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.

28 January 2009

Almost A Run In The Snow

Last night I was excited to see snow in the forecast. I was hoping to wake early and run in the peaceful setting of the moonlight reflecting off the fresh powder.

I woke up and it was raining. There was snow everywhere, as expected, but it was now turning into a slushy mess. It still looked nice outside so I suited up and went out. The conditions were not good for running.

Obviously the sidewalks were not shoveled yet, and the snow plows pushed all the snow from the road onto the shoulders. There was nowhere for me to run.

After trying to convince myself to run anyway, and at the same time convince myself not to run, I finally decided to put the run off until tomorrow and went back inside the house. But it was not all a waste.

I left my heart monitor on and started my Forerunner. I sat in the chair for a half hour and rested. I even drifted into a light sleep for a few minutes.

My resting heart rate hovered around 60 beats per minute, even getting as low as 58. When I first started running I measured my resting heart rate at 70-75 beats per minute. I think that is a pretty good improvement in only six months.

It is those little improvements that keep me motivated to run and try my best to improve even more!

26 January 2009

Long Run Cheat

I usually do my long runs during the weekend. This past couple of days has been crazy so I decided to get my long run in this morning, but count it for the weekend. So I did not really cheat on my long run, I just cheated on when to include the miles, since I am a stat whore and wanted the six miles to be on last weeks total.

My main goal for this run was to keep a very slow and steady pace. I was aiming for six miles, which I have never done before, but told myself five would be fine.

I also did not want to listen to music on today's run and debated on whether I should listen to a podcast or just forget the ear buds altogether. I opted for a podcast called 4 Feet Running. This is a great podcast. They record on the run and in the studio, so most of the time I felt like they were running right beside me while talking. I definitely recommend it.

I think listening to their conversation helped me keep a slow steady pace and also entertained me while I ran.

As I neared my house I was a little short of six miles, but I was feeling great. I took an extra loop around some of the side streets so that I would hit six and still have enough distance to do a good cool down walk.

I love the feeling after a run, and it feels especially good after a long run. Today feels so much better than yesterday!

Running Disney

Well, I did not actually run the Disney Marathon, or any race associated with it. And I was in Disney the week after the marathon, but I was still able to run in Disney! Sort of.

We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, which is an incredibly nice resort. It is a very short distance from Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The lodge had a nice path that winded its way through the woods and to a campsite known as Wilderness Resort. I followed that through and then back up to a dirt path along a lake and back to the start for a total of two miles. That was my first run of the week.

During that run I spotted six deer. All of them no further than twenty or so yards away. It was amazing because a few were so close to the path I could probably run up and grab them... not that I would. I even had a close call with a huge buck.

I did not see him in the trees to my left, but he noticed me as I ran up. He must have been startled by my presence because he jumped up and shot across the path pretty quickly. Lucky for me he was quick about it, because if he would have waited a second or two before darting across he would have ran right into me. My heart rate shot way up and I stopped in my tracks. I saw those huge antlers and all I could think was I forgot to wear my RoadID.

For my second run I needed to use the treadmill at the health club. I really wanted to run the path again, but it was unusually cold outside, and of course I did not bring any cold gear with me thinking that Florida's weather would be nice enough to run in.

I never ran on a treadmill before, and I found out I do not like it at all. I of course had to get my "sea legs". I am not used to running in place and it took me about a half mile to keep myself steady. My plan was to do three miles, but I could not do it. I stopped at a mile and a half, walked another half mile and then vowed to come back that night to do another mile. I, of course, did not get back to do that mile.

I really wanted to run some more that week. I got up early to run Saturday morning, but we were leaving that day and I really felt worn out so I went back to sleep and did not get the run in.

Walking around all the parks and checking out the sights was fun. My brother and I could not help but talk about running a marathon through all those parks and how much fun it must be. He is talking about running it next year, but I do not know if I can do it next year or if I will have to wait another year, financially speaking.

Hopefully next year.

25 January 2009

A Wasted Day

I got back from Florida very late last night. It was a very nice vacation. So relaxing and enjoyable. It actually got pretty cold in Orlando, but still fun. And I managed to get in two runs, one of which was my first time on a treadmill. More about them later.

I slept in today and had intentions to run a long run today. I started the day unpacking and cleaning up, but as the day grew older I found myself doing not much of anything. I am frustrated because the day slipped away from me and I feel like I have accomplished nothing at all. Even though I have one more day off, I am already feeling the stress of daily life creeping back and it is frustrating.

A good long run tomorrow morning will help me feel better. I do not usually run on Monday's, but I am going to cheat a little and use that as the run I missed today. Also tomorrow I will sit down and put in stone a training plan for the Broad Street run. I am excited to get this started and look forward to that run.

I will be posting a few more times tomorrow to tell you all about my running and vacation last week. I do not want to do it all in one post, since that would make it way too long and people would abandon ship as they got closer to boredom.

I also need to catch up on the blogs that I follow... so until tomorrow, I will see you around.

17 January 2009

A Long Run To Start Vacation

It was very cold outside this morning, so when the alarm went off at 6:30 I turned it off and went back to sleep. I hate it when I do that.

When I finally did wake I was quickly ready to run. It felt like I had too many layers on, but come to find out they were just enough. I don't mind running in the cold, but I hate all of the clothes I have to put on to do it.

I did five miles today and it was hard to stay within the proper heart rate zone. I would force myself to take a short walk break to get my heart rate back down and then continue with the run. It is frustrating because I am comfortable at the pace I am going and I can not run slow enough to keep my heart rate down. I am determined to measure my actual heart rate this week to see if the multitude of formulas I used were wrong. I think they are.

After the run I felt incredible. My legs felt the good soreness that comes with a long slow distance and my body felt rejuvenated. I probably could have gone a few more miles. A great way to start my vacation.

Speaking of which...

I leave tomorrow morning for Walt Disney World. It would have been nice to be there last week to watch the marathon, but this week is a good one to go.

It is a family vacation with me, my wife, my two sons, my parents and my brother. We are all excited to go. I am excited not only about the trip, but to run in some nice weather.

I am not taking a computer, and I am not sure if I will have access to one down there so I may not have any updates for the week. If not then I will see you all next week!

In the meantime... Run Like Pre.

15 January 2009

This Will Take Some Getting Used To

Today was my first run that I tried to stay within a target heart rate zone. It was an easy two miles so I wanted to stay within the aerobic zone, which for me is 134-153 beats per minute.

I set my Forerunner 305 to alert me if I went outside of the zone. I reached the proper range pretty quick, but soon found it hard to stay under 153 bpm. My heart rate would get too high and I would have to walk in order to get it back down.

I was frustrated at how slow I had to go in order to keep my heartbeat within that range. My average pace was 13:46 per mile. The last time I ran that slow it was rainy and icy. Before that it has been a long time. I knew that I could be running the whole thing, but I wanted to stay within range and get a good feel for what the range was like.

I am going to be running according to heart rate and allow that to dictate my pace rather than just running at a target pace. It is going to take some patience to run that slow, but I have read the benefits will be worth it. As my heart and lungs get stronger, I will be able to run at a faster pace while in that same heart rate zone.

After the run I felt like I could keep on running for hours. When I slowed to a walk in order to get my heart rate down I was not even out of breath. This run felt really good. I just hope that I can continue in the proper heart rate range while training over the next few months... and hopefully it will make me faster by the time the Broad Street Run comes around.

14 January 2009

Biggest Loser

I do not watch a lot of television. There are only a few shows that I like anymore, and even some of the shows that I used to watch all the time are getting boring to me. There just seems to be better stuff to do than watch TV.

Biggest Loser is a show that I think is worth watching. I have never seen a full season, but I have seen episodes in the past. This year I have decided to watch the entire season and I am glad that I did. It is only the second week and I can tell the show is a hundred times better than all other "reality" shows.

Unlike other shows, that hunger for conflict, and select the cast members based on the level of drama and pretentious attitude that they have, this show actually strives to make a difference in people's lives.

I particularly enjoyed yesterday's episode, and the moment I like most was during the challenge. All of the contestants except one reached the finish line. A number of them, including the winner, went back down the trail that they had to run up and gave the last place finisher support. They would not let him quit and they showed him he was capable of finishing the challenge.

The accomplishments that these people are making are incredible and you can see the excitement when they finish things that they never thought they would be, or could be, doing.

Even though I am not extremely overweight, I connect with these people, and I root for them. I am accomplishing a lot of things with running that I never thought that I would be, or for that matter, could be doing. That is why I can feel the excitement that these people are feeling.

The show can really connect to runners.

on another note....

The post before this one I complained a bit about a guy stopping me during a run. I just want you guys to know that I did not mean to sound like a total asshole. I was not rude to the guy when he stopped me. I would have given him a couple bucks if I had it so he could catch the bus. And I gave him a thumbs up to show that I was with him. I was just trying to figure out why people keep talking when you are already a half a block away from them.

11 January 2009

Enough Already

Today on my run I was coming up behind this guy who was walking on the same side of the street as me. He started looking back as I approached and I could tell he wanted to ask me for something. I slowed down and stopped my watch as he said hello.

He gave me some sob story about fighting with his girlfriend and not having enough money to get the bus back to Philly. I did not have any money so I told him I couldn't help him out. He thanked me anyway and apologized for stopping my run.

Hmm... pretty polite guy...

But as I started running again he asked me if I wanted the Eagles to win today. Where did that come from? Then he asked how many miles I was running. Then he wished me luck on my running. All this while I was running away. If I had not started running again he would have just kept on going.

Some people just don't know when to let up.

Head Cold and Progression Run

I have developed a head cold over the weekend. I am glad that I have it now so I can knock it out before I go on vacation next week.

Head colds never hinder my running. In fact, running helps me clear up the sinuses and gets my head together for the day. So I decided to do an easy 3 miles as planned.

I did the first two miles very easy and something went off in my head that I should try to push the pace for the last mile. So I picked it up to sub 10:00 pace and tried to keep it for the entire last mile. I hovered around 9:00-9:30 for a while, but could only hold it for slightly more than half a mile. Point six to be exact. I wanted to stop at half, but decided to get to the corner just ahead.

The effort was a lot for me. I stopped to walk a few minutes before finishing off the rest of the three miles at a normal pace. It kind of scares me that in order to accomplish my goal of a sub 4 hour marathon in November I will need to hold a better pace than that for 26.2 miles. It makes me realize I am going to have to work hard to get it... and I will.

One key to this training is the heart rate monitor. I have had the forerunner 305 since the beginning of December, but never used the HR monitor. I wore it today to experiment with it, and it will be a big help in my training.

I am going to use the Runners World method for finding my true max heart rate, since I think the formula of 220 - age is a little off. That puts my max at 190, and I will use that for now, but I hope to find my true max by the end of the week.

I am doing a lot of research on heart rate training. It is yet another thing that is getting me motivated to run. With the heart rate training it will be easier for me to get in better shape and run better!

09 January 2009

Knot Untied

When I saw that Runners World had an article last month about how to tie shoes, I thought it was pretty funny. I glanced over the article, but did not read the whole thing... yet.

I think that I will go back and read the whole thing now. I went for a run this morning and for the first time ever did not use a double knot in my shoe. I just reversed the way I tied it and used a reef knot, as described in the article and in a video on runnersworld.com.

When I got home I had forgotten all about the shoes, but when I went to untie them I realized, not only were they still tied, but the knot was as tight as when I first tied it!

I always had problems with my laces coming untied... who knew I was tying them wrong?

08 January 2009

I Must Run

I have only ran once in the past two weeks because of the soreness in my leg. It has been feeling good lately so I am going to go for an easy run tomorrow morning before work and see how it does.

I really need a run. I have been having more than a few bad days at work. People are getting on my nerves. My head has been hurting. I am getting fidgety.

I really need a good run to let some aggressions out and just use the time for prayer.

I hope tomorrow will bring a good run. I really need it.

05 January 2009

Book Report: Ultramarathon Man

I have recently developed an obsession for human endurance and a fascination for endurance sports, starting with running. In an attempt to feed this obsession I have been reading books and doing a lot of YouTube searching.

Luckily, I received a gift card from my mother in law for Barnes and Noble this Christmas. I walked into the store and went directly to the sports section. I found about two hundred dollars worth of books that I wanted but narrowed the search down to a few, two of which were memoirs by Dean Karnazes. Ultramarathon Man and 50/50. Even with a gift card I can be a penny pincher so I picked the first since it was in paperback.

I did not know much about Dean Karnazes before getting this book, but I knew enough to know I wanted to know more. Follow me?

There are sections that kept me glued to the pages. Such as his high school career. His return to running on his thirtieth birthday. Running the Western States Endurance Run.

Dean shows just how strong the human machine is and how it can endure some of the harshest and most extreme running conditions. I can barely hope to have a fraction of his strength when it comes to running. I do not plan on wanting to run 100+ miles in a race (anytime soon at least), but he sure makes me think about it. For now I will just try to get through 26.2.

There are parts of the book that get a little repetitive. He really does paint a good picture of how much it hurts to run like he does. Sometimes you feel it as you read, but as you get deeper into the book you feel like you are having deja vu with the descriptions.

I did connect with Dean though. He was thirty when he rediscovered running. He felt that something was missing, and began to wonder if he was going through an early midlife crisis. I finally fell in love with running in August. I was 29 and my 30th birthday was last week.

Running has given me more motivation and dedication in the last four months than I have had in the last 30 years. I have a lot of things in my life to be grateful for. God has blessed me with a beautiful family, a gorgeous wife, and the ability to run, among other things. Running has completed something for me. I feel so good while running and even better after a run. It gives me time to pray and think. It gives me affirmation that I am alive.

So what is my obsession with human endurance all of a sudden?

Well, the human machine is a fascinating thing and it can be pushed to incredible limits. I have been sitting in front of the television and getting overweight for the last ten years, when I could have been pushing limits and going farther. Like Dean says in his book, people have come to think life is meant to be comfortable, when in reality, the hurt and feeling you get when you take the hard route is what makes you alive.

So check out the book. And if anyone has a copy of 50/50 that they may want to trade... let me know. I have a lot of books sitting around and would be willing to send a couple in return.

04 January 2009

You Get What You Pay For

I am not one to spend a lot of money on things. I can do with the minimum, and I usually go for off brand stuff since it is cheaper. Life is not all about the most expensive things for me.

However, when it comes to running gear, you get what you pay for. This is true in other sports and areas of life, but obviously I focus on running.

When I first started running, it was strictly Wal-Mart and Target for all my running gear. There was no need to spend $50 on shorts or a shirt. Plus, I am not one to stick with something very long. I try new hobbies and activities and quickly abandon them. So I did not what to invest hundreds of dollars into a wardrobe I would only wear for a month.

One place I did splurge was on my shoes, but I still did not want to go to the local running store and spend $100 or more. I went to Kohl's and bought a pair of New Balance. The shoes were a whopping $45.

For Christmas my wife got me two Under Armour cold gear shirts. I immediately felt the difference when I put them on. We were having unusually warm weather so I did not have the chance to use them, but as soon as the temperature dipped I was putting them on faster than you can say cold.

Those shirts are fantastic and keep me warmer better than some of my normal cold weather clothes. I can not believe that I was getting along without them.

I also got fitted for a new pair of running shoes on Friday. I was eager to go to the running store and get a specific shoe that I needed. I need stability. I got a pair of Brooks Axiom 3, in case you were wondering.

The old New Balance shoes were all wrong for my feet, which may have been causing my leg pain. The new pair of Brooks feel great and fit better. Just walking in the store I could tell the difference. I will be trying them on a short run tomorrow.

I still do not need the most expensive, or the newest gear... but you definitely get what you pay for and high quality stuff costs more money.

But, I can always look for sales!

01 January 2009

Back In The Saddle

I have not gone for a serious bike ride since July. I like riding my bike, but it has taken a back seat to running.

Today I needed to do something. I need to be active and since I can not go running I went for a ride. It was cold outside. And my bike sucks.

I still have a no name mountain bike that I got from Target a long time ago. It has definitely given me my money's worth, but it still sucks. I needed to switch the tires to road ones for a smooth ride, and that helped a little.

I wanted to do 10 miles, but really had no planned route. When looking at the satellite maps of my neighborhood I noticed a park around a small lake and figured I would finally go looking for it. I ended up not finding it, but after looking at the map again realized I was only blocks from it at times and did not realize it.

I wore my Forerunner 305 while riding today and it caused me to fall in love with this thing even more. Before, I had a cheap computer from K-Mart that was affixed to the handle bars and a wire ran down to the wheel and read a magnet as it went around. It did not always work and was very frustrating. With Garmin GPS, I have all the info I need, and never have to worry about a thing.

So this year I will be adding a lot of cycling to my routine. I would like to do at least 20 miles a week right now and bump that up as the year goes on. We shall see. Right now I am just glad I was able to get out and keep my fitness up.

New Year, New Goals, New Age Group

Well, here we are. Another new year and a load of possibilities in front of us. Running has done a lot of things to me in 2008 and one of them is give me focus. Even if the focus is only in running and endurance sports, at least I have focus somewhere. This will be the first time, ever in my life, that I am setting measurable goals and laying out an overall plan for the year to come.

First, my overall plan for the year. Then my goals.

I am going to rest for the first week in January and make sure my leg is okay. Tomorrow I am getting fitted for shoes for the first time, so that might help. January is also bringing a vacation to Disney world in Orlando. A full week down there will bring good times with family and hopefully some good runs in the nice weather.

When I return from Disney it will be time to start my first official training program for the Broad Street Run on May 3. If no other 5k's come around until then, than this will be my third race. Not only that but it will be my longest and largest race yet. I am both excited and confident I can do it.

I will be using a training program from Smart Coach on runnersworld.com with a few customizations of my own to the program. My goal time as of right now is 1:45 but I will be happy if I break 2 hours.

After that I will continue to run and build my mileage through the summer. I will also be running as many 5k's and 10k's that I can find. My main goal through the spring and summer will be to build mileage and endurance.

August 2nd is exactly sixteen weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon. Philly is going to be my first marathon and this is when I will start my training program for it. I have not decided how I will make my training program since it is so far away, but I will probably customize another smart coach plan.

Leading up to Philly I will focus on training as hard as I can while still being safe and injury free. There are two major races that I want to run during that time. September 20th is the ING Philadelphia Distance Run. I will integrate this one into my training plan, and most likely just use it as a faster than normal training run rather than an all out race.

November 2nd is the Run The Bridge 10k. This seems to be a fantastic run, and it is a race I could have done last year, had I stuck with my running from the beginning. So this year I have to come with a vengeance.

When the marathon rolls around I hope to be well trained and in much better shape than I am now. It is my first marathon so just getting there and finishing it will be a great accomplishment, but my ideal dream time right now is under 4 hours. I think it is realistic to break 4 hours, and I will be training all year to do just that.

So that is my overall plan for the year. I will also be entering the two 5k's that I entered last year, and revisit my journey into running. I am also planning to incorporate a lot more cycling into my training programs and cross training. I went for my first ride since July today and it felt great!

Now here are my specific goals for 2009. I am sure there will be more to come as we get further into the year.

* Run 600 miles
* Cycle 1000 miles
* Run the Broad Street Run (goal 1:45)
* Run the Philadelphia Marathon (sub 4 hours)
* Run at least 12 races this year.
* Place in my age group in at least one 5k

Speaking of age groups, today is my birthday. I am thirty which means I am in a whole new age group!