May 2015 – Month in review

May - Nike+ Sumary

May – Nike+ Summary

142 miles during May. As you look at my monthly stats you will notice that there were a lot of rest days but that’s not the whole story. It’s been a busy month.

At the beginning of May my wife and I ran the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon. We had been looking forward to this race weekend for a long time (we had signed up last September) and we included a family trip as part of our race weekend. It was a lot of fun. The race was great and we had a good time showing the boys around my wife’s alma mater (University of Pittsburgh).

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

After some recovery from the race and the trip I rested up a little more than normal as I undertook my first (unofficial) ultra-marathon where I ran ‘Goofy in a Day’ for the charity organization ‘Give Kids The World’. This was effectively the two days we ran at Disney rolled into one day and was the distance of the half marathon and the full marathon combined. It was a great experience and I was fortunate to have a couple of folks separately run about 12 miles with me. This definitely helped get over some of the tougher miles. My fellow Mickey Miler team-mate Tammy drove up and ran 9 miles with me which took me over the 20 mile mark and marathon distance and then a I co-opted a colleague who was running to join me and pace me for a few miles when I was into the 30s.

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

Goofy In A Day

I was astonished at my actual time/pace for the day. I’m not sure I would rush to undertake such a challenge again too soon but ultimately I raised $1,500 for ‘Give Kids The World’ and brought my fundraising through running total to $13,000 over the last few years for both Autism Speaks and Give Kids The World. I’m quite proud of that fact.

I am a brand ambassador INKnBURN apparel and on May 4th this year they offered a secret product that you had to sign up for sight unseen. The hint was that it was May 4th (when people celebrate Star Wars day) so I threw caution to the wind and purchased this mystery item and waited for my package to arrive. When it did it was “O.M.G!!!!!! I’m hyper(space) ventilating”. It was a full sleeve Boba Fett t-shirt!!! Although my wife thinks I said I was bald and fat…and she calls me a Trekkie. I still love her though. I also love my INKnBURN. So proud to be an ambassador.

Boba Fett

My INKnBURN Boba Fett shirt

Now, getting back to that 142 mile image up at the top, since I started this blog I have always used the Nike+ image to start each monthly review. With the Pittsburgh Marathon over and the Goofy in a Day done I am now able to concentrate on my summer goal of completing my first triathlon (New Jersey State Triathlon). Some of my running days are now being replaced or supplemented with biking and swimming. Swimming is where I need to most work so I am trying to concentrate on that skill set the most for the time being. In regards to biking, I typically only get out during the summer months and then only at weekends. Well, we managed to rectify this situation this month by setting up a gym at home.

Both my wife and I have long commutes to and from our places of work and with the activities for the kids it is getting harder and harder to get to the gym before or after work. As both of us are training for the Marine Corps Marathon this October we are both needing to get our miles in at the same time. Typically I go out in the dark with a headlamp before dawn but I didn’t want my wife to be outside at those hours so we finally purchased a treadmill for the home (a NordicTrack Commercial 1750) so she can run inside when I run outside in the early morning hours. We also now have the flexibility to jump on the treadmill when the boys are in bed or when one of us is travelling for business and the other has to stay home with the boys.

A trip to the Home Depot was required

A trip to the Home Depot was required to set up the base for each machine

The end result - our private workout space

The end result – our private workout space

So as I cleared out my office to make way for the new machine (we figure after 17 marathons combined it is more than a fad) I decided to also set up a bike trainer so I could get some bicycle time in during the week. So far so good. Together this has allowed me to do a couple of brick workouts (bike to treadmill) in preparation for the triathlon in July. I’m also getting to the gym early enough to get around 30 minutes of swimming in a few times a week. I’m getting there…slowly, but still I can see some improvement. So now I cannot use the Nike app alone to recap the month. I use Garmin Connect to give me the ability to record all activities so its not just 142 miles this month but 171 miles. Again, pleased with this although I’m finding muscle groups I never thought I had. I am sure my body will get used to it. I hope so!!!

Garmin Connect - May 2015

Garmin Connect – May 2015

Garmin Connect - May 2015 detail

Garmin Connect – May 2015 detail

This Memorial Weekend we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. We had a great family weekend together with the boys at Sesame Place and we also took them to Philadelphia for a day at the Franklin Institute and tosee the Lion King before I had to jet off again to Arizona for business.

Celebrating at Sesame Place

Celebrating at Sesame Place

Enjoying the Lion King touring production in Philadelphia

Enjoying the Lion King touring production in Philadelphia

While in Arizona I took advantage of the unseasonably cool (for Arizona) temperatures and enjoyed some time exploring the area through running from my resort. It was a busy week with many hours sitting on planes and in airports but looking back it was a good trip that yielded some good work.

Taking in some of the sites

Taking in some of the sites

Exploring new areas to run

Exploring new areas to run

So May was a pretty busy month by both running, racing, home and business activities but was rewarding all around.

Thank you for reading.

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon – Race recap

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On May 3rd my wife and I ran the 2015 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This was my 12th full marathon and my wife’s 5th. I guess we are hooked at this point.

I had wanted to run this marathon for a couple of years. Each of the last two years clashed with either the New Jersey Marathon or the Broad Street Run. Both my wife and decided to forgo these options and we signed up last September for Pittsburgh when the race registration opened up. Between September last year and May this year we both ran the Baltimore Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon (and Goofy Challenge). I don’t think either of us had taken a break in training since last summer.

We decided to make this a family trip with our two boys as we had wanted to take them to Pittsburgh to show them where my wife had gone to college. She is an alum of Pittsburgh University and my wife and I hadn’t been in Pittsburgh toghether since 2003 and not yet with the boys. Originally we had planned to head out on the Friday afternoon and stay through Sunday but after the hotel debacle at the Baltimore Marathon last year we changed our reservation to arrive on the Saturday and stay through the Monday. At least we would have a place to shower post race! It was also going to be just the four of us on this trip so we had to find someone to look after the boys while we were running. I am thankful for the magic of Facebook and my wife’s connections.

I had been struggling with a back issue since March and so the day before the trip I booked an appointment with my chiropractor to ‘straighten me out’. I always get a realignment before a race but I somehow cannot seem to shift this current issue. So with the adjustment made I took it easy that day and tried to get a good nights sleep. I woke up on Saturday morning and I could barely stand. Not a good start to the weekend. Ahead of me was a 5 hour drive…

We started our day like a usual school day and were out the door around 7:30am. It was a beautiful day and there was little to no traffic for the journey. I was, to say the least, very uncomfortable. I couldn’t sit without pain. Everyone was asleep in the car and I was tossing around the idea of whether or not I would even start the next day. We pulled in at a rest stop after 3 hours to refuel and take a snack break with the boys. I did the best I could to move around and loosen up. Still no good. Oh well…only another 2 hours left to drive :-(

Finally we made it to Pittsburgh and we headed straight to the Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in the city. We parked as close as we could and headed in. I was still not feeling great. My plan was to find someone offering free massage at the Expo! Worth a try.

We have arrived at the expo

We have arrived at the Expo

Ready for the expo

Ready for the Expo

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Once inside we headed up to the Health and Fitness Expo

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Up these cool stairs to the Expo

The Expo itself was a decent size, there were three concurrent races going on after all (the full, the half and the marathon relay). There were lots of vendors and the room was pretty tight to maneuver. The bib and shirt pickup was on the right of the hall and the packet and race gear bag was on the opposite side…therefore you had to navigate through the Expo to get both. Clever!!!

We are here

We are here – Game On Pittsburgh

Bib pickup

Bib pickup

Shirt pickup. Green for the gents and pink for the ladies

Shirt pickup. Green for the gents and pink for the ladies

I ran ahead and got our gear bags while my wife stayed with the boys who were making cheer signs for us.

The little half of the cheer squad

The little half of the cheer squad

The big half of the cheer squad

The big half of the cheer squad

We then headed to look around the hall. We took turns down each aisle so the boys were being supervised. It was a big and crowded hall and although there was a small children’s area it only kept the boys occupied for so long. Finally when it was my turn to look I found someone demoing a TENS muscle stimulation machine. I sat right down and had the vendor attach the patches all over my back and cranked that sucker up. I made it about 10 minutes before I finally felt okay to move on. It did help a little.

We took the chance to explore the Expo. We saw the actual medal for the first time. Big and heavy. Hey, the slogan is ‘Runner of Steel’ for a reason you know. We also were able to find ourselves on the wall of entrants to the race. Cool.

Here it is. Tomorrow's reward

Here it is. Tomorrow’s reward

Wall of entrants

Wall of entrants

Hey, I know these people

Hey, I know these people

Bridge photo op!!!

Bridge photo op!!!

Official merchandise section

Official merchandise section

This was actually one of the first Expos where both my wife and I walked out empty handed. We were looking for a cool Pittsburgh Marathon souvenir but by the time we got to the Expo on Saturday afternoon there was no merchandise left save for a few baseball caps and some cotton tees. Disappointing to say the least. No mugs, cups, or anything similar. :-( At least I was able to move again.

We headed from the Expo to our hotel. We had booked at the Doubletree in Bigelow Square which was less than a mile from the starting area…and happened to also be less than a mile from the Expo. Wish I had known that before I threw the car in the expensive parking lot!!! A cool touch when arriving at the hotel was that if you told them you were checking in for the Marathon they provided you with a specially themed roomed key.

The hotel room keys were branded with the Marathon logo for guests

The hotel room keys were branded with the Marathon logo for guests

We set ourselves up in the room. I went to lay down for a rest after the long drive and the boys played in the room (we had a suite) while my wife went out for a walk around the area to scope things out. When she got back we got ready to meet up with an old college friend of hers for dinner. We took a trip out of the city and into the suburbs and met up with them at Bucca di Beppo in Robinson Town Center. It was a nice dinner and the friends had two children the same ages as ours so it was a really pleasant and relaxing evening.

As we headed out of the restaurant my wife spotted an Eat ‘n’ Park restaurant. I had been talking with the boys about these special cookies that they are famous for. I did what was probably an illegal u-turn, pulled into the parking lot and told the boys to wait in the car with their Mommy. I’d be back in a few minutes :-)

Part of the Pittsburgh experience and not to be missed (by us anyway)

Part of the Pittsburgh experience and not to be missed (by us anyway)

A few minutes later I stepped back in the car with a box of cookies and we took the best family photo ever!!

Raising our kids right

Raising our kids right. Cookies before bedtime.

Thus, I continued my usual tradition of a cookie the night before a marathon. The boys were tired enough even the sugar cookies didn’t keep them up too long after.

With the race the next day I set out my gear and set about rolling out my muscles with my Tiger Tail stick massager. My wife worked deep on my back and I finally felt like I was able to move enough without too much discomfort. With that I hit the pillow and waited for the morning alarm call.

Ready for the big day

Ready for the big day

We woke up around 4am as we had told the babysitter that the roads would be closing and they she should get there early. The good news was that I felt so much better than the day before. Not pain free but totally not to the point that I was bothered by anything. I was going to make it after all (to the start line at least). Both my wife and I were up and dressed by the time the babysitter arrived. She was early…and on a bike. Genius!!! Had we known she was going to cycle in we would have told her a much later time.

Rather than sit in the room with the babysitter we decided to head down to the lobby around 5:15am where the hotel had set up pre-race refreshments for the runners staying in the hotel.

One of us was more awake than the other

One of us was more awake than the other

Pre-race food. Can you tell what was missing?

Pre-race food. Can you tell what was missing?

Yes, they even had a security guard at the table

Yes, they even had a security guard at the table

We watched as a steady stream of runners came down to pick up some food. Each and every one who came down asked for coffee. Yup, that was what was missing. Unbelievable. It was 5am and the hotel did not provide any coffee even as more and more people were requesting it. They didn’t think to send someone over to the kitchen. They told folks that there was a Starbucks up the street. I’m not sure about you but I don’t know many Starbucks that open up at 5am on a Sunday morning. Oh well, the 7-11 was also nearby. But that opens up at…you guessed it…7am!!!! So with no coffee, people grabbed food and headed back to their rooms or milled around the lobby.

Around 6:15am we decided to make our way over to the starting corrals. They were laid out in specific streets. Corrals were between blocks with an empty street between for foot traffic before the start and when the corrals moved up. We checked our bags and hit the portapotties one last time. It was a chilly in the air and we used old mylar blankets from a previous race until it was time to start.

Keeping toasty in our mylar

Keeping toasty in our mylar

Corrals were set up within city blocks

Corrals were set up within city blocks

Approaching the start line. Almost showtime.

Approaching the start line. Almost showtime.

Okay....SHOWTIME!!!

Okay….SHOWTIME!!!

And we were off

And we were off

Enjoying the sights and sounds of the City

Enjoying the sights and sounds of the City

Pittsburgh Marathon course map

Pittsburgh Marathon course map

It didn’t take us too long to get warmed up as we started the race. The water stations were frequent and plentiful. The best part of this course was that it took you pretty much around the City and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. The course kind of reminded me of how we got to see a lot of Baltimore when we ran the marathon there last October. We were passing through neighborhood after neighborhood but the neat thing about this course was that we were crossing back and forth over the river. The first half of the course crossed 5 bridges.

Bridge #1 - Rachel Carson Bridge

Bridge #1 – 16th Street Bridge

All the bridges had the same color scheme through the City. Very cool.

All the bridges had the same color scheme through the City. Very cool.

Bridge #2 - Rachel Carson Bridge

Bridge #2 – Rachel Carson Bridge

...and of course, the 'jump shot'

…and of course, the ‘jump shot’

I'm assuming we are crossing this one next!

I’m assuming we are crossing this one next!

We then headed over to our third bridge, the Andy Warhol Bridge.

Bridge #3 - Andy Warhol Bridge

Bridge #3 – Andy Warhol Bridge

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I was getting used to this view.

I was getting used to this view.

By mile 7 were were approaching our 4th bridge. As we were still running along the river we hadn’t experience much elevation save for the up and over the bridges. I knew that there were hills to come. We took it fairly easy, comfortable but making a good pace (averaging around a 10 min/mile pace). Running along the river were approached the ‘Duquesne Incline’ which gave us a bit of a hint as to how much hillier the second half of the course would be.

At the 'Incline'

At the ‘Duquesne Incline’

Go Pitt!

Go Pitt!

At mile 11 we hit the 5th and final bridge. This was by far the biggest bridge we had crossed so far and it was also at this point that the half and full marathons split off into their respective directions.

Bridge #5 - Birmingham Bridge

Bridge #5 – Birmingham Bridge

As we got across the bridge we were directed to the right which would lead us up an almost mile long incline up to Oakland and the University of Pittsburgh campus. We took it slowly up the hill and as we went steadily we were able to make it up to the top without having to stop beyond our normal Galloway run/walk breaks. My wife was getting excited to be running back to her old campus and seeing it from a new perspective.

I think using the shuttle may be considered cheating in a marathon

I think using the shuttle may be considered cheating in a marathon

Oooh...Primanti's...they make very good sandwiches (with the french fries inside the sandwich)

Oooh…Primanti’s…they make very good sandwiches (with the french fries inside the sandwich)

She was so happy to be back on Campus

She was so happy to be back on Campus

So of course there had to be another jump shot

So of course there had to be another jump shot

As we ran through the campus we made sure to stop and take some pictures and also make note of places to take the boys back later and show them.

With the Pittsburgh Panther

With the Pittsburgh Panther

Outside the Cathedral of Learning

Outside the Cathedral of Learning

Outside the Cathedral of Learning

Outside the Cathedral of Learning

We stopped outside the Cathedral of Learning. It is such an impressive building. We were lucky enough on our last visit to get a tour of the special nationality classrooms inside. Worth a visit for sure.

Once through Oakland we passed through lots of residential neighborhoods. There were many people who came out on the streets to cheer the runners on. The day was getting hotter and hotter as the hours progressed. Volunteers were handing out orange slices and many of the water stations were handing out wet cloths to keep runners cool. We were hydrating at every water station. Typically I rotate between a sports drink and water between each station but for this race as the temperature was rising I was taking both at each station.

Crowds came out to cheer on runners

Crowds came out to cheer on runners

Always look for fun signs. This was a good one.

Always look for fun signs. This was a good one.

As we approached mile 17 to 18, my wife started to feel uncomfortable with her knee. We took a few extra seconds each walk break but I could see she wasn’t comfortable. She had a similar issue at the Baltimore Marathon but that was much later in the race and when we ran the Walt Disney World Marathon earlier this year she had a great run with no pain. By mile 19 we had to head over to the medical tent where my wife was able to apply some icy/hot cream to the area (she usually carries a small tube but forgot this time) and she also took a couple of Tylenol. The medic marked her bib accordingly that she had taken something and made her take another drink before moving on.

We took it slow and steady. The goal now was just to finish. We were slowing down so not looking to get her a PR. We just had to finish. The good news that from mile 19 onwards it was pretty much all downhill towards the finish line. We did quite a bit of walking. We abandoned our usual run/walk schedule until she felt comfortable enough to continue and then just took the approach that we would run until a certain landmark, walk for a bit until we hit another landmark and then run again. That seemed to work and as we approached mile 25 I could see the determination on her face to finish. My back had begun to twinge when we stopped at the medical tent and I felt like I had stiffened up a little while we stayed there but once I started moving again I was able to deal with it.

Finally…and yes I do mean finally…we hit mile 25. I think that many of the problems we were experiencing may have been due to the heat. Despite drinking two cups at each water station by the time I hit mile 25 my shirt was bone dry. It was hot out there. Not humid, hot.

Finally we rounded the corner and saw the finish line. We ran the last half mile hand in hand and as we did so we ran past an announcer who was just ahead of the finish line. She called out our names over the loudspeaker as we crossed over. The sense of relief was great. I was feeling ok but my wife seemed more than pleased that it was over for now. Our time was 4:50. Even with all the stops and walking more than usual we were only a few minutes shy of my wife’s PR. At the end it wasn’t so bad after all.

We made it!

We made it!

Pleased to be done and despite the discomfort, totally happy with the race.

Pleased to be done and despite the discomfort, totally happy with the race.

Yeah...Marathon #5 in the books

Yeah…Marathon #5 in the books

...and Marathon #12 for me.

…and Marathon #12 for me.

After taking in some water and some food (thank you Panera Bread) we made our way over to the finishers village.

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Don’t forget the cookies…

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And that's why we run!!!

And that’s why we run!!!

Runners of Steel

Runners of Steel

5, yes 5!

Marathon #5, yes 5!

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Pleased with our day

We had a great time. We really enjoyed the course. The crowds were great and the support was all over the course. I would totally recommend this as a destination race if you are not from Pennsylvania. It was a well run event and although it was a hot day the volunteers were prepared to look after everyone on the course.

After making our way back to the hotel to relieve the babysitter (she says the kids were actually well behaved). We quickly showered and within the hour we were out and about for an afternoon of activities.

A quick shower and change, Looking happy and feeling much better.

A quick shower and change, Looking happy and feeling much better.

First stop, Station Square.

First stop, Station Square.

We took the boys to Station Square where we saw a fun little fountain show. It was hot and the boys loved getting just a little wet. From there we crossed over the street to the Duquesne Incline which we had run past earlier in the day.

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The Duquesne Incline

 

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View from the bottom looking up

Asher was a little uncertain

Asher was a little uncertain

Asher was a little uncertain…maybe because his older brother told him it was a thrill ride and that you would go up really slowly and then drop down the hill at speed. Think Walt Disney World’s ‘Tower of Terror’. Not very nice but his reaction was priceless.

View from the observation deck at the top.

View from the observation deck at the top.

We ran this town

We ran this town

My favorite running buddy

My favorite running buddy

Time to follow directions

Time to follow directions

It was earned and it was good

It was earned and it was good

After we went back down the incline (Asher wanted to ride it all day now) we headed over to the University Campus as we had dinner plans with another of my wife’s friends. We got there early and had time to look around the campus.

The future students outside the Cathedral of Learning

The future students outside the Cathedral of Learning

Apparently he's a big fan of Gene Kelly. Who knew?

Apparently he’s a big fan of Gene Kelly. Who knew?

We had a great meal with friends at a restaurant on campus which my wife had remembered. It had been a long day but we still managed to head over to another old favorite place of hers for ice cream. Yum.

I think I did enough for my ice cream.

I think I did enough for my ice cream.

Now that the race was over and we were both feeling a little better we could take advantage of being on vacation for the next day.

We caught up a little on sleep

We caught up a little on sleep

The next day we headed down to the campus again to pick up some University of Pittsburgh gear seeing as we hadn’t been able to get any souvenirs at the Expo before the race. We also visited around the campus and saw all the places my wife had lived when she studied there. She was really excited to show the boys around and also to investigate the newer areas of campus which hadn’t been around when she was there. It was a really enjoyable day and the boys seemed to be taking it all in and having fun.

Outside the basketball arena

Outside the basketball arena – the little guy is in there somewhere

After a long day in the sunshine we left Pittsburgh around 3pm to make the long drive home. Everyone agreed it had been a great trip and my wife and I agreed that it was worth it for the race itself. It was great to say that we are both ‘Runners of Steel’

:-)

April 2015 – Month in review

April 2015 – Nike+ Summary

April 2015 – Nike+ Summary

148 miles this month. Also a little late in posting but better late than never.

I think at this point we can all agree that spring finally arrived. There were a couple of days where I may have taken my run indoors to the treadmill but that is because I couldn’t get my head around pulling out my winter clothes again. It wasn’t going to happen. April…it’s spring enough for me.

April was the peak of the training for the Pittsburgh Marathon and the start of the taper. The race day is May 3rd so the plan is to get to that start line rested and healthy.

The month started with me signing up for early bird pricing for this year’s Philadelphia Marathon. This was my first marathon back in 2011 and is essentially my hometown marathon. I have done it every year except last year when I was in Florida at that time. I love the crowds and the course. If you haven’t ever run this race (the first have of the course is different from all the other half marathons that Philadelphia hosts and the second has great scenery) I highly recommend looking into it.

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With only a couple of weeks left until the Pittsburgh Marathon, and two of us in the house training for it, we had to do a bit of juggling to get our final long runs in without interfering with our weekends and our boys’ schedules. I ended up doing my last 20 miler on a weekday before heading to the office. Yup, up at 2:30am and out the door before 3am. Still managed to get the boys to school and be in the office on time. I will confess that I did drink an excessive amount of coffee that afternoon and I slept like a baby that night. Long run done. Bring on the taper.

Just a couple of days later I ran the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon. It was perfect weather for running and my performance was really something I was proud of considering I’m coping with a slight injury. You can read my recap here and listen to the recap with my friend John on his podcast, the ‘Runner of a Certain Age‘.

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The next day was a time for recovery. After a 20 mile run and then a hard pushed half marathon I took a rest day from training. I also took a day off from work to volunteer to chaperone a school field trip for my son’s class to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. So, looking after four 8 years…totally relaxing!!!

Me, the boy and the T-rex

Me, the boy and the T-rex

I had another work trip to Atlanta during the month. The weather wasn’t looking great and it was hot and humid. There was a pretty big storm one day but it picked up in the afternoon and I couldn’t waste the opportunity to go out and run. I took a 5 mile run after work along the Chattahoochee River Trail. It was great. A perfect end to a busy day…plus earning a few extra calories never hurt.

Along the Chattachoochee River Trail

Along the Chattachoochee River Trail

After my little work trip to Atlanta I got the chance to bring my eldest son to work for our ‘Bring Your Kids To Work’ program. He had a great day and I was able to show him around the office. He managed to find a certain picture on display in the buildilng. Looks familiar don’t you think?

He fits in quite well

He fits in quite well

He recognized this Dopey fellow

He recognized this Dopey fellow

Towards the end of the month we finally had a free weekend. When I mean a free weekend I mean not totally overloaded. My wife encouraged me to go running in Tyler Park. I hadn’t run there in 10 months so I was really glad to get out in the sunshine. I wore my new INKnBURN ‘Run or Die‘ shirt and it felt cool and fit great. Truly a fun afternoon with no timetable. Perfect.

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A great end to a busy month. Lots to look forward to in May. WIth the Pittsburgh Marathon at the beginning of the month (we are making a mini-vacation out of the weekend with the boys) and my attempt to run ‘Goofy in a Day‘ for charity, it’s going to be quite an adventure.

Again, sorry for the delay in posting but life gets in the way sometimes…in a good way. I’m not complaining.

Thanks for reading.

 

Goofy In A Day Recap

Yesterday I ran (and completed) my Goofy In A Day 39.3 mile run fundraiser for ‘Give Kids The World‘ Village. Rather than describe me going around and around in circles for 7 hours I thought I’d just recap the day with my Tweets in the order they were posted. I’m very tired today but it was totally worth it. As of today I raised $1,250.

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40

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39

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38

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2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon – Race recap

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It has been a very long winter and as a result I haven’t been able to get outside to run too much over the last few months. So with that in mind I was looking for a spring race to get me ready for the upcoming season and as a tune up for the Pittsburgh Marathon next month (May 3rd). I had a choice of running the Bucks County Half Marathon in Tyler Park which I have run 3 times already or try for something new. As I listen to my friend John’s ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age‘ podcast (as well as being a guest now and again) I decided based upon his review from the prior year to sign up for the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon Course

2015 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon Course

The Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon is put on by the CGI Racing team and they are responsible for other races such as the LOVE Run Half Marathon which I ran last year and also the New Jersey State Triathlon which I signed up for this year (my first triathlon) and I’ve had a good experience with this organization in the past.

So, before we start, I have to confess that I messed up a little with the planning. I know that locally Rutgers has a campus in Camden, NJ which is not too far away and is an area where I have run races before (Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K) and we live not to far away from Rider University. For some reason in my mind I thought I would be running locally. Not so much. The main Rutgers University Campus is up in Piscataway, NJ which is over 45 miles away and a good hours drive. Hmmm….

Once I figured out that I realized my mistake in not signing up for race day packet pickup. I had to travel up to Piscataway the day before and on the day of the race. I probably spent more on gas and tolls than the cost of the race day packet pickup. Now before you think I’m completely crazy my experience of race day packet pick up is fine if I was to run a 5K or 10K but I don’t want to feel rushed before a half or a full marathon. In fact, based upon my experience with the LOVE Run marathon from CGI the year before it was a big race and I didn’t fancy the idea of fighting the crowds. Also, the race guide talked about parking at the starting area or the finish area and shuttling to and from. I didn’t want to deal with that on top of this all.

On the day before the race I got up early to be at the race expo as it opened so I could get back home and not be too disruptive to our planned family activities. I didn’t know at the time that it was Rutgers Open House weekend. The weather was beautiful and it was an easy drive for the most part. It took me under an hour to get to the campus but once upon arriving it took me almost 20 minutes to get into the parking area for packet pickup.

Finally made it to the expo

Finally made it to the expo

The packet pickup was at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center. It was a busy morning there. There were swim meets going on, there were other sports being played so there was a quite the foot traffic inside. The expo however was well signed and separate from all the general hubbub outside.

The expo itself was held inside a large gymnasium. It wasn’t huge but it was set up clearly. As you entered there was a small area for a speaker series and next to that a desk to look up your race number if you didn’t already have it with you. Then at the far end of the hall was the bib pick up and next to that the shirt pick up.

Expo set up

Expo set up

Bib and t-shirt pick up

Bib and t-shirt pick up

Race mugs

Race mugs

There weren’t too many vendors displaying. The National Running Center was there for any last-minute purchases as well as a local therapy provider giving back massages. Also, one of the sponsors (Agua Enerviva) and a local fitness equipment dealer. They also had a table to pick up your souvenir mug. This is quite a nice perk and something I also received when I ran the LOVE Run last year.

I got what I came for

I got what I came for

Ready for the next day's activities

Ready for the next day’s activities

In hindsight this would have been an ideal race for same day packet pick up. I would highly recommend this option if you are going to sign up for this event. The race itself isn’t small but it isn’t a huge field and there is ample parking at the start line area which is right next to the start line. Also, I met up with John at packet pickup and it was calm and orderly and well run.

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival

Race day arrival was very easy. The drive, the parking on campus and the whole traffic flow was a breeze. I arrived with plenty of time before the start of the race to stretch, use the port-a-potties and loosen up. I headed down to the packet pick up area to meet John before the start of the race. I always like to meet up with people I know before a race as just chatting with and hanging out with people helps calm the nerves and just generally lifts my spirits before a race.

Meeting up with John (host of 'The Runner Of A Certain Age' podcast)

Meeting up with John (host of ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age’ podcast)

It was a little chilly at the start but I knew it was going to warm up based on the forecast. The sky was clear and the sun was out. I pulled a mylar blanket out of my check bag to wear while waiting in the corral with a plan to throw it out just before crossing the start line (TIP – if you have mylar blankets handed to you at a race keep them for future races so you can stay warm in the corral of another race).

I walked to the corrals with John and we noted that the corrals were set up by pace per mile not any designated letter. I left John at his prefered pace and I moved up towards the 8:00-9:00 pace area. I didn’t notice any side entrances for the corrals so I had to move slowly through the crowd (politely I may add) to get to where I was going. Once there I settled in and waited for the National Anthem and the starting signal. The start was about 5 minutes delayed but the crowd seemed to be cheery enough. After all, this was some of the best weather we had experienced here in a long time!!!

Foiled up and ready to run

Foiled up and ready to run

My goal for this race was to see what I had in me after a long winter of running indoors. I recently have been struggling with injury. I tweaked my back and pelvis shovelling snow during the last couple of snow storms we had. As a result of the injury I had taken a full week off from running. If you know me that is a big deal. I was also on antibiotics for chest infection and back on Ventolin for my asthma (for the first time in three years). Also, with the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon I wanted to try out some gear in race conditions. I have recently been experimenting with Injinji running socks and although I had already run some longer distances in them I was playing around with the thickness options they have (original weight vs medium weight). My goal therefore was to see if I could comfortably be under 2 hours. With a time goal in mind I didn’t get a chance to take too many pictures on route.

The course itself takes you around the Livingston Campus and Busch Campus for the first 9 miles before you cross over the bridge to Johnson Park and then finally through to the finish along College Avenue. It is not flat and fast as was advertised as there were a number of turns involved on the course and some gently rolling hills but nothing that would lend me to say this was a hilly course.

There were plenty of water stations on the course but very sparse spectators, although it should be remarked that this was very early on a Sunday morning on a college campus so I cannot imagine how many students would really be up early. The weather was fantastic and really made for a relaxing run. It actually felt like I was out for a simple weekend long run. The race wasn’t too large so as a runner you had plenty of space to move around and although the streets were a little narrow in places you never felt jammed in.

The first few miles ticked away and everyone just set into their own pace. I had started out with the 9:00 minute pace group but soon passed their leader and headed out for my own race.

Having never been to college here it was nice to see the campus. I was impressed by the amount of space that there was and that the campus looked pretty well looked after. The roads were a little cut up but I think that was a result of the harsh winter we had and the toll it took on the roadways. You had to be a little careful with footing in some places.

Around mile 7-8 we started heading back towards the start line area and in fact headed back up the starting chute for the second part of the race. It was around here that we started experiencing the first of many of the turn arounds. I hadn’t really studied the course map too much and you can never really tell the detail from a picture but from mile 9 onwards there were four hairpin turnarounds. I’m not usually a big fan of turnarounds but based upon the need to squeeze 13 miles into their campus I understand what needs to be done.

I settled into a pretty good rhythm and was really enjoying the scenery of the campus and also the park when we crossed over the bridge. Once we entered into the park we stayed along the pathway and ran from one hairpin turnaround to the other. That was probably the least enjoyable part (but still enjoyable race) and we saw a few more spectators on that side of the course as other people were getting along with their own activities in the park at that time of the morning.

Heading towards mile 12 all I could see ahead of me was a hill. Uh oh I thought. I was just beginning to feel a little tired at that point. Before the hill however we had to turn right into Buccleuch Park for what turned out to be the final turnaround of the race. At least this wasn’t a hairpin as we got to run around a little gazebo.

Buccleuch Park Gazebo

Buccleuch Park Gazebo

Once out of the park we had to tackle that hill I had seen confronting us as we entered. To my surprise it had just been a trick of the eye. Yes, there was a an uphill to run but it was short and not as steep as it looked and once you hit the crown you could see pretty much all the way down College Avenue to the finish line.

The run down College Avenue was so nice. It is a natural chute funneling you to the finish. Crowds were lined on both sides of the street and they were cheering you along. The downhill wasn’t to steep and allowed you to just glide through the finish. I felt great at that point. I was running around 8:33 pace which was the best I had achieved in a while and I felt comfortable doing it. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:53:49. Well under two hours and within a couple of minutes of my half marathon PR. I was very pleased with the result.

I crossed the finish line and received my medal and also was handed a bottle of water. It had warmed up quite a bit at this point. Not too hot but was just a beautiful day.

Feeling great at the finish

Feeling great at the finish

By the way, my choice of outfit was my new INKnBURN Flow shirt. I think it was a perfect choice and very comfortable for the conditions. This has become my favorite shirt recently. I had been trying to decide between this shirt and my Mickey Milers shirt (as I was meeting up with fellow Miler John) but went with this combo. The socks worked out great too. I would recommend trying a pair if you get the chance. A little weird to look at and to put on but if you are prone to blisters these offer great protection.

After coming through the finish line chute we turned left to the post race area. The campus was ideal for a post race area as the streets were wide, the crowds were separated to the family reunion area and there was a lot of green space to stretch out and relax.

Post race area

Post race area – nice and open space

Post race area

Post race area – a great place to chill

The food tent was labeled clearly for runners only and they checked your bib to go through. I was very grateful for the soft pretzel. What I didn’t see was any sports drink to replenish any lost electrolytes. That was probably my only complaint.

Food station marked for runners

Food station marked for runners

Very ordered food hand out

Very ordered food hand out

One of the best post race treats

One of the best post race treats

The medal was a decent size but a little ‘lightweight’ and a little plain. Also, on the medal and on the ribbon it said ‘Half Marathon and 8K’. I wasn’t sure if this was the same medal handed to people who ran the 8K also. That seemed a little strange that these wouldn’t be unique to the race.

With my medal

With my medal

Front of the medal

Front of the medal

Back of the medal

Back of the medal

Note the ribbon says Half Marathon and 8K

Note the ribbon says Half Marathon and 8K

Overall though I would totally recommend this race. Timing was perfect, we lucked out with the weather, the course was enjoyable and the size of the field made it feel like a big race without being a big race (i.e. plenty of room to move about). I would recommend that if you register for this race (and you should if you are nearby) you opt for race day packet pick up as the expo wasn’t a compelling reason to go twice in two days.

John and I spoke about this race on his podcast. Here is the link to the episode (Episode 35 – It’s A Beautiful Morning Edition’).

Thanks for reading.

March 2015 – Month in review

March 2015 – Nike+ Summary

March 2015 – Nike+ Summary

So as you can see from the Nike+ summary I managed to get in 140 miles this month but if you look at the tail end of the month you will see that I actually had a week break. I’m nursing a sore back/pelvis as a result of all the snow shoveling over the winter. I managed to tweak my pelvis out of alignment. Ouch. Time to get my 8 and 4 year olds out to shovel the snow…or move to Florida. I think the move may be easier.

The weather did not deter my training for the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon however it did take my running indoors for some of the long runs.

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My run from Sunday March 8th.

My run from March 14th.

My run from Sunday March 14th.

The gym can be a lonely place on a Sunday morning in winter.

The gym can be a lonely place on a Sunday morning in winter.

However, shortly after my indoor 20 miler I was lucky enough (well required) to take a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for work. I went from running in sub 20 degree weather (sub zero with wind chill) to running in the low to mid 60s for a week. It was beautiful and flat. I wore shorts again!!! Yes, my legs saw the sunshine albeit at the end of the run as these were still early morning hours. What amazed me about running in Scottsdale was how clear the air was. As I was running I could smell the flowers, bushes and other landscape smells (nice smells) as I ran. I don’t think I’ve had much of a chance for that recently. Also it was flat. That helps alot. I’d been on a treadmill for more than a month so it was great to be out there.

Beautiful place to run

Beautiful place to run

Citrus trees and the smells in the air were incredible

Citrus trees and the smells in the air were incredible

Yes....yes it was

Yes….yes it was

Desert running is pretty cool

Desert running is pretty cool

I discovered where Iron Man keeps his horses

I discovered where Iron Man keeps his horses

Lots to investigate

Lots to investigate

Mind you, I got a rude awakening when I flew back to Philly. I arrived back to 4 inches of snow…ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!!!! Ugh. My back still hasn’t recovered. Nothing like having to dig your way into your house around midnight. Luckily though that was the end of the snow. It warmed up a bit after that and I was able to run outdoors locally again.

Woo hoo!!!

Woo hoo!!!

During this month as I have been preparing for Pittsburgh I have been trying out some new gear. Last year at the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon Expo I was recommended to try Injinji toe socks. They look a little weird and are a little tricky to put on but I have always had an issue with my toes rubbing together and usually use some vaseline to prevent blisters. Anyway I thought I’d give these a try and see if they were as good as they were presented.

Actually, they are pretty good. I’ve since bought a couple of pairs in various thicknesses to see how they differ but so far so good. I am using them almost exclusively right now. I cannot comment on the longetivity of the product but from a comfort perspective they seem good and from a blister prevention perspective they absolutely hit the spot. I’ve been using the Run 2.0 sock.

Injinji Run 2.0

Injinji Run 2.0

Finally this month I’m happy to share that both my wife and I were successful in the lottery for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon later this year. We are so excited to be able to run this event and especially excited because of the special anniversary year. It is sure to be a great event and memorable to all who run.

We're in!!!

We’re in!!!

In the coming weeks I have the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon in Piscataway, NJ. This will be my first event since running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend races. It will be fun to get back into race mode. Also, I’ll complete the training and start my taper for the Pittburgh Marathon. We are looking forward to the marathon weekend and hope we have enough time to take some sights in with our boys.

Don’t forget that I’m doing other crazy stuff for a change. I’m running the ‘Goofy In A Day’ for Give Kids The World a couple of weeks after that. If you feel like you can make a donation that would be really appreciated.

Thank you for reading.

‘Goofy In A Day’ for ‘Give Kids The World’

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Goofy, yup, that’s me. I am asking for your help and support in raising funds for the ‘Give Kids The World Village’ in Florida.

GKTW

For the last 4 years I have taken part in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in Orlando, Florida. I had only just begun my running career in late 2010 and ran my first marathon in Philadelphia in 2011. I ran my first Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2012.

Since that time I have run in the various challenges that are part of the Marathon Weekend. The challenges are multiple events over multiple days. I ran the ‘Goofy Challenge’ (39.3 miles consisting of half marathon and full marathon over 2 days) in 2013 and 2015 and the inaugural ‘Dopey Challenge’ (48.6 miles consisting of a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon over 4 days) in 2014. While running these challenges I have raised over $11,000 for charity.

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In May 2015 I am planning to undertake my most challenging fundraiser, running the ‘Goofy Challenge’ in just ONE day. Yes, that’s 39.3 miles equivalent to a half and full marathon back to back.

Why do something so completely…well, Goofy? I’ve been inspired by a number of things.

Firstly, I am part of a running team called the Mickey Milers. It is a running team that was formed by the co-hosts of the Mickey Miles podcast (a podcast dedicated to running Disney races). This team was formed in January 2014 and its goal is to raise funds for the ‘Give Kids The World’ Village in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Village is a 70-acre resort complete with over 144 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 134,000 families from all 50 states and over 75 countries.

Mickey Milers Running Team

Mickey Milers Running Team

I am very fortunate to be blessed by two healthy children. Both my boys are the joy of my life and I am truly thankful for their good health and we have been fortunate enough to be able to take them to Walt Disney World on a number of occasions (while their Mommy and Daddy are off running insane distances in the early hours of the morning). Some families are not as fortunate and with this great cause this will offer those families what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to take their families to a magical place and with the support of the Village perhaps have the opportunity to also see their children enjoy a very special time with their needs accomodated and escape their daily routine for a short time.

With Sorcerer Mickey

My family with Sorcerer Mickey – January 2015

Secondly, the team has come up in the past with some great fundraising ideas. This year a group is getting together on the same date in August at both Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland in California and they are undertaking the ‘Small World Challenge’ which involves riding the famous 1964 ride over and over (and over) again from park opening to park closing. That’s probably around 14 hours or so listening to that theme. As I am unable to join them in person I was inspired to come up with a challenge that dovetails in with their special day. That is how I came up with the ‘Goofy In A Day’ for ‘Give Kids The World’. So in addition to running that distance in one day I have upped the ante as part of this challenge by promising to only listen to the theme song from the ride for the whole time I am running.

SWC

What? Really?

Yes. This is going to be two endurance events in one. Both mind and body are going to be challenged as part of this attempt.

Now, this is not going to be a race against time by any means. Based upon my race times I could achieve this challenge in less than 6 hours…but, since I’ve never run more than 26.2 miles (marathon distance) before my goal is to do what is recommended for an ultra-marathon (distances greater than 26.2 miles). I’m going to start slow…then back off a little. I think I may be able to achieve the total distance in around 7 hours so this is going to be a full day event for me.

So, what are the details? When and where (and why)???

When

I’m hoping to ‘run’ this event on May 18 (rain date May 19) which is just a couple of months away. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this time. I will just be coming from completing the Pittsburgh Marathon in early May so I should be still conditioned to run the long distance. Also, I’m hoping to avoid the heat of the summer. The Small World Challenge is being held in mid-August which is a tough time to run long distance outside. I ran a marathon in mid-August last year, I finished but it wasn’t pretty.

Where

I had a few choices here but my goal was to make this as manageable as possible so I chose the location where my running actually started, my work campus (Vonage Headquarters) in Holmdel, New Jersey.

My Company has always been very supportive of my charity efforts, in fact there is a picture of me running the 2014 Dopey Challenge posted a wall in the cafeteria which highlights all the charitable causes the company supports.

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

I began running in August 2010 after a little encouragement by colleagues to join the fitness center there. I’ve already written about how I started here but I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have been given here by my company. The campus has a self-contained loop which is about 0.93 miles around (according to my GPS). It is also pretty flat (limited elevation). The campus offers me the opportunity to set up my own aid station (a table) with supplies that I can have within reach. Essentially this is a self-supported run so there are no aid tables or supplies as would be in on an organized course. The campus circuit allows me the ability to manage my water and fuel supplies as well as give me access to bathrooms as needed.

Campus loop

Campus loop just under 1 mile

Little to no elevation

Little to no elevation

My other choices were 5 times running an 8 mile loop in Philadelphia where I ran the Midnight Madness race in July 2014. While flat this offers challenges with parking and maintaining supplies of fuel and water, or running in Tyler Park nearby my house which has a 5 mile loop which I would run 8 times however this has much elevation which would make this more of an effort…I still want to be standing when I finish.

8 mile loop along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia

8 mile loop along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia

Little elevation but not great logisitically

Little elevation but not great logisitically

Tyler State Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Tyler State Park, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Hills!!!

Logistically workable but hilly!!!

Why

Well, I feel a certain kinship with the running group. They are such a strong team of supporting everyone in their goals whatever their ability. Really a great bunch of people. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with many of them outside of Walt Disney World at other races, for a run when I am out of town and even just socially. They all have such ideas for raising funds for this cause and the best part of this group is the collective fun we have doing it.

I’m also inspired by many of the runners in the group. Whether they know it or not, even though many people tell me how impressed they have been with my endeavors, I am more than inspired by their efforts. In fact, I’m not the first to do the ‘Goofy In A Day’ idea (see how my team mates ran a marathon in one State in the morning and a half marathon in the evening in another State) but I may be the first in the group to do it all in one go!!!

I’ve done many ‘Goofy’ things as a runner (I’ve been known to get up at 2:30 am and run 22 miles during a bachelor party weekend, or run 20 miles before work one day) but my goal has always been to maintain a new found level of fitness, to be a good example for my two boys and to make my miles count for others. I am therefore asking for your support in helping me achieve this crazy challenge.

Please visit my fundraising page here and show your support. I would be most grateful if you could share this with your friends too given the short window of fundraising for this. I have no ultimate goal for this but if we can send just one family to the Give Kids The World Village it will have been worth it. (Note – this link may update as the Team Page updates so I will make sure to keep it current as changes happen).

By the way, here is the math:

39.3 miles is just over 42 loops of my campus.

The official album for Walt Disney World lists ‘It’s A Small World’ at around 5 minutes long so it would repeat 12 times an hour. If I’m estimating this will take me 7 hours that would be 84 times listening to the same tune…THAT tune.

SW

I’m not asking anyone to join me…I don’t think anyone would volunteer(!) but hopefully I’ll complete the challenge and raise a good amount of funds in the process.

Thank you in advance.

Ian

January 11, 2013 - relaxing before the night before the Goofy Challenge

January 11, 2013 – relaxing the night before my first Goofy Challenge