Jogging The Streets Of Prague, Czech Republic With Radim

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Written By Radim

Let me show you around Prague, Czech Republic, my hometown. Contributing to A Good Run gives me yet another opportunity to observe the entire city from a different perspective. Recently, I started the Running Tours Prague project for runners from all over the world who come to Prague on vacation or business. But today, this is special and new. Rather than going for a long run, this one will include more contemplation. I won’t visit all of the landmarks, but this run will include more of my personal thoughts instead.

Charles Bridge

First, no one should dare miss the Charles Bridge! The bridge is so dear to all the Praguers that during our frequent floods, our major concern is always whether or not the bridge survived the flood. Having been built in the mid-14th century, the bridge (among obvious materials) includes substances of milk and vine added to the mortar used. Its more than 500 meters have survived all of the challenges of natural disasters and wars. Despite its location in the very heart of the ancient city, you can run across it without seeing anybody else, especially during early morning hours. The exceptions may be few lone travelers with cameras and a handful of runners with backpacks commuting to their workplace (an increasingly popular means of transport lately).

The Vltava River provides a deep split between the left and right banks of Prague. If you set off to the west, sooner or later, you’ll make it to the castle district with its magnificent cathedral. We went the opposite direction though, as I prefer heading towards Old Town to get instantly sucked into a literal maze of middle-age lanes.

Let’s get carried away by this maze of narrow streets that never continue straight, but wind through a cobweb of architecture built centuries apart, standing side by side, organically grown into one another. It’s hard to stay cool in environments like this – it’s so romantic! Speaking about matters of the heart, my parents are just the right people to thank here, as my dad’s workplace (university) is just around the corner, and the same goes for my mum (library). To cut a long story short with Jirka Cupak, I thanked him here as he was the one who persuaded me along time ago to start running in the first place.

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The heart of the Old Town is the square where many individual routes intersect. Embraced by many picturesque houses and churches, cut through by a meridian marked distinctly with a bronze sheet in a pavement, the square is an important place for pedestrians who happen to bump into others whom they know. When this happens, they often stop to chat and very often decide to have a drink at some place nearby. Every time you loiter around, for say 10 minutes, you inevitably meet someone you know. As beer-loving Czechs say, “Let’s have a glass of beer” (in fact, they rarely end up having just one).

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Even for a very committed runner, the famous astronomical clock that features a parade each hour of wooden-carved apostles and death swaying its hourglass (to name just few of its marvelous features), should be a good reason to stop for a while. At this point, in this huge informal meeting-place, I expressed gratitude to all of my friends whose ways have entwined with mine.

Any direction that you go from here works. I prefer running at random. Even after 39 years of living here, I discover connections, shortcuts, or passageways that I have never taken! To let out a secret, in the low-season, you can beat the tourist crowds easily. During summers though, I occasionally play a little game of mine. I cruise the car-less cobblestone streets and at each junction, I enjoy the act of picking up the least busy road. It’s fun. It’s joy. Let me thank my little daughter Babu here for never ceasing to be sunshine of my life. She runs a bit as well. Recently, she even made me do a little workout together in the evening. I guess she was mainly trying to test out the new headlamp on her forehead!

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The streets of Prague are sometimes a challenge to run.  As their surfaces are very often paved with cobblestones, one must mind their steps carefully. The unevenness combined with the unhappy slippery features when wet or frozen might be good ballet-training. Yet, at the same time, every runner appreciates the benefits of our streets: regulations restrict most traffic out of the historical center, the town is generally very safe and the premises are all neat and clean.

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But now, the Prague Castle looms right above the rest of the historical city center. I took the opportunity to kneel down (in a manner of medieval knights) to express my gratitude to my girlfriend for, amongst many things, standing by me in so many respects. She also encouraged me to start a little business of my own, Running Tours Prague, so some day you may find yourself jogging all of these streets with me. Who knows?

How about running up the hill now? It is a December evening so one can enjoy the solitude of an almost deserted downtown as we left the rush districts of Christmas shopping well behind us. It’s getting dark so soon now. It always takes me by surprise. It takes approximately 80 meters of ascent to get up to the castle. Some say that the castle is “outrageously outsized.” True.  Many ruling egomaniacs of the past felt that they just could not let the inherited complex intact, but had to add something to it to immortalize themselves instead. So it grew throughout the centuries. A well-balanced cocktail of all of the architectural styles that ever existed in Europe, it is extremely easy to look at 24/7, as a smart web of impressive lights wraps around it after the sun trickles away.

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You won’t see many runners here. The locals prefer large parks instead and tourists stay down at river level where most of the hotels are. The tallest of the Castle’s towers invites you to climb up the stairs as do several other historical downtown towers. The 3600 view is breathtaking. What a shame to run out of camera battery before making it to the top!

programPETp-smallSpeaking of rejuvenating aspects, one can jog for an extra three minutes to the western rim of the city and make it to the almost deserted “New World” corner. The overwhelming peacefulness of the tiny baroque settlement of several curved lanes makes you yearn to spend the rest of your life living right there! It reminds me of a Big Brothers Big Sisters branch called “Program Pet P,” whose Prague branch I used to manage ages ago. Some of the activities took place right here.

Anyways, we have to be moving on, so why not employ the western wind (90% of wind comes to Prague from the West) and rush back downhill to the Vltava River bank? At Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter), heaven for artists, students and foreign embassies, we could join the locals and treat ourselves to all the leisure activities like café/bar crawling (throughout the year), Frisbee-tossing or having a riverside picnic during the summer. We still have the river to cross to finish our run. The wind is blowing pretty strong today and I feel already a bit chilly.

To conclude, many traveling runners do their workouts on their own, either by running the main roads to and fro or, a wise option, by keeping to the riverside and running south using perhaps the most popular running path with the local sporting population. Halfway, they turn around and head back into the center as there are many cozy cafés along the way, some of which are housed on the upper decks of the anchored boats. Here, they can finish their course by rewarding themselves with a beer or two. Mulled wine works well in the winter. Afterwards, all should head for a hot shower which where I am going now! Before I end, I’d add my last “THANKS,” this time to all of you who read this post. And should you come to Prague one day, I’ll be glad to show you around – on the run of course!

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If I’m Not Back In An Hour, Come Find Me

Hourglass_by_LekaTheSnakeThe title of this post is a phrase that can be heard often around our house. While it’s generally stated tongue in cheek, the phrase itself actually has some very frightening undertones. While I still consider myself to be in my youth, and with this comes more risk and less thinking, I’ve recently started to worry a bit more about safety in all aspects of life. Perhaps this comes from watching my almost two-year-old treat our house as his personal climbing wall.

While it’s always smart to tell someone what route you plan on running, especially if it’s longer distance, what happens if that person can’t find you for some reason? If you’re like me, running with a drivers license makes no sense and is annoying.

RoadIDLogo_Color_Vertical_JPGThis is where the friendly folks at Road ID can help. The Road ID is probably one of the biggest no-brainer running purchases that you can make. It’s also one product that you will hope you never have to use!

Road ID’s mission is two-fold:

#1 – Educate outdoor enthusiasts about the importance of wearing ID.

#2- Provide all athletes with innovative identification products that they will want to include as part of their gear.

Road ID creates rugged identification gear for outdoor athletes so they can be identified in case of emergency or accident. Their line of customized IDs is an integral part of any active person’s gear and can be worn on the wrist, shoe, ankle or around the neck. The products themselves are very affordable ($17 – $29) and create another layer of safety for athletes everywhere. They have many different custom options to make your Road ID custom to you.

Did I mention the friendly folks at Road ID? They were kind enough to send a Road ID my way for my wrist, and it will (once this shoulder is healed) become a part of my outside running wardrobe. I was able to customize the text with the phone numbers of important people to contact in Ames. I also had to add a little humor to my Road ID. Let’s just hope nobody actually get’s a kick out of it outside of this post! (Click on the image to enlarge)

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Did I mention the friendly folks at Road ID? They were also kind enough to send along a Road ID for my road dog Lex. You never know when this crazy character will get loose.

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Being a bit of a tech nerd, I do wonder if the folks at Road ID are looking into connecting their products to an app of sorts. Personally, I think it would be a fantastic addition if loved ones could open up a Road ID app and locate their runner based on where the device is.

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Note Following Post: They do have an app!

The all new Road ID App is a great tool for runners, cyclists, hikers, walkers and basically anyone not glued to their couch. With amazing features like eCrumb Tracking, a Stationary Alert, and a custom Lock Screen creator, the Road ID App is your perfect training partner. With the ability to track your workouts in real time, your friends and family can stay better connected whenever you head outdoors…delivering peace of mind like never before.

Please Note: The App is not a replacement for a physical Road ID and is intended to be a supplemental safety device only. For identification purposes, it’s important that you wear (on your person) an ID that First Responders can easily access in an emergency.

Simply put, safety is important. Road ID provides peace of mind.


5 Really Annoying Things That Runners Do

content_annoying-soundsOne of my personal rules for life is to laugh at myself. Often. We are all ridiculous human beings, and I personally enjoy being in the upper echelon of this category. Runners are an interesting breed. Our prideful behavior seems normal to us, but annoying to many. Let’s be honest.

That being said, I present to you five really annoying things that runners do. I proudly have done three of these.

1. Mileage stickers

Somebody has made a killing off of convincing runners that they need to display the furthest mileage that they have ever run on their vehicle. Doesn’t it seem backwards to show this off as you sit in your motorized vehicle? For the non-runners out there, this is not the car’s MPG, but I can understand the confusion. Some smart car marketer could have fun with that.

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Better your car than your body I guess. Man, this guy has really capped his potential.

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My all-time favorite anti-running car sticker was created by probably the funniest individual on the Internet – The Oatmeal. His “The Terrible And Wondeful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances” piece is absolutely hilarious. It laid the groundwork for this beautifully hilarious sticker.

blerch_bumper_on_white_large2. Connect routes to social media

Oh, you went on a run over lunch using your route-tracking app? That’s cool. Here’s a secret. It is cool, but only to you! I love me some social media, but I must admit, sharing routes is out of control. The app makers have made it WAY too easy to share this mundane information.

Having said that, if you’re going to do it, go big or go home. I told you I’ve committed many of these crimes.

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3. Wear running shoes and dress clothes (together)

Those new running shoes are actually really cool, until you paired them with your monkey suit. I know we’re all strapped for time, but we all have the time to keep the business on top, party on the bottom scenario from happening. Trying to provide your dogs some support while you’re at the airport on a business trip? May I suggest some Dr. Scholl’s for your dress shoes?

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4. Pay for drinks with sweaty legal tender

I totally did this a few weeks back. I was on a long run (that I did not share on social media), and I was desperate for a beverage. So what did I do? Without skipping a beat, I walked into a convenience store, grabbed a coconut water (for some ungodly reason – that stuff is turrible), walked up to the cashier and proceeded to pull a few sweat-drenched dollar bills out of the pocket that is so conveniently hidden in the front of my pants. How I thought this was a reasonable thing to do, I don’t know. Not to mention, I only had one sip of that nasty beverage. Who knows, those dollar bills may now be in your pocket. Have fun with that.

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5. Leave random nipple band-aids around the house

Sounds like a personal problem, I know. Because it is. This entry would be fully-sponsored by my loving wife. Yes, I’m not ashamed to share that I’m a bit perky and enjoy the extra comfort on a long-run. But somehow, my pepperoni protectors never make it to the garbage.

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So that’s my list of five annoying things that runners do. What would you add?

Having said all of this, I’m confident to say that the annoying things that runners do aren’t half as annoying as those darn Crossfitters. Let’s be honest.


6.5 Miles In Charlottesville, Virginia With Karen McKenzie

1098299_498241906935199_1050594476_nWritten By Karen McKenzie

Hi! I’m Karen McKenzie from Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m the founder and creative director of Rhyme & Reason Design and avid runner, soccer player, triathlete and aficionado of all things outdoors (when the weather’s warm at least!)

This Thanksgiving, my husband Ben and I took a 6.5-mile ‘Good Run’ through Charlottesville in an effort to earn our turkey and share some love. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and a number of other local landmarks that are near and dear to my heart as a native ‘townie.’ On our run, we thanked those who sponsored us by donating to one of two organizations that we’ve worked with in the past: Mother’s Heart, an organization that seeks to bring girls out of the nightmare of sex slavery in Nepal, and Soccer in the Streets, a non-profit which empowers kids who lack opportunities to become independent young adults by building character and self-reliance through soccer.

Stop One:

At a crisp 23 degrees, we bundled up bright and early Thanksgiving morning. Our first stop was just around the corner at the local high school’s graffiti wall. Who better to thank at this institution of creativity and public (legal) expression but my company, Rhyme & Reason Design. Thank you R&R for being a wonderful place to work, for fostering professional growth and for being a constant outlet for beautiful and smart design.

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Stop Two
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Just another half mile up the road, we stopped at our second destination–the whale tail–to thank John and Ida Swenson. Part of the local Art in Place program, the whale tail has become one of the longest running installations (although replaced and repaired a couple times). Thank you John and Ida for being such supportive family members, for the delicious pies (did I count 7 this year?) and for always being a little quirky.

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Stop Three:

Our third stop was a bit out of the way, but worth it. We ran through the University of Virginia grounds to Klockner Stadium to thank AtlantaBen, my husband’s real estate company that offers amazing real estate services to Atlantans. We snuck on to the field and took a celebratory lap on turf that’s been graced by the likes of Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna and John Harkes. As an extreme lover of soccer, there was no better way to say thank you to AtlantaBen. Goooooaaaaallll!

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Stop Four
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Probably our most recognizable stop along the way–the Rotunda. Originally designed and built in the 1820s by Thomas Jefferson as the academic heart of the “academical village,” the Rotunda is one of the best known buildings on grounds, perched atop the lawn that stretches down to Old Cabell Hall. Here we stopped to thank my nephews, Cade and Jesse, the two coolest (and cutest) dudes on the planet. Thank you for sharing your lasers with us and playing Star Wars all holiday long, for your love of cheese pasta and for sweet hugs. Also, thank you to Scott and Cindy for donating on their behalf!

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Shenanigans:


For those of you familiar with the University of Virginia, you know that streaking the lawn is part of college life and practically required as a right of passage during the undergraduate experience. Ben and I have not actually streaked the lawn, but Ben got about halfway there! Perhaps if it had been a touch warmer, we would’ve committed.

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Stop Five
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Just a hop, skip and a jump down the lawn, we stopped at one of the many statues of Thomas Jefferson. As the figurehead of the university, he is one of the most highly regarded historical leaders in Charlottesville. Sponsored by my brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Tiffany, thank you Powerline Dale Davis Pearson for being the most lovable King Charles pup around.

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Stop Six
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For our sixth stop, we headed to the Corner to the famous White Spot, a classic diner known for its Gus Burger, a burger all the way with a fried egg on top. Popular in the wee hours of the night, this is always on a visitor’s must-do list. When Ben and I got married in 2010, we sent my in-laws there, and they’ve been talking about it ever since! Thank you Cheryl and Carl for being wonderful parents, for always keeping us well fed and for sponsoring all our crazy endeavors!

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Stop Seven:


Books are cool. Sponsored by my librarian mom, we headed another mile to the University’s Health Sciences Library where she works in Historical Collections. Thank you Mom for being you, for encouraging learning and reading at all ages and for joining the rest of the Pearsons on the good side. Go Blue!

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Stop Eight
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We didn’t have to go far for our second-to-last stop at one of the newer buildings on grounds, the Claude Moore Medical Education Building where my dad works. Thanks Dad for your dedication to medical education, for shaping med students into top-of-the-line doctors and for running with me no matter how cold it is outside.

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Stop Nine:

Home stretch! With only a mile and a half to go, we left the University and headed towards Fry’s Spring Beach Club, another local landmark steeped in history and personal memories. This is the pool where I made some of my closest friends, spending each summer swimming laps, playing spades, and saving up quarters for grilled cheese sandwiches and chip burgers from the snack bar. It’s where I held my first job and even had a surprise faux wedding with friends in full costume. Fittingly, this stop was sponsored by my best friend, Kate, who shared in most of the memories listed above. Thank you Kate Sparkle Pants Merriam for being the best friend on earth, for being cooler than anyone else I know and for your endless appreciation of adventures and shenanigans.

A fun historical snippet about the club (don’t worry, it’s chlorinated now)

“The Fry’s Spring Beach Club opened for business in the summer of 1921. The late local writer, Booten Herndon, recalled going through the gate on opening day. He was six years old at the time. His mother signed him up for swimming lessons. The pool water was unfiltered and untreated. People loved it. Going to “The Beach” became the thing to do. Mr. Dettor expanded his offerings to include changing rooms. Out-door “bathing”, evening dance parties, moonlit strolls along shadowy lanes, all offered among the trees at the town’s outer edge: it is no wonder that a common joke from this time was, “Charlottesville is divided into two parts: Charlottesville proper, and Fry’s Spring improper.” The Club prospered through the next decades.”

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With our journey complete, we headed home to shower and stuff our faces with a delicious Thanksgiving meal. What a perfect start to a day dedicated to thankfulness. If anyone’s ever in the ‘ville, feel free to follow our steps. It’s not just a Good Run, it’s a great run.

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If you’d like to learn more about the non-profits sponsored, you can visit their websites.

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4.1 Miles in Tampa, Florida with Gabbie Rimmaudo

Gabby_RimmaudoWritten By Gabbie Rimmaudo

My path to becoming a runner has been quite the adventure. In the Fall of 2012, I moved to Tampa, Florida to begin my journey in the College Student Affairs program at the University of South Florida. During this time, I was facing a lot of transition and changes in my life. It was at that time that I needed an outlet and something to put my energy towards, and I found that through running. I signed up for running clubs, ran with my roommate and committed to running a race a month. Currently I am training for a half marathon in a month and then the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge this February where I will run a 10k one day and half marathon the second day. I am doing the challenge in support of one of my favorite causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and have been fundraising along the way! Let me show you around the place that I began to call my own and that helped me on my running path.

I start every one of my runs in my neighborhood. Located in South Tampa, I am in a great area! Within my reach, I have the bay, restaurants, shopping, coffee shops and more, all within walking distance. It is at this time that I want to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to be able to live so far from home in a great location. Originally from New Jersey, moving down here was quite the project. I would not have been able to relocate and have this amazing experience without my parents.

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The next stop on my run was for a brief photo opportunity. It is the view from one of the bridges on Bayshore Boulevard. From here you can see the Tampa Bay Convention Center in the distance and Tampa General Hospital.

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For my next thank you, I made it a point to stop at the Gasparilla Pirate Boat on Bayshore Boulevard. Gasparilla is a pirate festival held in Tampa late January each year. The history of Gasparilla is that pirate Jose Gaspar took over the city and madness ensued. On Gasparilla, large floats take over Bayshore Boulevard for a great parade. Everyone is dressed like pirates to watch the parade, and it is a great time. Here, I took the time to thank my USF family. I thought it was appropriate to stop here because this is something so unique to Tampa and something that I was a part of with some of my cohort members last year. My USF family, including my cohort members, co-workers, friends I made in Tampa, etc., have allowed me to learn from them, grow as a person and a professional and have really helped to make Tampa feel more like home. So thank you!

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My next stop was just a random spot along the bay. Sometimes, running on Bayshore makes you feel as if you can take on all. It is an easy run, little elevation and is beautiful. On today’s run, I even saw a few dolphins! On these runs, I reflect often and use it as a way to clear my mind. At this point, I would like to thank my George Mason University family. I graduated from GMU in May 2012, and I can honestly say that everyone there shaped me in some way, shape or form. I think about my friends, advisers, mentors and many others quite often, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them! GMU shaped me into who I am today, and I would be wrong in not thanking them.

(Don’t mind my squinting!)

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I took this panorama of the bay to provide perspective of what the view is like on this run. Everyday, I notice something different about this location. Bayshore Boulevard is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world, with a length of approximately 4.5 miles. No matter the time of the day, you can always find runners, walkers, bikers, families and more.

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After running on Bayshore, I reached South Howard Avenue. South Howard is lined with restaurants, bars, Starbucks and more. I made a point to stop in front of one of my favorite restaurants in South Tampa, Daily Eats. Daily Eats is awesome throughout the day, and they have a great brunch. They serve breakfast all day and have amazing tater tots, shredder bowls and more. If you are ever in Tampa, this is a great place to stop and grab a meal with a good friend. This is why I made it a point to stop and thank all of my friends here. Daily Eats is great for catching up on life, goals and great conversations with friends. I always make it a point to bring friends from out of town here. I truly am thankful for all of my friends, near and far. There are too many to name, but every one of my friends has given me something, whether it is a new way to look at something, support, a hug, a friend to run with, a person to listen or more, I am so thankful for all of my friends in my life!

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After this stop I headed home. When I got home, I realized that I had forgotten to take a picture of one of my last thank you signs, so I did it at home…oops! This thank you is one of the most important. Thank you to Zeta Tau Alpha. Joining ZTA in Fall 2008 was one of the best decisions of my life and has really shaped a lot in my life. Through ZTA, I made lifelong friendships, gave back to our amazing philanthropy of breast cancer awareness and education and have been able to live and guide my life by the values of the organization. I take a picture of my thank you with my Disney Princess Half Marathon medal for a few different reasons. The first being that this was my first half marathon and one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. The support from my ZTA sisters really helped me cross that finish line. Also, in February, I will have the honor of running this race again with a few of my ZTA sisters, Amanda and Michelle.

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I want to take the time and thank all of you today for reading this post. Thank you to Steve Good for giving me this opportunity to reflect and express gratitude towards the ones I care about most through running! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this four mile run around Tampa Bay!

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Don’t Let Running Get In The Way Of Reading – The Run-n-Read

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 10.34.35 PMThere’s never enough time. Each one of us is faced with decisions each day that determine how we spend our 24 hours. Often, time constraints can be frustrating, knowing that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. This constraint forces us to leave many things that we want to do behind because of other priorities.

I’ve always prided myself in my time management skills, and I love finding solutions that save time. For me, saving a few minutes, hours or days frees up time to do more of what I love. Recently, I committed myself to a training regiment to prepare for eight marathons in eight days across Iowa in May of 2014. While the feat in itself will be an accomplishment, the most difficult aspect to the challenge is managing my time as I properly train. I’ve had to get creative to “find” enough time for proper training for the event. Balancing training with being a husband, a father, eating, sleeping, working and having fun has and will require some ingenuity.

With everything that is going on in my life, I’ve had to give up or drastically reduce the time I spend doing things that aren’t of high priority right now. I love reading, but I have had to cut down on the time I spend with my nose in a book, magazine, etc. While I could listen to books on my phone while running, I’ve never enjoyed doing this. For reading to be beneficial to me, I need to actually read, not listen.

I also enjoy new technologies and reading about them. I’ve always admired those who work to find technology-based solutions to common problems. When I came across Mashable’s article about Weartron’s Run-N-Read device, I was instantly intrigued. The mission of the device is simple – Don’t let running get in the way of reading. A small team at Weartrons is developing a device that allows you to read on your tablet as you run on a treadmill.

Now, if you’ve ever tried reading while running on a treadmill, you understand how difficult it can be. It’s very difficult to keep focused on the words that you’re trying to read. Simply put, the Run-N-Read device clips on to a headband or shirt, and based on your movement, moves the text on your tablet in a way that syncs with your running motion. So, while your head bounces up and down as you run, so does the text. Here’s a video explanation.

Whoa! Brilliant!

My first reaction was that this could be a solution not leaving reading behind. Iowa winters are cold, so I plan to be on my treadmill often in the upcoming months.

I immediately reached out to Weartrons to see how I could be of help testing and promoting this product. Within hours, they responded to my inquiry, mentioning that they be willing to send me the device to test and review on the blog.

Weartrons is currently in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds they need to further develop the product and get it in the hands of people everywhere. If you enjoy reading and running, but many times don’t have the time to do both, I’d encourage you to support this team in their noble efforts. They plan to ship the devices this December.

I look forward to receiving the device and giving it a test run. I truly hope it will be my solution to keeping my bookworm title. I will be writing about my experience, and I hope that the device will also add great value to other readers of this blog.

Tonight, my hat is off to the Weartrons team for developing a product that has great potential.


6.72 Miles in Topeka, Kansas With Chris Hill

Chris_Hill_ProfileHi, I’m Chris Hill and today I’ll be running you through a few of the sights and sounds of Topeka, Kansas. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that if we documented all of the amazing places in Topeka, Kansas, I’d still be running! In all seriousness, there are quite a few places in Topeka and across the Midwest that are worth slowing down for. I chose a few of those places as I planned my running route. I must say that the initial plan for my thank you’s changed as I began my run, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

I began my route on the Washburn University campus in front of the Phi Delta Theta House. This house was my home for four years while I was at Washburn as an undergraduate. I paused in front of the house to say an initial thank you to three of my closest friends and fellow Phis. Rick LeJuerrne and Clint Whitney were both on the rush team for the chapter the spring and summer leading into my freshman year. We were all from the same hometown so they knew me already (which could have either helped or hurt my chances of being invited to join!) and made sure that I felt right at home during my rush experiences. These two along with Ross Hendrickson, a pledge brother, are my best friends. They all have helped me through many trials and tribulations in my life. I am lucky to have them in my life and our friendship really began in the house right behind me in this picture.

Phi Delt Thouse Thank You

I ran across campus, running the same route that I made for four years on my way to football games and campus events. I paused to take a couple of photos of the new and improved football stadium. As I rounded campus and ran past a few of the sorority houses, I started to rethink my initial plan for my thank you signs. Getting back to what I stated earlier, my initial plan was to spend my run thanking the 10 Kansas National Guard members who gave their lives in service to our country while serving in our two most recent conflicts. As I was trying to take a photo I felt that it was a little too informal for me to hold up names and photos of these 10 heroes. So, I abandoned that plan – not to thank them for their service but to take the photos of me thanking them along the way. Instead, I’m adding all of their names and photos to the end of this blog as a small way of saying thank you for their ultimate sacrifice.

Washburn Football Stadium

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Next I ran onto 17th Street, just off of the Washburn campus heading towards a couple of locations that brought back college memories. First was the Kwik Shop, a convenience store if you may be wondering. Many trips were made to this store, and a lot of coins were spent on drinks, snacks and a particular video game. Thank you to one pledge brother in particular who spent many hours with me playing that game – Brother Scott White, thank you for this memory!

Kwik Shop

Just around the corner from the Kwik Shop is Tortilla Jacks, a Topeka and Washburn favorite for Mexican food. Many tacos were eaten at that place, and many more were picked up and brought back to the Phi Delt house for Sunday afternoon football games. I was first introduced to this place at a rush party – Thank you to Todd Jensen for this introduction. But to thank Todd for a taco is not nearly enough. Thank you Todd for introducing me to what Phi Delta Theta is all about. Todd was our Phikeia Educator (in those days called Pledge Master) and he was all about that job. He lived and breathed Phi Delt, and I would wager that he still feels much the same way about our great brotherhood. Last year at our Founder’s Day celebration, Todd was awarded his Silver Legion pin. He spoke about how we are Phis for life and while it may take some work, we owe it to each other and to Phi Delta Theta to continue to stay connected and to give back, wherever and whenever we can. Thank you Todd for my introduction to and education about Phi Delta Theta.

T Jacks

After I forced myself to continue running instead of staying for tacos, I continued down Washburn Ave. and then circled around the Topeka and Shawnee County Library – a place I love to take my kids. They are developing an appreciation for reading and learning, and this place helps with that. I’m still working on their appreciation of the quiet aspect of a library!

Topeka Library

After circling the library I was now heading east on 10th Street approaching one of Topeka’s two hospitals. I paused here to take a photo of St. Francis Hospital. This is the location where both of my children were brought into the world. I am so blessed that they are healthy, happy (generally or as much as 3 and 5-year-olds can be) and they are pretty normal kids. Considering who their father is, that’s pretty good.

St Francis Hospital

As I continued on 10th Street, my next stop was planned to be Topeka High School. This is a landmark building for the Topeka community. It is a grand old building that has stood the test of time in our community. While I did not attend this school, a number of my friends did as well as their kids.

Topeka High

Just down the street from Topeka High School are the offices of Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Topeka. This was an unplanned stop, but as I was running by I felt the need to stop. I served on the board of directors for a number of years completing my service as president of the board. It was a great experience being able to help guide this great organization. My children are lucky enough to have two parents who are actively involved in their lives. Many children in our community do not have such a gift. Being a part of this organization was one small way that I was able to help some of the kids in our community.

Big Brothers-Sisters

About a mile after the Topeka High School stop, I approached the State Capitol of Kansas. Currently under construction, this facility is a real jewel of our city and state. The beautiful bronze dome can be seen through the scaffolding. This formerly green tarnished dome is now back to its true color. On top of the dome is the statue, Ad Astra, taken from the state motto, Ad astra per aspera, translated “to the stars through difficulties.”

State Capital

Across the street from the State Capitol building is the church that I attend. I stumbled upon this church when I first moved back to Topeka after hearing the former pastor speak at an event at my base. Dr. Mike Chamberlain spoke on why prayer matters. That sermon still stays with me to this day. Since then, I have attended this church and my children now enjoy attending Sunday school here as well. The current pastor, Dr. Bruce Emmert is someone I’d like to thank along with my children at this stop. This is a very large church with three sizable services each Sunday. Despite its size, Bruce notices things and takes the time to check in with his congregation when they least expect it. I’ve personally experienced this from Bruce when he made a point to check in with me on several occasions just to make sure things were going okay. My kids are also thanked at this stop as they have made my involvement in the church a much more rewarding experience. Taking them to youth events and seeing their joy within their respective Sunday school classes has renewed my faith and expanded my overall church experience.

Methodist Chuch

As I was circling the State Capitol building, I paused to take a photo of another Topeka Landmark, The Jayhawk Tower. This beautiful old building is now home to state offices, private business offices, a restaurant, barber shop and theater that will hopefully soon be renovated. The owner of this facility, along with several hotels in the area, is fellow Phi Jim Parish. Jim is a very involved member of the local alumni association, a past president of the Kansas Beta Housing Corporation as well as a past winner of the Raymond L. Gardner Alumnus of the Year for Phi Delta Theta. I’d like to thank Jim for his dedication to Phi Delta Theta and for his thoughtfulness and generosity over the years, both to me personally and to Kansas Beta.

JayHawk Tower

Across the street from the State Capitol building is the State Supreme Court. It is a beautiful facility that was built after the Supreme Court and its offices outgrew the office space originally built into the state capitol. In 1978, the Supreme Court moved across the street to this facility.

KS Supreme Court

Following the State Supreme Court building, and about a mile and half later, I was at the Monroe School. This is now a National Park commemorating the historic Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which set aside school segregation with Chief Justice Earl Warren concluding “…in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Monroe_School

Heading back towards Washburn University, I thought about my running route. It was just a few years ago that I recall sitting at the Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters building during an Educational Committee Planning meeting and the subject of running and Steve Good’s upcoming marathon. At the time I thought that was something I would never put on any bucket list of mine, never mind want to do it more than once. Fast-forward a few years to Steve’s Iron Phi initiative. It was due to this, simply looking for an event that I thought would challenge me and be semi-impressive enough to get my friends and family to donate some money towards my goal, that I choose a half marathon for my Iron Phi event. Since that time I have continued running. That event and the Iron Phi completion opened my mind to the joy of running.  Since that initial event, I have completed several more half marathons, 10ks and my first full marathon this past April. I look forward to completing my second marathon next spring. Thank you Steve!

Following 17th Street West, I was now approaching Washburn’s campus. I choose to end my run at the Phi Delt house, the place I began both my “good run” and my fraternity and college life. Prior to ending my run at the chapter house, I ran to the middle of campus to make one final stop. I stopped at the Vietnam memorial that is in front of Morgan Hall. While this memorial is in particular a memorial to those who served in the Vietnam conflict, it also serves as a memorial to all men and women who serve. It is here that I want to thank the ten members of the Kansas National Guard who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Thank you and God bless these men and their families.

Vietnal Memorial

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Thank you Steve for this opportunity journal my run and point out some of the great landmarks in Topeka. It was a very cathartic experience, as running generally is, that I really enjoyed. If any of you find yourselves in the Topeka area and are in the mood for a good run, drop me a line!

Running Route


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