Author Archives: Perseverance Runner

About Perseverance Runner

I have never been fast or blessed with hand-eye coordination. I am not the smartest person in the room. I don’t claim any special abilities. But I do have endurance and perseverance. These gifts have allowed me to explore the art of distance running and taken me to places I would have never experienced from the living room couch. I hope you enjoy this page as I share my experiences, reflections, photographs, and writings related to running.

Commitment 50K, the Un-cancelled run

photo-collageToday I completed the un-cancelled series. This series began as a four-week program as races were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Then the series extended to six weeks with seven free virtual races: 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, half-marathon, marathon, and an ultra. Today I ran my first ultra of the year and completed this series.

When I got up to run this morning I was not sure if I would run 1 mile or 31. A weekend of yard work left me with a tight inner hamstring and I honestly wasn’t sure what my body would give me today. Even through the first few miles I wasn’t certain how the day would go.

img_0152It was a beautiful day for a run. I started at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and followed the winding trail through the woods. Then, I ran from Battelle Darby, through Lake Darby, to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. The hills of Battelle Darby were replaced with the mud at Prairie Oaks. Nonetheless, I consistently stayed on pace and the first 20+ miles were uneventful.

Around mile 24 I entered the pain cave, but unlike so many races before I didn’t give in to the pain. I doubled down on my commitment and miles 25 and 29 were among the fastest I ran all day.

While the sun made for an unusually beautiful Ohio day, it also took its toll. I was getting hot but was coming up on the one convenience store in Lake Darby. I poured the remaining water over my head and ran to the store as I hit the marathon mark. However, when I got to the store it had closed for lunch–for four hours! I had five miles left to go, was out of water, and dehydrated. But again, I committed myself to the task and ran back to the nature center.

Finishing with a lap around the parking lot, I set a personal record for a 50K img_0153by over 12 minutes. Three weeks after running one of my best marathons ever I ran one of my best ultras.

The theme for this week is commitment. Over these races I have been able to stay with commitment despite pain and weariness.

However, the good folks at Run the Edge keep increasing the level of commitment. At first we went from 4 weeks to 6 and five events to seven. Now, the program has been extended another six weeks with another seven events. Commitment challenges us to thrive during hard times, thank you to Run the Edge for pushing us to achieve new heights.

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Courage 15K, the Un-cancelled run

courage-15kToday was my sixth of seven runs in the Un-cancelled series, a 15K. Like the 8K, I had never run a 15K before. No matter what time I ran it in, it would be a PR. As I was headed out the door I had to look on google to even know the exact mileage equivalent of 15K.

img_0065I went out aiming to run at an 9:39 pace and stayed near that for the whole run. This put me in a different place than races in previous weeks. In my last few runs, I stepped up my goal as I ran, which meant I had to make up time and chase down a deficit. Today I better managed my pace, stayed more consistent for the entire run, and hit my goal with 21 seconds to spare.

However, that doesn’t mean this run was easy. This is my 10th virtual race in the last six weeks. In the last two weeks alone I’ve run a marathon, 10K, 8K, and today a 15K. I have run all of these races with integrity. I may not have set PRs, but I have run hard as if I was in a race. About halfway through today’s run I hit a point where my legs were tired and sore. I could have easily said I’ve raced hard lately and backed off. But I  doubled down on the pace and finished with a negative split (running the second half faster than the first).

img_0066The theme for this week is courage. It takes courage to face pain and lift your head and pull your shoulders back and push on. However, it is by far not the most courageous thing in the world. Often, I have used races to do fundraising. Whenever I do that, I carry the names of people with me who donate and I am always reminded that they have shown more courage than I. The people who have donated to me are people who have overcome cancer, single parents who have raised children, spouses who have lost loved ones. I may have the courage to turn my legs over when they are tired, but that doesn’t compare to the courage of people who have lived in poverty, abuse, and loss.

Today, we have countless examples of courage. Over 20 percent of Ohioans who have contracted coronavirus are healthcare workers. Yet, every day, doctors and nurses and healthcare workers walk back in to hospitals. People in grocery stores continue to keep us fed. There is courage all around us. Whether we run or not, let us all be inspired by the abundance of courage.

Inspiration 10K, the Un-cancelled run

inspiration-10kI have never done anything halfway and running is no exception.

Today marked my seventh virtual race in the last six weeks and the completion of four of sevens races with Run the Edge‘s Un-cancelled race series.

A week ago today I ran a marathon in brutal wind. Today I ran a 10K under a gorgeous blue sky. My body is still not fully recovered from the marathon and yet my body surprised me today. I would’ve been happy to finish the 10K in under an hour, but after the first mile I realized I had more in me than that. I ran each mile faster than img_9949the next and chased down a new goal of finishing with an overall 8:59 minute per mile pace. While this pace is not a PR, it was a great gift for as hard as I have been pushing myself lately. I came in under the 9 minute per mile pace in the last tenth of a mile and pushed hard to the end. 

The theme for this week’s run is inspiration. As I ran I thought of those who inspire me. I thought of a lot of people in our church community who live in poverty and yet show great resilience, perseverance, and faithfulness. One of those people is a woman named Kim Hairston who has been through her own journey and spends the bulk of her time and energy helping people who are homeless and vulnerable. Kim is a person who inspires me. Yesterday she sang a song that was the high point in our worship service. See this video for a person who is one of my inspirations:

Humor Marathon, the Un-cancelled run

When Run the Edge created the Un-cancelled project with an opportunity to sign up for one of five events, I signed up for all five and I laughed.

When I scheduled this marathon I had no idea what the weather would be like today, but I went out in to it anyway and I laughed.

When the wind blew so hard it bent my body, I laughed.

When an 18 wheeler drove by and caused an even greater gust of wind and sprayed me with water, I laughed.

When sleet hit my face, I laughed.

When I made a wrong turn and added a couple of unexpected miles to my route, I laughed.

When I finished a marathon 28 seconds slower than my goal, I laughed.

When I put out the best effort of any marathon I have ever run while running the last 10 miles in to a 25 mile per hour wind, I laughed.

The theme for this week’s Run the Edge is humor. We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can run in to the wind of life and laugh at the rediculousness of it all.

Hope half-marathon, the un-canceled run

Today was my second run in the Un-canceled series, a half marathon. In addition to running 13.1 miles, this virtual run came with the following invitation: If we can hope, then we can pull through this dark time together and come out the other side. If we can hope, then we all have something that keeps us going right now. In the words of Hellen Keller, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”  And we will overcome it.

hope-halfThis morning’s run was a beautiful journey, a welcome break from so many reports of infections and death. The sun shone in a blue sky in a way that we seldom experience in Ohio. I ran a familiar path around Hilliard and up and down the banks of the Scioto River. Water rushed over the Griggs Dam and spring blossomed all around as a reminder that life wins.

Hope is all around us

Hope is found in families out walking together

Hope is found in neighbors who call each other as they make a rare trip to the groceryimage0 (1) store

Hope is found in people who volunteer and work at free food markets so all people can have access to healthy foods

Hope is found in trees the bud and flowers that bloom

Hope is found in artists who freely give of themselves so our souls can experience beauty

Hope is found in people who practice and proclaim hope so others can find their own

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Operation Inspiration Virtual Run

While much of the world sits frozen in fear,
I can still run.
While we wait for the full brunt of the storm to hit,
I can still run.
While thousands of families mourn the death of a loved one,
I can still run.
While busy city streets become empty,
I can still run.
While faces become covered in masks,
I can still run.
While many struggle to breathe,
I can still run.
While people carefully avoid each other on sidewalks,
I can still run.
While nature buds and blossoms with life,
I can still run.
While kids mark sidewalks with chalk-art of hope,
I can still run.
While “love cures and love wounds”
I can still run.
While community grows even among social distancing,
I can still run.
While people around the world move together,
I can still run.

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Gratitude 5K, the Un-cancelled run

The opportunity of social distancing, and stay at home orders, is that it makes us gratefulimg_9699 for many things that we previously took for granted.

This morning I went for a three mile run on a path I’ve run hundreds of times. There was nothing remarkable about the distance I ran or the neighborhood I ran through.

However, today was the first race in the series for The Un-cancelled Project. Designed by Run the Edge, the same people who created the “Run the Year” programs. The focus of Un-Cancelled is “about refusing to allow fear to make us angry or unkind to others. It is about moving our bodies, focusing on the positive, and celebrating the things that make us the most human.”

This project came with the opportunity to register for a virtual 5K, 10K, half marathon, img_9691marathon, or ultra. In typical over-functioning form I signed up for all five. Why not?

Each week is also coupled with a theme. The theme for this first week is gratitude. Runners are invited to think of things they are grateful for as they are running.

This morning I went out for the first of five events, the 5K. As I was walking out of the house I decided I should run the 5K with integrity, and not simply jog for 3.1 miles. However, I had just ran 19 miles on Monday and have not rested or done any speed work recently. 

I was surprised when, after the first mile, I looked down at my watch and saw I was averaging an eight and a half minute per mile pace. I was able to maintain this pace throughout the run and made my last mile the fastest. Finishing in 26 minutes and 6 seconds is no record, but pretty respectable 72 hours after a long run. This run also moved me passed the 500 mile mark for the year, I am on pace for 2020 miles for the year.

The human body is a remarkable thing. These days we focus so much on viruses and infections that we often forget how amazing our bodies are. 

The ability to move, to run, under a blue sky… to breathe freely without pain… to smell and to taste… to be surrounded by the people we love and who love us… a million things we take for granted are all gifts of grace.

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COVID 19 Mile Social Distance Run

Why continue to run if there is no t-shirt, finish line, or medal involved?

img_9480I haven’t run in a race since August. Since then, I have run over 1,000 miles and have maintained a level of training where I could run a marathon or 50K if the opportunity arose. Timing didn’t work out for a fall race in 2019 and the coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of spring races in 2020.

Today I ran the “COVID 19 Mile Social Distance Run” which came with the instructions to “run as far away from any other people as possible… this is to be done alone… cough into your elbow.” This is the first “race” I’ve run in over six months and didn’t look like any other event I have completed on ultrasignup. I didn’t pin a bib to my chest or eat cookies from aid stations. Nonetheless, I did see white tailed deer and bison, spent four hours in nature, and breathed fresh air.

img_9467Running is not just about getting the bling at finish lines, it is about the journey.

With races being cancelled, why continue to run? What is the point of training if there is no race?

Here are 10 reasons to continue running:

  1. Running is a great break from the non-stop, stress-enducing news cycle.img_9470
  2. Running gives you a pause from the barrage of coronoavirus associated emails.
  3. Running is a source of aerobic exercise that strengthens your immune system.
  4. Running releases endorphins that make you feel good.
  5. Running is one of the few activities that can be done while social distancing
  6. Running connects you with nature
  7. There are no sports on TV, go do your own sport
  8. Running burns the extra calories you’ve eaten while binge watching Netflix
  9. Running is a safe activity without exposure to other people’s germs
  10. Run for the sake of running

 

2019 The Foolish Year in Running

I img_8250am a foolish man.

Only a couple of weeks in to the year I thought it was a good idea to go for a trail run on the ice and snow—gravity and my arm taught me that was foolish.

A couple of months later I thought it would be a good idea to do an 18 mile run when I started having pain four miles in–my hamstring taught me that was foolish.

A month later, after not having any regular training for six months, I thought it would be a good idea to follow a librarian with a gash in his forehead for a 50K with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in Kentucky–foolish.img_6021

Although I don’t enjoy running in the summer heat, i followed this with a 100K in June at Eagle Up, setting records for longest run ever and longest time on feet (emphasis on longest time on feet).

A month later was another hilly 50k in the midst of a July summer heatwave that I only completed because a fellow possum refused to let me quit. August included two runs of over 26 miles, one was supposed to be 52 miles and got cut short, the other was supposed to be 25 but i made a wrong turn and got to explore some extra parts of the Tuscazoar.

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My favorite and least helpful trail marking of all time.

In a five month span I ran five ultras/marathons. My thinking was to stay trained up and run races as my schedule allowed. Why go through the pesky cycle of building up and resting when you can just keep running? Foolish.

By the time the summer racing series came to an end I had raced myself in to training shape and was healthy and strong. While I was in my best shape the last four months of the year, the opportunity to race wasn’t there. I was all trained up and nowhere to race.

With the injuries listed above, and a strong allergic reaction to California, by the end of October I knew I would not reach my goal of running 2,019 miles for the year. I spent the last two months pushing to pass my own personal record of 1,800 miles. With a week to go I only had to average four miles a day, this seemed like the most attainable goal, until a sinus infection hit. Suddenly I missed three days in the last week and used running to try and clear my img_8249sinuses. On the final day of the year my infected body pushed through 13 miles to finish with a new record of 1.801 miles for the year.

I don’t have a lot of running plans for 2020, but will continue to embrace opportunities as they arise. In the spring I’d like to enjoy the community of the Seamus O’Possum and struggle up and down the Mohican hills at Forget the PR. Over the summer, I’d like to do something at Eagle Up, maybe 50K or relay, and battle the allegedly “runnable” course at Tuscazoar.  In the fall I’d like to push new limits once again with either a 24 hour or 100 mile run. For the third RTY2020_Sticker_4_f41fe7e6-bc19-4c02-8b00-74262e7418a4_400xyear in a row I’ll be taking a shot at the Run the Year goal of 2,020 miles.  Third time is the charm.

Here’s to another foolish year in running.

 

 

Top 25 Albums of 2019

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2019 has been an amazing year for music. So much so, that I had a difficult time making this list. Throughout the year I kept a running list of nominees for top album that grew to more than 70 titles. In previous years, I had made this list a top 10, but there was just so much good music this year that I had to expand it to 25. Even so, many really quality albums didn’t make the cut. In addition to this list below make sure and listen to Flume, Tyler the Creator, Ratso,  Olivia Jean, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, Scientists, Dandy Warhols, Pere Ubu, Starcrawler, Megan Thee Stallion, Le Bucherettes, Neurotic Mirage, Warmduscher, Oh Sees, Asia, Pharmakon, Patio, Holly Herndon, Priests, Tropical F Storm, Cherry Glazerr, and SebastiAn

25. Keep Drinking!! Drinking Boys and Girls Choir. I never knew South Korean punk rock was a thing, but this trio knocks out 18 songs in 43 minutes with power and energy. 

24. Everyday Life, Coldplay. I have always been amazed how The Beatles transitioned from a pop boy band to become psychedelic pioneers. Quietly, it seems Coldplay has evolved in the same way from the simplicity of songs like “Yellow” to the depths of Everyday Life. Chris Martin and friends have done grown up on us.

23. South of Realty, The Claypool Lennon Delirium. What would happen if The Beatles’ White Album and Primus had a baby? South of Reality. This album is creative andImage result for How Do You Love? The Regrettes driving and strange and wonderful.

22. How Do You Love? The Regrettes: I remember when LA punk rock was a testerone-centric genre, no one had a voice like Lydia Night. But don’t mistake her pipes for weakness, she sings with as much power and conviction as anyone and can equally take on subjects from politics to love.

21. No Home Record, Kim Gordon. After 38 years in music, most as the lead of Sonic Youth, Gordon puts out her first solo album. Reaching beyond expectation, the album is creative, exploratory, and just wonderful.

20. Help Us Stranger, The Raconteurs: This album is even better if you play the second side first. Either way, Jack White is the patron saint of modern rock and roll and playing off Brendan Benson brings out the best in him. If you get a chance to see them live go and witness a virtuoso at his craft.

19. Everything Not Lost Will Be Saved , Part 1 and 2, Foals. In March, Foals put our their best album yet. Six months later, they released the second part that was even better. I would follow them into a joyful dystopian future anywhere.

18. Wasteland, Baby! Hozier. Hozier is a soulful singer, a powerful storyteller, and one heck of a guitar player. It has taken five years for him to follow up his huge debut album, but this was worth the wait.

17. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilsh. It is ridiculous how talented young people are these days, they just have so much game. There are many examples of this, but none more obvious than Billie Eilish who at age 17 sings with the soul of a 71 year old.

16. Cuz I Love You, Lizzo. 2019 was the year of Lizzo. She was everywhere culminating in six Grammy nominations. This album starts with her big voice filling all of the space around her and it doesn’t stop. The world has fallen in love with Lizzo.

15. Internationally Unknown, Rat Boy. A lot of albums on this list are heavy and take on deep subjects. This one is just fun. If you want to run hard, drive fast, or love life, give this one a listen.

14. Not the Past, Can’t Be the Future, Bench Press: D. Boon might’ve died in 1985, but it sounds like he has been reincarnated in an Australian punk band. Bench Press hits with as much relentless force as the Minutemen. Stand back.Image result for Sneaks.

13. Highway Hypnosis, Sneaks. Defying definition, Sneaks mixes her own amalgamation of DC-based post-punk and hip hop. She even creates her own words as a strong bass line provides the beat for her to stand tall.

12. Nothing Great About Britian, slowthai. British rap with a punk attitude takes on Brexit, social disparities, the queen, and the world.

11. Dogrel, Fontaines D.C. Idles is not only the best punk band of the century, they brought Fontaines D.C. on tour and made the world a better place with their Irish post-punk. It’s starting to feel like 1977 around here.

10. King’s Mouth, The Flaming Lips. I am a sucker for a good concept album, especially one narrated by Mick Jones about a mythical giant king who sacrifices himself to save a village. The decapitated king’s head is put on display and becomes an inspiration for people to live lives of love and kindness.

Ghosteen9. Ghosteen, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Continuing where the album “Skeleton Tree” left off, Cave continues to grieve the tragic death of his son. It may have been three years, and the black album cover replaced by a living garden, but the emptiness is ever present which gives all of us permission to grieve.

8. Caligula, Lingua Ignota: This is the rawest, bravest, must vulnerable album I have ever heard. Imagine someone opening their soul and showing the darkest places no one speaks of. This not an easy listen, but it is hard to find a more powerful one. 

7. Heavy is the Head, Stormzy. Stormzy takes the powerful grime he rocked on “Gang Signs and Prayer” and broadens his art. Who knew Stormzy had such a sweet singinImage result for Gary Clark Jr.g voice? This album has power and soul.

6. This Land, Gary Clark Jr. Paranoid and pissed off! The opening words of this album launch in to the protest song of the year, “This Land.” The album goes on to feature blues, rock, and hip hop from a guitar prodigy whose voice and lyrics have caught up to his fingers.

5. Jamie, Brittany Howard.Best known as the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard offers a solo album of blues and soul. While this album fills the four-year void since Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color,” it is also a deeply personal call to healing, named after her sister who died from childhood cancer.

4. Grey Area, Little Simz. In a year when British grime ruled the rap world (at least in my unpeofessional opinion) it is appropriate that a woman from London, born to Nigerian parents, puts out the best rap album of the year, filled with confidence and empowerment. 

3. Norman F’ing Rockwell! Lana Del Ray. Lana is the best songwriter/storyteller on the planet. Couple that with her mesmerizing voice and you’ll be hooked.

2. The Queen Who Stole The Sky, Sarah Mary Chadwick. What happens when a former punk rock singer bears her soul accompanied by one of the largest organs in the world? An album that is striking, stark, and honest.

1. Love Hates What You Become, Lost Under Heaven. From pillar to post, this was my undisputed favorite album of 2019. Ebony and Ellery create a unique sound in which they vocally play off each other with emotional rawness. Lost Under Heaven may not be the music industry flavor of the day, and might be the best band you have never heard of, but you should check them out and change that.