Update: 50% of #50for50 goal now complete, upcoming May/June/July event listing

Just a few days before my 50th birthday, I was able to accomplish a goal I set for myself one year prior – running a 10k.  Setting that goal was quite a stretch for me, given that a year ago I’d never “run” even a mile in my life (much less several in a row).  Since setting that goal, I’ve thrown all sorts of abuse at my body – from sweating buckets on the treadmill, to nutrition tracking, to limping around on sore knees/shins/ankles, ice packs, “prescription strength doses” of Advil, to twisting my body into pretzel-like shapes in yoga (many of the balance poses are good for ankle strength), to physical therapy and orthopedist appointments…

Fortunately, my body does seem to be holding up to the abuse overall – and on April 28th, I successfully completed the 10k distance of The North Face Endurance Challenge (trail) event here at Algonkian Park in 69 minutes.

That’s not really a very speedy time by any racing standards, but it was still such an amazing feeling as I crossed the finish line (and made even better by the fact that my wife finished just a few seconds behind me).

One interesting thing I learned from that event – “trail” can be much easier on your body overall.  Prior to that event, I’d never actually run a full 5k all the way through from start to finish – I would still always stop a minute or two here and there to give my heart and legs a bit of a rest.  But for the trail format of the 10k, it was much easier on my legs/knees/joints … and I was able to run the entire distance with only a single exception of a 20-second break for water (and other things you simply can’t “run” through on a trail – like a fallen tree on the path).  So now I’ll be adding a few “trail” events to my calendar for 2019.

And as an added bonus, what was really exciting to see was that my last mile … was actually my fastest overall!  That means I didn’t burn myself out on the course and am learning how to pace myself (typically my first mile has always been my fastest).

With the completion of the North Face event, that marks the 4th event of the year I’ve completed so far and has brought my total completed distance for 2019 up to 25 kilometers…
  • Event #1:  Bluemont Shamrock 5k (results link) – 74th place out of 100 (male) runners
    Official finish time:  36m 24s
    Running pace / average speed / max speed:  11’45” / 5.1mph / 8.47mph (runtastic link)
  • Event #2:  Rock Creek Park 5k (results link) – 27th place out of 38 runners
    Official finish time:  35m 4s
    Running pace / average speed / max speed:  11’19” / 5.2mph / 6.9mph (Garmin link)
  • Event #3:  National Beer Day 5k (results link) – 127th place out of 163 runners
    Official finish time:  38m 10s (ankle injury)
    Running pace / average speed / max speed:  12′ 19″ / 5.0mph / 6.8 mph (Garmin link)
  • Event #4:  The North Face Endurance Challenge 10k (results link) – 279th place out of 369 runners
    Official finish time:  1h 9m 26s
    Running pace / average speed / max speed:  11’32” / 5.2mph / 6.6mph (Garmin link)

Total distance completed: 25 kilometers (12-May EDIT: Now 30km with event below)

Hitting the halfway point before Memorial Day weekend means that I should be comfortably on-target to hit my goal to run 50 kilometers this season … as long as my body holds up.  I have a few more events in May/June/July that I am either currently registered for, or taking a close look at:

Updated as of 12-May:

Also, I am currently registered for the 10k distance at the Marine Corps Marathon event in October this year.  That will likely be the “endcap” event for me for the year.

Given that it’s entirely possible I’ll hit my #50for50 goal before the 4th of July, I’ve been pondering some new optional “bonus” goals to strive for.  It will be interesting to see which of these I might be able to hit before the end of the year:

  • 50 miles in 2019, instead of the current goal of 50 kilometers 
  • Complete a 5k in under 30 minutes (10-minute mile / 6.0 mph)
  • Complete a 10k in under 60 minutes (10-minute mile / 6.0 mph)
  • 100 kilometers in 2019 (was planning on this being a 2020 goal, but hey … who knows?)

Thanks to all of you who have shared words of encouragement, or have come out to see me run, or have actually run with me!

If there’s one thing that is even more fulfilling than the sense of accomplishment of completing an event … it’s the outpouring of love and support from friends and family that I’ve received!  It truly is a blessing, and I thank each and every one of you for it!  Your support helps me go farther!

 

My #50for50 goal

A year or so ago in mid 2018, I knew I would soon be coming up on a major milestone in my life.  I knew I’d be coming up on that dreaded marker of having traveled 29.2 billion miles through space – also known as, “turning 50.”  How does one celebrate having survived 50 full years living on a planet where both physics and the laws of nature want to kill you, every single day?  It’s an incredible achievement when you stop and think about it.  Fortunately, I won the genetic lottery just by being born in a time and a place where living past 50 is actually not all that unusual.

But how to celebrate?  I mean, sure – I could go the traditional route of buying a fire-engine red Corvette and then running off with my much-younger secretary … but that’s been done a million times already (and besides, my administrative assistant is the wrong gender for that anyway).

No, that wasn’t going to be the path I took.  But I wasn’t quite sure how else to celebrate, short of the obvious “throwing a big party” (laissez les bons temps rouler, anyone?)

Back in early 2018, I had started paying closer attention to my overall health and fitness.  I wasn’t in the greatest place as January 1st rolled around, and I absolutely needed to get better about it.  In fact, it had gotten so bad that in late 2017 when I attended my mother-in-law’s funeral I couldn’t even button the neck collar on my dress shirt so that I could wear a tie on that day for her.  Honestly, that hit me like a ton of bricks – I had never weighed so much in my entire life, that I couldn’t even button buttons.  So as 2018 rolled around I was already starting to make changes for myself, starting out with Intermittent Fasting.  Overall, that has had some solid results for me (ask me more about it if you’re curious).

Fast-forward to mid-2018, and my 49th birthday came and went … and the countdown-to-50 was really running now.  As I stopped to ponder what I could do over the next 365 days which would be significant, something “improving health” related seemed like an obvious choice to focus on.

But what to do?  I’ve never really been an athlete, never played many sports.  It’s not that I’m uncoordinated, but I just never found anything that I was good enough at, and that I enjoyed doing with others.  I’ll admit to being a bit jealous of some of my other friends who regularly participate in competitive and amateur sports leagues – they are always having fun with their friends, and are helping their health out by doing so.  But I never really found my way into that, despite trying to at previous points in my life.

As a part of already trying to improve my health in some way in 2018 – I had taken up walking on the treadmill at home.  And I do mean walking, because any time I had tried jogging at any point in previous decades, I just couldn’t do it.  My shins would just immediately start radiating this intense pain, within 3-4 minutes of my starting out, and I just couldn’t continue.  So I always assumed jogging was just never going to be in my future.

However … one day after walking 2.5 miles on the treadmill in an hour … I thought I’d give a short jog a try.  So I ramped the treadmill up to 4mph (not at all fast by running standards, but almost impossible to “walk”) and much to my surprise, I was actually able to do that for about a quarter of a mile before I started to hurt.  And the hurt that I was feeling in my legs … was not nearly as bad as when I would just go out and try and run down the sidewalk.

So I figured that might just be my answer – that I just needed really ridiculously long warmups before attempting to jog.  Over the course of a few more “practice short-runs” (with hour-long warmup walks) in the early weeks of the summer of 2018, I found myself increasing my continuous-running time to a half mile, and with speeds getting up to 4.5mph.  And most importantly – without insane levels of pain in my shins.

And so that’s where 50th-birthday-milestone-goal #1 was invented – I decided that I would run a 10k on (or near) my 50th birthday, in order to celebrate.  A 10k is certainly challenging, but did not seem outside of the realm of possibilities for me to build up to in 9-10 months.  It would take training, practice, and dedication to be able to achieve it.

And that’s still a goal right now, but now it is a part of a larger overall goal.  My new and improved goal for this spring and summer is to run 50 kilometers across multiple different events throughout the year – i.e.: #50for50.  And I’m happy to say, I just completed the first 5k (3.1 miles) this past weekend in frigid 37F degree temperatures (that’s me down there in 74th place for the men), so I’m already 10% of the way to my goal for the year!

I might still do that 10k that I’ve had my eye on that is just a week or two before my birthday, but if I don’t (it’s a “trail” course, which is quite different from what I’ve been practicing for) I will find other events throughout the year to get me to my 50k goal.  Here are some of the events I’m either looking into, or currently signed up to run — I’d love to have any of you reading this come and join me!

EDIT: Updated as of 28-Apr

I haven’t seen as much of my friends and family over the past six months, as I’ve been building up towards this goal.  The gym and the dreadmill are taking away time that otherwise would have been spent socializing.  But it’s something I definitely want (and need) to accomplish for myself – so I’m appreciative of all of my friends who have been very understanding that I haven’t been around as much lately!