May 30, 2008

5.5-Mile Twinterval Run

Interval run + twins = twintervals! I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get out for an evening run with the boys given the 80 degree temps. Headed over to the Black River Reservation, which offers a nice 3 mile all purpose path wide enough for the double jogging stroller (officially nicknamed the "Twinnebago"). I was excited to finally be out with the little guys and pushed the pace early. The thing about running with them is that they're always beating me : ) Hit the turnaround in 19:10, grabbed some water and headed back into an unexpected headwind. It wasn't until I hit the 5 mile mark that I heard Cole voice his displeasure/boredom. I ran the last 1/2 mile hard, despite the wind and finished the return trip in 19:15 for a total run time of 38:25. This was in addition to a 3-mile push-up run this AM.

May 29, 2008

My Landscaping Project

I started to prep what will soon be the flowerbeds at the foundation of our house. This is a project I hope to have complete by the end of next weekend. I was contemplating having a professional landscape outfit do the work but this past weekend changed my thinking. First, I met a guy who owns a landscaping company on the east side of Cleveland who offered to let me use one of those long flat pull-behind trailers in the event I want to load up a bunch of shrubs, trees, etc. from one of the many nurseries in northern Ohio. That same day, I visited a friend who happened to be in the middle of a project similar to the one I'm now planning.

Loaded with all this information, I feel a lot more confident that I can do the job myself (with a little help of course). My first step was to mark the beds using some 6" nails and household twine. Teresa and I decided on a curved pattern similar to the shape of the sidewalk leading to our front door. The engineer/nerd in me drew up the design in AutoCAD in order to get exact coordinates to use when placing the nails in the ground. The nails were probably enough for me to visualize the curvature of the bed but the twine wrapped around and between each nail takes the guesswork out of it. I then mowed down the grass/weeds that fell within the newly marked off area and sprayed it with RoundUp. The grass should be dead/browned in 7-10 days, at which time I can rake it all up. In the meantime, Teresa and I are going to steal some ideas from our many neighbors whose beds are already planted. I'm also planning to have approximately 12 cubic yards of topsoil and 6 cubic yards of mulch delivered next Friday. Still have to work out the details around getting the shrubs, trees, etc.

May 27, 2008

Cleveland Marathon Pictures

Making sure I didn't forget anything Lined up and ready to run Just past mile 11 - overcast and rainy
Feeling cruddy but looking decent at the finishHappy to see the twins at the finish

May 20, 2008

2008 Cleveland Marathon

Woke up Sunday morning at 3:00, then again at 4:00 with my alarm. Showered, gathered all my gear and was out the door by 5:00 to catch a 5:15 carpool to the race start. Part of what woke me up throughout the night was the constant rainfall outside the window. I kept thinking that it's better now than in a few hours. After parking in a nearby lot, we headed to The Galleria for shelter as the rain was showing no sign of letting up. I can think of a handful of changes I'd like to see on the marathon course, but the start location is definitely not one of them. For those that know about it, and it seemed like plenty of people did, The Galleria is a blessing. Having somewhere to stay dry and warm with plenty of room to stretch, relax or even run laps (the second floor) is a great thing. With about 15 minutes to spare, I ditched my sweats, threw a garbage bag over my head (still amazed I remembered to pack one) and headed to the start line. Once there, I warmed up a little with some 50 meter strides, made sure my watch was in chrono mode and surveyed the field, taking note of the local running talent. Still raining, the horn sounded and we were off.

Mile 1 (6:06) was either short or I went out way too fast. I know 6-minute pace and it felt way too easy for that so I assumed it was short and kept the pace steady. The rain was steady as well. Passed through mile 2 in 6:18, which seemed right given the downhill section on E. 9th heading towards the Rock Hall. The climb up W. 3rd came in mile 3 and I was fortunate enough to fall in behind one of the most consistent sub-3 marathoners I know of, Steve Godale. He backed the pace way off and I made sure to hold back as well (mile 3 - 6:50). For the next 4 miles I paced off him and another guy and averaged 6:33's, each mile within a few seconds of each other. Mile 7 may have been slightly faster than the rest as I was anticipating seeing my family and friends for the first time. Took my first gel at the mile 7 water stop (Vanilla PowerBar). It was there that I lost Godale, but this was a good thing as he went on to run a 2:49. The rain had let up a little by mile 6 but was coming down again at mile 11 or so. I was well ahead of sub-3 pace at this point but wasn't feeling too confident. Someting about the weather and the occasional headwinds caused my mood to be off. Plus, as usual, I found myself in no-mans-land, having no one to pace with and/or keep me going. This is where the mental toughness built up during long training runs comes into play. If I was lacking one thing heading into this race, it was this.

My half-marathon split was 1:27:08 (2:54 pace). I mentioned a handful of changes I'd like to see on the marathon course and the stretch down Chester Ave. is one of them. The half marathoner's peeled off at mile 12, leaving a very desolate field. Not too spoil the ending of this entry, but placing in the top 50 in a race as small as Cleveland means a lot of running solo. Running alone in the rain down what was essentially an abandoned street got to me a little and caused for a slow miles 14 and 15 (6:58 and 7:09). Teresa was waiting for me at mile 16 with the babies, which was enough of a pick-me-up to get me back on pace (mile 16 - 6:39). My plan to clock a few fast miles leading up to mile 20 didn't exactly play out but I managed to average 6:53 over miles 17-20 and was still on 2:56 pace heading into the final 10K.

In the back of my head, I didn't feel I was prepared to run a sub-3 marathon. I just kept thinking to myself, there's no way 25-30 miles per week over the previous 4 months would cut it. My fast start allowed for a few slower miles on the back half, but I couldn't afford any more than one or two miles over 7:10-7:15. Mile 21, 7:27. I knew then to refocus on finishing consistently and as strong as possible. My focus showed up in the form of my good buddy Lou who helped pace me through to the finish. Lou kept me upbeat and helped supress the negative thoughts that wanted so desparately to do me in. Given how I was feeling at the time, I'm surprised to see that I averaged 7:47's from mile 22-26. Even managed consecutively faster miles 24-26. In hindsight, this was a small victory. So too was the finishing kick I laid down the last 385 yards (0.2 miles for those keeping score at home). Official time: 3:02:22, good enough for a top 50 finish at Cleveland for the 2nd consecutive year.

I'm very grateful for my family and friends who came out to support me. Teresa especially as she made it to three spots on the course (not easy with twins in tow). The finish line of a marathon is one of my favorite places in the world. Finally being able to hug and kiss and talk to everyone makes it all worthwhile. This year was especially amazing as my twin baby boys were there to greet me. Caden was awake and smiling at the sight of me. Cole must not be a big fan of distance running as he was passed out. I can't wait until they're big enough to cross a finish line with me!

May 12, 2008

Chomping at the Bit

Six days until race day. I learned back in 2004 that consuming oneself with a race too far in advance can lead to burnout/letdown. Not that I have time to be consumed with anything other than all things baby related, I've made a concsious effort not to look at the marathon web page or check the weather forecast until just recently. Logging on to I discovered a change to the course that's major in that 3 miles are affected (10-12), but minor in that it does not dramatically affect the elevation. I was hoping they yanked the climb up W. 3rd between mile 23 and 24. No such luck.

May 9, 2008


A good week of taper runs. 5 miles at pace on Thursday, 4 miles of treadmill hills this morning. Plan to run an easy 8 on Sunday and then wrap it all up with some 400 meter intervals on Tuesday followed by an easy 3-4 miles on Wednesday.

I've got a gameplan for the marathon. No idea what the weather is going to be like on race morning. It's been pretty rainy of late. If not rainy, overcast and dreary. I'll take dreary so long as the temps and winds are mild at the start.

Some new pics of the twins are below! Can't say enough about these little guys! They're amazing in every way!

Cole - May 1st

Caden - May 1st

May 5, 2008

Ready or not, it's taper time

Monday morning - 13 more mornings until race day. It's taper time and I'm comfortable with the training I've put in. I've got a gameplan for the marathon and will spend a lot of time visualizing how I expect it to play out (the final 10 miles more so than the first 16). For instance, there's a nice 3-4 mile gradual downhill just after mile 16 that I used to back off the pace a little last year when I'm thinking I should have done the opposite. This year I'll use that bit to stretch out my legs and bank a few seconds. Can't say I had a bad race last year but there's always room for improvement.

I squeezed in two great workouts over the weekend. Saturday night after the babies were asleep and Teresa was home from work, I did 8x800 meters (the culmination of the Yasso 800 buildup) with each 800 < 2:55. Send-offs ended up being closer to 4:00 because I was running from one end of my development to the other which, surprisingly, is pretty darn close to 800 meters on the nose. Final 800 in 2:49.

My long run this morning wasn't quite as long as I was hoping. I started 15 minutes late and had to take a couple pit stops (hope that issue resolves itself in the next two weeks!). In all, I did 17 miles at 7:25 pace with a 6:36 final mile. Strangely enough, my final mile felt as easy, if not easier, than the rest and it was then that I felt "warmed up". I wonder if holding back from my natural pace is causing me to work harder. Hmm, something else to ponder over the next 13 days.

I think my 3-year old iPod shuffle played it's last tune this morning... hopefully it's just the headphones.

May 1, 2008


This morning I ran 10 miles at what I'm guessing will be my planned marathon pace (PMP) and although it was relatively easy, I started to feel the slight discomfort that eventually turns into a pain that makes me want to quit running and/or question why I ever started running in the first place. I fear the marathon distance more than I lead on, which is a good thing. I learned my lesson the hard way 5 years ago when I set out at a pace I had no business attempting. I'm afraid I'm going to do the same at Cleveland, which is why I'm desperate to gauge my level of fitness. I've got 3-4 more opportunities to do just that in the next 5-6 days before taper time. I'm thinking 18-20 miles at PMP +60-75 sec, 8 x 800 meters (2:55 800's, 3:00 send-offs) and possibly some treadmill hills. I probably wouldn't be worrying so much if all I wanted to do was have fun out on the course. I just can't shake the competitive bug.