Friday, May 30, 2008

Dedicated to my Grandfather

The Medals 4 Mettle Windy 2 Indy run has a lot of reminders of home for me. It starts off at my current home in Chicago, passes through West Lafayette and Lafayette where I lived when I went to Purdue University, passes fields that are a part of the family farm, and finally ends at Clarian North Hospital, where my Grandfather, Robert “Bob” Riggs, stayed right before he died earlier this year at the age of 91.

My Grandfather was the epitome of “mettle”. He worked on the family farm his entire life, all the way through his 80’s. He was a warm hearted but tough guy who earned everything he had through common sense, dedication, and hard work. I remember being in high school and being amazed (and somewhat embarrassed) that my 80 year old Grandfather could outwork me throwing around bails of hay all day.

In my last conversation with Grandpa, I told him about my plans to do a run from Chicago to Indianapolis in June. Knowing that this was likely my last conversation with Grandpa but not wanting to admit it, I told him that I expected him to run part of it with me. He said he would be there, and that he would do as much as he could.

I want to dedicate this run to my Grandfather, and I would like to let him know: I know you will be there Grandpa; you will be there the whole way.

Donate today! Be sure to mention Medals 4 Mettle Windy to Indy on the donation page.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In the last few weeks I have gone through the most difficult part of my training for the Medals 4 Mettle Windy 2 Indy run. Yesterday, I did my second 80 mile workout in two weeks. I ran along the path on Chicago's lakefront. I go by one convenience store so often that the manager recognizes me as the "running man". Now every time I go in he says: "Mr. running man! How are you today!"

After I finished the Miami Marathon in January, my goal has been to train my body and mind for what it will take to run nearly 200 miles straight through. How does someone train to run 200 miles? As one might imagine, there isn't a lot research on the subject. I have read every scrap of information I could find in publications such as ultraRunning magazine and accounts I could find online of similar long distance endeavors, and have found that the approaches are varied at best.

I have developed my own program with the basic idea that in order to run a very long way, you need to run very long distances in training. So my goal has been to add as much mileage as I can without causing injury (I have had nagging problems with achiles tendonitis). So since February my weekly long run has gradually grown from 50 to 80 miles. My last two weeks were as follows (distances in miles unless noted):

Tuesday: 15

Wed: 4

Thursday: 6 X 1 mile repeats

Friday: Off

Saturday: 80 in 13.5 hrs

Sunday: Off

Monday: 10

Tues: 15

Wed: 10 x 800meter repeats

Thursday: 13.1

Friday 22

Sat: 22

Sunday: Off

Monday: 80 in 13.2 hours

Total mileage: 272

I like to take the day before and after the long run off. I have found that if i don't, the risk of injury goes way up.

Also, for the last few weeks, I have been focusing my weight training on the core: abs, lower back, quads, hamstring.

I think the training is paying off. My 80 mile run yesterday felt stronger than last week, and today I don't have any serious aches and pains. It really is amazing what the human body can get used too.

Donate today! Be sure to mention Medals 4 Mettle Windy to Indy on the donation page.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Medals 4 Mettle Windy 2 Indy

So... I am an ultrarunner, and I've had this crazy idea in the back of my mind for a couple of years: I grew up in the Indianapolis area, went to school at Purdue University and now live in Chicago. I've always thought: "Wouldn't it be cool if I could make the trip back home on foot? All at once. In two days." It was an interesting thought, but putting forth the massive amount of training and effort and convincing a few friends to give up several days of their life to support me didn't seem plausible without some larger cause.

I recently got involved with a great local charity that is based in Indianapolis, Medals 4 Mettle. One day as I was running trying to think of ways to raise awareness and funds for this charity, and the idea of tying the two ideas together just seemed right. Therefore, the Medals 4 Mettle Windy 2 Indy run was born. Now, with the support of Clarian Health and Riley Children's Hospital, we are almost four weeks away from the biggest challenge of my life.

My running story:

In 2003, after a couple years out of college, I decided I needed a challenge, so I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. At the time, 26.2 miles was an unfathomable distance, but I trained hard and was happy make it in 3 hours and 55 minutes. It was the most painful experience of my life.

After my first marathon experience, I decided once was enough. I was happy with my accomplishment, but I couldn't imagine running much faster, and certainly not farther. However, I continued running 2 or 3 days a week to maintain fitness.

In 2004 and 2005, I was living in San Diego, starting an office for the company I worked for at the time. Since I didn't know many people in the area, I found myself exploring the region by spending a large part of the day running around town. Looking back at my route one day I discovered I had covered over 30 miles. I couldn't believe I had gone farther than a regular marathon. For the next year, I would explore San Diego and Washington D.C.(were I worked for 4 months) once or twice a month by doing runs that started at 8:00 or 9:00 and the morning, and ended at 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening. I certainly didn't run straight through, I stopped a lot to eat, and spent plenty of time walking.

Up until that point, I had never even heard the term ultramarathon. Then in early 2006 I read Dean Karnazes book, Ultramarathon Man. I was inspired. By this time, I was back living with my then fiancé in Chicago, so I searched around and found an ultra in my backyard: the Lakeshore 50k and 50 mile race. I signed up for the 50 miler in November of 2006. To my surprise, after 6 months of training, I found that not only could I complete the distance, I could be competitive. I finished in 7 hours and 28 minutes and finished in 8th place.

After the successful 50 miler, I set my sights on the big one, a 100 mile race. I chose the McNaughton Park 100. I trained through the Chicago winter, and ran my first 100 in April of 2007. The course was grueling. It's a 10 mile loop that runs up and down constant, short steep hills that also includes 2 river crossings per loop. It was raining and cold, and was so steep and slippery that there were parts we had to crawl. Crawling when you have dozens of miles to go is quite demoralizing. I finished in 23rd place in 33 hours and 54 minutes.

Since those first ultras, I have run the Burning River 100 (22hrs 28 minutes, 10th place), and the Lakeshore 50 miler again (6 hours 56 minutes, 5th place). My last race was the Miami Marathon in January, where I completed a dream goal of qualifying for Boston in 3 hours and 5 minutes (61st place).

In the middle of all this running, I met Dr. Isenberg through my work one day. I was touched by his story of starting up a small non-profit and was happy to volunteer to do my small part in Chicago. So far in Chicago we have organized a small group of runners and donors through the Chicago Marathon and have donated medals to Children's Memorial. Since I started volunteering for M4M, I have wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds for the organization. Since I was from the Indianapolis area, doing a Chicago to Indianapolis run seemed like the right idea.

Since January, I have been focused on the nearly 200 mile Windy 2 Indy solo run. My training is fairly extreme even by ultra standards. Most days I do two workouts, once during my lunch break and once in the evening. I usually lift weights 5 days a week and run 5 days a week. Total mileage is 80-120 miles a week. My focus is my weekly long run, every week since the middle of February I have run a long run between 50 and 80 miles, sometimes doing them through the night to practice running without sleep. Even with all the training, I know the Windy 2 Indy run will be the most difficult challenge so far.
Donate today! Be sure to mention Medals 4 Mettle Windy to Indy on the donation page.

How long will it take?
Hopefully close to 48 hours.

I don't plan to sleep at all the first night, and hopefully won't need to sleep the second night either.

Other F.A.Q's about myself and ultrarunning in general can be found in an interview that I did with The Real Chicago here.

Below is the planned route. We will need to make a few minor adjustments toward the end of the route to avoid major roads, but this is close to the final route.

Medals 4 Mettle Windy 2 Indy Route:,41.736580,-87.609670%3B16677929558763057687,41.451860,-87.431400%3B4698303412405292031,41.311872,-87.420888%3B18296484747711392193,41.295329,-87.415806%3B15642785729499935532,41.217270,-87.343320%3B831174707337390973,41.100930,-87.333750%3B9691843640342574424,40.931907,-87.314807%3B9261899328373107991,40.772890,-87.305870%3B3172693248840870705,40.733204,-87.296056%3B11870890743516287224,40.613857,-87.286107%3B4179231128017059595,40.418200,-86.898370%3B7483956396409342334,40.344810,-86.732790%3B5739965033357088181,40.286840,-86.613920%3B18071088355101543123,40.257235,-86.579800%3B8296233282619464682,40.226270,-86.486830%3B1106940902991733324,40.165482,-86.264601%3B15036128714872286679,40.137990,-86.220630%3B12913583872756224708,40.042120,-86.193850&saddr=120+E+Cullerton+St,+Chicago,+IL+60616&daddr=E+87th+St+%4041.736580,+-87.609670+to:Cline+Ave%2FCline+St+%4041.451860,+-87.431400+to:Morse+St+%4041.311872,+-87.420888+to:Michigan+Ave+%4041.295329,+-87.415806+to:Harrison+St%2FIN-55+%4041.217270,+-87.343320+to:IN-55+%4041.100930,+-87.333750+to:S+400+E+%4040.931907,+-87.314807+to:IN-55+%4040.772890,+-87.305870+to:N+150+E+%4040.733204,+-87.296056+to:N+200+E+%4040.613857,+-87.286107+to:IN-26+E+%4040.418200,+-86.898370+to:S+900+E+%4040.344810,+-86.732790+to:W+CR-0+NS+%4040.286840,+-86.613920+to:W+County+Rd+200+S+%4040.257235,+-86.579800+to:S+CR-100+E+%4040.226270,+-86.486830+to:IN-38+%4040.165482,+-86.264601+to:S+Main+St+%4040.137990,+-86.220630+to:40.06441,-86.220703+to:11700+North+Meridian+Street,+Carmel+IN&mra=dme&mrcr=0,1&mrsp=18&sz=10&via=1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17&dirflg=h&sll=39.992904,-86.312714&sspn=0.47029,0.917358&ie=UTF8&ll=40.12009,-86.293488&spn=0.469413,0.917358&z=10