In the Immortal Words of Billy Shakespeare: Mondays Suuuucketh


Monday, July 26th…..This week begins with a tough 5 ½ mile “tempo run” on the soft dirt of the Central Park bridal path.  TFK meets at 6:15pm, and begin with a ½ mile warm up jog.  Now that may sound strange, because we go for a run…before we go for our run.  But from what I have learned from our coaches, in order to optimize our performance during practice, it’s best to raise the runner’s heart rate before taking off on this cozy little jaunt.

 After a bit of stretching and that ½ mile warm up, I ran with a group of TFKers that hoped to pace themselves between 9:30 – 11 minutes per mile.  I figured that a 10:30 pace would suit me perfectly, as it would not be overly stressful on my left heel.  I am developing a fairly nasty case of plantar fasciitis, which is a bruising of the ligaments that run directly under the heel pad of your foot.  This injury is rather tricky, as the pain goes away as you run, and then shows up BIG TIME when you try to get out of bed the very next morning.  The way I treat this injury is by slightly slowing my pace on any run that doesn’t involve TFK, and icing my left heel under my desk during the day and nightly as I watch TV.  These simple treatments have helped just enough to keep me up and training without any longer-term layoffs.

 This 9:30 – 11 min per mile pace group started off rather quickly, clipping off the first 2 miles at a 10:10 pace.  I stayed in the center of the pack, feeling quite comfortable and actually “running with my head” – which means that I was able to actually think about my technique, my form, and my heart rate.  My arms were pumping forward and back, making sure that I didn’t cross them in front of my chest.  My posture was straight, but not rigid.  My strides were crisp and I was able to keep my heart rate under control my breathing deeply into my nose and out of my mouth.  Yes sir – the first 2 miles felt fantastic.  But what’s that saying about all good things? 

 As we began reeling in our third mile of the evening, the group’s pace quickened.  Now we were running at a 9:30 pace.  I focused on my heart rate and tried my best to stay within the center of the group.  My goal this year is to get faster – and the only real way to do that is to push yourself by running with people that are faster than you.  This was exactly what I was doing this evening by running with this pace group, as the fourth mile began with a pace of 9:10.  Now I began to struggle.  The wheels were falling off.

 I began to drift back from the pack, as their pace quickened even more during the last mile, clocking in at approximately 8:40.  I staggered in to the finish near the TFK meeting spot about 3 minutes after the rest of the group.  I felt a mixture of frustration (because I couldn’t keep with the group for the entire workout) and joy (because I did stay with the group for as long as I did).  We finished practice with light stretching and some core work that left my stomach achy.

As I walked home from practice, my left heel had a brief conversation with my brain.  It went a little something like this:

 Heel: “Just a little FYI – I’m about to send you an instant message.  Be on the lookout for it, OK?”

 Brain: “Hey!  Good hearing from you!  What’s the topic?”

 Heel: “Well I’ll let you read all the details yourself – but here’s the Cliff Notes version.  You pushed me too hard today.  I’m rather upset about it.  Cranky would even be a better way to put it.  As a union employee of this body, I’m choosing to go on strike.”

 Brain: “Now wait a second – that’s not fair.  At least let me hear your demands before you “walk out”.  Get it?  “Walk out”?  How funny am I….?”

 Heel: “Here are my demands.  Call a cab.  RIGHT NOW.  I don’t want to take another step.”

 Brain: “That’s it?  That’s your only demand?”

 Heel: “Yup.  Quick and simple.  So what’s it going to be?”

 Brain: “Well…..I’d rather walk home.  It’s better save the money….”

 Heel: “OK – that’s it.  I’m on strike as of……right……NOW.”

 …….and at that moment, it felt as though I stepped on a knife.

 Have you ever experienced your leg “falling asleep”?  Well that’s how my left heel felt.  I couldn’t place any body weight on it.  I went from limping to literally hopping across 81st Street heading west.  I sat down on the stoop of a very fine-looking hotel across the street from the American Museum of Natural History, just to make sure I didn’t topple over.  Within moments, the doorman came out to ask me to get up and keep moving.  Since my cranky button was pushed, the doorman and I had a lovely little exchange.  Would you care to read about it?  No?  Well I’m going to share it with you anyway:

 Doorman: (very politely) “Excuse me sir – are you a guest here?”

 Me: (Not as polite and professional) “ummmm…..NO.  Why?”

 Doorman: (thin grin cracking across his face) “If that’s the case, I need to ask you to remove yourself from these steps.”

 Me: (not grin AT ALL on my face) “Well I would if I could walk.  I just injured my foot.”

 Doorman: (the thin grin replaced with a blank expression) “Well you cannot rest here.  Plus – you’re sweating all over the concrete.”

 Me: (the bells went off in my head – time to layeth the verbal smacketh down) “First off – does it LOOK like I’m resting?  I’m really hurting and it was either sit for a moment right here, or risk falling in front of your pretty little hotel.  Now you see those two cracks in the pavement?  Well my story would be that I tripped on one of them.  And of course, I’d be worried about other people’s safety – so I’d obviously do the necessary thing and call my doctor…and then my lawyer.  Secondly: buy yourself a nose hair trimmer, because when you sneeze I bet you look like a party favor.”

 Doorman: “Wow.  Now that was just wrong.  Why did you have to bring my nose hair into this conversation?”

 Me: “Well why did you have to make me crankier than I already was?”

 Doorman: “We have a stalemate.  I’m Chuck.”

 Me: “Hi Chuck – I’m Miserable.”

 Doorman: “Nice to meet you – want some water?”

 ……..ah, New Yorkers.  We all have an inner wiseass pre-programmed into are biological hard drives.  Yet we also have the innate ability to appreciate creative sarcasm.

 ________________________________________________

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”    – Doug Larson

T.G.I.F.I.M.D.O.!!! (Thank God It’s Friday It’s My Day Off!!)


…..and NO, that doesn’t mean that I’m taking today off from work, sitting in the wonderful air conditioning, watching DVDs and ordering a pizza from Dean’s.  All it means is that I refrain from exercising today in preparation for Saturday morning’s long run.  From speaking with coaches and reading some marathon training books, one message always rings true: resting your body from time to time is really important in order to reduce the risk of injury and optimize ongoing performance.  To me, taking a day off from running makes me…..well…..nutso.  Why? Because each Friday I wake up craving the same amount of calories that I do for any day that has a scheduled workout on the calendar.  Knowing that I’m not running or hitting the gym, I am forced to curb my hunger for really tasty, not-so-good-for-me treats.  And that……….makes……..me………….CRANKY.

In order to properly combat these Friday cravings for Oreos & cold milk (a balanced breakfast), two slices from Bari’s Pizza (the lunch of champions), 4 cans of Diet Coke (need the caffiene rush), and an order of Kung Po chicken & mushu pork for dinner (mmmmmmm…..say it with me: MSG!), I am trying something new.  Each Friday, I try to really focus on my diet more than any other day of the week.  every time I say NO to that Oreo (with tears in my eyes – crap those things are good), I think of it as a form of exercising.  And saying NO to those little black & white pieces of heaven is a heck of a lot harder for me to do than finishing a 5 mile tempo run.  Why, you might ask?  Because I am not disciplined.  AT ALL.

I have been battling my weight all my life.  I have never looked or felt the way I always wanted to.  Once in a while I’d go on a workout tear, completely overdo it, eat heavily while in the midst of it with the rationalization that my body needed the extra fuel……….and then, one day, I’d be too tired to hit the gym and work out – so I’d rest.  And then the next day, I wouldn’t feel like going to the gym either – so I would take another day off.  Two days off turns into 5.  Which turns into 2 weeks.  Now all positive momentum is killed on the exercise front – but I’m still eating as if my body needed that extra fuel.  Within 2 weeks of ending my exercise kick, I will usually have weighed MORE than when I started.  It was a long, ugly process.  letting myself gain weight in such a fashion affected my self-image and my confidence, and it is my belief that it was one of the contributing factors to me falling slowly into the darkest period of my life. 

(Now I won’t be delving into that dark period in this blog.  Instead, I am documenting that period of my life as well as how I reclaimed my life in my upcoming book, entitled For My Sins.  I’ll let everyone know when it becomes available.)

So how did I break the vicious cycle?  Well, I found a goal – running a marathon.  With a large goal dangling in front of me several months away, I began to develop and follow a longer-term training schedule, and I stayed focused on my exercise regimen for a much longer, effective period of time.  The end result was obvious to myself – my self-confidence returned and physical changes were obvious (based on the funhouse mirror I had installed in my bedroom).  Now for you readers, I am not suggesting that your first goal should be a marathon.  It could be anything – a local 5k race, a 25 bike race, a local swim meet – anything at all.  But in my humble, uneducated opinion, having a clear goal (one that doesn’t appear to be very easy – one that would take some real effort to accomplish) really helps keep a person stay focused and contributes to long-term results. 

So as I accomplished that first goal of running a marathon, the emotional lift and thorough sense of accomplishment I enjoyed made my immediately crave more.  I upped the ante as far as goals were concerned, always trying to go bigger and better.  Thinking longer term, that’s something you all can do, once you have attained your first goal / objective…..immediately set another one.  One that’s slightly bigger / more challenging.  That way you don’t rest on your laurels and fall right back into a prior routine that wasn’t as healthy as the one you just enjoyed.

To illustrate how my goals have grown since I began distance running in 2005, I’ll just very quickly compare my 2009 -2010 marathon goals to the ones I have set for myself for the 2010 – 2011 marathon season.  In the 2009 – 2010 season, I ran the Goofy Race & A Half Challenge in Orlando (which is a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon the next day) in January.  Then I prepared myself all summer for a very difficult goal: finishing 3 full marathons in a month.  I ran the Hartford Marathon in early October.  2 weeks later I was in D.C. for the Marine Corps. Marathon.  The very next Sunday was the race that I plan my whole year around: the ING New York City Marathon.  I was able to complete this difficult goal, and it left me still hungry for more.  So this marathon season I have a slightly broader list of goals to attain.  I may start my year in Canada, running in a marathon in Alberta.  About six weeks later, I begin a series of races that will push me harder then last year, with marathons in Hartford (October), New York City (November), Philadelphia (November), Vegas (December), Goofy’s Race & A Half Challenge (January), Miami (January), and Ft. Lauderdale (February).  I am not looking any further down the road than February, because I think that list will test my threshhold pretty well. 

(The reason I just listed my 2010 – 2011 goals is because now I’ve put it out there for others to see.  That makes it much harder for me to blow my goal off, and will futher help me focus on the tasks at hand.)

If I am going to attain this year’s goals, I have to follow my training schedule and the advice of the experts – my coaches.  They all say I need to rest each Friday – let the body heal.  All I can say is….yes sir.  So…..where did I leave my remote control?  Until tomorrow!!

“pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity.”   – Michael Johnson