Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing out 2008 with 2,262 miles for the year

Well, 2008 is just about history. I tallied more mileage in 2008 than in year in my entire life.

I ran two thousand two hundred and sixty-two miles in one year. That's an average of roughly 43.1 miles per week for the entire year. That's a butt load of miles in my book.

I ran 11 races in 2008. I set new PR's in the following distances: 5k, 8k, 10k, 10M, 1/2 marathon and the marathon.

I ran three marathons in 2008: LCFB in Dublin, OH; Green Bay and Twin Cities with an average time of 3:08:40. That's consistent Boston caliber.

I ran through two NFL stadiums in 2008: Soldier and Lambeau Fields.

Through all of it, I took on a new job in my company last April that has me managing seven people. The additional stress and challenge did not deter my running.

Also in 2008, I became a treadmill junkie after caving in and buying one for this tough winter. After returning the first one, the second one broke down and still awaits repair three weeks later.

Most importantly, I became a dad and continued to run through it all. My baby girl has been an inspiration for me and I hope to use running to inspire her in the years to come.

Here's the kicker: I am considering myself officially healthy through all of it. In my last post, I described a possible shin split issue. I am excited to report that a day off Monday seems to have cured it. I ran a hard 9 with speed last night and a solid 14 today with no pain at all. Yippee!

I am thrilled with my year of running. I hope the few that read this blog are proud of their running accomplishments in 2008.

I will lay out my 2009 goals tomorrow. I have high aspirations. I also plan to take my running in a more social direction and connect with my community. Details to come.

For tonight, I will kick back and relax with my family, reflect on an amazing year and be thankful for the life that I will bring into 2009.

Happy New Year to all runners everywhere - Make 2009 your best year ever.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Shin splint injury - 7 weeks til Austin

I've encountered a minor obstacle on my mission to run sub-3 in Austin.

Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the 70-mile week as planned. I was right on track through yesterday afternoon. My valiant quest to 70 for the week ended in defeat as I was forced to cut yesterday's 22-miler short.

Rarely do I fail to complete a long run as scheduled, but yesterday was one of those days. I ran at the Morton Aboretum, which was the safest place to run after all of the flooding and weather issues we've had here in Chicagoland.

I was slightly tired going into the run. However, I felt like I'd get through it. I hit my first 13 at around 7:35 pace average and felt OK. The winds were brisk and I made a couple of stops back at the car along the way.

When I hit 15, I really started to drag. I didn't really feel the pain in my shin all that much at this point. However, I was struggling to run faster than the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt zapped. That was a sign. I completed 16 and headed to my car.

My plan was to drive home and hop on the treadmill to finish an easy six. However, when I was changing, I felt some pain in my lower right shin area.

I decided to go on the treadmill anyway. Right away, my form was disrupted by the pain and I couldn't run much faster than 8:25 pace without struggling. I called it quits right there after one mile.

Chalk up 65 for the week and a new challenge. I need to decide how to address this shin split condition in my right leg.

Here is this past week's recap:

Tue - 10 recovery miles total - avg pace: 8:40. AM: 5 miles recovery. PM: 5 miles recov.
Wed - 6 miles recovery
Thu - 12 miles total all on treadmill. 7 completed at 6:25 avg pace.
Fri - 15 miles total. 11 on treadmill - 4 outside. Rough avg pace 7:40.
Sat - 5 miles recovery
Sun - 17 total. 16 at Morton Aboretum - avg pace 7:41. Felt dead legs and slowed paced to 8:10 on final mile. Drove home. Tried treadmill but felt pain and quit after 1.

Weekly total: 65 miles

What has caused my shin pain? It could have been too much mileage on the treadmill and then rapidly moving back to pavement. It could have been also suddenly working on hills yesterday. Or it could have been the intensity of my LT workout coupled with high mileage. My schedule change that put the 12-miler and 15-miler back-to-back didn't help either. Most likely, it is all of the above.

I don't think it's serious. I had a planned rest day today. I plan to rest it tomorrow as well - maybe even Wednesday. Not sure yet.

I need to figure out how I can get to Austin healthy on race day and in the best condition possible.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cramming a 70-mile week into Christmas time

Happy Christmas Eve.

I modified last week's schedule slightly from 59 miles and hit 56 in total. I figured it was OK to cut the recovery run and add a few back later in the week.

This week is the big test. There are 70 miles on the schedule. Doing 70 miles any week of the year is tricky, but it can be especially difficult to stay motivated when that week is Christmastime.

Should I be stressing about hitting a workout on Christmas day?

Furthermore, the weather has been horrible, like everywhere in the US this winter so far. Not to mention I've got family around here and I need to spend the time with them.

Fun fact of the week: I have not run outside since a 20-miler on Dec 7th. I've done 137 miles all on a treadmill over the past 17 days. That's how bad it's been outside.

I hit the double yesterday, which required two workouts totaling 10 miles at recovery pace.

However, I'm slightly behind the 8-ball now. Obviously, it's Christmas time. We got wallopped with winter weather yesterday and my parents flight was majorly delayed. We got home from the airport last night at midnight.

I was supposed to have done 15 today, but the timing didn't work. I got up later and spent time with my parents. I didn't want to cheat time with my sister's family and my parents later in the afternoon, so I swapped out and did the 6 recovery that was planned for tomorrow.

With that change, here is the remaining week to get to 70 miles:

Tomorrow (Christmas day) - 12 miles w/ 7 at LT pace
Friday - 15 miles
Sat - 5 miles recovery
Sun - 22 miles

This will be a challenging upcoming four days. If I can nail this 70 miles, it will be a big boost. I hope to run outside for Friday's 15-miler. For tomorrow's tempo workout, I want to use the treadmill so I can hold that steady 6:25-6:30 pace for all seven miles.

I've upheld pressure on Pacemaster and the tech services firm to get my home treadmill fixed, but I'm still waiting to hear that the part has been shipped. It's a bit of a debacle at this point.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Treadmill challenges, but still on track -- 8.5 weeks until Austin

Last week, I completed my schedule with near perfection. I ran 65 out of the 66 planned miles -- all on a treadmill. My single mile missed was a result of my treadmill breaking down and not having enough time before work to make it up.

Fortunately, my subdivision has a clubhouse right down the street that has a couple of good treadmills. I was able to run over there and complete most of last Thursday's workout after wasting 15 minutes.

The highlight of last week was the pace run I nailed. I ran 6:49 for 12 straight miles during a 15-miler with the final pace mile at 6:40. It was very tough - especially on a treadmill at the clubhouse without a working TV. This was a great indicator of my progress.

I haven't run outside since a week ago Sunday and I have done 75 miles since then. I never would have guessed this would be possible. Not ideal, but it's brutal out here in Chicago. We've got freezing temps, 6+ inches of snow on the ground now and the ice storm is on its way.

I own a Pacemaster Elite VR treadmill. I'm a little flustered that an electrical component in it failed after a mere 100 miles. It's been a bit of a saga with buying this treadmill. The first unit I had the store pick up due to a suspicious looking sticker on it that indicated it had been pre-owned by a high school (so much for a "floor" model).

The retailer replaced it with a brand new unit and it has been working great over the past couple of weeks. I fell in love with the convenience of the basement treadmill with the TV and the freezing conditions outside. Then... bam!.... error code 300. Hopefully, the part and technician will be here by early next week latest.

On another note, I received confirmation from the BAA that my Boston entry has been accepted, "provided the info that you submitted is accurate". No worries, there.

This week is a recovery week of a light 59 miles. Last night was a general aerobic 10 and tonight will be my first speed workout on this cycle: 9 w/ 6x600m's.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sub-3 at Austin in sight - 9.5 weeks to go

It's been a very busy time, in which I am running the most I ever have in my life, handling a key management position in my career and helping raise my 7-month old daughter.

Life is going well on all of the above fronts.

So, in the spirit of time, here are some updates on last week:

  • I successfully completed last week of 66 miles this past Sunday. This was after hitting 64 miles the week prior. Never I have run 130 miles in two weeks - ever.
  • I killed my most recent long run of 20 miles on Sunday through hills, 18 degree temps, minor snow with an average pace of 7:21. No problem.
  • On the tempo front, I breezed through a 6 mile lactate threshold workout at 6:25 pace last Friday, which is showing I am trending toward sub-3:00 conditioning. I definitely had more in the tank.

Here are some notes on this week's schedule:

  • I am scheduled for 66 miles, which will total 196 miles in 3 weeks once completed.
  • I have nailed 25 miles week-to-date, right on plan.
  • This morning, I set my personal distance record on a treadmill by knocking out 15 straight with no breaks in 1:54:40.
  • This week's long run will be a goal marathon pace run: 15 miles with 12 of them at 6:50 per mile.

Other notes:

  • By end of week, I will have run a staggering 2,119 miles in 2008 and the schedule says I will run 2,271 for the year. This will smash last year's record of 2,101 in 2007.
  • I am now running a very surprisingly high % of my mileage on my own personal treadmill. 41 miles out of 66 were on the 'mill last week. This week, with snow on the ground and the need for pace control on Sunday, it may be 100%.

In summary, there is lots of hard work still head. However, I am right on track at this point to run a sub-3:00 marathon in Austin on February 15th, 2009.

I feel inspired. I am focused. I am feeling like I can translate this running energy into so many other positives in my life. I do not want running to be the only thing. Rather I want to use it as a self-motivator to accomplish other important, meaningful goals in my life. I just need to figure out what these are and how I want to do this.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Winter Running is here - 64 mile week heading into Dec

There are about 10.5 weeks until I will run the Austin Marathon.

Last week, my plan was to run 69 miles during the holiday break. In the end, I landed on a total of 64. This is quite respectable given the holiday/family time and well over 1,000 spent miles in the car. However, I need to keep progressing toward that 70 mark, which will happen the week of Christmas.

I went into last week downright sore – largely due to a late-night hockey game last Sunday. Adding to the challenge was a 1,000 mile roundtrip visit to Pittsburgh for the Thanksgiving break.

As previously mentioned, last Monday’s LT workout was great. I am finding, however, the LT workouts really test my ability to recover for the next day's run. This was the case again this past week.

By Tuesday, I realized I was going to need to make some adjustments. I cut my planned 14-miler down to a 7-mile recovery. I was really pressed for time also since we needed to start our drive, so it seemed to make sense to cut it back. We then drove through the night to the South of Pittsburgh from the Chicago ‘burbs – arriving at 4AM Wed morn.

By Wednesday, my legs were so sore I was having a hard time putting on pants without help from my arms to guide my legs into place. I think the hockey game stressed some muscles that I wasn’t used to using in a while – not to mention the bruised hip I suffered during the game. I decided my body needed a break, so I took Wednesday off as a whole.

By Thursday AM, I felt very rested. I proceeded to bang out runs of 14, 8 and 21 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively. I think 43 miles in a three-day period is a personal record. All miles were at pretty steady paces in the range of 7:35-7:45 average. My long run was very strong at an average of 7:32 per mile with the final mile at 6:43.

It’s worth noting that the Peters Township, PA trail near my in-laws has a steady incline for several miles in the northern direction. All three of these runs had long stretches of out-and-back, so there was a lot of incline/decline work.

After making the long drive back on Sunday all day, I hopped on the treadmill for a final recovery 4-miler to cap off the week. This got me to 64 miles for the week.

Luckily, I had a 1-day cushion since I had planned all along to move my schedule back a day and start on Tuesdays with long runs on Sundays. So I took yesterday off. Since the mid-week longer runs are usually on Wednesdays and Fridays, this change will help with my daddy duties since Jen is off these days.

This week, I am targeting the Pfitz mileage of 66 miles. That’s a lot of miles any week – but especially when contending with the Chicago winter that has finally arrived.

I started today with a recovery double of 6 and 4. Tomorrow morn, I plan to venture outside into the winter conditions for a dark, cold 14-miler. Friday will be a test with 6 miles of LT during a 11-miler. Recoveries of 5 and 6 miles are planned for Thu and Sat - then I will cap off the week on Sunday with another 20-miler.

Monday, November 24, 2008

12 weeks to Austin - Testing my limits

There are just under 12 weeks to go until Austin. I completed this past week's schedule exactly as planned and hit all 55 miles. I ran the Pfitz mileage to a "T". This was a much welcome stepback week.

For this week, I will see a significant jump in mileage. Pfitz puts 69 miles on the docket for the week.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that I decided to throw a little cross-training into the mix. Last night, I filled in on my co-worker's hockey team for a game last night.

Hockey is one of my first passions. Over the past few years, I have pushed hockey aside to concentrate on running. I decided that I wanted to have a little fun last night. And it was fun.

However, I will say that is challenging right now to have forfeited my only rest day for a game of hockey right before a 69-mile week. But that's where I am. I suppose it didn't help that I was forced into sharing a few beers with the guys afterward somewhat late night. Nevertheless, it was fun.

I didn't see any ill effects today. Tonight's 10-miler went perfectly. After a 1-mile warm-up, I cruised through the 5-mile tempo run at an average of 6:25 per mile, with an extremely strong finish. I then trotted the final 4 in 7:50's.

I admit that my legs are sore right now. Not to mention my hip from a fall on the ice I took last night. I could use a little rest. That's why I'm going to bed momentarily.

The rest of the week will be a crunch with a long drive to Pittsburgh and, of course, the family commitments that come along with the holiday. But I will try to hold the schedule.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

This week's plan:

Mon - 10 miles w/5 at LT -- COMPLETED
Tue - 14 miles - Drive to Pittsburgh
Wed - 5 miles recovery
Thu - 11 miles
Fri - 8 miles w/ 8x100m strides
Sat - 21 miles long
Sun - Drive home to Chicago

GOAL MILEAGE: 69 miles after a hockey game!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scenic 63-mile week - 13 weeks to Austin

We are back from our visit to my parents' house in Ivins, UT. I banged out 47 miles in four days while visiting and completed 63 out of my 65 miles planned for the week.

I will admit it was a tough yet fulfilling week of training. Getting to 63 after 60 last week proved harder than I would have guessed. Increasing my mileage again after a hard LT workout on Monday was a challenge. However, I was glad that I had wonderful weather and scenic terrain in Utah to keep me motivated.

It's worth noting that St. George, UT introduced a significant altitude and elevation change dimension into my training. I ran a 12-miler on Thursday from the peak of Snow Canyon State Park, which took me to about 3,200 feet. I floated through the park to my parents' house that was largely downhill during the first half.

Posted are a handful of snapshots from this particular workout that give a feel for how absolutely gorgeous it was for me to run in SW Utah.

We all know that with downhills come uphills, so it was not all a cakewalk. My 20-miler on Saturday along the Snow Canyon Parkway bike trail proved again a test to my ability to endure the changes in elevation.

The night before we left Chicago, I stalled on Tuesday's planned 14-miler. It was 36 deg and raining here in SW Chicago. I had a busy day before our 3-day vacation. I could only muster 7 miles on the treadmill and was forced to adjust the week. I am proud that I bounced back.

This 63-mile week my highest-volume week since Aug 2007. Taking a look back at my log during that time, I am amazed by the shape that I was in for the Chicago Marathon. Based on history, know I can climb toward a healthy 70-mile week by Christmas time.

New exciting news: I am committed now to what will be my 3rd marathon in 2009: the highly celebrated and scenic San Francisco Marathon.

Preliminary "Tentative" 2009 schedule:

  • Austin - Feb 15 - Registered and travel booked
  • Boston - Apr 21 - Travel booked. Qualified and need to register.
  • S.F. - July 26 - Travel booked. Need to register.
  • St. George, UT* - Oct 3 - Lottery opens in April.
  • NYC* - Nov 1 - Lottery opens in June.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Making Progress - 14 weeks out to Austin

One important piece of news (besides Barack's big victory) is that I am signed up for Austin.

Recapping last week's workouts, I ran 60 of the Pfitz planned 62 miles for week #4 out of 18. I cut out a measley two recovery miles to try to save legs. Despite the shortcut, I am considering my 97% coverage pretty damn good for the week.

I basically ran everything exactly as planned. I don't take 60-mile weeks for granted. I don't have too many of them under my belt. The ones I do this year are because I pushed a long run into Monday. I don't consider those "legit". Chasing a 55-mile week, this week's 60 is legit.

So the saying goes, no rest for the weary runners who are chasing a sub-3 marathon. I kicked off this week's 65-mile quest with a 9-mile run on the treadmill tonight, during which I celebrated 4 of the 9 with a threshold run at 6:27 pace. Tick the box for that workout.

You'd think it'd be easy for me to knock out the schedule given recent progress. But of course we are set to leave on yet another family visit to St. George, UT on early Wed AM. When you travel and have change in your life, it forces adjustments.

So, I need to nail 42 miles in Utah during a 4-day visit. I admit it may be viewed by some as borderline selfish to schedule six hours of running during this 4-day visit to my parents' home. But they're laid back. And as my wife said about my running during her sister's visit, "it's what Ryan does". I try to minimize the impact by going early and scheduling around key events.

With current planned mileage, I am targeting a 264-mile November. Two freaking sixty-four. Mercy. I don't need to look at any prior running logs. Never before have I had that kind of output.

I am relaxed. I am focused. I am maintaining all other important aspects of my life while hitting these miles. Work is going well. We are happy in our home and our daugter is a joy. I am on track for sub-3 on 2/15/09.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Adapting to elevated mileage - 15 weeks out to Austin

I suppose I should sign up for the Austin Marathon, since I keep saying that I am aiming to run a sub-3 there. I guess I should get a jump on Boston, too.

Last week, I said I was planning to run 58 miles. I hit 95% of those miles and ended the week with 55. I needed to cut short the recovery run on early Friday morning due to (a) limited time -- we had an early flight to Boston for a family weekend trip, and (b) fatigue in the legs. It was hard to turn around and run Friday AM after hitting 40 miles in 4 days on Mon-Thurs.

Although we flew into Boston, we spent our weekend visiting my sis-in-law in North Kingstown, RI introducing our new daughters to one another. During my weekend trip on Saturday, I ran a solid 15 miles during a beautiful autumn morning in the towns N. Kingstown and Wickford, RI.

My run in RI included beautiful views of the Jamestown Bridge and Narrangansett Bay. Running through historic towns in the Northeast along the water is such a different experience than running in the flat farmlands of Plainfield, IL.

My program calls for 62 miles this week. Tonight, I knocked out 9 miles as expected. I am monitoring my legs and some modest fatigue closely. I am feeling some wear on the legs that I do not usually feel. There is 14 in the plan for tomorrow after work. I want to be smart and listen to my body and not over-do it.

I suppose it's to be expected since I am in a significant mileage build phase. I usually peak in 55 after several weeks of build-up when I am running the Pfitz 55mpw program. I want to make sure I am not setting myself up for injury as a result of my ramp-up to the higher-mileage Pfitzinger plan.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kicking into full gear - 16 weeks out

The Austin Marathon is sixteen weeks from today. I am focused on this race -- and this race only. I have no other races of any distance planned at this point before 2/15/09.

I modeled this past week of training after the Pfitzinger "up to 70 miles" program while intentionally shaving some miles. I wanted to ramp up a little more gradually to reduce injury risk, since I ran a marathon P.R. only three weeks ago today. I hit 48 out of the 56 miles scheduled this past week without any issue.

I enjoyed a steady 17-miler yesterday through the autumn foliage at Waterfall Glen, which is a beautiful nature preserve. Splits were pretty consistent and averaged 7:41 for the entire run, with only one short stop.

Beginning tomorrow, I will use the Pfitz 70mpw plan as my base program. I will make some adjustments that will increase the amount of lactate threshold workouts. Later on, I will make sure I get plenty of goal pace miles, and maybe even a simulated 1/2 marathon on the treadmill.

The number of miles does not seem to faze me. It's a logical progression for me. OK, I admit that running 70 miles the week of Christmas sounds a bit daunting. However, it is the scheduling that stresses me more.

Now that we have a young child, I have to look at my time management very differently. With both parents working, planning is absolutely crucial to hit all the miles -- especially in the 55-70 mpw range. There's little margin for error.

Here is this week's plan, which includes a family visit to Rhode Island later in the week.

Mon 10/27 - 5:45 AM - Treadmill: 9 mi w/4 at tempo pace (target 6:30-6:35)
Tue 10/28 - 5:30 PM - 14 miles GA outside - target 7:40-7:45 pace
Wed 10/29 - Noon - 5 miles on tread - Recovery pace: 8:40-8:50
Thu 10/30 - 5:15 PM - 11 G.A - target 7:40-7:45
Fri 10/31 (Boo!) - 5:45 AM - 5 recovery on treadmill . Travel to RI for sis-in-law visit.
Sat 11/1 - 7:30 AM - 15 miles in North Kingstown, RI
Sun 11/2 - REST

Scheduled total mileage: 58 miles

I am early on in this journey and there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. However, I been here before. I've got the mindset, experience and focus to achieve yet another milestone.

I will run a sub-3-hour marathon on February 15th, 2009 in Austin, Texas.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Starting Up For Austin

This past week, I tallied up 30 miles to get me back into the swing of training. It was quite a jump from the big fat goose-egg the week after TC Marathon. It was great to take that week off altogether.

Last Sunday, I did something I never have before: watch a marathon live on the course. I headed downtown to the Chicago Marathon and cheered on a ton of runners. Warm weather again. It was a great scene, and it made me realize that I am ready to start eyeing the next prize.

Yesterday's 14-miler went alright, I suppose. However, I did feel a bit fatigued at the end. I suppose it's not surprising that I am not fully recovered from the TCM.

I'm trying to get my head around how to start up for Austin. It seems simple, right? Just start running like I have in the past. Provided I am recovered enough, it's straightforward.

I guess what I am wrestling with is how I can be sure to make serious gains on this next one. I'm serious. No messing around. I want to make a serious charge at sub-3.

How can I do it? More lactate threshold. More pace miles. Fewer distracting races along the way that hamper my progress. In fact, I really have no plans to run a single race between now and February 15th, 2009 in Austin.

Starting tomorrow, I will try to hop onto the Pfitzinger 70mpw program. All easy miles to start with. Since we are 17 weeks out from Austin today, I am entering week #2 of the 18 week program.

Last post, I mentioned that I was in the market for a treadmill. We found what seemed to be a pretty sweet deal on the Pacemaster Platinum Pro VR. It's all set up and ready to go.

I've a date with the 'mill at 5:45 AM in my musty basement, in which I have set up a TV and stereo to pass the time and the miles.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Up Next? Austin - 2/15/09

I want to take a moment to share my reflection as I cruised through my final mile at the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday.

The picture to the side says it all. Although it wasn't anything near pretty or graceful, it entailed a powerful feeling of sheer triumph. It's the reason we run the marathon.

Even after thirteen of these punishing events during which I question every single time why I am out there, I keep wanting more.

As you would expect, my rest days are numbered once again. Sure, it's been a whole four days since a marathon PR. I am already mentally committed to Austin on February 15, 2009.

Although I know I am not recovered, I am yearning. Once again, I am ready to enter the training cycle. And it will be at training cycle like none other before for me. I aim for it to be the cycle that enables me to break that elusive sub-3 barrier.

I will admit that I am nervous and have some concerns. I am fearful of missing out on family time with my wife and daughter. I am fearful of sacrificing a high level of performance in my career, which can be demanding. I am fearful of a reckless training plan that may result in injury.

There, now that I got those fears and concerns out of my system. I can relax for a few more days until I figure out how I will escalate toward the 70-mile weeks this coming winter.

Help needed on treadmill selection

To achieve sub-3 with my schedule, I need to be able to run at any given moment.

Despite losing thousands in the stock market, we are looking to spend. (Why not, right?) Jen is also pushing for a treadmill purchase so she can exercise more frequently with the baby in the house.

To be honest, I hated treadmills for many years and have never wanted one. This year, I seemed to have turned the corner - and realize that I can zone out watching ESPN. My tread distance record is 12 miles.

I learned to use the tread at the gym to my training advantage. I realized the benefits of speed work on the tread for pace control -- as well as a shield from the weather.

We hope to cap our spending at around $3,000. Brands we are exploring:


Does anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, October 06, 2008

New PR Set at Twin Cities Marathon

We are back from the Twin Cities. While I fell just short of the goal of 3:05, I achieved a new PR of 3:06:50. It was a hard fought race through some very cold rain and limited sleep.

If you haven't slept in a hotel room with an infant for two consecutive nights before a marathon, it can be a bit challenging.

Morning race conditions were great. This would be my 13th marathon. I always get choked up at the start of a marathon knowing how fortunate I am. I have a great family, financial stability and the fitness to be able to travel to these events and challenge myself.

Early on in the race, I really struggled with pacing. I started out too fast. I somehow missed mile marker 1 and saw 14:25 at the 2 mile mark. Sounds perfect, but this included 30 second pee break. Worse yet, mile 3 was downright reckless at 6:32.

Shortly thereafter, I straightened things out. I was happy with my 10k time of 43:50. Interestingly, my second 5k was a full minute slower than my first. I really felt strong and comfortable at the 10k point.

Then the rain started to really pelt us. I was content with the steady drizzle, but I was not ready for the intensity we felt.

It was as I approached mile 10 that I began to feel the effects of sudden temperature drop. Sounds crazy, but I had fears of hypothermia for a stretch there. I simply could not generate enough heat. Melodramatic, right? I truly became concerned. I felt my head and it was freezing.

I wore an orange singlet for the race. I was regretting it in the middle since I was really cold. However, it was really cool to hear the chants of "Go Orange Shirt Guy!" or "Go Orange Dude!".

My wife and baby girl, Alivia, were planning to meet me after mile 11. With the total downpour, I did not expect to see them there. But they were there. And it was a big lift. We shared quick kisses and I felt rejuvenated as I got back to task.

It was back to business miles 11-17. The rain began to slow. My half split of 1:33:15 on my watch was right where I had hoped to be.

Another strange moment happened at mile 17. My shoelace became untied, which is rare in a race for me. However, re-tying it was harder than normal. My hands were still very cold and I could barely manuever them to tie up the laces. After about 20 seconds, I finally sprung up -- almost too fast, since I felt dizzy all of a sudden. I was able to regain stride and not fall over.

I found new life when I hit mile 20. I was pumped when I broke through "the wall" (a display that had been set up there) knowing that I was right at 2:22 as planned.

This was the beginning of the ascent. Chad, who was out there racing as well, had said these hills were not that bad. I have to agree with him. It is amazing how the elevation chart can create fear. While I did run miles 22 and 23 at 7:25 and 7:21 respectively, it came far easier than I expected.

When I hit the crest of mile 23, I realized that I had enough in the tank to flirt with a PR. I also did not know how substantial the downhills would be. I really started to fly.

I cannot describe the determination I felt when I hit the downhills. I was ready to start pushing pace hard. Knocking out 7:03's for both mile 24 and 25 was thrilling.

And as I approached mile 26, I was on track for my strongest marathon finish ever. I kicked it into overdrive down the hills toward downtown St. Paul. Mile 26 showed a 6:39. Then it was showtime...

I was pumping my fist and waving my arms at the crowd as I cruised to the finish. Pure adrenaline. I was sprinting and flailing like a maniac. I covered the final 1.2 miles of the course in 7:57.

I am quite proud of this performance. It goes to show that even a poor half marathon (e.g. a 1:38 for me 8 weeks ago) shouldn't dash your hopes.

It has taught me that I can overcome a slightly fast start. It also taught me that I can overcome the feeling of despair from the conditions. I also know that I have more room to improve.

I am ready to step change my training and try for sub-3. I have said it before, but now I know what it is going to take. Pfitz 55-mpw has been great, but it does not have enough tempo work. I need to figure out a plan real fast if I plan to go for it in Austin. We are 18 weeks out from next week.

I admit that I am concerned about work-life-run balance. Can I achieve sub-3 and avoid my work and family life from suffering? For now, I will savor this one for a few days. After all, that's 3 BQ's in the bank now. Cool!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

TCM is Here

Greetings from downtown Minneapolis. The weather today was sunny and breezy here today – quite comfortable. I completed a 3-mile easy run earlier that took me to the start line, which is right in front of the Metrodome.

Fans from the Minnesota Golden Golden Gopher game were trickling out of the stadium. There was absolutely no indication that runners and crowds for “America’s most beautiful urban marathon” would be assembling there in the morning. I expect a flurry of activity from organizers later this evening.

We are staying approximately one mile from the start line. The leading x-factor for this race is sleep. I have run twelve marathons to this point. However, this is my first for which I will have my 5 month-old daughter staying in our room with us.

Liv is an absolute angel and a happy marathon goer. However, I am slightly tired today. Last night, Liv woke up several times since we broke her routine. I am praying we can get her back into her routine tonight. I need a good night’s rest.

Mr. Weather Man is saying we may get wet tomorrow. Although it is expected to be in the comfortable low-to-mid 50’s at the start of the race, the clouds are moving toward the city.

I plan to stay calm the first mile and proceed into the target pace range of 7:05-7:08. I hope to be around 2:22 at mile 20, which is where the ascent begins. I will try to hold pace through the climb to 23. Then I will crank it up and hold on for dear life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nine days to Twin Cities

[Drafted Thurs, 9/25/08]

It’s been a solid week and a half since I have posted last. Shortly after my strong 20-miler a week ago Sunday, I encountered a dental issue that caused me some pain and loss of sleep for a few nights. I’ve never suffered migraines before, but I am guessing I know what they feel like now.

So I suffered through a root canal last week and a pretty annoying post-surgical infection, which caused two days of missed work. Note to self: Don’t take Vicadin in mid-afternoon and expect to run or work! So I’m now popping antibiotics 3x per day and back on the running track.

Despite the setback, I hit most of the planned 39 miles last week, although I did have to cut out a 5-mile recovery run on doctor’s orders. I ran a decent 17-miler on Sat, which is one more mile than planned – and a steady 6-miler on Sunday, of which four miles were at tempo pace (6:39). (I have to mention that I went to Wrigley after my 17-miler and saw the Cubbies clinch!)

I am becoming excited about the upcoming TC marathon. Although the mystique of the taper is beginning to weigh on me, I feel comfortable about where I stand.

I should complete this week’s 32 miles as planned without any issue. On Tuesday night, I did mile repeats on the treadmill and hit all three of them at in my target 5k pace range of 6:03-6:07.

I am on a flight back to Chicago now from Baltimore now. I had to push today’s run to tomorrow due to schedule challenges. Starting tomorrow, I look forward to runs of 7 G.A, 5 Recovery and 12 easy on Fri, Sat and Sun respectively to round out my week. Then we enter the final week up until the race.

As always, I will think positively and maintain the confidence that I am in PR shape. Accidentally and perhaps fortunately, my weight has come down the last few days to that magic 167-169 race wt range. We’ll see if it holds for another 9 days. One potential obstacle is a recruiting event that I will attend for my company at Michigan State next week , my alma mater. I know I may want to hit my old favorite food & beer joints right before the race. Willpower!

I will be gunning for a 3:05 in Twin Cities if the conditions hold. Then we’ll talk about how to shave further for Austin in February.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Final 20-miler of cycle - 20 days til TCM

Last night was rough for a strange reason. I'm resigned to the fact that I desperately need a root canal. The pain was substantial enough that I was sleepless most of the night. Dental woes aside, I am determined to put up a PR in the Twin Cities on October 5th.

I have officially entered the three-week taper period for the TCM. This weekend, a significant portion of the country was feeling the effects of Hurricane Ike, as it broke down and made its way north to the Midwest. Chicago was hammered hard with rains over the weekend, which put my Sunday 20-miler in serious doubt.

At about 4pm, I saw the rains subside and decided to have a go at my most important training run of this cycle. I wanted run 7:20's most of the way and finish strong.

As I headed south in my town toward the river, I witnessed flooding all around the downtown Plainfield vicinity. I passed a great number of onlookers who were marveling at the flood damage and the terrible impact it had on a number of houses.

The run went pretty much as planned and I felt reasonably strong. However, I could not have predicted how I would finish.

I absolutely blazed my final three miles at paces that I could not believe. Clearly, the speed work has begun to pay dividends. I banged out a 6:53, 6:40 and 6:18 in miles 18-20. This is a great sign. If I can run 7:15-7:20 solo for 15 and nail the final three with such intensity, I know I can put up 3:05-3:07.

This training cycle has been an interesting one. I tried out the FIRST program - and abandoned it. I have slept less and worked more. I have been a Dad.

I nailed my 50-week plan. I ran an even 150 miles over the past three weeks.

Tonight, with limited food in the house and no desire to grocery shop, we celebrated with Chili’s take-out. Man, did I crush a mushroom & Swiss burger -- AND the fries. And maybe a couple of beers. Now, if I could only get my eating habits under control…

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Counting down to Twin Cities

I read just a moment ago that Lance Armstrong is planning a comeback. He will seek his 8th Tour De France title. Isn't this hugely exciting?

I achieved my goal of hitting 61 miles last week. This was a great week for me. This include the half marathon on Monday, speed work on Wednesday and some solid tempo mileage on Saturday. All was capped off was a steady 18-miler at Waterfall Glen on Sunday at 7:45 avg pace.

I have an even 50 miles planned for this week. I started out with six recovery this morning, which was absolutely glorious by the way. I felt God looking down upon me as the sun slowly rose and peaked through the horizon over the Village of Plainfield, IL.

I have 4x1200m repeats on tomorrow's scheduled run, which is supposed to total 10 miles. I am hoping to pull this off before heading to the airport for a flight to Atlanta.

This coming Sunday's 20-miler is the most critical of the entire training cycle. I need to prove to myself that I am in PR marathon shape. I think I am there. Mentally, I am there, anyway.

I can overcome some mediocre race performances with this strong run. I know I can run a sub 3:07 in Minnesota next month.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Training Update -- Oak Brook Half Marathon

I am still on track for Twin Cities on October 5th. It's been an interesting summer of training. I feel really busy with work and fatherhood. The fact that I am still on track is an accomplishment.

At the last minute on this past Saturday, I decided to enter the Oak Brook Half Marathon, which took place on Labor Day Monday. This caused me to adjust my schedule and sacrifice my planned Sunday 17-miler for Monday's race.

In total, I ran 39 miles last week, with the plan to get up to 60 this week.

On Monday, I arrived at the OB Half in what should have been plenty of time. However, the pre-race organization was poor. There were hundreds of us in line that needed to pick our race packets and then our chips. Organizers clearly did not anticipate such large numbers.

The crowds and disorganization forced the start time back 15 minutes to 7:15. Even this delay was not enough, since there were not enough port-0-cans. I made a concious decision to not start the race without using the can. That would have been a mistake. The guns went off as dozens of us were still in line for the port-a-potty.

I started the race nearly 5 minutes after the gun sounded. I was damn near dead last crossing the start line. This made for a challenging first several miles. Most of the early part of the course was run through a park with paths only maybe 8 feet in width.

I had several stints of slowing down due to being boxed in behind groups. Not to mention the thrusts of acceleration that used whenever openings were there that taxed me. This made pacing and energy conservation tough.

As for my result, if there would have been a prize for passing the most runners, I am pretty confident I would have won it. I finished in 57th place out of 1200 finishers. Yep, I estimate I passed about 1,150 people. Not trying to sound bragadocious, but this made for a challenging race experience.

My finish time of 1:31:09 was not where I would have wanted to be. In consolation, it beat the hell out of my last half marathon! But it just was not feasible to run a PR. Also, I ran 11 miles on Saturday night - and admittedly drank a little too much beer at the neighborhood party afterward and spent much of Sunday in recovery mode, if you catch my drift. Not the best way to prepare for a 1/2 mary.

Today I put in a solid 8-miler at lunch. I plan to knock out a 12-miler with some speed intervals 5x600m tomorrow.

Keeping eye on prize, I will still target that 3:05-3:07 range on Oct 5th. I realize that I didn't put up a half that would line up with that time. It's no matter, because I know when rested and prepared, I am in great long run shape.

My final 20-miler will be my best indicator. That run will be one week from this Sunday. If I can hold pace of 7:05'ish for the majority of that 20-miler, I will feel confident it is a reasonable goal.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Stretch - 6 weeks til TCM

Despite travel back East for work and several team meetings, I had a solid 46-mile week of training this past week. I even got to see Grease on Broadway on Wednesday with "Idol" Taylor Hicks, and help clean up Sheffield Island in Connecticut for charity on Thursday. How's that for a productive week? Tough job I have, right?

Most significantly in my training, I ran a simulated 5-mile race on the treadmill on Saturday and put up a 31:21, which would be a PR at this distance. What's more, it was a negative split of at least 25 seconds. This was tough, but felt great. It validated that I am making solid VO2 max progress, as this lines up with a marathon predictor of 3:04.

With jello-legs from Saturday's hard workout, I fought through 17 yesterday at an "easy" 7:51 average pace. Historically, I have struggled with long runs the day after hard 5-10k races, so I was glad to complete this workout despite my fatigue.

I am feeling reinvigorated. I am confident that if I can nail the next three weeks' workouts that I will be in position to set a PR in Minnesota.

The debate I am having right now is what to do about this weekend's long run. The Pfitz calendar calls for 17 miles with 14 at goal pace. I also have the option to run this local 1/2 marathon on Sunday.

Whad'ya'll think? Is it better to race a half mary to see if I can redeem myself from my recent meltdown? Or is it better to focus on marathon pace mileage on a solo training run?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I cranked out 52 miles this week -- my biggest weekly mileage since the week of March 31st. Most importantly, I hit key runs of 12, 20 and 12 again today on the treadmill -- all with very solid training times in the 7:30-7:40 avg pace range. This range is in the ideal training zone for me of approx 40 secs slow than marathon goal pace.

I realize that infers my new goal pace is around 7:00, which I think is where to set the target at this point. For now, sub-3 will be set aside to Austin in February, for which I may hire an online coach. I need to be realistic seven weeks out in that running a PR would be a success.

As I reflect, it's been a fairly erratic few months of running as compared to my last two summers. When I say erratic, I do not mean my commitment is any less than the last two years, but my progress and results have been tested.

Yes, I am over last week's poor showing at the CDC, which saw me post a time nearly 9-10 minutes slower than each of the last two years. Not to mention the organizers making it harder on me by adding 0.17 miles to the course! Clearly, it was an abberation.

I suppose it's silly to fret in a 2008 that has seen me set six PR's in distances ranging from the 5k to the marathon. I experienced a couple of major life changes: (1) The wonderful blessing of my daughter and (2) Significantly increased responsibility in my career.

The last several weeks were a conscious efforts to re-build the endurance that I felt suffered when my mileage sunk to the low 30's. I've made great progress in this area. Now, my plan is get re-focused on hitting some speed and tempo mileage in the coming weeks.

I've got to travel back to Connecticut for work this week for three whole days. It does not stop my training, but it does create the need for some creative scheduling. Especially this week since there are a couple of work events in the evening.

I am feeling a sense of renewal. I am building some awesome momentum right now. I've identified a few local races over the course of the next several weeks that I may use to build up to a new marathon PR in Minnesota on October 5th, 2008.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mounting a Comeback

First, here is some strange news. Apparently, the Chicago Distance Classic course was too long. Race Director and Runner's World columnist extraordinairre John "the Penguin" Bingham 'fessed up that there was a measurement error in the 2008 course.

The course was 0.17 miles too long, as a result of the turning point was set out too far. This explains my 8:39 seventh mile. So maybe I ran a 1:37. Still 9 minutes behind where I think my conditioning is.

Second, something just wasn't right with me physically during the CDC. I mean I kill a 16 mile run at 7:10 average through the hills of Pittsburgh and I crash and burn on a half mary? I had flu-like symptoms all-day after the race and major bouts of fatigue. I've officially put in behind me.

I'm proud to report that I am mounting a monster comeback. I am still determined that I am capable of PR'ing in Twin Cities on October 5th.

After a easy recovery 4-miler on Tuesday night, I put up a strong 12 mile run on Wednesday morning.

More significantly, today, I killed a strong 20-miler and was in the office by 8:45 AM. That's right, 20-large on a early Friday morning to start the workday. Average pace was 7:34 with a final strong couple of miles. This was a HUGE lift.

I will reflect on the adversity from the CDC and proclaim these next 7 weeks as a monster comeback when I put up a PR in TCM. I am focused and determined.

These times are what make running such a great confidence builder and a positive life tool. Dealing with my running challenges, which actually can be invigorating, make my work issues seem easy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

CDC Disaster

So, where do I even begin?

On Saturday, I felt only what I could describe as a deep fatigue. I was in bed multiple times on Saturday trying to catch naps. I can't explain it. I didn't want to do anything. We went to lunch at Panera and that was it. No chores. I didn't feel like mowing the lawn. I even found myself looking up mononucleosis on to see if that was a possibility.

I felt fine enough early Sunday morning. I drove down with a neighbor friend who was also running the race. The weather was truly perfect, which makes this story all the more frustrating.

The race start was jam packed. The first mile was a dodge 'em. No seeding meant slow people all over the front of the corral.

I ran 6:50's for the first four miles. However, all along, something just didn't feel right. I just felt zapped.

When I saw 7:08 on the 5th mile, I knew I was going to struggle mightily. I did not know I would barely be able to hold 8's toward the end of the race.

Although I somehow managed a 6:50 mile 6, I felt my body want to slow. Inexplicably, the 7th mile showed 8:39. I'm not sure how this happened, but that's what my watch said. I was exhausted. I just didn't have energy, it seemed. How I could I feel so tired on such a cool morning?

I rested on Saturday. I ran an easy six recovery pace on Friday. And I rested on Thursday prior to that. I should have been ready to go, right?

The rest of the way was a disappointing mix of miles in the 7:45-8:00 range, including a couple of walks at water stops. I couldn't race. I was spent. What had happened? Was I sick?

It was one of the most humbling experiences I have had in a long time. I wanted to quit mid-way, to be honest.

The point of a race is to give your best. For whatever reason, my body was unable to allow me to give my best on Sunday. End of story.

I've been considered a "glass half full" kind of guy, but I am struggling to come up with positives on this one. Some days are better than others. And some days you shouldn't even get out of bed.

When I finally crossed, my watch said 1:38:35. Worse yet, the results posted later showed me at 1:39+. Go figure - even my watch was slow on this day. It doesn't matter.

I spent more time on the couch in the evening on Sunday. I went to bed early hoping I would feel better and regain some energy.

I don't have much more to say about this disappointing day. I need to put it behind me.

It does not matter what happened yesterday. What matters is how I respond. I need to figure out how to get rested up and recovered. Then I will decide how I will bounce back.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Progress and Prep for the CDC

This past weekend, we visited my in-laws in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, my daughter, Alivia, was baptized.

Last week's mileage total was moderately light at 38 miles. However, it included a sweet 16-mile run on Saturday in the 'Burgh. I met up with my good friends, Aaron and Steve, to run the Peters Township trail.

I wanted to get in some pace miles, as is scheduled at this point with the Pfitz plan. For now, I decided a reasonable goal marathon pace for which to strive is in the 7:00-7:05 range.

The Peters trail has a steady grade for much of the trail in one direction. So you'll see slower miles in the front - and faster miles on the return. There was an add-on out-and-back leg in the middle that also had some relatively steady descent/ascent. This was a very good run, with an overall avg pace of 7:11. Great stuff given the humidity and all the hills.

For this week, I will be again slightly light in mileage to ease up for my race. I will be running the Chicago Distance Classic on Sunday for the third year in a row. It is the most popular half marathon to prep for the Chicago Marathon. I hope another PR is in the making.

Did I do enough tempo work to finally achieve sub-1:28? Or even sub-1:29? It largely will depend on the weather. Last year was brutally hot, but the forecast looks good at this point.

Tonight, I banged out a really solid 11.5 miler after work at 5:30 PM. I felt pretty strong and avg'd 7:29, with a really strong finish. It's always nice to nail double-digit milers mid-week. It was good thing I hit it this evening, too, because I was upset with myself for missing out on a perfect morning of weather to run.

I will now mostly rest and do some light recovery mileage before the race on Sunday.

8.5 weeks until Twin Cities...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back on Track - 50 mile week

It's Monday night here in my hotel room in Connecticut. I have yet another few days planned at the head office this week.

I had a great week coming back to the Pfitz plan, even if I am still slightly below the mileage right now. The TCM is 10 weeks from yesterday. I nailed 50 miles this week - the first time I have had a 50-mile week since the week of April 21st.

Recap of this past week

Mon - Rest
Tue - 6 miles recovery 8:42 pace
Wed - 11 miles general aerobic - 7:39 avg pace
Thu - Rest
Fri - 9 miles w/5 miles at 6:36 pace (tempo)
Sat - 4 miles - recovery 8:40 pace on treadmill
Sun - 20 miles - 7:37 avg pace

Total: 50 miles

I stepped up my mileage substantially compared to where it was the two weeks ago.

I had a very successful 20 mile run yesterday that I finished reasonably strong. Paces were reasonably consistent and my fastest mile was my 20th - a 7:25. Avg pace over the entire run was 7:37.

OK, I'm not where I was last Sep when I crushed 20 at 7:07 pace on a solo training run. However, it's still early days. I have two more 20-milers before TCM.

I went into this summer again focused on targeting that elusive 2:59. I've not given up on that. (Perhaps I never will). However, the CDC 1/2 Marathon is in less than 2 weeks and will give guidance on what is realistic.

I know I can set a major PR in TCM if I work hard. However, I do not want to over-work and miss out on my parenting time. It's a sensitive period in my life. Career is flying high. Running is peaking. And we have a new family.

This week will require a minor stepback. Once I get back to Chicago on Wed, we will head to Pittsburgh on Friday for Alivia's Christening. I am anticipating a 43-mile week with an important pace run on Saturday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


My running has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride since my last post. I ran that 5k a week ago Thursday, which went OK, I suppose. In retrospect, maybe I wasn't as fast as I thought.

I attempted a solo 20-miler last Saturday morning, hoping I was recovered from the race. Apparently, I wasn't.

Due to some wicked storms in the area, I started off on the treadmill that morning. I knocked out 10 at an easy 7:53 pace. The only problem was that it didn't feel as easy as it should have. I cut it at 10 since I saw the rain stop, and I headed home to continue my run.

By mile 14, I could barely keep my pace in the low 8's. My body was spent. I decided to cut it to 16 miles and go back to the drawing board last Saturday. I needed rest.

Sure, the impact of the 5k from Thurs night played a factor. However, I felt my endurance has suffered due to the very low mileage the FIRST program called.

I was exasperated. This is when I gave up on the FIRST Program. I wanted to get back to putting in some decent mileage.

I hope I can retain some of the gains from the speed/tempo work. However, the fact is that these intense FIRST workouts left me with nothing for the Sat long run, and I was not building confidence for the long run either.

This past week, I made a risky transition back onto Pfitz's 55 mpw plan, which has been tried and true. I find that what has helped me is that crucial med-long run mid-week. The 10's, 11's and 12's that Pfitz works in.

As of last Sunday, bear in mind that I have averaged a paltry 31 miles per week over the last six weeks.

This past week, I banged out 47 miles (out of the 50 in plan) on 4 runs -- capped off by a 19-miler today at the Waterfall Glen trail. This week also included a solid 5-mile tempo run on Monday, as well as a breathtaking 7-mile 7:26 avg fartlek along the coast of Lake Michigan in Western Michigan, where we vacationed this past weekend.

I won't claim today's 19 miles was easy. In fact, I felt fatigue early on but completed the run in 7:50's. But this week felt like a step back toward the marathon training that I know works for me.

I get frustrated when I think back to last year knowing I was completing these runs with far greater ease. I somehow am not as far along in my training.

I have gone back to the drawing board. I am in the process of resurrecting my running. I will take aim at putting up my best possible time in Twin Cities on October 5th.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bittersweet 5k PR - 2008 Joliet Sundowners

Deja. Flippin'. Vu. That's how I felt about last night's 5k.

Yes, I won my age group again as I did last year. Yes, I set a PR by a whopping 2 seconds. However, I did not make the progress (i.e. run sub-19) I had hoped.

6:34 -- say what the #&$@!?

I was shocked when I saw my split as I approached mile 3. Sure, it was tough, and maybe I slipped slightly off pace. But no way did I feel like I slipped off pace by 30+ whole seconds. Same thing happened last year. Here my splits from last year's race.


I asked around and many runners had the same experience -- a strangely slow 3rd mile. For this reason, call me crazy, but I am convinced the course's mile markers are off. Are they off and the total distance is right? Or is the course long? I am not sure.

As a whole, my training with FIRST is progressing (at least, so I thought).

  • Last week's 17 miler was my best long run in several weeks at 7:30 avg pace.
  • I am hitting all the tempo runs at the pace prescribed by the FIRST plan for a 2:59 workout. This week I nailed a 4-mile 6:28 tempo pace workout at very nearly even splits.
  • I am only slightly off by a few seconds from hitting the targets on the speed intervals (typically ranging in the mid 5:00's for pace)
The above reasons are why I thought I was in decent shape to break 19 last night. Oh well. Still got burgers, hot dogs and a bunch free beer after the race - sweet! Here is a pic of me and Liv posing with my 1st place AG trophy (yes, it is the Dick Pond's hat).

I may do the Viking Sunset 5k at the end of the month. Maybe this will tell me if the Joliet course is long or that I am just not able to hold the third mile of a 5k.

No time to worry about that now. Time to get to bed early for a very early solo 20-miler tomorrow. I am going to experiment with Waterfall Glen. Can you believe I've lived in the Chicago area for 2+ years and never run it? I hope to beat the heat at 6AM on the shaded path.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Still Running Strong - Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day. You may have noticed that my frequency of posting has slowed. Don't worry, I have not stopped running.

Parenthood has happened. If I am not at work, I need to be there for my wife and daughter. Add in some travel, which was two days last week and three days this upcoming week.

Work is more challenging than ever with managing a team of seven. I also need to find the time to train. It's all I can do to keep up with the with my work and family.

I am continuing to follow the FIRST Training Plan. I am on track this week. Last night, I completed a 7 mile treadmill run, which included the middle 5 miles at 6:44 pace, which is considered my "long tempo pace" in my FIRST plan.

Earlier in the week, I had a really challenging speed workout that was comprised of 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m intervals - with 200m slow jog rest intervals. I ran all of these very close to the recommended pace range of 5:40-5:20, which is where I need to be for the 2:59 marathon, says our FIRST authors.

I do think my VO2 max and lactate threshold are improving. However, I am still concerned about the loss of my endurance. My 15 miler in 7:40's last week again was a struggle, which may have been driven by the 90% humidity.

Nevertheless, when I was doing 45-55 miles/week, I had no problem knocking out 15-17 milers on the weekend. However, those weeks included a lot of easy miles vs. my current approach is to run fewer, but much harder miles.

I think the high intensity VO2's/LT workouts during the week are draining me as I approach my Saturday long runs.

This Saturday, I plan to run with a group, which is something I have not been doing at all.

I signed up for the 2008 running of this local 5k race, which is set for next Thursday. I really hope this year I can break below that 19-minute barrier for this 5k. My speed work says I am there. I hope I can repeat as the Men's 30-34 winner.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Downers Grove 10-miler - PR Streak Restarted!

My daughter Liv came out to see her Dad race for the second time ever. She had far higher expectations for Dad on this 10-mile race vs. the Soldier Field 10M last month, where I cramped up badly and crawled in at 1:10.

This is the third year I've run the DG 10-miler and I really look forward to it. I love Downers Grove. The race volunteers and citizens are so friendly. I really would consider moving to this beautiful Chicago suburb, which is about 20 miles NW of where we live today. The sprawling trees, the ornate classic homes and the rolling hills all add up to true Americana.

Along with Liv was my wife and my mom who has been visiting us from Utah. It was a real family affair today. We had some unexpected car trouble on the way to the race. Luckily, we made it to DG, but I knew there may be an issue to deal with when I finished.

The race offers 5 and 10-mile distances; the latter of which is simply two loops through the town. I ran this course last year in 1:07:45, and 1:11:52 in 2006.

My goal this year was to break 1:07, knowing that I need to start showing some progress to inch down toward sub-3 marathon conditioning. I planned to target 6:40's, which would get me in at 1:06:40.

I was hoping my FIRST speed training would help me improve slightly over the past few weeks - not knowing if my endurance was there. I am pleased to say my final two miles felt very strong. My final mile was a 6:28, my fastest of the day.

First half: 33:14
Second half: 33:36
Finish time: 1:06:40 (6:40/mile) - Goal time exactly achieved. New 10M PR by 1:05.

The race director announced a glitch with the timing machine and the results would be delayed. She said she would mail all medals to the age group winners. Little did I know I placed third and will be getting one!

OK, so I need to be able to run a 1:04 10M race to be in sub-3 shape. But today was progress. I have 15 weeks to the TCM.

After the race, our car began to overheat again. There is a problem in the thermostat in the engine. We got it to a service station and waited several hours, hoping for a quick fix. We were able to enjoy a fat lunch at Fuddrucker's while waiting, but no luck on the repair. They couldn't get the part they needed today.

Our car waits to be repaired in Downers Grove at this very moment. The four of us taxied home in a cab driven by an older, far more ornary version of "the Dude" featured in the film, the Big Lebowski.

Upon my request that he remove the piles of newspaper, cigar wrappers, coffee trash and other debris from the passenger seat, our faithful driver replied: "I know, dude, but your're going to have to a minute!" What a prick.
See you again next year at the DG 10-miler.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Digging in my heels

Interesting how yesterday, on what was supposed to be my first day of the FIRST training program, I already deviated from plan. Instead of getting on the bike, I decided I wanted to run an easy five.

For the last couple weeks, I "pre-trained" on the FIRST model before truly beginning the 16-week program this week. I started to question my plan on Sunday even before I really even began.

Why? My last two long runs have seen me fizzle toward the end. I can barely get through these FIRST-specified speed workouts - even if I do cut pace. Maybe the speed+bike workouts of last week took more of a toll that I thought?

Part of me feels like my struggle to finish my long runs have been partly due to letting my mileage slip. How is it possible that I would struggle on the final 2 miles two consecutive weeks on 16 and 18 milers when I ran a pretty decent marathon on May 18?

Maybe I didn't recover all the way from Green Bay. It's a possibility.

So, yesterday, I wanted to run -- even if they were "garbage" miles, it sure beat sitting on a bike in a stuffy gym.

I remember a short several weeks ago how I would breeze through Pfitizinger's program, knocking out 50-55 miles in a week without missing a beat.

I must mention that life pressures, namely work and fatherhood, are having an impact. With recent increased responsibility at my job, I have to work harder, longer than I used to. I am not sleeping as well right now with our baby. My diet feels like it is harder to control right now.

I want to run more. The med-long runs in the Pfitz program typically gave me the confidence to crush the long runs on the weekend.

I think I will stick to plan and a evaluate in a few weeks. I hope I can feel better about my running. Right now it just feels like I am moving in the wrong direction.

I have a 10-mile race on Sunday, and I do not know what to expect of myself.

Life changes constantly and I need to adjust. Time to keep faith, have patience and continue to work hard.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Unveiling my "FIRST" TCM Plan

I am anxious and to unveil my 16-week training program for the Twin Cities Marathon, which has been borrowed from the bright folks over at FIRST (see below image). My plan is set to begin on June 16th, so one more week of preparing.

I've read the FIRST book and all the testimonials. What's more, my friend Steve keeps selling me on the principles of specificity - and I refuse to argue with his 2:51 in Boston, and his continued progress since with the low mileage+high intensity formula.

I am ready to be amazed as I strive for the elusive sub-3 again this year. I am scared to death of some of these track workouts scheduled for Tuesdays this summer.

Another concern is my diet. My weight is typically anywhere from 168 to 174 lbs. I really want to try to get down to a race weight of 165 lbs, which should improve my chances for sub-3.

I eat a ton. It feels like it, anway. This is not too mention all those empty beer calories and my hankering for ice cream toward the end of any given day. I went out shopping today and bought a ton of healthy fruits and vegetables. I am eating much better these days, but the weekends truly test my willpower.

I started pre-training with the FIRST model this week with a cross-training workout on Tuesday. Maybe my first step towards tri'ing?

I capped off the week with an early Saturday 16-miler at the I&M Canal Trail, during which I ran pretty consistent 7:36's (GMP+45 sec). This made for a paltry 27 miles for the week, which included a couple of shoddy speed and tempo workouts.

The final two miles were tough and I felt quite dehydrated. I've got a million miles to go to sub-3 shape, it seems - despite running a 3:12 only three weeks ago. However, I know the humidity was a major factor.

My streak is alive. I was denied entry into NYC. That makes "0-fer-2" on lotteries this year.

On a bright note, I'll be marathoning in Texas in 2009. I just made arrangements to head to Austin in February for a family/marathon visit.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Contemplating the TCM Plan

Today is June 1st, 2008. And I'm torn.

The TCM is 18 weeks from today. I'm still a little fuzzy on how I will devise my plan.

Initially, I was committed to the Pfitz 70-mpw plan. But I am rethinking that idea.

I've since come to terms with the unpredictability of being a supportive father of a 4-week old daughter -- as well as a compassionate, committed husband to a new mother who needs help. Right now, I can't just drop everything and run 70 miles a week when I want.

I also have been reading about the FIRST Program and am debating if I will follow some variant of it. Maybe I run four days a week and really focus on nailing the three quality runs.

On the bright side, I knocked out a solid 14-miler that I started at 6:30 AM today. It was a good step toward figuring out my plan.

I ran 30 miles this week, which included three days in Connecticut. I finally think I am ready to ramp up a bit since the GB Marathon.

In addition to my long runs, I plan to do a tempo and track workout each of the next three weeks before the DG 10-miler on June 22.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Soldier Field 10M --> FIRST Training?

Last week, I stated that I would not run a step until yesterday’s Soldier Field 10-miler. I was able to hold out until Friday morning. I decided an easy two-miler would be good to get my legs going again since last Sunday’s marathon.

Prior to those two miles, I spent my free time recovering, kid-sitting, planning and researching. I finally started to read about the FIRST Training Method that my good friend, Steve, now swears by after his phenomenal 2:51 in Boston, a six-minute PR for him.

FIRST recommends a "3+2" weekly training schedule: three high-quality runs and two x-train sessions. The theory is that focusing on pace intensity and race specificity, and allowing the body to recover will enable the busy runner more effectively his achieve his running potential. The plan weeds out all the junk miles and reduces injury risk.

Three runs per week: (1) Track repeats (VO2 max), (2) Tempo/LT and (3) Long runs. Toss in a couple of bike, row or swim work-outs, and that's it. I do like the fact that the program includes five 20-milers over the 16-week program, which is two more than Pfitz's 55mpw 18-week plan.

The plan worked wonders for Steve, who came off knee surgery last year only to nearly beat Lance in Boston this year. Should I give it a try?

As for yesterday’s race, I kept my expectations for my time in check. I never had run a race of any kind six days after a marathon. I decided to see if I could hold 6:45'ish, which would put me on track for a PR at this distance and see how things went.

Race morning conditions were absolutely glorious. Gathering in front of Soldier field at the start with 7,500 runners was exciting and entertaining experience.

All went well for the first seven, at which point I thought I would try to get that PR. However, shortly after taking a gatorade at the 7th mile marker, I was struck with a violent side stitch. That discomfort coupled with some breathing issues brought me to walk.

I mustered a 6:59 final mile, which was strong given how I felt on mile 8. Finish time was 1:10:05, which is 2:23 behind my PR.

6:39 + 6:42 + 6:49 + 6:56 + 6:47 + 6:48 + 6:55 + 7:43 + 7:49 + 6:59 = 1:10:05.

It was Liv’s first race spectator experience. She did great! Here we are celebrating in the Soldier Field concourse after the run.

I’ve decided to rethink my plan of running one of the few half marathons in early June and get back to training. I don’t feel like putting up another 1:28-1:29 right now, which is probably where I’ll land best-case. It’s time to get back to work and try to make some gains.

Next race is likely to be the Downer's Grove 10-miler four weeks from today. I want to work toward putting up a 1:06. I need to work toward a 1:25 half in August.

Will I be able to run a 1:25 half this summer and a 2:59 at Twin Cities in October on three runs per week?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

GB Marathon - Favre wouldn't fade in the 4th quarter like this!

I successfully completed my twelfth marathon today in Green Bay, WI. In the end, it was my third fastest time. I take pride in finishing strong in all of my races when I can. Unfortunately, I suffered a classic marathon fade today. Nevertheless, it was a solid effort and a positive race experience.

First Half: 1:33:45 – Second Half: 1:38:15
Finish Time: 3:12:00 – Positive Split: 4:30 (Ouch!)

See all the splits below.

The weather today was very favorable. Temps were in the mid-40’s at the start. The winds would become somewhat of a factor later in the race.

First half of the race was pretty strong. I felt very good and I thought I was on track toward another near-PR performance.

In fact, if you check out the race plan I posted yesterday, I came in through the ½ point exactly on the money at 1:33:45 to the second, as planned! How’s that for race execution? It would not matter in the end, however.

The backslide really began at mile 17 when we hit the bridge across the Fox River. Although the winds running along the Fox River were very challenging from miles 17 to 23, I know the winds are not the reason I faded. It merely was the tipping point. I simply could not hold on for the life of me.

Once we hit the path along the river heading back to GB, the best I could muster were 7:20-25’s. It was extremely frustrating. Then the doubt set in and things started to slip even further.

The mile markers disappeared after 23, which was the lone organizer faux pas of this race. Had I not had a BQ in the bank this year, I would have been really upset since I didn’t know where I was.

My final 3.2 miles would be comprised of avg pace of 7:55. This included a jog around Lambeau among the aura of the historic greatness of many NFL champions.

Bottom line: I simply was not in 3:07 shape today. As I feared, I think the zany schedule and the lack of tempos caught up with me. My training was too imperfect for me to keep the PR streak alive.

I also made zero stops to the porta-cans, so I cannot even blame that for a second half meltdown. Wait, the excuse monkey wants to say: "Hey, you just did have a baby 2.5 weeks ago, which obviously messed up your sleep and taper for this one!"

It’s all good. I am very proud to have run another marathon, put up a very respectable time and add yet another state to my repertoire. So my P.R. streak is officially snapped at FOUR: A marathon, a ½ marathon, a 8k and a 10k from Feb through April.

I would like to think I made little Alivia proud, as I thought about her a lot during my 28-hour journey away from home.

Race Evaluation

Green Bay put on an extremely well-run and and enjoyable marathon. I recommend this race to anyone who wants a medium-sized field in a small, but well-known city and the experience of running into to an NFL stadium. What’s more, the course was decent and really pretty flat.

I was able to score a last minute local GB hotel by calling around yesterday morn. They had shuttles running to the start and the gear check was well handled. There was even a free pasta party included to race entrants inside the Lambeau on Sat eve. Running into legendary Lambeau on your 26th mile = priceless! Summary: Very good race - and only $85!

Come to think of it, I have finished marathons in two NFL stadiums now; the first being Heinz Field in Pittsburgh back in 2002 and 2003.

Up next, I will run into Soldier Field for the popular 10-mile run here this weekend, which will make THREE NFL stadiums covered. Pretty cool, huh?

Editor's Note: Ryan will not run a step before the Soldier Field 10-mile race on Saturday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Marathoning Through the Hall of Favre

Green Bay is here. Tomorrow. As I reviewed my training over the past several weeks, it dawned on me what perhaps may have been missing: Lactate Threshold training.

I really have not had any solid tempo runs in several weeks. I recall a run over the Christmas break where I completed 7 miles solidly at 6:40 pace. I think it was one of the key workouts that gave me the confidence to run a 3:07 in Columbus (not to mention that it prepared me for the numbing repetition of a LCFB Marathon course that is 1 mile x 26.2 laps).

The point is I do not have a similar run in recent memory at that 15k-1/2 mary pace. My last half mary was on March 14, which was a 1:29. With the taper for Boston, and ultimate decision to bow out of Boston, I hopped back on Pfitzinger’s program.

Pfitz places most of the LT work up until the final 3-4 weeks, so LT was not scheduled in recent weeks. While I’ve had a handful of decent speed workouts at 5k pace (e.g. 600m, 1200m and mile repeats), tempos are lacking.

So this training cycle has been a bit screwy. The long run is what matters most, right? I am banking on that 21-miler just a few weeks back, in which I finished the final 3 miles at 6:50 pace. That one left me spent, I will say. I also have a 31:20 8k on March 30, which I suppose is a good indicator of VO2 max. I also have a 10k PR on April 20, though it was a little slower than anticipated.

What does this mean for my race strategy? Assuming manageable weather, I am going to try to flirt with my PR and break if I can. However, I do not anticipate an earth-shattering PR, as I am not trained up for one. Any PR would be a celebration!

Weather outlook is has turned somewhat sour. Potential high winds, slightly cold and likely very wet.

Current PR: 3:07:46 – 2/17/08
GB Race Goal: 3:06:59 – with a negative split of 30+ seconds.
Goal is to come through the ½ at 1:33:45.
No bathroom breaks, please!

Regardless of my finishing time, I look forward throwing up a Favre-like fist pump as I blast a strong final mile into Lambeau.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shunned by St. George -- Here I come TCM!

Did I mention I am running Green Bay next Sunday? Should I wear my Detroit Lions jersey for when I run into Lambeau?

I suppose taper is going OK. It's a weird taper, since I was tapered for Boston, then bailed for my daughter's birth. I then ramped up quickly (to the extent I could) and tapered again. Not to mention having a 8-day old daughter throws some curves into the schedule. Let's call Green Bay somewhat of an experiment.

The news of the day was that I am apparently not so lucky when it comes to marathon lotteries. It appears that I am an official "loser" of the St. George lottery, despite having a 71.4% chance to gain entry and two tax-paying parent-residents. Maybe I'll have better luck for NYC?

The back story is that my parents are retired in St. George and we had a family outing planned with our new baby centered around the marathon. We'll postpone our visit by two weeks for Plan B.

I decided Plan B is to enter Twin Cities, which is the same weekend as St. George. I am officially registered as of this morning. My only hesitation with Twin Cities was the elevation chart that tells me miles 20-23 are a steeper climb than Heartbreak. I suppose it's a minor obstacle for my first sub-3, but I am going for it anyway. I welcome your thoughts if you have run TCM.

I am set to run Green Bay next week, recover for a couple of weeks, and start the 18-week 70mpw Pfitz program for TCM on June 2nd.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tapering and Parenting

I have felt extremely busy since Alivia's birth - that is until today when a power failure gripped our village for about 5 hours. At least we were able to go to our first pediatrician visit during this time.

I have not been to work since I left the office on Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM to go to the hospital. In addition to holding my girl, I have been working on the yard and trying to support Jen when I can with the baby.

Despite my daughter's birth on Tuesday, I managed to hit all 39 scheduled miles in taper week #1.

On Saturday, I did some hard speed work. Then I did a 16-miler yesterday, in which the last two miles I felt myself crashing.

Once again, long runs after speed work tend to be a challenge for me. I did not run with anywhere near the intensity of last week's 21-miler. I think the poor diet and lack of sleep I have had over the past week may be a contributing factor.

For now, I will throw my hat in the Green Bay ring this week and see what happens. Maybe some Yasso's on Wed after a recovery run tomorrow. That'll build some confidence, won't it?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I am a Daddy!

I am delighted to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter to the running world:

Alivia Paige
Born April 29, 2008 at 6:52 PM CDT
7 lbs - 8 oz
21 inches long

Liv and Mom just arrived home from the hospital today. Though just celebrating her 2-day anniversary into the world, she has long, athletic running legs.

Her dad is hopeful that he can talk her into joining him for his 50th marathon in 50 states in circa the year 2026. Until then, we'll get her trained up for the baby jogger over the next year.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Baby, where are you as I plan for Green Bay?

Jen asked, so I will report that I am not a father yet. :( All of this waiting, putting life on hold... UGH. Not traveling for marathons or work. I suppose it's all part of the experience, right?

I caved and bought my 2nd Forerunner 305. I tried everything to reset the old one and it wouldn't take. It frustrates me that I got only 19 months of life on the first one, but it was still worth it. And blowing $400 on a 405 didn't suit my fancy.

So I broke out the "new" Garmin and saddled up for a 21-miler today. This after 29 miles earlier in the week, including a nice 4x1200 workout on Wed.

This 21-mile run was important since Green Bay is three weeks off, and I wanted to build some confidence that I am in decent shape to at least have a crack at a PR.

It was a strange week of running, in that I have found it slightly more difficult to get my mileage up into the 50's as I did in the winter. I am not sure if I am recovering as rapidly from some of these runs. I nearly bonked during my 10-miler on Friday. These 8k and 10k races seem to drain me for a couple of days after.

So today's run was a success. Based on this run, which was a 7:20 pace and a strong final push, I suppose I am am prepared to submit my entry to the Green Bay Marathon. I have to admit, however, I was feeling pretty much spent when I was done. I didn't leave much left in the tank. I guess when I average 6:50 for miles 19-21, that's to be expected.

Chalk up 50 for the week. I now begin another taper period - and wait, wait, wait for our little angel to arrive.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cheering Boston from a Distance

So I was not in Hopkinton today. I was at my desk in Plainfield, Illinois. And our little bundle of joy has not arrived yet. Damn. I think I would have been landing just around now in Chicago back from Boston. Oh well, I know I made the right choice.

I had mixed emotions as I began obsessively tracking individual times on the website today.

I am inspired by some of the performances I saw through the splits on the computer screen, which I know tell very little of the Boston experience for my running friends.

For example, I was inspired by my friend Steve (who basically gave up on his blog), who came just short of his 2:49:59 goal by about 90 seconds - only to see Lance Armstrong gallup in a scant 34 seconds ahead of him. I "watched" a handful of others I know personally and through blogland on the race site. My heart was racing as I hit that refresh button every minute.

Congratulations to all of you that I tracked through Boston today. You know who you are: Jen, John K, Wayne, Chad and many others who I'm probably forgetting - or don't blog. I'll see you in Beantown next year - maybe with wife and baby in tow.

On Saturday, I came in 4th overall and won my age group at a local 10k race. I was quite upset I didn't break under 40 min and couldn't understand why my splits felt slow.

The course was a bit zaney with a lot of repeat loops and several hills in a local park. There were volunteers pointing directions at multiple turns and I am only guessing I went the right way.

Finally, the race director was forthcoming at the end and announced he think most of us ran long due to confusion on the race course on where to make certain turns. Oh well, it was a first time small race and at least I got a medal and a good workout. I guess it is a PR still, since my best race 10k recorded was a 41:52. So my 2008 P.R. streak is alive.

On an even more depressing note, my Forerunner 305 completely died during yesterday's 18 mile run. I must confess I'm a bit disappointed. It's not even two years old and it completely crashed. I cannot even revive it.

The new 405 is being released this month and is $399 with the HRM. Ouch. I can replace my 305 for $202 right now. Half the price. I think I will re-buy the 305. $400 is a lot on a technology gadget that has not been released and is still unproven.

Time to focus on Green Bay on May 18th - and get my wife to eat some spicy food to get this kid into the world!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A New Beginning

I am now making it official. I am bowing out of Boston. I am simply unable to risk missing the birth of my first child to travel.

Actually, it's one of the best reasons in the world that I can imagine to miss heading to Boston. Can anyone think of a better reason? I think not.

I look forward to the time when I will tell the story to my daughter on how I was trained up for a sub-3 and how I sacrificed it all for her. OK, so that's slightly a stretch, but I am thinking 3:05 at least, right?

Jen is experiencing the occasional mild contraction and, as of this evening, is 2cm dialated. This means she could go tonight... or three weeks from now. It's like the weather, I guess.

I cannot put into words how wonderful my life is right now. I have a awesome wife, a wonderful home, a great career that intellectually challenges me and pays the bills - and my running which ties it all together for me. Now, enter our little beautiful miracle, which makes life even that much more unimaginably, undeservedly charmed.

Sure, it would have been nice to go to Boston and then have the baby. But that's OK. There is always next year. On the bright side, I look forward to bringing my little angel to Hopkinton next year to cheer me on at the start and greet me with special daddy kisses at the finish downtown.

For now, I will plan to run this 10k on Saturday in Aurora, IL -- assuming we do not head to the hospital by then. I will also adjust my training toward the Green Bay Marathon on May 18th.

I read the first couple chapters of The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life last night. Amby Burfoot talks about the beauty of new beginnings as one of the wonderful gifts that running offers to us.

He's spot on. That starting line is new every single day, and some are more significant than others. This is one my very significant, new beginnings. I am so proud and fortunate to be at this place.

And I am still planning to run that sub-3 at St. George in October, with my parents, wife and baby girl rooting me on. Sweet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bracing for a Boston-less baby bash!

Today is Monday, April 14, 2008. I am t-minus who knows what from becoming a father.

I put in an unusually paltry 35 miles this past week. 35 miles doesn't seem like a lot in a week relative to my usual weeks.

However, one must bear in mind that I had a very busy week of travel, meetings -- and even attended an event in support of this honorable charity at a Times Square hotel where this ground-breaking, media mogul spoke a few words. I'm quick to self-criticize lest I forget I banged out runs of 20 and 16 last week.

All of this low mileage was planned, mind you even further, since, technically speaking, I am in taper. Yes, I am registered for the granddaddy of all marathons which is to be run exactly one week from today.

In the spirit of reality checking, I do not think I will be boarding my flight toward New England this weekend. It's a hard pill to swallow - with a killer PR set back in February and some steady running ever since.

We must all consider that there is a larger and more life-altering experience in the making - to which virtually all child-bearing women in the world would boast with disgust: "How could you even think of boarding that plane on Saturday?!" We're still two weeks out from the due date come this weekend, but there's no consolation to be found anywhere if I lose this gamble.

I've laid out a "Plan B" (i.e. for BABY!) for when I officially come to terms with canceling my trip to Boston, which is currently set for Saturday. Again, I've not made this call - but I am slowly realising (yes, English spelling intended) that this will be the honorable, wise and ultimately "right" choice.

With Boston 2008 dreams dashed, and a new found and far more impactful miracle about to enter my life, my next challenge might be to enter this marathon, which will invite the new challenges of sleep deprivation and a new, far more meaningful inspiration for my next PR.

On another exciting note, if I "win" two marathon lotteries this year (which bring about as much wealth as ... ?), I could potentially be 20% complete with the 50 in 50 challange. Only 40 to go at age 33? NO PROBLEM!