The Runner’s Paradox

It was a long weekend trying to rest so that my back would feel better.

I tried, but didn’t succeed.

No, I didn’t run.  That would have been a mistake and I’ve made that mistake in the past.

Unfortunately my Lovely Wife, who has had a bad back for 3 years with 2 ruptured disks, woke up Saturday morning with what seemed to be a pinched nerve in her back.  She was a trooper and went out with me to do errands all weekend.  My only issue was helping her in and out of the car, which was not easy with my own messed up back.  She was better by last night, so hopefully she is on the mend – as much as one can be on the mend with 2 ruptured disks.

Then there was the toilet that broke.  I had to try to replace the insides of this toilet that I “fixed” 3 weeks ago.  That was an hour of leaning over a toilet and without a hangover to enjoy (just kidding).

Finally, between Church Sunday morning (Catholics do a lot of kneeling) and fixing TJ’s broken deadbolt, I don’t think I am in much better shape then when the weekend began.

On a good note, I slept well and am still below 185 lbs, which after pizza on Friday night and burgers last night, I’m thrilled.

Back to running (pun intended), I may try some easy miles this afternoon.  I’ll have to see  how I feel when I get home.  I am in the runners paradox.  Do I try to run to keep in the best shape of my life, or do I keep resting even though it hasn’t done much for me?  To be honest, while I am running I don’t feel any pain.  It seems to come on me after walking all day (I average 2 – 3 miles walking a day at work).  I tend to walk fast in order to get a lot done, but today I am going to slow it way down and see if that helps.

I miss running!


Weekend running and 10K goal

I haven’t yet written about my weekend runs because of life getting in the way and my pondering the 11 year old me yesterday.  By the way, if you haven’t done so, ask yourself what you would say to the younger you with what you know now.  It really is helpful!

Yesterday was my off day and I took it with eagerness.  I ran 9 days in a row and was quite sore.  In fact my hip was really bad, but I walked 3.1 miles yesterday and that seemed to help quite a bit.

So Saturday I ran with my running geek friend (@BigBigGeek) and had a great time.  Realize I didn’t say I had a great run, but that I had a great time.  I think my running streak really was getting to me even though my mileage wasn’t very high.  After the week was over I realized that I ran almost 50% of the mileage I ran in September last week alone, so I might have over done it. 🙂

Anyway, we had a fun run talking the whole time.  I was glad to be the one listening more since by the time we hit the 3 mile mark I was about ready to walk.  Neill is really improving a lot.  It was just a few months ago that our runs would have messed up my pace for the week and now I am pushing to keep up with him!

We finished the 6 miles and I had to head out for weekend errands.  It was really a beautiful day and seriously a lot of fun.

Sunday was another run in the park.  TJ, RS and I ran in the park for about 5 miles.  TJ asked Saturday if I wanted to go there on Sunday morning, so I said sure.  We got there and knowing that he enjoyed the trail run we did right after our marathon (that I had to cut short), I chose to run the trails with my boys.  We got half way through and RS wasn’t feeling well so he walked back to the car on the road and TJ and I ran back on the trails.  I was a bit apprehensive since my achilles hasn’t been doing too great, but it really felt good.  At the end of the trail we still had a half mile to go to make it a total of 5 miles, so we ran up the road and turned back after a quarter mile.  I was exhausted, but in order to learn to push through, I ran as hard as I could back to the car.  TJ measured us running under 6:00 pace at the fastest, which was exciting to me.

Now this week.  TJ and I drove the Vulcan 10K course last weekend and it is going to be fun.  It is pretty flat other than a mile hill that goes up a mountain.  So I am going to try to get my speed up over the next few weeks preparing for the race.  I have 3 weeks to get back into racing form, so it isn’t long.  Between hill runs and tempo runs, I hope to be able to run the 10K under an 8:00 pace.  Actually I hope to hit 7:30/mile.  Time will tell.

Say hi to your 11 year old self for me. 🙂

Running goals – Looking forward!!!

Since I can’t run until Thursday or Friday, I’ve been enjoying hanging with my family and doing family things.  We had a great weekend together and I must admit it was nice not to have to wake up early to get my run in before doing weekend chores.

I was thinking today of my goal.  Last March when I made my running goal to qualify for Boston, I honestly didn’t know what I was in for.  I thought to myself that I made my half at BQ pace and so it shouldn’t be hard to get in a whole marathon at that pace.

Um – Not!

Knowing what I know now, I have a lot of work to do to make my goal.  My pace for my one and only marathon wasn’t great, but I’m fine with it.  I finished that race in 4:14 and I have to finish in 3:30 to BQ.

So, as always is the case, TJ has helped me come up with a plan (thank you TJ).  I have just under 6 months before the next marathon.  I hope to run the Shamrock Marathon in Va. Beach on March 16, 2014.  I have to save some money as TJ and I will need to fly there, run and fly back over a long weekend, but at least I can stay with family so I don’t have to pay for a hotel or meals (thanks Jeff).

Right now we are in a planning stage.  On the horizon is the Vulcan Run 10K with @BigBigGeek, The Mercedes Half Marathon and various other 5K’s and races to keep us motivated.

Back to my goal.

To be honest I like to put myself on the line for what seems impossible.  It helps with motivation and builds character.  Also since I put my goal in the name of my blog, I have no choice but to work hard toward it.  I don’t say this in a negative way, honestly!  I have learned over the past two years that pushing myself in positive ways is immensely important.  I have to move forward or I will move backward.  So why not push myself in a positive way to achieve something I never thought I could?   If I don’t try, I’ll never know what I can accomplish!!!

Stay tuned.  The saga continues.  🙂

Running with memories

“Hello” I said after my Lovely Wife handed me the phone.

It was 11:30 at night.

“Hello, this is Bob, I work with your sister.”  The voice spoke back.  I didn’t know a Bob.

“Your sister died today in a scuba diving accident”.


There are many things that drive us in life.  Many memories that run us down.  Sometimes we have things to prove to the past, to those who went before us, to ourselves.

My sister had run several marathons with my dad and brothers.  She was always “on me” about exercising and taking better care of myself.  I remember one conversation where she asked if I would just walk the treadmill each day.  I didn’t.

My dad never recovered from my sisters death.  Although cancer took his life, I think somehow it would have been different if it weren’t for that night when Bob called.

It has been ten years since my sister passed away.  It has been 8 years since my dad passed away.  Why am I writing about this…?

I started running several times since 2003.  I would run and then stop for some reason.  I don’t know what made this time different.  The main difference is that I didn’t stop.  I kept running.  I know TJ and RS running helped keep me going.  The races have made running more fun.  My Lovely Wife has encouraged me more than anyone.  She has been great.

Ultimately though I think I am running with memories.  Memories of my dad running marathons from 55 years old into his 70s.  Memories of my sister and brothers running with him.  The lack of memories of me doing the same.  I did run a 5K with him once, but really nothing other than that.

As I approach my first marathon, I will be running in the memory of my dad and sister.  They never saw me run.  They saw me overweight and barely able to walk a mile, let alone run a marathon.

So I am running this race on Sunday for my Lovely Wife, for my kids, for my mom and brothers.  But most of all I am going to be running with memories and in memory of my dad and sister.  I think they would have been excited to see this day come.

I know I am.

The ups and downs of running this week

It has been a very strange mileage week for me…

Here is a basic look:

  • Monday – OFF
  • Tuesday – 2 miles
  • Wednesday – 9.5 miles
  • Thursday – 4 miles
  • Friday – 3 miles
  • Saturday 10 miles

I have never had a non long run over 8 miles and I had two this week close to 10.  I felt great about those days.  The other days… Ugh.

  • Tuesday we had storms and I had to stop.
  • Thursday I did steady state workout but had to stop because of a muscle cramp.
  • Friday I felt horrible.  I didn’t get to run until nearly 5:00 PM and was exhausted before I started and hungry.  Not a good combination.

Yesterday I had what I would call a much needed run.  I met Neill at the park and we ran.  We ran at a slower pace which I really needed.  The weather was perfect around 70 degrees.  We just ran and talked.  The whole run was just easy and fun.  Finally we ran our last couple miles.   Neill was going to stop at 9 miles total, but as we hit 8.5 he decided to keep going!  We got to 9 and began our run back to the cars and he picked up the pace.  We did that last mile near a 9:00 pace!! He really ran well and I really enjoyed it.

I needed that run.

So, today I am heading back to the park and going to run my long run.  I was all messed up on training for the next couple of weeks.  This week is my last 18 – 20 mile long run.  Next week will be about a 16 mile run and then a 12 mile run a week before the marathon.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I said that today was my last long run.  I guess it was wishful thinking.

I will say that after yesterday I am not dreading today.  In fact, other than the rain outside, I am looking forward to it.

I had better get going.  I really want to be in the park and running by 6:30.

27 years!

My Lovely Wife and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary today.


This picture was taken of us last winter in our local mall. JR took it on a Saturday with a lot of people all around. It is an amazing picture in as there are no people in it other than us.

My running would not happen without a supportive wife. It takes a lot of time away from her and the kids and yet they support me completely.

Over the 27 years, we’ve had ups and we’ve had downs. I wouldn’t want to have a great day without sharing it with her or a bad day without her help.

We are going to Church today to renew our vows. Just us and our 5 kids. Nothing formal. I can’t wait.

So, to my lovely wife… We played this song at our wedding in 1986 and it is still true today. I love you and look forward to the next 27 years!

I could never promise you on just my strength alone
That all my life I’d care for you, and love you as my own
I’ve never known the future, I only see today
Words that last a lifetime would be more than I could say

But the love inside my heart today is more than mine alone
It never changes, it never fails, never seeks it’s own
And by the God who gives it, and who lives in me and you
I know the words I speak today(tonight) are words I’m going to do

And so I stand before you now for all to hear and see
I promise you in Jesus’ name the love He’s given me
And through the years on earth and as eternity goes by
The life and love He’s given us are never going to die.

Don Francisco

Yesterday’s run and injury update

It was a good run yesterday with my friend Neill (@BigBigGeek).  I do enjoy running with other people rather than the lonely road by myself in my neighborhood.  It can really get monotonous running by yourself all the time, so when TJ and I can run together or I meet Neill to run, it is usually a much easier and more fun run for me.

Neill and I met at the mountain lake to run the trail, which is always fun.  Not only is is different running trail runs, but we also have a lot in common to talk about.

I got to the parking lot about 15 minutes early and it was pouring.  I wanted to warm up a bit so that my achilles and hip wouldn’t bug my on the trail, so I ran about half a mile around the area before Neill pulled up.  After we got ready to head out for our run, we decided that the trail may be a bit too muddy and slick to run and so we ran the road instead.

We did about 3.2 miles together and I did about a half a mile, so I was close to 3.75 miles for the day.

All that to say, I am still hurting a bit.  My left hip is still giving me problems from when I tripped over a sidewalk crack last week.  I am hoping that my reduced mileage this week will help calm it down and I am stretching it a bit.  I guess I should be putting ice on it also.

I admit that I am concerned  that with my marathon being less than 10 weeks away I feel this banged up.  There isn’t much I can do, but take it easy and stay off the sidewalks!!!

Anyway, thanks Neill for the great run.  Always a pleasure.

I may take today off and hope that tomorrow things feel better.


Is my iPhone 5 GPS measuring my runs wrong?

I had an awesome run with Neill ( @BigBigGeek ) yesterday around the same lake as a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t generally trail run because there aren’t any trails near me to run, but I really enjoyed getting on a surface that wasn’t asphalt.  Up and down hills, around roots, over rocks, it was great.  It is also fun to be able to run with Neill.  He and I have a lot in common as he works for Dell and I buy from Dell. 🙂

One thing that bothered me though was the way my iPhone 5 measured the distance.  By the time we finished Neill’s Nike watch said we had run 5 miles under a 12 minute pace.  My iPhone said we ran 4.58 miles at 13:11 pace.  This really made me think.  Last weekend on my long run I was running with my iPhone in a belt and though I should have been able to keep up with the goal pace I set, it was like I was behind the whole way.  I ended my 13 mile run having to run 1/2 mile further than I thought I had too.

I guess it is better to have my phone measure me as going slower and less distance than I actually ran since in a race the distance and time are correct, but it is frustrating that I might be running a minute a mile faster than I think and not know it.

Maybe a Nike+ Sportwatch is in my near future.

Not much more to report today.  I am a bit behind since I didn’t get to this last night.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.

How I’m getting used to running in the heat…

Running in the heat isn’t fun.  I have found this out by experience this year.  Last Summer I was running 2 miles a day at 11:00 pace and it wasn’t as big of a deal. This year I am running 7 miles at 9:00 pace and it became a big deal.

I say this to say that yesterday I ran in what is, compared to last week, cooler weather.  it was 82 degrees with a heat index of 85.  It felt hot, especially as the heat came up from the street.

I ran well anyway.

Notice the images below.  One is from June 5th when the heat began to kick in.  The other is from yesterday.  Both runs were around the same time of day and exact same temperature.

photo 1      photo 2 copy

I remember the June 5th run.  It was hot and I was running with TJ over a newer area we had just started running.  I felt good in the beginning but by the end I didn’t think I could continue.  My legs felt like lead and I was thinking, “What is wrong with me”.

Yesterday I didn’t feel perfect, but it felt good.  I ran faster at the end of my run than at the beginning.  I was tired when I was done, but not exhausted.  Both runs finished in almost the exact same time, but the run yesterday was much better at the end.

What was the difference?

I read somewhere that it takes 2 weeks to get used to the heat while running.  Your body has to get used to using all that energy (that produces heat) and also cool itself down at the same time.  So I think that considering yesterday was 10 degrees cooler than our runs last week and it has been a couple weeks of warm weather really helped.  Also I ran for the first time in my new Columbia running shirt that is made of material that cools when it gets wet.  So as I sweated, the shirt actually cooled me.  It didn’t cool a huge amount in the sun, but one time I was in the shade and a breeze blew and I actually felt a little cold!  Crazy.  These shirts cost $50 at Dick’s Sporting Goods so it will take some time to purchase more, but this one was a gift for Father’s Day from TJ and it really helped.

Today, I hope to run with Neill (@BigBigGeek) around the lake again.  If all works out and we can run, it will be a lot of fun and a nice change to my daily routine.

Keep running!

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.

Thank you note to my family, friends, bloggers, runners, etc…

Yesterday was my off day, so I just walked 2 miles and went home to rest.

I thought I would take a moment to say some things about my gratefulness to my family, friends and fellow bloggers who read this blog.  So this isn’t a running blog post for the most part.

I so appreciate the support of my family; my Lovely Wife, kids, mother and brothers.  They are all supportive and caring.

My Lovely Wife, as I have mentioned, has lost a lot of weight and is still working diligently to keep it off.  I know it is a constant battle that I don’t have to face as I can run and keep my weight down most of the time, but with her back problems, she has to do it all through diet and will power!  She has always been supportive of my running.  Even now that it takes about two hours a day to get ready to run, do my run and then cool down outside with the dog, she never complains or makes me feel like I am taking too much time away (I hope that is a good thing :)).  She always tells me to run fast, don’t get hurt and have a good run before I leave.  She comes to most of our races and sits and waits patiently as we prepare, then run and then cool down.  I can’t say enough how much she means to me and how much I appreciate her and her support.  I couldn’t get to where I am today without her.

My kids have been great also.  The ones who run, TJ and RS are always asking me how my runs go and how I am doing.  I really enjoy when we can run together, even though it isn’t often because we all run at different paces, but it is a great time when we can.  My kids who don’t run (yet) BL, JR and HM are also supportive and come to my races and ask me how my running is going.  I am so appreciative of them and their encouragement.

I also appreciate my Mom and brothers who read my blog and are excited as I pass new milestones.  Both my brothers run and though my mother can’t, she is familiar with the sacrifice as my late father and sister were both runners back years ago.  I guess I owe my running to my late father who started it all in his mid 50s.  He just one day got out there in his running shoes and started running.  My siblings followed after and they all ran the Marine Corps Marathon in DC each year.  I do wish my dad and sister could be here to see me run, but they do see I believe.  I couldn’t do it without their inspiration.

Finally, thank you to the blogging / tweeting community of runners and dieters and friends who follow my blog and twitter and encourage me.  I don’t have a Facebook and frankly didn’t tell many people about my blog.  I now have over 70 followers and have had views from over 45 countries.  Quite amazing to me.  I know I can get repetitive with my posts at times, but that is what running is about.  Doing the same thing day after day after day.  Anyway, thank you to all who read my blog, comment and like my posts.  It is very encouraging and give me motivation to improve and move forward.

Okay that is all for today.  I just wanted to take a post and give my gratitude and appreciation for all the support.  I could not be more thankful to have this blog.

Thank you!!!