Monday, November 16, 2015

Inaugural Team RWB 5k

A little late but here's my race report.... On Saturday November 7, 2015 I ran in the Inaugural Team RWB 5k. Team RWB's mission is to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. If you aren't familiar with Team RWB go to their webpage to learn more. I joined Team RWB earlier this year after learning about them through a friend. I kept seeing all these shirts with the eagle and Team RWB on them at local runs and wanted to know more. Glad I asked. What a great way to help our veterans, and those currently serving, be active in the community! I have met so many great people in the short time that I have been affiliated with the local chapter. 

I can't say I know what it's like to be a veteran or to serve in our military. I am not a veteran. I have not served in the military. I have several family members who served, including my father and brothers who served in the army. I have seen how hard it has been for one of my brothers to re-integrate back in to society after his military service. It hasn't been easy for him as it hasn't for many veterans. Being part of Team RWB is just one way to help. There are other ways but for me, it made sense to be part of a group that uses physical activity to help veterans. Running is something I enjoy and it has certainly helped me through some difficult times in my life. I can see how it might help veterans who are struggling. So, even though I had run only 2 times since being injured in August, I laced up my shoes and joined my fellow eagles for the Inaugural Team RWB 5k. What I love about Team RWB is it doesn't matter if you are fast or slow, everyone is included and no one is left behind! If you have been to a running event lately and noticed a large group running or walking in with the final finisher and wondered who made up that group... that's Team RWB. #NoOneLeftBehind #EagleUp

Here's some images from the race:

The Team RWB tent is a fixture at local runs. 
Gathering at the start....
Start and Finish Line were one and the same.

A common site in any run is a veteran or current military member carrying the American Flag or a  military branch flag. There were many in the Team RWB 5k.

Eagles heading out to bring in the last runner....

Second to last group. Derek Mitchell is in this group. If you don't know his story, he is inspiring and is a fixture among Team RWB.
Team RWB bringing in the final finisher. I'm in there somewhere....
The flag was offered and accepted by the final finisher as he nears the finish line. 

Although Team RWB brings in the final finisher, we leave the moment of the finish line for the finisher to enjoy. 

The medals are ready!

Bling anyone?

The Team RWB mission statement is on the back of the medal. Nice!

It's Our Turn

As for my race.... It wasn't my fastest 5k but surprisingly it wasn't my slowest either. Finished in 35:56 for a pace of  11:35 per mile. Not bad for not running for 2 months. I didn't have any pain in my hamstring so I am hopeful to resume running regularly again soon.

Me just after I crossed the starting line....

Crossing the finish line....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MCM deferred....

Well unfortunately due to an injury I have had to make the decision to defer my entry for the Marine Corps Marathon to next year. I have a torn hamstring tendon. Had it been the muscle injured instead of the tendon I might have been able to train through it. A tendon injury is more serious than a muscle injury and mine is being slow to respond to treatment. I have missed nearly 2 weeks of running so far and the projected time off from running is 4-6 weeks. With the MCM being only 8 weeks away, it is unrealistic that I could recover and train appropriately for it.

Injuries are frustrating. This one is frustrating to me for so many reasons. Running is my coping mechanism. I have been grumpy lately and I know it's a result of not being able to run. Mostly though, I think I am frustrated more because I was running the MCM to raise awareness for suicide prevention for first responders. I will have to discontinue the campaign now that I won't be able to run. I am very disappointed about that. Suicide is such a hard topic to talk about. Running the MCM gave me a platform to talk about suicide prevention.

The media doesn't publicize first responder suicides nearly as often as they occur. Every year we hear about how many Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters are killed in the line of duty. Would it surprise you that nearly double that take their lives each year by suicide? I bet most people don't know the devastating toll of the job on first responders. I was an EMT for only a short bit so I can't say I know all they go through but I have an idea. There is one call I ran while an EMT that I will never forget and it has to do with fire. It's part of the reason why I struggled so much after my fire a few years ago. My fire brought back a memory I thought I had put away forever. And that's only one call, how many calls haunt first responders in their dreams? I bet it's well more than one. Whether a firefighter, EMT, paramedic or police officer, they all experience things that most of us never could imagine. And because most of us can't relate to what they see and experience, first responders find it hard to reach out to others who are not first responders. So what do they do? They bury it. They don't want to burden their family or friends with the emotional things they see on the job. The problem with not talking about it is it leads to coping mechanisms that may not be safe such as drinking, drugs and other risky behaviors that help distract from the nightmares.

This year alone 71 firefighter suicides have been confirmed including the recent suicide of a firefighter while on duty in Katy, Texas. It's very possible the number of suicides is higher than that as not all suicides are reported as suicides. EMS suicides are generally included in firefighter suicide statistics. It's harder to track LEO suicides because oftentimes the death is not reported as a suicide. And that's too bad. In order for officers, firefighters and EMS to be more likely to get help, they need to know there is a support system in place. If law enforcement won't acknowledge that a suicide has happened, it is less likely for an officer to reach out to someone if they are struggling. For example, Johnson County (KS) Sheriff's Office had a deputy lose his life to suicide earlier this year. It was not reported as a suicide and therefor the opportunity to help others who may be struggling was missed. The more we talk about suicide out in the open, the better chance we have of saving someone who may need help but is too afraid to ask for it. Suicide needs to be talked about openly in order to break down the stigma associated with it. Until that happens, people will continue to be afraid to ask for help. I speak from experience here.  Fire and EMS have gotten a little further than law enforcement in regards to suicide prevention. Suicides are now being tracked as much as possible in Fire/EMS and workshops are being put in place to help departments when they lose one of their own to suicide. The organization I was raising funds for is one of those organizations that provides workshops for LEO/Fire/EMS to help with suicide prevention as well as grief after a suicide.  To learn more about it visit the Sweeney Alliance at or the Grieving Behind the Badge blog at

I may not be able to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year but my desire to talk about suicide prevention has not diminished. It's a difficult topic but one that's worth having a conversation about. You might just save someone's life.

If you or someone you know is struggling there is help. Reach out to a friend, family member, coworker, partner, spouse, counselor, priest.... just reach out. Where there is help, there is hope.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spencer C Duncan Make It Count 5k

August 1, 2015 was the 4th Annual Spencer C Duncan Make It Count 5k. Proceeds benefit charities that support veterans.

This was my first time running this race. It was low key with lots of walkers, strollers and even some pups running or walking the race. I wanted to get a gauge of my fitness but it was hot and I ended up walking a little bit near the end when I got overheated. I met some RWB peeps though and that made it a fun event! I've run a couple races now wearing the RWB shirt but this is the first race where I actually got to meet some. It's nice to be able to show support for veterans and Team RWB is a great program to do that! And it was cool to receive dog tags for finishing rather than a medal!

Race bib, finisher dog tag and Team RWB shirt that I wore during the run.

Team RWB's mission is to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social interaction. If you want to learn more visit their website at:

Here are some pics from the race:

JOCO Fire District #3 and MedAct were on scene for safety of participants.   
American flag was displayed flying between 2 fire trucks. How cool is that?

More volunteers!

This was the flyover prior to race start. It was so cool and deservedly received a round of applause.
Near the start.... this is the flag everyone turned to look at while the national anthem was played.
All throughout the race were military personnel holding a sign of a soldier lost in combat. 

Even the animals who served and died in combat were recognized! 
Me trotting along with another runner. I have both feet in the air in this pic! I was pretty sure I was slower than a turtle so to see a "flying" pic was kind of nice. In the background is one of the many military planes and other equipment that was on display during the event. 

More military equipment on display...
The helicopters were a popular attraction for participants to get a closer look at.

The flag flew over the finish line. Not a great pic of the finish line but trust me, it's there!
One of the awesome photographers on the course....

Next up on my calendar is the Royals Charities 5k. It fit nicely in to my training plan on a Saturday of a lighter week mileage wise. It will also be the first year I have participated in it. Should be interesting as it goes in to Royals Stadium and we run along the warning track in the outfield.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Running the Marine Corps Marathon to Raise Awareness for Suicide Prevention in First Responders

Hi all! I am running the Marine Corps Marathon in October to raise awareness for suicide prevention for first responders.

Why do I want to raise awareness for suicide prevention? Because one suicide is one too many!

Why do I want to focus on raising awareness for suicide prevention for first responders? Because they are the helpers. Who are they supposed to call when they need help?

The stigma for suicide is very real. People are afraid to ask for help because they don't know how others will view them when they say they need help. Having been there I know this issue all too well. People don't want to talk about suicide because of the stigma associated with it. It's time to start a conversation worth having.

What makes suicide so difficult to prevent is that it is not a condition or disorder, but rather an outcome that may result from the presence (or accumulation) of many risk factors. What makes suicide in first responders even more difficult to prevent is that they are the helpers. Those who work in Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement face the risk of my behavioral concerns such as anxiety, depression, burnout, ptsd to name a few. But the problem is that they don't talk about behavioral health when it comes to each other. The often mentioned mantra in first responders is "We help others but never ourselves." 

Why is it so difficult for someone in Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement to ask for help? Risk of losing their peer’s respect, fear of being viewed as weak and unable to perform their jobs, fear of confidentiality, fear of losing their career? It’s no wonder so many of the helpers suffer in silence. Why do I want to raise awareness for suicide prevention for first responders? For Nico and TJ and all other first responders who ended their life too soon because they couldn’t ask for help.

Nicholas “Nico” Cruz passed away on July 27, 2014. He was a firefighter with more than 20 years on the job. He received numerous accolades for saving lives. When he wasn’t at work he gave his time to many charitable organizations including MDA, BACA and Brotherhood for Children. Nico was a firefighter, a husband, a father and so much more. What might have been the greatest hurdle for Nico was the loss of his wife to suicide nearly a year prior to his suicide. After her death Nico made it a mission to educate others about suicide prevention. Those of us who knew Nico knew the anniversary of Carli’s death was difficult and may have been too much for him to endure. Someone who ends their life by suicide doesn’t necessarily want to die; they just want their pain to end. Nico was struggling with the loss of Carli and didn’t know how to make the pain end.

Timothy J. “TJ” Shavers passed away December 8, 2012. TJ was a detective who spent a good portion of his career in cyber-crimes investigating online sexual predators, identity theft, email scams, internet theft, etc. He was trained specifically to focus on investigate crimes against children and spent nearly the last 7 years of his career catching these predators. TJ was a law enforcement officer, a husband and a father. He, like many law enforcement officers, struggled with the pressures of undercover work vs personal life balance. 

Was it the constant exposure to horror at work or something going on at home that proved too much for Nico or TJ to handle? We may never know. All we do know is they wanted the pain to end. For whatever reason, neither reached out for help. I can’t say I know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of first responders but I have many friends who do and if I can help even one of them get help when they need it, it is worth the effort. Asking for help is hard. I should know; it was the bravest thing I ever did!

I am running the Marine Corps Marathon to support the groundbreaking collaboration of The Sweeney Alliance and Rethink The Conversation to develop national programs to educate first responders about suicide prevention and coping with the aftermath of a suicide.

Will you support my cause? Here's a link to my campaign:
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog entry! This cause has my heart, I hope it has yours too!

If you or someone you know is struggling please ask for help. Where there is help, there is hope!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heartland 39.3 Series Recap

This year I decided to sign up for the Heartland 39.3 Series which consists of 3 Half-Marathons in 5 weeks starting with Rock The Parkway on 4/11/15, Garmin Half on 4/18/15 and finishing with Running with the Cows on 5/9/15.

Here are some pics from Rock The Parkway:

I can't really complain about my poor performance (2:47:27) since I didn't really train for it. I completed zero long runs of 10 miles or more with my longest run being the Great Plains 10k on March. It was cool to chat with fellow Red Cross volunteer Sherri. She had a good race and beat me by a few minutes. It's been great watching her enthusiasm about running and racing. For someone who didn't start running until her 50's she is doing great! Actually she is doing great period! As for me, this was a Personal Worst time for the half marathon distance. Oh well, room to improve!

Next up was the Garmin Half Marathon. I was no more prepared for this race than the RTP. My time was a tad bit better (2:44:13) but still way off from what I have done in the past (2:13:29 is the best time I can find that I have run the half marathon distance and that was in 2005). 2015 is the first time I ran the Garmin half marathon race and I enjoyed the course despite the rain. I actually beat friend Sherri at this one but only because she had a bad day. She said it was a PW for her. She still did pretty well though and I hope she uses it to her benefit and improves on the next one. She is good about analyzing her races and planning for the next. I can't say I put that much effort in to analyzing mine. I really do just run for the fun(?) of it and more for my mental health than anything.

It started raining about an hour or so in to the race and continued throughout. It wasn't a hard rain so it wasn't really unbearable. It was wet enough there were no photographers on the course. Just as well, I don't care to have my pic taken. In years past I wouldn't even bother looking up my pics and saving them to the blog. My fire a few years ago has taught me though to enjoy life and embrace it no matter the circumstances. So... I may look like crap in my pics but they are memories worth hanging on to. Plus, hopefully I will get my training more consistent and see improvement in future pics! One can hope, right?

Having not run this race before I didn't know what to expect. It was run partly on the roads in Olathe and partly on the trails. I have biked on this part of the trail but never run on it. Because of the rain it was a little slick. I also learned that people don't know trail etiquette. I can't count how many times people were completely blocking the trail rather than staying to the right to allow quicker runners to pass. I'm not quick but since I am familiar with running on similar trails I had a better time getting through this section of the run than those not familiar with how to run on these types of trails. Best part of the race had to be the impromptu beer station around mile 9! It was ice cold beer and with it just being about shot size, it was just enough to be refreshing without creating any stomach issues. Thank you to those kind folks who provided the beer station! There was beer at the finish too. Had it not been pouring down rain at that point I might have stayed and enjoyed a beer and tried to find Sherri. Instead I grabbed a chicken sandwich to go and headed home for a hot shower. The sad part is that I almost didn't get to run in this race because I screwed up and didn't pay attention to road closures leading to the race. I literally got to the race just as the race was starting. Because of that, I ended up having to jump in to the first corral where I could find an opening and that happened to be the 2:00 pace group. Oops.... I tried not to run with them but I heard some splits along the way and realized despite my efforts, I started too fast. Not surprised I crashed near the 10 mile mark. I still managed to finish though and ultimately that was my goal.

Lastly was the Running With The Cows Half Marathon. And sadly, I recorded another PW in 2:48:47. I have run this race twice previously running a 2:23 in 2011 and 2:28:55 in 2012. I didn't run it in 2013 or 2014.

The pic below is proof I finished the race and it looks like it might have taken me a few minutes to cross the start line after the gun because my official time is a tad bit faster than the race time shown in the pic. I actually don't mind this pic too much. It's the first time I have worn the RWB eagle in a race. The mission of Team RWB is to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them with their community through physical and social activity. I haven't had a chance to personally meet other RWB eagles yet but I can tell you the camaraderie is great! I heard many cheers along the course from others wearing the RWB eagle and made sure to encourage others I saw as well. About 30% of the participants on Team RWB are civilians. I was proud to wear the eagle as a civilian participant and provide encouragement to others.

Despite not running well, I really do enjoy this race. It has rolling hills which I won't lie and say I enjoyed but had I been in better shape I would have. I actually don't mind running hills and will be incorporating hill workouts soon in to my routine to try and increase strength. What I really like about this run is the amazing volunteers. The course doesn't have many spectators but with an aid station nearly every 1 & 1/2 miles there were plenty of volunteers to cheer the runners along! And did they cheer! It was encouraging to hear the cheers and the snacks along the way weren't bad either! Oh and the deputy who rode his motorcycle down the road ringing a cow bell was a hoot! It was good timing because I happened to be heading up the longest hill of the race and seeing the deputy do that was a nice distraction.

The food at the end was great! No beer because this is a school sponsored race but there was plenty of chocolate milk (who doesn't like chocolate milk after a race?) and bagels and pizza and bbq and treats and you get the idea... lots of food! I usually take off right after I am done running but not this time. I spent a few minutes catching up with Sherri at the finish. She passed me around the 5 mile mark and ran her way to a PR. Way to go Sherri! It was great hearing about it at the finish. Once I collected my finisher medal for the RWTC half and the medal for completing the Heartland 39.3 Series I wandered in to the school gymnasium to gorge myself with food. I don't usually feel like eating after a long run or race but I did this time. It was a great way to conclude a race. Looking forward to running it again in the future!

Will I do the Heartland 39.3 Series again? I don't know. I didn't train for it and that really took the fun out of it. If I do it again I need to put forth the proper effort so I can actually enjoy it.

Next up.... training for the Marine Corps Marathon! I got a lottery spot this year and really want to put forth the effort and actually do it this year! I didn't do it a few years ago when I registered before it became a lottery system because well... it was the year of my fire and I just didn't have the motivation to train for it. I feel like emotionally I am in a better place now and would like to run the MCM this year and do it for a good cause. Still working on the details but I'll reveal that good cause soon....

Happy Training!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Heartland 39.3 Series

I don't have a clue what I was thinking when I did this but I registered for the Heartland 39.3 Series a little while back. I think I was hoping it would motivate me to get running. Well it's now March and I haven't been running regularly. I am so in trouble! It's not less than 5 weeks from the first race in the series... the Rock the Parkway half marathon. I usually volunteer as a course monitor at this race because I am not in shape to run it. Now I have no choice, I have to run it. I paid for it, time to suck it up and do the training and hope I can somehow run my way in to decent shape in time for this!

If you are interested in running in the Heartland 39.3 Series click here to register. It start with the Rock The Parkway half on April 11th, then moves to Olathe for the Garmin Wickedly Fast Half Marathon on April 18th then finishes in the cow pastures in Kansas with the Running With The Cows half marathon. I have only previously run in the RWTC half so the other races will be a new experience for me. Ugh... I hope I can get in to enough shape to enjoy it!

1st in the series....
2nd race in the series...

and last but not least.... the final race in the series.

Good luck to everyone who is participating! 

The Great Plains 10k

I completed the Great Plains 10k. Here is my brief race report.

 Some pictures from the race:
KCPD provided support for lead runner, last runner and at intersections to keep runners safe from traffic.

Me coming in to the finish.

And across the finish line...

The Great Plains 10k was scheduled for March 1st but due to weather (snow) the race was moved to March 8th. The extra week didn't really help me much as far as preparation. I am out of shape. Period! My time showed it. I was actually surprised by my time ... 1:11:00 (chip time) as that worked out to be an 11:27 pace and knowing that I walked some I thought I would easily be in the 12 min pace range. I really have not been running regularly at all. I'm lucky if I get 3 days of workouts in a week. I don't really have an excuse other than I don't like running in the cold and I don't like running on the treadmill so winter running tends to be non-existent. You would think I would move to a warmer climate huh? Nope. I just get lazy in the winter and spend the spring trying to shed the gained winter pounds. I thought this would be a good run to encourage me to get running regularly again. The course was relatively flat. It started at Kemper Arena and wound around some landmarks in the area. I can't say I really paid much attention to the landmarks. I really was out of shape and doing good just to finish this run. I was glad I did it though and may run it again in the future. The weather turned out to be perfect! High 40's and beautiful sunshine! I hope it's a sign that Spring has arrived. Now I need to take advantage of the momentum this run gave me and get ready for the Heartland 39.3 Series. I am so NOT ready for that series and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I signed up for it!

Bib and Finisher Medal