Thursday, November 17, 2011

Runners, are you looking for a BIGGER challenge? Here’s an offer just for you!!

Picture this -- a cool breeze at your back, the scent of blossoming flowers, “purple mountain’s majesty” in front of you…and the SEARING pain in your quads with each and every stride down this effing mountain! 
Don’t come to Roanoke, Virginia to enjoy a relaxing weekend; come to see just how much the National College Blue Ridge Marathon can kick your butt. 
If you’re one of the growing population of marathoners seeking challenging marathons to test your mental and physical endurance, you may have noticed a rivalry quickly building between the National College Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Virginia and the TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon in Tucson, Arizona.  Both races claim to be America’s toughest road marathon. 
When organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon learned about Mount Lemmon’s claim they issued a challenge to “let the runners decide which is tougher”, and they backed their challenge by offering free entries into their race to anyone who had just completed the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
About 20 runners accepted the offer and hit the pavement this past April. After the race, organizers showed some southern hospitality by treating the Mount Lemmon runners to breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles.  Those who know Thelma’s would argue this was a bribe…and that may be the case. Regardless after experiencing 26.2 miles of elevation change, pounding rain and hail, and a course that trekked through the downtown area, followed a river, climbed the mountain, and took runners back down the mountain, runners were asked to share their experience.  Here’s what they had to say:
National College Blue Ridge Marathon
Roanoke, Virginia
TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon
Tucson, Ariz.
Three mountains to ascend and descend, totaling 7,200 feet of elevation change.
Gradual climb of 6,000 feet.







Roanoke’s is tougher.  At least that’s according to Tim Sykes.  He won the 2010 Blue Ridge Marathon and came in second at the 2011 Blue Ridge Marathon.  As his prize in 2011, the folks in Roanoke paid for him to head to Tucson and compete in the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
He won that too.  “It wasn’t the race itself that helped me decide which was tougher,” said Sykes, “it was how long it took me to recover after the race that was really telling!”  “I was able to run 40 minutes the day after the Mount Lemmon Marathon, [but I] couldn’t really run for three days following the Blue Ridge Marathon,” said Sykes.  “Although Mount Lemmon was beautiful, very tough, and a challenging - both mentally and physically…I’d have to say that the Blue Ridge [Marathon] is definitely tougher.”
You decide.Pete Eshelman of RoanokeOutside.com, an organizer of the Blue Ridge Marathon, wants you to decide for yourself.  Register before December 31st for the National College Blue Ridge Marathon and receive 15 percent off the registration fee, just use the code “Tough”.  
Roanoke has so much to offer visitors: wineries, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, quiet countryside vistas, quaint boutiques, and restaurants for almost every palette, everything a guest needs to enjoy the beauty and serenity the Roanoke Region of Virginia has to offer.  But for one weekend a year, we’re looking for the visitors that don’t want any part of that – instead they’re looking for the challenge of a lifetime – and we can offer them that too!
Win a free entry.  Here is how you can win.  Provide a comment on this post.  The comment should explain why you want to run "the toughest marathon in the US."  Then, follow my blog.  I will pick the most interesting comment and email the lucky winner a code (through email you provide in your profile when you follow blog) that will give you a free entry to the National College Blue Ridge Marathon.  There will only be one winner, so be creative!  I will make a decision in mid-December.

Here are some Pics of the event.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Running My First Marathon

MCM Statistics
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/125314532

MCM Pictures
http://community.marathonfoto.com/marine-corps-marathon/finisher-page?id=797U11


    As I sit here recovering from the 5th largest commitment of my life after marriage and three kids, I write to you broken down, sore, but with the feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment.  The journey began four months ago when I started the training program.  The program consisted of one long run a week with five short runs of five miles or more.  The concept was to build it up and break it down every four weeks until I peaked out a month prior to the race.  During this time, I often heard, where is Mike?  I have to thank Stacey and the kids for putting up with the time I pulled away to prepare for the big dance.  On average, I would take 8 hours a week of training.  I love you Stacey and I appreciate everything you do! 
     During the training period, there were ups and downs just like everything else in life.  Weather, commitments, injuries, physical and psychological limitations, and just getting those damn shoes on almost every day were always a chore.   I think it rained 10 out of 12 long runs during the 4 month period.  As for the shoes, they are going into the trash today!  After my peak training run, tapering began and I could start seeing the light...I felt both a sense of accomplishment, but also started to become nervous about the race.  I kept thinking, can I finish?...Is this possible?  Your training runs peak out at three hours and the actual race for most is another 45 minutes to an hour trying to finish those last six unaccounted for miles.  The week before the race was very satisfying.  I literally grazed all week long.  I ate whatever I wanted to...Garlic bread, mashed potatoes and of course pasta were my favs!   The night before, we went to a Halloween party and feasted on chili, lasagna, papaya and more.  After the party, I made final preparations for race time.  I was not sure what to bring because of the weather shift.  Temperatures were expected to range from a low of 32F at start time to a high of 45F by finish time.  I ended up with Underarmour Cold gear with two throw away fleeces.  I also purchased 4 pairs of toe warmers.  I also packed a go bag for after race.  This was key.  After the race you are so broken down and cold.  Changing into a nice set of warm clothes is a must!  With a wake up call at 4:45, I tried to get to bed by 10, but I ended up waking up all night long.  Now for the race.
    As the alarm clock went off, I just glanced over thinking...didn't need to hear that after being up all night.  I crawled out of bed and ate a decent sized breakfast.   Not knowing what to expect, I also drank a bottle of OJ and began dressing.   I didn't realize how this would impact me at the beginning of the race...if you know what I mean.  I stuck the toe warmers on the tongue of my shoes, on the running tights near my thigh, in my pockets for my hands and on my ribs.  This did the trick.  Many runners were wearing garbage bags and were cold as hell.  I thought this would make you sweat and cause even further cold especially when you had over an hour of standing around prior to the race and it did.  Stacey dropped me off at the metro and I was on my way.  Thanks Stacey!  After baggage drop off and walking the mile to the starting line, I found my way to the expected pace group.  I originally was going to run with the ClifBar team, but decided to go out on my own, just like training.  The crowd was booming and all I could think about was lets get this thing on.  The nerves sent me to the woods on several occasions--just moments before the start.  As I was getting up to the starting point, I saw two jumpers heading down to the starting line very cool, but man they had to be cold.  At that point, two V22 Ospreys flew over.   The rumble of the twin engines and propellers raised the hair on my neck.  Here we go...Sang Star Spangled Banner and Drew Carey kicked off the wheelchair and hand cycle runners at 07:45, so I knew we were just moments away.  I ran into the woods for a final pit stop, shed my top fleece, set my watch and iPod and was ready to go.  Finally, the chants of Oorah began and we were off and running!
     During the first 10 miles, I kept telling myself slow down...don't go out too fast.  Didn't work;( Started off with a sub 8 minute mile through mile 10.   This completely backfired near the end of the race.  I was also trying to keep track of my carb loading--every 5 miles.  I became very disoriented during the race and the simple tasks of counting miles became a burden, so I just loaded up as I felt weak and sore.  Liquid was not a problem.  Carried 4 bottles around my waist with my homemade electrolyte special and carried a 24 OZ bottle of water in hand.  Runners thought that was crazy, but having one kidney this was a must.  Plus watching runners choke down the cups is funny to watch.  One guy thinking he had water, threw gatorade over his head to try and cool down.  The first 9 miles were all up hill.  Crazy...Thankfully my long runs had one week of solid hill training.  On Canal Road at the intersection of Foxhall, I was at mile marker 6 and I could see the leaders at mile 9.  There were 5 or 6 in the pack.  Man they are fast!  I also saw several wheel chair runners also.  I have the utmost respect for these participants, especially going up the hills with nothing but arm strength.  These runners were the toughest of the bunch.  Once I hit mile 9, we went through Georgetown and then down to Haines Point.  I kept asking myself, when are we going to reach Haines Point and then I noticed I had been running in Haines Point for two miles already.  Its funny how disoriented I became.  As far as adrenaline pumping bands on the route, I can honestly say the Rumba was the most energizing.  They really kicked it up!  Thanks. 
    From miles 10-19, we finished Haines Point and cruised up to the mall.  As the miles started piling on, all I could think about was seeing my wife and kids!  Then bingo, I glanced into the crowd and saw them at mile 18.  At that point, I headed up to the capital and made the turn and got a chance to see them once again at mile 19.  Thanks guys...I love you!   At this point, I could feel the race was coming to an end as we headed for my least favorite part of the course--miles 22-24--Crystal City or better known as concrete city.  The crowds were nice, but the course was riddled with pot holes and it just sucks!  After exiting CC, I made a pit stop to fill my water bottle.  I couldn't figure out which cups were water at that point.  I stopped and asked a Marine for water and he filled my bottle with gatorade.  He realized I asked for water and said dump it sir and I'll set you straight and he did!  Thanks Marines.  Not only respectful, helpful, but really put on a great event!  I then ventured toward the finish. With two miles to go, we headed on Route 27, toward 110.  On Mile 24, I my calf gave out and I walked for 10 seconds, then moved on.  I started to bonk and just kept telling myself, I only have two more miles on my training run!  Lets do it.   At this point, I just wanted to keep my feet moving.  The crowds were thickening by at least 8 deep and I started cramping pretty bad.  I took my last shot of carb and drink and went for it.  As I reached mile 26, I could see the sign .2 to go and I could see the finish line.  All up hill... I made it up half way and cramped so bad I had to walk for 5 seconds.  I felt so embarrassed, I said screw it and just started running and my cramp went away thank god!
     At the finish line, I was greeted by a young Marine.  She shook my hand and asked how I was doing!  I told her thanks for her service and that "I'm Broken".  As she put the medal around my neck, all I could think of was seeing my kids.  So I looked up and there they were!  I couldn't go to them based on the rules, so I pointed to the festival area and said I would meet them there.  The Marines gave me a warmth blanket, and my food Go Bag.  I immediately drank and drank.  From the finish line to the festival area was about a 1/2 mile.  This was good to work out the cramps by walking.  Noticing that I was a salt filled mess, a young runner came over and asked me if I wanted a salt pill.  I said sure.  She pulled out a white capsule and handed it to me.  I was a bit suspicious, but took it anyway and said thanks!  Life saver...cramps went away within five minutes.  Thanks Austin Girl!  I worked my way down to to the Iwo Jima to get pictures, results table, and then to the Bag pick up area to get changed.  As I was heading down to the Bag pickup area, I dropped a bottle from my belt.  I asked this elderly lady if she didn't mind picking it up because I couldn't bend down.  She obliged and I was very grateful!   Thanks Elderly Lady!  As I picked my bag up, I thought...How the heck am I going to be able to change?  I found a wall with a ledge so I didn't have to bend down.  I leaned my back against the wall and felt a shooting pain from my back (that's another story!).  I was able to change everything but my pant.  Warmth set in and now I needed to find Stacey.  We found each other at the rally point and started the journey home and that was the end of my first marathon!
     I would just like to thank the crowds, the Marines, the support staff, and the runners for such a special experience.  I would also like to deeply thank my family and friends for the support and no more facebook posts I promise...well maybe not so many...lol.  Finally, Thanks Honey for putting up with me and Marina, JuJu, and John for having a single parent for the better part of the last 2 months.  I love you....See you in NYC 2012!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How to Prepare for Running in High Temps

August is typically the hottest month of the year in the Mid Atlantic region.  This type of heat has a direct impact on how you should train.  You should never just rush out into the heat and run a quick 5 or you might become dehydrated and harm your body permanently.   Work with your doctor to figure out what is best for your situation and never take risks when you don't need to.  I've been training for a marathon that I plan to run in the fall.  Unfortunately, dealing with the heat in the DC area is just a fact of life, but training in it is like being pregnant in this hot climate--there are good days and bad days.  I usually run after work during the week, so the temperatures usually averages between 85 to 95 degrees with 40-70% humidity.  To handle such heat and humidity, I've tried to acclimate myself to the heat over time.  It doesn't happen overnight.  It takes weeks of training.  I usually never run distances over 10 miles in such heat. and I average 5-7 miles a day during the week, and run my long run on the weekend early in the morning.  Now that I'm acclimated to the heat, it doesn't hit me as hard, but I always take precautions.   Below are a few tips to consider that may help you cope with the heat.
General Tips:
1.  Make sure you are sufficiently hydrating before, during and after run. 
2.  If you run distances greater that 5 miles or 45 minutes, make sure you drink water and a sports drink with electrolytes during the run and sufficiently hydrate the night before the run. I prefer GU Brew and water.
3.  Run with a wing man, especially if you are running long distances.  This way if you are feeling poorly at least you have safety in numbers.
4.  Where appropriate clothing.  Try do avoid dark clothing.  Wicking material is the best.  I like running without a shirt, but not always.  Socks that don't get as water logged are always nice.  Drymax work pretty well.
5.  Where a hydration belt on long runs.  If I run 10 miles, I will carry a 16 oz hand held water bottle (filled with water).  I will also where a belt with two 8 oz bottles with GU brew.  If my runs are 10+ miles, I will carry a 16 oz hand held water bottle (filled with water).  I will also wear my belt with 2 8 oz bottles of water and 2 8oz bottles of GU brew. 
6.  Chew gum to keep your mouth moist.
7.  Take supplements for fuel and hydration.  I like GU Roctane.   I usually take one 30 minutes into run and then at the 1 hour and 30 minute and 2 hour and 15 minute marks.
8.  Weigh yourself before and after to determine appropriate water in take required.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Over Hill, Over Dale...Give it a Try!

   I have now been running for over two years and have tried a number of methods to increase my speed and endurance for the long run.  I've tried speed work, longer recovery periods, hill training, and yes and combination of them all.  I am currently in the process of preparing for my first Marathon in October.  I've looked over a variety of programs to include:  Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide and programs offered by running clubs, magazines and others.  I've tried to glean the best of the programs to get to where I think I need to be by race time.   Here is my program which is based on a series of build ups and breakdowns with a long hill run every week. 
  I generally run 6 days a week, at distances between 5-7 miles.  I end the week with a long hill run.   The key here is the long hill run. On a build up week, I start off on Monday or Tuesday building up my pace over the week to get to the long run over the weekend.    Build ups occur over a three week period, so by the end of the third week, I've increased my long run by over 1 to 2 miles.  This means that during that build up period, my long run increases a 1/2 mile each weekend for three consecutive weeks.  I started at 10miles and am now up to around 14miles after two months of training.  Every three weeks, I reduce my long run down to 10 miles to break myself down and then start to rebuild at longer distances.   The long hill run has not only built up my endurance, but has increased my pace.  I have tested this theory during a few 10 miler events and have found that I have set a new PR each time.   So try the hill!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rolling Thunder ...Remember the Brave!

  I live in the DC area and get to experience some interesting things while running.  Today I was taking one of my normal routes when all of a sudden I heard a thundering sound.  As I turned the corner, the noise became louder and louder.  I ran up the overpass and there it was--Rolling Thunder.  The experience gave me a boost of energy as I continued my run.  During my run, I had a chance to reflect on this day and actually was able to capture the moment in the following video.  Let us not forget--Today is a day that all Americans should take time to honor those who sacrificed their lives so that America can be free. 
video

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Running Long Distances with One Kidney...Is it OK?

  At 8 weeks of age, I was taken to the hospital.  According to my mother, I was very weak and colicky.  The problem was that I was in Africa and the health care was not that great in the area that we lived.  I was scene by the British Consulate doctor and was medevaced to the Capital.  At the city hospital, the doctor diagnosed my problem as a tumor on my right side.  After further tests, it was determined that I needed to be medevaced to Germany.  Once under more advanced medical care and testing, it was determined that it was not a tumor at all.  It was found that my kidney wasn't working and it had to be removed.  It never really fully developed and was taken over by cysts.  After surgery and recovery I was flown back to Africa.  Before leaving Germany, the doctor asked my father to promise him one thing--never let him play contact sports.  Needless to say, I broke that rule playing soccer most of my life, and dabbled in wrestling in high school and rugby in college.  Now, lets hit the fast forward button and here we are twenty years later.
  At 42, I started gaining weight and decided to take on running as a hobby to control my weight.  I started off small and over 3,000 miles later I've decided to take on my first marathon.  In October, I will run the MCM.   I've just started training, but have always heard that running such distances can put a strain on my remaining kidney.   Between dehydration concerns and just the stress that you put on yourself at that mileage, I'm just a little worried.  I finished a 20 miler late last year and felt OK, but cramped pretty bad in my chins and calves, but not in the kidney area.  I kept myself hydrated both before and after that race and still cramped.  This was probably because I didn't have any electrolytes in my system--at least I hope so.  After researching the topic, I've found that many runners have one kidney and have run multiple marathons.  I even reached out to the Runners World Sports Doctor and he said that as long as I keep hydrated and have no preconditions, I should be fine.  Here is a link to his article if your interested in more detail  http://sportsdoc.runnersworld.com/2011/04/can-i-run-a-marathon-with-one-kidney.html?cm_mmc=nutrition-_-05052011-_-nutrition-_-BLOG%3a%20Ask%20the%20Sports%20Doc.  So I'm going to go for it and try a little different strategy with fueling and hydration this time.  MCM or bust baby!  If you have any information to share on the topic, PLEEEAAAASSEEE Do So!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Running in NYC...It Doesn't Get Any Better than That!

As I set the wake up call for 06:30 AM, ready to begin a new day, I can't stop thinking about starting my day off with a crisp run through the city and ending with a hot cup of Joe. I lay my head down on the pillow and start to doze off. The alarm sounds to classical music (or so I thought). White noise began to jet out from the clock radio. I try to hit the snooze button before I wake up the kids and my wife. I do get one glare as if it were the red eyes of a wolf ready to pounce. I gently try to glide out of bed like a stealth bomber trying to go undetected. Luckily I set my running gear out the night before and manage to slip it on and exit the room virtually undetected. Now for what I've been waiting for.
I stroll down to the lobby with my music booming and my eyes wide open. As I spin through the turnstile door, all I can do is look up at the large buildings in amazement. Okay, where to run. I synced my satellites on my 405 and hang a left. Pumped and roaring to go I set out on a fast pace (for me at least). As I approach lights, I try to time them like an ambulance chaser looking for his next pay check. On lights that I can't catch, I hang a left so I can keep it going. I have no strategy except Run, NYC, Run... The streets are busy, but I manage them as if I was a teenager doing parkour. I happen upon Central Park, or at least I think so. I take it and circle. I'm now half way through my planned 5 and now I head back. Oh shit...echoed through my head...I forgot the address...I try to reverse navigate using a similar but not quite same path home. At that point I realize I can set my HOME feature on the 405 and start my trek back to the hotel. What a feature. Very cool. I finally turn the corner and see my hotel. I can honestly say, no dirty looks, no up tight bikers, or aggressive dogs. The only worry was timing the lights, cabs, and figuring out how to get home. Now to look for a good cup of Joe. Next to the hotel, I found a small Turkish/Greek deli that served nescafe and thought I was in heaven until I asked for it to go. Go, No, the Barista said. To go, please, I replied. Go, No, the Barista repeated. I returned a Okay sign and said as long as you don't mind my sweat. The Barista replied, Its Okay, but you have to deal with my sweat too. I busted out laughing and enjoyed my cup of Joe with the paper. After settling on the bill, I headed back to the room to find the kids were sleeping and my wife watching the TV, so I jumped into the shower and was ready to start the day only to think about the next NYC run.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Running is a Priority, Make It Work For You!

   Do you have kids?  Do you work late? Do you go to school at night?  Do you finish your list of to-dos? Do you have health concerns?   Whatever your situation, most of us have so many things going on, we have a difficult time building running into our schedules.   People who don't exercise might not think this is a priority, but I disagree.   The benefits of RUNNING far outweigh ramifications of not doing it at all.  Two years ago, I made a decision that changed my life.  I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and weighed well over 200 lbs.  Therefore, I had the incentive to change my life.  As a result, I have tried to adjust my life so that I can fit running into my schedule.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  I have three kids in three different schools and generally work a 91/2-10 hour day.  Thanks to a flexible work schedule and a very accommodating wife, I'm able to accomplish my running goals and stay up with life's other activities (I THINK).  I try to get to work as early as possible so that the rest of the day will work.  After work, I generally run immediately.  This gives me time to get caught up on email, meet and greet the kids coming home from school, and then start the evening activities.  Evening activities typically involve homework, drop-off and pick-ups, and of course (CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ADMITTING THIS) American Idol, NCIS, Rescue Me, and Blue Bloods.  We split the drop-off and pick-up duties.  Well not exactly-(Wife 65% - Me 35%).  There are times when I miss my window after work, so I try to fit my run in before 8PM.  After 8 doesn't work because I can't sleep once the post run adrenaline kicks in.  So far this has worked out and I encourage others to try the same.  Its important to get your exercise in or you will suffer the consequences in the long run.  I did and will never let that happen again.  How do you deal with it???

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Stretch or Go!

    Over the last 20 years, I've been one of those that can put my clothes on and go!  The only time I would stretch is when I was feeling a tweak or slight pain.  Last week, I started realizing that I can't do that anymore.  My body just can't take the pounding as it use to.  I've been training for a 10 miler and between my shoulder that somehow feels like its separated (JUST FROM LAYING WRONG) and my sore achilles tendon, heal and meniscus, I feel like a total mess!  Last night I decided enough was enough...Time to stretch.  I went out and bought some Rock Tape for my achilles tendon and calf and will stretch for 20 minutes before and after each run!  Lets hope this works!!!!



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Motivation...Is There such a Thing?

  In the early 90's, as part of my Master's program at George Washington University, I took a wide variety of classes for topics surrounding change.  One such class covered Change Management from a organizational behavior perspective.  During this class, the professor preached that there is no such thing as motivation, its all about incentives that drive people.  This theory was repeated in recent books such as Super Freakonomics and more.  I see many articles and blogs on what motivates runners to train, finish long races, and more...This premise started making me ask myself the same question,  is motivation what drives my training and races or is it pure incentive?
  I would lean toward incentive...I don't think you can ask the question by itself, but you need to look at specific real life scenarios.  After a night of going out on the town, is it motivation that makes me train the next morning?--NO!  When I sign up for a race, is it motivation that drives me to do so?--NO!  When I'm running my last mile of a long race, is it motivation that drive me to the finish line?--NO!  Lets take each of these questions individually. 
 So, I've eaten a 10oz steak, drank some wine, and indulged in dessert.  I wake up the next morning and my stomach feels like a rock.  Does this motivate me to run?  No.  I have an incentive to run so I can keep my weight down.  Then why do folks sign up for races?  Most races cost an arm and a leg!  So why do it?  Does a race motivate you?  No.  I sign up for races to see if I can beat my PR, see how I compete against others in my age group, and in some cases for the prize.  Is this motivation?  Lets look at one last example, what gets you to the finish line?  In a recent race, in my last mile, I started cramping in my shins and calves.  Very painful, so was it motivation that got me to the finish line?  No.  I ran through the pain because I new if I did I would break my PR.  Is this motivation. No.  It was simply an incentive that I had to break my PR to set the bar higher for the next race.
  I know many believe in the motivation theory, but I just don't believe in it.  To me, regardless of how non-PC this sounds, people generally do things because they get something out of it--shear incentive...These incentives can range from self satisfaction for volunteering to winning the prize. Here are a few links to some books on the topic if your interested: 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Endorphins, Cannabinoids, or Farce?

    I don't know if I can get caught up in all the "Runner's High" theories such as Endorphins and Cannabinoids.  Heck, I can barely spell those words!   Since the 1980's, many believed that Endorphins acted as an internal morphine-like response to pain in your body when running long distances.  In the early 2000's this theory was discredited by a research that determined that the molecules associated to Endorphins were to large to pass through the Brain-barrier.  The latest theories are associated to Cannabinoids, a new neuro-based chemical system composed of molecules known as lipids.  These lipids are small enough to pass through the Brain-barrier and stimulate the body with a similar effect as marijuana.
    I just don't buy it!  I believe when you run, its all psychological.  When you have a good run, you feel good.  When you diet right and lose weight you feel good.  When you meet your goals, you feel good.  When you sweat out all your toxins, you feel good.  When you run, you get in a trance, and you feel good.  But remember, sometimes you feel bad too.  When you run, your foot hurts.  When you run, your back hurts.  When you run, your knee hurts. 
    Its all about the psyche.  When you run, the impacts can vary from person to person.  For me, running usually helps me with thinking through problems, helps me get rid of the stresses of the day, and definitely helps me with losing weight and feeling good about it!  If that's the so-called "Runner's High," then I'm addicted!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Recovery...Ouch!

  Recovery periods tend to vary from person to person.  For short races (5K, 5M, 10K, 10M) I generally am able to train the next day.  For 1/2 marathons, I usually take a day off and for distances longer than 13, I take three to four days off.  Usually, recovery for me is more about feeling tired and drained than anything else.  I drink a lot of water and keep my electrolytes up by drinking fruit drinks.  I also stay off my feet as much as possible and keep them elevated.  In addition, I eat within 15 minutes of the race which is probably the most important thing to do.  I learned my lesson after a recent 20 Miler.  I started running two days after the event and my immune system took a major hit.  I came down with an infection and was out a few days.  Best thing to do is take time off and let your body heal from the grind!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chafing--Awkward But True

   I've been an avid runner for the last 17 months, running over 2,600 miles, but have consistently battled one problem--CHAFING OF MY CHEST.  This is not something I would typically write about (TURN OFF), but I believe many runners go through this so I thought I would share a funny story and a fix to the problem.
   I tried using sports tape, vaseline, tight fitting and loose fitting clothes, band-aids, etc... Sports tape would get wet, fall off, or rip my chest hair out (EEWWW), vaseline would stain shirts (double EEWWW), clothes just don't work loose or tight, and band-aids didn't stand up to the sweat. I also had a funny incident where I forgot to take the white sports tape off and started cutting my lawn with my shirt off. I noticed and wondered how many neighbors saw that one (OMG).  My wife and kids got such a laugh out of that one and so did I at my own expense and self humiliation!
  One day I was putting New-Skin® Liquid Bandage   http://www.prestigebrands.com/new-skin.htm on a cut and thought this might just be the ticket.  My wife coined a marketing name that New-Skin® could use for runners...Tender Buds...I just about fell off my chair with laughter...Anyway, thought you would enjoy this bit of self humiliation and potential cure for chafing chest.  Nexcare No-Sting Liquid Bandage Spray, .61 oz.

Here is a bit of Office humor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzwf8O4ZCKk

Friday, February 18, 2011

Eat, Run, Drink ... Fuel Yourself

  How do you fuel yourself before, during, and after runs?  For me, it depends on when I run and the type of run--race versus training.   For my weekday training regimen, I typically run at dusk. For this, I typically eat a bowl of cheerios with banana, and a yogurt with water for breakfast around 6AM.  Then I eat my mid-morning snack of banana/clementine or fruit bar with coffee around 9AM.  For lunch I typically eat a hearty salad with protein and a low fat yogurt or a 6 inch turkey sub with honey oat bread around 12:30PM.  This provides me with the right balance of fuel to start my work out and keeps my calorie count down.  I usually run between 5-10 miles during my training runs.  During the run, I always bring a bottle of water, but never eat.  Post training, I usually eat a flat bread turkey sandwich within 15 minutes of my run followed up by a soup for dinner or light wholewheat pasta, Frank Perdue grilled chicken on salad or whatever else I can conjure up.  On the weekend, I usually train mid-morning.  I never really carb it up the night before UNLESS ITs BEER TIME, but always try to eat what I call a Fruit Frapishay (sliced up fruit, covered with Yogurt and Grapenuts) 1 hour prior to workout.  15 minutes after workout, I will eat a light lunch (sandwich with soup).  This seems to keep my calorie count down and get me on the mend quicker.
  Prior to races, the night before, I'll carb up. I will eat whole wheat pasta with a light ground beef with sauce and will drink at least 64 ounces of water.  For morning races, I need my Fruit Frapishay which keeps my stomach settled for those pre race nerves.  I also like to drink coffee before races to rev myself up. During run, I'm not a big fan of food, but if necessary, on longer runs, I'll stick with banana's or whatever they hand out.   Post run fuel, I typically have bananas, granola bars and drink Gatorade and water 15 minutes post run to avoid cramping.  Water is my main beverage pre, during, and post.  This has worked pretty well for me except for 20+ miles....STILL NEED TO FIGURE OUT THAT ONE!!!!  What works for you?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Run with Foot Pain or No Gain

  Over the last two years I've run through a variety injuries, the most common being pain related to my feet.  I have had pain in my arch which had similar symptoms to Plantar Fasciitis.  I also have had problems with the top of my foot near my metatarsals.  In addition, I have broken or seriously damaged my big toe on both feet at least three times.  Here are some tricks that help me run through this pain, but as you know, each of us have a different threshold and tolerance for pain, so be careful and don't risk injury if you don't need to.  Use common sense and before trying any of these techniques always see your doctor first.
  Lets start with that oh so sensitive area--the arch.  When I first started running distances of 5 miles or more, I would have pain in and along my arch line.  After trying a number of different remedies, I determined the pain was caused by switching shoes.  When arch support changes from shoe to shoe this tends to cause pain in your arch.  I have always been the type to run through this, but this pain was so severe, I needed to counteract it somehow.  I found taping the arch provided the extra support needed to get through my runs and overtime the pain would disappear.   The following link was very successful for me (consult your doctor first).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy1ZEJ-kKTg&NR=1  The down side was that the tape when wet would start pealing back around mile 3 or 4.  The key for me was wearing tight socks.  Tight socks seem to hold the tape in place a bit better.  The second technique I found that seems to work is going with a shoe 1/2 to 1 size larger and to obtain shoe inserts with extra arch support.  I prefer Gel inserts because it provides padding as well as the arch support needed.  It also molds around your foot for extra support. Below is a link that provides helpful information in more detail.  http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/news/watch/v6503955NrdCBRm7
  Now lets get into those painful metatarsal injuries.  I have found that running shoes without appropriate tongue padding bruises the top of my foot and provides for painful metatarsals.  To get around this, I prefer to wear thin socks to give me extra room.  I also buy shoes with extra padding and finally I use shoelace locks which give me a consistent tightness of the lace.  I have found that shoes that are too tight cause these problems.  These techniques work for me and might work for you.  More can be found on shoelace clips here http://www.helium.com/items/1653719-products-to-keep-shoelaces-tied
   Finally, have you ever been running and catch your shoe on your full down stride on the edge of an uneven sidewalk and jam or break your big toe.  I do this two or three times a year and end up with a broken or badly bruised toe.  My toe turned purple and looked like a ripened plum.  These are several toe injuries you can get from this type of violent collision.  The last two times this happened, I've been able to run through this pain, but this injury seems to be the most painful.  For more links associated to these types of injuries try this link  http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=12154&PageNum=&CategoryID  The best remedy is to see your doctor and get plenty of rest.  If you are a hard charger, make sure you have sturdy shoes to get through it.  Also make sure you ice and heat, and ice and heat.  Buddy taping your toes also helps provide additional stability, but going to your doctor is the best approach.  For more info on buddy taping see http://www.ehow.com/how_2302444_tape-broken-toe.html.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Run to Lose and to Rid the Blues!

In June of 09, I weighed 215 lbs and had high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and didn't feel good about appearance, so I decided to try to do something about it.  I thought I was already running about 4 miles a day, but boy was I wrong.  I was eating whatever I wanted and I had a 38 to 40 inch waist.  Those damn chips!  I knew I had to change my habits or else!  I heard through a friend about the NIKE+ product Nike + iPod Sport Kit - White, ONE SIZE that would enable you to track your training, so I decided to give that a shot along with a significantly different diet.  The first time I used NIKE+, I started with my standard run only to find out I was running about 2.5 miles and at over 9 minutes a mile.  This was the start of a significant change in my life...
     On July 2nd, I started a training and diet program.  My goal for training was to increase my runs to 5 miles and not worry about anything except getting through it.  It took about 6 months to get my runs up to 5 miles.  I usually ran 5 days a week, but at some points would go 10 days in a row.  My times were coming down to around 8:30 minute mile and my weight came down to about 195.  I would log my miles diligently with NIKE+ and enter an occasional challenge here and there for motivational purposes.   Tiger Woods Microsoft Xbox 360 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 The Masters - PGATOUR12 would whisper in my ear...Congratulations, this is your furthest run yet!  During this time, my dieting became pretty strict.  I didn't count calories, but just tried to eat right.  Typically, I ate fruits, cheerios, and yogurt for breakfast; salads, soups, and flat bread turkey sandwich for lunch; and soups, salad with chicken, and whole wheat anything for dinner. I only drank water, milk, and coffee on a regular basis.  I also only drank light beer or red wine for dinner.  If I ate poorly the night before, I would train extra hard the next day to balance it out.
    During the spring of 2010, I entered a few races and increased my mileage per week and maintained my diet.  I also entered the NIKE+ Human Race and my first half marathon for motivation purposes.  During the spring, my weight came down to around 180, my waist size came down to 32 and I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I dropped my times down to around a 8:10 minute mile.  At that point, my NIKE+ system start to intermittently have problems (including Tiger ;), so I decided to give a Garmin GPS GARMIN Forerunner 210 GPS Enabled Watch with Heart Rate Monitor Bundle Pack, Black - Non watch a try.  Garmin actually maps your route and provides you details on mile splits and elevation.   This proved to be just what the doctor ordered. 
     In June 2010, I registered for my first 20 miler to be run in late September, so I started training relatively hard.  At this point, I did back off my diet by adding the occasional pizza, steak, burger, and, YES, THOSE DAMN CHIPS to add the extra fuel necessary to compensate for the extra miles.  During this period, I would alternate runs every other week.  The first week, I would run one 10 miler, four 5+ milers, and one 13+ miler.  The second week, I would run one 10 miler, and five 5+ milers.  During the period, my weight stayed about 180-183 and one month before the race, I got a pretty bad sinus infection and couldn't maintain my program.  I managed to get in four to five days of work, but at much lower mileage.  The last three weeks before the race, I tried to ratchet up my program and at the end of September, I successfully ran my first 20 miler at an average pace of 7:50 minutes a mile.  This was a great spirit lifter, but also I wasn't prepared for the after effects or the toll it would take on my body.  I started running two days after the race, but with much wear and tear.  I didn't know that you should back off for about a week or two before getting back into the mix.
    Since October, I've been running six days a week averaging just over 30 miles a week with times consistently at or below an 8 minute mile.  I have kept a fairly consistent diet, but have not been as strict (CHIPS).  My weight fluctuates from 182 to 185 and I am somewhere around between a 32-34 inch waist.  Now I'm ready for the next stage and have decided to sign up for a 10 miler in April to get it going.   My goal for 2011 is to improve my time, lose a few more pounds, and to start dieting and training for my first Marathon in October 2011!  MCM or Bust!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What to Do, What to Wear....Winter Running is Here!

Are you hot or cold blooded?  I believe you should dress based how you adapt to the weather as you run. You should always layer up.   I am one of those people that always have cold feet, hands, and ears.  As I run, all my extremities heat up.  I prefer cold gear by Under Armour http://www.cabelas.com/mens-heavyweight-tops-performance-underwear-armour-metal-8482-coldgear-mock-t-neck.shtml?type=product&WT.tsrc=CSE&WT.mc_id=GoogleBaseUSA&WT.z_mc_id1=751274&rid=40&mr:trackingCode=FE979052-F5D2-DF11-82EF-001B21631C34&mr:referralID=NA and dry fit loose fitting running tight by Nike http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/?cp=USNS_KW_0611081618&ref=http://store.nike.com/&l=shop,search,c-1+100701/pn-1/sl-dri%20FIT#l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-364672/pgid-364674.  I also like to wear a cotton 'T' over my cold gear so as the cold gear wicks, I still am protected from the elements. 
Some other apparel to consider are running socks, head protection, gloves, and shoes.  I believe cold gear socks such as North Face http://compare.ebay.com/like/150417156588?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&rvr_id=200969826856&crlp=1_263602_309572&UA=%3F*I7&GUID=a5f3302012d0a0aad5421fd2ff5f11dc&itemid=150417156588&ff4=263602_309572 are over-rated.  The material makes my feet sweat twice as much, then get cold during the run as air blows through the top of shoe.  I prefer thick cotton socks.  In terms of head protection, I use a balaclava by Spider http://www.ski-n-stuff.com/product-info.php?pid9795.html.  It serves two purposes.  For 15 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and below, I use it as advertised with a Nike dry fit http://www.amazon.com/Nike-lightweight-running-ponytail-opening/dp/B003V5GH7Gor Under Armour http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/mens/accessories/headwear/cold-weather/pid1208912-Men-s-Arctic-Beanie-II/1208912-407 beanie.   For temps above 15 degrees F, I double up the neck piece of the balaclava and use it as a head band.  It works great and fits snugly over ears.  In terms of glove choice, I prefer cotton gloves by Adidas http://www.footlocker.com/catalog/productdetail/model_nbr--149031/sku--5134600&SID=8732&inceptor=1&cm_mmc=SEO-_-Feeds-_-Froogle-_-null over the dry fit.  As with cold gear socks, dry fit gloves make my hand sweat and then run cold while running.  For shoes, I prefer a neutral, sturdy shoe such as Nike+ LunarGlide http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/?cp=USNS_KW_0611081618&l=shop,search,searchList-lunarglide&ef_id=eWFNONCAAgAAwrw:20110121002353:s#l=shop,search,searchList-lunarglide or Brooks Ghost 3 http://www.holabirdsports.com/cgi-bin/search?Submit.x=0&Submit.y=0&productname=brooks+ghost+shoes&gclid=COq14smEyqYCFUmo4Aodv3FVJA.  This keeps your feet from getting injured on those hard winter surfaces.  I hope this helps those that keep it going during those dark cold winter months.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Clips or Tie?

Have you ever thought there was an easier way to deal with shoes than lacing them up?  Are you sick of your laces coming undone. I use clips.  Some may think its laziness, but I believe its convenient.  Here is how it works...Laces slide through slot of clip, adjust the fit, tie off ends permanently in a square knot, and cut off excess lace. Next time you run, just slide on your shoes and go.  There are several styles for shoes.  I prefer sqeezums.  These can be found on
http://www.squeezums.com/?gclid=CLa47tPXvKYCFdtx5Qod2VvVIA.  Another innovative style, Yankz, can be found on http://www.amazon.com/Yankz-Laces-Black-Clips/dp/B001KW8IOW
For a full list of different options, please try http://walking.about.com/od/shoecare/tp/lacelock.htm
If you are old school and want to stick to the traditional tie, you can either use the bunny ears method or Runners World suggests five ways to tie your shoes.  Please see link http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267--12334-0,00.html
So whether its clips or tie, don't make that an excuse to not get out there and run!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MJRunner 2010 Running Stats

Its nice to finish another year of training.  My goal this year was to clear 1,500 miles...Feel free to check out 2010 stats below.

MJRunner 2010 Mileage

Do you prefer wearing Gadgets or Running Naked?

When running, are you the type of person that has gadgets hanging from every limb?  I prefer running with water, GPS watch, and an IPOD.  I believe choice of gadgets is all about the type of running experience you want to have.  Many people prefer what I call "running naked."  Running naked is kind of like being granola--you prefer nature and want to enjoy the sound of your feet hitting the pavement.  The belief is that there is no need to spend your hard earned money on gadgets, when running should be an experience that stands on its own.  I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I prefer a little Eminem blaring in my ear for a pick me up and checking mile splits along the way.  Tracking the data allows me to keep motivated while showing me the progress that I'm making over a period of time.  I also need my water along the way and a headlight when running at night.  At the end of the day, I guess its all about choice, taste, individual preference, and the type of running experience that you prefer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Running for Ideas Series - Running Mashups to Solve Obesity

While running today, I started thinking about how one could use today's running gadgets to help solve childhood obesity.  One could leverage mashups to create special communities for Kids to use running as an outlet to lose weight.  NIKE Plus http://nikerunning.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikeplus/en_US/, Garmin http://connect.garmin.com/, Active http://www.active.com/ and others could use their brilliant gadgets and web presence to mashup with LETMOVE.gov http://www.letsmove.gov/.  Its a kids technology world, so kids would relate to this idea.  For example, NIKEPlus and Apple http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/ could team up with innercity schools and donate their low priced sensor technology and outdated or refurbished 3rd generation ipods to schools.  Schools could create local, national, and international challenges with their NIKE Plus or Dailymile http://www.dailymile.com/ web presence to create competitions that would motivate kids.  PE teachers, nutritionists, pediatricians could market these competitions in the spirit of solving the obesity crisis with kids.  LETSMOVE.gov and Healthcare companies could also be leveraged to promote this similar to the Apple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II_series model of the 80s-90's.   This mashup would be a win/win for all.  Free marketing for companies giving back, healthcare promoting what they should be, educating a healthy life at school, etc... So Run with this Idea!  Stay tuned for future Running for Ideas...

Running for Ideas

Running makes you think creatively.  Today's run below made me think of a new spin....Running for Ideas - See post to follow on Running Mashups for Solving Childhood Obesity

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Running Shoe Review

Over the past 2,500 miles, I've tried several pairs of shoes to include:
By far my favorite shoe was the NIKE Lunar Trainer+ for its lightness and comfort.  The problem with Trainer+ is that they wear out way too fast.  NIKE Lunar Glide+ ranked up at the top as well.  At first, these shoes were too hard on foot.  However after going a size larger with an insert, these shoes turned out to be most durable, especially during the 30+ inches of snow and ice.  The most current shoe I'm testing is the Brooks Ghost3.  This shoe is much like the Glide+.  Hard, light, and durable.  The top of my foot is sensitive, so the Ghost 3 tougue is the best.  The best made, but worst wear is the Under Armour Spectre.  This shoe gave me high arch pain and caused IT Band problems as well!  The NIKE Dual Fusion is also one of the worst performers.  It tries to give you the Air Hurache boot fit, but you can actually feel the straps.  This shoe is not a running shoe in my opinion.  Wear it in style, but don't kick it!  Lets close this discussion with the NIKE Free 5.0.  The Free is a great shoe to wear if you want the feeling of running barefoot, but will give you blisters at first.  You must have strong knees if you go this route, but you can fly once you get the feel.  For all around best buy, I would go with NIKE Lunar Glide+.  Size up if you like more padding and go with the insert.  Beware, the Glide+ 2.0 is nothing like the original.  Its even harder!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Run with MJRunner: Running on Pillows

Run with MJRunner: Running on Pillows: "Woke up today to a surprise. Snow coated the ground. This is my favorite type of weather to run in. Running in 1/2 to 1 in..."

Running on Pillows

Woke up today to a surprise.  Snow coated the ground.  This is my favorite type of weather to run in.  Running in 1/2 to 1 inch of snow is like running on pillows!  My feet get relief from the day to day pounding.  Today I am 4 miles from reaching my 2,500 Mile mark dating back 18 months.

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