Friday, May 30, 2008

Flying Solo

This weekend I gave my wife the weekend off.  It was her Mother's Day present from me - and she definitely deserves it after me deserting her last weekend.

She's only about 10 miles away - in a hotel in downtown Bethesda with a girlfriend - however, she'll be able to relax, sleep in, go for a run, see a movie or two (the "Sex In The City" movie is opening this weekend...something tells me that they'll be going to drink some cosmos and see that film...).

Anyhow, this means that I will not be getting a run in.  Unless I take the kids to the gym and put them in babysitting while I run on the treadmill.  I've done this before, but I doubt it will happen this weekend.

Tomorrow I have morning and mid-afternoon plans - synagogue and our monthly "lunch bunch".  After that I'll most likely take the kids to the pool and then maybe out for dinner.  Hopefully after all the excitement of the day they'll crash :-)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quick Lunchtime Getaway!

Thursdays are always a time crunch of a day for me at work.  I have standing conference calls at 9am, 12 noon and 2pm.

Today's 12 noon call went short - only 30 minutes.  I had already prepared for my 2pm call.  It was a beautiful 70 degree sunny day outside.  Time for a quick run!!!

I did my usual 3-mile lake route again.  Just like yesterday, I took it easy (10:55/mile pace today vs 11:11/mile pace yesterday)...I had no pain in my left knee (hooray!), however, the pain on my left leg - starting around 27 minutes into the run in my lower hamstring - was back again.  UGH!

I'm hoping this isn't a serious injury as I miss my long runs!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back To Blogging

First of all, I apologize to those loyal readers who have been checking my blog to find no updates.  There was no internet access where I was over Memorial Day weekend, and when I got back I was exhausted and did not feel like blogging.

Since this is mostly a running blog I'll spare everyone the details about the Israeli Dance workshop weekend.  However, I will say the teenagers that I brought to the weekend performed beautifully and behaved nicely.  As a result, the weekend was enjoyable for me.  The one thing that was missing for me was running.  Last year I managed to get a 5 mile run in on Saturday morning, but this year I was still trying to rest my legs from the post-marathon aches.

I did get out for a 3-mile run this normal "to the lake and back" route.  I did much better.  I kept the pace slow (11:11/mile) and my left knee did not hurt at all during the run.  Hooray!  However, the back of my right knee - from the top of my calf to the bottom of my hammy - did start to hurt again about 2.5 miles into the run.  I finished out the run though and then stretched out my legs.  The pain stopped a few minutes after I stopped running.

I'm going to start to stretch these muscles on my non-running days as well and see if that helps.  I may even try to visit a Yoga class at the gym - I've never done Yoga, but I'm reading a lot of articles on how it helps runners with their flexibility.  We'll see if I actually do it.

I'll also try another 3-mile run later in the week...perhaps Friday morning.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

For the past four years, the Israeli Dance troupe that I co-direct has performed at an Israeli Dance weekend "camp" - Hora Aviv. For the second year in a row, my co-director is not able to make the trip so I'm "flying solo" with 10 teenagers. UGH!

It ends up that I stay up really late with the teens (OK...even without the teens I'm sure I'd stay up late!) and my kids still wake up super early. As a result, I'm leaving the rest of my family home...I'm really grumpy on 3 hours of sleep, so I think this will be the best for everyone around me.

Last year, I brought some running gear and mapped out a 5 mile route near the campus to run one morning. Since I'm still in my post-marathon "rest period" from running, I won't be bringing my running shoes :-(

I'm hoping to go for a few short runs next week and see if my knees feel better. Maybe a 3 miler on Tuesday and a 4 miler on Thursday. We'll see...

Enjoy the long weekend everyone!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Running Times?

I am all caught up with my Runner's World subscription.  Hooray!

Well, sort of.

Now I feel like don't have anything to read :-)

I picked up the June edition of Running Times at the bookstore this evening.  Does anyone read this?  How does it compare to Runner's World?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Weigh-In

I had started counting calories again this week. Earlier in the week I was very diligent (and HUNGRY!) and it kind of tailed off during my business trip on Thursday and over the weekend. Neither day did I go "hog wild", but I'm certain I ate more than I normally would have in a losing-weight mode.

I decided to get an elliptical workout in yesterday, since I'm trying to be more conservative with returning to running due to the aches and pains I'm still feeling when I run. Even though I'd rather be running outside, getting the blood pumping felt good.

One thing that took me off course a bit were brownies. My wife recently became a Pampered Chef consultant (if you like Pampered Chef products, you can now order them directly from her website!) and she had a cooking show yesterday morning. For the demonstration she made these delicious chocolate, caramel, nut brownies - and unfortunately she brought the leftover brownies home. I only ate two of them yesterday...but that was two more than I really should have eaten.

Nevertheless, I stepped on the scale this morning to good results. I had lost a pound since last week. I now weigh 162.5 pounds according to my home scale. 7.5 pounds to go to...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Miss My Long Run :-(

This is the third Saturday in a row with no long run.  (OK - two weeks ago it was the day before the marathon, so I did get a LONG run in that weekend, but it was not on Saturday morning).

I had gotten in a really good groove of waking up early on Saturday morning, going for a long run and then going to synagogue.  Ironically, I felt like I had a lot more energy on Saturdays than I do now...and I felt better and more relaxed.

I want to get back into that routine - even if it is not in training for a marathon.

Hopefully I'll be able to run more than 2.5 miles without pain soon....the lack of miles is really getting on my nerves!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008


As 2pm hit this afternoon, I hit a lull at work.  I had eaten lunch at my desk while participating in a conference call (in other words - no lunch break), and I was waiting for information from colleagues before I could go forward on a few of my activities.

I looked outside and the rain had stopped.  It's a cool, overcast day...perfect for a short run!

I went inside the house (my office is above our garage with is detached from the rest of the house) got in my running clothes and took off!  Woo hoo!!!!

I decided on the 3-mile lake loop once again.  And due to the pain I have been getting in my left knee and behind my right knee, I decided to do a run/walk 7 minutes and walk 1 minute.  Even with the walking, my pace was under 11min/mile - not too bad.

My knees did eventually start hurting again - this time 26 minutes into the run.  I haven't been good about stretching or icing.  And I haven't been using Vitamin I either (that's Ibuprofen for any non-runners reading...).  I probably should do these things to reduce the inflammation which would aid my recovery.

During my run it started to rain a bit.  I used to dread running in the rain and now I don't mind it at all (OK...I do mind a drenching storm or hail - but a light rain is almost soothing).

One nice thing I saw on my run is that some of the geese who live at the lake in our neighborhood had goslings.  It was sweet to see a few families of geese waddling around the lake - while I waddled along with them!

Exhausting Trip

Yesterday's Total Calorie Intake:  ????

I made my flight yesterday morning in plenty of time.  I pretty much tossed and turned all night - anxious I was going to oversleep and miss the flight - so I rolled out of bed at 3:25am (my thought was "what's the use of trying to sleep for another 40 min?") and made it to the airport by 4:30am.  Surprisingly, there were lines at the baggage check / ticketing counters and at security at that time.  Wow!  Luckily, I only had a carry-on bag so I only had to deal with the security lines.

On the flight I caught up on some pleasure reading.  I don't read often enough ( schedule is a bit manic, so I don't make much time for it).  So far this year I read Hal Higdon's Marathon book and I had started the Alan Sillitoe classic The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.  I had been a few months behind on reading my Runner's World subscription and had started to catch up over the past two weeks.

When I originally picked up The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, I thought it was a novel and not a collection of vignettes.  So I was a bit surprised when I finished up what I thought was the first "chapter" of the book and in the next "chapter" an entirely different character and situation was being described.  So far, I'm finding the book enjoyable - but not riveting, so after a while I put it down and read some of the RW magazine.  I found the style of the first vignette - about a teen delinquent who is sent to a reform school - similar to the writing style of Catcher in the Rye (at least what I remember of Catcher...I mean, I read it almost 20 years ago!)  When the main character arrives at the reform school, they force upon him the sport of long distance running.  At first he resists it, but then he realizes how free he feels while running those long distances each morning that he starts to long for those runs.  Needless to say, I was able to relate to much of the narrative about those frosty, morning runs.

I am happy to say I am now on the current month's edition of Runner's World - hooray!  The feature article is on Kara and Adam Goucher.  If I would have looked at the cover weeks ago and saw Kara Goucher there I'm sure I would have dropped everything and read it on the spot - she is awesome!  She bronzed in the 10K at the Osaka World Championships, came in first at a big HM in England - beating Paula Radcliffe, and won the mile at this year's indoor Millrose Games...oh, and she's extremely attractive to boot.  I'm crossing my fingers that she'll do well at the Olympic Track Trials next month, because I'd love to see her at the Olympics this summer.

The article got me thinking about this summer's Olympics.  In the past, the only Olympic track and field personalities that I had heard of were sprinters - Carl Lewis, Ben Johnson, Michael Johnson, Marion Jones, etc. (I'm a little young to have cheered on Steve Prefontaine...).  I guess I had heard of Joan Benoit Samuelson before the '84 Olympics, but that was most likely due to the Women's Marathon being new that year and she was the favorite to win the first one.  This year, I really don't know who the sprinters are, but I am familiar with - and somewhat following during the past year - the middle and long distance runners.  I believe this is the first year since I was a youngster that I'm psyched to watch Track and Field at the Olympics.

As for the rest of my trip, the course was useful for the networking and face time with my Director, however, I felt the material was a bit of a review for me.  A lot of Stephen Covey ideas and strategies on how to influence others and budget time.

And I always eat horribly while traveling - food with higher fat content and larger portions than necessary - so I'm glad I'm back home and ready to get back in the "eating right" routine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Temptation Averted

Today's Total Calorie Intake: 2100
(Exercise Calories: 400)
Net Calorie Intake: 1750

This evening I was coming home after a performance of the Israeli Dance Troupe that I lead and I was feeling hungry. I remembered that it is Wednesday...which means 2 for 1 sundae day at my neighborhood Carvel. YUMMMMMM.

However, I've been logging my calories - and I knew that I had no room for 640 additional calories (yes, one Carvel caramel sundae has 640 calories!). So instead I opted for a Skinny Cow vanilla and caramel ice cream cone that we have in the freezer - only 150 calories.

Temptation Averted!

Tomorrow is my whirlwind trip to RTP for a training course for work. Flight leaves the airport at 6am. My alarm is set for 4am - and that's going to be cutting it close. Good night everyone!


Yesterday's Total Calorie Intake: 1736

I felt HUNGRY yesterday. It was a tough reminder to my body that I was going from a "maintain your weight while logging 35 running miles a week" diet back down to a "lose weight while logging 10 running miles a week" diet.

I pretty much felt hungry the entire day. However, I made it through; and I know that today will be easier. And so will tomorrow. By next week it will feel like a natural way to eat. The pounds will gradually come off and then in about 6 weeks I'll be able to bump the calories up again.

I also went for a run this morning. It was a beautiful morning - crisp and clear, about 45 degrees when I stepped outside the door at 5:45am. The sun was starting to rise, so I decided to go on my 3.25 mile lake loop (I don't like running this route in the dark).

I knew that my run was going to be slow - or my heart rate would be elevated at a normal pace - since I donated blood on Monday. I ended up keeping an 11min/mile pace for most of the run and my HR was in the high-150s/low-160s which is about 10 bpm higher than what it normally should be at this pace for me.

There is definitely a good amount of "rust" that I need to get out of my system before logging the miles again. My knees started hurting again during the run - this time about 2.5 miles into the route. On my right knee, the pain was behind the knee - in the lower hamstring area. On my left knee, the pain was on the front in the lower/outside corner of the knee. I ended up walking the last quarter mile to give my knees a break. Within 10 minutes of me being back in the house, the pain went I'm thinking this is just something that is being aggravated with the motion and pounding and not a full-time injury. I may try to ice these spots later, though. Some stretching would do me good as well.

It was wonderful to be running again - even if it was just for 3 miles. I'm looking forward to getting in a rhythm of running 3 to 4 times a week again!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Calorie King, Here I Come!!

I see it coming, and I'm frightened.

Yesterday, I gave blood and decided to grab the bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies. Later in the day, I attacked a bag of Doritos that were on top of the fridge. Last night, I chilled in front of the basketball game with a bottle of Saranac Black & Tan and some Cheez-Its.

As the kicker, I'm going out of town for a quick out-and-back business trip on Thursday (in other words - three consecutive meals out) and then have lunch plans of Friday (strike that - four out of five meals out).

The pattern sounds eerily familiar.

To add further insult to injury, I won't be running many of these additional calories off this week.

So...I have decided to start counting calories again. TODAY. I may take a pass on Thursday since it's not easy to be so calorie conscious on the road - but I'll try to be careful anyhow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No Run Today

Cold, rainy morning. Still recovering. No run.

If the morning was nicer, I probably would have run since I'm planning to give blood later today. Which means I won't be running tomorrow either. Perhaps an easy run on Wednesday morning? Or at least I'll hit the elliptical that morning...

Also, since today is Monday, it's an official weigh-in day. 163.5 lbs. Not bad after a week of no running and after Mother's Day (larger brunch and dinner than normal). I'd like to get down to 155 lbs for the summertime, but I know I'll have to count calories closely to get there. Will I find the motivation to do it???

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cross-Training This Morning

Still no running.  After Thursday's attempt, I'm going to give my body a bit more rest.  So I hit my community workout room and hopped on the elliptical for 35 min this morning.  It was nice to get the blood pumping again!

I'm not sure when I'll start running again - I'll probably take a few more days off.  Also, I'm going to be giving blood again on's been 8 weeks since my last blood donation, so I'm thinking this will be a good week to do it as I'm still recovering from the marathon and I'm not planning to run much.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What's Next???

I've gotten a few questions about what is next - from a running and blogging perspective.

Now that I have met my goal of finishing a marathon, it's time to re-evaluate and set new goals.  Perhaps I'll set goals around new PR times for shorter race distances - sub-25 min 5K?, sub-54 min 10K?, sub 2:10 half marathon?  Maybe I'll try to run with others more and make it more of a social hobby for me?  Perhaps it's a goal for yearly mileage (I'm on pace to reach 1,000 miles for the year...that would be pretty cool, eh?)

I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet.  However, I'm pretty sure there will be no more 2008 marathons for me :-)

I have a few half marathons on my radar:  Riley's Rumble (July 27) is one that I have run the last two years and I ran the Parks Half Marathon (September 14) last year.  Both of these are doable schedule wise.  Perhaps I'll try a larger one later in the year that coincides with a Marathon????  We'll see.

On the blogging side, there is also some uncertainty.  I'm pretty sure I'll keep the blog active and keep it focused on my running.  Again...we'll see.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

First Post-Marathon Run (Or An Attempt At One...)

I tried to go for a run this morning. My legs felt a lot better yesterday - almost no soreness anymore and full range of motion - so I thought I was ready.

I wasn't planning on running. I was out late last night - I had a long day with work, an Israeli Dance teaching gig (today is Israel's Independence Day!) and then rehearsal for the dance troupe, and after all that I went out for a late dinner and a few beers with a neighbor of mine.

For some reason, I woke up at 5am anyhow and could not get back to sleep. So I decided to do what I have been used to doing over the past 5 months...go out for a run.

I was going to try to take it as easy as possible. I was going to do my 3 mile lake loop that I used to run all the time before ramping up the mileage for the marathon. I kept my HR in the 140s or lower as much as possible. However, I just wasn't feeling it. It felt like I was trying to force myself to run.

After about 1.5 miles, my right leg started to hurt a bit. Around the area of lower hamstring on the IT band side of the leg. So I decided to walk the rest of the way. I cut the run short - I normally run around the lake 2 times, but today I only did it once since I was walking.

I'm not sure if I didn't fare well today due to the lack of sleep (under 5 hours), too much alcohol last night (3 16oz black and tans...that's more than I normally drink in two weeks) or if it is still too soon for me to be running after the marathon.

I'll take another day or two off and try another short, easy run again this weekend.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Official Marathon Photos Arrived

MarathonFoto sent me an email with a link to the official pictures of me snapped throughout the race.  Here's the link.

Still Sore...But I Can Do Stairs Now!

Yesterday, my legs were really sore. I was able to walk around, but stairs were difficult. Any time I wanted to go up or down stairs I would grimace with each step.

Probably the best thing I did for myself was to schedule a post-marathon massage. I took an extended lunch break from work yesterday and saw a massage therapist that lives in my neighborhood. On my way over, I figured out that the last time I had seen her for a massage was almost two years ago! Back then, about 70% of the massage was focused on my neck, shoulder and back muscles. Yesterday's massage was the opposite - I don't think she spent more than 10 min on my neck, shoulders and back (and I could use a good hour on those as well)...the majority of the massage was on my legs. She worked my calves, quads, hammies, IT bands, arches, etc for close to an hour.

This morning, I went downstairs for breakfast and then realized that I had walked down the stairs with no pain. Yes, my legs are still a bit sore, but compared to yesterday I feel great!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Frederick Marathon - Race Report

Here's the post that many of you have been waiting will be long.  I hope you enjoy!

After 18 weeks of training - waking up before dawn four days a week to get my running in - I was waking up before the sunrise one more time.  I had laid out all of my running gear the night before so I was able to get out of the house quickly and quietly.  I hit the road around 5:15am - plenty of time to get to Frederick (25 to 30 minutes away from my house) in time for the 6:30am race.  Or so I thought...

I made great time up to the Frederick area, however, when I was about 1/2 mile from the exit from I-70 to to the Frederick Fairgrounds, I came to a standstill.  I would say it was stop-and-go traffic, but there was a lot more stop than go.  I had brought a copy of Runner's World with me to read just in case I got to the race early...I was moving so infrequently that I was able to finish reading the article I had started the night before while sitting in traffic.  Sitting there was sooooo frustrating!!!  At around 6:00am I saw some people walking to get to the starting line.  I figured I was only about a mile away so I was going to stay in my car and eventually park at the fairgrounds.  Plus, the race was chip timed, so it really didn't matter if I started a few minutes late anyhow, right?  Once I got off the highway (around 6:25am or so) things started to move a bit better...but it still took me about 10 minutes to get to the fairgrounds and park the car - at 6:35am.

On the bright side, it was going to be a beautiful day!  There was originally a 40% chance of rain in the forecast, but there were no rain clouds in the sky and the sun was starting to shine brightly.  I had brought the sunglasses that I normally run with just in case it was going to be sunny.  I decided to wear them for the race...good call, as the sun was shining the entire time.  The temperature at the race start was 51 degrees and climbed to 69 degrees by the time I finished.  Not bad running weather.

By the time I made it to the Starting Line, all the runners had already left.  I had to ask a spectator which way I was supposed to go - the Starting Line was well marked, but the first mile of the course was not (why should it?  I should have been able to follow the sea of runners from the start, right?).  I should have taken my time here, caught my breath, stretched a little, etc.  However, I was so antsy to get started that I bolted off!  I didn't even bother looking at the clock to see how much time had already elapsed since the starting gun...

During the first mile I started talking to a woman who was wearing a shirt that said something to the effect of "Marathon in all 50 States".  This was her 60th marathon and 40th state.  Wow!  She had also missed the start of the race due to the traffic jam and was not very happy.
At the mile one marker I was able to figure out approximately what the difference between my chip time and the clock time would be.  The clock at mile one showed 17:33 when I crossed - my watch showed 9:33.  I only started the race 8 minutes late...not too bad.  However, the 9:33 mile should have raised some concerns being that my long training runs were more in the 11:00 mile pace.

The first two miles of the race went through downtown Frederick.  I was quite impressed with what I saw.  Growing up in the Washington, DC area, I always thought of Frederick as a small rural town with lots of farms.  "Fredneck" was what we used to call it.  However, downtown Frederick had a nice "vibe" to it.  Lots of little cafes and shops - it almost reminded me of Main Street in Ann Arbor, MI where I went to college.  I will most likely be back to downtown Frederick to check out this part of town again.

Miles 3 through 8 took us through a bunch of nice older neighborhoods near Frederick High School and Hood College.  There were tons of locals outside their houses cheering and ringing cowbells.  All the cheering really got my adrenaline pumping!  Somewhere during these miles I caught up and passed the 5:00 pace team as well as the 4:45 pace team.  I was running the miles at about a 10 min/mile pace, and I was feeling really good.  My heart rate was in the mid to high problem, right?

Around mile 9 the course took us into more of a commercial area.  We ended up running past some stores and then behind a WalMart.  As you can imagine, there were much fewer spectators cheering at this point.  I started talking to a guy who was from Frederick and running his 39th marathon.  I told him about the traffic jam and that I had started the race late and he was very surprised.  He started to offer me alternate routes to get to the fairgrounds.  I really couldn't follow his directions - and plus, isn't it a bit late for that information now???  I listened to him though as it was good to have a conversation since the crowds of spectators were sparse.

Around mile 11, we entered "Fredneck" as I imagined it.  Farms.  Cows.  No cheering spectators.  At one point, there were three cows that were very close to the fence lining the road and it looked like they were watching the runners.  I started clapping my hands and yelled "thanks for coming out this morning!" to the cows.  That drew a bunch of laughs from the runners near me at the time :-)

Up to this point, I was drinking water out of the bottles of my water belt and not stopping at the water stations.  Since one of the bottles was empty - and another one half empty, I decided to fill them up at the next water station at mile 12.  I continued to do this throughout the race.  I was really happy to be carrying my own water so I could drink when I wanted to and not have to rely on where the water stops were.  Thank you Zia for the suggestion!

Also at this point, my right calf muscle was starting to hurt a bit.  I stopped to stretch it out, hoping that it was a pain that would go away with a little stretching.  It did help at the time, but the pain at the top of my right calf would come back a few miles later.

There was a pretty good sized hill leading up to the Fairgrounds where the Half Marathoners would finish and the Marathoners were directed to continue on with the second half of the course.  I crossed the 13.1 mile mat in 2:13:33 (watch time).  My previous PR on the Half Marathon was 2:15:57, so this was almost a 2 1/2 minute PR for me.  HOORAY!  At the time I was happy, but also skeptical...Perhaps I paced myself wonderfully for a Half Marathon but not good for a Full Marathon.  Unfortunately, this was spot on.

Mile 14 took us past another really cool part of Frederick which had a "River Walk" feel to it.  I should have savored the scenery here - since the course had very little to offer after this - except some killer hills.  It was also around this time where the side of my left knee was starting to hurt (probably the IT band area).  I knew that there were some big hills coming up as I had looked at the elevation profile before the race, so I decided on the strategy to walk up the hills and run the flats and downhills.

A little before the first of two big hills - between miles 16 and 17 - the 4:45 Pace Group caught up to me.  I started running with them for a little bit and we all started walking up the big hill.  However, at some point up the hill they started up in a slow jog and I decided to keep walking.  The one consolation of this hill - I knew I'd be going DOWN the hill in a few miles!
The second of the two big hills was after mile 18.  As I started walking up this hill I looked up and saw that EVERYONE was walking this one.  I didn't feel so bad.  However, after that hill my legs did not want me to run anymore.  Interestingly enough, I felt fine otherwise.  Aerobically, I knew I could still run, but my legs were trying to call it quits.  I made myself run, though, and once I started running again, I was OK and just continued to alternate walking hills and running flats and downhills.

At this point, the course was going through a newer residential neighborhood, so there were spectators cheering us on every so often - mostly families with young kids.  Definitely not the crowds of the first 8 miles, but every little bit of encouragement helped at this time.  I also started speaking to a few other runners who were running their first marathon as well.  One of them had participated in a few of the training "tune up" runs that the Frederick Marathon hosted a few weeks before the race, so she knew what to expect with the big hills.  Another runner I spoke to mentioned that she just wanted to beat Katie Holmes' NYC Marathon time of 5:29 :-)

Around mile 22, the 5:00 Pace Group caught up with me.  I started to run with them for about a mile or so, but my legs started to rebel after mile 23.  It was at this point where I decided to go to a walk 1 minute / run 5 minute regimen.   I continued this until I hit the mile 25 marker.  One more mile to go - time to HTFU and run the rest of the way.

You would think that the last mile of a marathon would be in a busy area with lots of cheering spectators and fans, right?  Well, between mile 25 and 26 of the 2008 Frederick Marathon course there was absolutely nothing.  Nada.  Just a farm with a silo and bales of hay.  Luckily there was another runner near me so we chatted a bit.  That really helped.  It was also her first marathon and we were both wondering when we would finally hear the crowds cheering.
We finally saw the sign for Mile 26 and started to hear the cheering crowds at the Fairgrounds.  The race finishes on a gravel racetrack (originally used for harness races?) in front of the grandstands.  As I rounded the track, I heard the PA announcer say "Mike Fox from Gaithersburg, MD".  I spotted my father, my wife and kids on the track rail cheering for me.  And I saw my watch still had a "4" as the first number as I was nearing the finish line, which meant I had also met my goal of a finishing in under 5 hours.

My wife and kids brought me a trophy to go along with my finisher's medal:

At the end, I was just happy for the race to be over.  This was my first marathon so I had no idea what to expect.  I went out too fast during the first half - even though I was feeling good -  and I paid for it during the second half.  Live and learn!

Before I end this post, I want to thank everyone who has helped my prepare for this race.  All of my friends, neighbors and family who have run marathons before and have given me advice on training and encouragement up to the race.  All of my online buddies - in the blogosphere and on RunningAhead - for providing such inspirational race reports and creating a caring community where we all can share our ups and downs.  And most importantly to my wife Sherry for supporting me through this endeavor - hearing my alarm go off much earlier than she wanted to wake up, being on kid-duty on Saturday mornings while I was out doing my long runs and waiting patiently to use the computer while I was blogging - thank you for putting up with me and my running craziness over the past 18 weeks!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Race Report Tomorrow...

I've had an extremely busy day, so I have not had a chance to get to the race report.

After the marathon, I came home briefly to shower and soak in a cold tub for about 5 minutes, and then had to go to a performance of the Israeli Dance Troupe that I co-direct. Although I wasn't performing, I was still on my feet setting up the sound system and emceeing the performance.

After that, I did another revolving door at home to pick up the family and go to a congratulatory dinner in my honor for finishing the marathon this morning. Since both my sister and I have small kids, we went to Red Robin - not the ultimate in cuisine for a congratulatory dinner, but it was nice to celebrate the accomplishment no matter where we went.

Tonight, my wife had a ticket to see an Israeli singer who is currently touring in the US - Rami Kleinstein - in concert tonight. However, she started not feeling too well yesterday and she wanted to go to bed early tonight, so I went instead.

I finally got back home a little after 10:30pm. I'm zonked and want to get to bed!

A few marathon notes, though:
- My official time was 4:59:06
- Since this is the first time I ran a marathon, this is a PR for me...hooray!
- I ran the first 13.1 miles in 2:13:33 (my watch time) which is also a new PR for me!
- By running a PR on the first half, I was really in trouble for the second half :-(

A LOT more details to come.... Good night!

I Finished!!!!!!

Unofficial time from my watch was 4:59:04

Full details and report to come later.

Sneak preview - I had 2 PRs on the course today...which ended up being a big problem.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Last Minute Preparations

It's the night before the marathon.  Wow!

This afternoon I went to pick up my race packet.  I got my number, my chip and my pull-over jacket.  It's definitely too warm now to use the pull-over, but everyone who's running this marathon trained through cold weather so I guess we'll all get to proudly wear it in the fall and winter.

I'm laying everything out in preparation for tomorrow morning.  I've pinned my number on my shirt, put the chip on my shoe, filled up water bottles and snapped them on my AmphiPod, filled the pouch on my AmphiPod with GU, set aside a granola bar to eat before the race, put a new shirt, shorts, socks and sneakers in a bag to keep in my car just in case I want to change before I get get the picture.

Tonight for dinner we decided to go to California Pizza Kitchen - we were close to there around dinner time, the kids like it and they have pasta there.  I had a spaghetti with tomato/basil/garlic sauce.  I hope the garlic doesn't upset my stomach tomorrow...

Tonight I will read a bit.  I'm about 2 months behind on Runner's World - I'm still reading the April edition and June just came in the mail today.  I may also re-read my blog to get an appreciation for where I was 18 weeks ago when I started my journey, and what I have been through to get to this moment.

My next post will most likely include my finishing time.  UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thanks For The Encouragement Everyone!!!

A big shout out to all of my blog readers, friends and family who have sent their last-minute suggestions and encouragement either on the blog, via email or by calling me.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

I am getting very excited for Sunday.  At the same time I feel nervous as well.  Running 20 miles in my training seems so long ago (it has been three weeks).  I know that this taper period is supposed to be resting my body, but I'm a little afraid that I may have lost some of the endurance I built up during the training.  My cousin Larry reminded me that the training plan I'm using (and have followed religiously) has been used by hundreds - if not thousands - of people before me who have successfully completed the marathon, so I shouldn't worry.  That definitely put me more at ease.

Tomorrow afternoon I will make my way up to Frederick to pick up my race packet and visit the expo.  Whoa...we're getting really close to race time!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Final Training Run

Today was my final training run - 2 miles.  The next two days are complete rest from running.

Although most experts say you shouldn't try anything new the week of the race, I did do something different for this run.

For the past 18 weeks and over 430 miles, I have always run alone.  Today, I decided to get coverage for the kids and run my last training run with my wife Sherry.

Sherry started running last summer with a goal of completing our neighborhood 5K.  Here's a picture of her with our two boys before her race.

Before she started her training, she didn't get running.  Wasn't it boring?  What was the point?  Of course, once she started, she understood.  She started craving her running time...we would take turns running on different days of the week so the other one could watch the kids.  Due to this situation, Sherry and I have only run together once or twice.  About halfway into our run we both asked "why don't we do this more often?"

Anyhow, it was wonderful to be able to share my final training run with my biggest cheerleader.  Without her support, I wouldn't have made it this far.

However, now that she knows the amount of time and commitment that goes into marathon training, I know it will be a difficult sell if I want to do this again!

Last Minute Recommendations and/or Encouragement?

I can't believe the race is in THREE DAYS!!!! Unbelievable!

I have started to receive a few emails giving suggestions and recommendations for the race. I'd love to hear from everyone, so please leave your comments. Here's some excerpts from a few emails I've already received:

Jamie wrote: "I checked out the map of the course. I believe it should be fairly flat; although, going out towards the airport and 144 could be hilly....Get plenty of rest the week before, stay off your legs as much as possible, and eat lots of pasta. I'm excited for you - you have been preparing and training for this for a long time, you're ready to have a great run!"

David wrote: "
As far as the marathon goes, you've been following a plan and that's the
main thing. If you keep to your pace, you'll do fine. If you think you feel good and get going too fast, you'll pay for it later....As for fueling and hydration, you've probably got that pretty well worked out. Avoid the temptation to take in more--it won't help. Most inexperienced runners have problems from over-consumption, not underconsumption. Even if you're burning 600+ calories/hr, you can't take in that much because you can only process about 250-280 cal/hr. But you don't need that much anyway, because you've got about 2000 cal of glycogen on board when you start and enough body fat to run to Indianapolis. Body fat converts slowly, however, which is why without any supplemental energy many runners bonk at about 20 miles...Keep hydration to about 20-25 oz/hr unless it's a real hot, humid day. Overhydration takes out far more beginning marathoners than dehydration. Electrolytes are your main concern...The main thing is to go with your training, keep your pace, and fuel/hydrate only as much as you can process, which is a lot less than you're actually expending. Start hydrating early, though and keep it

Thanks everyone!!!!