Snooze…snooze, yawn, stretch and slowly slide out of bed. I am not late. This is the Lost Dutchman. No crazy lines. Park and walk for a while, but get there in time for a minimal wait at the porta-johns and start the race.

I wore my crazy orange shoes. I don’t wear them often because they broke me in good the first time I tried to run in them. Within a mile-and-a-half they removed the skin from atop a toe ON EACH FOOT! I am such a softy, seriously, I had to take the shoes off and complete the last 3/4 mile barefoot. The cars driving by must have really thought I was strange – running barefoot and carrying those crazy orange shoes.


Today I came armed with socks. I even put some body glide on top of my toes (just in case). I hydrated heavily yesterday AND this morning. I had a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and about one cup of my green smoothie. I have been having green smoothies every morning for about six weeks now. It has become a forever habit. I will write a post about my smoothie very soon and tell everyone what I put in it in case you need a nudge to get started. Remind me if I forget, thanks.

I looked at the starting area when I arrived ten minutes or so before go time and thought how cool that you are not forced into corrals based upon your race number and predicted finish time like some other races. I looked at the sign next to the front area that said 5:00 pace. Woa, how cool would it be to someday line up in there and BELONG there!?! I glanced back and saw my friend 9:00 and I looked back at 6 and 7, but I was thinking about 8-minute miles. That doesn’t seem that fast, right? 13.1 times 8 gets me to 1:45…

Let’s see how it goes.

I miss the start taking a quick pit stop, but that clears the area a little and head out fording the sea of energetic runners. After 3 or 4 minutes I see my wife, Lynn, and wish her well. I will see her again on the way back. I thought about my number again, 8.

There was a good downhill in the fourth mile, so I tried to bank as many seconds below 8 minutes as I could in anticipation of being tired and dealing with hills and the morning breeze starting to pick up later in the race. I tested my pace, but didn’t have much extra to give, so I focused on cadence. Quick turnover to keep the steps light. I did not want to make that fatal flaw of taking too large of a stride in a slow cadence and actually slow myself down even more. I was slowly passing people, one-at-a-time, through the entire first half. I hit the turnaround at 52:26 and my fear became real – I had used half of my self-allotted 1:45 and I had uphill, wind and tiring legs to contend with.

Quick feet, Mark, focus.

I saw my brother-in-law at mile 7 (he was at 6.1 and doing very well). I encouraged him and kept moving. I saw Lynn around mile 7.6 and she asked me when she’d finish (I of course rounded up – she beat my prediction).

I had considered taking a Gatorade or Gu, but that wasn’t how I did things. I drank water at each aid station. At mile 8 or 9 they had bananas and that’s how I do things. Thank you!

Things slowed down when I made the next turn. That incredible downhill from the outward half was now up AND into the wind. I considered slowing and getting behind a couple of different people and drafting. I couldn’t spare the seconds as I lost 49 seconds over miles 10 & 11. Then I saw the big hill. Brain takes it all in and informs body that there is no way.

Step step step step step. Fast and light.

The banana from the aid station is now in my bloodstream and sugar helps me subdue my negative thoughts. I dumped water on my head at the last two aid stations and that helped take overheating out of the picture. I enjoy the scenery and pass more people now that I am back within the 10K course. Lots of people. No worries. I move left to the center line like an 18-wheeler getting ready to pass on a two way road. I rode that line for almost a mile. RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!

Hello Mr. Hill.

The hill seemed to stare back at me. I pulled aside another runner with the green race number like my #1638 and described how I felt. He said it was mental. “You’re right, thanks!”

I accelerated into the hill.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I was winded and the last half mile looked pretty long with my new 170-something heart rate going on. I remember thinking 220 minus my age is EXACTLY WHAT MY WATCH SAYS. Let’s get ‘er done already.

I was happy to cross the finish line – it made me smile big now, writing this, at 1:44:56. My official time was less, but it was really cool to beat that seemingly unattainable 1:45 and just under an 8-minute pace. I am convinced that my new found plant power is always improving my body. Slowly reversing the damage done by years of abuse by food and drink.

This is the first of many milestones and I invite you all to come along for the ride. I will teach you everything I know so that you can feel what I felt crossing that line yesterday.

Small positive steps and intentional change will take you to the goals you never dared dream. My best half marathon was my first – 1:54 in 2004. Ten years older and ten minutes faster. I want the next ten minutes in less time than that.

Here’s to you runners and runners-at-heart. Pursue your dreams. Aim high –  I love that saying:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.― Norman Vincent Peale


Green smoothie time!

Green smoothie time!


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