I published my first post to this blog eleven years ago. Dad was alive then, Barack Obama was President and the country was still reeling from the Great Recession. We had a Swine Flu pandemic instead of COVID-19, Elmer Fudd still had his shotgun, and I had really just started running in earnest. I had flirted with running in years prior but the relationship didn’t get serious until 2009. Some year prior to that, I remember standing at the start of the Oley Valley 5K/10M race. I would be racing the 5K which would be my first race ever. As my friend Gary and I watched the 10 Mile runners start out, I turned to Gary and said “I’ll never run that far.” In 2009, I completed the Oley Valley 10 Miler for the first time (and have done it many times since). After the ten miler, a half-marathon followed at the St. Luke’s half marathon. I had a fairly good half-marathon debut holding a 7:30ish pace for 13.1 miles. “But I’ll never run a full marathon”.
A year later in November of 2010, I completed my first marathon in Richmond, Virginia. Not too big. Not too small. It was a humbling experience and one that knocked my runner’s ego for a loop. Until that time, I had exceeded every race goal I had set. While the experience was amazing and I could now call myself a marathoner, I was left lacking and felt as if I’d let my training down. A month later, I did my second marathon at Rehoboth Beach. It went much better. That was it. I was a runner. The magic of the marathon was such that I felt I would focus all my energy on running so I could get better and faster and make my way to Boston. I don’t need to be fooling with things like triathlon.
In 2011, I did my first triathlon and had an absolute blast! Silly runners. You don’t know what you are missing out on. I was in love with swim, bike run. But not so in love that I needed to go longer. A sprint was complicated enough. “Well, maybe a half-ironman”. In June 2012, I did my first half at Eagleman in Cambridge, MD. Back then, the sport of triathlon was on top of the world. Race directors just had to take a breath and start to speak about a new event and competitors threw money at them. Races sold out in hours and Eagleman was no different. Eagleman has always been notorious for its hot run. To be clear, when I say “hot run”, picture running a half-marathon on the surface of the sun, wearing a rubber fat suit. Yeah . . that hot. Yet, I went on to finish Eagleman three times. (Nobody said triathletes were smart.) But I’ll never do a full Ironman . . that’s just crazy.
In 2014 I completed my first and only full Ironman event at Lake Placid. Between you and me, I finally found something I didn’t want to do again. I mean, I sort of did. I failed miserably at race-day nutrition and would have liked to try again to get all the pieces right but then some long-course triathletes do multiple races every year and don’t get all the pieces right. For me (and my wife) the sacrifice to prepare for a long course event wasn’t worth it. Honestly, I just don’t like riding a bike enough to go through that again.
In the fall of 2014 after training for and racing at Lake Placid, I leveraged my Ironman fitness to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I have friends that make this accomplishment look easy. For me, the qualifying event at the Bucks County Marathon was my single greatest day of racing bar none. I finished the course completely spent, on the verge of lucidity, and barely able to walk back to my car. It was glorious!
That qualifying event led me to Boston almost two years later. Yes, that’s right non-runners. Unless your timing is impeccable, when qualifying for Boston it is almost two years before you actually get to run Boston. That’s a long time to stay fit and healthy. As it turns out, I wasn’t staying as healthy as I thought. It’s time for a confession. Anyone close to me or anyone who has followed my blog knows about the injuries and subsequent surgery I had to repair said injury back in 2017. (There is a whole bunch of boring-ish posts on this blog about it for those that are interested.) You all know I blamed snow shoveling for my torn hip labrum and core muscle injury. (Sports hernia.) My confession is, in remembering the 2016 Boston Marathon, the hip labrum tear had obviously already began there. There I said it. It wasn’t the snow’s fault. I still hate snow.
Despite a lot of post-marathon pain which is not unusual, I obviously didn’t recognize the beginnings of a serious injury. So much so that I went on to race a fast qualifier later in 2016 and was able to return to Boston in 2017. It was during the second Boston training cycle that the ugly truth arose but knowing I may never return I was not going to miss Boston. Despite a severe injury and a lot of pain I jogged the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston one more time in April 2017.
After Boston, I spent much of 2017 looking for answers to the mysterious injury that was ultimately rooted in my twisted and bent scoliotic spine.
It turns out my body has compensated well over the years, but the self-torture I had put my misshapen bones through ultimately led to surgery later that fall. Despite having some level of pain from all activities every day, the main driver to getting the surgery was to try to be fast again and make the return to the fabled Boston Marathon one more time. I’d have liked to have run it well once. But my body had another surprise for me as I recovered from surgery and began training again. This time, the only answer was to stop running so much. I realized if I liked walking, and wanted to avoid painful surgery with prolonged recovery, I should never try to complete my 10th marathon.
Bring It On! Adventures in Daily Life, running, riding, swimming, and the outdoors. That is the title and tagline of this blog. As I browse back through eleven years of posts there were a lot of other posts besides running and triathlon. I will always be a hunter. I will always be a fisherman. In fact, I remember being a fisherman before I remember “being” anything else. I’ve written about both hunting and fishing, camping, and our adventures in RVs and RV shopping. I’ve written about painful loss, times I felt lost, and other times I’ve just written for fun. I’ve shared frustration, adventure, happiness, and even the occasional joke.
Over these eleven years, I have been amazed and flattered by the number of people who have followed my blog and commented on my writing. Like singing in the shower, whether it pleases anyone other than me, writing is mostly for my own entertainment. I so appreciate all who have read, commented, and e-mailed over the life of this blog.
That said, for now at least, this is the end. While I feel that the peak of my running and racing career is probably behind me, I have no plans on quitting anytime soon. Nor do I plan to quit hunting, fishing, and getting outside as much as a demanding desk job allows. But blogging has become a bit of a forced exercise and I feel it is time to expend my creative efforts elsewhere. If I can’t write an entertaining post, I don’t want to write a post at all and there are only so many ways one can report on a race experience or a hunting trip without getting redundant and positively boring. My plan for now is to let “Bring It On” go dormant. I may return some day or create a new blog under a different title, but even though it sounds really arrogant, I’ll leave it on the web for posterity.
Well I guess there is nothing else to say except adieu! Adios! Ciao! Auf wiedersehen! Goodbye . . .