Monday, June 29, 2009

How I Managed To Sign Up For The New York Marathon (and get accepted...)

I had no intention on running a marathon this year. was not in the plan - you can read it in my blog.

However, there was one - and only one - way that I would even consider training for the full 26.2 this year.  The thought came to me last November when I saw this on the Ellis Island site:

It's the passenger record for my Nana.  She arrived at Ellis Island on November 8, 1909.  This year will mark the 100th anniversary of my Nana arriving in the United States.

Now, most running enthusiasts know what happens each year in New York during the first week of November (here's a little hint, for those of you who don't know).

So...I thought it would be a really cool idea to celebrate this milestone by running the New York City Marathon.  However, it's not easy to get a spot to run in the NYC marathon.  There's a lottery, so there was no certainty I would actually get in.

I started thinking about this a little more.  Another way to guarantee a spot in the NYC marathon is to run for a charity.  The more I thought about this, I decided that the perfect scenario would be for me to run the NYC Marathon while raising money for the Alzheimer's Association.  However, the Alzheimer's Association was not one of the charities for last year's race (I would later learn that they had never been one of the charity partners for the NYC Marathon...).

I continued to check the charities page throughout March and April to see if the Alzheimer's Association would be a participating charity this year.  Finally, the charities were posted - and the Alzheimer's Association was one of the charities.  WOW!

I sent in my application.  Again, I had to think it was a long shot.  They only take 50 runners.  The team is NY based (it's the New York City chapter of the Alzheimer's Association that is sponsoring the team) and I don't live in the NYC area.

Somehow, the stars aligned and I opened up this email on Friday evening, June 19:

So...this all means that on November 1, 2009, I will be running the New York City Marathon in memory of my Nana - exactly 100 years to the week of her arriving in New York, through the city that she called home the majority of her life, and raising money to combat the disease which took her away from us.


So much for my plans to focus on Half Marathons this year...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Catching Up On Sleep

The plan was that last night after dinner, Sherry and I would watch the Netflix movie we had, drink some wine and hang out.

Instead, I fell asleep in my son's bed at a little after 8pm.  My wife came and got me at 9:30pm and I switched into our bed and slept the night away.  I slept until 6am or so - and I didn't feel like I was about to keel over (like I have been feeling for about the past week when I woke up).

I went out for a morning long run.  I had only run 6 miles so far this week, so 6 miles was the maximum distance for me.

I took it slow - and decided that I would walk if my heart rate was over 160 bpm.  I pretty much stuck to that - for the first 5 miles anyway.  I think that my body is still fighting off whatever sickness it had a few weeks ago, which is making me need more sleep (although I was getting less sleep until a few days ago because of the hours I was putting in at work) and I'm still a bit congested.  I have to remember to bring tissues on my next few runs...I ended up doing a farmer's blow about 2.75 miles into my run this morning - it would have been earlier, but I was running in a residential development and didn't want to do that on anyone's lawn...

So, next week I'll try to get four runs in.  I'll try to follow the Higdon's Novice 2 plan for now - so that would be runs of 3 miles, 5 miles (pace), 3 miles and 8 miles.

I really don't know what to do about that pace run.  I don't yet have a time goal in mind for this marathon.  I would love to run a 4:30, but that would be close to a 30 minute improvement over my first marathon - plus my best half marathon is a 2:13 - so this would be like running two of those back-to-back. I'm not sure that's going to be an achievable goal.  (Then again, I think that if I ran a half marathon during my marathon training last year, that I definitely would have been under 2:10...)

I also received my fundraising page for the Run 2 Remember team.  I'm also a bit anxious about this part of the program.  It's a pretty wonderful story why I'm doing this marathon, and I want to be able to express it the best I can.  I'll likely have the full post about it on the blog and write a summary on the fundraising page with a link to the longer post here....but that still means I need to compose it here!  When will I put that together?  Will it be good enough?

I need to take a deep breath.  Take it one thing at a time.  Just like running - one foot in front of the other...eventually I'll get to the finish line.  I always do!  :-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Big To Do List

Now that my big work project is complete, I have a bunch of things that I now need to focus on. Lots of house projects (the "honey-do" list is quite long), I need to clean my office up a bit, and I now get to focus on the next big thing - preparing for the New York Marathon!

Here's a few things that I know I will need to do:
  • Get some sleep - I'm still not caught up on sleep. I'm waking up feeling dead-tired. When I run, my heart rate starts to elevate after two miles. I definitely have to get more rest over the next few weeks.
  • Lose a few pounds - I haven't weighed myself in a few weeks, but with the amount I have been eating out - and eating at my desk - I'm sure the number on the scale won't look pretty. Get ready blog readers to see the daily calorie count re-appear in my blog.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises - The arch on my left foot is starting to give me pains on the day after I run. I don't want this to turn into another battle with plantar fasciitis, so I better take some!
  • Choose a marathon training plan - I was going to use Higdon's Novice 2 plan. However, it looks like the R2R team will also be providing a marathon training plan as well. Actually, the team has two coaches that will be monitoring our running progress on Flotrack...which means I'll need to log my runs in Flotrack in addtion to RunningAhead. Grrr...
I also should update my resume. Although, I will be moving from Nortel to Nokia Siemens with the buyout of my division, who knows how long that will last.

No rest for the weary...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Network Launched!!! (and some good iPod karma...)

This morning, my project officially launched - and Cricket Wireless is now operating in the Baltimore / Washington, DC area!

I ended up pulling an all-nighter in the race to the finish. Why does it always happen that the last piece of equipment to be brought up has the most issues?? And in this case, this site had the most visibility. However, with some good teamwork and creative troubleshooting, the site came up and voice calls were successful at around 7:15am.

As I was going into the office yesterday morning, I had my iPod in the car. I set it to shuffle and started to "spin the wheel" to get to a random first song. I ended up stopping on "Keep the Customer Satisfied" by Simon and Garfunkle - very appropriate! However, it was the next song - picked at random by the iPod - which stuck out in my head throughout the day and gave me inspiration. It's an Israeli song by Yoni Rechter and the chorus translates to "Go on straight ahead; Go on alone; Don't be afraid; Don't get angry; Always keep going". It proved to be very good karma. There were a few times where I could have showed anger with the customer or may have been afraid that we wouldn't get that last, very important site on the air. However, I took a deep breath and kept going ahead to the very end. There's another Israeli phrase - "Yihiye B'Seder" or "It will end up being fine" - which I kept on saying to myself...this optimism kept me going and gave me the confidence to complete the project on a successful note.

This morning (OK, this afternoon) when I woke up, it was a weird feeling. The network is up and stable. There's no push to install new sites right now. I could relax - but found myself wanting to work just as hard as I have been over the past two weeks. It's going to take some time to decompress and get back into a normal swing of things...but I know that it will be much healthier to get back to normalcy.

I went for a short run this afternoon. It was tough. I haven't run in over a week, I'm tired, I'm still a bit sick and it was hot and humid outside. But I got in 3 miles (with a bit of walking up a killer hill). It was good to get the rust off - I'll need it as I start marathon training next week!!!! UGH!!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Time To Blog - But Here's a Quick Update

With three more days to go until my project launches, I have been working like a dog. As of Friday night, I had already put in 65 hours - and I'm working Saturday and Sunday too. UGH!

To add to that, I started feeling sick on Sunday evening and I've been battling a cold this whole week. I went to the doctor yesterday and started a Z-pack - excellent decision as I feel sooooo much better today.

With feeling icky and working non-stop, I have not run AT ALL this week :-(

Last night, I opened two emails which contained big news. I would say that they were big surprises too, but both of them were distinct possibilities.

Email 1 - My division of Nortel is being bought out by Nokia Siemens. Read a bit more about it here. I've been with Nortel for almost 16 years! I'm excited to go to a company that has more stability and is not in bankrupcy protection, but I'm also a bit anxious about having to learn the ropes for a new employer.

Email 2 - I have been chosen to run for Team Run To Remember (R2R) at this year's New York City Marathon. I guess all that talk of not doing a full marathon this year is being thrown out the window...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Facebook and Bloggers?

I've been on Facebook for over two years.  I love it!  I have reconnected with lots of old friends and colleagues - some of whom I had lost touch with for over 20 years - and I have learned a lot about many of my friends (i.e. how much time they have on their hands???)

Anyhow, almost all of my "Facebook friends" are people that I personally know (i.e. I have met them in person).  All of that changed about a week ago - one of my "blogging friends" retired her blog and since I'm so swamped, I wasn't able to read the last few posts before she pulled the blog.  I couldn't email her - the only way I had contacted her before was via her blog and that was now gone...but, she's on Facebook.  So I found her and sent her a message to see if she could re-post the blog for another day or so.

Then after one or two messages back-and-forth, I friended her.

The thing is, I'm still not sure if that was a good decision.  On one hand, we both know a lot about each other from our blogs, we have corresponded through the blog-o-sphere and there are a bunch of other running bloggers who I have ended up meeting in person and become friends with (and yes, I have started to friend those folks as well).

On the other hand, can I really call this person a friend?  Do I call this person a "Facebook friend"?  Or is this just part of social networking - and I'm now starting to build a network of running bloggers - or runners (or non-runners) who read my blog?

I guess if it is the last item, then I'll formally invite my readers to come and join my network of blog readers / running bloggers by visiting me on Facebook!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fitting The Long Run In

Not to sound like a whining, broken record (it just occurred to me that many younger folks in the blogosphere may not know what a broken record is since they were raised on CDs and MP3s - oy! I'm getting old), but I have a daily 7:30am conference call every day until my project launches on Tuesday, June 23.

This would not deter me from getting my Saturday long run in.

By the time I dialed in at 7:31am (yes...I was one minute late - shame on me!), I had 9 miles in the books. And had showered. Woo hoo!

This was my longest run since the Half Marathon I ran in April. Since I had two legit runs of 5 and 4.5 miles this week (plus the two 2 mile run/walks with my son), this run was not more than 50% of my total weekly mileage (i.e. not pushing myself into "overtraining" land even though I haven't been working up to this distance) My legs are a bit sore, but otherwise it was just good to get out and run (and run, and run!)

Final stats - 9.1 miles in 1:34:14 (10:22/mile pace). HR avg - 161, max -177. My HR is still up there starting around mile 3...I'm hoping it's just a fatigue thing - we'll see next month!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Bit Of Speedwork

I headed out this morning for a run around 6:15am. Yes...that did not leave much time to be back at my desk for my daily 7:30am conference call.

I was hoping to get 5 or 6 miles in this morning, but I "slept in". So, as I started out I decided that I would do my neighborhood 4.5 mile loop and pick up the pace for a tempo run!

I just looked back at my running log to find the last speed workout I did - March 24. Wow! It's been a while.

Here's my splits:
Mile 1 - 10:11, avg HR 140
Mile 2 - 9:34, avg HR 165
Mile 3 - 8:57, avg HR 168
Mile 4 - 8:48, avg HR 173
.47 cooldown in 4:49 (10:14 pace)

I was definitely pleased since I'm a tad rusty in the speed department. Again, the high HR in mile 4 is a bit concerning. When I'm able to get more sleep after my project launches we'll see if that improves.

Oh...and I did make my conference call. I stood at my desk with my desk phone on speaker - drenched in sweat. It's definitely nice taking that call from home!! ;-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Squeezing In Another Run

The daily 7:30am conference calls are not deterring me!

I got another run in before the call - this time a 5 miler at the gym on the treadmill. I had originally planned to run outside. I was thinking I would do my typical 5 or 6 mile loop. However, mother nature had other plans...I would have gladly run in the rain, but thunder and lightning sent me to the gym instead of on the roads.

I used the TechnoGym treadmill's heart rate program - starting at 140 bpm and bumping it up a bit after each mile until the last mile I had it set at 150 bpm. My speed jumped around between 5.0 and 6.2 mph the entire time. I ended up doing the 5 miles in 55:55 (11:10/mile pace) with an average HR of 144. A bit slow, but I feel like I'm starting out again - and I'm no where near caught up on sleep.

Otherwise, the usual gym stuff. I recognize many of the "frequent 6am treadmillers". We're all plugged into our iPods or watching television - aware enough of the other runners to recognize their faces, but staying in our own little worlds and not uttering a sentence to anyone. At times I want to go up to some of them and strike up a conversation, ask what they're training for, etc. - but on the flip side, would I want someone interrupting my workout for small talk???

Tonight is my Israeli Dance group, so I will not be waking up early for a run (unless it's a short run with my son). So, hopefully on Thursday I'll get another quality run in.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Two For One!

I did get up early enough to run this morning. It was a little before 6am and I saw my son's light on - I asked him if he wanted to come running with me and at first he said no (he complained his knee was hurting him - he had fallen during his laser tag birthday party yesterday...). However, as I was getting ready, he changed his mind and off we went!

I still haven't pushed him up from the 3 minute jog / 1 minute walk yet since we have not been running so frequently as of late. We did 7 of these "sets" and covered 2 miles. After the 6th set we were near a water fountain - my son took in a huge amount of water and ended up getting a stomach cramp on the last run. I hope that was a learning experience for him...we'll see next time!

When I returned home, my 3 1/2 year old was waiting patiently for me to come home so WE could run together. We had a nice (uncontrolled) run around the block :-)

Maybe one day soon all three of us will be able to go out running together...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Finally Another 20 Mile Week!

Despite having a 7:30am conference call on Saturday morning (and Sunday morning too...I can't wait for my project to launch on June 23 so the madness ends!!), I was able to get a 7.6 mile run in on Saturday morning.

That gave me about 21 miles for the week. The first over-20 mile week since mid-May. Actually, I haven't had back-to-back 20 miles weeks since March. Ick.

Note to self...make sure I get 20 miles in this week. My emotional stability needs it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Starting Over? and Is The Running Community United or Divided?

Last week's mileage total - 5.2 miles. UGH!!!! I wasn't even injured (just exhausted, so if I did run more I may have ended up injured)

In an effort to get back in a groove, I psyched myself up to get up early this morning and get out for a run. Although I felt dead-to-the-world at 5:35am when I first looked at the clock, I made myself get out of bed and go out for a run.

The first mile seemed treacherous. 11:06 pace. 148 avg heart rate. I felt like I was starting over after and injury or long layoff from running.

I checked my running log, and it hasn't been that long - 3 weeks ago I had a 22 mile week. Come on!

Luckily, as the run went on the rust seemed to wear off. Although it still didn't feel as easy as an "easy run" should be, my next three mile splits were: 10:58 (147 avg HR), 10:03 (151 avg HR), and 10:14 (152 avg HR).

And with 4.4 miles in the books on Monday morning, I'm all set to eclipse last week's total. Perhaps by tomorrow morning.

On Sunday, I ventured out to Barnes and Noble and got me a copy of the running classic, Once A Runner. This book was out-of-print for quite some time - and impossible to get a copy - but in April it was re-released in hard cover. I've had a B&N gift card since December, and I finally got around to using the darn thing!

Anyhow, I know I don't have much time to start reading a book (only 3 more weeks from tomorrow until my project launches!), but I ended up reading the first page and a half - hoping that it would perhaps give me some inspiration to start running more regularly again this week.

What I read so far left me utterly pissed off...

I guess the main character in the book - and the author - is a pretty competitive runner (I think part of the premise is that this runner is trying to run a sub-4 minute mile). So the book opens as the main character is returning to the track and sees a bunch of "overweight joggers". And he doesn't have a high regard for these folks at the track.

Well...I gotta say that I can relate a bit more to the overweight jogger than the elite runner. And if the entire book is going to be filled with this, then this may not be the inspiring running book I was hoping to read.

So...of course after my treacherous first mile today, I started thinking about the book and it's condescending comments about the "overweight joggers" as I plod along at an 11 minute mile pace. And I was starting to get even more pissed off.

Then, in the distance I see a woman booking down the sidewalk towards me. Even though she was about half a mile away, I could tell that she was running at a really fast pace. As we approached each other, I saw that it was a friend of mine who is a super-fast runner (she's run Boston a number of times and has age-group placed in a few of the races that I have run in). As we got closer to each other I said good-morning and started to applaud her blazing pace - she said to me, "I thought I would see you out here running at this hour!"

At that point I finally got some validation that my "jogging" and her faster "running" were equal. We're both putting in the time to "put one foot in front of the other, repeat many times" no matter how much distance we cover in that time. We are a united group of runners - not a divided group of joggers and elites.

And with that one little exchange, I think I'll be able to enjoy the book after all. (and perhaps I'll lend it to my fast friend after I finally finish it...)