Thanks for visiting my blog. This is where I document and share all of my running adventures with my friends and fellow runners. The good, the bad, and the unquestionably painful. All for your entertainment! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Week in My Shoes

Running mirrors life in so many ways. We struggle for perfection and excellence. We have highs and we have lows. And no matter what, we have to take the bad with the good.

I feel very blessed in life and sometimes I need to take the time to reflect on all that is good, while not worrying about the minor disappointments that life hands me on occasion.

This blog is a reflection of the good and bad that we all deal with on occasion. But I still consider myself a very blessed man and am happy with the life I have carved out for myself. Writing this blog was helpful in reminding me of how fortunate I really am, because this blog is overwhelmingly positive, despite the sad ending.

I am a very lucky man.

My week started off fantastic. I flew out to New Mexico and was able to find a new trail to run. I knew of this trails existence, but I could never locate it. When I finally did, I couldn't wait to get my running shoes on so I could go explore it.

This trail cuts through the high desert region outside Gallup, NM and sits at 6300 feet in elevation. It starts with 2.5 miles of climb and takes you over the cliffs and down the other side into the arroyo beyond. There is every kind of trail condition imaginable and it can be challenging and easy, depending on where you are at any given time.

I started my run as the sun was coming up.
It was in the 40's at the beginning of the run and it felt great. These pictures were taken on Blackberry, so please forgive the poor quality.

This picture below is taken from the trail above a section of slickrock that I had just run through.

I love running in the desert and I do it every chance I get. I ran this trail twice a day while I was out there and I discovered something new every time I went. It was truly inspiring.

I flew back to Philly on Thursday night. Jo did my laundry and I immediately packed another bag and we headed to Virginia the following morning for her family camping trip. This is an annual event that we never miss.

A picture of me and Jo in Luray, VA.

This year was particularly special because we had planned to run in a 5K on Saturday morning. We had found this race last year but never registered for it. But in talking about it, Jo's sister had said she wanted to race it the following year. She made a proclamation to lose weight and train all year so she would be ready to run this race in 2011. And this is exactly what she did.

Jo's sister in question, Dorothy (Dodi) is an amazing woman. She has struggled with losing weight in the past, but this race gave her something to focus on. I was thrilled to be running this event with her.

We were also joined by Jo's 76 year old mother and two of our nieces. We were quite a bunch.

From left to right...Maurisa, Chelsea, Dodi, Me, Norma, Jo. My family!

Here I am getting warmed up for the start...

I hadn't run a serious 5K in a long time and had seriously forgot how to properly pace myself for one. This race is on city streets and is very hilly.

I made every effort to not take this too seriously, but I was curious how well I could do. I never time myself when I run and I never use GPS, so my pace is a mystery to me.

Jo ran with her sister until her Mother started to pull away. Then she started running between the ladies, back and forth along the route to provide support and encouragement. I assume her 5K ended up being more like 5 miles.

Surprisingly, I finished the race with a new PR. After resting for a few minutes, I headed back out on the course to find my family.
I found Jo and her Mother right away. Both looking fantastic. I hope I'm that strong at 76!!!

I ran back in with these ladies and waited on the others at the finish.

Here comes Dodi and Maurisa toward the finish. Uphill of course! Dodi is very focused and intent on running the entire distance. She never stopped or walked during the entire race. I was so freaking PROUD! Great job girls!

I finished 3rd in my age group and Jo's Mother finished 1st in hers. And no...she was not the only person in that age group!

 If I was suddenly unable to run, I would still find so much pleasure in encouraging others and supporting people so they can reach their goals. I take so much away from those experiences. I think helping others in this sport is really the best part of being a runner and I think experienced runners have an obligation to do so.

For the following morning, I had made arrangements with Jo's Father to drive me to Skyline Drive and drop me off at a trail head where I could access the Appalachian Trail. Then he was scheduled to pick me up 10 miles down the trail an hour and a half later.

I had never run the trail before and was excited for the adventure. This was to be my final "hard" run before my back to back marathons the following weekend. It was a perfect day with clear skies and a cool morning.

Jo took this picture of me heading down the AT.
I took a small camera with me so I could snap some pictures along the way. The pictures below are from a high point on the trail.

The trail looks smooth, but these rocks were tough for getting good footing.

More rocks and some single track. Beautiful trail.

At about the 4 mile mark, I took a terrible misstep and turned my ankle...HARD! I had never experienced such intense pain and was certain I had broken my ankle. After several minutes of gathering my composure, I decided to try to find the road and get some help. I started trying to text Jo but it took 30 minutes before I had enough signal to get it sent. I hobbled up Skyline Drive a couple of miles until I found a good spot in the grass to sit and wait to be rescued. And before long, I was.

We went back down to Luray and I began to ice the injury right away. It was clearly sprained and in bad shape. I was instantly depressed and frustrated because of the possibility of missing the most important races on my calendar, which start the following weekend. To me, this is a devastating injury.

You can see the swelling and bruising around the ankle. Major bummer!

It's now 2 days since the injury and the swelling and bruising are subsiding. I've decided to play it by ear and make my decisions on a day-by-day basis. I've come to terms with the possibility of missing some races if it comes to that. But don't count me out yet!

Like I said in the beginning of this blog, I have been very blessed as a runner. I have ran in 34 races this year for a total of 850 miles. I have set new PR's 19 times this year. I took on Leadville as my first 100 mile race, and I had a surprisingly strong finish. I run all over the country in some of the most beautiful places. I have a lot of wonderful, supportive friends through running. I have no room to bitch about anything!

I'll be back in my running shoes again very soon. And when I am...I will be stronger and faster!

Happy Trails!


  1. Break out the KT Tape - it takes three strips to correctly wrap the ankle. Instructions are on the inside, center section (provided in the box). I used it for my Plantar Fasciitis. Ran a 13.1 just 4 weeks later. Used it daily for recovery and for training.

    Another option is to tape your leg up to your thigh and use my Nordic Poles... don't know how fast you could go... but the finish line picture would be awesome! Best wishes on the recovery, Kelly!

    If no Marathons this weekend... join me at the Seagull Century Bike ride in Salisbury, MD. 0700 start on Saturday.

  2. :) Another awesome blog! Did I mention how much your "support", "coaching", and amazing "words of encouragement" always mean so much to me??? well....they mean the world to me, my brother. This race was such a milestone...in this "mountain" I am trying to climb. Thanks for being there.

  3. Dodi...there is nothing I wouldn't do for you. You're amazing and should be very proud of yourself. I love you.