14 miler

My back was worse than I suspected.  I didn’t run at all last week…or the week before.  It was pretty bad.  I blew off my last long run (14 miles) and prepared to see my training go off the deep end.  I secretly feared that my year of the marathon was over.  I took Ibuprofen every 8 hours from Tuesday through the weekend, and had my normal spin class scheduled for Saturday morning.  I thought about not doing it, maybe doing swim instead.  My back was sore.  I foam rolled my back during the week, and I think it managed to isolate the pain to just my left side.

That is ironically also the side where I had IT band issues.  I suspect I have some real imbalances that I need to work out.  At any rate, I did the spin class but didn’t push it in terms of tension.  I had quite a few moments where I thought I should just stop.  But instead of stop I just sat up and stretched it.  I made it through the class, took a shower and headed out to help a friend do some work at their house.

By the end of the day my back felt much better.  I’m guessing the stretching and other work on the bike helped.  The next morning there was a 14 miler on the schedule.  I woke up and my back was fine!  I got my stuff together and headed out.  It was warmer than it had been in a while, so the run was harder than I expected.  It was tough to keep my heart rate down, and on the way back i ran out of gel.  I could feel the energy escaping me.  I actually had to walk several times.  But I never gave up, and my back didn’t hurt!

It wasn’t all bad, the run was through a part of the rails-to-trails section that I hadn’t used before.  It was really a beautiful area and I got to see this:

Later that day I did the annual shuffling of the seasonal items.  I.e., bring out the grill and patio stuff and wonder how on earth all of our stuff seems to multiply throughout the seasons!


This morning I feel fine, although a little sore.  I’m planning on starting some additional core/strengthening workout just to stop myself from losing what little upper body muscles I may have.  Of course coring training is important in it’s own right.  I have been threatening to do that for a while, but now I just need to!

Training Update

Last week was a tough work week and I had no time to get a run in at work despite my best intentions.  So this weekend I decided to double down on the running.  I did a really easy 4 mile run on Saturday, followed by a short swim.  I need to work on my swim some more, my arms were feeling very tired at the end of the session, but all in all it felt good.


The Easy 4 mile run consisted of a 3 mile section that was VERY slow (12+ min/mile) followed by a 1 mile hard run (8 min/mile).  It felt good, and I wasn’t sore at all the next day.  That’s a good thing, because the next day had an 8 mile run on tap.

I continued the goal of running slowly on my long runs, and tried to keep the pace at 11-11:30 miles until the last mile.  That last mile we picked up the pace to between 8-9:30 min/mile.  When I got home I was panting, but otherwise felt great.   I was on my feet the rest of the day, and this morning I felt totally fine.

One thing that I did differently was to use my orange superfeet insoles.  The last couple of times I’ve had sore or numb feet starting at around mile 4.  On Sunday I made the whole run without any foot pain or issues at all.  In fact, my biggest issue was my shin which was just very slightly tight during the run.

I’m feeling optimistic about my running for the first time in a long time.  The next thing on the list is trying to get a lactate threshold run working.  We’ll see how that goes.  This week is an easy week with no long run (but I do have a short indoor triathlon to to this weekend).


Happy training.

FFFFreezing Cold Run

My planned 6 mile run just happened to occur on the coldest day of the year to date.  The temps hovered at 8 degrees, with a windchill of -8.  Yikes, that’s cold.


I wore a knit cap, polypropylene thermal underwear, and layer 8 thermal tights.  On top I wore a thin long sleeved wicking shirt, a layer 8 thermal top, and a New Balance thermal zip up running jacket.  I also wore cotton gloves, and 2 pairs of wicking socks. Per my wife’s advice I also slather vasoline on the exposed parts of my face.

The first two miles my face was really cold.  I was really concerned with frostbite, but I thought that I could at least manage on 3.3 mile loop at the West Hartford Reservoir.  After about 1.5 miles I felt warm and toasty.  I was sweating, but not uncomfortably so, and I was neither cold nor hot.  I felt like as long as I kept running I would be in that nice toasty spot.

The first loop went well.  I had no pain or soreness at all.  Once I got warm my heart rate and breathing normalized, and I managed a 10:10 average pace with a 151 HR.

By the end of my run, my hat had accumulated a ring of icy frost from all of my head sweat.  Just goes to show how cold it was, brrrr.

Between a mile and 1/2 a mile or so from the end of the second loop I started feeling a weird twinge on the outside of my left knee.  It reminded me of my IT band issues, and it made me really nervous.  I sure hope that doesn’t flare up again.  That would make me miserable!  This week is a light week, no runs over 3 miles or so, so I’ll hopefully be able to recoup, and if all goes well my next long run will be great!



The marathon training begins!

So today marks the beginning of my marathon training program.  I put the program together myself based on something I know I need to do, and from a bunch of research I have been doing over the last year or so.  I plan to focus on running with some core work and maintaining some bike and swim fitness.  I am ok with letting the other stuff go, but the run training will be important to me.

My starting weight, as of this morning, is 182 pounds.  My goal is to reach 160 by the time I run my marathon next year.

My current 5K PR is 26 minutes and 6 seconds.  I hope to get that down to 19:30 or so.

I want to run a half in June at sub 1:30, and a full marathon in the fall at 3:15.

Most important of all, I want to stay injury free all of next year.

I will not be disappointed in myself if I miss any of those targets.  I have kids and spending time with them is the most important thing I can do.  However, I will be upset with myself if I don’t get to at least 165 because, baring any odd illness or injury, that is very controllable.

Race year 2011 was fairly low volume for me.  I focused a lot on swimming towards mid season, but mostly it was a relaxing year.  Next year will be more intense, but hopefully just as fun.

My Son’s first 5K

This weekend was the Hartford Marathon.  My wife was doing the Half, my sister-in-law was doing the full, and I decided to do the 5K with my 6 year old son.

We had been training, but not as much as I thought we needed to.  We are both so busy that it is hard to get some time to get a run in.  If my neighborhood were more run friendly I would have done a bit more training, but having to get in the car and drive somewhere made it difficult.

We started the day with a peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate milk.  When we arrived I searched for my wife and sister-in-law, who came early, but couldn’t connect with them.  I of course had to make a potty run, the lines were long, but we made it just fine.

My son was very nervous.  There were a lot of people, and the Hartford Marathon is quite a spectacle for a little guy.  I prepped him as best as I could and we got into line with all the other 5kers.  I decided to start us out back so that he would feel like he was making good progress by passing a bunch of people as opposed to having people pass him.

When the gun went off he stayed right next to me as I found a clearing or two for us to run in.  When he noticed that I was finding gaps he decided to take off and bounded between people.  He took of at that point and I just ran behind him impressed with his zig zagging skills.  He was doing an 8 minute mile or so at that point, and I knew it was too much to sustain for 3 miles.  We just weren’t fit enough to do it (both of us) about half a mile in I took off his sweath shirt and he took off once more.  He managed this fast pace for about a mile and a half.  I was really impressed!

Unfortunately, after the 1.5 mile mark he got a stomach cramp.  The peanut butter combined with the break neck pace was too much for him.   We started walking, and I could tell that he was really suffering.  We walked for about 3/4 of a mile and he kept looking behind him and seeing people pass.  He asked at one point if we were going to be in last place.  I said that we weren’t going to be, but even if we were I was very proud of him.  He kept fading, and at about the 2.5 mile mark I picked him up and ran with him a bit.  He had very much checked out of the race at this point and I felt bad that I had brought him this far out with no way easy way to get to the finish.  With about a half mile to go I put him down and said, can you hear the finish?  We need to run when we get there.  Well, I barely got the sentence out and he shot out like a bullet.  A police officer shouted “You aren’t going to catch him” and he was right.  I would guess that my son was running a 6 minute mile at that point.  I couldn’t gain any ground on him no matter how fast I ran.  He eventually faded and we walked for a bit, but he looked much better now.  He bolted again, and once again we were buried in cheers from people who knew I had no hope of catching him.

Eventually I did catch him and we ran hand in hand through the finish.  When we got across the line I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him.

We did the 5K in 38 minutes, and, for the record, we were no where near last place!

I will never forget this day as long as I live.  I’m so proud of my little guy for a really successful run.

My wife was no slouch either.  Despite a head cold and a trip to the med tent for feeling light headed, she had a 7 minute PR in her half.  My sister-in-law had leg cramps starting at mile 10 of her marathon, but managed to make it through with a walk/run finish of 5:45, not bad for a first marathon.

It looks like everyone fought off some pain to make a great and memorable race!

Unionville Road Race – Race Report

Today I ran the Unionville Road Race 5K.  It was hot, really humid, and pretty miserable.

My goal was to do 8’s but I wasn’t sure that was possible.  With the heat and humidity I knew it was going to be tough going.

We got to the event late, and I ran to get registered and get everything together.  I made it to the starting line, which was in the sun, and just started to sweat.  Ugh, brutal.  I could tell 8’s weren’t in the cards for me today.

As the horn blew I took off.  I checked my pace, and it was in the 6’s.  Time to slow down.  I backed off a bit, checked again, and I was at about 7.  Slowed it down once more and got to 7:44.  Good, let’s see how that goes.

Before even getting to the mile mark I could tell that this race was going to be grueling.  I was really hot, my heart rate was over 170, and I was starting to slow down to right around 8’s.

As I hit the first mile mark I got my time 7:40.  That was good, but it wasn’t going to last.

I hit the water station and had to slow down, they only had a couple of people there and they were getting hammered.  Luckily they had a lot of water on the table, so I just grabbed a couple and took off.

I dumped one cup over my head, and sipped from the other one.  It helped cool me down a bit, but I was still hurting.  It was tough just thinking about the fact that I was only halfway home.

We popped out of the rails to trails section of the race that we had spent about a mile on, and turned onto rt. 177.  The next section of the race was on the sidewalk.  This wasn’t an issue since the crowd was now thinned out.  It was at this point that I contemplated walking.  My quads were on fire, and my shins were getting sore too.  I just wanted this race to end.  But I didn’t walk, I kept running.  I did ease the pace a bit, and my heart rate stabalized.

A few more people passed me on this section, but mostly I just kept up with the people around me.  My pace was jumping around a bit, but I was just trying to hold on.

With about a mile or so left, I started to feel a little better, I think my heart rate was settling down, I maintained my pace, but I didn’t go any faster.

With about 300 feet to go I picked up the pace again, but there was no one to pass.  I ran it home just as my wife popped out of the crowd to take my picture.

My total time was about 26:35.  Not where I wanted to be, but I’ll take it.  This race pretty much ends my 2011 race year, so that’s that.


Coach Al’s Run Clinic

Tonight I attended a running clinic put on by the Farmington Valley Runner’s Group with Coach Al Lyman.  I just wanted to jot down a few notes from what he said for future reference.  Just a brain dump really.

  • One big issue that he identified was similar to what my physical therapist mentioned previously about muscles firing in the correct order.  He mentioned that the glutes often aren’t firing during the run which leads to compensation by other muscles and eventually to injury.
    • One thing he mentioned was doing proper bridges to get your glutes to fire more effectively.
    • Doing these exercises 3 times a week or more will help get the glutes going, focus on keeping your core steady and not curling your hips when you lift.
  • He also mentioned training purposefully.  Don’t just slog out the miles, understand what the goal is for the run and attack it, could be speed training or endurance training, it doesn’t matter focus on that
  • Slow down the endurance runs, should have maybe a couple miles at the end at a faster pace, the rest really easy
  • Train for the race, match the conditions, i.e. same hills in the same places, in order to prepare for the race
  • A hard training run will make your normal pace seem easier, it is all about managing perception
  • Your glutes should work the hardest when running, and the downward and backward pressure, i.e. the pushoff on the back of your run stride is the key to increasing propulsion.
    • As an aside, this makes sense, use your arms to swim, your quads to bike, and your glutes to run
  • I need to focus on keeping the cadence up 100+ steps per minute, while keeping my feet under my body for higher propulsion

That’s it for now.

Hartford Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I came in with a goal of just finishing before the clock ran down to 0. I succeeded! My calves and shins behaved surprisingly well, but it wasn’t a cake walk by any stretch. My finish time was 2:19 with a pace of 10:25. Not bad all things considered.

The long version

I woke up at 5:45. All of my gear was setup the night before, so it was just a matter of going through the motions. My wife, sister-in-law, and I had our breakfasts. Mine was a ham omelet, a banana, and coffee. My mom arrived at around 6:20 to watch the kids while we raced. All the ruckus of getting ready to go and last minute instructions for my mom was enough to wake the two oldest boys up. They came staggering out of the bedroom. It was actually great to be able to give them hugs and kisses before we left. We arrived in Hartford by 7:10 or so. Stopped at my office to use the facilities, and jogged over to Bushnell park to prep for the race. One of the cool amenities of the race was that UPS left trucks out to store the athlete’s gear. We were able to check a bag at the truck and have our gear right there when the race was over. Every race should be like this. By 7:50 or so we were in line and ready to go. I didn’t feel that nervous, but my heart rate monitor told me otherwise. Just standing there my heart rate was at 130. Yikes. The national anthem was sung, the gun went off, and we were off. I kissed my wife, wished her luck, and ran my race.

The First Half
As I started out I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the mass of humanity in front of me. 13,000 people filling the road, all with different goals but all moving in the same direction. I glanced up and saw a man doing the half marathon on crutches, he was missing a leg, it was incredible and made me realize how insignificant my little pains were.

My plan was to continue my run 4 walk 1 process. It worked well in training, so I wanted to continue it to help my IT bands and my shins. Unfortunately, with so many people all around, stopping was not an option. I continued my run for about 30 minutes before stopping. My pace was slow, a little less than 11 minute miles, but I was plugging along. I took a little of my homemade energy gel and I walked the minute. Then I continued my run.

I hadn’t made out where the mile markers were so I was running blind for a while. After running what I was sure was 5 miles I came across a DJ at Parkville School on Park Street and he was yelling out, “OK you’ve already done 3.5 miles, keep going.” I looked at the guy next to me and said “that’s it?” I wasn’t hurting at all, but it sure felt like I had made more progress than that. The one bright note was that I had no shin or calf pain, I think the rest and the calf sleeves really helped. I knew that if I hadn’t gotten any tightness by now, I was probably going to be ok.

After one of my walks, I looked up and saw my wife just ahead, I ran up to her and said hi. She was surprised to be in front of me, but I wasn’t. She was doing great. She later said she was struggling with her heart rate, but I couldn’t tell.

The race continued more or less uneventfully until mile 5. Just as I approached the mile marker, I finally figured out where they were, I felt a twinge in my left knee. When I run for long distances I get two kinds of pains. A small twinge below my knee cap, and a light burning on the outside of my knee. The twinge usually goes away in no time, the burning usually turns into horrible IT band pain. After another quarter mile or so I came to the awful realization that the twinge was a burn, and that I was starting to get that IT band pain once more. Eight miles left, how on earth was I going to make it?

The Second Half
I had a huge range of emotions at this point. I was mad that I was hurting already. I was confused since I have never had IT band pains while wearing knee braces, and I was concerned, I have never been able to run more than a mile or two after my IT bands start to hurt. Right then and there I started to doubt the finish. I decided to just tough it out and see how it went.

I crossed the half way point at about 1:06. I told myself I just had to get to mile 10, then, if I had to, I could walk it the rest of the way. I broke the race into 4 minute chunks. I would tell myself, ok, just run for 4 minutes and you can have a walk break. The walks were thankfully pain free so they were a bit of a welcome relief and when I started running again it didn’t hurt right away.

I used the pain as a barometer of how I was doing. I looked at the watch during the run when the pain started up to see if things were getting better or worse. Sometimes I could run 3 minutes before the pain got bad. Sometimes I would be limp running within 2 minutes of starting to run. It wasn’t consistent, so I really couldn’t tell if things were getting better or worse. Downhills hurt a lot, uphills hurt a little, and flats were bearable.

Even through all that, I was aware of my surroundings, and I ran over to any kid on any side of the street with their hand out for a high five. It was so nice of everyone to be out there watching us and cheering us on, the kids were great, and although my kids weren’t able to be there, the kids in the street were a small stand in that reminded me of my kids and kept me going.

As I entered Elizabeth Park I started to pep up. Joe, a friend of ours from the YMCA tri club, said he was going to be in the park to cheer us on. I scanned the sides of the street, and suddenly he was right there in front of me. It was a sight for sore eyes (ok maybe sore knees). I didn’t say a word, I was in too much pain, but I gave him a huge high five and a big grin. From that moment on, the pain was gone. I felt pep in my step, and I knew that I could do it. Before long I was at the 10 mile mark, the home stretch, I’ve got this.

The Home Stretch
As I turned onto Farmington Avenue I started to pour it on. I ran through the group and made some headway. The pain in my knees had gone numb, and I just wanted to see the finish. I saw the last mile marker, this was it, there was no way I wasn’t going to make it now.

As I made my final approach, I saw the Soldier’s and Sailor’s arch in the distance and I knew I just had to make it under there and I was done. As I turned the corner the crowd got thick and I could hear a roar from everyone as the runners streamed through the finish. As I looked out at the crowd, and the cheers washed over me, I was overcome with emotion. My eyes welled up, I did it, all this training, this moment is what it’s for. As I ran through the finish I pumped my fists in the air. I made it.

Time: 2:16:26
Pace: 10:25
Place: 3135 / 4623 A/G 267/322

Post Race
After the race I grabbed my medal and had something to eat. When I got home my IT bands were on fire. I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It took some Ibuprofen and sat with my kids. It was a perfect ending to an amazing day.

Lessons Learned
Well, there were a few. I need to seriously strengthen my knees and legs. This IT band issue will be the death of me if I can’t get it figured out. I am building a slide board, and am starting a P90X regiment next week. I’m getting back to spin and swim as well. Time to prepare to finish strong next year.

Another lesson I learned, you can push through the pain. Eventually your body will stop hurting. Of course there is a fine line there. Ignoring the wrong pain can cause serious injuries. I will listen to my body as I push, and hopefully that will let me know when I should stop.

Also, I learned that my endurance is pretty good. I came in at pretty close to my training pace, and I felt fantastic in terms of energy and endurance. In fact, other than my IT bands I wasn’t hurting at all. I’m sure I could have pushed the pace by quite a bit had I not had the IT band issues. (Yet another reason to get those IT bands under control.)

Finally, I think that my IT bands hurt so much because of all the dodging I did to get around people. I don’t do that in training at all, so doing it in this race just put me over the edge.

So, for now, a week or two off, and then back to training and planning my race card next year. Maybe even a full marathon, who knows.


I want to congratulate my wife and sister-in-law for running a great race, it was great to experience that with them.

I want to thank my mom for watching the kids so that we could do this race. It was barely more than a year ago that I sat in a hospital room for a month watching her in a medically induced coma, not knowing if she was going to survive her aneurysm, today she is recovered and doing really well. Thanks for being there for us.

I also wanted to thank Joe for helping me finish the race, it is indescribable how good it is to see a familiar face in a crowd and know that there is someone there rooting for you.

Finally, I want to thank everyone that came out to cheer us on. What an amazing feeling to have this unity and support, I’ll never forget this moment, and the great crowd made it all the better.

Final Countdown

So the half mary is only a few days away and it is all question marks for me.

I tried a 3 mile run early last week, and it went poorly. My shins were hurting by the end of the first mile. Really painful! So what’s a guy to do? I have decided to rest. I am taking a complete work stoppage at this point. I have been focusing on stretching, including incorporating shin stretching, and my IT band PT. I bought and am wearing calf sleeves to help support my shins. I wear them every day during the day, and take them off at night. I am also taking Ibuprofen to reduce any inflammation. My goal is to just heal in time for race day.

As I approach race day I am also trying to stay positive. My shins are still pretty achy so I’m nervous about this race. My goal at this point is to finish it. Just cross the line before the time limit is up. I think I can do it…no, I know I can do it, but I’m still very nervous about this whole shin situation.

I am going to work through the pain, that is all I can do. So as the days close in on me, I will be putting out positive thoughts with the hope that they will make me successful.

I’m excited too. Excited to be taking part in the big dance.

I still plan on doing the 4 minute run/1 minute walk thing, but I know it will be tough to do with all of these people running me by. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

12 Miles

It was suppose to be a confidence boost.

It was suppose to be about trying something new.

It was suppose to be my last chance to get things together.

But, it went horribly wrong.

Let me start over. I decided to run the 12 miler without my knee braces on. They had been causing me serious cramps in my calves and shins. I brought them with me and thought I could just throw them on if I had issues with my IT bands.

I started the run and things felt fine. I was a little sluggish, but no big deal. After about a mile my shins started to get really sore. By mile 2 I was in so much shin pain I thought that maybe I would turn around. I could barely even walk. I don’t know where this was coming from. I walked at my next walk interval (I’m still running 4 minutes and walking 1) but the pain was incredible. I tried to stretch the shin muscles but it hurt, it was just unbearable. I decided to walk for 5 minutes and try to shake it off. After the 5 minute walk I went back to my normal schedule. The pain lasted for the next 4 miles, slowly slipping away, until after mile 6 of the run. I finally felt like I had some rhythm. All the pain was gone and I felt strong.

That lasted until about mile 8 or so. Then I had a steep downhill. I just jogged it, nice and easy, but I could feel my IT bands twinging. It wasn’t painful, just a reminder that I needed to watch out. About 1.4 mile later I started feeling the tell-tale IT band burning. I stopped under a tree and put my knee braces on. Unfortunately, the knee braces just seemed to aggravate the injury. At mile 9 I threw in the towel. I called my wife and had her pick me up. I just didn’t want to risk injuring my IT band.

I’m really disappointed, and scared of what this marathon, just two weeks away, is going to do to me. I hope I can make the cutoff, I hope my shins are ok.

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