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'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 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 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.