The world lost an incredible mother, wife, daughter, friend, attorney, underprivileged advocate, and community member suddenly and unexpectedly on October 16, 2013. In honor of my late wife, Holli Wallace, I am training for the Hallucination 100 mile trail run and raising money for the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

My training progress

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Back to Burning River

Where has the summer gone?  I'm heading down to Cleveland this weekend to run the Burning River 50 Mile Endurance Run.  This will be the first half of the 100 mile run that I did in 2009.  Was it really 7 years ago?  I've been keeping up with my running (mostly) and this weekend will be significant because I have always peaked out at 50 miles before each of my 100 mile runs.  Actually, as I think about it, out of 5 attempts at 100 mile runs the only two times that I dropped out I had not completed a 50 mile training run at the peak of my training.  So keep your fingers crossed for me.

The other reason this feels like a big run is that it means that the Hallucination 100 is only a month away.  I confess that I haven't hammered out all the details of that weekend, but I thought that I would give a general overview for anyone who is interested in coming for all or part of the weekend (you can find a complete schedule here

1)  Where can I find everyone at the race?  We will have a campsite at the start/finish with a table for the Children's Grief Center.  We'll be selling bracelets for donations and have some information about the Center.  We will probably begin setting up in this area around 11:00 AM on Friday the 9th.  Come and spend some time with us.

2)  Will I be able to watch the race?  Sort of.  Races take up to 30 hours so it isn't really a spectator sport.  The race is a series of 16 mile loops that go through the camp group where our campsite is located.  Obviously, I'll be spending most of my time on the loop, but you will probably be able to predict when I am passing by the start/finish based on my time in the previous loop.  Of course, I'll probably be slowing down each loop.  I'll also be at the start at 4:00 PM on Friday and, if all goes well, crossing the finish line sometime before 10 PM Saturday night.

3)  What can I do?  You are certainly welcome to join us at the campsite.  The weekend is full of events with live music, yoga, food, tye dying, and other activities.  Check the schedule above.  Please note that you will need weekend passes or Saturday concert passes (

4)  Can I run (or walk) too?  Yes!  I think that it would be awesome to see Run for Holli shirts at the various races that they will be holding that weekend.  There are three 5k runs that are free if you get a weekend pass.  That's only 3.1 miles!  Walk one with a Run for Holli shirt!  If you are interested in pacing, shoot me an email too.  Pacers are allowed after the first loop.

5) Can I still donate?  Of course!  We have exceeded my initial goal of $5,000, but I would like to hit $7,500 by the end of the race!  You can donate here:

I'm going to put an event on the Facebook page so that I can keep track of who is planning on coming that weekend.  Thanks to everyone for their support to this point!

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's more than 50% mental

That's one of those cliches among ultrarunners that has more than an ounce of truth.  You train physically to run the first 50 miles and mentally for the second 50.  My first 100 mile run was the Haliburton Forest 100 in Ontario, Canada (pictured above).  It consisted of two 25 mile "out and back" runs.  Consequently, I hit the 50 mile point at the start/finish point just as the sun was starting to set, 50 mile runners were celebrating their finish, and I was physically more than exhausted.  There weren't many 100 mile runners on the course, temperatures were dropping, and I knew that I had a long, cold night ahead of me.  Holli stayed up most of the night with me, driving from aid station to aid station.  It wasn't fun at that point, but I finished.

I was thinking about this 50% mental rule last week, except this time it was 11:30 PM and I only had to run 7 miles to stick to my training plan.  I was sitting on the couch trying to decide if I should run or not.  I hadn't planned on getting on the treadmill that late, but I had let the boys stay up late as the summer days had gotten longer and right before bedtime Oliver had been missing his mommy.  I wasn’t in the mood to run.  I wanted to sleep. The mental “grit” required to run 100 miles gets all the glory, but the truth is sticking to a training plan takes more mental effort.  If you can figure out how to stick to that training plan the race is easy.  Just kidding, at least it's easier.  I have stare down matches with the treadmill multiple times a week.  Most of the time I get on the treadmill.  Sometimes I don’t.

I’ll be doing a little mental and physical training next weekend with a 50k at the Dawg Gone Long Run down in Dayton, OH with my old friend Luke.  This will also be the first test run of the Run for Holli shirt that I’ll be wearing at the race.  The Booster t-shirt campaign has ended and we sold 44 shirts to make $1,120 for the Children’s Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region!  That means, we have raised $3,975 towards our goal of $5,000!  That’s incredible!  Thanks everyone!

Even though you can't order t-shirts anymore, you can still make donations here!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I don't believe in ghosts

Yesterday was the day that Holli and I met 19 years ago.  We met in the driveway of a house in East Lansing (photographed above by Holli in 2012.)  Tomorrow will be the day that Holli and I got married 14 years ago.  Holli used to joke that she would haunt me if she passed before I did, although I guess we expected this would be something we confronted in old age.  It wasn't scary.  It was a comforting idea.  Of course, I don't believe in ghosts.

That hasn't prevented Holli from haunting me and I am grateful that she does.  Even after two and a half years, I still imagine her sitting next to me in the car or on the couch.  I hear what she would say in response to both small and large events in my life.  Memories replay on a daily basis with sad, but comforting detail.  At times, the line between when she was here and when we lost her becomes blurred and I forget that she never saw Oliver play soccer, Elliott sell root beer floats, or even meet Peanut.  I know that it is because I saw her there.  I sometimes wish that I believed in ghosts, but I don't.  This hasn't stopped Holli from haunting me.  It is sad sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


Now I need your help keeping Holli's memory alive by helping me support the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

1)  Go here to order a shirt before June 12.  All proceeds go to the Children's Grief Center.
2)  Make a donation here in honor of Holli and in support of my run in September.
3)  Share this post and, if you knew Holli, perhaps share a memory of two also.

**If I already told you that I would send you a shirt, no need to order one as I will have one sent to you.**

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Crewing for an ultramarathon

Just to set the stage, I’m writing this from a hotel in Beijing while Denise and the boys are at the final grief support group potluck.  It’s no secret that I like to travel and enjoy a job where that is one of the perks.  Still, each trip brings a negotiation with guilt over leaving the boys and I am grateful to Denise and Mike for taking such wonderful care of the boys when I am gone.
When I did the No Wimps Challenge at the end of April, I was pleased to reconnect with my old running buddy Dirt Dawg.  We ran together for nearly the entire marathon.  He actually paced me during my first attempt (and fail) at the Hallucination 100 back in 2010.  That race, and even this trip in a way, reminded me of my race crew.

Holli, of course, was my crew at all of my major races.  For those of you unfamiliar with the ultrarunning world, your crew are the people who stay up ridiculous hours following you from aid station to aid station to fill water bottles, tend to sore feet, provide fresh shoes or clothes, remind you to eat, drink, or take electrolyte pills, check you for blisters, provide encouraging words, lie to you that you “look great!”, bring you food, put up with general crankiness, and basically keep you on track to finish.  Needless to say, crewing a runner is more than a matter of just logistical support.  In particular in 50 or 100 mile races, cognitive reasoning takes a hit.  I’ve seen things in the forest that weren’t there (mostly wishful thinking that aid stations were closer than they are.)  I’ve forgotten to eat or drink and neglected blisters.  Towards the end of most races, I lose track of what I need and become convinced that I am unable to finish in the time allotted.  This can become rather pronounced after 70 or 80 miles.  It’s hard to spend 28 hours convincing yourself that finishing is possible.

It becomes important at those times to have someone who knows what you need even if you don’t yourself know.  While only a fleeting runner, Holli had become well aware of my preferences and habits on a race.  I’m sure that she could easily carry her own in a conversation about the nuanced differences among socks and shoes that runners seem to enjoy.  Most importantly, of course, she knew what I needed even when I didn’t.  Having someone like that in your corner can take you incredible places and, among other things, get you through three 100 mile race completions.

I won’t reiterate the now redundant point that my training is behind what I wanted it to be and I still haven’t ordered the t-shirts, although I have figured out which company to use.  I’ll highlight more positively that my training is still on track for the race and that I will “officially” launch fundraising efforts when t-shirt become available in a few weeks.  I want to thank Mario Volante, the Awad family, and Uncle Wing and his family, for their donations so far.  I also want to say a special thanks to my mom and dad for their generous contribution.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Life always gets in the way of my running

On Saturday, I'll start the NO WIMPS Challenge with a half marathon down in Pinkney followed by a marathon on Sunday.  I did this is 2013.  It's the first of several small goals I use to keep me on track for the big run.  I'm marginally prepared although I expect experience at this race and in general will be enough to carry me through to the end, even if my times aren't what they could be.  Life has gotten in the way lately and sidetracked my well organized training plan.  In the past month or so I've been sick, the boys have been sick, our basement has flooded, we've celebrated holidays and a birthday, we've had a sleepover with a houseful of energetic boys, Elliott and I road tripped to Niagra Falls, and I've been down to Mexico for a few days.  I sometimes tell students that you need to have life plans so that you know how to gauge how serious things are when they go wrong.  It also gives you some sense of the path that you should return to after recovering from those inevitable moments when life gets in the way.

Elliott and Oliver lead the path that guides me.  The problem is that there are thousands of daily decisions and negotiations along that path that rarely have clear solutions or answers.  Family, work, and (dare I even suggest?) time for myself are a juggling act with ongoing decisions of what to drop and what not to drop.  What kind of parent does it make me that goes for a three and a half hour run on the eve of leaving his kids to work in Mexico?  I think that I am doing fine, but questions like this cross my mind all the time.  When Elliott was upset that Holli had to work she would explain to him that she enjoyed her work and that, while she would miss him, it was important to her and that she was grateful to have the job and that she was helping people.  I remind myself that living a life that is not just for them is the only way to live a life that will be meaningful for them.

Perhaps it is only related in my mind, but yesterday was Elliott's first travel soccer game and today was Oliver's first soccer practice of the season.  It seemed to me another step in their independence.  I love to watch them play, especially in those moments when they are so clearly thriving in the moment.  It doesn't work all the time, but I hope that they know that there are moments when I am away from them and thriving too.