Sunday, October 30, 2016

October Runfessions

In deciding to try something new, I'm going to throw my hat in with Marcia for this month's runfessions.  While October has been a pretty decent month, this past week in particular has provided me with a plethora of topics for which I feel a need to runfess.

I runfess...
...that I really hope my daughter will decide to become a runner.  My wife and I are trying our best to not form too many expectations for who our daughter will become.  At the same time, it's really hard not to imagine what, if any, of our interests and talents she may adopt.  I like to say she is destined for runner-dom due both to the fact that she loves going on runs with me in her stroller and her legs are constantly moving all over the place.  I even suggested to my wife that we should sign the peanut up for the Pittsburgh Marathon Toddler Trot in May, but apparently a "nine month old can't run."  We'll see who's right....

I runfess...
...that I have been dragging my feet, for no apparent reason, to get my Road ID.  With almost all my runs taking place on roads and having had a few close calls, I'd say my need for an ID is pretty high.  To give even more credence to my laziness, I won a $15 gift card in August for one, but never took the next step of placing the order.  I finally today (three months later!) decided on which Road ID to get and hit submit.

I runfess...
...that a little part of me wanted to mow down a few individuals with the jogging stroller when I was out on my most recent park run.  Now, I like to think of myself as a pacifist with a fairly level head.  But, when people are constantly breaking pedestrian lane etiquette it drives me nuts.  Yes, I know you and your 16 closest friends want to walk next to each other, but you do not own the path.  This is especially dangerous when you not only take up the entire pedestrian lane but also the bike lane, thus forcing the rest of us to have to go into the motor vehicle lanes.  An accident is bound to happen due to this behavior.  The same is also true for people who, while walking or running, crank their music up in order to block out the world.  It's not just the world you're disconnecting from, but also the ability to hear if someone/something is approaching from behind.  These problems boil down to being about safety and respect.  Okay, I'm stepping off my soap box on this one....

I runfess...
.... that I would be totally content to never see another goose in my life.  I've lost count of the number of times these little buggers have hissed at me as I run past.  They have also done their fair amount of damage to the ponds and sidewalks from the sheer amount of feces.  As winter approaches, the geese presence will not be missed in the least.

With a first runfession in the books, I'm feeling much better with November approaching.  What are your October runfessions?

Happy running!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tuesday on the Run: Looking Back to Akron

The theme for this week's Tuesdays on the Run with Patty, Erika, and Marcia is, in a nutshell, a "what-if" scenario dealing with looking back at a race and considering what could have been done differently.  As irony would have it, on this day one month ago I was taking on the Blue Line in the Akron Marathon.  I was thinking about doing a post now that time has passed, so this TotR aligned in my favor!

While none of us owns a TARDIS (or at least ones that work!) or have a time-jumping DeLorean, it would be interesting to see how things could be different if we applied information we have now to events in the past.  Hitting that redo button would be so tempting, especially after a marathon, which most of us only run once or two a year.  In not so much dwelling on the past as learning from it, three special lessons come to mind that, if I had practiced, may have resulted in a very different race experience in Akron.

1.  Run Smart - I will be the first person to admit that I didn't "run my own race."  The pace at the beginning was way too fast and unbridled confidence got the best of me.  On top of that, I convinced myself that I was fueling properly, though my Gatorade and water-soaked shirt said otherwise about my drinking-while-running skills.  I made one mistake after the next creating my own perfect storm - no need for outside factors to do it for me!

2. Set Realistic Goals - The two weeks prior to the race, I barely ran more than a couple miles and suffered a variety of injuries.  Yet, when race day rolled around, I still set out for the 3:25 goal time.  I'm sure some part of my brain attempted to reason toward more practical goals, but irrationality had already taken over.  While "stretch goals" are awesome for pushing for something long-term, pull something too tight and it will snap.

3.  Have Fun - In trying to make pace and push hard, I lost a little bit of the fun I could have had.  One of the most enjoyable parts of the race was when I chatted with a fellow runner named Matt.  Having a little conversation back and forth was really nice and I could have had a lot more of it if I hadn't let self-competition dictate my race.

With these tidbits of wisdom in mind, I feel much the wiser approaching the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.  I'm even going to push for the positive in hoping that a month after that race, I'll want a redo because it was so epicly amazing!

Happy running!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesdays on the Run: 2016 Goal Check-In

The theme for this week's Tuesdays on the Run with PattyErika, and Marcia is a check-in on final goals for 2016.  It's so hard to believe that only a little over two months are left to the year!  Back in December of 2015, I posted a list of goals I had set for myself to accomplish at some point over the following 12 months.  As we approach the end of that window, now is as good a time as any to look back at how things have gone so far and what can be done to possibly check a few of them off the list.

1.  12 in 12 - I had planned to try and run a race at least once a month during the year.  Looking back, I'm at about 50%.  I was right on track to meet this goal until the summer months hit and then things got unexpectedly busy.  I'm currently slated to run the Pittsburgh 10 Miler in November to round the year out at seven races.

2.  Strength Training Regularly - I've been trying as of late to incorporate either a short strength routine or yoga into each day.  I've become a believer in the benefits of these practices when it comes to both feeling better when running and injury prevention.  I've even noticed a little bit of toning in my upper body, which I haven't seen since swimming in high school!

3.  Finish First Marathon - I got to check this off the goal list in September with the Akron Marathon.  If you want to hear how it went, check out my recap post!  And since I just couldn't wait, I already signed up for Pittsburgh in May.

4.  Increase Days of Running - With the training plan I followed for my marathon, I shifted from four days a week of mileage to five.  Though it took some getting use to some days, especially when I wanted to come home and be a couch potato, I found that most days turned out pretty well.

5.  Become a Running Group Regular - I never realized how many different things I have going on on Saturday mornings!  Something always seemed to come up on days when I planned to join SCRR for runs.  I still haven't given up on this goal, though, and plan to make full use of the weekend mornings to join in group runs.

With some time still left for the year, I haven't given up hope yet!

Happy running!

Friday, October 7, 2016

5 Signs of Running Withdrawal

Over the next few weeks, many runners will be crossing finish lines for their fall goal races.  And as is usually advised after completing a hard running effort, recovery is the next practical step to healing to body up from the pounding it endured.  However, as is unique about runners, the moment we take to relish our achievement is quickly followed up by a desire to begin our next training cycle or maintenance workouts.  We go through a sort of "running withdrawal."  So for this Friday Five, I'm linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run to give the five signs we're craving the trails while recovering.

1.  Vicarious running - Even though we are taking time off, our obsession with every other person's running progress seems become the highest priority.  We gobble up every Runner's World article and running books in addition to spending extra time analyzing our friends' training on Strava/Twitter/etc.   In some way, we live through the experience of others to meet our own need to hit the roads.

2.  Unhelpful Recovery Methods - Whether it's in an article online or instructions from a coach, taking time away from running after a major race is an important task.  However, we as runners also seem to have a propensity to sabotage our healing by engaging in other activities of similar intensity.  Even as I write this blog post I'm currently making my way to 20k steps for the day at a 2.5 mph pace on the treadmill.  Going any slower or shorter just felt wrong!

3.  Cluelessness Regarding Free Time - When an hour or two of every evening as well as weekend mornings are spent on the roads, this newfound free time leaves us a little stir crazy.  Suddenly the idea that we can have a "social life" is a real possibility.  We may even discover that there is a crowd who stays up later than 10pm.

4.  "The Ache" - Within every runner, there is an itch that can only be scratched by doing a workout.  This desire to run seems to intensify during periods of breaks.  We feel our legs twitch when we see a runner go by, especially when the weather is perfect for a few easy miles.  At moments like these, we realize running has become a part of our DNA.

5.  Planning Ahead - It's kind of crazy that the moment we stop running, we are already looking to the future for when we can head out again.  We mark our calendars and start signing up for races so those blank days on the training schedule feel complete.  Even those of us who procrastinate find ourselves making preparations.

What is your running withdrawal symptom?

Happy running!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesdays on the Run: Bucket List Race

The theme for this week's Tuesdays on the Run with PattyErika, and Marcia is all about the bucket list race.  I've given some thought at different times about where I would love to run.  I've toyed with the idea of attempting to BQ (which, if I don't get any slower in the next 30 years, I could totally do by the time I'm 60!) or enter the lottery for Chicago or NYC.  At the same time, I've also been realistic about my aversion to huge crowds of people as well as being a little bit of a homebody.  With all this in mind, the one race that sits on my bucket list is the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Marathon website
Besides a very short time after college, Pittsburgh has always been my hometown.  I know the different neighborhoods that make up the city and have run through a number of them.  I think this is one of the reasons for such a strong PR last year in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon (10 minutes!).

I've also found that races tend to be more fun with friends.  Since the race is local, several of us join in the Saturday 5K as a shake-out run followed by spending the afternoon at the expo.  And after the race on Sunday, we head to lunch to refuel and relax.  We make the most of race weekend!

In addition to those of us running, our families are able to come out and cheer us on.  During my marathon in Akron, my wife wasn't able to spectate due to our daughter being too young to be in large crowds.  Since this will no longer be the case in May, my wife is already planning the sign is she going to make!

Yes, I know, I'll be crossing it off this May and will then have to find a new bucket list race, but until then, it's going to sit on the list until I hit the finish line.

What is your bucket list race?

Happy running!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Akron Marathon Race Recap

Doing anything for the first time is always a learning experience, including running a marathon.  No matter how many 5Ks, 10Ks, or half marathons someone runs, these races never fully prepare you for those 26.2 miles.  The Akron Marathon tested both my physical and mental grit in ways other races never had and challenged me to find our my true limits.

Having never run an out-of-state race, I was anxious about a number of the details going into this event, including finding the Expo for packet pick-up, quality of sleep in a bed that wasn't my own, and looking for parking spaces race morning.  In addition to this stress, my body was still in recovery mode from a number of injuries.  With all these thoughts buzzing through my head, my focus was a tad scattered.

At 7AM on September 24th, I found myself standing before the start line of the Akron Marathon about to embark on a painful but rewarding adventure.  I was a little pressed for time, since the parking garage I chose had me a little further away from the start line than I had planned and I also wanted to make a quick bathroom stop before entering my corral.  I made it with a few minutes to spare, but at the expense of not really warming up like was my routine.  I lined up next to the 7:49 minute pacer choosing to start conservatively with the game plan being to pick up time in the second half to meet an average pace of 7:45.  At the sound of the horn we were off, surging along the blue line with 26.22 miles ahead.  

As the first mile blew by, I could feel that the pace seemed a little on the speedier side, to which my watch was no help since it was having problems picking up signal between the cloudy skies and tall buildings.  By mile two when I could get a more accurate pace reading, I found my suspicions to be true.  While I slowed down slightly, something in me wanted to keep pushing it.  I took on every hill with a vengeance doing my best to maintain the pace on the inclines.  What I didn't realize was that I was burning up more energy than I was consuming.  Once I crossed 13.1, I felt each step coming with a little more work.  In addition, my left knee began to feel stiff causing my form to adjust for the worse.

It was at at mile 17 that everything fell apart and I hit the "wall."  With each successive mile, I got progressively slower with walk breaks becoming more frequent.  In those long miles, I dug back into what I remembered learning from podcasts and articles about running marathons.  I convinced myself that if I walked through the water stations, I could then jog slowly to the next station.  I actually found that around mile 22 I gained a slight second wind that pushed me through the next few miles.

The end of the race was a blur both due to the sheer size of the crowd in the stadium as well as being exhausted.  In a daze, I accepted my medal and made my way to where the food and water was offered.  While not usually someone who eats right after a race due to GI issues, I didn't care one single bit as I scarfed down a slice of pizza.  It tasted so good (and I didn't get sick from it)!  It wasn't until I got back to the car that the reality set in as to what I had accomplished - I just finished a marathon!  While my time wasn't anywhere near my A goal (2:24) and was a little disappointed by this, I was still able to break four hours with a time of 3:46:59.  For a first marathon, I'm thinking that's not too bad!  

I'm currently taking two weeks off to rest and recover (something I've done pretty poorly in the past!) before I hit to roads again.  In running the EQT Pittburgh 10 miler in November, I'm planning to do it just for fun.  I'll then be setting my sights on the Pittsburgh Marathon in May where I'll tackle my second 26.2.  Especially with a new course currently being developed for this race, I'll intrigued what it will entail!

Happy running!