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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

These are the times that try men's... legs

This is one of those times that challenge our resolve as runners I guess. I've had to deal with challenges like weather and such while training, but this morning was the first training run where I felt a physical challenge that had no real external source.

First, not related to anything except challenges, I am writing this on my iPhone from a veterinarians office. I am leaving the country tomorrow on business and a) my computer died (thankfully its backed up and under warranty) and b) my dog is having a minor issue but not one I wanted to leave untreated until I get back in a week. So here I sit knowing I will be picked up tomorrow morning before 5:00 and I'm not even packed. So please excuse any strange iPhone auto-corrections.

But I digress...

This morning my training schedule called for a 20 mile run. My longest to date. I had a bad feeling since last night. First, after being real good all week about staying hydrated, I completely forgot yesterday and barely had anything to drink all day. Then, after eating supper I realized it may not have been the best dinner choice for the night before a challenging run. Finally, and I think worst of all, I didn't get to bed as early as I wanted, and then I couldn't get to sleep. And I needed to get up at 4:00.

Well, I did get up at 4:00 and was on the road at 4:30. For my long runs I use a local bike trail. When I got there it was still dark, there was no moon and the trail is unlit so it was literally pitch dark. I mean I looked down and could not see the ground. Obviously I needed light so for the first hour or so - until the sun came up - I ran by the light of my iPhone flashlight app. I knew that this meant I was draining my battery more quickly than usual and I was worried I would run out if charge. (I did luck out here, it ran out if charge just as I finished the run.)

Another challenge was that my iRunner app - which I use to track distance - was acting up. For the last few runs I've been running it and another Nike app simultaneously and I don't think they play well together. (I've been using the Nike app to help this guy win a trip to Iceland by tweeting my runs.) And every time I had to mess with the apps the flashlight would go off so I needed to come to a dead stop as I could not see a thing. Needless to say this meant that the first five miles or so were not exactly barn burners.

Once the sun came up things got much better. It was actually a perfect morning for a run - cool and clear. Still, I just felt "meh" and just could not really get myself going. I didn't feel bad per-se, just sort of low energy. Plus my legs felt tired and sore. I also started feeling real hungry at about mile 15 despite having a gel every hour or so - I think I should have eaten more before I left. That said, I was basically ok up to about mile 18. Then I sort of crashed and really had to dig deep to push on. The last mile was particularly rough and in the end I switched from my usual 1 minute run/30 second walk interval to 30 second run/1 minute walk.

Still, I finished the 20 miles, and I feel pretty good about that. I'm reading a book by Jeff Galloway and in it he writes about how runners tend to hit a wall right at whatever their previous longest run was. That definitely seemed to be what happened to me. So, when I have my next real long run - 23 miles in 3 weeks - I'll make sure have a good carbo meal the night before, keep myself well hydrated, get plenty of sleep and have a good meal before I leave in the morning. Plus I'm investing in one of those headband lights!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013 Katonah 5K Road & Trail Race

This weekend did another of those unexpected races - the 2013 Katonah 5K Road & Trail Race. I learned about the race a few weeks back when I saw a sign for it on the local streets. As it was on a Saturday - my normal day for a training run - I figured "why not"? The training run I was scheduled for was 6 miles but I figured I could just make up the additional 3 miles.

I signed up on line and I went to pick up my bib at Cross Sport Woman in Katonah on Friday the 6th. I was chatting with some other folks who were picking up their bibs (about parking, actually) and I mentioned that I was planning to get there early to put in an additional 3 miles before the race and Bettina at Cross Sport told me that the route for the 5K would be marked so I should just run the course. I thought that was a good idea. I also picked up my shirt and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a very nice tech shirt - unusual for a 5K.

On the day of the race (Saturday the 7th) I got up early to get to the race. I decided to wear a long tech shirt because it was fairly chilly, and I put my WISH team shirt over it. I got to the location of the start of the race (Katonah Elementary School) at about 7:00 - an hour before the start. Some of the vendors and sponsors were just beginning to set up. I wanted to time it so that I would finish my first run right when the race was due to start, so I just hung around for a few minutes trying to stay warm. At about 7:20 I started running the course. As Bettina had promised, the course was marked with white arrows - for the most part. I had saved off the course map on my iPhone so I could refer to it, but I still managed to get lost. Part of the course went onto a trail and I messed up somewhere and I ended up backtracking. Good thing I had Google maps on my iPhone - I was able to get myself straightened out and got back on track.

Still, I just made it back to the start in time for the start of the race - or so I thought. They gathered all the runners at the start and proceeded to go through about 10 minutes of announcements. Organizationally I think that was my only real complaint - please start the race on time! Anyway, at about 8:10 the horn sounded and off we went.

Most of the course was on the street and it was quite hilly. I don't mind hills - I train on hills near my house regularly - but some of these were quite steep! Interestingly I find going down a steep hill harder than going up. I'd say the most interesting feature of the course was the trail portion which wound through one of the town parks. The only complaint I have about the course was that we ran on the grass for a bit which I hate early in the morning because your shoes get wet. And after that we ran on dusty trails so my shoes got quite dirty (not that my "veteran" running shoes look all new and clean). Still, it's a very nice change of pace to be running on a nice, shaded trail.

There were not a lot of folks out there cheering us on but there certainly were a few - and after all, it's only a 5K so there's not all that much opportunity for folks to get out there. There was also one water stop which appeared to have been set up by the folks who lived there.

I was really treating this like a training run. In fact I specifically worked on pacing myself. I use Jeff Galloway's run/walk/run method when I run. In other words, I incorporate regular walking breaks into my runs right from the beginning. This becomes a challenge if you are trying to pace yourself with another runner who is not taking walking breaks. So, what I did was to find a runner I wanted to pace myself with and go ahead of them when I ran and let them pass me when I walked. It worked out pretty well, but they later slowed down so I kept going.

Even though I was not really running full out I was still pretty happy with my time. And it was nice to get out there and do a race again.

My overall experience was very positive. The course was interesting and challenging without being too crazy. And the organization overall was very good. There were not a lot of runners there - about 200 I'd say - but everyone had a good time and I hope that more folks show up to future races. I know I will.

I can't wait for the Rock and Roll Providence Half Marathon in September!

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's official

It's official. I have signed up for my first full marathon, the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK +Route 66 Marathon on November 24 (a few days shy of my 56th birthday). I had originally planned on making the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17 my first my first, but I decided to change. The main reason I changed was because I got a call from one of my brothers informing me that he going to re-marry his first wife and move to her home in Muskogee, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Tulsa. We haven't seen each other since our mother's memorial over 2 years ago, so this seemed like a good chance to kill two birds with one stone.

I had read about the Route 66 Marathon some time earlier and thought it sounded like a cool race to run. From stuff I've read I guess it's not the most exciting course, but it has the reputation of being exceptionally well organized. They also design pretty cool medals, and they have a special medal if it's your first race. (I am unclear if you get the first race medal in addition to or instead of the regular medal - I guess I'll find out!) Finally it's a large race and I've found that I much prefer large races. So, I registered before the price went up, and I booked a car and a hotel. I'll book the flight in a few weeks. Very excited! be sure to follow me on Twitter and/or friend me on Facebook - especially if you plan to run this race (but go ahead and do it anyway...)