Monday, September 14, 2009

The New Digs

So a lot had happened since my 21 mile jaunt through Northern CT last month. In the past, my lack of posts have meant two things - laziness and excuses. This past month has been different.

I've made a move to NYC to take part in the New York Film Academy's Broadcast Journalism program. It all happened over a three week span and it included daily trips to NYC, selling my home in Suffield, switching over my real estate practice and eventually moving in and starting school. While I missed about ten days of training and had to pass on the trip to Montreal, I still managed to get a bunch of five mile runs in. I'm still planning on running the Hartford Marathon in October and hope to take part in the Philly Marathon on November 22.

The new running routes have been pretty awesome. I've run through Flatiron, Chelsea, East Village, Soho, Greenwich Village, Tribeca, Financial District, Midtown, West Village along the East River and the Hudson River. I'll be making my first Central Park run tomorrow and have already joined the New York Sports Club. I must admit that I miss the barking of the dogs late at night on Main Street, but having the chance to explore New York City and still get my runs in have been exciting.

There is much more to tell as time goes on. For now, you all are going to have to be happy with this update. See in in Hartford in October!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recovery Days

I had no idea how I'd feel coming off of the 21-mile run on Saturday. I did absolutely everything wrong in preparing for the run and figured that I would pay dearly come Sunday and today. Well... I was wrong.

I feel freakin' great!

Yesterday I felt no pain anywhere. The getaway sticks were a little sore, but that was to be expected. The throbbing in my feet was gone, no lower back issues and my calves felt stronger than ever. As a reward, I treated myself to a massage and followed that up by inhaling the largest ice cream sundae I've ever seen.

Not actual Sundae, but pretty close to what it looked like

Coming out of the 21 miles pain free is a landmark in this marathon quest. The single biggest concern I had about over confidently registering for two marathons, and announcing a possible run in a third in November, was my recovery. I've read and been told that one should recover a day per mile run. That would mean that I would need to expect to take it easy for 26 days following the Montreal. That would take me to a couple days before Hartford. This logic never made sense to me. If the training called on you to do a 20-mile run a month before the race and to continue the training with several double digit runs after that than why would I need to take close to a month to recover from 26 miles?

What I did wrong heading into it? Well, for starters all I had to eat was a couple eggs and some bacon in the morning. Hardly the carb load needed to give my body the nutrients needed for such a run. I didn't properly stretch. I started my run around 1 pm on a 95+ degree day. I only had water, a few energy gel packets and a couple electrolyte pills. Even my I-pod wasn't fully juiced (it died around mile 14). I hadn't run more than 13 miles since the Fairfield Half at the end of June. I basically broke every training rule out there. However, I finished and as I sit here today I'm more confident, better prepared and more excited to do this than ever before.

Bring it on heat, humidity, hills and hydration wall! Not even my own bonehead moves can stop me from here on out. Bring...It...On... Snap!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Change of Plans

Today started off like any other Saturday. Woke up around 8, drove to West Hartford Center for a coffee at Cosi and then breakfast at Sally and Bob's. Arrived at Fleet Feet and picked up a new pair of the Brooks Trance 8 running shoes, a new pair of shorts, a shirt, a box of GU Vanilla Bean Energy Gel, some electrolyte tablets, Zulu socks and a hydrating belt.

I'm not sure if the shopping spree motivated me or if I was already motivated (which explains the spree), but on the way home I decided to stop in Simsbury and check out the details on the Farmington Valley Bike Path. I parked at Mile 11, just south of the Simsbury Band Shell. That's when my impulsive personality took over. I changed there in the parking lot, loaded up my gear and belt and started running north.

My original plan was to run 16 miles. I was gonna go from the Mile 11.2 point I was at to Mile 19.2 and turn around. If I was tired or feeling sluggish, I was gonna shorten it up. However, when I got to Mile 19 - I was still feeling great. So I figured I go to Mile 20. At Mile 20, decided to keep going from there. Eventually I got to the 21.6 mile marker which is right at Quarry Rd in Suffield. The only reason I stopped was that this was the end of the path. So, I turned around and ran back to my car.

It was a ridiculously hot day. The temp in my car read 92 degrees. Even though the weather was less than ideal, I was well prepared. I had my belt with four water bottles on it. I had my packet of four electrolyte pills and 5 energy gels. The four bottles ended up getting refiled four times each along the way. I would have never made it to Mile 19 the first time through if it wasn't for a little bit of luck and some nice people along the way.

The first person who helped out was a gal named Becca right around Mile 16.5 . She was outside her house and had the water going. I asked if she minded that I filled up my 2 empty bottles and she was very nice to allow me. About a mile and a quarter after that, I saw some farm workers filling up water jugs about 50 yards off the path. I went over, began to shoot the junk with them and quickly guzzled down three bottles (each bottle was about 10 ozs). When I finished they asked I wanted to fill them up and I was like a bobble head as I handed over the bottles. By Mile 20, I was a little nervous.I was down to two bottles and I figured there was no way my timing for water refill would be as fortunate heading back. However, I was feeling bold and took the initiative to run about a quarter mile off the path in Suffield and refilled at a farm stand and then refilled my bottles at the station that the farm workers were at when I passed by the second time. I made it last for the final 6miles.

The entire run took me about 4 hrs and 20 minutes. If I took the 10 minutes I talked to the guys, the 5 minutes I spoke with Becca, the three times I took a break to stretch and scarf down the gels and pills (about 5-7 mins each) and the 15 minutes between the two other to refills - I figure I was somewhere around 3:40-3:50 to finish the 21 miles. This was considerably slower per mile than I would like come Marathon day, but I had no idea what to expect going in. I can live with it and I am now on schedule to train with a schedule that I would normally have a month before a marathon.

What I learned today is that around Mile 15, my feet were swollen and incredibly sore. My calves were in better shape than I could have expected and didn't give me any problems. My breathing was solid and mentally I never said to myself, "you're not gonna make it." With that in mind, I could have never finished another 5+ miles today. The positive is that come September and October, the weather will be much more pleasant. Also, I wont have the concerns about water because the stations are at each mile.

As I sit here now, I'm definitely beat. My legs are tired and my feet are still throbbing. However, I know I'm gonna have the legs to finish this a month from now. As long as I don't get concerned with time, it should be enjoyable.

This brings my total miles run in six days to 56. Including the previous Friday, I'm at 63. This was a big boy week. I'm gonna take the next two days off to recover from today and most likely do week day runs of 5mi/8mi/5mi and a long run next week of 16 or 17 miles. I'm thinking of the following week being 5/8/5/13-14miles. The next week being 5/8/5/9-10 miles and the marathon week being 4/6/4 and then the race that weekend. If anyone who reads this has advice as to how I should prepare the next month, please let me know. There are plenty of guides for how to train for one marathon, but not many for running two 4-weeks apart. I am not going to be pushing it in Montreal. If I finish somewhere between 4:30:00-4:45:00, I will be very pleased. My goal from the beginning was to finish the Hartford in under 4:30:00. That is still a goal while just finishing is more of the priority.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Month Away...

Exactly one month from today I will be enjoying a great cup of coffee and basking in the glory of finishing a marathon in some quaint Montreal cafe or being transported back to the States in a stretcher and eating out of a straw.

Nevertheless, I'm excited about both possibilities.

If I complete the expected 10 mile run today than I'll have logged in 47 miles in the last 7 days. By the end of the weekend, that total should be somewhere in the mid-sixties. That's comparable to running from my home in Suffield to Black Point in Niantic. Not gonna lie to ya - I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I'm not feeling great about my ADHD running habits, but if it ends up getting me the same results in the end than I can live with it.

So, today will be another ten. Tomorrow will be considerably more, although I don't know by exactly how much. I've been finding out about more and more people who are taking part in the Hartford full or half marathon. Knowing that they are going through the same regimen and pain that I am is only making this whole experience more worthwhile.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting in the Groove

I ran my third ten-mile run of the week today. This was far and away the best yet. The weather was a little cooler and I went into it much more confident than I had the first two. The biggest aide was carrying a 16oz water with me. It was a little bit of a pain and it only lasted til about mile 7, but I didn't care. I never hit a wall and finished in somewhere between 1:30:00 - 1:40:00.

I am looking forward to this weekends long run. I'm definitely planning on doing somewhere between 14-18 miles. A lot will depend on the weather, the route and what time I start. This past week had gotten me off the regular schedule. I have missed the long runs from the three weeks previous so I needed to make up some miles. I also decided that I would try and get at least one 18-20 mile run in before the Montreal. I'm thinking it will come next weekend. I plan on tapering down the runs a bit the two weeks before the race and will probably run one 15-18 mile run a couple weeks before the Hartford along with some 8-12 mile runs. I felt as though I could have pushed it a couple more miles today, but was happy with ending this run strong and looking forward to tomorrow and Saturday.

I have seemed to find my pattern. I push it for 5-6 weeks and than take about ten days off. This isn't what I wanted or what I expected but it has worked for me. I get back after a break and am fresh and not afraid to push myself. Only two weeks ago, the idea of running ten mile runs made me nauseous to think about. Now, I can't wait to go 15.

From the beginning, I knew I would have to be flexible. Flexible to my work/vacation schedule. Flexible to how my body reacted and flexible to where I was mentally. I thank God for keeping me healthy and for a relatively cool Spring and Summer. If we were dealing with 90+ degree heat since May, I don't know if I would have ever gotten to this point. These past few runs were miserable because of the humidity and heat. However, knowing I had come this far and knowing I was getting close to the big races was what got me out there. I wouldn't have felt the same pressure two months ago.

The final thing is a little bit about my route this past week. I've been running a gorgeous bike path between the CT River and Windsor Locks Canal. I have started on the Suffield side and would run to the Center of Main Street Windsor Locks. The path is just about 4.75 miles and I run about a quarter mile more to the Subway around the corner to get or in today's case, fill up with water. It's a beautiful run. However, the overgrowth of plants, bushes and weeds has become pretty bad. I spoke a couple months ago about the need for towns to offer these type of bike/running paths. We are lucky enough to have one here in town and its time we make maintaining it a priority. Sounds like a great campaign issue for someone...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I wasn't lying when I said this week was an important week. Today I ran my second ten-mile run in as many days. I've learned the past two days of the importance of staying hydrated while running. I hit a couple walls during these runs. I drank some water prior to the run and at the 5 mile point each day. Each day I was a hurting unit around the 5K point after hydrating. This has made the next mile and a half after hitting the wall brutal. I can take away from this that I can fight through the wall. Fortunately, when I hit the walls during the marathons, I will never be more than a half mile from a water station. I'll also be loaded up with plenty of Gu Energy Gels and electrolyte pills. At this point, I seem to need the replenishing of water at each 5K. In past races, the energy gels were a huge help between the 5-6 mile points. This will allow me to stop for water, stretch the 'ol getaway sticks and see where I'm at seven or eight times. I'll be loading up on energy gel three or four times. I'd like to run this same ten mile run twice more this week with a 12-14 mile run this weekend. I'm gonna have some energy gel and electrolytes during the run and see how much of a difference it makes. I need to figure out how to get water at the 5k points. I recovered pretty well from yesterday's run in the heat. While today was hot and humid, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as yesterday. I'm gonna try and get up to an 18-mile run within the next two weeks and than taper it down for the week or two heading into Montreal. Physically and mentally, I need to get to get the confidence that I can go the whole 26.2. I feel as though if I get to the 18 mile point, than I'll know I can go the last 8. I'm only gonna push myself as far as I can right now. If I need to make a ten mile run only 7 than I will. Time isn't the priority, but health and mental strength are.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Day

There was a heat advisory in CT today. The weather was 94 and with humidity it felt even hotter. I was running around all day with work. I hadn't ate all day. I had a 6:30pm appointment. However, what I lack in brains I more than make for in heart. It was 4:30 and I was hot, cranky but feeling motivated. So what do I do. I go out for a solid ten mile run. I brought no water, had no energy gel and no clue how far I'd be able to go. Who cares that by the final two miles I was running for three minutes and walking for two. Who cares that it took me almost 11 minutes per mile. Who cares that I got heat stroke and blisters on every toe. All that mattered today was that I proved I could do a ten mile weekday run. It was freaking horrible from start to finish, but I finished. This was what I needed to get me back in the game. I don't know what the next 32 days will bring, but I do know that if I finish the Montreal and Hartford marathons in somewhat respectable times than this will be the day I point to for doing so. Also, if I never run again and pull out of both races, this will be the day I blame. Time will tell, but for tonight I feel like I accomplished a pretty good feat. We'll see what tomorrow brings... and if this insufferable head ache goes away.


August has started much like July ended. With family vacations, work, rain, wakes and excuses. I have only ran three times since my last post for a total of 15 miles. The long run in these two weeks was 7 miles and was miserable. I couldn't find a comfortable pace. My neck, back, stomach and legs were sore the whole time. I couldn't find any normal breathing pattern. The good news is I finished it. The bad news is I was in worse shape when it ended than when it began. I'm just over a month away from Montreal and a little concerned. Mentally, I feel like I could finish a marathon tomorrow. Physically, I don't think I could drive a marathon course. This week is another gut check week. I'm gonna take some time to reorganize my schedule for the next two months. Having been away for the last four or five weekends has hampered my progress. I'm gonna be away the next few weekends as well. I may try and fit my "long" runs in on Fridays. Whatever I do, this week needs to be a positive one. I'll worry about next week when it comes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off the Bench

I think I owe some of you an explanation for the lack of posts the last ten days. The Thursday night following the Boilermaker weekend, I started out on what was to be a 3-4 mile run. I had run 6 miles the night before and 4.5 miles on that Tuesday. As I went out on that night, I couldn't get it going. My legs were heavy, my back was sore, my knee was tender and I had absolutely no energy. So, I decided to shut it down for a week. I had pushed it pretty hard over the 6 weeks since my previous ten day shut down. I ran a four-mile, 15K and half marathon in that time and committed to run at least one extra marathon. The last thing I wanted to do was get hurt. Now - I'm back! I'm looking to reshape the schedule. I don't think I'm gonna run more than 6 miles on any weekday run. I'll keep up the plan of making my long runs on weekends. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So I just meed to maintain where I'm at and try and make baby step progress with each extra mile. Tomorrow is opening day at Saratoga, so I'll be running the next few nights from my home away from home. This next six-week push will be ending in Montreal. I can't believe we are heading into August already! Getting closer to the big day...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marathon Oasis de Montreal and Hartford Marathon - Just Do It...

I'm officially registered for the Hartford Marathon on October 10 and the Montreal Marathon on September 13. I'm gonna stay at the Delta Centre Ville hotel and be there from Friday Sept 11 to Monday Sept 14.

Still kinda thinking this is a little crazy, but whatever. This is a fun way to get my 20 mile run in and will be used as a prep for the Hartford Marathon a month later. I pray that I come out of it healthy and looking forward to doing another in less then four weeks.

So no excuses here. Money is in and plans are made to run two marathons with only four weeks between them. I can honestly say that is a sentence I never expected to see typed out of these fingers. Let's do this!

This Week...

I can't wait to hit the streets this week. I ran a total of 26 miles last week to bring my total up to 149 miles. I ran 3 miles Monday, 4.5 miles Tuesday, 6 miles Wednesday, 3.5 Miles Thursday and the 9.3 miles Sunday. This was four miles more than the schedule called for. This week is a "step back week" that calls for 3mi/6mi/3mi/7miles.

I picked up four of the 21 miles I was behind in the original schedule. I see no reason why I won't pick up another four or five this week. I need to try and find a 10K in the area for the upcoming weekend.

Following this week, things start to really pick up in the mileage front. I am scheduled to run 104 miles in a one month period. It gets even crazier the next month. I'll be running anywhere from ten miles to 20 miles on weekends until September 26. The big run being the Montreal Marathon on the day of my scheduled 20 mile killer September 13. Now is make or break time. This is the last week of running for leisure and I can only hope the nights and mornings remain on the cooler side.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 Boilermaker Finish Line Video

Check out the clock from 1:32:38 - 1:32:41. Yours truly can be seen on the upper left corner wearing a blue shirt with dark shorts (about ten o'clock on your screen) - Left Camera Angle - Right Camera Angle

The Boilermaker 15K - 1:27:28

Incredible Day!

The Boilermaker 15K is billed as one of the top races in the country... and it is! I can't imagine many others being able to compete with the course,community participation,organization, level of competition or the excitement.

I didn't beat my goal of 1:25:00. However, I couldn't be happier with how it went. I ran the 15K or 9.3 miles in 1:27:28. The part I'm happiest about is that I got increasingly stronger as the race went on. This race had splits at the 5K and 10K points. With 11,000 runners completing the race and hundreds more than that starting it, the start was crazy.

I started way back. As a matter of fact, it took me about five and a half minutes to get to the starting line after the gun. With the horde of people basically on top of you at the beginning, it is very difficult to get into any sort of comfortable pace. Not that I cared. Thousands of people line the streets, bands are playing every quarter mile, and runners are literally running with their hands in the air waving to family, friends, and t.v. cameras for most of the first 5K of the race. With this in mind, I ran my first 5K in 31.16. This was almost as slow as my first 5K in April but, as I've indicated,enjoying the surroundings and taking in everything going on around me was the priority.

Almost immediately after the 5K split, the course begins a not so gradual up hill run for the next two miles. It takes you through Utica Country Club and seemed to keep getting steeper and steeper with each step. This also is where runners began getting little more elbow room- although not much. It's also where I started to find my groove. Mile 4 was the only stretch that wasn't five deep with spectators. Approaching the six mile point, I stopped(for the first time) in order to take some electrolyte pills, energy gel and water. I didn't as much stop as I got off to the side of the road just sort of inhaled all three at the same time. It couldn't have cost me more than ten seconds and the re-fueling definitely helped as I finished the race. I ran the second 5K in a great pace and completed it in 28:21 for a total time of 59:37. I knew at this point I could come close to beating my goal of 1:25:00. However, I would need to run my fastest 5K ever to do it.

The final two miles are absolutely incredible. The spectators are ringing cowbells, water stations were at every half mile and runners are cheering each other on like I've never come close to seeing before. As I approached the 9-mile marker, I was at a clock time of 1:29:00. Knowing I had started over five minutes past the gun/clock time, I realized I wouldn't beat the 1:25:00 but that I could come pretty close to running my best 5K. As I got to the finish line, the clock read 1:32:46. The final 5K was 27:52. Not my best 5K, but certainly better than I could have ever imagined running miles 6.3 - 9.5. Looking at the splits, If I could have run the first 5K in the time I ran my second or even my third, than I would have beat my goal by close to a minute. I'm not gonna second guess though. I mean, if my aunt had a mustache she'd be my uncle, right?

I ran this at a 9:24/mile pace. The best part about it was that I could have gone longer. If I can ever run the marathon in anything close to this pace than I will come close to breaking 4 hours. The 4-hour mark seems almost unthinkable to me. This was close to a minute and a half better than my average for the Fairfield Half Marathon.

Following the race, close to 40,000 people packed into the Saranac Brewery park. Free sandwiches, beer, powerdrinks, and fruit for everybody. Bands played, a pretty bad ass military flyover and the awards ceremony entertained everyone. The Boilermaker was really a great experience and one that I look forward to enjoying for years to come.

The winner, Ridouane Harroufi of Morocco, won with a time of 43.56 in what was a very exciting finish.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Boilermaker Weekend

I've been looking forward to this weekend for about two months. From the day I was first told about the Boilermaker in Utica, NY , I started planning for it. I looked forward to this race for a bunch of reasons.

First,I saw it was coming up on the weekend that I was supposed to do my first ten-mile training run. Back in the beginning of May, actually completing ten miles in less then two months time appeared to be a real long shot. My first 5K at the end of April in Glastonbury was nothing short of pathetic. I couldn't make it a two miles without wanting to crawl under a hole and hide. Amanda and Hilary dragged me through it though. Since then, I've already exceeded running ten miles when I finished the Fairfield Half-Marathon. Tomorrow isn't a question of finishing, but in how long. My goal is to break 1:25:00. It will be difficult, but I think I can do it.

Second, I read in Runner's World that this is supposed to be one of - if not the - funniest race in the country. I got a sense of what to expect when I registered yesterday. From the huge banner proclaiming the start of the race as I got off the highway, to the two miles of cars and entire army of traffic police along the road heading into the expo on the Masonic Care Community Campus to the thousands of people roaming through at least a dozen circus-size tents. One television report said 30,000 people are expected for this race. Now, I don't know if that's just runners or includes all the volunteers. Whatever it is, its a huge number. Utica is not exactly a thriving metropolis. I drove through farmlands and old mill towns for almost two hours before I got to the "city". The community involvement for this race is nothing short of spectacular and the excitement should only feed my adrenaline. The race is covered from start to finish by the Utica TV stations and the coverage has been neat to follow online throughout this week.

Although, the preparations for the race have caused stress to some Utica residents.

The third reason I was looking forward to this was that it marks just about the halfway point of my training. When this started, I had no idea if I would even get to this point. The continuous weekend races, the support from other runners and seeing steady results have helped fuel my desire to run and finish the marathon in October.

I'm two months to the date of the Montreal "need to run 20 miles that weekend so might as well run 26" Marathon. 26.2 miles still seems like an impossible feat, but I'm alot closer than I was after finishing the Glastonbury River Run. Tomorrow will be the first race I set as a long term goal and didn't just run on a whim. I'm gonna enjoy it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Week Ahead

It's time for me to get back on schedule. I've a run a total of 123 miles. This week calls for runs of 3 miles Tuesday, 6 miles Wednesday, 3 miles Thursday and 10 miles this weekend. The Boilermaker 15K will be just under 10 miles, but if I throw in a one mile warm up just prior to the race than I will meet the goal.

The month of June took me off schedule, but after taking the time off I've seemed to get back on track. The original plan had me running a total of 144 miles by July 4Th. The fact that I'm only 21 miles behind considering I pretty much missed two full weeks is not all that bad. My hope is to make up these miles wherever I can. I'll try and run five miles on a Tuesday when I'm supposed to run 3. I'll throw in an extra Friday run of five miles when I'm scheduled to take it off. I know I'm gonna make up at least 6 miles in September with the Montreal Marathon. So I'm not too disappointed with where I'm at. Continuing to put in 15-20 miles a week on the bike will also make up for the lost miles.

I knew from the start this would take flexibility. My mileage plan was more ambitious then the regular beginner's marathon plan. I called for much longer weekday runs and know that I may not be able to get ten miles in on a Wednesday in the future. I know that this past weekend called for a nine mile run, but I only did the four mile race. This doesn't upset me because the previous weekend only called for five miles and I ended up doing the 13.1 in the half marathon. As long as I keep making progress, avoid injury and continue to enjoy making working out a regular part of my day than this is all worth while.

The only positive I can think of for all this rain we've had is that the evening runs have been pleasant. I've learned quickly that I would much rather run outdoors than on the treadmill at the gym. While I'd like to get a few beach days in by the end of Summer, this mild weather has served at least somewhat positive for my own personal training.