, also turned out to be the hardest. The first 8 miles were somewhat strong, but by mile 9 my IT bands were on fire. Quads not so bad, but those tendons were screaming. At mile 13 I was stretching and even massaging my sides, this had now turned into a 'let's manage this' run. The dream of a BQ was once again gone.
The thunderstorms started at mile 19-23, and I started to have a conversation with a past Boston marathoner and she put things into perspective. We even made jokes at our casual pace while dripping wet. And I needed that for my own attitude.
The following day I woke up with one of the worst muscle tears I've ever had, which made the rest of my time in Utah a real challenge. Between the funk of defeat and the jarring pain in my leg, my outlook wasn't the best.
Even as I type this I'm perplexed by this run. On one hand I was ready to throw in the towel and declare that maybe Boston was beyond my scope, but on the other when I suffer set backs it only makes me want to keep pushing. It's like the universe asks me 'How bad to you want this.'
I'm still wounded, but I still want this really bad. So the mission continues.
It seems I'm starting 2021 on a happy note. On 4/03 I ran the Carmel marathon and somehow pulled off a PR of 3:37:16... I was not expecting that at all, in fact shocked at the finish line by the results. Then what did I do? I went to Boston for a visit and an 8.52 mile run (pic below) before heading off to New Hampshire for The Cheap Marathon on 4/11. No joke, it was only $35, and I earning a nifty ribbon!
What was great about this was I was able to run a really consistent marathon, an even pace and non-stop. So now I set my sites on all things Utah and that marathon in September. I'm finally feeling like a BQ is possible and will happen there.
Last run of the year, just 6.07 miles and ended the year at 1251 miles. A new record yes, but short of my goal. I lost about 200 miles this year to injuries with my IT band and various nerves. If I ran in a straight line from my house per the map in any direction, I'd hit the edge of the circle.
All I/we can do is keep going, which I plan to do. 2021 is mapped out and I know the weather is a struggle this time of year. But in the struggle is where true art thrives. Like so many others out there, 2020 was just tough. I lost my job in September, and then in November I lost my father... he was 73.
But I'm optimistic about 2021, the other choice is to live in a state of depression, and I can't do that. Next marathon is in April in Nevada, and that's my next chance to BQ for 2022... all chips in on that.
Marathon 15 in 4 years is in the books, and it was brutal and weird. My first virtual and I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond a really drawn out solo long run. The time isn’t ‘great’ when you compare it to the 3:34:36 I ran in CA last December. But again this was just new territory for me.
The one thing about this run was since it was virtual there was that lack of enthusiasm you get from the crowd, and that encouragement you give to others. I’m EXTREMELY grateful to have done it, but I miss the crowds and the unspoken bond with the runner next to you. I know we’ll get back to that when the time is right. Until then let's all link figuratively links arms an help each other out. Then once COVID19 is taken care of we'll still be helping each other.
And lastly I ran this for our buddy Pirate Cat. He exemplified the bond we have with other creatures roaming this globe. For some reason I think I’ll still see him at the trail head on The Monon. But I always see him in my heart, you are very missed by all of us my friend.
Ryan (That's me)
Runner, writer, and a survivor. It's all about living the life you want and helping each other along the way.