26.2 Miles

09 Nov

“26.2 miles will take something from you, deep down, a part inside of you. You will, however, live a little more each day after that.” – Rookie

Happy Friday guys!  And Happy Veterans Day.  I want to thank each and every one of you that have served our country and allowed us to have so many things we take for granted every day.

I wanted to use today to discuss my running recaps and why running means so much to me.
As you can also read in the About Me section, I  feel in love with running during my sophomore year of college, while attending Indiana University. (Go Hoosiers).  I began to jog a mile or two a day in order to drop a little weight, and soon I was up to 3 or 4 miles a day in a span of less than 6 months, and was feeling better than ever.  Running was also a bonus inorder to eat greasy food and drink pop beer, like a typical college kid.  During this time I also attempted to mix in weight training and lifting weights, however it just never ever appealed to me, as much as running.  It was addicting, and loved to have a habit that was GOOD for me.  The next spring I signed up for my first 5K, in Bloomington, IN.  It was the Habitat 5K, and helped support the local Habitat for Humanity,  which my sister Maria was very much a part of during her four years at IU as well.

image (House Maria Helped build for Habitat)

Thus, after competing in my first race, the race bug caught hold, and wanted to run more, farther, faster, and and most of the race entry fees support a good cause!

So I continued to run father, more often, and added more 5K’s to my regimen. Since then I have participated many different types, lengths, and in many different locations, however, one of the most fun took place back in my hometown in Portland, IN, the Firecraker 5K, which kicks off all the festivities for the Forth of July.


Why I Run


The reasons behind my passion for running has evolved over the last few years.  As you can read here, I first ran to better my health, to lose weight and to feel better mentally and physically. After being a plump kid all my life, I loved how running helped me drop weight pretty quickly.  The more I ran, the more I loved it, and the the more weight I lost.  However, the fact that it helped me lose weight part so quickly become more and more important to me, and even though I ran more often, I began restricting my diet much more, and the weight then quickly fell off. On top of my job making me unhappy, depriving my body of the food it loved, and all the running, I began to become almost “sickly” skinny.


Thus, my eating habits DID not coincide with my running habits, but I ran more and farther to lose more and more weight.  Its weird, but if I would eat something I thought was “bad” for me, I would immediately wanted to go run it off. Running now had a new and 2nd meaning to me.  Now running was a tool to make myself feel better for eating certain foods.  Nevertheless, at the peak of my eating issues, I would run as much as normal but eat less and less, and I had just enough energy to run every morning and none left to do anything else I loved. My daily runs, were lethargic, took twice as long to go the same distance, and I really did not have the muscle or endurance strength to run like I used to.  It took everything I had to run, and the had no energy left to  to do the fun things I used to: going out to eat, visiting friends and family, even go for a walk with Britt after work.  All my energy was saved for my running.  I became pretty unsociable and shut myself off from many amazing people, whom I have reached back out to and apologized, and for those of you whom I have still yet to talk to, I am gravely sorry.

However, lets skip forward to the beginning of this year (2011), I started to get things back into perspective and back on the right path health wise.  With a new outlook on life, running again became FUN, and slowly but surely with proper food and eating regimen, I began to regain strength, endurance, and longer running distances.  Running now had a third and new meaning for me.  Running now is all for my mental health.  I start at 4:45am every morning, and it really helps me start my day.  It is so mentally and spiritually cleansing, but more importantly its “MY” time.  No phones, no internet, no bills, no problems to worry about.  Just me, the road, and time I have to clear my mind.  It really is like my caffeine in the mornings.  And when I do not get to run or when I take a day off from running, my day is soo slow and I function different than I do when I do run


Mini 500

As many of you know, we live in downtown Indianapolis, IN, which is also home to the countries largest half Marathon, the 500 Mini Marathon.  Seeing that the Start/Finish line is right out our back door, and little push from some good friends I decided to stretch out my runs and train for my first half Marathon (13.1 miles).  Leading up to the race, I ran close to 10 miles per run on the weekends and thought I would be prepared.  Food and fueling my body made me pretty nervous though, and wanted to eat enough inorder for my body to not break down mid race.  So with some amazing help/guidance of great friends I took some mental notes and asked others how they fueled their body’s before a long race. Looking back, the way I WAS eating 2 months before the race I would have never been able to finish the half marathon. I took the suggestions and attempted to fuel properly with a mix of carbs, proteins, and liquids.

The morning of the race I awoke at 6am, which is sleeping in for me, and ate an chopped apple covered in peanut butter, a piece of toast, and a banana.  Then headed out the door! We lined up, and I really didn’t know what to expect, except I knew I wanted to RUN the whole thing without quitting ro walking.  The race started, and I was near the middle of the pack, and quickly ran upon SO many runners slower than me, and it made it a bit of a hassle running around the slower participants.  And near the middle of the race, it almost became frustrating zig zagging back and forth.  However, my anger quickly turned to excitement, as I forgot to look at the course map, and they were soon directing us on the Indianapolis Race Track! We ran on the same track as the Indy 500 cars race, and where so many spine chilling races have occurred.  It was my first time inside the speedway and I really got caught up in the surroundings, the ambiances, and the history of the “Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports”.  They let us run a WHOLE lap around the track, however, when I say lap, a lap around the track is 2.6 miles.  It was an amazing experience and really took your mind off the distance you were running.  However, after we left the track, I was coming up to mile 8 of 13.   We’ll just say mile 9, was my Achilles heel.  Nothing physical was wrong, and I felt great, but there is something about running your first LONG race, that you begin to have a fight with your own mind.  You mind says, whoa whoa, that’s enough, but you legs keep running.  And by mile 10, you have to keep your legs moving, because at that point my mind quit  and knew I had to fight to get to the finish line.  However, when I saw the maker for mile 11, and I knew the rest would be pretty easy.  I remembered there was a free BEER at the end for us, and kept reminding myself I would get a free beer, and bottle of chocolate milk.  Laugh all you want, but until you run those distances, you take ANY kind of inspiration to keep you going.


Well, there ya have it, I finished.  Tired, cold, and…tired.  I did it.  It was a great experience, but said several times, what the Hell did I do that for?  I told myself NEVER ever again will I run that far for fun.  Like I said, running to me is FUN, and when I was done, that felt that was the opposite of fun.  But running that far did come with a perk, the next 12 hours was spent eating, and eating…..everything! I ate like I hadn’t eaten in days, and loved every minute of it, and never thought twice about one thing I ate.  Thus, the next morning was a little rough and felt a little weak so I took a break from running and got back to it Monday morning.  The one thing I took away form the race was that I needed to eat even MORE than I did before the race.  I ate right, but apparently not enough.  So after sleeping on it a few weeks, something inside got me thinking about running a race again, then someone sent me an invite to another marathon. I thought, no way..never again.  But the email and invite resonated with me, and thought, “Why not?”  So I signed up for another half marathon.

Cameral Half Marathon

So there it was, June 8th, 2011 I got the email from the Marathon committee telling me to come pick up my packet for the race on Saturday.  I knew I could delete the email and back out, or move full speed ahead and start preparing myself both mentally, and physically.  I took what I learned from the first marathon, along with a few more tips from my running buddies and took it with a full head of steam, even getting excited about this one.  I ate better, psyched myself up more, and was much more prepared.

The race gun sounded, and we were off, however, unlike the 500 Mini, this race was up in the town Carmel, IN.  A smaller, quaint, classy, and a bit more relaxed racing than the downtown.  The course ran mostly in wooded areas, and sub division’s, which made for a more clam, peaceful run.  I loved every minute of it, until…mile 9.  The same mile that almost made me quit the first race.  Again, it was not physical, it was mental.  Hitting the proverbial “running wall” at the same mile which hurt me last race, can be pretty crushing to your will power.  Not to mention it was close to 25 degrees warmer than the first marathon, made it even tougher.   I sweat, and lost more liquid than I did during the spring Mini 500.  But I pushed though mile 9 and 10, and kept telling myself I would get a big buffet for supper that night, inorder to help me finish stong.  Well, my mantra of eating a buffet helped, but still the remaining 3 miles were tougher than the end of the first race…..but…


I ran hard and finished, but honestly had so much more fun during this race.  I feel that due to the higher temperatures, which were close to 75 degrees vs the 40’s I ran in during the Mini, made the race a little tougher.  However, I was much more proud of what I just accomplished and being a bit more relaxed helped me to enjoy the race.

26.2 miles

“You become completely exhausted…. broken even and although you feel as if you cannot take a single step further… you keep going… you keep going to prove to yourself that you can. To push through the pain of it all because you know that in the end you will be re-built as a new person and that the discipline will bring you one of the most amazing accomplishments a runner can ever have.” -Runner World

As the summer lent its way to fall, and my eating habits closer to where they should be,

image(Homemade Icecream, how I missed you)

I ran a few more 5k’s and 10K’s throughout the summer and on October 15th, 2011 I ran my first FULL marathon. Honesty, running a marathon never crossed my mind.  However, A few friends asked if I was joining up to run the Monumental Downtown Indianapolis Marathon which was last week (Nov.2nd, 2011).    At the time I said no way, because I figured it would be below 40 degrees outside, and when the temperatures drop below 40, I become a wimp and I stay inside on a treadmill. It’s not so much I’m a pansy, but as a runner, when/if you do run outside when its cold, my body goes into extreme survival mode and pulls all the blood from my fingers and toes and moves itcloser to your core and heart, thus, I said thanks but no thanks. I blame my mother for being so so cold blooded, it could be 70 degrees in the middle of the summer and she still uses a blanket at night while she watches TV.  (Love you mother)  However, Brittni’s oldest brother Derrick just ran his first FULL, at the Chicago Marathon, (big ups to him), but his feat really had me stoked to try one myself. Thus, it did get me thinking about running a FULL marathon and I remembered seeing that there was one here in Indy coming up in the middle of October, but forgot about the race completely until I was driving by where the location of the Indianapolis Marathon was being held, and stopped in and said I’d love to get one more HALF marathon in this year.  As I was signing up, I had a change of heart…..I decided I was running the FULL, and not giving myself the time to rethink it!!! So I signed up and headed home to prepare my mind and body like any other race I ran in.

Why I choose to run a Full Marathon

With this being my first FULL Marathon, I didn’t tell a SOUL, I now feel bad for not even letting Britt know but I had a few reasons for this decision:

1) I wanted to do it for me, first and foremost.  To prove to myself I was back on the right track, health wise.  And to also show myself I had the will and spirit to do things much bigger than a running a race.

2) I wanted to do it for those who are unable because of a physical limitations.

3) I wanted to do it for those runners whom strive to run a Marathon and are still working their way up to that distance.

4) And lastly, I wanted to do it for those whom sit on the couch, out of shape, but long to be healthy and happy. I hoped my story would be an inspiration for them to get off the couch and make the choice to begin to exercise and change their life forever.

Very few people in the world can say they have even attempted to walk 26.2 miles, let alone run a full Marathon and really wanted to prove to myself I could do something of that magnitude.  The days leading up to it were like any other race.  However, as I stepped outside to drive to the race I noticed the wind and the cold…my two enemies.  So I grabbed my hat, gloves, and a pull over and headed out! This race vibe was also a little more laid back, but once we lined up, the anticipation increased and bang, the gun went off.  Now, I knew if I was going to finish the whole thing RUNNING, I would have to really not runn too quickly the first few miles, so I eased my pace and did not try and pass people.  The course was gorgeous, it ran through the Fort Harrison State Park in Lawrence, Indiana which was very relaxing and calming, and lent to make the race easier.


Thus, I was feeling pretty good and moved right along until MILE 8! Again I got to mile 8/9 and hit a wall, but said, “you have A LOT more to run, and too many people I would let down if I don’t push though”, and push on I did! That was until mile 12.5.  Again I didn’t check the course map, and had no idea at mile 12.5 the course split and if you wanted to just run the HALF marathon you could turn left, and if you wanted to run a DULL you could go straight and head even deeper into the state park.  Wow, what a choice, I could quit now, knowing I’d be proud of running another half marathon, but knew I would be even more proud if I ran the FULL.  So I laughed at the sign and kept running.  Again, it was a pretty relaxing course and once we passed the “split” where the smart ones half marathoners left the course, the runner began to get spread out and I never once had to deal with passing another runner.  By mile 16, I was wondering and wishing for the choice to turn left and only run the half half Winking smile  But luckily I was told I may need a little sustenance and bought some GU Gel packets I stached in my pocket for an emergency boost of energy.

“There is a moment in every race. A moment where you can either quit, fold, or say to yourself, ‘I can do this.'”
-Gatorade Ad

I was told to buy the plain and vanilla versions, and at mile 16 I ate one of the Vanilla.  I have NEVER tired using these during a race, and for those of you whom never tasted them:  they are very sweet, full of sugar, and need a chaser to help you swallow them.  So I sucked it down around one of the water stations and waited to see happened.  They did they job and helped for the next few miles.  Until about mile 19.  When I hit a wall again, and this was a BRICK wall.  I had one more GU packet left and suck it down, praying it would help push me to the finish.  However, I’m not sure if it was the GU or seeing the mile 20 sign.  I believe it was seeing the mile 20 sign that REALLY helped push me to the finish.  When you know you only have 6 more miles left, you start getting pretty emotional and think about what you are about to accomplish. Thus, your adrenalin again begins to pump and I ran the last 6 miles as strong as I ran the first 6.

image(That’s me in the blue, crossing the finish line)

You can click here, to see the rest of the pictures for proof I really ran in the race. However, it was so amazing to hear complete strangers cheering your name as you crossed the line.


The race was a once in a life time experience and something that I will take with me forever and where-ever I go.  No one can take it away from me.  The key take away for me was realizing what your body can really do if you push it hard enough. You have NO idea your will power, mental strength, and perseverance until you run 26.2 miles.  And for those reasons, I pray that each and everyone of you get the chance to participate in a Marathon once in your life.

Again I can not and will not thank those who showed me love and support leading up to  and after the race. With out your kind words and encouragement on my road back down the right path health wise, I would have never thought about running a Marathon.  A special thank to Brittni, for allowing the alarm clocks to go off at 4:45AM , never giving up on me, and for caring every day.  thanks to my parents and sister for their tough love and kind words, and pushing me to really rethink what I was doing to my body 8 months ago, and lastly Derrick Ristich, Dianna Fox, and Lori Bantz for giving me some solid tips and support during all my races this year.  For those whom I did not mention and should have, speak up so I can give credit where credit is due.

Finally,  for all those who have helped along this long journey, I cursed thought of all of you while I 26.2 miles and can not thank you enough, and I heard each one of your voices pushing me to the end.

“The marathon. How an average runner becomes more than average.”
-New Balance


Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “26.2 Miles

  1. Auntie Ann

    November 14, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Hi Nathan!!!

    Wow, just read your blog and got to hand it to you even though I heard about your great marathon, didn’t really realize and appreciate exactly what was involved to get you there.I am even prouder of you now!!! Glad everything is on track with your health and running.Loved seeing the pictures during the race too. Take care,

    Auntie Ann

    • cheeseandicecream

      November 14, 2011 at 3:01 am

      Thank you for the continued support! It was a pretty big feat for me and just wanted to share the day and the reason why it means so much!

  2. Joan Grott (@joangrott)

    November 24, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Wow! What a journey…so inspiring. You almost have me thinking that I should do a full marathon someday, but for now, I’m working toward my first Half! 🙂

    • cheeseandicecream

      November 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      Well thank you Ms. Grott but my journey is not near as inspirational as yours! I hope my readers visit your site here:, and about a true warrior and your continued success! But HECK YES! Get signed up for the half marathon! You have no idea your will power and strength you have until you run 13.1 miles for the first time! But thank you again and just keep running!


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