Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Garmin Run!

I was intending to rest today and run for the first time in over a week tomorrow.  However, since tomorrow we're hosting a Super Bowl party and we'll be setting up a lot yesterday, Sherry wanted me to run today instead of tomorrow.

What I didn't realize at first is that there will be at least a 20 degree difference.  My run today was in 30 degree weather, tomorrow is supposed to be 50 degrees (perhaps I'll steal a run in tomorrow too...we'll see how things are going).

Although the weather was on the cold side, I was really looking forward to this run.  It was the first with the Garmin Forerunner 305!

I did my neighborhood lake route - 3.24 miles when I mapped it out previously...Garmin says 3.18 miles.  I guess I'll be running into this pretty often.

The thing I liked best about the Garmin was that it gives your splits as you hit each mile.  I happened to look at the watch at all three splits - 11:07, 11:00 and 10:58.  Pretty consistent.  Average HR was 155 bpm.  Not a bad run for a first time back.

I'm definitely looking forward to more runs with my Garmin!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Garmin Arrived!!!

My Garmin Forerunner 305 arrived yesterday. The problem is that I've been so busy that I have hardly had a chance to look at it. :-(

I did charge it up last night and set up the User Settings. I'm going to have to spend some time reading the manual this weekend as it is a pretty intimidating piece of equipment right out of the box.

I'm hoping to take it on its first run on Sunday. The temperatures are supposed to be a bit warmer and I can use the calorie burn in the morning in preparation for the Super Bowl chowdown that evening!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Week 5 Push Ups

I started Week 5 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge this week. Since I'm still not 100% on my cold, I have not been running, but I have been doing the push-ups.

The first group was done on Tuesday evening in front of The Biggest Loser. I managed 136 push ups - during set 2 I could not do 35 push ups and opted for 31. On set 5 I managed 30 instead of 35. So the final count was 28, 31, 25, 22 and 30.

This morning I did the second group of push ups. 19, 20 , 14, 16 and 33 (not 40...) for a total of 102.

I see that the program is now ramping up towards the 100 push up test. In previous weeks, the total push ups are more evenly distributed between sets 1 through 5. Now it is looking like there are fewer push ups in sets 1 through 4 with a higher "max push up" number in set 5.

I hope to get back to running tomorrow. And I hope to get to Week 6 of the push up challenge next week :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Still Recovering and Busy At Work

I've been really busy with work so I have not had much time to read blogs or write an update to mine. Not that I have much to say...I've still got gook in my nose and chest so no running for me.

However, that will soon change. I hope to maybe do a short run on Friday at the gym and then a longer run on the weekend.

And if the ice on the sidewalks clears - and my Garmin arrives in the next few days - I'll really be looking forward to that weekend run :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Push Up Good News, Bad News

I forgot to mention earlier that I did my push up "exhaustion test" last night.  I managed 41 consecutive push ups before my arms said "no mas!".  Woo hoo!!!!

The Good News - I'm now officially able to go to Week 5 of the push up challenge!  I did Weeks 3 and 4 four times already, so I am very happy to be moving on.

The Bad News?  I did a bit too well on my exhaustion test and I'm supposed to now do column 3 of Week 5 (>40 push ups).  Huh???  I may wimp out a bit and do column 2 (36-40 push ups) as I don't think I'm ready for my next push up session to start with sets of 36 and 40 push ups - and still be able to do more.

A Good Scale Day!

Ironically - since I did not run much last week due to being sick - I had a good scale day this morning.  Scale showed a 2 pound improvement over last Monday's weigh in.  NO WAY?!?!  WAAAAAY!!!!!

I'm not sure what happened exactly, but here's a few guesses:
  • I've been eating soup for a bunch of my meals since I've been sick.  It probably has less calories than the normal meals I would have eaten
  • We didn't eat out at all this weekend.  Restaurants seem to always have huge portions and additional fat/calorie content vs what we would make at home.
  • There was no football yesterday, so my ass wasn't on the couch eating munchies and drinking beer
  • I've been gaining muscle tone with the push ups I've been doing and the added muscle has burned off some fat
  • It's just a fluke...I'll see those two pounds back next Monday
Either way, I looked back in my weight log and found that I hadn't been down to 167.5 since before Rosh HaShannah.  I'll definitely take it!

In the health department, I'm still sick but feeling better.  My nose is very stuffy and I've got a lot of "gook" floating around.  However, I'm not coughing much anymore.  This has been the weirdest cold - usually things start in the sinuses and go down...this time it started in my chest and came up.  I'm hoping to rest for the next few days and get back to running by the end of the week.  Just in time for my Garmin Forerunner 305 to arrive!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Getting a Garmin 305

I've been watching a few eBay auctions for Garmin 305s that are in my area.  All of them seem to be going for around $150 or more when all is said and done - about the same price that Electronica Direct is selling a new one on and their own website.

So I pulled the trigger this afternoon.  Woo Hoo!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Runner Envy

Today is a bit warmer around these parts - in the mid to high 30s - and I saw a few runners out there early this morning.  Being that I'm still feeling a bit icky, I must say that I was pretty jealous.  I wanted to be the guy outside running this morning - not hacking away inside the house :-(

I did get my last set of Week 4 push ups in this morning.  I ended up not being able to follow the program's goals for today, but I did set a personal record with 145 push ups!  My sets were 29, 30, 26, 27 and 33.  WOW!  I'll do the next exhaustion test tomorrow or Monday.  Being that you need a minimum of 30 push ups to move on to Week 5 - and I was able to do 33 push ups in my fifth set today - it's looking like I'll finally graduate to Week 5 after my 4th time through Weeks 3 and 4.  If nothing else, I'm persistent.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Icky, Sicky

Yes, it's true.  I'm officially calling myself a sicky.  I was all achy yesterday evening and the coughing got worse.

What's worse is that this is the third time since October that I have caught a cold.  Usually, when I'm running I am a lot healthier and hadn't been sick as often.  I'm going to start putting health notes into my RunningAhead log and see if there is a pattern (i.e. I get sick after doing tempo runs, etc.).

So, I guess it's a few days off for me.

I did get my push ups in yesterday.  124 of them!  Sets of 25, 29, 25, 25 and 20 (that last set was supposed to be at least 36 but my arms were toast by then).  I'll try to get the last set of Week 4 push ups in during the weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sharing The Love and One Step Closer To Cult Of Garmin

One of my most important pieces of "gear" is my RoadID.  It gives me piece of mind when I leave the house - especially on long runs.  I use the shoe pouch and keep a house key in it (and a car key when I go to a race or I drive to a spot to run).  However, the shoe pouch eventually gets a hole in it (this is my second hole-y shoe pouch) - likely from the key moving around inside and poking at the side of the pouch.  I ordered a replacement pouch yesterday and received the following email:

"We are thrilled to have you as a customer and hope that we can count on you to spread the word about Road ID. In fact, to make it fun to spread the word, we created a unique coupon for you pass along to your friends! Here's the coupon number:  Coupon Number: ThanksMike457765"

So, this coupon is good for $1 off any Road ID order. It can be used up to 20 times in the next 30 days.   Happy RoadID buying!!!

And talking about happy buying, I believe I'm a bit closer to joining the "Cult of Garmin".  (the Garmin is starting to remind me of Mac computers - their biggest marketeers is the user base and how much they love using the product).  I keep on getting blog comments and reading in forums on how much people love their Garmin Forerunners and that I will not be sorry with my purchase.

The Fox Family is on a bit of a budget right now, and "frivolous" $175 purchases - like to purchase a Garmin 305 - were not really in the budget.  Actually, neither was the $75 to "upgrade" to a non-broken Polar HRM...

However, I was planning to run in two Half Marathons this Spring - the National Half and the Run For the Shelter Half.  I will nix running the National Half - which will save me $80.  I guess on the morning of that race I'll just go out with my Garmin and run 13.1 miles elsewhere :-)  The Run For the Shelter half marathon is a bargain at $40 - perfect for us cheap runners who are on a budget.

So there you have it.  Everyone saves money with this post!

Cough, Cough :-(

Yesterday morning after my run, as I left the gym I was thinking to myself how wonderful it is to take deep breaths of the morning fresh air.

Later in the day I started getting a little "tickle" in my throat and started to cough a little.  I had eaten some trail mix for a snack, so I originally thought I had a little piece of peanut caught in my throat or something like that.  However, I kept on coughing through the evening - and now into the morning.

It is still a dry cough - but nonetheless, it is a cough.

I'm hoping that it will pass and I'll still be able to run a 3 miler tomorrow and my scheduled "long" run (it is only 6 miles this week since this is a "step down" week in my training plan) during the weekend.

As for my HRM dilemma, based on the comments on this blog and two posts I put up on the RunningAhead forums, I'm definitely leaning towards the Garmin Forerunner 305.  I have found a few in the $155 - $175 range - which is still more than I was planning to spend (which was $0 because as of last week I was not planning on purchasing a new HRM...).  Since I'll need to spend at least $75 to "upgrade" my broken Polar S120 to the RS100, I may as well just do the jump to the Garmin, right??

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

5 Mile Tempo Run

This morning I did a tempo run for my 5 miler.  Started with a 1 mile warm-up (5.0 mph and bumped up 0.2 each quarter mile) and then brought it up to 6.7 mph (a bit faster than a 9 min mile) for 3.5 miles.  The last half mile was at 5.5 mph.

5.0 miles - 48:17, 9:40/mile pace, 161 avg HR, ??? max HR (my bare-bones HRM doesn't give max HR)

I had Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti pumping through my iPod this morning.  This has one of my favorite songs to run to - Kashmir.  When I hear it, I get into a rhythm with the cadence of the music and fall into that "runner's zone".  It came on as I had about 1.5 miles left of the tempo part of the workout which proved to be a great pick-me-up!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The HRM Saga Continues...

I received a call from a representative at the Polar Service Center in Ann Arbor, MI about my Polar S120 watch.  Basically, it's toast.

I'm still using my older and more basic model watch right now, but I know that once I start upping the training with intervals and running in races where I'll want my splits I'm going to want to see more than just my HR on the screen.

So here are my options:
  • Take the trade-in plan from Polar for a new HRM.  This will cost me in the $75 to $150 range - depending on which model I choose.
  • Buy an old, refurbished or used HRM on eBay.  This may end up being about the same price as the first option.
  • Get into the world of GPS and go with a Garmin Forerunner.  If I want to go with the 305, it looks like I can get one on eBay for about $175 and the newer 405 is about $310.  I've heard good things about both and most Garmin peeps swear by them.  The 305 is definitely more in my budget, but it looks like you're toting a brick on your wrist.
I'll ponder it over the next few days.  I've used Polar products for the past 4 years, so it will be tough to turn away from them.  However, I've heard great things about the Garmin and since I have to purchase a new running watch anyways, I may take the plunge...

On another note, my Hundred Push Up challenge continues as well.  Today was the first set of Week 4.  I did 113 total - sets of 21, 25, 21, 21 and 25.  Let's see if I can get out of Week 4 this time around!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing the Stay At Home Dad Thing

Today I did the "Stay At Home Dad" thing.  I'm happy to report that both children are still alive and no one got hurt :-)

Both kids were off from school today and my wife took her mom for a medical procedure, so I had both kids from 8:30am to 4pm.  I had a bunch of things scheduled - including a run at the gym (luckily they have a great Childcare room for the kiddos).

Before my run, I saw the club manager and asked if I could have my body fat percentage checked.  They have a hand-held machine that I guess sends a current through your body to determine body fat...I believe this is a tad more accurate than the calipers they used to use (and were in use at the previous gym I belonged to).  My reading today was 15.9%.  I had no basis to know whether this was good, bad or indifferent - until I found a few sites this evening that shows I'm in pretty good shape.  One site has me in the "fitness" category (not quite an athlete), and two other sites show this as excellent based on my age (I'm now in the 35-39 range so anything under 16% is "excellent"!).

Either way, earlier this morning, I had stepped on the scale and it showed that I had gained a pound since last week's weigh in.  I definitely deserved it by the way I ate.  I'm sure the damage would have been worse if not for my 9 mile run yesterday morning.

Today I did a quick 3 miles on the treadmill.  I started out at 5.0 mph and bumped up the speed by 0.2 after each quarter mile.  My HR kept under 150 all the way up to 6.0 mph.  I ran there for most of the run and then bumped back down to 5.8 mph with half a mile to go.  Overall it was a 10:31/mile pace with and average HR of 148.  I'd really like to get the pace of my easy runs back into the 10:00/mile range with my HR in the mid 140s.  I'm sure as I start to bump the mileage up in a few weeks I'll get there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm Glad I Postponed My Long Run

Saturday morning has almost always been my long run day.  It's a nice way to start out the Sabbath - with a peaceful run before most of the town is awake.  And normally I tend to eat a bit more on Friday nights and Saturdays - my wife cooks a big Sabbath evening meal on Friday night and many times there is a celebration at the synagogue on Saturday mornings (a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Baby Naming, etc.) with a lunch for the congregation.

Yesterday, however, I decided to not run due to the weather - it was 3 degrees at 6am - and I didn't want to run 9 miles on a treadmill.

My patience was rewarded!

The overnight lows last night were scheduled to be 19 degrees with high temperatures today reading the mid-30s.  I expected temperatures in the low 20s, so I dressed accordingly - my Mizuno Breath Thermo half zip under my running jacket, tights, the warm gloves and a beanie. I even put Gatorade in my bottles instead of water so they wouldn't freeze.  However, when I was out and running, it didn't seem all that cold (I mean, it was definitely cold - but not that cold).  I found out later on when I returned from my run that it was 30 degrees outside at 6am when I left the house.  Definitely much better than 3 degrees!  And I probably did not need the Mizuno top or the Gatorade.

Talking about Gatorade, I added the drink powder to water in each of my water bottles for my run.  I followed the instructions, but it was way too strong for me.  ICK!  I would much rather have water on my run, but since my bottles froze up on my last sub-freezing temperature long run I wanted to try the Gatorade this time (thinking that the extra sodium will lower the freezing point).  The good news was that they did not freeze, but I'm not sure if that was due to the temperature being 30 degrees or the additional sodium in the Gatorade.  I guess I'll try it again during my next sub-freezing temperature long run...this time with less Gatorade powder!

Stats from today's run:  9 miles, 1:40:54 - 11:12/mile, 158 average HR.  The heart rate was a bit too high for a long, slow run, but I tend to do that in cold weather.  I don't want to slow down and stay in the elements for longer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quick 3 Miler and Postponing the Long Run

This morning I got out to the gym for a quick 3 miler.  It was 9 degrees at 6am when I was heading for the gym...surprisingly I passed 2 runners on my way.  It was a pretty uneventful run.  I did end up on a treadmill right next to someone I know from my synagogue and spoke to her for the first 3/4 of a mile or so.  I guess that's the closest I've been to running with someone else for quite some time! :-)

Overnight lows are going to be in the single digits, but tomorrow nights should be in the teens.  So, I'm going to postpone my long run from Saturday morning to Sunday morning.  I just can't see running 9 miles on a treadmill, and I can't see running 9 miles in 10 degree weather.  20 degrees I can somehow manage...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do I Still Look 24?

Today I was out in Gainesville, VA for work (about 50 miles away from home) and I was near a shopping center.  The shopping center had a Running store!!!  (The store was actually called The Running Store!)  I'm running low on GU, so I went in to buy a few packs.

One thing that hit me was that I was really excited about going the Running store - and not to the Best Buy that was there.  A few years ago I would have been all over the Best Buy.  I have definitely turned a corner.

When I went to check out with the GU, the person working there asked if I wanted to be put on their email mailing list.  I gave her my email address - mikefox85 at gmail - and she asked if that was when I was born.  I said, "Yes, that's my birthday," and her response was, "Oh, one of my sons was born in '85 as well."  I thought about that for a moment and then it hit me - she thought that the 85 in my email address was the YEAR I was born - not my birthday - 08/05.  I thanked her for thinking I was still that young, but then clarified that 85 was for August 5 - not 1985...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mid-Week Report

It's been about 48 hours since I've blogged, but it seems much longer.  I've had a very busy two days with lots going on - and little time to blog and read other's blogs (sorry to my on-line friends - or dot-comrades as Rick would call them...).  Here's what's been going on:
  • My right arm is still a bit bruised from the failed apheresis donation.  Yesterday, the marks in the two places where the "saline bubbles" were had a nice shade of crimsony-purple.  Today, they have faded to a dark shade of lavender.  I'll probably be ready to try another donation again next week...if I can find time in my schedule.
  • I was able to get the first two sets of Week 3 push ups in yesterday and today (so my arm wasn't feeling too bad).  Yesterday was 80 total (14, 18, 14, 14, 20) and today I did 102 (20, 25, 15, 15, 27)!  The third set this week looks brutal - 120 total if I can do them all.
  • I got a run in this morning.  Again, I decided against braving the cold (it was 20 degrees outside...not too cold, but I just didn't want to deal with it this morning).  I hit the gym and tried one of the "programs" on the treadmill which change the incline every minute or so.  I chose the "Sports Fitness 5K" program - which I assumed would be 3.1 miles, right?  WRONG!  I'm not sure how long the program actually is since I stopped it at 3.1 miles.  Maybe I'll find out next time.  I listened to Jack Johnson which kept me movin' along.
  • I'm looking ahead to my Saturday morning long run.  This week I have a 9 miler scheduled.  However, the overnight low on Friday night is forecasted to be 4 degrees.  I'm definitely not running in that.  So Saturday morning may be a long dreadmill slog.  I'm trying to prepare myself for it now...
  • In the continuing saga of the broken Polar Heart Rate monitor, I was contacted by the Polar Customer Service team (as a result of my blog posting!) that they would give me a nice discount to upgrade my watch.  It's a nice offer, however, I wasn't really in the market to purchase a new HRM at this point (no raises or bonuses at work this year...see next bullet on that one).  I then contacted the service center that serviced my watch in November.  The representative there looked at my file and said that my repair is still under warranty and that I should send it back in and they'll fix it for free (they are going to email me a UPS label as well so I don't need to pay for shipping - Sweet!).  However, I'm still without my primary HRM for a while and back to the backup - and more basic model - that I have.
  • The last big news story of the day - my company announced today that they are filing for bankruptcy protection.  Not good news.  There is already low morale amongst employees due to our struggles over the past few years (since 1999, we have lost over 2/3 of our workforce...we were about 95,000 employees in the late 90s and around 30,000 employees now).  I'm on a very big project right now with a customer who is growing - so I don't think I have much to worry about in terms of being laid off.  However, there is a lot of uncertainty of how this restructuring will progress and where all the pieces will fall.  There's not much I can do about it right now, so there's no use stressing about it - but of course everyone in the company is stressed out about it...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Botched Apheresis Attempt

Today I planned to give a platelets donation via apheresis. At a high level, they take blood out of your system through a needle in one arm, it goes through a centrifuge where the different blood components (plasma, platelets, red blood cells, white blood cells) are separated, and then put the components that they are not using as part of the donation (in this case the plasma and red blood cells) back into your system via a needle in the other arm.

Yes, that's right - a needle in each arm.

The full process - in the door to out of the door - normally takes about 2 hours. They say it should take about an hour sitting in the chair while the machine draws blood, separates it and puts it back. The American Red Cross supplies DVD players to patients who are doing apheresis donations - so I was prepared and picked up Run Fatboy Run from the Redbox at the local grocery store. I was psyched to take a long lunch break, watch a movie and do a good deed.

Except, I neglected to listen to one very important instruction...."keep your arm still". Come on, it can't be THAT important, right?

I sat in the chair, started the movie and put the headphones on. They first stuck the needle into my right arm which was going to be the "receiving" arm. Everything went well here - needle was in, and they started to run saline into my veins. No problems. Then they went to my left arm, put the needle in and started to collect the first small amount of blood for test tubes for testing purposes - just like in a normal whole blood donation. I was pumping the little squish ball once every 5-10 seconds and things were going fine.

I think it was around this time that I must have moved my right arm as all of a sudden it started to sting. I mentioned this to the person taking my blood and she moved over to my right arm and lifted the gauze that was on the needle. Whoa! There was a huge lump in my arm just above the needle (of course after I saw what was happening the sting hurt 10X more!). I was told that this was just saline - I probably moved my arm so the needle was no longer where it originally was (when the saline was flowing without any problems).

She stoped the saline line (the bump went down in a matter of seconds) and took the needle out. She then stopped the blood flow on my left arm and started running saline there. Then she was back to my right arm to see if she could find another vein. There was another candidate so she prepped my right arm to go in again. Once again, she got the needle in and we were good to go.

However, I was all mixed up. I thought that now the left arm was going to be the receiving arm and the right one was going to be where the blood would be drawn. I was trying so hard to keep my left arm still - and not worrying about the right one as much. Guess what? I must have moved the right arm again, as it started to sting. Again a little bubble in my arm and botched attempt number two.

That was the end of my first apheresis donation attempt. Very little blood was drawn, so I can do it again as soon as my arms heal up (probably later this week or early next week). They told me not to worry - that many first time platelets donors are unsuccessful on their initial attempt.

I'm not sure whether I'll do this again. Perhaps I should just stick to regular whole blood donations. However, I still want to see if the platelets donations will have less of an impact on my running than the whole blood donations have had. So of course I'll likely give it another try soon.

In the meantime, I'll have some battle wounds for the next few days. Luckily it's winter and I'm not wearing short sleeved shirts!

Polar Watch On The Fritz - AGAIN!!!

As I planned in yesterday's post, I ran my 5 miler this morning. I hit the gym and did a tempo run - a warm-up mile starting at 5.0 mph and bumping the pace up 0.2 mph every quarter mile, and then 3.5 miles at 6.7 (just a tad under a 9 min mile pace), and then finishing with a half mile at 5.4 mph.

I was at the gym and on a treadmill at 5:45am. At that point there were about 5 other treadmills taken (there are about 15 treadmills at my gym). By 5:55am I was the only runner left. I started to get a bit self conscious. On my last run, I was contemplating whether I should be running so many of my miles alone or finding someone to train with. And now here - at the gym! - I was also running alone. This lasted for about 10 minutes, when finally about 6:05am people started hitting the treadmills again. By the time my run was over all but 3 treadmills were occupied. I guess I had just timed the "changing of the guard" between the 5am and 6am shifts.

I listened to some Indigo Girls this morning. For some reason I prefer to run to mellower music for my early morning runs. Sometimes I'll pump it up with a beat and louder music if I'm doing intervals, but otherwise I'm just trying to wake mellower is better.

After my run, I went to turn my Polar S120 Heart Rate Monitor off. Unfortunately, it wouldn't shut off. The button that turns off the stopwatch/HR monitoring mode all of a sudden stopped working. GRRRRRRR! I just sent this puppy in to Polar two months ago to change the battery and now this?? Hey guys at Polar (they commented on the blog the last time my watch was on the fritz) - can you help me out here? I really don't feel like devoting the time and expense to send the thing in again for another repair 2 months after you guys changed the battery and tested it... Perhaps you could send me a new model to review on the blog???

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scheduling the Week and Back To Push Ups!

It's Sunday evening, and I'm exhausted from another Sunday of chores, shuttling the kiddos around and trying to cram everything in.  And now, I'm looking at how the week ahead of me is unfolding.  YIKES!

Lots of things going on - I have some work folks coming into town for meetings Tuesday through Thursday, so if I want to run on those days it will need to be early.  And I'll likely want to run on a few of those days, as I'll probably be going out for lunch - which usually means a higher caloric intake (perhaps I can eat a big salad for at least one of those meals...that's a good goal!).

I'm also scheduled for my first-ever platelets donation tomorrow.  I have been a pretty regular blood donor, however, I have noticed that my HR on my runs after a whole blood donation elevates (by 20 bpm or so during the first week?) and I'm not back to my "normal" HR for about 3 weeks.  With the platelets donation, the red blood cells are put back into your bloodstream, so I'm hoping that my running will not be impacted as much as a normal whole-blood donation.  However, I'm a bit freaked out about sitting in the donation chair for 2 hours with a needle in each arm (one to take blood out, and the other to put it back in after they get the platelets).  Luckily, they provide a personal DVD player during the donation - so I'll likely hit a Redbox or Blockbuster in the morning.  This will surely be blog fodder for tomorrow. training plan calls for three weekly runs - a 3, 5 and 3 miler and then a 9 miler on the weekend.  Since I'm not sure how my body is going to react to the platelets donations, and I may be pressed for time later in the week, I'm going to shoot to do the 5 miler tomorrow morning and then a 3 miler on both Wednesday and Thursday (perhaps I'll up Thursday's to a 4 miler...we'll see how I'm doing).

Lastly, I will try to get back into the push up groove again.  I did a push up exhaustion test today and did 33 consecutive push ups!  That would normally put my into column 3 of Week 4, but I know my limitations (OK...I'm wimping out a bit here) and I'm going to scale back and do column 3 of Week 3 first. least I'm starting up again - right???

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Long Run and Running Solo

Oh it is so nice to be healthy and back on schedule!  For most of 2008, Saturday mornings meant it was time to go on my long run - and this morning was no exception.

The Higdon Marathon Novice 2 plan which I'm kinda following right now calls for an 8 mile run.  I checked my running log to see what 8 mile routes I had...and there were none.  Huh?  I made it through 18 weeks of marathon training without having an 8 mile run (I guess some of them may have been on the track as speedwork or something...).  I had a few in the 7 mile range and a 9 miler - but no 8's.

I looked at the Fallgrove "figure 8" route that I ran about a month ago.  It's 10.5 miles long, but takes a roundabout way to get back into the neighborhood.  I re-did the route taking the shortest path home and it ended up being 8.8 miles.  It's almost a 9 miler, but I decided to go with it for this morning.

It was a nice run - but uneventful.  My HR was a bit elevated - most likely due to the cold temps and me pushing a bit harder at the beginning to warm up.  I ended up at an 11:03/mile pace with an average HR of 158.  1:37:06 of morning bliss!

One thing that I was contemplating on my run was a question from Marcy's Blog - "What 3 bloggers would you most like to run with?".  It's not a very intriguing question, right?  However, it did get me thinking.  You see, I mainly run alone.  In 2008, I was able to think of only three people who I ran with - and each time it was once:  my wife, my sister and my 6 year old son.  I guess there were times during the Frederick Marathon where I talked with other runners for a mile here or half a mile there, but I didn't run the race with anyone in particular.  Out of the 970 miles that I ran in 2008 - around 965 of them were solo.

So of course I was wondering if I should try and run with someone else one of these days - either every once in a while or on a regular basis.  There are a few problems - first of all, I'm a slow runner.  I'd likely have to match up when I'm doing a tempo run when my running partner is doing a long slow run.  Secondly is scheduling - I normally leave about enough time to slip out of the house and go for my run, not scheduling in time to meet up with someone and wait, go for coffee or gatorade afterwards, etc.  Lastly is that I actually like the solitude.  With life being so noisy and hectic - work, two boys under the age of 7, etc. - I love the break and to be able to listen to some tunes without someone interrupting me every two minutes.

However, 965 out of 970 miles alone in 2008 seemed a bit too anti-social.  So, I'll definitely try to work in some "social runs" in 2009.

Friday, January 9, 2009

SRD + Push-Ups

Scheduled rest day for me.  Tomorrow will be my long run for the week - 8 miles.  This will bring me to a little over 20 miles for the week.  After a brief layoff from running due to being sick, 20 miles has felt like a lot; however, I know that in a few weeks this will be like a "rest week" for me!

Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for a 30-50% chance of freezing rain and sleet before noon.  I'd hate to run 8 miles on a treadmill, but I'll likely wimp out on running in the sleet.

I did my push-ups this morning.  Four sets of 14 with a fifth set of 22.  78 total.  I'M BAAAACK!  I'll probably try an exhaustion test this weekend and get back to the hundred push-ups program next week.

One last thing - I've been calorie counting once again starting this week.  I was doing great - net calories in the 1600 to 1700 range each day - until dinner last night when we took my mother-in-law out for her 65th birthday.  I was totally expecting to go over in the calorie department, but I made some poor choices in my eating (i.e. finishing my wife's entree after finishing mine, taking sour cream on my potato instead of asking for something lower in fat and calories like mustard or salsa, eating too much of the cake for dessert, etc.).  I didn't even try to calculate my calories for last night.  Luckily, today is a new day and I'll try to get back with the program again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More Cowbell

This morning was a pretty uneventful 3 mile easy run. The little one was in our room at 5:45am - an improvement over the past few days!

I got into my running clothes, fed the kids breakfast and got a school-day snack ready for my older son and then out into the chilly morning.

The past two days I was aching a later in the day after my runs of 4 and 5 miles, so I decided to just do 3 this morning (the 3.4 mile neighborhood loop that I run when it's a bit too dark to run around the lake).

I had put CCR's Willy and the Poor Boys on my iPod for this morning's run...I hadn't listened to Creedence is quite awhile. The first song is "Down On The Corner" - and lo and behold in the first 10 seconds of the song I hear a cowbell! So, for the first half of my run all I could think about was Will Ferrell doing his "More Cowbell" skit on SNL!!!

I'm sure my neighbors were wondering what the hell I was thinking - running in sub-freezing temperatures with a huge grin on his face...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Five Easy Miles on the 'Mill

Cold rain again this morning, so I headed to the gym for a five mile easy run on the treadmill.

I know, I know - I mentioned yesterday that I would use the mid-week longer run as a speedwork session.  It ends up that even though I'm feeling pretty much recovered from the cold I had from Christmas to New Year's, I'm still waking up very nasally - like a relapse to my cold is waiting for me to have a weak moment and attack.  So, I'm still taking it easy.

My alarm was set for 5:45am.  No need for it though - little one ran into our room at 5:15am.  Someone mentioned to me that in about 10 years I'll need an airhorn to get these kids out of bed in the's hard to believe that right now.

When I got to the gym I was feeling kind of tight, so I stretched a bit before hopping on the treadmill.  Once I was on the 'mill I walked (at 4.0 mph) for about 3 minutes before starting my run.  It seemed to do the trick, as I felt fine by the time I started running.

I ran for 5 miles - 55 minutes even.  Average HR was 146.  Nice and steady.

I chose much better music this morning (once again apologies to anyone who still can't get "Two Princes" or "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" out of their head) - Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions.  I wanted some Rock which wasn't going to dictate my running pace.

I'm hoping to get outside for a short, easy run tomorrow morning and then keeping my fingers crossed for decent weather on Saturday for an 8 miler outside (no way I can do that on a treadmill).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cold Rain = ICKY!

Luckily I wasn't planning to run this morning as it was my least favorite weather outside - mid-to-low 30s and rain.  Luckily, it was just warm enough for the streets not to freeze over.

I did my push-ups today.  Four sets of 13 push ups and then the last set I did 20.  A total of 72.  They are feeling better and easier again, but I still don't want to jump into the 100 Push Up Challenge yet.  (BTW, there is now also a 200 Sit Up Challenge - sounds like something to pick up later in the year...)

I have been thinking about whether to follow a training program this year.  Last year I followed Higdon's Marathon Novice 1 plan leading up to the Frederick Marathon and then I followed a Runner's World plan for a faster 5K leading up to the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K (which I ran a PR of  25:17).

I decided to give Higdon's Marathon Novice 2 plan a shot right now - at least leading up to whichever Spring Half Marathon(s) I decide to run.  The plan is four days a week which I can handle right now.  The mileage isn't so outrageous that I should be able to fit it into my schedule and not injure myself.  I'll likely try to do some speedwork during the mid-week longer runs - just like I did in 2008....why mess with success???

Now I have a plan - that's the easy part.  The difficult part will be getting out of bed tomorrow morning and running those 5 miles in the cold (or on the dreadmill at the gym).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Planned Morning Run Becomes Lunchtime Run

My plan was to wake up at 5:45am and go for a run outside.  The temperatures were supposed to only get into the mid-30s overnight so by 6am the weather would be quite nice for a run.

My 3 year old had different plans.

For some reason the rascal woke up at 1:30am and continued to go into our room every 45 minutes or so.  My wife put him back in his room the first few times, but around 4am she kicked me out of bed (literally!) to go deal with him.  I laid in bed with him for about 25 minutes until he fell asleep.

It was about 4:30am and now I couldn't fall asleep.  I contemplated going out for my run at that time, but stayed in bed instead.  I turned my alarm off as I knew that my wife did not want to hear it going off at 5:45am (and neither did I for that matter).

So, no morning run for me :-(

However, as today is the first day back to work for many people, work has been slow.  One of my conference calls ended up being cancelled which opened up a big hole in my schedule during the middle of the day.  So off I went for my planned morning run at lunchtime!

I ended up listening to The Spin Doctors.  I don't think I've listened to them in 5 or 6 years (I have their CD and it was not in my iTunes collection...).  So why did I listen to them all of a sudden???  On New Year's Eve we were at a neighbor's house and we played the game Taboo.  One of the clues I had was "Spin Doctor" - I tried signing one of their songs and my neighbor had no idea who the group was so I passed on that clue (I forget which words I was not able to use to describe Spin Doctor, but I guess I was grasping at straws singing "I got a pocket full of kryptonite...").  For some reason, this song (along with "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes" - I think all three of these have the same chord progression!) has stuck with me for the past few days - so I ripped the CD into iTunes and put it on my iPod for my run.  And now, I will like not listen to them for another 5 or 6 years :-)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Weekend Not-So-Long Run

I totally whimped out on running outside this morning.  I probably should have done it - the weather was just about at 32 degrees when I started on the treadmill, so it wasn't too cold - however, I was still a bit nasally and didn't want to risk getting sick again.

Probably a good thing, as my heart rate started to elevate about 3 miles into my run.  My body is still pretty run down - I'm not 100% yet.  I ended up doing 4 miles - not the 5 I was hoping - at a bit of a slower pace than Thursday's run (10:59/mile with an average HR of 149).

I did do my push ups this evening as well.  Since last time I tired out too quickly, I backed off towards the beginning and did sets of 12 instead of 15.  It definitely paid off.  I was able to do five full sets, and the last set I got up to 22.  So 70 push-ups in all.  I'll try to add one push up per set over the next few times (13 per set, then 14, then 15, etc) and see where my "breaking point" is.

I'm not sure what next week holds for me.  I'll be getting back into the swing of things with work and the kids being back in school.  I'll hopefully be able to get 3 weekday runs and 1 weekend run in, however, I won't push the mileage unless I start to feel better.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Feeling Better - Finally

For the third day in a row I have not been hacking away in the evening.  It's a good sign.  I'm starting to feel myself again - but not 100% yet.

I will definitely run tomorrow, but I don't think I'll be going outside (overnight lows of 27 degrees - I just not ready to face the sub-freezing temps yet).  So I'll hit the gym which means a shorter run.  I'll try to get in 5 miles on the treadmill at a nice and easy pace.

I'm also starting to look into some races for this year.  I want to get a Half Marathon in during the Spring, however, the National Half is quite pricey and I already have a commitment the same morning as the Annapolis Half.  There is one at VA Beach the same weekend as the National Half - it is $10 less, but I'd spend that much in gas for the car getting there!

My best bet may be the Run For The Shelter on April 19 - it's not too expensive and it is not during Passover this year.  I had signed up to run this race in 2007, but it coincided with the big Nor'easter storm.  I woke up that morning, got in my running gear, got in the car to start driving to the race and I couldn't see a thing in the driving, pouring rain.  I decided to turn around as there was no way I wanted to stand around waiting for the race to start in that kind of weather (oh...running in it for two plus hours would have sucked as well).

Anyhow...I'll block off that weekend for now and run some of the MCRRC races (free for members!) until then.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Run Of The Year!

Although my cold is still lingering a bit, I felt better yesterday and today.  Last night I was not hacking away like I had been during the past few nights and today I wasn't blowing my nose constantly.

I decided to hit the gym for a short, easy run (it was 30 degrees outside with strong way I was braving that not feeling 100%).

I went to get my running shoes out of my gym bag and I was met with quite a surprise - my running clothes from the last time I ran were still in there.  Remember, since I have been sick I have not run in about 10 days...YUCK!  I'm surprised that they didn't stink up my closet already.

I got on the treadmill and did an easy 3 miles.  I was a little faster than 11:00/mile pace and my average heart rate was 144.  A great way to ease myself back.

Before my run I tried doing some push ups.  I was thinking I would do 5 sets of 15.  The first two sets of 15 were very doable.  By the third set I started to lose steam and only mustered out 14.  I barely had anything left by the fourth set and did 7.  I didn't even attempt a fifth set.  51 push ups in all.  I definitely have some more work to do to get back into the push up groove.

One last note - I weighed myself this morning.  Not such a great idea after chowing down on seven layer dip and tacos last night for New Year's Eve.  I weighed the exact same as New Year's Day 2008 - 172 pounds.  I can look on the bright side and say that it is great that I did not gain any weight in 2008...or on the not-so-bright side and see that I had lost 10 pounds by March 2008 and gained it all back by December.  I definitely hope to lose all of that weight again by March 2009, and I'll put some things in place (i.e. some long races in October and November) to help not gain it all back in the fall and winter.