Monday, February 16, 2009

Honor, Courage, Commitment!

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11


These three words encompass the Core Values of the United States Marine Corps. Upon completion of Boot Camp and/or Officer Candidate School, Marines are issued a “Core Values” card. On the back of the card the Marine signs his or her name acknowledging that Marines:

1. Obey the Law
2. Lead by example
3. Respect themselves and others
4. Maintain a high standard of integrity
5. Support and Defend the Constitution
6. Uphold special trust and confidence
7. Place Faith and Honor above all else
8. Honor fellow Marines, the Corps, Country, and Family

In an individual sport, such as running , it is easy to get tied up in your own personal story; personal best times and distances, how many miles I ran last week, my next event is going to be…, etc. It is at times like these for me that a reality check is needed as reminder that I am allowed to run only as far and fast as the Lord will permit and Faith will carry me. That reality check came Saturday morning as I was looking at the Semper Fi Fund website and saw the promo for an HBO Original movie called “Taking Chance”. The following is the synopsis from the HBO promo page:

In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance's remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal.
His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media. 'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home.
A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families.

Please take the time to watch this trailer, the movie will premier Saturday night, 21 Feb at 8:00pm on HBO. These Marines, PFC Phelps and LtCol Stobl, represent the true essence of “Honor, Courage, Commitment” that is being displayed daily by brave men and women around the world.

With that being said, this Blog was started with the intent of tracking my weekly training enroute to the Western States 100. I will continue to humbly post my weekly stats and race reports, staying true to my mission of running for the Glory of God and in support of Injured Marines.

This past week served as a good recovery from the ICY 8-hour with 4 shorter runs during the week and taking the weekend off to spend time with the family. I am looking to ramp up the miles next week and try to get some good mountain runs completed on the weekend. Run Strong!
Semper Fi and God Bless,

Training for Feb 9-15: Weekly Mi (27.5), Monthly Mi (98.8), Yearly Mi (257.3)

Mon: Lift and Abs / Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Tues: 5.5 miles-Wakefield Park Trails
Wed: Off
Thurs: PUs and Abs / CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Fri: 11 miles-Grover Archibald Trail in Georgetown
Sat / Sun: Off

Monday, February 9, 2009


“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I completed the ICY 8-Hour Adventure Trail Run on Saturday, 7 February. Once again God blessed me with the opportunity to challenge myself both physically and mentally. “Time” was the watchword for this event. This was the first timed race that I had run and the clock management certainly added a since of strategy to the race that I had not dealt with before. The race was directed by Alex Papadopoulos and Scott Crabb of Athletic Equations. These guys put on a first class event and I highly recommend participating in the 24 hour and 12 hour events they have scheduled for later in the year. As you know I have been raising funds for the Semper Fi Fund for about a year, Alex and Scott are committed to donating 50% of the proceeds from the 24 hour Trail Run to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. OORAH!!

The race was run on two loops of trails in the Lake Anna State Park in Central Virginia. Runners had the choice of an 8 mile “long loop” or the 4.7 mile “short loop”. We saw about a 40 degree temperature swing from the start of the race to the finish (mid 20s up to the mid 60s). About 100 people started the race at 0730, I myself started off on a long loop and would alternate between long and short for the rest of the day. The first two loops were pretty cold but by the third loop I had shed almost all of my layers including hat and gloves and finished the day in short sleeves, beautiful running weather.

The trails were in great shape initially but as the day grew warmer and the ground started to thaw several areas got pretty sloppy with mud and that always helps as you start to grow tired in an event, NOT. I am typically not a fan of loop courses but adding in the time management and the option of different loops allowed enough variation to keep me motivated and engaged throughout the race.

So what was the final tally? I was able to run 42.8 miles in 7h:51m:25s (3 long loops and 4 short loops). I am still waiting for the final results to be posted but I think I placed around 4th. The winner was a VHTRC member, Mike Bailey, who was able to run 50.3 in just under the 8 hour mark, awesome job.

What’s next? The next scheduled race is the Seneca Creek Greenway 50K on 7 March. At the end of the month my wife and I are going to California to spend some time with some very dear friends. It has been a while since we have seen this family and it’s going to be great to have some time to catch up. He has just returned from his second tour in Iraq and I am grateful for his safe journey home.

This brings us full circle to the race watchword “Time” and the Bible verse from Hebrews at the top. I know that in this Time of economic uncertainty everyone is apprehensive about what the future will bring, but one thing is certain; this country is at War and in economic good times or bad times Marines are going to continue to be killed and injured. Their needs are going to continue to be as great as they have been and I asked that for those of us that have the means to assist; do what we can. I am going to get the ball rolling this year and pledge to commit $25.00 for each race that I complete for the remainder of the year to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. I welcome all of you who are reading this to join me in this challenge as we continue to “Serve Those who Preserve our Freedom”. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,
Training for 2-8 Feb: Weekly Mi (55.3), Monthly (71.3), Yearly Mi (229.8)

Mon: Lift / Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Tues: 7 mi Teddy Roosevelt Island
Wed / Thurs / Fri: Off
Sat: 42.8 mi ICY 8-Hour ATR (7h:51m:25s)
Sun: Recover

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snow, Sleet, and Ice

He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth the ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold
Psalm 147: 16,17

This week of training offered many opportunities to skip a workout. The DC area had it’s first snow of the year and although it only amounted to about 2 inches of accumulation, it was a big deal around here. I have the tendency at times to be a fair-weather runner and fought with myself a couple times this week to lace up the shoes and get on the trail. In the end it all paid off and I was able to get my first 50+ mile week of the year.

After a good workout on Monday night I was treated to a couple of inches of fresh snow on Tuesday. Due to the “treacherous” conditions we were told to go home early Tuesday afternoon (no problem). I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and run the WO&D trail from the Pentagon to East Falls Church Metro station. The run was awesome, fresh snow, about 32 degrees and no wind. About 4 miles into the run it began to snow so more and kept everything blanketed in white. The snow offered a great cushioning effect as I sank into it, step after step. But all good things must come to an end and as the temperature stayed below freezing the snow quickly turn to nice thick sheet of ice over the next couple of days.

Snow running: Fun - ice running: Not so fun. I was able to run into work on a pretty clear trail on Friday; however the runs on Saturday and Sunday were done on very icy trails (I guess it was good training for the ICY 8 hour this coming Saturday). I was very close to skipping a run on Saturday but drug myself out to the Bull Run Trail and got in a good 8.5 miles before sunset. I would say that 90% of the run was in ice/snow, and it made for some slow going in sections. It was a good run and set me up for my long run on Sunday.

My goal this week was to try and get over 50 miles accumulated and after a tough 16 miles at Bull Run Battlefield I was able to get there. Trail conditions were not good. Thick ice in the center of most of the trails required running on the sloped edges just to get my feet to break through the thinner parts and get any type of traction. I am usually pretty good about keeping upright while I run, regardless of trail conditions, but I took 3 nasty falls due to the ice and found myself becoming extremely frustrated with the conditions. Trying to stay motivated became a challenge but I was determined not to let the conditions ruin a good run. Bull Run always offers the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife, especially deer. Lately, I have been keeping track of the number of deer I see during a run and yesterday was a record 43.

So after the dust settled (or snow melted), I was able to get 51.5 miles for the week and feel like I am in good shape for the ICY 8 hour on Saturday. I plan to run 2 or 3 times this week and rest up prior to the event. I’m still working out the strategies for a timed event but right now think that I will run (4) 8 mile loops and then evaluate how much time I have left to determine whether I run the long loop or a couple of short loops. I will provide the gory details next week, until then: Run Strong.

Semper Fi and God Bless,
Training for 26 Jan-1 Feb: Weekly Mi (51.5), Monthly Mi (158.5), Yearly Mi (174.5)
Mon: Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi /50 mins)
Tues: 8 mi, WO&D Trail(snow)
Wed: Lift
Thurs: Precor EFX 546 CrossRamp (5.5 mi / 50 mins)
Fri: 8 mi, WO&D Trail (Fartlek)
Sat: 8.5 mi, Bull Run / Occoquan Trail
Sun: 16 mi, Bull Run Battlefield
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