Running 8k in Philly – AWESOME!

I had two thoughts when I received the invite to run an 8k race and speak at the Insulindependence Philadelphia Weekend:

  1. Cool!
  2. Holy crap! 8k? I better start training!

8k is just about 5 miles. Well outside of my comfort zone, but not so far outside that it felt unachievable. The Insulindependence group provided a training plan that looked realistic, and I started following it – to the letter – on day 1 of week 1.

The Training Plan


Run 20 minutes. Yikes. I haven’t done that for over a decade. I play basketball, and do some biking, and have experimented with some running (run 2 mins, walk 1, run 2, etc), but 20 minutes straight? Not going to be fun, but let’s go.

I couldn’t show up in Philadelphia and not be able to do this. So I took it slow and steady and worked through it. I thought back to my cycling training in 2012 and knew I could do it if I stuck with the plan.

It took about three weeks before the running felt different. It felt … not easy, but not as hard. I noticed a difference, and it felt good to notice that difference. It was encouraging and motivating.

Kick It Up a Notch

I was still playing basketball – my favorite form of recreation – but I was doing the running just whenever it fit in. After basketball, in the evenings, sometimes instead of basketball. Just whenever. One Saturday I did my running right before playing basketball in order to hoop with my buddies and enjoy lunch with them afterward.

It was a complete disaster. I shot air-ball after air-ball. I felt horrible, was exhausted, and my basketball game was a train wreck.

One of my buddies coaches high school varsity basketball.  He said that I should expect to feel terrible for about three weeks, but if I could stick with it, if I could tolerate the terrible and continue to run before playing, that I would feel like superman on the court before too long.

So I started to be very intentional about my running. I’d get to the YMCA early and hit the treadmill before basketball. If I was running late, I wouldn’t let myself play basketball until I got my running homework done first. More than once it meant that I completely missed basketball – I was on the treadmill while the guys were out there hooping it up, only to be done playing ball by the time I was done running.

But I was starting to notice a difference, and it felt good to notice that difference.

It was encouraging and motivating.

Feeling Good

As time went on, I started feeling better and better. Balancing my blood sugars was still tricky, but I figured that’s to be expected when adding a big variable into the mix. Part of investing time in training with exercise and diabetes is preparing physically, part is experimenting and learning about blood sugar behavior during the activity, and part is building the mental confidence. Again, I leaned on my experience with the cycling training in 2012 to know that this process isn’t necessarily smooth but is critically important.

As race weekend approached, I was feeling so good on the basketball court that I knew I was going to continue running after the race.

Having Fun on Race Day

Running at the gym before basketball and running outside on race day are two very different things. But this was a very fun weekend for me and I had worked hard. I was ready.

Gary giving Scott a verbal tour of downtown Philly while Scott focuses on breathing...

Gary giving Scott a verbal tour of downtown Philly while Scott focuses on breathing…

I had the great pleasure of Gary Scheiner and his son running with me for the whole race, and they gave me an awesome tour of the city as we ran. We even got to high-five Mayor Nutter at the finish line!

Gary, Ben, & Scott giving Philly Mayor Nutter a high-five at the finish line.

Gary, Ben, & Scott giving Philly Mayor Nutter a high-five at the finish line.

Official finish time? 53:49 pace of 10:50/mile.

How Awesome You Are

On Saturday afternoon, I had the privilege of giving a short presentation during the Northeast Symposium on Diabetes and Exercise. It was like a fancy rock concert where I got to open up for Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE, Anna Floreen, and Dr. Matt Corcoran, MD, CDE.

The goal of my talk was to remind everyone what an amazing job they do with the tools they have to manage their diabetes and to be proud of that!

Seriously, the cards are stacked against us in many ways, yet we all find a way to not only make it through a day in one piece, but to do a bunch of amazing things on top of it all.

We kick so much ass.


I spent Sunday spectating the Philadelphia Marathon and Half-Marathon. I woke early to show support for my Insulindependence brothers and sisters who were running  (seriously, y’all, we were out there at 5:45 am…).  I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Amrie, taking in the marathon experience, and seeing some of downtown Philly before heading home later that afternoon.

I had never spectated a marathon before, but it was an absolute blast. But even better than that was being there to be inspired by some incredible people with diabetes who I am proud to know and call friends. I watched Bill King finish his 21st marathon, I saw Stephen Meo grit out a hard fought finish, I celebrated a great half-marathon finish from Harry Thompson, just to name a few. I even got to meet The Diabetic Camper (and runner (and streaker)) himself, Dave!

And then there’s Danielle. Her guts. Her attitude. Her drive. And her medal.

Scott Johnson supports Danielle Panetta after her half marathon! Danielle tells Scott of her half marathon medal, "You want this!"

Scott Johnson supports Danielle Panetta after her half marathon! Danielle tells Scott of her half marathon medal, “You want this!”

Yeah. She’s right. I do want that. But more importantly, because of her example, and people like her, I think I can do it. Which is encouraging and motivating.

Seattle – Here I Come!

Four short days after returning from Philadelphia I was doing a live recording of DSMA Live with Cherise Shockley and George Simmons, with our guest Stephen Shaul. I was still riding high off the Philly trip and committed, live on the internet (recorded internet, at that), to running 2 more 8k’s and 1 half-marathon in 2014.

Long story short? I’m running the Rock n’Roll Half-Marathon in Seattle on June 21st with Dana M. Lewis, Cherise, and hopefully a few more who are on the fence.

Motivated by Basketball

This all comes back to the basketball.

It’s what I enjoy.

And the running I’ve been doing has been making the basketball more enjoyable. I feel so good out there that I can’t help but keep going with this running stuff.

I’m motivated to run by how I feel when I play basketball.

That is encouraging and motivating.



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11 thoughts on “Running 8k in Philly – AWESOME!

  1. This is fantastic! Congratulations again on your accomplishment.

    I hope you enjoy the half. I find training for them to be a lot of fun. You’ll get to see your neighborhood in an entirely new way. I can’t wait to watch your journey.

  2. I know I said this at the symposium, and I’ll say it again….I am just so damn impressed that you followed that training plan EVERY DAY and didn’t miss a workout. And even significantly rearranged your life to get those runs in. I’m thrilled that you achieved your goal, and are encouraged and motivated to go for even more! Truly fabulous. Congratulations (again)!!!

  3. Scott, our conversation was the only time in my life that I promised to complete a triathlon and felt somehow inadequate. You are already miles beyond me and I’m working to catch up! Congrats again on a great run… I know that 2014 has even bigger things in store for you. You are a bonafide inspiration!

  4. I really wanted to join you that weekend (when you first announced it) but knew we’d be deep in kitchen reno hell and wouldn’t be able to swing it. But you are so so darn inspiring and I admire you so much. I’m still working my way up to running an entire 5K (without walking breaks) and you help me believe that maybe I can.

  5. This post is amazing and inspiring, as are you my wonderful friend!
    I’m so glad I had the chance to attend Saturday’s sessions & see you for a few hours – And I’m so damn proud of you!

  6. Scott, I am pleased to see that you completed the 5 mile run in Philly. I could drive to Philly in 3 hours, but have never been there. I admire you for participating in so many events, and giving talks. I do my own thing on Facebook and some of the D websites, but that is about it. Too old to “cut the mustard ” now. Have you heard that expression? I used to hear it a lot, maybe that was before you were born. lol

    Gary Scheiner is a really neat guy, famous author, and excellent speaker. I attended two of his talks at the FFL. I told him he should give lectures at a medical school. Then the graduates would really know something about diabetes for a change.

    Keep on keeping on, Scott. You are doing so much for the diabetics in the US. have you ever spoken in Canada, or the UK?

  7. This whole post gave me goosebumps, Scott. You are such a badass, and I am SO proud of you for all that you’ve accomplished!!

    So, so tempted to join you for the half. 🙂