Posts Tagged ‘riverbank run’

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#56 – Spectating at the Riverbank Run

16 May 2008

While walking to the start we were attacked by “Le Grande Fisch”!

After learning the hard way that I was not quite in shape for a long distance race, I grudgingly elected to skip the the 2008 Riverbank Run. I still didn’t want to miss out on the fun of west Michigan’s biggest race – and the 25K national championship – so Amanda and I drove downtown to be spectators.

It’s been a busy week… Usually I like to write comprehensive recaps on this blog but it’s been almost a week since Riverbank already, so in the interest of expediency I’ll make this one a tale told in photos (with captions).

A few hundred of the 13,000 total participants at the Riverbank Run. Here is the middle pack of the 5K just after the race start.

A group of US Marines double-timed the 5K – these guys were awesome! For the entire run they stayed in formation, chanted non-stop, and the guy you can barely see on the far left holding a flag up high would run circles around the formation; he must’ve run a 10K at that rate! The girl in the foreground must be imitating a penguin?

Another impressive 5K runner was Crash, the field mascot for the West Michigan Whitecaps single-A baseball team, who ran the 3.1 miles in full costume!

Brian Kobi of neighboring Comstock Park cruises to a 2nd place finish in the hand cycle division of the 25K.

Both of the above two photos show Jeff Fischer (front) and Alfonso Zaragoza (rear) fighting wheel-to-wheel as they head for the finish of the 25K wheelchair division. Zaragoza would cross the line just one second ahead of Fischer – exciting!

Olympian Brian Sell shows that winning isn’t easy as he blazes to a 1:15:07 finish to win the 25K national title. He was so fast that my camera’s auto focus missed its target! Sell finished third at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials and will compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Fernando Cabada, 2006 Riverbank Run winner in an American-record time of 1:14:21, finished 4th overall in 2008 in 1:17:01, but he sure makes it look easy!

Todd Snyder (#42) and Mike Morgan (#38 ) push their way to finishing 5th and 6th overall, respectively. They are two of several runners, including Brian Sell, who represented the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in fine style. Back in high school I ran cross country and track against Snyder, who attended our cross-town rival. It really wasn’t much of a race – he was clocking sub-16:00 5Ks in CC while I never broke 20:00. Congrats Todd!

Local speedster Kyle Baker (#6) lives right here in Grand Rapids and impressively finished 21st in 1:23:05, but wasn’t able to catch that guy ahead of him – Jonathan Eckberg (#137) crossed the line two seconds faster.

Caroline Cheprkorir remains focused enroute to winning the women’s 25K in 1:29:32. She needed help to stay upright after crossing the line, but she sure doesn’t look that tired here!

Paige Higgins still striding in great form and would finish 3rd in 1:30:49. I should note that all of the elite runner photos starting with Brian Sell were taken on a bridge over the Grand River at the Mile 15 mark, putting these runners a half mile from the finish line.

The squirrel with a death wish – this “nut” case (ha ha!) kept darting across the course on the bridge and TWICE played chicken with two oncoming hand cycle racers! Those guys were very close to turning that squirrel into roadkill – thankfully they took it in good spirits and the spectators a good laugh, too.

After the Mile 15 bride, Amanda and I walked over to the Mile 14 aid station pictured above. We were joined by Michelle Brunken, one of my co-workers who hung out with us on the bridge after she finished running the 10K. Notice the pep band, which would play UM or MSU fight songs whenever they spotted a runner wearing that school’s colors.

Another friend from work, Perry Cheathem (wearing black), cruises through the aid station. Although I tried to spot several friends it was difficult to recognize folks in time to snap a photo, and in fact I missed some of them altogether. Lance Brown, Dave Horne, Lori Gaier and Francine Robinson were spotted but too late for the camera, and I never saw Brian Cunningham, Rich Diefenbach, Erika Kuhnle and Valerie Vander Berg – all of them finished with great times, too!

Another acquaintance I was able to photograph was Don Kern, although I didn’t realize until looking at the photo that Dick Wolters, a co-worker of mine, was running alongside!

It was a great day for a fun race, and hopefully next year my legs will be ready to run it!

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#46 – Running Goals

19 January 2008
Start Running

Start line of the 2007 Healthy Paws Healthy Cause fun run.

We all have to start somewhere. On January 1st, 2004 I went running for the first time in years. I made it just over a mile before I had to stop, gasping for breath and wondering if this former high school track and cross country guy could still call himself a runner! I set a few goals for myself and now here I am in 2008 with over a dozen running races and a few thousand miles underfoot since that humbling one-miler four years ago.

What initially set me down this path wasn’t even running – it was softball. In the fall of 2003 I played on my company’s co-ed softball team and was embarrassed to find myself out of breath just by jogging out to center field! Back in my college intramural days I could run all over the outfield without feeling winded, so I decided to get back in shape and I chose running as the means.

Running soon became the end, not just the means. I think a lot of runners can tell a similar tale of how just wanting to get in shape resulted in the discovery of a new passion for running. Ever since I have made sure to set many goals for myself, both for my running and for the rest of my life. These aren’t “resolutions”, mind you, but simply challenges to myself to remain focused in life.

The new year is a convenient time to review last year’s results and set new goals for the coming year. As early as last October I thought I had my running goals for 2008 all figured out – my plan was simple:

However, a deceptively severe hamstring strain has altered my plans. I don’t want to push myself to be ready for a spring marathon in case my hamstring doesn’t respond accordingly; plus, I haven’t been able to maintain an aerobic base over the winter like I’d been planning. So what do I do now?

No problem. Adapt my goals – after all, goals are challenges, not “assignments”. My 2008 racing goal is simply to finish the Wild West 100K, which will be my second ultramarathon and the first at that distance. My previous ultra was in 2006 when I ran the North Country Trail 50M as my primary running goal for that year. If all goes well, I’ll parlay that training into a sub-4:00 marathon, perhaps the Grand Rapids Marathon.

Clearly my time goals show that I’m not a competitive runner and my goals go beyond performance at races. In 2007 I ran 30% of my runs with a dog and I’m aiming to improve on that in 2008 with a goal of including a dog on at least a full one-third of my running sorties.

Along those lines I want to increase my trail running totals by logging at least 25% of my miles on trails. In 2007 I managed 22% of my distance with dirt underfoot. I toyed with the idea of bumping this goal up to 33% but I didn’t want to force myself onto the trails. I enjoy exploring (both the countryside and the neighborhood) during my long runs and that usually leads me out onto the roads.

It also leads me to my next goal: run a race purely for fun and photograph the experience. When aiming for specific finish times I don’t want to be distracted by a camera in hand, but seeing how much fun Scott Dunlap can have as a first-person race “journalist” has motivated me to try it out. While Scott is fast enough to document the front of the pack, my subjects will be from the middle of the field on back. 🙂

Lastly, I have the goal of running 2008 without injury. Realistically that’s near impossible – there are always aches and pains to varying degrees – but towards that end I plan to be much more proactive in preventing injury via cross-training, stretching, and responding more urgently to any tweaks. I probably could’ve cut a couple weeks from my hamstring recovery time had I actively sought treatment right away rather than waiting a month, hoping for it to heal.

Live and learn, which is another good reason for setting goals – it gives us a benchmark to measure our progress and allows for some instructive retrospective feedback for the next time we toe the line at the start of a new challenge in life.