Hungry, Cranky, and Trying Something New…


So today I began something new: intermittent fasting.

It’s a rather radical decision to make, but I realized that the old saying is true: Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes. Before today, the only times I’ve done what’s now referred to as Intermittent Fasting was when I either a) didn’t have enough cash to buy breakfast and lunch, b) I lost my damn wallet on the #6 train, or c) I didn’t have enough time to breathe, let alone eat a meal during my work day. Let’s face it: I didn’t call it by some fancy name like Intermittent Fasting….I referred to it as I’m Cranky As Hell Because I Didn’t Eat.

I’ve done a lot of reading about this type of fasting, and I chose to go this route so that I can drop excess pounds quicker. This will allow me to train at a higher quality level than I’ve been hitting recently. This won’t be a lifestyle change for me – I like food WAAAAAY to much for that – but in order for me to finally go from where I am to where I want to be, something drastic needed to happen.

The way I see it, I’ll go the next 6 weeks trying this discipline of eating: there will be a window of time each day for caloric intake (I’m budgeting a 5 hour period between 10am and 3pm each work day). During this time period, I will eat a decent breakfast (around 10sm), and a decent lunch (as close to 3pm as a work schedule will allow). After 3pm, I can take in as much water, tea, or coffee (black, no sugar) that I feel like. When I wake up in the morning, it’s calorie-free fluids until the clock strikes 10am again.

Now my number one concern was my energy level and how the lack of calories will effect my training. Some experts say that proper calorie intake during your feeding window should permit a solid workout. However, my goal is to drop weight at a rather quick rate, so some hunger pangs and a grumbling stomach are part of the deal. As an Ironman Certified Coach, I would not recommend this type of diet to someone training for a triathlon, because the athlete needs fuel to get him/her through longer workouts at a high level of quality. But that’s just it for me: I feel like I’m not getting quality workouts in BECAUSE I’m carrying too much of myself around 24/7. I’m feeling sluggish. Unfocused. And my training plan has been a bit aggressive. Soooooo…..I burn 800 calories in an hour and then I take in 1400 empty calories as a “reward for a job well done”. NOT THE WAY TO DO THINGS. AT. ALL.

Instead of trying to get lighter, faster, and stronger all at once, I decided to prepare for what’s in store for me in phases…..

Phase One – Drop the Excess Me: Drop the piano that I’m constantly carrying on my back. This means six weeks of The Biggest Loser-type of training. Let’s get rid of the piano. In this phase, I’m expecting some headaches, hunger pangs, and some development of lean muscle (because I’m not ditching my workouts – I’m just altering them to sculpt a newer version of myself).

Phase Two – Crank Up the Mileage: As I begin to notice Phase One showing results, I will gradually up my endurance sessions (those high mileage run and bike sessions) while taking in slightly more calories and timing my meals to ensure healthy recovery post-workout. If Phase One has done it’s job, Phase Two should result in me having an easier time cranking up my running pace and hanging longer at 20+mph on the bike.

Phase Three – Play Mad Scientist: Once I have the body composition that is more conducive to being able to run 30-35 miles a day for 2 weeks (where I’ll need to be in 14 months), I’ll need to add some serious strength work to my routine, because long endurance events break down muscle, big time. So you gotta build yourself up to break yourself down.

So Phase One is geared toward making the load I’ll need to carry lighter, Phase Two will be focused on putting the tiger in the cat and using  my lighter weight to go longer and faster, and Phase Three will be adding muscle so that I can endure next August and defend against injuries. I’ve tried doing everything at once. Now I’m changing things up – I focus now on one issue at a time.  When you try to accomplish everything at once, you wind up accomplishing nothing well.

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TODAY’S REPORT CARD

Sleep:  A (Got 8 hours in.  A good way to start the week.)

DIET: B+ (Day One on this plan, and I stuck to it. I did have a couple of Twix bars though!)

Swim:  N/A (Not on the schedule today)

Bike:  B (I didn’t get a bike in in the morning – I was too chicken to start my day in severe calorie debt, so I waited ’til the evening to get an hour in)

Run:  C  (Dreadmill. That sucked.)

Strength:  B+ (I had a great evening upper body workout,  Felt like Hans and Franz from SNL)

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It’s Been a While…


After my 500 mile adventure last August / September, I really went into a funk.  I had spent 18 months training for the challenge of running from San Francisco to Anaheim, and the journey was incredibly special.  Friends and family kept motivating me forward as I prepared for covering more than a marathon a day for 18 day – and that encouragement helped me stay focused when I would have normally slacked off.  When the journey began on August 18th 2015, I felt ready athletically – but I almost lacked the the mental ability to exit the car and start running from the Walt Disney Family Museum that morning.  All of that training…and I almost was unable to get myself out there and begin the actual long distance run.  As the days rolled on and we got into a rhythm, getting out there and logging the miles became easier.  Then, as the end of event drew closer, excitement built within me – I may actually be able to pull this off.  When I finished in the concourse of Disneyland, the first feeling that washed over me was “Wow.  It’s over.  I made it.  I survived”.  The Disneyland Half Marathon felt fantastic that year – like a real victory lap shared with friends.  What I didn’t realize was just how much that effort took out of me.  I found that out in the months that followed.

Normally, as I prepare for one marathon, I make sure to have another one lined up after it in order to maintain my motivation for training.  last year was no exception – I was scheduled to run the TCS New York City Marathon on the first Sunday of November.  What I didn’t realize was that I was so emotionally drained that I completely overlooked it.  I really mailed that race in – it was the first time since I began running the five boroughs in 2005 that I simply longed for it to be over.  It is my favorite day of the year within the city, and all I wanted to do was move on.  A sorry state of affairs.

In January, I went down to Walt Disney World to run the marathon with a bunch of friends. That was a fun time, but once more my heart wasn’t in to the race itself.  The running funk had now lasted four months and I couldn’t shake it.  I began looking for answers.

I realized that I pushed myself to another level last year, and I may have burned out a bit on running.  So I set a new goal for myself…one that would be challenging and hopefully kick the tires & light the fires: Ironman.

I targeted the Ironman Vineman on July 30th as my entry into the event series, I purchased an on-line training program, and I set off to conquer 140.6 miles.  Swim, bike, run became a daily credo.  I’d hit the sack by 9:30pm, got up by 4am, and logged my run.  Then I’d hit the gym, and swim a while – until it was time to transition to a spin class.  I’d finish up the morning routine at 7:15am, rush home and get ready for work.  Saturdays were my long run days.  Sundays were BRICK days (days where I’d log a long bike ride and then hop off and run a bit).  (FYI – some say that BRICK really means Bike Run…ICK!).  The routine felt good after a while, and it’s one that I currently maintain to the best of my ability.  However, without someone to hold me accountable – a decent triathlon coach – I failed to see strong improvement in my times for any of the three disciplines.  July crept closer – and I was not ready.  So I backed out of the race…and the tires deflated again.  I needed to attack this issue from another angle…and the new assault on improvement had to happen quick, as my fall race schedule was bearing down on me.

I began to analyze my daily routine and then…it just hit me.  I need to channel my inner Mad Scientist.  I need to treat my training as my ongoing experiment.  So the first thing I needed to do was come up with short-term and long term-goals that I wanted to achieve (because you cannot perform experiments without first knowing what you want to create), then analyze my my training schedule to enhance the process in order to get where I want to go.

First – the goals.  Well that’s easy: I want to be faster, and I want to be able to run longer without tiring.  I also want to drop weight (a dream of mine for YEARS), and get stronger overall.  Those are the long-term goals.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (I learned that from numerous rides within Spaceship Earth at Epcot).  So what about short-term goals?  That was pretty easy too: Finish the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon in five hours, then enjoy a gallop through the streets of New York City for 26.2 miles the following Sunday.  Two weeks after that, finish / survive the NYC 60k in Central Park, and then continue to train for the Goofy Challenge in January 2017.  From there, I’ll develop a race schedule that requires more longer-distance efforts, throwing in my first half marathon with my daughter in April.  A tough 2017 race schedule should then prepare me for Ironman Vineman in late July.  After Vineman….2018 has something special in store that I’ve dubbed the Florida Running Project (more on that much later).

Once I laid out my short-term and long-term plans, I realized that one thing was missing: specificity.  A good scientist needs to have sound attention to detail, as proper measurements are key to improving something.  So I needed to attach actual time goals for each race, in order to focus my training effectively.  So I created an Excel spreadsheet, and within it I began to lay out my daily training routine.  From there, I added one thing: time targets for each run, swim or bike session.  There it was in black & white: specificity.

Now that I had the level of detail I believe that I needed, I needed to develop something to ensure that I focused on my targets daily.  Why?  Because my training begins at 4am and I’m usually a zombie at the beginning.  So any time-specific goals could be written off at that hour in lieu of simply “checking the box”.  I need to think of each day as an experiment, and the experiment would fail without proper focus.  I came up with a two-step process to address this risk: I developed a routine where, right before I go to bed, I write down the following morning’s run goals on an index card. I review it, and then I crash for the night.  That way, I wake up with those goals still fresh inside my noggin.  Then I take the card with me during my workouts.

Another thing that a mad scientist needs in order to conduct experimentation is data.  I decided to centralize all of my data collection from each training session within an on-line application called Training Peaks.  I’ll go over the day’s data and try to analyze what was solid and what needs improvement.  I think there are several factors that need to be tinkered with in order for the day’s experimentation to be successful:

  • Did I stick to my training plan?  If yes, awesome.  If not, why not? Figure out the cause and fix it.  Things I’ll need to consider:
    • Did I get enough rest?  If not, that can screw up the experiment.
    • Did I not hydrate properly during the workout?  If not, the experiment could easily fail.
    • Any pain?  If so, it needs to be addressed ASAP.
    • Did I fuel properly?  I have a tendency to NOT use gels, bars or any other type of fuel during long workouts (2 hours +).  That’s not smart, and part of the experimentation will be the types of fuel I’m using at the crack of dawn.
  • Did I stick to my diet plan?  If yes, awesome.  If not, why not?  Address the issue and move on to tomorrow.  let’s face it: without proper fuel, training will stink.  Throw the wrong fuel in the tank, and training will suffer for it.
  • Did I stretch?  I hate stretching, but I am now learning that it’s a necessary evil.  I cannot stand doing it, but it just needs to get done.
  • Was I mentally in the zone?  If my head isn’t in the game, the entire day’s experiment will crash.  Some days I am fired up, and some days I dread getting up.

In addition to this sort-of high-level analysis, I’ll also evaluate my performance numerically, from heart-rate monitor data to threshold analysis in order to measure improvement.  If I plateau at any point, I’ll be able to identify it…and then further experimentation will happen.  I feel like Dr. Frankenstein.

Now all I need is one of those cool white lab coats…..

 

 

 

Sometimes It Feels Good To Grind…


So 2016 began with a few fun long weekends in Florida and Anaheim, where my friends and I completed something referred to as the “Coast to Coast Challenge”.  This consists of runners completing a half marathon in Walt Disney World and then another half marathon in Disneyland.  So the first weekend in January, we flew to Orlando and ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  It’s a well-organized and very unique event, and the atmosphere is completely non-judgmental, making it a perfect first half or full marathon destination for rookies.  The half marathon takes runners through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and provides solid entertainment throughout the course.  The following weekend found us in Anaheim, California, running the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland.  The first 5-6 miles of the course sent the athletes through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure…and the remaining 7-8 miles of the course wound its way through the streets of the city.  The level of entertainment was not as strong throughout the course at is was in Walt Disney World; however, Disneyland is much smaller and requires the use of public roads to host part of the event – so some leeway needs to be given, in my humble opinion.  That being said – the highlight of the course was the 501st Legion’s station close to mile 9 – storm troopers, Boba Fetts, Han Solos in abundance.  Even the cars were designed as X-Wing fighters, including R2-D2’s.  THAT was cool.

 

Once the bling was earned and awarded, we parted ways and I headed home.  It was an excellent kickoff to my athletic year…but the result of the back-to-back events along with the travel involved resulted in something that I call the The Runner’s Blah.

 

The Runner’s Blah is that feeling you get after the event(s) that you trained for are in the books.  Other people have other terms for this sensation – this one is mine.  I felt the blah as soon as I sat down in the plane to LaGuardia…and it stayed with me for days.  I was supposed to run a half marathon in Central Park yesterday (The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon), but 24 inches of snow caused the New York Road Runners to cancel the event for safety’s sake.  As a result, I spent the long weekend planning how to wake myself up, shake off the blah and get back to work.  Here’s how I did it:

 

  1. I got on the computer and began to plan out my training for the coming weeks, using http://www.trainingpeaks.com.  This site allows users to link their activities saved on their GPS watches to planned exercises, estimate calorie burns, and budget your time to get the work in.  20131113-110750.jpg
  2. Then I went on to http://www.myfitnesspal.com and began logging my food intake.  This part sucks, because the only way it works is if you are honest with yourself and log every single thing you take in.  The good thing is that Training Peaks and My Fitness Pal talk to each other – so calorie intake is summarized on your workouts, breaking out carbohydrates, fats, and protein as percentages of your overall fuel intake for the day.  This allows you, the athlete, to weigh ans measure your performance versus the types of food you eat.  By using Training Peaks as your daily workout log, you can write down notes on your performance – which will help the analysis and assist you with improvement.
  3. After I got the tech side of things squared away, I knew that I needed several carrots to hang in front of me, so that I would not lose focus.  So I signed up for a bunch of smaller races here in New York City, added them to my Training Peaks account, and set time goals for each race.  Now I have specific speed targets to aim for as the year progresses.  The biggest carrots for me for 201 are Ironman on July 30th, the Chicago Marathon on October 9th, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th, the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6th and the NYRR 60k on November 19th.  The strategy here is to maximize the importance of daily training early in the year so that I can perform well in the fall without much of a dip in energy level between races.
  4. After covering these three steps, it was on to step #4: longer-term goals.  I needed to prioritize what I wanted to achieve in the coming years.  So I created my Pie-In-The-Sky list.  On this list I added KONA (that’s my unicorn), qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Marathon des Sables, and competing in the Western States.  Hard short-term goals make me prioritize training in the here and now (helping me get rid of the BLAH), and harder longer-term goals make me keep my foot on the gas.  The combination should make me feel that daily sense of urgency to get to the gym when it opens up in the morning.
  5. Knowing how weak I am from the neck up, my next step was locating a group to share my dread with.  People who were as focused on beating themselves up in order to prepare for challenge athletic events.  I chose to join a triathlon team – The Terrier Tris.  They are well – organized and seem like a dedicated bunch of like-minded alphas.  I cannot achieve goals that I have had in the back of my mind for years while purely running a solo mission.  Instead, I need help staying the course.  By joining a team, I’ll train with people that are stronger than I am – and that will push me to get better.
  6. So steps one through five addressed the physical requirements for the goals I have set for myself.  But like I just mentioned, I am not the brightest bulb on Broadway.  So, I needed to set up a plan to keep my head dialed in daily.  I went on to Youtube and created a playlist / watchlist / whateverthehellelseit’scalled, and I added a bunch of motivational videos.  Speeches by famous coaches.  Speeches by Les Brown.  Eric Thomas. Lou Holtz.  Lombardi.  Valvano (Jimmy V rules – just needed to say that).  I’ll need them ready to go when the fire gets a little dim.  And it will.  Guaranteed.
  7. Last but not least, I needed to address logistics.  Every evening, before I hit the sack, I’ll review my plan for the morning.  Go through it a bit.  Try to picture how I want the workout to go.  Positive visualization should help me get up each morning looking forward to the grind.  I’ll also leave my workout clothes on the floor right next to my bed.

 

Motivation is quite important to me.  Wrapping this up, I’ll share with you one of my favorite pieces, written by Tecumseh.  Tecumseh was the leader of the Shawnee, who fought against the occupation of native american lands during the War of 1812.  HE was killed in battle in 1813 – but he is remembered for basically being a hard-nosed combatant and incredible role model.  According to numerous accounts, he was an incredible speaker, and could motivate his warriors to perform above what they thought were their limits.  He put pen to paper a number of times – and this is my favorite passage…

 

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I’m All-In


I’m a movie nerd. Any film that includes car chases, gunfights, loud explosions and/or outer space automatically should warrant an Oscar nomination. So, of course, I am looking forward to seeing the new Will Smith film, After Earth. Things explode. Outer space is involved. There’s a ton of action and the dialogue probably isn’t straight out of a PBS special. Perfecto. Sign me up. So why am I bringing up this movie? Because the movie’s tag phrase really hit me as influential for my own personal activities:

Danger is real. Fear is a choice.

Fear is a choice. The rest of the movie’s dialogue can stink – and that’s OK. I’ve got a quote that use on myself for a long time. In fact, it made me think about my childhood fears, as well as one of the things I’ve wanted to do / become since I was in high school:

· When I was a kid, I was afraid of getting a needle whenever I visited the doctor. Was the pain unbearable? No. My mind just blew the experience up into a far more traumatic thing than it actually was / is. This fear stuck with me through college and even as I began my adult life.

· As much as I absolutely loved being in the water as a kid, I had recurring nightmares of being stuck under water, unable to surface as I felt my lungs beg for a breath of fresh air. All of the time I spent on the water, I hid that inner fear of not being able to surface.

· As I began my professional career, I realized that the ability to speak in public is vital. A professional needs to be able to handle the pressure of a crowd, and come across with confidence. I realized in short order that I did not possess a natural ability to stand in front of a group of suit-wearing co-workers and speak at length about a process or issue.

I know these fear seem rather basic. Maybe even childish / embarrassing to admit. But it’s true. A few of my childhood fears stuck with me as I became an “adult” (please – let’s face it – I need to put that word in quotes when referring to myself). They stuck with me until November, 2005. The first Sunday in November that year, I put aside my lifelong fears of failure and underperformance and was able to push through a physical and mental barrier by running the ING New York City Marathon for my daughter. I like to tell everybody that, after that Sunday in November, my kiddo’s grades began to steadily improve. Well, they did…but that’s not all that happened. I found something in myself that I didn’t even know I ever had: the ability to overcome my fears. After I healed up from that 26.2 waddle through the 5 boroughs of New York, I realized that I could overcome other fears one by one…as long as I actually did something proactively. They wouldn’t go away by themselves.

Some people decide to proactively address their fears by talking to others about them. Rationalizing them. Sorting the out so that he/she can cope with the internal concerns and move forward. I know that I’m not really comfortable talking about my own fears to other people – I think it’s because I’m more than a little insecure. I did, however, need to come up with my own way of re-writing some of my own faulty programming. So I decided to attack my fear of needles by donating blood every 4 months. I crushed my fear of drowning by learning how to scuba dive. And I defeated by fear of public speaking by taking stand-up comedy classes and then doing an 8 minute routine in front of 200+ drunken strangers. Before that Sunday in November, 2005, I wouldn’t have had the (and I’m borrowing a quote from a professional wrestler from the 1980’s here) “testicular fortitude” to face these fears head-on. And if I didn’t have the wontons to address my childhood fears, how on Earth would I be able to tackle something that I’ve dreamed of doing since I first saw it on TV over 20 years ago?

As I placed my significant childhood fears firmly behind me, my confidence began to grow. With every marathon I completed, I have continued to build on this confidence, like a dude playing Texas hold-em in a Vegas casino who’s enjoying a heater. Each time I crossed a finish line, my stack of “confidence chips” got a little taller. Like a decent poker player, however, I needed to know the right time to bet everything and go all-in.

Well, yesterday I felt like the time was right to go all-in, and begin my quest toward something I’ve always dreamed about. It’s official: as of yesterday morning, I am registered to compete in the 2014 Ironman in The Woodlands, Texas.

I used to watch the Ford Ironman World Championship on TV each year. It takes place in Kona, Hawaii, and the television footage used to blow my mind. A 2.4 mile open-water swim, followed immediately by a 112 mile bike, and then a full marathon (26.2 miles). Each year, they would show athletes collapsed on the side of the road, absolutely exhausted, looking as if he/she couldn’t take another step. And then, somehow, this athlete finds it within himself to get up and keep going. It was obvious to me that the Ironman requires the athlete to give every last ounce of heart and courage within him/her to earn that moment when the announcer yells their name and says “(insert a name here) – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!” as the participant crosses the finish line. I’ve watched as participants literally crawled across the finish because they simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to even walk another step. I’ve seen Team Hoyt cross the finish, a father helping his grown son through the 140.6 mile trek (and trust me – if you ever want to read something motivational, google Team Hoyt). I’ve read all about the mental battle that goes on inside each athlete’s head as the long day takes its toll on the body.

For over 20 years, I’ve admired anyone that had the (and I have to use the phrase here again because it just fits) testicular fortitude to train for and complete the Ironman…but I always thought I would never have what it takes. It was one of those goals that I put on such a high pedestal that I lived with the assumption that I’d never attain it. Quite frankly: the thought of even trying to go 140.6 was like Ex-Lax…it literally scares the crap out of me.

I know now that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough. Right? Well then, this dream is perfect for me. This one has been my dream for over 20 years. And the quest begins today. May 17th 2014. The Woodlands, Texas.

….crap….I guess I should buy a bike.

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A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of May 31st 2013:

Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 423.86
Miles to go: 1,589.14
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.1 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 214 days left.

Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.

Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:03 (accomplished on May 22nd).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:04.

Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.

Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.

Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
Furthest swim distance: 500 meters (May 24th)
Furthest cycling distance: 5 miles (May 24th)
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile (1600 meters)swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
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BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the New York City Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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So Far, Not So Good…..


OK – I know I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time. So let me first give you a heads-up on what’s coming up this week. I’m going to share a review of the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I ran a 5k on Friday, a half marathonon Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday (this act of lunacy is lovingly referred to as doing “The Dopey”). Since it is already March 2nd, I’ll provide you with a summary of my lack-luster efforts to this point. But first, let me share with you a new goal that I decided on at the end of January….

So my New Year’s resolutions were made official:

· Drop my weight to 185 pounds, in order to be able to take my running to the next level,
· Log more than 2,013 miles in 2013 in an attempt to prepare for quicker distance event times,
· Run the 2013 New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile in under 7 minutes, and
· Run a marathon in four hours or less (hopefully the 2013 ING New York City Marathon).

An added goal for the year is to complete my first Ultra event. An Ultra event is any race that requires the runner to cover more than 26.2 miles. The first one I am gunning for is a race called Worth the Hurt. It begins the night before the 2013 San Francisco Marathon, where a number of runners begin at the course’s Finish line and run the course to the Marathon’s official starting line. The runners try to reach the Starting Line before the gun goes off on Marathon Sunday so that they can turn around and run the course again from Start to Finish. 52.4 miles. Is it really worth the hurt? If I can raise some money for the Dream Team Project by doing this, then my answer is yes. If for some reason I cannot score a spot in Worth the Hurt, I’ll run the New York Road Runners annual Knickerbocker 60k in the late fall – that’s a marathon plus an additional 10 miles plus. This one is easier than Worth the Hurt (because it’s shorter)– but it’s also very uneventful, as it consists of laps around Central Park….over and over and over again.

So let’s throw that up on the board, officially. Goal number 5 for 2013:
· Complete my first ultra.

As I continue to re-read the goals that I’ve set for myself, I realize that my ability to achieve all of them revolves around one main concept: dropping weight. Losing weight has never been my strongest suit. I like food way too much. Tasty food. Chocolate. Wine. Pasta. So my personal goals for 2013, in my humble opinion, will be MUCH more difficult to attain. But if I begin to drop weight, putting in an average of 5.5-6 miles a day will feel like less of an overall effort on a day-in, day-out basis. My speed will increase. I’ll have a shot at a sub 7 minute mile. I will be able to hold a sub 9 minute pace for longer periods of time in an effort to drop my marathon time to sub 4 hours. It all comes down to dropping my weight. And I have a LOT of weight to remove. But before I can develop my plan of attack, I have to dig in and find some damn self-control. Just say no to cookies. I need to say nay-nay to foods that I know are no good for me – which will result in saying adios to loaded burritos, zai jian to General Tso and his delicious chicken, and auf wiedersehen to WMD’s (Waffles of Massive Deliciousness).

At this point, in order to attain my goal of logging more than 2,013 miles this year I will need to book at least 43-44 miles a week. This is going to be rough.

It’s 31 days into the New Year…and I’ve gone a crappy job with regard to adjusting my diet to this point. I need to kick this into gear, ASAP.
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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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Getting Schooled By the Wee Ice Mon


My poor performance during the Self Transcendence Marathon really left a bad taste in my mouth.  The injury wasn’t what got my knickers in a twist; instead, it was the way my race was going prior to twisting my ankle that frustrated me.  My head wasn’t in it.  I wasn’t prepared.  I just expected to show up, flip the switch and go.  I didn’t eat right.  I didn’t hydrate correctly.  I didn’t get enough rest.  I’m just lucky I remembered my pair of Brooks that day. 

 

If I really prepared well and then the wheels came off, I could have made my peace with the performance.  But knowing that I wasn’t ready to race – that was inexcusable.  I need to address this issue, because it’s becoming an ongoing theme as the year rolls on.  In order to address any problems that I experience in my life, I normally begin by doing two things…

 

First, I research the issue.  Like I’ve said more than a few times within this blog – Google is your buddy, so I first cracked open my laptop and hopped on the electronic superhighway.  I opened Internet Explorer, pulled up Google.com, and searched on the following terms for guidance:

  • “Tips For Getting Your Head Out Of Your Butt”
  • “How To Stop Being A Schmuck”
  • “Running For Dummies”
  • Keeping Up With The Kardashians (because the first three google searches failed to provide the necessary wisdom to correct my issues)

 

If studying / researching an issue fails to rectify the situation (and let’s face it – google wasn’t much of a pal), I simply go Old School.  WWMGD.  What Would My Grandparents Do.  Thinking this way normally gets me closer to issue resolution.  So I spent some time alone, and I thought about my childhood.

 

You may not believe this, but I can recall a lot of my early years.  Sometimes in great detail.  The summer of 1977 was one I’ll never forget – the Yankees were referred to as The Bronx Zoo by the New York press, Craig Nettles was my idol…and my parents got divorced.  Now hearing the way that last sentence ended, you might think that the ability to recall many specifics about one’s childhood brings with it a mixed bag of blessings and curses.  Well, for me, that’s not really the case.  My Mom (a.k.a, My Hero – which is a heck of a lot bigger than any idol) handled things amazingly well, where I began to realize that it would me and her against the world.  And backing her up were my grandparents – both of which I quote A LOT while I write.  For two people that never spent a day inside of a college classroom, they both had Ph.D’s in LIFE.        

 

I remember one evening during that summer very fondly.  I took the #12 Bus from City Island to Pelham Bay Station after school, and my grandfather met me at the bus stop.  We went into a cigar store on the corner (that’s what’s now known as a “bodega”, for all of you playing the home version), where my grandfather purchased my daily pack of Topps baseball cards.  We’d open the pack of cards as we continued on to our usual second stop on the walk home – OTB (that’s Off Track Betting) – and place a bet on a couple of racing going on at Belmont, Saratoga, or any of those other locations.  My grandfather would lean over, show me the racing sheet, and say “who do ya like?”  We never played the odds – we played the names.  He would read me the list of names running in a race, and whichever one made me laugh was the one we bet on.  $1 to win.

 

On this one afternoon he asked me who I liked, and then began to read off the names.  He stopped when we read aloud “The Wee Iceman”.  I chuckled.  He smiled…and that was one of the only times I ever recall that huge Dutchman cracking a grin.  “Perfect.  Good choice.  I’ll tell you about the Iceman later.  Let’s place the bet”.  We went to the window, and he’d let me hand the $1 bill over to the cashier and hold on to the ticket stub.  Sure enough – The Wee Iceman actually won!  My grandfather and I cleared $8, and cleared a chocolate ice cream cone.

 

We found a park bench in Wilkinson Park, just a few blocks from the apartment, and I went to work on my ice cream.  As we sat on the bench and I began to drip chocolate on my school slacks, my grandfather told me the story of the Wee Ice Mon.

 

“Joey, I’m glad that you picked that horse, The Wee Ice Mon.  Do you know you the Wee Ice Mon was?”

 

“He play on the Yanks?”

 

“Nope.  The Wee Ice Mon was the nickname of one of the greatest professional golfers ever – Ben Hogan.  Hogan was known to be one of the hardest working golfers – he’d be constantly practicing.  He had a real work ethic, and people respected him for that.  The other neat thing about Hogan was that when he played the game, he blocked out everything around him.  He went into a zone where the only things that existed were the ball and the course.  There were times where he didn’t even know his own score or where he stood in the standings; several times he only found out that he won a tournament when he arrived at the 18th green – the last hole of the match.  While in Scotland, the Scots saw this work ethic and pure dedication to the game…and they embraced it.  During the British Open one year, his caddy was quoted as saying “the man plays without fear.  It’s like he has ice in his veins.”  From then on, Hogan was called the Wee Ice Mon.”

 

I’m paraphrasing, of course – I cannot recall the entire conversation, but that was the gist of it.  What I do remember, however, was what he did afterward.  My grandfather stood up, hovered over my seated frame, looked down at me and said “Joey, remember something: if you wanna be good at something – I mean REALLY good at something – then you gotta work hard.  If you wanna be the best though – you gotta outwork everyone else.  Work hard, just like school.  Every day.  And when it’s game time, get focused.  If you make a mistake – if ya have a bad day – shake it off.  Be like the Wee Ice Mon.  Focus on what you’re going and the score will take care of itself.  Got it?”

 

“Yup.  Got it.  We gotta go Grandpa, Grandma is going to wonder where we are.”

 

He grabbed my chocolate-stained hand and we headed home.  But as we got to the front door he looked down at me and said “Now Joey – did we bet on a horse?”  To which I responded “What horse?”  He grinned and said “…asta my boy”.

 

WWMGD?  What Would My Grandparents Do?  They would tell me that I need to work harder.  They would tell me that I have lost my focus and that I’m letting a poor performance affect my training attitude.  I need to act more like the Wee Ice Mon – I need to train harder and immediately forget the workouts or races that didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. 

 

I need to get to work. 

 

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Marathon #8: The Self Transcendence Marathon – PART 2


“OK…let’s get this shoe off and see what’s going on in there…”

 

“You sure that’s a good idea?  Can we just wrap my ankle and get me back out there?”

 

“Absolutely.  Now let’s see…”

 

Off came my shoe.  Both of us watched as my ankle began to swell.

 

“…..wow” was all the attendant could manage to say.

 

“..ummm…yeah…wow.  Now could you tape this thing up, quick?”

 

“….oh sure.  Okie dokie, here we go.”

 

…and with that the attendant began to wrap my right ankle pretty tight with pre-wrap and athletic tape.  This was the first time in over 20 marathons that I actually felt crappy enough to stop into a medical tent for help.  As the attendant quickly turned the tape around my foot, I kept muttering the same thing over and over to myself…

 

“This is about par for the course today.  Some days it’s better to sleep in and watch TV.”

 

“Sorry – what did you say?” responded the attendant – a very nice young man that was eager to help, he tried to make me comfortable on this hot and humid day.  His efforts were appreciated and respected…but in vain.

 

“…nothing.  I was just whining like a mule.  Thanks for the neat work.  I’ll stretch this out and get back on the course”.  I needed to finish what I began.  I didn’t come this far to fail.  I’ve begun 20 marathons before today.  I’ve finished what I started all 20 times.  I may gotten sick at times – I even lost a tooth once – but I always managed to cross the finish line.  It’s never pretty…but they don’t hand out style points along the route.  Just grit your teeth and push on – that’s my mindset once the clock starts.  At times I think that is REALLY a dumb thought process – but it’s the only one I’ve come up with thus far.

 

As I sat on the grass under the medical tent slowly stretching my ankle and trying to loosen it up enough to get in motion once more, I thought back on the day’s events up to this point……

 

I drove from Manhattan up to Rye, New York – about 45 minutes away, across the Tappan Zee Bridge – at around 4:30-5am.  I arrived in the Rockland Lake State Park parking lot at about 5:15am, only to find that I was the only car in the lot.  There were no street lights, so the parking area was nearly pitch black.  I sat in the car, wondering if I was in the right place.  Sure enough, within minutes I noticed another up pulling close by.  It was a brand new two-door black Porsche.  An older gentleman exited the sharp vehicle and walked up to my car door.  “Good morning.  Do you know where to go to pick up our bibs?” he asked.

 

“No – I’ve never run this race before.  I wasn’t even sure if the race was today, based on the turnout.  Why don’t we check out the park – maybe there’s a registration area already set up.”

 

I got out of the car, grabbed my backpack, and we began walking toward the park itself.  I introduced myself to the gentleman, and he mentioned that his name was Gene.  He wore a very light white running jacket and carried a small bag which I was sure held the customary necessary marathon day items: dry clothes, a small towel, body glide, etc.  When we got the park, we quickly noticed the marathon signs.  Everything was clearly marked, so we made our way toward the registration tent.

 

We picked up our bib numbers, wished each other good luck, and looked for a quiet place to sit and prepare for the 7am start.

 

The lake itself is a gorgeous area.  The marathon would consist of nine laps of the three mile path that runs around the lake.  A very flat course, it would be home for the next several hours as I waddled around the asphalt. 

 

Just a few minutes before the start of the race, the field of approximately 500 runners from all over the world (the race’s founder, Sri Chimnoy, was a very spiritual man that found  inner peace through running – and he became a leader/guru that many throughout the world looked up to) began to line up for the starting gun.  I noticed Gene in the crowd, wished him good luck once more…and then it hit me.

 

That racing shirt he wore.  It was red, white and blue.  He was a 50-stater (he’s completed a marathon in all 50 states).  Then I saw the back of his shirt where, in gold glitter writing it simply said “X 8”.

 

My jaw dropped.  Literally.  I needed both hands to put it back in place without biting my tongue.

 

Gene completed marathons in all 50 states….8 times.  Incredible.  I spoke to him very briefly before the race began, and promised myself to catch up with him at some point during the day to hopefully be regaled with tales of his exploits.  Before I knew it, the horn sounded and we were off.

 

The first thing I learned about myself as I began my nine laps was that, as a marathoner, I require a constant change of external stimuli: the scenery needs to change as the miles tick along.  If I am required to run the same path, in the same direction, over and over again…I very easily lose focus on my objectives.  This happened to me at mile 14.

 

The second thing I learned about myself piggy-backs off of the first thing: when I lose focus on my objectives during a marathon, I also lose focus on what I am actually doing at the present time.  This became evident as the leaders came by me along my left side between miles 14-15.  Two bicycles ringing their bells informed us back-of-the-packers that the leaders were coming through.  We automatically moved the far right-hand side of the path in order to give them room to pass.  As I moved to the right, I failed to pay attention to what I was doing…and my right foot landed on the outer curve of the pavement, turning my ankle something fierce.  Fortunately, I caught myself before I fell – but the damage was done. 

 

At first, my right ankle felt tingly – like the pins and needles you get in your arm when you sleep on it the wrong way.  That got me worried.  I’ve rolled my ankle before.  It hurts, I ignore it, and then it doesn’t hurt anymore.  This was different, however.  It hurt, I tried to ignore it, and it kept hurting more and more.  It felt as if The Tool had repelled down from my shoulder, belayed on to my right running shoe, whipped out a tiny hammer and starting pounding away at my ankle like a damn coal miner. 

 

As I tried to keep my momentum going through a weird combination of waddling and hobbling along the right hand side of the path, I could only think of my Freshman Year football coach at Fordham Preparatory School, Mr. Austin.  I was new to the game of tackle football, and was quite frankly scared of taking a hard hit.  The first time I dropped back to pass in a team practice wearing full pads, I took too long to go through my receiver progressions and WHAM.  I got blasted from behind by Ruben, one of our linebackers that REALLY knew how to play defense.  It took me a moment to get up, and Mr. Austin walked out onto the field and asked me “Are you hurt or are you injured?”  I asked him what the difference was.  “If you’re hurt, I’m going to tell you to get your ass up off the dirt and into the huddle.  If you’re injured, I’m calling an ambulance.”

 

I decided that I was hurt that day.  I decided I was hurt today as well.   

 

I got myself around the lake to the medical tent, where I decided to have the foot checked out.  I have four more marathons to go in 2012, and a “Dopey” Marathon weekend coming up in January, so I cannot afford a real serious injury that crushes my chances of achieving my overall goal.  So I arrived at the medical tent and, as I mentioned earlier, he nice attendant taped me up. 

 

I got back out there, but to say I was broken for the day was an understatement.  I began a slow jog and mixed in a lot of walking throughout the final 11-12 miles of the marathon.  I wish I could say I gritted my teeth and ran the rest of the way.  I would have loved to do that.  But I wasn’t strong enough.  It hurt too darn much and the heat and humidity sapped my energy levels from the outset of the race.  It was a rough day – but one that I learned a lot from.

 

I learned that I need to train myself to be stronger mentally.  I need to focus myself internally and pay attention to what’s going on with my body as I run.  I now think of this as “running in the moment.”  Forget that last crappy mile you ran.  Forget all of the other stuff going on that has your head tied up in mental knots.  Get out there and run in the moment.  Focus on your game plan for the day.  Focus on your stride.  Your arm swing.  Your breathing.  In short: dial in to the moment.  For me that means no more running whilst listening to AC/DC, Eminem and Rush.  Oh crap.

 

As I grabbed my backpack and headed toward my car, I saw Gene finish.  What a cool guy.  I did a google search and found this VERY cool article on him – I want to share it with you, because this is one very special man.  (http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/07/28/sports/doc5014696dd3d99867763186.txt?viewmode=fullstory).

 

When I got home I tended to my ankle and hoped that the swelling would recede.  I prayed for no broken bones.  I have worked too hard and come too far to have an ankle injury place this year-long effort in jeopardy.

 

…as it turns out, I heal pretty quick.  My one saving grace, I guess!

 

Thanks for taking a moment to read my blabbering!  Remember – you don’t get today back…so make it count. 

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Marathon #8: The Self Transcendence Marathon – PART 1


July rolled into August, and the days just seemed to melt into each other. Let’s face it: it was probably due to the daily 280 degree temperatures combined with the 1,500% humidity that hung over Manhattan for weeks at a time. Daily runs in the park became sluggish, and my focus on any particular day’s running goal was discarded soon after the first mile. (Note to my fellow runners: if you are training for an event – have a plan for your daily workout before you leave the house and begin running. Trust me: you’ll get more out of each session).

August’s marathon was scheduled for August 24th at Rockland Lake State Park. Nine laps around a 3-mile route that hugged the water. I knew it was going to be a flat race – but the benefits that the outline of the course provided were negated by the heat and humidity. I was worried about the weather for this one, for I know exactly how the heat and humidity affects my running efforts:

  • I usually start a marathon at a pace that is quicker than my normal long training run pace. Why? Because I’m psyched up and, although I know that I must control my pace early on and hold back, I do not. My brain tells my legs to get moving because “today is the day that I set a personal best”. That’s the message pounding through my dense cranium. And do I argue back, saying “no, you dummy – start slow, and then get quicker as the race goes on”? Nope. Why? Because I’m an idiot. (Note to all Nuggets out there: start off SLOW. Seriously. So slow that it becomes difficult to hold yourself back from running faster. Starting slow will allow you to finish strong. The marathon is all about self-control. I have none.)
  • On hot and humid days, the heat saps my energy quicker than normal. I, being an idiot, do not compensate by taking in more fuel or making sure I ate properly the night before. Two smores pop tarts should get me through it all – that’s how I’m wired. Well all I can say is that I’m an electrician’s nightmare. (Nuggets: take your fuel seriously. Give it some thought. Have a plan for the days leading up to Marathon Day. That way you have gas in the tank for miles 20-26.2. I’m lazy, and my poor results recently are evidence of my failure to properly plan.)
  • As things heat up during the race, my programming also tells me to drink more. Well I am betting that I usually overdo it. I see Gatorade and I take a cup. Or two. Am I thinking about budgeting my drinking properly? Heck no. I just see free Gatorade being given away and I just have to help myself to free samples. I know that I need to follow a specific gameplan for fueling and drinking during a race in order to give myself the best chance of finishing strong. But do I follow directions? Nope. I just show up, eat a pop tart and run. Oh yeah: and then I whine about my lousy performance on this blog afterward. (Again, Nuggets: HAVE A PLAN. Plan out your fluid intake well before race day. Use your long training runs to figure out how much water you need and when you need it. Drink too little – dangerous. Drink too much – also not good. HAVE A PLAN. I cannot stress this enough.)
  • I’ll usually get through the first 13-14 miles feeling pretty solid in the heat. Then the wheels come off quickly and violently. When the wheels come off I usually get nauseous, mainly caused by an abundance of Gatorade sloshing around in my otherwise empty stomach. I try to fight through it…but I never succeed. The crash is complete when I stop shuffling my feet through a water station and begin to walk. All positive momentum is lost…and I become broken. I’ve heard that term thrown around at a few marathon expos over the years, and that one word really sums up the moment. (Ok Nuggets, this is a big one: do not let the marathon break you. You begin the race filled with nervous energy, excitement and positive vibes. Then, as you close in on the last 10k of the race, those feeling wane and you’re left with quiet desperation. At this point, it’s easy to listen to The Tool inside of each of us and say “hey, let’s take a break here”. TELL THE TOOL TO SHUT UP. His goal is to break you. DO NOT LET IT HAPPEN. I’ve let it happen A LOT – and I regret it each and every time.)

The weather report for Saturday included a high temperature of 88 degrees with 85% humidity. After dinner the night before the race, I followed my regular routine of laying my race clothing out and packing a backpack for post-race. Over the past couple of months, I’ve begun to feel the effects of a very full running schedule – my legs feel like bricks, my energy level is low, I am healing slower after long training runs, and I am even losing my mental focus. I had no idea what to expect of myself when I began this quest back in January…I’m learning as I go on.

As I went to sleep the night before the marathon, I realized that the stars were not well-aligned for this one…

___________________________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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….Assessing the Damage…


After my 29 mile waddle around a decent portion of Manhattan, I limped home to assess the damage:

 

  • My feet were sore – well that’s no big surprise.  I just ran 29 miles and spent a good portion of the time treading on concrete.  The slight pain I felt was focused around my left heel – the very heel that gave me fits with plantar faciitis about two years ago.  I told this as a sign from the running Gods to retire my beaten pair of Brooks Glycerine running shoes.  I made a mental note to hit my local running store for a brank spankin’ new pair this week. (Note to my fellow waddlers, turtles, and/or nuggets out there: don’t wait until your feet begin to feel some serious pain to get new running shoes.  From what I’ve read, running shoes are usually pretty good for 300-500 miles.  Then…well…you’re playing roulette with your feet – and The Tool is Pit Boss of that casino.  Trust me: you’re better off spending money on new running shoes than taking a chance and winding up with plantar faciitis, because that injury can take anywhere from 6-18 months to completely heal.)

 

  • It felt like The Tool found a nice, comfortable spot right on top of my head, and proceeded to pound my forehead with a Louisville Slugger right between my eyes.  My head was throbbing – and since I’ve been running for a decent bit of time, I knew what that meant.  I was dehydrated.  REALLY dehydrated.  Although I tried my best to maintain fluid intake, I screwed up.  I took too much water early on, and not enough later in my run.  Dumb move.  Yet another reason to do as I say and NOT as I do.  I highly recommend NOT trying to run 26.2 solo for MANY reasons, dehydration being only one of them.  I know the rules of staying hydrated, first of which is this: if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, it’s already too late.  From what I’ve read in various marathoning books and running magazines, one of the themes I’ve noticed was that distance runners need to make sure that they drink at least 4 ounces of water every 20 minutes.  While I have absolutely no idea what the right amount of fluids are to take in each mile, I do know that I waited way too long in the later stages of my run to find some Chateau Bloomberg 2012.  Say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.

 

  • I got too much sun.  Way too much sun.  I left in the morning looking as white as my Mom’s retriever, Henry (oh trust me – his hair is white even though he’s technically a yellow lab)..and I returned looking like the long lost love child of George Hamilton.  I didn’t remember to put on sun block.  Why?  Well you know the answer to that question.  So say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.     

 

  • My upper back was stiff – but not as bad as I expected it to be. And my arms were sore – but it was a satisfied kind of sore.  Know what I mean?  It was the kind of sore that was the result of a really good work out.  I guessed that the work I’ve been putting in to strengthen my upper body was beginning to pay dividends. 

 

  • I experienced very little chaffing.  Thank the Gods for BodyGlide.

 

  • I was not hungry. Sounds odd, right?  I just burnt well over 3,000 – 3,500 calories, and when all was said and done I was not hungry.  It was as if my stomach basically sent a message to my brain saying “hey dude, you’ve been running for the last six hours.  All of us in here have been bouncing constantly to the point where we now feel like Michael Spinks about 90 seconds into his bout with Tyson.  So forget the delicious dinner.  Just say no to post-race goodies.  Get all of us home and GO TO SLEEP.  Fortunately my stomach, my back, my sore feet, and every other part of me that felt like it was just pulverized…I didn’t listen to my body.  Instead, I actually did something right: I grabbed a cold bottle of chocolate milk.  According to many runners much wiser than me, chocolate milk is supposed to really help the recovery process.  So I grabbed a big bottle of Quick and continued my trek home.

 

After I took a shower I drifted off to the soothing sounds of a wonderful air conditioner.  I felt like I accomplished something – accidentally running more than 26.2 was dumb, I know.  But it also taught me that I could go longer than I thought possible. 

 

Lord knows I’m not nearly as gifted or as strong as many of the runners I am lucky enough to be surrounded by – but I saw some progression today.  I realized that I could dip into my reserves for more when called upon.  Historically, I’ve been the kind of guy that takes his foot off the throttle when things get really tough.  Although I don’t quit – I’ve found myself getting to the finish line with a few drops of fuel left in the tank.  And I regret that simple fact.  But today was different.

 

As I lumbered into Central Park and realized that my watch had died, I knew approximately how much distance I needed to cover in order to reach 26.2.  But I was not 100% positive.  And I didn’t want to come up short.  As I passed my tiny finish line I had a choice to make: say “enough is enough”, and then go home and possibly come up short – or drop the hammer and see just how much gas I had left in the tank.  Ordinarily, I would have taken the easy way out.  But as I crossed the statue at the 72nd street transverse and the west side drive which was supposed to be my final destination, my feet chose to simply keep going.  Today was a day that I chose NOT to disappoint myself.  To see how far I could go.  Granted I didn’t go another 10 miles or more – I only went about 3 miles more than I really needed to – but I kept going.  As I waddled up the west side drive toward the 102nd street transverse, I kept thinking of a saying posted on one of the walls of the Mission: Space attraction in Epcot.  It’s by Arthur C. Clarke: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible”.  Yesterday I felt like my absolute limit was 26.2.  Today I ventured past my limits…and it felt good.

 

If you really stop and think about it, there are no limitations as to what each of us can achieve.  Walt Disney came up with a process called “Blue Skying”, where he and his team of what are now known as Imagineers sit down and develop an idea.  Or two. Or three.  During the discussion, only positive terms can be used.    The team “pluses” the idea and grows it, ignoring all limitations and thereby allowing the concept to grow to its full potential.  I woke up Monday morning achy yet refreshed…and determined to Blue Sky my life.  That’s why I’ve begun to place that last sentence on each of my blog entries: “you don’t get today back, so make it count”.  It’s a reminder to myself not to waste time.  To stay focused and develop my ideas instead of sitting back and letting them gather dust inside my head.

 

Paul Tergat once said “ask yourself, ‘can I give more?’  The answer is probably yes.”  That’s the kind of attitude I now need to harness.  Correction: that’s the kind of attitude I now will harness.     

 

 

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

My Self-Inflicted Marathon


Before you start reading this blog entry find yourself a comfy chair, preferably someplace massaged by air conditioning.  A tasty alcoholic beverage is always a plus.  So – all set?  Good…because you’ll be reading for a few minutes….

OK, for those of you just joining us – welcome.  I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the story line thus far:

  • I made a decision late last year to run one marathon during each calendar month of 2012 in order to generate interest and donations to The Dream Team Project  (www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project).  It’s a charity that I really believe in, for it combines my affinity for the Disney community, my love of running and my desire to help children that are battling life-threatening illnesses as well as their families.
  • The experiences have been wonderful and rough at the same time.  So far I’ve run one race in 27 degree temperatures, I’ve lost a tooth eight miles into another race while in the process of simply taking fuel, I’ve finished a race which provided sixteen miles of hills (which is odd, because the state of Pennsylvania looks so much flatter on a map), and I’ve finished two marathons in a week.  (I just re-read what I wrote, and I just called a shrink.  I need professional help.)  (And yes – I’ve known this for a while – but that last paragraph served as a self-intervention).
  • June’s marathon was scheduled for the weekend of the 9th and 10th in Lake Placid, New York.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the race due to personal issues.  (Let me translate that one for you: I was sick as hell and was having a hard time breathing.  Now I’m not the brightest bulb on Broadway – as a matter of fact I’m as sharp as a bowling ball – but even I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to attempt a marathon when I was in the middle of coughing up a lung).
  • I didn’t want to break my promise…so I needed to come up with another marathon to run before the end of June.  I searched the internet – no luck.  There was only one thing for me to do: just run my own race.  So I made the decision to run 26.2 on my own around Manhattan on Sunday, June 24th. (and let me put it this way: in the history of mankind, this was NOT the best decision ever made.)

OK – so now you’re all caught up.  I’ve attached links to the blog entries that described each race, if you’re interested in reading more about my prior races.

I woke up here in Manhattan Sunday morning at around 5am and, quite honestly, I wished that I could simply roll over and catch another four hours of rest.  I took a hot shower, got changed, and had a bowl of raisin bran (just recently determined that this cereal is the key for me on race day  and I’m pissed about that.  Why couldn’t it be Lucky Charms instead?  Marshmallows…sugar…a little leprechaun on the box…it’s breakfast perfection as far as I’m concerned).  This lovely meal was followed by some light stretching, where I simply waved at my toes from a distance.  I threw my hydration pack over my shoulder, and off I went.

I slowly walked west from my apartment to Riverside Park.  I really got lucky: the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, low humidity and temperatures only going up to about 80 degrees at the height of the day.  I felt strangely relaxed.  I brought money with me, just in case I needed fluids while on the road, my iPhone was fully charged and ready to play music and snap some pictures, and I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be.  I made my way down toward the runners’ / bikers’ path that runs along the Hudson River, and stood for a few moments to take in the view.  This might be a nutso thing to attempt – but at least it was a gorgeous day to do it.  I started my watch, and headed south along the path.

Since this was a solo marathon – a so-called “self-inflicted marathon” as some referred to it – I quickly realized that it was simple to keep my pace under control.  Why?  Because there wasn’t a crowd of runners surrounding me that automatically drew out my inner Steve Prefontaine.  I find that, regardless of how many marathons I run, I always go out to fast because of the people around me.  I want to be able to say to myself as I run “hey – look at me – I can stay with these guys, no problem”.  Well the issue of going out too fast was not a factor this morning.  I took off down the path nice…and…easy.

About a mile and a half into my run, I passed the U.S.S. Intrepid – a wonderful retired aircraft carrier which now serves as a museum.  It is accompanied by a World War II submarine, The Concorde, and…as of July 2012…the Space Shuttle.  I took a moment to snap a couple of pictures, and then I waddled on.  My momentum was just beginning to develop.  My pace felt great.  I was truly in rare spirits.  But of course, me being…well…me, my mind went back to that first marathon I ran in 2005.  Mile 15.  The 59th Street Bridge.  Some seasoned marathoner saw me smiling and asked me how I felt.  When I responded in a rather obnoxious, over-emphatic positive manner, his reply was simple: “So you’re feeling good?  Reeeeally good?  Well don’t worry – that won’t last.”

As I made my way downtown along the river, I just found my rhythm and took in the sights: I passed several greenways which were literally extended over the water, I ran past Chelsea Piers (in the area of the city that my daughter is named for), and enjoyed the view of southern part of the island – the financial district.

As I got closer to lower Manhattan, I got the urge to wind through the streets and play the part of a tourist.  So I deviated from my planned course and crossed over the West Side Highway to get up-close and personal with The Freedom Tower.  This is going to be one gorgeous building when it’s completed.  I passed by Ground Zero – and area that still sends shivers up my spine.  I was in midtown that fateful day, and the sights and sounds of that horror are still vivid in my mind, just like I am sure they are in the minds of every other New Yorker – and everyone else for that matter.  I wanted to pass by the memorial reflection pools – but I was too early in the day, and you need a pass to get in.

Once I made my way around the Ground Zero area, I headed back toward the World Financial Center so that I could lift my spirits a bit by staring at luxury yachts in the harbor.  In the World Financial Center Harbor, the types of yachts moored probably have their own zip codes.  They’re huge.  I mean – HUGE.  One was so big that the stern actually acts as a garage for – you guessed it – a smaller boat.  When I grow up, I got to get me one of those!

Just south of the World Financial Center I passed into Battery Park.  I took some shots of the Statue of Liberty before heading past the Staten Island Ferry and beginning my trek up the east side.  I snapped a couple of shots of the Brooklyn Bridge as I approached South Street Seaport; however, it was here that I decided once more to deviate from my planned marathon route and check out a few more touristy locations before moving on.

I headed up Wall Street to the New York Stock Exchange.  Across the street from the Exchange is the location where George Washington took the oath as our first president.  I stopped my watch just for a moment to take a picture…and I hit the wrong button!  8.16 miles into my run.  Oy.  Now I’d have to start my watch up again, and make sure to run another 18.2 miles.  Just my luck.  I reset my watch, and continued on.  Snapped a shot of The Bull on Broadway before turning east and heading back on my original course.

I worked my way northeast from Wall Street, toward the Fulton Street Fish Market. I only got a few blocks north of this area when I realized – I should pass by City Hall.  So – I did.  (Deviating from my planned route once more!)  I then past the Brooklyn Bridge…and decided to run up Broadway instead of the FDR Drive along the East River.  So up Broadway I went.

As I worked my way uptown, I passed Union Square, the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, and Macy’s on 34th Street.  It was then that I made another decision: I cannot be in this area without passing Madison Square Garden.  As I past MSG, the video playing on the jumbotron was showing great moments in MSG history.  I look up – and there it is.  1994.  Messier (one of my idols).  A good sign.

While in this neck of the woods, I also spun by The Empire State Building before heading back onto Broadway and up to Times Square.  I hung aright on 42nd Street, went past Bryant Park and Grand Central Station, all the way to First Avenue before finally turning north once more.

I ran past the United Nations and up toward the dreaded 59th Street Bridge.  Once under the bridge, I began to run the final ten miles of the official ING New York City Marathon course. It was at this point in the race that I decided not to look at my watch until I entered Central Park.  And…somewhere between 60th and 70th street I also realized that my legs were beginning to get sore.  Plus – I had run out of water.

The water issue was easy enough to address: just run into a store, buy a 20 oz. bottle and move on.  The legs, however – that was another story.  And I knew what was causing the discomfort.

In order to run around Manhattan and not get pancaked by trucks, buses, or crazy cabbies, you need to run on the sidewalks.  Well, New York City sidewalks are all made of concrete…and concrete has virtually no “give” to it.  Any other substance is easier to run on than concrete.  It was along the concrete of the West Side Highway that I first developed plantar facitis during the New York City Half Marathon in 2007.  I should have thought of this factor before beginning Manhattan waddle.  But…this is me we’re talking about.  Just about the only thing I use my head for is a hat rack.

So, after about 14 miles of running on concrete, my legs sent a telegram to my brain.  I believe it was worded as follows:

“To: Brain.  STOP

From: Legs.  STOP

This hurts.  STOP

Concrete sucks for running.  STOP

If you keep this up, you’ll be sorry.  STOP

So – STOP.  STOP”

I was more than half way to my goal, however.  So – I mentally tossed the telegram into the garbage can located in my cerebrum (that’s where I also store other useless data such as my memories of my favorite F Troop episodes, batting averages of the 1977 New York Yankees, and other odd factoids gleamed from countless visits to the American Museum of Natural History), and soldiered on.

By the time I hit the Willis Avenue Bridge, I had already stopped into one small store for a bottle of water.  It was on the corner of 116th and First Avenue.  The gentleman behind the counter saw me, looked at the bottle of water, and asked the simple question:\

“so it looks like you’re running far today”.

“yeah – I’m trying to finish a marathon.  Running for a charity.”

He paused before taking my money. A rather confused / stunned look crossed his face.

“Wait”, he said, “seriously?  A real marathon?  By yourself?”

“Yeah – I have about 9 miles to go.”

He asked me about the charity.  I quickly described what The Dream Team Project does.  His response lit me up.

“Your money is no good here.  Take the water.  You want anything else?”

Now it was my turn to be stunned.  “No – you are way too kind.  Thanks!”  And I continued my waddle northward.  As I made my way to the Bronx, I silently promised myself that I would pay that simple act of kindness forward.

I crossed over into the Bronx with about 7 ½ miles to go.  I had deviated numerous times from my simple route.  I was starting to tire a bit.  And the ache in my legs began to transition to pain.  I started to worry about the plantar facitis coming back.  I chose to ignore it.  I’ll worry about this nonsense when I’m done.

I crossed back into Manhattan, and followed Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park.  Around the park I went (FYI: I LOVE HARLEM.  There’s something about that neighborhood with all of those turn of the 20th century brownstones that makes me smile), and turned right back onto Fifth.  Up the long incline that I knew so well from past marathons.  Into Central Park at the Engineer’s Gate.  It was at this moment that I checked my watch…and saw that it had died!  I thought I charged the thing!!!  Now I was mad.

I waddled down Cat Hill and across the 72nd street transverse.  The statue on the west side of 72nd street in the park was going to be my finish line – but first I needed to complete one more center loop of the park.  So – up to 104th street.  Then across the transverse.  Back down the east side drive and past the Engineer’s Gate once more.  Past the Boathouse to the 72nd Street transverse once more.  As I turned right to finish, the doubts were rattling in my head – what if all of the deviations from my plotted route caused me to come up just short of 26.2 when I measure it out on MapMyRun this evening?  I cannot come up short, I told myself.  So….I VERY SLOWLY added on one more inner loop.

I finally crossed my pre-planned finish line.  Done.  As I waddled home, I felt content with the effort.  I needed to ice my legs and hope that my old nemesis (plantar facitis) didn’t decide return.

And speaking of returns – I had wondered all day long why The Tool decided to sit this race out.  So I asked him as I sat in the ice bath.  His response was simple:

“Dude, you were running alone.  There was no audience to witness my handiwork.  And think about it, doorknob: you decided to run one solo.  Not the brightest move ever made.  I just figured that you were doing my job for me.”

The little schmuck was right.  Not the brightest move ever.  Hydration was an issue.  Running on concrete was an issue.  The sun was even an issue (I, once more, forgot to use sun block.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Wile E Coyote – Super Genius of running…only without any real speed whatsoever).

I logged on to my computer to find out how far I ran.  When I was done mapping my route with all of the twists and turns, the total came out to be just a fraction more than 29 miles.  So I pushed past marathon distance simply because I didn’t know I was doing it at the time.  I gave myself a tour of the city that I love.  I was sore, but I kept my promise…and that – to me – is what really mattered.

_______________________________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  The Dream Team Project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause, you can do it by visiting the secure donation page here Make-A Wish-Foundation   Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page

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