Monday, December 29, 2008

Closing the Book on 2008

I hope everyone' s having a great holiday season. I am not sure when the season starts or ends, but here's hoping yours has been joyous. Or something like that.

The snow here in Chicago has been washed away and I was able to resume outdoor running. I was able to get 6 in on Saturday and 12 on Sunday. I was the lucky recipient of a Garmin Forerunnner 305 for Christmas, so it accompanied on my weekend runs. It's nice to see how accurate my previously mapped courses really were; some mile markers are off just a bit, while a couple others were dead on. Weird. It's also my first time running with a heart rate monitor, so I am kind of swimming in numbers right now. I am excited to track all of this data. I think this officially makes me a full-fledged runner.

I also received a few other running items for Christmas including a new Nike cold weather running hat as well, a giftcard to Nike, a copy of the 2nd edition of Advanced Marathoning (scheduled to arrive soon) and the RW book "Run Less, Run Faster (FIRST). I have never followed the FIRST plan and from what I have gathered, it is more suitable to people who cross train or are triatheletes. I also feel like I already have been running less per se. For much of my training for the Chicago Marathon, I ran four days per week. I am pretty confident I could see better results by running more.

So, that kind of takes us into Running goals for 2009. I have never come up with a list like this before, but here goes:
  • Run More! How about 2009 miles in 2009?
  • Improve all of my previous personal records, which were all set in 2008 between September and November:
  1. Marathon - sub 3:20 (previous best 3:29:58)
  2. Half Marathon - 1:32 (previous best 1:38:34)
  3. 10K - 40:00 (previous best 41:48)
  • Incorporate more core work into my regular routine
  • Do all of this while becoming a father for the first time
I know this may look a little ambitious, but I think I am ready to take a huge step forward in my racing. I feel like I know more about running now than I ever have. I am also going to maintain some level of fitness in the offseason by running 20-30 miles per week. Prior to actually starting training, I will build my runnning base appropriately and actually be ready to go and in great shape for training.

I know I said it before, but the fundraising for FSMA that I led this year was one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of in my life. Raising $33,500 dollars was absolutely extraordinary. I think that a wide array of people who were previously unconnected can come together to support a common cause. I think that was the case in the fundraising effort. I can't thank all of you enough for your support.

The thing I have a hard time with is that Running for Cru came to to a glorious peak on October 12, 2008. I am not calling anyone out or anything of that nature, but I think it's part of human nature and to a lesser degree the American way of life that then moves on to the next thing. Meanwhile, the loss of Cru is still incredibly painful to his loved ones. Most everyone, while still remembering him and thinking of what a tragedy it is to lose someone so early in life, has gone on with their life.

So what do we do? I don't really have the answers. Thank God or whatever you believe in that you are fortunate enough to be able to wake up every morning and live life? That may sound a little crass. Make the most of life because while it's a beautiful and precious thing, it can be fleeting? Really, I don't know.

I am 95% sure I'll be running for charity in the '09 Chicago Marathon. And I am 95% sure it will be something related to trying to cure SMA. I am not sure it will be the same organization, but it very well could be. I have also thought of trying to recruit a few other runners to join me and form a Running for Cru team - Cru's Crew maybe? They could possibly raise a few bucks to help the cause as well and we could spread the word about SMA. I am not sure if there'd be interest, but I think it's worth a shot. Like I said multiple times back in June or July or August or September or October, if we could help even one family from going through what Ken and Michelle have gone through and are still going through, this is and will always be a success.

Lastly, thanks for reading over the past several months. I obviously like to talk about myself. Thanks for listening. I hope this blog has brought you some happiness, a laugh, some decent running information and some awareness of SMA in 2008. If you have been following along since it's inception in late June, it's most likely brought you a cry as well. Here's hoping 2009 brings you and yours many more good times than bad. See you in 2009!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Let's Go Browns!

It's again been a while. I'll do better now that the nursery is painted, the furniture is put together and the bedding is in hand. Here a some thoughts that have popped into my head over the last couple weeks.

  • The title of this post is a reference to my fantasy football team. If the Philly D scores 25 points or less tomorrow night, I'll be playing for the money next week. Here's a fantasy side note for you: I am thinking about hanging up my fantasy spikes. Yes, I know it's hard to believe. And I am talking about baseball here too. I am having a hard time deciding if my time could be spent in a better way. Football is one thing. A monkey can pretty much play fantasy football. And it's basically a one day thing, with the exception of some Monday and Thursday night games. But basbeall is 6 months of picking up guys off the heap, changing line-ups and hoping that your projections are accurate. Don't get me wrong, I love part of it. But the's just so much time. The other factor is that I am not sure the league I currently devote my time and money to is pretty forgiving in terms of guys making huge mistakes and being dumb. I think there's only one or two guys in the league who regularly checks in over here and that's unfortunate. I should probably stop on my rant now.
  • Ice is not good for running. Cold and rain are fine, but ice is a pain in the ass. It's not a new development, but it isn't really my idea of a good time. I haven't fallen yet this year and hope to keep it that way.
  • While Blagojevich scandal hasn't been dubbed anything yet, I am asking everyone to start fighting back against putting "gate" on the end of any scandal. The Watergate was the name of the hotel/office building. This drives me absolutely insane. Here's a list of other "-gate" scandals. How awesome is it that there is a sausagegate?

I have couple running friends who recently had a couple of events. I met both of them through Runners World On Line and you may have heard me mention them before.
  • On his 40th birthday, Ron completed a 40 mile run in honor of his cousin this past Sunday. His cousin passed away five years ago from cancer, so he wanted to honor him and raise money to help fight the disease. Here's a link to Ron's recap of his 40 at 40 run: I found the run and report to be both inspiring and crazy. I can't imagine 40 miles. 26.2 is about as long as I want to go. I think I promised my wife that I would never run anything longer a few years ago. I feel very comfortable with that promise.
  • Walter, another friend through RWOL, ran the Memphis marathon last Saturday. This was Walter's 3rd marathon of 2008 and unfortunately, it was his worst. At this point, I hope he's getting over the disappointment of the race not going how he had hoped. Walter had a ton of momentum heading into Chicago, but the heat got the better of him and he finished with a 3:28. All of his training had pointed to a 3:15-3:20. So he decided to make the most of the shape that he had worked so hard to get in and signed up for Memphis. Two weeks or so before Memphis, Walter caught a bug and wasn't healthy for the race. He gutted it out and ran it anyway and posted a 3:55. My point in bringing up his story is that marathoning is hard. And despite your preparation, all of your heart and all of your efforts, it can still bite you. And there's nothing worse than putting your heart into something and not getting the result you think you worked for. Walter's three marathons in one year is a feat. The last two didn't go to plan, but there's plenty to be proud of. Hopefully with a little time and reflection, he'll feel the same way. I was ready to quit running after the 2007 Chicago Marathon. After a little time, I was 100% back on the wagon and was ready to punch the marathon in the gut.
  • I am begining to think about the CD that I give out around the holidays that highlights 20 or so songs from the 2008 Chicago Marathon playlist. If you are interested in what was pumping in my ears on that day, let me know. I love to share music and will send you one of the CDs. Send me an email at or leave me a note in the comment section.
  • I was able to get 26 miles in this week, thanks to a 12 miler today. It was ridiculously windy though. As long as the ice stays away, I should be able to stay in the 20-30 range for the winter. Here's hoping.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turkey Trot Results

Here's what I was able to muster up this morning, on a balmy 29 degree morning in lovely Lincolnwood, Il. Let me again preface what my running has consisted of lately; 20-30 miles a week with paces largely going unnoticed. Usually I'd average somewhere in between 7:50-8:30 for my last four weeks post-marathon. I did hit a 6:40 for a three mile stretch in a run about nine days ago. With that being said, I laced up the lunaracers and headed up to Lincolnwood at about 7:45.

I arrived too early and my toes were freezing. I was really planning on racing by feel and if things went well, I could come close to beating my previous 10K best of 43:54 set in August. For those of you not following the blog back then, here's quick recap:
Fast forward to this morning. I started about 5-10 seconds off of the starting line, but it was chip timed. I ran through and around some people during the first mile and felt good. It's always a weird feeling coming up on that first mile marker. You never know what it's going to say, especially on a course that you don't really know.

I felt good and felt like I would hit the marker near at a 7:00 or so pace. I hit mile 1 at 6:27. I was feeling good though and found a couple people to run with for mile two. Mile 2 felt pretty good as well. I ran it in 6:37. I lost my little group somewhere in there (not sure if they slowed down or were running the 5K). I came up on the third mile and my watch said 19:51, meaning I just ran the third mile in 6:47. Good news and bad news shortly after that. I was starting to get out of rhythm with my breathing and I just got passed by two people. One guy I had passed in the late in mile 2 and another woman(I think) I hadn't seen. The good news was that I was about halfway done and had two guys in my sights who seemed to be running pretty steady.

Mile 4 felt rough. I must have miscalculated my time in my head, because I thought I put up an 8 minute mile. It turned out to be a 6:57, which perfectly continued the trend of losing 10 seconds every mile. I decided at that point I needed to try to pick it up and finish up strong. There were only 2.2 miles left. I felt better during Mile 5 and ran a 6:50. With just 1.2 miles to go, I decided to run pretty steady for the first 1:30-1:40 of that mile and then try to run the last mile as hard as I could. Some girl seemed to be running at about the same pace for the last 1.2 miles, so I tried to hang with her after she passed me. We were weaving through the 5K runners and walkers at that point. My breathing was still holding up relatively well and I hung with that girl and hit the 6 mile marker. I ran it a a 6:43 pace, leaving just .2 left. I wanted to catch that girl, but she appeared to be putting on a late charge as well. I never did catch her and hit the last .2 in 1:21, giving me an unofficial 41:45 finishing time. The official time was somehow 41:48, which isn't a big deal, but three seconds is a little strange. That translates into a 6:43.6 pace. Very nice.

I beat the Windrunnner 10K mark by 2 minutes and 6 seconds, which is pretty huge. Needless to say, I am very happy with my time and actually think I can do even better. If this turns out to be my last race of the year, I am glad to be ending on a high note. I am not sure I would want to race in much colder weather.

If I don't post again before Thanksgiving, have a great holiday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

10K in the Morning

That's right, the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot is at 8:45 on Sunday morning. My expectations are not too high for the race. I am just going to go out and run. If I can beat the time I posted at the Windrunner 10K in August, that would be great. But, I really don't know where I am at physically and have only been running about 25 miles per week the past 5-6 weeks. I was able to get three tempo miles in the middle of a 5 miler last weekend at a 6:40 clip. We'll see what tomorrow will bring. I do have some new shoes for to wear. Here they are:

That is the the Nike Lunarlite Racer. I am not what most would call an incredibly biomechanically efficient runner, so these shoes may be a slight stretch for me. I am a slight over-pronator. These things weigh under 6 ounces and don't offer much in terms of support. I did use to run in some Nike Frees. Those even feel like bricks compared to these things.

I'll post a 10K race recap tomorrow or Monday. Tomorrow looks to be pretty busy after the race. Lastly, here's a video that I find hilarious. It's pretty bizzare, twisted and perverted. If this offends you in any way, I apologize. You have been warned.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back in the Blogosphere

Hey. It's been a while. I have recently been contemplating if I should keep this blog going. I have have decided to forge ahead. I'll still continue to get the blog out there and hope to continue to raise awareness of SMA. I may have to take down the link to the Firstgiving site because I think it shuts down any day now. I'll probably just include a link to the FSMA site so people can directly donate their if they still want to. Anyway, my point to all this is that if my ramblings can lead to more awareness or funds being raised, than it's definitely worth it.

I am obviously not training for anything right now, but hopefully I can still bring you a laugh or two a couple times a week and give you a little look in to some of the random things that happen in my life. I did recently sign up to run a 10K on November the 23rd. Should be interesting. I am currently running around 25-30 miles per week, but haven't been paying too close attention to my pace. I did run 8 miles this past Sunday at a 7:53 or so. I am going to mix in a few fast miles, a few fast finishes or strides and a few Yasoo-type exercises, although I may make them 5x600 or 800m.

In the last couple of weeks, there's been some excitement in these parts. The country (at least 53% of us anyway) has celebrated a new president being elected. Here's a great time lapse video of that night's events in Grant Park.

Tiffany and I also celebrated our second wedding anniversary and my 31st birthday a couple weekends ago. Here a few pictures from the 31st birthday party, also known as the second annual toga party:

That's it for now. Please come back again soon. I'll try to make a post or two every week.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Post Training Effect

We're now two full weeks removed from the marathon. It really seems like it was months ago. I ran three of four times last week, including an 8.5 miler on Saturday. I took it nice and easy and didn't really pay too much attention to my pace. I'll continue to try to get out four times per week in the coming months and will try to get in a longer run on the weekend. The goal is to run at least 20 miles a week, but more would be okay too. It's much harder for me to get out and pound out serious miles when I am not training, but I'd really like to not completely lose the fitness level I have worked all summer to attain. I know running only 20-30 miles is not the easiest way to do that, but it will have to do. The weather is definitely beginning to work against me, but I am usually fine as long as it stays above 20 degrees and there isn't any ice.

I typically will run a 10K, a half, and then the full marathon every year. I may throw in a 10K or 5K here or there (in the late fall/spring) to keep me fresh. Also, I would kind of like to take the edge off of the races I do them in the training session. I think I kind of put too much weight on them when they happen and wouldn't mind if they were more of a regular occurrence. Now that I think of it, I have run more marathons than any other race. I have run 4 10Ks, 5 half marathons and now 7 marathons. I think there may be another random Nike race in there as well, but I don't remember the distance. It was probably a 10K, now that I think of it, but it wasn't a timed race.

So I am thinking the more I run the shorter races, the better off I will be and they will seem like much less of an event. Plus, I can fine-tune my strategy and experiment with coming out of the gates really fast, slow or whatever I feel like. Maybe I can set a couple new PRs as well. So, I'll keep you posted and see if there's something in the area in the near future.

Tiffany has also been joking around lately about me running the marathon next year. I think you can pretty much book it at this point. I have recently really realized how much I enjoy running. Even the randomness and chance that can happen during a marathon that can be so frustrating is still appealing for some reason. I know I can post even faster marathon times and feel like I have learned more about training in the last three months than in any three month period in my life. There's plenty of people out there with knowledge and experience who are willing to offer their insight to help you train and run smarter, which should ultimately lead you to an even better finishing time.

That's about it for now. Oh, I should add the toes are trying to heal and the leg is much better. You don't have to ask about the leg/calf anymore. I think rest and the Stick have helped heal my muscles. If you are an athlete of any kind that experiences any type of soreness, I highly recommend the Stick. Feel free to ask me any questions if you are curious about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Back in Action

I was able to get back on the horse over the weekend. I ran 5 miles on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was still a little rough, but I felt like my legs were coming back on Sunday's run. I was able to average about an 8:10 pace on Sunday, a beautiful fall day. Where was this last Sunday?

I brought the back-up camera with me and took a few pictures. That's right, back-up. It used to be the first stringer, but it accidentally slipped off of someone's wrist and right into a margarita sometime in the late summer of '06. After unsuccessfully getting it repaired in time for our one year anniversary trip to Mexico last November, we bought a new one. So now we have two. The older one isn't the best, but it does work. Here are a few pictures I took yesterday running along the river close to our house. During training, I'd usually hit this path for runs of 10 miles or less.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Post-Marathon Thoughts

Now that we've had a few days to recover and get a little perspective, I thought I'd share a few thoughts that I've had over the past few days.

First, one question that I have been getting is, "When are you going to run your next marathon?" The truth right now is that I don't know. Am I done running marathons? Pretty unlikely. I don't really see a reason to stop. The pain goes away, although my run this morning was rough. My toes are still pretty beat up and my legs are sore. The sting that is the struggle of the marathon will leave...sometimes sooner rather than later. And the build up of 16-18 weeks of training for one day can be very frustrating. As I was telling my father-in-law on Sunday after the race, there are so many things that can blow up that day when you have to run 26.2 miles. The more I think about it, the more that makes the marathon both wonderful and horrible.

Running is a great way to stay healthy and stay motivated to get off of your ass. I know, nobody says that to be a runner or stay healthy you have to run 26.2 miles. But there's something about the marathon that makes you come back. For some of us, it's the competitiveness. Other runners do it because it is such a great challenge that not many people choose to ever undertake. And when you do it, you feel like you just did something special.

Or maybe it's that feeling you get when you cross the start line when thousands of people are cheering and making noise. You get goosebumps as you hit the start button on your watch and you're about to endure such a grueling mental and physical test. Even if you've done it before, the adrenaline rush those first few hundred yards never gets old or familiar. And the feeling you get from crossing the finish line isn't too bad either.

Then if you consider the fundraising effort this year, which amazingly hit the $33,000 mark yesterday, it really makes the whole thing the one of the best things I have ever been a part of. It would be hard to ever top this year in so many aspects. But, I think there can be some more good things done through running. And I also think I can run the marathon faster. If the temperature was cooler, I think I would have had at least a 3:22 on Sunday. Being 100% healthy probably would have helped too.

I once read that the optimum marathon temperature is 54 degrees and every five degrees above that can reduce your time up to 3 percent. So, while I don't feel like I have anything to prove, there's definitely reason to go back for more.

Anyway, while I am not committing to when the next one will be, you could probably pencil something in for next October or so. We also do have a special arrival that's due to arrive somewhere around February 14th, so I'll be a little busy and sleep deprived in the Spring.

I've really surrounded myself with more interaction with runners in the training leading up to this one through both Runners World Discussions and . In years past, I have usually kept to myself, pounded out some miles, run a marathon and gone home. I have also never joined CARA (chicago area runners association). But I feel like I have made quite a few new acquaintances and even a few new running friends who I can share experiences with and who know what it's like to have this crazy habit. And they are certainly no different about their love of running.

Walter is looking to get back out there and is considering doing a December marathon in Memphis in his quest to hit the 3:20 mark. Ron has a half marathon planned for November and is thinking of doing a 40 at 40 fundraising event for cancer- 40 miles at 40 years old in honor of one of his family members. And Tom from the Runners Lounge just completed his favorite marathon - Chicago- for something like the 12th time. And let's not forget Matt Rauls, who finished his first marathon on Sunday. I asked him if he was coming back next year and he said, "Never again." I have said those words before. I think the last time was after finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2007. Tiffany likes to keep track of how long it takes me go from non-committal about another marathon, then to maybe, then when I tell her that I signed up.
You can't sign up for Chicago until January, so it's going to be at least until then until it's offical.

Here are a few excerpts from some other people's experiences from last Sunday that I liked and think that you might as well.

From ESG's gotlactate blog:
It is tempting to write a long, borderline histrionic race report, aggrandizing my marathon effort as if it were some Odyssean battle of good versus evil. Of course, runner and non-runners alike know that the marathon is really a battle with oneself. We battle our bodies' perceived limitations; we battle the obstacles life throws in our way. We battle inertia, mockery, self-doubt. We battle injuries and time crunches, inadequate rest and competing obligations. We battle and struggle and scratch and claw and sacrifice with the hope that on race day, we will know it was all worth it because we picked a goal time we thought we could run and we actually ran it.

From Greg's Runningandrehab blog :
As for my race performance, I was able to go on today, and hear from all the folks that have been training extremely hard, and hear of all of there experiences. The good, bad and the ugly... and I realized that I am very blessed. But the truth is that, to have a good marathon performance, everything must be right. The weather, your body, and everything else!!! Ironically, yesterday was the Ironman Kona, which is where the best of the world compete to finish the Ironman, and last year's winner??? Was unable to finish.... he obviously has the talent, certainly trained well, but yesterday wasn't his day. Will he quit?? No, just pick up the pieces and try again. As Pat Riley said, "Hard work doesn't guarantee you anything, but without it, you don't stand a chance." I don't know any other way to train and approach my life in all of its various aspects , but to give it my all... and during my training I enjoyed every run, (except for 1), and I wouldn't change anything.... and can't wait to get back out there and do it again.

And from Walter on an RW thread:
I just want to thank each and every one of you for your kind words. I've had more time to think about things since I posted my report, and it's funny how your attitude can change within the span of a few hours. In my process of lamenting, I forgot all about the wonderful things I experienced while on the race course. It was amazing to experience Chicago the way that some of us did this past Sunday; even for someone like me who grew up in the Chicago area, it was a wonderful way to experience 29 different neighborhoods and all of the people who make Chicago such a great place. While feeling sorry for myself, I forgot how I felt as the race started and I was running north on Columbus Drive. I felt a sense of happiness and exuberance that I haven't felt since... back in my wild days. And although I was in a bit of a fog by then, I forgot how wonderful it was to experience the culture in the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods.

So, although I continue to be driven by my goals to run the marathon in a certain time or to earn a BQ, and although these goals are important, to do so while failing to take in everything that goes on in a race, especially in a marathon like Chicago, is an absolute shame. It's important to keep things in perspective.

And Brian on a RW thread:
I am a bit jealous of everyone's weekend experiences. Runners, we are a different breed. I do not think we can be afraid to fail. In perspectice, the Marathon is such a special race with the distance making it so special. It is so difficult to consistantly meet one's potential, putting in thousands of miles of training in an effor to produce at that one moment of time where things have to go perfectly. Again, the marathon is so special due to all the stories it produces.

I am reminded of a quote I have on my fridge though:

"The pain of discipline and or failure far outweighs the pain of regret."

We toe the line. Though we may fail we will not have to suffer from the regret of not trying.

My we all wish for and gain that future perfect day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The 2008 Chicago Marathon

It's in the books. The crazy part is that it really is over. It's sad, very sudden and re-emphasizes how much work goes into three and a half hours. Here's a recap of the day's events.

The day started pretty normally. The alarm went off at 5:00 and I did my normal race-day routine. I was ready to go by six and headed out to catch the L down to the loop. Here I am before walking out of the door:

I got down to the "B" corral and was able to run into both Matt Rauls and Walter Martinez. Both of them had solid training sessions and were both hoping to come in around 3:15 or so. One of the things about runners is that they are resilient. Even though we all knew the conditions weren't optimum for posting the times our training had told us we were capable of, we'll most likely still try until our body tells us not to.

The gun went off just before 8:00 and we were off. It took me just about a minute to cross the starting line. I mentioned a couple weeks ago, there were three goals: 3:20, 3:22-3:23 and finally sub 3:30. I needed everything to be perfect to hit a 3:20. I knew that the weather probably ruled that out, but I still wanted to give myself a chance in case the stars aligned. I ran the first couple miles a little fast and hit the 3.1 mile mark at a 7:46. I was hoping to be closer to 7:55 here. The more energy I can save early in the race would hopefully mean more for later when it's more likely you'll run out.

I saw my awesome support crew at the 3.5 mile mark. They were split up on both sides of the street, so Tiffany told me that a large portion of the Running for Cru crew was on the other side of the street. I gave them a wave and they were cheering and yelling. It was pretty awesome.

I motored on and hit the 6.2 mile mark at a 7:40 pace overall, so probably ran those three miles a bit too fast. Somewhere around that point, I started to feel my strained calf a little bit. It was only for a couple miles, but I was hoping I wouldn't notice it this soon. I hit the 15K (9.3 mile mark) at a 7:42 pace overall, so I was able to back down the pace a touch.

At mile 11.5 or so, I hit the Cru crew for a second time. I was really looking forward to this encounter. At that point of the marathon, it's becoming the real deal. Anybody can run 5 or 10 miles. Tiffany was also ready with a Gu and a change of hats or headband. I can always see the support team from a little bit away as Iron Mike (my father-in-law) always holds up a sign that says "ZAB." As I saw the sign, I could also see a sea of white shirts with the Running for Cru logo on them. It was really cool. I have had decent sized crowds out to support me before, but this was something else. It seemed like there were at least 20 people in the group.
Here's a shot of some of them:

I also wanted to get a new hat from Tiffany, so as I was running toward them, I took off my hat, was waving it and begin yelling, "Hat! Hat!" and pointing at my head. I got the new hat from Tiffany, tried to say "Hi" to the crowd and went on my way. Here's a shot of me approaching them:

At that point, I was feeling pretty good. My wet hat had been replaced by a dry one and my legs were feeling pretty good. I soon hit the halfway point at 1:40:59, a 7:42 pace. At mile 14, my calf and hamstring started to get a little tight. I figured it usually goes away, so I just tried not to think about it.

I hit the 25K (15.5 miles) mark holding a 7:43 pace, so I was still hanging pretty tough. Sometime around 16, I could feel my second toe on my right foot. When I say feel, I mean it felt like the nub of the toenail that was left was digging into my skin or something. This was the toenail that I had lost in the half marathon. I had trimmed it down to the cuticle just after the half marathon and popped the blister that was under it. I was surprised that I was having issues with it. I had run my last last 20 miler with it and felt nothing. I think it went away by 17 or so, but I don't really remember.

I hit the 30K (18.8) mark and had dipped down to a 7:48 pace overall. I think I hit the proverbial wall sometime around that point. I was just out of gas. You try to dig deep and there's not much there. You end up having to push harder. Even though you're pushing harder, you're running slower because you're out of juice.

I knew that the Cru crew would be upon me soon again as Chinatown approached. I downed a couple of bananas from the volunteers and was downing Gatorade and water with regularity. I was also dumping water on my head. At that point, you try anything to try to stay cool. I had made up my mind that the heat was not going to beat me this year. Even though it was very much beating me down at the time, I didn't allow it to enter my head. My brain was obviously telling my body it needed to slow down, but I wasn't going to lose the psychological battle and admit it was too hot.

Here I am strolling into Chinatown:

And here I am talking to Tiffany in Chinatown:

I remember grabbing the bottle of water from my mother-in-law Lynn, drinking some of it and pouring the rest on my head.

I hit the 35K mark carrying a 7:53 pace overall. The next couple miles are kind of a blur. You head south down toward the Cell, cross the Dan Ryan then head south to 35th before making the turn back north on Michigan Ave. At this point, I was contemplating going to the bathroom. I was debating whether I could make it to the finish line without stopping to go or if I should finally take the plunge and go in my pants. I was sweaty so you really wouldn't be able to tell, but I am just not sure of the logistics of peeing and running at the same time.

I decided to pull over around mile 24 and hit a port-a-john. I jumped in and it was crazy hot in there. I went and hopped back out. It probably cost me a minute, but I felt a lot better. I was calculating in my head what I needed to hit a 3:29. I was at 3:12:30 or so with 18 blocks to go, so I was going to need to run sub 8s to finish under 3:30. I hit the 40K (24.8 miles) mark at 3:19:12 and hit 25 at 3:20:2o or so. I had 1.2 miles to go and needed to run it in under 9 minutes and 39 seconds. I hit the 26 mile mark at the top of the Roosevelt Bridge at 3:28:36, meaning I had to run the last .2 miles in 1:23 to still come in under 3:30. I had run that last part a hundred times in my head. I just mentally pushed the fatigue and heavy legs out of my mind and sprinted toward the finish. If I finished with a 3:30:01, I would have been kicking myself in the ass. I made it with a second to spare and came across in 3:29:58. In the running world, that is a 3:29. I placed 2100 out of 33,000+ finishers.

As I moved through the finishing corral, I stopped to have the chip on my shoe cut off. As I looked down, I noticed there was some blood on the top of my shoe. My second toe had bleed through my sock and into my shoe. I will put a couple pictures of my toes and shoe. I also have a blister under my big toenail. Notice the purple that covers much of the toenail. That's basically a blister under the nail. Do not look at them unless you really want to know what they look like. The marathon isn't like a stroll in the park. Bad things can happen to you. You push your body beyond its natural limits. If this is the worst thing that happened to me, I can feel good about the effort and luck I had on Sunday.

Here are a few pictures post-race:

All in all it was an awesome day. A marathon is never easy and this one was no different. It was definitely the most special run of my life. There times in the marathon that I told myself that raising almost $33,000 is way more impressive than anything I could do running the streets of Chicago. I really felt like I was honoring Cru and was proud to have his name on my chest. As some of you saw, the marathon is a celebration of life. People dedicate their runs to loved ones. They run it after overcoming obstacles. I think Cru deserved at least 26.2 miles of celebration.

It's very inspiring to see these 33,000 runners come out and do something so simple as running and do so much good. I feel like all of the members of the Running for Cru team came out and Sunday and celebrated the life of Cru. Even though I was the one running, I was just one spoke in the wheel that made all of this happen. So, to everyone who was able to come out on Sunday, I'd like to once again thank you all very much. You'll never know what it's like to have that kind of support when you are undertaking the marathon. I also appreciate all of the support that came from those who couldn't make it. I am just happy I could be a part of it. I really felt like Cru's light was shining bright on Sunday and it's because of all of your love and support.

Thanks again,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shirt Pics



The Debacle Known as the 2007 Chicago Marathon

Last year's marathon was a disaster. Much of my training session was mediocre. I developed a case of vertigo in the midst of training that threw everything out of whack. I basically lost two weeks of solid training and because of it, I was playing catch up for much of the training session.

However, it the last few weeks of training, things started to come together and I had a really good final 20 mile run and thought everything was rounding into form.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, the weather didn't cooperate last year. It was incredibly hot and humid. I was sweating standing in the corral before the race started. That is a very bad sign.

I stayed on pace until mile 6. At that point, I realized that I was going to need to slow it down to finish the race. It was just too damn hot and humid. I saw runners better than me already walking by the third mile.

At mile 11 when I saw Tiffany and the crew, I gave her my pace band and said it was going to take me a while. I also told her to disregard my predetermined times I was supposed to hit the mile markers and that I would make it to Chinatown at some point.

At that point it became a race to just finish. The conditions were horrible and I just couldn't stay cool. I saw several runners passed out, getting medical help and the sound of sirens
was everywhere.

Thank God I ran in another running friend who was running that day right around the 12 mile mark who said he run with me for while. Let's call him Shane Victorino. If it wasn't for Shane, I don't think I would have finished. He tried to get me to pick up the pace a couple of times, but my body body really wasn't cooperating.

Shane was originally going to pull away at mile 22, but he offered to stay with me until 25, when he would finish strong. I struggled much of the second half of the race and walked a good chunk of it. I would eventually finish the marathon in a stellar time of 4:13:33, my slowest marathon ever. I placed 6212. The number of finishers has been in question since that day. As most of you know, many of the runners were forced to stop running.

After the race, I told everyone that I was done running marathons. That obviously didn't hold true and that's where we're at today.

Here are the pics:

Immediately after the race, with ice pack

Michael, me and Nick

Tiffany and me

Pants Party

The 2006 Chicago Marathon has been my best 26.2 mile race to date. Things just kind of fell into place that for that day in October. I had a really good training session. I felt like I was very prepared and had some confidence after running a race exactly to plan the previous December in Vegas.

The weather was cool and damp. The dampness was unnecessary, but the cool, cloudy day is a marathon runner’s dream. I had “PANTS PARTY” on my shirt, as in "I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.” For those of you unfamiliar, that is a line from Anchorman. On the back, I ironed on “C. Monday,” a somewhat obscure reference to Cleveland investigative reporter Carl Monday featured on the website and later the Daily Show. I sent in a couple photos to Will Leitch, then the editor of Deadspin. Here is the result:

I set out to run a 3:30, or an 8:00/mile pace. I ran a pretty even first half in 1:44:12, or a 7:57 pace. As usual, I slowed down in the second half. At the 24.8 mile mark, I was at 3:20:17. I was going to need to pick up the pace in order to finish at 3:30. Over the last 1.4 miles, I ran a 7:49.2 pace, getting me to the finish line at 3:30:57.

Yes, that counts for a 3:30.

My final pace was an 8:02/mile. I placed 4483nd out of 33618.

Some pics:

Tiffany and me after the race

Nick, me and Michael after the race

The Rest of 2005: Chicago and Vegas

The 2005 Chicago Marathon was relatively non-descript, besides Gail and Jerry being in town for the race. I trained a little smarter and learned a good lesson in pacing in Green Bay.

In one of my best ideas for a shirt (but worst ideas for a look), I opted to shave the goatee down to a moustache and put “MOUSTACHE LOVE” on my shirt. It was a huge hit with the crowd that day. Here's the freshly shaved 'stache. Cops and '70s pornstars were all very proud.

I was trying to run a 3:35 that day. I ended up coming in at 3:38, so I was pretty close. However, the trend of me slowing down in the second half continued. I ran the first half in 1:46:18 and the second half in 1:51:58.

I think I really started to get a good grasp on marathon running during that race. One of my favorite parts was seeing Justin and Alicia Murphy standing on the raised middle part of the street divided in Chinatown. Justin yelled out something about moustaches or moustache love and pretended he was drawing a moustache on his own face with his index fingers.

I placed 5143rd out of 33027 finishers. Here are some pictures:

Here's that day's support crew on the Trader Todd shuttle that miraculously showed up in Chinatown to take them up to the finish line.

Tiffany and me after the marathon.


Just six or seven weeks later, I ran the “New” Las Vegas Marathon. Tiffany, Nick and Jaime made the trip out there with me. My mom lives in Henderson, NV so we all stayed with her and her husband Jerry. It was a small vacation of sorts. Might as well run a marathon if you’re there, right?

We did some gambling, some shopping and some other stuff. Nick, Jerry and I also bowled the day before the marathon and I remember kicking Nick’s ass. I think I bowled a 190 something. This is funny because Nick bowls weekly in a league.

Anyway, seeing as how I just ran a max-effort marathon a few weeks before, I did a simple training program that just maintained my fitness level after Chicago. I also wasn’t trying to run it faster, I wanted more of a controlled effort. I was attempting to run a 3:43 or an 8:30 per mile pace.

The race started at the south end of the Strip in front of Mandalay Bay. It also started at 6:00 AM. And most shockingly, the temperature on that December morning in Vegas was a chilly 35 degrees. Yes, it was that damn cold. I had some gloves and a weird stocking cap of sorts. It almost looked like a wool pilot’s helmet, complete with velcro strap. I brought that to cover my ears. My shirt was short sleeved and I wore shorts. I was pretty cold, but as long as you keep your hands and ears warm, it’s not horrible.

My shirt said “R.I.P. MR MIYAGI.” Las Vegas native and Karate Kid star Pat Morita had just passed away. As you could guess, it was another tough year figuring out what to put on the shirt. It was a hit on the course for all 20 Las Vegans who had crawled out of bed to watch the marathon.

I ran a solid race and actually ran a perfectly even split race. 1:51:19 for the first half and second half, finishing at 3:42:38. I ran the race exactly how I had wanted to and gained a lot of confidence in my ability and my pacing. I took some of this confidence into 2006. I placed 1045 out of 8816 finishers.

The top two are a couple of my favorite marathon pictures:

I don't remember what mile this was, but it was definitely earlier in the the first 15 miles or so, as I am still wearing the wool hat and have two pairs of sunglasses on my head. I was wearing the yellows at the start because it was so dark. As we went deeper into the morning, I went with the regular ones.

Here's the final kick down the homestretch.

Jerry, me and Nick post race. They look pretty warm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Reason Not to Like Green Bay

2005 brought my most ambitious year to date for marathoning. I ran Green Bay in May, Chicago in October and Las Vegas in December. After I had finished the ’04 Chicago, I looked for a spring marathon that was drivable. Despite my disliking of the Packers, I chose Green Bay. It had received good reviews and somewhere around mile 25.5, you got to do a lap in side of Lambeau Field.

I started training for Green Bay on January 2nd and actually got really lucky with the weather. I only missed one run because of snow. I had to push a run to another day here or there, but it was a pretty decent training session and I had no injuries to speak of.

Accompanying me for the trip up north was Tiffany, my brother Nick and his wife Jaime. We plodded around the lovely town of Green Bay and ate at TGI Fridays or someplace of that ilk. When we got back to the hotel, my brother Michael snuck up behind me in lobby and surprised the hell out of me. I had no idea he was coming and couldn’t believe he was there. So we all hung out for a little while before calling it a night.

When I woke up the next morning, it was pouring. Fantastic, I thought. Well, by the time the race was about to start, the rain had subsided. The GB Marathon was very small and there was also a half marathon that shared the first 7 or so miles of the same course. My bib number was #189 and I went with an orange shirt and put “CHICAGO” on the front and “DITKA – 189” on the back of it.

Because of the lack of participants, the race director and crew let you line up anywhere you wanted. So, I went for it. I lined up on the starting line right next to two Kenyans. It was ridiculous. When I passed my supporters at the .2 mile mark or so, I yelled to them “This is as close to the lead I am ever going to get!”

Needless to say, starting with the rabbits was a horrible idea. Being up there and with the faster half marathon runners made me come out of the gate way too fast. I repeat, way too fast. I hit mile 1 at 7:20. I tried to slow it down, but I hit the 5K mark at 7:27. Not good. Little did I know that coming out so fast would end up biting me in the ass. And when I say bite, I mean devour and leave me without an ass. By the 10 K mark, the clouds were starting to lift and the 60’s were starting to feel warmer. My pace at the 10K mark was 7:46. So I was slowing down, but not fast enough. For some reason my pace had quickened to 7:41 at mile 10. The worst part is that this wasn’t my first marathon, but I was running it like I was being chased by Tina Turner on a horse. I hit the halfway point at a 7:51 which is good for a 1:42:04. I felt good at that point, but that pace really wasn’t my fitness level for a full marathon back then. I was shooting for a 3:43 or so and was on pace for 3:24.

By now, the sun was out, but there was some great shade running along the east side of the Fox River. Unfortunately, the shade was about to disappear and my fast start was about to catch up to me. My pace dipped to 7:55 by mile 16. Then 7:58 by 17. Mile 18 saw a dip of six more seconds down to an 8:04 overall pace. Mile 19 brought the pace down to 8:08. At this point, I was taking in water (both figuratively and literally), and the temperature was rising and that morning’s rain was now wicked humidity. I stopped in a port-a-john before I crossed some huge bridge. I thought about not coming out. I ran miles 19-22 at an awesome 10:05 pace. I am not sure I would call that running. You could consider it me hitting the proverbial wall – repeatedly. I ran miles 22-25 at a 9:59 pace. I finished up the last 1.2 in a 9:34, finishing with a 3:46:28, an 8:38 pace overall.

I beat my ’04 Chicago Marathon time by six minutes, but couldn’t have run it any dumber. I learned a lot in this marathon. It all comes back to not running a marathon with your head up your ass for the first 10 miles. I placed 231st out of 910 finishers. Keeping with the theme describing this race in two (or so) words it would be dumb and dumber.

Sorry for the lack of pictures for this one.

Almost There

The marathon is now only a couple of days away. I just saw the Dr. Garelick for my follow-up. He says everything is as good as it's going to get and wished me luck. He also told me not to run another marathon right away and to take it easy over the next several weeks. I am headed to my physical therapy session in a little bit, then will run my last few miles before Sunday. My head had been shaved for the last time and everything is pretty much in place besides the playlist. I'll post a picture of my shirt tonight or tomorrow.

I have started to realize that my forum for the the 2008 Chicago Marathon and Running for Cru is about to come to a close. I better use my last few days to their fullest. I will really miss this part of it. I hope all of you have found some enjoyment in my ramblings and stories. I know I have. The most important thing is that we've been able spread the word about SMA and raise money for FSMA. Hopefully it will help them find a cure. Feel free to check out their site as they post updates and developments on their latest research and breakthroughs.

So, over he next couple of days, I will post my remaining race recaps and that will probably be it. Sometime on Sunday or Monday, I'll give you my best blow-by-blow recap of Sunday's marathon.

Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their support of FSMA, Cru, the Fanaros and my running. It really has been an amazing thing that we've been able to do here. I couldn't be happier to be a part of it.

If there's anyone out there who is planning on catching the marathon and has not been in contact with Tiffany or Ken, please let me know via email, phonecall, or message at the bottom of any one of thses posts.

Thanks again,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quick Hit

From the Firstgiving Website:

It looks like we're #1 of the all the Chicago Marathon runners who used Firstgiving to raise money for charity. Give yourself a round of applause!

The 2004 Chicago Marathon Recap

Innocence and ignorance. That’s how I can best describe the 2004 Chicago Marathon. As you may remember in the weeks leading up to the marathon, I was having some foot issues. Two weeks before the marathon, I decided to make my first trip to Fleet Feet and have them help me find a pair of shoes that fit my running form. I walked out of there with a Nike Air Structure Triax 6 or something like that. I took the last two weeks pretty easy, just running enough to break in the shoes. The rest helped, and by race day, my foot was fine.

I had company for the ’04 Marathon. My college friends Matt Hillen and Rob Bowers were also attempting their first marathons. We didn’t really have a plan and didn’t particularly know how fast we would run or even if we would run together. We made our way to the mess of the starting corral and joined the 30,000 runners or so in the Open corral. The Open corral is home to many first timers and in general, the slower runners. After the gun went off, we started the slow shuffle to the starting line. We finally made it and took off together. The first few miles are a blur. There were people everywhere, both on the course and on the sidewalks cheering on the 35,000 runners. People on the sidelines were cheering, clapping, ringing cowbells, yelling, screaming…you name it. As I mentioned before, they also will yell what ever is on your shirt. Rob had nothing on his shirt. Matt had “GOON SQUAD” on his. He tried to curve the GOON on the top of his shirt. He did it pretty well, but some people mistakenly read it as “GO ON SQUAD.” I decided to put “OREGON” on my shirt, in honor of Prefontaine. I put “ZABFONTAINE” on the back – a hybrid of my nickname “ZAB” and Prefontaine. In retrospect, I should have put it on the front, because people were yelling for Oregon and the Ducks throughout the marathon.

Somewhere around mile 5, my week-old Ipod crapped out on me. I was unfamiliar with re-setting it so when I first saw my stellar support crew in Boystown at Mile 7 or 8, I told gave it to them and told them to try to get it fixed and give it back to me in Chinatown – mile 22 or so. Rob, Matt and I stayed together up until the halfway point. Up until then, we were pretty much running three across except when Matt decided to jump around like a jackass. He was waving his arms up and down, trying to get the crowd to make noise, giving high fives, and jumping so he could see the crowd ahead. Rob and I were marveling at his antics because they were both funny and stupid. We thought that the extra energy he used dicking around would lead to him running out of energy later on. We hit the half way mark in 1:50:06. Somewhere around mile 14 or so, Matt pulled away from Rob and me. We stayed together until mile 16 or so, when I had to stop to go to the bathroom. I told him to keep up the pace and that I’d catch up to him. I relieved myself and proceeded to try to catch up to Rob. I finally caught back up to him in a half mile or so and he didn’t look so hot. By mile 17, Rob had told me to go ahead. I ended up going the rest of the way solo. I don’t remember the exact details from 17 to Chinatown. It was all pretty much a blur. I was just looking forward to seeing Tiffany, my family (Michael, Nick) and her parents. By the time I had made it to Chinatown, I saw the crew again. As it turns out, one of the best parts of the marathon are seeing your supporters. In some ways, the marathon almost becomes runs in between seeing the people that are out there to see you. You look forward to seeing them at these designated spots, despite the fact that you’re only spending seconds of a few hours with them. It definitely gives you a boost.

So, when I finally saw them at the corner in Chinatown, the thing that had been in my mind for about 14 miles or so was that they hopefully fixed my Ipod for me. So when I saw them, that’s the first thing I asked them. Unfortunately, they didn’t and basically told me to run the rest of the marathon. Not in a mean way. I think they were more surprised than anything that I just ran 21.5 miles and the first thing that comes out of my mouth was “Did you get my Ipod working?” I was looking forward to having it for the last 5 or so miles. Oh well. It wasn’t meant to be. Matt had passed by several minutes earlier and supposedly wasn’t looking too good. I kept on moving, slowing down every mile until the last 1.2 in the process.

I made the final turn onto Columbus from Roosevelt and could see the finish line. I ran as fast as I could down the homestretch and came across in 3:52:35.

I was gassed. I was elated. I was emotionally and physically drained. I had never done anything like it. And one of the first thoughts that popped into my head was that I think I’d like to do that again, and I think could do it better. I made my way through the the finishing corral to the runners reunite area. I was the first to get there out of the three of us. Soon after my support crew showed up, Matt showed up as well. He had the post-race mylar blanket tied around his neck like Superman and had a beer in each hand. Then he told me he was waiting for me at the beer cart, that's why he got back to the reunite area late. That's Matt for you.

I guess you could say I caught the marathon bug that day in Chicago and my marathon running addiction was born. Matt, despite his antics and looking like hell at mile 22, finished in 3:43 and Rob finished in 3:57. I placed 8,326 out of 33,125 finishers.

A few pics:

(L to R) Matt, Rob and me - before the marathon started

Nick and Michael, anxiously awaiting my passing through Boystown. Yes, Nick is wearing a suit. Not because it was my first marathon. He went to a wedding in the city the night before and stayed in the same clothes from the night before. Nice!

Here I am passing through Chinatown, right around Mile 22. I looked pretty good. My face does look a little swollen though, a theme that will be present in quite a few of the upcoming pictures.

Tiffany and me in the reunite area following the race.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had my last run of any effort today. I went 6 miles, running two of them at a 7:40 pace. It wasn't the greatest run, but it doesn't really matter at this point. I'll have a 3-5 miler on Friday at a very easy pace.
  • Tiffany and I worked on the shirt last night. It's going to be awesome. I may have to post a picture of it here before the race. I now have two practice shirts with the "Running for Cru" logo, one of which I ran in this morning. The race shirt will end up in a frame on the wall with the rest of the previous shirts

  • My mom recently requested "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner. Mom, as much as I appreciate your kind words and love you, it will not make the playlist. Here are the reasons why: 1) the song, while most likely very meaningful to some, doesn't really do it for me. I'll just tell myself that my Mom thinks I am simply the best a couple times on Sunday. 2) I can never hear that song without thinking of Hollywood Casino, who used that song in their commercials. And 3) Take a look at this video:

Why the horse? Is this about Barbaro? (I know, Barbaro wasn't alive when this was recorded.) Come on Tina. Ridiculous. Now, all of you will never be able to think of "Simply the Best" without thinking of Barbaro running through Hollywood Casino with Tina Turner on his back. I can picture it now. Tina kicking over tables...grabbing drinks and smokes out of people's hands...throwing dice from Barbaro's back...Barbaro's lifting his front legs after winning a game of craps...finally getting pissed off because they don't have carrots...and then putting it all on black the roulette wheel and losing...he raises his front legs in anger (and in slow motion) and just crushes it. Chips and wood just flying everywhere. The camera pans around and people are still, jaws-wide open. Then Tina and Barbaro either run out or you see Barbaro being escorted out by security in shackles especially made for horses while Tina finishes up the last verse. How's that for some imagery?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Week Remaining

Well, this is it. One week from today is why I have run 578.3 miles since June 24th. This last week will only be about 15-20 miles, so I'll come in just under 600 miles in training before the marathon. The last run will be on Friday. Saturday hopefully will be very restful and relaxing. I usually don't sleep very well the night before the marathon, so I am going to try to get a good night's sleep on Friday.

The rest of this week will just be finalizing a few things - the playlist and the shirt specifically. Every year, I put some words or a saying on my shirt. Many people put their names on their shirt. It results in some of the one million or so spectators cheering for you by yelling whatever is your shirt. It can be pretty entertaining. If you get tired of people saying whatever is on your shirt, you can move to the middle of the street and a lot less people will be able to see you.

So, I ran a nice 12-miler today. If you a regular reader, you'll know that every so often there are days where the running is just mediocre. I think today was supposed to be one of those days. It was also supposed to be my last longer run with any sustained effort. So, I am glad I got a bad one out of my system. There's part of me that's nervous because it was my last run of any substance. It's pretty normal for veteran marathoners to doubt their training and fitness level at this point. Part of it is because we are tapering and the reduced mileage can create a little stir-craziness. The other part is human nature. One of the frustrating parts of marathon running is that you train for four months for one day. It's only natural to question if you've done enough for that one day.

So, I was trying to run three easy miles to start today. I did and came in at about an 8:08 pace. The next three were supposed to be 7:40s. After hitting the 6 mile mark, I was at a 7:53. The problem is that I felt like I was running harder than that. So, I turned around and decided to try to hit the next three at 7:40. That didn't happen either. I came in at a 7:45 for the next three miles. Again, I felt like I was running harder. So, I took it easy for mile 10 and then picked it up for miles 11 and 12. I ran the last two at a 7:30 pace.

It wasn't a bad run by any stretch, I just couldn't hit my times I was shooting for. I felt like my effort today should have netted me better times, so it's a little concerning. At the same time, I kind of feel like it was supposed to a day where I just didn't have it and I still posted some respectable times. On the plus side, I was getting faster as the day went on.

As for my calf injury, it's still there. It's getting better, but I am starting to doubt it will be fully recovered by Sunday. It's not a huge deal. I can still run with it and there are times I don't notice it at all. Other times I can feel it with every stride. I am hoping for the best, but am still mentally preparing myself if it flares up on Sunday, especially in the final few miles when many of the muscles in the legs are very fatigued. I am getting therapy three days this week and will see the doctor on Friday. I'm not sure what he can say at that point, but what do I know?

Wish for some cool temperatures for the weekend. There are differing forecasts right now. One is calling for mostly cloudy with a high of 64 and a low of 46 the night before. That would be really good. The other is calling for a cloudy day with a high of 57 and a previous evening low of 41. This would also be good. These two forecasts have started to get closer together in the past 24 hours. Yesterday, one was at 68 and the other was at 52.

Have a good week.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fork, Anyone?

Well, the Cubs appear to be on the verge of going down 0-2 on the heels of another Manny Ramirez moonshot. If they go down 0-2, consider them down 0-3. These guys were swept last year and barring a miracle, should be known as any or all of the following:
  • Choke artists
  • Not-ready for prime-time players
  • Just plain bad

Nothing like your starting pitching blowing up on you in Game 1. Then your defense blows up on you in game two. How's that old saying go - pitching and defense wins championships? Bad sign if that saying is true and you are a Cub or Cub fan. Disgusting. Good thing Hendry gave Fukodome a four year deal for over 40 million bucks. Most of the deals Hendry has given out over the past three years are back-loaded. The payroll goes up, the talent gets old and the fans end up wondering what could have and should have been. I can't wait to see a 38 year-old Adolpho Soriano (thank you Dick Stockton) patrolling left field in 2014.

I ran 6 miles at an 8:20 on Tuesday and a quick 5 miler yesterday at a 7:56. The gastroc is feeling better every day. Not quite 100%, but I am hopeful that it will be by next Sunday. If it's not, it should be pretty close. I have a 8 miler on Friday as well as some therapy. I then may stretch it out a little bit on Sunday. After running so many miles over the past 14 weeks or so, it's easy to get antsy when the taper is in full gear.

I am going to give you some recaps of the previous marathons over the next few days. Here's what you have to look forward to:
2004 - Chicago
2005 - Green Bay, Chicago, Las Vegas
2006 - Chicago
2007 - Chicago

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick Update

Not too much going on here. I had my second appointment at the physical therapist yesterday. Things may be getting slightly better with the strained muscle. It's kind of hard to tell. It's definitely not getting worse, so that's a good thing. I'll be going out for 6 miles or so tonight after work. Probably run it right around an 8 minute pace or so.

Keep the song requests coming in.

Since I don't have too much to say today (first time for everything?), I'll give you some quotes I have come across lately:

From the blog "Got Lactate" -
As it has in so many ways, running has taught me another life lesson: that by loosening one's grip on something one desperately covets, one may have a far better chance of actually obtaining it.

I think you could apply this to more than running. Feel free to check out the post "Changing Colors, Changing Goals" on that blog. It's a good post about a man's quest to run a 3:20 marathon when he turned 40. Ron off-handedly made the comment on his 30th birthday. He'll be running Chicago on October 12th also.

Other quotes:
The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed. - Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.
Jerome Drayton

Get going. Get up and walk if you have to, but finish the damned race.
Ron Hill to Jerome Drayton during the 1970 Boston Marathon

We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon. Emil Zatopek

And here's a trailer of the movie "Spirit of the Marathon." It comes out on DVD next week. I was able to see the movie at the theater last year. It's a documentary about the 2005 Chicago marathon that follows a handful of runners of different ability levels. Try to check it out if you can.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How's Your Gastrocnemius?

I had to move the Bill Gillis/Shouting and Pointing song over to the right margin. I may periodically put a few other past or potential songs on the marathon playlist back in the player at the top of the posts over the next couple weeks. For now you can still get your dose of "A Little Bit of Faith" on the imeem player.
I went to the doctor yesterday. Here's Dr. Garelic's diagnosis on my knee issue. I have a strained gastrocnemius muscle. It basically the part of the calf muscle that starts behind the knee. Here's a picture of the muscle in relation to the lower leg:

I can still run, but he advised me to take 600-800mg of Ibuprofen one hour before running. He also told me to get some physical therapy three days a week for each of the two weeks before the marathon. I was lucky enough to get into Athletico this morning for my first appointment.
My physical therapist there stretched me out and did some analysis on my legs. He then came up with a stretching program to help me try to get the muscle back in good condition. I am also to ice the area after any physical activity, including walking around for an hour.

I am happy with the results and am glad I decided to go get it checked out. I ran yesterday in the early evening after taking a few advils. It did seem to help lessen the pain a little bit, but I could still feel it here and there. I didn't run into any stoplights yesterday, so I was able to keep my legs moving the whole time. That was one of the issues the past week. Any time I'd have to stop, getting started again was really painful. After the legs got pumping for a minute or two, they would feel a little better, but they'd get progressively worse after each stop and start.

Here are the numbers from yesterday:
10 miles total - 2 mile warm up jog
4x1600m @ followed by an untimed 800m
the four 1600 meter times: 6:34, 6:43, 6:43, 6:31
a couple miles at an easy pace to finish out the run.

I'll most likely be running early in the morning tomorrow. I think I am going to push the pace in the middle miles of th 12 mile run. I'd like to put up several consistent 7:40s. I guess while I am talking about pace now I can loosely unveil the goals for October 12th. Here they are:

Best case scenario which would include feeling healthy, good cool running weather, and feeling good that day:
3h:20m or a 7:40 pace
It's a little aggressive and I will make the call that day if I will actually shoot for it. It may be a case where I hang around the 3:20 group for the first 10 miles or so and make the call at that point. Or maybe lag back in the 7:45 range and make a move in the second half if I feel up for it. The downside to that strategy is that if I run a 7:45 for the first half, I'd have to average a 7:35 for miles 13.2 through 26.2. I don't think planning for a negative split at that pace is the best idea I have had. The last 3-6 miles can be brutal. I have run a few sub 8's for the last 5K in the past, so it's possible, but still very tough.

More likely reachable goal:
3:23-3:25 or a pace in the range of 7:45 to 7:50
I think this is possible and would fit in with my natural improvement in times over the years - minus the scorcher last year, of course. I think I have trained pretty hard and very well this season and my level of fitness can support a pace in that range over 26.2 miles. I have been pretty happy with my times throughout training. I do have the minor issue in my leg right now, but I don't anticipate it giving me problems by then. Positive thinking can work wonders.

Last resort goal:
It's still an 8:00 pace per mile, but I have to crack the 3:30 mark. And this year is my best chance to do it yet. I will finish the race no matter what happens - if had to walk on one leg with the other leg that fell off in one hand for a few miles, I'd do that. If I finished last year, I can finish any marathon.

With that being said, no matter what happens on October 12th, the amazing things that we've done here and for FSMA will make this marathon one of greatest successes of my life. I appreciate all of your continued support and can't thank each and every one of you enough. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.