Some New Year’s Thoughts…


Before the clock strikes midnight, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts with you all. So bear with me as I bounce from point to point. I’ll try to be brief, as we all have New Year’s Eve fiestas to grace with our presence…

Point #1: I want to say thank you to all of the people that supported me in my 2012 endeavors. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, following my story and taking an interest. Thank you also for any donations you’ve made to The Dream Team Project. Any donation for any amount is valued and appreciated. A special note of appreciation to Steve and Valerie Drew – your generosity is truly humbling. I also want to extend my thanks to Robyn Engel Couture – your assistance with the design of my blog and her technological creativity throughout the year kept my site looking rather dapper if I do say so myself. I truly appreciate your insights!

Point #2: 2012 was an interesting year. Full of highs and lows – like riding California Screaming. The highs were embraced, and the lows were used as learning experiences. I try to share my lows – my mistakes – with all of you so that other people don’t make the same running errors that I made. I will continue to share the highs and lows in 2013. So grab a fast pass for another ride on this roller coaster.

Point #3: 2013 provides each of us with a fresh opportunity to make some changes in our every day routines. Seise it. Make a decision to take action. Draft a plan to affect positive change in your life, and then make a daily commitment to attain a manageable goal. And be patient. Very patient. Rome was not built in a day. Fight and win a daily skirmish, and you’ll win the war.

Final Point: never forget that there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Set your bar high and then fight like hell to reach it. Let your goals scare the crap out of you – because if they don’t scare you, they are not big enough.

Attack 2013 with unbridled passion, unflappable focus and unyielding courage.
I want to wish all of you the happiest of new years. May 2013 bring you continued success and peace. And for all of you runners out there…may all of your hills be downhills.

Happy New Year!

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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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Monday Morning Motivation


Begin with the end in mind. Start off with a goal It doesn’t matter how big or small the goal is – just have one and shoot for it. Once you attain it, assign a slightly bigger one for yourself. Hit those small goals each day and you know what you have? A winning streak. And there’s nothing better than a winning streak.

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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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A Good, Hard Failure.


A week went by, and Sunday November 11th arrived with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. The weather was perfect – 50 degrees, no humidity, and just enough sun to start a person’s day with an air of positivity. The game plan for the morning was simple: grab my iPhone and my running watch, throw on the most comfortable running clothes, head to Central Park and just run. Run along the outer loop and then change over to the Bridal Path when I felt monotony setting in and a change of scenery required. The road to perdition, however, is paved with good intentions.

I set out along the outer loop of the park, bright and early that Sunday morning. I coasted along the west side hills. Harlem Hill was greeted warmly and I traversed to the northeast portion of the park without difficulty. The music became white noise as I hit the downslope of Cat Hill for the first time. I completed a full loop with a smile on my face. 10 kilometers down and I was feeling groovy. You know the saying “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is?”…well the next hour would further validate that hypothesis.

As I began my second full loop and waddled along the west side drive once more, the music morphed from motivational background noise – from the type of subtle sounds played during a feature film enhancing the emotional intensity of the moment – to distracting chatter. The slight headwind began to make my eyes tear up, adding to my growing irritability. These two stupid little things signaled a swift change in my mood from focused and positive to distracted and rudderless in mere minutes. And once my mood changed, there was no way to right the ship – this boat was going down by the head, and there would be no stopping the cascade of negativity as it made it’s way past one emotional bulkhead after another. Since this was a solo marathon, there were no other ships at sea to pick up my S. O. S.

As I began to climb Harlem Hill for the second time, The Tool made an appearance, firmly perching himself on my left shoulder. Now I understood the situation: he had taken over the helm of this ship and quickly turned the bow toward the rocks. The little four centimeter bastard snuck up on me. I didn’t foresee this complication and was ill prepared to defend myself mentally.

At 11 miles into my run, I completely lost focus on what I was doing. I began thinking about what this effort would do to my performance the following week in Philly. I thought about how hungry I was. How thirsty. How sore. How no one would know if I failed – so the option to call it a day would be easy to take advantage of. Just quit. Save your legs for next Sunday. Just quit. Today just isn’t your day.

I have dealt with this negativity all year long. And all year I have fought the tiny bastard and delivered him a good old’ down-home Mississippi ass-kicking. Well today The Tool finally got that one haymaker in…and it landed flush on my chin. I began to slow down…….and then I switched to walking….and then I stopped near the Boathouse the second time around.

I had failed for the first time ever to complete the marathon distance on a day that this form of challenge was presented. I failed, and it messed with my confidence. I mean – I can deal with the pain. I embrace it – I welcome the soreness and uncomfortable ache that lingers post-race for days at a time. I feel like the pain is the price you pay for the accomplishment. It’s a badge of courage. My confidence was shot for Philly. My motivation to attain my goal of 12 marathons in a year was at risk.

This was a good, hard failure.

Walt Disney once said that “I think it’s important to have a good, hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”. Well I am not young – but I am afraid. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of not keeping my promise to my daughter. I am afraid of failing to do all I can to help the charity I believe in. All of a sudden, I was afraid of a lot of things – and that’s not normal for me.

I need to get out from under the dark clouds that just planted themselves firmly above my thick noggin. And I need to do it quick.

S. O. S.

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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!

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…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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Gearing Up For The Five Boroughs


Once I crossed the finish line in Chicago, my thoughts immediately went to November 4th.  The 2012 ING New York City Marathon.  My Superbowl.  The best day of the year to be in the Big Apple. 

 

The Saturday morning after the Chicago Marathon, I mentored the Team For Kids 20 mile run.  This is the longest run that the soon-to-be marathoners will complete prior to commencing the tapering process (the steady decrease in weekly mileage during the three weeks leading up to race day).  First timers are usually nervous before the run starts, as this is the run that could very well introduce them to The Wall. 

 

For those of you playing the home game, let me give you an extremely high-level description of The Wall.  The night before a marathon, runners usually each a generous portion of carbo-loaded goodness (i.e., pasta pasta pasta!!!).  This builds up their glycogen stores and prepares them for the huge calorie burning endeavor coming up the following morning.  Marathon morning arrives, and the runner will have some additional carbohydrates (Pop Tarts are my favorite choice), to basically top off the gas tank before the gun goes off.  The gas tank of a marathoner can hold approximately 2,000 calories of energy. Now the runner takes off on his 26.2 mile quest.  With each mile that he/she runs, approximately 100 calories are burned.  So somewhere around mile 20, the gas tank becomes bone dry.  It is at this point in the race where the mind insists that the body continue on its present course, and the body responds by searching for an alternative source of fuel.  Fortunately, we do have one – our body fat.  But here’s the problem with switching to fat as the body’s primary fuel source: it sucks.  From all I’ve read in books and magazines, it sounds like fat is much less efficient.  So when this internal switch is “flipped” and the body transitions from burning a good fuel source to a lousy one, the runner’s energy level crashes.  Stuff like energy gels and gummy-chewy energy blocks help the runner if taken in time…but personally I find them to be the equivalent of trying to hold back a train with duct tape.     

 

Before I go on, I have to share my favorite quote regarding the feeling of hitting The Wall: 

 

“It felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way in.”—Dick Beardsley, speaking of hitting “The Wall” at the second marathon of his career, the 1977 City of Lakes Marathon.

 

Personally, The Wall is one of the main reasons I run.  (I just re-read that brief sentence and I agree – that does indeed sound stupid…but it’s true).  I like going past 20 miles because I know that is supposed to be my physical limitation.  When you push past something that is supposed to be your limitation, you extend your own possibilities.

 

(I read a pretty solid article about The Wall, and I’d like to share it with you: http://www.marathonandbeyond.com/choices/latta.htm)

 

We met in Central Park before 7am, broke up into pace groups, and took off around Manhattan.  Down the east side, around Battery Park, up the west side to almost 125th street, and then back down into Central Park to wrap it up.  I enjoy running with the beginner group because it’s made up of just that – almost all of the runners in the group had never run 20 miles before that day.  And one of the things I love the most about this sport is being able to help others achieve something that they never thought they could.  It’s incredible to watch someone wrap up their first 20 mile long training run, and realize that they are now really ready to tackle the marathon.  They leave practice exhausted…yet pumped up.

 

One week later, Team For Kids ran its annual Last Ten Miler, where we run the last ten miles of the marathon course.  I mentored again, simply because I get fired up being around such positive people.  It makes me a better runner…and a better person, I think.  Once more we broke up into pace groups and set out along the southern drive of the park.  We exited from the southeast corner of the park, and hung a left on 60th street, heading east to First Avenue.  Once we arrived at First Avenue, we were on the course and the fun began. 

 

Up First Avenue.  Over the Willis Avenue Bridge.  Down 138th street in the Bronx.  Back into Manhattan via the Madison Avenue Bridge.  Southbound to Marcus Garvey Park.  Hung a right onto Fifth Avenue and up the long incline to Engineer’;s Gate.  Into Central Park on 90th Street and Fifth Avenue.  Exit the park and make a right on Central Park South.  Up the incline to Columbus Circle.  Back into the park.  Hello finish line.  While I know this description doesn’t paint a vivid picture of the course AT ALL, I don’t really think that any amount of colorful verbiage coming from my dense cranium would be adequate to illustrate the magic of that extended patch of asphalt. 

 

Running the last 10 miles of the course allows me to visualize myself on race day.  Positive visualization is extremely important in marathon running, because those last miles are all about mentally being able to stay focus as the wheels are coming off.  This is not an easy task.  So let me quickly share with you what I visualize during that last 10 miler…. 

 

  • Running up First Avenue while fans 5 deep line the road on either side, screaming for a bunch of complete strangers in shorts is a site that stays with a marathoner long after the first Sunday in November.  I’ll have gas still in the tank at this point and I’ll want to drop the hammer when I turn onto First Avenue off of the 59th Street Bridge.  I need to resist the urge.  Hold back.  Stay steady. 

 

  • Then there is this quiet patch that sits between 96th Street and the Willis Avenue Bridge – miles 19 and 20.  I need to actually back off the throttle here.  Conserve my energy a bit.  Get over the bridge and into the Bronx in one piece.

 

  • Once in the Bronx, enjoy the attitude.  Listen for the Japanese drummers – if I can hear them, I’m close to the Madison Avenue Bridge.  Get past that mile 22 marker and get myself into Harlem. 

 

  • Make a left off of the Madison Avenue Bridge, and I’ll be greeted by a funny DJ and fans that give me what I need when I need it – attitude.  I LOVE HARLEM.  Embrace the attitude – take it in and let it fuel the moment.  Fans will yell things like “don’t you walk here!  We didn’t come out to see you stop now!  Get moving!” Take it in.  Take it all in.  Look for the Team For Kids support area and high-five as many youngsters as you can. 

 

  • It gets quiet as I crawl around Marcus Garvey Park.  Mentally gather myself here.  Prepare for that right-hand turn onto Fifth Avenue.  Take deep breaths.  This is the point in the race where the wheels could really come off if I allow it to.   

 

  • Fifth Avenue.  First get myself to the Northeast corner of Central Park, where those amazing gospel singers will lift my spirits.  Use that as motivation to get up the incline to the entrance to Central Park.  GET TO THE PARK.  That is all I can think about here.  This incline can break a runner.  It’s not a hard incline to run – it just comes at a rough point in the race, and it doesn’t seem to end!  The fans stand in the street; close enough to pat the runners on the back.    

 

  • Make that left onto Central Park’s east side drive, and I am basically home free.  This is my home turf – my back yard.  I’ve run hundreds of miles in this park, and there are no surprises here.  The fans are loud – USE THEM.  First get to Cat Hill, and I’m rewarded with an awesome downhill stretch to 72nd street.  Then tough it out and get to Central Park South.  Use my nose here – if I can smell the horse crap from all of those horse-drawn carriages, I am almost there.

 

  • The right onto Central Park South.  Showtime.  Another incline – just get myself to 7th Avenue and I’m home free.  LOUD fans here.  Cops yelling on bullhorns.  Here is where the run becomes emotional.  I’ll see runners wanting to quit here – urge them on and I’ll be urging myself on too.

 

  • The turn into Central Park.  Drop the hammer.  Time to really pick up the pace and finish strong.  Just deal with that small hill with approximately 200 yards to go.  Whatever gas is left in the tank – expend it here.  Cross the finish line with absolutely nothing left to give. 

 

Running the last 10 miles of the course with TFK was a wonderful experience.  And so the excitement builds for Marathon Week……

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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

Monday Morning Motivation


Make the time to work on yourself.  I know it’s hard – but you deserve a chance to achieve your goals, and the only way that’s going to happen is if you make the time to practice.

 

Remember: you don’t get today back – so make it count.

 

Monday Morning Motivation


Surround yourself with people that are as positive as you are.  They will make you stronger.  Better.  They will help you toward your own personal finish lines.

 

Remember: you don’t get today back – so make it count.