Archive for October, 2009

The day has arrived…

Posted: October 31, 2009 in Marathon
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After about 4 months of training, the day has finally arrived. Tomorrow morning, I will run my first-ever marathon in NYC. There is so much to say about this experience. Simply training for it has been a wild journey… I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.

I’m sure I will have a LOT more to say tomorrow (or in the coming days), but there are a few people who deserve a heartfelt thanks…

First and foremost, my wife of 12 years for putting up with me and my selfishness as I set out on this personal journey. You have allowed me to pursue a crazy goal that I had. For that, and many other reasons, I love you.

Secondly, my wonderful two kids — Kyle and Alicia — for everything that they are and will continue to grow to be. Challenge yourselves, don’t ever settle for second best, and never give up. I’m proud of you guys!

Third, my dad, who sacrificed a lot to allow me to chase my athletic dreams as a kid without EVER putting an ounce of pressure on me. Your example is one I can only hope to emulate as my own children grow.

And lastly, my mom, who just got out of the hospital yesterday in Maine after yet ANOTHER scare… You have shown your kids and family that you are the real fighter among us.

For better or worse, 26.2 here I come.

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Takin’ it easy…

Posted: October 28, 2009 in Marathon
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Before I head up to New York, I decided to blow off a little steam this week and went to see the “Hottest Band in the Land…KISS!”

kissWhether you like their music or not, the spectacle of a Kiss concert is SO worth it. The last time I saw Kiss was about 10 years ago at Madison Square Garden, appropriately enough. The amount of smoke, fire and blood that comes with a Kiss concert is unparalleled.

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confettiAs for running this week, I have yet to run since Saturday! I’m not crazy about such a long layoff, but I really want to take it as easy as possible.  I plan to do 3-4 miles before I head up to Gotham for the weekend. Once there, I will likely just do an easy 2 miles on Saturday morning.

One thing is for certain, the nerves are starting to kick in. My kids are super-excited for the trip. My dad, brother, sister and other family and friends will be coming into the city from Brooklyn, New Jersey and Philadelphia. So it should be GREAT!

The weather is supposed to be in the mid-50s with only a 20 percent chance of rain. (fingers crossed)

Also, this week I surpassed my goal of raising $1,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It’s not a huge amount, but I got a bit of a late start on it, so I’m pleased that I was able to hit my target. My company will match the final total, which is an awesome gesture.

And lastly… this is the single best tip I got from a friend who has run in the race. “If it’s windy, stay in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge so you don’t get hit with pee coming from the upper deck while waiting for it to start.”  Now THOSE are words to live by!

One Week To Go

Posted: October 24, 2009 in Marathon
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It’s official. There is now just one week remaining until I lace up my shoes for my first-ever marathon. That was fast.

As I head into the final week of training, my main goal is just to keep my legs fresh, mix in a few short runs, and get myself prepared for the trip. There’s a lot of planning to do, especially since my wife and kids, ages 9 and 6, will all be coming along for a fun-filled weekend.

The weather forecast has been changing almost daily, but there’s a chance that it might rain the day of the race. That would be brutal! Let’s hope the weatherman is wrong.

After my last 10-miler, I ran a 5-miler three days later and then rested for three more days before a quick 4-miler this morning. At this point,  three days of rest seems to be the perfect amount of time to let my calfs/shins fully recover while not impacting my training schedule too much.

ObrienIn a fortunate bit of timing, I got to pick the brain of a serious runner the other day during a round of golf. Eric O’Brien, who ran track at Georgetown in the 1990s, was my playing partner during a round with some friends.  Just when you begin to think that you might be a fast runner, spend a day with a guy like Eric. This dude is FAST! Have a look here at the 1-mile results from the 1996 Big East Championships.

Eric was a great miler in college and told me that because so many people kept asking him if he had ever run a marathon that he finally decided to enter one a few years ago “just to shut them up.”  The guy jumps into the Boston Marathon for his first-ever 26.2 and clocks a 2:37 time. Are you kidding me?! He then thinks that he might as well try to get into the U.S. Olympic Trials and trains hard for NYC the following year with the hopes of breaking 2:24. This is where he learns a valuable lesson that I hope to benefit from. He never finished New York after it became clear that he wouldn’t break the time needed. His crash and burn point came at about mile 20, he said. Once he realized that he wasn’t going to qualify, he just packed it in,

59After coming over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan, he said he got caught up in the excitement of the atmosphere and the cheering crowds and pushed himself too hard from miles 17-20. I can see how this could happen. After running in the relatively desolate environment of the Bronx and Queens for several miles, coming over the bridge and into Manhattan must be a total adrenaline rush with everybody lining up along 1st Avenue.

I want to make sure I take it all in, but I will also have to guard against picking up my pace and running out of gas. I won’t be trying to break 2:24 like Eric was, but I think the advice still applies. Over the next week, I will probably get in at least 2, maybe 3 runs. We’ll have to see how it goes. Whatever happens between now and Nov. 1, one thing is clear: There’s no turning back.

After spending most of the week recovering from last Saturday’s 22-miler, I set out to do my last semi-long run (12 miles) this Saturday — exactly 15 days before the NYC Marathon.

Before I get to that, here’s a quick recap of my week leading up to today, in case you cared. I did my usual 4 miles around the neighborhood on Tuesday. I wouldn’t say it was the best 4 miles I had ever run, but it wasn’t the worst.

My right shin/calf  is the one giving me the most trouble these days and I have to be careful when I run not to favor it too much. If I do, I fear that I will put too much stress on my right hip, leading to bigger problems. So I REALLY focus more on my stride and less on my speed now. Maintaining a good stride will be key for the marathon if I have any nagging injury issues.

On Thursday, I had planned to attend a spin class at a gym near my office but wasn’t able to get out of the house early enough to get there. So instead, I managed to get in 4 miles on the gym’s treadmill later that day. It had been a LONG time since my last treadmill workout. I quickly remembered why. Treadmills suck, even if you can watch CNN’s endless coverage of “Balloon Boy” while you run. Once you get in the habit of running outside, it’s very hard to get back into treadmill mode. It was a struggle, but I managed to get in a few miles.

socksBy the time Saturday rolled around, the A.M. temperatures had dropped down into the 40s, making my intended 12-mile run more of a chore than I had ever expected. Because my son had an early soccer game on the schedule, I knew I had to hit the road early if I had hoped to get it done on time. One too many smacks of the snooze button put me slightly behind schedule. I was delayed even more than usual due to the layers I had to put on, including a winter hat (which, needless to say, took me awhile to locate.) And I know you’re just lovin’ those stylish socks!

When I finally started my slow, shin-shaking trot, the clock said 7:15. After the first 6 miles, it was 8:05. Ugh! I was going too slow If I planned to do the full 12. So when I got smacked in the face with a teeth-chattering 20 mph wind a few miles later, that was all I needed. I decided to cut the run short at 10 miles. The decision bugged me a little, but I quickly got over it. It was more important to get home in time to make sure we got to the soccer game as scheduled.

soccerAs a bonus, they won the game.

I wore my compression socks for about two hours after the run. The verdict is still out if they are helping with my post-run recovery. All I know is, they feel good while I’m running and really help to support my calf muscles. And that’s good enough for me.

Over the next two weeks, I am supposed to run 4 or 5 miles on about 8 or 9 different occasions. Whether I keep that schedule will depend on how I feel each day. I might also try to get another deep tissue massage for my legs at some point before I head up to New York with my family. The time is quickly approaching…

Recovering Quicker

Posted: October 13, 2009 in Marathon

A quick flashback:

Before I went on my 22-miler on Saturday, I forgot to mention that I did a short 4-miler a few days earlier. There wasn’t anything too special about the run, other than the fact that it took place in an absolute downpour. If you scroll down here, you will see when it rain the hardest on Oct. 7: about 8 a.m. (which is exactly when I started my run!)

rain

I might have looked crazy to my neighbors for running in the rain, but I had a blast. (my wife would later tell me that she was secretly laughing while inside the comfort of our house.)  The way I look at it, she missed all the fun.

Flash forward to today… three days after running the 22-miler, I completed a marathon (sort of) with a quick 4-miler around the ‘hood. That’s 26 miles… who cares if it was spread out over several days!

My legs were weak, tired and still a little sore. I took it very slow and steady for the first 2.5 miles. But after cresting the top of the hill just outside my neighborhood, I got new life and kicked into high gear. Note to self: Make sure “Shoot to Thrill” by AC/DC is on marathon playlist.

Over the final 1.5 miles, I managed to ignore the pain and run at about a 7 min/mile pace.  This was actually the first time in a long time I felt that I was able to take my normal full stride on a short run so quickly after a long weekend run. Typically, it has taken me 4-5 days to feel 100%.  I’ve got to think that this is a result of the compression socks and ice bath.

I ended the run feeling good about my progress. For good measure, I left my compression socks on for a few hours and went to work.

I recently found this course video. This guy is fast!

It had been almost six weeks since I had managed to tackle my last REALLY long run of 18 miles. So it was about time I mustered up the energy and found the time to make it through 22 miles.

Before I did that, I thought it would be a great idea to join my wife for her “boot camp” workout at the park with a group of her girlfriends. I mean, really, how hard could it be? After about 100 lunges and squat thrusts, I woke up on the morning of my 22-miler with a couple of really sore thighs. Not smart.

The day before the run, I found my way over to the All3Sports store, which just happens to be about 5 miles from my house. It’s a store that specializes in triathlon gear, but they have good running accessories. I picked up a few standard items… GU, Body Glide etc. and then got a pair of these compression socks.

Running O2 Black

I always kind of laughed at the idea of compression socks. They seemed unnecessary and looked kind of dorky, to be honest. But after dealing with lower leg pain for as long as I have been, I figured I had nothing to lose. I was told by the “experts” that wearing them on log runs would help speed up my post-run recovery.

Because they are so tight, I noticed that my calf muscles barely moved throughout the entire run. This really seemed to help. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the lunges and squat thrusts I did a day earlier. Those didn’t help much at all. In fact, my thighs were killing me from about Mile 12 on.

For this run, I managed to convince a friend to run it with me. She’s also running the NYC Marathon and was due for a long run, too. We did the first 12 miles together — at a much slower pace than I usually run — but it was good to have some company. I broke off from her for the final 10 miles and picked up my pace a little, but not too much. My goal was simply to finish, not set a personal best time.

The route was great. It is mostly on running trails that lead from Riverside Park along the Chattahoochee River and then goes UP to a wooded area at Big Creek Greenway. However, the 3-mile section between the two parks was an extreme uphill that crossed over a very busy intersection. Over 22 miles, you’re going to have some not-so-great sections, I suppose. The hills were a good test to have on such a long run,

A cramp in my side set in at Mile 17, but went away at Mile 18. At Mile 19 I made a mental note that it was the farthest I had run in my life. It brought a quick smile to my face. Soon after that blissful moment passed, I desperately wanted to quit! At Mile 20, my mind started to wander and my vision actually became blurry. I couldn’t focus… seriously! My shoulder was cramping, I needed to go to the bathroom, etc. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other at this point. I wanted to quit again… and again… and again. At some point over the final 3 miles, I remembered the simple Lance Armstrong quote: “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”

Aaaahhh…. that did the trick. Quitting is for sucky people… or something like that.

When I finally reached my car, I had to walk around for about 30 minutes. I could barely bend over to pick up my Gatorade bottle and I really needed some coffee! I was HURTIN!

On the way home, I stopped off to pickup two bags of ice and dump them into the tub for a 20-minute ice bath! I think that hurt more than the run, but it should really help with recovery. We shall see. (I’m wearing shorts in the picture. It’s a family blog, after all.)

Next week, it’s 12 miles on Saturday.