28th Birthday Run Recap (Better Late Than Never)

Well, another birthday passed (Sept. 23rd) and that meant another birthday run. For those who don't know, for the past 3 years now, on my birthday I have run 1 mile for every year old I am. I can't remember who implanted this thought into my head but it was one that I couldn't shake, I'm drawn to it. It helps me stay motivated and in good running shape throughout the year. This year had new difficulties, new learning experiences and new motivations. It was a really rough one, but I'm glad I kept on with my goal.

Like I said, my birthday run is a way to keep myself running throughout the year. But this year, things went a little unexpectedly. Our little baby Valor was due 5 days after my birthday, but ended up coming 3 weeks prior to my birthday. Kara and I don't ever do anything the easy way either. So what can be 3-4 days in the hospital turned into 2 weeks. A week before Valor was born, Kara's appendix ruptured which required surgery and a difficult recovery process as she was 35 weeks pregnant at that point. The surgery went great! I'm so thankful for the skilled surgeon and God's goodness as a ruptured appendix can often be fatal. Six days after the surgery, while still in the hospital, Valor's heart rate kept dropping and they had to take the baby out. That left Kara with some more recovery to do. Two major abdominal surgeries within six days! I'd rather run 28 miles... This makes my wife one of the toughest people I know to recover from that! All this to say, four weeks from my birthday, I was sitting in a hospital for 2 weeks, anxious about the safety of my wife and son, not sleeping, and definitely not running.

The run began a little later than planned, but in good spirits despite the inconsistent sleep the night before which is typical when adjusting to a new little person in your home. I decided on a route that I had traveled the majority of through other runs in the past several years. But this year, I decided on some path not previously explored. I needed this extra path to make my 28 mile mark, but still, incorporating trail that I had never set foot on was a bad idea. When I got to the new path, somewhere around mile 10, I discovered it to be tall(ish) grass which was a bummer. But, you just gotta see it as an adventure and go for it.

Despite my grassy letdown, the first half went great, making it past the half marathon mark in under 2.5 hours. But my legs were starting to feel the lack of training. My shoes were soaked from running through the tall grass that had not yet spent enough time in the sun to evaporate the dew. Mentally, I was feeling good, happy to be outside on a beautiful day and thankful that the previous month didn't end up in the worst case scenario. So, I sat down to eat a granola bar, and enjoyed the moment.

I was back to the tall grassy section and by the time I got there, the sun chased off the dew, leaving clover grass dry. Now that it was dry, running through it was more pleasant however, the dry clover was inviting to local honey bees. I didn't even notice the bees, or the clover for that matter, until I was already stung. Right on the ankle too! I would have preferred a sting in the face at this point! But, now I noticed the bees and instead of looking around at the beautiful prairie, I was looking down as if navigating technical terrain, careful of every foot placement. The mental chess game begins.

I usually don't have issues with cramping but the bee sting altered my gait a bit, causing some weird additions to my running form. So, more new pains. One of those pains that feels like you need to stretch out your muscles, but that doesn't really help. I got into the pattern of walking for a long while, thinking, "Okay, you can run again," then remembering why I was walking. So the running after mile 16 never went any longer than bursts (slow bursts) of about 100 yards.

So this was by far the most mentally exhausting run I've experienced to date. I had almost convinced myself to call Kara to come pick me up more than once, but part of me knew that she wouldn't anyway. I think what kept me going was something more than making the goal. It was the idea that I wanted to be able to tell Valor about this goal. I want to show him that its good to follow through with your big plans and crazy ideas.

I'm already looking forward to my 29th birthday run. Excited to do some training while pushing Valor in his stroller. I'm excited to see the new adventures that this year has to bring. I am hopeful that they will be less stressful in nature than the previous year but thankful for the lessons learned and thankful to still have my wife with me.


  1. Great write up! It'll be cool to tell Valor in a few years that you've been doing this for x years in a row without missing one or cutting one short. Hopefully one of these years I can join you for another one.

    1. Oh, and 7 months and 12 days to train for the next one!

    2. Ya, it would be good to have some company!

  2. Nick, we admire you greatly and love you as a grandson!Just drop the "in law" part. Our pastor's family from India speak of "son in love" not "son in law". Grandpa and Grama Wagner

  3. Nick, we admire you greatly and love you as a grandson!Just drop the "in law" part. Our pastor's family from India speak of "son in love" not "son in law". Grandpa and Grama Wagner