Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pre-marathon blog

So I thought I would write the most introspective blog of my training the night before the marathon. I have had a great deal of thoughts, and now seems the best time to share them. This will only be marginally focused on running itself, and will instead just be a little glimpse of what brought me to this point. If you are waiting for a mile-by-mile account, that will be tomorrow. If you want to check my progress online during the race: My wave leaves at 10:20 Eastern tomorrow morning. My bib number is 62209. If you go to the New York Marthon website you can track me. The website is: Feel free to follow, but I am sure most of you have better things to do on a Sunday. Tonight, this is something else....

So those of you that know me well, know that things haven't really been great in my life since around 2005. I won't bore all of you with the details, but I went through a series of really significant life changes. It seemed like at that time, I might never fully pull myself off the ground. I muttered around and just got by each and every day. Not really enjoying life, just trying to survive.

I made the decision to go to back to school to try and find a path that would bring some semblance of meaning back into my world. Before I moved to Laramie, I decided to donate blood at work. Well when they took my vitals, they were too high for them to allow me to donate. I was 32 and they were worried about my overall health enough to disquaify me from donating. That would be the wake-up call. The catalyst that pushed me off the couch and outside.

The first time I thought about running outside, I really wasn't sure that running would ever be for me. A few years back, I had hit the treadmill pretty hard for some months and dropped some weight. It was not something that I could stick with over the long haul, and eventually all the weight came back. I was always intimidated by what I thought would destroy my knees. So I thought I would keep things short and only use it for the weight-loss.

I put on some shoes I thought would be considered running shoes, and walked outside. I decided to go up to the corner and see how far I could run. I will be honest....I couldn't even do half a mile before I just wanted to cry. I could not believe how hard it seemed. So I walked a bunch and jogged some here and there until I made it home. This happened a couple more times and then my summer classes started up and I didn't get out again for a couple of weeks.

I don't really remember what pushed me out the door the try and get going again. I tried the same type deal, where I ran for as far as I thought I could...then I walked for awhile....then ran as far as I could. It seemed to take a long time for me to get anywhere. But I was struck by how good I felt when I got back The next day, I did the same thing....then the day after that....then the day after that. Pretty soon I could go a whole mile and that felt amazing.

Over the course of the summer, I finally made my way up to three miles by really just pushing hard then walking when I couldn't run. I bought an Ipod and that really seemed to move me. Within three months I had dropped 30 pounds. Granted, I also was trying to eat a little better, but 85% easily was due to the effort.

But the one thing what means more than the lost weight, is how it makes me feel. Running is my escape. There are no failed relationships, regrets for past decisions, poor test grades, crappy work days, and anything else that brings me down. Running is person I think I am....the person I strive to be....the person that drives me. Running is all that in one. No matter how much I may want to go out on a run, it always makes me glad I did. Running takes nothing from me, but gives me everything. All it takes is putting on those shoes and making my way out the door. If you run, I think you know what I am talking about. If you don' should at least give it a try. I know it isn't for every one. I just know all that is does for me, and it would make me happy, if it could do some of the same for you.

I guess the point of all this, is just to share with all of you amazing people, that for some reason, continue to support and encourage me how much all of it has meant. I would not be near the place I am at, if you all were not a part of my life. You have helped me get the most out of myself. And from the bottom of my heart I thank you. When the going gets tough tomorrow...I know you will be there in spirit to help me continue on....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In New York....barely

It was quite an ordeal to get there. Wyoming and Colorado were hit hard by a fall snowstorm. Didn't get a chance to run yesterday or today which is frustrating. Also feeling pretty maybe it is a good thing. On a side note...I had to go up through Walden and down through the Poudre Canyon to get to Ft.Collins because the roads were closed. I enjoyed the irony, that I had to travel my first marathon to get to my second....fitting. I m hoping to see the sites with another run-friend I met online tomorrow. I am going to try to sleep...thanks for reading....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No run today

Schedule called for 3. I have had some achilles tenderness that is new. I decided to bag the run just in case. We are being hammered with snow at the moment, so I am not sure about tomorrow. If I end up staying here tomorrow night, I will probably hit the gym just in case. I can't risk anything at this point so I am not sure I will get outside....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Last sorta long run

So today was the last long run of the cycle. At 8 miles, it certainly doesn't feel like 20, but is still a decent distance for someone that is only been running a year and a half.

This was a pretty awful week all-around, but I don't want to dwell on that. I just have a lot of things to get donw before I leave for New York. Should make the next few days fly. Because I was in a bad mood last night, I decided to watch Spirit of the Marathon, to try to get my mind focused on this amazing experience I am getting the chance to participate in. Watching elites as well as everyday runners like myself, make their journeys really helps me get a little perspective. Great flick.

Got up really late, but that is actually ok. It is pretty cold here and the extra couple of hours helps make the temperatures rise just a little bit. I decided to go shorts and short sleeve shirt, because it looks like it is going to be quite warm (by my standards) next Sunday in New York. The temps said a little above freezing, but I neglected to look at the wind speed. It was quite breezy today. After the first 3 miles it didn't really bug me temperature-wise, but I still get a little lost when I am running into a strong head-wind. I think I am going much slower than I am, and in turn push a bit harder than I should and tire myself out. There were about 2 miles that really zapped me this morning, when I looked at the watch I could see why. It felt like my warm-up miles but I was actually going quite a bit faster. In the scheme things, it didn't impact my effort towards the end. Just one of those little curiousities that I wonder if I will ever master over the years.

The colors aren't much to look at anymore. We have lost most the leaves and a lot of the fields as well as patches of grass have turned yellow. Not the best to keep your mind preoccupied, but you get used to it. I am wondering if I should start looking to run on the paths around town, maybe something to think about after this marathon.

At the top of my hill as I finished 6 miles, I noticed this car stuck in an intersection. I ran over to help push it, and it kind of burned my quads a bit. I immediately went back into my run and the sensation went away after a couple of minutes. I haven't been stretching much, and this is just another sign that I need to find a little more balance with no-stretching and over-stetching.

As has become a happy pattern, I kicked the last 2 miles up a bit and finished really strong. It is amazing how good it makes you feel to have that extra energy when your body is tired. Overall, I might have pushed a little hard for a long run, but I feel ok. I am starting to get very excited and maybe a little nervous about next weekend. But I have done just about everything I wanted to do when I started training this cycle. So I have to just trust that all the work and dedication will payoff. Have a nice weekend and thanks for reading....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

3 miles

The run went well the rest of my day did not...the end. Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

6 miles

It was cold this morning, but more brisk than anything else. I got out the door and you could really feel it in the air. First mile went well, just a little bit of knee pain and very little neck pain. After the first couple of miles, the groove was found....I feel like I am getting more life into my legs each day and that makes me happy. I am trying to keep up my intensity while cutting the mileage, per an interesting article I read in RunnersWorld magazine. I think that it will work out well if I keep the knee pain down to a minimum. I am actually a little sad that this weekend will be my last "long" run of the cycle before the marathon. I am hoping that I can bounce back relatively quickly after New York and keep pushing my endurance as well as my overall level of fitness higher. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

4 miles today

So I injured my neck a little bit. It is a reoccuring thing I have had over the last few years. Oddly enough, it doesn't really hurt much when I run. So it didn't impact me at all. And that is a load off my mind. I thought I was in trouble when I woke up. The weather was brisk but not too bad. Got out the door in about 20 minutes and after my little warm-up I headed up the hill. My legs felt surprisingly good considering the knee pain I have been having the last week or so, so that really helps my confidence. By the top of the hill, I had locked into a pace I liked and easily kept it throughout the entire run. I had put a new song on the Ipod and gave it a few turns to see how I like running with is a keeper. I was at a 9:19 mile for the loop so a good effort. Pretty good run to start my week.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

12 mile lesson

So this is really the last true "long run" of the training cycle, and I did not put as much mental preparation into it as a normally do. I thought I was ready, but in hindsight I think I just made the mistake of not respecting the distance as much as a should have.

I had a late night and after a long week, decided to sleep in a bit. Because it has been so cold, I thought the extra time would help the temps rise to use my summer gear one more time. That part of the plan worked well. I was chilly for about the first 20 minutes, but perfect after that.

The first mile was a bit too fast, but I didn't realize it until I was about 3/4 of a mile in. ESPN just wasn't keeping my attention so I turned on the Ipod and that got me doing a bit too fast the first two miles. By mile 6 I realized the error of my ways.

The weather was really nice. I took a tiny detour through a park an into a neighborhood across one of the streets...nice to change things up a little from time to time. And I would be lying if I didn't say I like running on the trail, wish it would have been a bit longer.

About mile 4.5 I saw something that really made me chuckle...I was on a sidewalk and coming up on a big lab that always barks at me. He starts in on the usual chattering and then I see a squirrel jump on the ledge right next to his head and start running up the ledge perpendicular to me. It was like in the movie UP where the dog is talking and then sees a squirrel and loses all train of was really pretty damn funny. He tried to get the squirrel....but spent too much time focusing on me to even have a chance....ah the little moments....

On Grand, I hit every single light...which is really really odd. Run a a a block...wait....better to be safe than sorry I guess. Hopefully it will keep me safe.

The last several miles were a bit rough....but in hindsight...I am trying to let my body recover from 16 weeks of abuse. I didn't really get a taper before the last marathon because I had the flu so maybe a rough run is normal. Just gotta focus on the fact that rough or not, I ran 12 miles....

Thanks for reading.

PS - A big shout out for my friend Jenny Pruitt Craig running her first marathon tomorrow. Way to go Jenny! You Rock!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

8 mile Wednesday

Midterms....oh how I love thee. I have two tomorrow and need to get back to studying, but realized I forgot to update the blog. I got up and out the door fairly early. It took a loooooong time to get my pace to where I wanted. The knee is definitely back into my mind which is not a good thing. It was not so bad that it changed how I ran, but just enough to take away a little bit of the joy that running brings. It seemed to be better the last few miles but has been a little persistent all day long. I am taking off tomorrow to see if that helps a little bit before I do 12 on Saturday. Just a tiny speed way is it going to hold me back....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First run of the taper.

Did 5 today. The weather was nice, chilly but not all that cold. Probably the best running weather for me. The knee is bugging me a little bit. So that is a source of a little concern. I will make sure I back of a little bit for tomorrow's 8 mile effort. Need to stay healthy as much as possible and not push so I am sure to make the starting line....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finally feel like I am ready...

There is no way to sugar-coat this. The run today was very difficult. The weather brought a snow storm in last night. When I went out this morning there were several inches of snow on the ground and the temperature with windchill was -5. The wind was blowing around 15-25 miles per hour. I woke up 5:30 but delayed going out until 7 in the hopes that some sunlight might make the sidewalks easier to see. Even as light as it was starting become, the first mile was very difficult to run. There had been no plowing done by the University (which as a paying student really annoyed me). I couldn't get my feet above the snow so I was my own mini-snow plow. I should send a bill to all the places that I made trails.

After about mile 2 I decided to just run in the street for the most-part and take my chances. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people (at least during the first loop around town) attempted to move over a little so I didn't have to run in the snow mounds along the sides of the road. From time to time I did have to plow through snow in the street, but overall it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Around mile 5 I started to get a little bit of a decent rhythm. Don't get me wrong, the whole run was a lot slower than I wanted for my biggest training run. Considering the condions, I was very pleased to have completed it.

I got another pleasant boost when I passed a group of runners. I am guessing they are the local running club. I think there were 12-14 total. They were also running in the street, but on the other side. A few members gave me a wave as I waved to them, and that always makes me feel good. I would pass them again around mile 9.5.

I had left my water about a mile and a third in. By the time I had made my loop, the top was frozen, as were most of the contents. I decided to walk and work on getting the top unfrozen so I could drink some water and take the first half of my gel. I ended up walking about a quarter of a mile and in hindsight, this was probably the best decision I made this morning. It enabled be to get more fluids and some energy, that I really needed.

The second loop around went a lot slower. The snow had started to turn to mush, and there was a big increase in traffic. Most of these drivers were not as courteous as the ones an hour and a half earlier. I ended up trudging through quite a bit of snow. The back end of the loop felt like it took forever. Once I was at the top of the hill (around 14.8 in) things started to fall into place.....

At the top of the hill, there was finally some areas of UW property that had been cleared, so I was able to back to the much safer sidewalks. I picked up the pace a little bit and trudged on. When I got back to my water, what was left was pretty much a big ice cube. I got a couple more sips out of it and took the rest of the gel (which tasted really good....weird) and continued on.

I decided to take my lap around campus to get the mileage more in-sync with the route I had been taking. There were very little people out and about considering it was homecoming. There were some cars driving on the paths around campus, which I will admit kind of made me angry. You could see they were sidewalks and not streets. Not sure what that was all about, they were not UW vehicles and it was hard to move out of their way. But enough complaining....

The start of my final three miles was almost slow-motion Sean. The toll of all the snow caught up to me in a hurry. The sidewalks were about 70% clear and that helped push me along. By the top of my hill I was going at a solid clip. (Side note...I must say I have had great luck since I started running with never falling...I just don't seem to slip much).  By 18.5 I was a bit slower but still humming along....

I always try to finish strong, and this was no different. I kept pushing and pushing as fast as the ground would let me. Had to pull back a little on the downhills to make sure I stayed vertical but still gave a solid effort into the homestetch.

By the time I got home the watch said 19.83 miles. I figured this was 20, because I had forgotten to start it up again at a light four blocks back at one point. 3 hours and 42 minutes. While this is a bit slower than I wanted, it gives me great confidence of hitting some time goals I have set for myself in New York.     I feel very sore, but have gained a ton of confidence today.    I pushed when I could have quit, and didn't give stop when my body begged me to do so. New York won't be easy,   but I feel like I am ready....   

Thursday, October 8, 2009

5.0 in the snow

Sorry this is going to be short again. I have an exam soon and need to study a bit more. The weather turned crazy cold last night....but this time I was ready for it. Dressed in multiple layers up top...wore the balaklava....and my gloves....I was good to go.

As soon as I looked at the window and saw that it was snowing my heart jumped a beat. I love running while it is snowing. Makes me feel strong. It was bitter cold the first mile....but after that it all locked into place. Got the right tunes going on the Ipod and just enjoyed the moment. I love running in the cold pace was a bit faster than it should have been...but I don't care. I ran and enjoyed it that is all that matters....I have 20 on Saturday....20....then it is all taper....

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

9.7...short entry

I did 9.7 miles today. The weather was quite cold when I started but warmed up quickly. Besides from muscle pain around my shoulder and the knee bugging me a bit it was a decent run. I am over-loaded with projects, labs, and exams the next couple of days, so that is all I am going to write for today. I hope you are all doing well. Fellow runners, I hope all of our preparations are on track for whatever you may be training. Thanks for reading....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 miles down

I have been crazy busy today, but thought I would post quickly about my 5 mile run. I was up until almost 2 and so I slept a little later than usual. I was able to get out and make some pretty good time. I was dressed properly and enjoyed the cold weather. It just feels like the little aches and pains don't hurt nearly as much when my legs are cold. I am a little nervouse for 10 miles is the only 10 mile mid-week run of the cycle, but I am also excited to get out there and do it. I will let you all know how it goes. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tempted by the fruit of

First of all I will say that the run went well...(that's for you Jon!). No major stomach issues to speak of and I think I have a game plan with the gels. But since this is a log, I will recap the day.

Had a late night, so with it being real cold I decided to go out later than usual. I was glad that I did. I drank quite a bit of water when I woke up and thought I would try  not taking anything before I went out and then space out the Hamme gels. It seemed to work well for me today. Next week I am going to eat a little bit before I go out and then space 1/2 a gel packet every six miles. So I may have found my strategy with the intake of calories.

It was really chillly again this morning, but there was very little wind. I wore a bit more clothing, and while it got a little bit warm at the end it worked at fairly well. (Although I quickly remembered the areas that require lubrication when I wear that much clothing, can't believe I forgot since last spring).

The hum of the town was really was very light this morning. It was peaceful and enjoyable for the vast majority of the run. About a mile and a half in I realized that I was on the path of  a 5K by the markers that were laid out. It donned on me that it was probably the 5K I did last fall (my first). I was surprised that I hadn't heard about it before this morning. I really thought about doing it, but thought that a 14 mile run would help my psyche more than turning in a sub-par 5K time with dead legs. I think I made the right decision.

Next week is the peak of my cycle. I run 5, 10, 5, and 20 miles respectively. I am pretty nervous to be honest. I am at the lengths that I missed during my training for Colorado due to having the flu, so it I am hopeful I can put in a great week and get that monkey off my back once and forall. I was able to end my last 2.5 miles really strong today, so that gives me a bit of confidence heading into this week. My time for 13.90 miles was 2 hours 16 minutes and 26 seconds. I feel good about it.

Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not 5....but 3

It looks like it is time to break out the winter gear here in Laramie. I looked at the report on the weather before I went out...but I was still not wearing nearly enough. I put on my long sleeve outer layer and even my asics cold weather pants....but I should have dressed in layers and used my balaklava. The wind chill right not says 19....but you add in those gusts of 33-44 mph and the wind feels like a knife cutting through the clothing. I was supposed to do 5, but when my ears started ringing not even a half mile in I decided to just go 3 and cut the risk of getting sick all over again. It is supposed to warm up a big over the next few days, this cold just really hit here out of nowhere. I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt yesterday and was quite warm. It was nice to wear some of my gear for the cold time I will wear all of it and be toasty.