Monday, December 19, 2011

Week One, Seven miles.

I ran seven miles on the C&O Canal last Saturday. In the hope that I can make my runs a little more entertaining, I plan to start running in different sections of the trail as much as possible.  This time I parked at Point of Rocks and ran up-stream.  I only went seven miles this week but it seemed further for some reason.

There were a few sights to see along the way which was welcome.  The shutter speed on my phone's camera is pretty much crap, so trying to snap pictures without stopping doesn't work.  My old phone was a bit better at this.  Maybe I'll invest a few bucks in a cheap camera to carry with me.

I'm trying to get into the habit of stopping once in a while to take a picture or have a drink.  My reasoning behind this is that I want to get used to starting back up again after I stop.  I think this is important for two reasons.  First is that I plan to have FUN on this marathon.  I'm not out to set any records or to prove that I can run all 26.2 miles without a single break.  If I see something interesting I want to stop and take a picture of it, or high five a spectator or thank a volunteer, etc.  The other reason is more practical.  I'm a mouth breather. My sinuses are complete crap and there isn't anything I can do about it.  Consequently, I have a tough time drinking and running at the same time.  So when I hit the water/Gatorade  tables I plan to stop and drink and fill up my bottles so I can take little sips as I go.

Here are a few pictures from this run:

See the smile? This is fun, right?

The Potomac river is really beautiful. There are a few places where you can go down to the water's edge but I don't usually make time for that.  I'll try to work that in next week.

The C&O Railroad runs right next to the old tow path.  There is usually one or two trains headed down the track on Saturday mornings when I run. They are loud but it makes for a nice diversion.

This is one I tried to capture without stopping. It was much prettier in person!  I think I'm going to go back to this spot next weekend so I'll try and get a better shot then.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fourteen Weeks and Counting

Week one of training didn't start off so hot for a couple reasons. The first was that I didn't realize that I was already supposed to be training!  Somehow I got it in my head that my training plan was only ten weeks when it was actually sixteen.  When I grabbed a calendar and started counting I discovered that I only have fourteen weeks until the race I panicked just a little. OK, maybe more than just a little.

After I read everything through again I realized that the training plan I'm using is for true rookies.  I haven't run a full marathon before, but I'm in decent shape.  The first two weeks, the long runs were only five and six miles so I'm actually not behind at all.  If anything, I'm ahead of schedule.  My long run this weekend will only be seven miles which I know I can do so all is well.

I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of people in my life that want me to succeed at this and I'm friends with a few people that have run marathons before.  I'm sure I will turn to all of those people for encouragement and advice as I move through this.

I plan to do as many of my long runs at the C&O Canal as possible. I'll be there this Saturday. :-)

Also, I wrote a silly caption for a picture on the ChristmasTown Dash's Facebook page and was one of a dozen people to win an ornament.  It arrived in the mail yesterday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I registered for the race today.  I guess that means I actually have to do it.  Now I'm nervous.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ChristmasTown Dash 2011

It's been a couple weeks since we ran, but I need to follow up on the ChristmasTown Dash 8K that Logan and I ran together.

The race was a lot of fun!  Logan was pretty nervous going into it because he didn't train much leading up to the race.  In fact, he didn't run at all until just 11 days before the big day!  Like a lot of people, he often underestimates what he is capable of and this was no exception.  On our two or three mile training runs he would often tell me that he didn't think he could do it.  It was difficult to convince him what I already knew, that he was more than capable of being ready to run the race in time if he just put in the work.  Our entire training plan was simple; run at least two miles every other day.

To make a long story short, he did great!  He even took off and beat me by about five seconds at the end.

In the days after the race, I have been taking it easy.  My right ankle has been sore and I need to get healed up before I start training for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in March.  I've been keeping my runs to 3 miles with at least one rest day in between.  On January First I'll start the 10 week training schedule. Until then, I'll rest as much as I can stand it.

Pictures of the CTD:

Pre-race. Cindi and Samie were there to cheer us on. Lauren had to work so she stayed home. :-(

This is right before we rounded the corner in the last half mile.

Logan is ditching his Santa hat. The morning started of cold but it warmed up quite a bit during the race!

The happy finishers.

One of the race sponsors was Chick Fil-a. Before the 8K, they had a 1/2 mile kids fun run with the Chick Fil-a cows. Who can resist any opportunity to have your picture taken with someone in a cow suit?

Monday, November 28, 2011

ChristmasTown Dash 8K

My son Logan and I are going to run in the second annual ChristmasTown Dash in Williamsburg, VA this Sunday.  It's an 8K race that takes place on the grounds of Busch Gardens.  We ran in the first one together last winter and had a really good time despite the below average temperatures.  It actually snowed the night before the race so the organizers postponed the start by an hour so the course would be safe.  Cindi and the girls came to cheer us on.

This race holds a little more meaning to us than just a chance to  run together.  Williamsburg is where Logan's grandmother Carol (Grammy) lived before she passed away suddenly in October of 2010.  Carol loved Williamsburg and Busch Gardens very much so in addition to running for the fun of being together, we run to honor Carol.  I'll lift my self imposed ban on running with an iPod for this race so I can listen to U2 while jogging through the Ireland section of the park, two more of Carol's favorite things.

Here are a few pictures from last year's race.  I'll post some from this year next week. :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canal Again

I went to the C&O Canal again last weekend.  I intended to head to a different section of the trail but changed my mind at the last minute and went back to the same spot as last time.  I ran to Point of Rocks and back again.  I just compared my time and it looks like I ran a little faster than last time by a couple of minutes.  I wasn't worried about running fast so I guess that means I'm starting to move a little quicker.  I stopped to take a few pictures along the way again.

Running at the canal has moments of amazing beauty.  The images I have captured with my phone really don't do it justice.  Running alongside the Potomac River is awesome.  I would love to be able to say that the entire run looks like this:

but in truth, most of the run looks like this:

This still beats the view for for most of my runs and the trail is entirely flat which is a huge bonus.  Still, I would like to be able to see the water more often.  I won't have a chance to run at the canal again for a while, but next time I plan to hit the Great Falls area.  I've heard the views there are spectacular.

Another highlight of the run was coming across the dog sledding folks again.  They went by so quickly that I couldn't get a picture of my own, but I looked up their website and borrowed this one.  The dogs seemed to be having the time of their lives!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Personal Best

This time I set out to beat my personal best from the get go.  I ran 3 miles exactly in 25:53, beating my best time by more than 30 seconds.  Not a bad achievement to make before 9:30 in the morning. :-)

I'm thinking about heading back to the C&O Canal again this weekend and going for a really long one. The weather forecast is for clear skies but cooooold so I might wimp out and just run a good distance here.

My son and I are registered to run the ChristmasTown Dash 8k together in just a few weeks.  I'm really looking forward to that because it is a great opportunity to spend time with him running together.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ALMOST a Personal Best.

Attitude is such a funny thing.  I was kind of tired yesterday morning and just not really in the mood to run.  I was working from home and getting a few things accomplished and I had almost talked myself into skipping my usual lunch time run.  After all, I had run Friday and Saturday morning.  Taking two days off would be fine.  Then of course I started having second (and third and fourth) thoughts and decided to go for it.  I decided to just run a relaxed 3 miler and just get it over with so the sadist that lives inside my brain would leave me alone for the rest of the day.

I got out and my ankle was a little sore and I almost turned around a couple times in the first 5 minutes. I live at the bottom of a pretty long hill, so every run starts out with that thing in the way. I got to the top of the hill and checked my watch and saw that my pace was very slow at about 11:30.  I decided to pick it up a little and the next thing I know I'm feeling really good.  By the time I hit the 1 mile mark my pace had improved considerably and I was still feeling great.  The idea of trying for my personal best struck me at about the half way mark.  It had been such a long time since that idea even occurred to me that I couldn't remember what my PB was so I just started going as fast as I could.

In the end, I didn't come close to my PB (off by about 45 seconds) but still ran my fastest 3 mile time since June of 2010.  I'm glad I didn't skip a day or turn around when I wanted to.  I think I'm going to run it again today, but I'm not going to try for the PB again.  At least I don't think I will. :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Since my planned eight mile run yesterday didn't work out entirely, I went ahead and got in a 3.5 mile run at Lake Centennial this morning.  I took a few pictures along the way. I think the zoom was a little off on a couple of them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Well the run today wasn't a complete bust because I managed to get in five miles but it wasn't the long run that I like to get in on the weekend.  Mt. Airy is a tough place to run. I don't know the area as well as I used to and there aren't any really long roads you can follow that aren't either too busy, too narrow or both.  No matter where you run in that area you'll find lots of hills. Check out the elevation chart on the Training Log link for this run!  To make the hills feel hillier it was really windy which made the cold feel colder.  I can't say I enjoyed it very much.

Oh well, lesson learned and off to the next one.  Logan has a soccer game tomorrow morning in Columbia.  I'm thinking about running around Centennial Lake before the game starts to get in a few miles.  I need to do a little homework on that first.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two in a Row

I rarely run two days in a row.  My legs need the rest, even when I don't run very far.  However the weather has been fantastic yesterday and today so I couldn't help myself.  I ran 4 miles yesterday and then ran 3 today.  For some reason, the RSS feed that shows my workouts (the My Training Log tab on this page) isn't showing my run from today.  I don't know why.  If you go to: you can see it is there, but it isn't showing on the feed. I guess I can't complain too much about something I didn't have to pay for. :-)

It wasn't until later in the day that I realized that running two days in a row could work out well with my schedule this week.  I can't go for my usual long run Saturday morning because of soccer tournaments BUT I have Friday off for Veterans Day.  I like to have two rest days before a long run so the plan for now is to rest tomorrow and Thursday and then get in a long run Friday morning.  Now I just need to find a new place to run that isn't too far away from the house.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

C&O Canal Early Morning Run

Headed out to the canal shortly before sunrise this morning. I parked my car at the tail end of New Design Road and headed upstream toward Point of Rocks. I had never run in that area before and I really enjoyed the scenery.  I stopped a couple times and took pictures.  I have never allowed myself to stop during a run before.  As part of my new attitude about running I'm trying to be more relaxed.  I stopped twice to take pictures and one other time to talk to a guy that was setting up to go dog sledding. Well sort of like dog sledding.  The "sled" had wheels on it.  I guess it's a kind of training sled they use when there isn't any snow.

Somewhere in the first mile, I almost stepped on a snake that was coiled up on the middle of the path.  I don't know anything about snakes so I get pretty freaked out when I come across one by chance.  I managed to keep my cool and just kind of went around it.  I tried not to think about it too much and kept running, but on the way back I made sure I ran the last mile on the other side of the path!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Born to Run

Late last summer, just before I started running again I read "Born to Run" by Chrisopher McDougall.  Reading this book really helped to get me back at it.  Runners and sane people alike that are looking for a good read should check this book out.  It is very well written and I find a lot of the arguments that Mr. McDougall makes regarding "modern" running shoes quite interesting.  I can't say that I have bought into everything that he says in the book.  I haven't attempted to convert to barefoot running, at least not yet.  I HAVE worked hard to change the mechanics of my running and I have worked hard to change my attitude about running.  Mostly I've tried to keep in mind that I run because it is fun.  I enjoy it a lot. For me, it's really important to keep in mind that I run because I like to run.

One of the things I've done to try and keep that in focus is to ditch my iPod.  If someone suggested that I do that as recently as last Spring I would have said no way.  In the past I wouldn't even consider running a 5K that didn't allow headphones.  A few months ago I deliberately left the iPod at home when I went on a training run because I wanted to focus on my form and I didn't want any distractions. No iPod, no watch, nothing extra.  I found that run to be the most enjoyable experience running that I have had in a long time and I was hooked.  I haven't run with the iPod since then and haven't regretted it once.  I have gone back to using the watch to keep track of my time and distance.  I keep an eye on it while I run to see what my pace is, but I try not to get too caught up in the numbers head games.

Recently my times have been going down.  I'm not sure if that is because of the changes I have made or just from the fact that I'm running more.  I'm not overly concerned about running at a certain time anymore except from the stand point that when I do actually run in my race I would like to finish in under 5 hours.  If I can average a 10:00 mile I'll come in at around 4:35:00 but I plan to stop and enjoy the sites, drink Gatorade at the tables, etc.. so 5 hours is a good goal.

The race isn't until March so I've got some time to wait before I actually start training.  Until then I'm just going to keep having fun.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Extended Break

I took a little break from blogging. Actually I took a two year break from blogging. I guess Facebook kinda took over my online sharing like it did for just about everyone else. I'm probably not going to blog very often, but I do want to write down my thoughts about running as I train for my first full marathon.

I have run two half-marathon's. The first one was at the Frederick Running Festival in May of 2010. I didn't enjoy that race very much and I decided that maybe distance running wasn't for me. A few months later I tried to reconsider and get back into it but I started having a lot of problems with Plantar Fasciitis that I struggled with for a long time. I ended up having surgery in February of 2011 that didn't do much to help. I struggled through the Spring and Summer of 2011 not being able to run and being generally unhappy. I gained weight and then I gained some more weight. I spent hundreds of dollars on doctor visits and eventually just gave up on the idea that I would ever be able to run without pain.

Somehow arriving at this conclusion was very liberating. I had been told by my podiatrist that running wasn't going to damage my foot any further (by now they had diagnosed me with arthritis) but that I should expect my foot to hurt every time I ran. So I said to heck with it and decided to try and run some distance. I was surprised that it didn't make much of a difference if I ran 3 miles or 6, the pain was about the same when I got done. So I got into a pattern that worked for me. Run 3 miles on Tuesday and Thursday followed by a long run on Saturday. Ice, ibuprofen and rest for a day or two after. Rinse, repeat.

When I was able to run 8 miles and still mow the lawn afterwards I decided to enter the Baltimore Half Marathon in October. I entered late and had a nervous couple of weeks to see if I would be accepted from the wait list. I decided that even if I wasn't accepted I was going to run 13 miles SOMEWHERE the day of the race so I kept training. I eventually found out that I made it off the wait list and that I would be running with 11,000 of my closest friends through down town Baltimore. I was fortunate enough to have a friend near by that was training for the race too and after we went on a 10 mile training run together we decided to try and meet up at the start line and run together.

As luck would have it we were able to meet a few minutes before the race started. We jogged together through the hilly streets of Baltimore for about two and half hours until we both finished. It was a fun race but as soon as it was finished I started thinking about the idea of running a full. I have always wanted to complete a full marathon and it appears that now is as good a time as any to work it into the schedule.

It's kind of interesting but as I have added more training and more miles over the last couple months my pain has decreased considerably. I still have pain when I wake up and it is sore after long runs but it seems like it is slowly getting better.

I have selected the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach as the race I want to train for. Training through the winter will be difficult. I don't own a treadmill and don't belong to a gym. I enjoy running in the cold but when it snows I will be forced to either alter my training schedule or find a gym and run on a treadmill.

I guess that's about it for now. I'm going to see if there is a Garmin "gadget" that I can hook into this blog so I can post my training runs here too. For now I guess I'll just post links to my "My Garmin" page. Today's run:

UPDATE: I figured out how to put a tab at the top of the page that I have cleverly labeled "My Training Log" that will take you to my Garmin site.

If you have any questions or comments, go for it.