Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A glutton for punishment???

So I'm miserable today.......home sick......watching the snow starting to come naturally I start looking ahead to the future......

Looks like I just registered for the ING Hartford Marathon on October 13th......


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Back from the cruise...back to school...and the other shoe has dropped...

Hi all......finally back from vacation (which was amazing!), but picked up a nasty little cold on the last day and that's the "other shoe" to which I've referred.  I've been so lucky through my marathon training thus far.....doing my best to not get injured as the weekly mileage starts to increase.......and trying my best to avoid picking up any flu or colds along the way.  As an 8th-grade teacher, I work in a germ kids expose me to everything, so the fact that I've made it this far is a bit of a victory.  Still, on the last night of our cruise, I started to feel a bit of that tell-tale drip.....and by the time our last flight touched down in Boston around 10pm, I knew it was only going to get worse.  Sure enough, Sunday was a bit bad, but by yesterday it really started to bloom.  Now I've got to hope this goes away as quickly as it came, so I can get back to serious training!

So the vacation was awesome.......the cruise was wonderful fun, the weather was terrific, and I was actually able to train a bit.  The "running track" on the ship was useless......clogged with geriatric walkers, people smoking, and deck chairs, so I spent most of my time on one of the lower decks.  It was definitely an odd place to run, as I quickly named it "Lifeboat Alley", as all of the lifeboats were directly overhead....

Our boat, the MSC Poesia, was terrific.....not the biggest cruise ship working the Caribbean, but definitely big enough for we are at the dock in St. Thomas, VI.

One of my favorite parts of any vacation is being able to indulge my passion for photography, and being able to capture the sunrise as we were pulling into San Juan harbor was truly special!

In addition, I managed to get a great picture of my biggest beautiful wife Barbara and our son they are on the ferry to the lovely island of St. John, VI.

 I could add literally hundreds of pictures, but this is my running blog, not my photography blog, but I need to at least add these additional pics.  Old San Juan is a photographer's dream....loads of beautiful old buildings painted in a rainbow palette of pastels, each with unique, beautiful wrought iron reminiscent of so many buildings in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

And then there's the water.....OMG, the color of the water is amazing.  In particular, some of the pics I got as we pulled into the harbor in Nassau, Bahamas are beyond belief....see for yourself!

Now I'm back home.....with only a few short weeks before Boston.  Got the official confirmation from the is really going to happen!  That's about all for now.  I need to get to bed to try to lose my cold.  We're expecting a snow storm tomorrow but it's supposed to be back in the 50's again by the weekend, so I should be able to get out for my 13 miles on Sunday....providing I can breathe!

Friday, February 17, 2012


So I'm going on a cruise......right in the middle of training for Boston, I'm going to take myself off the road and plunk myself down in the middle of the Caribbean.  According to my training schedule, I'm to run 17 tomorrow (not happening.....half the day on a plane down to Florida, then boarding the ship), followed by 18 next Saturday (again, with the flying...), so I'm going to have to re-work my schedule accordingly.

I know....I know.....Boo-Hoo for me........such a hardship......having to go on a Caribbean cruise.  But being a detail-oriented dude, and someone who NEEDS to follow a plan, this is throwing a bit of a monkey wrench right into the middle of everything.  There's no way I'm going to be able to complete those long runs on the "running track" on the ship...and I'm not going to go off on adventures by myself in port (St. Thomas, USVI, San Juan, PR, and somewhere in the Bahamas), and there's also no way in HECK I'm going to bang out 3-hour runs on the dreadmill, so I'm going to just have to get creative.

I feel like I've been pretty lucky so far with the training.  The "winter" we've been having here in Boston has been non-existent, which has made it REALLY easy for me to get my long runs in, as well as the occasional mid-week 7-8 miler after school.  My health has been excellent, and other than the normal aches and pains of trying to get this near-middle aged body into marathon condition, I've had no injuries.  Chalk that up to training smarter than last time..........and listening to my body better (going SLOWER....taking the occasional day off, etc...).  Either way, it's all been pretty good so far.  Naturally, none of this would be possible without the support and encouragement of my lovely bride of 10+ years, Barbara.  I may be running the marathon, but she's actually running it with me......maybe not on course, but in so many other ways.  I'm so conscious of the time I spend training....those hours really start to pile up, and that's time I'm away from her.  In addition, our son Benjamin is also a big part of Team Fine.  He's not a runner.....then again, when I was a kid, neither was I........but he thinks it's "cool" that his dad is running the Boston Marathon.  He also thinks I'm fast.......and I guess that will be true until he can run faster than me......which will probably be too soon!  He was there when I ran my first marathon, but he was only 6 at the time and not quite as aware of what all was going on.  When I turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston on April 16th, my 8 year old "mini me" will be with his mom somewhere nearby, cheering like crazy for me.........I'd better stop thinking about that or I'll start getting emotional again...

So I'm off on a wonderful vacation with my family.......running will be a part of it, but just a part.  It's mostly about the R&R and some wonderful family time together.......hope to do some snorkeling and soak up some Caribbean warmth!    Can't wait to go..........

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ok, so I ran today.....

I didn't print off a "Run For Sherry" bib, but she was definitely in my thoughts as I headed out.  The idea of someone going out for a run and never returning is terrifying......these sorts of things should never happen anywhere or to anyone, but unfortunately we simply cannot take anything for granted anymore.  I always make sure to hug and kiss my wife and son before I leave for a run.....not because I expect something bad to happen, but you just never know.....

Today was one of those days when you could tell right away that it was going to be a bit of a slog.  The day was chilly (not BONE-CHILLING cold, but cold enough....thick, damp air), overcast, breezy, and with just a hint of snow in the air.  Nothing was sticking, but it was coming down for the entire time I was out.  As soon as I started out, however, it was clear it wasn't going to be a particularly good run.  It just felt that my body was "locked" usually takes me about 2 miles to loosen up and start to feel good, but there was never a time when I felt like I could just go....things just stayed tight.

I was scheduled to go 13, but I knew that 3 loops of my normal training route would have me end up somewhere between 14 and 16, depending upon how many "extras" I dialed in over the course of the run.  Normally, I see several people out running, but there was nobody out there today but me......again, it really wasn't that bad outside, but I think the forecast scared people off and got them to change their plans. As for me, I'm starting to get the mindset that unless I'm sick, I'm Coach Bowerman said "there's no such thing as bad weather, only soft people!".  It's in my nature to be "soft", so I definitely had something to prove!

I was ready to quit by the end of the 2nd loop.....ok, I was ready to quit before I got to the end of my street after leaving the driveway, but I wasn't going to give in.  As I left for the 3rd loop, I was adding in plenty of walk breaks......trying to get my average speed down.  Someday, I'm going to figure out how to actually RUN's not that I run fast by any means, but the only way I can get my average to be more than 10:00/mile (short of actually running a marathon!) is to have walk breaks every few minutes.  I think my ability to slow my pace is improving every day, but I still feel the need to go even slower, although the idea of doing my long runs at about 1:00/mile slower than marathon pace is something I haven't quite been able to do yet......I think I just need to get over how slow that actually is!

Anyway, I did finally finish my run....14.36 miles at about 10:19/mile.  Definitely a slow ride, but it actually felt good to do it.  I spent so much time fighting myself throughout the run that it felt like a victory just to do it.  I don't like working so hard, but there are times when it's just what you have to do to get it done!

So now I've got one more week before we're off on our big vacation.  My parents are taking my family on a Caribbean cruise for the February vacation week.  Barb and I would not normally go cruising, but we're going into it with an open mind and we're really looking forward to it.  I'm not sure how I'm going to work on my training while on a cruise ship, as I'm scheduled to do 17 miles the first day of the cruise.....that ain't happening!  They do have a nice gym on the boat, but I can't really go any longer than 7 miles on a dreadmill, so I might have to try to run on deck.  Flexibility is going to be the key, as I'm on vacation with my family, so I'm going to have to work out a new plan.

Any of you have any experience with running while on a cruise?

Time to go!!!

34 degrees.....very light snow's time to run!

Blog ya later!  :>)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not on course....

So I just got an email to tell me that my charity team is not going to be running on the Boston Marathon course tomorrow due to the impending snowstorm that's heading our way......bummer!   I was getting psyched for another crack at the Newton hills.....

I'm still going to get my 13 miles in tomorrow.......but it will be local instead.  While there are hills out here in the western suburbs of Boston, they aren't quite the same as Heartbreak.  I know I'll get at least one more shot at those hills before really running the 'thon, so I'm not going to worry about it. 

According to Boston.Com, we're in the 4-6" band for tomorrow, but it's not supposed to really come down until 10am, so if I get out early, I might miss the heavy stuff......although it might make my run more EPIC if I get out in some heavy snow, so we'll see.  Considering what a ridiculously mild winter it's been here, I've only had one run in the snow, and even that was REAAAAAALLLLLYYYYY light, so it might be fun to have a experience!

I'll let you know how it worked out!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another date with my mistress, Dreadmillia.....

and she is a cruel mistress indeed.....

I had a great teaching day was actually a half-day, but after filling out my students' high school course request forms, we were able to do some reviewing for their test tomorrow on the American Revolution.  They had some great questions and we were able to defuse a lot of stress.  Then, after school, I ran another review session and probably had 30 of my 115 students show up for extra help.  Mostly, it ends up with me providing reassurance that they already know what they need to know, but then again, the part of my job that I enjoy most is when I'm functioning like a coach before a big game.....the players have had great practices, they know the playbook backwards and forwards, and they're chomping at the bit for the game to start.  So all that's left for me (Coach) to do is focus their energies, give 'em the motivational pregame speech, and send 'em out to get started.

I've prepared my students well, they've studied and reviewed......they're ready.  Now all that's left is for them to take the test!

By the time I got out of school, though, it was nearly 4:30 and already starting to get dark, so my plan to run 7 miles outside was not going to happen.  That meant I was heading to my gym to meet up with my mistress.....D.  She's always there, anytime I need her........but I really hate needing her the way I do at times.

After doing a little math to figure out the pace I wanted to hit (was shooting for 9:40/mile, or roughly 6.2mph), I jumped on D, pushed her buttons, and started her up.  The miles started to add up and I began to notice all the people who were coming and going on both sides of me.  As I usually only ride her for 30-40 minutes at a time, this was going to be roughly twice as long as usual, so there was more time to observe.  People have a variety of different habits on treadmills, but I think my favorite is the "towel drape over the display" technique.....I'm never sure if the plan is to not be distracted by the numbers or if it's to prevent others from looking.  I know that, at least for me, I like to see the display, but that's just me.

Anyway, 68 minutes later, I was done with D......drenched in sweat, spent from the exertion, feeling both satisfied and empty at the same time......wondering just how much longer I can maintain this relationship.  I've got less than 10 weeks until Boston, so I'll no doubt be coming back to D several times.......

On the fundraising side, my colleagues and several members of my chorus took me over the top last night....I'm so thrilled with the response that I've gotten from everyone who's contributed.  I started out the process so worried that nobody would help out, and it turned out that lots of people wanted to.....leaves me now feeling VERY grateful and supported.  When the miles start getting tough during training, I'm going to think about all those donors, and my steps will no doubt become lighter.....and on Marathon Monday, they'll be the tailwind pushing me to Boston!

Once again, the link to my fundraising page is below.....I apologize if the hyperlink isn't coming through, but y'all can just copy and paste it into your browser window to take you there......

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jitters...followed by a nice run.

Dear Readers,
If you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a little time to go a little off-topic.......wait a minute, this is MY blog, so I can pretty much do whatever I want, right? here goes!  :>)

I had a jittery moment earlier today, brought on by a tiny opportunity to do a little public speaking.  During our monthly faculty meeting at my school, I had asked for and was granted a minute to mention my charity running efforts to my fellow faculty members.  When it became obvious that I was about to be asked to briefly address my colleagues, I suddenly felt my pulse start to jump and my stomach get a little tight.  At the same time, I also started to laugh at the absurdity of my nervousness.  After all, I'm a teacher.......I spend the better part of each and every working day speaking in front of people.  Granted, those people are teenagers, but it's still a form of public speaking.  When I'm running a lesson, I know what I'm doing and I'm in control, but any time I get up in front of other teachers, I get a little nervous.

My colleagues were great.....they actually applauded when I mentioned that I'm running the Boston Marathon.  As much as I tend to downplay the effort, I think many people are awed by the idea of running a marathon, so I was pleasantly surprised by their response.  As I've been making my way through the fundraising, I've been sensitive to avoid pestering my co-workers.....I mean, I've asked them to contribute, but haven't really hit them over the head with it.  I've tried to go through our school email system, messages on Facebook, but what really worked (as it did with everyone else, as well), was a personal email.  I was surprised to find this out, as I figured that everyone who's on Facebook is actually ON Facebook, but I think some of us have more of an active online presence than others.  Once I sent personal emails, the donations really started to flow.

Which brings me to my faculty meeting today........once I made my little appeal for support, I sat back down and was immediately approached by a 6th-grade teacher who wrote out a check on the spot........another walked up and pressed a $20 bill into my hand......and yet another contributed online before the meeting was over.  Still another made an online donation this evening......all in all, my co-workers are just KILLIN' IT.......and I can't thank them enough.  Whatever nervousness I was feeling and had to work through to get the message out to everyone was clearly worth it.  By the end of this week, I will likely have met my minimum fundraising commitment!

And now, a brief detour back into running commentary........

This past weekend, I was scheduled to do a 15-mile long run on Saturday, but due to the way my week had worked out, the run was now going to take place on Sunday.......that being SUPER BOWL Sunday.....and my beloved New England Patriots were taking on the hated New York Giants.  So I figured a good long run would get my mind off the game and help me relax.  Sunday dawned beautiful but a little the time I got out around 11am, it was around 25 degrees.  I felt that I had my layering right, so I felt pretty comfortable once I got going.  My initial idea was to do 2 laps around one of my favorite routes here......plenty of hills.  Once on the backside of the route, it became clear to me that a second lap was going to be beyond my ability that instead of forcing it, I changed my plan to have the second lap be my normal daily running route......roughly 5 miles that feature gentle, rolling hills.  So what might have been 15-16 miles became 13.2 instead.  To which I respond "oh well".....I could have pushed it and regretted it later, but instead chose to truncate my mileage to "live and fight another day".

I don't mind running in the cold, but I don't like running in the dark.......ok, I don't run in the dark because I don't have all the necessary equipment for that kind of running, so if I get out of school too late, I'm off to the gym to hit the "dreadmill"...over the last few weeks, I've truly come to despise treadmill running......I used to be able to keep my brain occupied with a variety of things, but now I just get so bored so quickly that it makes every run seem like an eternity.  Ordinarily, I'd break up every treadmill run with short 9:30, walk 30 seconds.......and repeat.  Today, for grins and giggles, I thought I'd try to find a reasonable pace and just run........and I made it the full 40 minutes.  I impressed myself.......

My team is going to be out on the Boston Marathon course again this Saturday morning.....this time going from Natick to Kenmore Square.....roughly 15-16 miles.  Yet another chance to get familiar with the course, this time going through Wellesley (minus the Wellesley College girls!), into Newton, up and over the Newton Hills, past Boston College, and into Boston's going to be cold, but it's going to be fun to run on the course again.  I'm sure I'll have lots to blog about next time.....cya!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A day off.....

 I find it hard to believe that I didn't post after my long run this past weekend, because it was a really good run.........went over 15 miles, making it (again) the longest run I've done since I ran my marathon back in 2009.  I guess by now I should stop referring to each of these long runs as "the longest I've done since......", because each one going forward is going to be a new "longest run since.....".  So I'll stop.

But today was a different story.   I was supposed to run 7, but by the time I got home from school, I was just drained and not "feelin' it", so rather than push myself out the door, I gave myself the day off.  If I've realized nothing else, I've embraced the need to really get some quality rest to aid in the recovery process, and the past few nights weren't very restful.  By the time I woke up this morning, my neck was a little stiff and my legs felt a bit dead.  I guess I didn't want to admit it at the time, but as I was downing an ibuprofen with my morning coffee, I had an inkling that by the afternoon, I might not feel like gettin' out there.  I had a pretty good teaching day, but when I finally arrived home, I sat in my car in the driveway, listening to the radio.....and decidedly NOT jumping out to get changed for my run.

If ever there was a clear indicator of a lack of motivation, there it was!

So looking at the calendar, and realizing that Boston is still more than 70 days away, I gave myself license to slide my training schedule one day to the right.....this way, I'll have something good to do before the Super Bowl on Sunday....getting out for another 15-miler.

Ok, so I got "tagged" by Trying to find my running mojo again to do one of those "11 Random Things About You" dealies, so here goes.......

1. How old were you when you started running?
I was an ancient 45 years old

2. What motivated you to start running?
After losing 100 pounds, I was finally able to run.....and wanting to continue the weight loss and KEEP it off, running just seemed like the perfect exercise for me.  And then it became WAY more than just a way to exercise....

3. Do you ever catch any flack from friends/family if you look at your running schedule before you say "Yes" to plans.
My ever-lovin' wife has been amazingly accomodating to me.....but in reality, when I'm not training for a marathon, it's usually pretty easy to work around my plans.

4. If $ were no problem, what race would you love to do, where & why?

While I can't imagine ever being able to run the distance in the allotted time, the Comrades Marathon in South Africa would be a pretty amazing experience.

5. What is the biggest mistake you've ever done in a race?

I've never really made a mistake in a race.....I'm too damn slow to make mistakes!  LOL

6. If you were told you had to choose between cake & ice cream OR running, which would you choose & why?
I'd choose much as I love cake and ice cream, I've already had to choose to make the changes necessary to overcome obesity and live a healthier life.  I can't say I'd be happy to have to make the choice, but I think I could do it......but really, who wants to live without ice cream???   

7. Which do you prefer, running in groups or alone? 

I tend to do most of my running and training alone.....I actually prefer groups, but I almost always end up getting dropped, so I still end up alone.

8. Which celebrity would you run with living or dead?
Steve Prefontaine........George Washington...........Martin Luther King, Jr.

9. If you've completed a marathon, how long do you typically wait to run again?
Well, I've only run 1 marathon so it's a really small sample size, but I took a week off.  It was too soon to start again, so it's a mistake I won't make after running Boston this April!

10. Which seasons are your favorite & least favorite to run?
That's easy.....I enjoy warm weather, so I'd say that summer is my favorite season, with winter tending to be my least favorite, although this wonderfully mild winter has made it easier to run.

11. What is your favorite sport to participate/watch other than track/running related sports? 
Hard to choose between football and baseball......