Dec 28, 2006

Head Bangin' AM

I slammed my head into the corner of a shelf near my front door after having bent over to slip my shoes on. I wasn't too pleased about that although it did wake me up from the morning haze I was in. I now have a small but highly visible gash on my head. Ouch! No one at my work has said anything yet so either they haven't noticed it or they're being polite by not bringing it up. Anyway, it was 40°F for this mornings 10-miler, which felt very comfortable. I may have overdressed slightly but not too much. Finished in 1:18 on the nose (7:48's). Legs felt good. Hips, feet, etc. are all cool. I love my yellow shoes!

Dec 21, 2006

Another Pleasant Run

It was 42°F with light winds at 4:30 so I threw on my favorite running apparrel, shorts and a long sleeve tech top. Also had the winter hat and gloves to keep the extremities warm. There was a light rain but not enough to require a waterproof shell. While running, I became completely wrapped up in a story I was telling and was amazed at how the miles flew by. We were at our 5 mile turnaround before I knew it. I must have been pretty wired because I'm usually pretty quiet and focused on the business of running, especially in the morning.

We met at Kevin's house even though he is still sidelined with an injured achilles. I wonder if he saw our cars and how he felt not being able to join us. I know it's really been eating at him. Kevin's a guy who was in Boston Marathon shape a short 8 months ago! Any way, 10 miles this AM in just just under 1:18. Great run!

Dec 19, 2006

Two-a-Day Tuesday

Ran a light 8 miles this morning starting at 4:45. Temps were around 35°F and mild. Pretty nice conditions actually. The day brought with it sunshine and temps in the mid 40's, which was really nice. It may be a little cold but you can't help but feel good when the sun is shining. I had planned on making it to Garfield Park in the evening to run with the old gang and was relieved to get out of work on time to make the 6:15 start. I believe there were 10 of us tonight. A few old faces and a few new. We did two laps around the 2 mile loop and regrouped at the base of the large hill to do some ladders. 1/3 up hard (jog down), 2/3 up hard (jog down), all the way up hard (jog down). Repeat, except in reverse. I was surprsed at how well I handled the "speedwork" given the time of year. Wore my New Balance in the AM and Brooks in the PM and both are feeling great!

Dec 17, 2006

Short Sleeve December

I woke up on Sunday morning to 55° weather. Instinctively, I began digging through my running drawer for a thermal layer but thought better of it and went with the short sleeve top and some light arm warmers. The five of us who met for a 12 miler were in shock. One of the many things that's cool about being from Ohio is having the ability to appreciate warm weather when we're fortunate to have it. We all stretched for a few minutes extra afterwards and a few of us went together to a local bakery for some post-run treats.

The run itself went well. I've been consistent enough with my running of late to be content although I wouldn't mind picking it up a notch. Perhaps signing up for a spring marathon will inspire me to run a few extra miles during the week.

Dec 14, 2006

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

I knew today was going to be awesome when the first song I heard on the radio was Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry. It's only 7:30, but so far so good! Ran 8 miles this morning. Temps were in the mid-40's, which for me is a little tricky to dress for. Ended up being a little warm with a thermal layer under a long sleeve tech top. I have plenty more cold weather mornings to get it right. The Geminid meteor shower was in full effect this morning and I was fortunate enough to see three meteors! T minus 26 days and counting until my 30th birthday and I need to start getting my head together for XXX Marathon 1/10/07. I'm hoping to recruit some friends to keep me company during the final miles.

Dec 11, 2006

Follow the Blue Light!

I arrived a few minutes late to my planned 14 mile run on Sunday morning and found 2 familiar cars but no familiar people (i.e. they took off without me). Since we run out and backs, I knew we'd cross paths eventually so I set out at a pretty brisk pace to get the blood flowing. About 3/4 mile in, I saw ahead of me a blinking blue light and remembered that Cathy had recently purchased this light to clip on to her fuel belt, warning cars of our presence since 90% of our running is done in the dark. It was still about a mile ahead but I couldn't resist the challenge of chasing it down as fast as possible. Part of the fun was in trying to sneak up on them as I approached. By mile 3, I was even with them and running easy. Thank goodness because running at 10K pace 25 minutes after waking up is not a whole lot of fun. To be honest, it took a little out of me and the balance of the run was a little hard to stomach (literally).

Nov 30, 2006

Anyone got a carrot? Anyone?

Somehow, in my years running, I've actually become more health conscious when it comes to eating. I don't remember the last time I had a Snickers bar or a Milky Way. Occasionally I will eat a snack size packet of M&M's. And who doesn't like Hershey Kisses from time to time? Also, I gave up dark cola's (e.g. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper) cold turkey they day I started running. I still eat pizza, lots of pizza, and jump at the chance to eat a Jack Daniel's burger or steak. It's the obvious stuff that I steer clear of now. As much as I would love to take down a Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, I just don't do it. It's a small price to pay now if it'll help me live a longer, more healthy, active life. Besides, as a runner and triathlete, I experience highs above and beyond that provided by aforementioned cheesecake.

The weather is still awesome although the forecast is calling for a rapid cooldown by mid-afternoon. This mornings 10-miler may have been the last warm-weather run until April/May.

Nov 28, 2006

Sore Soleus

They say you learn something new every day and this morning I learned about my soleus muscles. They're in the back of the leg, just below what you commonly think of as your calf muscles. They're hard muscles to stretch but I found a way and managed to loosen them up a little before rolling into work. They feel fine now so I'm thinking it was due to wearing my Brooks for the first time on this morning's 8-miler around Westlake. The weather is still ideal! Low 60's I would guess. It was 52° when I left the house at 4:40 this morning wearing shorts and a long sleeve top.

Nov 22, 2006

Marathoners face higher risk of cancer

A co-worker left this article on my desk for me...

WASHINGTON - Marathon runners face a heightened risk of skin cancer, likely due to more sun exposure or an immune system inhibited by arduous exercise, researchers said yesterday.
Researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria studied 210 male and female marathon runners and 210 other people of the same age and sex.
The marathon runners were found to have more atypical moles. They also had more so-called liver spots -- small, flat, brownish, harmless lesions, also known as solar lentigines.
The number of these moles and liver spots is considered a strong independent indicator of increased risk or developing malignant melanoma.

Wow, and how much money was spent on this study? Good to know that long term exposure to the sun is still harmful!

Nov 21, 2006

New Wheels!

Bought some new wheels last night and gave 'em an 8-mile test spin this morning. I had a bad experience with New Balance about 3 years ago and have steered clear ever since. However, the 825 model appears to have been made just for me. As weird as it sounds, I can usually look at a shoe and, without even trying it on, know whether or not it'll work for me. Like my Saucony's, these have a synthetic/mesh upper making them very light. Plus, their accented in red and who doesn't like red shoes?

Also bought a pair of Brooks ST Racers for my tempo runs and local 5K's. I'll be under a lot of pressure when wearing these because they're yellow. Yellow shoes = fast runner.

Nov 20, 2006

'Bout Time for an Update!

Big news! I have been asked by Team in Training to be a run coach for the 2007 spring/summer season. I will be joined by Jody Herzog to coach athletes for the Rock'n'Roll Marathon in San Diego on June 3 and the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska on June 23. From my experience, Team in Training coaches are amazing people, which means I've got a lot to live up to. I think I'll do OK! I've come a long way as a runner in a short time and am hoping I can use my experiences to convey the joys of being part of such an amazing organization and setting out on such a worthy cause. I'm really looking forward to the next 7 months!

Nov 6, 2006

Back at it...

Hooked up with Cathy and Bryce for a 12-mile run Sunday morning at 6:30. I'm amazed, and am becoming increasingly appreciative, that I have such great friends who are willing to show up at the crack of dawn to do what 90% of humanity dreads! I didn't even bring my watch but Bryce said we were just over 92 minutes, which is roughly 7:45 pace. My knee started to yell at me near our turnaround point and wasn't too pleased when we started to go again after a brief rest. However, it felt better a few minutes later. I would like to continue with tempo runs once a week until the early spring, at which time I'll begin to work in some hills and speedwork to build strength again for what will hopefully be a solid spring marathon. To Boston or not to Boston? That is the question!

Oct 31, 2006

Columbus Marathon Splits

For my records. Not an ideal race (i.e. negative split) but not too bad overall. I think I'm only good for negative splitting a projected finish time of 3:05-3:10. Perhaps I'll make that my goal for my next marathon since I wasn't planning on it when I did it two years ago in Toronto. A negative split Boston would be a real challenge with those darned hills near the end.

Mile 1 - 6:36:32
Mile 2 - 6:42:48
Mile 3 - 6:21:33
Mile 4 - 6:46:99 (CLIF SHOT)
Mile 5 - 6:38:26
Mile 6 - 6:39:90
Mile 7 - 6:40:43
Mile 8 - 6:50:37 (CLIF SHOT)
Mile 9 - 6:47:58
Mile 10 - 6:40:17
Mile 11 - 6:41:71
Mile 12 - 7:09:49 (BATHROOM)
Mile 13 - 6:38:02
Mile 14 - 6:40:21 (CLIF SHOT)
Mile 15 - 6:44:82
Mile 16 - 6:51:16
Mile 17 - 6:54:59
Mile 18 - 6:36:96
Mile 19 - 7:11:00 (CLIF SHOT)
Mile 20 - 7:01:95
Mile 21 - 7:02:61
Mile 22 - 6:39:77
Mile 23 - 7:06:73 (CLIF SHOT)
Mile 24 - 7:21:37
Mile 25 - 7:15:34
Mile 26 - 7:20:94
Mile 26.2 - 1:35:43
AVERAGE - 6:51:37

Oct 27, 2006

Recovery Mode

I'm fully enjoying my recovery period after having run my marathon 2 weeks ago. Part of me is dying to get back on the roads but I'm somewhat limited in my ability to do so because of some pain in my right knee. I'll take that as a sign to chill out for another week or two. I have this crazy idea to run a marathon on the evening of my 30th birthday (Jan 10). I think it falls on a Wednesday this year. I'm not trying to turn back the hands of time or anything like that. I mean, the last time I checked (about 6 years ago) I had the lungs of a 9 year old, and that was before I started to run! I just think running 26.2 to commemorate such an occasion would be fun and a good story to tell down the road. So I'm in no rush to start running again. I figure I'll be just fine if I'm back to doing 5+ miles by mid-November.

Bridget just ran the Nike 26.2 Women's Marathon in San Francisco and Elizabeth rocked Chicago on a pretty crummy day that saw the men's winner nearly split his head open as he slipped on a plastic decal placed at the finish line. Poor guy. Athena and Jen are running Marine Corp this weekend. Kick a$$ ladies!

Oct 18, 2006

Columbus Marathon

Race morning was a tad bid on the cold side. I woke up to find my car windshield frosted over. As I made my way from the parking garage on Nationwide Blvd. to the start of the race on Broad St., the sun started to come up and it immediately started to warm up. At about 7:45, having decided that my planned race attire would suffice, I peeled my sweats and jacket and headed to the front of the start area close to where the wheelchairs were about to take off. I did a lot of bouncing around while scanning the crowd for Lou. I finally spotted him with about 5 minutes until the start. He looked so relaxed and it had a calming effect on me. The mood was already that of pure excitement and the flyover of a C-130 practically made me burst with pride and accomplishment. I've welled up with tears plenty of times at the start of a marathon. After all, simply to have put yourself in a position to be amongst the mass of runners is a huge accomplishment in itself.

The gun fired prompty at 8:00. Lou and I paced off each other for the first 3 miles and established a very smooth rhythm. I knew from my race here last year that it was important not to go out too fast (it's so easy to do!). Just before making our first turn on the course I fell in behind a small group who were all looking to run under 3-hours (3 men and 1 woman). The woman, Kristin Price, ultimately went on to win! That's Kristin with an "i". One of the guys asked her because his wife's name was Kristen (with an "e"). Anyway, another of the guys was wearing an Ironman hat so we chatted briefly about IM Lake Placid and IM France. He was an awesome looking guy, broad shoulders, ripped legs, etc. (I bet he shreds the water when swimming!). We would meet up again later in the race. For now, I was in cruise control. Went through the 5 mile mark in 33:08, 1/2-Marathon in 1:27:57 (2:55:54 projected finish time). One of the hardest parts of the course for me last year was passing through the 1/2-way point surrounded by cheering crowds and then finding myself alone running north on High St. It took the wind out of my sails a year ago but this year I was better prepared mentally. There were a handful of runners ahead of me so I just focused on them and how strong they looked. I just kept thinking to myself that maybe someone was behind me using little ol' me as a motivating force to keep pushing.

My splits started to fall off a little around mile 19 but this was the "hilly" section of the course and I found myself slowing down through the water stops more than I had earlier in the race. Passed through the 20 mile marker in 2:15:17. A downhill stretch on Lane Ave. during mile 22 was key and allowed me to run a 6:39 mile. It also helped to stretch my legs out a little and build confidence for the final 3 miles. At this point, my mind was racing trying to determine how fast I needed to run the final 3.2 miles and still finish under 3-hours. It seemed do-able, but my legs were starting to feel like lead, my arms were getting tingly and my mind was starting to question the importance of achieving such a time. I was asking a lot of my body at this point and my body was asking a lot of my mind. I didn't much feel like myself anymore. I think this is the point where all marathoners begin asking themselves, why am I doing this? It just doesn't make sense at that point. Then, at mile 25, a familiar face showed up along side me on my left. it was the Ironman guy from earlier in the race. He looked strong and I said to myself, and out loud to him, that I was going with him. He seemed to sense the urgency of that final mile more than I did, which was exactly what I needed. Running 1 mile with legs on fire, numb arms and heavy breath can seem like a marathon in itself. The 26 mile marker was just before the final right turn on to Nationwide Blvd. Finally, the finish line was in sight and I knew from my watch, and the official finish line clock, that my sub-3 was a lock. I spotted a few of my friends in the crowd coming down the homestretch and managed to crack a smile just before crossing the finish line.

Some very nice volunteers removed my timing chip and placed a medal around my neck. I then made a b-line to the fenceline to meet my friends Keith, his girlfriend Lexi and my buddy Jeremy, who had just finished the 1/2-marathon. My poor body was tingling all over. I tried giving hugs but I was pretty weak. I found Lou and gave him a big celebratory hug. He shattered his previous best time at Columbus by 27 minutes!! Plus, he qualified for Boston, which is something a man like him truly deserves and will appreciate fully. After about 15 minutes, I hooked up with my friend Bridget who was searching for me because she had all my clothes that I shed before the race. We walked over to just before the 26 mile marker to cheer on the Team in Training runners with Steve, who was a Mentor for the fall season. I think the elite runners are awesome to watch but not nearly as exciting as those who finish in the 4-5 hour range. I devoured a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds on my way home. I won't need to eat McDonalds for another 6 months now (nor will I want to!). I'm going to rest for a week and a half or so before I start to run again. My muscles still ache and my right knee feels a little funny. I'm sure it will get better soon!

Oct 16, 2006

The Aftermath

A little sore today (quads and calfs mostly) but not too bad. Usually I'm the most sore 2 days after a marathon. Not looking forward to that, but waking up tomorrow morning knowing the Bears dismantled the Cardinals tonight on Monday Night Football should ease my aching muscles!!

Oct 15, 2006

Post Columbus Results/Pics

Overall Place: 88/3750
Division Place: 12/231
Sex Place: 84/2254
Time: 2:59:38
Pace: 6:52

Mile 9 - Feelin' fine : )

Jeremy, me, Mike - 3 Happy Runners

Oct 13, 2006


I'm getting a little flustered having really pulled back on the running these last few days. Thank god it's Friday! Tomorrow I leave for Columbus! It's supposed to be low 40's at the start of the marathon and mid-50's by the end. I'm planning on wearing arm warmers (used when biking in the cool weather) and a light beanie of sorts (don't want my dome to get cold!). My race strategy is somewhat simple... run even splits all the way. I'm going to attack the last 10 miles or so as if each one of them is my final and most important mile. 10 individual 1-mile races. Oh god, I'm making myself nervous!

Oct 10, 2006

My top 10...

Since I've slowed down on the running front, I thought it might be fun, and a good way to build my confidence leading into this weekend, to summarize my top ten running memories (in no particular order).

1. Finishing my first marathon: Cleveland 2003 - I remember in great detail most of this race. Running past my aunts house in Lakewood twice, meeting several interesting runners including a dentist who was running his 112th marathon, feeling my arms go numb and my feet start to get sore at the 22-23 mile mark. Perhaps what I remember most is meeting Teresa at the finish line and falling into her arms in tears of joy. Never has anything hurt so bad but felt so good!

2. Running my first 3 miles non-stop: August 2002 - This run, in my early stages of running (obviously), made me feel on top of the world. It was done in the twighlight hours at the Westlake Rec Center (outdoor all purpose path) and was fueled by thoughts of all the people in my life who would be proud of me for getting out there and getting myself in shape. I literally spent most of the run developing a list of everyone I would invite to watch if I were to ever run a marathon. Shortly after I signed up to run the 2003 Cleveland Marathon.

3. Qualifying for Boston: Toronto 2004 - The perfect race! A beautiful day and a beautiful course. I was aiming for a 3:08 (anything less than 3:10) and finished in 3:03! A negative split marathon. Yes, it can be done! My Dad was instrumental in helping me finish strong as he patiently waited at the 40K mark (24.8 miles) to let me know I had it in my grasps! My parents and Teresa's parents were all waiting at the finish line. Shortly thereafter, I proposed to Teresa and the rest is history!

4. Track workouts with Team in Training: Summer 2005 - I wouldn't be half the runner I am today had it not been for this group and all of the people I've met through this group. Every single person I run with to this day are connected to this group in some way. I used to run alone 90% of the time and now I run alone only 10% of the time.

5. Sub 24 minute 4-miler: July 2005 - 6 minute miles is alway a good target pace for 5k's, which would be about an 18:38 finish time. Sometimes I can run faster than this and other times I'm nowhere close. Some solid speedwork led me to a 23:16 finish (5:49/mile). I was very tired in the end but was equally as excited to have run such a good race.

6. Strong Finish at Youngstown 1/2-marathon: March 2006 - I was told this was a hilly course but was up for the challenge. I found Bryce at the start and we set off at a 6:15-6:30 pace. My shoelace came untied within the first mile and since we were a little ahead of pace, I told Bryce to go on ahead and that I'd catch up with him. As soon as I caught up with him a right turn and a monster hill greeted us. I was already slightly out of breath from having picked up the pace to make up for my stupid shoelace! The next 3-4 miles were awful and I thought for sure I would self destruct. I remained patient and before I knew it, I was feeling good again and passing people by mile 10 and ultimately finishing in 1:26:20 (12th place overall)!

7. Bench-Bar Halloween 5K: October 2002 - What's more fun (and memorable) than running in costume? I was still pretty much a virgin runner at this point but managed to squeak out a 19:34 and place in my age group. I also won an award for best costume, Raggedy Ann! Run Raggedy! Run!

8. Cleveland Browns TD Run (5K): August 2004 - A solid 5k is always hard to come by because it's pretty much an all out race. If you don't "got it" on that day... "it" ain't happenin'! On this day I ran so good I finished well under 18 minutes (17:32 I think) and ran my final mile the fastest. Perhaps it was the finish on the field of Cleveland Browns Stadium that made the difference for me.

9. Boston Marathon: April 2005/2006 - I will forever be proud of the fact that my name owns a permanent place in the official records of the 109th and 110th running of this famed race. The inspiration for countless speedwork sessions and long runs, Boston remains the benchmark for many runners. Have you qualified?

10. Crossing the finish line at Ironman France: June 2006 - After a slow swim and an average bike, I slipped on my running shoes and went off for 26.2 of the most memorable miles of my life. I fought through 80+ degree heat and slight dehydration to finish ahead of people that started their marathon an hour or so before me. Because of this, I'm not sure I'll ever consider myself a triathlete. I'm more like a runner who was crazy enough to train for a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike prior to running a marathon.

Oct 3, 2006

Who Turned Up the Heat?

...I murmured to myself as I finished the first of 8 hills this morning. I believe it was 65°F when I stepped out the door wearing fleece pants and my fleece Boston jacket, which was rather comfortable, and probably would have been the perfect attire if all I planned on doing was standing at the base of the hill watching my friends pass by. After 57:50, I was relieved to be done; my head dripping sweat and my Columbus Marathon 2005 long sleeve rolled up to my elbows. The actual act of running went fine. I hit the 2nd and 4th repeats hard as usual and felt relatively good after having gone long less than 48 hours earlier. My hips, etc. usually ache after a long run, but not this time. I'll take that as a good sign. I'm going to concentrate on stretching and positive imagery over the next 12 days.

Oct 1, 2006

Final Long Run - Fall Marathon 2006

Was a little late getting out the door this morning for my long run, which I was hoping to start at 6:30 so I wolfed down a bowl of oatmeal in the car and was on the run at 7AM. Did just over 3 miles before meeting up with Cathy to accompany her on her 15. I took down a CLIF Shot about 4.5 miles in and could hear the contents of my stomach jostling around shortly thereafter. I'm never affected by this but it's a little unsettling. Hit our turnaround point and took down another CLIF Shot. Made a quick pit-stop at Little Met a couple miles later and continued on. When we approached the final mile of Cathy's run, I asked if she wanted to pick up the pace a little and finish strong. She was a little reluctant but hung right on my shoulder and made it through with no problem. I was at 18 miles and was feeling great. Downed another gel and headed out for my final 4. Mile 19 fell right around 7:00, mile 20 about 7:15. Pulled back a little on mile 21 for a 7:30 and finished strong with a 6:19 mile 22. Legs felt pretty good in the end. I could feel my inner thighs starting to tighten a little and my hamstrings made their prescence felt but the quads and calfs felt good. My breathing on mile 22 was a little labored but still rythmic at every 4th foot strike. I still plan on doing hills and a tempo this week but may shorten the distance of the tempo and make it up with a few shorter runs on what are normally my off days. Since I'm not running as long or as hard, I'll need to run more often in order to stay in the game mentally.

Sep 28, 2006

Cranking 'em out!

Hills on Tuesday morning went great. We finished in 55:50, which is about 3 minutes faster than our normal time. I believe we'll be able to squeeze in another rep before too long! I had to drive all over the west side last night to find a place to do my planned workout of 6x800's (Yasso 800's). I started at Avon Lake's track, which was occupied... as was Rocky River's. Westlake's track was being repaired so I went over to the Westlake Rec Center and used thier outdoor all purpose trail, which is marked in 1/4-mile increments. With my target marathon time of 3-hours or less, I was aiming to run the 800's in 3:00 or less, with minimal recovery time (400m).

1 mile warmup - 7:38:57
1. 800 - 2:42:46 400 - 2:20:21
2. 800 - 2:50:63 400 - 2:20:64
3. 800 - 2:43:74 400 - 2:31:98
4. 800 - 2:55:85 400 - 2:30:70
5. 800 - 2:46:63 400 - 2:38:20
6. 800 - 2:50:92 400 - 2:31:19
1 mile warmdown - 8:05:79

Pretty good, I think. Followed this run up with an easy 10-miler at 5AM this morning. I'm starting to feel more confident. 17 more days until showtime!

Sep 21, 2006

3, 2, 1....

Getting back to some old school running action, I got out for one of my all time favorite workouts (no sarcasm there), the 3, 2, 1 special! I First discovered this workout last summer on a Thursday night in Strongsville. Expecting only a 5-6 miler as a last minute tune-up for a 4-mile race we were doing on Saturday, Bryce and I went out and did 3 easy miles followed by 3 fast miles, then 2 easy miles, 2 fast miles, 1 easy mile and finally 1 fast (nearly all out) mile to wrap things up. That's 12 miles folks, 6 of which were done at a hard pace. Last summer we ran our final mile in 5:25 or something ridiculous like that. Tonight wasn't quite as fast, but I felt good and I really enjoy the stress of running hard:

Mile 1 - 7:20:96 Mile 7 - 7:39:87
Mile 2 - 7:19:84 Mile 8 - 7:48:67
Mile 3 - 7:37:52 Mile 9 - 6:02:00
Mile 4 - 6:18:25 Mile 10 - 6:01:70
Mile 5 - 6:03:62 Mile 11 - 7:49:84
Mile 6 - 6:02:57 Mile 12 - 5:56:32

Had a great hill workout on Tuesday morning and plan on getting a solid 12-15 miler in this weekend while in the Hocking Hills of southern Ohio. A friend of mine from college is going to be running the 1/2-Marathon at Columbus this year. It's going to be great to see him accomplish this amazing goal. Only 3 more weeks!

Sep 17, 2006

Almost October

As the last days of September expire, I'm wondering what happened to August. There's a tangible bite in the air of late signaling the arrival of yet another winter in Ohio. Running has been really comfortable albeit a little tricky to prepare for. I went outside Saturday morning and was shivering. It was probably 60° but I'm a baby when it comes to anything less than 75°. For my 20-miler, I wore a tight short-sleeved compression top with a light long-sleeved running shirt over it. About 3 miles in I was pulling my sleeves up and by 5 miles I had stripped off the long-sleeved top completely. The sun broke through the clouds at the 15-mile mark at which time I ditched the compression top and was all but naked. I can't believe how much heat I generate when I run. The pleasant weather made for a good run and I felt a lot better during this 20-miler than I did on my last. The last few miles were a little tough but my pace never fell off. I didn't have the opportunity to drink as much as I would have liked and I'm now convinced I should take one GU every 4-5 miles, starting 4 miles in. My breathing became a little more labored at 18 miles, which is a sure sign my muscles need more oxygen to keep going. I don't think I'm in as good of shape as I was last year at this point. I do, however, think I'm a little smarter when it comes to race strategy. Perhaps that's the main reason so many runners/triathletes don't peak until they're in their 30's (or later).

Sep 9, 2006

A Tough 20!

I was way off my game today! The last 5 miles of this run were just gruelling! I made it through in 2:19:40 (6:58/mile), which, amazingly, was in line with what I was shooting for. Maybe I didn't eat right in the morning. Or maybe today just wasn't my day considering that I locked my keys in my car just before heading out. Regardless, I think I can learn something from this one. I have two more 20-milers to go before taper time. My next 20-miler will be slightly more casual (i.e. 7:30 pace) and hopefully more enjoyable!

Sep 5, 2006

Celebrate Westlake

Instead of a long run on Saturday morning, Cathy and I decided to race the Celebrate Westlake 5-miler. I haven't raced at all this summer so I was looking forward to seeing how well my conditioning has held up. I was thinking 30-minutes +/- 30 seconds (i.e. 5:55-6:05 pace). I had no idea whether or not this was realistic but I thought it a good guess since the weather was near ideal and it was a flat course. I shouldn't say the weather was ideal since we were beginning to feel the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto. However, from a runners point of view, 60°F with a light rain is not bad weather. Lined up a few feet back from the start line (behind the local speedsters and the few Kenyans that showed up) and did some light stretching prior to the gun. The start was smooth. I watched the Kenyans fly out at their sub-5 minute pace and wished for the 1000th time that I could hang with them, if only for a mile or two. Once back into reality I punched out the following times...

Mile 1 - 5:52
Mile 2 - 6:11
Mile 3 - 6:12
Mile 4 - 6:08
Mile 5 - 6:06

...for a 30:29 finish. Perhaps I went out to fast or maybe I slowed a little too much after I saw how fast my first mile was. Oh well. Running a hard 5-miler makes me think back to my first 5-mile run and how hard I thought it was at the time. I remember writing in my journal "5 miles ain't no joke!". No it ain't!

Aug 31, 2006

Columbus it is.

I sent in my registration for the Columbus Marathon yesterday. Unfortunately Teresa is working the weekend of the race but with so much else happening in the weekends leading up to and following Columbus, it's about the only one open for me. The race won't be the same without my biggest supporter waiting for me at the end and snapping photos throughout! The only race Teresa's missed since I picked up running four years ago is the 2003 Buffalo Marathon. My parents were with me that day and boy was it a tough day. Fresh off of my first marathon in Cleveland the month before, the marathon bug hit me hard and left me all but staggering to the finish line in Buffalo. I'm looking for a bit of redemtion this year in Columbus. I'm not too worried about finishing under a certain time, but more about running a good race and having some juice in the tank to run the final 5-6 miles consistent with the rest of the race.

I've continued running hills on Tuesday and tempos on Thursday. The weekend runs have been a little off from where I should be but I have 3 more 20-milers planned and a great running partner to do them with. I'm also back to doing 120-150 push-ups a night along with some dumbell curls and/or lateral arm raises along with some ab-work to help strengthen my core (and to look ripped up in those finish line pics!).

So Columbus it is... Maybe this year I'll actually notice Ohio State's football stadium when I run by it. It's a hard thing to miss but I managed to do so last year.

Aug 28, 2006

...on becoming an early bird

I truly believe my life would be better if I was a morning person. I'm at a point in my life where there's no longer a need to be a night owl. I just can't flip the switch though. Sometimes I get the overwhelming urge to throw a movie in late at night almost as if to say, "I'm gonna stick it to "the man" tomorrow by being tired and non-productive all day". However, I always end up falling asleep ten minutes into the movie and my rebellious attitude dissipates as quickly as my dreams appear. I have committed three days a week to waking up early to run with a small group that I trained with leading up to the most recent Boston Marathon. It's funny how I can be on my fourth hill repetition at 6AM on Tuesday morning and come Wednesday at 6AM I'm praying to God that I set my alarm clock wrong the night before. It can't possibly be time to get up already!! I like the person I am on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Now, I either have to work on those other 3-4 days (I deserve at least one day of sleeping in), or accept that I'm not a morning person, I'm never going to be a morning person and it's perfectly normal that I feel and act like the Incredible Hulk in mid-transformation most mornings.

With all that said, I had a great week of running last week including 8 miles of hill work, a 9 mile tempo run and a 14 mile long run to cap off the week.

Aug 15, 2006

A Memorable 24 hours

The weather around here has finally started to cool off a little so at 9PM on Monday night I decided to go out for an easy 4-miler. On my drive over to the start of my route, I called Cathy and committed to getting up early Tuesday AM to run hills with her and Kevin. I had also planned on doing a track workout on Tuesday evening per my FIRST schedule.

Monday 9PM - Felt great running around Westlake for an easy 4 miles (27:12).

Tuesday - 4:30AM came a little early but I managed to get out the door in time and was climbing my first hill by 5:05AM. We did 8 miles total on a course that's best described as a long half pipe. Up, down, up, down.... repeat. (58:56).

Tuesday - 6:30PM, 2x800, 2x400, 2x800, 2x400*

*Final 400's were done as a relay. Liz and I combined to run a 5:12 mile!!

800 - 2:54:07
800 - 2:44:95
400 - 1:18:23
400 - 1:14:72

800 - 2:54:46
800 - 2:42:57
400 - 1:09:66
400 - 1:09:74

The track workout went great! I felt some minor abdominal cramping every now and then, but nothing that stopped me from running hard. Looking back at our times, we were really consistent.

Afterwords, Liz and I went for some Italian grub down in Little Italy where the Feast of the Assumption was still going on. We grabbed some to-go cavatelli and took it to Teresa at work. She thanked us by accidently spilling this nasty smelling liquid on Liz's arm while forcing her to take a whif. Luckily it was something that Teresa's patients drink so it didn't burn a hole through her skin!

Roughly 18 miles in less than 24 hours. I need some sleep!

Aug 10, 2006

Summer Blues

Every winter I sit and wait for the summer to arrive and promise myself that I'll spend as much time outside as humanly possible. This past winter was no different and although you could never tell from my complexion, I have spent a lot of time soaking up the sun in what has been a very unusual summer to date. My parents fell victim to what is now being called the flood of the millenium in Painesville. 90°F weather has plagued the nation for weeks at a time sending electric companies into crisis mode and leaving annoying messages on my voicemail.

It's these reasons that have made me feel less burdened at the fact I haven't been following my training schedule nearly as close as I should be. I have, however, continued to swim on occasion and have pounded out some pretty impressive bike rides of late. I've been impressed anyway! I swear my legs must have thought I was applying cruel and unusual punishment to them in France because they've been a lot more dependable on the bike, especially on hills.

I've got a tempo run planned this evening and am hoping I come out of it feeling like a runner again. Afterwards, in case the run doesn't build up my confidence, I'm going to hang my Boston Marathon posters up in what's slowly but surely becoming my trophy room.

Jul 27, 2006

Clippin' Away

Decided to run on Avon Lake's track tonight instead of Rocky River's. I'm happy I have the option of running on such great local tracks. Today's workout was another tempo run.. 2 miles easy, 3 miles at 6:10 pace, 1 mile easy.

Mile 1 - 7:32
Mile 2 - 7:38
Mile 3 - 6:13
Mile 4 - 6:10

Mile 5 - 6:07
Mile 6 - 8:21

Felt pretty wiped out after mile 4 so I took a quick water break before mile 5. It's been so damn humid out lately and I sweat like a pig. So much for my body's natural cooling mechanism! I'm going away to Syracuse this weekend and am going to attempt to get in my 18-miler before we hit the road at 9AM on Saturday morning.

Jul 24, 2006

Long Run Saturday

I still haven't picked out my fall marathon yet but I have decided that I'm going to train as if I'm going to be running the Columbus Marathon, which is on Oct. 15th. I'll adjust my taper accordingly once I finally decide. The FIRST program called for the first of five 20-milers this weekend at a very agressive pace (7:30/mile). Lou is also doing the FIRST program so we teamed up to knock this one out.

I drove down to Lou's house and we started off just after 7AM. My fuel-belt was loaded up with two flasks of water, two flasks of orange Gatorade (full-strength) and two Hammer-Gels. About 3 miles in we landed on the canal towpath and followed it all the way to our turnaround point. A light rain kept us cool the entire time, which ended up being just about 2 hours 24 minutes (7:12/mile). I felt a little labored breathing most of the run, but was still at "conversation" pace (until the end). My mind is way ahead of my legs at this point and it's gonna take another month or two until things equilibrate. I found this course to be pretty challenging as there is a dandy of a hill at mile 18 and continues on a gradual incline to the finish. I emptied my fuel belt at the base of the hill and concluded that it's perfect for a 20-miler but probably isn't necessary for anything less than 12-15 miles.

Overall, everything felt great for this time of year. Thankfully, the weather cooled off for us and we didn't have to slow our pace to keep from overheating/dehydrating. I'm hoping for more of the same on the days of the remaining four 20-milers.

Jul 20, 2006

Soul Crusher!

Nothing like a brick workout in 85°F heat, but it had to be done. However, thanks to the monsoon that was coming up I-71, my bike was cut short from 25 miles to only 15. I was more interested in making sure my bike rode OK as it was my first time out since Ironman France. The run was much more important this evening as it was a scheduled medium-tempo run per my FIRST schedule.

Run - 1 mile warmup, 4 miles @ 6:20, 1 mile warmdown

Mile 1 - 7:37
Mile 2 - 6:24
Mile 3 - 6:22
Mile 4 - 6:21
Mile 5 - 6:15
Mile 6 - 8:09

Notice the killer 5th mile... White Zombie's 'Soul Crusher' never lets me down! "Demon got my soul and I said "Drive!" Come on - speed kills - but I'm alive yeah!". Aaahh, takes me right back to 12th grade!

Anyway, swam off of Columbia Park last night for about 1/2-hour. It was really choppy... probably too choppy for an effective swim. I take that back. It's always beneficial to get a feel for different types of water conditions. I happen to be a fan of the "flat as a sheet of glass" type! The kind that would leave a water skiier salivating!

Jul 18, 2006

My Poor Foot!

Tonight's track workout went really well. Got there early and did 2 miles of warmup and then started into sort of a reverse ladder. 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200. Lastly we did an 800, which, because of the 200 we had just done, wasn't supposed to feel very fast but was hopefully going to be faster than the first 800 done earlier.

Splits were something like this:

1200 - 4:26
1000 - 3:38
800 - 2:44
600 - 2:01
400 - 1:14
200 - 0:29
800 - 2:48 (Shouldn't have run the 200 so fast!)

I felt a little strained on the first couple laps of the 1200, but my legs/head loosened up shortly thereafter. The FIRST workout will have me running hard just about each and every time out so my track times should reflect this effort.

On a side note... I have a blister on the bottom of my foot that started to break open tonight on the track. It's from Sunday when I decided to run barefoot on the hot pavement. I thought the bottom of our feet are supposed to be tough!

Can you think of a worse place for a blister?

Ironman France

This is a condensed version of the notes I took while in France/Italy. Consider it the Cliffs-Notes version.... all the important stuff.

Arrived at the start about 1-1/2 hours prior to 'go' time. Had plenty of time to prep my bike, chat with other competitors, hydrate, wait in line for bathrooms, etc. With about 15 minutes to spare, I slipped on my wetsuit and handed in my SWIM bag. The beach wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it would be and I wasn't nearly as intimidated as I imagined I'd be. This particular beach in the south of France was rocky! They were of the rounded-off, skipping stone type, but rocky nonetheless. It was a little tricky getting good footing. I stepped off to the side where the 1:20+ signs were (i.e. slow swimmer territory) and found Susanna. We stood together in anticipation of the start, which came pretty quick. I believe it was an air horn of sorts that signaled us to begin. 6:30AM on the nose, ambient temp about 70°F, water temp about 68°F. Wetsuits allowed and used by most.

Took my time getting into the water as I wasn't in any hurry to get passed by others that may have been sandbagging it in the back. The water got deep pretty quickly and I was once again enamored by the clearness of the Meditteranean (We'd already done a practice swim on Friday). I'd have taken more time to take in what I was setting out to do, except that I was in the process of being kicked and bumped and fingered, etc. The start was very rough and I was in the vicinity of a guy that was apparently going to breast stroke the whole thing and a guy that would literally stop swimming every 5-6 strokes to look up to see where he was headed. He was a comprable swimmer to me, but was all over the place. Once I saw him look up to re-direct his path and then swim directly into a string of buyos about 5 second later. I think I did a pretty good job sighting and swimming in a relatively straight line. The first lap went well and as I exited the water I realized that the lead swimmers were also exiting with me, except that they were done with their SECOND lap!! I had been lapped, but it was cool. The Australian exit didn't phase me a bit. I jumped right back in the water and was back in a good rhythm in no time. For some reason I had some French phrase stuck in my head and couldn't get it out. I can't remember it for the life of me now, but it was driving me nuts at the time. I made the final turn towards the beach and started to see a few kayaks pull up near me to help guide me in. I knew I was going to be one of the last out of the water, but them taking the time to guide me in made me feel important and I was able to exit the water in fantastic spirits. Plus, a large number of spectators were still hanging around cheering on the stragglers! I jogged easily up the ramp onto the street above where the BIKE bags and changing tent were. I spotted Teresa and Annie and was exstatic to be done with the swim. Never in my life would I have imagined swimming 2.4 miles. What an accomplishment in itself, nevermind the 138.2 miles still to come. P.S. Ocean swimming is awesome! There were pockets of "cold" water that were very refreshing and the water is so clear. At times you could see schools of fish swimming below. I just hoped they weren't swimming away from a shark!

Headed into the transition tent and peeled off my wetsuit as quickly as possible. I was wearing some spandex swim shorts underneath my wetsuit and had considered slipping my tri-shorts over top of them but decided against it because they were a little wet and it was going to be very hot on the bike... So, I did what all true triathletes do and got NAKED in front of about a dozen people, most volunteers and some, women. Nothing like a little exhibitionism at 8AM. Once dressed, cycling shoes (w/ socks), tri-shorts, tri-top (sleeveless), gloves, sunglasses and helmet, I jogged down to my bike, which was about 100 or so meters down from the changing tent. Grabbed a PB and honey sandwich that I had placed on my handlebars earlier and was off. Since I was pretty much alone at this point, the race MC was able to announce my name as I went through to the mounting area. Go me!! Once again, I was made to feel like a rock star by the IM France folks!

The first thing I remember about the bike is seeing a few race photographers snapping away as I left the mouting area. I was glad they hung around long enough to catch me in action on the bike. The second thing I remember is how sore my legs were. This really scared me! After all, if my legs felt this sore less than one mile into the bike, how in the heck would they make it through another 111 miles (not to mention the marathon). I did what I read so much about and ate part of a peanut butter and honey sandwich I had stashed in my aerobars. I also drank some Powerade and water to help wash it down. My legs started to come to life around mile 5, shortly before the course turned north away from the coastline. Race organizers had warned us of a 500 meter hill at the 20K mark (about mile 12), which was 10% grade. I saw the 20 km sign but wasn't thinking about the hill until a few race volunteers steered me in its direction. Of all the hills on the course, this was the most gruelling. I dropped into the easiest gear, stood up and gave it hell. I could hear my bike squeaking below me and prayed that I had adequately tightened everything. I breathed a sigh of relief at the top and continued on. Within the first hour I was beginning to pass quite a few people. The serious climbing began about 2 hours in. I remember passing Susanna mid-climb and her asking me if this was the 12-mile hill. I didn't know at the time but when the hill seemed never to stop, I had to assume it was. It's hard to put into words what it was like to climb for such a long period of time. I would look up to a section of hills in the distance and think to myself, there's no way there's even a road on that hill. But sure enough there was. The scenery was unimagineable, which really helped keep my mind from turning on me. A lot of the climbing was back and forth on switchbacks. At times I would look down at the cyclists way below and was thankful I didn't look up back when I was where they were. I knew the climbing would be over around mile 75 or 80 so I was relieved when I saw the 110 km sign. At one point near the end of the climbing, I read a sign near a house that said 1064 m above sea level!! I couldn't believe I was nearly 3/4-mile above where I started. The remaining 30 miles or so were sure to be super fast. When the climbing stopped and the downhills finally started, it seemed like a separate race/course all together. I must have hit speeds ranging from 35-40 mph, which was scary at times with all the hairpin turns on the switchbacks. I had read up on the best way to approach a turn, etc. and managed to do pretty well in this regard. Still, negotiating a 180° turn at a high speed was no easy task. During the downhill return I did a fair amount of coasting in order to rest my legs. I stopped at the aid stations for 1/2 bananas, powerbars, gels, Gatorade, etc. I didn't want to eat too close to the end of the bike in fear of getting sick or cramping on the run. As much as I was trying to enjoy the final miles of the bike, my mind was already looking towards the run. The last three miles was along the same stretch of road as the run course. I finally felt at home! My people! The wind was strong coming in but not too bad. I was about 11 minutes from being done with the bike and was feeling great. I didn't know how my legs would feel after dismounting but I guessed they'd be fine since I had dismounted once or twice at the aid stations. My adrenaline was off the charts at this point. I couldn't wait to start the run. I knew I had another 4-5 hours left but there was nothing I'd rather be doing at that point. I've proven my strength as a runner but had no idea how I'd fare after 1:36 in the water and 7:11 on the bike.

The dismount went fine. I didn't fall over and my legs held steady beneath me as a volunteer kindly took my bike from me to put in the racks (merci!!). For some reason I kept my shoes on while making my down to where the RUN bags were hanging about 100 meters away. It's hard to run in them given the giant cleat centered in the middle of the sole so rather than slipping them off, which may have been easiest, I decided to walk down. I grabbed my bag, slipped my running shoes on and scanned the tent to see what others were doing. There was a table of water, bananas, etc. so I grabbed some water and 1/2-banana. I also saw a table full of sunscreen and remember feeling how flaky my skin felt when applying it. It was either sweat from my trek on the bike or remnants from the saltwater (or both). Either way, it was an odd feeling! I had made up a lot of ground on the bike and was ready to do what I do best, run!!

In my experience, which is very limited, it seems the only thing better than being a triathlete with a triathlete's mentality is being a triathlete with a runner's mentailty. I truly enjoyed setting out on foot for 26.2 miles! The rest I enjoyed late on the bike was just what my body needed. Once out of the test, I began scanning the crowd for Teresa because she was holding the Orca hat I bought at the race expo. I was so intensely focused at this point that I didn't stop for too long once I spotted her. I grabbed the hat, smiled, got a good luck kiss and was on my way. The first quarter mile or so was somewhat narrow with lots of spectators and volunteers. I was running on the Premenade de Anglais, which lent itself nicely to the crowds with a grassy divider on the right and a boardwalk on the left (heading east). Just beyond the boardwalk was the beach and the ocean, which offered up gorgeous scenery throughout. My goal for the run was pretty simple... run from aid station to aid station, re-assessing my condition at each stop. On my way to aid station #1, the lead female passed me but it wasn't a swift pass. I was surprised at my pace relative to hers. Her final marathon time was 3:15, which averages out to about 7:26/mile. I was probably running 7:45's at that point. Making it to the first aid station was pretty cool. I knew I had a long way to go (approximately 25 miles), but I really felt "into" the race at this point.

Jul 14, 2006

Marathon Mode

In order to continue to tri train and get in peak marathon condition for the fall season, I've decided to go with the FIRST marathon training program. I've read about it in Runner's World and have a few friends that have used it with great success. I really don't like running 6 days a week like I have in the past because it's easy to burn out or peak too early. Plus, I like to run hard on the days that I run. This program is designed with key workouts in mind and actually recommends cross training (i.e. swimming/biking) on the off days, which equate to just about every other day. I've become a strong runner in recent years but am looking to step it up a notch. I'm thinking of giving the Columbus Marathon another go. I ran a poorly strategized race last year there and would like to make up for it with my best marathon yet.

Jul 12, 2006

Ironman France Pictures

I have a million things I need to write but let's start with some pics...

Prime example of my OCD : )

$100 if you can find me!!

2.4 miles in the books! Only 138.2 to go!!

Getting pumped for a 112 mile tour of southern France

Fighting the winds as T2 is within sight

Finally! At home in me running shoes!

The finish made me all emotional-like : )

A few pieces of schwag for my effort

Teresa and I as the day draws to a close

July 4th with my niece. She's just too cute!

Jun 18, 2006

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I don't know what to think one week out from Ironman France. Am I ready? I'd be crazy if I said yes. I am nowhere near a seasoned enough triathlete to truly appreciate what I will be completely immersed in one week from today. Rather, I will be like an infant emerging to a world of unimaginable sights and sounds. I can only hope to perform with the grace of all those that have brought me to this point. Bryce, Kurt, Sue, Liz, Lou, John, Rob and Steve (to name a few) have toughened me up and made me believe in myself. Each as much of a friend as an inspiration. I can't wait to share my story.

Jun 9, 2006

Little Smokies 1/2-Ironman

The first thing I did on Saturday morning prior to leaving for Portsmouth was take my car to the auto shop to be looked at. Teresa and I drove it to the east side on Friday night and it was sounding really funky. I probably would have taken my chances and driven it down south, but Teresa, always knowing what's best for me, insisted that I take it to the shop and take her Jeep to the race. The drive south was pretty uneventful other than a pit stop in Columbus at a triathlon shop to pick up a swim cap (which they didn't have - ended up going to Dicks in Easton). Once I got south of Columbus, I became really aware of the heat and the hills that were rising up around me. Once in Portsmouth I stopped off at a Days Inn to get a room for the night and quickly made my way to Shawnee State National Park in order to meet the packet pickup deadline of 3:00. I took my packet back to my car and pulled out my three race numbers; a small sticker for my bike helmet, a larger sticky one for my bike frame, and the typical bib for my running singlet. Also included was a swim cap (I now have two!). I had plenty of time to kill so I grabbed my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap to test out the open water for the first time. I found a spot in the lake that was quiet and isolated. My initial thoughts about swimming in open water were pretty normal. I found the water to be a little colder and darker (i.e. murkier) than what I've grown used to in the pool. Other than that, it really wasn't any different. This was a small lake with no currents to speak of so it was a great transition to open water swimming for me. I only swam long enough to feel comfortable (about 20 minutes) before heading back to my car. Still had plenty of time to play with so I dumped my swim stuff in the Jeep and laced up my running shoes for a 4 mile trail run along the lakes edge. I got a little more than I bargained for as the trail wound up and around the hillside. Plus, the heat of the day (about 75°F) was less than ideal. Thankfully, there was an Infinit Nutrition tent still set up near the transition area with a cooler full of their version of Gatorade. By now I was ready to head back to the hotel. I stopped off at a Fazoli's in Portsmouth for some salad, spaghetti and breadsticks. Once back to the hotel, I started to lay out all of my stuff that I'd need in the morning. I also cleaned my chain with my new chain cleaner and lubed it up real good.

Woke up around 5:15 on Sunday morning and started taking stuff to the Jeep. It was still dark outside but a haze had rolled in overnight and was causing visibility to be low. I arrived about an hour and a half early to allow time to set up my transition area. Luckily, I was early enough to get a pretty good spot in my row (second from the end). While setting up I got to talking with a few of the guys in my age group. Everyone was nervous about the bike course. This one guy from University of Wisconsin's Triathlon Club even went as far as saying it was going to be a technical race. If by that he meant long and gruelling, I'd say he was accurate. Anyway, I slid on my wet suit and headed to the beach area for the start.

I had the luxury of watching all of the Triple-T participants hit the water first, which eased my nerves a bit. I was no longer nervous by the time my age group lined up. I simply made my way to the rear of our pack and waited for the signal. Since this was a land start, I was able to run into the water and "dolphin" dive for the first 10-15 meters until it was deep enough to swim. The first couple hundred meters were probably the most difficult for me as I adjusted to the water, people around me, etc. After that, everything was smooth. I was having a little trouble sighting the buoys ahead and was probably zig-zagging quite a bit. I felt good at the end of the first lap and was a little annoyed having to get out of the water, run around a cone and head back out for lap 2. However, the start of lap 2 was much easier and I was in cruise control almost immediately. In fact, I was actually enjoying the swim at this point. My thoughts were of getting back to the exit and heading for my bike.

I made the transition to the bike relatively smoothly, except that I nearly fell over when trying to mount up at the designated spot. I guess my legs were a little shaky from the swim. I was thrilled to be on the bike, to be on land! The bike was split into two 28-mile loops. There were many rolling hills but the first major climb came about 5 miles into the loop. Started up a hill and it never ended! It was at least a 10% grade and was about 1.5 miles long (possible longer). I was relieved to hit the top and drop in the aero bars for the decent. I couldn't do that for long as there was a hairpin turn about 1/4-mile later. I found that getting in the aero bars on the downhills of this course was a calculated risk. Was it worth the extra speed for such a short time? Was it worth risking a wipeout? I wasn't necessarily racing this thing so I opted to be extra cautious. Made it through the first loop in about 1:40 (17 mph average). I indulged in the rest area as much as possible, grabbing a banana, water, Gatorade, gels, Power bars, etc. Probably took about 5 minutes before I was ready to head back out for loop 2. Very similar to loop 1 except that I felt a little more comfortable on the hills and was able to muscle up them a little easier knowing it was was the last time of the day. Somewhere around 40 miles I made an error switching gears and my chain popped off. Surprisingly, I've become somewhat mechanically adept with my bike and was able to fix it in about 10 seconds and was back riding within 20 seconds or so. Entered the transition area in about 3:30 and quickly prepared for the run.

I found this to be the strangest part of the day. The bike course never doubled back on itself so the only people I saw on the bike were people who were slightly ahead of me or, as I passed them, slightly behind me. The run however, was a double out and back so right from the start I was crossing paths with people who were already well into their run and perhaps almost finished. I was inspired by how great some of these people looked. Most of them were Triple-T participants (i.e. very experienced triathletes). The run course took us out on a fire road that wound through the hills. There was a lot of uphill on the way out with a nice downhill stretch leading up to the turnaround point. By this time it was very hot (about 80°F) , and much of the field was reduce to walking at least a portion of the hills, including me. I took in as much water as possible at the water stops and even grabbed a few Oreos at the mile 9 stop. I've never eaten solid food on the run before, but it seemed like this is just what I needed. My last 3 miles were strong and I clocked a 7:11 for the final mile.

Finished in 6:33'ish and was relieved to be done. Getting back into the transition area to recover my bike was pretty cool. I sort of looked down and saw what looked like shrapnel from a bomb explosion. One cycling glove, an inside out wetsuit, a half eaten power bar, etc. I wondered what a criminal investigator would gather from my personal "crime scene". All in all, I was very pleased with the day and found it to be great preparation for France in less than a month. I took some pictures using my disposable camera but have yet to use up all of the film. Will post ASAP.

May 26, 2006

Catching Up

I need to catch up on about a week and a half worth of activity. Luckliy there have been some highlights in the past week or two that have stuck with me, starting with last Saturday. I was finally able to get in a ride with Bryce and Kurt. I started off from Cedar Point Hill and headed south to Wallace Lake where I met the two of them and a couple of Kurt's buddies. The plan was to go long so I came prepared for anything and everything. I knew going in that it would be a strenuous ride in that I was the weakest of the group. However, I kept up the best I could and only fell behind a few times. I had no idea where we were for most of the ride until we took a left turn onto Rt 83 (heading South towards Lodi). I had driven this road many times and was amazed that I was now biking it. I was probably more amazed that we were actually going to ride into Lodi, which is about 45 miles from my house. In Lodi, we took about a 10 minute break and headed home. We didn't exactly double back but rather took some back country roads through Medina County, which were rather nice. At some point, I split off from the group because we were eventually heading to different places. I recall passing through Valley City, which owns the title as the Frog Jumping Capital of Ohio! When I finally arrived back at my car, I felt pretty good. Some of the hills wore me down but I seemed to recover quickly. Kurt called to make sure I was OK and informed me that they logged 92 miles total. The route I took for the last hour or so was probably a tad shorter than theirs, so I figure I was in the mid to high 80's.

Sunday brought with it the Cleveland Marathon and Bridget, Rachel, Lou, Dan, Jackie, Katie, Annie, Sue and Ed were all running. The plan was to see everyone off at the start and then hit a few spots on the course for support. Surprisingly, it was relatively easy to get around this course and I was able to see everyone, except Dan, atleast once. At the 16 mile mark, I jumped in with Bridget and ran her all the way in to the finish. Since the last 10 miles was all I ran, it was pretty amazing being able to actually enjoy the end of a marathon course. I took in the scenery and took some mental notes in case I decide to run Cleveland again in the future. Everyone did amazing despite the tough conditions. I was even impressed with the crowd support. It's not Boston, but a fair amount of people make the effort to get out where there normally wouldn't be anyone. Also, the volunteers were great at the water and aid stations.

After such an exciting weekend, my week has been rather glum! Suffered through a 3 day audit at work and spent Wednesday night alone with the puppies as Teresa was entertaining a handful of our Irish relatives in Niagara Falls. It's finally Friday and I'm chomping at the bit to get on the road to Portsmouth for the 1/2-Ironman I'll be doing on Sunday. Went to the pool for a light swim this morning just to work the jitters out and build confidence. Tomorrow when I arrive in Portsmouth, I plan to squeeze into my wetsuit and swim the course for 20 minutes or so just to get a feel for the open water. I may try to run a few miles on the course as well. Assuming I survive this thing, I'll have a full recap next week!

May 13, 2006

Thankful for Mother Nature

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know we really need rain around here, but not on a Saturday when I've got a long bike ride planned! Luckily, I found a 4 hour pocket to get in a 67-miler. Started off at the Marina and went out to the Berea Falls and back. I stopped briefly at my car to refil on some Gatorade and then headed over to Edgewater Park where I met Liz. She was up for 30 so we made our way back down to the reservation and rode out to the Spafford Road hill. This is one tough little hill. The payoff is pretty sweet though. Once at the top, you find yourself staring directly down the runway of the Cleveland Airport. Liz and I marveled at the landing planes while refueling and then I marveled at my clumsiness as I fell over trying to get going again. It really sucks being locked into your pedals as your laying on the ground. Luckily I have a sense of humor about myself and was able to laugh it off : ) I felt sore at times during the ride. My butt, my arms and mostly my lower back will probably be yelling at me tomorrow. I've always tried to do lots and lots of push-ups to kep me running strong, but I really need to start doing some lower back stuff. Liz mentioned using one of those big aerobic balls. In the end, I totaled 67 miles. I would have gone a few more but it started to rain harder just as I pulled into the marina. Turned out to be a great ride on what I was fearing was going to be a pretty miserable day!

Feelin' pretty good after 62 miles!

May 9, 2006

Spring has Sprung!

Now that the warm weather has hit, I've been able to get in some great workouts of late. With little wind and moderate temperatures, the conditions have been ideal for biking. My goal from now until the end of June is to ride 200 miles/week combined with some solid swims and runs. I've maintained about 35 miles per week of running since Boston and I've been hitting the pool about 4 days a week (usually in the morning). A few of my friends just finished what appeared to be a very challenging triathlon in California but I'm hoping they can bounce back within a week or two so we can do some group workouts. I do so much better with a little help from my friends.

I'm in the process of customizing my bike for the upcoming racing season. I've yet to install my bike computer and I need to have a bike shop install some screws on the top tube and down tube of my frame so I have room for another water bottle and a handheld air pump. I'm also thinking about taking out a couple of spacers from my stem to allow for more of an aerodynamic position when in the aero bars. Whoa... I just made myself hungry by writing aero bars... Have you ever had the Nestle chocolate bar called Aero? If not, it's worth the trip to Europe or a specialty chocolate store to grab one!

May 4, 2006

Quatro de Mayo

Weather was perfect this evening for a bike/run brick. Taking advantage of the daylight, I started out on the bike at 6:00 and went 'til about 8:15 (about 39 miles). I'm getting very accoustomed to the course I ride on and have just about mastered the gearing for the various hills, etc. Like most routes, I've broken this one up into sections, which makes it a little easier to bear from a mental standpoint. I'm starting to power up hills with greater ease and less decelleration. I still don't like pedalling in the lower gears! Too much work and not much in return : ) Somewhere out in Strongsville, I was accompanied by a guy training for a century ride in a couple of weeks. We compared speeds on our bike computers and clipped away at about 19 mph for 20 minutes or so until we it one of my favorite downhill sections. Either my bike is really fast or he was holding back because before I knew it he was about 30 seconds behind me. Anyway, the final 10 miles or so were uneventful and I got back to my car feeling great. Made the transition to my running gear and headed out for an easy 6 miles. I didn't bring my watch with me this time because I wanted to go more on feel. Legs felt a little wobbly at first, but landed firmly underneath me after 3-5 minutes and felt good as new from there on. I was motivated by the thought of a Ciabatta bread sandwich from Donato's. I gotta admit, I'm a sucker for a good marketing campaign! I'll even pay more money for something if it's been marketed well. I guess that's the artist in me appreciating the thought process involved with planning a good commercial or print add. Got home and hooked up our new DVR! Finally, I can record all my favorite History Channel shows that are on past my "bed time".

Apr 23, 2006

Sunday Brick

Having already logged about 60 miles on the bike in the past few days, I was anxious to get back on the run so I planned a 50/10 bike/run brick workout today. I started at the base of Cedar Point Hill and planned to go 15 miles south and turn around so that I could re-fuel at my car after 30-miles. The final 20 miles would be done on my "normal" route out to the Marina (10 miles) and back. Part of the parkway was closed due to debris in the road so the first few miles were done on the actual bike path, which is always a little scary riding on because some of the turns are tight and visibility is not the greatest. I got back on the road as soon as possible and hit my 15-mile turnaround point after laboring up a few hills in N. Royalton. The best thing about going uphill is the downhill on the return! I had my GPS with me and clocked 39.7 mph near the base of the hill! I found myself riding into a bit of a headwind heading north but managed to maintain about 17 mph on average. Got back to my car and loaded up on more Gatorade and downed a GU (God I love those things!). At the 40-mile point I was relieved to turn around and catch what I thought was going to be a nice tailwind. However, it seemed that the wind shifted on me as I was fighting it on several occasions and was nearly blown sideways at one point. Although my legs felt relatively good, I found myself coasting more during those last 10-miles than I was at any other time during the ride. All in all, the 50-miler felt great. Hopped off of my bike and tried to transition to the run as fast as possible. I had to break down my bike and shove it in the back of my car, throw on my running shorts, put my socks and running shoes on, hit the bathroom and hit the road. Legs (specifically hamstrings) felt a little tight at first but loosened up considerably after about 2 miles. I was surprised to see my mile splits right around 7-minutes even though it didn't feel like I was going that fast (Bryce said he feels the same way off the bike). Hit the 5-mile turnaround and downed one last GU (God I love those things!). It's amazing how fast 10 miles can go by after having just spent 3-hours on a bike. I believe my last mile was 6:44 and I felt strong. Legs were starting to weaken.... or was it that they still hadn't fully recovered from Boston 6 days ago. Time will tell on that one. I stretched for a bit at my car and enjoyed a peanut butter PowerBar on the way home. I recently signed up for the Little Smokies 1/2 Ironman at the end of May, which is less than 5 weeks away. Time to get my swim on now!

Apr 19, 2006

Boston Marathon 2006

Another Boston in the books! As much as I love Boston, the one thing that bugs me is that it comes and goes so fast! We just broke into the 50's this past week and already my spring marathon is history. Luckily I have a lot coming up this summer to look forward to and my fall marathon can rest comfortably on the backburners until July/August. Anyway, Cliff notes version of Boston... Race Number: 5012, Starting Position: Corral 5, Official Time: 3:05:02, Overall Place: 1,542/22,519

Race conditions were nearly ideal as I made my way to Boston Common to catch the bus to Hopkinton. Elizabeth and I took a cab to the buses and managed to get into a relatively quick moving line. In about 15 minutes we were loaded up and on our way to the start. When we finally made it to the athletes village (after having been lost and dropped off a mile from where we were supposed to be), we quickly made the decision to take refuge in the "second" athletes village, which was a lot less crowded and seemingly a bit more relaxed. We hung out with some of the runners from the Massachusets chapter of Team In Training until it was finally time to head towards the corrals. We peeled our sweats, lathered ourselves in sunblock and bodyglide and dumped our bags on the baggage buses, which were neatly lined up right outside of the school. Liz walked with me to my starting corral and wished me luck. I still had about 1/2-hour to kill so I did some light stretching and a lot of pacing around. I snuck out of my corral to make one last bathroom stop with about 5 minutes to spare. From my corral, I heard the starting gun go off and it was time to go. At first, I didn't move at all but after about 15 seconds the crowd started to walk, which shortly turned into a slow jog until finally the official starting line crossed under my feet and I was officially on the clock.

The downhill start at Boston is so dangerous because it's so tempting to fly down that first hill. However, on this day, the crowd wouldn't let me go any faster than about a 7:20 pace, which was the time of my first mile. My pace band had me going 6:34 for mile 1, but I didn't fret. I figured I could make that up slowly over the next 15-16 miles. I believe mile 2 was dead on and I was feeling confident of my ability to pace myself per my pace band. I started off wearing a light racing cap but peeled it after about 4 miles. At 10K I felt really good and was already thinking ahead towards the Heartbreak series of hills. I tried to keep my mind occupied by listening to nearby runners or simply eyeing runners up ahead to see if I could keep up. A few miles back I had passed the 2 "jogglers" who were aiming to break the world record for joggling. I was still on pace as I came into Wellesley College. The girls were out in force but not as loud as last year. Last year at this point I was desperately searching for a port-o-potty, but not this year. I cruised through the 1/2-way mark on pace for a 2:58. Although this was promising, I knew it'd be tough to maintain pace through the hills and then finish nearly as strong as I started. After Wellesley, the only thing left to do is prepare for the hills as they were only a few short miles away. I swear as soon as you see the sign for Newton, a hill appears! This time it was clear to me... the first hill of the Heartbreak series is the worst!! My splits fell off as did my legs. I crested Heartbreak and re-focused. I knew it was going to be very hard to clock 6:40's at this point so I just ran as hard as I could without looking at my clock too much. I passed Boston College and could see the famous Citgo sign up ahead. It was still about 2 miles away but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless. The crowds at this point really started to thicken up and helped to carry me through the final miles. At about the 25.4 mile mark, just prior to the new hill, I saw up ahead of me Rick and Dick Hoyt. I couldn't believe it! I had caught them despite their 1/2-hour head start. I was dreaming about seeing them in action and there they were. I pulled even with them and yelled some inspirational words in their direction. They didn't need to say a word. Just the sight of that man busting ass for his son was enough to get me through to the end and finish on a high! The turn onto Hereford and then on to Boylston was just as amazing as I remember from last year. I soaked it all in and managed to spot Teresa in the crowd near the finish! When we met in the family meeting area a few minutes after the finish, Teresa handed me a single pink rose and a big hug! I nearly cried because there are so many "moments" at Boston that I will cherish forever! This was surely one of them! My time qualifies me to come back again next year but I'm hoping to run my sub-3 this fall in Chicago and will use that time for my entry into Boston 2007.

Apr 12, 2006

Massage Wednesday!

A week and a half ago when I went for my last massage, I scheduled one for today knowing that it'd be great for my legs going into Boston. I could feel the benefits from my first massage over the past week in that my legs haven't felt as fatigued like they sometimes do over a long distance. Plus, todays massage wasn't nearly as painful as the last one, so I know things are starting to loosen up. Teresa jokingly asked why I didn't make an appointment for her so I brought some of the "magical" massage lotion home with me to pamper her a bit. It's not the same as sending her to a spa for the day, but I try! I've gotta start packing tomorrow! How friggin' exciting! Only 4-1/2 more days!

Champioin Care Bear! A good luck present from Teresa

Apr 11, 2006

Loosening the Legs

Did some light speedwork on the track tonight with a group of about 12! The workout consisted of 3x400 (3:00 rest in between), 3x800 (5:00 rest in between) and 3x400 again. Lou and I paced off of each other the whole time and managed to record some pretty fast times. I think our fastest 400 was 1:09 and the fastest 800 was 2:43. My goal, especially in the 400's, was to establish a good pace for the first 200 and bring it home strong. It's funny how you can feel your legs start to go at certain points. I'm convinced that having someone to pace with is the only way to maintain pace at these times. Perhaps I can apply the same logic to Boston for the final miles when 1/2 of my leg muscles are chillin' back at Heartbreak Hill.

Went to eat at Olive Garden with Teresa, Nikya, Steve and Bridget. Food was awesome and I even got a good luck present from S&B. They were thoughtful enough to put together a bag of goodies to keep me occupied on the plane, including a puzzle book, some dry-erase markers, a bag of Skittles and some Sunkist jellybeans! Steve also brought along some Tyr goggles for me to try out in the pool when I return.

Stretching w/ Nikya

My Goodie Bag!!

Apr 10, 2006

It's Countdown Time!

Met with Cathy and Kevin at 6:30 for our final "long" run before Boston. The plan was to do 12 with all of the normal hills. There's something very intimidating about the heartbreak series of hills in Boston. We could have easily skipped the hills today but the thought of red-lining with 6 miles to go was enough to keep us from getting complacent. I think the most substantial gain I've made during this training season is the ability to quickly recover after speeding up a hill. This will be crucial in Boston especially in the miles leading up to Heartbreak Hill. Having run Boston last year, I have identified several places on the course that I will perform mini-celebrations! The top of Heartbreak Hill may just top the list. Last year there was a big blow-up football jersey (or something) located at the crest of the famous hill that said 5.5 to go! Second to Heartbreak is the final two turns of the course. The first onto Hereford St. and the second onto Boylston St. where the finish line is finally visible! If you know ahead of time what you're running into, you can get such an adrenaline rush at this point of the course. It's exactly what's needed to get through the final 1/4-mile!

Anyway, The run was great and we all went out for breakfast at Panera's afterwords. I couldn't choose between a strawberry & cream pastry or a banana-nut "muffie"... so I got both, plus a huge carmel latte! I should have taken a picture of the latte! It was heaven in a cup!

Apr 7, 2006

Warm Weather Thursday

Woke up at 4:20 to meet with the group at 5:00 for a 10-miler. I wore shorts today thinking that it was going to be in the low 40's but it turned out to be closer to the low 30's. I wasn't too bothered by this as I still had on a long sleeve base-layer, a light thrermal pullover, my gloves and a winter hat. We went out too slow for my liking but had picked up the pace quite a bit by mile 3 or so. Because of daylight savings a few days ago, we once again found ourselves running in the dark. Total time was around 1:16:48, which is about 7:40/mile. It's becoming very apparent how antsy everyone is to get to Boston. After our group run on Sunday we are planning on going to breakfast together... kinda symbolic since it'll probably be the last time we meet as a group before we part ways to tackle our spring marathons. On another note, We're up to Sunday the 16th in the 10-day Boston weather forecast and it's still looking good!

mid 50's and sunny!!!!

Apr 5, 2006

Speed-Work Tuesday

After all of the long runs I've been doing lately, I really felt the need to get out and do some speedwork. Half of our normal group was attending a triathlon clinic tonight so it was a small group of 5 of us. The track was being used for a track meet...bastards!, so we made up our own "mile" course and did mile repeats. Sweet Lou took off a little too fast for my liking on the first mile so I dropped back and fell into a pace I was comfy with (knowing that I had 2 more to come). The wind was whipping pretty good tonight so half of our loop was really tough while the other half was a breeze, literally! We adjusted our loop after the first rep because our times were telling us that it was a couple hundred meters short. The final 2 reps were a little closer to a full mile, but not quite there. It was still a good workout and I was happy to become reaquainted with my fast-twitch muscle fibers.

I checked the 10-day weather forecast for Boston and it's looking like overcast 50's up until Friday the 14th. Doesn't look like it's going to be too warm, but there's a chance it'll be a little too cold and possibly rainy.

Apr 1, 2006

Finally Taper Time!

With 16 days left until Boston, I'm going to start my taper. A lot of literature recommends a 3-week taper, but I have a hard time with that because I feel so lazy by the third week. Almost to the point of not believing that I actually have what it takes to run 26.2. Liz and I pounded out a solid 21-miler this morning that included plenty of uphills and downhills. I felt extremely good at the end and am going to do everything I can to ride this high all the way until noon on the 17th. We talked a lot about race strategies this morning and I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with my original plan for Boston. I also discussed this with my new best friend, CJ the massage therapist, during my afternoon session and he seems to agree with what I have in mind. Dude knows a lot about physiology and what a body is capable of doing. Now let's hope the weather cooperates! I'm going to take it easy tomorrow (per CJ's recommendation), which for me will mean a couple hour bike ride and some swimming (non-impact stuff). Thanks Liz for helping me knock out that distance this morning! Our moment of celebrating the fact that it's now our turn to taper was very funny!

Mar 31, 2006

Finally April...

Tomorrow is April 1st, and that's no joke! I'm pretty sure the joke is that it's 70°F and sunny today and is supposed to rain throughout the day tomorrow! Oh well. Liz and I have a 20-miler planned at the N. Chagrin Metropark. There are plenty of hills to be had.. if we feel up to it. My goal tomorrow is to run even paced miles for the first 15 and then push the pace a little over the last 5. It's great knowing that you can run a negative split 20-miler. Kinda makes ya' think it's possible in a marathon : )

So here's to a good April! May warm weather grace you, tax refunds spoil you and... oh yeah.. Go Indians (and Red Sox)!!!

Mar 30, 2006

10 with Drama

Started out this morning following our normal 9-mile out and back route through Westlake and Fairview Park. Near the 1/2-way point we decided to alter the route slightly so as to get in another 1/2-mile to make it an even 10-miler. Just before turning around, we were approached by a woman frantically yelling for help, and that some guy was in her house and was going to harm her children. Long story short, we were able to help her out and the guy who was threatening her and her children was an aquaintance of some sort who obviously was not welcome at that time. Too much drama for me at 6:00AM. With everyone safe and sound, we all had a good laugh on the way home thinking about our potential to fight crime on mile at a time!

I love getting in a 10-miler early in the morning before I've even had a chance to think about it. It requires me getting up at 4:30, but it's definitely worth it in the end. I get to spend more time in the evenings with Teresa and the pup-pups, which is my favorite thing to do!