"Not the victory but the action. Not the goal but the game.
In the deed the glory."

Friday, October 26, 2007


On to the race, as everyone knows by now there were record highs in Chicago. I was complaining to everyone all week long about how unfavorable the forecast was. The temps, plus my somewhat sore ankle, plus my shortened training schedule, really had me nervous. I had originally planned on a sub 4 hour goal, but with 3 things working against me I changed my goal to 4:30, figuring I had run all of my long runs at around 10 minute miles and that would be doable.

We flew out Friday night and had some pizza at Giordinos for dinner. It was crazy busy in there, we had to wait about 90 minutes to get our pie. Worth the wait though. Saturday we went down to the Expo, this is where they give you free stuff for running the marathon and also sell you stuff as well. I stayed away from the Finisher t shirts as I had no idea how far I was going to make it. I did violate rule number 1 of marathon training, don't do anything new on the day you actually run. I bought a new pair of shorts (to match my bright yellow Team Fisher House shirt), and also some GU, which is basically straight carbs that take while running to keep your energy up. But it turned out okay, neither one caused me any issues. Saturday night we ate at Weber Grill which was fantastic. I skipped the pasta and got prime rib. I did eat a bunch of bread though. After that we cruised over to the EspnZone and watched some team wearing the Scarlet and Cream get pummeled by the Mizzou Tigers. More carb loading in the form of a few Bud Lights.

I didn't sleep very good Saturday night, I was concerned with oversleeping so I woke up like a 1000 times throughout the night. Finally got up around 5:00am, had some breakfast, and then took the subway down to the start line. I was about 90 minutes early as I heard it would be wild, but it actually wasn't too bad. I could have got there about 10 minutes early and been fine. The crowd was intense though, it was fun to be a part of and there were runners as far as the eye could see.

After the gun went off, it took 16 minutes to actually get across the start line. I've run a few Corporate Cups where it took 2 minutes to get to the start line and I thought that took a long time. This wasn't bad though, it was a much more relaxed atmosphere and no one was really in a hurry. After all, it is a marathon, not a sprint. I remember only about 5 minutes into it starting to sweat, and thinking, wow, this could be a long day. I usually don't sweat much, so it was really a surprise. I chalked it up to the fact that I was running with 36k others in the same vicinity.

I held the pace okay until about the 8 mile mark. It was hot enough out that by the third water stop, I was stopping to get both gatorade and water. By the time I restarted, the 4:30 pacers were far enough away that didn't bother trying to catch them. I saw my wife for the first time at mile 12 which was a big pick me up, and was feeling decent. My ankle was sore by this time but not terrible. I felt if it didn't get any worse I would be able to finish. The crowd was great the entire race. There were people cheering and yelling, signs galore, and live bands around every corner. It really helped keep my mind off the fact I was running for almost 5 hours.

By mile 18 I was working pretty hard to stay close to 10 minute miles. Prior mentioned ankle had caused me to cut both of my planned 20 milers short. The farthest I had been was 18 miles, so I was expecting this section to be tough. The only thing that kept me going was that my wife was around mile marker 20, so I thought if I could get that far, I could gut out the last 10k. Sure enough, I sucked it up and once I met my wife at mile 20.5 I knew I would finish.

Shortly after was when I first heard that the race was "cancelled." I thought it was a joke at first, but upon getting to the next aid station they were telling everyone to stop running. I considered it briefly, but I was only 4 miles form the finish and didn't want to walk at this point. I don't know if I will ever do another one, and didn't want to have my first marathon cut short. After training since January, I was determined to finish. Plus, compared to the 120 degree weather I ran in while in Iraq, the 88 didn't probably have as much impact on me as others.
The next few miles were a blur, I considered walking a few times but decided to stick it out. It was crazy out there though, the cops were on the bullhorns yelling at us to quit running, start walking, it is just a fun run now, on and on. I was determined that unless they were going to physically stop me from running I was going to continue on.

I finished at 4:49 and change, not quite what I had set out to do but good considering the circumstances. I didn't walk, with the exception of at the water stations to make sure I stayed hydrated. I will say that at the time I went through, all but the first station had both water and gatorade. I have never been so tired and sore in all of my life. As soon as I stopped running, my right knee seized up and I could barely walk. There was no ice, so I gimped around trying to find Erika. They told the crowd that because the race was cancelled nobody would be finishing, so she was waiting at the fountain where we were to meet and didn't see my cross the finish line. I swear it was at least a mile walk, or at least it seemed that way. Of course I was hobbling like an 80 year old so it took forever. Finally I found her and also some ice so we sat for a while and I iced my knee down.

We had taken the subway down to the start as our hotel was about a mile away. Going back was absolutely insane. It was just like the Seinfeld where Elaine is on the car and stuffed in with all kinds of people, except that half of us had just run 26.2 miles and stunk to high heaven. I was glad to be one of the stinky ones as I'm sure that it was terrible for the non runners.

I stopped and bought a Budweiser to celebrate, did some more ice down time, and then took a nap. We went out to a great restaurant that night, can't remember the name (Rock Bottom Cafe?) but it was a brewery and their beer was really tasty. No more pasta for a little while for this guy. We got desert as well which of course tasty.

All in all, the marathon was far harder then I thought it would be. And I thought it would be hard. The time you have to put in training, your diet, and then the strain of the actual event is like nothing I've ever experienced. I'm glad to have it done it, however, and am proud to have finished on a day when it was so hot they closed the course. Plus I raised over 2200 dollars for a great cause, which made it all worth it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hey There

Don't know if anyone is still stopping by, since I haven't posted anything in quite some time. I had to take a break from reading the news and blogging as I was a little bit burnt out. Frankly, since I've been home, I don't really read anything on the war, politics, or current events. I just can't handle anymore stories about OJ, Brittney, etc. etc so I pretty much just tuned everything out and am focused on my family. There is just so much negativity in everything out there that I don't have the energy to sort through it all.

Sunday is the big day, the Chicago marathon. Unfortunately I am nursing a minor foot injury so I'm not exactly sure how it is going to go. I injured it about a month ago and have been nursing it ever since. I couldn't really afford to quit running altogether, but I also couldn't run enough to really get ready. So, it is a little bit of a guess at this point how I will do. I've revised my goal down to just finishing, I'm going to go out at about a 1o minute per mile pace instead of the 9 minute per mile pace I was training for. That puts me around 4:30 so we'll see how that goes. I am going to do my best and thank all of you in advance for your support, both with donations to the Fisher House and your thoughts and prayers.

Being home is fantastic, better then I could have imagined. Erika and Ben are wonderful, I'm so thankful to be home safe and be back home with them. My wife is the real hero, how she kept things going around the house without me I'll never know. Truly God has blessed me with a strong, capable, loving wife and mother. Ben grows every day, he is so much fun to be around and to spend time with. Work has been good as well, ConAgra has gone above and beyond continually and made the transition easy for me.

Well, that is about I have time for now. I am not going to promise anything, but I do have some more posts I want to put up so if you check back in the next couple of weeks I'll put up my Chicago Marathon result and also some pictures that I have saved up.

Best Thing I've Seen in a Long Time

I know I've been missing out on much internet hijincks in my absence, but this is priceless. Go check it out and see what happens when you fly the Mexican flag over the US Flag in the USA.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I've been meaning to post this for quite some time, but a variety of things have kept me from the blog. Perhaps the most glaring was the fact that my computer crashed shortly after I got home on June 27th, and I just now got it fixed. Among other reasons/excuses is that blogging has slipped from its perch as my number 3 leisure activity while in Iraq (after gym time and running) to approximately number 46.

Anyway, I wanted to let anyone know that has been stopping by that I am home safe and sound. Reintegration with the family is a challenge but is going well, better then I expected. I had a spectacular coming home party a few weeks ago, and Erika and I just returned from 4 days in Lake Tahoe. I have pictures of both that I will be posting shortly now that I have a working computer with internet again.

Sorry this is so short, more to follow when things get settled down some.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Almost Home

Well, we are back on friendly soil finally. We hit Fort McCoy, Wisconsin on Tuesday and are all well on our way to getting demobilized and out of here. The folks here are great, and it is wonderful to be back in the US of A. They are planning a little party for us when we get back, you can read about it at or More to come later when I have some more free time, internet and email access is very hard to come by and we've had some long days checking the boxes trying to get out of here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fisher House Update, On the Way!

Quick update on the pledge drive in support of Fisher House. Thanks to David, the Duty Officer over at The Sandbox, who put my original post up on his site a day or so ago, I'm now at 140% of my goal. Outstanding! I think I need to set a new goal, but I'm not sure what a good number would be. If you have any suggestions leave a comment. I'm simply amazed at the power of community and all of the many, many supporters of me and my fellow soldiers there are. You guys are the best.

This is a pretty awesome link up at Blackfive that you should go check out. It is about a fellow soldier that wrote a letter to his best friend's children after he was killed in action. Gripping post, and another great example why Blackfive is one my daily stops.

Our travels have officially started. We left Anaconda yesterday, and are now in Kuwait. As far as Army travel goes, it actually wasn't too bad. Wake up at 0500, clear the wooden building that we had made our home for the last 3 weeks, have a formation to get accountability, board the bus at 0700, have a few more formations, and then wait. In typical Army fashion, the waiting room had about 30 cots, and there were over 100 of us from HHT alone, so most of us sat outside in the sun and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells of Iraq for the last time.

Around 1100 we get on the plane, wait a few minutes more, and then liftoff. There were a few hoops and hollers, as we went wheels up, but not too many as most of us were waiting for the corkscrew maneuver they usually do when leaving/entering Balad. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of a combat take off, they basically are looking to get airborne as quickly as possible, so it isn't your typical smooth ride. They hit the gas pretty hard, and then make some aggressive turns that leave your stomach in knots. The neighborhood we live in isn't the best, and there is always a worry that the insurgents will find (i.e. buy one from Iran) an RPG and shoot a plane down. Although I think that if they could do it, they would have done it by now. Needless to say it is quite an experience, thankfully this is the last time we have to do it.

We made the approximately hour long flight to Ali Al Saleem, which is where almost all military flights stop in and out of Iraq. The only real delay was on the ground here, we boarded the buses about 1300 and then waited for our bags for about an hour. After that a quick ride to Camp Virginia, our home until we leave theater in a few short days. Offload our baggage in quick fashion, and then a mad scramble for everyone to find their bags. You know how it is always hard to find your bag at the airport because a lot of luggage looks similar? Try finding your duffel and rucksack amidst hundreds of the exact same bag. Always a fun project! Once I had my bag, time to pick out a cot. And then wait. All told, we spent about 11 hours traveling around 300 miles I would guess. Not too shabby for Iraq, in fact if the rest of our travels go as smoothly I for one will be pleasantly surprised.

The weather here is absolutely brutal. We have been fortunate in that Anaconda is up North in the Tigris river valley, and although it is extremely hot and windy, it isn't terrible. Down here it is about 10 degrees hotter, and the real kicker is that the wind is constantly blowing sand all over the place. It is hard to describe what is like, I know I used the sticking your head in an oven to describe Iraq. Kuwait is kindof like sticking your head in an oven while somebody takes sandpaper to your skin while at the same time pouring gravel directly into your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Kindof like that. I think if I was stationed here I would have considered putting a bullet in my head. Or at least in the leg. But you have to hit bone, because if you don't and it goes right through muscle, you don't get to go home. Although you may get a short trip to Germany out of it. But enough on that, nobody is going to be shooting any one any time soon, primarily because we don't have any bullets any more.

We'll just be here for a short time, and then off to McCoy. The word on the street is that we'll be there for a few days shorter then we had planned. In fact, the Family Readiness Group back home is already telling our families the date and location we'll arrive home. Of course nobody has told us anything yet, but that is pretty much par for the course. Usually we hear from home what is going on before we get it through official channels, and the info so far has been pretty reliable. The important thing is that we are about 95% done, morale is high, and everyone is ready to jump through whatever hoops we need to in order to get home to our loved ones.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Interview with, Other Stuff

The fine folks over at have been doing a series of interviews with military bloggers. Follow this link to check mine out. There is lots of other good stuff on their site, so spend some time checking it out.

We have our official transfer of authority (TOA) with our replacements in a few short hours, and then we are just waiting on our good friends in the Air Force to give us a ride. We'll spend a few days out processing in Kuwait and then on to the US. Until then, there is a lot of nothing going on except for your typical soldier hi jinks. This is a dangerous time for me, as when joe has nothing to do, he tends to get in trouble. I am hoping not to have any more work to do before we get home, but with a unit our size, someone is bound to do the wrong thing.

I have my Iraq retrospective piece about half done and am trying to get that finished up in the next day or so. I do a lot of my thinking when I'm out on the roads of Anaconda running. At home I like to think in the shower, but there are too many random naked dudes running around here to get comfortable. Also we are in transient housing now and the showers have this annoying pulsating between low and high pressure and also hot and cold water. Not fun. I usually can write a full post in my mind while running, but the problem is when I sit down on the computer I can only remember about half of it. So, that is my struggle right now, there is more info tied up in the back of my brain that I need to dig out. More to come soon.

I also wanted to wish my brother a Happy Birthday, he is down in San Antonio going through 68W (Combat Medic) training right now. He successfully graduated Basic Training (honor grad I believe) and is about halfway through his AIT. Keep up the good work little brother.

Erika and I also "celebrated" our 6th Anniversary last week. And by celebrated I mean we talked on the phone about it. Second in a row I've been in Iraq. But we'll be able to celebrate for real here in a few short weeks. Thanks babe for all that you do for me and Benjamin! You are my soul mate, a fantastic mother, and make me a better man. Love you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In Remembrance

Part of the process of getting out of here is remembering those that have gone before us. It struck me the other day as we were making plans for coming home parties, car purchases, and vacations, that not everyone that got on the plane with us is making the trip home.

One of the benefits that the Guard sells to young soldiers is that Guard is family, and I think this is true is the sense that you get to know your fellow Guardsmen over the years better then you would in an active duty or reserve unit as personnel are changed out more often. Most of the soldiers that you drill with are from your hometown, went to the same schools, and know the same people. The Nebraska National Guard has lost 8 or our brothers and sisters during OIF. While the loss of every soldier is a tragedy, our fellow Guardsmen usually hit a little closer to home. I didn't know any of these soldiers on a personal level, but they've all had a lasting impact on me, and my fellow soldiers, that I wanted to share.

The first 2 soldiers we lost were early in the war. MSG Linda Ann Tarango-Griess and SGT Jeremy J. Fisher were killed in action on 11 July 2004. I remember getting an email at work with a link to the story and feeling incredible sadness, shock, and disbelief. Most of us thought the war would be over quickly and without much loss of life. The fact that our fellow soldiers had paid the ultimate price was hard to believe.

The Nebraska Guard went over a year without another casualty. SFC Tricia L. Jameson was killed in action on 14 July 2005. SFC Jameson was a medic that had volunteered for her deployment to fill a spot that needed a soldier, and had only been in theater a short while. She was responding to an attack when her ambulance was targeted by a secondary IED, a particularly cowardly attack. The Combat Medic Training Center here at Balad is named after her.

Another year passed, and on 31 July 2006, SGT Joshua Ford was killed in action. His death occurred after we arrived in theater, which made it that much harder. Every soldier knows that there is the possibility this will happen, but as a coping mechanism, most of us think that it won't happen to us or anyone we know.

Unfortunately, the year between combat deaths pattern didn't hold. Task Force Saber lost our first soldier, SSG Jeffrey Hansen, on 27 August 2006. SSG Hansen was the victim of a tragic accident where his vehicle rolled over into one of the many canal roads surrounding Anaconda. SSG Hansen had been around the Cav for a long time, and was well known by many and loved by all. His memorial service was held here at Anaconda, I served on the rifle team and was part of the 21 gun salute. It was an honor to participate and allow the soldiers from his unit and those that knew him the best to attend the memorial.

A short 2 days after B Troop and the rest of the 1-167 had grieved for SSG Hansen, SGT Germaine Debro was killed in action. He died on 4 September 2006. For an already grief stricken unit, this was an incredibly tough blow. SGT Debro had volunteered for this deployment to serve with his friends and paid the ultimate price. I went home for leave a few days later, and attended his funeral in Omaha while I was home. It was obvious from the crowd and the speeches what kind of a man SGT Debro was and how much he was loved by his family and friends. The IED Training Lane here at Anaconda was just recently dedicated in honor of SGT Debro, in order to provide training opportunities to other soldiers and increase their chance of survival.

SGT Randy J. Matheny died in combat on 4 February 2007. His sister is a Staff Sergeant in a unit that is stationed here at Anaconda, and he would often spend time with her when he had a stop over during a convoy. His brother is also a member of the Nebraska Guard. His sister's unit held a small memorial here on post for him, and once again it was clear that SGT Matheny was a hero to those that knew him.

The final Nebraska casualty was SPC William L. Bailey III, who was killed in action on 25 May 2007. His unit was stationed here, and I attended his memorial. SPC Bailey was a father of 5 and had a lifetime of service. He was a volunteer firefighter in Bellevue, and had rejoined the Guard in 2005 after fulfilling his initial obligation because he wanted to serve.

One thing that struck me about each of these soldiers is that most, if not all, were volunteers. Not just volunteers to join the Guard, as we are all, but volunteers to deploy to Iraq and do what needed to be done. I know that most of them could have stayed home, having already done duty in Kuwait, Bosnia, or a prior deployment to Iraq. But they didn't. Their unit, their state, and their country needed them, and they answered the call. And they paid the ultimate price. This may be cliche, but "Where do we find such men and women?" I am proud to wear the uniform and to have served in the Nebraska National Guard with MSG Tarango-Griess, SGT Fisher, SFC Jameson, SGT Ford, SSG Hansen, SGT Debro, SGT Matheny, and SPC Bailey. God bless you all. We will never forget you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fisher House Update, Pre-Marathon Training Complete

Well, my Fisher House pledge drive is off to a great start. Many, many thanks to everyone that has stopped by and donated. After just a few days I'm already 38% there. Much better then I had expected.

A special thanks to my friend Kathi at Mail Call! Supporting the Troops. She has been actively spreading the word among the many military blogs in her network which has helped tremendously. Thanks Kathi!!!!

So, I finished up my "pre-marathon" training yesterday. I will say this, the extra 16 weeks of training due to our getting extended and my missing Lincoln have really been helpful. I guess you could say that is something positive from our extension.

Week 14 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5/5 @ 8:55
Wednesday - 7/7 @ 8:45
Thursday - 5/5 @ 8:26
Friday - off
Saturday - 7/7 @ 8:37
Sunday - 12/12 @ 9:36
Total - 36/36 Right on schedule. Nothing unusual and a good week of running.

Week 15 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5/5.5 @ 8:55
Wednesday - 8/8 @ 9:07
Thursday - 5/5 @ 8:26
Friday - off
Saturday - 9/9.5 @ 9:22
Sunday - off
Total - 27/28 Memorial day was the BolderBoulder 10k, so I moved my long run to Saturday and took Sunday off so I would be somewhat fresh. Other then that had a good week.

Week 16 (planned/actual):
Monday - 6.2/6.2 @ 7:30
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - 8/8.1 @ 9:09
Thursday - 5/6 @ 9:06
Friday - off
Saturday - 8/7.7 @ 9:17
Sunday - 10/12 @ 9:34
Total - 37.2/40 My first 40 mile week! The 10k on Monday was great. I far exceed my expectations. As mentioned, I was looking for a sub 50:00 and thought I could maybe do a 48:xx. I ended up running a 46:40, which is a personal best by about 5 minutes. Can't beat that. I did a race report on, you can check it out here for the rest of the details if you are in to the sort of thing.

This week is week 1 of 18 for Chicago training. These extra 16 weeks have really helped, I went from an average of around 20 miles a week to an average of around 36 or so. My long run is up from 10 to 12, and the 12 doesn't bother me much as all. I don't have any nagging injuries. The biggest challenge will be staying disciplined when I get home, but that shouldn't be a problem. We got a bike trailer for the little man, so we can do family outings at the lake with momma and the mister on the bike and me out running. Also I have a jogging trailer that I never got to use before this deployment, so I may get some use out of that. Plus I've already paid my entry fee and I'm far too cheap to let that go. And of course I have the supporters of Team Sack to keep my going, so I'm confident that I'll keep after it. I'm excited to get out of the "pre" phase and start counting down the weeks.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Please Give Me Money

Well, not me exactly. I was out on the Fisher House website the other day getting the link for my post on the Doonesbury Book. I noticed that they have a Marine Corps Marathon support team, where soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines that are running the MCM can raise money to support the Fisher House. I thought to myself, wow, what a great idea, too bad the Chicago Marathon (catch up on my training here) and MCM are on the same day. Not so fast my friend. They have another program where basically you can support any race you feel like running. So, a few short minutes later and I had everything set up for Team Sack.

This program is particularly good, because unlike other race sponsorships, where if you collect a certain amount they will pay your race entrance fee, travel/hotel, etc, the Fisher House team will get every dime of any money that you pledge. Also, they have very little overhead, according to their website 97 cents on the dollar go directly to help the families of wounded soldiers. These guys have a great reputation in the military community and are truly supporting a needed service.

I would like to raise a $1,000 over the next 18 weeks. Please consider a gift to this worthwhile organization. Since I'm running 26.2 miles (I hope!) you could consider a dollar a mile and donate 25 bucks and I'll do the last 1.2 miles for free. This would only require 40 people to contribute.

The easiest way to donate is to go to my pledge website and use your credit card. They will send you your receipt immediately and your donation is tax deductible. What is better then that? I haven't used the pledge website yet so if anyone does and has any problems please shoot me an email, you can find it in my profile, or leave me a comment. You can also fill out a pledge form personally for those of you that I'll be seeing in a few short weeks. Thanks in advance for your support!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hard to Believe, but I'm Getting Published

You may remember that I did a few stories for the Sandbox, a blog set up by the folks that bring you Doonesbury. The first one I submitted, Not My Grandfather's War, is going to be included in a new book that they are putting out (my other story is here). I'm incredibly excited and thrilled to be included, this book will make a nice reminder of my time over here. There are so many great writers out there blogging about this war and I feel honored to be included among them.

Here is the preliminary cover:

And the preliminary back:

All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Fisher House. From their website:

Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House™ Foundation donates "comfort homes," built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

You can pre-order the book at It is only 14.95, so go out and get one. It should be out sometime this summer. I'll even autograph it for you. That is of course if you live in the Omaha/Lincoln area and make a trip over to my house. Or invite me over to your place for dinner, whatever works for you. I suppose I could even meet you somewhere, but we can work all of that out later. I've read almost all of the posts that will be in the book and they are all fantastic, you won't be disappointed.

Good News, More Souvenirs

We got some good news about 2 weeks ago and it is finally official so we can share it. We found out we'll be leaving "early" from Iraq, so instead of getting out of here in mid to late July, we'll be leaving in early to mid June. We have a date but can't give it out for security reasons. Most likely we'll be home in time for the 4th of July. Obviously we are very excited and morale is high. There is much to do as we got short notice and have about 2 months of work to do in 2 weeks. That is fine though, it will make the time go back quickly. Unfortunately, the 167 is the only unit getting replaced early, the rest of the Red Bulls will be leaving as scheduled.

Chief Regan got all of his soldiers in the S1 an authentic Cavalry Saber as a thank you for all of our hard work. It is pictured below, along with the Squadron Commander, LTC Apprich (colonels aren't allowed to smile by the way). Thanks Chief! I am going to need to move into a bigger house to hold all of my deployment souvenirs.

CPT Varjecka and CPT Wangler went out and got Gold Spurs for the rest of Team America. I missed the day when they put them on as I was in Qatar, so we had a make up ceremony. I got the short end of the stick as we were in increased force protection so we had to have our IBA and ACH (body armor and helmet) on outside. They had me get in the front leaning rest (aka pushup) position while they put them on. With the body armor it was quite a challenge.

Then Beans rode me like a horse. Yee haa!!

As you can see by this time I was pretty exhausted and had to sag a little bit, but nobody ever said the Army was easy!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pre-Marathon Update Weeks 6-13

Definitely slacking off on getting my updates done on my training for the Chicago Marathon. Sorry. No good reason. I was planning on doing this once a month but lo and behold this is 2 months worth. I have a 10k coming up on Memorial Day. The BolderBoulder is putting on a satellite race here. The folks that run this are awesome, I had a problem with my registration and I emailed them and they took care of it right away. We actually registered on their main site so we'll get an official time and everything. Hopefully the folks here will do a better job organizing this then the Army 10 Miler. At a minimum I'm voting that everyone actually runs a 10k. I need to break 50 minutes (8 min/mile) so I can get a seeded runner's pass for the Omaha Corporate Cup. I usually run this every year as part of Team ConAgra, in fact the OCC is what got me into running longer distances. Usually about 10,000 people run it, and if you can prove you can run it in less then 50 minutes (for males) you get to start from the front. They don't have chip timing so when you don't start in the front it adds a good 2-5 minutes to your time, making it all but impossible to get under 50 minutes for me. I'm pretty confident that I can break the 50 minute mark finally, and my stretch goal is to run 7:45 minute miles for a time of 48:00. The 48 minute time will give me some confidence that my 4:00 goal for Chicago is doable.

I'll say one thing after 6 months or so of thinking about doing the marathon, this training is no joke. I knew that it wouldn't be easy, but what I wasn't expecting was the pressure each week to get my runs in. The schedule is so focused that if you miss even one day it messes you up and it is hard to make it up. For instance if I miss a Sunday long run there is no chance to catch up so to speak and that day is gone. So, it has been quite a challenge. The extra months to train for Chicago instead of Lincoln have definitely helped me get ready. Right now I'm trying to decide which plan I'm going to use. The original Higdon plan I was going to do peaks at 43 mpw, which doesn't feel like much of a challenge now. I'm either going to do the Higdon Intermediate II plan which gets up to 50 mpw or the Pfitzinger 55 mpw plan. The Pfitz plan has some speedwork built in, so it will be more of a challenge but also will better prepare me. I am thinking right now that I will start with that and if turns out to be too much I'll go back to Hal's easier plan.
Well, without further ado, here is what I've been up to:

Week 6 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 4 / 0
Wednesday - 6 / 5 @ 8.44
Thursday - 4 / 6 @ 8:16
Friday - off / 4 @ 8:41
Saturday - 6 / 6.25 @ 8:48
Sunday - 9 / 9.5 @ 9:04
Total - 29 / 30.5. Tuesday I was busy playing Gran Turismo 4 (which SSG Johnson got me for my birthday, thanks Brad!) so I moved everything back a day. Other then that was a good week.

Week 7 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 / 5 @ 9:03
Wednesday - 7 / 7 @ 8.30
Thursday - 5 / 5 @ 8:48
Friday - off
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 8:19
Sunday - 10 / 10 @ 9:36
Total - 34 / 34. Right on schedule for Week 7, nothing exciting to report.

Week 8 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 / 5 @ 8:57
Wednesday - 7 / 7 @ 8.36
Thursday - 5 / 5 @ 8:49
Friday - off
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 8:36
Sunday - 12 / 12 @ 9:36
Total - 36 / 36. This was the beginning of the week I was in Qatar. I brought my running shoes, and actually ran both Saturday and Sunday. They had a great trail that ran along the perimeter of the base (no snipers in Qatar!) that was really nice, so it was an enjoyable place to run and see some new scenery. It was really just a different view of the desert but what can you do.

Week 9 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 4 /
Wednesday - 7 / 6.25 @ 8.47
Thursday - 4 /
Friday - off / 3 @ 8:17
Saturday - 7 / 5.33 @ 9:02
Sunday - 9 / 0
Total - 31 / 14.58. Not a good week here. Tuesday I was still in Qatar and didn't get a chance to run. Wednesday I did, but Thursday I was traveling and that kind of put the rest of the schedule off. I still would have had a decent week but on Sunday they had the force protection ratcheted up and we couldn't be outside unless we had our Kevlar and IBA on, and there was no way I was running in that. I contemplated doing the dreadmill but just couldn't go through with it. So, this was somewhat of a rest week for me.

Week 10 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 / 5 @ 8:01
Wednesday - 7 / 7 @ 8.45
Thursday - 5 / 5 @ 8:41
Friday - off
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 9:35
Sunday - 12 / 0
Total - 36 / 24. Missed the long run again. Hammer talked me and Princess into starting to lift legs again. I had quit lifting my legs a while back because of all the running I was doing. We did squats on Friday, and Saturday my legs were incredibly sore. I thought it would help if I ran Saturday to loosen things up so I suffered through the 7 miles. Sunday I could barely walk, and there was no way I was running 1.2 miles, let alone 12. We like to say in the Army that there is Hooah (going above and beyond and being a tough guy) and Hooah Stupid (going above and beyond and hurting yourself). Running Saturday was Hooah Stupid as it put me out of commission for about 4 days.

Week 11 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 / 3.25 @ 9:04
Wednesday - 7 / 3.25 @ 8.49
Thursday - 5 / 5 @ 8:48
Friday - off
Saturday - 7 / 5.5 @ 8:34
Sunday - 10 / 8 @ 9:42
Total - 34 / 25. Early in the week I was still struggling with the soreness in my legs. I suffered through a few shorter runs. At the same time, it started getting up close to a 100 in the afternoons this week. Sunday I was planning on doing the full 10 miles but I felt like I had just eaten a whole bag of cotton balls so I cut it off early (see Hooah vs Hooah Stupid above).

Week 12 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 / 5 @ 7:48
Wednesday - 7 / 7 @ 9:09
Thursday - 5 / 5 @ 8:58
Friday - off
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 9:09
Sunday - 10 / 6 @ 9:18
Total - 34 / 30. Back to normal for the most part. I suffered through the afternoon heat for all of the runs but Sunday. Sunday I waited until later in the night when it cooled down as it was like 103 that day. I didn't end up going until 1030 at night so it was a little bit late to do the whole 10 miles. Plus I have a phobia about getting abducted by a group of insurgents. It is really dark here at night (no street lights to mitigate the mortars) so it is a little bit weird out. My fear isn't that I'll be tortured and killed, but that they will videotape the kidnapping and everyone will snicker when I don't fight them off. Of course they won't know that I just got done running 10 miles and was worn out. So there is that.

Week 13 (planned/actual):
Monday - off
Tuesday - 5 /
Wednesday - 7 / 2 @ 6:56
Thursday - 5 / 7 @ 8:28
Friday - off / 7 @ 8:58
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 9:10
Sunday - 10 / 10 @ 9:35
Total - 34 / 33. Wednesday we had a PT test so I took Tuesday off so my legs would be fresh. I would have liked to gone a bit faster on the 2 miler but was pretty happy with my time. In case you were curious, I had the high score out of the entire S1. Not bad for a 31 year old desk jockey. Of course I haven't brought this up at all since!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Aks on the Smith Range

From time to time our guys end up with some contraband as evidence. One of the things that is in long supply over here are AK-47s. Every Iraqi is allowed one for self defense, but if they get caught doing something bad then they get taken. Our guys arranged for a familiarization fire out on the Smith range (named after SFC Paul Smith, the first Medal of Honor winner in Iraq).

Me and one of the better condition AKs. If you are curious, yes that is a moustache. And yes I have already shaved it. I started growing it in Qatar. I thought it was pretty sweet but it was hot and itchy so I got rid of it after a few weeks.

SFC Kerchal getting ready to fire.
We each got one magazine to fire off. Unfortunately I don't have any action shots of myself. You can rest assured that I didn't hit much though. Even at 25 meters the Ak is terribly inaccurate, especially on full auto.

SFC Kerchal double fisting.

Pretty good time. I also got to fire my trusty M16 on burst, normally on the range we fire in semi auto mode so it was fun to blast away. The M16 is much more controlled with the 3 round burst then the Ak is on full auto. Nothing better then a little gunpowder to get your day started right.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'm Still Here

Sorry for the communication blackout. Blogs are once again blocked, hence the sparse posting for the last 2 weeks.

Ran across this article today, which explains some of the problem: Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death. Basically the new policy is that you must get approval from your Commander before posting anything on your blog. Most of us are guessing that rather then waste the Commander's time, most units will just ban blogs all together.

It is really frustrating for us because I think most of you at home would agree that soldier blogs provide a window into this war that has never before been utilized. Not that it is always positive, but for most part they are real life. In a time when the military is struggling for public support, you would think our stories would be encouraged and not the other way around. I honestly don't understand where they are coming from. My guess is that the brass is just being risk averse and rather then have to deal with the few troublemakers that violate op-sec or something like that, they are going into widespread lockdown mode.

I'm not giving up the fight yet, as this blog has really meant a lot to me over the last 13 months. I honestly feel that my morale has been better because of it, and I think that my friends and family have benefited from hearing about what I'm up to. But, I'm sure it won't be long before the new rules get pushed down to my level and the plug gets pulled. We've already seen a pretty advanced decline in what we are allowed to read and say, so I don't see it getting better. It is a shame because I'm sure soldiers that are just getting into theater and have a story to tell will most likely not want to deal with all of the BS and resort to keeping in touch solely by email or phone. It looks like the Army will win this battle, but lose the war for public support.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Qatar Trip - Part 3

One more batch of pictures from my recent trip to Qatar. Here is Brad and I in front of the harbor.

This is the City Center mall in downtown Doha. It was 4 stories of shopping fun, we had 2 hours to spend here and didn't even make it through the whole mall. It was quite impressive.

There was an ice skating rink inside, a bowling alley, a mini amusement park, and lots and lots of shops.

Some buildings outside the mall. Lots of construction downtown, the city is really growing.

Enjoying a Guinness back at the camp. Tasty!

Brad with a Tuborg. It is a dutch beer that is popular with the joes as you get a 16oz can for $3. The Guinness was $6.

Ma Beans sent me this shirt a while back. I had to get at least one Bud since I was wearing the shirt. Last beer of the trip!

All good things must come to end sometime. Packing up and heading back to Anaconda.

A somewhat blurry picture of the C17 we took back. This is the big Air Force jet we were hoping for, unfortunately we had a small group so they didn't put the good airline like seats in the middle like they usually do and instead filled it with cargo. I wasn't complaining though, much better then the C130.

We are back to work now. It was a fun trip and great to get away from the office. 3 months to go.