Showing posts from 2007


I'm on the e-mail list for runners and alum of Solanco High School Cross Country. Last month, the coach invited one and all to the county park for a trail run. Since I've been hitting the park a lot - and figured that in December, most of the kids are just beginning to get serious about training for track I should be able to at least survive, I figured I'd give it a go.

Most of the crowd was the current generation - there were two other alums that I met, but both were from only five years ago... so I was the oldest by a lot.

We did five miles in the park. Myself and 1 alum. - whom I think I actually met once through my niece - led the pack for the first half, though the kids were free to splinter off on any trail they wanted at any point, and many did. Mid-way through the third mile, though, our pack was down to four and one was obviously of current generation and in decent shape. He started to push the pace a little more every quarter mile or so. In short, he was turning th…

Get a New Plan, Stan...

Running-wise, I am soooo bored of December.

The idea of "just running" was fun for a little while - five to six miles over lunch, sometimes pushing the pace, but sometimes not - not giving myself a hard time when I missed two days in a row and being mildly pleased when I'd done three.

But frankly, I'm sick of it. Though I planned to run over lunch today, I didn't and the simplest reason I can think of is because I didn't have anything planned that was genuinely easier or harder or different than what I did the few past few days.

Fitness-wise, I'm stagnating. I'm too bored to go slow on the easy days but without a plan I'm not doing any hard intervals, either. Consequently, every day is medium-ish which - if you've read - is a great way to hurt yourself and/or burn yourself out. Mission accomplished. :)

The good news, though, is that the end is in sight. The plan right now is to go six tomorrow and get up early for a Sunday AM eight. It's been…

Like I Need an Excuse to Run...

Jamie from the Diabetic Runner has posted a new challenge for diabetic, uh, runners. Run 500 or 1000 miles in '08. Sounds like a good deal to me. Click here to learn more.

Actually, I like this idea. I've been kind of jealous of Anne and the other diabetic triathletes over at Triabetes. They're active and organized and they have cool shirts (which I'm gonna buy as soon as I take the time and fill out the form!).

Alas, I like running more than I like training for three sports (plus, I really suck at two of them), so Jamie's cause is more closely aligned with my own interests (and abilities).

And while I'm rambling, I was watching Little People Big World and saw Matt get diagnosed with diabetes (Type 2). There seemed to be the usual amount of panic, exaggeration and ultimately - ignorance - afforded to the affliction as is common when the disease is shrunken down to the tv. They toss out the risks and complications but then when the person doesn't keel over imme…

Feed the Warrior

Go get 'em, Lance.

Why I Love Running in the County Park...

The county park has a small herd of (mostly) wild deer that allow me to get surprisingly close to them. However, they've been MIA since hunting season began last week. So far this week, it's been me and the squirrels until today when I came up over the top of a trail and came within 50 feet of a big red fox. Very very cool, and the type of experience you won't find on the roads.

Many running bloggers are linking to this story today and why not? It's well worth the read:
The first thing to know, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, an exercise researcher and a cardiology professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is that no one really knows what limits human performance. There’s the ability of the heart to pump blood to the muscles, there’s the ability of the muscles to contract and respond, there’s the question of muscle fuel, and then, of course, there is the mind.

Jingle Bell Run Results....

The local Jingle Bell Run is notorious for not posting results online. Fortunately, I helped out with this year's race a little bit and got a copy of the results, which I've uploaded here.

5th out of 87 in my age group is pretty cool, though I was nearly a minute from placing. Ah well, maybe next year. :)

Jingle Bell 5k Race Report

I really had no idea what to expect from this race...

I'd been a good boy, basically not allowing myself to go fast since the marathon a month ago. However, I have been putting in mostly 30 mile weeks of mostly trail running, which had healed my aches and given me some greater leg strength than I'd felt in some time.

And then last week, work gobbled up more time than I typically allow for it and it gobbled up one of my runs. And then on Wednesday, messing around with the kids, I banged my knee. Hard.

Thursday and Friday, I had precious little time to run and when I was tempted to - noticed my knee was still rather messed up. Two good reasons not to run. I listened to them. Saturday, the knee felt 95% better but I figured running the day before the race wouldn't help, so that was that: 3 days in a row with no exercise for the first time in who knows how long?

I did this race last year in 22:37. This year, I was aiming for sub 20:00, but again - I really wasn't sure where my…

The Problem With Diabetes...

I've often said, is that it's not the same for everyone. You can read my blog - with my tough guy logic and talk about how it's all just a matter of simple rapid math (carbs - exercise = insulin required) - and conclude that - all in all - it's really not that difficult of a disease to manage.

On the other hand, you can know a guy like Kerm. Kerm was the first diabetic I was introduced to when I left the hospital after my diagnosis. At the time, I was 13 and he was 17. His name was Chris, but everyone called him Kerm due to his resemblance to the frog that was in vogue in the 80's.

While I never saw Kerm have a bad attitude about diabetes - in fact, he was a counselor at many diabetic camps - he also rarely seemed to be in good control. Truth be told, I was never close enough to him to know why he was always running high or low but - at least for Kerm - the "simple math" I preach here often didn't work. We all know that out of control diabetics are pron…


Or is it "Hookie?" I dunno. Whichever, I did it yesterday.

Most weekends, I plan on resting on Saturday and getting up early on Sunday. This weekend, I thought I'd go eight and start getting ready for my new marathon plan, which I'm starting for a month.

Problem was, I had a hunch that one day of sleeping in wasn't enough for me and I didn't even set the alarm early on Sunday.... told myself I'd go out later in the day if I had time, but with two kids, holiday shopping, etc.... it never happened. As late as seven last night, I thought about going out. Then I double-checked my Fitzgerald plan and saw that the first weekend in January calls for a ten mile run and the total weekly mileage will be about where I am now... in other words, I had no good reason to go out for a long run more than a month before I start my marathon plan. So I didn't. Ripped through some push-ups and sit-ups and called it a night.

Back on the wagon today, though. Nearly six miles o…

Next Up - Jingle Bell 5k

Final race of the season for me is a Jingle Bell 5k the weekend after next. Random facts:

I ran this race in 22:37 last year, but was only running about two days a week then. I was also biking 1-2 days a week as I was beginning to prepare for my spring triathlon.

My goal is sub 20, with a stretch goal of 19:30. I did a 20:11 several weeks ago that wasn't an all-out effort. The good news is that this course is much faster. The bad news is I haven't run fast since the marathon. The good news is I have been running a decent amount - all on trails, all easy. Not sure how that will play into the intensity required for a 5k.

I'm going to try and go out at 6:15/mile and hold it as long as possible.

I bought a pair of racing flats which will be making their debut at this race.

This is really my last decent VO test for a few months. My race calendar for Jan/Feb will likely consist of mostly trail races.

My employer is a big sponser of this race and we will have 12 people on our team. Woo…

Run More... or Run Faster or.. Just Run.

Interesting article in the NY Times about maintaining running fitness. In a nutshell:

To do your best at a given sport, train for that given sport. This is why triathletes are total studs in my book. It's also why most (though not all) elite runners run more and cross-train less.

However, the article also says that you can mitigate some of this conclusion by running fast on the days you are running. This is exactly what the FIRST plans calls for - running three times per week - hard. While you won't get the maximum aerobic benefit from cross-training, you'll heal up your legs enough to beat them into a pulp during those three workouts. (Obviously, I'm paraphrasing.)

As mentioned before, next time around, I'm going to try and split the difference a bit. Here's my plan in a nutshell:

1) Go from 5 workouts per week to 6.
2) Do 3 hard runs - long run from the FIRST plan, interval and tempo workouts from Fitzgerald.
3) Go to 2 easy/base runs and 1 XC day - this, too, is F…

Type 1 Diabetes Cured By Halle Berry.

This will definitely help people understand diabetes:

Pregnant HALLE BERRY is winning her battle with diabetes, thanks to a healthy diet and good living. The actress was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after she passed out while shooting a TV show called Living Dolls when she first arrived in Hollywood. But the disease has now dropped to Type 2 diabetes because Berry is no longer "insulin dependent".

For her next trick, Berry hopes to turn her eyes blue and morph her feet into fins via the power of suggestion, because - you know - stars can do that kind of stuff.

Diabetes & Marathons - Perfect together?

About four months ago, as I was booking my next appt. with my endocrinologist, I realized that I was due for an appt. two weeks after my marathon. This allowed me to schedule my blood work five days after the marathon, which I found really interesting. Simply put, I was curious to see how screwed up my blood chemistry would be so soon after a 26 mile race.

Unfortunately, there's no really cool stuff to report - everything was pretty much normal.

Diabetes-wise, let's discuss my A1C. In a nutshell, an A1C is your average blood sugar over the past 70 days or so. It's pretty much the "de facto" test for diabetes control. We all have bad blood sugars in certain moments, but the A1C says how you're doing overall.

Last I checked, the ADA recommends an A1C of less than 7% and some society of endocrinologists recommends an A1C of less than 6.5%. Generally speaking, I'm usually somewhere in between those two figures - I was 6.6% in the summer. (Quick advertisement for…

Temptation or... What's Next?

I'm finding it very difficult to ignore the many Turkey Trots going on in the next few weeks, but I will because I've got no business going fast for the time being...

I'm looking at what comes next.... a recent commenter was surprised I wasn't going for a marathon again for another year, but I'm not at a point in my life where I want to "run" marathons - rather, I'm at a point where I want to train specifically for one and race it as hard as I can.

Looking to the next several months, here's what I'll be working toward:

1) A sub 20:00 5k -- I'm hopeful I can pull this off in the local Jingle Bell Run on Dec. 9. If I heal quickly, I should be able to. If not in December, I've got a 5k planned in a warm locale end of February. I was close six weeks ago, with a 20:11 that wasn't really an all-out effort. But who knows what my fitness will look like in a few weeks.

2) A sub 1:30 half-marathon. That's a mighty big goal, particularly sinc…

You Ought Not Be in Pictures

Final post about the Harrisburg Marathon. Suggested titles: "Carnage Caught on Film," "The Pumpkin King Rides Again," or "Vanity Has No Limits." Anywho...

On the top is the only one of the professional pics I'm considering buying. Why? Because this one was snapped at mile 25, and the myriad of insane thoughts that are rolling around in one's skull at that point deserve to be captured. I like the fact that you can see my utter disgust with the moment.

The middle pic - courtesy of the wife - was taken at the 25.5 mile mark, so there's certainly an air of nostalgia. However, the shorts on top of my tights give my hips the appearance of a Victorian woman. Incidentally, I'm not a fan of the shorts on top of tights look. However, I needed the Race-Ready shorts as they held: my insulin pump, blood sugar meter, strips & lancet, e-gels, iPod and a partridge in a pear tree.

And finally, approx. 3 minutes after the race with my Father-in-Law (head o…


I'm following McMillan's plan for Marathon Recovery because.... well, because it was in Running Times this month.

It called for 15 minute walks the past two days. I did 25 min. Monday and 20 min. Tuesday. Both days, I wobbled around the neighborhood like someone in dire need of medication.

Today called for my first run, which was supposed to be 20 minutes. But Nate was leaving the office at the same time, so I decided, "What the heck?" Nate's hip was bugging him, so the joke was that we went further than I wanted to go and faster than he wanted to go. We did five miles at a nice 9:04/mile clip.

All in all, I think I'm healing ok - there were some weird things in my knees and elsewhere, but nothing awful, so I took that as a good sign.

Sometimes There is No Answer...

Now maybe I'm just grumpy because the marathon's path through my neighborhood (aka straight up Williamsburg's Bedford Ave) prevented me from reaching my favorite spot for a breakfast sandwich, but to me, long-distance running has zero appeal. I mean, it's boring, it hurts while you're doing it, it hurts when you're done, and it takes up a lot of time that could be spent mastering Wii bowling. And yet people eat it up, including some of my friends of late--and then there's that guy who ran across the U.S.--which has caused me to wonder, why oh why do humans have such an itch to run?

Cool - scientists are trying to figure us out. Incidentally, Wii bowling is a lot of fun, too.

Harrisburg Marathon - Random Thoughts As They Come to Me...

1. Results have been posted. I came in 71st out of 687. 68th out of the men. 17th out of 70 in my age group, with a final chip time of 3:18:56.
2. There was 1 other runner faster than me in my age group who didn't qualify for Boston.
3. There were 2 guys behind me at the 10k mark in my age group who passed me later in the race and made it to Boston. Awesome job.
4. Bill Hathaway also ran his first and had a very very strong finish. Awesome job, Bill.
5. There are many ways to screw up a marathon. Here's how I screwed up mine: I didn't take the course into account during my long runs. All of my long runs - 15 miles and more - took place on very flat terrain. I wasn't ready to shift gears when the rolling trails came along at mile 18. Next year, I either train differently for the long runs or do a different course.
6. Nate screamed for me at the 15 mile mark. That was nice.
7. My father-in-law "crewed" for me and I highly recommend this. He was there at the start to …

Diabetes Didn't Beat Me... But Boston's Qualifying Standards Did.

The last thing I have the energy for right now is a race report, but because so many took the time to wish me good luck (including Missy Foy!! woo-hoo - I feel like Chris Farley on the Chris Farley show when he had Paul McCartney on!) that I owe y'all some nitty gritty's.

Here's the deal: I finished in 3:19 (probably 3:18:57 when they adjust for chip time). I was a total stud for the first 18 miles (averaging 7:20 pace), and then for some dumb reason - they sent us into the woods for two rolling miles, after 18 miles of flat -tick-tock-tick-tock running. Alas, that was the beginning of the end.

Out of the woods, I had about two more miles where I thought I was putting the pieces back together, but I came totally unglued at the 22 mile mark. I mean, seriously unglued - like 8:15-8:25 unglued. It was ugly and my legs were screaming.

In retrospect, 7:20's was a bit of a stretch for where I am fitness-wise, and I might've done better doing like 7:23's. Then again, may…

See ya in 26.2 miles.

After returning from Chicago on Wednesday, I did my final interval workout - the FIRST plan called for 6 x 400's @ 5:48 pace. No problem, though my legs are still a bit sore today from the quick pace. Still, I'm hopeful the quick turnover will make 7:20's seem easy. They did today, when I did 3 miles, the last two @ marathon pace. So, for this week anyway, I was 100% FIRST. Well, not entirely. For the first time, I didn't cross-train, though I doubt it'll make any difference.

Heading into Sunday, I'm nervous. Reasonably sure everything will go well for 18-20 miles. Not at all sure what'll happen after that.

Reading Erika's blog, I see that she took a handful of blood sugar tests during her marathon. I'm going to try and not take a single one. Not because I don't think it's a great idea, but because I guess I figure I can't spare the time, and if my blood sugars do track too far out of the magic zone, I won't be able to get them back in…

Not an ideal way to taper.

I'm in Chicago for the American Business Leaders Top Management Meeting.

To keep away the germs from the plane/stress/hand shaking, I think I'm going to OD on Vitamin B.

Seriously, it's a great time and I'm learning a lot, but spending the day in dress shoes and the night in the bar probably isn't a recommended taper on any marathon plan.

I might go for a little 3 miler this PM. After all, I have a cute little Runner's World Map, courtesy of Westin Workouts (my third westin to give me a "card.").

Home again tomorrow and then a few days to catch up on sleep.

I see Diabetic Marathoners....

Call me paranoid, but I've noticed a bit more diabetic marathoning news of late...

Last week was the NOVA Marathon Challenge show, which I recorded, but did not watch until last night. For some reason, I thought this was a series, not a one-time airing.

The concept was to take 13 couch potatos and see if they can finish a marathon in nine months. Well, the only one who failed was the Type 1 diabetic. Riddled with stress fractures, she says:

Despite visits to several types of doctors, no one has been able to discover the reason my legs will not heal. There is, however, a general consensus that my diabetes may be a contributing factor. After 25+ years of diabetes, it is likely that I have impaired circulation in the microscopic blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities. This poor circulation could impair the healing of my bones.

To which I say, blah, blah, blah...

That could've kept me in a bad mood, but in this week's Parade magazine has a feature article on Missy Foy, …

Grumpy Taper...

I started the day grumpy. Fortunately, I didn't end the day that way.

A lot of stress caught up with me through the day: the fact that I'm travelling next week. While I enjoy travelling, much of my life is spent "on the grid." As such, three days "off the grid" takes some preparation and there were too many unresolved issues I had to hammer out prior to leaving work.

Moreover, I am "on the taper," which means my body has a little too much unused energy at present. All in all, I wasn't a great person to be around today, and by the time I got home at six, I was about ready to blow my top.

Fortunately, the gang was out and I wrote a note saying that I'd be gone for another 40 minutes. I ripped through a 5+ mile tempo run @ a total average of 7:24 pace and instantly felt about 80% better. The remaining 20% was handled by a beer I had ready for when I got back.

After all of that, I went to pick up a pizza and bumped into a few former co-workers of …

Taper Week #1 - Nearly Done...

Blog's been kind of quiet this week. I've got a biz trip next week and - as usual - am jamming two weeks of work into 1 week. However, most everything is going well.

Tuesday was a bike ride. It's getting to be that time of year where bike riding isn't as much fun. A bit colder.

Wednesday was an interval workout... I actually had an upset stomach and took the day off from work. By late PM, things were a bit better and I had a good - if not splendid - workout.

Thursday was supposed to be a bike day, but a couple guys from work wanted to go for an easy 4 mile trail run, so we did.

I've got a tempo scheduled for today, though that will likely happen late. Like I said, this week is a bear, schedule-wise.

One guide I read said that this week, I should set a series of goals for the marathon. Here they are:
3:15 - That's what it takes for me to get to Boston. Here's the deal: I have a 3:15 in me, if the weather is perfect, I manage my blood sugars well, and the couple ac…

Dry Run - 13 Miles @ Marathon Pace...

This run had me nervous a good bit of the week - I knew I could do it, but I also knew I'd have to feel like I had a certain amount of freshness left at the end of it if I'm going to hold the pace for the whole marathon.

The FIRST plan called for 7:26 miles but I decided to shoot for 7:20-7:22, rationalizing that my first half will need to be a tiny bit faster than the second.

So that I didn't repeat last week's goof, I took 75% of the insulin I usually take with breakfast, set my basal rate to 1/3 normal and wore the pump. (SIDE NOTE: pump fit PERFECTLY in front pocket of Race-Ready shorts. In fact, Race-Ready shorts rocked and I rarely noticed all the crap I was carrying.)

I didn't give myself any pressure on the first mile, letting it be a warm-up. Still, I came through at 7:30, and by then the legs were ready to go. For most of the run, I clocked off nice and even miles - 7:18-7:20. Definitely an effort to keep it under control on the early going and something tha…

Best Tempo Run Yet....

I hate tempo runs... hate them.. hate them... hate them... those who've followed my progress through the FIRST plan know that they came close to de-railing me a few times. I just couldn't handle the long period of pain, without the incentive of crowds, competition, water stops and cool t-shirts.

When I switched up my tempo paces from the FIRST plan (6:50-7:05 for most runs, though some were 7:20) to tempo runs from Fitzgerald's Brain Training Program (7:08), everything started to get a lot better. And when I started to ease into my first mile of tempo (rather than flooring the gas) that helped a lot, too.

Today, in a breezy hard rain, I had my best tempo run yet - after a 7:41 mile warm-up, I ran the next 4 in 7:08 - 7:12 - 7:02 - 6:59. The last mile had a big hill and I wanted to cool down the last quarter mile or so, but I still finished that mile in 7:28. Best part? I'm not even wiped out. I feel good and fresh.

Sunday calls for a 13 mile run @ 7:26 pace (marathon pace…

Confessions of a Wanna-Be Minimalist Runner...

I'd love to be a minimalist runner, I thought last night, as I was reading the awesome feature on Tony Krupicka in this month's Running Times. No shirt, no socks, obviously no razor. The dude doesn't even own a phone. (BIG SIGH) That would be very very cool.

This is what I will be taking on the marathon:

Shoes, socks, shorts, singlet, gloves (if less than 50 degrees or so)
mp3 player
Sunglasses (or glasses if no sun)
Insulin pump
Ultra mini blood sugar meter, 3 strips, 1 lancet
5 eGels - 1 each for the 5/10/15 and 20 miles and an extra for a low blood sugar
My Garmin 305 (though I'm not taking the HR monitor)
A PaceTat. For $2.49, I consider that to be awesome insurance if the Garmin dies. And yes - I bought the 3:15 model.

Now then, to carry all of this, I have these:
e-Gel Gel Belt
RaceReady Shorts from ZombieRunner. In here, I'll keep the mp3 player, ultra mini and insulin pump. Oh yeah - a car key, too, cuz eventually I'll be going home.

Hardly a minimalist approach is …

Harrisburg Marathon - Bring it, baby!

Despite all of my Harrisburg Marathon, blah, blah, blah - I hadn't registered yet. All through my training plan I told people I'd do it "if the wheels didn't fall off" or "if I didn't blow a knee," etc., etc.

For most of the way, I decided I'd register once I completed all five 20 miles runs... but after completing the last one a few days ago, I decided to hold off a bit longer... Twenty miler #5 really hurt and I wasn't 100% sure I didn't screw something up. I told myself I'd wait until after today's interval workout.

Well, it went fine - better than fine, in fact. I did last week's workout - a 3000, 2000, 800 and 400 - but did it w/ 90 seconds rest today, instead of two minutes. The aches and kinks I had worked themselves by a half mile into the 3000 and I finished up relatively strong and fresh.

Just went to Active (did you know they have a no-refund policy? what a great business model...) and dropped down the coin. Bring it …

STRIDES - by Ben Cheever, book review

Make no mistake: Ben Cheever doesn't need my help selling books. Having John Cheever for your Dad should help (not necessarily, though) and getting your book reviewed by the Washington Post helps, too. Particularly when they say:

His musings probe the depths of his successes and failures, running and otherwise, with universal implications and insights. Beginners will relate to Cheever's inauspicious initial forays into fitness and exercise, and veteran runners can share his enthusiasm for the Kenyans and other leaders of the pack. The result is a joyous and inspirational ode to our transformative sport.

But regardless, if you won't take the Post's word for it, take mine: If you're a runner, Strides belongs on your bookshelf. This book is a collection of essays that look at how healthy running really is for you, how fast the Kenyans really are and how special Boston really is.

For the past few years, we've all read articles about how important running is to the mil…

A Stupid Diabetic's 20 Mile Run

Today was twenty mile run #5 - the last one. This was the 1 that was supposed to be my final dress rehearsal for the marathon - same gels, same drink, same everything. But boy did that go wrong.

The FIRST goal plan called for a 7:55 effort, but the FIRST book said that those seeking a 3:15 for BQ should go for a 7:41, so that's what I set my goal at. I also wanted to experiment with a slightly negative split, so I thought I'd go 7:45 for the first ten, and 7:35 for the last ten.

On the drive to the trail, I noticed my Garmin wouldn't start... I had my other watch with me, and the trail's marked but I'm sooo spoiled by the Garmin, I knew I was upset about that. But actually I'm getting ahead of myself. The problem started before that.

When I woke up, my blood sugar was 74. Generally speaking, I skip insulin with my lunch on a lunch-time workour and take about 75% of the insulin I need with breakfast prior to a morning run. Due to the dawn phenomenon, exercise doesn…

Looking for me? Just follow the trail....

Did a 12 mile bike ride after work today. It was good - except for the part where my saddle bag came unzipped and I managed to lose my cell-phone, car key and a PowerGel.

Upon driving the course later (thanks to the spare key, courtesy of Uber-wife), I managed to find.... the PowerGel.

Three things, 12 miles and I find the one worth $1.05.

Oh well, I always hated that damn phone anyway.

Finally - a Solution for All Those Golfers Who Bonk on the 16th Hole...

No doubt realizing how golf scores head far north on the latter holes, Gatorade and Tiger Woods have teamed up on a sports drink formulated for those who'll fall for anything. (SEE: Lemming)

This move will likely be challenged by golf cart manufacturers world-wide, scared at losing market share on the millions of walkers convinced golf is a sport.

On Running Efficiency, or.... Why I'm Not a Bad Runner But Really Suck At Cycling...

There's an interesting article in the Times about running efficiency.

To sum, there are 3 factors that determine success in running. They are:
* Your VO Max. I know from my glory days that I am every so slightly above average in this area.
* Your lactic threshold - how well you hold off lactic acid production. I know from my sucky performance in such workouts and the fact that I seem to sweat lactic acid on the bike that I'm nothing special here, either.
* Your running efficiency - how well you take running energy and turn that into miles. This seems to be the only area where I have any talent since a. I finish in the top quarter of my age group so I must have some genetic juice somewhere and b.The workouts designed to stimulate improvements in this area are the long runs - the only workouts in the FIRST program I can easily accomplish.

But here's the money quote from the Times article:
He recently studied runners and measured their economy when they ran. Then he measured it whe…

What Cross-Country Teaches You...

Of all the sports I competed on through the years - cross-country, track, baseball and basketball (there was one soccer camp which I've pretty much erased from my memory) - none holds a more special place in my heart than cross-country. This great article by John Millea sums up why so many runners feel that way:

But in some sports -- and cross-country is a prime example -- winning often has nothing to do with why people compete.

I see a lot of similarities between cross-country and swimming and amglad my kids are on the swim team (though I'm secretly hoping they might be crazy enough to try cross-county when they're old enough).

Four Weeks Until the Harrisburg Marathon

... or, eight days until the two-week taper begins.

After last weekend's race followed by a 20 miler, I knew I'd have my work cut out for me this week. Wednesday's interval workout went fine, but I was fried by Friday and turned my scheduled tempo into a mini-tempo/easy run.

Today called for 15 milers at 7:35 pace (10 seconds slower than marathon goal pace, which I've decided is 7:25)... Happily, I made it, doing the deal at 7:24 pace (though there was a 2 minute break when I ran back to my car after forgetting my Camel-bak). Runs like this make me think Boston may be a strong possibility. Here's the link.

Knees are hurting, but it's not injury hurting - just stupid runner's knee BS.... I'm taking pills and doing all the stuff I'm supposed to, but I won't let this get in the way.

E-gels arrived this week, and they worked perfect... took 1 at 5 and 10 miles, drank only water and finished the run with a blood sugar of 117. Perfect. Course, 15 isn'…

A Man's Life - a Mini-Book Review

Mark Jenkins is getting to be an old guy and his writing is better for it.

Readers of Mark Jenkins were seriously bummed out when he stopped writing his column The Hard Way for Outside last year. Many said it was the main reason they subscribed to the magazine. Jenkins - after all - did stuff most of us are too terrified to do. He'd waltz into war-torn regions just to scale a mountain or climb an ice cliff. Sometimes he'd hurt himself and a column down the road would focus on his rehab.

Most travel writers annoy the reader because they're having fun on a beach and rubbing it in that you're not there. Not so with Jenkins - sometimes you'd wish you were in his place but more often than not you were grateful to learn from him from the safety of your recliner.

Still, it can be tough to keep your ego in check when reading Jenkins... how could this guy travel the world - leaving his wife and kids behind for weeks on end without a single regret? How could he break bones and …

The Day After - 20 Miler #4

Today, I got to pay for yesterday's Gold Medal.

23 hours after a 5k PR, I hit the trail for 20 miler #4, my next to last long run prior to the Harrisburg Marathon (curious that I don't include a 15 or 13 miler as being "long" runs).

The plan called for an effort of 7:58 - 8:13. Three weeks ago, I'd pulled an awesome 7:50 average, but with a 1/2 marathon PR and a 5kPR in the past 8 days, I realized I'd be running a bit on fumes, so I just said a prayer and hoped for the best.

Wow. This was hard. Previously, I'd always shown these 20 milers due respect and had a rest day the day prior. This time, I was tired and sore right from the get-go. No complaints - I average 8:08 for the first ten and 8:00 for the last ten, for an 8:04 on the whole thing. All in all, it was my 2nd slowest 20 miler of the 4, but I'm not too worried - in many ways, I think it was a good mental exercise because I really really really wanted to be done with this one almost from the mid …

On Gold Medals & Brass Rings...

So the wife wanted to go Knoebels this weekend for some sort of Craftapalooza event where 300 stick and twig vendors converge on an amusement park. The basic premise is Dads can take kids on the rides while Moms buy stuff. Yes, I'm stereotyping but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Knoebels is an old-time amusement park with free admission, cheap(er) food compared to other parks. Picture a country carnival where you don't need to worry about the rides killing your children. I was pretty easily convinced to go, though: A. my family went a lot when I was a kid, but I'm sure it's been 20-22 years since I've been there so I was curious and B. twigs and roller coasters wasn't enough - they tacked on a 5k race this weekend for good measure.

Now a 5k race the day before my 4th 20 mile training run wasn't the brightest idea, ever, but I rationalized it would be just like doing my speed workout (and missing a rest day).

Turn-out was fairly light - 96 people. Color …

1 Year, 16 Pounds and 20 Minutes Later

I haven't ever posted a "before" and "after" picture before for a few reasons:

1.) I didn't start running last year to lose weight. At the time, I was barely overweight. Out of shape, for sure, but not overweight.

2.) I don't have many pictures from my early races.

But last weekend was different, because I ran the same race a year ago, when I was foolish enough to do a 1/2 marathon after 90 days of training. This year, I ran the same race 20 minutes faster, but the same photographer was also there, which gives me the opportunity for the ego montage on the left.

No denying I like skinny me better, but the truth is, I'm far prouder that I shaved 20 minutes off my time. Weight comes and goes but results last forever, baby.

Hands On House 1/2 Marathon Report - 2007

I had to add the "2007" tag since I actually did this same race a year ago... Today, I ran it 13 pounds lighter and almost exactly 20 minutes faster, finishing in 1:34:32... the official time had me 4 seconds longer, but it wasn't a chip-start, only a chip finish. Official results are here. Too tired for a cohesive report, so here are random thoughts:

1) I was tapered for this, so it's probably a good indication of true fitness... I'd been working really hard, so I used most of this week as a recovery week, cancelling my two cross-training days, and not doing any speedwork. This gave me a very fresh race to guage my fitness for the upcoming Harrisburg marathon.

2) I came in 5th out of 35 in my age group and 28th out of 351 overall - definitely a nice surprise.

3) Though my splits were mostly on pace, the 11th mile was disappointing, a 7:59 buried in mostly 7-7:20's --- and that 7:59 wasn't too very uphill, either. Hopefully, I have more stamina than that.

4) …

The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades...

So I've been on the hunt for new prescription sunglasses for running for three reasons:

1.) The wife's new health insurance will buy me $250 worth of specs.
2.) My current shades are not made for sports (though they looks stylish enough).
3.) My current shades are about two prescriptions old.

I found a local dealer to bring in a pair of Adidas Gazelle's, which are highly recommended for runners. But I didn't realize how stupid prescription inserts would make them look (not to mention make them look like I had twice as many lenses to break).

I was about ready to leave but apparantly the optical chick is on commission and has a few bills to pay. She kept showing me pair after pair of very stylish - but unathletic - glasses until it finally registered that I wanted glasses that wouldn't rain sweat or break when they flew off my head during a 200 meter interval (hey, it could happen). Finally, she showed me a pair of Rec Specs MAXX 30's in dark blue and it was love at …

Just in time for fall sweeps...

I admit it: I'm a sucker for a good PR person, particularly one with a good product to push. This was in my e-mail box today:

Hello from NOVA, and thank you for the great service you provide to runners at Sweet Victory. We are reaching out to you because this fall NOVA will be premiering "Marathon Challenge," an inside look at what it takes to run the Boston Marathon. We think the show will be of great interest to your readers and hope that you will consider some type of inclusion about it on your blog.

Blah, blah, blah - I won't bore you with the rest of the copy of the press release, but this show looks awesome. Here's the YouTube trailer and I can't wait to watch the show, which premieres Tuesday, October 30 at 8:00 pm on most PBS stations:

Get Out of That Cubicle...

So it turns out tomorrow is National Run @ Work Day. Ironically, I have a rest day scheduled, though I might go romp around for a few miles, just to support the cause.

Today was my last "hard" workout for a while - a strong tempo effort with a 4 miles @ 7:15/mile in the middle of a warm-up/cool-down sandwich. I remarked to someone at work that I'm at one of those places where I feel quite fit, but quite liable to fall apart, so it's time to step back for a few days.

Saturday, I'm going for 13-15, but slow -- I may even opt for a County Park Trail Run. I'll keep things relatively light and relaxed going into next Saturday's Half Marathon. With an easy first four and last four but tough middle, I'm going to aim to go out at 7:10, look for 7:40 in the middle third and bring it in with 4 7:10's. That would bring me in at 1:36 - a 4 minute PR. Frankly, that might be aggressive, but I think I need to challenge myself to put a solid marathon goal down, and…

Finally Faster

It appears I'm making some progress.

Throughout the summer, I watched the mileage pile up, while my paces stayed the same (or even crept up a little). Though this is normal - I've read - it was also a bit disheartening.

Recent interval workouts are showing their benefits, though. At this point in the month (with more than 1/3 of it left to go), I'm 1 mile ahead of where I was in April - my previous peak fitness month, where I did a triathlon and 5k PR within a 2 week period. But more importantly, though I've run a mile further, I've done so 4 minutes faster. While that's only a scant 3 seconds per mile faster, 40 of those miles came on two 20 mile runs and I still have 1/3 of the month left to go.

With seven weeks until the marathon, that should be a good place to be.

"Does This Garmin Make Me Look Fat?" & Other Questions

Runner's World says not to look at your watch when you're crossing the line. I didn't. I waited four steps. Unfortunately, so did the photographer.

Actually, there was one good pic from the Harrisburg pic I might buy if the vanity budget allows, but I'm waiting for the pic guys to finish uploading all of them.

I've been a bad blogger, but that's mostly 'cuz I've been such a rockstar at life the past few weeks... Well, except for the part where the rockstars party and sign autographs.

But to recap:
* Work has been insane. Big show next week. Big rebranding all month. Ten days from now, life returns to a manageable level of insanity.
* Kids settled into school. Wife settled into new job. Everything sane there - except kids start swim team tomorrow night. Commence unsettling (again).
* Marathon training going very well. I've pretty much made my own training program - using the harder long runs from the FIRST program, and the somewhat easier interval workout…

Harrisburg Half Marathon Race Report

So five days after deciding to race the Harrisburg Half Marathon, I did so.

1) With the same start/finish/parking situation and much of the same course as this November's full Marathon, it seemed to make sense.
2) Though I have another half scheduled at the end of the month, it's a rather hilly half, so I'm not sure how well my time from that will translate into my marathon program.

That being said, I was one week removed from a challenging 20 miles and my taper consisted of running 4 miles easy on Friday (rather than 6 miles tempo), so I wasn't particularly tapered.

I also struggled in my decision as to how to do the race. Though I wanted to pull a 1:36 half prior to my full marathon, I'm also hesitant to get injured or screw myself up from having a good week of training. At the same time, I didn't want to go as slow as my plan for this weekend called for (7:43 pace), so I decided to aim for breaking 1:40, which would be a 7:38 pace.

I also decided to go ou…

Twenty Miler #2

My marathon schedule is funny... the interval workouts remind me of what I am not (fast) and the long workouts remind me of what I am - capable of going for quite a while.

Sunday called for a 20 miler at 8:15-8:30 pace. Went with my neighbor for the first 5, though and - like neighbors will - we pushed the pace. I ended up @ 8:07 for the first five and kept it up to the mid-point.

At the mid-point, I bumped into another guy 13 miles into a 20 miler headed in my direction. We were going mostly the same pace, but ended up going around 7:57 for the next seven miles. After I left him, I hit the the 18 mile mark and realized I had a decent shot to average 8:00 for the whole run with a good last 2 miles. So I pulled out a 7:36 and a 7:44 and came in with six seconds to spare. Two days later, I'm a little more sore than I should be, but not too bad.

In other news, I think I'm running a half-marathon this weekend. The plan calls for 13 miles at 7:43 pace and wouldn't you know it, the…

So much for Aug.

And just like that, another month is gone in Operation Marathon.

Numbers: 130.4 miles running - nearly identical to June and 29 miles less than July. However, I cross-trained for a running equivalent of about 28-30 miles, so my aerobic output for the months was virtually the same.

The cross-training, according to the FIRST plan, should make my "quality" workouts better. I think there's some evidence of that:

1) Aug. had a 20 mile run and 16 mile run, both @ 8:15 pace. The 16 miler had an HR of 149 and the 20 was a 143. So HR on long runs is dropping.
2) July had 5x800 workout @ 3:15 pace... I had much harder interval workouts in August.
3) The tempo run and I had many fights in Aug., but we're certainly getting along better than we were in July, when most tempo efforts were 7:45-7:55. Today I did 6 miles, with a 4 mile sandwich in the middle that was 7:24, 7:25, 7:15, 7:11.

Considering my frustrations of late, it's good to look back and truly see what's changed. O…

Sunday Review

Sunday called for an 18 mile run. Going into it, I wasn't really thinking 18 miles, though. I did 20 last weekend and am doing 20 next weekend, and we're still 2 1/2 months away from the marathon. I felt that if I did a long effort on a good trail, it would be close enough.

In the end, after several times of logistically trying to figure out how to get there/where to park, etc., I did 13 miles on the highly technical Conestoga trail. Had I known the trail would've been that technical, I probably wouldn't have done it. Monstrous hills, rocky terrain, etc. Don't get me wrong: this would probably be one of the prettiest hikes in Lancaster County, but for a long trail run (some short sections were perfect), this was ugly going.

While I'm a little bummed to be that short on mileage, with the elevation and terrain, I still ran my HR @ 140 for more than 2 hours, so I feel like I accomplished much of the goal of the run, without pounding my shins on the road.

The trail al…

Medtronic Minimed Has Rare Moment of Clarity

When I got my latest insulin pump last year, I was initially excited to learn that Minimed would be giving me a special blood sugar meter that would transmit results to my insulin pump via wireless. Very cool! Until I learned that the special blood sugar meter was a BD. Simply put, BD (though a medical company since virtually the first caveman boo-boo) has been very late to the blood sugar meter party, and has never brought anything new to the market. BD Meters have the same features now that other meters had five years ago. So I didn't use the BD and don't use the wireless signal.

Moreover, I wasn't a bit shocked when BD announced last year it was exiting the blood sugar meter business.

Now Medtronic has figured out that if you want to look cutting edge, you should have cutting edge partners. The next meter to send wireless signals to the insulin pump will be a Lifescane One Touch, like it should've been from the beginning. There are plenty of good meters out there, but…

Off Tempo (Again) - But a Plan!

With a bad head cold this week, I followed through on my plan to replace Wednesday's track workout with an easy paced 8.5 mile run. Just what the doctor ordered and coupled with some extra sleep this week, my cold is safely in the rearview.

My cross training workout yesterday was on the elliptical. Incidentally, the FIRST program doesn't recommend using ellipticals, as this doesn't give running muscles much of a rest. However, I had to work at home a few days this week and my bike was at the office, so.....

Anywho, today's plan called for a tempo run, and once again the FIRST's tempo plan kicked me in the tail. Despite handily completing their long runs and mostly succeeding on their interval workouts, I totally screwed up the tempo workout. The plan called for 3 tempo miles (in the middle of 3 easy miles) at 6:45 pace. I decided to go for 7:00, knowing the troubles I've been having on this workout. I hit the first mile, but mid-way into the second felt the wheel…


Nah, sidelined is pushing it, but I do have a pretty good headcold, and have pretty much elected not to do my interval workout today.

Recovery after my first 20 mile run on Sunday has gone actually better than expected. I was sore Monday, and cross-trained last night on the elliptical. Today, my legs actually feel pretty good, but my head is wicked stuffed up. Right now, I'm thinking an easy 6-8 miles this pm will be about right. I'm off today on vacation. Ironically, had I known I'd be sick, I would've made it a sick day. Oh well...

More interesting: I picked up the book that goes into great detail about the FIRST plan I'm following for my marathon. While I'm not following the plan perfectly, it's the one that I'm closest to and one that I'm very interested in from a philosophic standpoint... I'll post mini-reviews and insights as they come.

That's One Small Step for the Web...

Every now and then I have an idea that I think is pretty good, technology-wise. I'm not silly enough to think these ideas will make me rich. After all, as a good friend says, it's always about the execution.

More importantly, I've found in the previous few years that if I have a good idea, somebody smarter than me has it, too and if I'm patient, the technology will appear sooner or later. One of those moments was yesterday.

A few months ago, Google announced their new "My Maps" feature which makes it easy to draw and label your own maps, without the Google API key. If you're not a geek, working with the API key is a bit of a chore. I know this because I'm not a geek.

Anywho, the one problem with the new My Maps feature was that your resulting map still couldn't be put on another web page (like this blog for instance) without the API key. So you can have a cool map, but it basically stood by itself, unless you're a web geek.

Yesterday, Google made…

Week in Review

Very peculiar week in the rearview.

The first half of the week was mighty disappointing... 2 fine days of cross training led to a speed workout on Wed., but I wasn't nearly recovered enough for it, as evidenced by a 147 HR... on my warm-up (!)... Not a good sign, and I abandoned the work-out at the mid-point.

Followed that up with a 6.5 mile trail run Thurs.. the trails were good for my legs and I felt some better, by my HR was still elevated a bit.

Friday showed more gradual improvement, and I sandwiched 3 miles of tempo inside a 6 mi. run, though I'm being generous by calling it a tempo... the fast miles were only about 7:40-7:45.. just didn't have energy back yet, but I still felt like I was *getting there*.

Yesterday was a rest day.

Today was my first 20 mile run ever, completed on a newly renovated rail-to-trail.. no hills, you see, are a great way to cheat a 20 miler.

Originally, I planned to go 8:30 for the first ten and 8:15 for the second ten. The first ten were around …

Half-Wit Documented

Here's a pic of me 10 miles into the Half-Wit Half-Marathon. I am not this blurry in real life.

Them Trail Dudes Can Fly....

Further proof that a. I've got lots of room to improve on the trails and b. Casual runners don't roll out of bed and try races like the Half-Wit Half Marathon.

Results have been posted. Overall, I came in 134th/470 - Top 29%. In my Age-Group, I came in 40/85 - Top 47%.

Compare this to my last road race, when I was Top 14% overall and - well - it's pretty bad.

Here are a few other comparisons:

Smith's Challenge 10k trail run (in June): 26% overall.

Ugly Muddler Trail Run (in Feb.): 42% in my age group, 29% overall. In other words, about the same.

However, this was only my second half-marathon, and while I was in much worse shape during that race, there is at least that good news: In that race, I finished in the 55th percentile overall, and in the 64th percentile in my age group.

In other words, I've passed half the pack that was ahead of me this time last year, and 1/3 of the men in my age group that were ahead of me. But does that bode well for Harrisburg? Not necessarily…

Of Running and Not Blogging...

Well, as evidenced by my week of non-blogging, I was on vacation. 1 week of sun, sand, sat, wave runners, boats, funnel cakes and not a wireless internet connection to speak of.

But there was running.

The day after we got to Ocean City, I did 16 miles on the pancake flat Coastal Highway of OC, MD. Longest run ever. Flattest run ever.

At home, Monday would've been a cycling day. I was on vacation, so I boogie-boarded.

At home, Tuesday would've been a cycling day. No bike, so I did a 5 mile run, easy pace.

Wed. was a brutal pyramid workout at 7am, to avoid the heat that would eventually go to 100. I did a 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 and 200. The first two and last two were under goal pace. The 800 was a smidge over and the 600 was way over, but I never could figure out how to pace a 600.

At home, Thursday would've been a cycling day. On vacation, it was a rest day.

Friday was supposed to be a 7 mile tempo run, but I made it an easy paced run, because after Saturday's rest day (an…