Tag Archives: runner

Inspiring Australian Couple runs 365 Marathons in a Year

A good friend of mine forwarded this on to me, and I couldn’t help but be inspired beyond belief.

A couple in their 60’s started on New Year’s Day 2013 from Melbourne, Australia, and ran a marathon distance every single day. They finished their coastal circuit of Australia earlier today, one year from when they left out.

And if that wasn’t enough to be impressed about, both have been diagnosed with cancer, and are fighting it off through lifestyle changes and exercise.

And if that wasn’t enough to be impressed about, they have done this on a raw, vegan diet.

Wow. Just wow.

Watch the interview and read the write up for yourself, and may your 2014 be inspired.

2013 Kris Kringle 5 miler

This has been my last race of the year for 2 years now. I’m kind of fond of it, despite how much this race tends to suck. Last year, this was my first time doing a 5 mile distance. I had only done 5K’s up until then. And for the 2012 race, it snowed quite a bit the day before the race, and much of the Kringle was run on a snow-packed trail. I thought 2012 sucked.

That was until the 2013 race. This year, instead of snow, we were graced with just-slightly-above freezing temperatures and a steady, soaking rain. Runners are a stalwart lot, however, and the crowd seemed undaunted.

Just a tad less than 600 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

Just a tad less than 500 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

I’m not one to complain. I learned during my years in the U.S. Air Force that people are waterproof. But I really, really dislike being wet. Just a preference thing. I bundled up as best I could.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

When the race started just after 11am, it was 38 degrees Farenheit ( a tad over 3 degrees Celsius) and the rain was coming down light but steady. Just enough to get everything nice and wet.

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

I’ve been running 5 miles as my go-to distance lately as I’m ramping up for my spring race goal, so I wasn’t worried about making it to the finish line this year because of the distance. The conditions, however, really gave me a challenge this time:

  1. About 15 minutes in my iPhone did a panic shut down. I think it must have gotten moist in my “waterproof media pocket”. But this left me with no RunKeeper stats, and no music for the whole race. Not unbearable, but different from my normal. Not good for race day.
  2. Did I mention that I really dislike being wet? Bad military training memories. I got soaked. My older and well-traveled rain coat I was wearing totally failed me. I was soaked all the way through everything I was wearing on top. I would have been way more comfortable if my rain coat had worked.
  3. My running shoes are not waterproof. Puddle after icy puddle I stepped in bathed my feet in their frigid wetness. My toes started going numb just before mile marker 4. They didn’t get really bad because I kept moving, but each puddle made it a bit more miserable for my toes.

Okay. Enough whining. Here’s the stuff I really love about this race, no matter what the conditions are:

  1. You get a hoodie instead of a race shirt. I love seeing the older ones appear on race day, and really enjoy wearing mine throughout the colder months.
  2. The race starts out flat, but within 5 minutes goes up a really challenging hill. I train hills all the time, and just love leaving people in the dust as I power up the big hill. It gives me a real boost.
  3. It is the last race of the year. It is awesome to cap out the year’s races with a good distance like this.
  4. Even though it is after Christmas, the festivities continue for a bit. I love seeing the costumes and jingle bells out one more time for the season.
  5. I improved my time a little over 7 minutes from last year. 2012 time was 54 minutes. 2013 time was 46 minutes. Yay!

This really is a great race, and despite my grumbling about the conditions each year, it is a good challenge. There certainly are times when you have to dig down deep and get your mind over the matter. And as my training instructors in the Air Force used to say, “People are waterproof as long as they keep their mouths shut.” 🙂

How do you like to wrap up your racing year?

 

 

 

 

A Year In Motion – My 2013 Wrap-up

This has really been one heck of a year for me for running. Considering I only started running in the fall of 2012, I think I can take a few minutes and be proud of what I accomplished.

Personal Running Goal of 700 miles

So first thing in January 2013, RunKeeper started bugging me to set a goal for the year. I figured it was worthwhile, because I am an extremely goal-oriented person. I need to have that target in mind or else I tend to just flounder. I knew I wanted to run my first Half Marathon in 2013, but wasn’t sure when, so I made a semi-educated guess that I could run 700 miles throughout the year. Sounds a little ambitious, right? Yeah, it probably was. So here is where I ended up for the year:

Running Goal 2013

As of today, December 24th, 2013, I have run 607 miles. Yeah I still have a few more days left in the year. I’ll get a little closer to the goal, but there is no way I can run 100 miles in the next 6 days. I’d die.

I’m going to keep the goal of 700 miles for 2014. I want to try harder to hit that this coming year. I’m pretty sure I can do it this time.

First 10K

So yes, I was setting goals for a Half-Marathon and 700 miles for the year before I even ran my first 10K. I was doing 5K’s pretty easily and knew I was ready for the next level. It didn’t take long. In early January, I decided to go around the chute at the Shiver by the River 5K and go back out for another lap and finish the 10K. I finished in 1:01:34. Not too shabby for the first time out.

First 10-mile

I decided to push my luck in March and go for a 10-miler. At this point I had signed up for my first Half Marathon in June, and I needed to start pushing the distance to see if my body was getting ready. It wasn’t. My first 10-miler was miserable. I went up to Quakertown for the run, it was very cold and even snowing a little, and I was still learning how to fuel my body. I hit the wall. Hard. I finished the 10-miler in 1:54:01, which was just abysmal, and dedicated myself to learning how to fuel myself or a run.

First 1/2 Marathon

I wasn’t quite ready to sign up for this, but a good buddy of mine wanted to run this together, so I caved. Unfortunately, he got injured before the race and was not able to compete with me. Boo. But I understood. I trained my backside off, learned how to fuel my body for the run, and trained some more. I went out and hit this one with all I had, and learned a ton. I ran the ODDyssey Half in Philadelphia, which wound the 13.1 miles through beautiful Fairmount Park in early June. It was simply gorgeous. I finished in 2:15:05, and I was quite happy with my time. Very decent showing for a 1st-timer.

This was ~Mile 9. I was feeling good and charging on towards the finish line.

This was ~Mile 9. I was feeling good and charging on towards the finish line.

Second 1/2 Marathon

This one was my little sister’s fault. She’s been running longer than me, but wasn’t going past 5K for the longest time. She decided she wanted to do the Rock-n-Roll Half in Las Vegas in November and asked for takers to go with her. I bit. I started training in July a little after a month of downtime after the ODDyssey. Again, trained my butt off. This one really bit me. First I think because of the time zone difference, and second because the race is run in the evening which felt even later to my body because of the jet lag. I had finished my 13.1 training run in 2:09:00 and in my head I wanted to finish Vegas in under 2hrs. Unrealistic goal I see in retrospect. I fueled as best I know, but the factors were against me and I hit the wall hard at about 11 miles in. I just couldn’t pick my legs up anymore. I was hot, sweaty, tired, and just beat. I had a blast though. That was a race for the bucket list. Amazing scenery and crowds. I finished in 2:12:02.

Probably hard to tell from the picture, but I seriously could barely stand up at this point. I gave it everything I had.

Probably hard to tell from the picture, but I seriously could barely stand up at this point. I gave it everything I had.

Started this blog

I blog professionally quite a bit. Ok well not so much this year as in past, but it is a part of what I do. I realized I had a lot to say about running and getting fit, and my journey towards all that, and started up this blog.

 2014 Goals

  • I’m going to carry over the 2013 goal of running 700 miles in the year. I’m going to hit it in 2014.
  • I am going to run the Garden Spot Village Half-Marathon on April 12th. I am going to have a realistic goal of finishing under 2 hours. I started a Sub-2hr Half training program today.
  • I am going to run my first full Marathon. I don’t know which one just yet, but after my spring half, I plan to choose a fall marathon and then get to training. The Philadelphia Marathon in November perhaps? I might not be able to wait that long.

What fitness goals to you have for 2014? The hardest part of the journey is the first step.

The New Multi-Vitamin Debate

 

It’s been all over the news lately. The latest research on multi-vitamins is saying that not only do multivitamins have no measurable benefit, but can also cause harm in the long-term and everyone should stop taking them.

Does this seem strange to anyone else? I certainly accept that as we advance in science and medicine that new things will be discovered to challenge conventional wisdom. But this one really leaves me scratching my head. Every family doctor I’ve ever seen has encouraged me to take a daily multivitamin even as recently as this year.

How should we interpret as athletes? Here’s a few questions I have heavy on my mind before I take any action:

  • This research were based on “three big studies”. Ok. I want to see hundreds of big studies on all types of people.
  • I want to see a study specifically done on athletes (or even better, runners). I cannot believe that the vitamin requirements of an extremely active person are the same as someone who is sedentary.
  • I want my doctor to tell me to stop taking my vitamins based off of hard data in my own blood chemistry.

I’m pretty good at seeing my doctor every six months. It usually includes blood work, and so far there are no signs that I am anything but healthy. For me, I’m going to continue taking my multivitamins every day until I have more concrete evidence that I shouldn’t. For the record, I take GNC MegaMan Sport Vitapack. I still feel that this is an essential part of my health and wellness routines.

What do you think?

Run Santa Run 5K

This past Saturday, December 14th, 2013, I finally made it out to West Reading to run the “Run Santa Run 5K”. I wanted to do the race last year, but already had a race scheduled for Sunday and was really unsure about running a race two days in a row. This year is a different year.

We started in front of my favorite running store, A Running Start, in West Reading, PA. The store is small but fabulous. The staff are all avid runners and can steer you to the right gear. They are also huge supporters of our local running club, the Pagoda Pacers (of which I’m also a member). Everyone racing was unsure if we were going to race at all because of an impeding snow storm. We lucked out that the meteorologists were wrong and the storm didn’t really start until well after the race was done.

The race started on time in the frigid cold. My intrepid wife, Gia, has been joining me for races this winter. I love doing this stuff together.

Waiting in the starting line for the gun. Brrr.

Waiting in the starting line for the gun. Brrr.

I’ve done a few other 5K races in the West Reading area, and remember it as being a little hilly. In case you were wondering, it still is. 🙂

There were over 600 Santas out there on Saturday. It was a really great race. West Reading is very charming, and there is really no better way to see it than out and around on foot.

Waiting near the finish line for Gia to arrive. Run, Santa! Run!

Waiting near the finish line for Gia to arrive. Run, Santa! Run!

 

We both turned in respectable times. I came it at 26:54 and Gia got 33:31. Not a record for me, but I’m happy with it. Gia’s been training up for the last 6 weeks or so, and I’m really proud of how well she’s doing.

I’m already looking forward to next year! Do you have a favorite holiday run?

 

My Runner-versary

I read somewhere (probably in Runner’s World Magazine) that you are officially “a runner” after you run your first race.

I ran my very first competitive race on September 30th, 2012, exactly one year ago today. It was Zane’s Run in Sugartown, PA. It was chip timed, and not quite a true 5K, measuring out at 2.8 miles in the end, which was a little disappointing for my first time. I finished in 28 minutes. And yes, that is all from memory. I think it’s like your first date, or the day you purchased your first car, or even your wedding day. Which is why I’m calling today, and every September 30th from here on out my “Runner-versary.”

In the spirit of any anniversary, I think it is worthwhile to spend a little time and reflect on the events of the past year and speculate a little about the next year.

From a year ago today, I am 20lbs lighter. I have raced competitively in over 15 timed events. I have increased my race distance from 3.1 miles (5K) to completing my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). I have gotten my 5K PR down to 24 minutes, which is pretty fast for an old desk jockey like me.

For the next year, I’m already training hard for my next half-marathon, which I will run in mid-November. After that, I’m planning on setting my sights on a full marathon some time in the spring of 2014. Very loose plans on that front for now. I will spend the winter running again, as I did last year, competing in some of my favorite local races like the Shiver by the River series, and the Chris Cringle 5 miler just before Christmas.

My thought for the last year. Something I have noticed frequently when I talk to others about being a runner. Nearly every time, I hear at least two or three excuses why a person can’t run. Then I talk a little about the excuses I used to give for not running. I used to always say my “Golden Rule” was that I only run when I am chased. It would always elicit a chuckle or two, but it was an excuse nonetheless. I used to have trouble with my knees. It was my biggest excuse for not running. It turns out that my knees hurt so much because my legs were weak. Once my legs got stronger, my knee pain disappeared! I mean completely disappeared. I also used to not run because it made me feel terrible. Once I got stronger, lost some weight, and built up a little endurance that went away, too. In fact, I feel worse on days I don’t run now. I certainly understand that some people have legitimate reasons why they can’t run, such as past knee surgeries or the like. Those are legitimate reasons and not excuses. I’m really just speaking to the excuse-makers here.  My challenge to you, excuse-maker, is to create two or three excuses for why you CAN run.

My very first timed race, Zane's Run 5K in Sugartown, PA, September 30th, 2012

My very first timed race, Zane’s Run 5K in Sugartown, PA, September 30th, 2012

Why do I run?

I’m probably the most unlikely runner you’ll ever meet. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be running races and loving it, I would have laughed so hard I would cry. Seriously. Why? Simple. After 8 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, I learned just about every bad way there is to run, and often got hurt. My feet ached, my knees hurt and would swell up painfully. Running in formation is bad for me. I’m 6’3″, so short choppy steps over and over are not the best way to run mechanically. I’ve struggled with my knees ever since, and that was over 10 years ago. Coupled with being a nerd and not athletically inclined, I just had bad ideas about running in my head.

Fast-forward to today. Now I’m 40 years old, have a demanding desk job where I sit all day. And sit. And sit. I don’t have a gym near by that is convenient to use, and I don’t have enough home gym equipment to make a big difference. I’m a tech nerd, so I started trying to use technology tools to help keep my weight in order. I’ll be writing up reviews of all of the apps and tools and equipment I’ve used over the years in more detail later on. Back to the story. Round-about last summer (July 2012), I was inspired by my friend and colleague Dallas Marks who started tweeting the fact that he was using an app called Couch to 5K. I thought about it for a long time, but kept thinking that I can’t run. It hurts my knees and my feet. But finally on a day when I tipped the scale at 215lbs, I knew I had to try something very different. I downloaded the app and I gave it a try, and I haven’t looked back since. And guess what? My knees feel great. The stronger my legs get, the less knee pain I have. Oh they still get a good ache on if I get to aggressive or hit too many hills, but overall they feel better than they ever have.

I found out quickly that not only could I run, but that I really enjoyed it. I mean REALLY enjoyed it. I ran my first 5K in September 2012 and finished in just under 30 minutes. No awards won, but a respectable time.

Just before my first 5K race in September 2012

Just before my first 5K race in September 2012

My results for Zane's Run, Malvern, PA September 30th, 2012

My results for Zane’s Run, Malvern, PA September 30th, 2012

The question at hand, “Why do I run?”.

I run because I love to get outside and breathe the fresh air. I love to get some good, efficient exercise and make my body leaner and stronger. I love to be competitive and race in organized events, constantly striving to get a better time or go a longer distance. I love meeting positive-minded healthy people at these events. I love how I feel after a good, long run. I love being able to eat more of what I like, because I burn so many calories on a good run. I love that no matter where I travel, I need only bring my running shoes and I can keep up with my workout routine.

I hope to use this site for a couple of things. I hope to catalog my runs and races, to show whoever is interested that if a desk-jockey computer nerd like me can do it, nearly anyone can. I also hope to use this space to discuss and review the technology I use and new things I try to keep myself on track. Thanks for reading. Get out there and run!