Posted by: rundadrun | July 13, 2013

Running with Thunderhawks

Finish pic Flying Pig 2013

I never planned to be “that”  coach.  You know the one I am talking about.  The one who stands on the edge of the edge of the field yelling instructions to the kids.  I wanted to be the coach who was running with them, teaching them, encouraging them by showing them that you can live your life in such a way as to still be out there when you got “old like coach”.  But, as I looked at myself at the beginning of last cross country season, I most definitely was “that coach”.  I had all the right reasons.  I was just coming off 2 major surgeries.  One, to repair my badly damaged right ankle, and the other to finally repair damage to my cervical spine that was years in the making.  In the long downtime, I turned the corner from needing to watch my blood glucose to full-blown Type 2 diabetic.

So, once I was able to get back on my feet(literally), I decided to do something drastic.  It was no longer enough to coach from the sidelines, I would need to get out there and mix it up.  I would need to run with the Thunderhawks. So, at the end of this last cross country season, I started running with the kids every day.  No more running by myself and not being pushed.  I started at the back of the group and hit the trail with them.  I even started a fun game called, “catch the coach”.  I would start with a one mile head start and try to stay clear of team as long as I could.  This usually lasted till about mile 2.5 when my son and the front-runners would blow by.  But a funny thing happened as I was pushing myself.  I started getting stronger and faster and soon, I wasn’t getting caught…till nearly the end of my 4 or 5 miler.  The season ended with a nice slow jog with my son at the State Championship in November. But the work didn’t end. Next stop was winter training with my track athletes.  I was determined to keep building on my early successes.  I had wanted to see if I could break 25 minutes in my first 5K back and amazed myself with a 22:18 at the local Turkey Trot.  So by the time we entered track preseason, I was able to run the first half of the long runs with the “big dogs”.  At this point, I had lost almost 25 pounds and was on my way to getting off my diabetes meds. 

As we started the actual track season, I was feeling better than I ever had and found myself able to run most of a 5 miler with my boys.  Time to find another race!  I entered the local Shamrock Shuffle and again, had a goal.  I wanted to “beat my age”.  For me, that meant running a sub 46 minute 10K. My PR at the time was north of 50 minutes, so I knew it wasn’t a given.  But I was amazed to find myself not only beating 46 minutes, but running it in 44:24.  Of course, my son outdid me by WINNING the 5K that was run at the same time!  Proud day for old dad!  I was ready for my big comeback!

Our family has had a love affair with the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon for several years now.  It was where I ran my first 2 marathons and in the past couple of years, my kids had started running the 5K there.  But I had been forced to watch from the sidelines last year and this was going to be the big return.  I had big goals for this year’s running and I was blessed to have the Thunderhawks to push me through some tough workouts to help get me ready.  For the first time ever, I was actually running the speed work with our girls team.  I had always sat out the speed work, as I thought I was too old to run fast with these kids. 🙂  An added blessing was the fact that my daughter was now on the team, and we were perfectly matched to be training partners.  So I found myself running 200,400 and 800 meter repeats with my favorite young lady and getting faster every day.

So as I lined up early one May morning in downtown Cincinnati, I found myself nearly overcome by emotion.  I had gone from being unable to walk without crutches and a medicated diabetic to lining up just outside the “elite” coral.  I had set a couple of goals for the day.  My primary was to hopefully break 1:40.  My secondary was to break 1:45.  I had a fall back of just finishing feeling good.  It was just a blessing to be there!

The gun went off and I found myself actually racing!  I got to the 5 mile marker much faster than expected and my family almost missed me! 🙂  But then the famous hills of Cincinnati started.  Miles 5-9 go from roughly sea level to one of the highest points in Cinci, about 820 feet.  But I found myself actually enjoying the climb.  As we separated from the full marathoners at about mile 9, I turned on the gas and really started flying(for me).  I would love to tell you that everything slowed down and I had some amazing moment during the last 5K, but I think I lost my mind a little.  I am pretty sure I set a PR for the 10K and 5K during the race, and I know my last mile was sub-7.  But my next real memory was in the finish chute wondering why they were running strobe lights in the tunnel we were being ushered into.  It was then that I realized it was my eyes!  I was so spent that I was having flashing lights in my vision!  Time to eat something Mr. Diabetic! 🙂  I felt better very quickly, especially when I realized that I had obliterated my goal time.  I had run a 1:36:58! I finished 210th out of 12,129 runners!  My previous PR was 1:47 and change!  That was when I really had a moment of emotion.  And when I finally found my wife and daughter(son was working a water station at mile 19), I learned that she had been having the same moment.

I don’t tell this story to brag.  Believe me, I know how blessed I am and take none of it as being my own doing.  But I am so amazed by God’s Grace and love.  He not only allowed me to heal from my serious physical problems, but He also exceeded my highest expectations. Above all else, I got to “run with the Thunderhawks”!  Thanks team for running me back to health.  You guys are the best!

 Happy running,




  1. We need to start running together more. I need a push!

    • You bet. Although with XC starting back up, I don’t know how many miles I will have in my legs. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: