Marathon Number 2 of 12 in ’12…..Part One

26.2 with donna 14

As I’ve mentioned in my past few blog entries, my goal for 2012 is to run a marathon during each calendar month of the year in order to generate awareness and donations for The Dream Team Project.  Well I am happy to report that I survived marathon number two on Sunday, February 12th.  I completed the “26.2 With Donna Marathon”, run in Jacksonville, Florida in a time of five hours and fourteen minutes.  I’d like to briefly share with you the day’s experience, because it truly was amazing.

First off: this marathon weekend offers runners the choice of running the full marathon, a half marathon, or participate in a marathon relay.  I chose the full marathon – but I can tell you that the half marathon distance was extremely popular!  So let’s dive right in!

On Saturday morning I took a taxi right from Jacksonville International Airport to the marathon expo held in a convention center downtown.  It was a very well organized, thorough event, as speaker such as Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway graced the stage at different times during the day, spreading their running knowledge base among the masses.  Mr. Galloway was particularly exceptional during his discussion of “how to stay motivated during the run”.  That subject really made an impression on me, as I lose motivation early and often during a race.  I become distracted and, as a result, I lose my rhythm.  Then the wheels come off my tractor-trailer in a hurry, turning me into a sweaty mess in an awful hurry.  After he spoke, I got to chat with him for a few minutes!  That was pretty cool!!  This marathon offers the kind of expo where conversations like this become possible.  I left with a fantastic amount of “swag”, and a huge smile on my face.

 

As I walked out of the hotel on Sunday morning, which was wonderfully close to the start/finish line of the race alongside the Mayo Clinic campus, I realized that I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew.  As the doors swooshed open, cold air blasted me right in the face. Should have looked at the temperature before getting dressed….it was 28 degrees.  With a strong wind.  Which was currently whacking me in the face.  I ran upstairs to my room and changed into long pants, 3 shirts and a sweatshirt (which represented approximately 85% of the clothes I brought on the trip).  I never ran 26.2 miles in long pants before….but there’s a first time for everything I guess….

This marathon has grown substantially since it’s inception five years ago, and it’s growth can be primarily evidenced in the quality of the Runner’s Village.  What a great setup.  I cannot recall another marathon offering oranges, bananas, and freshly-baked chocolate chip muffins that immediately reminded me of the Boardwalk Bakery in Walt Disney World (a personal favorite of mine whenever I’m hanging out in La Casa de Walt).  What a great way to kick off a really cold morning.  The chocolaty goodness took my mind off the freezing temperatures, that’s for sure!

After I dropped off my bag (along with my sweatshirt – hello wind chill) and headed to the starting line, a couple of people asked me about the WDW Radio Running Team.  So I gave them the quick explanation of The Dream Team Project, and why running for the team means so much to me.  They, in turn, shared their own experiences running for another cancer charity…and it was wonderful to listen to the passion in their voices as they were so grateful to get an opportunity to do something to help a cause that was close to their hearts.

Before you knew it, the gun sounded and off we went!

The course is very flat until the last mile…then you are exposed to Jacksonville’s version of Heartbreak Hill.  Since the hill is right near the end of the course, it truly is manageable.  You get to run along the beach, through the wonderful little towns, and experience small yet boisterous crowds all along the course.  It was an incredible feeling to have total strangers coming up to me as I waddled along the course, thanking ME for RUNNING.  Are you kidding????  It’s me that should be thanking YOU for YOUR SUPPORT!!!

In my next installment, I’ll provide a detailed description of the race experience!!  Tune in tomorrow!!!

__________________________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

Wanted To Share The Podcasts I’ve Participated In….

2012 wdw 1

Here are links to podcasts I participated in involving the 2011 and 2012 WDW Marathons

A recap of the 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend:

http://www.wdwradio.com/2012/01/disney-world-marathon-recap-review-2012-show-257-january-15-2012/

 

A Preparatory Podcast For the 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend:

http://www.wdwradio.com/2011/12/disney-world-marathon-show-252-december-11-2011/

 

A Recap of the 2011 WDW Marathon Weekend

http://www.wdwradio.com/2011/01/walt-disney-world-marathon-weekend-2011-recap-roundtable-show-205-jan-16-2011/

A Turtle’s Recommendations To Help Keep a Runner Focused

Running 3

So my lack of focus and utter laziness over the past couple of weeks has resulted in a moment of clarity….I think.  I’d like to share with you a few recommendations that may help you stay focused as you work toward your first….second…..twenty-second…..one hundred and second running goal.  Quite frankly, I’m hoping that these work because I’m planning to actually heed my own advice!

1.  Run With Friends – This is my best advice.  It’s advice I’ve heard a hundred times. And….it works! When you run with friends, a group, or a team, you are motivated to keep going just when you begin to get tired.  You are motivated to get out of bed, get dressed, and get your butt to the meeting spot for a run.  Running with the team or a group also helps with structuring your running plan – usually, the group will have goals in mind that each of you will help one another achieve.  As you can tell….there are HUGE benefits when you run as part of a group.

 

2.  Keep a Log – It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Just get into a habit of planning out your week of running by writing down your goals and plans for specific workouts on specific days.  Write down your goals: mileage, pace, etc.  Committing things to paper infers commitment to what’s documented.  Share your plan with a friend – preferably one that knows that you are taking this training seriously, and if you slack off….he/she isn’t afraid to call you to the carpet on it!  Lastly, make sure you read your log quickly right before you go to bed.  If you read what your goal is the next morning right before you hit the sack, you’ll wake up more prepared to attack that goal.

3.  Lay Out Your Running Clothes The Night Before – The act of laying out running clothes the night before a run helps as a reminder when you wake up.  Put your stuff on a chair – someplace where you cannot miss it.  Then, if you wake up not exactly fired up to run in the morning, and if reading your log the night before didn’t help you visualize your morning goal, and if you were planning to run solo (well there goes recommendations 1 and 2, right down the ol’ gabinetto), you’ll have to walk right by your running stuff.  Ah, the power of guilt….Your Reeboks will sit there, looking at you with those sad-sack laces, as if to say “Aren’t you going to slip me on and take me out on the pavement?”  Your technical t-shirt will be lounging back on the chair, saying “I was planning to get sweaty today.  Don’t just let me sit here all day smelling like Lemon Fresh Tide!  I was made to get sweaty!  (the technical t-shirts are particularly emotional in the mornings…trust me)  Your running shorts will….well…you get the idea (yeah Joe – they get the idea: your clothes have a way of taking you a guilt trip….they have personalities….and you…are…nuts).

 

4.  Reward Yourself – Promise yourself something nice at the end of a full week of training where you stuck to your goals.  Maybe it’s a fantastic dinner.  Maybe it’s a movie.  Maybe it’s just some quiet time.  Whatever makes you happy – use it as a carrot, and go chase it all week long.

Well, there you go!  Those are some quick ideas for how to stay focused while training over time to achieve a goal.  Please feel free to offer up any additional helpful concepts that you may have!

A Flashback and A Re-Introduction to The Tool

imagine

I posted this on my blog in August, 2010.  I figured I would re-post it, since this was the entry which The Tool officially materialized into my life.  I know – it’s scary to think that such ridiculous thoughts wander through the synpases of my brain.  But…..they do.  And the only way to get them out is by typing.  So….I guess…..I’m sorry?

So without further adieu, may I present my arch nemesis: The Tool:

(….and I hope you get a good chckle from this one…)

The 59the Street Bridge: It Should Be Condemned

Posted by abronxturtle on August 13, 2010

Saturday, July 31st ……..So today’s TFK workout was 11 ½ miles beginning in midtown on the east side, over the 59th Street bridge, into Long Island City (in Queens), and then on to Roosevelt Island for two laps of its perimeter before retracing our steps and heading back to our meeting place on 59th and Fist Avenue. All week long I have thought about this run, mainly because traversing the 59th Street Bridge brings back several rough memories of marathons past.

I started running the New York City Marathon in 2005 – so this year will mark race #6 for me. As you’ll learn soon enough within this blog, each of the prior five races I’ve run on the first Sunday in November was made much more grueling than they needed to be – mainly due to my lack of proper preparation. One of my many mistakes in training in the past was the lack of hill work. There is an old saying that “hills are speed work in disguise”…..well in addition to making you faster, the act of getting to the top of a hill provides the runner with a small sense of confidence. Since I simply don’t like hills (I never have and I never will, by the way), I chose to avoid them during training from 2005-2009. They were simply no fun at all. They weren’t easy – they were hard. And most everyone that knows me understands that I cannot stand having to actually work hard.

For the past five years, I have gotten to mile 15 of the New York City Marathon in decent shape. My pace would be slow and steady. My mind would be focused and filled with positive thoughts. Then, after making a sharp left turn, I would come face to face with the base of the 59th Street Bridge. It’s dark and silent, as the race plods along the lower level of the bridge and no fans are permitted along the span. The first instinct is to look up at the ground that needs to be covered and the incline that it’s sitting on…..and that is a HUGE mistake. At that very moment, at the base of this bridge, like clockwork, my inner voice begins yelling in my ear. The things that are yelled into my brain by my inner voice are expelled at such a volume that all of the existing positive thoughts are drowned out by the noise. Every year, that voice sounds in my head. Every year, arriving at the same spot, that voice gets louder. Every year, the commentary narrated by this inner voice becomes more and more negative. This voice of negativity has even morphed into a character in my head. If a police sketch artist asked me for a physical description of this inner voice, my response to the policeman would be the following:

“Well Officer, I see him as approximately 4” in height. Jet black hair, styled in a swept back, spikey, Growing Up Gotti look. Beady eyes set in such a permanent squint that it makes everyone think that, as a baby, he was nursed on lemons. Nose hair that peaks out from below the nostrils – if he sneezes, he’ll look like a party favor. He wears a battleship gray Armani suit, with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, because he still has aspirations of being an extra on Miami Vice. A white T-shirt under the suit jacket finishes off the Miami Vice wanna-be appearance, with his chest hair wandering up and out of the collar. His shoes are patent leather roach-killers with no socks – his vain attempt at looking professional….yet casual. His left ear is pierced, with a gold earring sporting his initial protruding from his earlobe. He wears a thick gold necklace over his t-shirt, with a large Japanese letter dangling from it (he thinks the Japanese letter means “warrior” when, in fact, he bought it from a tiny shop on Canal Street…..and it actually says “I love marshmallows”). Although he never so much as sat on a motorcycle in his “life”, he has a large tattoo on his right forearm that reads “Live to Ride, Ride to Live”…just because he thought that it would make him look tough. Finally, as a finishing touch, he wears a large gold pinky ring with a huge fopal (that means Fake Opal”, for all of you playing the home game) in the center.”

(Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself “Joe, you really need to lay of the Diet Coke, take a few deep breaths, and step out of this Never Never Land that you frequently visit….and join us all back here in a little realm we all call REALITY”. Well I’ve visited that realm on several occasions and have decided to run for the hills each time, simply because I couldn’t find anything decent to watch on T.V.)

In 2008, I even decided to name this inner voice. I needed a name that would convey the hideous traits of this character. The name would have to sound gruff. Harsh. It would need to sound like something a person would mutter under his/her breath when a person cuts in front of them while on line at a grocery store. After an hour of deep thought (and yes, I actually did spend 60 minutes of my life pondering an appropriate name for my inner voice), I came up with what is, in my opinion, the verbal embodiment of my inner negativity. I dubbed him……….The Tool.

So each year, from 2005 – 2009, The Tool would appear on my left shoulder as I arrived at the base of this bridge. He would walk up my shoulder and arrive at my ear and, within moments, begin spewing negativity with his cackling voice at such volume that it drowned out any music playing on my Ipod. The inner conversation would begin with simple prods…but, by the time I made it half way up the incline, my body would begin to feel like shutting down. A sample of the heckling I would receive would sound like this:

The Tool: “Hey, hey!! Good to be back!! What’s it been – a year? We need to hang out more often. Why do we always meet at the same spot?”

My Brain: “Oh – it’s YOU. I’m busy. Come back later.”

The Tool: “Wow. Always the same place. Yup. This is it. The 59th Street Bridge. The Gateway to Manhattan, as far as this race is concerned. You must be psyched! Too bad you didn’t train on hills though. This one is HUGE.”

My Brain: “Thank you, Captain Obvious. Now shut up. I’m working here. I’ve just started the ascent and I actually feel pretty darn good.”

The Tool: “I know you started the ascent – I’m on your shoulder and I can see. But wow – that’s a long way up. And you’ve already run 15 miles. What was your longest training run? 12 miles? On a flat surface? You know you aren’t ready for this one.”

My Brain: “It was 14 miles. And I’m fine. Now shut up.”

The Tool: “Well the least they could do is provide water on this bridge. But they don’t. And you look thirsty.”

My Brain: “I am. Now stifle it.”

The Tool: “Wow. No hill training. You are now running farther than your longest training run. And no water. How the heck are you doing this?”

My Brain: “I’m fine. Please shut up.”

The Tool: “So if I’m doing the math right, once you get to the top, you still more than 10 miles to go. And those hills coming up on First Avenue – they are always rough. This race is only going to get harder. Don’t you think you should just shut it down for a bit and walk?”

My Brain: “Once I do that, I’m screwed. You know it. I know it. I’m half way to the top. Now shhhh.”

The Tool: “Half way to the top means you still have all of this incline to go. We need to conserve some energy. Speaking of energy – don’t you think we should have eaten a better dinner last night?”

My Brain: “PLEASE SHUT UP.”

The Tool: “No water. All this hill to go. 10 miles more. More hills coming. 15 miles already in. No hill training. 12 mile long run was your max. Dude…..you’re screwed.”

My Brain: “God this hurts.”

……………….and with that, I downshifted to a steady walk. And once you downshift to walking during a marathon, it is virtually impossible to re-ignite your inner fire and get running at your planned pace again. So, this bridge has historically been the location of the race where my wheels have come off, turning the remaining 10 miles into a death march for me.

I made myself a promise this year, that I would train harder than ever for this year’s race, meaning that I would get my lazy rear-end to organized practices religiously and do the required work – no short cuts. So as the small group I was a part of made the turn 10 miles into this long training run to come face to face with the bridge, The Tool showed up again. He looked around, and noticed that I wasn’t alone. I had teammates with me, all of which knew how this bridge beat me each time I’ve run it. Earlier in the run, they promised to help spur me on up this hill, and they were being true to their word. The Tool paused for a moment on my shoulder, not exactly knowing how to deal with the change in circumstances. He saw that I wasn’t alone – that I had a supporting cast with me, and they appeared focused and determined. Then he looked at my expression – and saw a look that he wasn’t used to seeing: confidence. At that moment, he felt like a grammar school student that studied for a history test all night long, only to arrive at school the next morning to find out that he had a science test that day. He decided that he didn’t like performing in front of a live audience…and with a “poof”, he vaporized into thin air, leaving me to conquer the bridge for the first time in my life.

I began getting slower as the crest of the bridge came into view. Noticing that I was slowing down, my teammate, Nina, yelled out “don’t you dare stop!!! Get going!!!!” As a reflex action, I went to my arms and fought the rest of the way. I had arrived. As I coasted down the bridge and on to 60th street, the sense of pride I felt was electrifying. I have turned the corner. I officially have found some level of positive momentum in my training to build on. After stretching, I went home and realized that my heel was really barking at me. I iced it well and looked forward to the coming week’s workouts. 11 ½ miles. The Bridge. A consistent pace of 10:15 – 10:30 per mile throughout. A gorgeous Saturday – no humidity, temperature in the 70’s, and a light breeze just when I needed it. What a way to end a month.

____________________________________________

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine

Momentum: Not Easy to Develop, and Even Harder to Maintain

Running 1

Once I got back to my room in the Boardwalk Villas, I rested through the afternoon, all night long, and in to the next day.  Monday afternoon, I flew home.  I’m lucky that I heal quickly – there was no noticeable limp as I waddled down the jetway and into the plane destined for JFK airport in New York City.  I wore a dark blue long sleeve shirt that stated “I DID IT!  26.2”  and alongside it “2012 Walt Disney World Marathon”, with Mickey in a running suit emblazed on the front, and a map of the course in bright colors on the back.  As I entered the plane, a flight attendant asked me “did you run the marathon yesterday?”  My response: “nope – I grabbed the shirt right off of some schmuck during a TSA strip search”.  Definitely a sign of things to come.  The flight was a two hour and thirty minute stress test.  One down….eleven more marathons to go.  I kept thinking about that as my slightly deranged cab driver pulled off a fantastic impersonation of  Cale Yarborough as we weaved through traffic from JFK to Manhattan.  An extremely fun weekend….was over.  Now – the work really begins.

And I don’t like hard work.

So I  did what I do best: I procrastinated.

I allowed myself three days to heal, making myself a silent promise to get back on the bridal path and begin the development of momentum to improve my time during my next race, the 26.2 With Donna: The National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville Beach, Florida on Sunday, February 12th.  Well….I broke my silent promise when Thursday morning arrived and with it, some REALLY cold temperatures.  Way too cold to run at 5am, right?  So I brushed off my planned tempo run and caught another 30 minutes of sleep.  Besides….there’s always Friday.

Friday morning came and went – and not a mile was logged.  5 days.  No miles logged, no focus, and what’s worse – no inner fire to get things going.  NOT GOOD.

That Saturday I finally braved the 28 degree morning and got myself going.  Slowly.  I had no goal in my head, and that was a HUGE mistake.  I logged two loops around Central Park, but I lacked focus and purpose.  My performance was sad evidence of this fact.  I actually walked home from the park disappointed, when usually these types of runs fire me up for the remainder of the weekend.  That first week after the WDW Marathon was filled with bad juju.

The following two weeks were just as unfocused and disappointing from a training standpoint.  Sure I can make excuses: long commutes for work, travel for work, soreness from the marathon, cold temperatures…blah blah blah.  A marathoner needs to be better than the excuses he/she can come up with.  And I haven’t been.

So here I am: it’s 7am on a chilly Friday morning.  Leg number two of my 12-legged marathon monster is about a week away.  I know I’ll finish (simply because I’m stubborn – not because I’m physically primed for this one) – I just hope I perform a bit better at the end of the day.  The focus seemed to be coming back during this morning’s speed work.  Why?  Because I developed a specific plan for this morning’s run in my head, and then I executed it.  Not well, mind you – but I got it done.

It was during my slow walk home from the park this morning when I realized what was going on (and if you’ve read my prior entries on this blog going back a bit, you’ll catch the reference pretty quick): The Tool was back.  I thought I beat him up pretty badly.  I thought I had gotten rid of the little imp once and for all last November.  I was wrong.  I forgot that The Tool never goes away – the athlete only ignores his whinings while training and competing, or locks him away in some dark room with no satellite TV, doomed to watch re-runs of The Lawrence Welk Show until the athlete decides to hang up his/her Reeboks and calls it a competitive career.  It’s when the athlete drops his/her guard and loses focus on the goals ahead that the door is trust open, and The Tool marches on through, ready to spill the venom of laziness into our ears.  I dropped my guard.  The Tool marched right on in, perched himself on my shoulder, and had been whispering his distracting messages in my ear for weeks. Damn.  I should have caught this sooner.

Now that I realize that this tiny imp has reappeared to make my life more difficult, the battle has been joined once more.  And this one will go on all……year…..long.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and that is usually my long run day.  I’m planning to log two loops of Central Park, which should put my mileage at around 13-14 by the time I’m finished.  One of the weapons I’m planning to use to battle The Tool from today forward is this blog.  By posting my training goals, it will help me not to lose focus, and it will assist me with staying on track so that I improve throughout the year.