Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ready or Not

Ready or not, it's happening tomorrow morning. Even if it goes terribly, I cannot blame the Altra The One2 shoes. Best road shoes on the market.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fault Lines

In the middle of a regular training cycle, my little pains and niggles become normal, daily creaks. First steps on the cold wood floor shoot electricity up my calves. Hips are sucked-in tight knots.

Now that I am waiting to race, a week into my first part of a taper, I'm finding these new pains concerning. Tiring. I question whether it is normal delayed onset soreness or could it be that tiny micro-tears have split along the fault lines, becoming full fledged ruptures. One more week, that's all I need to get through, then I can take a little time off. 

A little time off sounds nice.

Into these guys the last few days. 
Future Islands

Sunday, October 19, 2014

And then there was no maintenance...

With my sore foot weighing on me, I decided to rest this weekend before my last two-week push into the race. I guess I should use the word "rest" lightly as it felt like I was doing burpies with 30lbs of kid on my back all day. No such thing as laziness with these two kids.

Now the foot feels good. Time to clear the webs make the final two weeks a good one.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

There is no training now, there is only maintenance

While I wanted to run today, I was reminded by a random tweet out there from the interwebs that said you have to remember to respect the training plan. Nothing more will be made from anything within these last few weeks. Rest, heal, train mentally. Meditate. Eat well. Sleep when you can.

You can't fix the gaps in your training plan in the last few days leading up to your race. Your earlier failures can't be corrected. I wish I could go back and correct them.

I wish I could, but I can't.

This helps get me through the doldrums.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The End of Training

I spent some time today planning a long run that wouldn’t have too much elevation change in preparation for the NYC Marathon in a few weeks. As I curved the course up and down local streets on the map, I thought to myself, “is the race two weeks away or three?” After reviewing the calendar and cross-checking it against my training plan, I realized that I was off by a week.

My 18 mile race last weekend was really my last all-out long effort. For this weekend, I could trend it down into a more taper-ish 10 to 12 mile long effort.

This revelation felt nice because it meant I did not have to go through all the gear/water planning. I didn’t have to timidly mention to my wife that I would need to disappear for three hours (or more), and then spend the rest of the day massaging my thighs while bouncing kids and eating everything in front of me.

Normally, I devote a significant amount of stress time to long-run planning and post-run guilt-ridden failure management. Usually, it’s plans for back-to-back efforts that turn into half-distances or dropped runs due to kids, errands, life. Now, I’m going into the weekend stressing about wanting to run (see planning above) while knowing that I should rest the pins and get ready for big things.

My foot has been a disaster in the build up to this race, so I should be happy with the recoup time to try to sort this out.

You would think.

But none of this is easy for me. The only time I’m truly at peace with myself as a “runner” is when I’m out there running. The before, the after. That’s the tough stuff. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Needs Salt

Limping across the line at the LBI 18 Mile Run
I will eventually get around to completing a full race report for the running of the 41st Annual Long Beach Island 18 Mile Run. I have been putting thoughts together on this for the last few days. In the meantime, I thought I would try to capture one important lesson learned around mile 14 of this long, straight race.

I hear often that you should never experiment during a race; that it is not the time to try something new. This is what long training runs are for. Test your nutrition, break in your shoes, see that a pair of shorts holds up and does not chafe around your sensitive bits.

What I did not consider going into this one were the things (or one thing in particular) I do regularly on long runs that I left out of my race day plan.

I sweat when I run; a lot when it is hot and/or sunny. I also tend to lose a lot of salt, with dried residue on my face, clothes, etc. After suffering through a hot 50k last year, I learned to carry S!Caps to help replenish the salts I’m losing to ultimately assist my body in water absorption. When I start to feel sloshing in my gut, I know I have waited too long.

The LBI race was not hot, but it was straight and exposed to a constant sun. Around mile 10, I wiped my brow and felt a sandpaper-like grit across my face. By mile 14 I was getting electric shocks through my right hamstring. Everything else felt good and my nutrition and hydration was right on.

But I forgot the salt. As I staggered on I knew the cramping was going to get worse until it would force me to stop a few times and stretch the legs. For anyone who has not had this type of cramping before, it is an interesting experience. The pain I can take. It’s the locked, seized muscles that I find hard to maneuver.

I limped this one in having to slow down considerably over the last few miles.

Lesson learned the hard way. Carry salt. While I will always hope I do not have to use it, there will be comfort in knowing that it is there when I do.

Little Joy - The Next Time Around

Saturday, October 11, 2014


We woke up to what we knew would be a long, long rainy day. We packed up the kids and headed down to the beach so that they could move their miserableness to a different house.

After checking in for the Long Beach Island 18 Mile Run I found the chance to get out for a quick shake-out 4 miles. Loosened up quickly and felt decent enough, but the foot pain was there. I guess there is no hiding from this running issue.

So... I'll load up a few bottles of my maple syrup, salt, and water mix, throw on my Altras and head out down the long, straight road. I will be looking to find an even pace that I can sustain for as long as possible and see how it all plays out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Waiting to Race

I've been dormant for a while now. No blogging, dipping well below the surface on social media. I chose some sort of sulky silence over the constant sharing.

I'm in the final weeks of waiting to race and it hasn't been easy. For all the reasons shared over the last two years (plus a few more), I have not been able to train the way I initially planned. At some point I'll publish my thoughts on killing a few summer races so that I could focus on my big one - The New York City Marathon.

I've had niggling injury problems in my foot that have forced me to train hard(ish), then recoup for a few days at a time. Then add up all of life's little stresses and it started to load up until the big system broke down. That has been my last few weeks. Immunity issues that have meant focused pain, creaky joints and frequent headaches. 

Overall, I've allowed myself to rest when I need to, train hard when the tank felt full. Last weekend I got out for a hilly, decent paced 18 miler that gave me just the right amount of confidence to know that I can make it through the race and probably enjoy the experience. It won't be as fast as I would have liked, but it probably won't be as painful either, which would have been the case had I not eased up when the moment called for it.

My plan is to put some discipline into this site and blog my way into this race. I've worked a long time to build enough of a base that would allow me to get out for long runs whenever the need called to me. I might as well capture all of it as I go into this big event.

Next up, The Long Beach Island 18 miler in two days. Long, straight, and fast. Should be interesting.

I've been digging this lately.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From Gear Junkie: Side by Side Comparison of the Altra Lone Peak

From Gear Junkie, a great comparison of the Altra Lone Peak trail shoe.

I've been running in Lone Peak 1.5's for over a year now and am not yet settled with the fact that I will have to move on. It might be time for me to give the 2.0 a test.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dirtbag Envy

Reading AJW's post on called Dirtbag Envy: A Midsummer Night's Dream, I found myself stuck on this passage:
"And that is what I admire and respect about these modern day vagabond dirtbags. These folks who drift from race to race, mountain to mountain, campground to campground. In the absence of small annoyances like jobs, mortgages, student loans, and car payments, these folks can truly ‘run free.’ They can control their lives on their terms and do what they love, day after day, as long as they want to. They truly are, living the dream."
As I sat on a disabled train this morning doing the math on a commute that was moving north of 2 hours one-way, I thought about the tent, pads, bags that sit collecting dust in my garage. This article comes up shining its light on the manic feeling I've had the last few weeks.

Definitely suffering from some dirtbag envy here.

Envy? More like borderline resentment. Every mountaintop lake instagram, every tweet about bubbling brooks burns me up.

I might start sleeping in the backyard.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Remembering Why We Do Some of the Things We Do Which Are Not Always Fun

Today marks the five year anniversary of the passing of James Conlon. He was a good friend. The best from a time when I had many good friends. There for me when I most needed one. I've made a point to try to contemplate James every day since I got the phone call.

I was just home from work, assisting with our newborn deep into "witching hour" howling. James and I hadn't seen each other much since Roman was born. A few quick post-work drinks and one (now) very important visit so he could hold my little guy. We spoke on the phone occasionally and emailed frequently. I knew he was feeling some sort of sickness but couldn't work out what it was. He was back and forth with his doctors but ultimately couldn't find the cause. Then it was over.

This is meant to be a running blog. Stories of my troubles and travails on the road and trail. Challenges around managing goals, training, family, work. It feels weird to write about James here now.

Running is not straightforward for me. It is not always enjoyable. Occasionally I find a moment of success. Every so often I run into an epiphany (though I'm not really fond of the term), but rarely does it come easy. In the act of running I find that I am continually searching. Rarely do I discover anything. When I do happen to stumble upon something of meaning in the run, I can usually point to the moment and say "there was where I discovered something about myself"... but I probably couldn't tell you any more than that. So I go back out again. It is a cycling, never ending exploration.

It was James' death that ultimately sent me down this path.

His passing scared the shit out of me. It was too unexpected. He was too healthy and important to too many people. Me with a new baby boy and all I could think about was that I wasn't a piece of the man he was. I was not healthy. I knew that I had wasted years on nonsense. It took a little while before I started to let the fears creep in that something was lurking below the surface. Out of my control. Some illness, an impending breakdown. Questions about purpose. I could not push it away.

So I started running again. Running hard at something off in the distance, away from things in the past.

When James died I found it easy to pull away from anything that included him. I regret it now. I wasn't moving on, more moving away. Searching. Now after five years, I'm happy that the act of remembering James can continue to inspire me to endure and go on with my exploration. To keep at it.

Keep running.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The next training block

After a pretty stirring fall in a race last weekend (report to come) I decided on a self-imposed week off from running to clear my head and heal my wounds.

Now I'm ready to jump into my last training block before the Wildcat 50k in early August. Three 10.7 mile loops through a pretty jagged and rocky stretch of woods. As I remember it from last year each loop had about 7 miles of runnable terrain with around 3.5 miles of misery in the middle.

So this time I'm taking a slightly different approach to my training plan and data tracking. I'm throwing mileage out the window and focusing on time on my feet and ascent/descent, with planned tempo, steep hiking/repeats, long slow stuff, and some (very) occasional speed work. My plan is to do the next few weeks around 4 to 5 hours, getting up to a few weeks in the 7 to 8 hour range.

I'm going to be standing at work, walking as much as possible, and when I can I will clench my butt while doing mental sit-ups.

I left a part of me on that course last year. I'm looking to get it back if I can.

Even my 5-year old is beating me up the climbs.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Year of Racing Terribly (Part 2)

Came home from work today to chaos.

One of my little guys is slowly recovering from a recent bug (see last post) and had a bit of a set-back. My other little guy has recently developed a bug bite induced wound on his foot that now needs to be treated and tended to. He has a doctors visit at the time of my race.

I thought about downgrading due to my lack of fitness and general instability around recent training. Now I might need to scrap the whole thing.

Not feeling the running vibes right now.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Year of Racing Terribly (or nearly not at all)

I write this having been up for 20+ hours tending to my son in a household ravaged by some vicious little stomach bug. I haven't had time to think about it yet, but I believe I may be fighting the thing as well. And I have a race in a few days.

I feel desperately unprepared for this one. I have miles in my legs but not enough. I have hills that have worn me out and made me stronger, but I question if I've gone high enough. Have I gone hard enough? I'm pretty sure that I have not.

Running provides a much needed outlet for me, a time and place where I can turn off the noise of the world and breath in mental silence. Not every run is a good one physically, but they have all been useful (even the really bad ones) psychologically, spiritually.

But it can sometimes lose it's impact when it is clouded by the guilt around my sometimes not being able to reach my own expectations... set around race specific training and usually the races themselves. This alone can push me to depression when running is supposed to be the thing that guards me from it.

I start to wonder and obsess on how others do it. How do they commute, work, commit time and energy to their families and still find time to be the best they can possibly be athletically. It can get lonely not being able to figure this out.

I'm blessed to have the support of one of the best shoe companies in the market. And I feel guilty for having the opportunity to represent them. Being a part of the Altra Ambassadors allows me to be inspired by a fantastic team of enthusiastic explorers, but sometimes their endeavors and successes make me feel less than.

I haven't trained as much as I would like. I won't make excuses about that. I have barely raced, but hope to pick that up as we go into the summer. I have races on the calendar including a late entry into the NYC Marathon.

I want to turn the year around. I think I may need many more long, quiet runs to figure out how.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Two restorative runs over the last two days have helped to pull me back from my recent bout of running malaise.

Yesterday's run was a quick warm-up to the base of a powerline hill that cuts directly up through the woods to a ridge line. The climb averages around 30% grade. And for me, with no mountains to speak of in this area of the east coast, this hill presents a huff and puff challenge.

I ran up it with all the steam I had. When my stride started to break and hiking would be the quicker option, I transferred to hands-on-thighs power walking.

Got the top, caught my breath for a few seconds then it was a tear-ass back down the slope to do it all again. A few more times and I felt like I had washed myself off. I felt whole again.

I read somewhere recently a line that went something like "you have to go further to discover more." With my running it is pain and the ability to push through it. Too many of the same runs recently have left me feeling like my training was going nowhere, falling flat. I was learning nothing new about myself.

Challenge myself a few times and I feel like it's all coming back to me. Now I want to race again.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Running to get somewhere

It's not often that I get the chance to run as a means of transportation, to simply get from one place to another under my own power.

Usually, I drive to a trailhead, run around for awhile, ending up back at my car. Then I drive home.

From the house, its ever changing loops that take me through new neighborhoods, new towns. But I always end up back in my driveway panting, hands on my knees. Right where I began.

Worse is the dreaded treadmill downstairs. There I claw my way through miles staring at an earth toned-wall twenty inches in front of my face. I will time to move faster so I can get to my predetermined point of accomplishment. There is no physical travel. Just some lit up numbers on a dashboard. When I'm done I turn it off. I've gone nowhere.

But on occasion I remind myself that I can commute by running. At least part of the way. I remember that I can carry my gear in my GoLite pack, change at work before I head out, and get creative with how I get home.

During a treadmill run last night, I was attempting to plan my run for the next day. No matter which way I chopped it, I couldn't come up with the time to get my miles in. Then I remembered. Get off the train a few stops early and run it home. I'm pleased with myself when I can problem solve life's tougher issues.

So I commuted part of the way home with the rest of the workforce. I sat there in synthetic fabrics feeling exposed in my shorts. I always find it awkward getting off a train full of commuters and leaving the station. When do I start running? Right off the train or do I wait until I get to the street?

While others are beginning their short walks to their cars, I tear off out the doors and bound down the road.

There are a lot of runners in my area. Early mornings, post-work dusk runs, those doing their "work from home" lunchtime loops. Everybody understands these people and the madness, the compulsions that push them out every day, rain or shine.

I found today on my commute home that people do not get someone leaving a train to run a distance with a full pack on ones back, with the simple purpose of getting home. I got strange looks and confused stares. Even runners I passes looked confused. It must have been the pack. Why would he be running with a pack?

I like running to get somewhere. It makes sense to me.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Not Doing It

Not running can be overwhelming. Frustrating. 

After my recent long night run a few days back coupled with endless days of business travel, I've been forced to take some some time off from running. Not planned, just not happening.

I know that I should be developing the habit. I try. It's just not that easy.

Stared at some mountains out of the airplane window. Inspiring, but only passed over them, not really experienced.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


With the realization that our rough winter might now be coming to a close, I spent some time this morning thinking about how I've been doing too many runs on the treadmill, too many hours staring at the wall.

This morning, after a short pre-dawn run (on the mill), I spent some quiet time sitting on the floor reflecting. I had a brief few moments remaining between a cold shower and the time when both boys start calling.

I breathed over and over listening as the air move in my nose, out my mouth. I heard the house creak and birds wake. I studied the quiet in my head. 
I came to a realization. 

I generally run on the treadmill because of time constraints, inclement weather, what seems like constant darkness, and sometimes laziness. I have lost something in this transition. On the treadmill I have to work with necessary coping mechanisms to manage the tedium. I wear headphones. I cover the screens with a shirt so I don't gasp through each dot on the little LCD track in front of me. I count songs and segments on podcasts. I'm not lost in the serenity of the activity. I'm hyper-aware of each step, each little movement of time. I have separated myself from the quiet. 

Remove the faint rhythms of feet on trail and the cadence of breath and I lose a significant part of what gets me through this day. Or the next one. Or the next week.

Without me even realizing it I've altered my meds, changing the running chemicals and dosages that keep me balanced in other areas of my life. I need to change this.

Spring is here. It's time to clear out the webs and begin that search again for those blissful quiet moments.

Why did no one tell me about these guys?

Friday, March 7, 2014

From - That One Hill

I have my hill. That one hill. It is boring and it is long and I've run it more times in the last year than I can count. I will run it a few hundred more times. I think I'm starting to like it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Resolution

It's been a while since I written anything on the blog but I just decided that I'm going to pound a new running resolution into my thick, forgetful head.

Take more pictures on my runs.

I never do it, even though I usually carrying my phone and generally love taking photos of everything. I tell myself that to stop, to slow down disrupts the run. What about my time, my averages?

These things do not always matter.

So, I'm going to force myself to stop every now and then and capture what I'm finding out there. It's a way to celebrate the fact that I get to run. I get to see new things each and every time I'm out there.