Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflection on 2010

Although I officially retired the blog earlier this year, I did mention in my final post that I may still post updates to the blog.

As the end of 2010 draws near, I feel I should reflect on the past year and set some goals for the year ahead.
  • In 2010 I ran fewer miles than in 2009, 2008 or 2007. You need to go back to 2006 - when I first started running seriously and trained for my first half marathon - to get a lower mileage total. Right now I have logged 573 miles for the year - and it is doubtful that I will get another run in during the next week as I'm battling a sinus infection.
  • Ironically, although I have run fewer miles this year - I set PRs in the 10 mile (1:29:43) and half marathon (2:11:41).
  • I travelled more for my job this year than ever before. My project for the first three quarters of the year was based in Souther California - and I spent one week of every month in Irvine. Since September, my projects have been based in East Texas and the group is based in Atlanta - so I have been traveling to Atlanta and Dallas. Traveling messes up any rhythm that I may have for the week (especially when trying to plan for runs). And being away from home has been hard on Sherry and the boys as well (so taking 1 night trips to Atlanta or Dallas - although more difficult on me - seems to be better for the family)
  • With business travel comes business lunches, dinners and happy hours. Which means more food (and beer) than I would normally consume. Which is why I'm about 15 pounds heavier now than I was when I crossed the finish line of the NY Marathon in November 2009.
  • Another contributor to the lower mileage is health. Luckily I had no running injuries during 2010. However, I have had three nasty sinus infections - all which have taken two rounds of antibiotics to treat. Once the congestion moves into my chest, it is not a good idea to run - so I have missed 3-4 week chunks of running...and then having to spend a few weeks to ramp back up again.
  • In my other hobby, my Israeli Dance group has really grown in 2010 as well. I now get around 35 dancers every week and people stay later. As a result I'm out later every Tuesday night - which makes a morning run on Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning a lot more difficult.
  • In 2010 I had some nice vacation time as well. Sherry and I got away for our 15th Anniversary - to a resort spa in the mountains of Pennsylvania for two nights. Then in October we all went on a Disney cruise with my parents and sister and her family. We also took some trips to visit family and friends for B'nai Mitzvahs and Weddings (two trips to Michigan, one to Connecticut and I extended a business trip to stay in Dallas)
As you can see, 2010 was definitely a year of great achievements coupled with some tough challenges.

I haven't set all of my goals for 2011 yet, however, here are a few main goals:
  • Lose the weight. Gaining 15 pounds in one year is way too much...I have to get this back to where I was in 2009.
  • Stay healthy. I'm going to get a CT scan of my sinuses in the next few weeks and I may go to an ENT. Three sinus infections in one year? That HAS to stop!
  • Run more. This will definitely help goal #1 and I'll be able to do this if I achieve goal #2. I don't necessarily need to hit 1,000 miles next year - but somewhere around 750 would be nice.
  • Schedule some races. I would like to schedule at least 2 half marathons and perhaps a fall full marathon (maybe Marine Corps??) I loved the 10 mile distance too. Perhaps with all the traveling I'm doing and not having as much time to run long, I should focus on running shorter races and develop more speed. Either way, I need to race a bit more in 2011 to keep my motivation up.
  • Schedule more time off from work. With the exception of the two main vacation I took (one for 2 work days and one for 3 work days), I really did not take much vacation time to relax and spend quality time with my family. I need to do more of this (and run more while on vacation!)
I'm sure I'll think of more as the next week goes on, but these are the main goals.

2011 will be a big year for me with a milestone birthday (ends in a zero...). Let's hope my age isn't the only milestone I have to celebrate!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Farewell To Blogging...

I recently have not had much time to devote to blogging. My updates have gone from one post each day or two to one post every week or two...not enough to really keep things going from a blog perspective.

When I first started the blog in late December 2007, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to keep it going. I had started training for my first marathon and I used the blog to document my progress and to keep me honest (if others were watching/reading, I knew I couldn't skip the workouts).

However the blog became something more than just a means for documenting my training. Through the blog I have made many new friends in the running community and also re-connected with old friends that have found my blog through Google or Facebook. For people that I see on a regular basis, the blog has become a conversation starter - and many times they already know what is happening in my life based on what they have read in the blog.

Coincidentally, I have been blogging for a little bit more than 26 months and 2 weeks (26.2???). It's a rather appropriate place to end a blog named "Mike Fox's Marathon Blog".

Will I be back? Most likely I will. When work calms down a bit and/or when I train for another marathon. I may also post race reports on the blog (and cross post them in FB and RunningAhead).

However, by "shutting down" the blog I will no longer have the stress of "I haven't blogged in over a week..." hanging over me.

Thanks everyone for reading the blog and supporting me over the past 2+ years!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Running, Push Ups, Working A LOT, and NOT Blogging

So...once again more than a full week without a blog post. I'm considering retiring the blog, but I kinda feel (or at least hope) that work will let up soon and I'll be able to get back into a nice rhythm again.

Although I haven't been blogging, I have been running. I managed to run four times this week - a Monday morning easy run outside before the sunrise, a Thursday morning tempo run also outside, a Friday morning treadmill run at the gym and then again this morning a 6.2 mile "long" run outside. The temperatures are getting warmer and the snow is finally starting to melt here. Finally.

Overall I ran 18 miles this week. This was pretty normal for me in a not-training-for-anything type of week. However, I have the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 5 weeks. Time to ramp up!

I still am feeling a bit nasally. I think I'm getting a bit of a relapse since my 4-year old has been sneezing and coughing for the past few days. I need to hit the sack early tonight to fight this off.

I also have been doing my pushups! I completed Week 4 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge. Day 3 of Week 4 I completed 150 pushups over 5 sets. That's an average of 30 pushups each - two weeks ago I managed 31 push ups in my exhaustion test and I thought I was a rock star then! I will be doing another exhaustion test either today or tomorrow. I'm psyched to see how many I can do now.

One other thing - I just got a new cell phone which tend to be a bit more internet/data focused. I may try to blog from the phone - which will hopefully mean more frequent posts, but definitely shorter posts. We'll see how it works out.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Finally A Morning Run!

As this week progressed, I have felt a lot better when waking up in the morning. It looks like this infection is finally behind me!

This morning I got up early and hit the gym for a run. It's been too long since I've been able to utter those words...and even though the clock had a 5 as the first number when I left the house, it felt wonderful!!

The run itself wasn't that wonderful. After running on the harder side on Monday and Wednesday, I felt I needed a controlled easy run. My Garmin was now working ( was the USB port that I was using did not power it up properly), so I could monitor my heart rate.

I ended up having to keep my pace in the 11:30/mile range to keep my heart rate low enough to constitute an easy run. It's almost painful to go that slow, but I know it is best for me right now.

The good news about all of this - I have now run 3 times this week for a total of 9.5 miles. That's more than my totals for the last 3 weeks. And I'm planning to get one more run in some time this weekend.

Earlier this week I laid out some goals. Well, I have hit 2 out of the 3. I have run 3 times (and potentially 4 if I get a weekend run). I have started the Hundred Push-Ups program. I'm on Week 3, Column 3. I managed to do a total of 78 push-ups on Tuesday and 97 push-ups on Thursday. Again, I'll try to do one more set this weekend.

The one goal I did not get to is counting calories. I have watched what I have been eating to some extent, but I know that my portions are still way too big. At least I'm now doing something to burn off the extra calories I'm consuming. I'll see how my weight is on Monday...if it's going up still I'll probably start counting calories on Monday (yeah, right!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two-And-A-Half-ish Miles On a Snowy Trail

The good news - I'm starting to feel much better. Finally! I'm waking up feeling almost refreshed and not continually run down.

However, I still haven't gotten up early enough for a morning run yet.

I was thinking about it on Wednesday morning and laid out my gear before going to bed on Tuesday night...but I woke up a bit too late to get the run in. So, I threw my gear in the gym bag and took it with me to the office (I worked in the Reston office on Wednesday).

The plan was to go for a run on the W&OD Trail during lunch (the trail is half a block from my office) and then go to the gym to shower (only about a mile away from the office).

I slipped out of the office around 12:30pm ready to go. Except my Garmin wasn't. Once again it wouldn't turn on. This time, I would get the "welcome screen" and then it would just disappear. UGH!!!

I had a quick decision to make - I was in my running clothes already. Do I just go for a run - no heart rate, no watch, no GPS - just to run? Or do I scrap it since I won't know how far, how fast and how hard I was running??

Of course I went for the run!

The W&OD trail near my office was mostly clear. Every so often there would be patches of the trail that still had snow on it with some tracks through the snow that I was able to use. A little over a mile into my run, though, there was more snow than pavement. And then there was a downed pine tree which had fallen completely across the path. I guess I found my turnaround point, I thought to myself.

I have no idea how far my run was. Or how long it took. Or what my heart rate was. But I still ran. I still got that great feeling of the blood pumping through my whole body during the run and that awesome high that I get about an hour after the run that you can tackle whatever life throws at you.

I sooooo needed this run...just to remind me why I do it in the first place.

As for the Garmin - I'm pretty sure that the issue is that the USB port I have been using (off of a very old USB hub) is not charging the battery well enough while it is sitting in the cradle. I have switched to another USB port and hope this clears the issue up. We'll see...I have my fingers crossed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Google Search Oddities

One of the running blogs that I read occasionally puts in a "Google Search Oddities" post every so often.

I use SiteMeter to check some stats for my blog (would I still blog if nobody at all read the thing?? I'm not sure...) and it's interesting to see how my blog is reached.

One of the oddest recurring searches is "running with ear pain". This actually brings up a post I wrote in my blog over two years ago - but I guess there are not too many people who write on this subject, so my blog jumps up in the searches.

This week's Google Search Oddity for my blog:
"treadmill 60 minute limit" and "how to go longer than 60 minutes on treadmill"

Lunchtime Run Before The Rain

This scenario has been happening waaaay too often. I lay my running clothes out the night before, but then either sleep in or can't get my behind out of bed in order to get the run in.

It happened again this morning.

By a nice stroke of luck, I had some meetings cancel and saw that there was a big empty space on my calendar from noon to 2pm. I could go for a lunchtime run. And I could do it outside since it wasn't going to start raining until this afternoon (and I loathe running in the rain when it is 40 degrees or colder...)

I ended up meeting HH at our neighborhood coffee shop to run 3-4 miles around the streets of my neighborhood. I decided not to look at my heart rate during the run, but to keep up with her while ensuring the pace was slow enough that I could keep up a conversation.

It seemed to have worked. Although I was a bit winded a few times along the way, I never felt that low-energy, fatigued feeling that I have been getting while running during the past week. That in itself was a huge confidence builder that I'm finally seeing the other side of being sick.

We ended up running for a little under 3.5 miles at an average pace of 9:48/mile. I'm glad I wasn't watching my HR as I averaged 165 bpm. I would expect an 8 minute mile pace with that average HR...I guess I'm still fighting off something.

All afternoon I had that great feeling pumping through me after a good run. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. I thought to myself, "this is only after 3.5 miles...I can't wait until I've ramped up to 6 or 10 or 15 miles again!"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Need to Finally Get Things Started

February is almost over and I haven't even logged 100 miles for the year. Heck...I was logging 100-150 miles a month during marathon training and I have a measly 98 miles over the first seven weeks of 2010.

I don't want to take on more than I can chew, but this is the week I need to get things started again. I'm going to the doctor for bloodwork (i.e. my cholesterol checkup) in three far in 2010 not only has my running been lacking, but my diet has gone out the window too.

So...starting this week I will try to: a) count calories again b) run at least 3 times (and hopefully 4 times) this week and c) start the 100 push up challenge (my initial test tonight was 31 push-ups...not too bad!)

Even if I can stick to one of the above three for more than two consecutive weeks, I should be in much better shape.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Still Running Short and Slow

I've been out in SoCal again this week. It was a great opportunity to get some running in - the weather was PERFECT! The mornings were in the low 50s and clear skies...daytime highs were in the 80s. It's going to be tough going back to DC where there's still over two feet of snow on the ground everywhere.

I went out for runs both on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Both times my heart rate was elevated, I felt weak and I just didn't have "it".

I'm not sure if it is still related to the sinus infection or stress at work or lack of sleep or lack of running.

On both runs I did out-and-backs from the hotel of 2.5 miles (1.25 out and then returning). Wednesday morning's run could have gone longer but I needed to get back to the hotel room to quickly shower and participate on an early conference call.

Even though the runs were not perfect, it definitely felt great to be out there running!

I'm taking the red eye home tonight. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough for a Saturday morning run. Maybe I'll be able to go for a longer run (like at least 4 or 5 miles!).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Tough Run Today

I finally got a run in today - the first since the storms came and the first since I started feeling icky.

Even though I'm feeling better - I have two days of Levaquin to thank for that! - I'm no where near 100%. My run stats definitely show that.

I started out nice and slow - at 5.0 mph (a 12:00 mile). My heart rate climbed into the low-to-mid 150s within the first quarter mile and stayed there. Basically, since I didn't want to overdo it, I needed my heart rate to be in the low 150s ( really should have been in the 140s, but I really did not want to go any slower than I was going).

I planned to go 3 miles but after 2.5 miles my right leg - hamstring and calf - started to get a bit sore. I was a bit nervous given the fact that the pharmacist told me one of the (very rare) side effects for Levaquin is a ruptured tendon...I wasn't taking any chances today.

Final stats - 2.5 miles, 30:08. 151 average HR.

It's gotta get better than that. And soon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sinus Infection

I went to the doctor yesterday morning after feeling yucky for almost a full week.

It's official. I have a sinus infection. I got me some antibiotics to try and kick this thing out of my system - and at least get rid of some of the congestion before I travel to California on Monday morning.

Who knows, if I feel better enough by tomorrow, perhaps I'll even go for a run...

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Need To Get Healthy!

I'm still feeling rather blah and congested. That along with the fact that half the sidewalks in the 'hood are still not shoveled, I have not been running.

What is making the not running part hurt so much more is reading about other running friends of mine who are going out for 20 mile runs this weekend. Not that I love a 20 miler (to me it is a necessary evil of marathon training...) but it's that I haven't even had a 20 mile week yet in 2010.

I really need to get running back into my routine.

Once I feel better, that is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow, Snow - Go Away!

It's been another 10 days since I have blogged. As I remarked during my last post, the busy-ness was not going to let up any time soon. Add about 50" of snow on top of that - and feeling icky on top of all that - there has been very little running and no blogging.

I managed to squeeze in a run on Friday morning. I went to the gym in anticipation of doing a treadmill interval run. I set the treadmill to a jog speed of 5.5 mph and a run speed of 7.5, but when I started that first quarter mile interval I just didn't have it. I felt weak. At first I thought that I was tired since it was early in the morning. However, when interval two - bumped down to 7.2 mph - also felt too much I knew two things - 1) there was no way I could continue this as speedwork...back to an easy run for me, and 2) I was likely coming down with a cold.

By the next morning, I was starting to sniffle and cough a bit. Definitely not a good time for this - as 30 inches of snow fell on my town between Friday night and Saturday night.

So, my exercise (not of choice, but of necessity) over the weekend was shoveling snow.

And - when I finally got everything shoveled out, we're getting an additional 20 inches of snow from last night through tonight. I woke up this morning and shoveled the back of my house - to my home office and also the driveway. About an hour later you wouldn't even know I shoveled.

All of this, and my head feels heavy and congested. Ick.

The good news - I'm heading to Southern California for work again next week. I'm hoping the weather improves there as it has been raining a bunch this week over there. But I'll definitely take rain over snow right now...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yes...I'm Still Here!

It has been 10 days since my last blog post. Wow! I don't think I have gone that long without posting to the blog since I started at the end of December 2007.

Things have just been really busy - my current project is based in SoCal so I feel like I'm working both in the Eastern and Pacific time zones, and I'm trying to balance this along with family time, Israeli Dance commitments and prepping our taxes.

I haven't been running as much - this can be attributed as much to the weather as it can to being busy. Since I came back from SoCal last Thursday night, I have run 5 times - 4 of them on the treadmill. And each of those runs have been "squeezed" in.

For example - this morning my younger son woke up at 3:45am (and woke us up too). He fell back asleep shortly afterwards, but I was still tossing and turning. By 5am I still wasn't asleep, so I decided to head to the gym (it was 10 degrees outside with many parts of the sidewalks not shoveled from Saturday's snow...). I'm glad I got a run in at that time as I don't see any other spot in my schedule today where I could run.

But at least I'm running a little. Which is more than I can say about blogging! No posts for 10 days? What gives? Additionally, I just checked my Google Reader of the blogs that I follow - I have 134 unread posts - YIKES! How will I ever catch up???

The worst part (or best part - depending on how you look at it)...I don't see it letting up anytime soon. This project will keep me busy through April at least, and my customer is discussing adding a Phase 2 that will go through July or August. I can't really complain about that - I like my job and it's great to have work - but it's also nice to run, keep this blog updated and read other blogs (and it will return in that order, of course!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miscellaneous Musings From A Road Warrior...

It looks like my current project will have me on the road - traveling to Southern California - once a month for the next few months. I have never traveled this often in the 16+ years that I have been working....

When I was in my late 20s, my job at the time had me traveling once every 6-8 weeks or so for 2-3 nights at a time. I was living in Dallas and I had the opportunity to travel to New Jersey a lot for a project with AT&T. I would burn the midnight oil by driving into New York City and hang out with my sister or go Israeli Dancing, staying out until well past midnight, going to work the next day and crashing when I got back home to Dallas. For some reason, I'm following a similar pattern even now. I was in Irvine for four nights - two of those nights I drove up to Los Angeles (about an hour each way) to go Israeli dancing. On Monday night I left LA at 11pm and got to the hotel a little after midnight. Last night I stayed in LA until midnight and arrived at my hotel at about 1:15am. I was still in the office by 8am the next morning. The problem in all of kids are early birds so I will not get to crash and catch up on the sleep that I didn't get this week....

Talking about going back to being in my 20s, one of the nice folks I met at Israeli Dancing last night asked me how long I have been dancing. I stopped to think about this for a few seconds and then said that I guess I have been dancing for close to 20 years. She shook her head in disbelief - she said that I looked way to young...she thought I was in my 20s! Later in our conversation I told her that I don't know too many of the recent dances since I haven't been dancing as much since I had kids. Again a surprised look from her - you're too young to have kids!!! Maybe acting like a 20-something this past week made me look a little younger....

For those of you who don't believe in the power of Social Networking and the internet, this one is for you. My blog is fed over to my Facebook profile, and after I posted about my soaked run on Monday morning a high-school friend of mine wrote me a note that he was also in Irvine, CA for business this week. Whoa! We haven't seen each other in 18 or 19 years. We met for dinner on Tuesday night and it was great to reconnect with him. This reunion never would have happened without social networking apps....

Oh, yeah. This is my running blog. Right. While in rain-soaked Southern California this week I got two runs in. One on Monday morning in the dark and in the rain, and one on Tuesday afternoon. After the rain stopped - and tornado warnings lifted - the sun came out. My project schedule for that night's activities had been sent out already, so I slipped out of the office and went for a run on the Mountains to Sea trail - running towards the ocean. This trail is built on the creek bed that is used as a drainage system. Last month when I ran on this path it was totall dry. On Tuesday afternoon it looked like I was running on the bank of the Potomac River near Great Falls! The trail has underpasses under the roads so runners and cyclists don't have to dodge traffic. However, on Tuesday many of these underpasses were flooded so I had to cross the streets. Except for one which I could not cross - Interstate 405. I ended up having to trudge through a wet mud/sand mixture under the I-405 underpass. It wasn't all that bad, though - there was a Great Blue Heron perched on the bank by the underpass and I ran right near him. What an amazing creature....

Before I was a runner, I don't think I ever saw a Great Blue Heron. I now have seen them on many runs - on my community's lake, running along the C&O canal, while I was running in Boynton Beach, FL and now while running in Irvine, CA. I didn't know what I was missing before I started running....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Splashing In The Dark

I'm in Irvine, CA for business this week. Being that my body is still on East Coast time, I was up early this morning and ready for a run. But it was raining...and dark.

I waited a bit - until 6am here - until I finally left my hotel room, but the sun was no where in sight. Oh well...

I headed out in the direction of the Mountain to Sea Trail, but there was no sidewalk on the side of the street I started on. I crossed to the other side of the street and there was no sidewalk there either, but there was a dirt and gravel path. As I started down the road, though, there was less gravel and more dirt - or should I say mud. Each step felt like the ground was trying to suck my shoes off of my feet. I looked over to the opposite side of the street and found that a sidewalk had started there - nice! I jumped off the dirt path to cross the street and landed in a deep puddle - I also felt mud sling off my shoe and onto my calves.

Luckily I don't take myself too seriously all the time, because the first 1/3 of a mile on this run was a train wreck!

After I finally got onto the sidewalk I got into a groove. About a mile in I passed by someone huddled up in a hooded sweatshirt under an umbrella - probably walking to work. "On your left!" I exclaimed in a joyful tone to let him know I wanted to pass him. He took one look at me - in my shorts, t-shirt and reflective vest - and probably thought I was insane. He did manage a "Good morning" to greet me back.

About 1.5 miles from the hotel is an entrance onto the Mountain to Sea trail. This looked very much like the other bike trails I ran on the last time I was in Irvine (but instead of a dry creek bed there was a good amount of water flowing this time because of the rain). I must admit, I was a little bit nervous running here alone in the dark. I was not afraid of being attacked or mugged by another person - however, I was a bit unsure whether there were any nocturnal critters living near the creek bed that would like to eat a runner as a midnight snack. I've come across foxes and coyotes on the routes near my home in the dawn hours...I wasn't sure if there were similar dangers here.

I ran on the trail for a little over a mile. I then turned back towards the hotel so my full run would be in the 4.5 mile range.

Along the way there were plenty more deep puddles to (accidentally) run through. By the time I got back to my hotel I was soaked from head to toe - and still had a bit of mud over my legs. I'm it was quite a sight!

Run stats were 4.68 miles at a 9:51/mile pace. Avg HR of 153. And probably one of my wettest runs to date.

Friday, January 15, 2010

...And Sometimes You Have To Put Work Aside And Go Run

Today, the mercury hit the mid-50s in the DC area. That's pretty much a heat-wave compared to the bitterness that we've been experiencing. I soooooo wanted to run today.

However, my work-day looked Outlook calendar showed meeting after meeting after meeting. Basically, there was no free time between 10am and 6pm.

Or maybe there was...

I took a closer look and saw that between 11am and 12noon the only thing on my calendar was a daily conference call in which I present my project status for about 5 minutes. Since my project is not related to most of the other ones being presented, I usually present first. That would mean I would have from 11:10am until 12 noon open. Just enough time for a 3 mile run around the lake, a quick shower and to grab something from the kitchen for lunch to eat at my desk during the conference call that starts at 12 noon (which I needed to be on for the duration, but in a "listen-only" mode). SCORE!

I decided since this needed to be fast - and since I was having a tough time running slowly outside anyhow, that I would do some type of speedwork on this 3 miler. As I was heading out the door I thought about gradually upping the pace throughout the about starting at 10min pace, then doing a 9min pace for mile 2 and an 8min pace for mile 3. Sounds like fun!

The first mile I was just so excited to be outside that I was running a bit too fast. I had to slow myself down many times as I worked my way to the perimeter of the neighborhood and towards the lake. Mile 1 came in at 9:43.

Mile 2 was nice and comfortable. I was running strong but not taxing myself. Again I needed to slow myself down as to not get carried away, but ended up a lot closer to my goal pace here. Mile 2 - 8:51.

Time to turn on the burners! I looked down at RedG a few times during this mile to see that I was running in the 7:30 to 7:40 pace. No wonder this felt so darn uncomfortable! I slowed down a bit - especially since the last quarter mile was uphill - but still ended up with a 7:41 mile 3 split.

As soon as I hit mile 3, I brought the pace down nice and slow, jogging easy back to the house. Overall it was a 3.19 mile run in 28:21. It was the fastest I have ever run this route (OK...I normally use it for a short easy run and not for speedwork). A far cry from my first entry on this route in my running log - July 14, 2005 when I ran this route in 42 minutes. What a difference four and a half years - and a few thousand miles - makes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cold, Dark....and DELIGHTFUL!

After yesterday's frustrating day of not running, I NEEDED to run today. I learned my lesson from yesterday and planned to run first thing in the morning.

I looked up the weather forecast. Overnight low - 20 degrees (YIKES!). Winds - calm (HOORAY!)

I stepped out the front door at around 6:15am. It was dark and cold....but I was so excited to be doing this again. It had been a full month since I got my behind out the door to run outside pre-dawn. First it was the snow, then it was the ice that never melted, then it was the wind (and all of this is underscored with a big dose of wimpyness!)

The plan was an easy paced run, but who am I kidding...when it's 20 degrees outside you run like hell until you warm up! I kept Mile 1 slow enough to maintain an average HR of 149 bpm my pace was 9:35. I managed to slow myself down a little bit and ended up the 4.5 mile run in a 9:49/mile pace with an average HR of 156.

The weather is warming up here - in the mid-40s today! - and I'll be in SoCal next week, so I should be able to keep my easy runs at a bit of an easier pace over the next 10 days.

On this morning's run I listened to some early Joe Jackson. I had my iPod in the car last night and decided to spin the wheel and listen to an album I hadn't heard in a while. I ended up on Look Sharp! Nice. I love how his early stuff is so simple and did not go overboard in the recording production. I can just imagine him and his band jamming in the studio together to make the songs - not laying down tracks to be pieced together later. This morning I was still in that kind of mood so I put I'm The Man and Look Sharp! in the iPod shuffle.

Ahhhh. Good tunes, fresh air and the stress release of a morning run. Today will be a much better day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Hate It When Work Gets In The Way Of My Run!!!

I planned to run during my lunch break today. I'm working at my new office in Reston - two blocks away from my gym and right on the W&OD Trail. The weather is a bit warmer today, so I was hoping for a lunchtime run in sunny 40 degree weather!

Then reality set in. A few small issues at work spiraled into endless conference calls of reiteration. Time slipped away until finally I was able to peel my tush off my desk chair - at 1:45pm.


No run. Just a quick lunch before heading back to the office.

I'm starting to remember why I like to run first thing in the morning...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two Cold Outdoor Runs And Too Many Indoors

In the 11 days so far in 2010, I have run 7 times - all but 2 have been inside on the treadmill. Have I become a gym rat??? (or perhaps a hamster in a wheel???)

My two outdoor runs came on Tuesday during lunchtime and on Saturday afternoon. Both days the temperatures climbed above freezing to 35 degrees - and on both days the wind chills were about 24 degrees. Hard to believe that this was during the warmest part of the day!

I think the hardest part of these runs was getting out the door. The first mile is always difficult - running faster than I should just to warm up - but once I get going I don't feel so cold.

Tuesday's lunchtime run quickly became a tempo run. Mile 1 was in 9:05 and since I was relatively warm at that point I had no interest in slowing down. There were a few points during the run where gusts of wind made me feel like I was running in place, but overall I was able to cut through the wind and finish my 4.5 miles in a 9:16/mile pace.

My plan for Saturday's run was to be 7 to 8 miles so I could hit 20 miles for the week. I was reading torah at synagogue that morning (and had to be there on time...) so I decided to run afterward. Good thing as it was much colder and windier in the morning when I was walking the quarter mile to synagogue.

Again, my first mile was faster to warm up - a 9:32 pace - but then brought it closer to a 10:00/mile pace. After about 4 miles of pretty clear sidewalks and roads, I started to hit stretches of snowy, icy sidewalks and heavier gusts of wind. On top of all of that, my nasal passages were starting to rebel a bit.

On my community-perimeter route of a little over 7 miles, there are a few "drop out" points to cut the run short to 5.5 miles or 6.25 miles. I nearly took the 5.5 mile drop out, but I pushed forward. As I approached the 6.25 drop out point, I decided that this was the way to go. I finished the 6.25 miles at a 9:50/mile pace. My weekly run total was 18.7 miles...not yet 20 miles, but close.

I actually had another chance to push my weekly total over 20 miles as I ended up at the gym on Sunday morning with the rest of the family (the kids actually love going to the babysitting room as they get to play Mario Kart!). However, I used this as a cross-training day instead of running. I did a bunch of stretching and core exercises and used two pieces of equipment that were new to me - the TechnoGym Wave and the Nautilus Stairmaster machine.

WOW! These machines KILLED me! I was only on the Wave for 8 minutes and my quads and glutes were burning. I could not get myself to move very smoothly on that thing and I was tired of the herky-jerky movement, so I decided to get off and move on. I went over to the Stairmaster. This machine looks like an escalator - an endless escalator. I stayed on that machine for 22 minutes and I was dripping with sweat....I actually felt like I was melting! It's pretty ironic that I can run for over an hour and never get that sweaty, yet 20 minutes on the Stairmaster and I was done for. I guess if I do these machines more often, my body will get used to this type of movement and it will get easier.

One other item from the gym. After running on the treadmill, I normally go to one of the sets of pull up bars and hang from them for a few seconds. I get a nice stretch and release in my shoulders and neck (I think "release" is chiropractor speak for snap, crackle and pop!). Well, the other day after my stretch I decided to try to do a pull up (I have NEVER been able to do these). On my first try last week I got about 3/4 of the way up - not bad! Today I made it all the way up and did my first unassisted pull up! I'm hoping there will be many more to come...having a goal like this makes going to the gym a little more palatable.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Post Of 2010!

Last week I reflected on 2009 - and what a great year it was! I hope that 2010 can prove to be as successful as last year...but even if I accomplish half of what I did last year it will still be a wonderful year.

My final mileage count for 2009 was 1,047 miles. Of course I take a look at that and say to myself, "Why couldn't I just go for a short 3 miler on Dec 31 to get it to 1,050???"

Another accomplishment from 2009 came in the form of weight management. I started out the year at 172 pounds. On Jan 1 of 2010 I weighed in at 168. I'm still not where my doctor wants me to be (between 155 and 160), but it's nice to see the downward trend - especially AFTER the holidays are over!

I really have no motivation right now to get those last 10 pounds off. I know how to do it (I was very successful using this approach), it's just that I have no interest in counting calories right now. Anyone have some spare motivation for me out there????

Despite the yucky, cold, windy, icy conditions so far this year, I have been running. It's just that I have only been running inside so far. I have logged 16 miles in 2010 - a 4.5 miler on Jan 1, a 7.5 miler on Jan 2 (yes...7.5 miles on the treadmill - UGH!) and a 4 miler this morning. One of these days I'll toughen up and run outside...probably when the wind isn't gusting over 20 mph.

I still haven't set my goals for the new year yet. I'd like to log over 1,000 miles again, but with no full marathon I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. I'm going to have to be super consistent to get there. As soon as I get my goals together I will definitely share...