January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

I try not to view a new year as a new beginning, because I don’t quite believe in new beginnings.  Well, I believe in them in the sense that every moment is a new beginning.  Still, it is difficult to not pour over the past and look toward a positive future when January 1st rolls around.

This past year has been rather chaotic for me.  In many ways it has perhaps been one of the best ever.  I am in the best shape of my entire life and with that I also look better than ever, I actually made some great friends, I ran more miles than I ever though were possible and ended my first year of races by completing a full marathon, and so on.  However, I guess that is what has made it so odd.  I am not accustomed to social interaction, to getting attention from guys I actually want attention from, to having such big goals and desires.  This all leads to a lot of frustration.  All of these feelings come up and I don’t know what to do with them.  All of these situations come up and I don’t know how to react to them.  In many ways I am just lost.

But I also know that there is nothing to search for, because I also don’t really believe in “finding yourself”.  I guess I just want to keep trying to stay on a path of self-discovery and keep up the attempt to regain normalcy.  The problem with that is that things in my life, at least as an adult, have never really been normal.  And I know many will claim that there is no “normal”, but eh.  Basically, I am just striving for the opposite of insane chaos.

Balance is key for me right now.  As is focus.  I know I need to be far more proactive in creating change in my life.  Nothing external can do that for me and I truly believe that the only way to create change is from within.  Being said, that is of course a daily struggle.  Fear is still a big factor for me, as is anxiety.  I lost so much of my life in my 20’s that I have entered my 30’s feeling like I am just not on the same level as all of my peers.  Sure I have life experiences, but they are vastly different from the life experiences of the majority.   Instead of spending my 20’s trying to build a career, dating, having sex, making friends, and so on I spend them wishing I were dead.  Not exactly something that is a great conversation starter or something that makes me relatable to a majority of others.  And while I have done a good job in shedding many of the past insecurities that held me down, this has become the main insecurity of my present.

So while I have many health, fitness, social, and emotional goals for 2013, my main goal is to just evolve.  I hope that this year will be far better than the last.  That some of the pieces will finally start coming together.  That I can finally balance all of my needs, and wants, and desires.  In the end I just want to keep striving to be my best self.

And yes one of my goals is to post here more (and perhaps actually use this space to connect rather than just talk to myself), but of course it took me until January 16th to even publish my first post of the year (though I started it on January 4th, so that is…something).  And I’m still uncertain of what to even do with this space.  Oh well.  I’ll keep trying…


2012 Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well, I certainly let this blogging thing fall to the wayside (shocker).  But on Sunday November 18th I ran (well, mostly ran) in the 19th annual Philadelphia Marathon and would feel terrible if I didn’t write a race recap to at least have some sort of document of the day.

As noted here, I had been training for this race since the summer – sort of.  Life and admittedly poor prioritizing got in the way a bit toward the end and my mileage in the last several weeks were nowhere near what they should have been.  Therefore I wasn’t nearly as excited for the marathon as I had thought I would be, in fact I was somewhat dreading it.  While I was confident I could finish the race based on my 20-miler I had fears that it wouldn’t be so pretty.

But marathon weekend came. I attended the expo on Friday and of course I suddenly got into the spirit of things again!  I was going to be a marathoner!  I had a bib with my name on it and all!   This was really happening!

Sunday morning I woke up on the early side, had a lunch of some Van’s waffles, blueberry syrup, and a banana since that was about all I could scrounge up at home that would be ok for my stomach (the bread I had planned on eating had spots of mold, which gives you a small glimpse of my lack of preparation), got myself ready, and took the trolley down near the start.  It was neat to see other runners walking down there before dawn in the cold.  Gave me a chance to think about how crazy (in a good way) we all are.  I checked my bag and made my way into the porta potty line, where I stood until after the race actually started.  While this made me a bit anxious, I knew I was ok since my corral would have some time before it was sent off.

My A goal when I initially signed up was to come in under 4:45 and my B goal was to come in under 5 hours.  But as time went by I was becoming a faster and more efficient runner and my times for previous races/runs and my slight obsession with the McMillan Running Calculator indicated that a sub 4:30 marathon was a total possibility.  Of course the McMillan Calculator works on the notion that you do all of the training in a best case scenario.  While deep down I knew that a sub 4:30 was unlikely, I still wanted it.  So I started off with that in mind.  Probably not the greatest idea.

Miles 1-7: These were pretty great.  I was excited, keeping my pace, and crowd support is great during these miles.  You basically run into Old City, down into a bit of South Philly (didn’t realize we’d be so close to Beer Heaven at mile 3!) and then back west through parts of South Street and Chestnut Street.  I saw my friend Jenn around mile 6 which was a pleasant surprise during such a big race.

Miles 8-13: I had to pee urgently so I stopped at a porta-potty somewhere during mile 8, which takes you into West Philly.  Took forever.  Next time I’m just going to be more brazen because I lost at least 4 minutes there and thus it seemed like I was now a bit off the 4:30 pace.  I actually saw the 4:30 pace team a few feet ahead of me when I began running again, but I had no idea if their start time was before or after mine.  I had hoped maybe I could pick some of that up, but it never happened.  I enjoyed running these miles because I was still feeling rather strong, though my legs were honestly already starting to show a bit of fatigue.  Around mile 10 there is a hill in the otherwise fairly flat course, though it really didn’t bother me much.  I just slowed down slightly and it was fine.  I also must admit that I didn’t even know this hill was there until about a week before the race.  I saw another friend Greg around this time, which again was nice.  The Philadelphia Marathon has a half marathon component which mentally can be a good or bad thing if you are running the full marathon.  Since I knew this wouldn’t be my greatest effort I had initially feared that the split where the half marathoners were sent off would mess with my head.  I had figured that a big part of me would have wished I were headed their way.  However, my viewpoint totally changed during the marathon, possibly because it was my first, and suddenly I was excited to split.  “This is where the real race begins” I thought to myself.  When we split near the Philadelphia Museum of Art there were many cheers as it was now a course full of marathoners and there is a certain camaraderie to be had there.

Miles 14-16: I was feeling better than I had anticipated, though my legs were definitely fading.  My pace wasn’t too horrible, but a sub 4:30 was not in sight at this point.  A sub 4:45 or even something in the 4:30’s still was however and I felt ok with that.  I made another porta-potty as my stomach was rumbling and to be honest I’m not sure if I 100% needed this one or not.  My stomach kept rumbling on and off and everything is such a blur at this point.  I think I might have been more afraid to risk it than anything.  But again I lost about 4 minutes.  However, part of me relished the break instead of being angered over it like I was during mile 8.

Mile 17: This is THE WORST PART OF THE COURSE.  Ok, I obviously figured I knew the entire course being that I live here and therefore run here so I didn’t really analyze the course map much.  I knew that we went up Kelly Drive and into Manayunk, which I was looking forward to due to what I have heard about the crowds up there.  What I did not realize was that we do a goofy out-and-back loop down Falls Bridge and part of West River Drive before heading into Manayunk.  For some reason I thought we just ran past the bridge.  So initially I was confused, but figured it was just out over the bridge and back.  When I realized we had to go out down West River Drive I was all up in my head.  This really affected me mentally.   I had no idea where the turn-around was.  I knew it couldn’t be far, but I hated not knowing.  I was so angry at whoever designed this course.  This was really the last thing I needed while struggling.

Miles 18-21: These are mostly in Manayunk, which is rather good in terms of support.  And I have actually never been to Manayunk before so the scenery was brand new.  At this point in my life there are few parts of Philadelphia I have not seen already, even a few of the worst.  I knew my friend Dev would be up here handing out small cups of beer, as is apparently tradition, so I also looked forward to seeing at least one familiar face.  The beer stops (which are of course unofficial and illegal) are at miles 18 and 21 which are across from each other and Dev was at 21 which is the one I wanted to stop at anyway.  At the turn around during mile 20 there was a man with the best smelling brownies who I wanted to stab because there is no way my stomach could have handled that.  I got to mile 21, got my beer and a few words of encouragement, took a couple sips, and ran off into the homestretch down Kelly Drive again.

Miles 22-24:  These were brutal.  I tried hard to keep telling myself that I was almost there, but really I was just in a horrible mood.  My legs hurt, I was not going to get a time anywhere near the 4:30’s, and thus just felt like I let myself down.  I hated myself for not making race training a priority.  I wanted a great first marathon experience and this was just not it.  I saw my friend Jenn again somewhere along here and she was struggling but determined as well.  We parted ways after a little bit and I sort of did a walk/run to the end (I walked some in Manayunk too).  None of my walking periods were long at all because stopping to walk and then trying to run was painful just too painful for me.  So basically, I think I waddled my way to the finish area.

Miles 25-26.2:  Once I finally hit mile 25 (that marker seemed to take FOREVER to come) I tried to pull it together, though I think this was actually my slowest mile excluding the miles where I stopped for the porta-potties.  As I mentioned earlier the Philadelphia Marathon issues personalized race bibs and I couldn’t appreciate them more for doing this than during the last mile.  Crowds of course finally start to pick up again and random strangers will start cheering for all of the marathoners by name.  This definitely raised my spirits somewhat and made me feel a bit less disappointed in myself.  While approaching the finish line I saw my friend Jess cheering for me, which was a great surprise.  As we crossed the announcer called out our names and I got my first ever space blanket!  Also, to my surprise my sister was to the side right after I crossed.  It turns out she went all the way up into Manayunk to surprise me and must have been right past the beer stop at mile 21.  Since I didn’t know to look for her I didn’t see her.  Admittedly I’m not the most observant runner, but yeah.  My final time was 4:47:39 which gave my an average pace of just under 11 minutes.

I didn’t really feel much emotion after the race.  I was happy to be done running, but that is about it.  In retrospect I wish I weren’t so hard in myself and actually spent some time in the moment.  But the finish didn’t feel triumphant.  Instead I just felt lucky to have made it through.  I am not even sure that I fully comprehend the fact that I ran 26.2 miles over a week later.  I was so down about not following my training plan well enough that I didn’t really care about much else.  I read an article recently that said training for a marathon was the real accomplishment, not simply finishing one, and I hate that I let myself down in that area.  I know the experience would have been much more enjoyable had I been better trained.   Lesson obviously learned.

Afterward I eventually made my way to Johnny Brenda’s for some brunch and drinks with some friends who were a mix of both participants and spectators.  It was a great time and I started feeling a bit better about things.  After a couple of hours there a few of us headed over to Fette Sau for another drink and a bit more food.  I mean why not?  Even though I wasn’t all that hungry I figured I might as well get as much in as I could while it was acceptable.  Though really I’m not even sure I even consumed close to the calories I burned.   I saved that for the next day (hello Federal Donuts!).

I felt sore after the race, but after a day I was pretty much back to normal.  Or at least close to it.  I still have a few aches and pains that I didn’t have before, but I am surprised that my body actually recovered as well as it did considering how inactive I felt I was the month before.

So now that I have my first marathon experience behind me, I get to decide what to do next.  I am 95% sure I am going to sign up for the 2013 Key Bank Vermont City Marathon before the year is over.  I absolutely love Vermont and have had my sights set on this being my spring marathon for 2013 not long after I began training for Philly and read about the race (representatives were also at the Philly Expo).  This would mean that training for marathon #2 begins in the second-to-last week in January with the marathon taking place Memorial Day Weekend in Burlington.  I am very determined to make this marathon experience enjoyable and I would also love to get that sub 4:30 marathon while doing so.  I am also determined to actually document the process and everything else along the way.  Stay tuned…

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #9

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Weekly recap of activity:

  • Monday – None
  • Tuesday – None
  • Wednesday – 3 mile run
  • Thursday – 7 mile run
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – None
  • Sunday – 10 mile run

So this is obviously one of the least active weeks I have had in a while.  No yoga at all and I skipped a 4 mile run.  In part I think it was a bit difficult to motivate myself after last Sunday’s half-marathon, though it was also a super busy week for me.  I had to be in New Jersey on Friday and Saturday to prepare for and attend the bridal shower of my brother’s fiancée, Nicole.  Here I was asked questions like “How long is a marathon?” more times than you can imagine.  I guess I should not assume this is common knowledge.

I was glad that this week’s long run was only 10 miles (so weird to use the word ‘only’ followed by ’10 miles’).  I had an event to attend on Sunday so I decided to run down to Kelly Drive to eliminate the time it would take to get public transportation.  I left around 7:30AM and I felt horrible during the first couple of miles.  I really was questioning how far I would even make it.  My shorter 3 mile and 7 mile runs earlier in the week felt great, so this was rather upsetting.  However, once I got onto the loop I was feeling pretty good.  I decided to just go out as far as I needed to and back on the loop vs. going out and back and then running home to complete the run.  For some reason running home as part of the run made it seem far less appealing mentally.  My stomach was really bothering me about halfway through and this had to be because of how poorly I ate and hydrated while I was in New Jersey.  I luckily did not have this issue during the half marathon, but of course I treated my body far better the week before.  I stopped at mile when I had the chance 7 and felt fine after that.  So in the end the run was a pretty good one.   I clocked in at 1:39:12 including the times I had to stop for lights/cars on the way there and back and the bathroom stop.  My pace was pretty even as well.  It has been a lot of fun to see myself become a better runner throughout all of this training.  Makes me excited for what is yet to come!

Plans for this week include a long run of 15 miles on Friday and the Dogfish Dash 10K at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE on Sunday.  I am super excited for the Dogfish Dash for the obvious beer-related reasons, but it will also be my first official 10K so I am eager to see how I will do.  My goal is just to finish under 60 minutes.  Then of course I’d like to drink some 60 Minute IPA…or whatever I can get my hands on.

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #7

September 10, 2012 § 3 Comments

Weekly recap of activity:

  • Monday – None
  • Tuesday – 3 mile run
  • Wednesday – 6 mile run
  • Thursday – 4 mile run
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 90 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Sunday – 12 mile run

Fall race season is here!  I mostly had a pretty decent week of training though I must say that some of the runs earlier in the week were a bit of a struggle, particularly Wednesday’s 6 miler.  I did that run in the morning and the humidity was still insane.  But luckily a storm blew through on Saturday and suddenly it actually feels a bit like fall!

I didn’t get out to do my long run until about 5:30PM on Sunday night.  Friday night I went out and had a great time, which also means I was in no shape to run on Saturday morning.  Given that Saturday morning was also terribly humid I didn’t really mind this and went to yoga instead.  Let’s just say I’m becoming a pro at hungover yoga and it helped me feel a bit more human again.  Later in the afternoon I went to a party of a friend from a group I run with which lasted into the evening  and then turned into going out to a couple other places.  I did abstain from drinking hoping my body would forgive me some and rehydrate, but my food consumption was rather terrible as there was so much great food to be had.

Anyway, standing (with a bit of late night dancing thrown in) almost all day/night on Saturday made for some very tired legs.  When I woke up early on Sunday morning I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and run.  I felt like my legs would just be way too tired and that it would be a bust.  Which was a shame because the weather seemed absolutely perfect.  I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get this run in on Sunday at all.  Part of me was leaning toward just resting on Sunday and heading out Monday morning.  But I knew that it was in my best interest to just get out there and go, so that is what I did.

I had 12 miles on the agenda, my longest distance run to-date as I had previously only run 10 miles on a couple of occasions.  So naturally the new territory made me a bit nervous.  I planned on running the entire Kelly Drive loop and then up and back a bit more.  I brought some watered-down Gatorade, Clif Shot Bloks, and Sport Beans with me and had two of the Shot Bloks and about 4 Sport Beans around both mile 4 and mile 8.  They especially seemed to help this time around and I felt more energized and able after eating them on both occasions.  While I started the run off with doubts, by the 4th or 5th mile I started to feel really strong and 12 miles were soon complete.

I steadily and consistently the entire way and felt pretty strong, with one exception – my stomach.  I am not sure I could have made it much further at all without stopping.  It pretty much hit ’emergency’ status toward the end and I made sure that I would finish up right near the ever-so-nasty public restrooms by the start of the loop.  Not that it mattered how nasty they were…

So at this point I am 100% confident that I can do well at the half-marathon and achieve my goal of a time under 2:15 if I don’t have any kind of major digestive system issues that cause me to have to stop.  Which means I really need to begin to focus on what I am eating and drinking this weekend as I still don’t know what the main culprit is.  This is because I have put not effort into even trying to figure that out.  And if I want to run strong I need to figure this out.  While I know it won’t happen before Sunday’s race, I hope that by upping my water intake, lowering my beer intake (insert sad face) and eating a more low-fat, low-fiber, higher carb diet with perhaps some emphasis on limiting dairy almost completely that I can offset some of this.

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #6

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Weekly recap of activity:

  • Monday – 1.25 mile run
  • Tuesday – 3 mile run
  • Wednesday – None
  • Thursday – 4.4 mile run
  • Friday – 2.68 mile run
  • Saturday – 90 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Sunday – 7 mile run

Well this is late.  Seems like I’m moving rather slowly with everything lately.  I have been in a bit of an odd state of mind lately and Labor Day weekend was filled with socializing and activity that was perhaps done in an attempt to escape from that for a bit.  I got in all 18 miles that were a part of my training plan last week, though a bit more split up than I would have liked (I also ran a few more additional miles that weren’t tracked when taking part in a few volunteer activities).  I was just not really into the idea of running last week (seems as if eating and drinking everything was a bigger part of the agenda), but it did make me feel good to know I at least squeezed everything in.  Even if that meant my weekend long run (as I mentioned last week it was a “stepback” week) took place at 7:30PM on a Sunday night.

Hopefully with September the humidity here will finally die, but as of now it is just as bad as it has been all summer.  I have my 12 mile long run this weekend, which I am both nervous and excited about.  Then the weekend after is the half marathon!  So of course I am now coming to realize that I really need to start preparing my body and mind better, especially once the half is over and I start focusing on 26.2 miles.

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #5

August 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Weekly recap of activity:

  • Monday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Tuesday – 3 mile run
  • Wednesday – 5 mile run
  • Thursday – None
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 10 mile run
  • Sunday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class

Last week marked successful completion of week #5 of marathon training!  Of course I began a half marathon training plan 4 weeks prior to that, so to me it seems like it has been twice as long.  Since I am a newer runner I am really glad I started scheduled training runs back then though because I think building up more of a base has been a benefit to me.

Anyway, this week both my 3 and 5 mile runs felt rather sluggish.  I think the trail running the Sunday before left my calve especially sore.  Yoga on Monday helped a bit, but I felt a bit rough.  I ended up skipping my other scheduled short run of 3 miles.  While I always feel rather lazy if I skip a planned run, I think it was a good call in the end.

Saturday morning I left around 7AM to catch the trolley and get my scheduled 10 miles in.  This would be my first 10 mile run since the Broad Street Run in May.  After last Saturday’s 9 mile run that I kind of struggled through I was a bit nervous, but hoping this would be a good one.  Turned out it was!

I ended up finishing with exactly a 10 min/mile average pace, which is fairly on target for me at that distance.  However the run felt so much better than last week’s 9 mile run.  I ran pretty strong the entire time and used my experience last week to help get me through this week quite easily.  It kind of made me realize how important the ‘bad’ runs really are since it was kind of nice to be able to say to myself “Hey, this feels so much better than last week and you finished that run, so there is no reason why you can’t finish this one!”

My splits did surprise me a bit however, because I felt that I went out slower and it turned out to be my fastest mile by far.  I have been trying not to really look much at my Garmin while running because at this point in my training I really am just focused on getting the miles in at a comfortable, yet goal oriented, pace.  I have alerts set for the miles so I try to just glance at it then.  But I would like to somewhat attempt negative splits  and obviously my sense of pace is still a bit off.  I am happy with my splits in general though, because to me at this point in my running they seem fairly even.  At mile 5 I slowed down for a short time to open a pack of of Clif Shot Bloks, which I tried out for the first time.  I had two then and one more at mile 8.

The only negative thing about this run is that my stomach felt way more upset than usual afterward.  I don’t think it was the Shot Bloks.  Well, they definitely wouldn’t be the only culprit.  I really think I need to get more serious about both hydration and what I am eating during the week, which I hope to expand on in further posts.

This week is a ‘stepback’ week, so my long run will only be 7 miles and my total mileage will be  around 18 miles (same as this week due to skipping the one 3 mile run).  Hard to believe that after that I only have one more long run until the half marathon.  So excited for fall race season to begin!

Regaining Momentum

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

So it has been about a month since I updated here.  Shocking.  I think I wonder so much about what to do with this space and how it really fits in with anything else that I just end up neglecting it altogether.  Unfortunately a familiar pattern of thought right there.  I know I need to stop thinking so much about  how I fit in this world and what others think of me, and I have to a large extent.  Trust me.  However, I still admittedly have some growth to do in that area.

One of the main things I wanted to write about here is my race training.  As mentioned previously, I am running a half marathon on September 16th (less than a month away!) and have been training for it during much of this summer.  I actually switched over to a marathon training plan (Hal Higdon Novice 1) when the timing was right to line up with the half.  So currently I am in week #5 of this plan with the intention of then running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18th.  This will mean cutting out week #17 of the Higdon plan (sorry Hal!).  Of course in true me fashion I haven’t actually signed up for the full marathon yet, but I am planning to finalize that by Labor Day Weekend.  I even purchased Hal Higdon’s Marathon and thought about opening it up and giving it a read a few times.  Serious business!  Truthfully, I’m just lazy when it comes to reading anything that isn’t a magazine these days.  Attention span, where are you?

My longest run far was Saturday’s nine miles, which was a bit of a struggle.  I feel like a lot of this was mental as my actual pace wasn’t at all off with my normal pace for long runs , though I slowed a bit.  I also didn’t get out until near noon.  While this weekend the temps were actually quite pleasant, I feel like I would have had a better run if I weren’t out during the hotter point of the day.  The reason why I think a lot of it was mental was due to how much talking to myself I had to do and the fact that the lat mile was so incredibly easy once I realized it was the last.  My last long run of 8 miles two weekends before was not at all like this, though the pace and run itself was quite similar.

My goal time for the half is under 2:15, which the trusty McMillan Running Calculator tells me is totally possible.  And in my mind and body I think this is totally possible as well.  My goal for the full would be 4:45, which the McMillan Calculator also tells me is possible.  However, more realistically I do have a B goal of just finishing in under 5 hours.  I won’t lie though, I wish I could go by the Oprah standard of 4:29.  I mean I feel like I should be as fit as Oprah was when she ran the MCM, but I am sure that is based on somewhat faulty judgement.  I’m no Oprah and my current training times do not indicate that this is a goal I should be setting for myself at this point.  We’ll see.  For now I would be thrilled with under 4:45 as I am still a bit intimidated by 26.2.

Anyway, hopefully I will have much more to add in coming days.  I really think actively blogging will help me in various ways.  My life and my attitude about it is changing and evolving so much  lately, but there is also a lot of anxiety and fear that needs to be dealt with as well.  I guess I just need to keep reminding myself of this:



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