Archive for September, 2009

After running just one 4-miler in the past two weeks, I still decided to go ahead with a 12-miler over the weekend. It was a tough decision, but I knew I needed to do it to get myself back in long-distance shape.

According to my original schedule, I was supposed to do my first 20-miler this weekend, but that didn’t seem like the best idea, considering my two-week layoff.

I kept a steady, controlled pace, which certainly helped. But I paid for it the next day. My calf muscles were REALLY tight. I really need to find time to get a deep tissue massage. There never seem to be enough hours in the day for a good massage!  Story of my life…

I plan to stick with my plan of running only three days a week up until the marathon. Endurance-wise, completing the distance shouldn’t be a problem. I just REALLY need to make sure I don’t get hurt between now and then.

This coming Sunday, I am running in the 13.1 Atlanta half marathon with several people form my neighborhood. Should be a fun time.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note…  the night before my 12-miler, I went to see Here We Go Magic – a band I knew nothing about other than the fact that an old high school friend, Jen Turner, played guitar with the band. (Her dad was my hockey coach when I was a freshman.)

The band played what she called “experimental” music in a free-flow Pink Floyd sort of style. It wasn’t the type of music I listen to all the time these days, but I liked it.

Here’s one of the band’s songs —
— which I think will actually be good for long-distance runs.

I hadn’t really followed Jen’s career very much, but I did know that she had done some cool things with some other bands throughout her career. She played a bit with Lenny Kravitz and had her own band – Furslide – for a while. But perhaps, most notably to mainstream music fans is her kick-ass guitar on “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant. On this track, her guitar playing is almost as synonymous as Merchant’s vocals. Here she is on Saturday Night Live.


Lacing ‘Em Up Again… Finally.

Posted: September 23, 2009 in Marathon

After sitting around for two weeks waiting for my legs to feel better, I finally decided to lace ’em up again and go for a run.

It was one day earlier than I had expected, but I felt good and decided to give it a shot. It was just a nice leisurely 3.8-mile run around the neighborhood, but I am determined not to push too hard just yet.

During my layoff, I spoke with Dr. Missy Holas, a physical therapist I know who works with numerous local athletes, including many of the Atlanta Thrashers. Among the many things we discussed, she suggested that I use a Tens Unit on my legs after each run.

By using electrodes to stimulate the muscles after each run,  my legs will be able to make a quicker recovery. So that’s what I did for 15 minutes on each calf.


For me, this was the first time I had ever tried this, so it’s too early to tell if I will benefit from it.  But what do I have to lose, I figure.

I plan to go for a 5-miler on Thursday and possibly 12 Miles on Sunday, depending how I feel.  So far, so good.

While I sit around and do nothing for two weeks except eat double stuff oreos, pizza and other assorted junk foods, I decide to visit my local running store to get my stride and shoe choice evaluated.

In the Atlanta area, there are several running stores, but the most-respected seems to be The Big Peach Running Co.

I make my way to their Buckhead/Atlanta location on, you guessed it… Peachtree Rd.  As a sidenote, there are 71 roads in Atlanta with Peachtree in the name. Ridiculous.

As I make my way to the store, all I can think of is Spike Lee and Michael Jordan in the old Nike commercial. “Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!”

When I visit, my main objective is to find out if I’m wearing the correct shoes. So I bring my old, worn out Nike Air Zoom Elites.

…and my new Structure Triax 12s.

I posted the above pic of the Structure Triax 12s  for one simple reason: You can see the denser foam used in the heel of the Structure model, as well as the “footbridge” (the little red insert between the foam and upper part of the shoe). The Structure is considered to be a stability shoe for runners with a slight pronation in their stride.

Oddly, I thought that was me. But at Big Peach, they put me on a treadmill and videotaped my stride from behind. As it turns out, I have a fairly neutral stride with only a tiny bit of pronation.

The denser foam and “footbridge” is meant to keep a runner’s foot and ankle from rolling inwards when the heel strikes the ground. While my ankle is fairly stable, these shoes aren’t necessarily bad for me, I’m told, but if I wear them I certainly don’t need to use my Superfeet insoles.

Combining the Superfeet with a shoe that has a stiff “footbridge” and the thicker-than-normal foam is like running on pavement with brick shoes. Perhaps that’s why they felt so unbelievably stiff when I first wore them!  DUH! This also couldn’t have been good for my shin splints.

It’s all starting to make sense now. My previous shoes, which had about 400 miles on them, were simply worn out and didn’t provide me with the general stability I needed.

Then, I went from those shoes, to stiffer stability-type shoes and put in a stiff insole on top of it!

Now that I know a little more about the shoes I’m wearing and have become more informed about my stride, my next step is to go back to my podiatrist and make an appointment to get a deep tissue massage on my legs with one of the sports massage therapists he recommended. After that, I’m hoping to get back on the road in the next 10 days or so.

Meanwhile, I need another Double Stuff Oreo!

Well, I finally did it… And it aint good.

I have run so much over the past 2 months that I now have to completely stop running. My shin splints have gotten so bad that it hurts even when I walk. I have decided to take 2 complete weeks off. This is beyond disappointing.

Mentally, it was a very hard decision. But physically, I know that it’s something that I HAVE to do if I have any hope of running the marathon in seven weeks.

I was supposed to run my first 20-miler on Saturday, but now won’t be running at all. I tried to run 5 miles while in Toronto on Thursday and had to stop twice and walk due to the pain in my shins. My tibial tendonitis has just been getting worse and worse.

I simply think I have been running too much and not allowing my legs to recover. This is just sheer stubbornness on my part. I plan to go see my podiatrist again in the coming days. I’m also going to look into getting some different shoes.

From what I can tell, my pain is also be made worse because of the overpronation in my stride. In talking with several friends who have suffered from the same issue, after they bought some shoes that were specifically made to combat the problem — which is one of the most common injuries among runners — the pain went away.

I’m hoping for the same results.

I never ended up getting the Mizunos I had talked about in my previous post. Instead I got these Nikes.

Turns out, I didn’t do enough research. The Runner’s World review is all over the map with customer comments. Many runners seemed to love them, others were not-so-loving with their comments. This is no knock on Nike. I’m sure these shoes are more than adequate, they just don’t seem to be right for me.

A colleague of mine has these shoes and absolutely LOVES them. Perhaps, after a fitting at a local running store, I will give these a try if they are recommended for me.  I need help, quick.

Main image for GEL-Kayano® 15

Enough bad news. Here’s a huge bit of GREAT news:

I will be running the marathon as part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation NYC09 Marathon Team. I’m psyched. There are about 250 of us on the team. So far, the team has raised about $350,000 for LAF. If you want to donate to the cause, here is the link to my page. There is also a direct link to donate now in the upper right corner of this page.

I appreciate any and all donations, no matter how big or small. Thanks in advance.


Recently, a friend had asked for some running song suggestions. These songs are completely subject to personal preference, but here are some that are currently on my playlist.

Song – Artist

“Apertura” – Gustavo Santaolalla (Motorcycle Diaries)

“Butterfly” – Crazy Town

“Hoppipolla” – Sigur Ros

“One Tree Hill” – U2

“Sumertime” – The Sundays

“Tick Tick Boom” – The Hives

“When the Weight Comes Down” – The Tragically Hip

“Fascination Street” – The Cure

“Asking me Lies” – The Replacements

“The Pretender” – Foo Fighters

“Queen of the Furrows” – The Tragically Hip

“Where U at Rock?” – Kid Rock

“Lebanese Blonde” – Thievery Corporation

“The Rake’s Song” – The Decemberists

“Whisper as we Walk” – Ry Jarred

These songs are a mix of rock, rap, acoustic guitar, fast, slow and a little bit of everything in between.

I also like to run to Alexi Murdoch, but I can’t remember the names of enough of his songs. I just know I like him.

That’s it for now.  Over the next two weeks, I will be running vicariously through others, so keep going. And when you do, think of me.

After recently reading Chris Ballard’s column – Defying Death Valley – in the Aug. 31, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated,  it reminded me of an article I wrote SEVEN years ago about Ultramarathons.

I remember getting the assignment and thinking… Ultra-WHAT?

The race I wrote about – The USA 24 Hour Run Championship – was in Ohio. I did the entire article based on phone interviews with the competitors. As each one told me their story, I just remember thinking … “these people are all nuts!”

Truth be told, I still think that. However,  I am now starting to gain an appreciating for what makes ultramarathoners do what they do. It’s a battle of human spirit and the will to overcome. The desire to push yourself beyond the limit of what you thought was possible and the exhilaration that comes with such an accomplishment.

I can certainly relate.

A year ago, I never thought I would be able to run a 10k, this Saturday I will be running a 20-mile training run. Go figure.

I now wish I had gone to the Ultramarathon race in person to write the story. Man, what  great detail and personal stories of triumph the runners would have been able to share… After my article went out, I was flooded with emails from runners wanting me to write about their ultramarathon experiences. I also got emails from race organizers wanting me to write about their race.

That article was my first and only foray into the world of ultramarathons.

I remembered the final quote pretty well, but went back and found the article to make sure I got it right.

“People don’t even think about thinking if it’s possible. It’s an opportunity for self-exploration and seeking out the frontier of human potential.”

It reminds me a little bit of Steve Prefontaine’s line:  “Most people race to see who is the fastest, I race to see who has the most guts.”


Starting to cut back

Posted: September 5, 2009 in Marathon

As I get inside of two months before the marathon, I’m slowly cutting back on the numbers of runs I do per week.

After my 5 miles on Wednesday, I hit the road for a REAL slow and steady 4 miles on Thursday. Then, even though my schedule said to do 4 miles on Friday, I take the day off to let my legs revover. I feel that I’m starting to burn myself out a little, and that’s the LAST thing I want to do.

The day off served me well.

On Saturday, I go ahead with my scheduled 12-miler, but I decided to take a completely new route. This one includes some serious hills. The final three miles are almost entirely uphill. And the first of three hills is the type of incline that you would have to avoid in a snowstorm. You’re tires would spin and you would slide back down. It’s a doozy.

As I climb the hill, another early-morning runner passes me on the way down the other side.  He gives me the thumbs up, as if to say “I know what you’re going through!” A nod of appreciation can go a long way.

With this week’s schedule calling for:

Sun – 4

Mon – 3

Tues – 5

Wed – 5

Thu – 5

Fri – OFF

Sat – 20

I will likely only run Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I plan to take Thursday and Friday completely off to prepare for my first-ever 20 miler on Saturday. I have yet to decide where I want to run it. The Silver Comet Trail is nice, but the out-and-back route is pretty monotonous. Hopefully I will be able to find a new, more scenic route.

Oh, and am awaiting a new set of shoes to arrive in the mail. Brace yourself. These are them:

Love Thy Neighbor

Posted: September 2, 2009 in Marathon

When training for a marathon, I have discovered that it REALLY helps to have a neighbor who is not only a nice guy, but a chiropractor.

After taking a few days off following my 18-miler on Saturday and a 4-miler on Sunday, I hit the road for 5-miles on Wednesday. The run went pretty well, but I am still finding that my legs aren’t recovering nearly as fast as I would like them to. In fact, my left calf remains a sore spot for me, literally.

scomaAfter becoming aware of my nagging issues (my wife talked to his wife), a neighbor of mine, Dr. Christopher Scoma, told me to come over and let him work on my legs for a bit.

He’s much more than just a chiropractor — as you might think of the profession. After just a few minutes, I was thoroughly convinced that the pain in my leg is DEFINITELY not from a stress fracture.

As he pressed on the muscles, tendons and joints around my shins, ankles and hips, I could feel (painfully) that my muscles and tendons were in knots.  Simply put, I was a little bit out of whack in several areas.  This was no spa-style massage he was giving me. It hurt, but in a good way. I knew that he was pinpointing the problems. There was no denying it.

I’ve got a couple more 4-mile runs left this week, then it’s 12 miles on Saturday. I’m hoping that the work of my good neighbor pays off.