Tuesday, December 30, 2014


During my convalescing period, I was walking around totally pain-free.  I was cautioned by my brother Mark not to be lulled into a false sense of security, as rest was the only way my partially-torn hamstring was going to heal.  Having this in mind, I did conjure up some target events to monitor my progress. The first of these was The Tamarac Turkey Trot, which was just about four weeks since the tear.  As a loyal reader of my blog, you know that this is the race that started it all for me.  Lindsey and Rachel had both entered the run; if nothing else, I could just run at a slower pace with them.  If all went well, I could start training for the Weston Run For Tomorrow Half Marathon on December 14th.  If I weren’t ready, there was always the 12 Miles of Christmas training run on December 24th.  Forecasting past that, my next race would not be until January 18th in Clearwater.

The Tamarac Turkey Trot is one of the more popular 5K races, with over 2,000 participants.  As we made our way to the starting line, with my hamstring tightly taped, I felt cautiously optimistic.  Once the race started, my optimism quickly betrayed me, as my hamstring stated to hurt within the first quarter-mile of the race.  I was able the run the full 3.1 miles, but it hurt the entire time.  This was obviously unexpected, and visions of withdrawing from my next race were dancing in my head.

On December 12th, just two days before Weston, I went out to test the hamstring for the first time since Turkey Trot.  In my delusional mind, if the hamstring held up, I would try to do nine miles on Saturday, and then attempt Weston on Sunday.  However, since Turkey Trot was such a struggle, I was not expecting any holiday miracles.  To my surprise and delight, I ran a totally pain-free five-mile run, and my master plan was now in full swing.  I didn’t understand how I was able to get that much better in just two short weeks, but I must have been a good boy this year.
As I sat in front of my computer, an email caught my attention.  It was for the Mount Dora Half Marathon, which I had run the previous two years.  Since none of my friends had entered this year, I declined as well.  Coincidently, the family and I would be meeting our friends Cyndy and Al in Mount Dora for a mini-vacation.  Even more coincidently, the Mount Dora Half Marathon would be taking place the same time we would be there!  You could smell the smoke burning a mile away.  I would skip the Weston Half Marathon, and spend the week training for Mount Dora.  I only had one week to get myself conditioned, but at the same time, I didn’t want to reinjure my hamstring by overdoing it.  My week of training consisted runs of five, six and nine miles.  From a conditioning standpoint, I was a little winded during my six mile run.  More importantly, I felt pain-free after my nine-mile run on Thursday morning.  After this, I officially declared myself ready for Mount Dora.

We drove to Orlando that night, and spent a couple of days in Disney.  To celebrate our mini-vacation, the ladies and I created a mini-documentary of our trip.

We left for Mount Dora on Saturday morning, which is less than one-hour from Orlando.  We were staying at the Lakeside Inn, which was where the race would start and end.  We walked over to the race expo (for lack of a better term), and picked up my bib and shirt.  The shirt and the medal for this race has always been exceptional; this year did not disappoint.  We met up with Cyndy and Al for lunch, and spent the day walking around.  Mount Dora at night is beautiful, and the festival of lights made for some creative photo opportunities.


 I rolled out of bed around 5:30am, and made my way to the starting line with plenty of time to spare.  There were 701 runners entered in the half marathon, with another 403 runners doing the 5K a little later.  There were a few of the Ocala Turtles running the race, but I did not spot any of them.  This is a beautiful course, but a little hilly at some points.  The temperature was around 64 degrees when the race started, and climbed to around 72 degrees when it was all said and done.  I had a very easy and enjoyable time, capped off by my family and friends cheering me on at the finish line.  I ran totally pain-free, and was happy that I could officially put my injury behind me.

Lindsey volunteered to drive home after the race, and I was pretty sore the next day.  I had forgotten what it was like to always be in constant pain.

Oh, the life of an athlete.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I have been competing in races since 1996; to have this kind of longevity, you need to be fortunate enough not to be injury plagued throughout your running career.  During the turn of the century (first time using this phrase), I was hit with a case of Achilles Tendonitis in my left ankle.  This was caused by the increase of mileage I was putting on my body, as I had just made the jump from 5K races to half marathons.  My brother Mark (who is also my doctor and my savior) fixed me up, and I did not miss any significant race time.  Since then, I have run relatively pain and injury free…until now.  I am about to miss my first race ever (the St. Augustine Half Marathon) because of a partially torn hamstring in my left leg.

About three weeks ago, I noticed that my hamstring was a little tight after running during the week.  It appeared to be nothing more and nothing less.  The following Saturday, I went out for my usual long run.  The plan was to do 13.1 miles, as the St. Augustine Half Marathon was only two weeks away.  I had lost close to 20 pounds this summer, and my running times have reflected my newfound skinniness.  I was looking forward to this race, with the prospect of running with my friends Jen and Mary.  During the Saturday morning run, the hamstring was still a little tight, but nothing that prevented me from running pain-free.  Around three miles into the run…BAM!  The hamstring really tightened up to the point that I could hardly run without limping.  I stopped to stretch it out, which seemed to help a little bit.  I decided to keep running, hoping that the pain and tightness would subside.  This was probably a bad decision.  The tightness and the pain got better, and I decided to “just” run 9 miles instead of the 13.1 I had originally planned on doing.  If this had been a race, I could have completed the additional distance.

Since I am always in half-marathon shape, I decided to rest up during the week, and test the hamstring again on the weekend.  Lindsey wanted to go out for a three-mile run on Friday, which was the perfect opportunity to see how the hamstring would respond.  I ran pain-free, with just a little stiffness.  Based on these encouraging results, I decided to try nine miles on Saturday, which was one week before the race.

It was a typical Saturday morning run, as I was out the door before 5am.  The hamstring felt tight, but nothing out of the ordinary.  About two miles into the run, it occurred to me that I should have put a compression sleeve on my thigh.  I was tempted to go back to get one, but I obviously made the wrong decision.  I was now in Cypress Park, and more than five miles into the run.  As I was circling the soccer fields, the pain came out of nowhere!  This time, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to gut it out, and decided it best to go straight home.  Only one problem…my house is over three miles away from the park!  I considered calling Glenda to come and pick me up, but I knew she was still asleep.  I hobbled back the rest of the way, which was very painful.  I knew this could not be a good thing.

As soon as I got home, I put an ice pack on the hamstring.  I’m pretty sure I should have put the ice pack over my shorts and not directly on the hamstring, as I burned the bejeebers out of my thigh.  Since the race was now one week away, I asked Mark to come over and evaluate the hamstring for me.  I hate to call him about medical issues when he is not in the office, but he was going on vacation this week.  I did not have an appointment scheduled for this week at his office, so I wanted to be very proactive and cautious about the injury.

Mark told me that I had a partially torn hamstring, and the best treatment for this injury was rest.  He said it typically takes four to six weeks to heal, and obviously it would be best if I did not run at all during this time.  When I told him that I had the St. Augustine Half Marathon this weekend, his advice was to test the hamstring out first before committing to the race.  Mark suggested that I wrap it up as tight as possible, and give it a shot this week.  My plan was to wear a compression sleeve, along with athletic tape.  I would wait until Wednesday to run five miles, as this seemed to be the make-or-break point.  Sadly, I could tell that the hamstring was not feeling well enough, and didn’t even bother to test it out.  It was with great reluctance that I officially announced earlier today that I was withdrawing from the race.

Most people tell me that one of my strongest personality attributes is my common sense.  With five more half marathons and possibly one full marathon scheduled in the coming months, I don’t want this race season to end before it starts.  


Saturday, July 19, 2014



I think that sometimes we only talk about the good parts of running, as if there weren’t any bad parts. Running sucks. It does. It makes your legs hurt, your lungs hurt, and just about every other part of your body. Your body basically feels like a moving bucket of ouch. You can’t breathe, you sweat in your eyes, you smell gross, and you can’t hang out with your friends because you spend 99.9% of your free time running. Just running. Some days when you do intervals, you want to cry. You want to lay on your back in the middle of the track and scream at the sky because it’s been forever since your times improved and you literally in that moment, want nothing more than to improve. But something keeps you on your feet, and you hobble over to the water station and when your coach tells you to, you get your ass back on the line and you f@^ing run your heart out.

But that is what running is. You hate it, you despise it, but it’s become a part of you. No matter how much it hurts and drives you to the ends of hell and back, you would never let it go. You need it, when you don’t run you feel lost and confused. It makes you cry it makes you angry, but it makes you, you.

Because it is who you are.

From runawaytorender.tumblr.com



Sunday, July 6, 2014


BYUtv warns parents: “Talk to your kids about distance running” in hilarious sketch.

The Truth of Running by GatorJbone



Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I HATE when other runners offer words of encouragement to me.  I think it's a total showoff move.  You don't have to remind me that "you're almost there," or that I'm doing a "good job."  At the risk of sounding like a Debby Downer, maybe I would see things differently if I were faster (and let's not get into those runners who have to do a "cool down" run, which is conveniently in the opposite direction of the race).  That being said, Scott Martin of Runners World magazine seems to agrees with me:

Your "Encouragement" is Soul Crushing.
By Scott Martin

I was a little more than two miles into a 5K race and I was hurting. As I crested a small hill, I fought to maintain my pace, hoping to PR, and I was failing miserably. While doing my best to fight off the pain, the urge to quit, and the urge to throw up, I had my soul crushed in six words:

"Nice job, sir, keep it up."

I looked around first for my father because I still can't believe anyone would call me sir. Then I looked for the person who made the comment as they went blazing by me. I had to look down because that person was a young boy, probably no older than 11.

Soul. Crushed.

This kid was making my 5K pace, which I was fighting so hard to maintain, look like an easy jog. My hard effort looked like a recovery run to this little guy.

And there you have it, the reason I do not think it is okay to encourage a stranger as you pass him or her during a race. It's bad enough to get passed during a race; it's so much worse when the person passing you gives you the ole "attaboy" as they make you look like you are standing still.

If you are a spectator or a runner who has finished the race, feel free to cheer all you want. If you are still racing and make me look fat and slow (that's not hard) don't make it worse by verbally bringing it to my attention that you are passing me. And if you do, not be surprised if I mutter something ugly in your direction as I gasp for breath.

You passed me, and I'm not happy. No words are going to help me get over that, unless they are, "hurry up, I'll buy you a beer."


Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Just when you think racing season is all but over, someone gives you a great big surprise.  This one was for a truly wonderful cause.

Jen’s husband Dan owns Toomey Tools, which is located across the street from their home in Belleview.  Each year, they host Kids Fest, which is an all day event where they raise money for St Jude's Hospital, as well as for local area children in need.  Some of the activities include a bounce house, a car show, a six-person slide, carnival games, arts and crafts, and of course, the ever popular Easter egg hunt.  I had volunteered to come up for the event and shoot some video for them, which I would edit together as a promotional piece.  Of course we would fit in a run, and Jen wanted to do something on the longer side.

I was hoping to run with the Turtle Running Club on Saturday morning, but we thought it might be too much, since we would be tied up with Kids Fest for most of the day.  About a week later, Jen called to tell me about an impromptu race that the Turtles were planning the weekend I was coming up.  It would be the “We Stand With Boston Virtual Run – 5k/10k/Half Marathon.”  As you know, On April 15, 2013 there was a deadly attack on the Boston Marathon; it was a senseless and terrifying tragedy.  A charity called Will Run For Bling was promoting a virtual run to show support for both the city of Boston and the victims of this terrorist attack.  For a modest $30 entry fee, we received a race bib and a medal.  You were free to map out your own course, or even run on a treadmill.  A large number of the Turtles were participating, and they were even going as far as to put out mile markers for the run.  I guess Saturday it was!

Rachel decided to make the drive up with me, which was an unexpected pleasure.  We did our “Tour de Gainesville” most of Friday, which included shopping, eating and visiting friends.  We were out the door at 4:30am on Saturday morning for an extremely early race start.  The Turtles made a sign, and wanted to take pictures before we ran.  Unbeknownst to Jen and me, the Ocala Star Banner would be there to write an article about our run.  When I told the reporter that I came up from Coral Springs, he was kind enough to give me a mention in the article.  With all the pre-race hype now out of the way, it was time to get down to business.

With over 40 participants running either a 5k, 10k, or half marathon, we hit the streets around 5am.  It was in the mid 60s when we started, with some sprinkles every once in a while.  The route itself was planned for the first eight miles, and it was up to us to fill in the route for the last 5.1 miles.  Many of the runners were either doing the 5k or 10k, so we didn’t see many of the participants (this is a very polite way of saying we are really slow).  I had lots of energy throughout the entire race, but it was Jen’s first long run since the Swamp House Half Marathon back in early March.  Towards the end of our run, we did meet up with Tara and Teresa, and we even spotted a promotional sign for Kids Fest.  As we reached the “promised land” (aka the finish line), a few of the Turtles stuck around to root us on.  It was now time to drive back to Jen’s house, shower, and shoot video for another worthy cause.

On that day, we were a small group of runners with big hearts, united for a worthy cause.  I was proud to be a part of it.

Below is the article written for the Ocala Star Banner:

Runners Locally Pay Tribute to 2013 Boston Tragedy
By Andy Fillmore
Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.
OCALA — Runners fanned out across southeast Ocala well before dawn Saturday, walking, jogging and running in a show of support for the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and two Ocala residents entered in the 2014 running of the iconic event on Monday.

The display of solidarity with fellow runners included contributions to the One Fund Boston made through a virtual running website by many of the participants.
“We’re all runners,” said Amy Sampson, 41, as she strode down Southeast Lake Weir Avenue as part of the group of 41 participants aged 14 to 67 from several runners’ clubs and independent runners who set out to cover distances from three to 13-plus miles.

Lisa Iketani, 50, entrant number 21702, and Chuck Trombly, 54, number 14822, both of Ocala, are entered to run in the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday.
Iketani and Trombly were represented by stick figures affectionately held by fellow runners at a gathering before the run, which included a runner’s prayer by Teresa Billingsley.
The two Ocala runners arrived in Boston Saturday morning.

“About 36,000 are expected to run Monday. My personal goal is about three hours, 20 minutes for the marathon,” said Trombly, principal of Sunrise Elementary, in a phone interview along with Iketani from Boston Saturday afternoon.

Iketani said security in Boston appeared to be “a good job.”

“It doesn’t seem tense. It’s friendly,” said Iketani, a physical education teacher with Marion Virtual School of the Marion County school system.

Trombly said a “welcoming environment” surrounded pre-marathon memorials and an event for those who were stopped “at 25.7 miles last year,” which he estimated at about 5,000 runners.

Angela Danford, one of the Ocala event organizers, ran with her daughter Katrina Danford, 20, and husband Andrew Danford.

“Andrew and I are planning on running in the Boston Marathon in 2015,” Angela Danford said in a later phone interview.

Angel Craig, who also helped put together the morning run, said her brother was running in a similar supportive event in Atlanta on Saturday.

Robin Hastad, another organizer, was accompanied by her daughter Kristyne and son Wayne.

Sage Guerrant, 14, the youngest Ocala entrant, was running in her first 10K event, while Holly Alexander, 67, a retired microbiologist and triathlete from Citrus County, planned to run at least nine miles Saturday. Alexander regularly competes in high endurance and Olympic distance events and will compete in a half-marathon Sunday in Clermont.

Runner Jay Sandhouse, 56, drove from Coral Springs to join the Ocala run.

David Keene brought along his dog Zephyr.

Many of the runners wore flashing lights for safety while Sachiko Leon wore a Tracer 360 with shoulder light tubes and a large back-mounted light, which made her visible to vehicular traffic.

Participant Judy Slack made T-shirts for several runners highlighting the group’s support for Boston.

Dave Fechtman said the about 6.2 miles he covered Saturday consisted of “13,107 steps,” according to an electronic counter he wore.

Additional participants included Crystal Watkins, Mary Ponder, Dr. Scott Goldstein, Sharon Rudder, Jennifer Gilman, Donita Hearns and Clyde Williams.

A number of the participants in Saturday’s event also entered the We Stand for Boston Virtual Run on the Will Run for Bling and Charity website (www.willrunforbling.com ), a site that conducts virtual race events and provides “bling” or commemorative medals for entrants.

“We’ve have a picture of an Ocala group on our Facebook page. Florida and Georgia had the most entrants, with Texas third. We had entrants from Germany, Canada and Great Britain. Over 1,000 have entered (to date) ,” said Regina Jackson with Will Run for Bling and Charity.

The website organizers will contribute to the One Fund Boston from the entry fees, which are listed on the website as $25 per runner early entry and $30 after March 15.
The entry fee includes a We Stand with Boston medal. A second round has been set up, due to response, Jackson said.


Friday, March 7, 2014


Considering I have lived in Florida almost my entire life (I was born in New York and moved to the Sunshine State when I was nine), it always amazes me when we decide to do a race in “parts unknown.”  First it was De Leon Springs; now it was DeBary.  Pam and Mary had participated in this race last year, and had nothing but good things to say about it.  For me, it was one look at the finisher’s medal, and I was all in.

Since Pam, Jen and Mary were all doing the race with me this year, the game plan was to take two cars to DeBary, which was less than two hours from Jen’s house.  This way, I could drive home right after the race, and Jen could get a lift home from Pam.  I left my house later than usual on Saturday morning, in an effort to get as much sleep as I could.  After watching the Gators pummel LSU on the hardwood, Jen, Dan and I met Mary for dinner.  One of the weirdest things for me is how early I go to sleep the night before a race.  Since I was planning on getting up at 3:15am, it was lights out around 9pm.  I don’t think I went to bed that early when I was a kid!

We were out the door before 4:30am, and the drive was pretty much straightforward.  We met up with Pam and Mary as soon as we parked, and picked up our race packets.  It was around 52 degrees, so we hung out in the car until we had to make our way to the starting line.  There were 823 runners taking on the half marathon, with another 386 participants in the 5K.  I think the race promoters did a fantastic job of getting the word out about this race.  They even had a presence at the Miami Marathon expo, as well as at the De Leon Springs Half Marathon.  This was Mary’s first half marathon since her knee surgery last year, so Jen promised she would stay with her, even if it meant a good amount of walking.  That is the very essence of why I enjoy running so much.  It’s about hanging out with good friends and taking lots of pictures.  Pam and I would stick together, in the hopes of running a faster pace than usual.

This was the first race Pam and I had run together this season, so we blabbed the entire time.  I took my one and only potty break within the first two miles, and it was all good after that.  The course wasn’t particularly scenic, but it wasn’t ugly by any means.  It did seem to get prettier during the last five miles of the race.  We were talking so much, I didn’t even notice that I was running my fastest half marathon since the Coral Springs Half Marathon last March.  As we got to the water station at mile 12, there was a special guest beverage to go along with the water and the Gatorade…Beer!  Talk about a pick-me-up; it was a refreshing energy shot that propelled us to the finish line. During the last half mile of the race, I told Pam that I wanted to pass this dude in front of us.  As I kicked it into high gear, this hippie looking spectator on the side of the road was shouting at me “now that’s how it’s done.”  I was laughing so hard, tears were running down my cheeks.  After Pam and I crossed the finish line, Mary sent us a text about a half mile before she and Jen finished and asked us to find some ice for her knee.  It swelled up a little bit, but thankfully nothing serious.

The after party was very picturesque, but very crowded.  Not in the same league as the Clearwater Half Marathon, but lots of fun nevertheless.  We then made our way to the Swamp House Grill & Tiki Bar for a well-deserved lunch with our fellow runners.  As we relaxed by the water, I was sorry that this racing season was drawing towards a conclusion.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


At the risk of overstating the obvious, this is my favorite race.  If you know anything about me, you know why…it is Gainesville!  Gainesville is my magic city.  The adrenaline kicks into high gear whenever I am up there, so it should come as no surprise that I would be running this race for the sixth consecutive year.  However, it would mark only the second time I would be running the half instead of the full.

I arrived at Jen’s house around 11am on Saturday, and we made our way up to the expo shortly after that.  The expo for this race is one of the smallest, but I always seem to come away with a purchase or two.  This year, Gainesville Running and Walking was selling all of their running shoes for $50.  Despite a limited selection on size 13, I was able to score a pair of Brooks Ravenna at the sale price.  They also had a couple of new colors of the ever-popular “I Run Gainesville” tech shirts, which just goes to prove it’s quality, not quantity.  This race also consistently puts out what I consider to be the nicest race shirts; this year was no exception.

Traditionally, temperatures for this race tend to skew towards the colder side.  This year would prove no different.  When we made our way to the starting line, the temperature was a chilly 36 degrees.  There were 866 participants in the race, with 186 running the full, and 680 running the half.  These numbers were up just slightly from last year.

The race was enjoyable as always, but with an added twist…OBNOXIOUS RUNNERS!  There were two girls that ran a good portion of the way with us who were entertaining in the most nauseating way.  One of the chicks had on what could best be described as wrestling tights.  The problem was, she wasn’t one of the Bella Twins.  Additionally, she had a voice that could even crack my thick glasses.  Some of the runners like to thank the police officers for being out there to control the intersections.  Although it is a very nice gesture, they are getting paid to be there: not necessarily working out of the goodness of their hearts.  When this girl thanked each and every officer, it was like nails on a chalkboard.  Their banter was so stupid, it actually scared me that someone could be that much of a dumb ass in real life.  One example that comes to mind was how they contemplated dressing like space monkeys for the Space Coast Marathon (tail and all).

As we made our way onto the University of Florida campus around mile 10, we stopped to take a good amount of pictures.  Crossing the finish line, I was actually sad that the race was over.  The temperature was now 52 degrees, with lots of pizza, Muscle Milk and other goodies to be consumed during our post-race celebration.

Yet another successful trip up to my "home away from home."  Next race...Swamp House Half Marathon. I need to find one more race in either March or April. Any suggestions?