Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 - The Yearly Report

Last post, I talked about my top 10 runs for 2012. I thought I would follow that up with a recap of how my training went this year. After all, the weekly report is a big part of this blog so I thought it would be nice to put the numbers together.

Putting on the miles (not the pounds)

So after putting all the numbers together (and it wasn't easy, I started running using Cardio Trainer, then switched to Map My Run then to RunKeeper) I ran a grand total of 268.21 miles. When I saw this number I thought about trying to make it an even 270 before the year was gone but some knee problems are  preventing that from happening. (More on that later)  Considering that in 2011 that total was ZERO, I think I get an A+ in total miles this year. Next year I would like to aim for 600 miles though I don't know if I'm being conservative or underestimating. We'll see in December next year.

Here is the rundown by Month:
March - 6 miles
April - 20 miles
May - 24.2 miles
June - 37.5 miles
July - 25.6 miles
August - 31.5 miles
September - 18 miles
October - 39 miles
November - 34.2 miles
December - 32.2 miles

January through March I hadn't started yet so they are not there obviously. It's interesting to see my progress through the year. That dip in September corresponding to getting injured after my first race and that peak in October before the whole vacation planning and the actual cruise brought things down a bit (but just a little bit). Those December numbers are padded though. I didn't run as frequently as I would have wished but when I did run, it was for far longer distances than the previous months.

Those 6 miles in March were tough. The first week I ran, I couldn't run again until the next week. Then when I finally was able to produce two runs in a week, I couldn't do a long run during the weekend. Hey, my body was getting used to it all. The slightest hill felt like Mount Everest and going up from the road to the sidewalk required several minutes of planning because that step up would require so much energy, it could mean the end of the run. Now that I think about it, I have no idea how I managed to to survive that and still be running today. Fancy me a masochist. Those first runs were, at best, 2 miles long. My last long run was 6 miles. In Marathon terms, that's not much. For the fat guy who was sitting on the couch doing nothing several months back, it is a great victory.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Top 10 Runs of 2012

Quite normal this time of year to do things like this. Looking back helps us set our goals for the upcoming year. Notice I didn't say resolutions. Nobody goes through with those. For me, this was a great year running-wise. I started in late March and have not stopped since. it was a real struggle just to get out and run and frankly, I was scared I wasn't going to stick with it. But here we are at the end of 2012 talking about the best runs of the year. Wow. Good thing the World didn't end either. I didn't want all that work to be for nothing. I mean, the whole point of this is to eventually run a Marathon.

You might not recognize some of these runs as they happened before I started blogging about it. But without further ado:

10. May 19, 2012 - 4 miles: This was the first time I had ever run 4 miles in my entire life. I was surprised at how manageable the last mile was as opposed to when I first ran 3 miles which was murder and actually took several attempts to run the whole way. It was on this run that I really felt I could do this (run longer distances)

9. June 26, 2012 - 3 miles: The entire year, I ran on a treadmill only once and it was on this run. I discovered one thing: Running on a treadmill is SO much easier than running on the road. I was in Florida on a work thing and not wanting to risk getting lost again (See #9) I decided to run on the Fitness Center's treadmill. Now that I think about it, I traveled 4 times in 2012 and ran in three of those trips. That, folks, is wanting to run.

8. May 4, 2012 - 2.2 miles: This run is memorable for two reasons: I was on a mini-getaway/work thing in Florida and even though I was just starting to run, I felt it was important to continue my training even while traveling. The other reason is that I got lost. Big time. It was a beautiful course around several Disney hotels: The Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan and Dolphin. It was a bit dark though and ended up on some road where only trucks were passing by and ended in a Cast Member only area. I eventually found my way but it sure was interesting.

7. April 26, 2012 - 2.0 miles: This pretty uneventful run is memorable because it was the first time I ran with proper running shoes. Boy did it make a difference. The recently retired New Balance 1123's gave me 208 miles of faithful service and sent me on my first trip to a running store, an experience I will never forget (Check it out here). Fit Girl, I'm still waiting to run into you while on a race.

6. August 26, 2012 - 3.1 miles: My first race. Popular Bank's 5K was a total disaster in terms of strategy, planning and training. But man, was it fun! Adrenaline absolutely took over and everything went out the window but the minute I crossed the finish line I was plotting how I was going to run a better race next time and it felt so good when they put the medal around my neck. I had officially gotten "The Bug".

5. August 28, 2012 - 2 miles: My very next run after my next race. I called it "My first Zen run" on the blog. I was sore, tired and hurting but I went out anyway. Best thing I ever did. Forget about how good it was physically,  mentally it helped me collect my thoughts which were all over the place after the race. People often talk about the mental aspects of running and how running helps them think and stuff but I had never understood that until this run.

4. May 19, 2012 - 4 miles: With this run, I logged 10 miles in a week for the first time. These numbers can seem trivial, especially to runners who log 50 mile weeks and more but for me it was a big deal. At the same time it made me think about how for someone who wants to run a Marathon (me) 10 miles a week is still a long way to go.

3. November 18, 2012 - 3.1 miles: The Give a 5K for Diabetes race was the craziest of the year by far. Mainly because I arrived late and unprepared but it was such a big improvement over my first race. Not to mention the fact I ran the entire thing. ( I had to stop during my first race. Again details here)

2. November 27, 2012 - 2 miles: It's not every day you get to run on a moving cruise ship at 3:30 in the morning! But that is exactly what I did on this run. The Disney Fantasy has a jogging track and its big. 2.5 laps-equals-1 mile big. When you are on vacation, especially a cruise, you want to relax so it is totally justifiable to feel like not running. But I ran. The word "freak" starts to come to mind...

1. November 30, 2012 - 3.1 miles: The Castaway Cay 5K is the race that started me running so, having accomplished the goal of running it this year is reason enough for it to be at the top spot but it's more than that. Emotionally, it was an accomplishment to know that I was able to keep this "running thing" going long enough to get to this race and also, finishing the race and not going into "accomplished mode" but actually planning races for next year and beyond. Thinking about the future. A future where I run. I also PR'ed. How cool is that?

It was a tough year filled with many challenges but that is exactly why I'm so happy with my running. I was able to run despite those challenges. It's very easy to get lost in the worries and problems of life but think about this: Without our health, there can be no life to worry about. We often don't take care of ourselves because "we got to think about our family" but I tell you: Letting your health go to waste is truly not thinking about your family. If you leave things like obesity and laziness run rampant in your life, how long do you think you are going to be there for the ones you love? Sure, death comes to us all and you never know when it's going to happen but why tip the odds in its favor?

Anyway, hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you will have an even better new year. Hopefully 2013 will be an incredible year for your running, your lives and your families.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of... Losing your Phone

For the last two weeks (and sorry for not reporting last week) I have been running no less than 5 miles every time I go out. This was gloriously capped this Sunday with my first 6 mile run. A 10K (minus .2) in less than a year. I wish I could tell you my time in this historic run but I can't. See, at some point during the run, the pocket in which I was keeping my phone ripped and the phone fell. As I was finishing my run, I go looking for it to hit stop and its not there. Ironically, I was just talking to my wife about me getting a GPS watch. Well, to be honest I was buttering her up so she would let me buy one (they are kind of expensive for those not familiar) and one of the reasons I was giving her was that in my pocket, the phone was bothering me (it moves quite a lot) and it could also break, or worse I could lose it.

Well, I lost it.

Now I know what you are saying: "Frank, you got one of those arm band thingies for Father's Day, why don't you put it in there?" Because that's where I keep my iPod which I also carry with me. We runners are a special bunch. Anyway, I quickly got home and into our mini-van and doubled back the entire route. Twice. Did I mentioned it was raining? Assuming no one had taking it already, it was getting wetter by the minute so time was crucial. But it was not to be. The phone was gone (or I didn't see it). I mean, it was early Sunday morning! At that hour, the only people awake are either running or getting ready for Church.  So I went back home.

I was so angry at myself. I told my wife what happened and let her know and told her I would take a shower and head to the phone carrier store to claim a replacement since I have insurance. And as I was taking a shower my sister called my wife to let her know someone had called her and had found the phone! I quickly called (well I finished my shower first) and made arrangements to pick up the phone. It turned out to be this very nice lady who was leaving her house to go to Church. Go figure. The phone stopped recording the run at 4.5 miles. Looking at the map data, you can see where the lady picked up the phone and took it home. So of course, RunKeeper published I ran 4.5 miles in 1:36. Now I have no trouble admitting I'm slow but give me some credit. I edited the activity but the "run" was already posted to Facebook and Twitter. Oh No! The three people who follow this blog have the wrong information.

So to recap: My weekly mileage went up from 13 miles to 16, I ran the furthest I have ever run (6 miles) and ultimately, I did not lose my phone. Sounds like a good week to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking the Next Step

Having finally accomplished running the 5K that got me into this whole journey, I have spent the last few days assessing where I am and where I'm going. Now, don't worry. I'm pretty set up goal-wise. I got a 10K to run in February for the short term and the Walt Disney World Marathon is looming ever-closer for the long term. However, there is one part of this journey I haven't tackled yet and I think it's time I deal with it. 

It's time to deal with my nutrition and eating habits.

Before you all say anything, let me tell you, I was putting this off on purpose. After many past and failed attempts at losing weight, I have made every mistake and leaned many lessons about what works and what doesn't. One of those things, is all the times I have dove in to the whole process, heart and soul with every good intention in the world. I eat right, I exercise and I end up losing weight, only to gain it back and then some. The lesson I have learned from that is that whenever I have made that decision, the changes have been too extreme. I try to make changes over many things and it get very overwhelming. Invariably, after several months, I get tired of it all and return to my usual patterns. 

On the exercise side of things, it had a lot to do with the fact I had not found an activity I really liked to do in the long term. I would start doing whatever it was at the time, really excited and then the novelty would wear off and I would lose interest. Ironically, all that time I tried all those different things, I avoided running like I would the Ebola Virus. I was convinced I hated running. Go figure.

That is why when I started this journey, the first rule I set for myself was to take it easy. To not try to do everything at once. Since I was setting some lofty goals for myself and given my past history with running, it was crucial for me to be patient. I do not want this to be another failed attempt at a healthier life. My family deserves more than that.

So I set off making a deal with myself: Go run. Worry about nothing else. Forget the diet and the calorie counting. Make sure that running can become not just a  form of exercise but a true part of my life. Something I feel I HAVE to do. Need to do. Make certain it is not an impulse thing. Make a true habit. Forget the rest. Just run.

Well, here I am, 9 months later and I can truly say that running is a part of my life. I look forward to running and the prospect of future races makes me excited. I have caught the bug. Now, for the next step.

That's not to say, I have nothing to show for those 9 months. Aside from the three medals I have collected during that time, I did lose 15 pounds. All that running had to make a dent of some kind, diet be darned. Sadly, the cruise did have an effect. I gained 6 pounds back but still, it could have been worse. However it's time to get serious. I can't expect to run a marathon 100 pounds overweight so now comes the hard part.

Right off the bat, forget the crazy diets. I'm taking the same approach to this I took with running. Slow and steady wins the race. I have to make small, but permanent changes that I can stick to. Then, after making sure I have committed to those changes and make sure they are working, I can make more. Here is the first set of changes:

1) Soda has got to go! - I am a big drinker. Not alcohol mind you. When I sit down to eat I drink a lot of whatever is in front of me, usually soda. I can drink 3, 4 glasses. Maybe more. It is an immense waste of calories and it has to stop. I have no problem drinking water but I'm hooked on soda. The fact that combo meals conveniently include soda is obviously a factor which reminds me...

2) Stop the junk! - We eat out way too much. I'm not talking about sitting down at a restaurant. I mean, "let's not cook and go grab a burger from the drive-through window" eating out. Sodium consumption should be dramatically reduced just by doing this alone. With a family of 5 with small kids, this is very convenient so I'm not gonna say that we are never ordering out but we have to reduce it way down.

3) Taper my meals - What this means is that as I go through my day, every subsequent meal will have less calories than the previous one. Which means that breakfast will be the biggest meal of the day and then with each meal I will eat less calories. This will end with a snack after dinner no higher than 300 calories. That will make it 4 meals a day (including the snack). The snack is important because I can cheat big time at night.

4) Keep track of my food - I have failed horribly at this before but if I can keep track of my runs and workouts I can do this. Since it worked for my runs, I will be using the Internet as well for this. is a great place for those who want to lose weight. The members support each other a lot and it has a great food and calorie tracker with a phone app so you can do it whenever and wherever you are. Plus its all free.

And that's it. 4 small things to work into my normal habits. I think the soda thing is the biggest one but if I manage to reduce eating fast food, that will work itself out as well. Whether it works or not I will keep you all posted.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Report #15

Recovery week basically for me. After running essentially two 5K's in consecutive weeks, and trying to digest a week's worth of cruise food, this first week after returning home was about taking it easy. Sort of. I was dying to try out my new running shoes and I have to say they have not disappointed so far. I have also been working on reviewing my weekly training to get ready for running longer distances. I have also come to realize that it's time to take this journey up one notch but I will go into that in my next post.  Right now, it's about this last week which was... interesting.

The new shoes are working out great! The minute I put them on, they felt "right". They are a little tighter in the toe box than the 1123's but still there is plenty of room in there. They feel a little stiffer in terms of cushioning compared to my previous pair but I'll reserve final judgement about that after I break them in a little more. On Wednesday, I tried them out:

Wednesday, December 5 - 3 miles:
Full disclosure: Even though I was dying to try out the new shoes, that was the only reason I wanted to run this day. The minute I started running I felt why. Despite racing on consecutive weeks I hadn't done a lot of running the last few weeks. Add to that a week of my extreme high calorie journey through the Caribbean and you can understand why my body would complain on this run. I felt sluggish and heavy. My legs started hurting the minute I started. My motivation was non-existent. I hadn't even done a mile when my cousin drove by and seeing opportunity, I stopped to chat with him. Didn't even bother to turn off RunKeeper. After a couple of minutes I said goodbye and kept going. Then it started to rain. When I arrived in town, the annual festival to our Patron Saint was being held, in the middle of my route. I tried to keep running but after a while more decided to call it a night. Hey, without bad days you can't have (and appreciate) good days and hey... 51:02

Saturday, December 8 - 5miles:
Things got a LOT better after that. When I went out this day, I was a bit weary since I had such a bad run last time. My wife asked me "How much are you running today?" and I hesitated for a bit, then told her "4 miles... maybe." and left it at that. But after I started running, everything just clicked. I was feeling good and right before mile 4 I saw I was feeling strong and decided I would keep going. Apparently all I needed was to get moving (my last run) to return to form, sort of speak. I think this is the best I have felt running this distance. Perhaps I can run this distance more than once a week? We'll see. 1:16:40

So stay tuned folks. The next post is kind of an important one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Balance 1123's (R.I.P.)

May 2012 - November 2012

Well, after 200+ miles and thanks to my youngest brother's very timely birthday gift, the time has come to retire my first, true pair of running shoes. As I mentioned when I first got them (post here) they really made a difference in how I run and how frequently. I also mentioned a while back (here) that I was starting to see and feel signs of wear and tear but I just could not buy another pair because, quite honestly I just didn't have the money.

Well right before the cruise, my youngest brother gave me a pair of brand new shoes in the hopes that I would use them during the Castaway Cay 5K. Well, that was not gonna happen. As I explained to him, there were two things keeping me from doing that: 1) Never use new shoes for a race. This is part of the whole "never do something you haven't tried before during a race." thing. 2) While a cruise is definitely about luxury, space can be an issue. You have to pack for formal night, semi-formal night, pirate night (yes, pirate night) so you got to be careful how much you pack. I wasn't about to take the 1123's either. I needed something versatile I could use to run and sightsee. I settled on these:

My mom gave me these a couple of years back. I have used them mainly for walking around Disney World and I have worked out once or twice in them. I found out, while researching what shoes to replace my 1123's with, that these are in fact, women's trail running shoes. Hey, I didn't know. Apparently neither did my mom. (unless this was her attempt at humor) I got lost while running through the Disney World Resorts in these shoes. Ended up in an employees-only area at 5:30am. We have a history, these shoes and I.

But, Alas, they are not proper running shoes for every day use so I save them for cross-training (something I should be doing by now). The 1123's on the other hand, were crying for mercy. During the Give a 5K for Diabetes, I could really tell they were on their last legs. The bottom of my feet were hurting and that had never happened before. Since I had read that running shoes can last up to 500 miles I thought they would last longer but they ended up giving me a little over 200. Apparently, carrying almost 100 pounds extra takes a toll on the wear. Plus, those first miles I ran, I dragged my feet a lot. I will miss them. Goodbye New Balance 1123's...

Hello Brooks Beasts!

I have been told by many that these shoes are built like tanks in terms of their wear and durability so I'm looking forward to trying them out this week. In terms of looks, they are way louder than my previous pair but not the "I want to kill myself" neon colors I see so often. I'm not sure I love the spaceship silver color but I'm excited to try them out. I will let you know how they work out when I give my weekly report.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Castaway Cay 5K Race Recap

Well, I'm back from an amazing Disney cruise. We had tons of fun. Without going into the details, this isn't a travel blog (maybe I should do one of those...) I can tell you the best way to describe this vacation in one word is: Magical.

However, the important thing about this cruise, as far as this blog is concerned, happened on the last day when we stopped at Disney's private paradise island Castaway Cay. Way back, when I booked this cruise and learned about a race held there called the Castaway Cay 5K, it got me into running. Running this race was the initial goal that started this whole adventure and while my long term goals have sure changed (now I want to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2014) this little race is a fundamental part of why I'm running today. I was extremely excited to cross this 5K from my list.

The race itself is not a big deal in practical terms. It is basically another cruise activity you can do during your cruise. It has caught on with guests though, so over the years they have added bibs (with the Run Disney logo) and a timing board. They have also modified the course somewhat according to those who did it a while back. It is flat as a pancake and takes place inside the island so there is not much to look at. Looking back, I wonder what it was about this race that made me think it was doable. But human beings are weird that way. You never know what is going to trigger them into doing something crazy.

Last post, I gave you the recap of the 5K I ran the week before the cruise. Craziest race ever (sordid details here) by a long shot. The week after that I was pretty sore so I did not run again until I was on the cruise where I did a 2 mile practice run on the ship. Yes, ON the ship. The Disney Fantasy has its own jogging track on Deck 4 (The 4th floor for all you land lubbers). 2.5 laps equal 1 mile and I did two miles. Funny thing is, the cruise changes time zones a couple of times and I got a little confused so I ended up running at 3:30 in the morning. Now wonder I was all by myself!. Despite that, I felt pretty good during that run. The rest days really refreshed my legs. Plus, I felt like Denzel Washington in "Crimson Tide". You that scene where he is running inside the sub? It kind of felt like that. In the Fantasy you are running right below the life boats and there are all these pipes and machinery so I could almost hear the movie soundtrack in my head.

On race day, all the runners were told to meet at The Tube (a disco made to look like London's subway). There we signed up and were given our bibs and instructions about the race. This was not a motivating scene. I saw many people who looked like serious runners and many more wearing shirts that said stuff like "Historic 10K" and "Ultrarunners of St. Louis". Quite a diverse (and might I say fit) crowd.

You don't see a lot of pre-race meetings at places like this.

From there, we were the first ones out the ship and we walked from the ship to the start line which made for a nice warm up. At the starting line, there a was a time clock and a map of the island. We were shown the route of the race and after a quick trip to the bathroom we were off!

Now, sure, this was a goal I had set a long time ago but I had no delusions of grandeur or anything. I was on a cruise. I hadn't run that much in the past two weeks and... I was on a cruise. I mean, do I have to say it? I ATE EVERYTHING! So even though I knew the course was mild and flat there were no expectations of any kind. My last 5K I did 47:30. My best time running three miles has been a practice run: 44:38.

Sure enough, after the start, everyone fell into their respective paces and I ended up in the back, a bit ahead of the walkers. I was running a bit faster than usual but decided to keep it up since the course was flat but after a while I dialed it back. While the temperature was pleasant, the sun was really showing off that mid-morning power and besides, I started having a very interesting, albeit funny, problem. At first, I thought I was getting dizzy because of the sun. But it wasn't "normal" dizzy. At least that is not how I've felt dizzy before. After a couple of minutes I figured it out. I was Land-Sick! LOL. After a week on the ship with only brief exits I was feeling the movement of the ship while on dry land. It reminded of the film "Waterworld" with Kevin Costner where at the end he leaves because the ground "Doesn't move right."  Every time I felt the "sway" it was like my body trying to cross from one side of the road to the other. After identifying the cause, I laughed and kept going.

Halfway through, I had another little event. This time a mental one. Back when I started running, I read about Jeff Galloway and his run/walk/run method. While I felt his method was probably the most sound for a person that is overweight like myself, I decided to try and just run, even if I progressed slower. Now, I'm in no position to question Jeff Galloway in any way. If he says it is the most efficient way, I believe him. For me it was an ego thing. If I'm going to run, I want to run the whole race. That's it. I didn't think I would be faster or better, I just wanted to run the entire distance in front of me.

Of course, that all sounds awesome until the old ladies start passing you by. That's when the real pride and ego kick in. For the second race in a row, I got passed late in the race by people doing the run/walk/run method. For the second race in a row, I got passed by some really old ladies doing the run/walk/run method. Again I told myself "you are running the whole thing. You WANT to run the whole thing." but it still stings a bit. Maybe I should revise my position on the Galloway method. lol

At the end, I picked up the pace and finished strong. My one goal for the race was for the Cast Members (that's what Disney calls their employees) in charge of the race to not leave before I got to the finish line. Basically, they told us they would be at the finish line for a while handing out medals and if they weren't there when you finished they would send the medal to your room. It sounds like a stupid thing but I wanted to receive the medal at the finish line. After the final turn I saw the finish line there they were with the medals. Yes!!!! But wait, what about my time? As I crossed the finish line, I look to my left and there is the clock...


Can you say Personal Record?!! Yes. I. Can. Doing the happy dance! I mean, I'm doing the happy dance now... Back at the finish line I could barely breathe. The Cast Member put the medal around my neck. Oh yeah! It felt so good. Of course, Disney does not waste any revenue-creating opportunity so right next to the finish line was a store selling what else? Castaway Cay 5K T-Shirts! Of course, me not wasting any Disney income-reducing opportunity, bought the shirt to commemorate the occasion. 

And that was it. Another goal met. The race that got me into this whole thing has now been checked off my list but, it was at the beginning of my list. There are many things to cross off in the future. Next steps? I think its time to start considering a 10K. Perhaps the World's Best 10K? One of the biggest races in Puerto Rico being held at the end of February? Sounds like a plan to me. Also, with this race (and this cruise) behind me, I think its time to start tackling the other part of this lifestyle equation: Nutrition. Stay tuned folks. The best as they say, is yet to come

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give a 5K for Diabetes Race Recap

I don't have pics of the race. I'm sorry.  As you will see below, this was the craziest 5K I have ever run. OK, it's the second 5K I have ever run but it is still the craziest by far. If I learned my lesson correctly, it will be the craziest race for a very long time.

On the way home, I managed to take this nice pic of San Juan harbor but that's it.

So the race was set to start at 5pm. I'm not going to get into the details but I was very late. Suffice it to say, it was all my own fault. I drove as fast as I could to San Juan and found myself in a traffic jam near the race. I decided to not wait it out and parked pretty far away from the race. It was 15 minutes before the start. I walked/ran as fast as I could to the park and worked up a pretty good sweat. When I got to the registration table they were putting everything away! I quickly showed my form and the lady begrudgingly looked for my bib. I apologized a bunch of times but she just told me to run to the start line because they were starting.

There I was, already panting, with my phone, headphones, race shirt, race info envelope, race chip and car keys all in my hands. I left the envelope stashed in some corner thinking I would go back for it. (I didn't) I joined the crowd of races and as soon as I found a place to stand the gun went off. As the runners in the front started I got down and put on the racing chip and started walking to the starting line while putting on my bib but it was too late. Turns out I didn't put my racing chip right and was right at the end of my lace about to fall off. There was no time. I "sewed" the lace to the part tied to the shoe and hoped it didn't fall off. I barely started RunKeeper right at the start line, put on my headphones and started my playlist. I had my arm band in my pocket but that was not gonna happen. I put the phone there as well. I tried once again to put on my bib.

Did I mention all this happened while I (and everyone else)was running?

30 seconds after putting the bib on,  It fell off on one side. This was just too crazy. I stopped running and while walking got myself together. Put the bib on right (sort of), put the keys on one pocket, the phone on the other and the race shirt... well there was no other way. I carried that the entire race. I got going once again.

It was a tough race with a particularly challenging hill after the first mile marker. In all the commotion I, of course darted off way too fast but I didn't have time to notice. Run Keeper tells the story: I ran the first mile in 13:30. Impressive, but WAY faster than I'm used to. The fastest mile I have recorded since I started running. After a start like that, you can only go one way. Down. The next two miles I ran in 15:27 and 15:28 with a mad dash to the finish on the last .1 mile. Total time: 47:30. I finished 551 out of 1,400 runners

There was much improvement from my first 5K but it sure could have been much better. If I could just pace myself better at the beginning, I could surely finish stronger. But after starting so strong I was just too tired. With a mile to go, a lady in her 70's passed me. She was power walking. Enough said.

I did run the whole thing as opposed to the previous race so I'm very proud that despite my fast start I was able to not stop. 

So lesson learned. It's one of the most basic of axioms in racing etiquette: Show up on time! Even with that, I had tons of fun. At the same time I have to face the facts: I have to take it easy. I'm slow. It's a fact. People (a lot of them) are gonna pass me. I have to deal with that. But it will get better. I know it will. It's the competitive spirit that drives you to improve and I want to improve. 

Next stop? In 2 weeks I run the Castaway Cay 5K. The race that got me into running. Can't wait!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Special Double Report

With the impending cruise looming ever-closer it has become a bit harder to keep up with the blog. Not only are we getting ready to leave but I'm trying to leave everything set at work which has meant a lot of meetings in the afternoon and night. Amazingly enough, I have only missed one run. Just one. And to celebrate, I'm running a 5K this weekend before I leave the day after Thanksgiving.

The "Give a 5K for Diabetes" race recap will be my final post before I leave for the cruise. I thought long and hard about doing two consecutive races in two weeks but my running in the last few weeks has convinced me to try it. As you will see, I keep improving my times despite the fact that I decide to not focus on speed. Last week I purposely took it a lot easier in terms of pace. Or at least I thought I was, yet my time in the 4 mile course keeps coming down. 

Tuesday, November 6 - 4 miles
After, deciding to not focus on speed, I decided to try and take this run as easily as I could. This had a very strong effect on the run. Energy expenditure is really something. My pace wasn't that much slower than before. I mean, how much slower can a turtle run right? But it did make a difference on the second half where I felt a lot stronger than usual. It is the only thing I can think of to explain that I ran faster than the week before because I really was taking it easier. No, really. I was! 1:02:16

Thursday, November 8 - 4 miles
Again, I went out with no delusions of grandeur. Taking it easy and not thinking about time. Until the end that is! At the final stretch I checked my phone and saw I was within my time on Tuesday and sprinted to the end. I could not help it. But the whole time before that I took it easy. No, really I promise! 1:01:55

Saturday, November 10 - 5 miles
Now here was the real test. With the long run, there really is no choice. You take it easy and finish or you act like an idiot and break down before you get there. While 4 miles has become a lot more manageable, 5 miles is still a bit of a struggle. This time I was able to finish a bit stronger than before so there is improvement plus I finished in less time too which means that where I ran weakest I wasn't as weak as last week. (Say that 5 times real fast.) Can't ask for more than that.  1:18:00

Thursday, November 15 - 4 miles
With all of this record-breaking and improvements, I needed something to keep me humble. Since I missed my Tuesday run and signed up for a race the next Sunday I felt I needed to come crashing down from the cloud. A wake up call if you will. I took off trying to break an hour on the 4 mile. Predictably, I ended up running the EXACT same time as the last time I ran 4 miles. If I'm not trying, I improve. If I aim for improvement, I crash and burn. Oh well, At least I found a sure-fire way to keep myself humble. 1:01:55

Folks, I'm 1 week away from running the race that started this whole fiasco. The Castaway Cay 5K was the race that got me off the couch and into running shoes. This is going to be quite an interesting ride.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The 13th Mile

Last week, I mentioned I was cool because I ran in the rain. Well, it turns out I'm not cool, I'm a geek. I am a running geek apparently. This week, I was supposed to run 5 miles on Saturday morning but for reasons I will explain  below I ran 3.5. I wasn't exactly happy about it and it nagged me all day so that night, I went out and ran the mile and a half that I didn't do. 

All told I ran 13 miles this week. The most I have done so far. That's a half-marathon. Now if I could only do that in one run...

I finally went to run with the guys from Coqui Runners. They invited me once again to go on Saturday morning. So I went and... got stood up. But it wasn't a total loss. I did run and the park were I ran was pretty awesome. It is a linear park in the town of Bayamón. It's got two lanes for bicycles and one for runners/walkers. It's got plenty of trees so you are running in the shade most of the way and there are several "stations" with restrooms and water. The route is challenging enough for me and if you run the entire thing, it's like almost 10 miles. The only drawback is that is not exactly close by. I wouldn't mind driving there once in a while but if I went there regularly it would add up. Gas ain't cheap these days you know.

Tuesday, October 30 - 4 miles
After doing some soul searching, I realized that I was focusing too much on improving my time as opposed to working on increasing my mileage which, of course, is supposed to be the point of all this as my main goal is to run a marathon at some point. So on this run, I tried to take it real easy and focus on slowly getting more adept at longer distances. However, as easy as I thought I was taking it, I still ran well within my previous PR in this distance. I am definitely getting used to running this distance. It seems a mileage increase is close by. 1:02:53

Thursday, November 1 - 4 miles
Bad days will come and so will bad runs. This was just one of those days where I just wasn't feeling it. The minute I started, my legs were complaining but I finished. You know, those "killer" hills in this course? They are becoming a lot more manageable.

Saturday, November 3 - 3.5 miles
This was the park run. I was plenty upset that I got stood up by my running "buddies" but hey, it's a beautiful park, a beautiful day... I walked up to one of the security guards there and asked him about the course. I told him I wanted to run 5 miles so he says "You need to go all the way to "Cambija" station and come back. That's 5 miles." So off I went. It was a nice change of scenery and it was great to see others running and walking along the route.  There are some short but steep hills that present a nice challenge. Once I reached the station, I made my way back. Almost at the end, it started to rain (Cool Runner:The Sequel) but when I checked my phone it said I had only run 3.5 miles. So much for the guard's info. Anyway, I spent the rest of the day thinking I fell short. I knew if I had run the full 5 miles, I would have done a personal best in terms of weekly mileage. So...

Saturday, November 3(evening) - 1.5 miles
After getting everyone fed, bathed and dressed I went out again and ran the missing mile and a half. This is important. A year ago I would have just let it go but it was important enough to me to go finish. By the way, running twice in a day... not the greatest sensation in the world for my body but what an awesome feeling for the soul! I was a bit sore I admit but after a few minutes it went (mostly) away. I also got to run my first running route from when I first started. I remember when this distance was a real challenge and that last half mile seemed like such a long distance to go. Sure, to some it might seem like going from 1.5 miles to 5 miles is not a big deal but for someone who less that a year ago was running zero miles, its a big moment.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It Was a Good Week - Weekly Report #11

I ran in the rain this week. When you run in the rain, you are officially cool. You just left behind all the "wimps" who decided not to run that day because it was raining. You are now "hardcore". You are a real runner.

People who run in the rain are cool.

Yeah, I'm rambling on but it's because, as the title implies, I had a good week. The truth is the minute I got home after the run, I jumped in the shower to avoid getting sick.  Still, a lot of good things happened. The app I use to keep track of my runs, RunKeeper, sent me a bunch of emails letting me know I had done a bunch of stuff I hadn't done before. We'll get to that in a minute but first the bad news.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was invited by a running club (Coquí Runners) to go run with them. I was kind of on the fence because I didn't want to be the slow one who everyone had to wait up for but finally decided to do it and was set to go this past Saturday. Friday night I got a text message saying they were not running that day. So after getting my mind ready all week it didn't happen. I was kind of disappointed but hey, now I got more time to get better for their next run.

Tuesday, October 23 - 4 miles
I started the week out strong after accepting the invitation to run with the club. I was wondering if  my new found "speed" was going to hold after doing a PR running 4 miles the week before. Sure enough, I equaled my PR. Not only that, I didn't feel like I was running that hard so it seems 4 miles is my new "normal". 1:02:48

Thursday, October 25 - 3 miles
The Rain Run. Hurricane Sandy, the now infamous "Frankenstorm" was working its way up the east coast but it was so huge, we were still getting the tail end of it down here. It rained. Hard. All day that day. As night came down, the rain stopped. Again, motivated by the fact that I was running with other people on Saturday, I sure didn't want to skip a run. So I went out. Like in previous runs were rain was an issue, I decided to run 3 miles instead of 4 to keep it short. Also, since I've been doing so well lately, why not try for a PR in at 3 miles? The minute I started running it started to rain again but what the heck? I was committed! (or should be) OK so I was a little worried about my iPod and cell phone getting wet but I just went and ran hard. It was tough and by the end my legs were really feeling the burn but I finished. I had a little trouble stopping the clock at the end as touchscreens become unresponsive when wet (in case you didn't know) so I actually finished several seconds less than the posted time. I quickly got in the shower and when I came out, I had gotten a bunch of emails from RunKeeper telling me I had achieved:

-Best Average Speed
-Best Average Pace
-PR for that 3 mile course

I was wondering if that thing was working. For the longest time, all I kept getting was "Biggest Elevation Climb" which I didn't get since I was running the exact same 4 mile course every time I got that one. Was it telling me I was hopping higher when I ran? Whatever. 44:38

Saturday, October 27 - 5 miles
This was supposed to be the club run that didn't happen. It had been two months since I had run 5 miles which I was avoiding after getting injured, then again avoiding trying to improve my time running a 5K ("race fever" I call it) Well, enough. I got into this to run a marathon! I have to focus on distance not speed. That will hopefully come later. After that run, again I got a some emails from RunKeeper:

-Furthest Distance Ran in a Week
-Longest Duration in a Week
-Furthest Distance in a Month
-Longest Duration in a Month
-Most Runs in Month
-Biggest Elevation Climb (What the...)

That 5th mile by the way, was horrendous but I guess if I compare this run to the first few times I ran 5 miles, it doesn't look that bad. 1:19:27

On another note, I also went to this great event hosted by MASD which stands for "Mis Amigos de Síndrome de Down" or "My Friends with Down Syndrome". My cousin Carlos (Big shout out) has a daughter with Down Syndrome (that makes her my 2nd cousin/niece? Something like that?) and she is one of the most adorable, cutest kids I have ever seen. (my daughters notwithstanding) Anyway, this event is kind of a parade were all these kids are the stars of the show. Each kid brings his own "posse"  that cheers them along and walks with them around this park in San Juan. The kids love it, they get to play and run around the park and since the whole point is to invite everyone you know to walk with them, it turns into an impromptu family picnic. We had a great time. This is the second year I go with them. Since you do a bit of walking and it was HOT that day, I'm counting it as a little workout. Double Bonus. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Report #9... and 10.

Yeah, I was falling a bit behind on the reports there. It has been a bit busy but I prefer my writing to fall behind as opposed to my running. I'm happy to report that I have been running all this time despite my not reporting it. Sadly, what I have not been able to do is race. I have been looking forward to race again after my first race, the Popular 5K at the end of August. (Race recap here) I wanted to do Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure 5K in September and injury prevented that. Now the Bayamón Board of Realtors 5K went by yesterday and a work thing prevented me to run that one. Not exactly happy about it if you know what I mean. I wanted to run at least 2 5K's before my cruise, where I will race the Castaway Cay 5K but it has been impossible. I basically have one more chance to at least do one. I will keep you posted.

My running on the other hand has been pretty good. Despite missing some runs, I'm posting some great times. I'm not going to say fast times but better than what I was doing before which means improvement. As long as we keep moving forward, all is well.

Tuesday, October 2 - 4 miles:
This run sucked but only because RunKeeper shot down somewhere along a mile and half and didn't notice so I don't know what my time was. This is the second time this happens and I was pretty upset for some reason (it shouldn't be that big of a deal should it?) But still, a run is a run.

Thursday, October 4 - 4 miles:
OK, this time RunKeeper worked so everything was fine. LOL Actually, I was pretty happy because my time was almost 3 minutes less than what I normally do when I run 4 miles. I usually hang around an hour and six minutes and have been pretty consistent in the time so this was a welcome surprise. 1:03:24

Sunday, October 7 - 4 miles:
Kind of hit a snag here. I was planning to do 5 miles here but ran out of gas. A little self-analysis post race made it obvious as to why. I ran way earlier than usual and the sun was still shining bright. It was on me pretty much the whole way and by mile 3 I had the distinct feeling I was overheating (kind of like an engine). Plus, following a usual theme in my running, I started to fast. I had to stop twice and walk the last hill and by mile 4 I decided to stop. Despite that, I finished only a minute behind my previous run which was a PR. See? It proves I was running too hard. Long runs are about taking it slow and easy. Even walking for a bit, I managed 1:04:18.

Thursday, October 11 - 3 miles:
The weather was crappy all week and this day was no exception but there was a break in the rain and decided to try a run. Since I was going to try a shorter run just in case and was pressed for time, I figured why not try for a 3 mile PR? I have been running some good times right? Well, WRONG! Even though I felt like I ran pretty hard (harder than usual) I ended up with the same time I usually do. Don't get it. My guess is I slowed down somewhere and wasn't paying attention. 46:48

Friday, October 12 - 4 miles:
The good thing about "bad" runs is that they help you appreciate the good ones even more. The next day after running those baffling 3 miles, I run a great 4 miles, well below my average again. I guess my body is getting used to running longer distances. Also, I'm having a lot less trouble running on consecutive days so that is also great news. 1:03:41

Tuesday, October 16 - 4 miles:
OK, this was - how do I say this - THE BEST RUN EVER! Wow. I felt great the while way, had a pretty strong pace, the hills were no problem and did my best time ever.Hey, I even sped up on the downhill sections. ( I usually use those to rest after going uphill) Man, if I could take this run and bottle it... wait. I did have one of those Monster energy drinks a couple of hours before the run. Could that be it? I don't know but I can tell you I felt like a million bucks the entire way. Could I be running 4 miles in less than an hour not too long from now? 1:02:42

In other news, I have been invited by an up and coming running club to go run with them. So far I have ran by myself, mainly to avoid embarrassment as I'm so slow. The prospect of running with others sounds fun but I don't know... Should I wait a bit and improve my times first? I know everyone will be very supportive and tell me I'm doing good but I don't want anyone to fall behind because of me. Any feedback?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why is running gear so... Loud?!

Fashion is such a subjective thing. When I first thought about writing this post all I was thinking about was: "Why is running gear so ugly?" But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't true. It really is a matter of taste. Some people like bright, loud colors and some people don't. Guess which side I'm on.

When it comes to clothes for me, the darker, the better. I love black. I remember seeing Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi thinking: "I want to look like THAT." Then, in my early teens I discovered Rock and Heavy Metal and well, those guys are not exactly known for their bright colors or outlook in life. So black it is for me. Today, I have changed but not that much. I can't use black all the time but I'm still squarely in the darker palette of things. When I do use lighter colors, I make sure they are not too bright.

The problem is I'm fat of course. Big and fat.  I don't like to draw attention to myself and when I wear bright colors I feel like I stick out. I have been told I stand out as it is. (I have heard the word "intimidating" used more than once to describe me) If I dress in yellow (like the shirt from my first race) it's like, attack of the 300lbs, 6 feet tall banana! At least that's how I feel inside. So I avoid bright as much as I can.

Then I got into running.

Oh boy! This is like the antithesis of me on so many levels. The colors, the styles... everything about running gear, I don't like. Case in point:

The Shoes

When it comes to shoes, I'm a conservative guy. I don't like anything flashy.However, it seems that there is some sort of law that states that running shoes HAVE to be exactly that. Case in point:

GEL-Extreme33™                         GEL-Blur33™ 2.0                   Minimus 1010 Trail, Red with Black Mizuno Men's Wave Musha 4 Running Shoes
Now, I see people using these shoes all the time and they look good doing it. I feel like I look ridiculous. But most running shoes look like this so what is a guy to do?

And then there is Motion Control shoes. For some reason, shoe manufacturers do not generally make these kind of shoes in loud colors (compared to other types) but seem to try to compensate by trying to make them as ugly as they can.

                New Balance 587, Navy New Balance 1540, White with NavyNew Balance 1300, Grey

Actually, I said fashion is subjective and there is no such thing as ugly but this is close. They just look... weird. Like they are stuck in the seventies or eighties ( I can't quite place the era). The replacement to my beloved 1123's, the 1540's, is the one in the middle. They actually make a version of those that is all black. Like they made them just for me. They also happen to be the most expensive Motion Control shoes I have seen so far. Just my luck...

So when it comes to shoes I have to pick between bright and modern or dull and ancient. Isn't there anything dark and modern?

The Pants

Again, choices for me are slim. Lets forget for a moment about the color thing. Why do they have to be so short??!! I mean, hot-pants short? I read that making them so short prevents chafing. Well, guess what? That is exactly what causes chafing in my case! Because my fat legs are always rubbing together, unless I wear shorts that are long enough, I would probably rub my legs raw by mile two. And by the way, can you actually sit in those shorts and keep your dignity? I mean they are really short, they are baggy and if you lift you leg enough or sit then your... stuff, is exposed.  Of course, the option to these is the compression stuff. I don't know what the benefits of compression are yet. I'm sure there are many reasons for wearing these but from where I'm sitting they seem to exist to just make sexy women look even more sexy. They have the uncanny ability to reveal the the shape of the wearer in all their glory. Not exactly what I wanted to achieve while running. Because I know that wearing the tight stuff has actual benefits I'm not going to say I will not wear it but I will wear it under something else so people around me can keep their lunch.

The Shirts

OK, so its either a tiny tank top or the form- fitting (emphasis on form-fitting) tech shirt. Where is the baggy, loose-fitting stuff?

It just occurred to me that if there was more stuff like that, maybe more overweight people would run. After all, part of the problem overweight people have is being intimidated by the "fit people" when they go to the gym or a race. We see them dressed in stuff that, if we were wearing it ourselves, we would get laughed at. So many opt to just not do it at all. Now, I know that in most cases form follows function in running attire. The colors do have a safety purpose and the clothes fit like they do for efficiency among other things but there should be more alternatives. More accessible ones at least. I recently got some running shorts in black (they have reflective stripes for safety) that are long enough (10 inch inseam) to avoid chafing and keep my dignity but short enough to allow me to run freely. So the stuff does exist but I had to look very hard to find it though.

Maybe I'm just venting here. Other people look good in running gear. Maybe I'm just complaining that I don't look good in it. Maybe I'm just complaining that I have nothing to wear when I go running. It's not that I care that others might think I don't look good. I've never cared about that. It's that I feel I don't look good in it. You wear all this bright stuff and suddenly you are very self-aware that you are outside your comfort zone. But, if overweight people didn't have self-image issues they would have one less reason to lose weight right?

*All images are sourced from their respective manufacturers: Mizuno, Asics and New Balance

Monday, October 1, 2012

Consistency (...or trying to attain some)

To Gilbert and Frankie,
-Brothers in The Force

Before I begin, I want to mention something.

Yesterday was Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure 5K; a race I wanted to run but, because of dealing with my leg most of the month and not training consistently, decided against it. Instead, I was invited by a couple of guys who shall remain nameless (hint: read the dedication) to go watch the Jets game at a pub. Any football fan will tell you how well that turned out for me but I left the pub happy nonetheless because as it turns out, people are reading my blog.

I expected my friends to read at least the first couple of posts, you know, being polite and all, but people have not only read it, but seem to be looking forward to find out what's going to happen next. Blogger tells me I have over 300 hits on The Fat Runner (not counting those who read it on The Loop in the Runner's World website) and I sure haven't told 300 people to go read it so the few people that have read it are coming back to read more. So thanks everyone. I will try to keep it interesting.

Anyway, this week was a futile attempt at consistency. For the first time since my last race (also my first race) I was feeling like I could return to a regular, 3 times per week run schedule. Nature however, had other plans. I couldn't run on Tuesday so I switched to Wednesday and then was not able to run until Saturday. Sure, two out of three is not bad, but I'm tired of missing runs. Plus, I'm aiming to run the Bayamón Board of Realtors 5k on October 21. One last race before the Castaway Cay 5K. With such a "busy" schedule, I can't just run "when I can". I have to find some consistency.

Wednesday, September 26 - 4 miles:
Even though it was late afternoon (I finished the run at night) the humidity was horrible. In Puerto Rico you don't so much roast (like you would in, say Las Vegas) as much as you boil in your own juices and this particular day was really bad so this run was a bit of a struggle and I felt like I wasn't going to run the entire thing but I hung in there and finished. I was running at a super slow pace, which paid off when it was time to go up the hills. 16:30 min/mile is not what I would refer to as an Olympic pace but I finished. 1:06:17

Saturday, September 29 - 4 miles:
What a difference! With a previous run under my belt this week, I ran the same course as Wednesday and it was a completely different story. I had a stronger pace (15 seconds faster then the previous run) and I tackled the hills with a lot more strength. I also cut a whole minute from the previous run. When I finished, I felt like I could have run more. Not bad at all. 1:05:14.

As you know, I'm looking to replace my cherished 1123's as they are pretty worn. Looking for a replacement, and actually since I started running I have noticed a trend in running gear I don't like very much but we will talk about that next time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekly Report #7

Well, I seem to be getting closer to deciphering the cause of my leg/hip pain. I managed to run this week after a brief (it felt like forever) period of rest and have been monitoring exactly what is causing it. For example, the minute I put on my running shoes and started walking, I felt pain. However once I started running, after maybe a mile and a half, it went away. Interesting...

Motion Control shoes (the type I wear see here) are designed to help people who overpronate when they run, which means that much of the load is sustained by the inside of the foot. Now, I overpronate mainly because I have classic "fat guy" legs. When I stand up straight, my legs are touching each other all the way down to the knee, where they bow out.

It could be that the shoe's tendency to force you to use the outside of the foot, is messing with my leg's alignment to the hip, therefore causing the discomfort. Sounds plausible. Right? Only one problem: I used these shoes with no problem at all for 100+ miles. Why is it bothering me now? Well there is theory #2: It's time to change shoes because the both the sole and the cushioning are wasted. I am not a shoe expert so it is hard for me to determine just when is it time to switch. I was told a good pair of running shoes can last up ti 350 miles so it is way early for these but then again my weight is a factor here.

The outside of the soles are totally wasted

Those wrinkles are a sign of "crushed" cushioning? I don't know

Want to talk wear? Check this action out.

That pair of shoes cost $130. Not what I usually pay for shoes of any kind so it bugs me that maybe I got to get new ones so fast. I mean, when I was the definition of couch potato, a pair of shoes could last me many years. So having to get new ones after 6 months (maybe less) is kind baffling to me. I'm thinking of buying a pair of Brooks Beasts which I have often heard described as "tanks" because of their durability.

As usual, I try to look at the positives and my two runs this week were pretty good. I was a bit sore but after not running for a while, it was to be expected. I took it easy both because of not running for a while and because of the pain but as I mentioned, after a while running, it went away.

Tuesday, September 18 - 2 miles
My comeback run. The pain was bothering me a bit but, it went away after a while. Also, the pain wasn't that bad as before the week off. I was not limping and was not favoring the other leg. I took it slow and it was OK. 

Thursday, September 20 - 3 miles
I was a bit sore from the previous run but I was itching to run 3 miles so once again, I took it slow and went on. Once again, the pain faded as I ran further. By the end of the run, I was walking fine back home and after cooling down, it came back but only a little bit.

Hopefully,this week I can start executing my plan (see here) and run a little further. Any input on the shoes will be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekly Report #6 (...sort of)

OK, I did not run last week. Not at all, not even a little bit.

Although technically...

As I mentioned last post, I was traveling to Philly last week and I was supposed to test out the ole' hip running on a treadmill at the hotel. Well, it didn't work out that way. While at the airport, the hip really started to bother me. I got a bit worried and decided to not run at all and head straight to the doctor when I got back to Puerto Rico. Well, after arriving at the hotel (and two days of no sleep) I went straight to bed and slept a really long while. I hadn't done that in long while and, anyone with small kids (and I got three small girls) will tell you sleep is a precious thing. I woke up refreshed and feeling a lot better so after the meeting we went sightseeing and did a lot of walking. Maybe rest is what I needed after all.

If you are starting to notice a trend here, you are not wrong. I'm avoiding the doctor like the plague. The last time I was in pain and couldn't work out I went and got bad news (compressed disc) and had to stop doing the workout video I was doing at the time. So I'm kind of scared I will be told something that will stop me from running. Now, before I keep going I should clear up I kind of, sort of ran last week. I said We did some sightseeing. Well, we were in Philadelphia so when in Rome...

We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and of course we just had to have a cheesesteak sandwich at Pat's King of Steaks...

As if I needed any proof that the place is world famous this big SUV parks right in front of our bench and the Mayor of New Jersey pops out to buy one as well. He could use a bit of running himself...

Then, we just had to do it... I mean what runner (or wannabe runner like me) would pass up the opportunity? We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or, as everyone knows the place, "The Rocky Steps."!! 

For years, the famous Rocky statue was kept right where they put it in the film at the top of the steps but then, it was moved several times to several places but people wanted it back where it belonged. The Museum though did not think the statue was in keeping with the theme of the place so they didn't want it there. So, they struck a compromise and placed it at the base of the steps a little bit to the side. The irony is, people visit the statue and the steps more than the museum.

OF COURSE I RAN UP THE DARN THING! Like you wouldn't. It was a bit weird though. My leg would hurt when I was running on level ground but while climbing the actual steps I felt nothing. Also, my pants were falling off going up. Probably good new right? My pants are looser? I actually have a video of it but the camerawoman took it on portrait orientation and now I can't seem to edit it (or even see it) so you don't get to see it.

Anyway, that is all the running I did all week. We got back and, since I was feeling better, did not go to the doctor. I did run this week but I will get to that on another post.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Simple Plan... (and a Weekly Report)

So I'm kind of joining two posts here but the reason is simple: The weekly report is so short that I can't really call it a post. I ran only once this past week. Here's what happened.

My leg is still hurting. It happened during my first race. I just didn't notice. Because everything else was hurting as well, I just didn't notice. A couple of days later after all the usual pains subsided, I noticed the leg thing wasn't going away. I took the weekend off to give it some rest but this Tuesday, I laced up and boy did I pay for it.

Tuesday, September 4 - 4 miles
It was still bothering me but I thought I'd take it slow and see what happened. I limped almost the entire way. Of course, favoring my right leg led to, of course, my left leg to start hurting. I can only wonder how ridiculous I must have looked. People probably thought I was either running or doing Victor Cruz's touchdown salsa dance while I walked very quickly. There was no way I was going to keep that up the whole way and sure enough, by mile three I had to stop. That final mile was a real struggle but I barely made it. Not my finest hour.

It's ironic then, with my leg still hurting, that I will talk about my plan to improve the way I run my next race but since I'm not running I got time to write. Also, I will address what I'm going to do about it.

I'm heading to Philadelphia on business tomorrow so I'm taking advantage of it. Since I have been taking it easy and haven't run since Tuesday, I will have given myself a full week to shake whatever this is off. Plus, since I'm traveling and at a hotel, I will run on Tuesday at their fitness center on a treadmill, further reducing the stress you normally bear while on the road. If there is no progress and my leg is still hurting, then I'm heading for the Doctor as soon as I get off the plane home. If I see improvement, then I will run on the hotel treadmill again on Thursday. Yes, I have been avoiding going to the doctor but it worries me the Doc will tell me its something that won't let me run.

As for my plan, here's my plan:

1. Increase my mileage: Nothing over the top. I have been running three times a week, 3 miles, 3miles, 5 miles. So I'm going to shoot for 4 miles, 4 miles, 5 miles. The logic behind that is simply that I will be over-shooting the race distance every run. I want 3 miles to be an afterthought. The only way that is going to happen is by running longer distances. I don't want to over-do it so this is, I think is the best compromise.

2. Cross-Training: After the race, I was feeling particularly weak in my lower abdomen. It wasn't just muscular, it was that whole area kind of telling me "well if you plan on running this hard regularly you need to strengthen this general area you know." So, twice a week, I will do some strength training to work my core and upper body.

And that's it. Nothing extreme or crazy. Just a slight bump in mileage and some extra work to balance my workouts. Hopefully, it will help me improve my next race.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Weekly Report #4

No, I did not miss a number and I do know how to count. It is Report #4 because I count the recap of a race (like last week) as a report. 

This past week was a "recovery/injury" week for me. After the soreness from the race went away, I noticed I was feeling a sharp pain where my femur meets my hip. I'm not a Doctor and I can't name a lot of the bones in my body but this particular pain seems to be coming from the inside. Like, from the bone. When I went running on Thursday, I was limping a bit but after warming up it went away. The next day, it was really bothering me. I took the weekend off but today, I can still kind of feel it. When I run tomorrow, if the problem persist, I'm going to have to get checked out. Is it a pinched nerve? (feels like it) Arthritis? (Hope not!) It doesn't seem to be muscular.

Tuesday, August 28 - 2 miles
I really didn't want to run. I was still sore from the race and wasn't really up to it but I ran anyway. It was one of the best runs I have ever done. It really helped me get my head together. It was slow and short and wonderful. I had never understood what people meant when they said they were energized by a run or that they felt refreshed by a run. I get it now. 31:54.

Thursday, August 30 - 3 miles
Just for the heck of it. I re-loaded the playlist I made for the race again for this run. Never mind that I was kind of limping and was supposed to take things slow but the way I ran the race was still nagging me so I just wanted to prove I could do it. Sure enough, Journey was halfway through "Don't Stop Believing" when I crossed the 3 mile marker. (More like the house where Google told me it was 3 miles)  So there, I can do it. I could have done it at the race if I hadn't thrown my plan through the window. Next page please.   43:25.