Marathon training – renewed inspiration

I had a revelation Yesterday.

Marathon training is a lot like running a marathon.  If this is true then I am at the 20 mile mark of my training. I have hit a wall.

I realized yesterday as I was watching “Spirit of the Marathon II” that my training has gotten to me.  Of course if you read any of the past couple of weeks of my blog you could probably have told me without me having to see a movie.  The movie was great and inspiring and really made me think.  Running a marathon isn’t easy and neither is marathon training; especially running in 100 degree heat in the summer.

I am inspired.  I am going to do this.

I plan on methodically carrying out my plan.  I will stop if I need to, but I also don’t want to give up too early on my dream of qualifying this year for Boston.  If I run the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September and finish, that will be huge.  If I run and qualify for Boston, then that will be another mountain climbed and conquered.  Either way, I win.

So I resolve, with the inspiration of watching 7 people training and running the Rome Marathon in this movie, to run and to finish.  It will be hot.  It will be hard at times and I will tell all here on this blog. I will do it.

I recommend this movie; it helped inspire me.  Unfortunately it was only in theaters yesterday, but if you can watch at home sometime, do!

Me, I’ll be running.  Because of the heat, maybe slower, maybe not as many miles, but I will be running.

Maybe one day I’ll be in “Spirit of the Marathon III”.  Hopefully it will take place in Boston! 🙂

Inspiration to run

I don’t like the heat.  I never have.

Long before I was a runner, even while a child, I hated the heat.

Now I am a runner and I have to endure the heat.  Last year wasn’t too bad.  I was running 2-3 miles a day.  This year I am running 7-9 miles a day and I would like to keep my pace up.  It is hard to get inspired to keep going outside to run when, to me anyway, it is torture.  This morning for instance.  5:00 AM.  77 degrees and at least 80% humidity.  Today and tomorrow the highs will be close to 100 and I imagine with the heat index, over 100.

So what do I do to keep myself going?  It would be easy to slow down for the summer.  Summer here lasts into October – that is a long time for someone who hates heat.

How do I keep myself inspired?

My goal.  I could wait another year to qualify for Boston, but I made a goal in March of this year to qualify – this year.  It really does drive me.  I wrote a couple of days ago that to go from obesity to a Boston qualifier in just over 2 years would be my largest achievement.  10 years from now no one may remember, but I will. I want to do this and I want to do it this year if possible.  That is my motivation.

This blog.  It amazes me how much this blog inspires me.  I write each day on running or running subjects.  I put my goals and dreams down for anyone to read.  I think as I run about what I will write the next day.  But the biggest inspiration are all the people who read and comment and like.  As I run in the heat wondering how I will keep one foot moving in front of another (as I did on Sunday), this blog keeps me inspired.

Other blogs. Reading others ups and downs and inspirational writings really helps.  It is all about keeping my mind in the game.  I have to keep focused, not on the present reality of tiredness, soreness and heat, but on my goal and other blogs and tweets keep me focused.  Thank you for writing and helping me keep inspired!

Inspirational movies.  The Spirit of the Marathon II comes to theaters tomorrow (June 12) at 7:00 for a one day showing.  When the first movie came out I wasn’t even close to running.  I had the desire, but no inspiration or motivation.   Tomorrow I am going with TJ and RS and can’t wait to sit in a cool theater and be inspired. I need a movie like this to keep my mind focused and my head clear.

I apologize for writing some of the same things I wrote a couple of days ago.  But as I said, I need to keep myself going and writing my blog does just that.  It keeps me inspired and accountable as I head outside into the heat of the afternoon to run.

We all need some inspiration these days.  Think sometime of what inspires you and then do that thing.  It makes all the difference!!!

Qualifying for Boston, making the impossible possible.

I really had no idea how much time running and preparing for a marathon would take out of my life.

As many of you know, I plan on running the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September and I hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon at that event!  It would be a major accomplishment as I have only been running for 14 months (as of now) and have never run more than a half marathon.  Also, 2 years ago I weighed 278 lbs and now I hope to qualify for Boston.

I must be crazy.

I admit this drives me probably more than it should.  I look on it not only a challenge, but also the chance of accomplishing something beyond my own ability.

As a 16 year old, I wanted to become a DJ.  In order to get on the radio you had to get a license and in order to get that license you had to pass a grueling exam. Everyone I talked to said I had no chance at passing the first time.  My sister knew two people who took the test 3 times and failed each time and they were in college.  It became a challenge.  I spent the whole summer studying and memorizing the material.  It wasn’t anything I knew or understood, but I learned.  One day my dad asked me what page of my textbook talked about radio towers (or something in that vein).  I gave him the page number from memory. We looked it up and I was correct.   I went to DC and took the test with 30 people much older than myself and passed the first time.  Understand, my dad once said that I was the first of his children (the youngest of 4) that he was relieved when I brought home a “C” in a class.  Getting this license was way above my ability, but after I passed I felt like I could accomplish anything.

You may be able to understand the parallels between getting my radio license and running a marathon, but just to spell it out…

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is way beyond my ability.  In fact just running a marathon is beyond my comprehension.  I not only have to run it, but I have to run it under 3 and a half hours.  I have to keep at least an 8 minute pace for 26.2 miles.  I feel like I did going into that exam room with everything against me.  I questioned myself if I had prepared enough.  I questioned everything.  I was nervous and anxious.  I passed.  I want to pass this test also.  I want to, in just over 2 years, go from obesity to qualifying for Boston.  For me, it is making the impossible, possible.  If I can do this, I can do anything.

So I run.  I run 6 days a week and walk the 7th.  I ran 9 miles yesterday, my longest mid-week run ever.  I need to get to 50 miles this week and then into the 60s by next month sometime. My speed is way down, but I don’t think that matters right now.  I feel that miles matter more than the speed.  It is hot and humid and that makes it hard to run fast.  Yesterday I ran a trail for a couple of miles which made the run more enjoyable, but was also harder than running on pavement.

I guess I never finished the opening thought.  Running takes so much time that I really only have time at night to write my post.  I really don’t have time to read other blogs or twitter much anymore.  Even emails go unread for days sometimes.  Right now my life consists of working, running and family.  I say this to say thank you to all you bloggers who read my blog each day and those who comment and like my posts.  Please don’t take it the wrong way that I haven’t been on yours for a while.  I do read them when I can, but until September 8th, it may not be often.  I appreciate the effort it takes to blog and one day I will catch up on my reading, but for now…

I run.

Boston, Boston, Boston

Summer, I have decided, is not a running season – at least for me.

Yesterday I had a run where I had to constantly remind myself why I am doing this.  Some days are wonderful and it feel like I can run a thousand miles.  No runs this week have been wonderful to me.

I hesitate here because I don’t want to sound like I am complaining on this blog.  I write it for me to remind myself from where I have come and where I hope to go.  FYI, I come from a 5’9″ 278 pound man and I hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon this September (i.e.:  That is what I had to keep reminding myself yesterday as I ran.

I started my run in my old Saucony Mirage 2 shoes.  Not old in mileage – they only have 78 miles on them.  They are the shoes I loved before I got my Saucony Fastwitch shoes that I have been using during my achilles recovery.  Why did I switch yesterday?  Mainly because they are heavier and have more support and I thought that they would help me not push as hard as I did the day before.

I got less than a mile into my run and felt a sharp pain in my achilles.  I thought to myself, “run relaxed and keep your form”.  As I ran a bit more – another sharp pain.  I thought at this point that perhaps I should head home and change shoes.  By the time I got home (5 minutes later) I had 2 more sharp pains.  Ugh.  I don’t want to have this problem again.  I just felt like I was getting over it.

I went inside and put on my Fastwitch shoes and headed back out.  After that point, I had one more minor pain and then I was pain free.  Well, I thought to myself, I guess I have another pair of lawn mowing shoes (thinking of the Mirage).

I don’t know what he difference is between the shoes except that the Mirage is stiffer and pulls more on my heel.  Either way I was elated that I could continue with my run (which didn’t go much better after that).

It was hot outside again.  The heat index was 90.  At least there was a breeze.  Then it rained.  Not a bad thing, but it rained just enough to get the road wet and then the sun came out again.  The sun and heat radiating off the road shot the temperature up at least 10 degrees.  I made it to 7 miles with a 9:12 average pace. My last mile was close to 10:00.

I’ve decided it is going to be a long hot summer and I had better get used to it.  I run in the afternoon because I leave for work at 5:00am and just can’t get up early enough to get my mileage in.

So, I guess I did complain some.  It was actually one of the roughest runs I’ve had in a long time.  I run one more time today and take tomorrow off to get my body ready for the 5K on Saturday.  Then it is marathon training until September.

Boston, Boston Boston.  I have to keep my eye on the goal.  Summer will eventually turn to fall and then I can have some fun.  Then the Spring and hopefully Boston!

Run through the pain? Not this time!

Yesterday I wrote, “lessons learned” and then in the afternoon I had a chance to prove that I learned a lesson.

I have found that it is important to run even when I don’t “feel” like it.  If I don’t run when I’m tired or a bit sore, I’ll never run.  That isn’t good and I would never meet my goal of qualifying for Boston.  On the other hand, I have had to learn the lesson that sometimes it is important to listen to your body.  Some aches and pains or even just being tired is a sign that things aren’t going in a good direction and perhaps I need to pull back some on training or even take a break.

Yesterday was great running weather.  I had only run once for 5 miles since last Thursday because my achilles was hurting. But my 5 mile run on Sunday went very well and I had no problems yesterday during work, so I was excited to hit the road running.  I  don’t have a run plan this week, but just a “see how it goes” plan.

I got 1/2 mile into my run and I felt that pain in achilles.  Ugh.  I realized that I was so looking forward to my run that I started too fast.  I slowed down and ran relaxed trying to make sure I wasn’t pushing off my feet, but allowing gravity to move me forward. It was too late.  That pain, not severe pain mind you, but still pain, was back and I couldn’t get past it.  I ran for a total of 2.2 miles and decided to walk home.

It was disappointing to me that I had done a stupid thing and started too fast, but in the end, looking back, I’m excited that I showed that I had learned a valuable lesson.  I know that I shouldn’t push past pain all the time.  I know that it isn’t a bad thing to stop a run in the middle.  I learned that if I act wisely today, then I’ll be able to run tomorrow.

I’ve learned that there are runs that you push through the pain and meet your goal and there are runs that need to be stopped and you go home and rest.

I’ve learned lessons this past week that I hope I continue to remember.  I’ll probably never be a “great” runner.  But with consistency I can be a good runner. However if I don’t run with wisdom, I won’t be a runner at all.

I’d rather walk home from a run, then finish it and have to stop running.

I hope I remember this lesson next time.

It took 13 months before I got injured running…

Every once in a while I have a day where I don’t feel like running, but I go out anyway and have a great run.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

I was tired and just wanted to skip my run, especially since it was “hill run Thursday”.  I did what I always do, I got home, changed and went out for my run. It began well enough.  I ran relaxed and got  2 miles into my run and my achilles started bothering me.  So I just tried to keep relaxed and the pain subsided, so I kept running.  By now it was hot and I was a bit tired and finally got to the hill that I run.  I rested a bit and then started my reps.

I got to the top of the hill and heard a dog barking.  I hear dogs barking all the time on my runs, so I ignored it.  As I ran, the barking got louder and I had the realization that the dog was behind me.  As I turned to look, I noticed a large doberman right behind me and it didn’t look happy.  My first instinct was to stop running and start walking.  I knew I needed to get past its house, but if I kept running, it might get bothered.  As I walked and kept my eye on the dog, I heard a voice of a woman calling for the dog.  I looked up and there was a woman sitting on a porch.  She called to me that it was her neighbor’s dog and she didn’t know why it was out.  I yelled to her, “Am I safe?”  Her reply was, “I’ve never known it to bite anyone”.

I finally got to the point where the dog went home and I started running again.  I decided to run at the top of the hill through the community a bit to figure out what to do.  You see, this hill was the only way out of the neighborhood and I had to go right back past that dog.  I was a bit concerned.

Finally I decided to make my trek back down the hill.  About a hundred yards before the house with the dog, I started walking.  I quietly walked past the house and never did see the dog.  I started running again and finished my run in the rain.  By the time I finished, I was cold, tired, my achilles was hurting again and I wished I had just stayed home.

Now here I am writing this.  My achilles still hurts, the top of that same foot hurts and my opposite hip hurts.  It has been 13 months of running with no injuries and now I feel totally beat up.  On top of that, we have our 5K in 2 weeks.  It is the last real 5K I want to compete in since I need to start training for the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September, my first marathon and hopefully my Boston qualifier.

So, I am taking at least today off and possibly the whole weekend.  I will see how I do.  I definitely don’t want to be out of running long because I was stupid and kept running on a hurt foot.

Oh well…  As I mentioned in the post yesterday, I learn by experience.  Sometimes that is a positive thing and sometimes it isn’t.

The joys of running.

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.

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!