Strava Global Heatmap

I don’t use Strava, and it looks like more people use it for biking than running, but this is interesting. A heat map of where people all over bike and/or run, making it easy to find new places to exercise.

100 million rides and runs, 220 billion data points visualizing the best roads and trails worldwide.

Source: Strava Global Heatmap

It Feels Good to Be Training Again

I hate running in the cold. Can’t stand it. I would rather run when it’s 100° outside and 90% humidity, with sweat in my eyes and a grimace on my face. I’ll take the heat, and you can have the cold. Hate hate hate. (I’m using the word hate here about running in the cold.)

Barnesville Railroad Tracks

The only problem is, I love running in the snow.

First off, it’s just pretty. Everything has a little white toupee on it. Except the ground, of course, which has on a big white blanket. Everything looks familiar, but strange. If you have right running spot, or are really eager, you get to be the first person putting down tracks.

And it’s hard work. Every step is an adventure, because you’re just always a second away from having your feet slide out from under you, and if the snow is a little crusty, you never know just how far your foot is going to sink into it before it finds something solid to push-off on. In that way, it’s like running on a sandy beach. (In every other way, it’s exactly not like running on the beach.) With every step being a struggle just to stay vertical, snow makes you check your pace-minding lizard brain’s ego and focus on the effort.

Today was a great day to start training for the year, because it was about 40º outside, so close to being warm enough to wear shorts, and there was a nice layer of snow covering the old railroad tracks between Barnesville and Baileys Mills. I knew I wouldn’t be the first set of tracks, but there wouldn’t be many.

Out the door, and into the woods.

The plan was to take a six-mile run, with the three out miles (all of which are downhill) being at a leisurely pace, and the three in miles (all uphill, naturally) at a half marathon effort. Plans changed quickly, though, when the ‘leisurely’ pace of 10:15 for the first mile had me puffing like steam engine. Four inches of crusty snow were having its way with me. Egos were checked, executive decisions were made, and the out section became the hard effort portion, finished at an average pace of 10:31 and feeling hard-worked, but great. No problem, turn around, and ease your way home.

Mile four? 13:08 and swearing off running for the rest of my life. Mile five? 13:38 and wondering if this hill is ever going to end. Mile six checked in at a trudging 14:06, for a section average of 13:37, and an overall run average of 12:04. Legs ached, lungs burned, and despite my best efforts, egos were a bit bruised.

But running is like that, sometimes. “Man, it feels so good to be training again!” can quickly turn into “what in the name of everything holy am I doing?” You keep pushing, you keep grinding, and you keep looking for the little wins. Today, that win came in looking back to the first training session of last year.

February 4th, 2014: 5 miles, 12:08 average pace. A mile shorter, and four seconds per mile slower, than today’s run. And just like that, it suddenly felt good to be training again.


I’m still getting together my racing schedule for the year, but I know that I’m going to do the Ogden Half Marathon Classic in Wheeling, West Virginia again this year. The 29th Street Hill is a bit like fighting a kraken: it is a two-mile, 600-foot climb that never seems to end. (Seriously, go over to and check out the elevation profile. It’s a monster.) To say that the climb absolutely stinks is like saying that a giraffe is a bit tall, but the crowd at the top in Bethlehem makes it worth while. Those people are awesome.

I’m also planning on tackling the Columbus Marathon again in the fall. Arch City kicked me squarely in the hindquarters last year, and yet it was such an amazing experience that I still haven’t been able to put it into words. Maybe some day.

My Very First Ice Bath

Ice BathUp until today, I had never taken an ice bath. They seemed so, well, cold. So what if they help you recover? They are cold. All that ice bath abstaining ended today.

Next Saturday I’m running in the Parkersburg Half Marathon. So this week, to give myself a bit of rest in general and as a taper for the half marathon, I’m taking a slight break in my training for the Columbus Marathon, dropping my mileage a bit and letting the legs get rested. But, as the week wore on, my legs didn’t seem to be feeling much better than typical. In fact, they felt heavier than usual the longer the runs went on. Time for drastic measures.

As far as I can tell from my short experience, ice baths have five unique stages:

  1. The ‘Good Idea’ Stage: From the time you decide to take an ice bath until the point where you sit down in the ice bath, freezing your keister off sounds like it might be something you want to do. So you dump a freezer full of ice into the tub, fill it halfway up with water, and sit down.
  2. The ‘Bad Words’ Stage: If sitting down in a tub full of ice wasn’t enough of an indication that the ‘Good Idea’ stage had ended, the deep inhale followed by the ‘Ahhhh!’ will reassure that you are now in the ‘Bad Words’ stage. You might not actually say any bad words, but, trust me, you’ll think them. Consequently, this seems to be the shortest stage, but if feels like the longest stage.
  3. The ‘That Kinda Hurts’ Stage: It doesn’t take much time to start getting used to the cold. After a couple of minutes, it transitions from feeling cold to sort of hurting. Kind of a slight burning or prickly feeling that, even though it doesn’t hurt enough to make you want to get out of the tub, it isn’t comfortable, either.
  4. The ‘I’m Not Sure This Is Working’ Stage: Now fully used to the cold and no longer really hurting, your legs start to feel about like they did before you sat down: sore and a little tired. Almost there.
  5. The ‘I Can’t Feel My Legs’ Stage: Before you know it, you are suddenly aware that everything below the water line is completely numb, and it’s time to get out and enjoy your newly refreshed legs.

I’m not about an hour removed and have warmed back up again, and the legs do feel better than they did before the run, so I’m guessing that the ice bath was a success. Depending on how the legs feel tomorrow, I might have to take them more often.

As I mentioned earlier, the road to Columbus runs through Parkersburg next weekend, and we are quickly approaching the 70-day mark before my first marathon. The Columbus Marathon benefits Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, and I am honored to be helping fund-raise as a Children’s Champion with a personal fund-raising goal of $1,000. Anyone that would like to help me can donate directly to Nationwide Children’s Hospital on my fund-raising page or, if you prefer to mail in a check, you can download a donation form.

No donation is too small; many hands make light work.

Flamingo Run

Back to racing this morning at the Hospice of Guernsey Flamingo Run in Cambridge. This was the first year for this event, I think, but they put together a really nice event.

Basically the entire route was small rolling hills, nothing super steep, but you just constantly had to be thinking about them. The biggest of the hills (both in distance and steepness) were over the first mile of the course, first down, then back up out of the valley. The portion through Northwood Cemetery was mostly flat, but winding back and forth between St. Louis and Portland Avenues made for climbing the same hill a couple times on adjacent streets. After making its way back to the park, the course went up a short but steep hill and back into the park for the finish.

Flamingo Run 5K 2014Final time for me was 23:50, good for a new PR and 1st in my age group, so that was pretty cool. All the proceeds for the run went to help out Hospice of Guernsey and the great work they do, and that was very cool. The event was also the first one that both Mom and I participated in, and that was absolutely awesome!

I’ll be finishing up the weekend with a 14-mile long run tomorrow, the last long before the Parkersburg News & Sentinel Half Marathon on the 16th. Going to be tough to wait two weeks for that one.

The Feeling Bad for Myself Mile

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks on my running progress. Even though I only ran a race in two consecutive weeks, it has felt odd not racing the last couple. It has made a big difference in my long Sunday runs, making them faster and easier to complete.

I have noticed something funny when looking at the mile splits for my long runs recently, an anomaly I call The Feeling Bad for Myself Mile. I thought at first that it was just because I was overworking myself with races the day before long runs, but it’s continued even without races. The run over the weekend was a great example. Twelve miles, averaging 9:09 overall, with the slowest mile checking in at 9:18…

Except for The Feeling Bad for Myself Mile. 10:12 for that one.

I was grumpy, I was hot, and all the fun has gone out of running. Each week, right smack in the middle, there’s a mile that is horribly off the pace. Just awful. Bad bad bad, and that ain’t good.

I’m not sure if I should be alarmed by this or not. I seem to come back strong after The Feeling Bad for Myself Mile; before it I averaged 9:09, right on pace, but after it, I averaged 8:56 and felt good. Guess I’ll just have to watch out for it in the future, and get over it.

Going racing again this weekend at the Hospice of Guernsey’s Flamingo Run in Cambridge, and then a 14-mile long run on Sunday, just for fun. Don’t forget that I’m raising money for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Tell all your friends. You can give at or by downloading a donation form and mailing it in.

Ohio Hills Folk Festival 5K

Ohio Hills Folk Festival 5KSo, I’m 99 days out from the Columbus Marathon, one for each of Jay-Z’s problems, and decided to run my second ‘on a whim’ race in two weeks, the Ohio Hills Folk Festival 5K. Hard to not run a race that’s less than a 15-minute drive from the house.

The race didn’t start until 9:00 AM, so by the time that the gun when off, it was getting close to 80°. Combine that with some pretty high humidity, and the course zapped my energy pretty quick. The first mile out I completed in 7:40, which I am pleased with, given that it’s just under my current 5K PR pace and the mile included a .35 mile, 2.5% grade climb as the path went out of Quaker City.

Around two miles of the run were out in the country, which was a really nice change of scenery. Mile two was all out among the hay fields, and the road turned from sealed to loose gravel. That, combined with the rising temperatures slowed me down significantly; I huffed and puffed through a 8:16 second mile. I was able to pick the pace up just slightly for the last 1.1 miles, but only to a 8:12 pace. Overall, I finished in 24:57, just over a minute slower than last week’s time, but that was good enough for 2nd in my age group. First in my group was just 13 seconds ahead of me, but I just couldn’t catch him, despite chasing him the whole second half of the course.

So, two races in two weeks. That’s the first time I’ve done that since taking up running again. The legs are tired. Seeing as how both races were last-minute, “Hey, I’m going to do that!” races, I’ve decided to lay out the events I’m going to run between now and Columbus and stick to only running those races. Otherwise, I’ll end up running every weekend and will be too tired to train properly on my long runs. I’m going to run the Flamingo Run 5K  in August and the Pumpkin Run 5K in September. I’m going to run the News & Sentinel Half Marathon in August as well, but I’m going to work that in to be the long run for the week. Hoping to finish the half at 9:00 per mile. That would be a huge improvement over my Ogden Half time, but it also looks like a much flatter course. (29th Street Hill was demoralizing.) We’ll see where I am when we get there.

Don’t forget that I’m a Children’s Champion for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon, and I’m trying to raise $1,000. Anything you could donate would be awesome. (Go to to donate, or download a mail-in form.)

Mercer’s Military Benefit 5K

FlagsHope everyone is having a safe and happy 4th of July weekend. More fireworks!

I took Saturday morning to head down to Marietta to run in the Mercer’s Military Benefit 5K Run/Walk at Indian Acres Park. It was a first year event with all the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

I started off the day by tripping over my shoe lace and skinning my knee. Good way to warm up. It’s my own fault; my toe caught in the loop of my lace. Lesson learned. Tuck in your shoe laces before you start running.

It was a small race, with only 50 or so of us there, but it was a really nice little event. The course was almost entirely on the bike path that runs along the banks of the Muskingum River. The difference between the lowest and highest points was only about 30 feet, so it was flat and fast.

So fast, in fact, that I was able to knock almost 30 seconds off of my previous best 5K pace, finishing up at 23:52.

Had a chance to talk to the race director, Brian of ZkFitness, and he said that they planned on having the race again next year. Fun little event that I definitely want to go back to next year.

That’s my racing for this month. Looking at possibly three more before the Columbus Marathon: the Debbie Green 5K and the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon, both in August, and the Pumpkin Run in September.

The Headphone Jack Incident

(or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Run”)

Brock Rogers Color Me Au-Some 5KI stood there in complete disbelief. My throat felt dry; my palms felt slightly sweaty; I’m not even sure I was blinking.

This couldn’t be happening. I tried again to plug my headphones into my cell phone’s jack, and yet again it didn’t go all the way in. I pushed a little harder: nothing. A bit more. I took it all the way out and blew into the jack like it was 1987 and that little black phone was a Nintendo cartridge (although I’m not entirely sure what I thought that was going to do), and still the plug stopped short about a quarter of an inch. No, no, no, no, NO! Next thing I know I’m standing over the phone aiming a hammer at the point that would jam that puppy home for sure. Thank goodness for a moment of clarity that prevented me swinging that beast.

A little background. It was Friday, and I was getting ready for a little shake out run before the Color Me Au-Some 5K Color Run today. Having just finished up the Ogden Half Marathon and not quite ready to start training for Columbus Marathon, I had a few weeks of down time and felt like pushing my pace a bit, running a fun 5K, maybe even setting a personal record in the mean time. The last couple weeks of training had felt great, legs had been rested, and when I woke up on Friday, I felt like nothing could stop me from a PR in Wheeling.

And then, the Headphone Jack Incident.

There are runners that never look at a watch when they are running and just listen to their body to set the pace. Others check their time by the mile. And then there’s me: ear buds in the ears, cell phone in the running belt, an update every minute with current pace, split pace, overall pace, total distance, and total time. Music is specifically chosen for a consistent beats per minute that closely matches my running cadence. Yea, I’m That Guy. I’m fine with being That Guy. I run for me, and that’s the way I like it. I like the feedback, and it’s basically the only time I ever listen to music.

So, there I stood, feeling lost, alone. There was no way I could get the headphone jack fixed in 24 hours. I would have to tackle the 3.1 miles all by my lonesome. No music. No pace feedback. I went out for my shake out run discouraged. In ten minutes I had went from knowing I was just a day away from the best run of my life to not knowing how I would even get through it. Running is therapeutic though, and by the end, I felt pretty good again. Or, at least like I was only missing one shoe instead of both.

Wheeling Suspension BridgeI arrived in Wheeling this morning about an hour before the race. I like to get to races early, get my packet picked up, and have plenty of time to get warmed up. After going through my usual routine, I felt good. Really good, actually. “You were just being silly,” I told myself as I stood waiting for the race to start. “You don’t need the constant feedback or the music. You’ve worked hard. You have this. Let’s go set a PR.”

Ready. Set. Blast.

I was shocked by how many people were at this event. It was, indeed, Au-Some. A friend that works for the Augusta Levy Learning Center (the group that put on the race as a fund-raiser) told me that they had over 800 pre-register, and they had around 200 extra show up today. There were people everywhere. It made for a pretty slow first quarter of a mile, but we spread out soon enough and I was feeling great. As I started getting closer to where I knew the first mile post had to be I started guessing at my pace. It felt fast enough, felt right, but I just didn’t know. I really started missing that almost constant feedback. We rounded a corner and I saw the first mile mark. The clock said 8:00. That’ll work; a little slower than I need to average, but I can make up those seconds now that I have some room.

Wait, that doesn’t say 8:00. It says 9:00. 9:00? Really, are you kidding me, 9:00?!? [1] I did some quick math and guessed that, in order to PR, I’d have to run around a 7:20 pace for the next 2.1 miles. “I can’t do that,” I told myself. “No way. I knew I needed my headphones! I would have known earlier how off the pace I was.” Just like that, 1/3 of the way into the run, my chance at a PR was gone. All this was running through my mind in the block an a half between the mile mark and the top of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. Still feeling a bit sorry of myself, I started looking around.

Sunny. 65 degrees. Very slight breeze. Running across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, looking down on the Ohio River. Half-covered in dried, pink paint. Running in a race to help raise money that goes to help others, a race to which I was able to donate a door prize. Suddenly, I realized just how unimportant that 9:00 on that clock was. I love the run, so let’s just run.

Across the bridge, down the island, and around Wheeling Island Stadium. Next thing I know, I’m coming up to the two mile mark. I heard the lady there say, “…and 55 seconds.” Did she say 17:55? That’d be OK. Not quite the pace I wanted to run, but a decent recovery after a bad start, and who cares about that time on the clock anyway. I’m running. “16 minutes.”

She just said 16. I just ran a seven minute mile. Quick math: If I run the last 1.1 miles in less than 8:24, I’m would still PR.

I took inventory. I was pretty gassed at this point; 7:00 isn’t my usual mile pace. I still had to run back up the suspension bridge; I never realized how steep that bridge is. I knew I still wasn’t going to set a personal record, but I felt way different about it at mile 2. At least I came back strong. And I love the run. Just run.

Back up the island, back up the bridge, and back down the hill into downtown Wheeling. My legs were burning, my lungs felt like pin cushions, and I was smiling like the Cheshire Cat as I turned and headed toward the finish line. Once I could read the time on the clock, it said 24:00. My PR for a 5K is 24:24.

I think I can get there in 23 seconds. Let’s go, legs.

I’m not speeding up. Come on, legs. I know you hurt, but everything else hurts, too, and I need you right now. Get on the hop, we got some running still to do. Legs?


I crossed the line at 24:32. The legs had nothing left to give. The tank was completely empty. No PR. Missed it by 8 seconds. It didn’t take me 8 seconds to get to the start line, right? I wasn’t that far back. No way.

(Before you read the next part, go ahead and start the video. Listen to the music; let it breathe. Then read on below.)

Just checked the results. Chip time: 24:21.

PR, baby. PR.

I guessed at the mile 1 mark that I needed to be close to a 7:20 pace to give myself a shot at a PR, and I told myself it wasn’t possible. Then I messed around and ran a 7:21 pace for the rest of the race, and improved my PR by 3 seconds. Without headsets, and without pace updates every minute. All I did was look around and love the run.

I now have a week of recovery planned before I start training for Columbus. [2] And, in the interest of full disclosure, there is a bluetooth headset on the way to replace the wired one that will no longer work, but it’s more for the music than it is the pace updates. I’ll still set the app to tell me the paces so that I can train effectively, but just not quite so often.

For those who helped put on the Color Me Au-Some 5K today, outstanding work. It was an absolute blast. Well organized, especially considering it was a first year event. I’m stained the wrong color in several places, including a blue wrist, a pink stomach, and a green armpit, but I can’t wait until next year.

1. OK, let me clarify something here. There may be those of you who’s goal is to be able to run a 9:00 pace over a 5K. There’s nothing wrong with running at a pace of 9:00, just like there isn’t anything wrong with running a 12:00, 15:00, or even a 30:00 pace.  I’m far from the fastest runner in the world, and doubt there will ever be a race that I win, but there isn’t anything wrong with that, either. The only person I try to beat when I’m running is me. A pace of 9:00 per mile isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that a 9:00 pace wasn’t in my plan for this race.Go Back

2. Don’t forget that I’m a Children’s Champion for the Columbus Marathon, and I’m trying to raise money for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. If you would like to help out and donate to the hospital, you can over on my fund-raising page. Go Back

Countdown to Columbus

So, I’m officially signed up now for my first marathon, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon. October 19th, 2014.

When I was considering signing up, I did some Googling and came across a quote attributed to Susan Sidoriak: “I dare you to train for a marathon, and not have it change your life.” That’s the type of quote that you come back to at 3:28 AM, or at least I did. My eyes popped open, and I was suddenly, fully, and completely awake.

I’m going to do this.

One of the really cool things about the Columbus Marathon is that the primary beneficiary is the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a partnership that began just two years/marathons ago. Since then more that $2 Million has been raised for the hospital.

Along the route, Children’s patients are staked out; 24 of the miles have a Miracle Mile Patient from the hospital to offer encouragement, 1 Encore Mile for past Miracle Mile Patients, and 1 Angel Mile to, as their website puts it, “honor, remember and celebrate the angels of Nationwide Children’s who have already finished their race.”

That’s also the kind of thing you come back to at 3:28 AM.

After signing up, I found out that they have these things called “Children’s Champions,” in short, a way for Columbus Marathon participants to help raise money for the hospital by collection donations.

Yea, I’m doing that, too.

So, here we go. 140 days left in the countdown, and I want to raise $1,000 for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and I need help doing it. If giving a donation is something that you can do, even if it’s just a couple bucks, it would be amazing. The link is right down there.

I’m not sure it’s enough to just get the chance to change me; I want to try to help change someone else’s life, too. The donations go directly to the hospital, and they go there now, months before the actual marathon, to help those who need it.

See you out there.

Donate to Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Ogden Half Marathon

Brock at the start of the Ogden Half MarathonSo, I’m one day removed from running the Ogden, my first half marathon, and I am surprised but pleased by how little my legs hurt. They are tired, but I feel like if I really had to run today I could, but in the interest of recovery I am going to take the day off and go for a light run tomorrow.

My chip time was 2:04:29, which I’m pretty pleased with, considering that I though I would be more in the 2:10:00 range. I was also slightly faster on the second half (1:01:25) than I was on the first half (1:03:04). (Seriously, go see me cross the finish line strong.)

The climb up 29th Street hill to Bethlehem was rough, but not as bad as I expected it to be from the point of physically being able to run up it; the significantly shorter climb up to McColloch’s Leap near the end of the race was much more taxing.

29th Street posed a very different challenge, though: climbing up the same hill for 20 minutes was mentally exhausting. I had driven up the hill the day before to get an idea of how long was, but I still wasn’t ready for just how long it was. After about five minutes I started thinking that the top must just be right around the next turn, even though I knew it wasn’t. It never felt like that sucker was never going to end.

Ogden Half Marathon Classic ResultsThanks to everyone that helped out with the race, both officially and unofficially. The police officers that were along the course did a fantastic job keeping car traffic flowing as good as could be expected, and keeping all the runners and walkers safe, and not just from the traffic; almost every officer I passed along the way offered encouragement, asked how things were going, waved, made eye contact, or something to just check and make sure everything was OK. It was also cool to see the groups of people along the route that were not associated with the race offering free water, a spray down from their hose, encouragement, or what have you.

To the young man dressed as Captain America near the bottom of the hill up to McColloch’s Leap, you were right: high-fiving your shield did indeed provide me with a little extra strength, and helped me get over the hill. Thanks for being there.

All in all, though, a great experience, and a race I want to run again next year.