DON’T JUST ‘SEIZE THE DAY’, CELEBRATE IT!
Long time no see
Hello again! It’s been a long time. I’m sorry to break the fourth wall like this, but this is my first blog in a year so thank you for your understanding.
April is a very important month for me, and specifically the last Sunday of the month of April. To quote the first line of the poem Song of Myself by the poet Walt Whitman “I celebrate myself, and I sing myself”. The epic 52 part poem was written in 1892 and has a lot to say about a lot of things, but the gist of it is we are all connected, you should love yourself because you are unique in all the world, and you should embrace the beauty of nature. In short, life is meant to be enjoyed, shared, and celebrated.
Sunday April 28th, 2019 was the day I became a runner. It was the date of the 1st 5K race I ever ran BEAT BEETHOVEN held at Alvernia University in Reading PA, and timed by PRETZEL CITY SPORTS. That day marked to start of a journey of self-improvement and self-discovery. If you had told me back in 2018 that one day I would be running trails in forests, up and down mountains, and across creeks. I would have called you insane. The thought of running marathons was the furthest thing from my mind. Then by accident I made the online acquaintance in a coffee chat group on Twitter of an ultra-marathon runner named Nathan Maxwell. He was always tweeting about these incredible distances he ran. One day, I asked him if he thought that I could ever run a marathon. He said absolutely, start with a 5K, and work up to it. The rest is history.
Running is now a part of who I am. It’s how I self-identify. I cannot imagine not going to races, being with my running friends, and being outdoors enjoying nature. Physically I am now in the best shape of my life and getting better all the time. I have never received as much encouragement and support as I have since I’ve made the connections I have in the community of my fellow runners. Iron sharpens iron!
So ever since that first 5K back in 2019, I make a point of celebrating the last Sunday of April as the anniversary of my becoming a runner. My so-called ‘RUNNERVERSARY’ . It is a personal celebration of all that I have achieved. In 2020, I signed up to run Gettysburg on April 26th with friends, but the race ended up getting postponed until October 18th that year, so we all ran a virtual half-marathon that day instead. Now I always run a half-marathon on the last Sunday of April, which is usually when Gettysburg is supposed to be run, but if the date doesn’t match up, I do a virtual half. Either way, I get a medal. It is a personal belief of mine that if you run a half-marathon or longer, YOU DESERVE A MEDAL. 13.1 miles (21 kilometers) is nothing to sneeze at. You need to celebrate that level of achievement and determination. A medal or trophy is a physical object that you can point to and proclaim “I ACHIEVED THIS”. Running is a celebration of self! Don’t just seize the day, celebrate it in the company of your fellow weekend warriors.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why if running is so important to me did I stop blogging about running last April?
2022 was a hard year for me. I didn’t run as much because of rehabbing a hamstring injury, and then I lost a good friend when SUDDENLY, SUZAN passed away. Her death hit me hard. We ran many races together in the time I knew her and we always ran THE GETTYSBURG HALF MARATHON together.
Although I was still not in the best of shape last April, I ran that half-marathon without her for the 1st time, and placed flowers and a sign near the finish line. I did the course in just under 4 hours, but it was a bitter-sweet victory.
I spent most of 2022 taking it easy, I focused on shorter distances, slower paces, and strength training to correct the muscle imbalance in my left leg caused by the hamstring injury I sustained in July 2021. I really didn’t have anything new or exciting to write about. I hired a personal trainer, found someone willing to run with me at my pathetically slow pace, and gradually as the year progressed I became stronger and faster. I even managed to earn 2 second-place Clydesdale medals before the end of the year. My strength is greatly improved, but my stamina and endurance still need work. I have set a few personal records this year, and I am greatly hopeful that I will be back down to my faster pace by year’s end.
Which brings us to yesterday.
Saturday April 15th 2023 was the 3rd Annual APRIL FOOLISH 10HR Endurance Trail Run. You run as many 4-mile laps around the lake as you can do (or want to do) in the allotted ten hour time period. It’s held at French Creek State Park in Elverson PA.
I have been doing this race every year, even before it was called the April Foolish. I ran my 1st two full-marathons on this course. Last year I was only able to run ONE lap due to a conflict with the Gettysburg Half Marathon being held the very next day. This year the races are thankfully spaced 2 weeks apart. I HAD ORIGINALLY INTENDED to a try a 3rd attempt at that elusive 50K, but with Gettysburg on April 30th, I had to reconsider. I did not want to overdo it and get hurt, so I set a more reasonable personal goal of a 13.1 mile distance. Both the APRIL FOOLISH and the GETTYSBURG HALF-MARATHON are important to me for different reasons, so I was not going to anything to jeopardize doing either race.
I made sure to stock up on all my running supplies, ordering new cases and bags of everything I use. Pacific Health Labs no longer makes the energy gels I was using due to manufacturing problems, so I had to settle for GU Energy Gels. The majority of my running fuels are manufactured by CARBOROCKET and I have been using their products since my 1st half marathon in 2019.
I even brought new trail shoes! The KARHU IKONI TRAIL replaces my beloved (and long discontinued) INOV-8 X-Talon 200, the shoes I ran two marathons in.
The day was mostly overcast, but the rain held off until almost 4pm, and it was 65°F but got humid when the sun briefly emerged from behind the clouds. I ran 3 full laps around the HOPEWELL LAKE, before doing a 1.1 mile partial-lap to do a half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles. Last year, I only ran one lap around the lake and it took me 1hr 24 minutes. I shaved nearly 19 minutes off my first lap this year, passing through the chute in 1hr 5min 23+sec.
I had been determined to beat the lap time from last year, but I shot out way too fast! I paid dearly for that fast lap. By mile number 6 halfway through my second lap, my pace had degraded to over 20 minute miles and remained that way for the next 7.1 miles. It was worth it, but if I had paced myself better, I might have had a better overall time.
I concluded lap #2 at 2hr 41min 49+sec (about 1hr 36 min)
I was dying by Lap #3 taking me till about 4hr 39min 34+sec on the clock (1hr 58min!)
I still needed a partial loop out and back of 1.1 mile to get half marathon distance, and pacer Jennifer ran me out and back to keep me motivated.
I finished the partial lap at 4hr 55min.
This was the longest distance I’ve ran in the past seven months. My trail run half-marathon took me just under 5 hours.
I took it really slow on the tactical parts of the trail navigating through the twisted roots of evil and avoiding tripping on invisible rocks. I can run much faster on flat road.
I’ll be running another 13.1 miles on April 30th in Gettysburg, I’ve ordered a brand new pair of Karhu Fusion road shoes, and I am hoping to run this half-marathon in 3hrs 45 min or faster. Wish me luck!
“Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.” -Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
You can find me at these upcoming local races
April 20th Third Thirsty Thursday 5K Race Series (#1 of 7) @7pm Reading PA
April 30th Gettysburg Half Marathon @8am Gettysburg PA
May 18th Third Thirsty Thursday 5K Race Series (#2 of 7) @7pm Reading PA
Be sure to check back for another article at some point.
As always, I wish you success and happiness!