Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Shoes that Changed my Life


Okay, you got me, of course they perhaps didn’t exactly alter my life, but they did change my perception about what (some people might say) feet “should” and “shouldn’t” run in, and made me realize how freeing it can be to run in a lightweight, minimal running shoe with the right balance of protection and sensitivity.  Actually after reading this, you just might think they actually saved my running, and yes, changed my life.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The In-between

In the month since my last race I've continued running, mainly trying to maintain my training and fitness so that I have a decent base to begin the 2012 training season, and to finish up one or two goals I set for this year.  It has been interesting not having a marathon coming up anytime soon, but still running almost as if I were in the middle of an 18-week plan (if not more than that some weeks).  I'm beginning to wonder if my wife was right and I am excessive with my running...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Running Thanksgiving

Since it’s nearly Thanksgiving and the trend seems to be to blog about what we are thankful for, I’ll skip right to it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The ‘M’ Factor

It can be a magical word, taboo and unspoken, or loud and in your face.  Perhaps catalyzed by coffee, sweets, a can of FRS or Red Bull, certainly it takes the right amount of energy, but there’s more to it than that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

From Confidence in 2010 to a Desire in 2011

One thing I’ve learned this year about running – you can pretty much achieve anything if you really want it.  Of course, I say this wild statement realizing I’ve by no means broken the sound barrier, or any kind of record.  I haven’t won any races.  I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary really.  The only records I did manage to break were my own personal records.  So even though I didn’t set out at the beginning of this year to become an elite/pro runner, I did set out to conquer some fears, run a lot of miles to a personal best, and qualify for Boston.  With a few speed bumps along the way, I achieved what I set out to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

All week before the race I had felt pretty good, but I had been wondering what kind of time I'd be capable of running at the Indy Monumental Marathon.  I had already run two marathons in the two preceding months, and both times I had not done what I hoped or planned on running.  Beaver Island was a good first attempt, but I felt off from the beginning of the Chicago Marathon.  Still, I had done relatively well at each one, so I never felt like I was in a position to complain; at the same time, I knew that I could have done better.  Aside from this twinge of self-doubt, I had been feeling some tightness in the back of my left knee and had a cold.  I wasn’t sure if the knee thing would bother me during the run, but stretching and resting didn’t seem to help.  There was little I could do about it, so I would try to put it out of my mind.  The cold also wasn’t a great thing to catch the week before a race, but I couldn’t change that either.  So I felt pretty good with a couple minor exceptions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicago Marathon was a Blur

I was hoping to come away from my race at the Chicago Marathon with a few things: a new PR, a Boston (2013) qualifying time (minus about 5 minutes), a fantastic run/race experience & some good stories, and a satisfying point to take a break from the marathon for a few months (not stop running, just not do another marathon for a while).  If I made one of these things in particular, a BQ -5 time, the rest would fall nicely into place.  I did come out with a new PR, and I am happy about that, but also disappointed, as it was pretty far from the goal time I was shooting for – about 6 minutes – could have been worse.  So who complains about making new PRs?  Not spoiled or selfish children (adults), but perhaps type-A runners…

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beaver Island Marathon

I don’t exactly remember what time I woke up on race day, it was probably around 6:15.  I think I had set my alarm for later, but given that I fell asleep pretty early, I was rise-and-shine ready at a decent hour.  The start was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. so I had plenty of time to eat a good-sized breakfast and let it digest well before the start: coffee, OJ, oatmeal, and a banana are my typical foods and didn’t change for this day.  The race start was approximately a half mile from my hotel, so not too far, just enough to go out for a morning pre-race warm-up jog.  So after I was dressed and feeling good to get out, I jogged over to the start to see who was already gathered and hanging around the area, the same place where packet pick-up had taken place the day before, inside of an old church.  The area was still very quiet.  It was nearly 8 o’clock but not too many people around.  The half marathon and marathon walkers would begin at 8:00 a.m., but it appeared no one was walking from the looks of things.  It had started raining, and had been gray skies most of the morning, so it appeared that it would be a wet day.  Not so bad, better than hot and humid.  Finally the walkers started at 8 o’clock on the dot, with a somewhat melodramatic kick-off.  A dozen or so people headed out on their journey with virtually no spectators or cheering.

Pre-race: Getting to Beaver Island

Two weeks before Beaver Island Marathon: my CARA running group and I were talking about Boston.  Each of us hoping to someday qualify and run the Boston Marathon, the topic has come up a few times on our early Saturday morning runs.  Currently we are each training for the Chicago Marathon, on October 9, 2011.  However because you have to run a qualifying race before registering for Boston, and Boston registration begins on September 12, 2011 and closes on September 23, 2011 (if space is still available during the 2nd week of registration), that means the race we were all training for would not be applicable for the 2012 running of the Boston Marathon, but rather for 2013.  A couple of the guys had not realized this or looked into registration this far, yet.  I felt like the bearer of bad news for them, since they were initially assuming they would qualify for Boston at Chicago, and be running Boston the following spring.  I did shed a speck of light on the situation by telling them about a couple marathons coming up on 9/3 and 9/4 (two weeks away).  Ordinarily planning for, registering, and finding a hotel for a marathon race can generally take some serious consideration and planning weeks if not months ahead of the race.  Often if it requires overnight stay and travel, it can be quite challenging to book a room in the host city if you wait too long.  I’ve struggled with this up to 8 months in advance, if not further out, as some small towns simply have a limited supply of hotels to meet the need.  But it can often be done on short notice too, as people cancel and things sometimes just open up.  Anyhow, given we had already run 19 & 20-milers so far, it was not out of this world to consider doing a marathon at this point in our training.  And it would also line up with a planned 20-mile run weekend anyway.  Not bad.  Anyway, personally, I had already deliberated this a few weeks before and subsequently dropped the idea after realizing none of the races were closer than a 6-hour drive.  Too much planning for me at the last minute.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Races, long runs, injury, recovery, and a few random thoughts about Dailymile

After that half marathon on the 23rd of July, my Achilles tendon really started hurting.  I didn’t realize it immediately how bad it was – it hurt after the race, but I figured it was just post-race aching.  In the week leading up to the race, my ankle/Achilles had been nagging at me, but it wasn’t terrible.  After the race however, something wasn’t right.  It felt like I had fractured my ankle or something, I don’t know but not good.  Ended up seeing a doctor, and he said it was likely Achilles tendinitis.  Seemed possible, I guess.  Anyway, once again I was taking it easy and getting nervous about being injured for a long duration.  I rested it for a few days, did some elliptical, and rested some more.  I don't get too worried about missing a couple days of running, but if it is a week or more I do start worrying about losing fitness.  It can take months to get to a level of fitness where you feel like you’re finally getting to where you want to be in your training.  But with high mileage training, I'm finding it's pretty easy for small aches to quickly grow into major problems if you're not careful, and then, yep, wind up on the injured list again.  Not fun.  Over the course of the next two weeks, I rested, worked out on the elliptical several times (which I consider to be several degrees more evil than any ‘dreadmill’ – it is just not my favorite machine), rested some more, and later on did some test runs to see if things were getting any better.  Finally, at the end of two weeks, things had healed up better than I had hoped, and I was running again.  Yay!  Very happy about that.  Of course I’m paying close attention to the Achilles now, in both legs.  Not sure if tendinitis can heal that fast or not, but I will take it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Race Results

With a rocky start to my morning, I ended up doing ‘well’ at the Fitness for America Half Marathon today.  But better back up a bit…  I practically stayed up awake in bed most of the night.  I went to bed early but was wide awake until a couple hours before I planned to get up.  It’s one of my big fears before a race -- not getting enough sleep, and it happened again.  Need to do some research on that.  Alarm went off at 4 a.m. (I had to do a number of things before I could leave, like take the dogs out, etc., drive out to Hoffman Estates).  After a cup of coffee I was doing better.  Finally got on the road at about 5:25 a.m., and wouldn’t you know it, I-90 was backed up as soon as I got on.  Wasn’t expecting that on a Saturday morning.  The heavy rains over the night had flooded parts of the highway.  There were cars off to the sides of the road, and I couldn’t initially understand why they were just sitting there.  …Until I got to a section of road where cars were passing through the middle single file in order to avoid the deepest parts of a new pond on I-90.  I drove through of course, feeling fortunate for once (not the best on gas mileage) to have a little higher-sitting SUV, and drove slowly through the water, coming out on the other side ready to floor it.  There was another section of road that had flooded but it was not nearly as bad.  Finally I was on my way again, and a half hour behind schedule, but still plenty of time before the race, which had a start time of 7:30 -- I had been annoyed it was such a late start considering it is mid-July, but given the driving conditions, I was now happy about that.  Arrived at the race site by 6:30 a.m., picked up my packet, finished my routine, and got ready for the race. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer in Full Swing

Whoops - been some time since the last update!  Well, knock on wood, things have been going well, despite the hot, hot, hot heat wave that has been hanging over the Midwest the past several days.  Today, I had an 8-mile pace run scheduled, but have been planning on running the Fitness for America Sports Festival Half Marathon tomorrow, so I only did an easy 3-miler to loosen up and burn some extra energy (helps me sleep the night before a race).  It was nice to get out while it was still raining (does that sound odd?), but it slowed and then stopped during the first part of the run.  I enjoy runs in the rain when the weather is warm -- most people I know seem to avoid it.  It was also a nice break from the heat.  

Anyhow, the Half is tomorrow and weather is still predicted to be warm and muggy (80 degrees and 80%+ humidity with a 50% chance of rain), unfortunately.  I’m continuing to hope that it won’t be too uncomfortable; keep your fingers crossed for all the runners out there!  I’ve decided that I don’t mind the heat but high humidity/dew point seems to play a major role in how I feel, even on short runs.  

CARA runs have been going relatively well.  There’ve been few hiccups here and there with someone forgetting to bring the water/Gatorade for last week’s finish location, and missing pace leaders for my pace group on a few runs, but overall it’s really nice to meet up with a bunch of similar runners and go for a run along the lake -- not to mention start and finish a run before most people are even out of bed!  It’s nice to have the lakefront all to yourself, so to speak.  

Anyway with any luck the race will go as planned and it won’t be too unbearable.  I hope to be able to provide a positive post-race update…

Saturday, June 11, 2011

10 Miles with CARA

Day began at 4:12 a.m.  I know that seems early, even for meeting up with runners at six o’clock.  But I like to have some time before my runs to eat, get the dogs out for a walk, etc.  I left the house at 5:35 and got to the meet-up site at about ten till.  My first ever training run with CARA went pretty well.  I was hoping to go along at a bit faster pace, but it seems they were a lead pacer short today.  Anyway, got in a decent 10-miler and met some new people which was part of the reason for joining the club.  The other reason was motivation to get my runs done early on the weekends – which will be helpful when it gets hotter, and when the rest of the family wants to go do something instead of waiting around for me to finish my run. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Time to Run?

Well after over two months of on-again, off-again pain in my hip I realized I should probably have simply listened to the doctor at the start and just sacrificed 6 weeks of running rather than completely blowing over 2 months of time and risking continued pain into my next training program.  Unfortunately, I was not in a mental state at the time to just stop and rest.  So I will credit the doctor with being right all along, I was wrong to keep running, I know that now.  A crystal ball would have come in handy.  I’m finally feeling about as good as ever, though a few more pounds heavier lately and my overall fitness has declined.  But I still detect the tiniest twinge in my hip every once in a while telling me that *something* is still there, whether it is not quite 100% or my brain has burned in a permanent reminder to help prevent me from making the same mistake – ha, good luck –  I don’t really know which it is. :) But I’ve been learning a pretty good life lesson (running is filled with those) here, and I know I can’t push too many hard runs in a row – I’ve read that and lived it.  I also once again appreciate being injury free and able to run without pain.  Praying that I don’t have to go through that again, but I know I will have to watch it for a while.  I did the Soldier Field 10 Mile run last weekend, but I didn’t race too hard until about the last mile or so.  Mostly I was just there to have a fun time and enjoy the day.  Had a blast.  Tomorrow I will go out for an easy 8 mile run and take it slow.  I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy the warming weather.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Woot!

After feeling a bit limpy after yesterday’s 4 mile pace run, I was again still pretty sore starting out the run this morning.  But my only goal was to keep it slow and get through it without making anything worse.  The cool blustery wind and the beautiful blue skies helped to occasionally distract me from the fact that I wasn’t feeling 100% today, but all in all, I felt fortunate that I didn’t start feeling worse at any point, and just kept chugging along.  The great folks over at the Chicago Park District have turned on most of the fountains along the Lakefront Path, at least the ones I’ve come across so far (love it, thank you!).   I finished the 12 and expected to feel some bigger pains, but really nothing was hurting, I was a bit sore, but not in pain.  I visited one of my favorite restaurants, Chicago Brauhaus, with my family and parents, and tried to keep moving around the rest of the day, not sitting still for too long.  I fear tightening up otherwise.  Anyway, the day kept getting warmer and the sun really came out to do some serious shining, so it turned out to be a pretty darn good day:  12 miles completed with very little pain afterward, a full week of running completed, warmer than expected weather with beautiful skies (okay sure so it was a bit windy but I’ll take it), great food at my favorite German restaurant, and good company of my son, wife, and parents.  I’d say it was a great way to finish a potentially bad running week, and a great way to start another (hopefully not potentially bad) work week…

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting it together

Well it was another strange week.  I had some fundamental differences with my doctor’s plan of action for the coming weeks and months, so long story short I am completely disregarding it.  I mean I know if I experience pain, I should not be running.  But after that appointment I was charged up and went out for a 5 mile run, slow.  So, that was Monday.  I was a little more optimistic after that run and throughout the rest of the week, actually.  Since Sunday, I’ve been feeling better day by day, and I’ve been running regularly, albeit shorter distances at slower and easier paces.  In any case, I certainly don’t feel as bad as I did a week ago.  I took Friday off from running; it was also a planned rest day.  I had really been looking forward to this weekend’s runs.  Today I did a short 4-miler which was supposed to be done at marathon race pace.  That actually went fairly well.  I held the pace, but my heart rate was a bit higher than I would have liked.  In any case, I didn’t feel too bad.  Definitely felt a little sore afterward, but I iced it and stretched a little and feeling not too bad now.  Tomorrow, Sunday, is scheduled to be a 12-miler, no big deal right?  Today was okay, I might even say, good, so we’ll see how things go tomorrow.  Trying to be optimistic, I think that actually helps everything overall.  And yeah, if it hurts I will just have to knock it down a notch or two.  No idea yet if 12 miles will be possible, but we’ll cross that bridge.  I think it will be okay.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Car Maintenance

At the dealership waiting for my car to receive its maintenance and minor repairs, etc.  If only we could maintain our own bodies as easily as a car.  Tomorrow I’ll have my first MRI done and then maybe I will start having some answers as to what is going on.  In the absence of any official feedback, I just feel like something’s broken or not working quite right with my hips or pelvis.  Running just doesn’t feel good right now.  Twitter’s great to get the latest training advice and race updates, but no one seems to be tweeting much about injuries, pain, and the disheartening effects of not being able to run.  I tried to do a short run yesterday, 3 miles, went slow, didn’t push it, but it was tough, not pleasant at all.  I felt worse afterward.  Reality check.  I’m starting to scrap plans for this marathon now, as I just don’t think I’ll be able to physically recover and maintain any real amount of fitness that I’ve built up this past winter.  So, it’s time to focus on resting, getting better, and who knows what the next race will be or when…  Sidelined, but gotta stay positive.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Down but Not Out

It is damn easy to get down on yourself when things break down.  After all, I put 14 weeks into training for a marathon at the end of this month.  And that included many days of running out in the freezing cold wind, rain, snow, and sleet, running over snow, ice, slush, etc.  A lot of time and work went into this training program, and now less than 4 weeks remain.  Okay, so I deserve to complain a little bit (right?), but I know I shouldn’t dwell on it for too long.  Those are the breaks.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

From the Best Week to the Worst

One of my best weeks of running ever was unfortunately followed by one of my worst weeks of running ever.  When I thought I had experienced every pain in the book something new comes along, smacks me in the face, and changes just about everything.  In the previous week I ran my highest mileage ever, including a number of really hard days.  This past Tuesday my body threw up a white flag.  In the absence of professional running advice or medical diagnosis, I think I must be experiencing overuse injury or teetering on the brink of it.  After what I felt was a great tempo run Tuesday, I started limping and hobbling around with pains migrating daily from hamstrings to groin areas to glutes, etc.  I took Wednesday off from running, tried to run Thursday and gave up after about a mile and a half.  That was hard to swallow after coming off of such a high week...

Friday, April 1, 2011

From What Do I Run?

I was asked, from what do I run?
I replied, not from, but toward.
I was asked, toward what do I run?
I replied, I run toward new goals.
Challenge. Hardship. Distance.
Speed. Fun. Relaxation. Enjoyment.
To be a part and apart. To get away.
To escape, but not to run away.
I run to come back.  I run to run.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Set New Limits

“Running may seem difficult. But as you train over weeks and months, what seemed like an agonizing task becomes surprisingly easy.”  Hal Higdon’s recent tweet rings true enough, but there is always more to the story, right?  I realize you may interpret this as me twisting the words of the great Hal, but I don’t mean this in any sort of negative way.  Hal has certainly been one of my heroes – and like a coach in some ways – for a long time now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ignition

[Edit] I imported the previous blog entries here from another site of mine.  The following is the first actual blog post on this new site. [/Edit]

So after setting up and managing what feels like dozens websites over the years to display or house different personal interests and hobbies, I’d like to retry a simple blog again…  A bit of background…  I first started running regularly in my late 20’s, just over 10 years ago.  I was not fast, I endured shin splints on and off for a decade, and was an excellent example of over-pronation, and other fun things.  After a handful of years, I was feeling a bit more accomplished and happy to have reached a point where I finished an Ironman and multiple marathons.  But the marathon was not my strong suit in the Ironman, and making it to the end of the 26.2 miles in any marathon never seemed to just ‘flow.’ 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Here comes the Sun

Ran along a chilly but very beautiful 22 miles of Chicago lakefront today.  The temp was right around 30 degrees with a constant 10 to 15 mph ENE wind coming off the lake, but the blue skies and bright sun made it feel like a nice spring day, at least at a few spots where the path turned westward rather than north, south, or east – not a lot of places.  My brain is ready for spring, so I’ll take what I can get to fool it once in a while.  The training plan called for 20 miles and so that meant 22 to me because, well, just because.  Nothing really shocking to see today, and overall it was a pretty quiet 3 hours.  There were some people sailing today, which to me seemed more strange than running 22 miles in the chilly air.  But I am thankful for seeing a little sun.  My log details:  “Good run overall. A bit sore from the past week, but otherwise in good shape, nothing really hurts - just tight, sore, tired. Cooler day at around 30 degrees, steady ENE wind at 10 to 15 mph, but very sunny and blue. Nice day except for the wind. Tried to keep a pace at about 8:08/mile and even though my average was pretty dead-on, I did get pretty tired the last few miles today. I feel that I am / will be recovering from the past week for a couple days. A good run.”  I tend to focus on the weather a lot, but it certainly does affect how well you feel and how well you run, generally.  Cooler temps are definitely more suitable for running, but I am now ready for some 40’s and 50’s!  I realized I’ve run my highest number of miles in 1 week (broke 60 miles), which is a new mini-achievement to stoke me up.  Also ran one of my best 10k’s in training this past week – that felt great!  But this all has used up my energy.  I'm certainly feeling a little beaten down and sore, and ready for some food and recuperation.  Now for some downtime!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chugalug-a-choo-choo


It’s officially mid-March and setting our clocks forward an hour is upon us once again.  Sweet.  So, does that mean spring’s warmer temperatures are coming back to Chicagoland soon?  I hope so, as I’m not so certain I can withstand yet another cold and windy run.  I know I sound like a baby whining about not wanting to finish dinner, but the closer we get to what should be ‘springtime’ the more I feel I’ve lost my tolerance for this winter.  You would think I would be quite well adapted to the cold weather at this point; I think I must be getting old.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Soon?

The sidewalks and path were not exactly ideal – lots of patches of wet snow and ice, and it was melting quickly to cold puddles.  However, the air temp was not too cool, 31 degrees and light on wind; with the sun shining brightly it was a pleasant last Sunday in February for getting in a long run (a step-back week, so not that long).  With shorts, a long sleeve shirt, and a Salomon vest I just won from Fleet Feet (thank you, Fleet Feet Chicago!), I was very comfortable for an easier paced 12-miler.  The path was pretty messy for about 50% of it, at least on the outbound leg, but the sun was doing its job as the return trip seemed much better.  Lots of sun going south and a light headwind, so when I turned back with the sun and wind at my back, I was unleashed and picked up the pace a bit.  By the end, it had warmed to 37 degrees, the sun was brilliant and the blue sky felt awesome – I swore spring had arrived.  Shorts and a vest - don't forget!  Of course, it wasn’t going to last – shortly after my run it clouded up and started to cool down again.  Well it was a nice taste of spring – I know, I know, it’s still a bit too early for that, at least in Chicago.  But it was a great morning.  And much, much, much better than a week ago…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wet 'n' cold fun

Cold, rainy, windy.  …Pretty much as predicted.  Temps right around the 32 degree mark.  When I woke up I thought I had lucked out, there was no ice, sleet or rain, the ground was clear and dry.  But as soon as I got outside it started sleeting.  That was alright, but then it changed to a really cold rain shortly after that.  The first 10 miles were basically face-first into wind and rain.  At about the turnaround point near 71st Street I didn’t think I could take it anymore, but after turning to head back north the wind was at my back and the rain lightened up.  I instantly felt 80% better, except I was completely soaked head to toe, and my hands were really cold.  Squishy shoes, cold legs, numb hands and face, and wet clothes – my legs didn’t want to go very fast and I felt a little weighted down – the last 7 miles went a bit slower.  I really just wanted to finish more than finish fast.  I believe a crow even tried dive-bombing me at one point, what the heck?  Okay did I just say that the long runs were my favorite run of the week?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 2011

Well it was cooler weather today as predicted, but it wasn’t too bad.  This was one of the earliest mornings I got out for a run this winter.  I didn’t see anyone running or walking for at least the first two and a half miles, but saw some local police in their patrol cars watching some of the areas on the path, I guess that is reassuring.  Also saw the sun rise today right about the time I was turning back home midway through.  Although it wasn’t particularly stunning, it was still nice to experience it again.  After a good couple weeks of great training runs, I probably had one of my less optimal runs today.  Tired, less energy, perhaps a result of getting less sleep last night, some continuing foot pain, and probably still recovering from Thursday’s run.  But all in all, I was okay with my pace and the overall run, and the sunrise and blue sky were beautiful.  Only a couple of patches of ice on the Lakefront path where the snow had melted and refroze.  Otherwise it was clear and dry, great for a run or a ride.  Today was 8 miles, finished in about 58 minutes.  Tomorrow is back up to 17 miles.  Seems like I was just doing that not too long ago for the Twin Cities Marathon.  But that's my favorite run of the week!  Time to ice my foot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Running 2011!

Reviving the running blog...  Here's to warmer weather holding out a little bit longer, sure would have been nice to have those 60 degree temps last a little bit longer.  Well, it is February, so I can't really expect warm weather anyway (never stops me from hoping for it).  But we've had some pretty cold and windy weekends this season, so a weekend in the 30s won't be too bad (though chance of sleet and freezing rain - yuck).  I'm at the end of the 8th week of an 18-week marathon program so the mileage is shooting up there, and I'm beginning to feel the early stages of excitement for the coming Illinois Marathon at the end of April...