Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Necessities

There are a few things I was missing at Sunday's half-marathon that I now know are absolute necessities for any run of ten miles or longer. The basics that I did have were a great pair of shoes, comfortable runners socks and a breathable shirt. I spoke of these purchases a few weeks back and they have made a positive difference to all my runs. Never again will I get laughed at for wearing clown shoes and polyester shorts that extend below the knee. However, I learned that I run the risk of getting laughed at on marathon day for bleeding through the chest, or as "The" calls them - the love buttons.

So what do you need to contain the bleeding from the love buttons? You need Body Glide. This will not only protect the chest, but will also protect the toes. I've got some pain in the middle toes on each foot. I'm a little concerned that by running in the rain that my new sneaks may have shrunk a bit. This is something I'm gonna need to keep a close eye on the next couple runs.

If that isn't enough for you, you can always go with the ultimate shield.

Another necessity for a long run is the energy gel. I've come full-circle on the GU Vanilla Bean gel. I'm gonna want to test a few of the other flavors so I know whats out there, but this gave such a needed boost in this last run that I don't think I'll do any run of 6 miles or longer without it.

The final necessity are electrolytes. Either the pills or the drink, they will help your body absorb the water you take in during the run. This will not only help during the race, but will go a long way in making a speedy recovery following the race. I'm still researching more on these, but from what I hear, they are a runner's friend.

I feel almost totally recovered from Sunday. Takes an extra second to straighten the getaway sticks out after sitting down for awhile, but no pain to be reported. I took yesterday off from running, but did 25 mins on the bike before last night's lift. This week I'm expecting to run 3 miles tonight, 5 or 6 miles Wednesday, and three miles Thursday. With the holiday weekend coming up, there are plenty of races to partake in and I'm hoping to do a 10K one of the days.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Up'ing the Anti

What do Montreal, Hartford and Philadelphia all have in common?

Believe it or not, they are the three cities that I've decided to run marathons in this Fall.

You read that right Amanda - the THREE cities THIS guy is gonna run a marathon in.

I've decided that to go through all this trouble for one race is a little crazy. So, I've decided to go through all this trouble for big crazy and challenge myself to something unthinkable. I haven't thought it all through yet, but the Montreal Marathon is held on September 13. It just so happens that is the week I am scheduled to do my 20-mile long run in preparation for the Hartford Marathon on October 10. I believe running 20 miles through the traffic and streets of North Central CT sounds pretty unmotivating. However, tacking on an extra 10K and doing it in one of the greatest cities in the world- surrounded by thousands of other runners- is motivating. As far as the Philadelphia Marathon goes, its being held on November 22 a solid six weeks after the Hartford. I might as well get another one out of the way.

So there it is. While I alluded to this past week's half being the breaking news I wrote about last week, it was all just a smoke show for this announcement.

The only question that remains is: Who's coming with me?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

29th Annual Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon - 2:18:05

After today's Fairfield Half Marathon, I can honestly say I'm half way to completing this goal of competing in and completing the Hartord Marathon. However, the idea of running a second 13.1 miles that day will be freakin' tough.

I had the goal of finishing between 2:15:00 and 2:25:00 in today's race. I accomplished this, but I can think of so many things I did that cost me significant time. I stopped and walked at every water station. I walked the last 50 yards going up two hills. I only ate a bagel going into the race. I didn't properly stretch. What makes this encouraging is it appears I'm on pace to complete the full marathon in under 4:30:00. I could never complete it in that time today, but considering I ran my first mile just over two months ago, I'm on the right track.

There was never a point in the 13.1 miles that I said to myself," what the heck am I thinking?" I never swore to never do this again and I never hit a wall in the race. I credit staying well hydrated, which was important because it was about 85 and HOT, and in taking advantage of the GU Vanilla Bean Energy Gel station just before the 7 mile point.

I only tried the gel once before. It was a couple miles into the Iron Horse 10K and I hated it. It gave me a cramp and tasted like jung. However, as my long-distance long distance trainers (affectionately known as "THE")commented in a previous post, there is a time and a place for the gel. I found my time was right around Mile 7. It didn't go down very well but taken with water and some electrolytes, it wasn't too bad. I also found that about three minutes later I was in an all out sprint for the next mile and a half. This sudden burst of energy cost me a couple miles later, but I found that it was exactly the burst I needed at the time I needed it. I'm gonna test the gels some more as training goes on, but I think they will be well worth the investment.

There were 3116 people competing in the Half and I finished 2012. I ran at a pace of 10:39/mile. This is much slower as a whole compared to other races but considering about 500 people finished in the five minutes before me I felt I was staying with the crowd throughout the race. If I didn't stop at every water station, I am convinced I could have taken four or five minutes off the final time. What also needs to be considered is how slow the first mile or two were. With everyone starting at the same time and running down a two-lane road, it was a slow, crowded first 5k before it opened up. This race was incredibly well organized and was a beautiful course. It took you through Fairfield, Southport, past Fairfield Country Club and along the shoreline. There were some difficult hills, but I decided I wasn't gonna try and be a hero on them. The homes and the scenery were incredible and their were hundreds if not thousands of volunteers along the course. There were three times that amount of spectators. It amazes me how communities come out in support of these races. People were standing outside spraying the runners with water, kids were banging pots and pans and high fiving whoever would extend a hand, bands were playing at intersections in two or three different sections. It's incredible considering all we did was litter their streets with paper cups and hold up traffic for hours on the nicest morning of the month.

The race started and ended at Jennings Beach. There were bands, enough food to feed an army, thousands of people and medals being handed out to every competitor. I'm a little tight in the calves right now and I felt a little pain in my right knee and ankle at one point, but I'm feeling pretty good physically considering it was almost double any run I have ever done (minus the '99 Boston Marathon- which doesn't count).

When I ran my first mile on April 21, I could have never imagined running a half-marathon by July 1. I can guarantee this won't be my last before the marathon in October. I think I'm gonna try and incorporate any half marathons into my long training runs as time goes on. The atmosphere for these races is great, the courses are fun and the other runners are cordial and supportive. I can't wait for the next one.

The official race photos are here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Comeback Week

This week has gotten me back on pace. I ran 3.1 miles Monday, 3.6 Tuesday, 2.5 Wednesday and 3mi tonight. I'm gonna go three more tomorrow and rest Saturday before the big 13.1 mile half marathon on Sunday. That will be a total of over 28 miles in 6days. This will catch me up from my two week layoff. I know how important the days off are for me to recover. However, I needed to push it a bit this week.

Along with running, I have also put in 15 miles on the bike and three days of lifting. I'm sore, but it's a good sore. This is the kind of week that I need to continue through the month. My confidence is back and I'm excited again for the next 16 weeks.

I started this blog to help get me through months like I've had in June. It has made me accountable and the friends who busted me for not seeing posts correctly assumed I was slacking off. So thanks to all of you who stayed on me and don't hesitate to call me out if you don't see anything on here for a few days.

As for the race on Sunday - I can't wait! There will be 4000 runners in it. After the Boston Run to Remember,which had 7000 runners and just as many spectators, I had a true runner's high for the next few days. I can't imagine what the feeling will be next Monday and Tuesday.

King of Pop

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

13.1 Mile Test

It's time to man-up.

I've registered for this Sunday's 29th Annual Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half-Marathon. I know I'm unprepared. I know I haven't run farther then 7 miles at any given time. I know I haven't run in any sort of race in the month of June. However, I also know I'm approaching the half way point of this training schedule and now is as good a time as any to see how far I've come.

The Fairfield Half is one of the most competitive races in the country. Many of the top runners in the world will be there along with close to 4000 other runners. I won't be anywhere near the front of the pack, but I also won't be bringing up the rear. I expect to finish this in around 2:15:00 - 2:25:00. Also, as I continue to get through the Summer training, I'll have that much more confidence that finishing the full marathon is possible.

So, there you have it. I'm gonna suck it up and throw myself into the fire with this one. I've set a goal of running a 5K, 10K, 15K and 20K in the next month. The 15K is gonna be the Boilermaker July 12 and I still need to find fun 5K and 10K races. This will be a morale booster or killer. I'll let you know which on Monday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


There is a major announcement coming in the following days.

Hint : Nope... no hints.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back in Action

The last week and a half have been less then inspiring. It has rained every single day. I've gone to Saratoga, Boston, Providence (twice), Newport and have had several late meetings. So where does a guy who has run out of excuses go to get out of his slump? The Judgement Free Zone, of course. Today was the true start of Phase II. I found the Planet Fitness in East Granby and decided to kick my own ass. I warmed up with 5 miles on the bike, ran 3.1 miles at a 9:40/mile pace and did an arms and shoulders workout. The lifting will be an added bonus to the marathon training. I'm expecting to lift Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For this week, I'm gonna run at least 3 miles a day and am gonna run at least a 10K this weekend. I need to prove to myself I can get back into this strong. It will also catch me up on the mileage total. I feel great tonight and am ready to finish what I started.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Looking into the Abyss

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."



Candy Ass.

I'm all of these things and more. I started this blog to hold myself accountable for all of my fleet footed actions for a measly 25-weeks out of my life. While I've had no problem patting myself on the back for some things over the first two months, I haven't been nearly as critical for some lapses in manhood.

Until today.

I've let myself, the legions (all 7) of faithful followers, and the running gods down this week. After being all gung-ho at the start of the season, I have basically quit. I've quit on myself, on my fans and most importantly on the October morning that is sure to live in infamy. I ran a total of seven miles last week. That's right. Seven. I ran 3.5 mile on Tuesday and Wednesday and then blew off the rest of the week. I blew off the 3 mile run for Thursday because of a little rain and a few puddles. I blew off the Niantic 10k on Friday because of a little interview. I blew off the Blum Shapiro 5K on Saturday because of a little beauty sleep. I blew off the Litchfield Hills 7-miler on Sunday because of a little, er, big headache. I need to find that handsome voice in the back of my head that says, "I jus' can't quit you!"

So what does a man-boy do when he comes to that fork in the road?

Does he choose to be Michael or does he choose to be Fredo?

Does he find that Spartan Spirit or does he turn to a life consumed by an assortment of spirits?
The answers to these questions will basically determine success or failure in both running and life. I don't have the answers this morning. I only have a pair of unlaced, sad and dry Brooks and an underutilized, silent I-pod that are screaming to be shown some love and attention. At this point, I can only stumble home, in the wee hours of the day, and beg for forgiveness and pray they will take me back.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where You Heading?

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One of the first posts I had was about the total mileage I was expecting to run in the twenty five weeks of training. It came out to over 600 miles which would get me to somewhere around Detroit if I had started at my front door. In the first seven weeks of the training, I ended up logging in approx. 70 miles running and 25 miles biking. That would get me to a couple of my former safety schools - Siena College in Albany, NY to the west or Harvard University in Cambridge, MA to the east.

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Running north I'd be getting off of Exit 6 on I-91 in Vermont and south I'd be in Stamford, CT.

View Larger Map

So what does all this mean? Well, not much really. I'm about 1/6th of the way there according to my original training schedule and the longest, hardest runs are to come.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spring Training is Over...

That's right. Spring training is officially over and from here on out every mile counts. Today was Opening Day of the Hartford Marathon Running Season. Exactly four months from today I'll be carbin' up and preparing for the following days epic test of will, strength, endurance and brawn. With the race a mere 122.5 days away, now is as good a time as any to evaluate where I currently stand and how my chances of completing this race are.

Now, I know that I am not a high draft pick on any one's marathon fantasy team. There are faster, more experienced, better nutritioned, sleeker fit and physically stronger runners available. However, for every Tom Brady or Peyton Manning taken in the first round there needs to be a Sebastian Janikowski or Kevin Faulk taken in the final round. I mean, you're only as strong as your 11Th guy. I'm the kind of runner that gets thrown in on third and short with a two touchdown lead at midfield when your starting backs are sore and you need to just keep the clock ticking. The kind of runner who you want to have run out in the rain or sleet to kick that 42-yard field goal with a couple minutes left and the over/under hanging in the balance. I won't get the headlines, but I'll fill the pockets.

Heading into tonight, I had taken the last week off. To be completely honest - I haven't been at the top of my weekday game since the Shamrock Duathlon. Curing myself of whatever virus or allergy I was suffering from and turning a year older was exactly what I needed to start the season off right. I went on a solid 3.5 mile gallop and ran at a comfortable 9-minute/mile pace. I'm gonna be restructuring the training schedule a little bit. This week I'm hoping to run three miles on Wednesday and Thursday and six miles for the weekend. I'm still debating whether or not to compete in a 10k in Niantic on Friday which could count for my weekend run.

Later this week, I'll go over the totals for so far and where I'm going for the next month. The six weeks of pre-training were well worth it and I am much more confident to tackle this 18-week regimen than if I hadn't done it. It's fun to hear about other people getting involved in 5k's for the first time and setting there own running goals. I'm convinced that if any one is ever feeling down, just spend ten minutes with people just before or just after running in a race. Or, you could just spend ten minutes reading this chicks blog. The natural high and optimism runners show is contagious. This is something I would have never known had I not just thrown myself into the fire. So let the countdown begin and if you're considering a half marathon or marathon at some point in your life - now is as good a time as any to start training. I'll need the help as time goes on and will be looking for people to run with along the way.

Finally, do you think this kid would have thought that 25 years later his Spring Training would include NU Energy Gel and Zulu Socks instead of a Louisville Slugger and Rawlings Ball?

What parent of a future major leaguer lets his kid wear jeans to a Tee-Ball game?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Weekend off...

For the first time since I started this April 21, I think I'm taking a weekend off. Monday will begin the 18-week "official" training schedule. It will also be "Day 1" of strength training and of the next thirty years for THIS guy. I'm feeling sicker than I was last post and am gonna work on conquering this allergy/cold mcjigga that I've got. So, we're gonna throw the feet up and take it slow the next couple days.

In non-running news involving a runner

Our fashionable running friend Miss Hilary (left) strong armed the Legislature and was voted the "Best Dressed" Lady Lobbyist at the Capitol for this past session. A surprise to no one.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pollen... pshhhh

I've never had allergies in my life. I don't know what they feel like, how to get rid of them or if they can be contained or stopped. What I do know is that I've felt miserable the last few days. My eyes are puffy, my throat is sore, my nose is running and I have no energy. I'm hoping it's just a cold. A cold will eventually break. Allergies are a gift that keeps on giving.

The Lady over at Nice Streets has been picking it up a notch. She is runnin' and gunnin' with a sense of purpose and is definitely motivating those around her. Knowing this, I can't let the sniffles hinder me from accomplishing this week's goals. I manned up this past weekend with a run of 4.5 miles on Saturday and 6.4 on Sunday. I needed to pick it up because I only ran the 2.5 mile run last Tuesday. I ended up with 13.4 miles for the week, but am not happy with having missed the scheduled Wednesday and Thursday runs. So this week I start the regular three mile jaunts. I'll be going with 3 miles tonight, four miles tomorrow, three miles Thursday and a scheduled 4 miles for the weekend. It will be a total of 14 miles, but I'm hoping to go a couple extra miles on Saturday or Sunday. I'm up to over 65 miles total in this training regimen and it's getting to "Go Time"...and I'm not letting a little pollen get in my way!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Amica Insurance Iron Horse 10K - 1:01:21

The Iron Horse Half Marathon, 10K and 5K drew a total of 1315 people to Simsbury on a picturesque Sunday morning. I competed in the 10K and finished with a time of 1:01:21. Considering this was the longest continuing run I've made this millennium, I went in with no expectations. I finished at a pace of 9:53/mile. This is neither good or bad in my eyes. I expected to be right around an hour for the 6.4 or so miles and I was right there. This was a considerable improvement from my previous "long" run of 1:00:20 for 5.4+ miles in the Salmon River Run less than a month ago. However, this course was much flatter, not on any trails and the weather was much more pleasant for running.

Arriving about an hour before the 8:00 a.m. scheduled start, there were already over 1000 people roaming the grounds surrounding the Simsbury Band Shell. Dozens of vendors pushed there products to all of the bright eyed and bushy tailed competitors and it was tough not to notice the positively unbalanced proportion of women-to-men taking part in the festivities. The 10K started right at 8:00 with the Half and 5K starting at 8:15. This led to the first mistake of my day. Approaching the 1-mile marker, I was at a time of 7:15. This blew me away. I felt as though I was going at a solid pace, but knew this was much too fast for me to keep up. So I immediately slowed down. That went on for two minutes until I noticed another 1-mile marker at 9:25. Turns out the first clock and marker was for the Half Marathon runners, not for the 10K. It took me miles until I found another comfortable pace and probably cost me a few minutes in the end.

The second mistake was just after Mile 2. I thought it would be a good idea to scoff down some Vanilla Bean NU Energy Gel. I immediately regretted this decision. This junk is gross and definitely led to the painful cramp I had to work through around Mile 4.

The most positive aspect of this run was that I finished the race pretty strong. I'm willing to bet my final mile was my fastest and it surely had a lot to do with throngs of fans who came out to cheer on yours truly towards the finish.

Well, maybe it was only my brother Chris and his girlfriend Kim, but it was a definite boost nonetheless. I was impressed with both the early rising on a Sunday and the artistic ingenuity with the sign. However, nothing that took place on the streets of Simsbury could beat the victory brunch that Kim put on following the race. The food was great and they can expect big brother George at their doorstep every Sunday from here on out. So get planning and cooking for next weekend Kimmy!

The official photo of the event is here.