Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year in Review...

It was a good year. I will always remember 2008 as the year I took my running to the "next level". I can't believe that I ran my 1st marathon in 2008, and my 3rd marathon in 2008.... I crammed a lot of stuff in this year.
I was able to truly push my body to levels that I never imagined it would go. I lost about 20 lbs this year, and I really feel good about my weight.
So, here are my stats...
I ran close to 1700 miles... around 30 miles/week average.
I ran 2 5k races (20:13 in April, 19:38 in May)
I ran 1 10k race (40:38 in November) (I did a time trial in September in 41:52)
A 15k in February (1:09:04)
A half marathon 3 weeks ago (1:33:34)
and...... 3 marathons (Disney 5:37, Ft. Lauderdale 4:53, Chicago 4:36)

The ironic thing is that all of my training for the latter part of 2007, and all of 2008 were focusing on the marathons, and those were my worst races of all of the races I did. But to harp on the good, I PR'd in every race that I participated in 2008... and for that I am very happy and proud of :).

My proudest running moment of the year was 2 weeks ago, when I got a 3rd place award for my age group in the half marathon that I participated in. My dad was there with me and was so happy and proud of me. That felt great.

My most memorable running moment of the year was my being with my dad for the last 2 miles of Disney. I had enough, and was having an awful time out there with my legs and cramping... and he helped bring me through the last 2 miles. Who would've thought that would lead to him starting to run and 11 months later pull off a 1:58 half marathon at the same race I was at.... Pops is no joke!!!!

So what do I want to accomplish for next year??? More PRs? A more respectable marathon time? Sub 1:30 half marathon? Sub 40 10k? Sub 20 5k? Yes.... and no.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go with some friends to Jacksonville to watch them run a marathon. I was supposed to run the 1/2 marathon in Jacksonville, but it didn't work out because of me running the race with my dad the previous weekend. I was able to be a "spectator" for the first time, and it really allowed me to take in everything. I didn't have to worry about being nervous, not sleeping good, watching all of my intake of food, and suffering through cramps during the race (which happened to my buddy Chris.. poor guy...). I was able to watch everyone do their thing, and I realized how it was only a few of us that took everything so seriously.... not that we trained harder or less than anyone else, but some people (the more experienced ones) didn't make this stuff a life or death situation like so many of us runners do. They enjoyed themselves before the race, during the race, and after the race. Many of them were going for Boston, but didn't have mental implosions the minute they realized their Boston time wasn't going to happen. They prepared for the race better than I had in my previous marathons (with nutrition, sleep, and all the other little things that go into a race), but didn't take it so seriously.... they just ran and whatever happened... just happened. One of Chris' massage clients said something to Chris and I a few days after his recent marathon:
"You know what your guys problem is?"
Us: "What?"
Client: "Everything is about time with you guys!! Just enjoy it!!"
And you know what? She is right.
Today, I was able to chill out and read some other blogs on running, and most people that had subpar marathons encountered the same thing that I encountered in my marathons. Either before the race, or early in the race they knew it wasn't going to be their day. Being stubborn, they tried to push through whatever it was that they were feeling. They (Greg) didn't listen to their body and adjust their goals... because it was all about the clock... and they ended up having a miserable day.
Fortunately in all other distances (5k to half marathon), you can have an off day and still get away with it...because by time things start to act up, the race is over. But for the marathon, it doesn't work like that... if things aren't going right... you better reasses things quickly or you are going to be miserable in a hurry. And I have decided that when I run another marathon, I will not even think of undertaking it again if it is solely about a particular time... because it is too mentally draining to train just for that race and hope that my body is feeling absolutely perfect for that day....so that I can pull off the perfect 26.2 mile run. I think if I take that mentality into the race, everything will work out better for me.

And honestly, that is what I want to do next year.

I love to run, and I love to be around the running scene... it's inspiring, fun and motivating all at the same time. But I'm not going to put the pressure on myself to PR every race. I want to run races for fun (for the first time ever) and I want to race (because I enjoy racing). I want to collect medals, and just enjoy all of my races. For 2008, I enjoyed all of my training runs (except one) and for 2009, I want to enjoy all of my races (regardless of what happens).
More importantly, I want to make sure that running continues to be a solid part of my weekly routine, without it severely affecting my family life, as we prepare for our 3rd precious child to come into our family in early 2009.

Happy New Year to Everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Races and weddings???

They have so many similarities... let me explain.
This past weekend, I went down to Ft. Lauderdale because we were invited to a wedding, and my wife was in the wedding party as one of the bridesmaids. She is currently 7 months pregnant and had 2nd thoughts about being in the wedding d/t some difficulties with the pregnancy and being on her feet for long periods of time, but she did it anyway. (I must admit, I was a bit nervous about her being a part of the wedding over the weekend). All in all, the wedding went well and Kerry did fantastic. But the ironic part of it all is after the wedding.
So Kerry and I left the wedding, and drove over to my parents house, which was about 45 minutes from the reception... and during the drive over, Kerry is replaying to me the whole event... from her meeting the other bridesmaids at the hotel to get ready, to the limo ride to the church, the actual ceremony, the reception and every minute detail in between. She addressed everything that went well, everything that could've gone better... and then she addressed the similarities to our wedding nearly 8 years ago to this wedding.... to everything that we should've done different at our wedding...etc, etc..
The next morning, as we made our way into the van and started driving back to Tampa, Kerry rehashed the wedding details again... and you could see that she still was on her wedding high!!! Basically, it was more or less the same conversation that we had the night before, but I listened, and as she was talking, I was thinking about how passionate she is about this stuff. Instead of cutting her off, and telling her that we already talked about this, I realized that this is her marathon... this is her big race!!! And because I love her so much, I really started to get into the conversation... because I realized how excited she was about this... Honestly, we talked about wedding stuff for about 3 of the 4 hours of our drive. This morning, we went out together for breakfast and guess what??? We talked about....weddings!!!! And then I told her, "Babe, you should be a wedding planner". She gleamed from ear to ear when I said that... I guess it's like telling me, "Greg, you should train for the Olympic Trials.... you have the talent!" I mean I know that's not true about me... but that is her passion (and I truly think she would do well)... and that is exactly how runners feel.
This past weekend was a lot of marathons, and a few hours ago, I went onto a Runner's Online Forum and read so many peoples' race report about how their race went... all the details of the event and how they mentally and physically managed throughout the race. To a runner, it is almost like reading a really catching novel. Even though it wasn't my race, you know how much these people put into getting ready for the big day... and then to see it all come together for some folks... you just feel so good for them... and then to see everything implode for others... you truly feel their pain, because at some point, you have been there yourself.
The wedding is no different.... so much preparation goes into this 2 part, 4-5 hour event... and you just want it to be perfect.... for some the day goes as planned, and for others, there are many mini and/or major disasters...
To the spectators of the wedding or the race, well.... they are always much more forgiving... Kerry asked me, "Did you notice how this didn't go as planned?"... and I was like, "No, I thought that went great..."
It's basically the same as when I tell people... I ran a 4:36 marathon, and 99% of people are like... "WOW!!! That's really good!!" But for me, it is way under what I expect from myself.

Weddings and races.... so many similarities.....
I will never watch Bridezilla the same....

Why running can boost a company’s bottomline - Business of Life - livemint.com

Why running can boost a company’s bottomline - Business of Life - livemint.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Trot 10k

Let's get caught up a bit....
I ran the Clearwater Turkey Trot on Thursday morning, and ran my best race ever. Funny thing about it is that I felt awful leading up to the race. I have been battling the flu since Tuesday, and with a brutal work day on Wednesday, along with my family coming in town for Thanksgiving, I was just wiped out. I actually thought about bagging the race, but there were a few reasons why I ended up doing it.
1. My dad wanted to do it
2. This would be my first race since Chicago, and I needed to get a race of my potential in the books. The best thing you can do if you have a tough race, is to race again when you are HEALTHY!!
My goal for this race was to break 41:00. I ran a time trial 10k about 3 weeks before Chicago, and finished it in 41:52, but it was during the summer.... so I figured that in nice conditions, I could probably take close to a minute of my time.
So, anyways we (my dad and Julie) left from my house at 7:00 am, and drove to Clearwater. What a race!!! 15,000 people did all the Turkey Trot races... it was really cool! We hadn't signed up yet, so we went to sign up and then walked about 1.5 miles to our car to drop all of our goodies back to the car. We had about 30 minutes to spare after all of that, and I had to go to the potty. I thought to myself while I was walking to the start... "why is it that I am always sick before races?" Anxiety? Bad luck? Whatever... I just told myself that the quicker I get it over, hopefully nothing bad will happen...
Once we walked to the start, I saw one of my former patients that participated in the 5k earlier... that was pretty cool, because I knew she was going to be out there, but it was so many people I knew there was no way I would find her. But she found me so that was cool. A few minutes later, I saw a collegiate runner that I worked with a few months ago, who was running with her team. That was pretty cool... and it made me happy to see the people that I work with that are back to running. Made me feel good for them.
So anyways, Julie and myself started off at the same area, and we both had typical pre-race jitters, so we went and did some warm ups before the race. I think it helped us both.

So.. the race??? Ok, we started way to fast!!! The 1st mile had a slight downhill decline, and a bunch of people (at least 200-300) started out at around 6:00/mile for the 1st half mile... I slowed down and shouted to Julie to slow down!!! So I ended up hitting my first mile split in 6:27, once I probably ended up running the 2nd half of the 1st mile in right under a 7:00/mile. I fell into a somewhat comfortable groove, and all my sinus trouble and stomach issues were gone.
Mile two didn't feel too hard either, and it was encouraging because a good amount of people were already starting to fade back, which meant that I made the right decision about slowing down for that 2nd half of the 1st mile. The main thing I could remember about the 2nd mile was a guy who was out screaming for all of us to commit our lives to the Lord and pray for salvation..... and the guy on the opposite side of the street telling him to "GO HOME". Trust me, even though you are focused on what you are doing during the race, I try to take in all the stuff going around me. They also had a band playing at mile 2, which was pretty cool. Finished 2nd mile in 6:29. Mile 3, I was starting to work. By the end of it, I felt like I could stop already, but had to remind myself.. "Sorry buddy, this a 10k, not a 5k" So, mentally I had to dig deep and try to focus on holding pace for as long as I could. Body was still feeling suprisingly good, considering I didn't sleep a wink last night, and my tummy and sinuses bothered me all night. So, what I did from mile 3 to the end was race.... yup... it is the first time since I have been running that I actually started to race people. I tried to catch some people... then others were catching me...and it was fun!!!! There was the one guy who I passed, and then behind me I can hear he was laboring... and almost sound like he was trying to throw up, but within 20 seconds, he caught and passed me, and we did that for like 10 minutes or so... it really made me have to focus and work so hard.... this is probably the hardest I have ever worked in a race ever. But thanks to those guys, they pushed me harder than maybe I would have pushed myself. Mile 3- 6:34. Mile 4 was more racing and hurtin... and a Mexican band...that's all I remember... 6:37. Mile 5... was a killer hill (for Florida that is). I saw it from the end of mile 4, and was like... what the heck is this? We are in Florida for crying out loud!!!! So my heart rate started to spike, and my pace slowed... and I knew that I just had to get past it and not slow down to bad... I just didn't want to see a 7:00/mile pace on my watch... and I was close, but it didn't happen.... so that was great! After we passed the hill, there was a downhill portion and I made up the time by pushing with all I had and striding out more. Mile 6- 6:31. I truly didn't have anything left at that point. I just kept on looking at my watch and realizing that a PR was there for me!!! I tried to sprint the last .2, but it ended up being my slowest split of the race.... boo!!!! But hey... I'll take it... great race, huge PR and I ran better than what I thought I could do.
10k- 40:38 - average 6:33/mile... I think I placed 83rd out of 2408 participants...and I got a cool coffee mug for placing in the top 125 males in the race.... YAY!!!!!!
Unfortunately, in retrospect, I beat up my body so much leading up to the race with having the flu, working a lot. And with having family in town and doing a lot of hosting, I am burned out. I have the full-blown flu, my stomach is in havoc, and I can barely get out of bed. I have not run since Thursday, and the way I feel now, I don't think I will run for at least a few more days. I can't remember the last time I have not run at least 10 miles on the weekend. Last weekend, I ran 24 miles, and the week before I ran 26.2, but now??? I'm sitting here typing this from my couch. My body has had enough... I'm done, and today it will be me, my couch and the NFL.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Running by the stars... (house)

This Saturday was probably the most eventful training run I have had over the past few months. Liz, one of my running buddies, invited Chris, Julie and myself to run with her in Avila, which is one of Tampa Bay's premier private country club communities. I have always wanted to see inside of that community, so I jumped on the opportunity to go over there and run with the group.

It was probably the coldest run of the year for me, as the starting temps were about 40 degrees. We ended up running 16 miles in around 2:25 and the temps were probably 45 when we finished. It was cold and because the community had a lot of trees, it never really warmed up.

So basically, it was a very cold running tour of Avila...

I enjoyed every minute of it, as I got to see so many houses of some of the big names in Tampa. So how big were these houses? Massive!!! It is so funny, because in my neighborhood there is one house that looks like it doesn't belong here. It is a custom home and it seems so huge... maybe 4,000-5,000 square feet.... well that is probably the smallest house in Avila...whew!!!

There was one house that looked like a castle!! No joke... don't believe me???

I told ya....

Anyways, my body felt a bit on the stiff side today, so after church I ended up running 7.5 miles, which has made my muscles feel so much better.

This upcoming week, I will be running the Turkey Trot with my dad on Thanksgiving day. It will be a 10k race, and I'm going to race this thing all out. I am hoping to break 41 minutes, as my 10k pr is unofficial, but it was 41:52 when I did a time trial right before the Chicago Marathon. I think that should happen... but thinking and doing are two separate things, right?

Anyways, it will be nice to race again... and the really nice part is that I will get rewarded with tons of great food later that day!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The "Easy Run"

Today's run brought me back to why I love to run so much. There is nothing better than doing an "easy run". An easy run is a run where you aren't striving to hit any time goals or distance goals.... you just run and run at a very low intensity to where you could have a full conversation at all times. It is the best feeling that you can have while running. You actually don't ever really want it to end... you just want to continue going at all times!! I trekked out this morning with no goals in mind... just run and put on the Ipod...when I felt like finishing, I would finish... that's it... and it was perfect.
I got onto the Suncoast trail by the 3rd mile...and at the end of the trail, I can tell that this guy was trying to talk to me. So, I took off my earphones and heard him say to me, "Are you even breathing???" and then he said, "I wish running could be that easy for me".

The truth is that easy running wasn't even possible for the first year that I ran. Every time I ran for the first 4-5 months, I felt like my heart was going to explode. Now, that was because I truly didn't know what I was doing. I just knew that I was very slow, and my goal was to finish as fast as possible...but it was more often than not...miserable!!!!

If I could give any advice to anyone who is new to running, or thinking of getting into running is that I would just try to run and not completely wipe yourself out. Once you get the hang of easy running, you will be surprised on how fresh you feel after all of your runs.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

I always want the best of all worlds... and I am always striving to get it... in all aspects of my life. Unfortunately, I have an addiction. Fortunately, my addiction is to running races, and it's not anything that's negative. My addiction has allowed me to manage my life better, given me an outlet when I am stressed, lose weight and has improved my health significantly over the last 2 years. I love running, but the only downer to becoming a stronger and faster runner is the time commitments. As I said, I want to have a strong business, invest a lot of time into my family, and run good! So, I have developed a new running regimen to allow that to happen.
I am going to try and run at work now that the weather is nicer during the middle of the day. I will have to use my lunch break to get in a few miles, and will bring my lunch, so I won't have to waste time buying lunch ( and waste money!)
The whole idea of me doing this is to maintain the shape I am in, so that I can run races whenever I want. The great thing about running races is the actual event. It's exciting, competitive and it's just a great way to test your true level of fitness. The bad thing about training to be competitive is the early mornings to train, and having to be on such a strict regimen all the time.
It is always nice to run, but this week it has been extremely pleasurable... because I am not having to wake up at 4:30 to hit the roads. I don't really miss that at all. But I do miss not having a big race coming up... so I think I will be doing some more big races over the next few months... just keeping myself in good shape at all times, and deciding on the fly whether or not I want to run races on the weekend. More importantly, Kerry is 100% on board with it, and realizes how much fun I am having participating in the sport of running. But as I said, I have to figure out how I don't have to go through the major grind of intense training, and still be able to stay in great shape.
My plan is to run more often, but less time for each run...mileage is the key, so I will transition into doing that, while trying to average 30-40 miles every week. Let's see if it works.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ignorance sickens me!!!!

This blog is diverting from running (but I did run a few times this week, and was perfect!) for just one post...maybe two. Haven't ever done this before, but I have to get this off my chest.

I sit here right now watching Michael Moore on Larry King, who is very "left" in his thought process. He is a very avid Obama supporter, which I have nothing against, but the fact is that he is very liberal in his thoughts... so with that said, coming from an extremely conservative person in my thoughts about most things.....the dude hit the nail on the head with re: to the outcome of this election.

There are a lot of people out there that should vote for John McCain, because it just makes sense for them. Whether it's that you make over $250,000/year, you believe that the war in Iraq is needed, or many other things... I completely understand and respect those people that make that decision.

There are a lot of people out there that should vote for Barack Obama, because it makes sense for them. You don't believe in the war, you feel as though the middle/lower class need more assistance, etc.. I completely understand and respect those people that make that decision.

BUT, I must admit.... I actually agree with Michael Moore's statement, that he just made saying... there are people (not all) out there are voting for McCain out of fear... fear that Obama is a Muslim?? Fear of having a black man as president of the United States? At the same time, there are people that are voting for Obama, just because he is black...not even researching all of the things he truly stands for.
At a rally that John McCain had, he let a lady from Pennsylvania speak, who said that she can't vote for an Arab. John McCain corrected her (telling her that Obama is not an Arab)... and she still didn't get it. Unfortunately, that is so sad.... It's sad that people still think like that, and realize why they can't get ahead in life.... what is so sad, is that the majority of these people fill the pews of churches every Sunday, worshipping the same God I worship.... and don't even realize there is anything wrong with that.
Even though I am not Muslim, I have heard of many Muslim-Americans that have died fighting for us in Iraq, and if I was one of the parents of those soldiers, I would be so sad and burdened by some hypocritical ignorant a** saying something like that.
This is more of a ignorance issue here....and it upsets me a lot...especially knowing that my fellow Christians are some of the biggest culprits....

As for the election....none of these guys will decide my fate. God and myself will decide my fate. God opens doors for me in all areas of my life, and I decide whether or not I want to try to enter the door or not (sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed)....that's how it has always worked, and that's how it will always be. When he closes the door, I will sometimes hit my head against the door a few times, and then realize that I need to move somewhere else. Bill Clinton, George Bush (Daddy or Son), have never decided my fate. I am a hard worker, a follower of Jesus Christ, and believe that the Lord will help me through my trials and guide me to inner peace at all times.
That's it... carry on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Chicago Marathon (with pictures)

I don't even know where to begin....
What an experience... you really need a few days to decompress when you put yourself through such an emotional experience as the marathon, but I have decided to start blogging about it, because I know most of you want to know how it went for me.
Just to get to the nuts and bolts of it....
1. I finished the marathon
2. I set a new PR
3. My time was a disappointment, given the training that I put in.

So I know that all doesn't really make sense to 99.9% of people, because finishing the marathon and setting a new personal record, would make for the perfect day, but my expectations were higher and it didn't work out for me the way I planned. With that said, I had my best marathon experience yet, by far!!! Chicago is an unbelievable city, and I can't imagine a marathon more electric than that....and if there is one, I don't even think I could handle it, because I thought I was playing at a Bucs game (how loud the crowd was) and the game was over 4hours... and they were all cheering for me to finish 26.2 miles!!! Here is a video of an overview of the race
So basically this is how it all went down: Sit down and get some popcorn....

Saturday - Marathon Eve
I left Tampa on a 7:10am flight on Saturday, and got into Chicago at about 8:40 central time. Chris and I ended up taking a shuttle to our hotel, and were able to go to the expo (which was located at our hotel), go for a 3 1/2 mile run on the lakefront (that is a great place to run.. Soldier Field on one side and Lake Michigan on the other), hang out a bit around the hotel... all before noon. Talk about making good use of your time!!!! Later on, we met up with one of Chris's clients, Scott, who had lunch with us. We enjoyed his company, and he is a really cool guy. We watched some college football games and talked while at the restaurant. After that we went upstairs and watched more football, and I fell asleep for about an hour or so. Later on, we went back to the expo, bought some cool running gear and then went to dinner. Our hotel had a marathon "dinner buffet" and we decided on that for our meal. Pictured below is Chris' plate of food, not mine!!I had a chicken breast (which was my initial plan, and a bowful of pasta). I didn't eat much at all, as I wanted to play it safe going into tomorrow.
Everything was ok, and felt fine, and later we went back to the room, I showered up and watched the Rays game... or at least the first part of it. I was able to get sleep in for an hour here and there, but I felt ok.... until about 3 am.... and my tummy started grumbling and acting funny. To spare you the details, I had to go potty about 5 times from 3am to 5:30 am. At this point, Chris just shook his head in utter amazement how this stuff always happens to me. I basically thought it wasn't too big of a deal, and didn't want to psyched myself out... because of my stomach problems, I was unable to have any breakfast in the morning, because I didn't think I could keep it down. So by time I left to go on the bus, I took it out of my mind and just started to focus on the race.

The Race
The atmosphere was like nothing I have ever seen. It was the Disney Marathon x 50!!! I think Chicago is the largest marathon in the world, with 45,000 registered entrants... not sure if any other marathon (maybe New York) allows that many people in. From getting on the Bus system, to getting to Grant Park and entering the runners area, I really just tried to soak it all in...and I did. I didn't talk much, I just looked around and at one point I just felt so blessed to be able to experience all of what was going on.
At this point, my stomach was holding up, but I had to go do the other potty...maybe a little nervous energy and the fact that I had a full Gatorade before I left to offset all the fluid loss from earlier in the morning. By time I got out the bathroom, there was only 4 minutes to start.
Once we started, I tried to fall into a groove and not go out too fast. I also told myself that I would run this 1st part of the race based on my HR, so I could save a lot for the last half of the race. The problem was that my HR at that level was making me run about 1 minute per mile slower than any other typical day. I knew something wasn't right, but I stuck with the plan. After finishing the 1st 2 miles, I was able to keep the pace pretty easy, but not because I was sticking to the game plan, but because I couldn't go any faster!!! But honestly, I was very concerned, but about 5 miles into the race, I knew this wasn't going to be the race I hoped for... but I would just make the best of the race... and that was very easy to do. I took it all in, I ran at close to 9 min pace by mile 5, and just looked at the crowd, and the sights of Chicago and took it all in. I was running at a pace close to what Chris and I ran the previous day (where my HR was averaging 140 at 11:30 am) and today my HR was 30 bpm higher.... by the halfway mark my body started to cramp up... and then a mile later, it was very severe... but because I am experienced in cramping during races (LOL!!!) I was able to understand that even though it is painful, I know I can work through this... so basically I ran/walk the rest of the way, and just enjoyed the sights of the city. The crowd was so encouraging, because there were times were it was quite visible how my body was failing me, and people would encourage me to keep pushing on.... it wasn't even an option for me... I have never been so happy with a disappointing race result. I have been able to think about everything over the day or so, and it was amazing how I felt low at the 1st-3rd mile because I knew my body wouldn't cooperate with me so early in the race... how high I felt after I got over that my time wasn't going to be what I initially expected and I embraced the crowd from mile 4-13... and then hitting another low when I started to cramp severely all over my legs... and basically figuring out how I was going to get through the next 13 miles... but I did it... given the situation, in a fairly respectable time I might add :) So... I was able to get through it, and again I found out things about myself that I never knew. And actually, I think that's why 45,000 people subject themselves to this punishment (and pay big money for it!!!). Because the marathon race/distance gives you so much, and you get so much from it. The truth is, you can't get this from running a 5k, 15k, or a half marathon.... just when you are pushed a bit in those races, and it's getting to be a struggle...it's over, but for the marathon, you realize how deep you are able to dig to muster up that much more energy to get a few more steps, and a few more, and a few more. It makes everything else that you do in everyday life seem so much easier... and not to sound like an elitist or anything, but now I realize why so many of these marathoners are such resilient and successful people, because they use the race as an annual event to show what they are made of, and that no obstacle is too big for you to overcome, and also how strong the human spirit is. It was also so beautiful to see how the city of Chicago (which is such a culturally diverse city) was able to come out for the race and support the runners. From Michigan Ave. to Wrigleyville to Greektown to Chinatown to Harlem, all races and cultures wanted me to finish the race... and that was just incredible. If everyday could be like yesterday... oh..what a more progressive world we would have.
So once I got up to the end of the race, I tried to sprint (with my locked up calves and quads) to the finish, and I did... it was probably pretty ugly, but I did, and I kept on jogging because I wanted my medal so bad. Like the other marathons, I felt like I really earned it... and I wanted it around my neck. I kept on asking the volunteers, "Where is my medal?" and they kept on telling me, "Straight ahead sir!"
I put on my medal, and headed back to downtown to find a bus to take me back to my hotel, and unfortunately I waited over an hour before I just had to find a cab, but people were just high fiving me, and saying congratulations for running. But unfortunately, I saw many dejected people that had on bibs, that didn't have medals around them... and that was when, while waiting at the bus stop, that I bowed my head and just raised my hands for a brief moment and thanked God for allowing me to finish the race and be ok... I felt very blessed, and I know its because of everyone of you that were praying for me that allowed my body to get me to the finish.... I thank you all and I thank God for that.

Post Race Recap

As for my race performance, I was able to go on runnersworld.com today, and hear from all the folks that have been training extremely hard, and hear of all of there experiences. The good, bad and the ugly... and I realized that I am very blessed. But the truth is that, to have a good marathon performance, everything must be right. The weather, your body, and everything else!!! Ironically, yesterday was the Ironman Kona, which is where the best of the world compete to finish the Ironman, and last year's winner??? Was unable to finish.... he obviously has the talent, certainly trained well, but yesterday wasn't his day. Will he quit?? No, just pick up the pieces and try again. As Pat Riley said, "Hard work doesn't guarantee you anything, but without it, you don't stand a chance." I don't know any other way to train and approach my life in all of its various aspects , but to give it my all... and during my training I enjoyed every run, (except for 1), and I wouldn't change anything.... and can't wait to get back out there and do it again.

So Where do I go from here?
I will use the next few days to rest and start back to running later this week (yes, I will be running again in a day or two). But I will take it fairly easy over the next month. It takes a week or two to get back in the full swing of things. I have a half-marathon scheduled for the beginning of December. I am hoping to run under 1:32.... I know that sounds aggressive, that would be over 10 minutes better than last year's half marathon, which was probably my best half marathon race performance. So let's see what happens.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thanks for the love!!

I just wanted to post a quick blurb thanking those of you who have emailed, text messaged and called me to wish me good health and good luck for my race on Sunday morning. As always, thanks for the support and good vibes that you all have sent my way.
The weather in Chicago is going to be warmer than they expected initially, but should be perfect for me, d/t the conditions I have been training in. I will be leaving for the airport in the early morning and will fly out first thing in the morning. Chris will be with me throughout the trip, and we will probably spend a decent amount of time at the expo, and maybe go check out NikeTown and Garmin shop in Downtown Chicago if time allows. My schedule will be quite tight, as I plan on returning to Tampa on Sunday after the race. When I return to Tampa, I will post a race report on my 1st Chicago Marathon experience. I am excited, anxious, nervous and quite optimistic all at the same time!!! As always, I pray (and ask for your prayers also) for God's protection over myself and others that are participating in the race, along with my immediate family that will be back in Tampa, and my extended family who is in Jamaica for a funeral.
Thanks again to all of you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I did it!!!

At least the training for the marathon, that is.... I feel so blessed and happy that I was able to get through the training for my 3rd marathon. I guess the more amazing thing is that my 1st marathon was a little less than 10 months ago, and I feel as though I have learned so much about marathon training, and about myself since then. I have completely changed my training regimen since the 1st marathon, which has been less intense, but much more volume. I have had to make a new found commitment with re: to getting up early in the mornings and running in very uncomfortable conditions this summer. I lost a bit of confidence midway through my training regimen, because the heat and humidity were starting to get to me and slow down my training paces considerably. Over the last few weeks, everything has changed... the humidity has lessened and the temps have gone down, and my paces have gotten so much quicker. I actually have started to run later in the day (around noontime, because I want my body to stay acclimated to the heat, and for me not to get too confident and cocky). My wife and kids have liked that because now when they wake up, Daddy is now home to greet them, instead of them greeting me when I come back from my runs.
Most importantly, I am relatively injury-free. I was able to get a massage yesterday from Chris, and that was perfect. My body feels loose and ready to run. This morning, I completed my last long run of the training period of 12 miles with Chris. I was able to run the whole time, and have a full conversation without really breathing hard at all. It was just a perfect run for me. The last two miles, I was able to hold a much faster pace, but I didn't feel spent at all. I just came back from church and we taught the little kids this morning and I don't even feel stiff.... I feel so blessed!!!
So here are my stats for this marathon training period:
I started my training in June

June: 167 miles
July: 200 miles
August: 190 miles
September:189 miles
October: 25 miles so far... and a little 26.2 mile run next Sunday

771 miles since June:
New 5k race PR: 19:38
Unofficial 10k time trial: 41:52

This is just awesome.... I can't believe I have been able to run a 5k under 20 min. based on marathon training that has me going fairly slow most of the time. Can you tell I'm happy??

But now comes the big one.... I guess this race means a lot to me, like everyone else that is running it. The marathon is such an emotional event, because you are running with so many people that have put in as much or much more time and dedication to their program than I have. You just want everyone to do awesome, but the truth is that the marathon is such an unforgiving distance, that anything can go wrong, and if you crash....it gets ugly.....real ugly. So with that said, I am happy about all the great things that happened throughout my training cycle, but I expect good things to happen next Sunday, God willing of course.

My marathon PR (personal record) is 4:52. That should be crushed next weekend (noticed I said "should") Based on my training, I should be comfortably under 4 hours, as long as I do the following:
1.Don't get caught up with the fact that I am running with 45,000 other people, with many of them much faster than I am. I have to run my own race, and not worry about anybody else.
2.Try to stay relaxed
3. Don't do anything stupid this week with re: to nutrition and hydration.
4. Pace evenly and properly and listen to my body.

Easy, right???

No matter what happens next week, one thing is for sure.... this is my last marathon for awhile. Why??? Because my wife and I agreed on it... more like my wife said it is!! LOL!!
Kerry is so supportive of me running, and has never stopped me from my training... and I mean never. She never complains about my running habits, my running obsessions, etc. But with a new child on the way, the training is very time consuming, and we don't have a major support system here in Tampa to help with our kids and other stuff, so I have decided to scale it back a bit. This has nothing to do with how well or poor I do next weekend. This is more of a family thing...which is a hell of a lot more important than marathons.
I will still be running around 3-4 days/week, and will be able to participate in local races from the 5k-1/2 marathon distance, but I will not enter marathon training until at least a couple months after the baby is born, which would put me at doing no marathons for the rest of 2008 and all of 2009. I guess everything is subject to change, but for now.. that is the plan. With that said, that is why Chicago will be so special, because I know that I just need to soak in the whole experience.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The 1/2 Century Mark

I am currently in the 3 week taper period of my upcoming marathon, and I am enjoying it...and today was no exception. I was able to do something that I very rarely, if ever, get to do. I was able to take a little longer lunch break since I had another therapist work with me this morning, and go out for an afternoon run. I very rarely try to run in the afternoon, because it is usually just too hot and muggy for me. But, I want to keep my body used to the heat, and the weather today was very nice this morning, so I was able to run at 11:15 am and run 5 miles in 45 minutes. It was perfect for the 1st 3 miles and started to get a bit warm for the last 2 miles...but I got through it fine, without a hitch. I was able to shower at the Seven Oaks Clubhouse, and later I ran into some people that I know from Saddlebrook. The cool thing is that Seven Oaks has a cafe with some really good food... so I was able to have lunch (by myself) and enjoy a Chicken sandwich and a smoothie.... yum!!!! This was perfect for me.... I deal with people all day, and I was able to get a full 1 hour and 45 minute break by myself doing things that I love to do.... run and eat!!!!! So anyways, I was able to weigh myself today and I realized that I have now lost 50 lbs. since I started this running endeavor 2 & 1/2 years ago. I'm sure that I will probably gain a few pounds back over the next few weeks, since my training will decrease, and a few more after the marathon as I will be taking a break from running for a little... but still, it is pretty cool. The funny thing is that it really just happened... I wasn't even trying to lose this amount of weight, but I just really started to enjoy the sport, and I have been so focused on becoming a better runner at all distances from the 5k to the marathon... that this just happened indirectly.... so maybe that is the key to weight loss, huh?? Stop thinking about losing the weight and start thinking about starting a journey that you can enjoy and pursue bigger and better things for yourself. At the end of every training period for a major event, you get time to reminisce and think about the fruits of your labor... and this is no different. So far, I have PR'd in my weekly distances with running (highest mileage week at a little over 55), I have PR'd in the 10k distance, this Saturday I hope that I will PR in the 5k distance, and hopefully great things will come on October 12th.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We The Best!!!!

Two other things that really made my weekend fantastic:

My daughter, who started kindergarten last month, was picked as "Student of the Month"..... oh yeah!!!! Amazing for her, because I don't think that Kerry or myself were ever picked for Student of the Month. I'm so happy for her. We will be celebrating with her school and other students this Thursday... very happy!!

Also, Renewal Rehabilitation-South Tampa got picked as the Best Physical Therapy Center in the Tampa Bay area. Click here to read about it.

Very proud moments for both of my families (working and personal).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Birthday!!

Yesterday was a very interesting, but fulfilling day for me. To set it up, I have been a bit under the weather since Wednesday night, and have been trying to fight off the flu since then. Unfortunately (or actually fortunately), I had a really busy day on Friday, so my body really felt run down by time I ended up going home (around 8:00 pm). About 6 weeks ago, I committed to sponsoring a breakfast for the Blue Sharks running group on a Saturday morning, which happened to be yesterday. The other thing that I had to do yesterday was finish my 20 mile long run (the last 20 miler of my training cycle). The reason why I wanted to do the 20 miler yesterday instead of today was because last night was a date night for my wife and I, and I didn't want to have that 20 miler hovering over my head. I wanted to know that it was over, and that we could go out and do whatever we wanted, as late as we wanted, and just have a blast.... but as I said earlier, I felt terrible at the end of my work day, and actually told Chris and Julie (who were running in Downtown also, that I would probably have to skip out on my 20 miler).

I was able to get to my bed by 10:30, but I was very stuffy. I woke up at around 12:30, and went to the bathroom, and when I went back in the bed, I was so uncomfortable and congested, that I could not sleep. I knew I had to get up at 4:30, in order to drive down to the Downtown YMCA and host the breakfast, but I was so frustrated because I was not able to go back to bed. I tried to relax my mind as much as I could to no avail. Finally, I think I fell back asleep, but woke up again before 2:00 am, and was even more uncomfortable at this point. So, I started to think..... should I just do my 20 miler now??? I know, it sounds crazy, but at least I could get it out of the way... I just didn't know if my body would hold up. I realized that this would take me around 3 hours, and it wouldn't give me enough time to complete it by my house, shower up, and get down there in enough time. So..... I decided to get dressed, drive down to our office in South Tampa, and I started to run on Bayshore.... at 3:15 am!!!! Right before I started, I called Chris to let him know what I was doing (he just laughed at me) because I knew that he was going to be down there around 4ish to start his run also. I figured that we could meet up at some point and run together.
As I was driving in Hyde Park, it must have been around 2:45 or so, and I saw many people by their cars, at bars...even saw a few people puking on the side of the road (from too much alcohol I assume)... and thought to myself....as crazy as I may be, I would rather be doing what I am doing, than what those folks are doing right now.
Initially I was nervous about running that early...because there was obviously no people running or walking on Bayshore, except for homeless folks sleeping on the benches. I tried to keep my breathing quiet so I wouldn't wake any of them up, but once I got going and turned on my Ipod, it was like any other run. I basically ran all the way on Bayshore to Interbay and 1st St. and then back to the YMCA. About 8 miles into the run, I met up with Chris and Julie and ran another 7 miles with them. We met up with the Blue Sharks and Fred (the director) introduced myself and Chris to everyone and mentioned that the Renewal Rehab facility was sponsoring the breakfast (we appreciated the plug!). I then proceeded to run an additional 6 miles to finish up with a little over 20 miles, which was done by 6:15 am. After I finished, Chris, Julie and myself went to pick up the breakfast, set up our tables, and meet with all the runners as they finished their runs. I ended up staying until close to 10:00 am and met a lot of people, including a good amount of people that are also running the Chicago Marathon.

When I got home, I had my 3 favorite people waiting for me, and sang Happy Birthday to me, and greeted me with loving arms (luckily I took a shower at the Y, so they were safe). All these things happened today, and it wasn't even 11 am yet....

I did relax for a few hours and then Kerry and I went out for my B-day and had a blast. From Bennigans to Splittsville to Grille 54 for dessert (which is an awesome restaurant!!!!).... we had such a good time... anytime I can be with my sweetheart are good times.... felt like college again... but always so nice to have a great time, and then come back to our kids and kiss them goodnight.

This was my best birthday in a long time! Actually my best birthday ever, because every year I feel blessed that God has given me another year to enjoy my kids, my wife, and the people that he has put in my life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nailed it!!!!

Just a great run this morning...due to being inspired by what I saw yesterday. Unfortunately, about 3 of my patients had to cancel last night because of a gas leak on I-75, so I finished work a little earlier than usual. I knew that Wiregrass High (which is a school that our facility sponsors for Cross Country) had their first meet of the season at their school.... so I decided that I could at least catch part of the race. I was able to get there by 7:05 pm, and the boys meet started less than 2 minutes before I got there. For those of you that don't know, a cross-country race is a 5k, and the winning team is the team that has the most amount of runners place in the top 20... I think??? I'm not sure completely about this, but I know that the winning teams had the lowest numbers. Anyways, it was really cool to see this, because I had never really been to a cross country meet before.
Anyhoo, Wiregrass girls and boys team won the meet, and more impressively, the Boys team beat Land O' Lakes High, which hasn't lost against a Pasco team in over 4 years... so it was pretty cool to see it all go down.
This morning, I was able to do my hardest intervals during this marathon training... and I nailed it. I envisioned myself being in that meet last night while I was toughing out those interval sessions. Between the 10k and the intervals this morning, I really have a lot of confidence that my speed has returned, and that it is better than ever. I do realize that the temptation is there to really test my speed this weekend during my 20 miler this weekend, but I'm going to resist. Someone told me... don't leave your marathon performance on the roads this week.... save it for Chicago... and that's what I plan on doing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On the 6th day of running.....

Today will culminate the toughest 6 days in my training cycle so far. After my 5 mile run today, I will have run 6 days in a row for the 1st time in my life. As they say, sometimes the journey feels like more of an accomplishment than the actual event itself... and that is the way I feel now. But on the way, I've been feeling pretty beat up, especially after yesterday. So here is how the week went for me:
Tuesday: 8 miles with intervals
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run
Thursday: 11 mile run
By that time I was feeling pretty tired after Thursday. Friday was a planned day off for me from running, and I was supposed to do a time trial 10k Saturday, and a 17 mile long run Sunday, but I was able to run Friday after work, because the wifey and kids went to a party. So after a full days of work (and a workout at Sports and Field with Scott before work at 6 am), I decided to do the 10k time trial and give it all I had. My reasoning for it was that I really wanted at least one of my weekend days to sleep in and not have to get up at 5:00 am and train.

So I did the 10k, and finished it really strong. I held on for dear life at the end... I thought my heart was going to explode!!!! But I was able to hold my pace the whole way. Unfortunately my Garmin 405 watch failed me at the end, and wouldn't stop... so it kept on ticking away seconds even though I was done. I don't know for sure what my official time was... and I guess it doesn't fully matter since it wasn't official anyway, but I do know that it has me on pace to finish the marathon in the projected goal time that I wanted to aim for. This was so key for me, because through the whole summer, I felt like I was getting slower and slower, and that my tempo and interval pace runs have been so hard for me to hit my goal times due to whatever reason(heat, humidity, training, etc.). So I was really please to see what happened with the 10k. You just never realize what you truly have in you, until you just let it rip (giving everything you got!). So with that said, I headed back home, showered up and had some leftover pizza and watched the USF vs. Kansas game (while I waited for the family to come home).

I knew Chris, Julie and some other folks were going to run at Flatwoods Saturday, along with the Wiregrass team being out there, so I decided to just get the 17 miler out the way on Saturday instead of Sunday. I knew it would be helpful to have some company for at least part of the run. So, between the 10k and the start of my 17 miler on Saturday morning was 10 hours... and boy did I feel it by mile 14. My legs were shot, and I just pushed through it. It was the first time that I have felt like I wanted to cut off my legs for this whole training period. I got to my car, and literally had a difficult time getting in my car. I gingerly got myself in the car, and got to a gas station close to my house and bought a bag of ice.
As soon as I got home, I filled up my tub and poured all the ice in there and just let my body enjoy the ice bath. My body has been as stiff as a board all day yesterday, and every time I tried to stretch, my legs cramped up... so my lovely wife gave me a massage at my right hamstring for a few minutes and I fell asleep.
Today, I am feeling about 50% better, but I think I need to actually run really slow to get some of the soreness out of my legs. So that's what I plan to do later on today. A really slow 5 mile run, and hopefully I will feel great again. It will also allow for me to sleep in until 6 am tomorrow, instead of having to get up early and run before work.... so I'll take it.
So there it is... 6 consecutive days of running for me. It's a big deal for me, and just another moment that proves that you can push your body further and further (within reason, that is).

Thanks for reading

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I don't have time!!!!

As I sit here, watching the Dolphins try to stay alive against the Jets (although I am at least enjoying that football is back on TV), I just started to think about something one of my potential fitness clients said to me this week. "Greg, I just don't have any time to spare to exercise... it just takes too much time!" There might be a little truth to that, but I started to think about my week, and how much time I have spent doing certain things... so here it is.
Working: Clinical (40 hours at the office). Marketing (5 hours). Administrative (3-4 hours)
Training/Working out: (7.5 hours)
Here's the kicker.... TV (about 20 hours!!!) Between pro football today, college football yesterday, all of the US Open for tennis, Big Brother, parts of the polititcal speeches on CNN, and other little things here and there.

My wife just asked me out of the blue, if I would consider training for a triathlon? I am following some people that Chris works with that are doing the Wisconsin Ironman today, and immediately said.. "I don't have the time to train"..... but actually I do, if I wanted to right? Let's face it... add another 10 hours/week of training and I could be prepared to do it... so.... take away 1/2 the TV time, and there you go...

I am not doing a triathlon... don't have any desire currently to do one, but my point is that the time thing is such a lame excuse... we all need to stop using this...either you want it or you don't... it's time spent vs. reward. For 99% of people, time is not a factor, even though we say it is.
I have a patient that is a single dad of 9 children.... 2 are autistic....that's right... 9 children!!! I asked him... "How do you do it?", and he said, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle"... makes me feel like an absolute dud.

But the main thing I realize is that no matter what it is, we are always going to find time for things that mean much to us. Our economy is in shambles right? I have patients every day telling me that they can't afford to pay their co pays for pills, MD visits, and visits to our office.... but I watch football today, and I see stadiums filled to capacity. I went to the movies last night and it was pretty much a sell out... the restaurants were packed, and as I came home yesterday from my run, I saw numerous cars getting on I-75 to go to Gainesville to watch the Gator/Canes game. So.... no matter how bad things are financially, personally etc., people will find a way to do the things that mean the most to them. It's just that simple.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wait and see approach...

I am nearly 5 weeks from the big race... my training has been a little bit up and down over the past 2 weeks or so. 2 weeks ago when I went down to the Downtown area to run with the Blue Sharks, I rolled my ankle inward when I turned a corner, and "jammed" my ankle.... which at the time didn't hurt because I was at mile 4, but I happened to run 20 that day, so I continued to aggravate it throughout the run (even though I didn't feel it), and I really struggled after I got home that day. I was only able to run 30 miles for the week last week, which was 20 miles less than I was supposed to do. This is the time that I really need to be in full intense workouts, and I have had to taper it back quite a bit, because the ankle continues to nag me... so I decided to go from a 5 to a 3 day/week program, so that my ankle/foot can rest up and get back to normal. I continue to have good and bad days with the foot.... and this morning was no different.
I started to run at 5 am, and when I took my first 50 steps, I felt like my foot was on the verge of doing something very strange... almost like something was going to "pop".... as I was deciding whether or not to shut it down, my foot stopped hurting (this all was in the first 1/2 mile) and it gave me no other problems throughout the run. Go figure. When I got home, no problems with the foot, and all day I have been fine... until now when it is starting to ache a bit.... so it's a wait and see thing for me each day. I have just come to terms with the fact that I might be able to run only 3 days/week until the race.... at this point, I'll take it. The marathon means so much more to me than just having an "ideal" time... because from what I hear, the Chicago marathon is just such an incredible experience, that I want to just be there and soak it all in.. and I know that I'll have a great time. With that said, I feel as though I can continue to put in the fitness gains that I need to on 3 days/week of running.

So here is my plan as I lead up to the race:
I have 3 more challenging long runs, starting this Saturday, when I have to do 17 miles, with 14 of them at 8:00/mile pace (or at least that's the plan). This will give me a good idea as to what pace I want to attempt to hold throughout the race.
Next Saturday, I will do a 17 mile run, with the last 8 miles getting faster and faster (hopefully I will be running around 7:30/mile by the last mile)
The following Saturday, I will attempt to do the same thing but I will do 20 miles instead.... that will be my last "long run" before the race. I will be ready to taper at that time.

Somewhere in between now and September 20th, I will do a time trial of some sorts, probably a 10-15k, and that will give me additional information on what pace I should try to hold for Chicago. Just writing about it is getting me psyched up!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympics in Review......

It's really cool when you can witness history in all different aspects of life... and really neat when you can witness history in sports. Over the past 2 weeks, many of us witnessed some pretty incredible feats that took place at the Beijing Summer Olympics. In my opinion, this is the best Olympics I have ever watched... but that might be because I have a new appreciation for many of the Olympic events that I would have not particularly been interested in a few years back.

So the highlights for me???

Michael Phelps - Ok, so the guy is a freak of nature, and has a body that is ideal for swimming.... but do you realize that he swims for 2-5 hours/day??? That is just unreal... this guy works so hard, that he has developed that mental edge over all of his competitors... that to me is the most impressive thing about him.

Usain Bolt- 3 golds, 3 world records, in two of the most highly anticipated events in the Olympics??? And of course, he is Jamaican... so this one is near and dear to my heart. What the Jamaicans did in this Olympics was incredible... with a population of 3.6 million people.....to have that much talent in the Track & Field events is very impressive... they are still partying in the streets of Jamaica... actually my cousin was in Jamaica this past Friday, and he told me that they have sold out of (Usain Bolt Water)... which is supposed to make you run faster!!! Classic... he said they are selling like hotcakes!!!!

Also the Jamaican women went 1,2,3 in the 100 m. That is just unreal!!!!

Redeem Team - It's not just that they got back the gold medal... but it was the way they handled themselves throughout the Olympics.... they were at so many of the events, cheering on other Americans... they didn't come off as "We're better than all of you... so this is above us" type... they really made the U.S. proud, and put basketball back where it is supposed to be. I must say though, that the world continues to catch up... beware in 2012....

The women's and men's marathon- I know this is not necessarily a favorite event to most of you.. but for me, this was one of my favorites (obviously there is some interest on my part now). It's really cool that a lady that is 38 could crush the competition like that... which shows that your body can continue to do amazing things as we get older... it's usually ourselves that put these limits on what we want to do.

The Kenyan man that won the Olympics was absolutely incredible. I don't think the average person realized what he did yesterday... running that pace in that weather was almost incomprehensible... even the experts thought he was going to croak or something.... for me that was the 3rd most impressive feat at the Olympics (behind Phelps and Bolt).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

7 weeks left....

until the big day!! I was having a difficult time with the training when I came back from vacation, along with having a really crummy goal pace run... but since then, things have really made a turn for the better. I am back on track with my running. Below are some of the runs that I have done since last week.
14 mile run with Shane and Chris on the Gandy Bridge.
12 mile tempo run around my neighborhood
12 mile easy run on the Suncoast Trail
I have decided that my main weakness at this point is not having the confidence that I can hold a fast pace for the full marathon distance. That is going to be my biggest area of concern over the next 3-4 weeks. Today, I did a 20 mile run with a big running group in Downtown Tampa called the "Blue Sharks". They had 122 runners that started at 5:30 am this morning...wow!!! That was enough to get me pumped up and ready to roll. I did the first 12 with the group, and then decided to add another 8 miles...trekking down Channelside and then to Ybor and heading back on Bayshore.... it was quite nice...but I can tell that my body is just not used to running that long...much less running any type of respectable pace. Luckily, I still got time... so I'm gonna work hard at this over the next few weeks. After I finish a 6 mile easy run tomorrow, I will hit 55 miles for the week, matching my PR. Last week, I was feeling so lethargic and undisciplined, that I thought this week I would scale back quite a bit... well... I didn't and I feel really good. I realize know that most of my problems last week, was d/t me getting back in the swing of things with being on a regimented schedule. Now, I think I am back on that... and it will make it much easier to really get back on schedule when the Olympics finish.... man I'm tired from staying up and watching this stuff.... Big up Jamaica!!!!!
Speaking of the Olympics... I'm going to watch the men's marathon now... hopefully it will be a great race with a great finish.... hoping for Ryan Hall to perform well... ok, see ya!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mental battle with the training

My bad for not posting for awhile. I have been away and when I came back to work this week... it has just been one thing after another. But I am somewhat back to normal and everything is all good... Praise God!!!
But honestly, I would say that this has been my most disappointing week of training. Until 2 Saturdays ago, my training has gone near perfect with my runs. The weather has been uncomfortable, but I have been able to hit most of my paces (besides tempo runs) without a problem. My last post talked about my first 20 miler of this training cycle, which did not go so well, so I won't harp on that too much.
During my vacation week, I was still able to hit most of my runs, but I decided to do them on a treadmill for 2 of them, so I could sleep in and feel lazy!!! I must say it was quite nice... the only thing that I did new was try hill repeats in a parking garage and on a treadmill. I am wondering if my legs got messed up from this new type of training. Anyways, this is the start of my stinky training week....
I was supposed to do 15 miles with 12 miles at marathon pace. I have been looking forward to this run, because it was supposed to give me full confidence that I can hold that pace very easy. I am more than halfway through my training for Chicago, and I haven't been able to run any races, so this was more of a reward of how my training was going. I was supposed to do this on Sunday, but I was still on vacation, and I decided to wait until I got back. So this Tuesday, I woke up at 5 am, and trekked out to do the simulated run.... it sucked!!! It was hard from the 3rd mile.... I just felt like my legs were heavy, my breathing was labored, and I had difficulty holding my pace. I felt like I was running 30 miles, instead of 12, and this was NOT good for my confidence heading into the second phase of my training. Basically, I ran the splits as fast as I ran my half marathon about 9 months ago.... which is not too reassuring... I am supposed to be much faster, right???? Well the second I finished that 12th mile, I had to stop and catch my breath... I averaged about 6 seconds slower than what I planned...ugh!!!! I had to battle throughout the run to keep going... this is what I expect at mile 22...not mile 9!!!! So anyways, my confidence has been a little shot, and mentally I am struggling to put it behind me. But, I was able to think about this a little more.... I am training for a marathon.... and I know that completing a marathon is more mental than physical.... so I am looking at this as mental training for me.... can I pick up the pieces of a key run, and continue to plug along??? Well.... yes!!!! I will, and I won't let this get me down for long. I will say that I am actually going to substitute the bike for one or two of my easy runs over the next 2 weeks, so that I can get my legs back... but I have two key runs this weekend... a 14 miler on the Gandy Bridge with Shane and an 8 miler with some interval sprints in there.
Shane and I talked today a bit, and he feels as though because I am fairly new to running, my body is not used to running high mileage (for me that is)... so he wants me to tone it down a bit, and take out a day of running over the next week...to get my mental edge back... and that is exactly what I plan to do.... I'm ready to go out there again!!!!!

BTW, after my Tuesday run... I came into my house, kinda bummed, and as soon as I turned on the TV after I showered, it was on the Olympics channel...not NBC, but the channel that is a 24/7 feed on the American athletes and their road to the Olympics... made me put things in perspective a bit.... as Pat Riley said, "Hard work guarantees you nothing, but without it, you have no chance"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bumps in the road

On Saturday morning, I journeyed out to finish my highest mileage week ever. It seems as though every week, I seem to break my record with re: to mileage... but this is it!!! I will not go beyond 55 miles for my program in preparation for Chicago, so I felt as though this would be the ultimate test for me. I was not very motivated to do this run, and I asked Chris if he would accompany me on part of the run. He obliged, so we decided to start around 5:40 am at the Suncoast Trail. Chris said that he would run the first 10 miles with me, and then I would be on my own for the rest. The interesting thing is that when I run with Chris, we always have great talks... I don't want to bore you with our conversations, but the main thing we talked about was how we all have weaknesses, and sometimes our spiritual enemy plays on us a bit, and tries to expose our weaknesses....so we have to get stronger with re: to our weaknesses. Also, we talked about how crazy it can be when everything seems to be going right, and then all of a sudden... all hell breaks loose (no pun intended). It was a great talk, and I needed the encouragement and I'm sure he needed it too.
Well after he left me, I had to finish the last 10 miles. I decided to stop and put on my Ipod, and finish out the run strong. The funny thing about the last 10 miles of my run is that it was exactly what Chris and I had talked about. I was running really comfortable.... actually, a lot slower than I usually do my long runs, and I just decided that I was going to coast for the last 10 miles. I would not push it, just finish. Well.... all was well until around mile 18 or so... and then I just felt like... ok, this might get kinda tough....let me slow down a bit more. As soon as I hit the 19th mile, I started to feel woozy, like I was gonna hit the ground. I stopped running, and I started to drink the little water that I had left. I felt awful... I knew I was in trouble, but I also knew that I could at least walk the last mile if I had to. So, I ended up walking for about a tenth of a mile, and then I started to run again. I was severely dehydrated at this point, and I knew it... my legs didn't feel like lead, but my body just ran out of steam. When I got to 1/2 mile left, I said I would just try to run a little bit more and then walk, but I just kept on going and just playing mental games with myself. I ended up running/shuffling (but most importantly...not walking!!!) the last 1/2 mile. I was disappointed in how my big week finished, but I felt as though I showed some mental toughness in gutting it out and finishing the run.... running!!! So, I was able to crawl in my car, get home... and I crashed.... felt like I was gonna puke honestly... but after about an hour or so of getting fluids back in my body and taking a 90 min. nap, I felt better again, and drove down to Ft. Lauderdale. That's where I am at now, and will be here for the rest of the week. This will be a recovery week for me, in which I will cut back to 40 miles or so... I need it though, because my body feels tired. So here is the run/carnage. My run was exactly what Chris and I talked about earlier.... things can be going so well, and all of a sudden, bad things can come in a barrage... but you gotta fight through it... and I think that is what I did... it wasn't pretty, but I made it. Isn't that what life is all about????

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feeling the beat down

The last couple of days have been challenging for me from a running standpoint. I'm still a fairly new runner, with my first half-marathon only 18 months ago. I was averaging about 10 miles a week at that time, and for my first two attempts at a marathon, I was averaging 20-25 miles/week. It's funny how your perspective changes... because at that time, I felt as though my body was being pushed hard. I also thought that it would be virtually impossible to train more than 40 miles/week... just felt that my body would not be able to handle it, along with feeling that time constraints would be such a major issue for me. Also, when you tell someone that doesn't run at all, that you run 10-20 miles/week, they think you are nuts... but times have changed for me. I now browse RW.com forums on a frequent basis, in which the average person on the marathon boards runs around 60-75 miles/week... with a good amount of folks averaging 80-90 miles/week, and going over the 100 mile mark a few times during their training. Also, most of these folks run twice/day.... and it is not uncommon to find many of them starting at 4 am to get their first runs in.... seems crazy, huh??? But common... one guy who is training for a marathon this fall, said he gets home from work at 10-11 pm, and usually runs from 12 am-2 am, goes to bed, and wakes up at 7 am to go to work... it's his way of managing everything and getting his runs in. Gosh... it really makes me feel horrible to even slightly complain about my running schedule.
So.. I have just completed my first 50 mile week.....ever... I was recently not driving 50 miles/week when I was just working at the North Tampa clinic... a year later, I am running that per week... how cool!!!! My schedule over the last 3 days was as follows:
18 mile long run on Sunday
6 mile recovery run on Monday
11 mile tempo run today

Sunday's run really exposed my weakness..... endurance. I have good endurance for the average person, but I struggled to hold pace at the end of the run... from miles 16-18, I tried to hold my goal pace for the marathon, and even though I did it... that was not about to happen for any more miles. I am hoping that over the next few weeks, I will build up my endurance by doing more of these long runs. Its just draining to do them.... but just like everything else, your body starts to get used to it.
Usually after a Sunday long run, I feel pretty good, and ready to do some sort of run by Monday... but I just wasn't feelin' it Monday morning. I did not want to wake up any earlier than I had to, so I ended up doing my run right after work (Bayshore... yeah!!!). It was supposed to be a recovery run, which it was for the first 4 miles. All of a sudden, about 20 high school girls and 3 older guys started to run in a pack by Bay to Bay Blvd. I was kinda intrigued, and one of the girls looked like one of my former patients, so I decided to run with 2 of the guys and started to talk to them about the group. It was the Plant High School cross country team, and I did a little marketing while I was running with those guys, and told them about what I do, and if they needed any of our services... (services are always needed!!!). So I ended up running the 5th mile faster than I would have liked, and the 6th mile was supposed to be sprints anyway... so I just don't think I really "recovered" from that recovery run...does that make any sense???? With that said, I knew I had a 11 mile tempo run scheduled for today, and I knew it would be a struggle.... and it was. I started a little before 6 am, and it took me a full 3 miles to feel somewhat warmed up. My heartrate was climbing, I was sweating heavily, and I just knew this was gonna be a crummy one. I guess the good thing was that I was able to fight my way through the tempo portions, and my splits were somewhat respectable. I really wanted to just walk home after I finished the tempo portion, but I just knew it would make everything prolonged... I just wanted to take a shower and climb in a bed or something.... but then I thought... this is what it will feel like at the end of the.... marathon!!!! This was a little test for me. I had to fight through it, and keep on going even though I didn't want to go... and you know what??? After a mile, I was ok.... not great... but ok. I could've kept on going, but once I got to my house, I was happy to get inside, go straight to the shower, and get in some clean clothes and hug and kiss the Todd Squad. My right outer ankle (peroneals) are on the sore side, so I definitely won't run tomorrow, but I plan on doing a 12 miler on the Gandy bridge Thursday morning before work with Shane. I want to be well rested for that, as this will be the first time I have ever done hill work. If my ankle (which is already feeling a little better) is not right by tomorrow, I will bag it for another day... but I think I will be fine. Saturday morning, I will have a scheduled 20 mile run, so the beat down will continue. I will finish out this week at 55 miles. It will be my highest week ever, and it will be my peak week for my training for Chicago. Let's keep on keepin' on!!!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I ain't the only one

I decided to bite the bullet, and wake up really early this morning to get an 11 mile run in. I usually don't like to run very long, or at all on Wednesdays because I work at the South Tampa clinic at 7 am. If I do run, it is usually an easy run of 6 or less miles, because I know that I have a long day ahead of me. Tomorrow though, I have to take care of some stuff in the morning, so I knew it was better just to get it done now. So, I woke at 4 am, drove down to the clinic, and ran Bayshore to Gandy and then took Gandy to past Dale Mabry. I was trying to make it to the Gandy Bridge, but d/t time constraints, I had to turn around before I got there. I've never done it before, but I figured I could give it a try. Oh well... maybe next time. So, I thought I was going to be one of maybe two or three people running that early. I guess not.... because within the 1st mile of running, there was at least 10 runners that passed me. To cap it off, by time I got past Bay to Bay, there was a woman running with a baby in a jogging stroller... what???? Whatever works for you, right? The fact is that, as I was running, I felt very proud of those people that were so dedicated to start running so early. It also made me feel normal. It was a good run for me, and I must say that I pushed it a bit at the end... almost got a bit too carried away, because there were so many people running at that time, that it just got my juices going. About 75% of my runs are done with me not seeing anyone, so this was a treat. So, here is the run.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Life is like a....

box of chocolates??? No.... like a marathon...more like my marathons that I have run so far!!!! You never know what you're gonna get.... It has been a roller coaster 3 weeks for me, and that is putting it mildly. I had a major letdown... then got brought back up again with other news... and then another major letdown... and none of this has anything to do with running. Needless to say, that is why the blogging has been non-existent. Whatever strength I had over the last 3 weeks, I didn't want to use it up blogging...but I have been getting a few e-mails, questions, etc. from a few of my faithful blog readers, and have been responding... I finally realized that it is easier just to talk in the blog about stuff.

So.... I am still training for Chicago, and through all of these trials that I am dealing with, I am very proud that I have not missed a day of running. This morning I did a run with Chris that turned into a 14 mile run in Tampa Palms. Both of us have never run there before, and we were invited to come out to run with a group of triathletes that Chris's massage company sponsors. It was really cool to talk to new people, and see how dedicated some people are to their sport. Most of the people that we were running with are training for an Ironman triathlon... which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.... back2back2back.... makes what I am doing seem like a walk in the park, huh???

We all started together, and ran the 1st mile or so together... until Chris fell into a pothole and twisted his ankle and fell to the ground!!! There is always a funny,dramatic, crazy story when we run together, and this time was no different.... anyways after he got up and everything checked out somewhat ok, we continued to run, and we broke apart from the group and picked up the pace. We averaged a 9:47 pace during the whole run, and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was really cool seeing the improvements that Chris has made over the past 2 months with his conditioning... he is back to where he was before all of the layoffs...probably even more conditioned.... and should really see some nice results in his future races. About 11 miles in, we saw one of my former patients running, and met up with her and ran together for about a mile or so. That was really nice... because she was one of my favorites....even better was to hear that the injury that I was treating her for is all gone... Yay!!!! She also asked me about the blog, and I promised her that I would get back on it today.... so here it is...

The coolest part of the day was after the run. We ran back to where we parked and met a guy who had a "Team in Training" shirt on. I actually can't even remember his name, but we got to talking a bit, and he told us a bit about himself. Within 5 minutes, this guy completely inspired me. He started running in August of 2007 (nearly a year now). He was 360+ lbs back then.
So apparently he met up with his former fraternity brothers at some reunion, and one of his frat brothers told him he was a fat, piece of #%&*..... (just quoting what he told me...) He decided the next day to go outside in 95 degree weather (with a sweater and jogging pants on) and run as far as he could. He ran out as far as he could, and walked back to his house. He later got into his car and drove the route he ran. He ran for..... 2 tenths of a mile.... not too good. The next day he did the same thing.... following day, he did double... and threw up.... same thing the next day... threw up again at the end. He followed this routine for 5 days, and then came home one day, and got a postcard in the mail from "Team in Training", which is an organization that helps you run a half-marathon, marathon and/or triathlon, in return for your raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma. 4 months later, he ran his 1st half-marathon, and a few weeks after that, his 1st full marathon. So far for 2008, he has run 3 marathons and 2 half marathons..... he is also down to 255 lbs. He lost the first 90 lbs within 3 months. Unreal..... that guy made my day. You can tell how passionate he was about his running, and his team, etc. It was so cool to hear a story like that...
So it just put so many things into perspective. Good things don't come easy... and sometimes life can be unfair... but you have to fight and keep on pushin'.

So over the past few weeks, here are some of my more memborable runs:

A 16 miler in my old neighborhood in Pembroke Pines.

A 6 mile recovery run with Shane on Bayshore:

A 17 miler on the Suncoast Trail... quite uneventful, but I saw an alligator!!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You know what bothers me???

A day like yesterday bothers me. I hardly ever go on rants (on this blog, that is).... but this is the right time to do it... at least for a paragraph or two. I got to bed a little past 11 pm on Monday night (partially d/t the Rays game vs. Red Sox (wow!!!), but I knew I had to run on Tuesday to stay with my running schedule....especially considering that I would be heading down to Ft. Lauderdale later in the week, and who knows what will happen with my running once I am down there. So needless to say, it was a struggle for me to get up at 5:00 on Tuesday morning. I did it, but I was slow moving.... and it was taking me forever to get moving. I didn't get out the door until 5:40 (I should have left by 5:30 at the latest, considering I had an 8 mile run with 10 x 100 meter sprints to complete. So, already I was off schedule, because I knew I had to leave my house by 7:00 am, since I had a 7:30 patient. I only had about 50 minutes to work with. So I decided to not push the pace, since this was my 5th day in a row running, and just cut the workout short. Work obviously takes precedence over another 2 miles of running.
So I ended up finishing about 6.1 miles of running, rushed inside the house, and took a quick shower.... no breakfast and sped off to work. When I was about 5 minutes away from the office, Cheryl (the office manager) calls me to tell me that my first patient canceled, saying he was too busy to come in today. I didn't have another patient until 8:30 am..... ugh!!!!
Couldn't he have called yesterday??? Not like 10 minutes before his appt???? Geez!!!!
So why does it bother me so much???? Because just like everybody else, my time is truly valuable (to me, that is). Chris and I were just talking yesterday about time commitments, and maintaining a healthy balance with work, family, hobbies, etc, and how it is so difficult to make time for everything, especially when you want to be great at all of those things. And if you are good at all those things, you have to use your time extremely efficiently and wisely. It doesn't help matters, when people only take into account their time, and not yours. I could've slept a little longer, finished my 2 miles, and see my kids wake up and kiss them before leaving the house, if this person would have just called the day before and notified us of his cancellation. Just got me off to a bad start... but whatever...
Again the rest of the day was a microcosm of what I talked about previously. Trying to find a balance.... I have my nephew here from Tallahassee for a few days, so my wife brought him and the kids to my office for us to have lunch together. Unfortunately, I had to do a mini-meeting with a fellow co-worker that was extremely urgent.... trying to find the balance... didn't do too good there. I got back to my office with about 15 minutes before lunch ended... thinking I would have a little time to actually talk to everyone, but people were standing outside... waiting for me to open up the doors.... sigh!!! (Ok sweetie, gotta go!!!! Love ya!!!) Kerry is so understanding... God Bless her!!
Later in the day, I had to re-organize some work-related things, so that I could spend some time with my nephew, as this would be the only time I could spend with him, given my hours at work. Again...stressful, but I know I made him happy and I am glad we got to do some fun stuff together.
There is a saying in Jamaica, which goes like this:
If yu wan good, yu nose afi run!!!!
Translation: If you want good things.... sometimes its gotta hurt or be uncomfortable....

And that's about it. Anything good for you is not always the easiest route... no way around it. That's the way it will always be, and sometimes you just gotta suck it up and keep on going if you want it (or all of those things) bad enough.