Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Am I?: A Post About Me

I had always been some what of a recreational runner, but never for any real duration.  By recreational I mean I had never entered a race, never mapped out a route or kept track of how far I ran. As long as the weather was nice, I wouldn’t hesitate to head outside for a run… simply enjoying the experience.
It was the fall of 2008 when I noticed a flyer at my son’s school for a 5K race.  The race was geared as a “Family Fun Run” and took place just a few hundred yards from our house, so I signed us up.  I hadn’t done any running in quite some time and my son was only 6-years old, so we took it slow and easy… running a bit and then walking a bit more (trying not to get passed by the baby strollers).  According to the local running store that was keeping time, we finished our first 5k in 49:14 minutes, a pace of 15:51 minutes per mile.
After the race my wife encouraged me to continue running and stated that it seemed to come natural to me. Her comment and the idea of running stuck in my head, but the idea got pushed to the back of my mind as colder weather approached.  That next spring of 2009 my sister ran her first half-marathon and placed in her age group.  This is something I never knew someone in my family was capable of doing and I was proud of her for doing it.
I then came to a turning point in my life. My wife told me she had checked her blood pressure in a store and found it to be high.  I told her it was probably just work related stress or something else that had escalated her blood pressure that day.  That next week we stopped at another machine and checked her blood pressure again with the same result.  I decided to sit down and have my blood pressure checked as well.  Our results scared me into changing the way I ate and forced me into focusing on a more active lifestyle.
I was happy to get back outside and hit the pavement.  I started running in a park across the street from our house, using a small loop that my Children’s school used to measure miles for their walk-a-thon events.  For the first time in my life I was unable to run a continuous mile and found myself having to stop and walk to catch my breath.  I kept at it for several weeks and remember a sense of accomplishment once I was able to run the entire one-mile loop without stopping.
That summer I tried to get out at least once a week for a run.  I was looking forward to the next 5k race that fall.  I had been running the route from the 2008 5k and finally felt comfortable with the distance.  This time my wife and I both ran the race, while my children participated in the “dash” events.  My wife finished at 40:13, a pace of 12:58 minutes per mile and my new 5k PR (personal record) was 30:13, a pace of 9:45 minutes per mile.  I still remember how excited I was about my time and being able to watch my wife cross the finish with a great time as well.  That following month my sister finished her first Marathon and I was in awe knowing how hard it was for me just to get to where I was.
I began searching online for ways to improve my run and came across a few blogs related to running and got hooked.  I started reading about some of the gadgets people were using and ended up buying my first Garmin Forerunner that year.  I had also found the GO! St. Louis website where the St. Louis Half Marathon was said to be one of the largest in the United States, selling out months in advance.  I signed up for the half-marathon just to experience the event, not knowing if I would be able to run the entire distance.
I found a training program and started immediately.  This ended up being the first year I would run through the winter months.  My wife and family were incredibly supportive and filled my Christmas stocking with all the cold weather running gear I would need.  I started to experience running in an entirely different way than I had before.  I watched the sun rise on several morning runs as well as followed it back to the Earth’s horizon during my evening runs.
Spring 2010 was here and race day came quicker than I had expected. The furthest I had run during my training was 10 miles.  I still wasn’t sure I could finish the entire race without walking, but began to feel the excitement build.  I did end up running the whole race with little difficulty, partly due to the fact that spectators lined the streets, cheering on runners for the entire 13.1 mile course.  I ran my first half-marathon in 2-hours and 10 minutes!
I continued running through the summer and had another half-marathon in the back of my mind.  My sister had visited the previous summer and ran a half-marathon while she was here.  When she left I promised I would run one with her when she returned.  With one half-marathon under my belt, I felt pretty good about it.  Unfortunately my Mother’s health became an issue that summer so we postponed our race for later in the year.
My training runs took on new meaning as I started to think about incurable diseases and how being able to run really is a gift.  My sister has been using her runs to give back for several years now, most recently running in the New York City Marathon to help raise money for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  I want to stay healthy for my children and I want them to grow up strong and healthy as well.  My 6-year old daughter loves to run with me, so I take her on short runs when the weather is nice, hoping that I can lead by example.
My sister and I registered for the Lewis & Clark Half-Marathon in October 2010.  This time around I had a lot to motivate me and I knew I could run the 13.1 miles.  I had a goal to beat 2-hours and only needed to keep my average pace faster than a 9:00 minute mile to do this.  I started out at a slow, but comfortable pace and wasn’t feeling too bad as my pace increased throughout the race.  I began to really push myself as we approached the last mile, finishing my second half marathon in 1-hour and 53 minutes, a pace of 8:31 minutes per mile!  My sister had finished almost 15-minutes ahead of me at 1-hour and 39 minutes.
With my second half-marathon behind me I started to look forward to the GO! St. Louis Half-Marathon in the spring of 2011.  I wanted to challenge myself, but really didn’t feel ready to make my spring race a full marathon.  Then almost as if on cue, The Competitor Group and FLEET FEET St. Louis announced that the Lewis & Clark would be rebranded as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series in 2011.  To further tempt me they offered a special entry fee for the first 500 participants who registered.  Needless to say I have signed up for my first marathon.  I will be using this blog as a training journal as I try to achieve my goal of running 26.2 miles under 4-hours.


  1. Awesome Blog Jeff! Really looking forward to following your training journey and watching you finish your first 26.2 in under 4 hours!

  2. Jennifer is an inspiring and determined individual so since you share the same genes I am certain you will have so much success training and completing this marathon. We are all pulling for you and I cant wait to see all of the updates! Good luck!

  3. I loved your blog. Your sister is such an inspiration to so many of us, getting me to run more then I have in a long time! I am a triathlete so running is just a part of what I do, and not the best at. I'm sure you will achieve your goal and exceed it. I look forward to following along in your journey to the 26.2 finish line.

  4. Wow, Jeff! Love your new blog and learning about how you got involved with running.