Mama Said What?
Sunday, August 2, 2015

I could go either way with this, right?  Life is like a box of chocolates, or knock you out.  Forrest Gump or LL Cool J; as dichotomous a pair as you will find.  In this instance I’m gonna go the Cool J route.  A blast from the past:

 Given the disappointment of yesterday’s performance I opted to go a little longer than I normally would have today.  Also, in spite of all common sense I pushed it a little.  I’m experienced enough to know that you shouldn’t do that but I was angry.  And so I ran angry.  I knew it wasn’t a good idea but I did it anyway.  Wanting to make up for yesterday, while not suffering a similar fate, I opted for a route that would keep me in the shade more often than I would be in the sun.  So I stuck to the Salisbury City Park and Zoo route which is mostly on trails and, lucky for me, largely in the shade.

Zoo 8.2Zoo Trail 2Zoo Trail

I’m not really much of a trail runner but I figured it would not only be shady, but there would be the added benefit of running on softer ground.  So what does LL Cool J have to do with any of this?  After a fairly slow start, I gradually improved and got stronger despite yesterday’s tough outing and still warm temperatures.

Aug 2 Run.jpeg

As I worked my way back through the park and realized I had strung together a very good run, I kept singing the very first line of LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, which is “Don’t call it a comeback.”  Still, I had a hard time not thinking that it was a nice comeback from just a day ago.  Even though I didn’t go 10 miles I was able to put yesterday’s misery behind me for good.  It’s the best way to forget about a disappointing performance.

I also put week #4 to rest with today’s run and officially reached the 1/4 pole of training.  Four weeks down and just twelve remain until the 40th Marine Corps Marathon.  With today’s run effectively knocking out the disappointment of Saturday I enter week 5 with a renewed sense of confidence.  ‘Tis the way it goes with marathon training.  Lots of highs and lows with a whole lot of peaks, valleys, runs that are like a box of chocolates, and the occasional comeback.

Run on…

Week 4 complete

Week 4…Let’s Go Bucs!

A Purpose for Every Run
Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sometimes it’s hard to see it.  At times it can be difficult to justify the benefit of a particular run.  It’s days like today that cause my confidence to go down and it becomes hard to find the positives in running a marathon.  There are plenty of reasons that today did not go as planned.  In order to reduce the perception of these reasons being labeled as excuses, I’ll talk about those first.

I probably shouldn’t have attempted this run today.  I slept in, which put me on the road much later than I really wanted to be.  I had a good reason for sleeping in too.  My wife, Becky, and I went on a bus trip to see the Baltimore Orioles game against the Detroit Tigers.  The O’s ended up winning the game  but it lasted  3 hours, 30 minutes.  The teams combined for 15 runs on 27 hits and afterward we were treated to a spectacular fireworks show in Camden Yards.  As a result, we did not arrive back home until almost 2:00 a.m. and I ended up crawling into bed somewhere just south of 2:30 a.m.  When I arose I decided to stick with my original plan to do the long slow run today to get it in, and out of the way for the rest of the weekend.  When I checked the temperature around 10:00 a.m., which was around the time I drug myself out of bed and was ready to go, it was already 84 degrees.  At that juncture, I considered pushing the long run until tomorrow, but looking at the forecast I realized it would be even warmer tomorrow so I headed out the door.

In reality there was a slight breeze that kept things feeling a bit cooler than they actually were and for the most part I was able to run at my normal long run pace (around 8:30/mile), but as I hit my fifth mile I began to fatigue.  It was an all-too familiar feeling that I recalled from my last long run on Sunday when I just couldn’t seem to drag myself along.  Today, I kept pushing myself to fight through it and continue with one foot in front of the other.  I talked myself through another few miles before I struck a deal with myself that I would take a short walk break once I hit mile 7.  I kept the walk break to two minutes and then forced myself to continue running.  I had to walk briefly again after miles 8 and 9 but found a way to push through and complete the 10-miles.  I was tired, exhausted, and dehydrated (not sure when I’m going to learn on that one) but I finished.

When I finished I certainly had the built-in excuses of the late night, the weather, and my lack of planning to turn to, but I’ve chosen not to make any excuses.  I realized something I realized a long time ago but I needed to remind myself again.  Today was another bad day.  I certainly would prefer to avoid having consecutive bad days on long runs as I’ve now done, but I don’t control every single factor at play.  And that is the lesson.  On marathon day there may be circumstances that are simply out of my control.  So I have to, and had to, do the best I could do given the circumstances, find the positive, and move on.

The positive?  Well, even on a day like today, there is some positive.  I finished.  Definitely not the way I would have liked.  I was able to self-talk myself through some really difficult miles, and even though I walked a few times I didn’t stop.  I battled some really harsh conditions.  For me, they were harsh.  I hate the sun and I battled that bright orange demon all morning long.  I ran 10 miles.  Even though it may not seem like it; even to me, this run served a purpose just like every other run you do during training.  Today I found a way.  It stunk.  But that experience may prove handy on race-day in 85 days.  Let’s hope not, but I will definitely remember this one for awhile and continue to try and figure out what went wrong besides the obvious.  And last but not least, tomorrow is another day.

Run on…

Orioles 1

Becky and Me in Left Field Seats

Orioles 2


Head for the (Dread)Hills
Friday, July 31, 2015

Today presented the first real variance of official Marine Corps Marathon training.  The workout scheduled for today included hills.  Living in Salisbury, Maryland it is a challenge to find what would truly be called a hill.  So this morning it was off to the treadmill; or as I affectionately like to call it, the dreadmill.  Some people enjoy the treadmill but I don’t.  I find it completely monotonous and boring even with the benefit of a television or an iPad; which I will usually utilize to make it less monotonous and boring.  The only way I ever look forward to hopping on that thing is if the temperature dips below zero, or if there is a layer of ice outdoors that makes it impossible to have firm footing.

The Runnersworld VIP training plan called for a course of “rolling hills” and 3-4 miles.  I decided to use one of the pre-loaded 5k runs on our treadmill.  My thinking was that the machine would simply go up and down on its own, sparing me the hassle of tinkering with the incline every so often and adjusting my speed.  It’s a minor hassle, but a hassle nonetheless.  At 6:00 o’clock in the morning I just want to go and not worry about much else but getting in my miles. 

There were two courses available, the Maui 5k and the Mesquite 5k.  The initial setting on the Maui was at 0.5 incline and the Mesquite at 2.0 incline.  Needing to maximize my hill work I chose Mesquite.  My best guess is that it mimics one of those cities and as I hit the start button I began to think that I only knew Mesquite, NV and my recollection was that it wasn’t that hilly.  But I trusted the treadmill, which was a mistake to begin with.  Have I mentioned I hate the thing?  After about a minute and a half, my 2.0 incline reduced to 0.5 and my speed decreased with it.  I’m not sure I understand the logic in that.  You would think that as your incline goes down your speed would increase but hey, that’s me.  Realizing within the first two minutes that I would have to manually adjust the settings I became slightly irritated but figured it was only a 5k (3.1 miles), so I would just deal with it.  And it was Friday so that was a bonus.  Seemingly every time I adjusted the incline, within 30 seconds the treadmill would go back down to 1.0 or 0.5 and decrease my speed so I spent a majority of the 24+ minutes adjusting the settings and “rolling” up and down on the belt (roadway). 

One good thing about my Nordic Track is that it does keep your overall ascent so I was able to see how many feet I climbed today, which ended up around 300 total feet.  Over 3.1 miles, that wasn’t a bad start to my hill workouts but I know I’ll have to increase that number significantly in the next 12 weeks.  When I finished my legs, particularly my hamstrings, were a bit more fatigued than usual, which means I worked hard enough and climbed just enough to make it worthwhile.  I still hate the dreadmill but at least it was there for me on a day that I needed it.  I’m not looking forward to my next stint “on the belt” which comes two weeks from today, but when it’s time I won’t be visiting Mesquite.  It’ll be manual all the way.  I mean, why change anything?

Run on…

Thursday, July 29, 2015

It seems simple enough.  How many times a day do you wonder, “what time is it?”  Maybe you ask someone for the time.  Maybe they ask you.  In the world of running and racing, it’s all based on time.  What time does the race start?  What was your time in the race?  Visibly seeing who won the race would be easy enough if there were no time.  Take away time and you’d never know if you were late.  How could something start on time if it didn’t exist?  I’ve tackled this topic before.  It was my final blog post on February 3, 2013.  But this “time” I’m putting a slightly different spin on it.  Why am I so fascinated with time?  I don’t know.  I guess that a lot of it comes down to being a competitive person. The main way for me to gauge how I’m doing is to keep track of the time I am running and using finish times to compare to other finish times.   As I’ve gotten older I’ve also gotten wiser and I understand that I cannot beat my previous time every single time I go out for a run.  Still, there is a feeling that comes over me when I don’t do as well on a particular route and I’m slower.  The competitive fire I have inside is something that is hard to extinguish, or keep controlled.

This morning, as I headed out for what I knew would be a nice and easy 2-mile run my thoughts kept drifting to time.  I began to lament what running would be like without time.  If you were in a competitive race and you saw where you finished in relation to all the other runners that’s one thing, but how would you know how fast you were going?  Would you be able to tell based on your perceived effort?  If your breathing became labored would that mean you were going really fast?  What if you felt really good and clipped off a number of miles without feeling tired at all? Would that mean you were taking it too easy and were running slow?  How would you compare one run to another?  Would you even know if you were running fast?  What would “fast” even mean?

Tim was invented by man.  We use something created by humans to decipher, for instance, how fast we have run two miles.  From there we know what our average pace per mile is.  We can log splits to know exactly how far we ran in a mile or an 800 like I did in Wednesday’s intervals.  Think about the money that has been made on this subject alone.  Watches, clocks and other timepieces sold throughout history.  Nothing more than tools to track the time.  Today, we use apps and phones.  That thought made me wonder what the next age of technology will bring.  And yet the constant in it all is time.  It hasn’t changed.  A second is still a second.  Sixty of those make a minute.  And sixty of those make an hour.

Yesterday I ran intervals.  I awoke with an alarm that I set the night before on my phone.  The alarm went off when the predetermined time had been reached.  I then warmed up for 2-miles, slowing down after the first mile when my phone app told me I had run it too fast for a warm-up.  I knew I needed to keep some energy in the tank for the intervals themselves.  When I reached the track I ran my intervals.  Each time I finished the speed portion I clicked a button on my watch to keep the split.  All the while my phone continued to track the overall run.  When I finished I hit “stop” on my Runmeter app and was able to send the following graph to my email:

7.29 Intervals

 With the help of this information I was able to cull the following:

  • Overall I ran faster on this interval day (including the warm-up phases) than the previous three (based on pace per mile overall).

  • When looking at the first three intervals you can see a slight uptick in the time as the interval itself got closer to ending.

  • The fourth interval (the widest one) was the 1200.  If you look closely I held a fast pace longer and didn’t slow as sharply near the end of that particular interval.

  • The fifth interval showed something similar.

  • Although I slowed considerably near the very end of the sixth and final interval (almost to be expected) this graphic shows me that I got stronger during the most difficult portions of the training. When I looked at the times of my overall final “splits”  I did o.k..  But what the times don’t show, as these graphs show, I’m getting stronger.

How would I know any of this without the influence of time?  Your guess is as good as mine.  But having this type of information available will help me out immensely moving forward knowing I only have 87 sunsets to go before I find out if it was all worth my effort and………well, my time.

Run on…

A Reader Thank You
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When I launched this website twenty-four days ago I had no idea what to expect.  I had only ever done my own website once before, several years ago at  However, this has been different in the sense that I have created content I never created before, and I only posted back then when it was convenient for me.  Now I post daily and I know that I have a loyal following of readers.  When I decided to do the site, I had to learn a lot, and did a lot of reading and research to make sure I would put something out on the web that made sense.  I hoped to attract visitors and moreover, repeat visitors.  I still have a lot to learn  but WordPress makes the site navigation pretty easy.  Buying a domain and then creating the pages took some doing, but here I am.  And here it is.

So far this has been fun.  I truly enjoy writing and it’s been made more enjoyable by the fact that I have a steady flow of readers that have visited the site and who read my daily posts.  Admittedly some days are better than others, but that’s the case with anything.  It’s certainly been the case with training and running as a whole.  You roll with it, and when you have a bad day you look to improve the next day.  I truly believe if you do that with anything you’ll be successful.  One of the best things about this site is the variety of plugins that are available.  You’ll notice the email sign up to the right of the page?  That’s a plugin.  I use Mail Chimp.  The Countdown clock?  That’s also a plugin.  One of the coolest plugins I have is the “count by day” plugin.  It tells me how many visitors I’ve had daily and monthly along with what country they are in.  I have no way of knowing who the visitors are.  I only get the total numbers and country origin, along with what people are reading.  For instance, today 4 people read my post The Mile in Front of You  from earlier this week.  If you’ve been reading, you know that recently I’ve been fascinated with numbers.  So here’s some more…

This morning I had two big number milestones.  While out on my run, which was my fourth interval run of my training thus far, I passed last year’s annual mileage total of 549.2 miles.  When I completed the 6.25 miles it put me at 549.4 miles for 2015.  Obviously I’m happy about this.  It puts me on pace to possibly reach the elusive 1,000 mile year I’ve been after for a long time.  Still, I’ll need a little luck and continued health to get there, but with five months remaining in the year, I have reason to be encouraged.

More importantly for today, sometime just before 8:00 a.m. I surpassed 1,000 visitors to this site since its official launch just twenty-four days ago.  I am in awe of you and so thankful for you, the reader.  It is you that motivates me and keeps me going on a day-to-day basis throughout this process.  And that’s really what a marathon training period is; a process.  It’s about working hard to make small incremental improvements and get stronger on a schedule that hopefully peaks sometime around the end of week 16.  It’s never easy, and rarely is it a lot of fun.  It’s a lot of work and a ton of time investment.  But having you along for the ride has made it more worthwhile.  It’s like having 1,000 consciences watching me and giving me the strength to continue to plug away toward my goals.  Today’s run was difficult like all interval days are.  They’re especially hard when you’re out on the track alone.  But when I see 1,000 visitors at least somewhat interested in reading about what I have to say, I don’t feel alone.  You rock, whoever you are, and wherever you are from!  From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!  I cannot thank you nearly enough.

Run on…

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What drives you?  What makes you move?  How do you describe the feeling you get when you first begin doing that thing that you love or hate?  It’s really about the motivation isn’t it?  Motivation can be a mysterious thing.  Reaching the heights of the running universe in 2010-2011 it was motivation that drove me there. When I came home from Boston and saw a decline in my performance and a slide to my mileage, I wondered “where is my motivation?”  How can we possibly understand this thing that comes and goes seemingly unannounced?  Why is it that some mornings I can awake at the first note of an alarm and walk down the hall toward my path of self-discovery and other days I can hit the snooze button five times, still never satisfied with the extra 45 minutes I just culled from simply touching a button?

Motivation comes in many shapes and sizes.  Money can be a supreme motivator.  But so too can pain.  Both sides of the equation, motivating equally and unequally.  It doesn’t discriminate.  As your mind plays tricks on you and forces you to make decisions about what you are going to do you wrestle with the good and bad feelings that can be created by motivation or lack thereof.

There is an age old question about whether or not others can motivate others.  Surely  that can be the case, but inevitably the decision to go or not to go, to stay or not to stay; is yours.  It’s the difference between an A or a B.  Perhaps a C or a D.  It can make you or break you.  Do I run, or take the day off?  Do I keep going, or stop?  Do I call off sick even though I’m not really sick?  What’s your motivation?  Money? Joy?  Embarrassment? Avoidance of pain?

For me, when it comes to running, and probably almost everything else in my life, it’s about shame.  I don’t want to be ashamed about skipping a run or dogging a workout.  Since I launched this website on July 5 there have been a few nights that I didn’t really have the motivation to post, but somehow found a way.  A way to pull from within and find a way to keep my promise.  A promise that few probably remember, but one I cannot forget.  A commitment to post daily about the trials, tribulations and mindset of one regular man’s journey that continues on its way to the Marine Corps Marathon.  There is an inherent feeling that I get that makes me feel like I’ve cheated myself and those around me who expect more.  It keeps me heading down that path of self-discovery which is only sentences away once I sit at the computer, like tonight, and only steps away once I exit the door, like tomorrow.

So tell me.  What motivates you?

Run on…

By the Numbers: Two 10’s, Three 20’s and a 66
Monday, July 27, 2015

I awoke this morning to begin the fourth week of training and I heard rain pounding on the roof of the house and even a little bit of thunder off in the distance.  Running in the rain is one thing, but thunderstorms are something I generally will try to avoid running in if I can.  A quick check of the radar showed that the showers were very heavy and all around us.  I saw a few small breaks to the west so I waited it out until I couldn’t wait any longer.  I made a quick decision to head outside and run in the rain.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the rain I trekked in was probably close to the hardest rain I’ve ever run in, if not the hardest.  At certain points the drops of rain actually stung my arms and cheeks.  With temperatures in the low-70’s it was a warm rain but felt a thousand times better than yesterday’s heat and sun fest that got the best of me.

Mondays have become my recovery run days, and although I wasn’t too concerned with my speed, it did go a little slower than I had hoped on such a short run.  Due to what I described in my head as a torrent, it was one of the more enjoyable runs I’ve had in a long time.  My preference is to run in the rain albeit in a bit cooler temperatures.  But unlike the debacle that was Sunday, I finished feeling pretty good overall.  When I finished, like I always do, I logged the run into my excel spreadsheet and to my surprise I have continued to boast some amazing numbers (for me anyway).  I’ve never been a very high mileage runner.  When I was at the height of my marathon training  I would typically top out with no more than 40 miles/week and that was the highest.  I have always tended to track my mileage in monthly and yearly totals anyway.  My highest ever monthly mileage total stands at 137.75 miles, logged in March, 2007.

In the previous two years as I was transitioning my life and moving from Western PA to the Eastern Shore of MD, my running definitely suffered.  Last year (2014) I ran the second lowest annual total I have ever logged at just a meager 549.2 miles, which was only slightly better than the previous year (2013) when I ran 545.5.   My current annual total after today sits at 540.15, and although I never like to jinx myself, I am almost assured of surpassing that total by the end of the week.  I am also fairly ashamed to admit that despite my goal of running 1,000 miles in a year I have never been able to accomplish that feat,despite trying it a few times.  My current high water mark for a year came in 2011 when I did 955.05 miles.  These last few months have put me on pace to reach that goal but I realize there are still five long months to go and anything can happen.  Injuries plagued me in my early running days and the past few years, running took a bit of a backseat with my move.  So almost unexpectedly, as I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon, and re-committed myself to running, and have started a run streak, I find myself logging some mad miles like I’ve never seen before.

This morning’s 2-miler put me at 109 miles for the month of July, which is my 6th highest monthly total all-time.  Coupled with last month’s (June) total of 104 miles (8th highest) I have now done back-to-back 100+ mile months for the first time since March-April, 2007.  If you toss in May, 2015, when I ran my 18th highest total of 87.5 miles I now have two top ten’s and three top twenty mileage months all-time.  And what about the 66?  Well, today was my 66th consecutive day on my active run streak, which has helped me to these high totals.  I also called today my Mario Lemieux day.

Just for good measure and numbers sake, I’ll throw these statistics out there.  My all-time mileage now stands at 10,618 miles, including 849.7 race miles (135 races).  I guess you could say you’ve now been soaked with numbers.

Run on…

Week 4

Week #4