Thank You To All My Readers!

As we finish off yet another year it is hard to believe that I have been writing here at for three years now.  I still remember being in the weight loss forums in 2007 and constantly being told that I needed to start a blog.  I am still not sure if that was because they thought I actually had something worth reading or if they wanted me to stop writing my 13 paragraph forum posts and responses cluttering up their easy reading pages.

One thing that I do know for sure is that without this blog and it's dedicated readers I would never have accomplished what I have in running over these past three years.  Maybe it was the congrats for that first half marathon in early 2008, or encouragement and well wishes while getting through the healing and time off from the broken collar bone experienced just a few months later in a 5k race.  I know the training for and crossing the finish line of my first marathon in 2009 wouldn't have been possible without the constant comments, feedback, and encouragement from all of you, and the same holds true for my second marathon in 2010.  All that I learned from all of you during this time could never be replaced and won't be forgotten.

A Cold Ten Miler, The First Since The Marathon

It has been a less than stellar six weeks of training since the marathon.  I started back just as I wanted to the week following the marathon, even though the coming week was Thanksgiving week and we were out of town.  It was at the tail end of that week that I hurt my back from too much driving and trying to run with a sorta hurting back.  That run felt good, but my back did not for over a week after that.

The setback of being hurt so soon after the marathon, and the holidays being upon us sent me down the same path I went last year following my first marathon.  I have had some decent running, but have not run too many days in a row before this week because I didn't want to run the risk of re-injury.  The fear of re-injury has also kept my long runs somewhat.... how should I say it..... short.

My Birthday Gift Giveaway Winners

My birthday has once again come and gone, but this year I am certain that between Facebook and the Birthday giveaway I have received more birthday wishes than ever before.  It took just over two days for the comments to get up to 41, and I am sure some of you were holding out trying to hit that #41 guaranteed winner spot.

To everyone that commented and wished me a Happy Birthday, Thank You!  For those of you that guessed I did turn 41, but I am not sure what gave it away..... I will just have to say you are all just really really smart and some of you must have Googled to find out how old the more famous Tim Wilson's were. :)

Today Is My Birthday But YOU Get The Gift!

Today is my birthday but I am not the one receiving the gift, you are!  I started the day with a 4.1 mile birthday run to celebrate the achievement of another year.  I thought about running in my birthday suit, but the 30 degree weather changed my mind.  I made the decision to run in early 2007 as part of a drastic life change which has allowed me to continue to get healthier which allows me to continue to get older.  Some people dread getting older, but I accept it as a gift, just like the jelly club of the month it is the gift that keeps on giving :)

Now That's What I'm Talking About!

After the weather last week I thought we were in it for the winter.  The weather was horrible, and unseasonably cold for Georgia, which meant some interesting running took place.  Now this week is much more like it with the 50+ degree temperatures and sunny skies leaving way for some nice sunny runs dressed like I prefer - shorts and a t-shirt.

Yesterday I came home from work and my daughter Payton was waiting for me.  Five minutes later we were out the door in the 49 degree temperatures  for a nice quick 4 mile run before we came home, showered, and hit the road to go see a movie.

Giveaway - Meb Keflezighi's Run to Overcome

If you haven't heard about Meb Keflezighi and his recent book Run to Overcome it is something you will want to find out more about.  I can't comment first hand on his book because I have not yet had the opportunity to read it yet, although it is at the top of my most wanted running books.  This book has been the talk of running blogs lately which had made me stop by on a regular basis to the book's site to try and win an autographed copy without any luck yet.

On with the giveaway.  I am going to be giving away a copy of Run to Overcome before I will even read it.  This copy will not be autographed unfortunately, but will be a brand new unread copy shipped directly to you by none other than Amazon. This giveaway will be provided solely by me and is in no way sponsored by or provided by anybody other than me.  Of course if the Tyndale House Publishers wants to contact me and offer to provide this giveaway copy I would more than oblige, and would love to have a copy to read myself. :)

Blogger Ultimate Holiday Gift Exchange

I recently took part in an Ultimate Holiday Gift Exchange for running bloggers organized by Jill over at Run With Jill.  I got in at the last minute because all too often I get behind on my blog reading and I totally missed it till it was almost too late.  Nevertheless I got in on time and I was able to make the list.

Black Toenail Polish?

I have never wore black toenail polish before and I don't plan on wearing it anytime soon just for the record.  Another thing I have never had before was black toenails from running.  I have run a marathon, multiple half marathons, and many other small races and I don't ever recall having a black toenail or losing one.  I did come close at one time with a toenail that looked a little off but it eventually grew out, but never fell off.

Arctic Blast 2010 - Is this really Georgia?

I have been told more than once in the last couple days that I am crazy for running in this weather, and sometimes I wonder if I am not a bit crazy.  Who in their right mind would want to get out of a warm bed and 5:00 in the morning to 15 degrees with a wind chill of ZERO!

This past week has been colder than normal in the Atlanta area, in fact I think we set a new low temperature record yesterday at 14 degrees.

Sunday I went out for my longest run since the marathon and then back issues and finished 6 miles.  It was 28 degrees, windy, and snowed the entire time I was running.  It wasn't a snow that would stick, but it made it much more enjoyable to run.  I ran at Tribble Mill Park and we were one of a very small group of people that were at the park that day, in fact the entire time we were there our car was the only one in the parking lot.

Things Are Looking Up

I have had a couple good runs since starting back slow this week.  I am itching to get running more but I am intentionally taking it very slow to make sure I don't re-injure anything along the way.

I am excited to get the mileage and training back to where it was but time will bring that soon enough (OK, soon enough may be a bit of an overstatement - I want to be back where I was NOW!)

The Test Run

I finally was feeling better enough to give the back and butt a run for it.  I decided this morning that I would go for a test run this evening if I felt good all day and I didn't have one pain at all.  The day did turn out that way and I had no pain at all throughout the day.

I started with a walk just to give it one last go at a brisk pace just to make sure there was no pain and there was none.  I started the two miles out really easy tuned in to every stride and every part of my back, butt, and legs.  I was ready to stop if anything at all came up and started to cause any pain or discomfort.  The run went really good and I didn't experience any pain whatsoever.  My legs were a little tight as I would expect them to be after not running for 9 days, but they still felt fine and didn't fatigue at all throughout the run.

Is it time for a Test Run?

It has been just over a week since the last time I ran.  The pain in the Butt wasn't getting any better then with a change of recovery methods, and complete laziness, it finally started changing for the better.  Following a lot of driving and a single run that made it worse, my back was hurting pretty bad last Saturday.  The pain moved to my butt shortly after and so I decided to take some time off to let it get better.

I have not been running and I have been taking it very easy.  I have also been stretching and using a heating pad at night.  This all seemed to be helping when I was doing it, but it really didn't seem to be progressing at all.

Not Running is a Pain in the Butt

It has been nearly a week since I have run.  I wish I could say that it was all part of my plan and was part of my reverse taper for my marathon just a few weeks ago, but the marathon was a FEW weeks ago and most any reverse taper plan would have me running by now.  I was following a reverse tapering plan and was starting to feel myself again this past week.  I did get some decent runs in the week following the marathon, and last week was feeling really good.  Since last week was Thanksgiving here in the US we did  some traveling - a LOT of traveling.  We spent most of the week in Indiana and then the second weekend drove to North Carolina.

Post Marathon Running in Indiana

It is ten days following the marathon and it is time for a workout.  I am following Hal Higdon's Advanced Post Marathon Training Plan and it just happened to work out that my daughter's were supposed to run a workout today as well.  We are currently in Indiana spending time with family for the holidays and so the running is a little bit different than what we are used to.  Luckily, there is an asphalt trail system called The Sugar Creek Trail that starts/ends just a mile from the house that we have been able to use.

Yesterday we were dropped off at the far end of the trail near the bridge and the creek.  We ran the trail system all the way back to the beginning and then the mile back to the house.  The trail starts by running a couple miles down an old railroad bed and ends at a road.  There is a sign but it is not very clear and we had to guess as to which way to go.  The trail then runs about a mile on the country roads before meeting back up with the trails to finish off the last mile.

Reflecting on my marathon training and preparation

Now that I am about a week past my second marathon, The Soldier Marathon, and I have had time to reflect on the marathon, the training, and the preparation I need to put into writing what I think I did right, and what I may not have done so well.  What about my training would I have changed, and what worked in that last week of preparation and what didn't?

When I started this marathon training back in July I made some plans on what I was going to do.  I told everyone that I wanted to lose 20 lbs from the current 183 that I was.  If I told you I met that goal, or even tried very hard I would be lying.  I am currently the same that I was on that very optimistic day back in the middle of summer, and yet I am now facing the unforgiving "They plump when you cook em" holidays.  This doesn't change the fact that I still want to do something about it, it is just not the best time of year to set that goal in motion.  Last year for my first marathon I weighed only 177.

Soldier Marathon 2010 - 3:58:03

My second marathon, The Soldier Marathon, is now in the books, with both a PR, and a Sub 4 hour finish.  If you would have asked me throughout my training how I thought I would do you would have gotten so many differing answers depending on when you asked.  If you would have asked me at the beginning of the training you may have gotten an unsure answer of, I may be able to do better than last year.  If you would have asked me in early September, about midway through my training, you would have gotten a much more up beat answer and probably a goal somewhere around 3:45.  Once again, if you would have asked me just 2 weeks later you may have gotten the answer that I may not even be able to run it given that I had just pulled a calf muscle.  Of course, even though we don't believe it when they happen, injuries do heal and we do get back to running.

My views once again started to change and become more optimistic when I ran the 13.1 Marathon series Altanta Edition.  This race once again gave me hope that I would complete the marathon.  It wasn't till my taper and just one week out from race day that I actually set my goal of sub-4  My calf and Achilles was still bothering me somewhat and I knew I had missed a key long run, but I knew if I didn't set a stretch goal I would never make it.

Shaking it out the day before the marathon

I am just back from 2 miles to shake out the legs the day before the Soldier Marathon.  I took it really really easy and ran on feel and not by the watch.  It still turned out to be very close to marathon pace..... let's just hope all those miles are this easy tomorrow :)

I am still not feeling great (sick runner) but today's run proved that all the breathing passages are cleared for takeoff.  If I feel this good tomorrow I will be fine.  I just need to keep on my eating plan (my plan) and keep the fluids flowing and all will go good.

I am getting ready to head out for some breakfast with my wonderfully supportive wife and then take care of some last minute errands and then we will be heading off to Columbus to hit the expo, pick up my bib and chip, and then take it easy the rest of the day.

Wish me luck! :)

Only Three Days..... and I AM GETTING SICK!

All the many miles of training, the lost sleep, the changed schedules, and the sweaty clothes are all coming down to this one event - The Soldier Marathon.  I can't believe it is only 3 days away, but even more so, I can't believe my sinuses are starting to act up.  Really????

Last night and this morning my throat started to hurt.  This is not a good sign.  This is usually the start of a really kicker sinus infection or messed up tonsils.  I usually can slow this type of sickness or even stop it by getting out and running to get the blood pumping and all the passages all cleared out, but I have one small problem...... I can't run, because it is taper time!

Please, please, please!

What am I eating? The days before The Marathon

One of the things I told myself after finishing my first marathon is that I would do a better job eating and fueling for the next one.  Last year in my first marathon I hit the wall at 21 miles and in retrospect I am confident much of the reason for that was a lack of fuel both during and before the race.  I was feeling great up to that 21 mile mark and out of no where my body said "I'm done"

One thing I never really thought much about before this attempt was the way I ate the week leading up to the marathon.  In all my races, and even in last years marathon I really only thought about the one meal that everyone talks about - the carb loading you do the night before a race, especially a marathon.

Georgia Cross Country State Championships

Yesterday was the 2010 Georgia Cross Country State Championships.  This year was Payton's second year running cross country and the second year she qualified for and ran in the state meet.  Last year as a freshman she earned the seventh spot late in the season and finished with a season best and PR at the time at 20:23.  She finished 7th for her team and 56th overall out of 211 in the 2009 State Championship Race.  The team finished 3rd in state last year in the AAAAA classification.

This year Payton was running solid all year long, PR'ing early in the season and not looking back.  She had one tough race where she was sick while running, but the rest of the season she progressively lowered her times and continued to learn and run smarter all the time.  She ran ranked first for her team most of the year mainly due to some other girls injuries.  Luckily for the team those girls were on the mend and came back strong to help the team finish great in yesterday's state meet.

15 Miles To Go

I am sure if I checked any map it would tell me that it was much further than 15 miles to get to Columbus Georgia from where I am now, but if you checked my marathon training plan you would find that 15 miles is exactly the distance left before arriving at Columbus and the Soldier Marathon.

Yesterday I finished off one last harder/faster run when I ran a 4 mile tempo run at a progressive pace.  I ran the first mile at a conservative pace and then kicked it up each mile to finish off the last mile at a 7 minute pace.  The run felt great and it is so nice to see speed after being in marathon training for a while and focusing on distance.

Cross Country Regionals

Region 8 AAAAA isn't the hardest cross country region in Georgia, but it is definitely one of the hardest and fastest.  This past Saturday was Regionals for my daughter's Ashlee and Payton.  Brookwood is in Region 8 AAAAA and they weren't running till around 10:30, which was one of the latest races they ran all year.

The Brookwood girls swept both the JV and Varsity races and both Ashlee and Payton played a key part in those wins.  Both of them had a great day and ran great despite the late start of the race and the seemingly slow times that everyone was crossing with.  In cross country the top 5 for each team are the scorers for the team and both of them crossed 5th overall in their respective races.

The Home Stretch (aka taper)

It is hard to believe that the time has already come to taper.  So many things go through your mind when this time comes.  Have I trained hard enough, long enough, smart enough, or even the most basic have I trained enough?  Sometimes I catch myself wondering - will I even make it?  I am sure for those that run all the time, or those that are hopelessly optimistic that type of question never comes up, but for people like me it sneaks into the realm of possibility every now and then.  Then the questions and doubts start to come up about my calf.  Will it hold up, give me trouble, or will it leave me half way out on this mostly out and back course with a DNF and crushed ego?  So many things start crossing your mind during this taper time, but the one thing I need to remember is there is very little I can do to change the outcome of the marathon that is eagerly awaiting me at the end of this training journey.

A PR Like No Other

Last night was the big ending to the Fleet Feet Tuesday Night Group Runs. It was an end of the year race, with official race numbers, official course with police at every corner keeping the roads clear, and official timing. It was obviously low key but was also very well done with a great attendance. Age group winners got some really cool prizes, many of which were a new pair of shoes...... no I didn't win my age group.

We have a winner!

Thank you to everyone that stopped by and entered the recent CSN Giveaway.  The official end of the contest was yesterday, but because I had a race to run last night I didn't pick the winner till today.  With that being the case, and because I loved her comment, I did let Kandyce's comment this morning slip in.

There were 27 official entries, 26 blog posts and one e-mail that I did receive stating that they were a follower.  Not sure if they meant that they were a follower of my blog, or of my Facebook Fanpage, but both count :)

It's All Downhill From Here

Sony Walkman RunnersTime sure flies by.  I can't believe that I have less than three weeks till race day.  It seems like just yesterday that Sony Electronics was contacting me wanting to sponsor me in a fall marathon.  At that time I was still planning on running the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon like I did last year.  Little did I know that I would find it to be sold out by the time I went to register.

November 13th and the Soldier Marathon is just around the corner and I have run the last of my 20 milers.  It is all down hill from here.  It is amazing the journey that I have been on these past few months.  I have had ups and downs along the way.  Times when I thought I was going to be able to crush the 4 hour barrier and other times when I was wondering if I was going to even make the starting line.  It was only just a month ago when I injured my calf and was wondering if I would be able to recover in time to run the marathon, much less the half marathon in the 13.1 Marathon series when it came to Atlanta.

Coach Wood Invitational

The Cross Country season is drawing to a close and it just keeps getting better.  This is how it is supposed to be isn't it?  The last official regular season meet for my daughters was this past Saturday when they ran the Coach Wood Invitational at Gainesville College. The day was an awesome day for running.  It was a little cooler in the morning for us spectators, but by the time the running started the weather was great.

The course is a two loop course and is laid out pretty good, especially for the spectators.  We are able to watch the runners at multiple locations, especially if we want to do some running ourselves.  The starting was laid out a bit wrong this year and it ended up putting a protruding manhole directly in the path of some of the runners at the start.  Of course one of the lucky teams was Brookwood.

Have you ever got lost on a run?

I can't say that I have ever got lost on a run before, at least not to this extent.  When I stepped foot out of bed this morning I didn't realize what was awaiting me.  Would I still have gotten out of bed and gone for this same run?  Sure.  Would I have changed a few things about it?  Yup!

This morning was going to be a little bit different than most morning runs for me.  I dropped my daughter Payton off at school for Cross Country practice this morning at 5:40 and just headed to work to run there since I needed to get 10 miles in and didn't want to break the run into two 5 mile runs like I did last week.

Time For Another Giveaway!

I know when you think of 26.2 Quest you think of running.  You think about reading long wordy blog posts with a few wisely chosen pictures interspersed, but mostly you just think about me :)  OK, maybe not.  I do know you come by to read about running.  Today you may have stopped by to read about my daughter's latest achievements, but the day before you probably came by to read about how bad my latest long run went.  Well, today we are going to jump off of the running bandwagon briefly to give you all a chance to win something.  Don't worry, there is a running twist to it so don't think you are going to get off that easy.

1,000 Miles and Counting

I knew it was coming soon, but I totally missed when it finally showed up.  This year the 1,000 miles came a little quicker than last year.  Last year I didn't hit the 1,000 mile marker till the first week of November, however this year the achievement was made The first weekend in October.  If you would have asked me even a couple years ago if I would have ran a total of 1,000 miles ever I would have laughed at you in disbelief, but now I am nearing a total of 3,000 miles since I started logging.

Sometimes 20 Miles Is More Mental Than Physical

I am not ready to get into a debate on whether physical or mental wins out more, but yesterday my 20 mile run was more of a mental challenge than it was a physical challenge.  Please don't read this the wrong way - I am not by any stretch saying is was physically easy, I am just saying that physically it was a done deal, but mentally I didn't want to even start because I just knew I was going to fail.

Three weeks ago I ran my first 19 miler of this marathon training schedule.  It was a challenge, but I don't remember thinking that I wouldn't make it (maybe I have already forgotten)  During that run around 13 miles I started to feel a tightness in my left calf.  I continued my run paying close attention to make sure it didn't get any worse.  It turned out to be the wrong decision and I should have quit at the first sign of something not being right.  (you can read more about it here) After all was said and done I ended up with two weeks of a lot of rest...... right in the middle of marathon training!  Not only was it right in the middle of marathon training, but was the two weeks around what was supposed to be my first 20 mile run, as well as the two weeks leading up to my mid-training half marathon race, the 13.1 Atlanta.

Another Two PR's - But Not For Me

I can't believe the Cross Country season is almost over again.  I look so forward to this time of year and then it seems that it is all over as soon as it starts.  Now, sure, I would like to get my Saturday's back to do really important things like sit around, eat, and sit around some more...... but there isn't many other things I look forward to like I do Cross Country meets.  This is quite obvious when you find me driving 6 hours ONE WAY to watch my daughter's run.

This past Saturday my daughter's both ran in the Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary, NC just outside of Raleigh.  This was a very competitive meet, so much so that the winner of the boys and girls races both set new course records at 15:00 flat for the boys, and Aisling Cuffe won the girls race setting a new course record of 16:40 and was almost a full minute in front of #2.

13.1 Marathon - Atlanta 2010

Today was the second running of the Atlanta edition of the 13.1 Marathon series.  I have been looking forward to this race since I ran it last year and set a new Half Marathon PR....... that is, until I injured my calf just two weeks ago.  Once I injured my calf I released any hope of another PR this year and just focused on getting my calf back to 100%.  I wasn't sure until about a week ago that I would even be able to run it.  I decided then that I would run it for fun, and intentionally take it easy since I didn't know if it would start acting up, and didn't want to risk re-injuring as I enter the last month of marathon training.

The morning started early, as most race mornings do, and we hit the road at 5:30 to make the trip down I85, over to Peachtree Road, and into the closest parking place we could find near Oglethorpe University.  I rode down with my neighbors who were also running the race.  The morning was very cool at 55 degrees, which felt even colder in Atlanta with the wind that didn't seem to let up all morning.

The 20 miler that wasn't

Today was supposed to be my first 20 miler of the marathon training..... but it wasn't.  I was, however, happy to get a 5 mile mostly pain free run in though.  If you haven't read my previous post from earlier this week I have been dealing with a very tight, somewhat injured, calf since last weeks 19 miler.
The miles have been way down this past week, but I have managed to get out every other day for at least 2 miles.  Each day the calf felt much better and I think I am ready to start ramping up the mileage a little bit over the next couple days.  I will still take it easy so I don't end up with a re-lapse though.

A step in the wrong direction

I really didn't want to be saying this so close to the 13.1 marathon, but I think I have taken a step or two in the wrong direction.  Things were going really good as you could tell in my last post called Grease Lightning.  I wish I could say things are still going just as well as they were then, but if you have been following me on Twitter or DailyMile you know about my latest dealing with left calf.

Last Thursday I went out early in the morning for some hill repeats.  The workout went great and I got some good trash your legs hills in.  As is the case with any good workout, my legs were hurting for a couple days after the hills, especially my calves.  I wasn't feeling any injury type pain in my legs or calves so I was not worried in the least.

Grease Lightning

Whoooooooo Hooooooo!!!!!!

Wow is all that I can say!  I was really not feeling it this morning, and had no motivation to run going to bed last night or getting up this morning.  My girls needed to be at the school for XC practice at 5:40 this morning and I needed to do a workout.

The problem was that I wasn't going to be able to get my 6x800's in early enough to get back home to get them to school by 5:40 considering the drive to the track, the warm up, the 800's and then the drive home just to turn around again and drive them back to the school by 5:40.  If I was going to pull this off I was going to have to get up by 4:00 am which I was not willing to do today.

The first two cross country meets

I promised an update on my two daughter's first cross country meet, and now the second one has occurred already.  I guess it is past time for me to get writing and put it into words before the memory starts fading.

Two weeks ago was the first official meet of the season, however it was not a typical 5k cross country distance. The Stage Races at River Green in Duluth are a series of 5 - 2 mile races, typically getting faster each stage till the 5th stage.  They are all scored together so it is best for the coach to put their fastest runner in each stage, that is not too fast to blow away the stage so they would be better used in the faster stage.  The boys and girls run these races together which also makes for an interesting dynamic.