Thursday, March 31, 2011

Helping Others – You Can Too

It was mid-December when I decided to set new goals for running.  I was wrapped up in a new distance milestone, studying training plans, and picking the right “race”.  Training was well underway in January when I thought – “why am I doing this almost every day?  It’s fun, but why?”

It was then I decided to run for a better reason.  I thought about the many ways running has helped me – more than just “health” (but more about that some other time).  It reminded me of the great things the YMCA camps and programs have done for me, my kids and many other families in Tulsa.  I realized these two things go together like peanut butter and jelly so I decided to run for YMCA Camp Takatoka and Westside Y.  That’s why I am donating $1 for every mile that I run in 2011 to the YMCA.

Join me in supporting the YMCA 2011 Strong Kids Campaign by donating at  Here are some ideas for you to consider:
  • One-time donation of $500, 25, 100, 50, 25
  • Pledge a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter for each mile I run in 2011
  • Sponsor a month a month of my running – maybe your birthday or your kid’s birthday
  • Volunteer at the YMCA (I do)

Every bit helps YMCA programs like summer camps, sports leagues, and family activities like Hero Camp.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

In the beginning – It was a late start

I started running a few years ago.  I wasn’t much of an athlete in school and never really worried about “being in shape”.  I’d never stepped into a gym unless I was lost.  At age 39 a couple of good buddies and I decided to try a triathlon.  Maybe it was the scotch, but it sure sounded like a good idea at the time.  We trained for several months and completed the Tulsa Triathlon one week before I turned 40.  We kept it up for several years but then injuries, work, and growing families took us in different directions.  We still enjoy an occasional run and camaraderie over coffee.  There is always an interesting story to hear.

During the triathlon training I really enjoyed the running.  I don’t know exactly why but I can think of two reasons.  First and foremost are the friends that I have made just because they are about the same pace as I am (or willing to slow down for me).  I’ve heard so many stories that make you feel good or make you think about how you are living your own life.  I have been lucky enough to find some true role models with a few miles of running each Saturday morning.

Second, would be the view.  Since I travel for my job I pack a pair of running shoes and take off in some new direction to get a unique view of a new city.  I’ve enjoyed seeing more of Tulsa this way as well as cities like Philadelphia, Denver, Atlanta, LA, Portland, even Lisbon, Portugal.  I hope that I can see even more cites.

Both of these remind me how lucky I am.  Everyone has difficult times in their life and everyone needs a support system.  The Tulsa YMCA has helped me and my family improve ourselves in many different ways– from swimming lessons (me at 39) to hands-on leadership training for my kids.  I've seen first-hand other lives that have been touched by the YMCA programs.  I'll be posting some of these on this blog from time to time.

I want to make sure the YMCA can help as many other families as possible.  Please join me in supporting these programs through their 2011 Strong Kids Campaign.  I am donating $1 for every mile that I run in 2011.  You can check my progress at  You can join me in support of the YMCA kids programs by donating at


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mitch Mock Marathon

This weekend I wasn't able to join the training group for their long run (see previous post on the Snake Run).  To keep my mileage up – and YMCA donations on track – I participated in Sunday’s first annual Mitch Mock Marathon.  Don’t confuse this with the Mock Mitch Marathon which can be found here.

Here are a few highlights from Sunday’s journey:

The start line was well prepared and oddly enough the crowd was calm.  I guess a 6:00am start time limits your time to get anxious.

The course included Riverside trails on the Westside – there were some unexpended “obstacles” near the pedestrian bridge (but not photographic evidence).  It also included 6 miles of trails on Turkey Mountain, including a short repeat of the snake trail.  As you would expect with any “mock” event there were frequent tour stops – QT, Reconciliation Park, and the Center of the Universe.  Thanks to the local construction companies that sponsored on-course port-a-potties.

The final leg of the event included the “Urban Challenge” with tasks such as avoiding cars and potholes, face-to-face interaction with panhandlers, discovering an unknown park and fence scaling.  Participation almost doubled for this leg as Arena joined in the challenge.

It was nice to see so many spectators on the course.  Some were a bit stiff, but looked like the enjoyed the event.

Some of the fans made a lot of noise and it was nice to have their support.

The finish line was top notch and the fans were very enthusiastic.

The finishers’ award were some of the best in the region.

I consider the Mitch Mock Marathon a successful event and I hope it will be repeated in the future.  I plan to participate again next year if the race directors will let me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of the Finish Line

Saturday was the TATUR Snake Run and the fourth year this race was held on some of the easiest trails on Turkey Mountain.  It is also my fourth year volunteering at this race. 

I can’t recall exactly how I started helping with this particular race, but I keep volunteering because of the runners.  In this particular event the runners run for three or six hours to complete as many 4 mile laps as possible.  I’ve always helped with counting laps and get to see each runner 3 to 10 times (if not more).  A lot of these people have kept me motivated and pushing my limits and this is a way that I can give back to them and the Tulsa community.

The start line a few minutes before race time.
As you can see, trail runners prepare for a race a little differently.

I remember the first time I was counting laps and kept track with check marks next to race numbers.  It also rained that year.  In the end the winner was the person with the biggest smear next to their name.  Since then I wrote a small program so we could simply enter the racer numbers to track the results.  This has made it a lot easier even as we have more events and more runners.

From my unique viewpoint I was able to see some pretty cool things:
  1. Hundreds of runners as they finish each lap.  Several of them set new personal records each time they crossed that line.
  2. Dogs running off into the woods at the start of the race. 
  3. A dog being carried out of the woods after running almost 16 miles.
  4. Race directors running around like crazy to keep everything organized, on time, efficient, and safe.
  5. Beer as an energy drink (as I always suspected it was).
  6. The sound of 200 shiny medals and 200 proud runners standing in line for these medals.
  7. Semi-organized chaos at 5:00am – exactly what you would expect that early.
  8. Runners helping runners with advice and continual motivation.
  9. Racers staying to help clean-up, down to the last cup.
  10. People who normally volunteer racing.  People who normally run volunteering.
There were also a few things that I didn’t see:
  1. The three aid stations and staff with magical powers able to transport themselves through the woods.  (Actually, the runners passed the same point three times on the out & back course, they just didn’t all realize it.)
  2. Anyone fall (although there was evidence of a few).
  3. Anyone complain.
  4. Trash on the trail after the race.
  5. Snakes (and I was looking).
More pictures of this event and a nifty report from the race director can be found at