Sunday, March 5, 2017

There's ice ahead and other setbacks

Last week was supposed to be the first week of my training plan for Grandma's Marathon. Unfortunately, it didn't go so well.

Two weeks ago, I went on a final longish run before my official training plan started. It was beautiful in Minnesota--warm enough that I was wearing shorts, a long sleeve, and no gloves. My plan was to run somewhere around ten miles.

The run started out great. That morning we had taken little one-year-old Calvin to baby swimming lessons at the YMCA, so I threw my bag in the car and ran home while Laura drove Calvin. The YMCA is only four miles from our house, so I headed south to run in a u-shape to hit ten miles or so.

I wanted to run a hilly route, which is easy to do in Eagan, but I wanted a really hilly route. There's this nice paved trail called The Highline Trail that has two really steep hills and a couple more gentler ones, so I decided to run there.

 Besides the hills, the other nice thing about running on The Highline Trail is its beauty. It goes through a restored prairie and by a couple of ponds, so there are often birds, turtles (not so much in the winter) and deer to be seen. Though it's not as pretty in the winter, it's still nicer than running along one of Eagan's busy streets.

So, as I was enjoying the hills and the beauty, I came up on a group of walkers. "Watch out," one said. "There's ice ahead."

"Thanks," I said.

The walker wasn't kidding. At the top of a hill there was a twenty foot section of ice shaded by the trees. In my infinite wisdom I thought, OK, I'll just run this section really slowly--I'll keep my strides short so I don't fall. It was a brilliant plan.

Or not. After a few strides, my feet flew from underneath me and down I went. I was able to keep my head up, so I didn't get knocked out, but my back, glute, and pelvis didn't fare so well. I landed hard on my right side, slid about five feet, and came to rest. I'd landed sort of on my lower back, slightly to the right, so the bulk of the force went through the top of my pelvis, my glute, and my lower back--all on the right side.

Unfortunately I was still three miles from home. So, I hobble-ran the last two miles, which gave me pain in my hamstring the next day.

Due to my stupidity, I had to take an entire week off of running--which really stunk because we had amazing weather for three of those days.

But, I was thinking it wasn't a huge deal because my marathon training plan didn't start until the next week. Then, another setback.

Last Saturday night I started feeling nauseous, and by Monday, the first day of my training plan, I wasn't any better. Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting kept bothering me, and last week I only felt good enough to run on Tuesday and missed the entire rest of the week.

Yesterday I finally went to urgent care, and the doctor there sent me to the ER. At the ER, after a CT scan, they diagnosed me with colitis. They gave me some prescriptions for medications for the nausea and stomach pain along with an antibiotic for the colitis.

They also gave me some medication in for the nausea through an IV, and after the third try and second different medication, my stomach finally felt better. After getting out of the ER I was able to eat real food for the first time in four days.

I took the nausea and stomach pain medications this morning, and as of right now I'm feeling pretty good. I'm optimistic that I'll actually get to start training for Grandma's this coming week.

Run well.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Social media use can lead to depression. You heard me right--that mindless scrolling, looking at your friends' pictures, political postings, and status updates can leave you depressed. According to an article from, "Research Links Heavy Facebook And Social Media Usage To Depression," researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found a link between a high amount of social media use and depression.The study states that, "highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives."

One thing I enjoy about running is the ability to be unplugged. Sure, I sometimes listen to podcasts, recorded books, and watch T.V. on the treadmill, but for the most part I run sans technology. Running unplugged takes me away from the informational stream of social media--Facebook in my case. I wouldn't call myself a heavy user, but I use it often enough that it definitely affects me.

Running unplugged helps me clear my head. I'm not reading news articles posted by Facebook friends. I'm not scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed, looking at people's status updates and photos. Instead, I'm spending time in motion, enjoying the outdoors, and being able to think without the "noise" of technology.

Regardless of whether you run or not, I encourage you to spend some time unplugged. It's nice to have a mental break.

Run well.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Running Books: Fiction and Biographies

Though I've written some posts about running books before, I thought I'd share some books runners (and non-runners) may enjoy. For my non-running readers, I'll share some fiction and biographies, and memoir first. Though avid running readers would most likely enjoy all of these books, non-runners would likely enjoy several as they are well-written and tell good stories.

Once a Runner series
by John L. Parker Jr.
These books include "Once a Runner," "Again to Carthage," and "Racing the Rain." "Once a Runner" is a cult classic among runners--a well written novel about a collegiate runner, Quenton Cassidy, striving to reach the top of his sport.

"Again to Carthage," the sequel, follows Cassidy several years after his collegiate career as he tries to make the Olympic team in the marathon.

"Racing the Rain," the prequel to "Once a Runner," chronicles Cassidy's athletic endeavors in middle and high school as Cassidy moves from basketball to running as his primary sport.

You don't have to be a runner (though it helps) to enjoy these well-written novels. The characters are believable and the story is engaging. I read the novels in order of when they were written, but it may be more interested to read them in chronological order, starting with "Racing the Rain" and ending with "Again to Carthage."

The Perfect Mile
by Neal Bascomb
"The Perfect Mile" tells the story of three runners racing to break the four minute barrier in the mile. It follows Wes Santee, Roger Bannister, and John Landy attempting the break the elusive four minute mark, less than 60 seconds around a track four times.

Duel in the Sun
byJohn Brandt
"Duel in the Sun" tells the stories of Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar, framing the story leading up to and after the 1982 Boston Marathon, know as "the duel in the sun." This book is very well-written, and you'll enjoy it whether you know who one the race or not.

Born to Run
by Christopher McDougall
"Born to Run" is a story both of adventure and of barefoot running. The author, along with several friends and acquaintances, head to Mexico to visit and run with the Tarahumara, a native Mexican tribe known for their distance running. This book sparked the barefoot running phenomenon, and though barefoot running has somewhat faded from the trend of "barefoot" running shoes, it still enjoys a popular niche in the running (and walking) communities.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Favorite Running Movies: Dramas/Comedies

This category is tough. Unlike the biopics and documentaries, running is not the main component of all these films. There are a few films that some include in running movies where I don't think running is an important enough part of the plot to include them like, "Marathon Man," where although Dustin Hoffman's character is a runner, that part of the plot doesn't seem very important.

There are others, however, that might not come to mind when you think about running movies, but I included them because I don't think they'd be the same movies without running. Feel free to comment on those I left out or those I included.

Saint Ralph
I thought this one was funny and somewhat heartwarming. Ralph is a troubled boy who's mother is in a comma, and he basically lives alone while attending a Catholic school. He finds running as a way to cope, and becomes connected with a former marathon running priest who trains Ralph to run the Boston Marathon. While the plot is a stretch at times, especially in the race itself, and though parts of the film are crass, "Saint Ralph" is definitely entertaining.

Forrest Gump
Running is one of the most important parts of this film--don't even argue on this one. Forrest gets into college, becomes a military hero, and  gains national attention because of running. What would "Forrest Gump" be without Forrest's run across America? Without his famous line, "Ever since that day, I was run-en!"

Run Fat Boy, Run
This film employs the quirky humor of Simon Pegg as he attempts to train for and complete the London Marathon--in a span of about three weeks. This film is entertaining, though parts are completely unbelievable, such as Pegg's character and rival running at the front of the race with the elite athletes for far too long. On my best day I could maybe run one mile of a marathon with elite athletes, and Pegg seems able to run with them for a decent stretch on three weeks of training. Pegg's attempting to complete the race to earn back the respect of his ex-fiancee and mother of his child, and after Pegg stops running with the elites, the rest of his race is actually pretty entertaining.

Across the Tracks
"Across the Tracks" features a very young Brad Pitt as a half miler on a quest to win the county championship and earn a scholarship to Stanford. His younger, troubled brother has just returned from juvenile detention, and although is initially met with hostility from his brother, he also begins running for his track team. This one is a little cheesy in parts, but the running scenes are actually pretty decent and the story is entertaining enough that you might enjoy it if you're a runner.

Running on the Edge
In this Bruce Dern film, Dern plays a runner unfairly banned who sets his sights on winning an iconic mountain race 20-some years later. The race is age-handicapped, so Dern's character has a chance of winning. The race itself is based on the the famous Dipsea race, and Dern plays a compelling runner. The race itself plays out like a Jock Semple/Kathrine Switzer scenario with an angry director trying to remove a runner from "his" race.

The Jericho Mile
This one's fun if not purely for the 70s lingo. Set in a prison, a talented runner is spotted by prison officials who see his talent, set up a race for him, and try to get him entered into the Olympic trials. If you can get over the pure 1970s feel of this movie, the running scenes are actually decent and the story isn't awful.

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's Goal Time 2017

Last year I didn't set any goals on my blog for the first time in several years. My lack of goal setting was partially due to my my lack of success in 2014 and 2015. Instead, I decided to set a couple of private goals, and I met one officially and another unofficially. The three goals I'd set for myself was running under 17 minutes in a 5k, and setting PRs in the marathon and half marathon.

I didn't meet the goal of running under 17 minutes for the 5k. I only ran one 5k in July, and though I likely would have run under 17 minutes if the weather had been more cooperative, my time off from running in June and the first week of July had me in less than peak shape. It was the only 5k I ran, so I never gave myself another chance to break 17 minutes.

My goal of setting a marathon PR was unofficially met. You can read all about the debacle that was the Milwaukee Marathon (parts one, two, and three), but suffice to say I ended up covering almost 30 miles. I took a split at the 26.46 mark, figuring that would be about right considering GPS correction and not running the tangents perfectly. My unofficial split at that point was a PR, so I unofficially met my marathon PR goal.

As for my half marathon goal, I officially met that one, running a PR time of 1:16:09. Everything came together at the City of Lakes Half Marathon. I was in good shape, had a good day racing, and the weather was almost perfect. It felt good to set a PR in the half marathon, especially since my last half marathon PR was over four years ago.

So there's the rundown of my 2016 goals. Three goals seemed like a good amount, so I'll do the same of 2017.

Goal 1: Set a PR at the marathon distance. I'll be running Grandma's Marathon in June, a marathon that won't be in danger of having a mis-marked course. I'm hoping for good weather since running in the heat is tough after training in cold and cool weather in Minnesota's winter and spring.

Goal 2: Break 17 minutes in the 5k. I'm looking to run a 5k in February, and if the weather is decent I'll have a shot. If it's too cold, I'll probably try to run a 5k in the fall.

Goal 3: Set a new indoor mile PR. I'm running a mile race in less than a week, and my training has been going pretty well. I'll have to break 4:52, and I think that based on my training I've got a chance.

These should all be doable goals. I'm looking forward to a great 2017!

Happy Running!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Year in Review

This year was the most eventful year of my life, and included the biggest life change ever--a new baby. Calvin is almost a year old, and it's been an amazing year. Being a father is sometimes challenging, but it's worth every minute. I won't break down every month with Calvin, and since this is a (mostly) running blog, I'll write a bit about my running and racing.

Our lives changed forever when we were blessed with a healthy baby boy on January 22. Calvin seems to be doing something new nearly every day, and though it's been almost a year, I still feel like a new parent.

February and March
February and March brought a lot of visitors eager to meet Calvin. We were also blessed with a lot of support from friends and our young adult group through church who brought us lots of meals. In March we got to see lots of friends and family at Calvin's baptism.

As far as running goes, I ran the Lake Johanna 4 Mile. I wasn't in as good of shape as I was at the beginning of 2015 and was over two minutes slower than the year before, but I still had fun.

In April my running started to pick up. I trained pretty consistently starting the end of February, and I came up just short of a PR at the 25k distance on a terribly cold and windy day at the Ron Daws 25k. I got to enjoy going out for drinks and talking to a couple running buddies after the race.

In March I ran my first ever Mudball 4 Mile race, and took second overall. Even better than that, Laura and Calvin came to watch me run.

May and June
May was a busy month for running. I paced the Valley Fair, Minnetonka, and Fargo half marathons. I also got in the most running I had for the year, logging 276 miles. In June, I paced the Lake Waconia Half Marathon. At the end of June, I took it a little easier with running and reduced my mileage and took some extra days off. I wanted to be fresh going into my marathon training.

July and August
July brought a lot of fun. We had a Hill family reunion (my mom's side of the family), a trip to a lake house with Laura's side of the family, and Calvin turned six months old.

Hill cousins
Calvin also got his first haircut. He was completely calm during his haircut, and he sure was handsome when it was finished.

As far as running goes, July started my official training plan for the Milwaukee Marathon. I also ran a 5k, Juliette's Race, with goal of running under 17 minutes. The weather didn't cooperate as it was very hot and humid, and I missed my goal by just under 10 seconds.

August brought me into the thick of marathon training. I ran every day of the month besides the first, and put in over 260 miles, averaging over 60 miles a week.

September and October
In September I raced my one half marathon in 2016, the City of Lakes Half Marathon, and came away with a shiny new PR of 1:16:08. It felt pretty good to set a PR as my previous PR was over four years ago in 2012.

October brought my low of the year, being hospitalized for symptoms of bipolar just over a year after my last hospitalization. Though it was a bummer, it resulted in some adjustments to my medications which have now become even more effective. It also led me to a therapy skills group where I learned more strategies to manage and prevent future bipolar episodes.

November and December
In November I raced my first marathon in over a year, the PNC Bank Milwaukee Marathon. I had high hopes for the race, but due to a turnaround that wasn't well-marked I ran over three miles extra, and I missed out on an official PR. My unofficial split when I had run 26.46 miles was good enough for a PR, but since it wasn't official I'm going to try for a PR again this spring at Grandma's Marathon.

Though the race was disappointing, we did have a good time in Milwaukee visiting some friends.

December brought some nice holiday fun including our annual Christmas party with Laura's side of the family in Eagan. Unfortunately we were unable to make it to Rochester on Christmas Day due to weather, but we did get to stay with her family for several days after Christmas and celebrate then.

December also brought me to my second highest mileage total for the year. I ran over 2,300 miles in 2016, only about 100 miles short of my all-time highest year in 2011.

All in all, 2016 was a great year. A new baby has brought so much joy to our lives, and we got to do many fun things with friends and family. I'm looking forward to another great year in 2017.

Looking Ahead to 2017
We don't have any big trips or vacations planned for 2017, but I know it's going to be an eventful year. Calvin will turn one in January, and soon he'll be walking and talking. He'll also start going to Laura's school in September--another big change.

As far as blogging goes, I'm planning on writing more about my challenges and successes with bipolar, sharing a bit of my story.

Happy New Year!