one Man of a Certain Age's journey to a healthier lifestyle

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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  

My Blogs Thompson Family Web (Travel, Disney and fun) The Runner of a Certain Age Blog

Monday, May 27, 2013



This is printed on the back of every WISH team running shirt. The WISH team is a group of folks, like me, who share a love of running, a love of Disney and a desire to get and stay healthy. The group started out of an on-line bulletin board of Disney fans (The DIS boards). One of the forums is called the WISH forum (We're Inspired to Stay Healthy) and the WISH team grew out of folks who had become acquainted online via these forums - although now we mostly communicate via a Facebook group page. I met several of the folks in person when I ran the 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon and have become friendly with several others on-line in the months since then.


That's what was going through my head at 6:00 this morning.

So here's what happened. I had signed up for the Liberty Run Half Marathon which was supposed to happen this weekend but was cancelled a few weeks ago. As I was prepared to run a half marathon I figured I'd just run the distance on my own. Then I remembered hearing about virtual marathons. A virtual marathon is where you sign up, agree to run the distance, post your time and distance and you receive a medal, t-shirt, etc. I found a Memorial Day Virtual race and decided to do that. Then my chiropractor told me about 10K & 5K in a town near me that had a challenge whereby you sign up to run both races. I figured I'd add on 4 miles to that and I was covered!

Everything was great until the Sunday before the race. We had had some lousy weather but it was clearing on Sunday and race day Monday promised to be a gorgeous day. Then On Sunday I was doing a few things around the house I wanted to get done. One was to fix the flat tires on my daughter's and my wife's bikes. I fixed my daughter's bike with no problem. I was also able to fix the leak in the rear tire of my wife's bike with no issues as well. Then I went to ride it to test it out. What I did not know was that the rim on the front tire was warped. Our driveway slopes downward, and when I applied the brakes the front tire seized up and I was thrown over the handlebars.

The first thing I thought when I landed - I kid you not - was "Crap! I hope I can do the race tomorrow!"

It could have been much worse. I scraped my left knee and got a very impressive bruise on my right thigh (I bruise very easily and this sucker is impressive! I won't post a picture - you're welcome.) I also injured my left elbow in some way - it was very sore.

I went on with my day although my left arm and hand were pretty much useless. Still, initially I thought I would be able to do the race. I even did early packet pickup that afternoon. But as the day progressed it kept getting worse. Finally around 6:00 my wife took me to the emergency room. Usually you can get in and out of the emergency room in our local hospital quickly but on this occasion it took a while. Eventually they took x-rays and told me that nothing was broken. I was very relieved - by this time I was pretty convinced otherwise. They gave me a prescription for Percoset and sent me on my way.

I had decided that the race was out of the question. Without the pain killers my elbow hurt like crazy, and I wasn't about to run 13 miles - or 9 or 6 or 3 - on a Percoset high. I'd end up taking a nap on the course. So at 11:00 I took the pill and went to bed, my arm propped up on a pillow, firmly convinced that I would not be running the next day.

I woke up at 3:30 and it was time for another pill. I realized that, although the pain killer had worn off about 30 minutes earlier, my elbow didn't feel that bad. Sure, it hurt and I couldn't really move it but it wasn't sending sharp screaming pain down my side. I decided not to take the pill and see how I felt. If it felt the same later that morning then maybe I would try to run the race after all. I went back to bed without taking the pill and woke again about 6:00. My elbow felt about the same - not great but not that bad. And then I thought about what was written on those WISH shirts.


Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which is MUCH greater than Did Not Start. I thought to myself "Dammit, I'm going to start. Even if I don't finish at least I tried!"

So I told Andie I was going to do the race. She looked at me like I was nuts. I did not do the extra 4 miles. I'm not that crazy. And besides, I did a 4 mile run a few days ago that qualified for the virtual race. Now, my regular race day breakfast includes - among other things - toast with butter and preserves. No preserves for me this morning; I could not get the lid off of the jar! I changed into my running clothes - including the tech shirt I got from the WDW Half Marathon - and off I went. And get this: as I was driving around looking for a spot I saw someone wearing a WISH shirt! I yelled "Yay WISH team!" to her. I saw her later as well but she was talking to someone else and I did not want to barge in on here. As it would turn out I was not able to find her later but we did connect on the Facebook page.

I had decided to run in a sling. Excessive movement would set off the pain in my elbow and I figured using a sling would help restrict the movement. I think it was a very fortunate decision - I'm not at all sure I would have finished without it. And having the sling on led to several conversations. A typical one went like this: Them: "Now that's what I call dedication!" me: "Either that or stupidity!"

As small races go this one is pretty well organized and all of the volunteers and folks working the race were absolutely terrific. The 10K started promptly at 8:00 with the 5K due to start at 9:30. The course meanders through the town and makes it's way around a small lake. The course is hilly - something I have no issue with as my neighborhood is also hilly - and the neighborhoods we ran through are lovely with lots of trees, lake views and gurgling streams that were swollen by the recent rains.

Babbling brook
There were plenty of water stations manned by local residents. It seemed as though there was a water station about every mile. One minor complaint - no Gatorade. That said, all of the folks who volunteered at the water stations were very friendly and several of them commented on my running with a sling. One kid was asking me what happened and told me he hoped it would feel better. As I was leaving I called back to him "Hey kid! Want to see something really cool?" I then proceeded to show him the very impressive bruise on my thigh. His jaw dropped. "Whoa!"

So, remember what the "DLF" stands for? "Dead Last Finish". Well, in the 10K that's exactly where I ended up. Dead last (with a time of 1:21). But I finished!

My late finish meant I only had a few minutes between the races - probably a good thing actually. By the time the 5K started I have to say I was feeling the pain - not just my elbow but also the bruise on my leg. But I just told myself "It's only 5K" and trudged on. The 5K route went back over a part of the 10K route - the part that circled the lake - but it went in the opposite direction giving it a very different feel. The same folks manned the water stations and they remembered me from the 10K - it's hard to forget the guy wearing a bright yellow tech shirt with Donald Duck and a sling. They wee impressed.

beautiful lake

My time for the 5K (46 minutes) was awful, but I was not last!

Would I do this race again? Absolutely! I would like to do it at full health and see what my times are. It is a terrific and friendly race with a very nice course. And being able to do the challenge made it even better.

All smiles

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Best. Practice. Long. Run. Ever.

I was going to title this weeks entry "Best Long Run Ever" but let's face facts - the worst race is usually going to be better than the best practice run, right? After all, isn't that why run - to compete in races? Yeah, OK, I know health benefits, feeling of accomplishment, blah, blah blah... but in the end it's all about crossing that finish line having done something that few have done and getting that medal.

So, that said, today was an awesome long run, and here's why.

First, the details, I ran 10 miles on a running and bike path not far from my house called the North County Trail. it's a beautiful paved trail that runs through most of Westchester County in New York.

To begin with, it was a gorgeous day on the trail. The trees are finally full and green after being bare all winter and the brook that runs along parts of the trail has gurgling happily. The temperature was in the upper fifties and the sun was out. An absolutely perfect morning for a run. I actually took a couple of pictures but unfortunately they did not turn out.

Also, as I had mentioned in my last post I have been working on pacing myself better. I did really well with this run. If you look at my splits you will see that my times were pretty consistent, and also that they were right within the 11 1/2 minute mile goal I have set for myself for my next race (The Liberty Run in NJ).

I felt strong through nearly all of the 10 miles. The only issue I had at all was the last mile as you can see. There was actually a good reason for this. Most of mile 7 and 8 were uphill the whole way. I pushed myself through these 2 miles, and also did pretty well for mile 9 which was mostly  flat but for mile 10 I was loosing steam even though it was mostly downhill. That said, I'm sure I could have re-grouped had I needed to go farther, but as it was I was just a little weak for that mile. All in all I was very happy with the run, which I completed in under 2 hours (a PR for 10 miles for me).

One of the thing I attribute my improvement to is that I am learning more about running and paying attention to the advice of more experienced runners. In particular, about 2 weeks ago I discovered the Mickey Miles Podcast. Among the topics discussed have been fueling and hydration, and I found their advice to be very helpful. The focus of the podcast is on running Disney races but the advice is pretty universal. Worth a listen.

That's it for this week - next week I'll be doing time trials in Maine as I go to pick up my daughter at college.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pacing myself

So when I wrote about my run at the Unite Half Marathon I left out one important bit of info, my time. I ran the race in 2:46:31 (2:47:26 gun time) - a personal Record for me. That said, one thing I was a bit concerned with was the discrepancy in my time splits:

As you can see, my times got progressively slower  Now, I know that this is fairly normal but I also know that maintaining consistent speeds throughout a race is desirable also. I was OK with my overall time and with my average per mile, but I would really like to see my times remain consistent. So, I decided to start working on that.

I've also set myself a goal for my next race (The New Jersey Liberty Run) of a 12 minute/mile pace, which I think is realistic. To achieve this I'm actually trying for a pace of 11:40. The reason is this - when you run a race the actual distance you run is usually a bit farther that the stated length of the course. As an example, at the Unite race, the actual distance I ran according to iRunner as 13.43 miles. The reason this is true is because the stated distance of the course is the distance you would run if you took the absolutely most efficient path through the course. Since this is pretty much impossible, you end up running bit longer. So, since I want to hit a 12 minute mile according to the race clock, I need to get my pace to a bit quicker than that.

On the weekend after the Unite race I ran 4 miles. I tried running on a track to better be able to pace myself. On a track it's very easy to pace yourself, and my results were very good (ignore the last mile - it was not really a mile - and the first mile as it takes a bit to get going):

As I am now considering myself as "officially" training for my first full marathon, I have extended my weekday morning runs to 45 minutes. Since it takes my about 45 minutes to run 4 miles at the rate I am going for, I just figured I'd run 4 miles on my weekday runs. Here are my splits from one of these runs - pretty consistent except for the first mile but I need to get the time just a bit faster:

Finally, I tried this as well on a longer, 8-mile run. As you can see, fairly consistent but also a fair bit slower than I want. I will continue working on this: