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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Officially Starting Training

After running the Fairfield Half Marathon last week I don't have any more races planned for the rest of the summer. I do plan on doing the NYC Electric Run with my family as well as the Rock and Roll Providence, but those are not until September. I also am doing the Rock and Roll Brooklyn 10K in October. But that's it for the summer. So, what do I plan on doing? Well, I am shooting for my first full marathon in November, so I am now in full training mode for that.

First, I had originally intended to do the Philadelphia Marathon, which is one that my chiropractor recommended. But then I had a change of plan. I found out that one of my brothers, who I haven't seen since our Mother's memorial in February of 2011, was planning to move to a town outside of Tulsa, OK. I also remembered a marathon I had heard about, the Route 66 Marathon, that was scheduled for November in Tulsa. So, now I intend to fly to Tulsa, visit my brother and sister-in-law, and run the Route 66 Marathon.

So, in practical terms, this means I am essentially switching from a mode of remaining in condition for running half marathons to stepping it up to training for a full marathon. I have been reading and referring to the book "Training Programs" by Jeff Galloway and I have been following one of his full marathon programs from that book. The only alterations I have done so far is that I ran a couple of half marathons which were greater distances than what he called for. Also I had not really gotten into the mode of running slower than you would for a race on your long runs - something that Galloway recommends. As of this week that stops and I am in full "training mode".

To begin with, I am going to maintain a slower pace for the long runs. In addition to Jeff's recommendation for taking it slow in general, he also recommends slowing down when the temperature gets hot. Well, this morning was one of those days. On the schedule was a 9 mile run. While it was not horribly hot - about 70° as i started my run but it got up to about 78° - it was also extremely humid. So, I made sure to bring along a lot of water as well as some electrolyte drink and I took it very easy, maintaining a steady pace of about 14 minutes per mile. And as a result the run was very pleasant. I felt no aches and pains at all and I felt as thought I could easily have continued on for a few more miles.

Finally, as to my training schedule, from here out I will follow Jeff's training plan with only one alteration. According to the Galloway I should be doing 6 miles on September 29 but instead I will be doing a half marathon. Even the weekend of the Brooklyn 10K works out because the schedule calls for 6 miles. Here is my training schedule:

 Any feedback on my training plan appreciated, and stay tuned as I track my progress!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon


Last Sunday, June 23, I ran in the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon in Fairfield CT. What follows are some of my thoughts about the race.

First, I was hoping that I would achieve a PR at this race - something that was not to be due mostly to the heat. Anyone who follows this blog knows that I am not exactly the fastest runner on the course - my best time to date for a half marathon in 2:42 - and I was not able to beat that in this race. But I get ahead of myself...

The town of Fairfield in CT is right on the Long Island Sound and boasts some beautiful beaches. It's only about a 45 minute drive from my house so it seemed like a natural choice for me to run. I registered for the race a few months back and, after using Google Earth to check out some of the course, I was really looking forward to it. I got up early and hit the road a little after 6:00, arriving at the venue about 7:00. From there we caught a bus to Jennings Beach where the race was to begin. While in line waiting for the bus I started chatting with a couple of other runners, talking about other races, etc. So, anyway, here are some of my thoughts...

Race day was an absolutely beautiful, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The only issue, as I wrote earlier, it was HOT! The race time temperature was about 70°, getting up to the upper 80's by the end of the race. There was very little breeze, and the sun was out in force. This obviously effected my enjoyment of the race - as well as my time - but there's not much the organizers can do about the weather (except maybe start the race earlier? Just a thought...)

Organization: With the exception of a few minor quibbles, this is an exceptionally well organized race. It should be remembered that this is a community organized race manned by volunteers, as opposed to professional race organizers. So I would not be too critical of a few minor issues. On the plus side, the bib pickup was smooth (despite the fact that there were no opportunities for early pickup). There were plenty of volunteers helping out and ample facilities. I was a little concerned when I was not able to pick up my shirt before the race, but they had a booth set up to pick up shirts after the race so it was not an issue. The parking, as I mentioned above, was not close to the start but there were plenty of buses (albeit non-air conditioned school buses) to shuttle runners and their families. I did notice that there was some confusion around where people parked because some parked at the "old" train station while others parked at the "new" train station. This did not impact me personally though.

I do have a couple of suggestions. First, I would set up porta-potties in the parking lots to alleviate crowded facilities at the race start. Another minor quibble is that you have to walk through some sand to get to the start, and it is difficult to avoid getting sand in your shoes. This can be very irritating. Again, this was no issue for me but I did chat with a few folks who had to empty their shoes before the race.

Community support was one area where this race really shines! The community spirit and support was awesome! When you're like me and one of the folks that bring up the rear of the race you really appreciate all the folks that are still out there cheering you on. And at this race they were still there and not only cheering, but cheering enthusiastically. If anyone reading this is not a racer but rather a race supporter, let me just tell you how much your efforts are appreciated. You are the greatest! There were also several bands, again something that is much appreciated. There were also some terrific signs (including a little girl holding up a sign that read "WORST PARADE EVER" - an oldie but a goody). There were also a lot of folks helping out with the heat, including a couple of kids who were running a lemonade stand ("FREE TO RUNNERS"), folks manning the ample and well labeled water and Gatorade stands, and the kind folks who set up water sprinklers for us to run through. Very refreshing! The only (again minor) issue was that they ran out of cups at one of water stations. No big deal - that only happened at one of the stands. They also had Gu at the half way point but ran out before I got there - I bring my own fuel so again, for me, no big deal.

The course is another area where this race really shines. You start at Jennings Beach and run through the town. We were informed that some of the roads would be open to traffic, and I did see a few cars, but not many. The best part of the course came at about the half way point when we ran for about 2 miles on a road that ran next to the beach. That was definitely the highlight of the course. There were some hills on the course but it wasn't too bad. That said, I think my opinion of hilly courses may be skewed after my second race, The Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon. After running that race nothing seems hilly!

The post race activities were also well above average. There were lots of vendor tents set up on the beach as well as ample post-race food including fruit, garlic bread, yogurt and - best of all - free pizza for the runners! That was a very nice touch. I would have stayed to check out some of the vendor tents but it was just too hot and I wanted to get home.

The bling was, honestly, a bit hot and cold. The shirt was a very nice tech shirt - always much preferred of a cotton t-shirt - with the race logo. The medal, well I have to admit I'm not crazy about the design. It is also the race logo but I'm not sure it works on a medal. That said, it is a custom design (not just a generic medal with a logo slapped on it), which is nice. Still, I will proudly show off this medal to anyone interested (and even those who aren't).

So the big question is - would I run this race again? The answer is an enthusiastic yes. I most certainly will run it again and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a well-organized and run half marathon.

Hot but happy

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Left Foot

One thing that I have been having a lot of trouble with, yet have not really written about, is my left foot. It starts giving me trouble at about 2 miles, getting worse and worse until about the 6th mile or so where it becomes unbearable. The way I describe the sensation is as if my sock is folding up under the ball of my foot causing an irritating bump. This then turns into a tingling in my toes. The only thing I can do about it is to stop, take off my shoes, rub my foot for a minute, then put my shoes back on. This only provides temporary relief - maybe a mile or so - so you can imagine this doesn't help my times much.

I've talked to several people about this issue. Unfortunately it had not yet really become an issue on the one time I saw a podiatrist - I know now that he would have diagnosed the problem right away. Anyway, I mentioned it to my chiropractor (who is a runner), guys at running stores, and I even emailed a guy known as "The Sock Geek". Nobody knew what it could be.

As I wrote about in my last post, I fractured my elbow 2 weeks ago. When I went to the physical therapist I described the issue to her, and she said it sounded like a "neuroma". I looked it up and in the description it read that it "may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.". I felt like Charlie Brown talking to Psychologist Lucy: "THAT'S IT!".

So, according to what I read, the cause and the solution are very simple. Well, simple for most but not so much for me. See, the issue is that your shoes are too tight in the toebox. So, get wider shoes. Easy, right? Well, not so much for me. My show size already is 9 1/2 EEEE. That's right, quadruple-E. As far as I know there is only one running show made IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that is wider - a specific model of 6E New Balance running shoes.

Still, armed with this information I went to a really good local specialist running show store where I had gone in the past. They told me that the shoes I had been running in are definitely too tight. In fact I realized that this issue, while I had it with my old shoes as well, definitely got worse with this new pair. After trying on several pair we landed on the New Balance M1540. We also upped the size to 10. Interestingly, while this is the one model that goes to 6E, the 4E seemed to be fine for me. The thing is, these things look like friggin' paddle boats. They are about the ugliest running shoes I have every seen. I admonished my wife and daughter to not make fun of them But you know what? If they solve my problem then I could not care less what they look like.

Shoes or boats?

I'll be breaking them in this week and will report back in my next entry. Next week I'm only doing 4 miles but that should be enough for me to know if they are working. Then the weekend of the 23rd I am running the Stratton Faxon Half Marathon, so that will be the real test.

More to follow...