Thursday, December 31, 2009


New Year’s Eve night and in a few hours I am going to be heading into the city to time a race, which is really wacky because a) I figured I was done timing for a couple of months until the spring and b) I am timing a race thats going to start at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I am excited though – this should be a good time.

The weather is looking a little iffy. I am bringing my pop-up tent and a bunch of bags for all of my equipment. I pray that rain holds off until. Trying to do the results in the dark, with the wind and the rain would really, really suck, but at least there’s a full moon, and I am bringing my head lamp and a lantern with me, just in case.

I am going to try and take some pics – the race director is giving out awards for the fastest runners in tux’s and evening gowns and I would like to get some shots of those fools. I am hoping to get home by 2:00 am, assuming we’re wrapped up at 1:30 am. This should go smooth – there’s a 120 people pre-reg’d and the RD doesnt think he’ll get more than 200 total. I don’t have to mark the course, and I didnt have to make up bibs or anything like that. I want to be in and out.

I am kicking around the idea of running a 5k tomorrow morning in Swarthmore. I did this race last year. Its a small little event ~ about 50 people if recall. Tomorrow looks to be nice ~ 38 degrees by race time which is downright balmy compared to some of the weather I have been running in lately. I am also thinking it might be a good day to get a mountain bike ride in – the weather looks good, but the trails will be sloppy – you take the good with the bad. We’ll see I guess. It will depend on how motivated I am when I get up in the morning, and if any of the guys want to ride as well.

Speaking of running, its been a dead week. I was a bit more than I expected on Monday, following my 12 miler on Sunday. I am assuming its due to the fact that Sunday’s 12 was the longest run I have done in a while. So I skipped Monday. Tuesday, I woke up and felt like crap and that ickiness went right into Wednesday. This morning I did a 4 mile snow run with Tim over at Ridley Creek State Park. We measured one of the five Pickle courses that we’re doing at the January Pickle Run.

The run itself sucked. My calves were KILLING me. I had to stop ALOT to stretch, and the stretching didnt help a bit. This calf thing has me concerned. Its not my shoes, because this tightness has happened with at least three pairs of shoes that I rotate. I cant put my finger on it. I am using The Stick on it every day and I am applying liberal amounts of Tiger Balm before I run. I find that the balm warms the muscle up and helps with the tightness.

The game plan for the rest of the weekend is up in the air. Sunday, I am about 90% sure that I am going to *try* and run 14 with one of the girls on my running club. We’ll do 9 miles at 7:30 am and then another 5 miles at the 9:00 run. I dunno – we’ll see how the calves feel. I am keeping my eye on the situation.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Relax and Do Nothing

Thats what God told me to do over the five days that I have off. He told me that in a vision. I was sleeping and an apparition appeared at the end of my bed. It was god. At first, I didnt think it was God, because the apparition looked like the Fonze. I said “Fonzie, why are you standing at the edge of my bed?” And the Fonze said that he wasnt the Fonze, he was God. And I remember thinking to myself – that’s awesome – God looks like the Fonze. I also remember thinking to myself – I wonder if God ever jumped over a tank of sharks on waterskis while wearing a leather jacket? That would be one badass God, and it would be much cooler than turning water into wine. Any two-bit hack magician could do that. I think I once saw David Copperfield do that on a TV special. Anyway, I am getting off track.

So the Fonze, I mean God, told me that I am not to exert myself over the next five days, and if I did he would smite me with his almighty hand. So, I have been taking it easy, more or less. I’ve been getting alot of exercise (up until today). I also fixed my storm door, visited alot of relatives, and fixed my heater. I also installed a new brake line on my mountain bike and tru’d my front wheel.

On Christmas Eve, Mike, Dom and I went out for a snow-ride over at Swarthmore College. It was a shit show. The snow was too deep. Mike blogged about it on his blog as well. We ride nearly thirty minutes and went 1 mile. The trails dont get enough traffic to really pack the snow down. Mike and I bagged the ride and did a 2 mile trail run. It felt like we ran 4 miles, since we running in fairly deep snow for half of the run. The day before, I ran a “mixed bag” run – 2 miles at tempo, then a mile and a half of extreme hills. Couple that with the 7.5 miler I did the day before, and I had nothing in me for a deep-snow trail run.

I didnt do any running on Christmas day – I was due up for a rest day anyway. I was planning on running long today, but it’s been pouring all day, and the prospect of running nearly two hours in the rain wasnt appealing, and I knew the most that I would get out of the treadmill would be 7 or 8 miles tops, before I would go nutty and take a hostage. So, I decided to defer the long run until tomorrow. Looks like its going to be a nice day and Sunny, so I’ll save the legs until tomorrow. I am thinking about doing the 7.5 mile Delco RRC Springfield Run and then maybe the 5 mile run immediately after. Thats assuming that someone shows up for the 7.5 miler. I put a post up on our club message board to see if anyone else plans on going and wants to run my pace, which is going to be super easy.

Christmas Hijinks

Pics from various Christmas functions:

Xmas 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moose Tracks

I did another four miles this morning, bright and early, after another round of shoveling (the final round!). Today, I tried my “moose tracks” for the first time. Moose tracks are a slip-on rubber harness that you place over your shoes. The bottom of the harness has a couple of small metal studs that help with track in the sloppy stuff. The conditions this morning were worse than yesterday, only because this morning’s snow was slushy, although there was more “road” exposed than yesterday morning.

What you just read was written on Sunday, but I never posted it. When I told the peeps at work that I went running outside both Saturday and Sunday, they thought I was nuts. Honestly, it wasnt that bad. I dont know if I would do something like that three weeks away from the marathon, because with my luck, I would slip and go ass-over-teacups and injure myself.

This morning didnt start off well. I wasnt feeling 100% yesterday, so I went to bed at 9:30 last night to recharge the batteries. I have been eating like absolute shit lately. Sunday, Heather made cookies for Hope’s Christmas Concert, and I think I must have consumed a pound of cookie dough, not to mention all of the actual cookies that I ate. I paid for it yesterday.

Anyway, I was up and out of the house at 4:40 am this morning. Of course, as luck would have it, the car wouldnt start. Dead battery. WTF. I fired up Heathers car and gave my car a jump. I blew about 20 minutes or so screwing around with car, but it was no big deal because I had plenty of time still to run once I got to the gym. I decided to bag the spin class this morning because I didnt run yesterday, and I am going to do a mountain bike ride with the guys on Thursday.

I wasnt more than a mile from the house at a traffic light and everything in the car goes dim and the car suddenly dies. So here I am, in the middle of the street at an intersection with a dead car. WTF. Luckily, by some miracle of god, I got the f*cker to turn over, but I kept the heater and the radio off the rest of the way to the gym, and at every stop light, I kept revving the engine to get the amps up and hopefully charge the battery that much quicker.

As bad as my morning started, the rest of my workout was excellent. I ran 7.5 miles at about an 8:50 pace – nothing crazy – just an easy run, but I felt great. The calf felt fine, and my knee felt fine. Outstanding. I have been taking some supplements to help with the joints – glucosomine and fish oil. Maybe its all in my head – the placebo effect – but my knee has been feeling great since I started taking both supplements.

So this week is a bit crazy since its a holiday week. As I had mentioned I decided to skip the spin class this morning, because I needed the mileage and I am riding on Thursday anyway. I am not sure what the training schedule has on tap for this weekend in regards to a long run, but I need to do one in the worst way. Two weeks in and I havent broken 7.5 miles yet. I gave myself a pass for this weekend past. There was no way I was doing a long run in the snowy conditions, and getting to the gym would have been tough and quite frankly, not worth the effort.

I figure that with 7.5 under my belt today, another 4 or 5 tomorrow (tempo run), and a long run on the weekend, I should be around 25 miles. That’s with me riding on Thursday, and not running on Christmas day.

Speaking of long runs, I am thinking about trying to get the long run in here and there during the week, as opposed to the weekend. For a 12 mile run, for example, I would need about an hour and forty-five minutes at a 9:00/ mile pace. If I left the house at 4:45 am, I would still be home by 6:45 am, which would give me plenty of time to get showered and get ready for work. I leave the house to go the gym at 4:45, so running at that time in the morning isnt a problem. It works out for two reasons – a) I cant run 12 miles on a treadmill. I’d take a hostage and b) I save myself the 10-15 minutes I would loose driving to the gym. I think that in theory, I could do a max of 14-15 miles in the morning before work, but I would be up at the ass crack of dawn, but it would only be necessary on the rarest of occasions. I’d have to map a decent course or two before I set out. I can create a course with the Garmin software that came with my GPS, and upload it to the Garmin, and as I am running, the Garmin will tell me where to turn and the distance between each turn, etc. Neat stuff.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This is the girl of my dreams

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Der Schnee

I love this weather. This is the perfect snow storm – nice, soft, fluffy snow. I have already been out shoveling three or four times, and this is the kind of snow thats not wet and heavy. Oddly, I dont mind shoveling, but when the snow is wet, it friggen sucks –it becomes a miserable back-breaking experience thats best left to cheap immigrant labor, not white collar types, like me.

I was supposed to go out and measure the Pickle courses at Ridley Creek State Park this morning, with Tim. That never happened. Instead, I through my winter running clothes on and my trail shows and did 3.5 miles out in the snow. It wasnt bad – I was out there around 7:30 am, and at that point, we only had 3 or 4 inches. Most of the snow on the road was hard packed from the plows or what little traffic there was out there on the roads.

I wasnt killing the pace – running in snow is like running in mud and I had a fairly strong headwind on the way out on my “out and back” course. I wasnt particularly cold, but my face went numb because the headwind was blowing the snow directly at me. I should have worn my balaclava and maybe my ski goggles.

Once home, the girls and I went outside and played in the snow. We have a small hill in the back – not much – but the girls like sledding down the hill.

Snow 001Snow 004 

Snow 013

After the hijinks were over, we headed to Swarthmore Pizza which is our favorite local restaurant. Figuring that we’d be snowed in all day, a trip out for lunch would be good for everyone’s sanity

Snow 019

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Biggest Pickle Ever

I think I am taking today off. I definitely went to hard yesterday. Sure, I could do an easy run, but I dont think I would be getting a quality workout if I tried to do a tempo run. So I am skipping the gym this morning, and heading to work early, and I will try to get out a bit early and head to to the gym and run my tempo workout. I figure that might also give me some extra time to recover as well. And my stomach is bothering me right now. If I went to the gym and tried to run, I think I would wind up with a case of the "trots.”

If worse comes to absolute worse, I’ll skip running today, and run tempo tomorrow, and skip the spin class.

Pickle Run Update: We’re up to 90 pre-reg’d runners!!! The upcoming January Pickle will definitely be the largest pickle so far. I think we’re confident that well hit 200 runners!!!! Tim and I are going out this weekend to officially measure the courses. We have four courses to measure. I guess the bright side is that I am supposed to run 12 this weekend, and with all of the course measuring on tap, I’ll probably get the 12 in, albeit it might be broken up into pieces.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I think I overdid it

I had an intense workout this morning at the gym. A three mile run followed by a 50 minute spin class. The run wasnt all that intense - kept it easy for the first mile and then ramped up the speed every quarter mile. The average pace was probably 8:45 - 8:50, but the last mile and a half was fast.

I went overboard with the spin class. I try my hardest to keep the intensity low but its tough. I get really caught up in the moment. I dont have my heart rate monitor on me, so I dont know what my average HR was for the class, but I think it's got to be in the mid/ upper 150's. I was in the mid 170's here and there in the class, especially in the sprints, and I was in the 160's fairly often.

My legs are sore which is not a good sign because I am supposed to hump out a tempo run tomorrow.

I think I overdid it

I had an intense workout this morning at the gym. A three mile run followed by a 50 minute spin class. The run wasnt all that intense - kept it easy for the first mile and then ramped up the speed every quarter mile. The average pace was probably 8:45 - 8:50, but the last mile and a half was fast.

I went overboard with the spin class. I try my hardest to keep the intensity low but its tough. I get really caught up in the moment. I dont have my heart rate monitor on me, so I dont know what my average HR was for the class, but I think it's got to be in the mid/ upper 150's. I was in the mid 170's here and there in the class, especially in the sprints, and I was in the 160's fairly often.

My legs are sore which is not a good sign because I am supposed to hump out a tempo run tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

1 Down, 15 to go.

Week 1 of marathon training didnt go exactly as I planned. I fell short of some of my planned mileage. I think I hit 17 miles for the week and I was supposed to do something on the order of 22-23. However, I did an hour and thirty-four minutes on the spin bike, so at least I got some quality cardio work in, although more of it should have been via running.

A big piece of the mileage shortage happened yesterday – I was scheduled to run 10 miles, but the weather was absolutely miserable, so I headed to the gym instead. Things didnt start out well. I got to the gym and realized that I didnt have shorts, so I had to run to Target, which is directly next-door to the gym (lucky for me), to pick up shorts. I got a little over 7 miles into the run and called it quits – I was bored out of my mind.Additionally, the gym was empty, as would be expected at 2:00 on a Sunday. If there were a more more peeps in there, I think I would be a bit more engaged. I like the energy when the gym is packed and people are pumping. I guess thats why I like running with other people 

I look at this way – no harm no foul on the bad start. Its too early in the training to get worked up over some hiccups. Now, if this was week 14, then I would be a bit more concerned. I’ll work out all of the kinks as the weeks progress.

I had some calf problems last week. Nothing major- more of a symptom of the fact that I havent been running outside in a long time. To make the situation worse, I ran my first outdoor run on an up-hill off-camber road, and I have always had some issues with calf tightness on uneven ground. It flared up yesterday in the gym, but this morning it was fine. I am doing some extra calf work 2-3 times a week now, to really work out the kinks.

IMG00010 Snow Ride at Valley Forge


I found out today that I am going to be timing a race on New Year’s Eve at Midnight on Kelly Drive. This sounds like a lot of fun. If anyone is doing anything that night and wants to help out, let me know.

So I am starting Week 2 of training. I was scheduled to run a four mile easy run this morning, but I only did a little over 3 – I woke up later than I wanted to do and I was pressed for time. I was hoping to get out tonight and maybe do another 3 with the running club, but I got held up at work. Getting up this morning was a pain in ass. I got up late yesterday, so I popped a Lunesta around 8:00 last night to knock me out. It did the trick, but it usually makes getting up the next morning a very difficult exercise. Supposedly, Lunesta isnt supposed to have any day-after drowsiness side effects that are usually associated with over the counter sleep aid but that aint the case. Regardless, I managed to drag my ass out of bed a bit later then I wanted to. Tomorrow, I am going to drag my ass out of bed even earleir and run an easy three, and then sit in on the spin class. I dont think I am going to be doing the entire spin class from this point on. I like to reserve some extra time do some stretching and some calf-work.

I am also not minding the cold so much. I have plenty of winter gear and once I am moving it aint so bad. I get a little chill when I start but usually within a quarter mile I am ok- warm if anything to be honest. This morning, it was a balmy 40 degrees, but last Monday, on my first run outside in the cold, it was about 30 degrees.

The asian guy standing next to me on the train has ass-breath. I am covering my nose with my scarf. Its that bad.

Its all about the kids

I get a bit depressed this time of year, and I will tell you why.

So Friday morning, I was waiting to take the train at the Morton train station and I had some time to kill, so I ran across the street to this little coffee shop to grab a coffee. Right next to the counter is a basket for new toy donations.

Something like that breaks my heart. My girls are my life and they havent never gone without. We have a very generous family, and the girls arent necessarily spoiled but they are certainly treated well. Its to the point where Heather and I dont have to do very much for them around the holidays. Anyway, I see this basket and then I get this picture in my head of some poor kids living in some ramshackle house and they are just over-joyed that they have this awesome new toy to play with. While at the same time, that picture makes me very happy, it makes me sad at the same time, that there are kids who dont have it as good as my kids.

Every year before Christmas, Heather and I go through all of the kids toys and donate some of the old ones to Goodwill. The girls get excited about this, and I think thats a friggen great behavior to instill in these kids. Additionally, I think we’re going to do what we did last year after Christmas – we took one new toy from each of them and had the girls donate them. Amazingly, my girls do not take any exception to this – I think most kids would vehemently protest if there parents tried to pull this on them.

I am going to say something that might sound politically incorrect on the surface, but hear me out. While I think its notable that people are adopting asian kids from China and Vietnam, I gotta wonder why were not looking internally at the kids in this country who use a good home. I understand fully that the living conditions in some parts of China are third-world at best, but there are kids in this country who are suffering as equally bad.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Good Morning

I am not having a good morning. Let’s start with the weather. Getting up at 4:30 am and leaving the house to go to the gym in a downpour was exactly the best way to welcome the day.

I get to the gym, and as I am grabbing my gym clothes out of the trunk, I noticed that all of my shirts are wet. Last night when I got home, I must have not closed the trunk all the way and one of my shirts was sticking out. That shirt kept the trunk open just enough to let water in, and all of my crap was soaked. I managed to find one shirt that wasnt as bad as the rest.

Once inside, my nose starts to bleed. At the same time, I noticed my Garmin was dead. So while I am in the bathroom trying to stop my nose bleed – which took about 30 minutes – I let the Garmin charge. The fact that I had the charger with me was the only piece of luck I had this morning.

I finally get the nosebleed stopped, and I hop on the treadmill. Today’s workout called for a 3 mile tempo run at 8:30, with a mile warmup and a mile cooldown.I start the warm-up at a slow jog and I am noticing that my left calf is tight. I stop and stretch that out a bit, and proceed with the first mile of the tempo. Within a half mile, I am feeling like shit. My calf is still tight, and I think all of the blood in my stomach (gross, I know), wasnt sitting well either. I finished the first tempo mile and called it a day. So, I might try this again afterwork – we’ll have to see

The first day of training – Monday – went well. I got up and layered up, and did 4.4 miles on my old out-and-back loop from my house to Bortondale and back. The “out” is uphill and the “back” is a downhill. I keep separate splits for both legs. I think I was pacing at a 9 minute mile on the way out, and a 8 minute mile on the back. My blended average was 8:45. I noticed that my left calf was tight. I havent had this in a while. It might stem from the fact that the road that I run on for a good 2 miles of the course is a bit off camber. I have a detour that I can use, and I think I am going to have to use that in the future.

So with the calf feeling tight this morning, I stretched the shit out of it, and because I cut the run short, I did some calf work, which I think I am going to have to do a few times a week, also taking into consideration that one of my previous injuries was a calf/ ankle issue.

Yesterday, the plan called for some crosstraining. I am opting to take my normal spin classes twice a week, but scaled back a bit in the intensity. I tried to keep it easy yesterday, and for the majority of the class, I was doing my own thing and not necessarily following the instructor. I think I went a bit harder than I should have, but that’s more of a behavior based on the fact that I go full throttle at every spin class. I also look at this way – I dont need to be in good riding shape at this point because a) as the training progresses the mountain biking will unfortunately tail off and b) I dont do much winter riding anyway so there’s no point in keeping my bike fitness high. I am not in great shape to begin with relative to Mike and Dom. And even I was riding, I would probably be following a periodization plan that I used alot for triathlon and alot of cyclists also use it.


Periodization works like this: training is broken down into Periods and the Periods all culminate into peak fitness, which typically coincides with the one’s race season. So, the first “period” over the winter is called the “base” phase – easy spinning, low heart rate, letting things repair from the previous season, and working on spin technique. When I was training for tri’s, this phase would start in December and go for about 6 weeks. There might also be some weight training mixed in as well.

The next “period” would be “Strength” where the workouts progress into muscle building – lots of interval and time trial based riding. The strength period would be followed by a Speed period, which is where the fast twitch muscles are really built up. In this phase there’s a lot of above-threshold riding. You’re hitting this Period in the Spring, which is typically when the Road Racing and Triathlon season begins. At this point in time, most athletes still arent at their peak fitness level. The early season races are really the last piece of the puzzle to build up to peak fitness.

Peak fitness typically lasts for two weeks. That doesnt mean that if you peak in June, you’re done for the summer. You can multiple Peak Fitness Periods over the course of the summer, as long as you have proper rest and/or lower intensity workouts in between. To get into another phase of Peak Fitness, you would follow a very mini-version of the Periodization schedule, and you wouldnt have to do the Base phase, because you should aready have a strong riding Base already.

To think that you’re going to have your A game all season is ridiculous. You’ll burn out. That’s what happened to me two summers ago when I was full-swing into duathlon. By the time the end of the summer came, I was toast, but in the Spring, I was greasy fast. I tried to keep the fitness up which is like chasing a carrot on a stick. And to boot, every ride, every run, was a hammer-fest.

The marathon training plan is also a quasi Period schedule. The first couple of weeks are base – lots of slow running, some temp runs here and there. As the training progresses, the plan will mix in some speedwork, and the longer runs encompass the Strength period.

Sunday, Dom and I did the first “Snow Ride” of the year. It was a shit-show. My neighborhood got a light dusting, but the area up by Valley Forge got at least 2-3.” Unfortunately, the ground is still to warm, and none of the trails were covered in snow. Rather, they were a sloppy, muddy shit fest. After 45 minutes, I was covered head to toe in mud, and I was wet, and I was clod, and I couldnt feel my feet. Awful riding conditions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

There will be Blood

This isnt the way I wanted to go into my first week of marathon training. I havent run a single mile this week, for a variety of reasons. Early in the week, I could feel a cold coming on, so I bagged the running and figured I should rest up before a sniffle turns in the swine flue. Wednesday I was just plain lazy. I got up at 4:45, got all of my outdoor running shit on, and then promptly sat on my couch and surfed the internet.  And yesterday I was traveling for 16 hours – Philly to Chicago and back. Today, I am just tired. And there’s another limiting factor to throw on top of all that: my nose has been bleeding incessantly

I broke my nose pretty bad when I was a tyke – no , I was beaten. I took a spill into my grandmother’s marble coffee table, head first. The coffee table came out on top of that one. Anyway, it was so bad that I had to get my nose cauterized once or twice when I was young because I suffered from constant nose bleeds. Now, the problem isnt anywhere near as bad, but I still get the nosebleeds about twice a year. I get them in the spring occasionally, but I really get hit hard in the fall. Its mostly a function of the dry air – it must shrink my blood vessels or something. I took some dingers in karate over the years that certainly havent helped the situation either. I had a few bleeds in the beginning of the week and they werent terrible, but Wednesday and yesterday, my nose was a like a geyser. Oi. Flying didnt help.The air in the plane cabin is extremely dry, and on the return trip back to Philly, I could feel the pressure change as we descended all up in my sinuses. I must have hard three bleeds over the course of the day, yesterday. I had one last night, and another bad one this morning that I couldnt stop.

So, running wasnt in my best interest in the last couple of days. The last thing I wanted was a stream of blood to start gushing out of my nose while I am on the treadmill.

My goal is to hit the treadmill tomorrow and do a couple of good solida miles. Ultimately, I would like to get outside, but I think the weather is going to be a crappy mix of snow then rain then snow then rain throughout most of the day. I’ll probably be driven inside. I need to start getting outside to get acclimated to the cold. Sunday, I am trying to line up a mountain bike ride with the fellas, because it looks like most of my time is going to be consumed by running for the foreseeable future.