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Goodwater Loop

This past Sunday I ran the Goodwater Loop Trail which circumnavigates Lake Georgetown. My training plan called for a 26 mile run, and the Goodwater Loop is 26 miles, so I figured that’d make for a good training run. The latter part of my training plan switches from distance-based runs to time-based runs, meaning instead of dictating that I run for 20 miles, I instead run for 3 hours, regardless of distance. This strategy is to just get me acclimated to being on my feet for long periods of time. My longest (time-based) run is 5 hours. It took me 5 hours and 25 minutes to make the loop.

The trail was a lot more technical and difficult than I’d anticipated. There wasn’t a lot in terms of elevation gain, but the trail itself is fairly technical and had its share of roots and rocks. The trail itself is quite pretty, and about the time I’d get bored with the scenery and landscape, it would change like a channel on the TV. I’d be running in open grassland on a dirt trail for some miles, and then before I knew it, I’d be running under oaks and cedars navigating through sharp granite and cedar roots. And then I’d find myself running with the blueish green lake to my right atop solid granite rock.

There are lots of historic markers along the trail that I admittedly neglected to take in and observe, only for the fact that I was there to run and not hike & site see. A few miles into the trail from Cedar Breaks is the Crocket Garden and Falls. I heard the falls, and I stopped to try to take a peek, but it was really wet out, I didn’t know where I was, so I just decided that I’d observe by ear and maybe come back one day to actually see the falls.

I got to the Cedar Breaks trailhead right at 7:30 a.m. and it was drizzling. The drizzle and dew on the ground made for really wet shoes and socks by around mile 5. I was really nervous that I’d have hot spots or, worse, blisters with 21 more miles to go. Thankfully my socks dried out in time while running through landscapes that weren’t grassland until the next section of wet grassland.

The trail was lonely and isolated at most points. I only saw 4 people until I got closer to Cedar Breaks and the day had kind of cleared up. Many parts of the trail are too technical to be runnable. I ran out of food and water around mile 23, and got pretty nauseous around mile 24. I had to hump it at mile 25-something and decided to run past my starting point at Cedar Breaks to cover 27-miles.

It was a tough run, and I annihilated a Whataburger combo meal as soon as I got back to the Jeep. A couple days later and my calves are still pretty shredded, and my chest, mid-back and gastro-intestinal track seem to be having the hardest time recovering.

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Capital to Coast 8

On October 20th we departed on the 8th annual Capital to Coast relay, a 223-mile foot race relay from Austin to Corpus Christi, TX. This was my third year participating in the relay, and my 2nd year as team captain for the Coast Busters. This was probably the toughest year because we had 3 runners who had to withdraw from the race the 11th hour because of either injury or illness. We lost 2 runners within a week of the race, and thankfully we were able to replace them both within 24 hours. There was a day when I was nervous that we were going to be a 10-runner team, but we quickly rebuilt to a full 12-runner team again. The day before the race we lost another runner due to illness. It’s really hard to recruit a runner for 2-day event within 24 hours of the race, so I decided we’d compete in the relay as an 11-runner team. Being down a runner meant that 3 runners would have to pick up an additional leg each, and thankfully 3 of our strong runners immediately raised their hands to run the extra legs.

Six runners in van #1: Luke, Patrick, Rich, John, Alexa and yours truly. Five runners in van #2: Mark, Michael, Jenny, Jason and Whitney. Van #1 started us off at 6 a.m. from Brush Square Park in downtown Austin and we were, as they say, off to the races. We held very strong for our respective first legs, gaining ground and passing lots of people. By the fourth leg it started raining in the south Austin and Buda area, which was nice as mid-October can still be pretty hot in Central Texas. Van #1 finished its legs and handed off to Van #2 in Lockhart, and we all went to Taco Cabana for some calories and rest at one of the finest motels in Seguin, TX.

With not much rest to be had, we hit the road again to meet up with Van #2 at the 11th exchange and start our respective legs again. Thankfully we’d had cloud cover for most of the day, so the sun didn’t beat us down much. Van #2 ran their respective legs starting around 3 p.m. through the late afternoon and into the night. I finished my leg at around 8 p.m. and then we were off again to get food and rest. We decided on Subway in Beeville and had our food by 9 p.m. We made it to the motel in Beeville for everyone to have their heads hit the pillow by 10 p.m. And then we had to be up at 11 p.m. to start it all over again. We met up with van #2 shortly after midnight and ran all through the morning. This was a tough leg for all of us as the lack of sleep was starting to catch up. I ran a 7.3-miler and I felt like was drunk. It was so dark and foggy, and my headlamp cast this halo before me that was very disorienting. I finished van #1’s leg, we handed off to van #2, and we were off again to Beeville so our three ironmen could try to get some sleep as they each had a 4th leg to run to account for team being a runner down. I think we got back to the motel by around 7:30, and we had to be up and on the road again by 9:20 a.m. Thankfully we’d consistently banked a 25 minute lead on our expected finish time.

John and I got up a little early and drove to Whataburger in Beeville to buy everyone breakfast. We needed to get calories in our tired runners.

We met up with van #2 at approximately 10:15 a.m. on Saturday and we were off again for the final 12.5 miles. Unfortunately the sun decided to show up in full force that morning, and I swear that even though we were near sea level, it felt like we were closer to the sun. And the Texas gulf humidity is painfully brutal.

Rich took off on the 36th and final leg, still at about 20 minutes ahead of our anticipated time. Unfortunately the sun and the heat were just too much. After almost 3 miles in his legs couldn’t keep up with the demand. Impressively he never stopped, but was slowed to a walk.

It was a rough last leg, but I’m damn proud that we came in at 29 hours, 53 minutes and 49 seconds. Running 223 miles in under 30 hours is a tough task, especially when the team was down a runner. Rich, Alexa, Luke and I walked in and met the team a hundred yards before the finish line, and we all walked it in together.

Rich was immediately escorted to a beach chair under a tent, and Luke continued to try to get him to take in fluids. It took about 10 minutes before nausea and vomiting set in, and then a few minutes later leg cramps to the point where Rich couldn’t bend his knees. John ran to get the van and we loaded Rich up and took him to the ER for IV fluids.

After a couple hours, Rich was back to being able to walk on his own two legs, and we left the hospital to meet the team back at the finish line. Well, the team had already exhausted themselves of the finish line festivities and had eaten lunch at Pier 99. Luke, Rich, John, Alexa and I had a later lunch, and the rest of the team hung out and waited on us before most of the crew headed back to Austin in a stinky rental van.

The girls and I met with Mark and Natalie for dinner at Chuy’s, and then headed back to our hotel near the USS Lexington at about 10 p.m. I conked out from exhaustion, and then we woke up around 7 a.m. to drive back home to Austin.

Capital to Coast we stressful, but so worth it this year. We came in 7th overall out of 46 teams, and 4th in our division (men’s open). I’m super proud of the team and am blessed to have worked with such a strong bunch of runners.

And I’ve already registered the Coast Busters for 9th annual Capital to Coast Relay. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Photos can be seen here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/lpQx1YxnfH5D1J0t1

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Maly’s first day of middle school

First day of 6th Grade today:
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First day of 5th Grade last year:
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First day of 4th Grade 2 years ago:
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First day of 3rd Grade 3 years ago
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First day of 2nd Grade 4 years ago
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First day of 1st Grade 5 years ago:
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First day of Kindergarten 6 years ago:
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First day of school 7 years ago:
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First day of school 8 years ago:
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First day of school 9 years ago:
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Mara’s first day of school

First day of Kindergarten today:
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First day of preschool last year:
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First day of preschool 2 years ago:
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Maly getting her ears pierced

Elise and I made the decision long ago after having a daughter that we’d give her the right to decide when she’d get her ears pierced. She decided today, at 11-years-old, that she wanted her ears pierced. Our only request was that she had them pierced at a professional piercing studio.

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Today is my Runniversary

Today is my runniversary. On July 11, 2013, I walked down to the Gorzycki middle school track and I ran a mile. This journey didn’t start with that run. It’d actually started on, I think, July 8th after I looked at some photos of myself in a bathing suit from a recent vacation in Cabo, and after looking at myself in the mirror after getting out of the shower. I didn’t like who I’d become. I was overweight and I didn’t have the stamina I wanted and needed to keep up with our daughter.

So I decided to download an app for my phone and track my speed and distance on some bike rides I was going to start taking. 12 years prior I used to ride my bike eight miles to work, and then eight miles home. I started watching my diet, and not long after, pounds started shedding.

On the morning of July 9, 2013, I hopped on a bike and went on a half mile ride. I only made it a half mile because my hip immediately started hurting. You’d think a low impact activity like riding a bike wouldn’t cause hip pain, but it did. I came home and decided I’d try again the next day. The next day, I rode eight miles, but my hip was still hurting to the point where I knew I couldn’t try another day.

So on July 11th, I decided to go to the track and see how fast I could run 1 mile. Just a mile.

It wasn’t until I was 4 miles in to a 6 mile run this morning that I remembered today was my runniversary. My plan was to return to that same track and see how close I could come to pulling off a 5-minute mile. But, alas, I wasn’t prepared. Better yet, I just didn’t remember.

Maybe I’ll go hit the track this evening. Maybe not.

Here’s that very first run:

And here’s to 985 runs covering 6,247.01 miles so far. Lots more ground to cover!

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Seattle and The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Marathon

Elise & Josh in SeattleOn June 7th Elise and I flew to Seattle for a short vacation together, and for me to run the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon. The trip started with a early evening direct flight from Austin to Seattle. We arrived at 11 p.m. PST, and had a bitch of a time getting transportation from the airport to our rental apartment in Wallingford (northern suburb of Seattle). It took us an hour of shopping all of the rental agencies to learn that there were no available cars for rent. So we finally hailed an Uber. I don’t think we went to bed until 2 a.m. I couldn’t tell you the last time I stayed up until 2 a.m.

For some reason we woke up early on Thursday and walked to the nearby grocery store for food and other sundries to sustain us for our 5-day trip. We stopped at Julia’s, a local cafe, for a hearty breakfast. Elise had eggs benedict. I had the corned beef hash. Then we did all the tourist things. We walked to Fremont to see the Fremont Troll. Then found a bus stop and took a ride to explore Pike Place Market. We had an early dinner at the Athenian Seafood Restaurant. I got the fish stew. Elise had fish & chips. Elise soon decided she didn’t want just fish & chips, so we traded meals. After dinner we tooled around the market & downtown a bit, and got to experience the great gum wall.

On Friday we did even more tourist stuff. We took the bus into the city again to rent a car, and then started our day’s adventure on a underground walking tour of Pioneer Square, and learned the history of Seattle’s sea level settlement and the plumbing & backwash adventures thereof. We also learned of local development, architecture and Chief Seattle. Next we walked over to the market for some [more] fish & chips at Ivar’s, which is a must-do in Seattle. We rode on the Seattle Great Wheel and enjoyed the views of downtown and Elliot Bay. Then we went on a self-guided tour of the Olympic Sculpture Garden. Two days before my marathon and I think we’ve covered 20,000 steps so far. I’m supposed to be taking it easy. Lastly we drove up to Kerry Park for a really pretty hilltop view of Seattle.

Elise & Josh at Pike Place MarketOn Saturday we hopped in the car and drove out to Renton to have lunch with our friend Jen and her daughter Addison, with whom Mara went to preschool this past year. We visited for a bit and then headed back to our apartment so yours truly could get off my feet and do some resting. Elise drove back into the city to do some gift shopping and to pick up dinner for us. Note to self: penne, garlic & tomato spaghetti sauce, ground turkey and mushrooms make for a great pre-marathon meal.

The race started at 7 a.m. Sunday morning. Since the race is in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, we had to get there extra early as they don’t allow vehicle parking at the start. So that meant we had to get me to an elementary school near the finish line to catch a bus that hauled runners to the start of the race. Buses started running at 4:50 a.m. I tried going to bed around 9:30 on Saturday night. I read for a while, thinking that would lull me to sleep. I think I might’ve fallen asleep somewhere shortly after 11 p.m. I’d set my alarm for 2 a.m., and 2 a.m. came quickly. I don’t think I woke up during the night, but my sleep was pretty restless, which is to be expected the night before a big race. Thankfully I’d slept pretty well on Friday night.

We left our apartment at 4:15 a.m. and made the hour drive east into the mountains. Thankfully the sun starts coming out around 4:45, so we were able to see the beautiful landscapes as we drove through the forest. I hopped out of the car and loaded onto a bus with a bunch of other runners and after a short wait, we started the trek 30 more miles east into the mountains.

We arrived at the starting area with plenty of time to spare, so I had time to check in, get my bib, go to the bathroom a couple times, meditate, and shiver my ass off. It was 40-degrees outside and this Texas boy coming from 95-degree summer temperatures was having a hard time keeping warm. Thankfully they had tents, so I waited until 6:55 before heading to the start line after ingesting a chocolate coconut Gu Roctane and chasing it with 12 ounces of water and Emergen-C. I lined up with ~700 people, tried to listen to the pre-race announcements, and when the clock struck 7 a.m., the gun sounded and we were all off.

As mentioned above, I tried to listen to the pre-race announcements. Since I wasn’t able to hear any of it as the races PA system was terrible, I missed the part where we were told that we’d run a few hundred yards to the east and then turn around at an orange cone. 700 people running in a straight line, and then turning right back around to run in the opposite direction. I was confused and a bit worried there for a good 30 seconds. I was mostly worried that someone was going to trip me and I’d get injured a tenth of a mile into the race. Thankfully I just took it slow & easy and kept my distance from other runners.

Another quarter mile in and it was time to go into the tunnel. The cool thing about this race is that it starts out by going through 2.5 mile train tunnel through the mountains. It’s pitch black, cold, quiet and wet. After you get a couple hundred yards into the tunnel, you can see the exit, over two miles away. And that’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Since my GPS watch couldn’t get a signal, I had to pace myself by feel alone. And that proved to be hard because we were still very early into the race, and while it’s a relatively small race, I was running amongst a lot of people, which made for a lot of dodging and weaving.

When the end of the tunnel was a quarter mile away, I switched off my headlamp and took off my hat and pullover. There was a volunteer at the tunnel exit who collected headlamps and other drop-offs. After lightening my load, it was time to settle in. It wasn’t long before mile 3 beeped on my watch. I looked down to find that I was two minutes behind pace. I worried briefly, shook it off, and then kicked into a bit of a quicker pace. I’d guess it was 42-degrees out and I felt great. I settled in behind a group of 4 guys and kept at a 7-minute pace. In order to hit my goal time and hopefully qualify for Boston, I wanted to keep my pace between 7:15 and 7:17.

Mile 5 came and I took another Gu, and slowed at an aid station for water. Settled back in just under a 7 minute mile.

Mile 10 came and I took another Gu, and slowed at an aid station for water. Settled back in just under a 7 minute mile.

Mile 13 came. The halfway point. I took inventory and decided that I felt great. I kept my pace and decided I might just crush this race.

Mile 14 came and I decided that I’d most likely made up for the slower-than-I’d-wanted first 3 miles, and that I need to pee. So I found a spot in the woods that would make for a good quick pee break and took care of business. I took a pee break at mile 1 in Houston last year and I think that’s what cost me my entry to Boston. This time it only took me 17 seconds to pee. Believe me, I counted.

Back on the trail and settled into a 6:45 pace at mile 15.

Mile 16 came and I took another Gu, and slowed at an aid station for water. Settled back in to a 6:45 pace.

RUNNINGNote that this is a beautiful course along the John Wayne Pioneer trail, through the mountains, lush pine forests, over trestle bridges, along waterfalls and the flowing Snoqualmie River. The race is all downhill at a steady grade decrease of 2000-feet across the full 26.2 miles, so it actually feels like it’s flat. I’d never been to Washington, so everything was new and green and beautiful to me. The course is absolutely stunning.

Mile 17 comes quickly and I’m still holding strong. However, my brain kicked in. Mile 17 is where I started coming unraveled in the Austin Marathon back in February. The last thing I wanted was for brain to start telling me things. Running is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental. I told my brain to shut it, and I kept going.

Miles 18-20 are dangerous too, as those are notorious “walls.” The wall is that proverbial point where your glycogen stores are depleted, your brain lets the monkey get onto your back, your legs stop working, your stomach hurts, and a myriad of other things. Mile 18 was actually my fastest mile at a 6:27 pace. And I started passing a bunch of folks at this point.

I stayed steady at mile 21.

Mile 22 came and I took another Gu, and slowed at an aid station for water. Settled back in to a 6:45 pace.

I think I got a cup of Gatorade at mile 23. I can’t remember. It was somewhere in the back half of the race that I drank some Gatorade. I just wanted some extra sugar.

I think it was at mile 24 where I almost started crying. I started thinking about my dad. I told him that I was going to do it. I was going to get a personal best in this beautiful marathon and that I was going to qualify by a large margin and run the Boston Marathon next year. My dad never knew me as the runner that I’ve become. I think he’d be proud of me.

I shook off the emotions (because that’s what Dad would’ve wanted me to do), and dropped the hammer. I kept an even pace through miles 25 and 26, and then saw the finish line. I sprinted as hard as I could on beaten legs and saw Elise at the finish and heard her scream, “Go Josh!”

I saw the finish line (gun clock) at 3:05:55. I’d beaten my goal time by six minutes. My race results are here.

I gave Elise a big sweaty hug. I don’t remember what she or I said. I was on cloud nine. I think she followed me around as I kept walking to keep my legs from seizing. I grabbed some food and something to drink and tried to just keep walking. Elise wound up volunteering for the race to help with food and water, so she had to get back to “work.” I hung around the food and tried to keep replenishing and getting lots of water.

After hanging out at the finish for about an hour, we finally hopped in the car and headed back to our apartment in Seattle. Elise had to do some work for vacation bible school, and I just sort of hung out with her on the patio in basked.

Later that afternoon we drove back out to Renton to have dinner with John, Jen and Addison. We had a nice seafood dinner at Wildfin, and it was good to hang out with friends and have a restful evening. We went back to John & Jen’s house to hang out for a bit, and then it was time to head out and get Elise to the airport. Elise took the red eye back to Austin so she could start her week as director of vacation bible school bright and early on Monday morning.

Yours truly headed back to the apartment and took it easy for the night. As exhausted as I was, I was quite restless. I didn’t sleep very well that night, and had to get up in the morning to clean up the apartment, turn in our keys and head to the airport in time to return our rental car and catch my plane back home.

I sat next to a runner and mom of three on the flight home. We talked about running quite a bit.

Photos can be seen here.

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Running milestones

I ran 200 miles in April. I don’t think I’ve ever run 200 miles in a month. Maybe I have, but I noticed I ran 200 miles in April.

I organized my first race/group run yesterday. I’ve always wanted to organize a race. Last summer I decided that the 5.5 mile end-to-end span of Escarpment Blvd. would be a good & scenic course. So I created the Escarpment 5.5 and invited the Circle C Run Club to participate. I decided that the 5.5 mile race would happen at 5:55 p.m. on 5/5. Thirty people registered, however, only 5 ran. That’s fine. 5 is a good number. We had a great time, I made some new friends, and I have a [possible] new recruit for the 2017 Capital to Coast Relay.

And this morning I hit 1,017 kilometers for the year. I completed the Under Armour You VS the Year Challenge in a little over 5 months. I beat last year by a month. For the past two years I’ve been the project manager for the You VS the Year challenge, which has proved to be very successful. Last year we had over a million people across the globe participate. We’re on track to do about the same this year.

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2016-17 Austin Distance Challenge results

Official results:
October 2, 2016 Run Free Texas 8k – 30:56
November 6th, 2016 Run For The Water 10 mile – 1:05:54
December 11, 2016 Decker Challenge Half Marathon – 1:30:05
January 22, 2017 3M Half Marathon – 1:28:11
February 19, 2017 Austin Marathon – 3:52:51

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Being an injured runner with running to do

On July 19, 2016 I, for whatever reason(s), decided to sign up for the Austin Distance Challenge. This challenge consists of five road races: an 8km (5 miles), a 10-miler, two half marathons and a full marathon spanning five months. After the first race I found myself in 3rd place in my age division (40 – 49-year-old men), which is a lot of places ahead of where I thought I might find myself.

Now that I think about it, I know exactly why I signed up for the distance challenge. It’s because I’m competitive. I vividly remember that very first day when I ran four times around the middle school track. As I was panting, on the verge of puking and passing out, I looked down at my phone and saw that I’d run one mile in eight minutes and one second. That one second bothered me because I knew that if I tried harder, I could run faster. And ever since then, I’ve competed against myself to make myself better, faster and stronger.

After a couple more races in the distance challenge I found myself in first place. I can’t lie. There’s quite a bit of pride that goes along with being in first place. It’s like, after 40 years I’d finally found something that I’m really good at. Bear in mind that I moved up to first place only because the guy who previously held first place injured himself and had to DNF (“Did Not Finish”) our last race at the 3M Half Marathon.

And as I type this, I’m suffering from an injury incurred at 3M. Thankfully I didn’t drop out of the race, but I really wanted to between miles 7 and 13. And I was hurting after the race. I had my usual nagging pain in my left hip, and a newly acquired sharp pain in my right knee, which I’ve self diagnosed as Pes Anserine Bursitis (self-diagnosis is the absolute worst thing to do).

I tried to go on a recovery run the Monday after the half marathon. The pain in my knee was still sharp and caused a limp in my stride after a mile in (this is not a good thing). So I prescribed myself with a week to 10 days rest from running.

After my painful 2-mile recovery run, I decided that I should finally heed everyone’s advice and do some strength training. I’m a stubborn runner. I’m not a lifter. I’m not a stretcher. I’m not a cross-trainer. I’m a runner. Well, it finally caught up to me. I’d injured myself early last year to the point where I went to the doctor and was prescribed two months of physical therapy three days a week. I liked the massages and the ultrasound, but I didn’t like the homework (the stretching and strength training).

I should’ve listened to and done what the doctor told me to do.

So I’ve been doing all kinds of strength training every day since this latest injury. If I can’t run, I need to do something, and it’s better to try to strengthen the areas that have been neglected and quite possibly the source(s) of injury.

I went for a 4.5 mile on the 10th day. I started feeling the knee at around mile 3, and my knee kind of nagged me for the rest of the day, but thankfully it wasn’t a sharp or nagging pain.

This pain & injury comes at a very inopportune time. I have the full marathon coming up on February 19th. Since being injured, I haven’t been able to go on some much-needed long runs in preparation for the marathon.

My current plan is to continue my strength training regimen. I’m going to try to go on a long run tomorrow and (fingers crossed) if it doesn’t debilitate me, I’ll put in some modest miles between now and the marathon. If I can’t make it, I guess it’s back to the physical therapist and a professional recommendation on my physical ability to run the marathon.

I had a long conversation with Elise and while I’m competitive and would love nothing more than to place in the distance challenge, I’d rather have my health.

A good friend taught me to grade my races. If I’m healthy enough to run the Austin Marathon on February 19th, I’ll consider it my “B” race for this year. It’ll be a training race for my “A” race, which is the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon in Washington in June.

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Smart home, smart phone, dumb me

I’ve owned an iPhone since day one. I’ve started a mobile app company. I presently exchange my time for money at a company that was founded on mobile apps. I use my iPhone quite a bit. It’s a smart phone.

Elise’s parents gave us a Google Home for Christmas this year. Now we’ve forayed into the world of having a smart home. After setting up the Google Home, I immediately started shopping for other things that could make my life easier and my home smarter. This was, of course, after I connected the Google Home to our Nest thermostat. Now I just have to say, “Okay, Google. Turn the temperature down to 72.” And the air conditioner magically switches on and the house gets cooler. The alternative to this would be me taking approximately 16 steps and adjusting the thermostat with my fingertips. I soon thereafter went out and bought a Chromecast because I wanted to tell Google Home to do things with the television. I don’t know what those things are yet. Change the channel? Turn up the volume? Make the President-elect’s head less bigly?

It was at the point where I found myself on the cusp of signing up for a waiting list where I could eventually buy three lightbulbs for $199 when my lightbulb came on and I thought to myself, “this is dumb.” These light bulbs can communicate with Google Home. I could tell Google Home to dim the lights. Or change the color of the lights to “Celeste Polvere.”

All of these things are things we don’t really need. The gadgets and tech and automation are cool, but they’re not really adding immediate value to our family’s life. Yet. Maybe I’ll play around some more with Google Home and figure out what kind of value it brings before investing in any more gadgets. In the meantime, Google Home is used mostly by the kids to ask, “Okay, Google. What sound does a dog make?” And then it barks. And then the dog runs to the door and growls. And then the kids laugh and do it all over again. Google Home will probably be the reason why the dog sets the house on fire because she conked out from exhaustion with a lit cigarette in her mouth.

Earlier this week and old friend of mine posted something on Facebook that raised my brows. I didn’t know this about her, but she consciously removed her smartphone from her life unless the phone was necessary. She placed the phone in its place at home and at work. It wasn’t at her side, or in her pocket, or in her purse, readily available. And she always kept it silenced, meaning that there were no notifications with chiming distractions that beckoned for immediate attention. She also posted a link to this article from the Minimalists.

After reading my friend’s post, and then the article she shared, I pulled out my phone and just started deleting apps. Most notably, Facebook and Instagram. And then I went through all of my other apps and just started deleting the ones that I hadn’t used, as well as the ones that I thought I might use at some point in the future, but after asking, “really, Josh?” they got the boot.

I like to think I was pretty good about keeping my phone pocketed. Now I’m confident that I’m good at keeping it pocketed because it’s not longer a device of distractions. I’m looking up. I’m engaged with people, notably my family and friends. I know I’m not missing anything on social media. Especially while I’m standing at the urinal.

I wonder if I could get Google Home to flush the toilet.

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2016 Decker Challenge half marathon

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It started out as a really early and rough morning. I barely made it to the race before the gun. It was my hardest and hilliest race to date. I climbed 732 feet of hills. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to quit right after hitting 10 miles. But I can’t, and I couldn’t. I kept pushing and fighting. I thought about all of the really early long runs. All the miles. I thought about my dad. It was all I could do to not stop and walk. I even had a couple guys pass me in the last mile. Until I saw the finish line a quarter mile ahead. The fire burned hot and I had to dig deep. I saw Elise out of the corner of my eye at the finish line and I ran as hard and fast as my legs and lungs would take me. I went sub-5, overtook the two guys who passed me a half mile back and wound up getting first place in my division. I won the Gold Cowbell.

I also moved up to 2nd place in my division in the Austin Distance Challenge.

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17 miles talking to myself

I haven’t gone on a good long run in a long time; not since marathon training last year. Something about the air. The atmosphere. The runner’s biological clock. It’s September. Something. It’s hard going from running a daily 10k or 8-miler to just up and running a half marathon or 17 miles. I knew the route I wanted to run, I just didn’t think or know if I’d be ready for it. I walked out onto the front porch this morning and just thought, “Okay, let’s go.”

I took it easy. I had my iPod shuffle with me and my ear buds in, but I never flipped it on. I just ran and talked to myself. I told myself the story of Josh as an athlete, starting from the age of 11. It was a good conversation.

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