Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

So, how'd we do this year? Let's review.

Recap of Goals for 2010

- Strive to run at least one road race per month.
- Complete at least 1 half-marathon.
- Complete a full marathon.

Nice and simple. Let's see how the expected compares to the actual.

JanuaryFreezer Five
February1st Half Marathon (Hampton NH) in 1:55
MarchStu's 30k - I will go tackle this beast again!
AprilDunleavy 5k - 5k PR of 24:21 set
MayRun To Home Base - raised over $1,500 for vets, race finished in the Fenway outfield!
JuneVermont Covered Bridges 1/2 - PR of 1:51 set
JulyHarvard Pilgrim 10k - Ended on the 50 yard line of Gillette Stadium
AugustDare Classic 5k - 1st 5k in VFFs
SeptemberLex's Run - awesome race, great people, tough course
OctoberSmuttynose Half - pace ran Fishadad to his first 1/2
Bay State Full - ridiculous PR in 2nd marathon
Groton Town Forest Trail Race - first trail race, tons of fun, great race
NovemberSlattery's Turkey Trot - 5m PR
Holden Turkey Trot - course time beat by 30s
DecemberHot Chocolate 5k - 5k PR of 23:49 set

OK - Goals met, and then some. It's been a whirlwind, this my first real full year of running.

* 1478+ miles logged running
* PRs (26.2) - 4:24:39, (13.1) - 1:51:04, (10k) - 52:48, (5m) - 40:56, (5k) - 23:49
* got a pair of VFFs. love em. logged about 80 miles on them this summer
* found that i love to run on trails. gonna do a lot more of that next year.
* fixed up my old bike mid-summer and got in a couple hundred miles of cross training
* maintained my weight within the same 10-lb range, all while enjoying many fine Belgian beers
* met some truly amazing people and an awesome online community i'm happy to be part of
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." 
— Dr. Seuss

It's been great. I'm gonna take a few moments to think about goals for next year. Maybe I'll sleep on it. Then, get up tomorrow, like today, and put the gear on and get out the door. To borrow a phrase from an esteemed podcaster to whom I owe a phone call - "maybe I'll see you out there".

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

50 Days

"To be great, one does not have to be mad, but definitely it helps." – Percy Cerutty

This morning was no different than any other this winter. I put on my cold weather running gear and hit the road. Today's forecast: high teens with a "feels like" temperature of 1F. Wind gusts between 20-30 mph. Snow on the ground. The only distinction that can be made about this day is that is the 50th consecutive day that I have gone for a run.

Why? I don't know How did it start? An accident. I joined a challenge on Daily Mile when there were 15 days until Thanksgiving. The challenge was to run 15 miles in the 15 days, but I misread it as "run at least a mile each of the 15 days". I realized my mistake after 6-7 days but figured "what the heck" and decided to go for the 15. On day 13, I ran a PR for 5 miles. On day 17 I beat my Holden Turkey Trot course time by 30 seconds. On day 27 I broke my 5k PR. On day 31 I celebrated my 34th birthday, in the best physical shape of my life.

The Numbers

I wore the Garmin for every run during this stretch, so here are the numbers as recorded by the 310XT.

Elevation Gain11,557 ft
Avg Speed6.0mph
Avg HR150
Max Avg HR175

I've burned almost 8 1/2 pounds, and climbed the equivalent of nearly two trips up Mt. Washington.

Over the last 50 days, I've noticed some improvements. My zone 2 runs are getting a bit faster, and my speed is starting to pick up on tempo runs and intervals. I've been able to bust out a sub-8 pace on the tail end of most of progression runs I've gone on.


It has been said that after 21-30 days of doing something, it's a habit. After 50, it's automatic. I roll out of bed and drift to the running gear, almost without a conscious thought. Some mornings I'm not even awake until the frigid winter air hits my face. I used to day dream about being able to get up and go for 3 miles every morning. Seems like that dream has become a reality.

I don't really have a goal in mind. I can't say when I'll stop running each day. But I do know that every time I get out there, I'm glad that I did.

Whatever you can do,
Or think you can, begin it.
Boldness has power, and genius,
And magic in it.
- Goethe

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A quick note to a 24 year old me.

Hey there,

Just checking in. You probably started running with Dave from the boxing gym recently. Bet you never thought you'd be doing that two years ago, when you were weighing in at 350 huh? Well I've got a few more unbelievable things to tell you about the next ten years.

In a couple of months, you are going to sign up to run a marathon in Kona, Hawaii. You'll be raising money for the American Stroke Association, and by the time the fund-raising is over, you'll have surpassed the $5,000 mark. You'll be training with a group of people each weekend, and you'll finish the marathon in just about 6 hours.

When you get back, you'll get lazy. You'll join a Karate dojo but slow down on the exercise and running. You'll gain some weight, you'll lose some weight. Your job will get a bit more stressful. You'll end up having two children and getting a house with the love of your life. You'll gain more weight.

One day, in about 8 years, you'll wake up and sadly realize that you've gained half of the lost weight back. It'll be depressing. You will start back down the road leading to health. You'll stumble, you'll hit plateaus, and eventually... you'll break through those barriers.

How? Running. In 9 years, you'll pick it back up again. This time, you won't be able to stop. You'll run through wind and rain, through snow and under the full moon in single-digit temperatures. The pavement and trails, the hills and races - you'll fall in love. You'll develop a habit. No, an addiction. You'll crave the high you get from lacing up and letting go.

And you won't be able to stop.

It'll be a long road, filled with ups and downs, but it'll be worth it. You'll lose the weight, and gain so much more. You'll run a race every month in 2010, and finish your second marathon - smashing your previous time by over an hour and a half! You'll gain friends and a new family - both online and in your neighborhood. You will find in running what you've been looking for all along - a way to live in the moment. To let go of all the mundane stress of life and focus on the path ahead, one step at a time.

So tomorrow, get up and get out there. I assure you, you won't regret it.

One day, a long time from now, you'll realize you've been running for the last 44 days and don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Run, run, run.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turkey Trots and Hot Chocolate

I'm taking some time off after Christmas this year for the first time in many years. In between playing with the kids and doing things around the house, I'm looking forward to taking some time to reflect upon the years running. It's been an amazing time, and I've really finished out the year on a real high.

I've had a fantastic string of races over the last few weeks.

Slattery's Turkey Trot
The weekend before Thanksgiving, for the last 30 years, there has been a road race in Fitchburg, starting at Slattery's restaurant. This "old-school" course is a criss-cross out and back, finishing with a nice down-hill stretch before a 70+ ft climb to the finish line. Throughout the years, over $150,000 has been raised for local scholar-athletes, and the event has attracted some big names and elite competitors. For a wonderful review of the event, see Chris Russell's write-up over on Cool Running.

This year was no different. Great family event - bounce house, heated tents, beer & food afterwards. Good times. I set out to pace run Fishadad to his 5 mile PR. I was wearing VFFs and (at the time) was on day 13 of a running streak, so I didn't really envision breaking any PR for myself. My previous time at Slattery's was 43:34. I figured I'd be running with Bill and coming in around 45-48 minutes.

Boy was I wrong. Out of the gate, Bill was off! He actually lost me for a bit in the first mile. I stayed back, keeping him in sight, content to just kind of run along until our paces synced up. We ran somewhat close for another 2-3 miles, at which point I realized that he had some minutes in the bank for his PR, and I decided to pull ahead (splits: 8:50, 8:20, 08:31, 07:53, 07:35). As I climbed the final hill, I realized that if I had not been so conservative in the first few miles, I could have easily shattered my next goal of sub-40:00 in the 5 miler. But, I didn't, and I ended up coming in at 40:56 - still a decent PR!

Bill ended up shattering his PR as well, so it was a good day all around.

Holden Turkey Trot
On Thanksgiving morning, I went up to the center of town alone to run in this 5k (it was a bit too frigid for the kids). This event, run each of the last 7 years, raises money for the Wachusett Food Pantry. It's an out-and-back on main street in Holden. If you are not familiar with the area, the "out" portion is mostly down-hill. I really didn't expect much from this run. My splits were not great, as I felt the effects of the climb on the way back (07:33, 07:53, 08:22). But, I did manage to beat my course record by 20 seconds or so. Had a blast running with a huge turnout for our small town. The only negative was the 20 minute delay of the race, which effectively cooled me down after a brief pre-race warm up jog.

Hot Chocolate Run
On December 5th, we made the trip out to Northampton for the Hot Chocolate 5k. This is a fantastic event that drew 5,000 participants, and raised over $135,000 for the Safe Passage organization. It also drew its fair share of Dailymilers. We met up with Fishadad, MrsKnitpho, WickedPhysics, GetInTheKarma (and wife); and - after I posted the run, there were a bunch of other people that commented that they too had made the run to get the hot chocolate. This race rewards its brave participants with a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate instead of the typical t-shirt. A nice change.

This was day 27 in my current running streak, and I didn't really expect much of anything other than a nice run with some friends. In the back of my mind, I worked out the math and had a decent idea of what I needed to do in order to PR, but having run the course last year, I didn't think it would happen. There is a series of hills in the 3rd mile that just killed me last year.

I took my place in the 7:40 pace area and waited. The race went off on schedule and we began the initial climb (there are hills right at the start). After the first mile or two I was feeling pretty good (07:45, 07:30) so I just kept pushing. The hills came, and for a moment I was right around a 08:15ish pace. But what goes uphill, must come down (at least on this course). The last half-mile is flat/downhill the whole way. I was able to make that up and then some, finishing the third mile in 07:43 and the last 0.13 (according to Garmin) at 06:04!

The picture to the left is me going down the final stretch, checking my watch, realizing that I was going to PR, and giving the thumbs up!

After the race, I got a hot chocolate, which I shared with the kids, as I don't do marshmallows. If someone has found a vegan marshmallow recipe, please share!

While we were trying to stay warm, we spotted fellow NERTS MrsKnitpho and WickedPhysics and got together and talked about the race and hung out for a few minutes.

All things considered, it's been a fantastic few weeks. Can't wait to see what will happen next.

Oh yeah, today was day 28 of the running streak. ;)

This Running Life

Last week, I had a chat with Gordon of the This Running Life podcast. We had done an interview about a week after I completed Bay State that was lost, so we re-recorded it for episode 6 of his podcast.

If you want to listen to us ramble on about running, weight loss, eating vegan, etc. - you should be able to listen below.

If you're not aware of Gordon's story, you should definitely check out his podcast. He has undergone an amazing transformation from an overweight meat-eater to a lean, mean, vegan running machine!