Saturday, November 8, 2014

140 Days

Today was the Family Thanksgiving Reunion.  It was strange to have relatives that you really don't know asking about how your marathon went or talking about how they have watched you on television.  It's really weird when you show up and realize you know someone, but can't figure out where from.  Then, you realize one of your former basketball managers married into the family.

I must say that I am kind of glad to be fading into the background now.  It's going to make what's coming this next year an even bigger surprise.  Hopefully, people are going to be wondering where did he come from.

My goal for the next month is to work hard at cross training doing lots of cardio and strength training. 

Today was a rest day:  Six miles of walking.

141 Days

With the holiday season coming upon us, it's important to have a few lines ready to avoid having to eat everything I sight....

I'm on a medically supervised diet.
I'm training for a marathon.
I'm diabetic.
I have to save room because I'm going to another dinner later.

Believe it or not, those lines work.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

142 Days: Back to the Basics

Tonight, I went back to the basics.  I worked out with one of the newest of Covenant Health Marathon Biggest Winner Team Members, Kaycee Winningham.  I just also happen to teach with her.  She's just starting out with her workouts.  I remember those days.  What I do?  I go back to the basics and it felt so good.  I realized doing planks, crunches, and intervals, I'm in a whole lot better shape than I used to be, but I still have a long ways to go.  I even went to the store to go healthy again.  It's back to the Greek yogurt, almonds, oatmeal, and Fiber One Brownies.  Lots of chicken, turkey, and fish are in my future.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm ready to do what it takes.  If I change my life now as much as I did back when I was a part of the team, I can get close to Boston.  It's a matter of hard work and dedication.  I've gotta believe.

Found it on Pinterest:


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

143 Days

If you can't do 10 push-ups, do 5. Try to increase this by one rep each week, take it slowly if you need to. Sooner than you think, you'll be far beyond 10 and on your way to 20. Whatever the case, DO....NOT....QUIT....!#Fitness #Exercise #health #Fit #Motivation #gym #running #inspiration #fitnessmotivation
I found this Pinterest where I discovered millions of words of wisdom for runners.  Let's just say this is my plan for the next 143 days.  Day by day, my goal is to make those little changes.  I know I can do a 2:1 run:walk ratio at about a 7:40 pace.   For the next twenty weeks, my goal is to slowly increase that ratio so that by race day, it's about a 45:1 ratio.  I've got to slow down a little bit to take in some Clif Shots Gels.  I like the vanilla because it reminds me of eating icing out of a can.  Now, I'm sure it's not exactly the same, but I have eaten icing in forever.  So, this is as close as I get.  If I'm running at the right pace, I should enjoy one of these every 6 miles!!!!  I can't wait.


Today's goal: Extend my run walk ratio to 2.5 to 1.  We'll see how that goes. It's hard to imagine what I do today is going to make a huge difference on March 29th.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

144 Days

It's 144 days until I take my first shot a qualifying for Boston.  Somehow, I know that the intensity of my training must increase. I've got to do what they say can't be done.  In five months from now, someone out there who is just like me is going to live my dream.  So why can't that someone be me?

Over the last few weeks, I've surprised myself.  I've ran 6 races in 6 weeks-----4 half marathons, a marathon, and a 12 hour endurance race.  What did I learn from racing all those miles?  Training makes me hungry.   I also learned that I can safely train to run all kind of races.  Now, it's time to take it up a notch.

I've got to focus.  I've got to do what I know works.  I've got to eat right and train right.  I've got to become stronger and faster.  Most importantly, I have to build the mental stamina that it will take to endure 26.2 miles.

So, here it is 144 days from race day.  I believe without it doubt it's going to happen.  I'm going to BQ.  There's no other way out. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dirt Circuit: When Marathoning Met Hiking

Last spring,  I won a free entry into the Dirt Circuit Endurance race at Panther Creek State Park.  I was both excited and terrified at the same time.  I had never done a trail race or an endurance race for that matter.  How could I not do it when it was being put on by Dirty Bird Events which just happens to be connected to Ani Roma, the health teacher at our school.

Now, you would think one would train for such an event.  Well, I kind of did.  I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon anyway, so I would use it as a training run, a really long training run.  I didn't want to go to the race totally unprepared.  This summer, I had the chance to do a little scouting when I went on a hike with Missy Kane.  It didn't look that bad.  So, why not?  Why not try it?

A week out from the race, the forecast  looked miserable.  They were calling for an 80 percent change of rain.  On my first trail race, that wasn't something I was looking forward to.  I was beginning to think it might not be such a good idea.  Ani said there's still time.  The forecast may chance.  Sure enough, it did.

Saturday morning, I drove from Knoxville to Panther Creek.  It was only an hour a way.  I pulled into the park before daylight and saw base camp sitting down at the bottom of a hill.  I was a little worried about taking my car down there, but I watch another car pull down there.  So, why not?

A lot of people were camped out right along the trail.  I later figured out they were mostly relay teams and it paid to have your stuff right next to the trail.  I'll have to remember that for next year.  I picked up packet.  #13.....was that good thing or bad thing?  I wasn't sure.

One of the things I immediately noticed about trail runners is that they are friendly.  I think everyone spoke to me that morning before the race.  They seemed like such nice people.  Soon it would be race time.

My strategy for the race was simple.  Run the first 4 laps to get my training run in for the week and then survive the rest of the day injury free.  When the race started, the first thing I heard from someone in the back was they are going out way too fast.  Don't they know we'll be hear all day.  I slowed a bit to make sure I didn't burn out too quickly.

After a relatively flat start, the trail turned to cross the bridge.  I think it was about a mile long nature trail.  That's when I met the first obstacle of the day, walnuts.  (I think they were walnuts.)  I kicked a few out of the way as I ran, hoping they would all be off the trail in the matter of a few laps.  As the trail wandered through the woods, it was like being on a hike with Missy Kane.  Wait, make that Sharon Spezia where you go at pretty fast clip.  

As we were about a mile into the race, we encountered the second obstacle, one I would face two more times during the race.  With no warning, a deer flew across the trail, cutting the pack in half.  Seconds later, another deer followed.  Note to self: Don't get killed by a deer.

After a long uphill, the trail headed back down to the bridge we had crossed earlier.  We hung a right and headed towards the campgrounds and across the road.  Once again it was a nice trail for a race.  It was wide enough to pass and pretty smooth.   Eventually, I was mile 2 on the ground.  It wasn't long before the trail hung a left to a long straightaway.  At the end of that straightaway, we were greeted with a short hill.  It was steep, but  didn't last long.  After crossing the road at the entrance to the park, we went up another hill.  At the top of that hill was a beautiful view of the park and a long downhill. I can't imagine what that hill would have been like to run up it which was what they did last year.  

I love hills.  I flew down it.  At the bottom of the hill was a left hand turn back to the flats of base camp.  I came around a corner and heard cheering.  I had completed my first lap of the dirt circuit.

The laps went by quickly, especially the first four laps.  At 3:00:00 into the run, I was feeling good and went on autopilot, running when I felt like it and doing a lot of brisk walking.  I couldn't believe I still had almost 9 hours l left in the race.  I went with my switching shirts every two hours.  I wanted to make sure I felt fresh all day long.

After lap 4, I slowed it down a little bit.  There was no need to hurry.  It was strange.  Most of the time, I was alone on the trail.  On the long straightaways, I could see someone in the distance.  Every once in a while, I would run with someone for  a moment before one of us would leave the other behind.  By that time, people started lapping me.  I expected that.  What I didn't expect was the kind words of encouragement from each of them.  It was great.

At the end of each lap, I looked forward to the cheers from Ani and Ryan Roma.  I loved it.  They made you want to do finish another lap. There was also food including peanut butter sandwiches and hot dogs. I got used to taking a moment each lap to refuel, whether it was food or some Gatorade.

After my eighth lap, I stopped to send a text to my parents to let them know I was still alive.  Incidentally, they didn't read it until I got home that night. I was around 23 miles into the race. I was so happy, I set off on lap number 9.  I made it around the nature trail.  I was heading down the hill to cross the bridge when a heavy downpour came.  I started running.  What else was I going to do.  Along the flats, I found a covered bench.  I stood on it for a few seconds until I hear the rumble of thunder.  I took off again.  At first I tried to dodge the puddles.  I soon realized that was all in vain.  I was going to get wet anyway.  I kept running.  I ran past Mile 2.  I hoped the rain would let up.  It didn't.  The trails were becoming rivers.  At times I was running through ankle deep water.  I ran faster and faster.  I just wanted to get back to base camp and my car.  The rain didn't let up.

Soaked, I made my way to the starting line.  I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to my car.  I went ahead and moved it back out onto the paved parking lot.  The last thing I wanted was to get stuck.  I completely changed clothes, waited a few minutes for it to stop raining.  Then, I made the decision to get in a couple of more laps.  I wanted to make it over 30 miles.  The laps were 2.95 miles.  Two more laps it would be.

On lap 10, I started to feel it.  My legs were getting weak.  I really noticed it coming down the last hill.  I was going to quit until Ryan told me one more lap and I would have done my first ultra.  Why not?  I was already there.

I struggled on lap 11.  My legs were getting sore.  I had a blister from running in wet socks and shoes.  Wouldn't you know there was a road block with about a 1/2 mile to go.  A deer stood in the middle of the trail and wouldn't move.  Finally, he must have got bored and ran away.  I finished that lap and let them know that would be all of me.

I loved running that race.  Next time, I'll be more prepared.  I'll know what to expect.  But 32.45 miles for my first trail race, first endurance race, and first ultra, I will take it.  It made me wonder what else is possible.

In all, it was a great race.  I loved the Dirt Circuit. It was the biggest challenge I have faced in my running career.  Next time, I will conquer it.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The First Steps: Southern Tennessee Power Classic Half Marathon

Last weekend, I saw a weather forecast that something about temperatures dipping into the 40s.  As a runner, I was thrilled beyond belief.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to find a race.  I searched the world over and found the Southern Tennessee Power Classic held in Winchester, Tennessee.  In case you don't know where that's at, well let's say you can't get there from here.  It's in Southern Middle Tennessee next to the Nissan Plant. 

Upon arrival in Winchester on Friday night, I found it was a pretty cool city.  It had the classic town square with the court house in the middle. The packet pickup was at the Oldham Theater that probably looked just like it did in 1955.  You felt like you had just stepped back in time.

On race morning, I have to say it was a tad bit chilly.  The sign out front of one of the stores said 37 degrees, but I'm pretty sure it might have been forty.  As I looked around, I felt a little out of place.  Everyone had on gloves, long sleeve shirts, tights---you know, winter gear.  I was wearing shorts and a technical t-shirt.  What were these people thinking?  It was beautiful weather for a run.

At five minutes before the start, no one was anywhere near the start.  It was as if there was no hurry.  Even when the starter began making announcements, only a few gathered near the start line.  It wasn't long before they fired up the old pick-up truck to signal it was about time for the race to start.  Before I knew it, the race started. 

It was strange.  I'm used to a bunch of people taking off as fast as they can before realizing they went out too fast.  Usually, it's really crowded for the first few miles.  Not on this race.  So, I settled into my pace right along with three or four other people.

Now, the streets were open to traffic, but there weren't too many people out.  At every intersection, a police officer or fireman was there to direct traffic.  I don't know where they found all those people.  Maybe everyone in the town works for the police or fire department.  They were so friendly and encouraging.

After the first mile and a half, I settled into a run/walk.  I ran until my pace hit 8:51 and then I walked until it made it's way up to 8:57.  It was a little different way to do run walk.  The plan was to increase the lower number by a second each couple of miles.  By the end of the race, I would be running around an 8:57 pace if all went according to plan.

Well, the first half of the race went great. Every couple of miles I was greeted by an enthusiastic water stop.  That made my day.  They had to be cold.

I hit the halfway point 58:03.  I thought that was pretty good.  I was hoping I could come close to that pace on the back half of the course.  What I didn't know was what was waiting for me just past mile 7.  The half marathon course split off from the marathon course.  As soon as we made that left hand turn, something was different.  There was about a 10 mile per hour headwind.  When you're doing a run/walk, those walks can get really cold.  All I could think about was losing time.  I pushed it a little harder on my runs.  I felt a little lonely out there.  I was running pretty much by myself.  I looked back at one point and saw no one.  Was I last?

Finally, the course turned.  I saw mile marker 24--the marathon.  I looked at my watch.  I had 22 minutes  to cover the last 2.2 miles in order to get that 2:00:00 half.  That's when the big downhill began.  I knew there was one more uphill so I tried to gain as much time as I could.

I watched my watch closely over those last two miles, realizing a PR was mine. When that finish line came into view, I knew I could make a 1:57 and I did.  My official time was 1:57:48.  It wasn't really planned, but I'll take it.  It was over 5 minutes faster than a couple of weeks ago. 

I feel out of shape right know.  That was until I realized I pushing myself to a new level.  I feel exactly how I did when I first started running except then my pace was around a 13 minute mile.  When I did a run/walk, my run pace was lucky to get near 11:00 minute miles.  To think, in five months, I was able to get that down to a 9:08 pace for a half.  Now, my run/walk pace is around 9:00 minute miles for a half and I run at somewhere between a 7:00 to 8:00 minute pace on the run portion. With some serious training, I can get that to be my new overall pace.  It can be done.  Why not me?  Why not on March 29th?