278 to 3500

Today is my running anniversary.

I’ve now run for 3 years and over 3500 miles.

I started this journey at 278 lbs.  My running began after a physician directed diet that brought my down to 220 lbs.  I now weight 186 lbs.

Running isn’t easy for me.  Starting my running career at 49 years old and having been in horrible shape, my running is almost always accompanied by pain.  I run with hip pain and heel pain most of the time.  I don’t know if it is a good thing or not, but the hip and the heel are on opposite sides of my body.

Over the past 3500 miles I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I don’t listen to music while I run, so it is just me out there.  I can be a boring person to run with by myself. LOL.  I have learned to do things while I run.  I pay more attention to my surroundings, I pray, I say hi to people I pass.  I try not to think of the next hour or two that I’ll be pushing myself and try to distract myself in anyway I can.

During my runs I have solved a lot of problems.  It may be the oxygen getting to my brain, it may be the quite and the fact I have nothing else to do but think.  I will say that most of my good ideas and problem solving have occurred during my runs over the last 3 years.

Just some philosophical musings from a 3 year runner.

Yesterday’s run went great and I have a new system for running that seems to be working well.  I’m going to try it a few more times and then I’ll post it for everyone.  So far, I’ve done this for 3 runs (4, 13 and 8 miles) and my runs have been better, stronger and I’ve felt better afterwards.  Check back in a few days and I’ll tell you my system if it keeps working for me.

Have an awesome week and keep running!

Tom

Finally success running smart!

I had a successful week running last week.  For me it was amazingly successful.

I’ve been running 41 miles a week for several weeks and to prevent a crash in my running, I decided to have a low mileage week.  My goal was to run 31 miles during the week with my longest run being 6 miles.  I ended up with 30.9 (but whose counting).

By Sunday, I felt great again.  My soreness was gone and my body “felt” healed.  This is huge for me.  In the past (1.5 years ago when I used to run this kind of mileage), I would keep running the higher mileage and then after a month or so I’d get hurt or have some issue that set me back into the low 100s.

Yesterday was going to be and 8 mile run, the first run of my 45 miles week (post recovery).  I did run, but it was raining hard and getting dark as the afternoon got late.  I got a late start because of issues beyond my control and by the time I got to 6 miles, I called it a day.  It was raining so hard toward the end of the run that it was like I was in basic training in the army.  I could barely see through the rain.  It was awesome.  I had negative splits with the first mile at a 9:40 pace, down to 8:15 my last mile.  I’ve learned to start out slow and then work my speed up throughout my run.  It makes all the difference in a good run.

There was one other soul out running at the same time as me in the park.  Just us two, going opposite directions and passing each other slashing in the puddles.

So my plan was for 8 miles yesterday, but I settled for 6.  I’ll make up the other two sometime this week.  Today is an 8 mile hill run, then Wednesday 4 miles, Thursday 8, Friday 4, and Saturday 13.  Sunday will be a 10 mile bike trail ride with RS and then it all starts over next Monday.

By the way, I was reading the recap of my only marathon and all the comments from it the other day.  Oh how I want to run one again.  This time, I want to run it smartly and with strength.  No plans yet, but maybe Chicago?  That would be cool! Maybe I could see my friend at runningonhealthy.com. 🙂

Happy trails.

Tom

Mile 25 of my 5 mile run

I had a mile to go to finish my run.

I was beat.  Totally beat.  I told myself that I would quit a half mile early.

  • It was hot – not as hot as in the middle of summer, but a hotter day then we have had lately.
  • I forgot to take my Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) before my run.  My legs were so tired and heavy.  Was this the reason?
  • I increased my mileage from 4 to 5 miles a day just this week.  Was that why I was beat?
  • I am running a hillier area and one hill is huge.  Am I just worn out?

These are the thoughts of a runner perplexed at 4 miles as to why his run is going badly.  Pace?  What pace?  I threw pace out of the window a couple miles ago.  Actually all summer I have kept my love for speed away and just tried to be consistent on the run.

I tripped.  Sort of tripped.  I literally stubbed the top of the front of my new running shoes.  I’ve never done that before, I thought to myself.  Maybe I should walk home.  I don’t want to hurt myself on a basic run.  I don’t want to be stupid.  I don’t… I can’t… I won’t…

Then the thought occurred to me.  Just a year ago I ran a marathon.  I felt worse at mile 25 of that marathon then I did now at mile 4 of my 5 mile run.  My body needs to learn.  I need to master my body.  It must submit to me if I ever want to run a marathon again, let alone qualify for Boston.  This feeling… The feeling of being spent, exhausted, tired, hot and having nothing left inside… Maybe this feeling is a gift.  Maybe this is training for mile 25.  Only a little over a mile to go and I’ll be done.  My body will learn that it has to comply with what I am doing.  Not to the point of getting hurt, but I need to teach my body, my mind and my spirit that I can run through this feeling.  I can complete the race.  I can run up that last hill and finish what I set out to do.

5.01 miles after I started, I finished.  I literally had nothing left.  It was hard to walk the rest of the way home (about 100 yards).

I finished. What a great feeling.  I had the worst run of the summer and I felt like I just completed a marathon.  I didn’t give up.  I didn’t give in.  I didn’t walk until I met my goal.

Today… who knows, maybe I’ll run 6 miles just for fun!

Have a great weekend.

Tom

To marathon or not to marathon…

I’m thinking about it…

I might just do it…

I am debating another marathon.  Of course that shouldn’t be big news to anyone who knows why I named my blog 278toBoston.  However this is big news to me.  I had almost just given up on running another long race.

The summer has been difficult to say the least.  It has been hot and tiring.  My goal is to run 4 miles each day I run (going for at least 5 days a week) and I have just added a 7-8 mile run on the weekend.

Basically I’m in survival mode running.  Just enough running to not lose the gains I have made in the past few years.

Back to the marathon.  I have a great Hungarian Dr. friend who lives in Jacksonville, Fl.  After I ran my last marathon, he said, “Okay Tom, now that you have run a marathon, you aren’t doing any more, right?”  He was afraid that I could hurt myself by running so far.

Well now he is wanting me to run the Jacksonville Bank Marathon in December.  He wants us to come down and spend time together.  I think the marathon is the excuse he is making for us to come down for a visit, but it is tempting.

A couple of pluses… It is a flat course. It is at the end of December in Florida.  It is 80% shaded.  It is very scenic.  He is an awesome friend.

So, now with confidence from my hill/mountain running over the past couple weeks, I am at a place where I have to make a choice to train or not to train for another marathon.  This training will be easier then last years training as I won’t be doing the bulk of my training in the summer heat.

Anyway, I will make up my mind soon.  My last/first marathon clocked in at 4:14, so a sub 4:00 marathon would be awesome.

Decisions, decisions…

Should I or shouldn’t I…

More on my decision within a few days.

Tom

Summer running

The heat, my goodness how am I going to run in this heat?

That was my thought yesterday afternoon as I headed out in 100+ heat index for my run.

I learned last year that running in the heat is an acquired trait.  It is similar to running at a high altitude.  The reason being that the body sends extra blood flow to the skin to cool itself down.  This flow takes away from the blood flow that it is used to using during a run to give energy and help muscles.  Therefore running in the heat is sometimes similar to running through mud.

Fortunately, eventually as with running at a high altitude, the body compensates for this extra blood needed to cool itself by creating more blood (I think I have this correct, but I am about as far from a doctor as you want to get).  So after a few weeks of running through mud, runs get easier and this can actuality help you run more efficiently in cooler weather.

I haven’t been running much lately.  Just life getting in the way.  Yesterday I went out and felt okay.  It as HOT, but I ran the first two miles well.  I left my Pebble watch at home so that I wouldn’t be looking much at my pace.

By mile 3 I melted.  I went from an 8:30 average pace to a 10:00 pace and had to walk about every half mile for a minute or two.  Last year this would have devastated me.  Not only did I not understand what was happening to my body as it got hotter, but I also began training for my first marathon in this heat.  What a mess.  Yesterday though, I took it easy.  No pressure.  I know now that I have to take some time to get used to this heat and build up some endurance.

In the end, all will be well.  Summer will fade into Fall and running will become fun again.  Football will begin and my favorite time of year will make an appearance.  Here in the South the weather won’t turn cool until the last half of October, so I will just have to push through until then.

It is similar to life.  Sometimes life is like running through mud.  Those days make us stronger and then when the good times come, we appreciate them all the more.

Tom

The Dog-spiration and running in the summer heat

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far for running.  The heat index, according to my phone, was 94 degrees.

Needless to say it was hot.

My run went well.  I’ve approached running differently this summer.  Last year I would push through.  Drag.  Run home to get water and keep trying to push.  Of course I was stupidly training for a marathon in the midday Southern summer heat.  This year I run until I am feeling hot and tired and I walk for a minute, then I continue my run.  This has helped a lot.  I am still running 4 miles a day during the week as I haven’t gotten back to a full running week yet, but even so, my pace is still doing well (for me that means I am under a 9:00 pace).

On to The Dog!

The Dog

The Dog

She is an inspiration to me.

When I get back from my run she is ready to get out back and let me throw the stick to her.  She never stops.  Even in the heat, she will pause and pant and then she just keeps going.  I make sure I don’t overheat her because she would probably not stop running after that stick until she couldn’t move anymore.

So when I am beat.  Hot.  Tired.  I come in for my run, I know she will be pushing her hardest, and that somehow helps me to push harder also.

She keeps going, and going, and going.

She keeps going, and going, and going.

Funny.  She has no idea that she helps me push through.

What a great dog she is!!!

I write to run

“I write to run.”

Hmmm.  I was thinking about this yesterday during my slow run.  I guess since I wasn’t pushing so hard that I couldn’t think, I had time to ponder of why I write this blog.

My writing has changed my running in so many ways.  I never thought it would have the affect it has had.

When I started writing this blog in January of 2013, I wrote to keep a diary of my running.  I had been running for a year before I began journaling my runs through this blog.  When I started writing, I had no followers.  I wasn’t on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media.  I’m still not on Facebook… but I digress.  Basically the only way people found this blog was pretty much by accident.

I have found that by writing my running experiences down, I remember what I have done correctly and what I have done wrong.  For instance, I wrote several times recently about altering my running after my half marathon.  This is because I wrote so much about my injures after my marathon last year that I remembered what had happened.  By writing what I was going to do this year, it cemented my plan in my head and kept me on the right path.

I don’t read much.

People make fun of me sometimes that in order to read a book, I need big words and lots of pictures.  I have never really enjoyed reading much, even as a kid.  I don’t know why.  I say that to say, I’ve learned most of the lessons in my life by experience.  That can be good, but also it can be bad.  When I started running, TJ was a HUGE help to get me going and doing the right things.  When I started this blog, I began reading other bloggers and their experiences and tips.  Also, the comments and feedback from other bloggers on my blog has helped a lot.

But…

I still learn from experience.  Thus another reason to write this blog.  As I learn a lesson, I write about it… good or bad.  If something helps me a lot, like my mountain runs or ACV, I’ll write about it more.  Of course I want to share my experiences with other runners now that I have a good following, but also I want to always remember the lessons learned.  If I write it down, I remember it!  In college I learned (rather late in my schooling) that I could take good notes in class, rewrite them in a condensed form the day before the exam.  Then that night I would read my condensed notes right before I went to bed.  The next morning I could “see” my notes in my head as if I had perfect photographic recall.  As the day went on, they faded, but talk about the perfect cheat sheet.  I went from a 2.0 average to being on the Deans List my last semester.

All this is to explain why I write this blog…  I do want to share my experiences.  I do want to get feedback and that really motivates me.  In the end though, I do it for myself.  Sorry.  I guess I’m selfish that way.

Have an awesome weekend.

Tom

Mountain Run PR!

I’m guess people could be getting tired of hearing about my mountain running, but it has been such a transformational thing to me and my running, I want to pass it along my experience along.

Yesterday was my first mountain run in 3 weeks and my first since last weekend’s half marathon.  I had taken last week off of running (okay, I ran 6 miles) to make sure I don’t get injured in my post race workouts as I have in the past.

I began at an easy pace as I warmed up.  By the time I got to the foot of the mountain, I was running too fast.  I knew I was running too fast for a mountain run, but being that I hadn’t run much in 7 days, I guess I got carried away.

About half way up the steepest part of the mountain road (one of the first hills) I had to walk.  That was okay.  I walked about 30 seconds and then started slower and kept a good pace.

By the time I got to the top I was getting tired.  I could tell I hadn’t run this road much in three weeks.  My legs were tried and I was breathing hard.  At the top of the mountain, there is about a half mile of fairly level running before I turn around.  I got to the turn around point, paused long enough to take and post a picture and headed back down.

20140504-094812.jpg

This was my only real scare.  Right after I posted the picture above on my previous post, I began to run again and felt a “pull” in my left heel.  Oh no!  It had been a good run and beyond that, I didn’t want to get injured again.  So I relaxed and kept my run going.  I just paid close attention to how I was feeling and my form.  Honestly, I don’t think I hurt myself, but my past experience tells me that sometimes injuries don’t show up right away.

As I got to the bottom of the mountain, I had 1.5 miles to get back to the car.  I know my run was in record mountain running time, as I know I was running well.  So I pushed a bit going up and down the hills leading back to my car.  I passed a guy walking the opposite direction who said, “Does it feel as bad as you thought it would?” I had to ask him to repeat his question.  He was being nice, knowing I was breathing hard and really pushing.  I just yelled back, “Nah, this is easy”!  He just laughed and we continued in our separate directions.

I got up the last hill and could see my car.  I finally looked at my time.  8:45 pace.  Seriously?!?  I ran hard down the last hill.  My pace dropped to 8:42 for the run.  My total time was 1:09:47 for the 8 miles.  My best time before this was a run with TJ several months ago that was at an 8:50 pace.

Mountain run PR

Mountain run PR

My heel is better today and I am still being careful.

My hip isn’t doing great, but is much better then last week.  I wear a sciatica belt on my mountain runs to help with the support and that makes a lot of difference.

So a half marathon PR last week and a mountain run PR this week.  All in all, I’m pretty happy.

I’ve been trying to catch up on other people’s blogs by the way.  I got way behind the past week or two, but I am getting there slowly.  🙂

Have an awesome week.

Tom

Learning running lessons from the past

Running is the ultimate teacher.

If you want to do your best, then you have to learn from your friends, the help of other runners and your past mistakes.

I have run several hard races in the past.  After my first half marathon, I started having some hip problems.  After my marathon, I was out 3 months, off and on, with hip and foot issues.  I also got injured after running a 5K earlier this year.

Honestly, I don’t think it was the races that hurt me.  Looking back, I realize that I’ve pushed too hard AFTER the races to get back to training.  A few weeks after my marathon, I not only ran 10 days in a row, but also did a hard trail run a few weeks later.  That was the icing on the cake, that is my hip.  It was almost 6 months before I got back to a 100 mile month.

My last half marathon was last Saturday.  It was awesome.  I ran well and on a tough course.  I will look back and be excited for months about that race.

HOWEVER…

Tuesday, I decided to run my first run after the race.  It went well.  I ran 4 miles at an 8:21 pace.  Tuesday night I was in a lot of pain. My shoulder hurt and my hip was killing me.  Wednesday I concentrated on my shoulder as I was concerned that I pinched a nerve running.  That wasn’t the issue, it was just the way I slept.  I did however, ignore my hip pain.  It was in such pain I had to take medication to sleep.

Wednesday was the 30th of April and I was at 118 miles for the month.  I decided to run an easy 2 miles and walk the rest.  I didn’t.  I ran a fast two miles at my half marathon pace, but I did walk after that.

Yesterday I walked.  No running.

My hip is better.  No real pain.  Just a little pain while I drive which isn’t abnormal.  In fact I could have run yesterday.  I could run today.  I could run tomorrow.  I won’t.

I am going to learn from my mistakes in the past and come back slowly.  I have plenty of time until my next race.  I have a lot of mountains to run.  In fact my mountain running has been the one thing to help my hip more then anything else.  After several weeks of running my mountain on the weekend, I really had no pain left.  I think that strengthening my quads and all the muscles in my legs has taken the pressure off my hip.

So next Sunday will be my first run since my 2 miles on Wednesday.  I’ll run my mountain slowly and enjoy the run and take it easy.  I’ll play it by feel over the next few weeks as to how much I run.

I need to learn from my past.  Learn from friends.  Learn from other runners.  Learn from my mistakes.

If I don’t learn, I’ll never make my goal of qualifying for Boston.  I’ll run hurt, slow and probably have to stop.  I’d rather learn now and take it easy, then live with the pain of being stupid.

’nuff said.

Tom

Final thoughts on the Country Music Half Marathon.. I think.

This post is a continuation of my Country Music Half Marathon recap post from yesterday.  

Here are my stats

I was 17th out of 561 in my age group – top 3%
I was 697th out of 19,057 half marathoners – top 3.7%

Honestly, I think this was my best race to date.  I credit TJ for running with me and being an excellent pacer and my mountain runs for getting me in shape.  Thinking back, I have really only been training for this for about 2 months.  Between injuries and other things that got in the way of my running, that was all I could do to train.  But the mountain gave me strength in my quads and took the pressure off my back and my calves.  It also helped me be able to pick my speed up and be able to handle the hills on this race without slowing down.

RS did well.  He struggled a lot though.  He had honestly not been running much until the last few weeks before the race.  His longest run before the race was 7 miles and he went out and completed a 13.1 mile race.  His time was slow because he had to walk to finish the last few miles, but it is amazing to me that he could complete that distance with so little prep.  This was his longest milage run in over a year.

TJ had been hurt leading up to this race; thus the reason he paced me rather then trying to run a PR himself.  His last half was completed in under 1:30 and he was in coral #1 for this one.  His choice to pace me was huge for me and I hope fun for him, though being a huge competitor, I’m sure he wished he was running his own race.  He is back in the saddle now and talking about another half in the fall and maybe running the Jacksonville marathon with me in December.

I had fun meeting my running friends @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping before the race.  They did well and I think were happy with the result.  This was @David_Topping’s first half marathon.  He has lost a  lot of weight and really been doing the work that made his run possible.

I was really concerned with this race.  I have never run with so many people.  My experience was a great one overall.  Not just the run, but everything from package pickup at the expo to parking at the race went very smoothly.  There was the obvious traffic, but I purchased a reserve parking pass and it put us right at the race with very little waiting.  The police presence was clear, but not over done.  Other then the helicopters flying overhead, there was very little that I noticed outside of the normal presence at any race.

The bands were great.  A few were loud (one was so loud it affected my hearing for a minute), but they helped overall and the crowd was awesome.  Being that we hung with the 3:30 pacer, there were a lot of cheers as we ran by.

Overall I rate this race very high.  Perfect weather, great attendance, plenty of food and drinks after the race.

Top notch.

Tom