Why Do I Have A Blog?

Why do I have a a blog? Is a very good question when I never actually write anything. When I started this blog seven years ago I had a lot to write about and the time to do it. Amazing how much changes in seven years. Seven years ago, I had just taken up Mountain Bike Racing and was contemplating racing in a 24 hour mountain bike race. I also liked to write about politics. Seven years later I’m doing more running than I ever imagined. I have 2 marathon finishes that I would have thought completely crazy seven years ago. My daughter has grown from a fun little kid to a very mature eighth grader. A lot of my time is devoted to getting her to and from practices and game. Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it. It just doesn’t give me much time to keep up a blog.

I do actually have a couple of blog idols. My favorite is The Fat Cyclist . Fatty is usually quite humorous, an unbelievable fund raiser and fantastic storyteller. He is also close to my age so I can relate to him.

An extremely close second is Steve in a Speedo. Steve is a very fast runner, a really good triathlete and has a juvenile sense of humor (I mean that in a good way.) He is a new father and it is fun to watch his journey through fatherhood.

I want my blog to be similar to the two above. Funny and relatable are the two words that come to mind. In truth, as an athlete, I cannot relate to them at all. I am older, fatter and slower. Maybe that is the perspective I can add. The old slow guy who is trying to get faster.

Time to Change My Life (Again)

It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. I have somehow managed to push my weight back over 240 and my clothes are starting to get tight again. It is time to start training fore something again. I think I am going to set my goals for doing 2 half marathons and 3 Olympic distance triathlons. The secondary goals will be to break 2 hours in the half and 3 hours in the Olympic triathlon.

My new baseline is this. I started this week with a weight of 244 pounds. On Thanksgiving day I ran a 26:20 5k. This is 2 minutes slower than my PR. I hope to break 24 in a 5k sometime next summer.

My tools for getting there include an iPhone app for tracking my food intake and a few training tracking apps because I just can’t narrow it down to one.

I intend to post weekly updates, plus a random off topic post once in a while. Since no one really reads this, I really can go anywhere.

2010 Turkey Trot for a Cause Race Report

The 2010 Turkey Trot for a Cause was my “A” Race for one reason and one reason only. I would be racing my 11 year old daughter for family bragging rights. This was our 3rd annual Thanksgiving Day 5k, but it was the first time Stephanie was in condition enough and competitive enough to actually race me. I will cut to the chase and admit that she did beat me. It was not a fitness victory, rather it was the superiority of her tactics. It was a close race, 25:51 to 25:52 and the outcome was not set until the final 100 meters.

First a little background. Last spring Stephanie (who I refer to as MLG ‘my little girl’ for short) ran cross country for her charter school. In her first race, she shot out to the lead by the first turn and about a mile in was running in 3rd place. Did I leave out the fact that MLG was a 5th grader running against 5th-8th graders? Meet after meet this would be the case as Stephanie would finish in third place with only 2 older girls ahead of her. Since the regular season meets included the same 5 teams, this would be expected. The next meet would be the regional meet and an additional 5 team. At this meet Stephanie would come in 3rd again. Finally the state meet rolled around and all of the National Hertiage Academy charter schools were represented. MLG was complaining of a sore knee and had a limp, but she wanted to run really badly. She did run and finished the 2 mile race in 14:45 but was limping really badly. Both her mother and I knew something was wrong. We eventually discovered she had a stress fracture of the Femoral Neck and underwent surgery at the end of May to put 2 screw into her femor to stabilize the Fracture.

After a remarkable recovery began training for Select Soccer with the Van Buren Wildcats F. C. We could early that she needed time to build up her fitness again and strength in her leg but by the time Fall Season started, I think it would be fair to say she was fully recovered. It was during this recovery that MLG decided the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot would be a race instead of a run we did together.

I had run my first Marathon in October of 2009, my first Half Marathon in April of 2010, my first Half Ironman distance Triathlon in June of 2010 and my second Marathon in October of 2010. My focus has only been on longer races so until 2010, my only 5k races were ones I ran with MLG. The best was a 28:06 that we ran in 2009. This year I did a sprint triathlon where I ran a 27:04 5k run leg. I then ran a 24:35 5k on Father’s day.

All of this being said, I was expected a competitive race. I didn’t count on MLG’s tactical superiority. She got me with the one strategy that will work every time. She used the “My Dad will always look out for me” strategy. We started very fast and I held back because I knew the pace was to fast for me. Then I saw MLG coming back. I eased off to keep her going and we ran together from about the half mile mark until the 3 mile mark. We ran at a good pace, but not at the ragged edge for me. I thought MLG was about to give up at the 3 mile mark, but as we rounded the final turn, she turned on a sprint that I was no match for because I simply am not as fast as she is in a sprint. I might say next year I will show her no mercy, but that is probably not possible. I am guessing next year she will be far to fast for me to keep up with and even if she isn’t I will always be a sucker for this year’s strategy.

Time To Prepare For My A Race

Now that my silly season which consisted of a Half-Marathon, Sprint Triathlon, Half-Ironman, 5k, 10k and a Marathon is over. It is time to get to work on the most important race of the year. This will be a battle royale. On Thursday November 25th, I will be racing in the Canton Turkey Trot for a Cause against my toughest competitor yet, Stephanie Miller, my 11 year old daughter. What started in 2008 as a fun run where we both ran our first 5k together and continued in 2009 where we both ran faster and finished in a tie to the hundredth of a second, has now become a competition ever since Stephanie announced earlier this year that she would beat me Thanksgiving Day. Since trash talk and sarcasm are our family’s love language, I figure this is the perfect forum to get it started.

The Competitors

Steve Miller
Age: 44
Height: 6-2
Weight: 230ish
Experience: Started running in 2008 to train for the 2009 Detroit Free Press Marathon. First 5k was the 2008 Turkey Trot for a cause. Finished 2 Marathons (2009 Detroit Free Press, 2010 Grand Rapids). Finished a Half-Ironman Distance Triathlon (2010 Racing for Recover Half Ironman) and a Half Marathon (2010 Martian Half Marathon).
5k PR: 24:35 (2010 Plymouth YMCA Father’s Day 5k)

Stephanie Miller
Age: 11
Height: 5-5ish
Weight: 120ish
Experience: First 5k was the 2008 Turkey Trot for a Cause. Competed on the Achieve Charter Academy Cross Country Team as a 5th Grader. Finished 26th in the National Heritage Academy State Meet and was later in the week diagnosed with a Stress Fracture of the Femoral Neck. Currently plays Select Soccer for the Van Buren Wildcats F.C.
5k PR: 28:04 (2009 Turkey Trot for a Cause 5k)

The Match Up

The stats would appear to favor the older Miller, however there are a few things about the younger Miller that don’t appear in the stats. Stephanie has been training for Soccer since Late June. This training has included a lot of speed and agility work. She has only run 2 5k races in her life, however she has run a 2 mile race at 7:20 per mile pace with a Stress Fracture. This is about 10 seconds per mile faster than my fastest mile from my 5k PR Race. It is really going to boil down to pacing experience versus speed.

When she was 9, I was excited that Stephanie liked running and wondered how long it would be before she was faster than me. Little did I know, 2 years later, I would be wondering if I can keep up with her.

Last Post Before the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon

I have completed almost all of the preparations for to be ready to go to Grand Rapids for the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. I have my primary running gear packed. Shoes, socks, shorts, and a short sleeve tech t-shirt will be my primary clothes. In addition I have my Garmin Forerunner 305, the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor strap, and Garmin Foot Pod packed. For safety I have circular band-aids to prevent bleeding through the front of my shirt, ok, to prevent bloody nipples, there I said it. I also have my weather contingency clothing, a long sleeve compression shirt for a base layer, a long sleeve tech shirt, light running tights, gloves and a skull cap. The weather is supposed to be nearly perfect, with a low of 40 and a high of 60. Fortunately this race will be small enough that I will be able to wear something to keep warm prior to the start and give it to my family as I depart. I have part of my bag dedicated to after the race, since it is hosted at a YMCA and they will let us use the showers. It will be nice for my family to not have to spend 2 hours in the car with me smelling like I just ran a Marathon. I did just realize I didn’t pack a towel so I will run and get that. I also have my Sunday Morning breakfast packed (2 PowerBar Protien Plus Bars).

I must have the Taper Madness thing going on, because I woke up at 4 am today. I have barely started drinking my coffee and already feel alert and ready to go. Hopefully tomorrow is similar. This might explain why this post is so scatterbrained.

First thing this morning we will be going to watch Stephanie and her team play soccer. We will leave for Grand Rapids right from the soccer game. It is exciting to watch her play, because she has grown so much as a player this season. She has come back from a Stress Fracture and with the additional work she has done since moving up to Select soccer has made a tremendous difference. She is a very good athlete and most importantly, she is very coachable. With a good coach, there is nothing she can’t do. She has already stated her desire to race me at the Turkey Trot this year. The last 2 years we have run together, however, I think this year she is capable of beating me. I suspect she will probably be around 22 minutes and since my 5k PR is 24:35, I have my work cut out for me.

All tangents aside, I am looking forward to Sunday morning. I know I will have to pull together every ounce of courage and heart I have to make my 4:30 goal time. I trust my training and I feel relaxed and restored. I also know Marathons hurt and there is no way around that. I just don’t want to be reduced to what I was last year.

Day Trip

Today we are making a small road trip to Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Ludington State Park.  We are going to rent a Jeep and tour the Sand Dunes at Silver Lake.

We went to Silver Lake for the sole purpose of renting Jeeps to drive around the only open ORV area in Michigan.  It was a great time driving up dunes that didn’t seem like they were driveable.  It was also fun to watch the serious Off Road machines do amazing things on the dunes.

We followed up the trip to Silver Lake by driving about an hour north to Ludington State Park.  Ludington State Park has a beautiful sandy beach that reminds me of Myrtle Beach.  The water was warmer than I can ever remember and was still as clear as I recall.  In chest deep water I could still see my feet at the bottom.

Maybe tomorrow I can get some of the running in that I had hoped to.

2010 Plymouth YMCA Father’s Day 5k Race Report

My treat for myself on Father’s Day was to run a 5k in good weather by myself. I have run 3 other 5k races, 2 were Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trots that I did with my daughter who for those 2 years I had to hold back for her to keep up. This year at the Turkey Trot assuming all goes well with her healing, I suspect we will be racing. With a stress fracture my 11 year old daughter ran a 14:45 2 mile cross country race. I suspect I will be hurting Thanksgiving Day. But this Father’s Day was a chance to see what I could do for a 5k.

I woke up about 5:00 am and started making the coffee and a peanut butter sandwich. At about 6:00 I woke up the Family so we could be ready to leave. It was about 15 minutes to get to the race, but I was concerned about parking because this was a big event and Plymouth does not have plentiful parking. I was not preregistered, but I had my form and check filled out beforehand, so check in went quickly. I went back to the car, put the timing chip on my shoe and race number on my race belt. We then went and watch the finish of the 1 mile race. Once the one mile race was over, the 5k would start about 10 minutes later. On the way to the 5k start I ran into my friend and fellow assistant coach of my daughter’s soccer team. We chatted a while while we were waiting for the start.

Chatting with my friend proved to be a big mistake as the first three quarters of a mile were spent weaving through traffic. We were seeded way too far back. That’s why a 9 year old girl beat me by 1 second. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The first mile, while busy, was right on the pace I wanted to run, and went by in 7:48. I was working and breathing hard, but there were only a little over 2 miles to go. The second mile had a slight downhill that was really nice to run on. Just a gradual downhill that you could let yourself go on, but not steep enough to hurt. Anyone from outside of Michigan would not have even noticed the elevation change. Mile 2 was done in 7:33. This was the holy crap moment for me. I was hoping to break 25 and realizing I had a real shot at breaking 24. I was beginning to feel the burn as they say. I was hurting but pushing through it. Mile 3 went by in 7:42 not a bad drop off from mile 2 and just that 0.1 to go. 1:01 later and I was finished. 24:05 on my Garmin and officially 24:35. A new PR for me, although my previous PR was the Run leg of a Sprint Triathlon. I have improved my vDot from 34 to 40 in about 9 months and I am very pleased with that progress.

The event was very fun and there were over 900 people in the 5k. It was really cool to see Dad’s running with their kids and hopefully I will be running with mine next year. And hopefully I don’t have to take her out near the finish line if she is going to ‘chick’ me.

What Really Matters

My 11 year old daughter is having surgery today. She has been so brave throughout the entire ordeal. She ran 2 miles in her Charter Academy State Cross Country meet with a stress fracture to her Femoral Neck. Today’s surgery was to repair the stress fracture. This was done by inserting 2 screws into the femur toward the ball joint. She is now resting comfortably in her room. She will stay overnight and go home tomorrow. She will be on crutches for the next 4 weeks and then 4 weeks of walking before she can participate in sports. It is just amazing to me how quick her recovery will be. I am betting our biggest challenge will be slowing her down enough to keep her from getting another overuse injury.

Stephanie inspires me because she has been such a good sport about everything involved in the process. She has been on crutches ever since the diagnosis was made and has not complained one bit. She ran to 26th place in the State Meet is spite of running on essentially a broken leg. It is the kind of heart and courage I aspire to have.

On the training/racing front, I am racing this coming Saturday in the Island Lake Sprint Triathlon. This is really a training race/rehearsal for the Racing for Recovery Half Ironman on June 6th. My goal for the sprint Triathlon is to run a PR for the 5k. My only previous timed 5ks have been ones I ran with Stephanie before she could beat me. If I can make the PR, it means I did everything else right. I didn’t burn myself up on the swim or bike.

The Bigger Things

Today is my 20th Wedding Anniversary. If you have read any of my other blog posts, you can understand how truly blessed I am to have a wife who tolerates my craziness. I am truly blessed to be married to Tammy and I honestly don’t know how I would live without her. I am not very good at telling her or anyone else for that matter how I really feel. I’m working on that but I have a long way to go.

You learn a lot of things in 20 years of marriage and I am not talking about stereotypical stuff either. I learned how important it is to put my wife first. I have learned that my wife wants me to be a protector and provider. I want to be a better man because of my wife and I want to be the kind of husband I want my daughter to find someday. My wife has helped me understand and deepen my faith in Jesus.

Considering where we started, we sure have come a long way together. We made the move from Michigan to Colorado 2 days after our wedding and we lived there for 18 months until my job transferred me back to Michigan. In 1999 God blessed us with Stephanie who has helped make our marriage deeper and richer.

As I look back on the last 20 years and realize how good it has been, I am encouraged about the future, knowing that God has really good stuff in store for us.