24 November 2009

2009 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

Running for twenty six point two miles gives you a lot of time to think. It gives you time to question things, ponder things, and even have an epiphany or two.

I have decided to make this race report a list of things that went through my head, and lessons learned, while running my first marathon. Here goes...

  1. Stay near the back of my corral. Don't start too fast, and we're off.
  2. Okay... first mile was good. Slow down a little, we got a ways to go.
  3. Penn's Landing is nice from this point of view.
  4. GU goes down better if you hold it in your hand for a mile or two first.
  5. Why is that guy wearing a Wonder Woman cape?
  6. Someone just yelled my name... oh yeah, it's on my bib.
  7. South Street is cool. Why didn't I hang out here more?
  8. The body thinks that it is weak. The mind has to prove otherwise.
  9. Just keep moving forward.
  10. Counting steps along the dashed center lines helps your running.
  11. Running skirts are sexy... wait... that's a dude!
  12. 1..2..3..4.. 1..2..3..4.. 1..2..3..4..
  13. My knee is really hurting... you can walk at the next water stop.
  14. Keep moving forward.
  15. That's the 5:00 pace group pulling away from me... crap.
  16. It is okay to be passed by a 50 year old woman, as long as it's her birthday.
  17. Who defines "fast flat course"... there seems to be a lot of hills.
  18. 1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..
  19. I should have brought Motrin.
  20. My knee is going to explode... keep moving, you can walk at the turnaround.
  21. How can anyone drink beer while running?
  22. Don't ask for a ride... just keep moving forward.
  23. It is not cool being passed by an 80 year old, but still inspirational.
  24. People yelling your name when cheering is awesome... even if you do not know them.
  25. This is sure different than the Philadelphia Distance Run.
  26. The finish is almost there.... run hobble until the end.

The marathon beat the hell out of me. It was worse than I expected. If my knee did not give up I could have run a much better marathon.

But you know what? I finished! Next year I am coming back with a vengeance.

21 November 2009

Philadelphia Marathon Race Expo

Tomorrow I am fighting a monster in brutal hand to hand combat. Today I prepared for combat by going to the Health and Fitness Expo.

I arrived early so that I could sign my son up for the Kid's Run. This was his first and he was excited to do it. That excitement turned to nervousness and then to fear as the crowd grew larger and we moved down to Arch Street for the run. He wanted to back out and was crying, but luckily one of the volunteers said I could run with him since he was scared. I am glad I could, because if I didn't go, he would not have done it. We reached the finish and he got a kids medal and that was it. He didn't want anything to do with pictures or anything else, he just wanted to get away from all the kids.

After that we went back up to the expo so that I could get my packet. Names are printed on the bibs, which is the first for me and a little exciting. The goody bag is not a plastic bag, as was the case last year, but a light re-usable canvas and mesh bag. Very nice and one that I will be using a lot in the future.

The shirt is a little disappointing. It is nice and high quality, but I was expecting a looser tech tee that I could wear around for everyday use. This is a snug shirt with tight fitting sleeves. I will be wearing it when I run, but I only like to wear snug or tight fitting clothes while running or cycling. For everyday wear I prefer a looser fit.

As far as the marathon merchandise, I have mixed emotions. I bought a nice pair of arm warmers with the logo on them. Plain gray ones, not the ugly argyle ones. These were only $20 so I think a good deal. I also got ear warmers made of the same material. Both of these are very warm and will come in handy this winter.

I wanted to get a Philadelphia Marathon jacket too. Something I could wear everyday to show what I have done. Again, they had a very nice jacket that looked really good. Very nice quality too. But it was similar to the shirts in the fit. Snug and tight in the sleeves. I can do that for shirts every now and again, but I need my jackets to be loose.

I got a few other supplies, my kids got some balloon swords and we looked around rather quickly.

Only one other event was noteworthy. We passed a blind lady in the expo. She had a seeing eye dog. My kids are scared of dogs, even if they look nice. So as we are walking by I am saying to the kids that "the dog will not bother you" and "its a nice dog." The lady turned directly to me and pulled her dog away and said (in a very mean voice) "DON'T BOTHER THE DOG WHEN HE IS WORKING."

Now I am sure the lady gets sick of people bothering her dog. Many people probably do not even realize it is a seeing eye dog, because they are too ignorant to take notice of the harness. But damn, give me a break.

Anyway... all in all a good day. I am scared and nervous about tomorrow, but really looking forward to it!

15 November 2009

This Is Going To Hurt

It is marathon week.

Time has gone by faster than one thinks that it would. Fifteen weeks of training has passed in the blink of an eye, and now here we are one week away from the Philadelphia Marathon.

There is a huge mix of emotions when you are this close to a major race. Especially when you have been thinking about this race for the last year. I have put in a lot of training time for this, my first marathon. Despite recent setbacks, it has been painfully good.

One can not help but think of the marathon while you are training. A lot of times you dream of a fantastic run, crossing the finish line under your goal time, and raising your hands victoriously. Sometimes you think of the hard times, maybe hitting the wall, and imagine how to get through it. Training for those hard times will make it a little easier to get through them.

I have done a lot of day dreaming about my first marathon. But as we get closer, the day dreams have not become as glamorous as one might hope.

The marathon is painful for everyone regardless of preparation. Some are more prepared to deal with the pain than others, and that what marks the differences between the thousands of runners on the course.

My marathon is going to be on the higher end of the pain scale. I hurt my ankle a few weeks ago, right at the peak of training, and because of that missed my longest run of the training plan. I did not make up that run, but let the ankle rest and picked up at the current spot on the training plan once my ankle had recovered.

It is best to be honest with yourself as a runner. I know that I am not as prepared as I should be for a 26.2 mile run. I have adjusted my time goal three times since the beginning of the year based on my training and fitness level. Now I have no time goal. I just want to get over the finish line in one piece.

I am sure that I will do it. I am also sure that it will hurt... alot, and I will not look good doing it.

07 November 2009

Run The Bridge 10K Race Report

I am finally writing a race report for a 10k that I did last week. It was my first 10k, but the significance of being the first time at this distance seemed a little diminished considering I have already done a 10 miler and half marathon. I have not progressed through the distances like many runners do.

Run The Bridge 10k is in southern New Jersey. You run across the Ben Franklin Bridge toward Philadelphia and immediately turn around and run back, through Camden and into Campbell's Field. The minor league home of the Camden Riversharks. This is one of the first races I found when I started running not too long ago and one that I really looked forward to doing.

The morning started a little rough. Two trips to the bathroom and cramps in my thigh had me worried that I would not do very well. I had done almost no running in the two weeks leading up to this race because of my sore ankle. A short run a couple days before the race did not bring on any pain so I felt confident I could do the run. I tried to warm up by jogging very easy before the start and I just felt out of the groove. My head was telling me that the run might not be so good.

I started feeling much better as we walked to the starting line. Maybe it was the people around me, or some primal connection with running... whatever it was I suddenly had a sense of calm come over me and I knew I was ready to run.

My main goal for this race was to practice my pacing in a race setting. It is typical of me to start too fast in the beginning and then keep an uneven pace throughout the run as well as needing walk breaks in longer runs. Today I wanted to start slow and keep a very steady pace throughout the entire 6.2 miles.

I ran faster than I wanted to, but that did not cause a problem. No walk beaks needed, but I started feeling it toward the end of the run and really had to push through some hurt. I forced my body to respond to my mind, instead of the other way around, and I kept running.

The end of the run was rough in more ways than one. Along the Camden waterfront are brick walkways and stone paths. These are what we ran on and I could really feel the difference in impact between that and the road.

Relief came when we entered the outfield of Campbell's Field. The soft grass felt incredible underfoot and the finish line was only a couple hundred feet away. I was able to put in a strong finishing kick and ran hard through the finish line.

My chip time ended up being 1:00:07 for a pace of 9:42 per mile. This was the first time I ever held a sub 10:00 pace for more than three miles.

My goal for this run was to keep a steady even pace. Despite going a little faster than I thought I would, I did accomplish this. Here are my splits:

1      10:31
2        9:33
3        9:16
4        9:14
5        9:32
6        9:26
6.2     2:35 (8:43 pace) <--- great finishing kick!

This has been the best race I have done in my short running "career" and has given me a good boost in my confidence for the marathon, now just two weeks away!

23 October 2009

KT Tape

I was first exposed to kinesiology therapeutic tape the same way most mortals were. Watching the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh was seen with the tape spread all over her shoulder. I was confused with it at first. I had never seen athletic tape spread out in patterns like this was.

All that I learned from the tape was told to me by the announcers during their color commentary. Not much to go on, just the basics. I forgot about the tape after the women's volleyball event was finished.

The next time I saw the tape was in my goodie bag from the ING Philadelphia Distance Run. KT Tape had a free sample pack in the goodie bag. Guess who has the endorsement contract? Thats right, Kerri Walsh.

When I hurt my ankle a little bit ago, I was doing the usual icing, wrapping, resting and all of that. I saw the sample pack on my desk and checked out their website. Of course the reviews there were all good. I found their Facebook page, and user comments and questions taught me a lot about the tape.

I asked on KT Tape's Facebook page the best way to tape my ankle based on my pain. I took their recommendation and used the two sample pieces that were in the pack.

The tape is very comfortable. It is 100% cotton, and while cotton is many runners enemy, it works perfectly here. An application of the tape can last about 5 days and stays on despite shower and sweat. It moves with your body in such a natural way that you can sometimes forget it is even on.

I found a Sports Authority near my house that sells the tape, and bought a roll. The roll is pre-cut strips, so there is no need for scissors.

Since putting the tape on, I have not felt any pain. The most notable improvement is when I first wake in the morning. Usually my ankle was most painful when I woke. The last two mornings, with the tape on, there has been no pain.

My foot is comfortable. I am giving it a few more days rest, and then will be trying an easy run to see if I can stay comfortable on it. I have a good feeling that I will be able to get back to my training and get through the marathon!

19 October 2009

Frustrated and Worried

About a week and a half ago my foot started bothering me. Just a slight pain on the arch, near the ankle. Recently it has been worse.

I was resting it for a little while, and decided to try an easy run on Friday. It lasted about 20 minutes before the pain in my foot became constant and I began to feel tightness in my shin. It was not unbearable pain, but it was not the good kind of pain. I knew I needed to stop.

I have not run since, and plan on resting and icing for a while right now. But I missed my long run yesterday. It should have been 3 hours and 30 minutes. No way I could have done that.

I probably will not run all week. This weekend I am scheduled for a 4 hour run. I was also planning to run a 5k this weekend. The first race I ever ran and a nice way to revisit the beginnings of my running. I am not sure I will be able to do it.

With the Philadelphia Marathon only 5 weeks away, I am getting worried that I will not be properly prepared to run for twenty six miles.

If my foot heals properly over a couple weeks, I can probably adjust my schedule to get some more long runs in and shorten my taper a little. It still will not make me as prepared as I planned, but perhaps it will prevent me from totally bonking on the run.

This is frustrating and getting me a little worried about race day.

09 October 2009

Sticking To It

One thing that frustrates the heck out of my wife is my uncanny ability to take up a hobby with an intense amount of passion, and then quickly lose interest after a few weeks or so. I have supplies and items tucked into closets and storage bins all over my house. I keep them because sometimes I revisit the hobby, but never keep at it for long.

Lets see. There is painting. My favorite medium is acrylics. I did some sculpting with polymer clay. I did a couple detailed model cars. I flew kites. I molded chocolate candy. I did some wood burning. I almost tried woodworking, and now I want to start sketching.

One of the reasons that I give up on these things so easily is because I am lazy. I am not going to lie. I am a lazy couch potato that does not want to work hard to get good at something and in turn I lose interest in the thing that I am doing.

This blog is a good example. Since it has to do with running, I have not lost interest in it, but as you can tell I am lazy and procrastinate. I put off writing the numerous blog posts that creep into my head and do not update nearly as often as I would like to.

But if I am lazy, then why start the hobby in question in the first place? The only thing that I can think of is that I am not content with sitting on the couch and rotting in front of the television.

Luckily I found running. As with everything else I quickly became passionate about my new "hobby". I started reading running magazines and websites and even bought a new pair of running shoes at the local department store. I could go on for hours about how that last part was a mistake, but I think we have all been there.

As with everything else I do, running almost didn't last long. I was doing the Couch To 5K program, and was sticking to it very well. Of course after about three weeks I started skipping workouts and eventually stopped doing the program all together.

Now my stopping has nothing to do with C25K itself. It is actually a very good way to start running and I liked it a lot. Remember I am lazy and that is why I stopped.

A couple of months later I revisited the running thing again. This time I not only became passionate for it, but I really fell in love.

As of this writing I have been running regularly for over a year. I have ran a 10 miler a half marathon and multiple 5k's.

Next month I will be doing a 10k and the full Philadelphia Marathon.

I have actually stuck with running, and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. So why haven't I given up on it like I have with everything else? It is hard to explain, but if you are a runner then I don't have to explain.

01 October 2009

Dog Day Tempo Run

The word for today is leash. Apparently there are a lot of dog owners that do not understand the concept of a leash, nor do they own one.

On the plan today was a 55 minute run with 30 minutes at tempo. During my warm up I noticed a rough looking dog on my side of the street. The look of this dog made me think of some wild mutt running around picking fights with other animals. I decided to cross the street.

I slowed down in an attempt to not alarm him, but as soon as he noticed me, he began trotting across the street. Half way across he started barking, and I noticed that his eyes were the very window into Satan's soul. I stopped and yelled "NO". He veered away from me and went onto a nearby lawn, but started to growl lightly. I didn't dare turn my back to him, and walked very slowly backward as he sniffed around the ground. Finally something else caught his attention, and when I was a safe distance away I continued with my warm up.

When my watched beeped to signal the end of the warm up, I was feeling very good. I quickly got settled into my pace and felt comfortable. I did not realize it until I started my cool down, but I was in a zone. I was not even aware of the sounds of my feet. I was focusing on my breathing, and I think that helped me zone out and lock in a nice steady pace.

With about six minutes to go, I heard more barking. The sound of this barking was the high pitched yapping of two small dogs running toward me. Now I understand if dogs get loose by accident. Maybe you opened the door to grab the paper and they ran under your feet or something. I am sympathetic to that, but these dogs did not need to plan an escape, it was handed to them.

The lady was standing in her yard talking on the phone while the dogs just wandered around. The yard was not fenced in and they were not on leashes. As the dogs are jumping up and nipping at my legs I started to get irritated because I had to slow to a walk. I heard the lady yelling stop. She repeated the word over and over again, but I didn't realize she was talking to me until she said, "stop walking."

Now I was already irritated because my tempo was messed up and I was forced out of a zone. I looked at her and said, "I am trying to keep a pace here." All she could say was, "well stop walking and I will grab them."

What? Here is an idea. If you have two annoying little dogs that run after every moving object in the street, why not keep them on a leash. I wanted to speak my mind, but held back and just said, "Put them on a leash." Then tried my best to get back into the groove for the final five minutes of my run.

Of course those last five minutes were horrible. I got a stitch in my side and struggled to keep an even pace. My breathing was wrong and I was frustrated. I finished those last few minutes and then went into my cool down.

Besides the dogs, I had a very good run. For those 30 minutes at tempo, I ran an average 9:19 pace for a total of 3.22 miles.

In the beginning of January of this year I tried running a full mile at a sub 10 minute pace, and could only do it for barely a half mile, and it killed me. Today's 3.22 at a 9:19 pace felt awesome.

The improvement feels incredible!

21 September 2009

2009 Philadelphia Distance Run Race Report

I am not going to lie to you. I am writing this post a week late. You did not miss it the day after the PDR, I am just predating it in an attempt to hide the fact that I am a major procrastinator. Especially when I have a head cold.

One of my favorite things about major races, is the race expo. The atmosphere at the expo can be exhilarating. The large number of runners, all bustling about in a cloud of nervousness and excitement. You can find some great deals on running gear, as well as some great freebies. And if it is free, it is for me.

I went to this expo on Friday afternoon, so it was not as crowded as they usually are on Saturdays. My highlight of the expo, and probably of the week to that point, was meeting Ryan Hall. I actually walked by him while he was talking to some people. I was not sure if it would be rude to interrupt, but I went over and said hello. We talked for a minute, but I kept it short because he was getting ready to talk to the crowd that was gathering in the runners lounge.

Here are some of the elites talking to the crowd. In the blue Asics jacket is Ryan Hall. In the red is Constantina Dita, winner of the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. And on the right is Catherine Ndereba of Kenya.

Ryan Hall ended up winning the PDR in 1:01:52 and Catherine Ndereba won the women's in 1:09:43.

One of the great things about running is that the professional athletes in the field are so accessible. See how close they are to the crowd. They talk directly to the spectator and back of the pack runners as well as to the other elites and pros. You can just walk up and say hi and on race day you are all running the same streets... although I was running way behind them. They were finished before I was even at the halfway point.

So then came race day. Going to the expo on Friday rather than Saturday was a mistake, because the excitement builds at the expo and then you have to wait an extra day for the run. Not too much of a problem, but I think I will go to expos on Saturdays from now on.

The morning was great. I rode my bike over to the art museum from the University of Penn Hospital. That was a nice start to my warm up. I met my brother and cousins and we hung out while we waited for the start.

We were in line for the bathroom when the race started, but our corrals were in the back so we were fine. I was in corral 16 and the rest of my group was in 18. I decided to just hop in 18 with them.

It took 30 minutes to get across the start line, but since I was so far back I was able to control my pace a little better. That lasted for only about a half mile and as I started passing people I started picking up the pace. It was nice to seem fast, but I would pay for it later.

I have raced two major races in my short time as a runner. The Broad Street 10 Miler in May and this, the Philadelphia Distance Run. The one thing I learned in these two races is that I cannot keep my pace slow enough in the beginning to run efficiently in the end. I always plan to start slow and negative split, but I always get caught up in the crowd and start too fast and end up slowing down at the end.

I was doing good through mile 7 or 8, then I started walking through the water stations. As the run went on, the walks got a little slower.

Mile 10 was a good point for me, because until now that was the furthest I had ever ran. This gives you a mental boost because every step from then on is further than you have ever ran before. With only 5k to go I picked up my pace again, but the high did not last long. I quickly slowed down as I came to the next water station. My legs were telling me that I could not hold a fast pace for three more miles, and I allowed my mind to listen to them.

The final mile was pretty incredible. As I was winding my way toward the finish, I could not help but get a boost from the crowd. They were cheering and shouting words of support, which was much needed for the back of the pack runners such as myself.

As I rounded the final turn for the finish I noticed my fan support. My Mom and Dad brought my sons up, and my Uncle was there with two of my younger cousins. It was great to see them.

My legs were dead for the last couple of miles, but I tried to give it a good kick at the end. I was able to sprint for the last couple of hundred yards, but after crossing the finish line I though my legs would buckle.

The key was to keep moving, and they had the finish area set up very well for that. Maybe it was because I was so close to the last of the runners, but there was no waiting in line for your medal, or for much needed refreshments. And they had the path set up so you walked around and out and it was not a mass of people aiming for one tiny exit.

My chip time was 2:24:12. I picked up a pace bracelet at the expo for 2:15 not really expecting to be able to do it, but I think now I could have. I just needed to pace myself better at the beginning and run negative splits at the end.

All in all I am impressed with the run and the way it was organized. Next year the Rock and Roll brand takes over so it is going from the ING Philadelphia Distance Run to the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Along with the name change is a price hike. Early registration this year was $55. Early registration for next year is $80. I paid $80 for the full marathon in November, so paying the same for a half marathon in the same city seems a little steep.

I am now halfway to 26.2. After this run I am feeling confident that the full marathon will be a good run. I am feeling good with my training and excited to give it a go for the full.

As I write this, I mentioned to my wife that the full marathon is 8 weeks away. She said "Are you sure you are ready for that?"

My only response was, "I will be in 8 weeks."

15 September 2009

I Run For My Wife

I do not talk about it much here on my blog, but my wife is very sick. Two years ago she was diagnosed with severe lung disease that is a result from radiation treatment years ago. It has progressively been getting worse, and now the doctors are saying it may be due to other factors as well.

This past Thursday night I was writing a blog post about your body being stronger than it thinks it is, a post which is still saved in my drafts and will be published later, when my wife called me from the other room.

She was having trouble breathing, and I could tell it was not good. I needed to call 911. Her lung collapsed, and since her lungs are diseased it made the situation worse. She is still in the hospital and it seems she will be in here for some time yet.

In the back of my mind I have always ran for my wife and kids. I run to get healthier, so that I can take care of them. I run to have more energy, so that I can keep up with them. I run to inspire them, so that they can know what the human body is capable of. But now is the time that I really need to run for my wife.

This is race week in Philadelphia. The ING Philadelphia Distance Run is on Sunday and I have been signed up since the beginning of the summer. Luckily, even though my wife may still be in the hospital, she will be well enough for me to head over to the art museum and run the 13.1 miles.... and run it for her.

I need to show her that the human body will always think itself to be weak, but even when it is sick, it is capable of much more than we can even fathom. I need my running to inspire her and give her hope. I want my running to get into her soul and give her strength to push on.

This weekend at the Philadelphia Distance Run I will be letting everyone know who I run for. I will be wearing one of these on the front of my shirt so the cameras can pick it up, and I will be wearing another on the back, so that every runner I pass will know that I run with a purpose.

This weekend I am running with only one thing in mind. My Wife.

06 September 2009

Adjusting My Speed

When I created my marathon training plan a little over a month ago, I was pretty conservative when it came to speed workouts.

Even though I had a specific time goal in mind at the beginning of the year, I have since adjusted that goal due to the fact that I have not seen as much improvement as I thought I would over the summer. My current goal for the Philadelphia Marathon is just to get through it. As I get closer to race day I will re-evaluate my fitness and training and then possibly set a time goal.

I have recently seen some improvement. I finally got in tune with my body and I am training properly and feeling good. I am not running too much and not skipping runs. I have put in some quality miles that feel good. Even though my improvement has not been off the charts, the improvement is there and I am feeling better about my running.

So now I look at my training program and feel as though my speed workouts are too easy. I have decided to be a little more aggressive and get some hard workouts in there. I am still a little nervous about going too hard. I will be approaching these workouts with enough caution so that I do not injure myself, but smart enough to know when I can go harder.

I have done a few speed workouts over the last month and a half. I have done some fartleks, an easy run with some sprints mixed in. I have done 5x800 which I plan to build up to 10x800 in order to measure my fitness and possibly predict my marathon pace. Finally, I turned an easy day into 2x10:00 minutes with a target pace around 9:30. That one I could have done more than 2 intervals, but it was supposed to be an easy day and I wanted to keep it semi easy.

These workouts were not always comfortable, but they felt good. If that makes any sense. When I finished the workouts I felt like I accomplished something. Even though I was sore, it was a good sore, and I did not have any pains that worried me.

I feel like my body is becoming much more adapted to running, and now I can work toward improvement a little better than I have been.

02 September 2009


There is a little section of road not too far from my house that is secluded from the rest of the neighborhood. There are two streets that form a loop and this loop just so happens to be about a mile long. This is where I first started running because at the time I was only running a mile or two at a time, and as said before it is secluded, so I had less chance of embarrassing myself in front of someone that I know.

I have not run back there in some time, but the other day I decided to finish up my easy run back there. It was a crisp morning, as it was when I first started "running for real" and it reminded me of the beginning. The memories flashed through my head of those early runs and it was as if I could compare those runs to the ones I am doing today. It was nostalgic.

After that run, I decided to flip through my running journal. A little over a year ago I could barely run a mile or two without stopping, and was only doing about six miles a week. Now I am not running less than 3 miles in any run, and have long runs that are greater than my weekly mileage back then.

I also noticed my heart rate. When I decided to get in shape I checked my resting heart rate every once in a while and it was between 70 and 75. My resting heart rate is now 55. I do not train within heart rate zones, but I do keep track of heart rate and use it to gauge improvement.

I first started using a heart rate monitor in January. Back then, if I wanted to keep my HR around 150-160 I would have to keep my pace around 13:00 a mile. My run a couple of days ago had an average pace of 11:00 minutes per mile and my average heart rate was 151.

These are only minor improvements, that have taken close to a year, but it is progress none the less. Am I keeping up with a lot of the runners out there? No. I am middle of the pack... make that back of the middle of the pack runner.

I am keeping with it and improving at the rate my body is allowing me to. I try not to compare myself to other runners, only myself, and the best way to do that is look back on what all the hard work is doing.

So if you are just beginning, or do not think that you are seeing any progress, then flip through your running or workout journal and you may be surprised at what you find. If you do not have a journal, then you better start. It can be motivating, inspiring, and most of all fun to look back and reminisce about how far you have come.

31 August 2009

Blogging On The Go

This is more of a test post than anything else.

I just downloaded a blogging app for my iPhone and want to see how well it works. I do just about everything from this great little phone and if this app is worth it then I will be doing yet another thing from here.

Blogging on the go.

29 August 2009

Counting Calories and Keeping A Food Journal

Keeping a food journal is something that has eluded me for some time. One of the number of things I want to get out of running is to lose weight, but my eating habits have proven to be a weakness. I have read in many places that keeping a food journal is the first step to adjusting your eating habits and begin changing your lifestyle so that it improves your health.

The next step to the process is to count calories. Some people do it meticulously, weighing and measuring everything that they eat. Others estimate their calories based on the nutritional panels on the packaging. Either way, the idea is to burn more calories per day than you take in. Creating such a deficit will cause you to lose weight, obviously. There are a lot of details that can be written about counting calories, since it is very different for every person and based on a number of factors.

I had a couple of problems with doing these two things. First, I don't always carry a notebook, and could not fathom writing down everything that I ate. Second, looking up the calories and calculating everything I ate seemed to be very time consuming and tedious. Sure there are websites that keep track of all of this for you, but I don't always surf the net everyday... believe it or not. It just seemed like so much to do.

Until now.

Anyone that is following me on Twitter, or is friends with me on Facebook know that I purchased an iPhone last week. They know because I will not shut up about how great it is. It is great because it makes the things I want to do during the day, easier. This includes things that are productive as well as things that are a complete waste of time.

One of the many apps that I have downloaded include the free app, Lose It! This is a tremendous tool for counting calories and recording your eating habits. Since I carry my iPhone everywhere I go I can easily record what I eat (as soon as I eat it) as well as exercise that I do and how many calories I burn.

I did not know I was looking for this, but Lose It! is the exact app I was looking for.

You start off by entering your weight and sex, and then setting a goal. Do you want to lose weight, gain it, or maintain it? I chose to lose weight since I am currently 210 and want to get to around 180 right now.

It then gives you a few options. Do I want to lose a pound a week? two pounds a week? or even a half pound per week? Depending on your choice, the app then sets a calorie budget for you. According to my settings, my daily calorie budget is 2,067 and will lose 1.5 pounds per week.

Entering food that you eat will add to the calories for the day, while entering exercise will subtract calories for the day. The nice thing about this app is the large database of food that it has, as well as the ability to enter info for foods that are not there. You can easily flip between you daily log, weekly log, nutrients log as well as check the progress of your goals.

This app is everything that I need to help me with my eating habits. I can count calories, keep a food journal, and monitor my progress all from a couple screens on my iPhone. In turn that will motivate me to adjust my eating habits and lose weight, which will do two things.

Make me a healthier person, and hopefully a better runner.

28 August 2009

800's And So Much More

It has been so long since I have blogged, and I have so much to talk about... I guess I will load up on posts this weekend rather than talk about everything in one long post.

This past Wednesday was my first official week of speed work for my marathon training. I decided to start my speed work with Yasso 800's for a couple of reasons. I am using the 800's more as a measure of improvement throughout the training and then, about three weeks out from the marathon, as a predictor of my finish time.

I did 5x800 with 400 recovery. I am lucky enough to have a high school track within cycling distance that is open to the public during off hours. I used the bike ride there as part of my warm up and felt good.

Here are the times for those five intervals:


Before you say anything, I know... I am slow. But I am satisfied with those times for my first time out. I did the first one a bit too fast, and died out later on, but I now have a point of reference to work from.

Along with other speed work, I have three more 800's planned during my marathon training. I will build up to 10x800 and that final workout will tell me how much I have improved and how prepared I am for the marathon. According to the great Bart Yasso, the average time for that 10x800 will be close to my finish time in the marathon.

So if you take those five intervals I did it looks like I should be able to finish the marathon in about 4:34. Hopefully with my training I make some progress to better that time a bit.

So my training is still going good. My mileage is steadily increasing and I feel good. I am getting good results from my quality runs and look forward to all that is ahead. I'll be back this weekend to talk more about everything running, and some that is not.

23 August 2009

Still Going Good

I am actually surprised that I am still sticking to my marathon training program. I am only three weeks into it right now, but that is longer than I have stuck with anything before.

So that means there is only thirteen weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon. It is still scary and exciting, and the closer it gets, the more scared and excited I am.

I printed my marathon program in a calender format and hung it on my fridge. I cross off each day as I move along and make notes on each workout. I can easily count how many weeks are left just by glancing at the paper. I think this may be why I have stuck to it so well.

We are also four weeks from the Philadelphia Distance Run. This is going to be really exciting. I am using it as a training run, so there will not be a taper for it. It will be my first half marathon, and with no taper I should have the bar pretty low for a PR when I run my second half marathon... I know, it is cheap, but I need to look at all the good points.

The best thing about the PDR is that Ryan Hall is running it. I am hoping to see him at the expo and get an autograph, but I have not heard if he will be signing autographs that day.

After I heard that Ryan Hall would be running, I had to tell people. I updated my Facebook and Twitter immediately and then, with the excitement of a little kid, I told my wife that I would be running behind Hall next month. Her response was, "Yeah, waay behind."

Oh well. I am still happy.

My running is going well, and I keep praying that it continues to go well. God willing I will run my best at these upcoming races, and be a new person for it.

16 August 2009

14 Weeks To Philly - Training Going Well

Today I finished my second week of training and it is now fourteen weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon. While on my run this morning I was thinking about my training plan, and decided I need to write about how it is going.... because it is going great!

Including this current plan, I have started three official training plans. The C25K program, The Broad Street Run training program and of course this Philadelphia Marathon training plan. Besides the one I am doing now for the marathon I have finished none.

Why could that be?

Well the C25K program was obviously my first, and was intended to get me started with running. It is a good program and I recommend it to everyone wanting to start. I did not stop the program for any reason related to the actual program, but reasons completely my fault.

I had bad running shoes which did not help my feet and legs, and I ran too fast which also did not help my feet and legs and breathing. I developed very bad shin splints and was discouraged pretty quickly. I stopped running altogether after almost three weeks of C25K.

Luckily I started running again a few months after that, because late last year I decided to run the Philadelphia Broad Street Run. I snagged a plan off of Runners World and started training for that. Life got in the way of that one and I abandoned the plan because my schedule was interfering with it. Luckily I was still able to run some and did finish the Broad Street Run, and ran it pretty well.

So I decided to develop my own training plan for the Philadelphia Marathon. I like the 16 week plans. Although I would like to run five or six days a week, my body can really only handle three days a week right now. I have also found that running by time rather than distance works better for me right now.

So I spent a couple nights tweaking a plan that looks good for me. All my runs, except for a few Yasso 800's, are scheduled by time. Even speed workouts. This is the first time creating a plan as well as the first time running a marathon, so I am nervous that I may not know what I am doing... but so far everything is going well. We will know for sure in fourteen more weeks.

I had a bad run the other day, because of a long day at work and the heat, but every other run has been great. I am feeling good. My legs feel great. I am learning what my body can do and how to avoid injury. I am looking forward to speed work, and the excitement of the marathon keeps building and building.

I am praying that it is God's will for me to run this marathon. I want to stay healthy and injury free and run a good run.

I am feeling good!

08 August 2009

Early Morning Dedication

The first week of marathon training is coming to a close and I am pleased with what I have done so far.

The two mid week runs were both done in the morning due to my work schedule. In order to get the runs done with enough time to shower and get ready for work I needed to wake at 5 am to run. Both runs felt great and gave a great start to the day.

When I woke Thursday morning and stepped outside I noticed it was raining. Not hard, but my first thought was go back to sleep and run after work. I stood on the porch and watched the rain for a few minutes trying to talk myself into running and at the same time trying to talk myself into going back to sleep.

I finally convinced myself to run. The rain was refreshing, and while I was running in the rain I thought about the upcoming training. Will I be able to stick to the plan and run my best?

If this first week is any indicator, than I think I will be doing fine. Lets see how my long steady distance goes tomorrow.

03 August 2009

Adjusting My Goal

In the beginning of the year, I stated that my goal for the marathon was to run sub 4:00. I knew at the time it was an ambitious goal, but I could work hard toward it.

Well, my fitness level is not where I thought it would be at this time, so running sub 4:00 is not very realistic for me at this stage. I am not disappointed though, because the fact that I am even planning a marathon is light years ahead of where I was two years ago.

So I am changing my goal for the Philadelphia Marathon. First of all, just finishing it will be an amazing thing for someone that just got off the couch a little over a year ago. My time goal for the marathon will be to finish 4:30 or better.

That too is a little ambitious compared to the few previous race times that I have, but it is realistic and I think that it can be done.

16 Weeks To Philly

Yesterday marked exactly sixteen weeks to the Philadelphia Marathon, so that means today marks the first day of my training schedule. Mondays are rest days so my first day of running will actually be tomorrow.

I am excited and nervous all at the same time. This is the first time I have really committed to a training plan. I had one for the Broad Street Run, but it was really a just a guideline and I ended up abandoning the plan for a number of reasons.

My plan consists of running for a length of time rather than distance. I will be recording the distances in my log, but the plan for each run is to have a good run for the set period of time. My first speed work is not until the fourth week of the plan, and then those build each week after that.

My long run peaks at 4 hours which comes four weeks before the marathon. I also have a couple of runs over 3 hours. The goal with these runs is just to get the time on my feet and make sure my mind and body are ready for what will be coming. After the 4 hour long run I will begin my taper.

It is definitely a beginners plan, but I am confident that it will do me good, and as long as I stick to the plan I will have a good run on November 22. I created the plan myself, so it is customized specifically for me. And I consulted different training plans on the Internet and in a couple of books, so I am confident that it is a quality plan for its purpose.

It is going to be a long and hard four months, but it is going to be very worth it come November.

27 July 2009

Training By Time

I have only been running a short time, but ever since I started I have read many times over that it is best for beginners to run by time rather than distance. It is beneficial in different ways to run for thirty minutes rather than run for, say, three miles.

It has taken me an entire year to heed that advice.

A couple of weeks ago, when coming back from a slight foot injury, I decided to run by time and not worry about distance at all. I have not had a bad run since then. (knock on wood)

There are a couple of different things, both mental and physical, that make training by time better for me. First of all the body does not know what one mile or one kilometer is, but it does know what thirty minutes or an hour is. Time is more realistic to the body, and the body knows the difference between minutes rather than miles.

Another aspect for me is mental. Twenty minutes will always be twenty minutes, but one mile can be anywhere from eight minutes to eleven minutes for me. As long as I keep my pace the way it needs to be for that particular run, my mind is in it better because I know how much longer I am running for.

Another thing that I tend to do is run fast to get that first mile done with, or speed up to finish that last mile. This can mess up my workout and I will completely fail to reach my goal for that run. Now if I focus on time, then it does not matter how fast I run, that last five minutes will always be five minutes.

One of my problems however, is that I am a stat whore. I love compiling numbers and measuring the distance I run each week and month. No problem there, I can always plan my runs by time and log them by mileage.

Problem solved.

So the training plan I have written up for my first marathon starts next week. Every run is by time rather than distance, even the speed workouts. The only workouts where I am measuring my runs by distance are the Yasso 800's.

I will be doing five of them starting at 6x800 and working up to 10x800 a few weeks before the marathon. I am interested in seeing how well that will measure preparedness for the marathon.

12 July 2009

I Will Never Learn

The good news is that I am now signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon and the Philadelphia Distance Run. The bad news is that it cost me more money than I originally was going to pay because I procrastinated, as I always do.

I was going to sign up as soon as registration was available, but why do it now when I can wait? Of course I waited too long and the prices went up July 1st.

What is really funny to me is that I could have signed up for them at the Broad Street Run expo and not only paid the early costs, but avoided the online fees.

I am literally paying for my procrastination this time... but now I can focus on the races and be well prepared!

08 July 2009

Back To The Basics

When I get passionate about something, I tend to overdo it and either get frustrated and stop or quickly get bored and forget about it. Running is the first thing that I have truly become passionate about and continued to do for any extended period of time. Unfortunately overdoing it in running can lead to injury.

Thanks to Runners world Beginner forums and reading other running blogs, I was smart enough to give myself rest when my foot felt wrong. I really wanted to start running high mileage weeks and pushed myself little too fast, but luckily I stopped and rested before it got too bad.

Today was my first run in about two and a half weeks. I took it really easy and pretty much went back to basics. I ran for 5 minutes and walked for 1 minute. I repeated this for a total of 42 minutes and finished with about 3.5 miles. It felt really good to run again, and strangely it felt really good to get back to basics and run like a beginner again.

I am going to repeat the run/walk routine for a few runs and then continue conditioning myself until marathon training starts next month for the Philadelphia Marathon.

I am no longer focused on running 5 to 6 days a week. That will come in time and it may be a long time. I know that it is more important to get in 3 or 4 quality runs a week rather than run 6 mediocre runs.

Here is to falling in love with running... again and again!

21 June 2009


My foot has really been bothering me lately. It is the top part of the foot, on the outside. It is a little tight, but when I move my foot into certain positions the pain is a little more intense. I did some searching on Web MD and think that it might just be a strain.

I definitely do not want to injure my foot any more than it is. Right now it feels like it can get better pretty quick, as long as I take care of it. I do not want to make it worse and then have it require weeks and weeks to get better... or worse.

It still has not really dawned on me that it is the middle of June. The year is almost half over and in less than two months I will start my marathon training. I want to make sure that I am healthy going into that so that I can complete my first marathon in November.

So it will be plenty of RICE for me over the next week and see how my foot feels. I will not run on it until it feels 100%, but I may walk and cycle very lightly as it feels better, just so I can keep a certain level of fitness.

One of my problems is lack of exercise other than running and cycling. I need to do more core exercises and stretching throughout the week in order to keep my body stronger and run better.

Things to focus on.

07 June 2009

Benjamin-Ross Memorial 5k Race Report

Local races are my new favorite. This 5k was held at a high school that is only two miles from my house. It was an easy decision to run there as warm up and run back as a cool down.

After a very easy run there I signed up and then stretched. I then did a couple of laps around the high school track with a few sprints in there to get my fast twitch muscles awake and ready to go. I have been itching to set a new PR and break 30 minutes for a long time, and I was now very confident that I would be doing it today.

Something in me sounded an alarm when I saw that the start line was at the bottom of a pretty steep hill. Short... but steep.

At the start I was keeping a steady pace with the rest of the group, and since we were going up hill it helped me to stay at a slow pace to start. But the top of the hill brought out some speed. For some reason I kicked it up a notch and was going pretty steady. It felt comfortable, and I refused to look at my watch, but toward the end of the first mile I was feeling winded. The mile split came up and I could not help but look at my watch.


Not good.

That is about two minutes faster than I wanted to do the first mile. I think that triggered some mental block in my head, because I now felt even more winded and it was hard to get into a better pace. I slowed it down, but now it just did not feel right.

Despite slowing the pace I was still going pretty hard. The course was extremely hilly, which was a surprise to me since I have never run this course and could not find a map of it before the day of the race.

Throw in the heat, 70+ degrees, add the hills and the fact that I started way to fast, I was starting to bonk. It took just about everything I had to keep pushing hard. My HR went up pretty high and maxed out at points.

The end of the run was downhill, then a slight uphill onto the high school track. When I turned the corner and got onto the track I saw the clock. The first number on the clock was a 2! I could not believe it... Not only was I going to set a new PR, as planned, but I was going to break 30 minutes, as hoped.

I sprinted into the chute and finished in 28:30. The run killed me. I was totally spent and as I slowed down I felt like I needed to lay down. I got some water and forced myself to walk for a few minutes in order to cool down. I started feeling really good.

Even runs that take everything out of you, and feel horrible during the run, feel so great when they end... not because they are over, but because the body has reached a peak and pushed itself the way it was designed to be pushed.

Some of my first thoughts after finishing were "how will I ever be able to run a marathon when I almost committed suicide in a 5k?" but those thoughts only lasted a few minutes. My mind quickly shifted gears and I started thinking... "I almost killed myself running 5k, can I push it harder to get through a marathon?"

As for the race... the registration form said that it was an informal race in keeping with the Ross tradition. I expected that this would mean no frills and only the basic essentials. But I was wrong.

It was well organized and very well run. The t-shirts are pretty nice and the bibs actually had the name of the race printed on them. This is definitely a race that I will be doing again, and at $18 on race day is a great deal!

06 June 2009

A Funny Thing On My Ride Today

So I went out for a bike ride today.

I was riding through a neighborhood that is not a bad neighborhood, but isn't exactly high class either. I passed by three kids that could not have been more than ten years old. They were trying to look tough by the way the strutted down the sidewalk.

As I went by them, the kid wearing a wife beater yelled out, "I'll jack your bike fool."

I was riding too fast to respond, and did not even care, but once what he said registered I could not help but laugh.

Anyway, the ride was spectacular. I just finished watching Paul Blart: Mallcop... the most disappointing film I have ever seen. It sucked so bad I could not return it to Netflix fast enough. I decided to take it back to the post office right away.

I rode a little over five and a half miles to the post office, passing two other post offices and a number of mailboxes along the way. Once there I dropped off my movie and took another route home. I finished up with a little over 14 miles, and my legs feel great.

I am running a 5k tomorrow morning and plan on setting a new PR. I do not want to sound cocky or anything, but I feel good about this run and think I should be smashing it if all goes well!

31 May 2009

Awesome Run

It has been a week since my last run, and I was a little worried that it would have a bad effect on this morning's run. I wanted to do about 7 or 8 miles, my longest since Broad Street, and usually when I am running on stale legs it turns out to be pretty bad.

I have also had a problem with early morning motivation lately, but was able to get myself out of bed at six this morning. After slowly getting started I got outside. That is the hardest part and once outside I knew it was easy from there.

I started really slow and just tried to keep my pace steady. It was nice and cool out, and a bit overcast. It looked like it could rain at anytime, but I have ran in the rain so much this winter that I did not care. At least today would not be a cold rain.

The entire run felt great and when my Forerunner beeped for the third mile I noticed that I was steadily increasing my pace, and feeling good while doing it.

I passed mile seven and started feeling a little tired. There was a little more than a quarter mile to the intersection of my street, so I continued to the traffic light. I was a little fatigued and really had to push that last bit, but I finished strong.

Before starting I expected that I would need a couple walk breaks, but ended up not needing them at all and not even thinking about walking the entire time.

All in all I did 7.31 miles in 1:21:52 for a pace of 11:12
My splits were 12:06 - 11:44 - 11:28 - 11:17 - 11:11 - 10:37 - 10:23
and the final .31 mile was ran at a 9:55 pace.

I felt incredible after this run, and it really gave me a boost in motivation.

30 May 2009

Sick Week

I have been sick most of this week. I hate that... every time I get into a groove and start building my mileage up, something happens to cut me down.

I am better now and will be doing a great long run tomorrow... and writing about it afterwards.

I also have not been blogging as much as I like. I have been writing though, or at least working on my writing. This blog is not exactly Pulitzer prize material, but I do want to improve my writing and possibly start getting published. This was an ambition of mine many years ago, and while it might have been put on the back burner at times, it did keep brewing in the back of my mind.

So I am going to try to keep up with this blog a little more, and keep up with my running a lot more.

19 May 2009

Speed Work

Today I had a day off work. So the plan was to get up early and go to the track for some speed work. Besides some speed play here and there, I have never really done organized speed work. So today was the day.

When the alarm went off, I was cold and tired and achy. So I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. My kids woke me up about an hour and a half later and after a little moving around I knew that I needed to get out and run as soon as possible or else it would not happen at all.

I have been wanting to find my mile time, so the plan was to do a time trial and find that. Then I wanted to do three or four Yasso 800's just to see where my fitness is and have something to measure improvement as I get closer to the marathon.

I did not feel like driving to the track so I ran in the neighborhood. I still planned to do the mile but instead of 800's I would do three half mile intervals.

I warmed up as I was making my way to a good street to run on. I got to the corner and I was off. I ran hard and made an effort not to look at my Garmin at all. I just focused on the run and tried to keep my form good. It seemed to take a long time to finish this mile. When my watch finally beeped I was all too happy to slow down.

My mile time was 8:12.

Not incredibly fast, but I remember the very first time I tried to "run" a mile it took me about fifteen minutes and I could not even run the whole thing. In fact I think I walked more than half of it at the time.

So time for intervals. I decided to change it up and do four quarter mile intervals with quarter mile recoveries. I realized after the fact that I would do better with shorter recoveries, but live and learn.

Here are the interval times for those:


For some reason, I think I could have done them a little harder. I do not want to push myself into an injury, so I do not plan on doing speed work every week until I actually start my marathon training program.

But I do enjoy speed work... at least I do as of right now. That will probably change when I am pushing myself even more. I did a total of four miles this morning and mentally is was so much easier than running four miles at an easy pace because it was mixed up so much.

It feels good!

13 May 2009

What Next

It has been a week and a half since finishing the Broad Street Run. Since the beginning of the year my sights have been set on running that 10 miles through the city of brotherly love, and while I had abandoned the structured training plan, I was still running with a specific purpose.

Now it is over.

My next big race will be the Philadelphia Distance Run, but I will not be training specifically for that one. It falls into my training for the Philadelphia Marathon, the race I have been looking forward to since last year.

It is never too early to begin preparation for a marathon, but it is too far out to start a training program. So what to do?

Outline my mileage for the next three months.

I want to gradually increase my mileage and improve my fitness so that I can train hard for the marathon. I have outline the number of miles I will be running each week, and even broke them down into individual runs. I will gradually increase the weekly mileage, with a cutback week every month.

This outline brings me up to the first full week in August, which will begin my training program for the marathon. By that time I will be running 20-30 miles per week, and hopefully doing so comfortably.

A week or two before I come up with a training program, I will find a 5k or hopefully a 10k race that I can use to gauge my running fitness. This will help me develop a 16-week training plan that I will be following.

I want my first marathon to be a strong one, and I think this plan will help a lot with that. I may waver from it a bit, but that is fine. If I follow the overall outline I should be able to improve and train hard for the marathon.

I am still excited to run.

03 May 2009

Broad Street Run Race Report

Well, today's run did not go exactly as planned. I had trouble keeping my pace where I wanted and went out too fast to start. It is hard to not get caught up in the crowd and just run at their pace.

It took me twenty minutes to get across the start line. Once there, people were still packed pretty tight, but they all seemed to be trying to weave in and out to get further ahead. With so many people passing me at the start, I could not help but keep my pace fast.

I was feeling good for all of the first half. I knew I was running a little too fast, but nothing really hurt, and I felt good. At mile five I was still on pace to finish under 1:45, but when we got to City Hall I needed to talk a short walk break. Thirty seconds of fast walking and then I was back into it.

I walked through each water stop after that. My legs started screaming at me and with 5k to go I really had to dig down to keep moving forward.

Seeing the stadiums gave me a little added boost, but it was hard to speed up. My legs wouldn't really go, and the street was still crowded. Those last two miles seemed to crawl by.

With a mile to go I wanted to push the pace and try to do a nine minute mile, but my legs were like lead. To add to that, I had moved all the way to the left, in hopes of seeing my son on the sidelines, and I had run up behind an ambulance slowly creeping down the road. I tried to get around it, but everyone was just so cramped together. It took a quarter mile to finally get in front of the thing.

I ended up seeing my son and yelled for him. He was pretty close to the finish line, and if it was not raining so hard I would have probably lifted him over the fence and had him run with me. He may have been a little scared of the crowd though... maybe next year.

I crossed the finish line and raised my hands... partly in victory, but mainly in praise. It is a blessing to be able to do something like this. People take it for granted. Praise the Lord!

After the finish line, I saw volunteers handing out the medals. For the few short seconds, as I stared at the medal and walked closer to get mine, there was a sense of satisfaction that swept over me. A sense of accomplishment and another true sense of praise.

My body was really feeling it, but I finished!

Here were my splits from my Garmin:

My official chip time was 1:46:45. Just a minute forty five over my goal. I was so close and at the halfway point was still on pace to do it, but I am happy with my finish.

Congratulations to everyone that ran!

02 May 2009

Time For Broad Street

It has been a while since I last blogged. I am going to have to blame Facebook for that. It is addicting, and I welcome anyone to request me as a friend.

It is now less than 12 and a half hours until the Broad Street Run. It seems like yesterday I was signing up and now it is upon us! My first major race and the excitement has been building all day.

I went to the expo this morning with my son and brother. We arrived at Lincoln Financial Field a little after 10 and the line was incredibly long to get in. It moved quickly though.

The expo was pretty cramped, and whoever planned the layout was pretty sneaky. When you got upstairs you had to go all the way to the right to the end and get your BIB. Then you had to turn around and go all the way to the other end to get your shirt and bag. In the meantime you had to pass every single vendor that was set up for the expo.

The only thing I bought was a t-shirt for each of my kids, and a case of GU. The GU was a great deal, only $22 and I was able to mix and match flavors. I got a few I like and some I have not tried yet.

So here is my plan for tomorrow... My goal is an incredibly slow 1:45. I will run the first two miles at 11:00 pace, then the next three miles at 10:30 pace, and the last five miles at 10:00 pace. That will give me a finish time of 1:43:30 and a 90 second margin of error to reach my goal!

I posted that plan on my Facebook page for all the world to see. I risk failing in front of all the Internet world, but if I pull it off I can look like a running scholar. lol

So, I am not as prepared as I thought I would be at this point, but I am very confident that I will have a good run.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

23 April 2009

Bad Run Turned Good, Easy Run Turned Hard

So, on Sunday my plan was to do a long slow run of about 9 miles. I wanted to keep the pace around 11:30-12:00 per mile and just get the distance in preperation for Broad Street. I went up to Cooper River to do about two and a half loops.

The first mile was okay, but I felt really bad. I could not loosen up and my pace was up and down. Same with the second mile, but now I couldn't keep my pace slow enough. I just felt all out of whack and could not get into a groove.

I finished one loop of the river and was thinking that I should just give it up. I stopped at my car and got some water. I paced a bit and talked myself into doing another loop. This time I would take it extremely slow. I sucked down a GU and went off as slow as I could.

This lap felt better, but I was still going too fast. I decided just to go with it and keep my pace steady. I could definitely feel the effects of the GU because I was feeling much more energized than my first loop. I felt very loose and relaxed. I finished that second loop feeling good and decided to stop there. Shorter and faster than I was intending, but feeling really good.

A couple days later I went out for an easy recovery run. I was planning to keep it around 11:00 miles for 3 miles, but it just seemed so slow. Mile first mile was 10:32 and I felt incredibly good. I kept going, and noticed that I was easily going faster.

I was in a zone, and mentally I was flying. I do not think I was even really aware of anything more than five feet away from me.

My second mile split was 9:15. The fastest mile split I have ever ran. I stopped at a water fountain for about thirty seconds and quickly got back into the run.

By the time I reached the 2.5 mile mark I was feeling worn out. I told myself I would run to the next traffic light and then I could quit. I got there and my Garmin read 2.88 miles. Only .12 left to make it an even three so why not.

I dug deep and pushed it out. Third mile split was 9:43

Total run was 3 miles in 29:31. My hardest workout yet, and my best avg pace at 9:51 minutes per mile. I walked for about twenty minutes so that I would stay loose and cool down properly. I felt very good for the rest of the night.

I compared this workout to the first one I ever did with a heart rate monitor. This was back in January and was also three miles. I did an average pace of 11:04 and had an average HR of 172. I also tried to run one full mile at sub 10:00 pace and could only hold that for .6 miles, and it was extremely hard to do that.

I think this is great improvement in such a short time! Watching these improvements and comparing workouts really keeps me motivated to run.

18 April 2009


Well, today was my first DNS, but for good reason.

A few posts ago I talked about a 5k that I signed up for with the intent of a new PR and possibly going sub 30 minutes for the first time. A few days after that I realized something was significant about the date.

My son's first t-ball game.

So it was obvious which I would go to.

It was fun watching the kids play t-ball. They all had these great bog looks of excitement on their faces and were having such a great time.

And I saw a runner in my son this week. At his t-ball practice the kids got in line and ran around the bases. My son, being the shy one, ended up being the last one in line. He loves to run and I could see it in him. He wanted to sprint ahead of everyone. He had to hold himself back not to pass the others and he had a look of determination on his face.

I can see in him, that primal desire to run. There is an animal in him that just wants to run free.

I need to feed that animal.

14 April 2009

Ryan Hall - Boston - Ole'

I have watched this video three times in the last hour. I love watching Ryan Hall run, and hope he does well in Boston.

11 April 2009

Improved Heart Rate

I get very excited at each improvement I see as I continue my journey into running.

This morning I woke early to go for a quick run, but it was down pouring pretty hard. Usually I do not mind running in the rain, but the forecast called for it to clear up so I decided to stay dry this time. Not a waste though.

I put on my heart rate monitor and sat in my recliner for about twenty minutes. I wanted to gauge my resting heart rate. Last time I did it was a couple months ago and it was around 60 beats per minute.

The first time I did it was when I first began running... I took my pulse and watched the second hand on my watch. During that time it ranged anywhere from 70 to 85 beats per minute.

Today my heart rate was 55 beats per minute. It makes me feel good and more motivated to improve my health and my life.

I love telling people about it, because I think it can motivate others to get in shape as well. If I can do it anyone can. You just have to get out of your comfort zone, work a little bit, and in doing so create a new comfort zone.

I also went down a pant size. I needed a couple new pairs for work, and instead of getting 42 waist, and fit a 40 waist... just a matter of time before I look more like a runner.

09 April 2009

eewww... Who Fartleked?

Sorry. I can never resist a fart(lek) joke.

So today was the first time I ever really did fartleks. I turned the auto lap off on my Garmin and split the laps after each recovery and interval. I am pretty impressed with how fast I was running and I hope that doing this every once in a while will help with my speed.

One thing I will do next time is not have so many splits... maybe just sprinkle in a few bursts of speed rather than have so many intervals. Just look at them all...

note: I tried formatting this so it would be easier to read, but it is not going right. You can check out my log over at runnersworld for the full workout if you want.

................Distance............Time.................Pace.............avg HR
Recovery.........0.64 Mi ...........6:58.96..........10:55.........154 warm up
Interval ..........103 Yd .............0:27.25............7:46........... 172
Recovery ........0.12 Mi............ 1:14.83............10:24 ..........170
Interval ...........89 Yd.............. 0:25.23............8:19............ 170
Recovery .........0.12 Mi........... 1:18.02............10:51 ..........173
Interval ...........102 Yd ............0:28.58 ............8:14........... 171
Recovery .........111 Yd .............0:41.4 ..............10:57..........171
Interval ............123 Yd ...........0:35.81 .............8:33 ...........173
Recovery ..........155 Yd ...........0:56.29 ...........10:40...........174
Interval .............134 Yd ..........0:33.42 .............7:19 ............174
Recovery .........141 Yd ...........1:07.83 ............14:07.........168 walk break
Interval .............101 Yd ............0:26.75 ............7:47............168
Recovery ...........0.13 Mi ...........1:32.97 .............11:56.........169
Interval ...............109 Yd ...........0:32.13 ............8:39 ..........169
Recovery .............125 Yd ...........0:47.52 ...........11:10 ..........170
Interval ...............103 Yd ............0:31.8 ..............9:04 ..........174
Recovery ..............143 Yd ...........0:53.98 ...........11:05 .........172
Interval ................108 Yd ...........0:31.61 ............8:36 ...........173
Recovery ..............0.33 Mi ...........3:53.26 ...........11:47 .........168

One thing I noticed is that my heart rate is pretty steady. I am not an expert but I think that can be good. I also think the workout might be better if I get my heart rate higher during the faster intervals. Perhaps I did not go hard enough?

This was fun, and I felt really good afterward. My goal is really distance and endurance over speed, but I would like to get faster than the crawl I am at right now. I am sure this will help.

04 April 2009

Whoa -- This Can't Be Right

Okay... so I am doing an easy three on Tuesday afternoon and it is going real nice and easy. I feel that I am running a good pace between 10:30 and 11:00. To confirm this I look at my watch...


This can not be right. I keep my pace as steady as possible and the pace only slows by about 5 seconds. I turn my attention back to my run. It felt too easy, there was no way I was running under 10 minutes per mile.

The day was clear and sunny. As I was coming up to a park I decided to stop at one of it's water fountains and get a sip. I also thought it might be a good idea to check my Forerunner. According to the navigation it had clear view of a number of satellites and good reception from those satellites as well.

Am I really getting faster?

I finished my three mile run at an avg 10:19 pace. This is not incredibly fast, but it is the fastest avg pace I have ran in a long time.... actually I think the fastest ever. hmmm.

So here comes Friday morning. I run before work, but this time is a little different than my other pre-work runs. Since I do not have to be in until late, I decide to take my time and actually jog a half mile as a warm up before I start my run.

The warm up felt nice and I got to the spot where I wanted to start my run. Hit the start button on my Forerunner and get going at a nice easy pace.

It was raining, so my jacket was covering my watch. I barely heard the beep when I reached my first mile split. Whenever I hear that beep I can not help but look at my split time, so I did...


My mile split was actually less than 10 minutes? I can not believe this, it is my fastest mile time ever. So I decide to finish this short run fast. I was only doing two miles so I continued strong, and decided not to look at my watch at all the rest of the run.

I finished hard and out of breath, but not exhausted. I ended 2.02 miles in 20:08. A 9:59 pace. The fastest avg pace I have ever done during any run ever.

I am getting faster!?

For the rest of the day I felt like I was on top of the world. What does one do when they have such a huge milestone and breakthrough in performance? Find a race.

There is a 5k outside the Philadelphia Art Museum on April 18th. I have decided to sign up and go for a new PR. My current one is 32:14. Not really that fast by some standards, but that race was a milestone for me and gave me a huge boost in my confidence.

So if all things fall into place I will have a new PR in a couple of weeks. But if all things fall into place, and the stars and planets align correctly, and I warm up properly (something I do not always do), I think I will break 30 minutes.

If that happens, I will have a runners high for the entire weekend.

29 March 2009

Long Run, Big Blister

Five weeks. That is how long it has been since my last LSD. The runs in that time have been few, and none more than three miles. I felt really good after my last run and figured yesterday morning was time for a good long run. I decided on 6 miles, which is the longest I have ever done.

I woke to find that it was raining outside. Not a down pouring rain, but a slow steady rain, and a dreary overcast sky. I headed out and started slow. I walked for a short warm up and then took it around a 12:30 pace.

I knew that the same old routes would probably bore me a bit, especially on a dark a dreary day like this, so I went a new way, running through Riverwinds Community Center and then back toward my house. I actually pounded out 6.5 miles, my longest run yet, and it felt great.

I felt strong the entire run, and although minor cramps and annoyances came up, I ran through them and they quickly went away. I then walked for twenty minutes to cool down, and that worked well because my legs felt good all day long.

I did have a weird sensation on my toe and pretty much figured it would be a blister. Sure enough... I took off my socks and there it was. A small one at first, but it has ballooned up pretty good. Not the biggest I have seen, but the biggest I have had in quite some time.

One thing I was reminded about on this run was this... looking at your watch too much can spoil a run. My Forerunner was covered by my rain jacket, so it took some effort to look at it. For the first four miles I looked at it only once, to see my pace, and ignored the other numbers. When I got near mile 5 I wanted to see how long I had been running and caught the distance. I was still running strong, but now I had too many numbers in my head and all of a sudden my side was cramping and I felt like taking a walk break. It took me a few minutes to get my mind off it and just get back into the run.

So that is it... 6.5 miles in 1:19:47 for a 12:16 pace. HR avg-160, max-180. I feel really good about this run and I am looking forward to a strong April.

Just a little over a month until Broad Street, and I am getting excited about it.

On a side note... I got the Wii Fit yesterday. It is pretty cool so far, but I have not used it enough to give a full review. I see some things I like and some I don't, but I will be exploring it some this week and we shall see how much I like it.

25 March 2009

Life Can Get In The Way

So my trip to Nashville was cut short because my wife was sick. The race there would be my last run in over a week, because my wife was getting worse and needed to go to the hospital. She finally got home today, after a week in there. I am not going into the details here, but she is better than she was when she got admitted.

I have two sons. One is 5 and the other is 2. That makes it incredibly hard to run when you are the only parent around.

So my mileage has been horrible this month.

My original goal for The Broad Street run was 1:45... a 10:30 pace. Now I am just hoping to finish it.

I ran for the first time in over a week on Monday and it killed me. It felt like I was a complete beginner again. I had a 3 mile run today that felt really good... I mean almost perfect. Hopefully I can carry that through the next month and into Broad St.

My goal now is to build my mileage and do a few days of speed work, maybe just fartleks, and then do Broad Street as best as I can.

I know I can finish it, but how well is another question.

17 March 2009

Tom King 5k Race Report

This weekend we took a road trip to Nashville, TN for my brother in law's wedding. The only part of the trip that actually went as planned was my running in the Tom King 5k. There was actually a 5k and a half marathon that day, but obviously I could not run the half. Although, I may have tried if not for the flu the week before.

The race seems cool at first glance. You start at LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play, and end the run in the stadium with a half lap around the field.

The race was Saturday morning with packet pick ups Friday night. Since I arrived in town Friday afternoon I decided to go over, get my stuff and check things out. There was nothing special. Tables to sign up, and tables to pick up your packet if you pre-registered.

I looked at the list for my bib number, and received an envelope with my bib and timing chip. The lady also handed me an empty bag, or so I thought it was empty. I looked inside and saw one postcard sized flyer advertising a running group for the Country Music Marathon. Big whoop, I put my envelope inside there and went over to get my t-shirt. It is pretty decent, short sleeved tee... the half marathon runners got a long sleeve tech tee. You think for a $30 5K we would have got a tech tee also.

So nothing to check out, I left and went back to my hotel. I was only staying about two miles from the stadium, so I was actually planning to walk to the race as warm up and then walk back for a cool down. The only problem... it was down pouring when I woke up to get going. I also had a wicked cough lingering from the flu last week. I almost talked myself out of going, but got moving and drove over to the stadium.

The 5k started at 7:30 and the half started at 8:30. There was a good crowd forming when I got there and everyone was kind of hiding in the stadium to get out of the rain. I did some stretching, and knew that I should run a bit to warm up, but actually skipped it.

This was the biggest start to a 5k I have ever seen... (although I have only seen three including this one.) It took me 40 seconds to get across the start line and I had to keep my pace slow as the crowd gently thinned out. The course took us around the stadium once and then an out and back to the stadium. You can see from the map that when we entered the stadium my Garmin lost reception and kind of skitzed out for a second. It got back on track once I entered the field.

The run was nice around the stadium and near the river, but the straight part of the out and back was mostly industrial lots and construction scenes. Not too attractive. There was a water stop right before the turn around point, and it was very well organized with lots of water ready. They did a good job there.

It was real cool running into the stadium and around the field. They had the jumbotrons going and you could watch yourself running across the finish line.

It rained the whole time, and I felt like crap. I was seriously thinking about walking a little near the end, but I fell in pace with this older gentleman who started talking to me. He was very nice and inspiring and we chatted while we ran toward the finish. He apologized for slowing me down and said that I was helping him finish his run. I assured him that he was not slowing me down, and in fact helped me get through the last mile without walking.

All in all it was a fun race. I coughed a lung up after crossing the finish line, and was soaking wet, but made it. My chip time was 34:06 which translates to an exactly 11:00 per mile pace. I finished 310 overall and there were about 500 finishers according to the website.

So not my best, but not my worst. As far as the race goes... I think it was a little expensive since you really got no extras besides the t-shirt and and empty bag. I did like running in Nashville... some of the route was very nice.

09 March 2009

Down For The Count

This has been the nicest weekend of the year, and it just so happens it is the weekend that I get the flu. Well the weekend that the whole family gets the flu.

It came on Thursday and lasted all weekend. I still have a touch of it today, but I am hoping that I can get a little bit of a run in tomorrow.

It sucks, because I was looking forward to the weekend weather, thinking that I would be able to do a lot outside. Now I feel like four days have just been deleted.

So that puts a dent in my training plan. I am hoping just to get up to the proper mileage now and finish with a respectable time. We are going to have to see how it goes from here on out. It may be easier for me to get runs in now that the clocks were turned ahead an hour.

Thursday I drive to Tennessee for my brother in law's wedding. The first thing I did was look up any races that weekend and lucky me... there is a 5k and half marathon Saturday morning. I am obviously not up for a half, but I am seriously considering the 5k. It is the Tom King Classic, runs in downtown Nashville, finishing in the stadium that the Titans play in. It looks like fun, and has a breakfast buffet after!

So I have a lot of blogs to catch up on... a lot of writing to do.. and a lot of family to take care of.

26 February 2009

Biggest Liar

A few weeks ago I spoke in a post about how wonderful I found the television show, Biggest Loser. While I am not extremely overweight, I still connected with these people and found them very inspiring.

I was particularly inspired last night when the latest person eliminated ran a marathon in 3:53, according to the caption on the screen. He was so proud of himself and he said he feels so good that he can run a marathon side by side with his wife.

The problem... he cheated.

The producers of the show picked the couple up and gave them a lift, apparently because the crew was on a tight schedule and the couple was running too slow. They crossed the finish line in 5:53 and accepted finisher's medals. According to reports around the internet they were driven for at least three miles.

A disgrace.

I saw the finish time posted on the screen and was duped into thinking that this man could do it. I was impressed that he was able to get such a great time, and it made me feel good, because sub 4 is my goal for my first marathon in November. (I am still impressed that he has achieved so much weight loss and fitness, but I have lost a little respect for him and a lot for the show.)

Various blogs have been covering this, some of whom even ran that same marathon. It is good to point out that the race director DQ'd him and his wife and they are not listed in the results.

I do not care what kind of deal I have with some show... if they wanted me to cheat at something I would have to say no.

21 February 2009

Something Inside Me

There is something in me that wants more. I do not tell anyone about this... I have just been discovering it myself over the last few months. I want more. I want to push my limits of human endurance and go as far as I can.

People would think that I am crazy. I have never ran more than 7 miles at a time... yet. I have only done two 5k's and nothing more... not yet. My first marathon will be in November, if the Lord is willing, but I already want more than that.

I want to cycle further, run further, swim further. I want to push the limits every day.

Many people look at a marathoner, ultra marathoner, or triathlete and they are amazed, or confused, or inspired. I see these athletes testing the entire idea of human endurance and I want it too. I want that and more.

Am I crazy? Will I ever be able to do it? How bad do I want it?

I want it... I want it more than an expensive new car or loads of jewelery. I do not watch the "pretty" people on TV and long to have their celebrity lifestyle. I look at the athletes and I want to share their journey and their pain and their success.

I want it... something inside me wants it more than anything else.

18 February 2009

Damn I am Weak

So this week I started doing core exercises. I have always known that I am not as strong as I should be. I decided it is time to get stronger so that I can be a better runner and not be so worn out all the time.

I discovered that I am far weaker than I thought. I was doing some planks, side planks, superman, and leg lifts...

I could barely hold these positions for 15 seconds. Holy Cow! I was shaking and struggling just to do these moves. No wonder I feel so weak... because I am!

At least now I know where I am at. I will continue with these exercises and watch myself as I get stronger. Hopefully this will help me improve not only my running, but also my day to day posture.

16 February 2009


Registration finally opened for the Broad Street Run today! I do not know if it is normal to feel this excited about just signing up for a race, but I never claimed to be normal.

I think it will hold true that once you sign up then you have more motivation to stick with your training plan. I am ready to tackle this and excited to train hard for what will be my first major race.

Yesterday's run went very well too. Even though it was a little less than expected I felt good for the entire run and it really makes me feel that I will do good in May if I stick with my plan.

Oh man I can not wait!

14 February 2009

The Wait Is Killing Me

I started my training for the Broad Street Run this week, and although I have gotten off to a slow start I must say that the suspense is killing me.

Not the suspense of race day quickly creeping up on me... but the suspense of signing up for it.

The website says that registration begins in mid-February. They have updated the site for this year, but registration is not open yet. I keep checking almost every day because I am so anxious to sign up.

Hurry up people! It is mid February already!

07 February 2009

What Have I Been Doing

I have not posted in almost a week. I also have not ran in almost a week.

Sunday night, after that incredible run I had in the morning, I started feeling some pain in my legs. I decided to rest for a couple of days and then do a real easy run Wednesday morning to see how they feel. I want to make sure that I am good to start my Broad Street training and stay injury free.

Well Wednesday morning brought 8 inches of snow in my area. South Jersey got anywhere from four inches and some people have told me areas got even more than eight. So my Wednesday morning was spent shoveling snow rather than running. The good thing is that my legs felt good even after shoveling for two hours, and there was really no pain in the legs all week.

Today I will do an easy three. I decided to wait until the afternoon since the weather is warming up today, and I have a feeling that this run will be pretty nice in 40+ degrees and a nice change from the teens we felt all week.

Other than that, I finally made a set in stone training plan for the Broad Street Run. I used Smart Coach at Runners World to give me two different training plans and then I mixed in elements of both to create a nice one that I am comfortable with. I start next week and hopefully end with the race on May 3rd.

So now it is time to catch up on blogs that I read. I am having running and blogging withdrawal so you will probably see another post from me this afternoon or evening.

01 February 2009

Long Run, Negative Splits

Today I ran my long run a little harder than I was supposed to. Despite that it felt really good even though it started pretty bad.

I woke early and could not get out the door. The one day I finally have motivation and I am ready to go, and the bowels start talking to me. After a couple trips to the bathroom I finally got outside.

My legs felt pretty tight, and I was still a little worried about my stomach. I took my time warming up and did not go very far from my house at first. I decided to take it extremely slow, and after a little bit I was feeling better.

Before the end of the first mile I was feeling great and had picked up my pace. I knew that I would be doing five miles today. I decided, on the fly, to try to get it in under an hour. Last time it took me 1:05:41.

Something clicked in me. I was feeling great and just floating down the road. My mind was racing with everything except the run. I was thinking about my writing, my job, my future. I was daydreaming about the marathon and my mind was just wandering all over the place. The last mile I had a good song playing and really picked it up.

When I got home and looked at the data in my Forerunner, I was surprised by the splits. 12:18, 12:16, 11:50, 11:22, 10:41. A total time of 58:29.

My legs feel great, my mind is clear and I am feeling awesome right now. This is the first time I had a run where every spilt was negative!

Now if I can carry this run into the rest of the day, and through the beginning of the week...

30 January 2009

Am I Ready?

I had a very humbling run yesterday. It was only two miles, but one of the worst I have had in a long time.

I went after work, and although it had been a while since I ate, I did have a couple of my wife's onion rings before heading out. I did not think that would be a big deal. During the run I was cramping in my side, could that be from only a couple of onion rings? I could not run properly and no matter what I did I could not get into a proper rhythm.

Next week starts my training for the Broad Street Run. After my run yesterday the plan I have seems a little too ambitious. Will I even be able to do some of the training runs that it has planned for me? Will I have a good run after the thirteen weeks of training? Will I even make it through the thirteen weeks of training?

I know that this is a mental block that a lot of runners get, but it is making me think. I have two more "free runs" before training starts next week. I am running an easy three tomorrow and a long four or five on Sunday. I think while running these runs I will be reviewing my training plan and maybe making some tweaks to it.

I do not want my training to be so easy that it does nothing for me and I have a bad run... but I also do not want it to be so advanced that I set myself up for injury and failure.