It’s Been a While…


After my 500 mile adventure last August / September, I really went into a funk.  I had spent 18 months training for the challenge of running from San Francisco to Anaheim, and the journey was incredibly special.  Friends and family kept motivating me forward as I prepared for covering more than a marathon a day for 18 day – and that encouragement helped me stay focused when I would have normally slacked off.  When the journey began on August 18th 2015, I felt ready athletically – but I almost lacked the the mental ability to exit the car and start running from the Walt Disney Family Museum that morning.  All of that training…and I almost was unable to get myself out there and begin the actual long distance run.  As the days rolled on and we got into a rhythm, getting out there and logging the miles became easier.  Then, as the end of event drew closer, excitement built within me – I may actually be able to pull this off.  When I finished in the concourse of Disneyland, the first feeling that washed over me was “Wow.  It’s over.  I made it.  I survived”.  The Disneyland Half Marathon felt fantastic that year – like a real victory lap shared with friends.  What I didn’t realize was just how much that effort took out of me.  I found that out in the months that followed.

Normally, as I prepare for one marathon, I make sure to have another one lined up after it in order to maintain my motivation for training.  last year was no exception – I was scheduled to run the TCS New York City Marathon on the first Sunday of November.  What I didn’t realize was that I was so emotionally drained that I completely overlooked it.  I really mailed that race in – it was the first time since I began running the five boroughs in 2005 that I simply longed for it to be over.  It is my favorite day of the year within the city, and all I wanted to do was move on.  A sorry state of affairs.

In January, I went down to Walt Disney World to run the marathon with a bunch of friends. That was a fun time, but once more my heart wasn’t in to the race itself.  The running funk had now lasted four months and I couldn’t shake it.  I began looking for answers.

I realized that I pushed myself to another level last year, and I may have burned out a bit on running.  So I set a new goal for myself…one that would be challenging and hopefully kick the tires & light the fires: Ironman.

I targeted the Ironman Vineman on July 30th as my entry into the event series, I purchased an on-line training program, and I set off to conquer 140.6 miles.  Swim, bike, run became a daily credo.  I’d hit the sack by 9:30pm, got up by 4am, and logged my run.  Then I’d hit the gym, and swim a while – until it was time to transition to a spin class.  I’d finish up the morning routine at 7:15am, rush home and get ready for work.  Saturdays were my long run days.  Sundays were BRICK days (days where I’d log a long bike ride and then hop off and run a bit).  (FYI – some say that BRICK really means Bike Run…ICK!).  The routine felt good after a while, and it’s one that I currently maintain to the best of my ability.  However, without someone to hold me accountable – a decent triathlon coach – I failed to see strong improvement in my times for any of the three disciplines.  July crept closer – and I was not ready.  So I backed out of the race…and the tires deflated again.  I needed to attack this issue from another angle…and the new assault on improvement had to happen quick, as my fall race schedule was bearing down on me.

I began to analyze my daily routine and then…it just hit me.  I need to channel my inner Mad Scientist.  I need to treat my training as my ongoing experiment.  So the first thing I needed to do was come up with short-term and long term-goals that I wanted to achieve (because you cannot perform experiments without first knowing what you want to create), then analyze my my training schedule to enhance the process in order to get where I want to go.

First – the goals.  Well that’s easy: I want to be faster, and I want to be able to run longer without tiring.  I also want to drop weight (a dream of mine for YEARS), and get stronger overall.  Those are the long-term goals.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (I learned that from numerous rides within Spaceship Earth at Epcot).  So what about short-term goals?  That was pretty easy too: Finish the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon in five hours, then enjoy a gallop through the streets of New York City for 26.2 miles the following Sunday.  Two weeks after that, finish / survive the NYC 60k in Central Park, and then continue to train for the Goofy Challenge in January 2017.  From there, I’ll develop a race schedule that requires more longer-distance efforts, throwing in my first half marathon with my daughter in April.  A tough 2017 race schedule should then prepare me for Ironman Vineman in late July.  After Vineman….2018 has something special in store that I’ve dubbed the Florida Running Project (more on that much later).

Once I laid out my short-term and long-term plans, I realized that one thing was missing: specificity.  A good scientist needs to have sound attention to detail, as proper measurements are key to improving something.  So I needed to attach actual time goals for each race, in order to focus my training effectively.  So I created an Excel spreadsheet, and within it I began to lay out my daily training routine.  From there, I added one thing: time targets for each run, swim or bike session.  There it was in black & white: specificity.

Now that I had the level of detail I believe that I needed, I needed to develop something to ensure that I focused on my targets daily.  Why?  Because my training begins at 4am and I’m usually a zombie at the beginning.  So any time-specific goals could be written off at that hour in lieu of simply “checking the box”.  I need to think of each day as an experiment, and the experiment would fail without proper focus.  I came up with a two-step process to address this risk: I developed a routine where, right before I go to bed, I write down the following morning’s run goals on an index card. I review it, and then I crash for the night.  That way, I wake up with those goals still fresh inside my noggin.  Then I take the card with me during my workouts.

Another thing that a mad scientist needs in order to conduct experimentation is data.  I decided to centralize all of my data collection from each training session within an on-line application called Training Peaks.  I’ll go over the day’s data and try to analyze what was solid and what needs improvement.  I think there are several factors that need to be tinkered with in order for the day’s experimentation to be successful:

  • Did I stick to my training plan?  If yes, awesome.  If not, why not? Figure out the cause and fix it.  Things I’ll need to consider:
    • Did I get enough rest?  If not, that can screw up the experiment.
    • Did I not hydrate properly during the workout?  If not, the experiment could easily fail.
    • Any pain?  If so, it needs to be addressed ASAP.
    • Did I fuel properly?  I have a tendency to NOT use gels, bars or any other type of fuel during long workouts (2 hours +).  That’s not smart, and part of the experimentation will be the types of fuel I’m using at the crack of dawn.
  • Did I stick to my diet plan?  If yes, awesome.  If not, why not?  Address the issue and move on to tomorrow.  let’s face it: without proper fuel, training will stink.  Throw the wrong fuel in the tank, and training will suffer for it.
  • Did I stretch?  I hate stretching, but I am now learning that it’s a necessary evil.  I cannot stand doing it, but it just needs to get done.
  • Was I mentally in the zone?  If my head isn’t in the game, the entire day’s experiment will crash.  Some days I am fired up, and some days I dread getting up.

In addition to this sort-of high-level analysis, I’ll also evaluate my performance numerically, from heart-rate monitor data to threshold analysis in order to measure improvement.  If I plateau at any point, I’ll be able to identify it…and then further experimentation will happen.  I feel like Dr. Frankenstein.

Now all I need is one of those cool white lab coats…..

 

 

 

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Sometimes It Feels Good To Grind…


So 2016 began with a few fun long weekends in Florida and Anaheim, where my friends and I completed something referred to as the “Coast to Coast Challenge”.  This consists of runners completing a half marathon in Walt Disney World and then another half marathon in Disneyland.  So the first weekend in January, we flew to Orlando and ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  It’s a well-organized and very unique event, and the atmosphere is completely non-judgmental, making it a perfect first half or full marathon destination for rookies.  The half marathon takes runners through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and provides solid entertainment throughout the course.  The following weekend found us in Anaheim, California, running the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland.  The first 5-6 miles of the course sent the athletes through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure…and the remaining 7-8 miles of the course wound its way through the streets of the city.  The level of entertainment was not as strong throughout the course at is was in Walt Disney World; however, Disneyland is much smaller and requires the use of public roads to host part of the event – so some leeway needs to be given, in my humble opinion.  That being said – the highlight of the course was the 501st Legion’s station close to mile 9 – storm troopers, Boba Fetts, Han Solos in abundance.  Even the cars were designed as X-Wing fighters, including R2-D2’s.  THAT was cool.

 

Once the bling was earned and awarded, we parted ways and I headed home.  It was an excellent kickoff to my athletic year…but the result of the back-to-back events along with the travel involved resulted in something that I call the The Runner’s Blah.

 

The Runner’s Blah is that feeling you get after the event(s) that you trained for are in the books.  Other people have other terms for this sensation – this one is mine.  I felt the blah as soon as I sat down in the plane to LaGuardia…and it stayed with me for days.  I was supposed to run a half marathon in Central Park yesterday (The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon), but 24 inches of snow caused the New York Road Runners to cancel the event for safety’s sake.  As a result, I spent the long weekend planning how to wake myself up, shake off the blah and get back to work.  Here’s how I did it:

 

  1. I got on the computer and began to plan out my training for the coming weeks, using http://www.trainingpeaks.com.  This site allows users to link their activities saved on their GPS watches to planned exercises, estimate calorie burns, and budget your time to get the work in.  20131113-110750.jpg
  2. Then I went on to http://www.myfitnesspal.com and began logging my food intake.  This part sucks, because the only way it works is if you are honest with yourself and log every single thing you take in.  The good thing is that Training Peaks and My Fitness Pal talk to each other – so calorie intake is summarized on your workouts, breaking out carbohydrates, fats, and protein as percentages of your overall fuel intake for the day.  This allows you, the athlete, to weigh ans measure your performance versus the types of food you eat.  By using Training Peaks as your daily workout log, you can write down notes on your performance – which will help the analysis and assist you with improvement.
  3. After I got the tech side of things squared away, I knew that I needed several carrots to hang in front of me, so that I would not lose focus.  So I signed up for a bunch of smaller races here in New York City, added them to my Training Peaks account, and set time goals for each race.  Now I have specific speed targets to aim for as the year progresses.  The biggest carrots for me for 201 are Ironman on July 30th, the Chicago Marathon on October 9th, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th, the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6th and the NYRR 60k on November 19th.  The strategy here is to maximize the importance of daily training early in the year so that I can perform well in the fall without much of a dip in energy level between races.
  4. After covering these three steps, it was on to step #4: longer-term goals.  I needed to prioritize what I wanted to achieve in the coming years.  So I created my Pie-In-The-Sky list.  On this list I added KONA (that’s my unicorn), qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Marathon des Sables, and competing in the Western States.  Hard short-term goals make me prioritize training in the here and now (helping me get rid of the BLAH), and harder longer-term goals make me keep my foot on the gas.  The combination should make me feel that daily sense of urgency to get to the gym when it opens up in the morning.
  5. Knowing how weak I am from the neck up, my next step was locating a group to share my dread with.  People who were as focused on beating themselves up in order to prepare for challenge athletic events.  I chose to join a triathlon team – The Terrier Tris.  They are well – organized and seem like a dedicated bunch of like-minded alphas.  I cannot achieve goals that I have had in the back of my mind for years while purely running a solo mission.  Instead, I need help staying the course.  By joining a team, I’ll train with people that are stronger than I am – and that will push me to get better.
  6. So steps one through five addressed the physical requirements for the goals I have set for myself.  But like I just mentioned, I am not the brightest bulb on Broadway.  So, I needed to set up a plan to keep my head dialed in daily.  I went on to Youtube and created a playlist / watchlist / whateverthehellelseit’scalled, and I added a bunch of motivational videos.  Speeches by famous coaches.  Speeches by Les Brown.  Eric Thomas. Lou Holtz.  Lombardi.  Valvano (Jimmy V rules – just needed to say that).  I’ll need them ready to go when the fire gets a little dim.  And it will.  Guaranteed.
  7. Last but not least, I needed to address logistics.  Every evening, before I hit the sack, I’ll review my plan for the morning.  Go through it a bit.  Try to picture how I want the workout to go.  Positive visualization should help me get up each morning looking forward to the grind.  I’ll also leave my workout clothes on the floor right next to my bed.

 

Motivation is quite important to me.  Wrapping this up, I’ll share with you one of my favorite pieces, written by Tecumseh.  Tecumseh was the leader of the Shawnee, who fought against the occupation of native american lands during the War of 1812.  HE was killed in battle in 1813 – but he is remembered for basically being a hard-nosed combatant and incredible role model.  According to numerous accounts, he was an incredible speaker, and could motivate his warriors to perform above what they thought were their limits.  He put pen to paper a number of times – and this is my favorite passage…

 

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So Far, Not So Good…..


OK – I know I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time. So let me first give you a heads-up on what’s coming up this week. I’m going to share a review of the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I ran a 5k on Friday, a half marathonon Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday (this act of lunacy is lovingly referred to as doing “The Dopey”). Since it is already March 2nd, I’ll provide you with a summary of my lack-luster efforts to this point. But first, let me share with you a new goal that I decided on at the end of January….

So my New Year’s resolutions were made official:

· Drop my weight to 185 pounds, in order to be able to take my running to the next level,
· Log more than 2,013 miles in 2013 in an attempt to prepare for quicker distance event times,
· Run the 2013 New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile in under 7 minutes, and
· Run a marathon in four hours or less (hopefully the 2013 ING New York City Marathon).

An added goal for the year is to complete my first Ultra event. An Ultra event is any race that requires the runner to cover more than 26.2 miles. The first one I am gunning for is a race called Worth the Hurt. It begins the night before the 2013 San Francisco Marathon, where a number of runners begin at the course’s Finish line and run the course to the Marathon’s official starting line. The runners try to reach the Starting Line before the gun goes off on Marathon Sunday so that they can turn around and run the course again from Start to Finish. 52.4 miles. Is it really worth the hurt? If I can raise some money for the Dream Team Project by doing this, then my answer is yes. If for some reason I cannot score a spot in Worth the Hurt, I’ll run the New York Road Runners annual Knickerbocker 60k in the late fall – that’s a marathon plus an additional 10 miles plus. This one is easier than Worth the Hurt (because it’s shorter)– but it’s also very uneventful, as it consists of laps around Central Park….over and over and over again.

So let’s throw that up on the board, officially. Goal number 5 for 2013:
· Complete my first ultra.

As I continue to re-read the goals that I’ve set for myself, I realize that my ability to achieve all of them revolves around one main concept: dropping weight. Losing weight has never been my strongest suit. I like food way too much. Tasty food. Chocolate. Wine. Pasta. So my personal goals for 2013, in my humble opinion, will be MUCH more difficult to attain. But if I begin to drop weight, putting in an average of 5.5-6 miles a day will feel like less of an overall effort on a day-in, day-out basis. My speed will increase. I’ll have a shot at a sub 7 minute mile. I will be able to hold a sub 9 minute pace for longer periods of time in an effort to drop my marathon time to sub 4 hours. It all comes down to dropping my weight. And I have a LOT of weight to remove. But before I can develop my plan of attack, I have to dig in and find some damn self-control. Just say no to cookies. I need to say nay-nay to foods that I know are no good for me – which will result in saying adios to loaded burritos, zai jian to General Tso and his delicious chicken, and auf wiedersehen to WMD’s (Waffles of Massive Deliciousness).

At this point, in order to attain my goal of logging more than 2,013 miles this year I will need to book at least 43-44 miles a week. This is going to be rough.

It’s 31 days into the New Year…and I’ve gone a crappy job with regard to adjusting my diet to this point. I need to kick this into gear, ASAP.
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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!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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Marathon #8: The Self Transcendence Marathon – PART 1


July rolled into August, and the days just seemed to melt into each other. Let’s face it: it was probably due to the daily 280 degree temperatures combined with the 1,500% humidity that hung over Manhattan for weeks at a time. Daily runs in the park became sluggish, and my focus on any particular day’s running goal was discarded soon after the first mile. (Note to my fellow runners: if you are training for an event – have a plan for your daily workout before you leave the house and begin running. Trust me: you’ll get more out of each session).

August’s marathon was scheduled for August 24th at Rockland Lake State Park. Nine laps around a 3-mile route that hugged the water. I knew it was going to be a flat race – but the benefits that the outline of the course provided were negated by the heat and humidity. I was worried about the weather for this one, for I know exactly how the heat and humidity affects my running efforts:

  • I usually start a marathon at a pace that is quicker than my normal long training run pace. Why? Because I’m psyched up and, although I know that I must control my pace early on and hold back, I do not. My brain tells my legs to get moving because “today is the day that I set a personal best”. That’s the message pounding through my dense cranium. And do I argue back, saying “no, you dummy – start slow, and then get quicker as the race goes on”? Nope. Why? Because I’m an idiot. (Note to all Nuggets out there: start off SLOW. Seriously. So slow that it becomes difficult to hold yourself back from running faster. Starting slow will allow you to finish strong. The marathon is all about self-control. I have none.)
  • On hot and humid days, the heat saps my energy quicker than normal. I, being an idiot, do not compensate by taking in more fuel or making sure I ate properly the night before. Two smores pop tarts should get me through it all – that’s how I’m wired. Well all I can say is that I’m an electrician’s nightmare. (Nuggets: take your fuel seriously. Give it some thought. Have a plan for the days leading up to Marathon Day. That way you have gas in the tank for miles 20-26.2. I’m lazy, and my poor results recently are evidence of my failure to properly plan.)
  • As things heat up during the race, my programming also tells me to drink more. Well I am betting that I usually overdo it. I see Gatorade and I take a cup. Or two. Am I thinking about budgeting my drinking properly? Heck no. I just see free Gatorade being given away and I just have to help myself to free samples. I know that I need to follow a specific gameplan for fueling and drinking during a race in order to give myself the best chance of finishing strong. But do I follow directions? Nope. I just show up, eat a pop tart and run. Oh yeah: and then I whine about my lousy performance on this blog afterward. (Again, Nuggets: HAVE A PLAN. Plan out your fluid intake well before race day. Use your long training runs to figure out how much water you need and when you need it. Drink too little – dangerous. Drink too much – also not good. HAVE A PLAN. I cannot stress this enough.)
  • I’ll usually get through the first 13-14 miles feeling pretty solid in the heat. Then the wheels come off quickly and violently. When the wheels come off I usually get nauseous, mainly caused by an abundance of Gatorade sloshing around in my otherwise empty stomach. I try to fight through it…but I never succeed. The crash is complete when I stop shuffling my feet through a water station and begin to walk. All positive momentum is lost…and I become broken. I’ve heard that term thrown around at a few marathon expos over the years, and that one word really sums up the moment. (Ok Nuggets, this is a big one: do not let the marathon break you. You begin the race filled with nervous energy, excitement and positive vibes. Then, as you close in on the last 10k of the race, those feeling wane and you’re left with quiet desperation. At this point, it’s easy to listen to The Tool inside of each of us and say “hey, let’s take a break here”. TELL THE TOOL TO SHUT UP. His goal is to break you. DO NOT LET IT HAPPEN. I’ve let it happen A LOT – and I regret it each and every time.)

The weather report for Saturday included a high temperature of 88 degrees with 85% humidity. After dinner the night before the race, I followed my regular routine of laying my race clothing out and packing a backpack for post-race. Over the past couple of months, I’ve begun to feel the effects of a very full running schedule – my legs feel like bricks, my energy level is low, I am healing slower after long training runs, and I am even losing my mental focus. I had no idea what to expect of myself when I began this quest back in January…I’m learning as I go on.

As I went to sleep the night before the marathon, I realized that the stars were not well-aligned for this one…

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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!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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….Assessing the Damage…


After my 29 mile waddle around a decent portion of Manhattan, I limped home to assess the damage:

 

  • My feet were sore – well that’s no big surprise.  I just ran 29 miles and spent a good portion of the time treading on concrete.  The slight pain I felt was focused around my left heel – the very heel that gave me fits with plantar faciitis about two years ago.  I told this as a sign from the running Gods to retire my beaten pair of Brooks Glycerine running shoes.  I made a mental note to hit my local running store for a brank spankin’ new pair this week. (Note to my fellow waddlers, turtles, and/or nuggets out there: don’t wait until your feet begin to feel some serious pain to get new running shoes.  From what I’ve read, running shoes are usually pretty good for 300-500 miles.  Then…well…you’re playing roulette with your feet – and The Tool is Pit Boss of that casino.  Trust me: you’re better off spending money on new running shoes than taking a chance and winding up with plantar faciitis, because that injury can take anywhere from 6-18 months to completely heal.)

 

  • It felt like The Tool found a nice, comfortable spot right on top of my head, and proceeded to pound my forehead with a Louisville Slugger right between my eyes.  My head was throbbing – and since I’ve been running for a decent bit of time, I knew what that meant.  I was dehydrated.  REALLY dehydrated.  Although I tried my best to maintain fluid intake, I screwed up.  I took too much water early on, and not enough later in my run.  Dumb move.  Yet another reason to do as I say and NOT as I do.  I highly recommend NOT trying to run 26.2 solo for MANY reasons, dehydration being only one of them.  I know the rules of staying hydrated, first of which is this: if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, it’s already too late.  From what I’ve read in various marathoning books and running magazines, one of the themes I’ve noticed was that distance runners need to make sure that they drink at least 4 ounces of water every 20 minutes.  While I have absolutely no idea what the right amount of fluids are to take in each mile, I do know that I waited way too long in the later stages of my run to find some Chateau Bloomberg 2012.  Say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.

 

  • I got too much sun.  Way too much sun.  I left in the morning looking as white as my Mom’s retriever, Henry (oh trust me – his hair is white even though he’s technically a yellow lab)..and I returned looking like the long lost love child of George Hamilton.  I didn’t remember to put on sun block.  Why?  Well you know the answer to that question.  So say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.     

 

  • My upper back was stiff – but not as bad as I expected it to be. And my arms were sore – but it was a satisfied kind of sore.  Know what I mean?  It was the kind of sore that was the result of a really good work out.  I guessed that the work I’ve been putting in to strengthen my upper body was beginning to pay dividends. 

 

  • I experienced very little chaffing.  Thank the Gods for BodyGlide.

 

  • I was not hungry. Sounds odd, right?  I just burnt well over 3,000 – 3,500 calories, and when all was said and done I was not hungry.  It was as if my stomach basically sent a message to my brain saying “hey dude, you’ve been running for the last six hours.  All of us in here have been bouncing constantly to the point where we now feel like Michael Spinks about 90 seconds into his bout with Tyson.  So forget the delicious dinner.  Just say no to post-race goodies.  Get all of us home and GO TO SLEEP.  Fortunately my stomach, my back, my sore feet, and every other part of me that felt like it was just pulverized…I didn’t listen to my body.  Instead, I actually did something right: I grabbed a cold bottle of chocolate milk.  According to many runners much wiser than me, chocolate milk is supposed to really help the recovery process.  So I grabbed a big bottle of Quick and continued my trek home.

 

After I took a shower I drifted off to the soothing sounds of a wonderful air conditioner.  I felt like I accomplished something – accidentally running more than 26.2 was dumb, I know.  But it also taught me that I could go longer than I thought possible. 

 

Lord knows I’m not nearly as gifted or as strong as many of the runners I am lucky enough to be surrounded by – but I saw some progression today.  I realized that I could dip into my reserves for more when called upon.  Historically, I’ve been the kind of guy that takes his foot off the throttle when things get really tough.  Although I don’t quit – I’ve found myself getting to the finish line with a few drops of fuel left in the tank.  And I regret that simple fact.  But today was different.

 

As I lumbered into Central Park and realized that my watch had died, I knew approximately how much distance I needed to cover in order to reach 26.2.  But I was not 100% positive.  And I didn’t want to come up short.  As I passed my tiny finish line I had a choice to make: say “enough is enough”, and then go home and possibly come up short – or drop the hammer and see just how much gas I had left in the tank.  Ordinarily, I would have taken the easy way out.  But as I crossed the statue at the 72nd street transverse and the west side drive which was supposed to be my final destination, my feet chose to simply keep going.  Today was a day that I chose NOT to disappoint myself.  To see how far I could go.  Granted I didn’t go another 10 miles or more – I only went about 3 miles more than I really needed to – but I kept going.  As I waddled up the west side drive toward the 102nd street transverse, I kept thinking of a saying posted on one of the walls of the Mission: Space attraction in Epcot.  It’s by Arthur C. Clarke: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible”.  Yesterday I felt like my absolute limit was 26.2.  Today I ventured past my limits…and it felt good.

 

If you really stop and think about it, there are no limitations as to what each of us can achieve.  Walt Disney came up with a process called “Blue Skying”, where he and his team of what are now known as Imagineers sit down and develop an idea.  Or two. Or three.  During the discussion, only positive terms can be used.    The team “pluses” the idea and grows it, ignoring all limitations and thereby allowing the concept to grow to its full potential.  I woke up Monday morning achy yet refreshed…and determined to Blue Sky my life.  That’s why I’ve begun to place that last sentence on each of my blog entries: “you don’t get today back, so make it count”.  It’s a reminder to myself not to waste time.  To stay focused and develop my ideas instead of sitting back and letting them gather dust inside my head.

 

Paul Tergat once said “ask yourself, ‘can I give more?’  The answer is probably yes.”  That’s the kind of attitude I now need to harness.  Correction: that’s the kind of attitude I now will harness.     

 

 

 

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!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

Wild About Wednesdays!


Wednesdays.  Oh how I love Wednesdays. 

 

(OK that sounds like a…well…dumb way to open a blog entry.  I know this.  You know this.  But work with me – it gets better.)

 

Why do I love Wednesdays?  Well I’m glad you asked. Let me explain.

 

I’m the kind of person that is – for like of a more eloquent term – not-very-bright.  When God was passing out brains I thought He said “trains”, and asked for a really long one.  My rather meek level of intelligence is very clearly illustrated in the way I run.  Whether the training schedule calls for a five mile tempo run, hill work, or the weekly long run…I run every day at the same exact pace. 

 

Seriously.  The same exact pace.  And that is SLOW.

 

I began getting impatient with myself and my lack of progress.  The way I was looking at it, I felt like my inner Kenyan would be released at any moment.  However, he never has shown his really, really fast face.  This has been the case – I’m not kidding – for YEARS.

 

Nope.  That’s not a typo.  I said YEARS.

 

So just recently I actually stopped expecting this transition to a fast runner to simply happen, and I began researching HOW to MAKE it happen.  So I cracked open a book – an actual book with pages, words, and wisdom contained within – and began to research how a runner actually gets quicker over time.  What I learned made me knock my head against the wall repeatedly until Baci (that’s my awesome puppy) (and the name is Italian for Kisses) (they tell me she’s a poodle / shitz-tsu mix…but I say that’s bullshit because her attitude and feistiness screams paisan at me) (I am digressing – see: not the brightest bulb on Broadway) began to growl her very clear disapproval at my rather juvenile behavior.

 

According to what I’ve read, advanced / elite runner run 70-80% of the time at a pace that is 60-90 seconds per mile slower than their race pace.  That other 20-30% of the time, they do speed work that really makes them push themselves to the limit.

 

WOW.  I am doing this all wrong.

 

Whenever I go to practice with Team For Kids, I always feel the pressure of trying to show my coaches and team mates that I can clip off 5-6-7-8 miles at a 9 minute pace.  When I’m done, I feel great…for about an hour and a half.  The next day, I feel like my legs have no juice in them.  So I begin running slower, I watch others fly by me, I get self-conscious and off I go like a bat out of hell.  And so the cycle continued, with me always running as hard as  could.

 

According to what I read – that was a mistake.  I need to shut out the nonsense and the pseudo peer pressure and just stick to a smart game plan.  Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays: I’m running 60-90 seconds slower than what I want my race pace to be.  That should result in my legs being able to recover quicker.  Saturdays are my usual weekly long runs – so I’ll run close to my race pace (10 minutes per mile – I want a 4 hour 20 minute finish in NYC in November) and get myself used to the right rhythm.  And Wednesdays – oh baby Wednesdays – THAT is my speed work day.  That is when I can run like a lunatic and push myself hard. 

 

And that’s why I LOVE WEDNESDAYS.

 

Steve Prefontaine – a famous runner from the 1970’s which all runners simply refer to as “Pre” – once said that “My only pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.”  I think I took Pre’s words a bit too seriously.  I need to run SMARTER – not harder.

 

Oh yeah – P.S.: I tried out my new Salomon hydration pack this morning along the bridal path for about 5 miles.  I’ve got to share my thoughts on this one.  So check back in a bit for a quick review!

 

Until next time!  Great long-term habits begin with a simple decision at the outset: the decision to get out there and get in motion.  I don’t care if it’s down the block for a walk or a 10k run in the woods.  Motion creates emotion.  You don’t get today back – so back it count.

_______________________________________________________

 

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!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

Oh Yeah – I Feel Like Elvis


So I come home from work Tuesday evening…and there it was.  Sitting at my front down.  A small cardboard box.  Oh yeah – my new toy had arrived, right on time.  I had been looking forward to this all…day…long.  CHRISTMAS.

I ordered the Salomon Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Pack for my Sunday run around Manhattan.  It looked so darn cool in the pictures, I was betting that I’d feel like a rock star in this thing.  I pulled the box apart.  Quickly.  Grabbed the contents and began to examine it.

It….looked….cool.  Small – but cool.  This pack comes in 2 sizes: extra small / small and medium / large.  OK, so I’m usually an XL.  I was worried about this thing arriving and looking like it would only fit one of the Lollipop Kids.  I threw on a technical shirt and put the pack on over it.  It felt snug.  Not tight – just snug.  There were no buckles or latches in areas where serious chaffing could result during a long distance run.  There were several zipper pockets in easy to reach areas, which were big enough to store GU packets.  There were two sleeves on the shoulder straps which could hold 16 ounce water bottles (or an Iphone and/or other small crap I want to lug with me), and the reservoir held 50 ounces of water (or Captain Morgan – depends on my mood).  The design maximizes the available space.  The material is incredibly soft yet it appears durable.  The water reservoir is housed in a very light material which is designed to keep the water cold for a longer period of time.  And there were two small elastic straps that go across the chest to minimize the bouncing motion of the pack while I run.

All that….and it looked cool.  Just really…really cool.

This morning I couldn’t wait to find out how the pack felt while I ran in the park.  So I threw it on and went out for a light five miler.  It didn’t feel like the fabric would irritate my neck as I ran.  The pack was designed to fit snug on the runner’s body so that the water and contents did not bounce around.  After five miles in this thing – I can confirm that Salomon hit a home run with this thing.  It was EXTREMELY comfortable.  The shoulder straps did not screw with the way I swing my arms as I run.  By the time I finished my workout, I felt like buying this product was money well spent.

This damn thing made me feel like Elvis.  I was rockin’ and rollin’ along the bridal path.  One note, however: I only ran 5 miles in it.  I need to put in 26.2 on Sunday, and I cannot be distracted by chaffing under my arms or along my neck from this thing.  So I am worried about trusting this product without first truly training in it.  I am 90% sure I’ll use it Sunday.  90%…not 100%.

I’m sharing this for one simple reason: I highly recommend only going on long distance runs in clothing and equipment that you’ve trained in.  One of my mottos that I really believe in: train it and THEN trust it.

Until next time!  Great long-term habits begin with a simple decision at the outset: the decision to get out there and get in motion.  I don’t care if it’s down the block for a walk or a 10k run in the woods.  Motion creates emotion.  You don’t get today back – so make it count.

_______________________________________________________

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!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409