Running, thankfulness and tomorrow

Yesterday was a day off from running, my second in 3 days.  I thought of taking Saturdays off, but it was too much having to run for 5 days straight after my long run.  So, I took Monday off and will just run a shorter run on Saturday to get the mileage up as I prepare for my marathon in September.

I want to thank my Lovely Wife and my kids for being so supportive of my running.  It is really starting to take up a lot of time.  I am going to have a record month and tomorrow I’ll update my blog with my miles for the month, but just to give an idea, since the first of April, I’ve run over 24 hours.  That is a lot of time that I am out running and not home hanging with the family.  I know that they want to support me and do it happily, but I just want to thank them for being so patient as I pursue my goal.

It is amazing how much of running is mental.  Everyone who runs knows that is true and those who don’t run… well they should run and find out what it is like.  Today is a workout day and right now I just don’t “feel” like doing it.  Of course it is early and I don’t run until this afternoon, but I know by now I can’t go on my feelings.  I have a goal and that is what pushes me forward.  As I reach higher and higher mileage and more and more time on the road running, it almost becomes robotic. I do it because that is what I do.

I love running and am thankful that I can run.  But sometimes I have to make myself get out there even when I just want to go home and watch a show and relax.  Every time I finish a run though, I look at my iPhone and am excited I made that run count.  That motivates me and gets me looking forward to my next run tomorrow.  As long as there are tomorrows, I’ll be running whether I want to or not 🙂

Several “firsts” thanks to running

100th post!  Wow, time files when you write a blog!!!

Yesterday was a day of firsts.  It is funny when you lose a lot of weight, you tend to look closer at “firsts”.  My Lovely Wife and I have noticed several firsts, outside of our clothes getting smaller with our waistline.  For instance, actually seeing our collar bone.  Or I noticed I could sit with shorts on and put my knees together and actually see between my legs to the floor.

Well, yesterday I had a couple of firsts.  One, though not weight related, was a neat experience.  I was running my long run (13 grueling miles in the rain) and I heard something coming up behind me.  I looked back and a big black lab was running after me.  Needless to say, I was a bit shocked at first.  But it ran up beside me and just ran with me for a while.  In fact if you saw us running together you would have though it was my dog.  It made my run a bit more fun.  Then I heard someone behind me calling out.  I looked and there was a guy with a leash running after us.  Okay, that made a bit more sense.  So I stopped my run (another first) and the dog stopped also.  The guy caught up and put the leash on the dog and off they went.  So, for a while at least I had someone to run with.

My next “first” was diet related.  No, not the ice cream bonanza we had to celebrate RS’s birthday (nice that I could eat and not worry too much about my weight after running 13 miles).  As I ran, it began to rain.  Not surprising since it was supposed to rain and storm all day.  At one point, it rained so hard that it was hard to keep running.  Finally the rain slowed and stopped for a while and I was left soaked in my 2x teeshirt.  I still wear those double extra large teeshirts to run in for some reason, even though they are huge on me now.  By the time I got to 7 miles, I made a decision.  As I passed by my house, I was going to take off my now heavy, rain soaked shirt.  Knowing it would rain again and that if I went inside to get another shirt, I would have probably stopped my grueling run, I just took off my shirt, threw it in the yard and kept running.

You have to know me to appreciate what I did here.  I ran the last 6 miles shirtless.  I haven’t been outside without a shirt since probably high school.  Frankly, I have been overweight most of my marriage and not one to want to be seen outside without a shirt.  So it was a momentous occasion for me.  I didn’t feel very comfortable and I could still stand to lose 20 lbs, but it was doable and I felt like I lost 20 lbs after taking off that rain soaked shirt.

Needless to say it was a different day in many aspects, including me not posting a blog post.  I think it might have been the first day since I started that I didn’t write anything.  To be honest, I didn’t sleep well and wen’t shopping early in the morning with my Lovely Wife and started my run late, so my schedule was off from the beginning.

All in all it was a great day.  As I mentioned, the run was rather miserable.  As I hit 3 miles, I felt like I had already run 13.  But in my head were all those motivational posters I see on blogs and Twitter.

Anyway – Enjoy your week and keep running (whether you feel like it or not).

When should I take my running day off?

Yesterday was a good day.  I ran 7 miles and about half way through came across TJ and we ran the last half together.  I was trying to run a bit slower run as I have had a long week since my last off day was last Saturday and I’ve been running ever since.

I am still struggling with how to work my off day.  The way I see it, I have 3 options.

  1. Take Saturday off:  This would help with keeping me fresh for my long run Sunday morning and since I am increasing my mileage on Sundays I think this is important.
  2. Take Monday off:  After a long run, it really helps to have that day after off for recovery.  This week I ran Monday after a 15 mile run on Sunday and, though it didn’t go badly, I was tired all week and I wonder if I just never fully recovered from that long of a run (my longest to date).
  3. Take Saturday and Monday off:  This was my Big Brother’s suggestion on the phone yesterday afternoon.  He mentioned this in context of my long runs getting longer and said it might help overall.

I must say, I think choice #3 will eventually be the way to go.  I hate losing a day of running, especially as I am trying to increase my mileage, but since taking Saturday and Monday off both have positive effects, I think it might be a good idea.

What am I doing next week?  I am taking today off as I said earlier, and I will probably take Monday off.  I think next Saturday I will try a short easy run just to keep things moving.  As we hit the summer heat, I will probably enjoy the Saturday early run when it is somewhat cooler.

I don’t usually solicit advice directly in this blog, however if anyone has any thoughts about how to prepare for a marathon and or about when to take off days, I’d appreciate the input.  

Remember that I am a 50 year old man wanting to run my first marathon in September at 3:30 (8:00 pace).  At least that is my goal so I can qualify for Boston – as if you didn’t know that by now.



Running, obsession, and a midlife crisis

I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic about running lately.  I’m not sure why.  Don’t get me wrong, I still run 6 days a week and still do my workouts.  I think the warmer weather has made it harder to get outside and get going.  But it isn’t about wanting to run, it is about running.  If I only ran when I felt like it, I would probably run a couple days a week and eventually just stop.  To be honest, I get up at 3:30am, get to work by 5:30, leave work about 2:00pm, get home by 2:30, get running around 3:00, finish running about 4:00, cool down and take a shower by 4:30 and then I get a chance to rest.  It makes for a long day.

Someone asked me recently if I was obsessed with running.  I guess I am to some extent.  I really am not an obsessive person, but I think having a goal that I desperately want to meet has made me more obsessive.  Also, as I have written before, if I weren’t obsessive, I wouldn’t run.  I have to push myself and I like that I can do that.  I have only really pushed myself a couple times in my life.  Running has brought out an area of my life that I never knew I had, discipline.  So I run each day and thank God that I live in a country that gives me the freedom to do so.

Yesterday was Hill Run Thursday.  I decided to try and break my record for running up this huge quarter mile hill.  I have only done it 4 times in a row in the past, so I thought I would try to get to 5.  I put on my new Saucony Fastwitch shoes (which I love by the way) and did a 2 mile warmup.  Then the hill…  I ran up and down over and over.  In the end I actually ran 6 repeats of this hill – a new personal record.  I wasn’t trying to break any speed records, but I broke my record and my goal for running this hill.

As I was running home I thought to myself, having goals and meeting or exceeding them makes running (and life in general) much more fun.  It is when I have no goals or deadlines or challenges that my life becomes boring and plain.  Running gives me new goals almost weekly and I love it.  I love the challenge and the trill of running up a huge hill 6 times in a row (I never thought I’d say that).  I love running farther and faster.  I can’t wait for my marathon in September to see how far I have come.  Boston or not, I think I have come a long way since March 2012 when I started (my Nike Plus app tells me so anyway).

So in the end I don’t think I am obsessive about running.  I think that by the time I turned 49, I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw.  I was obese, lazy, on a CPAP to breath at night.  I had a type of a midlife crisis.  I didn’t buy a fast car or try to “find myself”.  I just went for a run and never stopped.

Now that I am 50, I like who I am.  So if that is obsessive, then I guess I am obsessive.

But I think happy might be a better word.

Why I write a running blog

Blogging is a great outlet.  It is like talking to everyone and at the same time, to no one.  It is a way to get everything out that you think during the day whether good or bad so that it doesn’t just sit inside you and build up.  I say that to say, I really enjoy blogging.  I don’t blog to get followers – though I have over 50 – thank you for following.  I don’t blog to get comments – though I like the comments, suggestions and interactions.  In fact most people who read my blog, I didn’t know before I started writing.  I blog, as one blogger once said, because when I talk about running, most people’s eyes glaze over.  Forgive me, but I blog for myself and I hope my experiences and ups and downs will help others who want to run, get in shape, have outlandish goals, what ever the situation may be.  I also blog hoping that what I have gone through in loosing weight and running will help inspire others to do the same.  I honestly don’t know if I have inspired anyone at all (other than my big brother), but even that doesn’t matter.  No matter what happens,  I’ll keep blogging… for me.

I don’t honestly know why I wrote that.  It wasn’t in response to anyone or any comments I have received.  It just came out.

I don’t have much to write about running today.  I don’t think my “experiment” of taking Saturday off (the day before my long run) rather than Monday worked very well.  It helped my long run a lot, but to keep running each day after running 15 miles on Sunday – let’s just say, isn’t easy.  I think I will go back to Monday off and Saturday being a short easy day.

That’s all for today.  Short and sweet.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog.  It really means a lot to me.  I hope it helps you in some way.


5K and marathon training – Doing both at the same time

To begin with, a word of thanks to my big brother for the post yesterday.  I was really blessed with what he said (and I think he is a great writer :))  It means a lot that my journey affects others in some way.  The path I am going on isn’t easy.  It is hard work and requires a lot of sacrifice from my family, so when I read what big brother wrote yesterday, it really encourage me.  THANKS!

Now, on to a dilemma of sorts.  I guess it isn’t a dilemma, but a choice that has made some of my training more difficult.

I really want (as you all know by now) to qualify for the Boston Marathon in September.  I read more and more articles saying that huge number of people are hoping to run it because of what happened there this year.  Totally understandable.  For me, I set my goal months before the race. I have a long way to go to get to the point of qualifying by September.

I also love running 5Ks with TJ and RS.  We ran five 5Ks our first year of running and had a blast.  The first one we ran was the Spring Scramble about a month after we started running and so we wanted to run the same race this year.

Here is the issue.  I am trying to train for the 5K, with the knowledge I only have 5 months to prepare for the Lehigh Valley Marathon (link).  I chose this marathon because it occurs just before Boston registration and 25% of those who run it qualify for Boston.

I don’t know if my training is at cross purposes or not.  I really want to run the 5K in 20 minutes if possible, but I also really want to begin increasing my mileage so that I have a chance in September.

Yesterday was a half mile repeat day of training.  TJ says these repeats are great for getting speed up for the 5K.  It was rough.  I don’t know why, but I tend to do better running 3 miles straight than running 1/2 mile and a minute rest and then repeating the process.  I did okay, but not near my goal of under 7:00 per mile for 6 repeats.  In fact I only made 2.5 repeats and had to stop and just run some recovery miles.  On top of that, I got a rock in my sole of my shoe that was in so deep I could feel it on my foot and had to stop to dig it out.  Crazy.  I only made 6 miles total even though I was trying for 7.  Some days you just need to cut your losses and go home.

Today is another day.  Just a regular run.  I am really going to try to slow it down.  I think I have been pushing the speed a bit much lately.

So to sum up, Boston Marathon /  Spring Scramble.  I would have never thought I would be pushing for these goals just a few months ago.

I love running!

Honored to be the First Guest Blogger!

First let me say that I am honored to be the first guest blogger for 278toBoston. Tom’s story is an inspiring one especially since I have been honored to be such a huge part of it. And no, I’m not trying to take credit for his amazing accomplishments. My involvement has strictly been as a spectator for over 50 years, for you see, I’m Tom’s oldest brother.

So let me tell you how Tom’s story has inspired me. I have a long running history having completed 12 marathons between 1988 and 2001. Then life took over, and I didn’t run a step for 10 years. Of course as you can imagine, the lack of exercise along with creeping old age had me also well on the way to obesity, (morbid by some standards).

One day, on one of our weekly telephone conversations, Tom mentioned that he had decided that being old, fat, and tired was no longer going to be an option in his life. While we had all heard this many times before, this time seemed different, and we all know the story from here …. 100 pounds lighter and well on his way to the Boston.

Now why has Tom been such an inspiration to me and hopefully many others?  Well you see if Tom could do it, I figured why couldn’t I. Since Tom started his journey, I’ve lost 50 pounds and am running 4 to 5 times a week. While another marathon may not be in my future, (been there done that), there is one that I will be attending. It’s in Boston, and I won’t even have to qualify. You see I plan to be at the finish line when 278toBoston crosses and completes the first leg of this amazing journey.

Good luck and God’s speed baby brother!

Awesome run yesterday!

Yesterday I had the type of run that makes me hopeful that I will be able to qualify for Boston in September in Pennsylvania.

Just a couple of weeks ago that I wrote how I struggled on my long run day (link).  I did several things to fix my problem.  I started getting up and drinking 32 oz (1000 ml) of water immediately.  I then wait two hours before running.  This seems to help me wake up and make sure I don’t have to stop my run to go to the bathroom.  Also I eat eggs and a whole wheat bagel.  One other thing I tried this week is moving my off day to Saturday.  I always run better the day after an off day and so I thought I’d give that a try and see if it helped.

It helped.

I ran the farthest and the fastest long run ever.  Here are the stats from my run:

  • 15 miles
  • 2 hours 3 minutes
  • 8:14/mile
  • 90 Avg Cadence

Wow, it was incredible!  I ran differently from most of my runs.  I worked on running relaxed.  I let my legs run and by body go along for the ride.  It really helped.  By the time I reached the half way mark, I was still feeling good.  I wasn’t tired and I wasn’t breathing hard.  In fact, mile 13 was my fastest of the day at 7:58!  My slowest was mile 1 at 8:57.

The weather was good also.  It was in the mid 40s, no wind and sunny.  It must have been close to 60 by the time I was through with my run.

All in all, it was a great day for running.  The only issues were my knees hurt a little and my hip was not good after the run.  I have to figure that one out if I want to keep up the mileage.  Also I got blisters on the balls of my feet.  That seems to happen on long runs no matter what socks I wear.  Not sure the reason.

Today is another day.  The one thing about running is each day you start over.  Sometimes that is a good thing when you had a tough run.  Sometimes it would be nice to just relive that great run for a few days, but that can’t happen.

For tomorrow, I asked my brother to write a guest post.  I thought it would be nice to get his views on running as he ran a lot with my siblings and my dad during the marathon years that I missed.

Have a wonderful day and keep running.  I’ll be back Wednesday!

2014 Boston Marathon – Is it possible for me to go?

Ahhh, the long run day.  Today is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.  I am all ready to head out, but I must say that getting up at 5:00am on a Sunday morning is not my thought of fun.  However as my long runs get longer, I am going to have to sacrifice sleep on the weekend for running.  In the end, it will be worth it (I can’t believe I just wrote that).

I am trying something new this week (yes, there is something new from time to time in my routine).  I took Saturday off from running rather than Monday.  I will see how this works out.  I really need a day off before my long run as I do better after a day off.  However that will have me running non-stop into the week and my workouts.  I know… I could take 2 days off – but who would be that crazy!!!

I haven’t mentioned Boston since Tuesday as I wanted to give some time before I talk about running next year.  I’ve noticed news articles this past week on how interest in running the Boston Marathon has skyrocketed since the tragedy last Monday.  Notice the image below.  Talk about skyrocketing…  Click the image to read the story (but not until you finish my post, of course).

Huge Interest In Qualifying For Boston 2014

I have some mixed emotions about this.  One side of me says, “Great!  Look at all that support and how people are coming together after a terrible tragedy”.  But the other side of me says, “Now with so many people wanting to qualify for Boston, I probably won’t make it for 2014”.  I’m not trying to be selfish, just honest about what I am feeling.

I am very encouraged by the response to last Monday.  Personally, I’ve had many people that have sought me out to say that because of this blog and my goal, they thought of me after what happened.  It is nice when people are so thoughtful.

So my eyes are set on a goal.  I’d rather not have to wait until 2015 to run Boston and I’d also like to support the marathon the year after the tragedy.  I have 5 months to train and to run my first marathon under 3:30 to qualify.  What are the chances of a 50 year old who will have only been running for 18 months being able to do that?  Not very high.  But I am going to try.  This was a personal goal from the beginning, long before last Monday.  Now it is even more important to me.  I will work hard to qualify for this marathon one day.  Maybe this year, but if not, then next.  If not next year then I’ll keep trying until I cannot try anymore.

I am still praying for those affected by the events last Monday.  So many people are hurt, afraid, confused, etc.  Some wounds, even time can’t heal.

Here is to Boston!  We are with you.  We will support you.

I hope to see you soon. 🙂

Running on a perfect day (in new shoes)

It was another great run yesterday. Once again, TJ and I ran together and the temperature was down in the 50s. It was a perfect situation for a great run… Add to this that my new running shoes came in the mail and I couldn’t ask for more.

I decided to try Saucony Fastwitch 5 as they are from my favorite manufacturer and being one generation old, I got them for $42 (after coupon) from Running Warehouse. I currently run my workouts in Saucony Mirage and these new shoes are lighter and felt great on my run.

So I ran with TJ, 5 miles at just over an 8:00 pace. He had run a 5K practice run in our neighborhood earlier at 18:33. Wow, I was amazed.

It was truly a great day for running. TJ had a PR 5K, I got new shoes that felt great, it was cool and I got to run with TJ.

Days like yesterday keep me motivated and excited about running. Now if I’d just turn off the news, life would be perfect. 🙂

Hill run day. I actually enjoyed it.

Hill day isn’t a day I look forward to most of the time.  Yesterday wasn’t an exception.  I had to work later than normal and it was still quite warm, but with a nice breeze.  The day did get better when TJ said he wanted to run with me, so I had someone to run with.

We ran 2 warmup miles and then hit the hill.  As I’ve mentioned before, the hill is quite steep and then less steep but long.  It is about a quarter mile long, but you know when you’ve run up it, believe me.  I think because it is getting warmer out, this workout was tougher than the last time I ran the hill.  I was so out of breath each time we got to the top of the steep section.  Then we would finish and go back down to start up again.  I made it up 4 times and TJ ran 3 with me and the 4th he ran at his pace, which was just a little faster than mine 🙂

We also saw RS running the hill.  He ran it 8 times which is what TJ does if he isn’t running with me.  I actually contemplated running more reps up the hill, but my hip has been bothering me and I didn’t want to push it.

So we headed home.  Now this wasn’t my normal easy jog home after a hill run.  In fact my last half mile was paced at about 8:15 (with a shoe that came untied).  So it was a great workout in the end.

Cooler weather returns today with storms and rain.  The weekend is going to be beautiful with temps in the low 70s and sunny clear skies.

So much going on in the world.  It is nice to get away and run with your kids.

Life is good.