one Man of a Certain Age's journey to a healthier lifestyle
Welcome to my fitness blog. I started running in early 2012, having set my sights on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon which I ran in January 2013. (You can read about that in my other blog). I intend to update this blog weekly with training progress and run reports. Please follow and join this blog (links below) for updates. If you want to share please feel free to, there are links to share via Facebook or Twitter below as well. You can also follow me on twitter. And please comment letting me know what you think!
|My upcoming races:||My recent races:|
|NYCRuns Central Park Half Marathon February 23, 2014||2013 Year in Review|
|Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon - DC March 15, 2014|
Saturday, May 17, 2014
I have decided to stop posting to this blog - instead I am focusing on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast. You can check out the podcast by visiting the podcast website, or you can search for "runner of a certain age podcast" in iTunes. Don't forget to subscribe! You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Let's go running together!
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Are you satisfied?
I wasn't there. The expo. The cool shirts. The meetups. Running through the castle. Riding Expedition Everest in the middle of a marathon. The medals. Oh, my Lord, the medals. Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy - even Pluto. And Dopey. Lord help me, Dopey. None of these were mine, OK?
After experiencing all of these things at last year's Marathon Weekend (well, OK, only ran the Half Marathon. Only.), how on earth was I going to survive sitting up here in cold suburban New York while everyone else in the World (it seemed to me) was having all that fun eating Dole Whips and admiring each others bling? Well, my first plan was to curl up with my 2013 WDW Half Marathon medal and the tech shirt and the running guide with a bottle of wine and cry.
|Don't judge me|
Perhaps I could immerse my self in the world of social media and forget my troubles. Then it hit me. Since running in the Half Marathon last year I've developed online friendships with a lot of the folks who were down there in Florida enjoying the festivities. Dozens of them. My Facebook timeline was literally inundated with happy excited posts of travelling to Orlando and preparing for the races and meeting up with friends. At least there were a few worried posts about delayed flights. Those made me feel a bit better.
Then I knew what I had to do. UNFRIEND THEM ALL!!! Update on your flight landing in Orlando? UNFRIEND! Selfies in front of Spaceship Earth? UNFRIEND! Picture of race shirts? UNFRIEND! Posts about "Inaugural" being spelled wrong? DOUBLE UNFRIEND!
I mean if you were really my friend you would be here with me! Commiserating online about how much it sucks to not be there! You clearly don't value my friendship if you could leave me behind to wallow in this misery!
But then... just as I was steeling myself to sever any online attachments to all these thoughtless heathens... I started seeing pictures of smiling faces holding up their 5k medals in the early morning Florida sunlight, and... I found myself smiling. I was happy for them. And I wanted more. And more came in over the next days. Pictures and stories of personal accomplishment, camaraderie, friendship and excitement. Sure, there were a few sad stories of folks being sidetracked with injury, but these were always met with words of encouragement and hope and "you'll do it next time!" And I was reminded of what a fantastic group of folks it is who have taken up this crazy lifestyle of running distances. I've only met a few of you in person, and I hope to meet more at future events, but all of you show who you really are not just by what you accomplish, but by how you revel in the accomplishments of others and support each other. And that is why, over the course of the marathon weekend, I would log in first thing to Facebook and Twitter to see the latest, to see how you all were doing.
And thank you all so much for sharing.
Still... next year... next year it will be ME! MWAHAHAHAHA!
Check out my nascent podcast! Episode 6 will be up soon!
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
As the year comes to a close I reflect back on my first full year as a runner. I started running in the summer of last year with an eye on running my first race - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January. After accomplishing that goal I ran several more 5k's, 10k's and Half Marathons, culminating with a Full Marathon in November. In this blog I will summarize my thoughts on the different events I participated in.
One thing right off the bat. I have also started doing a podcast - mostly for the fun of it. I have done a couple of episodes of the podcast that concurrent with posts in this blog but I've never really attempted to coordinate what goes in the blog and the podcast. I just sort of wing it (for better or worse). This time I decided to have the blog and the podcast compliment each other.
So, in this blog I will summarize the events I participated in and summarize some thoughts on each. In the podcast I will do a "best of" and "worst of" summary of the year. Hopefully this will be at least a little interesting! So, after reading this blog be sure to check out the podcast. Just click on the image below. Or listen to the podcast first. Whatever. Far be it from me to tell you what to do..
First, a summary of my year:
|Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon, Sleepy Hollow NY, March 23, 2013
OK, so my chiropractor is also a runner. He has given me endless helpful advice while keeping my back in alignment. So, after I ran the WDW Half Marathon I told him I had signed up for the Sleepy Hollow race. "Wow" he said, "I've done that race. it's a tough course! Very hilly!" Lovely. Only my second race and I was challenging myself with a notoriously tough course. I wanted to run the NYC Half Marathon but it was sold out unless you wanted to run for a charity. I thought of doing that but when I heard about the Sleepy Hollow race I decided to do that instead. After all, it was only about a half hour away! Well, it was a tough race. But you know what? I made it. And I did it in a faster time that I thought I would be able to. And while the course certainly is tough, it is also a beautiful course that winds through wooded trails and and along the historic Hudson River. I don't intend to run it in 2014 but I do think I will tackle it again eventually when I can better appreciate the course.
|Bedford Hills Run for the Hills 5K, Bedford Hills NY, April 2, 2013
My first ever 5K. After the race i found myself thinking "what a civilized distance! It was particularly satisfying because, having lived in the town for many years, I had seen the signs advertising the event many times over the years. It was nice to actually run in it. It was also great seeing my chiropratcor there - who is a sponsor of the event.
|Unite Half Marathon, Somerset NJ, April 21, 2013
My first half marathon that was not accompanied by a fear of not being able ti finish in time (other than the typical fear of injury). Organized by CGI racing, it was a very well run event. I heard a lot of folks complain about the hilliness of the course - having just run Sleepy Hollow recently I did not see what they were complaining about. The race went through the Rutgers University campus. Running on a college campus was in interesting experience. I'm surprised more races don't do this.
|South Salem Races 5k & 10k, South Salem NY, May 27, 2013
I had originally scheduled to run a half marathon in New Jersey but it was cancelled. So I decided to do this race instead. Then I fractured by elbow the day before. You'd think maybe someone was trying to tell me something? Well, if so, I didn't listen. I did both races, sling and all. And I got a medal for it (sort of). I had signed up for a virtual half marathon which I intended to run that day. What with my arm I gave up on that, but the rules of the virtual race were such that miles I had already put in counted and I figured I deserved it!
|Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon, Fairfield CT, June 23, 2013
Looking back, I'm pretty sure that the heat at Walt Disney World had made an impact on my time for that race, but the Fairfield race was the first one where I was consciously aware of the effect the heat had on my pace. Although the race was near the water, it was still in sweltering heat. I started the race with the intention of doing a PR, but after a while it was clear that was not happening. Ultimately I finished with no issue, but it was an excruciatingly hot event.
|Katonah 5K Road and Trail Race, Katonah NY, September 7, 2013
Another local event, this was one I decided to do last minute. My training called for 6 miles on that day, so I ran the course twice essentially. This may have sounded like a good idea until I got lost and made it back just in time for the start of the race! This was also the first race I did that billed itself as having "trail" components - although technically the Sleepy hollow race did as well. I'm not sure I'm a trail running sort of guy, but it's a local race so I'll probably do it again.
|Electric Run NYC 5K, Brooklyn NY, September 27, 2013|
This was my first (and to date, only) "fun run" (a race with no timed element). And boy was it fun! The "Electric Run" series has events all over the country. They are known for their electronic music and large light displays. It was especially fun for me because my wife and daughter joined me. In 2014 we'll be looking out for other fun runs like the "color runs" and maybe "zombie runs". A lot of fun.
|Rock and Roll Providence Half Marathon, Providence RI, September 29, 2013
My first Rock 'n Roll Competitor event definitely will not be my last. Well, OK, that's pretty much a non-statement considering that when I ran it I had already signed up for the Brooklyn 10k. Still, you get the idea. The RnR races are well organized, with good courses that offer far above par in-race entertainment. Plus they offer very cool medals for participating in multiple events. I have to say, purely in terms of enjoying the actual race itself, this Providence race was second only to the Disney race. This was a great event!
|Rock and Roll Brooklyn 10K, Brooklyn NY, October 12, 2013
This event had a triple whammy of goodness. Whammy number one - it was another RnR race which, as I have established, are very fun events. Whammy number two - It was in the beautiful Prospect park in the awesome borough of Brooklyn. Whammy number three - and the best of all - I got to run it with my daughter! Who could ask for more? I think this just might be an annual event.
|Route 66 Marathon, Tulsa OK, November 24, 2013
All this work all year, all this training, came down to this: my first full marathon. The experience honestly was not what I had hoped - the weather was bitterly cold which not only impacted the race but also my hopes to socialize and maybe meet people before and after. Also I had gone with the intention of getting together with my brother which also did not happen. Still, this is a very well organized race with one sweet medal! And as they say, you never forget your first. I also got a chance to see a new city and state, which I always enjoy. Tulsa is quite a charming city. Of course marathon and half marathon courses tend to show off their host cities, and this was certainly true for Tulsa. Running along the river and through the university were highlights.
|NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K, Roosevelt Island NY, December 15, 2013
My last race of the year and I was able to do it with Natalie! Cold cold COLD! And slushy and sloppy. Still, a very nice course and easy to get to. Also my first race with NYCRuns - I am planning to do their Central Park half marathon in February. This may become another annual event.
All in all, a pretty good effort for my first year I think. I was able to mix in lots of different types of race including a fun run, 5k's, 10k's, Half Marathons and even a Full Marathon. I am hoping for 2014 to be even a bigger running year for me. Next time I will delve into my plans for next year.
Until then, keep running!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
On Sunday December 15th I ran in the NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 10K on Roosevelt Island with my daughter Natalie. This was the second time Nat and I did a 10K together, having previously run the Rock 'n Roll Brooklyn 10K last October. As far as this race goes, all I can say is...
HOLY CRAP IT WAS COLD!
YOU'VE HEARD OF A "TOUGH MUDDER"? THIS WAS A "TOUGH SLUSHER"!
IN SOME PLACES THERE SO MUCH SLUSH, ICY WATER AND MUD THAT RUNNERS HAD TO GO OFF COURSE!
OUR FEET WERE FREEZING AND EVEN GOT NUMB A FEW TIMES!
IT WAS A BLAST!
The fact is that, for me, as with most running is a mostly lonely pastime, Admittedly that's one of the things I enjoy about it - getting out there all by myself and getting lost in my reverie as I chug along mile after mile. Still, on the occasions when Nat is around and we can go running together, and especially on the (now) two occasions that we've done races together, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We don't even talk all that much, Nat listens to music and I listen to podcasts, but just having someone along to share the experience makes all the more memorable.
Nat and I both use the "run/walk/run" method and we do intervals of 40 seconds of running and 20 seconds of walking. We use the same iPhone app to pace ourselves, and what we do is we synchronize our timers so that we are told when to switch between running and walking at the same time. We always say we must look funny because, without a word, we both start running or walking at the exact same time.
OK, so some specifics about this race:
Getting there. I have to say that this was a bit of a pleasant surprise. The race was on Roosevelt Island, a tiny sliver of land off Manhattan in the middle of the East River. Driving to Roosevelt Island is inadvisable and parking there can be a challenge so we decided to drive to Manhattan and take the Tram to the Island, parking near the tram station. Now, the night before the race the weather was nasty and about 4 or 5 inches of snow had fallen. it was questionable whether the race was even on. Be we got an email at 7 on Sunday morning informing us that the race was on. We hit the road about 7:45, with the race start scheduled for 10:00. On the one hand I wanted to leave enough time, but on the other hand I didn't want to get there too early because we didn't want to have to hang around in the cold. That said, i was worried about the roads so i wanted to leave plenty of time. It turned out that the roads weren't too bad and we got there by 9:00 (despite the fact that I inadvertently put an address in Brooklyn into the GPS, which we realized soon enough that it didn't cause a big problem). We found a parking space just a few blocks from the tram (which is like a large cable car) and were there by 9:15.
Pre-race. The race organizers suggested getting your bib a day or two before the race, something we were not able to do. Still, getting our bibs the morning of the race was no problem at all. My only complaint was that the tent where you needed to go to get your bib was in a field which was covered in snow so it was difficult to avoid getting your shoes wet. There was another tent so you could pick up your "swag" - in this case a nice hot chocolate mug (in keeping with the theme of the race). Nat was disappointed that there was no shirt, which is what she wanted. They had shirts to buy but they only took cash and I didn't have any on me. I was able to contact the race organizers and arrange to buy a shirt later.
On that subject, a quick word about the race organizers. For various reasons (such as my losing my driver's license during the race) I have had the occasion to have more email communications with the NYC Runs folks than any race I have ever run before. And the folks from NYC Runs have been nothing but helpful. I can't say enough good things about the folks who engage with the participants.
Anyway, as I mentioned it was a cold day so that last few minutes before the race it was tough to keep warm. After checking our bags we actually discovered an apartment building with an open lobby where we could hang out and stay warm for a few minutes. Surprisingly there were only about a half dozen other racers who had discovered this as well. We stayed there for about 10 minutes then headed out to the starting line just before 10:00.
The course. The 10K course was, essentially, 2 loops around the island (like I said, Roosevelt Island is small). We started near the tram station, headed north on the west side of the island, looped back south on the east side, and then completed another loop once we reached the southernmost point on the island. On the northern part of the island there were a couple of points where the course got particularly muddy and slushy. Having gone through it the first time, we weren't too thrilled when we looped around and headed back through the same section! Still, much of the course was very pleasant, with a lot of it being along the river. On a nice day this must be a spectacular place to run with the river along side and the Manhattan skyline on the other side.
The snow and slush slowed us down quite a bit, but still I was pretty pleased with my performance. Nat had to slow down a bit so her old man could keep up. Still, we came across the finish line together, happy for having accomplished another race together.
Post Race. After the race we picked up our bags with no problem. They had stations set up where you could get hot chocolate, but neither Nat nor I are big on hot chocolate so we skipped that and just headed back. The cold weather was not exactly conducive to hanging out. Too bad, because it looked like a pretty location. I am going to keep my eyes open for races on Roosevelt Island when the weather is warmer. And I am seriously thinking that I will to the Central Park Half Marathon that NYC Runs is having in February.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
|Ich bin ein Marathoner|
In addition the weather turned out to be unseasonably cold. According to the Route 66 Marathon web site, the average temperature that time of year is in the low 40's - really ideal for a marathon. The temperatures for this weekend ended up in the mid-20's!. Let me tell you it was COLD!
I will also note here that - although as of this writing I have not posted it yet, I will be putting up the latest addition of the Runner of a certain Age Podcast by the 29th, and in that I will have some more personal observations and anecdotes. So check back! [Note: the podcast is now available]
Expo. I went to this expo with some very specific goals in mind (besides, of course, picking up my race packet). First, I needed some gels. Second, I wanted to check out any race merchandise (although I promised myself I would only buy something if I absolutely had to have it). And finally I needed a new GPS watch. I've been using an iPhone app called iRunner for a while and was very happy with it - but the GPS feature on the phone was draining the battery and I had run out of charge - or come close - a few times on long (23 mile+) training runs. And I did not want that to happen on my first marathon! I had bought a Timex Ironman GPS but after returning the 2nd one that would not take a charge I gave up on that. So, in terms of getting gels, a local Fleet Feet Sports had a booth with everything I needed. In terms of merch, turns out the t-shirt that came for participants was a cotton T, not a tech shirt, and really exactly what I wanted. And Garmin had a booth as well and were very happy to sell me their new Forerunner 220 (which I love - full review later).
[Note: The race organizers left me the following note in twitter: "...the cotton/poly blend participant shirt IS a Tech shirt, so sweat away! Gotta love technology!"]
All that said, I was just a tad disappointed in the expo. To begin with it seemed a tad small for a race of this size (a total of about 8,000 participants from what I can tell). To tell the truth I think my biggest problem was more related to the fact that I didn't get there until a few hours before closing so things were dying down a bit. That said, I got my first look at the amazing volunteers at this race. All the folks who helped with picking up the racing packets were terrific. In particular there was a guy in a kilt who made a very big deal out of the fact that this was my first full!
Pre-race and corrals. Unfortunately it was so cold there was not much of an opportunity to enjoy the pre-race activities. Normally I love to walk around and people-watch, and I was really hoping to talk to some folks before the race. But in this case everyone pretty much huddled together anywhere they could to stay warm. I was able to chat with a few folks while we waited, including 2 women, one named Laura and I confess I don't recall the other's name. In addition I did see one guy in what was perhaps the most inventive running getup I think I've ever seen - he was dressed as the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story": lampshade hat, fishnet stockings and all.
There were only 4 corrals so they were quite large - nearly 2,000 in each. The folks running the half as well as the full all started at the same time. I was in corral D (the last) and did not get in until the last minute so I started out well in the back of the pack. Those of us in the last corral had to wait what seemed like quite a long time - a feeling that was no doubt exacerbated by the cold. In fact I would have sworn it took us about 20 minutes to get to the start after the gun, but according to the official results it was only about 5 minutes. Plus they did a nice send-off for each corral including shooting off a confetti gun - nice touch.
The course. Oklahoma has a well deserved reputation for being, well, flat as a pancake. And it is. So I was somewhat surprised by how hilly the Route 66 Marathon course is. Admittedly it's nothing like my neighborhood loop which boasts a 150 rise in .4 miles, nor was it as hilly as the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon that I ran earlier this year. But it is still pretty darned hilly. And of course the worst of it is right at the half way point - a special treat for those of us running the full marathon.
One thing I have noticed - unsurprisingly - about these races is that the courses seem to show off the host towns to their best. This was true of Providence and it is certainly true hear. Or maybe all of Tulsa is equally nice, but I was certainly taken by the city's charms. The highlights for me included running along the Arkansas River, running through the University of Tulsa, and also all of the wonderful Midwestern architecture on display in many of the neighborhoods. I saw several charming Spanish inspired homes with stucco walls and red clay roofs. I also was quite taken by the University campus. It boasts an old world charm although it appears to mostly be new construction. And again it seemed as though the course was chosen to show off the campus at it's best.
All in all I give this course very high marks. I'm sure that if the weather had cooperated with a sunny, brisk day it would have even been better.
Support. Speaking of the weather, I have a feeling that if the elements had been more cooperative, this race would have taken the award for best local support. I was very surprised by the number of local folks who braved the cold to cheer the runners on. And this is coming from a guy who was at the back of the pack! One thing we saw a lot of was folks camped in their front yards with a fire going in a fire pit. It was all I could do to keep myself from joining them.
And then there were the volunteers. Volunteers at races are always awesome and very much appreciated. Still, there's something about watching these folks go about the business of doing the things that make a race possible, and doing while it's dead cold out, that really makes you realize what a selfless act it is to volunteer for one of these races. These folks simply get my undying gratitude and admiration.
The Race. The last couple of weeks leading up to the race my back had been bothering me. I sustained a traumatic back injury about 14 years ago (I took a nasty fall off a horse). Through strength training, stretching and chiropractic (thanks Dr. Stu!) I have managed to keep it mostly at bay. Still, on occasion it acts up on me and it picked the last couple of weeks to do so. I was so concerned I stopped all cross training and even most of my running for the last 2 weeks or so. Needless to say I concerned not only about my back, but my conditioning as a whole. This in mind, I decided to take it very easy and I convinced myself to not worry at all about my time. My goal was to finish, preferably not hunched over. Well, I did take it easy and, although I kept my pace very slow, I was able to maintain a pretty consistent pace through about 17 miles or so. After that I think my lack of conditioning over the last few weeks took its toll and I started to feel very fatigued. One thing I noticed in particular was that - even though I think that the temperatures had remained pretty constant, I started feeling the cold a lot more for the last eight miles or so. In fact my fingers started getting numb and I needed to curl them into a fist inside my gloves to keep them warm.
Something the Route 66 Marathon folks push a lot is the "Center of the Universe Detour" - a .3 mile optional detour near mile 26 for which you get a free beer and a nice little medallion. By the time I got to the detour I had absolutely no desire to do it. Volunteers were urging the runners to take it. "No thanks" I said, "I'm done". But then I saw everyone else doing it so I figured "why not?". And I'm glad I did. I had no desire for a beer (or Red Bull which was also offered) but I'm always happy to snag a little extra bling.
After the detour there were two more turns then the sweetest site in a race: the finish line. Is there a better site to the weary runner? And have you ever noticed that race organizers always seem to put the finish line soon after a turn? It's not like you're a mile away and you see it in the distance. That would be cruel. It's always that you turn a corner and there it is. I love that. I also love it when, like in this race, there is an announcer calling out your name as you cross the finish. It gives me goose bumps. Just like when I finished my first half marathon in January, I nearly burst into tears as I crossed the finish line. It is an absolutely amazing feeling. What a rush.
Post race. After having the awesome medal placed around my neck and having the obligatory post-race picture taken, I enter a blessedly heated tent where I was greeted by an amazing site: a bowl of hot pasta with bolognaise sauce. I don't know if I would call this fine cuisine, but it was one of the most appreciated meals I have wolfed down in many days. It truly hit the spot.
Owing to the raw weather and, no doubt, the fact that I was among the last to finish, there were not many folks left hanging around after I finished. So, after enjoying my post-race meal and the conversation with the man who prepared it, I headed back to my hotel for a much needed dip in the Jacuzzi and a nap. Overall it was an absolutely awesome experience, made all the better by the efforts of the organizers and the volunteers. Would I do it again? If it weren't for the fact that it's so hard to get to I'd say absolutely. I understand that next year will be their 10th which makes me wonder what they're planning - I'm sure it's something pretty awesome.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I will be running the +Route 66 Marathon this weekend - November 24. It's my first full marathon! I am going to do a review of the race both here as well as n my shiny new RoaCA Podcast and I'd love to hear what folks think. So look for me at the expo and the race - or better yet email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ping me on Facebook and let me know you'll be there so we can meet up and discuss the race!
Once I get my bib number and corral placement I will post it here, but I anticipate being in one of the last corrals and I expect to be finishing near the back (especially as my back is still a bit sore so I will probably take it extra slow). Depending on the weather I hope to be wearing a WISH team running shirt making me easier to spot.
I also plan to be at the expo on Saturday at about 1:00. I heard a rumor of some sort of blogger meet up - I hope to check that out. I'll probably stay at the expo until at least 3:00 or so. I will be wearing a dark blue crew neck long sleave shirt with a big "Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon" logo - so I should be pretty easy to spot.
Hope to see some of you there!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
The following Tuesday I did a short 4 mile run and felt very strong. But then, after the run, as I was taking off my shirt and - cccrrraaaccckkkk! My back gave out. Argh! I have a history of back issues but I haven't had any problems for quite some time. So, this set me back and I didn't do another week-day run. The next weekend I was scheduled for a 7-mile run, which I opted to walk instead. According to Galloway, you get as much endurance benefit from walking as running, and the training is all about building endurance.
By the next Tuesday I felt 100% so I ran again for my short weekday run, and did the same on Thursday. Again I was feeling strong and 100%. But then on Saturday I was lifting weights as part of my cross-training regiment and cccrrraaaccckkkk! UUUAAAHHHGGGG!!! *sigh*
Well, here it is Wednesday. About 10 days from the marathon. I have decided (obviously) to cease all cross-training efforts until after the race, and I have not run again. I did a 6 mile walk on Sunday - which was OK though my back hurt a little. I went for a short walk today as well and again felt OK. I also went to the chiropractor which I hope will help. He seemed to think I would be fine for the race. Finally I'm planning a massage for this weekend (how nice to have a good excuse for a massage!)
So from hear out I take it easy and play it very safe. the last thing I want is to have another setback at this point. Fingers crossed!
And don't forget to Check out the first episode of the RoaCA Podcast and subscribe in iTunes!