I’m thrilled to announce that I have been selected once again to serve as an Official Blogger for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

1398484_10201668949759306_1769179088_oThose of you who have been reading for a year or so may remember that I also had the privilege to serve as an Official Blogger for the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In typical Joe style, I submitted my application approximately 15 minutes before the midnight deadline with the hope that my weight loss journey and my transformation into an avid runner might win over the selection committee. To my shock and delight, I found out via e-mail that I was selected right in the midst of a frantic search for a set of missing car keys that eventually turned up a few minutes later!

I had a great time documenting my training on my way to the starting line of my first half marathon. Many of my training posts from 2013 can be found here and my race recap can be found in the newly updated “Joe’s Running” section of the blog that is located at the top of the page. By God’s grace, I was able to successfully complete my first half marathon!

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Another benefit of serving as an Official Blogger was that I had the privilege to meet many great people who have been very supportive and encouraging over the past year. Many of those who are in the picture below are returning to once again serve as Official Bloggers for this year’s race. If you’re looking for some folks who can provide you with training tips and inspiration, you won’t find a better group of people!

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I am looking forward to chronicling my training for this year’s half marathon as I pursue a new half marathon PR. (For you non-runners, PR=Personal Record. I should probably start a Glossary section on here!) I delayed writing this post because I was unsure about the race that I was going to run. For several weeks, I have been bouncing back and forth between running the half marathon and the full marathon. After doing my first full marathon last fall, I was immediately up for another full marathon and I thought that running a full marathon in my favorite city in the world would be incredible.

However, I took a long, hard look at my schedule for the spring and realized that there was no way I would be able to start and maintain a proper training schedule for a full marathon in the midst of moving into our first home, teaching three classes at Tri-C, working full-time at my other job, and volunteering with Sheila’s legal clinic.

Therefore, I’ve decided that I will attempt to improve upon my half marathon PR of 1:59:10 that I set at the 2013 Towpath Marathon Half in November!

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I still can’t believe I ran a sub-2 half marathon last November. I thought that pulling off a sub-2 would be a reach for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Sometimes the best things in life are completely unexpected!

I’m anticipating that this year’s training cycle will be a bit different from last year’s training cycle. In 2013, I was still a relatively new runner and completing my training program was a new and exciting adventure that was often filled with wonder and amazement. I did many of my long runs on Sundays, and I would often find myself getting antsy towards the end of my weekly church service because I was very excited to get to my weekly long run! Even though many of my long runs were done in cold and\or rainy conditions, I looked forward to each week’s long run because they would bring new distance PRs and training runs that ended in waves of joy, triumph, and accomplishment (most of the time, anyway!). I didn’t focus much on time and simply ran my training runs with the goal of completing them without stopping to walk.

This year, I anticipate that I will focus more on time and pacing in order to ensure that I will get to the starting line with a realistic chance of setting a new half marathon PR.

If you’re someone who is embarking upon their running journey for the first time, I hope that you find my past and future training posts to be helpful as you move towards the starting line. For the veterans that stumble across my page, I hope that this greenhorn will be able to suggest a tip or two that might help you achieve a new PR (and if you’re a blogger, be sure to leave a comment with your blog name so that I can learn from you too!).

Regardless of your ability level or experience, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope that you’re as pumped as I am for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!