Meet Mike Capka, a runner who enjoys a good set of intervals and running along the beautiful backdrop of the Amish countryside roads in Lancaster, PA! You can find Mike matching the cadence of horse and buggies as they pass by at about 180 “clops” per minute. He also has to be agile on his runs, avoiding “road apples” that the horses leave behind. Mike was a sprinter in his school years and never left anything in the tank. His knees started to suffer and he gave up running at the end of high school. Fast forward 15 years and his wife read about a fun run called The Color Run. He found the training enjoyable, and the run was a blast. Long story short… he was hooked!
Let’s take a look at Mike’s answers to our run questions:
Q:What is your favorite post run treat?
A: While I love mixing up a chocolate milk after a run, I usually have to try sneaking in the house in order to get the time to have one. If my 4 year old catches me walking in the door I am usually greeted by a “Daddy, you stink. Go Shower,” and my wife wants me to get into the shower right away so I don’t drip sweat on the floors.
Q:What is the most motivational song on your playlist?
A: I find Rocky very inspiring. Therefore, I always loved the classic song from Rocky: Eye of the Tiger as well as Heart’s On Fire. If I run on a treadmill and I want a one-hour run, I found that Rocky IV is almost perfect timing from after Apollo’s fight to the end. I haven’t run with my phone for the past 6 months so I haven’t had any music on outside runs for that period of time.
Q:What is your first running memory?
A: This is a hard question. As I had mentioned, I was a very fast sprinter in school so I remember several races in early elementary school. During a pickup football game in 5th grade, one of my friends said “Mike, run like you used to in second grade.” My foot turnover increased substantially and I blew by everyone else easily becoming a wide open receiver.
Q:What was the last race you did?
A: This would be the Garden Spot Marathon a few months ago. It is a small, peaceful, enjoyable race through some of Amish Country. There were 834 finishers of the half marathon and 271 marathon finishers. Definitely a friendly atmosphere and relaxed. There is no pressure to finish in a reasonable amount of time; the last half marathoner finished just shy of 4:35 (20:59 per mile) while the last marathoner finished in a shave over 10 hours (22:55 per mile). They have a program for kids where the kids run 25 miles for the months leading up to the race. Then, the evening before the half/full marathon the kids run the final 1.2 miles. This “marathon” that the kids run is inspiring and absolutely amazing to watch. Seeing the expressions on the kids is a thrill and brought tears to my eyes.
Q: What is the hardest run you’ve ever done?
A: This could be answered a couple different ways. I would say that my hardest run was my first marathon in Baltimore. I had “gastrointestinal problems” all morning long starting before the race which then continued during the first 6 miles of the race. I was able to compose myself and continue on until the 19th mile when my quads completely locked up and I couldn’t move faster than a snail’s pace. I don’t know if it was from the dehydration from all the water I was losing during my GI issues or if it was due to lack of strength but it was painful for every step. I was not going to let this beat me though and I walked the final 7 miles of the marathon in pain. At least one guy of the medical team that saw me thought I should stop but I waved him off.
The other way that I am going to answer this question is that my hardest run was a Long Run during training for what should have been my first marathon. The run was supposed to be 17 miles but I started experiencing pain on the side of my left leg around the 13th mile and even though I tried to push through it, it continued to hurt and I ended up having to walk. The pain would not go away and that’s when I read it was probably IT Band Syndrome. I rested but didn’t want to give up on the marathon yet so I tried getting back into training too soon and ended up hurting myself further. I had to postpone what was supposed to be my first marathon. I have to give this as one of my toughest runs because I had to admit to myself that I could get injured and it was serious blow to my self-confidence and morale and I started to lose confidence in myself as a runner.
Q: What is the BEST run experience you can remember?
A: I can’t really say that I had one singular best running experience. I have had so many runs that just felt right. It is very hard to explain but I would hit a zone where I was just…..not in my body…. This is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had and I wish I was able to find this zone more often. After many of my great runs I breathe much easier and I feel much lighter. This after feeling is what helps drive me to keep running.
Thanks for sharing Mike! Cheers to many more miles of running strong!