Thursday, November 25, 2010


This is my first Thanksgiving since I became vegan and I'm excited about what I will be having for dinner. In an untraditional Thanksgiving Day meal, I'm having vegan enchiladas from Whole Foods with vegan mashed potatoes and apple cranberry quinoa salad. I also have a kale salad with tomatoes, cranberries, and pine nuts. I even got a vegan pumpkin pie.

I'm thankful for my family and friends, as well as the positive changes I have made in my life to stay healthy and happy. Thanks everyone for reading the blog. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving Day for everyone here in the US and a great day for everyone around the world!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sometimes it's the shoes

Somehow over the last several weeks, I have gone from having a lot of foot pain to being pain free. I even went to an orthopedic urgent care because my left foot hurt so much. The doctor diagnosed plantar faciitis and said to stretch and keep running (I wasn't going to hurt anything). I do the stretches, when I remember, but I also bought new running shoes (Asics Gel-Nimbus). They seem to have helped do the trick. I don't have pain in either foot. I have lost enough weight (almost 50 lbs.) that the shoes I had been in (Brooks Adrenaline) seemed to be too much shoe for me. I noticed a difference almost immediately with the Asics. Yesterday, I bought two other pairs similar to the Asics (New Balance 1064s and Nike Vomeros) to have a variety of shoes to keep my feet from getting used to one style of shoe. I ran six miles of hill work in the Nikes this morning and my feet felt just fine. I never thought something like changing my shoes would make such a big difference.

6 weeks to Goofy

It's been a strange month for my training, work, and my personal life. Nothing bad has happened, but I've had one of those months where events collide to keep me slightly off balance. I've had a couple of weeks of great running bookending a couple week of not-great to almost-dangerous running, If you've read this blog for at least a year, you know I do not like running in the snow or after a snowfall that hasn't yet been plowed or cleared. I think this is because my first year of training for the WDW Marathon was practically snow-free with decent temperatures every time I went out.

Since then, I've run in what is the typical or normal Minnesota winter weather. I don't mind cold, dressed correctly it's not a big deal (although gels and whatever you're carrying for drink tends to freeze). I've run long runs over ten miles in wind chills between 10 and 20 degrees below zero. I do mind snow - a lot. I still get out and run, but I go slower, I worry about slipping, and I have to watch much more carefully for cars (as do all runners in this kind of weather). I find it hard to focus on the run, which doesn't help get my mind prepped for racing. I use colorful language when stepping in slush puddles, it's just not fun.

That was my long run two weeks ago - I ran twelve miles in a winter storm, which got worse as I ran. It was snowing about an inch an hour, I was out for about two hours and I started the run with about three to four inches on the ground. Saturdays are not priority days to plow residential streets (snow emergency routes were cleared, but not the side streets). It snowed hard enough that on my way back (I did an out and back for the first eight miles), my tracks going out were basically covered. The temperature was around 30 degrees, which meant the snow was heavy and wet. Great snowman weather, but not great running weather. Yes, I know I'm complaining, but with a slight smile - I'm out running, not sitting at home on my butt watching TV. It's a little funny getting covered in snow or frost running in the winter, coming with with my gloves and hat frozen.

Speaking of frozen, last week I had two runs end early due to injuries. My Friday run ended early because my right hip hurt. It felt like the ball and socket weren't fully moving freely. Ouch. Then Saturday, I was in the first few miles of a sixteen mile run when I noticed the fingers of my left hand were tingly and getting numb. It's happened before and gone away, so I thought I'd gut it out. My fingers felt worse as I got about six miles in, basically having gone numb. I was worried I may be getting frostbite, which would be bad on several levels. My main concern was that if I had frostbite, I'd have a heightened sensitivity to cold, not a good thing for a runner in Minnesota. I ended up calling my wife to get me. Between her not finding me and me continuing my run to get home, she never picked me up. I got home as she called, frantically looking for me, I told her where I was and she came home. I finished the run downstairs on our elliptical. My fingers ended up being okay, which is good, of course, but I was having an awesome run when I stopped at home. I was really down all weekend. I did get new running gloves, which I've worn twice now and they have kept my fingers warm and toasty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running at Walt Disney World

Last week, my wife, 5-year-old son, and I went to WDW for our annual October trip (this is obviously not the same trip at marathon weekend in January, so yes, we go twice a year). While we were there, my good friend Gordon and his family were there, too. Since we were staying at the same resort, Pop Century, we decided to go running a couple of mornings. So at 5:30 on Tuesday and Thursday, we set out on 8 mile runs. We ran around Pop Century and ventured out onto the access road to take a back way into the Caribbean Beach resort and ran around that huge resort a couple of times before heading back to Pop. Both runs were great, good paces for both of us. Gordon is training for a marathon in mid-November (as well as Goofy in January) and I didn't want to disrupt his training. He was able to do a recovery-type week of training, though, so a couple of runs would fit into our different pacing. I thought the runs would stretch me a bit, but oddly it didn't as much as I thought it would. To me that means one thing - I can go faster in training and in races, but I'm not. I'm not sure why I'm not pushing myself as much as I could. I certainly don't want to re-injure myself, but I feel I could go faster longer.

So I've decided to take a page from Gordon's training (with his approval, of course) and do workouts similar to his workouts, rather than the same basic training I've done the last four years for the Disney marathons. I can, and will, push harder. Carefully, to be sure, but still extending the comfort zone to become faster for longer distance, training to be able to dig deep for the reserves I'll build up when I need them coming out of Animal Kingdom and facing a 6-7 mile stretch of boring flat roads and two themes all compressed at the end of the marathon course.

Tempo, distance, endurance, speed all will be my focus for the next eleven weeks. Those ideas and core work, something I've sorely neglected in past years. With my weight loss (down to 179 lbs. last weight check before we left on vacation), I should be taking advantage of the opportunity to keep losing more weight and getting stronger at the same time. I can, and will do these things, as I have goals beyond the 2011 WDW Marathon weekend and they involve a little race in a town called Boston before I turn 50 years old. I've got 5 years, I can do it. I will do it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So I'm running across the bridge when . . .

This past weekend, my wife, son, and I went to Duluth. My wife and I met there while attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth twenty-three years ago tomorrow. We love Duluth and used to go up for a weekend every year after we moved back to Minnesota from our years in grad school in Indiana. It was a lot of fun and our son loves going to the shore of Lake Superior and throwing rocks into the lake. A good time had by all. Well, most of the time was good.

Saturday morning I ran 8 miles. Not a big deal any longer, nothing special, just a good 8 mile run to start the day. We were staying in Canal Park, which is a tourist-sort of area on Lake Superior, just off downtown Duluth. Part of the appeal of Canal Park is its proximity to the Aerial Lift Bridge, used by residents of Park Point, the 7 mile long sand bar jutting out from the city into the lake. The bridge allows access to and from Park Point, but, as its name suggests, will lift up to allow freighters, sailboats, and Coast Guard cutters to pass from the port to the lake or vice versa. It can take three minutes for the bridge to lift about 200 feet. It can take several minutes for a large freighter to pass through the canal and under the bridge.

Needless to say, the bridge is not something you want to be crossing when it is supposed to go up. Like I was crossing on my way back to the hotel finishing my run. There is a loudspeaker announcement that the bridge will be raised and clear the area. I was about 2/3 of the way across when I heard the bells go off and the voice telling me the bridge was about to go up, possibly with me on it. I sprinted, fast. I made it off the bridge, although the bridge operator scolded me on the loudspeaker, telling me to stop running. Right, I'll just do that and you'll have an hysterical 45-year old man who's afraid of heights, doesn't trust bridges, and can't swim standing on a hunk of metal rising up on 80 year old equipment (I know it's been updated, but the idea holds). I didn't look back as I came off the bridge, although I did walk to catch my breath. The rest of my run, all 4/10 of mile of it were uneventful.

I kind of wish I'd been running during my years in school there, I might not have panicked so much. Nah, I would have no matter what.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I run

So, it's been a month since the last update and I'm basically recovered from the adductor injury earlier this summer. I'm now wrapping up a base training program before starting my 2011 Goofy Challenge training on Labor Day. I've had a couple of really good sessions and a couple of not-so-good sessions in the last week, so I think I have to get re-focused on why I run.

I run because it makes me feel good, not only physically, but mentally. Running can clear your mind or order your thoughts. Being outside in the early morning thinking or not thinking is one of the best ways to start your day. Knowing that you're outside doing something physical while most people are still asleep or just waking up is a great feeling, like you've accomplished a lot before your day really starts. Even on the days when my workout doesn't go as well as I'd like, I still feel like I've gotten a jump on the day, a kick-start to whatever I have to do that day. Some days, I get such a rush from getting a run in before heading to work that the day just flies by and before I know it, it's time to go home.

I run because sometimes I need to check out mentally and just go. Putting one foot in front of the other for several miles without really thinking about it can be a great way to re-charge the brain battery or flush out the cerebral junk that has built up like a gunk deposit on an engine. Once I start running, I don't really think about anything in particular and the next time I focus on the here and now, I've gone a good distance and have rejuvenated myself.

I run because I know that if I stop running, I will slip back into habits that caused me to miss out on many things I could have done when I was younger. Before I ran, I would walk for exercise, but mainly walk to relieve stress, often self-induced stress, that needed a release. Then I would go home and eat poorly. I thought nothing of this pattern of behavior and by July of 2001, I found myself weighing about 240 lbs. and basically unhappy with myself. I started working out and lost 40 lbs. by late October of 2001. I maintained that lifestyle (adding running in early 2003) until this past January, when I realized that I need another kick in the butt. I changed my lifestyle again, becoming first vegetarian and now vegan, which allowed me to lose 40 lbs again, so that I weigh 185 today. I have more to lose and a great reason to keep running. Combined with my new lifestyle and good eating habits, I can not only lose the rest of the weight I want to lose, but keep it off and stay healthy for my family.

I run because it's the only physical activity I have done in my life that I can honestly say "I can do better" and believe that is the case. I use to play golf, but I don't much any more because I didn't care much whether I got better or not. I wasn't very good at team sports as a kid, although I played baseball and basketball, but knew I wasn't going to be a pro at either sport. I still love baseball, but as a fan, and that's just fine with me. Running is different. I know that soon, my body will peak and I'll have to be content with whatever running I get to do, but right now? Well, I want to BQ, hopefully before I'm 50, which means I have 5 years to achieve that goal. Will I? I don't know, I want to and plan to, but tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so I can only do what I can today to make my dreams come true.

I run because I have found great friends who also run, who are very encouraging, who know what it's like to go out for a training run in the dark, in the rain, in the heat, or in the snow to prepare for a race they more than likely won't win, but still will run as hard as they can to do the best that they can. Knowing that I have friends that will support each other through injuries, bad runs, great races, and recovery times allows me to feel included, which is something I don't normally feel.

I run because it's just good clean fun (well, except in the rain or after a snowfall!) and I encourage everyone to at least try it for a while and see what a difference it makes in your health, your attitude, and your life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recovery update

It's been a while since the last update, so I thought I'd drop a quick note. I found out a couple of weeks ago that what the doctor thought was a stress fracture of my right pubic bone was instead adductor tendonitis. Still not great, but I was cleared to start a walk/run cycle to gradually work up to full running. It's been going well, I still have a little soreness, but not nearly as bad as it was before I saw the doctor. I also started going to a chiropractor, which is helping a lot, too. I do stretches now (something I hadn't done in seven years of running before the injury) and I'm much better about cross training on the elliptical and biking. All in all, it's not going so badly, although I'm getting itchy to run again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stress fracture = detour

So a few weeks ago, I went to the doctor to check on the pain in my right groin. After a couple of x-rays and a few pokes, prods, and pushes, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture on the right side of my pubic bone. It's somewhat uncommon, but happens to runners who overtrain. I did. Upon reflection, I'm surprised I didn't do worse damage. I was told no running for 3 weeks, biking and elliptical were okay, and come back pain-free or the doctor would have to do an MRI to see if anything else was wrong. So, I've been on the elliptical (which you can see from the dailymile updates on the right) and biking (more on that in a bit).

I'm a bit disappointed that this happened, although I know I could have done worse damage from my overtraining. I realize what I probably did that contributed to most of the problem. Since March, I had run outside 4 days a week, running faster each week as I lost weight. Even on my long runs, I pushed to go faster. The Get in Gear Half-Marathon in April and the Minneapolis Marathon in June were PR runs for me, which is great, but training to set those PRs caused me to overdo it. A lot. I had planned on a 4 week recovery from the Minneapolis Marathon before starting a summer of base training in preparation for the WDW Marathon Weekend training I had planned to start on Labor Day. The last four years, I had started my marathon training on Labor Day, as it worked out schedule-wise to do so. This year, provided I'm cleared to run by Labor Day, I'll move into my training, but be much smarter about it.

Currently, I am doing 3 days of elliptical and 1 day of cycling (on Saturday, in lieu of my long run). I plan to keep at least one day of elliptical and the cycling day in my training schedule, with 3-4 days of running. Of course, as the weather changes in the fall and winter, I'll probably only get outside 1-2 days a week and that will only help me. I'm increasing my core work and weight training to a level that is about where it should have been months ago (never been good about keeping up the core work). I'm going to stretch now, too. I also saw a chiropractor last week, who wants to see me a couple more times to adjust my right side, and she will also give me some stretches to do, too.

Part of me is very frustrated that I kept pushing, but I really enjoyed getting out early in the morning to go for my runs. Even the two weeks of recovery runs I did seemed to go well, except, of course, for the pain in my right upper thigh area, as I referred to it on dailymile and Twitter. I know now that I have to be much more careful so that I can run for many years. The more I pay attention to my body, the better I will run, and the more I will enjoy getting to run.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Minneapolis Marathon reflections

I did not realize it’s been over a month since my last post. Yikes! I certainly didn’t intend to go this long between posts. I could say that I’ve been incredibly busy with work, training, family, etc. Or I could just say that the free time I’ve had lately has been devoted to trying to relax, usually by reading or watching something on TV. Not the best explanation, I know, but I feel like I’ve been on autopilot lately and need to recharge when I can.

On Sunday, June 6, I ran the Minneapolis Marathon and set a new PR of 4:54. My old PR was 5:17, set on my first marathon back in 2007 at Walt Disney World. A 23 minute improvement is nothing to complain about and I’m not, but I could have potentially cut even more time off, if it weren’t for the hills on the last 9 miles of the course. The route is very scenic, running along the Mississippi River for a good portion of the race and through a state park for a fair stretch. It was just really hilly getting down and then getting back up through the state park portion of the race. The weather was beautiful and the course volunteers and water stops were wonderful, but I didn’t get a good feel during this race. I’m not sure if I’ll run this marathon again (I’d do the half-marathon again – I did it last year and would be better prepared for it next time). If the course were reversed, I’d consider doing it again, but I’m not sure that is possible the course will change. I think many runners may find it challenging to run this race, but I also get the feeling that's what the race organizers intend.

As you can see, the course is a touch on the hilly side!

There are other marathons in Minnesota, of course, but Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth is a logistical problem for me and the Twin Cities Marathon is in October, usually the weekend we go to Walt Disney World (around my wedding anniversary). I may stick to running half-marathons here and do the full marathon (or Goofy Challenge) at Disney.

I’m in recovery mode for another week or so and then I begin a base training period before starting my training on Labor Day for the Goofy Challenge. Like I did when I ran it in 2009, I plan to share my training throughout the weeks leading up to the race. It should be more fun this time because I know what to expect and I’ll be joining many friends I’ve made on Twitter, Facebook, and Daily Mile who will also be running that weekend.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Forgot to mention

I forgot to mention that I re-joined Team AllEars for the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I'm very excited to be a part of the team and looking forward to seeing old friends and making new friends at the meet-up marathon weekend.

Get in Gear Half Marathon race report

A quick race report and update: Yesterday was the Get in Gear Half-Marathon and I was able to set a PR due to good training and my changing eating habits and in spite of rain, sometimes lots of rain. The Get in Gear has been around for over thirty years, although the half is only two years old. Before last year, Get in Gear was a 5K and 10K race. I’ve run both over the last few years and wanted to run it again, but felt the 10K was not long enough. I decided to run the half when I saw that on my training schedule for the Minneapolis Marathon on June 6, I was scheduled to run 13 miles yesterday. That seemed serendipitous to me, so I signed up for the race. The course is the same for the half and 10K for the first 5 miles or so and then splits so that the half course goes along or near the Mississippi River for a few of miles and then doubles back.

I’ve been getting faster fairly steadily, knowing how fast to go out for the longer distances, so I felt pretty good about how I went out when the race started. One issue I ran into was that my Garmin kept switching modes because the rain drops would accumulate on the bezel and cause a mode switch. I often had to try to get back to the training screen that showed my average pace while continuing to run (except for water stops and one other gel break, I ran the whole race, no walk breaks – another recent improvement). I felt I was at a good pace the first 3-5 miles and was able to continually go a little faster each mile after that. I did have one split that was slower by a few seconds, but I think that was a mile I was wrestling with the Garmin. Ultimately, I finished at almost a sprint, powering through the last half-mile and really pouring it on the last few tenths of a mile. I tried to stop my watch as I crossed the finish line, but had the same issues. I knew my watch time and chip time would be different (and they were, but either way, I also knew I had set a personal record for a half-marathon. I finished in 2:13:17, four minutes faster than my previous best set 5 years ago in my first half-marathon. That’s right, the half races I had run since 2005 had all gone downhill until yesterday.

Not paying attention to my training or weight really had hampered my running. The work I have done in the last two months, the weight I’ve lost (weighed 200.5 this morning, the least I’ve weighed in almost 9 years!), and the renewed enthusiasm for running, and really, life in general has paid off immensely. I’m not one to seriously consider what ifs in my life, but really, what if I’d done these things 5 years ago, 3 years, a year ago? I didn’t then, but I am doing the right things now.

Next weekend, I’m running a 20-miler, which is usually not a big deal, however, my wife, son, and I are going up to Duluth for a family gathering. I’ll be running in a town that I lived in for almost four years in college (that’s where my wife and I met 23 years ago this year), but I never ran in college. I did walk a lot, but around campus. We’re staying at a hotel downtown, so I’ll need to find my 20 miles somewhere. I have ideas and I’ll look at maps. I’ll also have my iPhone and Garmin, so I should be okay as long as the weather is okay. I’ll post how the run went when we get back.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So much different in just four weeks

I posted almost a month ago and was just beginning to run outside more. Since that last post, I’ve been outside every day I’ve run except one (and I think I slept late that day!) I’m getting up around 5:00 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to make sure I get my run in before I go to work. Saturdays, I’m able to sleep in a bit, but I still try to get outside as early as possible so I don’t eat up the day with the run.

The biggest change I’ve seen in 4 weeks is that I’m faster. Much faster. I’ve shaved at least a full minute to minute and a half off my pace, depending on the distance I’m running. How? I run smarter, not going out too fast, I push myself harder, knowing I can do it, and I’m losing weight, down 4 lbs in 4 weeks. Not a very dramatic drop, but I’m in the long-haul weight loss mode, trying to get down to 180 by January (again, anything lighter is a bonus) by cutting down on meat and dairy drastically and eating more fruit, veggies, and less junk. There are a few more changes I’m going to do with my eating habits that I have to transition into in the next few weeks before I feel that I’m in a good place to sustain my new habits. The dairy needs to be cut more (watch out Starbucks baristas!) and I really do want to eat less meat, sort of an omnivore-lite lifestyle. I’m not sure I can go truly vegan, but I can see vegetarian. Not because I don’t want to or don’t think I can, but because I’m trying not to make 2-3 different meals each night for myself, my wife, and my son. For medical reasons, my wife can’t have most fresh fruits or vegetables and it makes it a bit tough to find a balance of what we can and can’t eat together. When I first started changing my eating habits, I was full on vegetarian/vegan for most meals, which caused my wife to feel left out. Not my intention, so we’ve found a balance that we can work with to gradually get me where I’d like to be.

I’ve also had a attitude adjustment, due to Gordon at
Running to Disney who is, despite his protestations, an inspiration to many people who follow his training and his awesome changes in eating habits that have made him change the intro to his podcast. He is no longer a chubby, back-of-the-pack runner, but is a mid-pack runner who has made an incredible leap forward in his running. His journey and transformation gave me the kick in the pants I needed to buckle down and take my training more seriously. No longer do I just go out and get the miles done. Now I pay attention to my pacing, my breathing, my hydration and fueling during long runs, things I did a few years ago, but stopped doing because I thought I knew enough about running. Well, obviously I didn’t know as much as I thought and I’m excited about running, training, and racing again. Thanks Gordon!

I’m still running the half-marathon on April 24. I have to review the course map, but I think I’ll do fine. Although I’m treating the race as a training run, I think I can actually PR (won’t try too hard, but still may get it) this race, such is my improvement and new attitude. I just have to watch the pace the first few miles, but I’ll do fine.

I hope to have another post before the race, but if not, I’ll have a race recap post soon afterwards.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring is almost here!

It’s been a while since I last posted, so I’ll catch up briefly on what I’ve been doing.

Training is going well now that the weather is improving. I’m able to get out at least once during the week in addition to Saturdays. I’d get out more if I could wake up earlier. The time change always throws me off for a while until I get used to it, so hopefully I’ll adapt soon and be able to get out on the shorter Monday runs. Since I currently run Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, running after work on Fridays is not ideal as I would be running twice within about 12 hours. I tried that once last fall and felt it all weekend. I’m also doing core work, thanks to Gordon at
Running to Disney who sent me his core workout. It is pretty straightforward, but until I get used to doing the crunches, pushups, and planks again, it provides me a nice, tough workout (not only for my core, but my use of colorful language and metaphors!).

I have realized that, although I feel like I’m improving my speed a tiny bit and even beginning to get a handle on pacing, I need to do more. I think I have not been pushing myself as hard as I should on the weekday running and so I’ve begun to run harder, especially when I’m outside. As you may remember, I have an elliptical machine downstairs at my house, so if I’m on that, I can set the program and level to get tougher. Running outside is a whole different thing, though. Pushing hard was actually not easy while the routes I ran were icy, so now that our snow is basically gone for the season (knock on wood), I can begin to really push the tempo. On Saturdays, I’m trying to get into the habit of running paces that will give me negative splits. I think I’m getting there, we’ll see what happens over the next several weeks.

In late April, I’m running a half-marathon that happens to be on a weekend I’m scheduled to run 13 miles. Boy, is that ever serendipitous! I’m going to treat the race as a training run, so it will be nice to get a race in before the Minneapolis Marathon at the beginning of June. It will also be nice to do long training runs for a race without worrying about cold or snow!

In addition to the training, I’ve begun a change in my eating habits, again thanks to Gordon’s inspiration. I don’t eat much dairy or meat, make my own hummus now, and eat fruits and veggies more than I used (which was actually quite a bit). I’ve really cut down on junk, especially the “treat” Coke and Mountain Dew, and I’m limiting the number of Starbucks trips each week to one (two if I’ve been a very good boy!). I’m losing weight, a little more slowly than I’d like, but it is coming off and if I keep these eating habits in place, I really believe I will be much lighter come January 2011 and the WDW Goofy Challenge. I’m currently at 208.5 lbs. and I plan to be at about 180 lbs. by January. Lighter would be fine with me, but I feel that 180 is a good target and reachable for me. I feel better and I know that getting that weight off will help me finish the Goofy easily.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


This past week, my son got his tonsils out. Much more important than training, although I did work out 4 days this week. I've realized, yet again, how much I dislike hospitals and how thankful I am that I have not had to spend time in one for myself in about 30 years (and even then it was a false alarm with my appendix). Hospitals, doctors, and nurses are wonderful, but staying healthy is obviously the best way to stay away from them. Don't get me wrong, I've gone to Urgent Care several times in the last few years, but did not need a hospital stay. I just feel very lucky that I have managed to avoid having any health issues that were very serious.

Sorry for the ramble there, it's late. Take care everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Core work - good & bad

Core work needed. Desperately. Gordon at Run to Disney gave me a program to do, which I started today. Under the watchful eye of my son sitting on the couch, I did the program and remembered how much I "enjoyed" core work. It will do me a world of good to stick with the program, but OUCH!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I ran outside this morning, 6.65 miles, according to the Garmin. The sidewalks and roads were not in the greatest shape, but I didn’t care, I was outside for the first time here in Minnesota since December 19 and only the fourth time since then (the WDW Marathon and two recovery runs at the condo). It was sunny, cold (about 1 degree above when I started), not windy, and simply glorious!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Report, pt. 2 (and long!)

When we last left our hero, he was trying to get to the race finish area in hopes of seeing his wife cross the finish line of her first half-marathon. What I didn’t count on was the traffic around the World, especially around Epcot. Having not really been affected by traffic issues on previous marathon weekends, I had no idea how bad it would be to get to the finish area. After boarding the bus at AKL, my son and I spent about 35 minutes in traffic. The bus driver did a great job trying to get everyone to the finish, but it was a mess. In addition, the heater didn’t work, so the bus was getting colder the longer we were on the road.

Finally, we made it to the finish area. I had texted Laura, telling her we were on the way, but that we might not make it in time to see her finish. She texted back that she was on the course, so I felt we had a chance. When we got to the finish area, I put our son in the stroller and sprinted to the stands. Although we weren’t able to sit, I could see the finish line. I hadn’t gotten a text from Laura saying she had finished, so I figured I still had a chance to see her cross the finish line. After waiting about 15 minutes, I saw her cross the finish line and screamed her name several times. I was holding our son, who had, up to this point, never had an occasion to hear Daddy yell that loud. I scared him so bad, he started crying. I was crying too, because Laura had finished! I put my son back into the stroller and sprinted over to the chute, hoping to see Laura get her medal. I texted to tell her where we were. She had already gone through the chute and gotten her picture taken, but I saw her by the food tent. We had a barrier and fence in the way, so all we could do is reach for each other and cry. I told her to take her time and we’d she her in the Race Retreat tent. My son and I went over there and waited. When Laura came into the tent, we hugged and cried some more. Our son was relatively impressed with Mommy’s run, but wanted to keep watching Wall-E on the TV in the Kiddie Korner of the tent. Laura got some food and we talked for a bit. Our son did get to watch more of the movie and then we went back to AKL.

After resting a bit, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for the Team AllEars and
WDW Today podcast meets in the afternoon. It was cold, but really great to meet everyone on the team that could make it to the meet. I was especially excited to finally meet Deb Wills, because I’ve followed for years. I joined Team AllEars to help raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk as a way to support a great cause and, in some way, repay Deb for all the years I’ve used and enjoyed her site. I also enjoyed the WDW Today meet and was able to chat with both Matt Hochberg and Mike Scopa again, which is always fun.

After the meets, Laura, our son, and I spend a little more time at Magic Kingdom before Daddy headed out to go to Pop Century for the “night” (really about 7 hours). I got to the resort fine, got my pre-race dinner, and headed to the room. Not sure of the weather in the morning (only knew that it would NOT be wet), I ended up pinning my bib number on my running pants, figuring that I could run the marathon with them on, if needed. I decided what layers to wear and lay down for my night-before-marathon-fitful-sleep-of-inconsequential-utility (NBMFSIU-feel free to use that next year).

I woke up at 2:10 am, got ready, and headed to the bus. We arrive without issue, amazingly, and I found myself in the race area by 3:30. It was cold. Really cold (for Florida). I looked at envy toward the Race Retreat, vowing never again would I wait to sign up for the sweet, sweet warm which awaited those lucky bums that thought ahead! I had heard that a few Team AllEars runner and a few
Running to Disney listeners would be meeting before the race, but I wasn’t able to find anyone. My apologies to everyone who I missed meeting. Next year, definitely!

I headed through bag check fairly early, walked to the corrals while indulging in my usual habit of listening to other runner talk about the race, the weather, etc. I found my corral and waited for the race start, chatting briefly with a few people and wondering if I’d over-dressed, if I’d warm up early and shed clothes too soon, if I’d do okay. The usual thoughts I have. The race started and I settled into my usual too-quick pace. I’ve got to learn to slow down at the start of races. I also began to warm up, thus precipitating the beginning of the problems with this year’s race.

Before I go on, I should note that being from Minnesota should have given me the experience to know how to dress and gear up for this race. I apparently checked my brain at the airport and never claimed it, though. I had two short-sleeve tech shirts, two long-sleeve tech shirts, and a running jacket on. That’s five layers. On the coldest runs I’ve done at home, I’ve had four layers at most. Having five layers on was not a good idea. Especially since I decided not to bring the belt and pouch I use for gels. I put all of my gels in my jacket pockets, as well as my iPhone and wallet. In other words, I had my stuff in the very piece of apparel that I should have shed (tying it around my waist) and I couldn’t easily transfer everything to my running pants without them falling down. I also had a stocking cap, my running gloves, and a pair of knit gloves I bought at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday.

Really horrendously overdressed, I keep plodding along, doing fairly well through the first 14 miles, when I started walking more than running. Now, if I had really thought this through, I would have shed the jacket and figured out how to carry the gels, phone, and wallet around Animal Kingdom. I didn’t think it through and carried all of that stuff in the jacket the entire race. Arrgghhh!! In addition, this jacket soaks up sweat and keeps it off your body, which is nice, but it gets the sleeves and back heavy with sweat. And it was black and the sun came out (beautiful sunrise!). I got as far as mile 20 and said to myself “Well, you’ll finish okay, but your time will stink.” As I kept at it, around mile 21 I came across Air Force cadet Malcolm Strong, who was running the marathon in full combat fatigues, including boots, and a 30-pound rucksack. He was bent over and I asked if he was okay. He said yes, so I kept going. I thought about it a bit and then turned around and went back to him. I told him that since he would be serving me and my country, the least I could do was finish the race with him. We walked and talked for about a mile when he said he needed to stretch and that I could go on. Sensing he didn’t necessarily want to keep me from going on ahead, I wished him luck and went ahead into Hollywood Studios. I checked and he did finish, about 20 minutes behind me. Awesome run by a great kid!

I got through the Studios and once I hit the walkway to Epcot, I texted Laura, telling her where I was. She and our son were at the finish area, so I knew they wouldn’t have the rush I did the day before. I walked most of the way to Boardwalk, got through the last water stop, and ran/walked around Yacht Club and Beach Club to the backstage area by United Kingdom. I ran through World Showcase from the UK to France, then walked until I got to Japan. I called Laura and told her it would be a while, but I’d finish. After I got off the phone, I decided to try to run the rest of the way, which I did. I saw some Team AllEars members by Spaceship Earth, headed to the backstage area leading to the finish, and heard my favorite part of the marathon, the gospel choir. I clapped and cheered as I ran past, saw the finish line and knew I’d made it. Slower, colder, more sore, and more worn out than I planned, I ran across the finish line and breathed a sigh of relief. I got my medal, clutching it and sobbing, as I do every year. I got a space blanket, but it blew away and I didn’t realize it until later. I got my picture, called my Mom and Laura, got some food, retrieved my bag and found Laura. I cried when I saw her and then found out that she and our son had seen me finish, something he’s never done before. We headed to the bus and got back to AKL fairly easily. I rested, taking a hot bath to warm up, and relaxed for a while before we headed to Epcot for the evening. All in all, a hectic, cold, ultimately satisfying day.

I learned a few things at this race. First, cold in Florida, while not like the cold here in Minnesota, is a special kind of cold that I’d rather not experience again and certainly not during a race. It was a weird bone-chilling cold that really wore you out, probably because you had to be outside to do anything or get anywhere. In Minnesota, we’d have bundled up and hurried to wherever we’re going or bundled up and done something to keep the circulation going. Wandering at WDW, which is our MO, is not as fun in the cold. Still, the cold contributed to the almost-holiday feel the decorations provided in the parks.

Second, I’ve got to learn to pace myself much better. I went out way too fast and never recovered. I burned energy early I needed later in the race. Definitely something I’ll work on this year.

Third, dress correctly for the climate, weather, and location. If I’d brought my belt, rather than leave it in the room, I could have shed the jacket and I may have not been as affected by wearing five layers, all getting soaked with sweat. I should point out my legs and feet were fine the whole race. Go figure.

And with that I end this report. Thanks for reading this far. I’ll be posting about my training for the Minneapolis Marathon on June 6, as well as the training for the Goofy in 2011, so come along for the ride (or run, as the case may be!).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Race report part 2 is coming

I hope to have Part 2 of WDW Marathon Weekend race report done today or tomorrow. Stay tuned!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Report, pt 1

Apologies for the lateness of the report, but I spent last week between WDW and Fort Meyers, FL with no access to a laptop. You may have noticed a few recent posts from my iPhone using the Blogger app, but I didn’t think I could do a race report that way. Having said that, I’m not sure how long this report will be, since there have been a ton of really good reports posted since the races.

I just re-read the race report I did for the 2009 marathon weekend, when I did the Goofy. I saw that I thought I would only do the half-marathon in 2010. I know that I changed my mind at some point last year, but I found it amusing that I only wanted to do the half last year, but this year I already knew I would be doing the Goofy Challenge in 2011 (actually, the Dopey). Regardless, the race report begins:

We went down Thursday, knowing that the weather would be cold (for Florida). As you probably read, heard, or saw, it was indeed cold the entire time we were at WDW. This is the first time I’ve been to the World and not worn shorts at all! I’ve also never worn knit gloves or a stocking cap at the parks until this trip, either. Oddly though, with the holiday decorations still up in the parks, the weather actually made it seem like Christmas was yet to come. It was a great atmosphere, except when I was running in it!

The expo on Thursday was the first indication that the weather would be different this year. It was chilly and buying a sweatshirt was a good idea not just to celebrate the weekend, but to stay warm! I also bought a jacket with the 2010 logo on it and wore that every day we were at WDW. While at the expo, I got the chance to meet Stan Harris, a fellow listener of the Running to Disney podcast. We chatted for about 30 minutes. He was running the half-marathon and I was lucky enough to run into him later on Saturday to congratulate him for finishing a wet, cold race.

Friday was spent trying to stay warm at the Magic Kingdom while trying to reassure my wife, Laura, that her first half-marathon race the next day would be just fine, although chilly. For the last three years, when I’ve run the marathon, I’ve been kicked out of my room and had to stay by myself on Saturday night. Well, this year, my wife kicked herself out the room and stayed by herself at Pop Century on Friday night. I had the same room Saturday night, so my tradition continues. Friday night, my 4 year old son and I rode Pooh and Pirates of the Caribbean (several times) and then headed by to our DVC studio room at the Animal Kingdom Jambo House. A nice room, to be sure, but AKL is a long bus ride from the Magic Kingdom. My son did well on the ride back, but we did not get to bed as early as I’d have liked.

Saturday morning dawned cold, wet, and not pleasant. Laura had purchased the Race Retreat and I got the ChEar Squad Platinum level for myself and my son, which meant we could use the Race Retreat tent. I had planned to be at the finish area early enough to let my son play a bit before heading to the stands to watch Laura finish, but would I make it? Find out on the next report!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'll be late with report

WDW race report will be delayed a day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Almost home

We return to Minnesota tomorrow and I'll have my WDW Marathon report out by Monday. I actually have Monday off for MLK Day, so I'll have time to write it up and post it.

I did register for the 2011 Goofy Challenge and the Disney Family Fun 5K, so I'm doing the Dopey. There will be a few of us who follow Gordon at the Running to Disney podcast doing the Dopey (with Gordon).

I'll post again soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On our way!

We're leaving tomorrow for WDW Marathon Weekend! I'm very excited to be running the marathon for the fourth year in a row and excited that my wife is running her first half marathon. For all of you running a race, I hope to see you down there (odd to say for Florida, but bundle up!). For those of you not able to join us this year, I appreciate the kind thoughts and encouraging words. I'll have a race report posted as soon as I can afterwards, as well as a trip report.

Run and have fun!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 1, 2010

Almost time!

In less than a week, we’ll be at WDW getting ready to run. I hope everyone running the half, full or Goofy has had a good training cycle for their respective races and that the holidays have treated them well. I have found that the lure of holiday treats has been a bit too much, but I don’t think I’ve gone overboard. I should be fine once the race starts.

If you haven’t been checking the weather forecasts for Marathon Weekend, it might be a good idea. Race weekend looks to be cooler than the past couple of years, which isn’t a bad thing. I encourage everyone to dress appropriately for the pre-race, race, and post-race. No point trying to be tough and be cold before the race, only to find out you could have kept that sweatshirt, jacket or those sweatpants on right up to race time. It’s a long few hours before the race starts, so make sure you’re as comfortable as possible!

If anyone wants to meet up before the marathon, I’m on Twitter (abramdf) and I’d be happy to meet up with you. I know that the Team AllEars marathon runners are meeting before the race Sunday morning, so I’ll probably be by “U” in the race start area. I hope to see you there!