The Runners


I started running track my Junior year in high school. Did the mile relay (still think we have the school record) and hurdles because why would anyone want to run around the track more than once. Then joined the Navy and had to do a semi-annual 1.5 mile fitness test. Then started doing 5k’s followed by 10k’s followed by 10 milers. Did my first half marathon in 2004 in Maui, Hawaii and never looked back. To date I have run 45 half marathons and 2 full marathons with all kinds of other crazy mixed in: Ragnar Trail Relays, Growler Relays, Spartan Races (Sprint, Super and Beast) and every race distance in between often running more than one race a day.

To date, my longest run has been the Marine Corps Marathon (twice)

My response to why I’m taking on the WH2LH challenge: Jenn asked me what I was doing in June and said all the cool kids were doing it. 🙂



Two years ago, I promised my sister that I would only do one marathon. Five marathons later, I’m not doing the best at keeping that promise. My longest runs have been two 50K’s, with a third planned this year at the Marine Corp 50K. Participating in the #WH2LH Relay was an easy choice. Jenn Miller and Thong Tran have a history of coming up with good/questionable ideas. I couldn’t miss out on this one.


Introducing Runner 3 – Thong Tran

I’ve been consistently running for the last 3 years when I joined the Trottin’ Oxen Social Running Club. My longest run to date was an un-sanction WTF WOD event 44.5miles! I’m participating in this event partly bc I love road tripping, testing myself and having an excuse to wear ranger panties…but mostly because Jenn Miller asked me to do it. She is very persuasive.


A few years ago, my wife called my bluff and bought me a training package with a local Running Store. Up to that point, I had run short distances, intermittently. I took to the training and quickly fell into the type of crowd my parents always warned me about: running buddies. During a run on a very hot afternoon, possibly afflicted by mild heat exhaustion and poor decision making, these people convinced me to join them for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. I hadn’t yet run more than 10 miles at that point, but I had months to prepare for it. I haven’t looked back since.

My longest distance has been the marathon – 4 at this point. I ran Disney’s Dopey Challenge this year, so I have some familiarity with running multiple legs over several days.

A lot of runners chase that PR, and I’m certainly no exception. I wanted to start layering unique challenges and bucket list experiences on top of my endurance training. WH2LH provides such an opportunity, but perhaps more importantly, I get to do this while enjoying camaraderie with friends that have similar goals.


Experience: I’m a self confessed adrenaline junkie. I’ve land sailed, ocean sailed, trekked and used a door as a boogie board. I free climbed my first rock face as a teenager and I’ve never grown tired of the sight of the sun painting the world in gold from a summit. But running is the one thing I miss when I don’t do it. I came to running in my 20s and no matter what I’m running there’s only one opponent I have: me. I race to beat my PR, to be better or be faster.

Longest Distance: 50k. Under no circumstances do I recommend a sane person do this.

Why I took this on: Where a challenge is concerned I can’t say no and honestly question my better judgement. Jenn Miller, dear friend that she is, is well aware of this and just asked what weekend in June I was free. My response on Facebook: “We are idiots. I’ll bring snacks.”


I’ve been running since I joined the Air Force and slowly over the years the distance has increased. In 2011 when I moved to Japan for the second time in my career, my running got far more serious when I started running (and drinking lots of beer) with the Samurai Hash House Harriers in Kanagawa, Japan. They helped me to prepare for my first marathon in 2012 and since then I have completed races in Japan, South Korea, and throughout the USA; so far I have finished: 15 road marathons, 5 trail Ultra-marathons, and 2 Bataan Memorial Death March events in Military Heavy division.

A 50 Mile race at NorthFace Endurance Challenge Series DC, has been my longest race to date.

Why I took on this challenge?
BIO Answer: I’ve always wanted to run a long distance relay event but timing never worked out. When I was invited to participate, my calendar was clear and so I jumped at the opportunity to (yet again) do something a bit crazy with some of my favorite people. Also, it was a good excuse to goof off in an RV for a weekend.

REAL Answer: I was bamboolzed 😛

Mike JD

I never really thought of myself as a “runner”, and up until a couple of years ago, the farthest distance I’d ever run was maybe 3 miles. As a native to the DC/NOVA area, I’ve consistently enjoyed volunteering and getting involved with my community in whatever ways I can. For a few years in a row, I began volunteering at aid stations and as a course marshal at a set of trail ultra-marathon races held locally each year at Great Falls Park. Year after year, I observed people across the spectrum of age, ability, and background challenging themselves, supporting each-other, and pushing boundaries by competing in 50K and 50-Mile ultra-marathon race events. From the leading elites to the ones struggling to make the cut-off time, I recognized, in each, the same quality over and over again. Dedication. Dedication through acceptance of a new challenge. Dedication through completing the requisite training day in and day out over the preceding weeks, months, and for some, maybe even years. Dedication by showing up on race morning; in the freezing cold or in the miserable humidity, with a churning stomach and buzzing with excitement from just a little bit of fear of the unknown. The starting-gun fires, and the dedication continues as each runner puts one foot in front of the other, again, and again, and again, until they’ve given it their all. How could I not be inspired to become a runner myself after witnessing that?

In the Spring of 2017, I decided to step off the sidelines and challenge myself. I set a three-year goal. Year One–complete a Half-Marathon. Year Two–complete a Full Marathon. and Year Three–complete a 50K. The Fall of 2017 saw me racing along the gravelly banks of the C&O Canal Towpath to complete the Potomac River Run Half Marathon. The Fall of 2018 saw me “Beat the Bridge” as I cruised into Arlington, VA to complete the 43rd Marine Corps Marathon. And, in 2019, despite a few minor running-injury setbacks, I find myself not only looking forward to competing in a Fall 50K, but also having accepted an entirely separate and unique challenge: The White House to LightHouse (WH2LH) Relay!

When asked why I accepted the WH2LH challenge, I’d like to think my response would include the fact that “running”, to me, has evolved into so much more than merely the physical motion of running. Running has become a way for me to process my thoughts and to re-center myself after a stressful week. Running helps to keep me fit and healthy. Running is where I’ve forged countless memories (both trying and joyous alike). And unexpectedly, running is where I’ve found so many friends who’ve grown truly dear to my heart. In my mind, the WH2LH Relay is an adventure which combines ALL of those things! So why the hell wouldn’t I jump at that opportunity!?

But…there’s another, less verbose, version of the story floating around where, it’s possible, one evening I was approached out-of-the-blue with the question, “Hey…you free June 6-8th?”, to which I simply responded, “I am.”


I have been running since I could walk. When I was in college I primarily ran the 400m but also enjoyed the 200m, 400m hurdles, 4x100m relay, and 4x400m relay. After college, I have been trying to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. Since most races are longer distance, I started to make the transition to a distance runner. I have now run everything from 5ks to Marathons. I love running for the challenge, camaraderie, and the adventure. This is why I have taken on this next race from DC to North Carolina; 343 miles, 12 friends, and 3 days of adventuring.


A decade ago, my friends and I were tackling local 5k’s and scheduling time outside of work to log miles together.  Feeling fortunate to have the support of each other, we wondered if others weren’t as lucky. Surely there were folks who’d be more active if they had others to train with/support them, if they were given consistency, felt safe and were welcomed to belong to something.  That thought led to the creation of the Trottin’ Oxen Social Running Club (est. 2015). Since the founding of the Club I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some of the best people, folks I now refer to as my Running Family.


Having started as a novice runner 10 years ago, my passion for running and the running community has flourished.  I’ve since completed 3x Marathons and 1x 50k.


We’ve all heard, “I need to clear my head, I’m going for a run/walk”. This has always struck me as odd for the mere fact that when I run I make mental “To Do Lists” and find that this is when I have some of my best ideas,… if I do say so myself.  During one of my training runs with friends, the idea for a relay, beginning at the White House and finishing at a LightHouse, came to me. At the time which LightHouse, route, team and relay name, was not yet determined. Believing I was onto something and knowing I couldn’t succeed on my own, I decided to share the idea with my running buddy, Thong.   We then decided to then share with Paul. Having both of them intrigued by the idea, we began collaborating and working out the details. Hence the birth of the WH2LH Relay.


Running Level: amateur. 

Seriously though, I got started with running in 2007, post graduation. Like Forrest Gump, I just felt like running… and it grew on me. Not really knowing what it would lead to, I started to sign up for races and a year after I picked up my new found sport, I ran my first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon, 2008)… mainly to prove a point that I could. I grew up as a soccer player so it not only tested my endurance it tested my mental strength to push on. Two years into it, and I had to call it quits due to a torn ACL. Plagued by injuries, I took a decade hiatus and after finally retiring from soccer I focused on running once again, and have never felt stronger… mentally and physically. I owe a lot of that to the people I have met in this running chapter of my life. 

Thanks to my running family, and the peer (beer?) pressure, I committed to my longest endurance race this year, completing the Dirty German 50K in Philadelphia and adding ultra in front of that marathoner status. 

How did I get here? I gotta thank the Master, Jenn Miller for convincing me to think outside the box and to continuously plant a seed in my head (total inception). But Frankly, I am pretty sure I was just asked if I was available for a set of days in June and I said I would make it work. Once the idea was introduced, FOMO got the best of me so I was all in! It’s wasn’t even a question of why do it, it was more of a why not do it! I am looking forward to the experience, and memories we’re about to create on this journey.


I was never big on running. I’ve always looked at myself as too big to be a runner. In high school I participated in track and field- mostly field events. One day, we put together a “Fat-man Relay Team”… nothing like watching a bunch of heavyweight “throwers” run a 4 x100. It wasn’t until later in life, roughly four years ago, I joined the world fitness challenges with Fitbit. I lost maybe a handful of challenges before I realized I was out of shape. I woke up early one Saturday, kissed my wife, and attempted to “jog” a few miles… I won the challenge that week and the following weeks. I was hooked on “jogging.” Then I was introduced to the Trottin’ Ox Run Club. My Fitbit friends stopped accepting my weekly challenges.

The Trottin’ Oxen became my extended family. Every Tuesday we met and performed our ritual run. My confidence in my running abilities grew as I became stronger and faster. I worked my way from running the occasional 5K to my first full marathon two years ago.
To be honest, when I was asked to join the challenge, the suspense alone hooked me. “Fight Club Rules…” I was hooked at “Fight.” Having the weekend off, was just a bonus…


I describe myself as a late-blooming, masters runner because I really didn’t take up running until I turned 40-years-old. At that point, like so many other people who come to running late, I felt like I had a lot of ground to make up. 

My longest distance so far has been 52.6 miles on my first “50-mile” ultra, and it was by-far the hardest race of my life. Freezing temps, rough terrain, fatigue, poor nutrition, aching bones and even temporary blindness all banged me around for almost 13 hours, but I finished. From that experience, I took away so many lessons, that every long-run after that one is no longer scary or intimidating. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other, a whole bunch of times. 

The #WH2LH Relay is an excellent chance to do something different and challenging in a team environment. Also – Jenn sent me a text a few months ago that read: “If I hypothetically asked you to join an epic and super secretive running adventure, what would you say? There is a level of uncertainty and risk involved. Once you tell me, “Hell Yes, I’m in!” More will be shared!” So naturally I gave her a Hell Yes.

Share and Enjoy !

0 0 0
Close Menu