Saturday, December 20, 2008

800M Men's USA Olympic Trials Final

This has to be one of my favorite moments of 2008.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three Videos

1. Team World Vision Follow Up - I wanted to post this as a thank you to the people who donated to my NYC marathon campaign. It shows some great results.

2. Running on Benton Crossing Road - The running footage takes place on Benton Crossing Rd (where I often run by the "green church"). I thought it would be fun to show one of the places I run.

3. This is part 3 of the Michael Jordan Become Legendary ad campaign. It aired a lot last year. There are no Cinederellas! This is another mantra I use while running. Can't get enough of what this is trying to say.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Goal

It's almost 2009?!

Three weeks have gone by since I arrived in Mammoth. I'm having trouble putting into words my feelings about my place in life right now. I'm startled somewhat by the position I've put myself in. For me I've always been puzzled by the fact that one (well, I suppose not all of us are so lucky, but speaking generally here) has so much control over his/her life in our society, yet one so rarely is aware of the power we hold over ourselves.

Its true that we often feel held back by many things, money/jobs, relationships, "the man", etc... but when I look back at the last 10 years of my life, I realize how much authority I truly did have on where and what I did. I've made the decisions to go to law school, leave law school, move to Bloomington, move to Chicago, etc. and I've not had anyone forcing me to go in any specific direction. It's kind of like when you are driving and you look in the mirror at all the stop signs, turns, and lights you passed but don't remember maneuvering. You wonder to yourself if you obeyed them at all, and then you realize that you must have, because there is a lot of traffic and you did not wreck. That's not a perfect analogy but it is close.

Because of this, I seem to have trouble recognizing the fact that I'm actually in California. I live here. I live in the mountains. I don't have a job. I am spending 3-plus hours (easily, perhaps more) a day exercising. I'm sitting alone reading books and listening to podcasts (All Songs Considered, The Moth to name a few). These things are all true, but I'm not so aware. It seems as though any day I'll go back to my regular life. But wait... this is my life! And I've guided myself here. I suppose these are pretty common feelings for someone that relocates to a place where they know no one.

Why am I sharing this on my "running blog"? I'll do my best to explain. I think one of the reasons the above is true, is that when I look at my life just three years ago, absolutely nothing about right now is how I would have planned it. I think the reason this is the case, is because the factors behind my decision-making are so much different now than they were then. (Perhaps I'll learn as I get older, that this is often the case and isn't so unusual.... but who knows?) The biggest thing that is a part of my life now, that was lacking then is running. "Runner" is probably the easiest, most accurate one-word description someone could give me. (Maybe a person or two would argue it should be asshole or stupid, but what do I know?)

I'm happy with where I've ended up. But, for some reason I'm driven to try and make a plan. Or, maybe it's more accurate to say that I think a plan has found me, and I'm not going to push it away. Those who know me best may laugh at the idea. Dan McDowell and plans? Well, I'm not exactly looking to dot every 'i' and cross every 't'; not even close. But, I do see one goal that has risen in me and seems to be the biggest influence on my decision making, and in that way I can see a recognizable plan ahead.

What is that goal? Well, let me make a few disclaimers before I share it. This is something that has been floating around in my mind for a year or so, and I have discussed it with a few close friends. And I don't think it will be a shock to anyone. But, I suppose I've been weary of laying it out publicly because it could lead to ridicule and some may think I'm not being realistic with myself. But, I will be ashamed of myself if I let that stop me from at least trying. The goal... I want to run in the United States Olympic Marathon Trials for either 2012, or 2016.

I had the privilege of running beside (and often behind, but don't take that the wrong way Paul) Claudia Becque this past season as she managed to accomplish this feat. It was inspiring to watch her during the trials in Boston. And in the weeks before, during training runs, and as I stood on the curb just off the side of the St. Charles River I knew inside how much I wanted to be part of something like that. When I went home from a Jens Lekman concert early, got up at 4am and ran 6 miles to a friend's house, just to watch the Men's trials live the November before last I knew there was a part of me that wanted in.

The thing is, I've had trouble admitting this to myself. Mainly because its a far-fetched goal. Only 134 men were able to compete for the '08 spots (which happened in '07) and the time requirements have been made more difficult since then. The men who have been in this field are all much faster than me. They are now, and they were when they were 14. And perhaps, I will never get close to being at that level, but I think I'll find joy in going for it either way. So, if you are inclined to pity me for thinking I have a shot, don't. I'll be happy in the pursuit, and if I'm lucky enough to reach the goal, that will simply be icing on the cake.

So, while most of that is probably too self-absorbed for anyone to get through, it makes me feel a bit better to get it off my chest. I'm aiming to go to the trials. I may have to take a half-hour off of my PB, but I'm going for it. I've already taken 28 minutes off of my debut time. So, does any of this have a practical meaning?

Days and Nights in Mammoth Without a Job

Training is all too easy when you have all day to accomplish your day's goals. So while I would certainly like a job, I'll appreciate the good parts of this in the meantime. I have been running twice a day. I usually get the first one in around 10am after the sun has warmed things up a bit. I do the second run around 3:45 so I will finish before the sun tucks behind the mountain and the temperature plummets. This has finally gotten my mileage above the century mark. I've also found a few 30 to 45 minute core workouts that I do every other day. Rabbit and Coach Leach would be proud. No Tunisian Circuit yet though... sorry Coach!

My routes vary, but they do have one thing in common, they are hillier than Chicago, and much, much higher. The breathing doesn't come quite as easily. I've also become much more accustomed to doing some of my runs at a significantly lower pace than usual. Many of my routes are variants of the ones posted at RunMammoth. The views are quite beautiful. I often run with a mantra of "power from the mountains" and i know this is silly. But after living most of my life in the midwest, I still am not used to them.

I live in an A-frame right in the center of town with two other bachelors (one in his 30's and one in his late 20's). There is great public transportation here even though only 8,000 people live here because the local economy is based on the ability for people here to get to the main lodge and ski, snowboard, or mountain bike (in the summer). A 5 minute walk puts me on the bus and a 10 minute ride takes me to my gym where I do runs when the snow and wind is too much.

While running on a treadmill often makes me feel that I'm not getting the best out of my workout, I did get a confidence boost the other day. I finished a workout and headed to the locker room. Inside I met Ryan Hall and spoke briefly. I was an idiot, but he was nice. As I left I noticed he was running on a treadmill just a few spots away from the one I used. This is really silly, but it did help me to realize, that if its good enough for the most elite in my sport it has to be good enough for me. I've met a few other elites here, and I have to say they've all been extremely humble.

I'll be racing a 5k in San Diego on 12/29 so I'll probably check in again after that, and hopefully I'll already have progress to report.

Away from running I've spent most of my time reading and listening to music. On that note, I've been meaning to write on here about some of the music and books I'm most passionate about, but I've never taken the time. So, be warned, I may do that over the next few days. In the meantime I want to share this video with you. It's the group M83. I really love watching and listening to the first song as they perform it live. One of my favorite moments of 2008's music. While I'm at it, let me quickly say that Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago is my vote for best album of the year. And yes, I know it was released in a smaller fashion in 2007.

So yeah... for whatever this has been worth... good winter to you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Greetings from Mammoth Lakes, CA

I surprised myself on my move to the west. When I got to CA I took a right turn and ended up in Mammoth Lakes instead of turning left and enjoying San Diego. How, Why, What etc.... these questions will have to be answered later. For now I give you a video of Jason and I running in Utah at dusk, and a few photos from the trip.

The Running Video

Mammoth Lakes

Delicate Arch

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New York City Marathon '08

This is the wrong time for saying prayers
A kiss at the taxi will do
And if the Queensboro Bridge never gets you there
I'll be here waiting for you

-David Mead from "Queensboro Bridge"

DAN MCDOWELL 26M FF IL USA 2:51:33 0:21:37 0:41:45 1:01:39 1:21:36 1:25:57 1:41:57 2:02:04 2:22:26 2:42:36 6:32

I had a blast in New York City visiting friends and exploring the city. Not to mention running the marathon to record a new personal best time and my first negative split. I'm a little spent in terms of expressing myself at this points so I'm going to share some thoughts in list form and share lots of pictures (many of which were stolen from Ken Fandell).
  • Thanks to those of you who donated to World Vision!  And, thanks to those who have donated to G.O.T.R. after Chicago!
  • I ran with Robert for the first 20 or so miles.  He was a huge reason I was able to stay so steady and not waste energy during the race.
  • New York City is a great place to be on Halloween.
  • I would love to do a daily run in Central Park.
  • The Ferry ride to the start was a lot fun, and had a beautiful view of the sunrise.
  • It was really cold hanging out on the island before we began, but you couldn't ask for better weather for the race.  The wind was a factor, but not nearly as tough as the warmth and humidity in Chicago.
  • I'm going to be tired and slow in Westchester at the Veterun 10k, but please say "hi" as it may be our last chance to talk for quite some time my friends!.
One final note before I put up a lot of photos.  I'll be gone from this blog for a while as I'll be relocating from Chicago to San Diego over the next weeks and won't have internet access.  However, expect a nice photographic entry as Jason and I will be hitting up several Rave Run sites during our nice road trip.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sycamore Pumpkin Festival 10k

I been childish
And all mean to the fools
Myself as acting as
Daniel the Cruel
I've taken attendance at
Finishing schools
Filled with children who go beyond the rules

Lyrics from "Kids Pushing Kids" by Danielson

I got into a physical fight for the first time since the 9th grade (some of you who witnessed this fight, also refer to it as Hugfest '96) on Sunday at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival 10k.  It was a little embarasing at the time, but now its something fun to laugh at.  Imagine it from Verdo's perspective if you will.
Verdo continues his incredible streak of races and finishes 3rd overall with a 34:29 (Results) then in typical Verdo Zen fashion watches at the chute to see his teammates come in.  I finally arrive right at 36 flat everything seeming normal.  Except that I carry most of my speed through the chute and then push the person in front of me with gusto and a few curse words flying around.  I can only imagine what Verdo is thinking at this point.
To make a long story short, the eighth place finisher passed me twice in the last mile.  No big deal, right?  Well, he did so by cutting the course significantly both times.  I called him out on it verbally during the race and then he called me a few names while running.  We ran next to each other exchanging elbows (soft ones) until he pulled away over the last .2 miles.  If I had self-control I would have said something to him at the finish and let that be it... 
But if there's one time I don't have self-control its when I'm pushing myself in a 5,000 meter or 10,000 meter race.  These are times when I fill with rage at the people running near me.  It's happened all year.  The thing is, as soon as I reach the line, this rage turns into joy.  I'm usually thrilled to shake hands with the person who has pushed me and broken me (when they beat me to the line) or the person who has pushed me and made me go that much faster (when I get to the line first).  This time however, that rage didn't go away.  I hope I see this kid again at another race soon.  I won't let him have the joy of beating me twice. To his credit he didn't let things escalate by backing away from me. I hope its because he felt like slime inside knowing he cheated.
Lost in the drama (in my mind anyway) was scoring a nice PR in the distance despite brutally difficult winds.  The course is very rural, and this allowed for the strong winds to both make me fly (miles 2 and 3) and drag heavily in the last mile.  The wide open course was very enjoyable.  I loved running on the centerline of Bethany road while fighting it out with other runners.  I enjoyed watching Verdo, DP and some others duke it out in front of me over the expanse of the course.
Next up is the NYC marathon on Sunday 11/2.  You can watch it nationally at 3pm eastern on NBC (replay show of the race). After that, I'm looking forward to my last Chicago area race before I move, the Veterun in Westchester. Sign-up and race me!
Lastly, I leave you with this video to get pumped up for NYC and a picture of my dad, brother and I playing hockey last week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Victory and Sleep

I had the chance to run a 5k in my old neighborhood (for one summer) in TN this weekend. I had an easy time cruising to victory. And I won't lie, it was a lot of fun. I wish I could say that I ran faster to earn the win, but the competition was just slower. The course was hilly by Chicago standards, but I enjoyed the rolling terrain.

There is a really impressive trail system that is forming in the Nashville area. Yesterday I did a 13 mile run from a trailhead near my parents' house to the Shelby Bottoms area, and I didn't have to stop at any crossings. There were some neat bridges, tunnels, wetlands areas that provide neat views. Today I went out for an easy 6 mile run along the Stones River.

I shared a victory nap with my youngest nephew, Drake. That was a better prize than the free oil change that I won.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Chicago Marathon & Beyond

Happy in the Heat

Wow. In my mind this was a celebration to end all celebrations. Most people running in this year's Chicago Marathon probably didn't see it that way as Mother Nature brought difficult conditions to the city of broad shoulders for the second straight year. But, in the end Sunday brought so many wonderful people together on the same stage, with an amazing city as its backdrop, I couldn't help but to be happy. (Jason is shirtless in the middle of this pack, and Verdo is on the right in the blue)

Of course, recording a personal-best time always makes it a little easier to see the bright side of things. I was hoping to crack into the 2:40's and I think if conditions had been a little cooler I would have succeeded. Instead I ran a 2:53:24, which was good for 245th overall. I can also proudly say that I've taken over 25 minutes off of my marathon time from the 2006 Chicago Marathon. It's nice to have something tangible to take from the two years straight that I've spent training since my debut race. That is, if you consider a race time to be tangible.

Race Notes
I ran a large portion of the race with Ric Nielsen. He is such an intense guy at the races. He calls out mile splits for all to hear, and does a countdown as markers approach. I owe him a huge debt, as he did a great job of urging me to stay at 6:30 pace and not to get carried away early on. He pulled away from me around mile 12 before the heat got to him a bit and I reeled him in around mile 19. He still managed a 3:01 despite blowing up a bit.

I ran mile 6.5 through 11.5 alongside Chris Woods (pictured with me after the race). This was very comforting as I consider him to be one of the smartest and smoothest runners in Chicago. One of the highlights of the race was passing the Fleet Feet aid staion around mile 10. Whoever was on the microphone at this point said, "ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for Fleet Feet Racing and Dan McDowell" as I began to pass through. The crowds were huge here and a big roar came out and I have to admit I felt really cool. By this point the field was thinning, as many decided to pull out and avoid the heat (Chris was one of several who made this decision) so when I passed large crowds who were applauding, I felt they were all cheering for me since very few runners were around me (and I was delusional by this stage in the race).

At mile 12 my friend Mark Dolgin hopped in to join me. This was pre-planned and he delivered in a big way. He gave me gel and stayed by my side until mile 18. In this stretch I began to hurt and pulling 6:30's became a chore. The good news was that the runners around us were really starting to slow. I began to catch a lot of runners who had secured "Top 100" bibs. I recognized many of them as runners who usually beat me in area races, so this was a good boost to my confidence. Three T100 latched on to Mark and I as we passed them by. I don't want to sound sexist or crude... but they were amazing to look at. They were conversing in a language other than English, and I enjoyed the thought that perhaps I would be in their memories of Chicago as the guy they paced behind for the difficult western and southwestern parts of the course. Mark dropped off and said he'd meet me near the end. (It should be noted that Mark gave Ashley a great boost for the last two miles of her race as well. They are picture on the right later that night at Stanley's. More on Ashley's race below)

I spent the next three miles just trying to hold on to my pace until Chinatown. I slowed slightly and ran a few 6:40's. It was at this point that I knew I wouldn't make the 2:40's and I began tyring to hold on to a PR. I was still passing a lot of runners, so this was a huge boost mentally. I also saw Paul, Brent, Robert, Carolyn, Mike, Ken, Toney, Abbe, Liz, Alicia, Jenn, Joyce, Charles, Ken, and so many others. Their cheers did a lot to stir me on.

Mark rejoined me within 2 miles of the finish, and Robert also hopped in. Robert was looking spry (fresh of an incredible 2:47 in Berlin a few weeks before) and he urged me in vain to speed up. I picked it up slightly until I let out a dry heave and then I just put it on cruise control to the end. After climbing Roosevelt and turning onto Columbus I heard Mike and Brian yelling for me and I tried to give them a wave.

After the Finish
A I walked through the finishers chute a few tears began to fall. When I finish a 5k I am always filled with rage. Pushing myself for 17 minutes makes me want to punch small children. But, the endurance battle of the marathon brings on two things. The desire to throw up... and also an incredible happiness that results in tears. There was so much in those tears besides salt. I wish I could describe everything on here, but I feel like my poor writing ability wouldn't do it justice. I saw Jason and Verdo as I walked out and got the news that J had run 2:39:47 (good for 99th) and Verdo (pictured with me after the race at the CARA tent ran a 2:40 (102nd).

There were so many amazing performances by friends of mine at the race I could go on and on. But, this is a pretty self-indulgent blog (could anything be less a oxymoron?). Ashley (pictured with me before and after the race) and I found one another after the race and she brought good news. She ran a 3:20. This was a 17-minute pr. This came as no surprise to me, as I have the huge pleasure of getting to run with her pretty often. She seemed to be running well, and whenever friends told me they saw her running at other events, they always reported that she looked strong.

Team Tiara
I am proud to say that I raised $558 for Girls on the Run. But, I feel a little silly saying that. As the people who should feel proud are those that contributed. A huge thanks goes out to:

Erica Agran, Phlip Kepler, Ashley Boyle, Betsy Armstrong, Carolyn Wrobel, Michael Swisher, Christy Wessel, Dan Maurer, Chuck Aron, David Carlson, Jason Gromski, Lynn Rogers, and Jim and Brenda McDowell

Sometimes I drink a beer and eat bad Mexican Food
After the race Phlip had several of us up to his place along Michigan Ave. We had a view of the last mile as thousands and thousands of people continued to finish. We also had a chance to celebrate at Stanley's later in the evening. Here are a few additional photos. Jason and some blondes and Mike, Paul and myself hamming it up.

Autumn, second in my hearth to June... oh June!
It's hard to believe that my work at CARA is done. But, having some time away from work has allowed for some great things. I'm working on a few interesting projects (making a little more money will help my move) I may talk about later. I am also running while everyone is stuck in their offices. I ran 8.5 miles today (not bad for two days after a marathon) at 7:15 pace and took a camera with me along the way. Chicago was truly beautiful today (see pictures for visual evidence). It was the absolute perfect day to run. Leaving here will be very hard. Jason is coming with me (as far as Vegas anyway) and we'll be leaving on 11/11. But don't worry, that will allow for me to run the last two 10k's on the CARA circuit.

Here is a short video I took on my run today. This is just south of the Waveland Clock Tower, at Belmont Harbor.

My life has certainly been a blessed one so far. I have much further to go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Makin' Tracks on the way to the Quad Cities (C'mon ride the train.... choo choo train)

On Saturday morning Ben, Phlip, Matt, Verdo and I all made the trip to Forest Park, no Lake Forest, no Park Forest, no Lake Park... or whatever the suburb is called that hosts the Makin' Tracks 5k circuit race. Virdo crushed us all at 16:25, which was good enough for 4th overall. Phlip managed a new pr at 17:49 which was impressive on a humid morning. I continued my tradition of losing the 1st spot in my age-group to a person whom I gave a ride to the race (Verdo).

Sunday morning Phlip, Michael, Verdo, Ken and myself all headed to the Quad Cities Marathon to surprise Paul as he ran. We met up with his fiance, and our friend Claudia at mile 11. Paul finished 2nd in his age group and ran a 3:05. Also, many of us took our first ever steps into Iowa. Iowa spelled backwards is AWoiESOME.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I like short shorts.

Nike sent a 3 person crew to Chicago a few months ago to make this video. Its a little embarrassing. But... I'm posting it anyway.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Park Forest Scenic 5

September started off with a bang as several of my teammates and I went to race in the Park Forest Scenic 5. The race had about 1,000 fewer people than last year as the switch from 10 miles to 5 made the long drive from Chicago less appealing.

I ran a 29:19 and finished 2nd in my age group. It wasn't a perfect race for me by any means, but it was nice to get the legs moving again in a race setting. The highlight was definitely the 5 lap swim we did after the race.

We also saw a very strange veteran's memorial that highlighted September 11th. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was the stupidest thing man has ever decided to make.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Ashley and I flew to Oregon last week.  She ran in Hood to Coast and her team finished 5th in the Women's division.  Meanwhile I spent time with her family in Portland and Pacific City.

The highlights included:

20 mile run in the west hills of Portland on Skyline Rd.
Surfing for the first time!
Painting Ms. Boyle's truck.
Shadow, the dog.
Riding in a convertible from Pacific City to Seaside and back.  Beautiful coastal scenery.
The Nike employee store.
The beauty of Cape Kiwanda and the Ape of the Cape.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thank You (Manifest Destiny)

I'm blown away by all of the nice notes and comments I receive from people since it has been announced that I'm leaving CARA. Everyone has been very generous, and I can't thank you all enough.

Working for CARA has been a unique experience. The very best part about the job has been getting to know so many people from all aspects of the running community. I'm reminded of this every time I lace up my shoes and head out for a run. When I'm on the lakefront path on a Saturday morning run I feel like I know every third person that passes me by. The many shouts and hellos on these runs are a great motivator to continue to push myself faster. When I've been in the various communities surrounding Chicago for circuit races and other runs its always comofrting to know that I will see so many familiar faces. Considering I have only been in Chicago for a little over 2 years, it already feels in some ways like a small town.

There is one drawback to holding my job as Volunteer Coordinator. The guilt! The guilt is overwhelming. So many people (too many to count) have volunteered at my request to help with numerous projects all over this great city. I never feel as though I can do enough to say thanks. Sure, CARA rewards volunteers with shirts, parties, and other convieniences, and I'm glad that is the case. However, so many volunteers go beyond the call of duty, work at a moment's notice and as quickly as their work is done dissapear without seeking any notice. With that being said, I've never received any angry correspondence asking for more acknowledgement, so I must say that I appreciate that greatly. I'm impressed by the genuine good-will efforts so many of you have put in.

Many people have asked me what I'm going to do now that I'm leaving CARA. This is an excellent question! I'm asking myself that very question.

Odds are good that I will end up in San Diego or Portland, but that is not for certain. I'll be staying in touch via this blog should anyone be so curious as to see where I end up.

I do, however have two certain plans. I will be running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 10/12 and the ING New York City Marathon on 11/2. I find this to be a very fitting way to leave. Chicago was the location of my first marathon (3:18 in '06) and I moved here specifically for the race (sounds crazy, but its true). And New York, if anything is a city that has built itself as the capital of the fresh start. It makes an excellent launching pad for me as I move on after the 26.2 mile journey is over.

I'm asking you one last favor before I go. I've paid my own way into both of these marathons, but I still wanted to use them as a chance to fundraise for two organizations with Chicago connections. I will be racing with Team Tiara (Girls on the Run) in Chicago and with Team World Vision in New York. You can read about both organizations and donate to the one of your choice if you so like in the links that I've provided. Even if you are unable to make a financial donation, please know that your support of my work at CARA is what has allowed me to be able to compete in these amazing events.

Keep up all of the running, volunteering, and spirit that makes Chicago one of the best running scenes in the world


Saturday, July 26, 2008

2008 Season in Review (Halfway Point)

Today marked the end of my first phase of races for the 2008 season. My focus will now turn %100 (well... almost) towards my training for the Chicago Marathon. I'm a little behind where I'd like to be in that regard, but that's the price I have to pay for a few of my other goals this year.

In case you are wondering, those goals were 1.) to win my age group (25-29) in the CARA Circuit, and 2.) to participate in as many of the amazing races this area has to offer before I move. While the circuit is by no means locked up, I'm pretty confident I have achieved both of these goals.

While taking the time to list all of my races, I realize that my teammates who give me a hard time for racing too much are completely justified in doing so (The number one offender is pictured hands akimbo to the right. I think he watches too much ski-ball while drunk). I'm feeling very beat up right now, thus the slow performances of late (especially today). I'm hoping that I've left myself enough time to rest my body from racing, and instead increase my mileage to put in a good showing at the Chicago Marathon (and maybe NYC too, if I decide to treat that as more than a fun run).

ANYWAY... the whole point of listing the races was so that I could write down a few memories about each one before they fade to the back of my mind. Many of them have been special and I'm blessed to have stayed healthy enough to compete (so to speak) so much this year. So, without further ado, the list of races I've done this year, followed by notes and (maybe) pictures from each race.

3/16 March Madness Half Marathon - Cary, IL

4/13 Race That's Good For Life 5k - Oak Park, IL

4/21 Boston Marathon

5/3 Run to Remember 5k - Chicago, IL

5/10 50 Hecto 5k - Wheaton, IL

5/18 Healthbridge 5k - Crystal Lake, IL

5/24 Soldier Field 10 Miler - Chicago, IL

5/26 Elgin Valley Fox Trot 10 Miler - Elgin, IL

6/1 Run for the Roses - Roselle, IL

6/6, 6/7 - MC200(mi) Relay - Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL

6/22 Downers Grove 5 Miler - Downers Grove, IL

6/28 Race for Young Life 5k - Palatine, IL

7/4 Elmhurst 4(mi) on the 4th - Elmhurst, IL

7/10 Bastille Day 5k - Chicago, IL

7/17 Run for the Kids 5k - Chicago, IL

7/26 Xtreme 10(mi) - Waterfall Glen, IL

Race Name
Time (Pace per mile) (Place Overall/Total Finishers) (25-29 Age Group Place)

3/16 March Madness Half Marathon - Cary, IL
1:21:59 (6:15) (25/992) (2nd)

I qualified for the New York City Marathon at this race with the help of some great teammates. I needed to run faster than 1:22:59 on this very hilly course to automatically qualify and I was able to do so relatively easily. Phlip, Mike, Robert, Paul, and Mark, were great to run with. We stuck together for the first 6 or 7 miles. Mike pulled me solo for a few miles, and shared his gu with me when I dropped mine. We burped at the same time as we ran down a hill and made light of our incestuous dating situation which made for some good male-bonding. He then effortlessly left me behind in the last few miles (which I've witnessed several times this year, he's an amazingly strong runner). This was my first major experience with teamwork in a running setting during a race, and it made me appreciate the relationships I made with these guys over the winter (and some before that) even more.

4/13 Race That's Good For Life 5k - Oak Park, IL
17:16 (5:33) (25/754) (8)

This was the first race in the 2008 CARA Circuit. This was a good chance to shakedown the legs one week before Boston. After the race, Ben, Jason, Robert, and myself went to brunch. All three had won awards (little plaques) at the race. I was the only one who didn't win one. They teased me all morning. When the waiter brought coffee they all spoke up to let him know that they didn't need a saucer, but that I did. They all placed their cups on the plaques. Priceless. Chad Marek took some great photos at the finish.

Robert breaking 17 minutes, Great hair, Matt looking good:

And here is a picture of the start from the Oak Park Newspaper. I'm somewhere on the right. Marathon Olympic Trialist Greg Costello is seen in yellow.

4/21 Boston Marathon
2:55:31 (6:41) (748/21,963) (539)

I set a PR for the marathon at Boston and encountered Lance Armstrong. You can read more about it here.

5/3 Run to Remember 5k - Chicago, IL
17:42 (5:41) (9/800) (4)

This was a very windy and dificult race with lots of abrupt corners. There was a strong wind from the south that we faced from 1.5 miles on. I darted in between Ken Herrmann and Greg Vande Kroll in the very last stretch to out kick them for ninth. They've both had nice seasons so it felt good to beat them (although I can't touch Greg these days as he's found another gear it seems). Robert, Paul, Phlip, Jason and I all enjoyed brunch afterwards.

5/10 50 Hecto 5k - Wheaton, IL
17:28 (5:39) (8/114) (1)

This was by far the smallest race I've run in all year. I ran neck and neck with Sam Cortez for most of the course and edged him out in the end. Ken Herrmann got his revenge by pulling away from me in the last half-mile to beat me by 5 seconds. The three of us began to see a lot of eachother over the next few races. Tiffany Carson rode out to the race with me in the car and we both won our age group. Here's a picture from the start line:

5/18 Healthbridge 5k - Crystal Lake, IL
17:17 (5:33) (7/396) (3)

What a fun race morning this was. Drove with Ashley, Matt, and Jason and had some really fun discussions. Ashley finished second in the women's race and Jason finished third in the men's which was impressive. I was cruising with Sam and Kenny again. I made my move at about 2.75 and they were not able to stay with me. I regret waiting so long as I had a lot of kick left and I think I could have reeled in one more runner to pick up 6th. Here is a photo of Jason pointing to yet another triumph over me.

5/24 Soldier Field 10 Miler - Chicago, IL
1:00:28 (6:03) (33/6045) (15)

I was a little disappointed not to break the one hour mark, especially when I passed my coach with about a quarter mile and he yelled for me to kick the people in front of me. As I picked it up I realized I had more left in the tank than I should have. But, I still had to be happy with taking a large chunk off of my time from the course the previous year (I ran a 1:05:21 in '07). Michael ran a very nice race. He didn't pass me until we were past the 5 mile mark and he ran a beautiful negative split to easily clear the 60 minute mark.

5/26 Elgin Valley Fox Trot 10 Miler - Elgin, IL
1:05:35 (6:33) (39/685) (5)

This marked my second 10 mile race of the three-day weekend and I was cooked. I started off with a little kick, but it was clear early on that I didn't have the legs for the hot sun or the hard hills. But, I managed to pick up 10 age group points and enjoy the beauty and challenge of the massive hill around mile 7. Any early morning driving with Ashley to a race is fun, even when I'm slow as dirt. Ken and Sam handled me easily.

6/1 Run for the Roses (5k) - Roselle, IL
18:18 (5:53) (21/579) (1)

Roselle started off beautifully. Matt and I got off the ground rolling and I cruised through the first mile feeling I could easily break 17 minutes which was my goal for this fast course. Unfortunately we were lead off course and I couldn't recover. I still managed to turn around and fight it out for the first overall age group decision, but this is a day that will live in relative infamy.

6/6, 6/7 - MC200(mi) Relay - Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL
21:31:40 (6:27) (1/107)

This was by far the highlight of the 2008 season. Read more here!

6/22 Downers Grove 5 Miler - Downers Grove, IL
29:15 (5:51) (13/310) (2)

Matt, Jason, Ashley, and I jaunted out to the burbs. I was a little off and unable to hold onto Sam. But, I was glad to pick up 14 circuit points for the 2nd place age group finish and we all had a good time together modeling our age group award medals. Once again I gave Jason a ride to the race only for him to kick my ass and take points from me. After the race as seen here (Jason, Matt and half of Ashley):

6/28 Race for Young Life 5k - Palatine, IL
17:23 (5:35) (11/257) (1)

This is a race I'll remember more for the drive than the actual race. Went with Hutton, Matt, and Ben G. My car overheated about 4 times and we had to constantly replace fluid in the engine. We made it to the race just in time for me to win my age group and pad my CARA standings lead.

7/4 Elmhurst 4(mi) on the 4th - Elmhurst, IL
22:53 (5:43) (28/801) (4)

Ken had an awesome race here as he ran with a monster negative split to take me at the line. He's been a very evenly matched competitor for me. The highlight of the race came inside the first mile when Katie McGregor (one week removed from running in the US olympic track trials at Heyward Field in Oregon) blew past me on her way to a commanding victory. It was neat to see so many happy people at a well run race.

7/10 Bastille Day 5k - Chicago, IL
17:14 (5:32) (17/2675) (9)

This was a really fun night with lots of teammates competing in the west loop right next to my office. I had a lot left in the tank at the finish as I was disappointed to once again fall short of breaking 17 minutes. However, I'll take a PR whenever I can get one, and this was a 2 second PR. Verdo really began to show his legs on this night, and he hasn't looked back since. Phlip, Jason and I finished a very close second in the team competition running under the fake team name of Johannesburg South Africa Track Club. (Me, Phlip, Jason)

7/17 Run for the Kids 5k - Chicago, IL
17:58 (5:46) (14/1129) (3)

Just stretching out the legs at this one while running with the Road Scholars (photos). I won some Puma Socks for the 3rd place finish.

7/26 Xtreme 10(mi) - Waterfall Glen, IL
1:09:11 (6:55) (65/652) (5)

This race was a disaster. Although I enjoyed Mark Dolgin's company and he picked up an impressive third.

That's it for now. For the next month or so I should be laying off races as I try to regain my form from earlier this season in time for the Chicago Marathon on October 12th.