This was not the look I was going for

October 2016 – Month in review

October was a fun but busy month. It involved a number of days of business travel for both my wife and myself but also a marathon and continued training.

October 2016 - Nike+ Summary

October 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My total mileage for the month was 132 miles. All running, as you can also see from the Garmin summary below, there was no swimming or biking this month. There were a number of rest days this month as I tapered towards and rested after the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon that I ran in the early part of the month.

October 2016 - Garmin Connect Summary

October 2016 – Garmin Connect Summary

After the marathon I was into my back to back plan. There are six weeks between running the Mohawk Hudson race and the running the Rocky Challenge at this years Philadelphia Marathon weekend. The challenge is to run the half marathon on the Saturday and the full marathon on the Sunday. Although I have done this three times already at Disney (Goofy Challenge 2013, Dopey Challenge 2014 and Goofy Challenge 2015) this still takes a lot of effort and is not to be taken lightly.

I am using Hal Higdon’s multiple marathon plan which I have used successfully in the past. It is a 6 week program divided into 2 weeks of recovery, 2 weeks of training and 2 weeks of taper. I have been making sure that the days before the long run are at least half the miles I will be running for my long run in order to simulate race weekend fatigue on my body.

With all that mileage I am lucky that I have something to absorb the calories from another Halloween. I enjoy this holiday as I get to dress up with my kids and go trick or treating. I never had this growing up in the UK so I really go all in here in the US, decorating the house and for the last few years coordinating costumes with the boys. This year however, my eldest decided he wanted a scary costume and I was not allowed to coordinate with him. I was free to choose what I wanted.

I chose to be Captain Kirk as it was just after the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. I revealed my costume the week before Halloween to my kids, only for my wife to tell my youngest that Daddy was a ‘Wiggle’! What???? Thanks Honey😦

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Ready to Boldly Go

This was not the look I was going for

This was not the look I was going for

Either way, I had the last laugh when it came to Halloween. I dressed up and went out with the boys. I wasn’t collecting candy (although I did hold the bag for my youngest…and saw to it that he wasn’t overstocked with Kit Kat’s) but I reached house who insisted I look at their license plate on their car and then gave me my own candy. Score!!!

Ready to beam up

Ready to beam up

Appropriately, I got candy from this house

Appropriately, I got candy from this house

I hope you had a good October. It was fun for me. I’m looking forward to November and returning to my local race, the Philadelphia Marathon and to cheering on my wife in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon at the beginning of the month.

Thank you for reading.

 

The beautiful view along the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike trail

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon – race recap

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On October 9th I participated in my 16th marathon, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in Albany, NY.

Earlier in the year I had entered the TCS New York City Marathon lottery with my wife. She got in, I didn’t. That left me looking for another fall marathon just so it would not drive me crazy not having a race during that time. With family located in Albany, NY and the reputation for this being a fast course I did some research into this race. There was also the Hannaford Half Marathon running concurrent to the marathon (essentially the last 13.1 miles of the marathon course) and this distance slotted in nicely with my wife’s NYC training plan. This helped seal the deal and so I signed us up for our respective races.

I knew this was not going to be a big city marathon but I knew there would be a lot of serious runners taking part so I thought this would be a good race for me to attempt and conquer that sub 3:50 marathon that has so far remained elusive to me. With the date set and the training complete we planned our weekend.

We picked up the boys from school and packed our car. The drive to Albany was 180 miles at the end of a long week. The boys were pretty good (i.e. we fed them so they would be quiet) along the route. We stopped just once along the route and as it was a Friday evening we battled some weekend traffic so we didn’t get into Albany until close to 11pm that night. The boys went to bed quickly and we took the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep as we didn’t plan on heading to the expo until late morning.

The expo was being held at the Hilton Albany, NY which was just over a mile from our hotel. Parking nearby was easy and free at weekends. Good to know as I would need to drive to the same location the next morning.

New York State Capital, Albany NY

New York State Capital, Albany NY

Once inside the expo we headed first to pick up our bib and race packets. It wasn’t a huge room nor was it a huge expo but there was plenty to look at and the race merchandise area itself was plentiful and very reasonably priced. We were probably in and out of the expo within 30-40 minutes which included shopping and chatting with the vendors there.

Arriving at the expo

Arriving at the expo

Marathon packet pickup

Marathon packet pickup

Half Marathon packet pick up

Half Marathon packet pickup

Ready or not

Ready or not

A map of the course (both the full and the half)

A map of the course (both the full and the half)

There were some very reasonable prices for marathon gear

There were some very reasonable prices for marathon gear

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A small but busy marathon expo

A small but busy marathon expo

A small but busy marathon expo

A small but busy marathon expo

A small but busy marathon expo

After the expo we headed over to visit family for the day. The plan was for us to spend the day with them and the boys would be sleeping over at their house so we would have someone to look after them in the morning. Both races were point to point races ending in downtown Albany which was about 10 miles or so from where the family is located so it was convenient from them to come out and cheer the next day.

Post expo and ready for race day

Post expo and ready for race day

Meeting up with family

Meeting up with family

We spent that afternoon at a farm in Esparance NY picking pumpkins, walking through a corn maze, doing a scavenger hunt and eating warm apple cider donuts (that was my favorite part). From there we headed back towards home and had an early dinner at a local Italian eatery, where I proceeded to eat the bread basket. After dinner we took the boys over to a local trampoline park to get out whatever energy they had left and then after saying our goodbyes we left them with family and headed back to our hotel to get everything ready for the next day.

The face on my little guy (in the yellow dress) is priceless

The face on my little guy (in the yellow dress with the bunny) is priceless

I'm lucky to have this little lady

I’m lucky to have this little lady

I didn’t forget my usual pre-Marathon tradition of a cookie the night before the marathon. There was a Starbucks in the hotel for my convenience.

Was this a potential PR cookie?

Was this a potential PR cookie?

Flat Ian set out for the next day

Flat Ian set out for the next day

We woke up early on Sunday morning. As we were planning to head over to meet up with family after the race we planned to shower there after the race so we checked out of our hotel early and headed over to the where the buses would be shuttling us over to our respective start lines. The hotel seemed to be popular with other runners and we all pretty much departed at the same time. My wife always thinks I make her get up and leave too early. Having other people leaving the same time as me is my only defense to that argument.

It was a 10 minute drive to the center of Albany (if that) and we parked very close to the host hotel. From there we walked down the hill to the bus staging areas. The buses for the full and half marathons were parked on opposite sides of the street and volunteers made sure we got on the correct buses. I said goodbye to Shari and we headed off to grab a seat on our bus.

Nice and early

Nice and early on the bus

My wife was on the bus across the street

My wife was on the bus across the street

The drive from downtown Albany to the start of the race in Central Park Schenectady took about 40 minutes. It was dark when we left but by the time we arrived at the Park it was daylight. I was sitting next to someone running their first marathon. Judging by how he was talking to me about his pacing he was probably a sub 3 hour guy. Not much I could say to him in advice other than to enjoy his first race…he would be done sooner than me.

The race was a point to point race from Schenectady to Albany. The Half marathon followed the same route from the mid point of the course.

The race was a point to point race from Schenectady to Albany. The Half marathon followed the same route from the mid point of the course.

It was a small race in comparison to most of my other marathons. There were just over 1,000 runners according to the final results. There was plenty of space at the starting area and plenty of port-a-potties for all the runners. Lines were not too long. They were definitely prepared for runners.

Well prepared for their target audience

Well prepared for their target audience

As the time got closer to the start I checked my gear bag and put on my large plastic trash bag to keep me warm. I just wish I had cut a larger hole in it to get my head through. I needed a little assistance getting through. Oops. Once appropriately bagged I went over to the start line and waited with my fellow runners. That was until they told us we were standing on the wrong side of the start line.

Ready at the start line

Ready at the start line

There were no corrals as this was a self-seeded race by the honor system. I lined up between the 3:45 and 3:55 pacers. My goal was to go sub 3:50 (my elusive goal time) and I figured if I could keep the 3:45 guy in my sight for most of the race I would come in close. Once the National Anthem had been sung and final instructions given I waited for the word to go.

Waiting for the start of the race

Waiting for the start of the race

Just over 1,00 runners took part in the marathon

Just over 1,00 runners took part in the marathon

I had a plan to set off steady with a run/walk ratio of 4:30/0:30 and set off pretty comfortably. I was within sight of the 3:45 pacer the whole time I was running through the first few miles. These took us around the local neighborhoods until we reached the banks of the Hudson River where we ran on along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.

The race is a net downhill and the view from the very high point before we headed towards the river was breathtaking. It was a beautiful day, perfect conditions and the colors of the trees were amazing. I was told it was the prime weekend to see the Adirondacks in the fall. It was amazing.

The beautiful view along the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike trail

The beautiful view along the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike trail

We ran down towards the river past the large General Electric plant and I still had the pacer in sight. In fact although I wasn’t running with the pace group I was running with an informal group of runners who I would keep in touch with between walk breaks. The path was wide enough for 2 to 3 people to run side by side comfortably.

This was just past the General Electric plant

This was just past the General Electric plant

Finally, at around mile 9 as we encountered a slight upgrade a fellow runner came by alongside me and remarked that she was impressed that I was using the Galloway method (she was familiar with it). She said that was running a very good pace and was looking good. That was the worst thing she could have said at that particular moment. I wasn’t thinking about pace, I was just going with the flow. I knew I was maintaining my goal pace but didn’t want to think about it too much. Marathon math is no good to me.

I soon began to fall back from the pace group ahead. I was still in touch with the small group I was running with but with every walk break it was taking me longer and longer to catch up. By the time we reached mile 12 and had to run up the hill to start the second half of the course I was no longer able to see the 3:45 pace group and the small group of runners I had been running with for the last 12 miles were out of my range.

The next few miles were not my happiest but I plodded along. I had developed a side stitch running up the hill which is quite unusual for me and I could feel my heart rate had become elevated. It wouldn’t come down so quickly during walk breaks. I hit the half marathon point at 1:56:32. Still on target for sub 4 hours.

On the second half of the course you encounter a couple of small but steep downhills and also a set of railway tracks. They have timing mats set up around the tracks in case you have to stop for a train. Luckily I was able to avoid any stops. The downhills allowed you to pick up a few seconds here or there but I would soon find that a net downhill does impact your legs more than you would think.

I settled in with another group of runners. I will still on pace for a sub 4 hour marathon but I wasn’t able to maintain a steady pace per mile.

We were away from the bike trail for the next 6 miles as we ran along the highway. It was tight at the side of the road as the race organizers had set the traffic cones on the inside of the lane. The traffic was fairly heavy on the other side of the road as they were open during the time we were running. It was however perfectly safe to run. I tried to stay on the road vs the sidewalk as it was much smoother than the sidewalk which was pretty much concrete slabs which were not always even.

There were 6 miles running along the highway. I chose to run along the road as it was more even underfoot.

There were 6 miles running along the highway. I chose to run along the road as it was more even underfoot. I’m looking tired at this point.

We ran through the small town of Watervliet for a short time. I noticed that there were banners all along the route to commemorate fallen soldiers from the town from World War II. Wow, so many. I could only imagine that this community would have been deeply affected by that time. It was a nice tribute. You had to look up to see the names, battalions and dates of each person but it kept my mind off my running for a while.

As we were close to exiting the town, which was around mile 19, I was passed by the 3:55 pacer. Looking back at my stats, I was holding my own through mile 18. My slowest mile up until that point had been just over 9 minutes per mile. But by mile 19 I started to drop 30 seconds per mile. I wasn’t quite toast…I must have hit the wall but it wasn’t a total collapse.

Just after mile 20 we hit the Bike-Hike trail again. Just as we did that I was passed by the 4 hour pacer. I was determined no other pacers were going to pass me. Although I was now posting miles in the mid 10 minutes per mile I persisted along the path until I was near the finish. Around the last mile I saw an unfortunate runner on the back of an emergency vehicle. He was obviously in a lot of discomfort but he made sure he gave every runner he passed a thumbs up while he was being driven away.

Back on the Hike-Bike trail along the river as we come down to the last few miles.

Back on the Hike-Bike trail along the river as we come down to the last few miles.

Once I hit the last mile I could begin to hear the crowds at the finish. I could see downtown Albany rise above the trees. I looked at my watch. A sub 4 hour race was now out of the question but I knew I could get close to 4 hours. I buckled down and headed into the finish chute determined to cross the finish line.

I crossed the line in 4:04:46. Not my fastest but not my slowest. It is actually my 3rd fastest marathon (I do have two sub 4 hour races). At least I beat out the next pace group.

Always great to finish a marathon

Always great to finish a marathon

The crowds were great. The Bike-Hike trail is narrow so the crowds were close on both sides which was great as you were bearing down on the finish.

Beyond the finish line I was given my medal, a mylar blanket and a bottle of water. Beyond that there was Gatorade and chocolate milk (yeah for chocolate milk). A few steps beyond was the runners village. There they had plenty of food and refreshments. Chips, bagels, water, Gatorade, bars, bananas and more chocolate milk. The Half Marathon (which my wife had run) was sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets so I’m sure they were the provider for the post-race area.

My finisher medal

My finisher medal

Just beyond the finish line

Just beyond the finish line

The athletes area beyond the finish line

The athletes area beyond the finish line

The athletes area beyond the finish line

The athletes area beyond the finish line

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

Plenty of post run refreshements for runners

There was also a tent where you could go in with your bib and get an instant race result. This was a big Boston qualifier race (for those who could). They were also selling race merchandise too.

I grabbed my instant results. Ouch...look at that second half!

I grabbed my instant result. Ouch…look at that second half!

What was great was that when I got to the bag check they handed me my bag without me even asking. They must have had a system when they saw someone cross the line the information (bib number) was fed to the bag check people who got the bag out the truck and ready for pickup. Genius!!!

My wife had a great race. She ran 1:53:53 for the half. Close to her PR. She had the advantage of finishing a couple of hours earlier. Both races started at the same time (8am). Our family had brought the boys to the finish line and they were there to cheer her on and see her finish. They were long gone by the time I finished the race. She went back to the house with them and she was ready and showered by the time I got there.

My wife had finished her race a couple of hours earlier

My wife had finished her race a couple of hours earlier

She had great crowd support

She had great crowd support

She had great crowd support

She had great crowd support

Getting back to my car was quite the challenge. I now had to walk back up the hill to my car but first I had to cross the highway back into downtown Albany. While there was a ramp up the bridge there were steps down. Yup. Steps. I’d only run a marathon!!!

Up was easy

Up was easy

Down...not so much

Down…not so much

I’d cooled down quickly by then and the breeze had picked up. By the time I got back to the car I was cold and more than grateful for the fact that my car has heated seats. Once in the car I made the 20 minute drive back to the house where I took a quick shower and changed into some warm dry clothes for the journey home.

As our family had plans that afternoon (they were attending a wedding) we didn’t stay too long. We stopped at a local diner to refuel before heading back home for what turned out to be a 4 hour drive.

That tired and hungry look

That tired and hungry look

I was a little stiff the next day but I put that down to sitting in the car for such a long time so soon after the race. While I have returned home from marathons on the same day before and sat for many hours in a car to do so in the past, for those races I had spent time walking around and sightseeing before jumping into the car. Sitting still is not the best way to recover from a marathon. I think that required me to have an extra couple of days extra rest.

Overall I really enjoyed the race. The course was scenic (for the most part) and the community did come out to cheer us on. I think I have to figure out my own game plan for running a marathon as this was a perfect day to run and the course was set up for a fast race. In fact, the winner broke the course record that day. My wife had also had a great race. I was for the most part having a good run until around mile 16-18 when I tired.

I would recommend the race especially if you are after a BQ. It isn’t too crowded and there are not many turns. It is a fast course. I’d wished we had spent a little extra time there after the race but we all had to get back to work and school the next day. Either way, marathon number 16 was complete and I was very happy.

Thank you for reading.

Run long and prosper.

September 2016 – Month in review

The boys went back to school which means it is Fall race season. This month was mostly about tapering for my early October marathon (Mohawk Hudson River Marathon) so there was lots of long runs planned but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have some fun along the way.

September 2016 - Nike+ Summary

September 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike+ summary shows almost 147 miles for the month. Although my 6th year running anniversary was in August, September 2010 was when I started to record my mileage. This month I hit a new milestone in my running career. 9,000 miles.

I ran my 9,000th mile in early September.

I ran my 9,000th mile in early September.

My total mileage in the month was 182 miles which included some swimming and biking as I had my final triathlon race for the year mid month, the Hightstown Triathlon on September 11th.

September 2016 - Garmin Connect Summary

September 2016 – Garmin Connect Summary

The first September in the month is always Labor Day here in the US. With an additional day home I decided to take advantage of the time and get an extra long swim session in. I arrived early at the gym on Sunday morning (they usually open at 7am on weekends instead of 5am during the week) only to find that they had holiday hours which pushed the opening back an extra hour😦

Yup, only one here.

Yup, only one here.

So after heading home for about an hour I made it back and started my lap swim session. As it was a later start to the day and a holiday there were many more people in the pool. I ended up sharing a lane with another swimmer. I have never had to share a lane before and unfortunately I inadvertently punched my opposing lap lane swimmer during my freestyle stroke. He seemed shaken…but not stirred. I figure as long as he wasn’t floating face down I’d be okay. Hey, I was there first.

September 8th also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the very first episode of Star Trek. I made sure to get my run in on the day and celebrate accordingly.

Run long and prosper.

Run long and prosper.

Early in September I was invited back as a guest on another edition of the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast hosted by my friend John. We spoke about my recent triathlon experience and about the upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon later in the month. You can listen to the episode here.

The Runner of a Certain Age Podcast

The Runner of a Certain Age Podcast

On September 11th I participated for the second time in the Hightstown Triathlon. It is a sprint triathlon up near my office in Hightstown New Jersey. I had a few equipment issues during the race but had a great time. You can read about that here.

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2016 Hightstown Triathlon

This was followed the week later by running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon with my wife. We always have fun doing this race and it was to say the least a very busy weekend. You can read about that here.

Receiving another Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon medal

Receiving another Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon medal

By the end of September I was finally able to settle into my taper for the upcoming marathon. Looking forward to what October will bring.

Thank you for reading.

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2016 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Race recap

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Here we go…

On September 18th my wife and I ran the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This was my 6th time running this event and my wife’s 5th time. We just seem to keep going back. Actually, we received a promotional email to sign up for the 2017 BEFORE the race and guess what…we are running this event again in 2017.

Before I get into the race itself, this is one of those weekends which pretty much represents the craziness which is me, my family and marathon training. It all started very early on the Friday morning before the race weekend. As some of you may know by now I’m pretty regimented when it comes to following my training plans. The weekend of the 18th my plan called for a 20 mile run. Usually I could figure a way to switch a week but as my wife is currently training for the New York City Marathon and I was only a couple of weeks from the Mohawk Hudson Marathon I would be too close to the race to taper into the event. So, up at 2.00am on Friday morning, time to run 20 miles before heading into the office.

Your eyes do not deceive you. Wake up time says 2:01am...I must have hit snooze!!

Your eyes do not deceive you. Wake up time says 2:01am…I must have hit snooze!!

It was early, it was a beautiful clear sky and a full moon. I had Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” (read by the author) on my iPhone and the 20 miles passed by easily. I ran while laughing which helped. I got my last long run of the training plan done and I could (after the half marathon) begin my marathon taper.

Done!

Done! Umpteen laps around Playwicki Farm

Okay, so here we are. I’ve run 20 miles. Great preparation for a half marathon. But we’re not done yet. Later that day my wife and I attended a friend’s wedding where we had a great evening dancing into the night (and not resting my legs). Going well so far with my race preparation!

Normally before the race we attend the expo. This was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center as in previous years. Unfortunately we had other commitments with a family friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in the morning and the party that evening. We wouldn’t have had to time go to the expo and get home in time for the evening event. Luckily one of my wife’s running friends who was also running was able to pick up our race packets and my wife went out that afternoon to meet up and collect them so we had time to get ready for the party that night.

Ready to party

Ready to party

The party was a lot of fun. It had a Disney theme and we were dancing all night. This was the first time my boys had been to a party like this and they had a blast. For the adults at the party there was a signature drink. a ‘Hakuna Martini’. I have to say it was nice and sweet. It would have been rude to say no. Luckily for me I was the designated driver so I had only one early in the evening and the rest of the night was just Diet Coke and water.

Certainly so

Certainly so

It was a fun but a late night. The party ended around midnight and we left before we all turned into pumpkins. The boys were both asleep in the car before we pulled out of the parking lot. Ha ha.

So, sleep…are rare commodity this weekend. Let’s see how we do tonight.

Should I worry?

Should I worry?

I didn’t even make 3 hours. So, now I’m just a little tired (an understatement). I know I’ve done slept worse than this during the Disney Marathon weekend, but hey, that’s Disney and every second counts. Some of us may have had a couple of extra Hakuna Martinis the night before. This was going to be a fun race.

So Sunday arrived (early) and we set out to drive downtown to Philadelphia. Upon arrival into Center City I missed my turn and passed the usual parking garage I use for races. Luckily there was another lot across the street (where I used to park when I worked downtown) so the walk to the starting area was the same as in past years.

The race was back to its usual mid-September date. It had been pushed to October 31st last year due to the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia last September. The last few times we have run this race (with the exception of the October date) were warm and humid days in late summer. This year the temperatures this year were great. It was in the 60s and cool at the start. It did warm up later in the day but the start was very comfortable.

An early start. Still a little dark just after the sunrise.

An early start. Still a little dark just after the sunrise.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is a really popular and crowded race. You get there early to avoid the crowds. Luckily we were up in an early corral (#8 of #20+) so we didn’t have too much time to sit around and wait. The race started at 7:30 and we set off at 7:39 according to my Garmin.

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Waiting in our corral to go

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Our view of the start line

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All these people were stacked behind us. The Philadelphia Art Museum and the finish line were behind us

Within the first mile of the race we ran into my wife’s childhood baby sitter. We ran alongside here past the first mile marker as they chatted…I was just along for the ride. We ran on at a comfortable medium pace for the next couple of miles. Around mile 3 my wife’s friend (who had picked up our race packets) ran past us. She was gunning for a new personal record for the half marathon (she ran a 1:53 race) and it was a quick hello and goodbye.

Like last year, the race course had been slightly altered. Miles 1-3 were slightly modified to run along Market Street but included a turn around 22nd Street (behind my old office building). The course last year took us on a short out and back around mile 3 via Spring Garden Street. This year there was another out and back but it was a little further up the course but still around mile 3. This year took us up and back past the Eastern State Penitentiary.

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This years course

Once the out and back was complete the course was the same it was typically in other years. It was up East River Drive/Kelly Drive, crossing the Schuylkill River at the Falls Bridge at mile 8 and then up West River Drive/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

It had started to warm up but wasn’t sunny. In fact it was more humid than we expected and as a result my running gear which I have worn multiple times for multiple training runs and races actually started to bother me. Around mile 6 I had to pull over to the medical tent to get some Vaseline to help in certain places (shhh….) As I arrived at the tent I asked for what I needed and was told that the volunteers had to apply it. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that and informed them that I was a married man and my wife was only a few feet away…my wife saw what was going on and was cracking up. I was a little embarrassed. It wasn’t as bad as you might be thinking but certainly not what I was expecting. Modesty was maintained through the whole process…

I was also having a little discomfort with my shoe. Although they were not new shoes, my laces just seemed to be uncomfortable so I stopped a few times between mile 7 and 8 to adjust them. My wife hadn’t noticed I had dropped back but I soon caught up with her before the turn across the bridge. Once over the bridge there is a slight downhill before the long straight back into the finish line.

It was around mile 10 that my weekends activities started to affect me. For some reason I just started to lose a bit of my energy. I was taking my Hammer Gels at my usual intervals but my wife started to pull away from me. This was a combination of my 20 mile training run finally reaching my legs and also due to the fact that my wife’s intake of Hakuna Martinis probably started to wear off on her. Just before mile 12 she turned to me and said “I forgot you ran 20 miles on Friday, lets take it a little slower and make it to the finish together” I was relieved.

The camber of the road from mile 11 to 12 is fairly noticeable. First it tilts from left to right and then from right to left. It then starts a gradual uphill before the last quarter of a mile or so of the course which is a steep uphill to the Art Museum steps. If you are tired at this point you definitely feel the change in the road and the elevation. I’ve done this part of the course many times, the Rock n Roll races every year from 2011, my 4 Philadelphia Marathons and other races that take place along the river. Today I was just determined to get it done.

As we approached the finish line we picked up the pace (you have to make it look good in front of the crowd). Our last mile was 30 seconds fast than our previous mile despite the uphill terrain.

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As per usual we crossed the finish line hand in hand.

Our time was 2:07:24. Slower than in previous years. Given our current conditions it wasn’t terrible but we are both quicker than that having run a few races this year in the low 1:50s. Mind you, those races were not after 20 mile training runs, sleep deprivation or Hakuna Martinis. We still had fun.

As we crossed the finish line the temperatures were now into the 70s although thankfully the sun was still behind the clouds. It was warm. We received our medals and a bottle of water and made our way over to the post race refreshments. Before we left the finish line area we picked up some ice cooled towels. They were very welcome. They worked a treat at helping us cool down.

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Receiving another Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon medal

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The ice cooled towels were amazing

We grabbed some refreshments (yeah for chocolate milk) and made our way to pick up our gear bags that we had checked earlier before the race. As we were getting ready to head back to the car we received a text message from my wife’s sister who was with her daughter at soccer practice nearby. We would have to pass by to get back to our car so we stopped over to see them on our way to the parking lot.

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Always happy to see family at the finish line.

As usual for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon we had a great time. I didn’t get the chance to meet up with any of my Mickey Milers team mates as we didn’t have time to hang around (we had a baby sitter on the clock) but it was nice to bump into some of my wife’s friends along the way. We will be back in 2017.

Next year we are actually venturing further afield with our Rock ‘n’ Roll races as we are set to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon in March. We probably might consider another Rock ‘n’ Roll event next year if the logistics work out for us. We shall see. They do put on a good race.

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Our reward for another half marathon completed

Thank you for reading.

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2016 Hightstown Triathlon race recap

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On September 11th I returned to compete in this year’s Hightstown Triathlon. This was my third triathlon of the year and final one of the season. I did the races in the reverse order than I probably should have – Half Iron, Olympic and finally a Sprint. Maybe next year I’ll figure it out.

I enjoyed competing in this event last year and was interested in competing again. My brother-in-law had recently purchased a bike and we talked about this event as this year they were offering a duathlon as well as a sprint triathlon. We signed up and made plans to travel to the race together. I also had planned to meet up with a couple of colleagues who were also competing in the event.

Peddie Lake - the location for the swim and the transition areas

Peddie Lake – the location for the swim and the transition areas

Race packet pickup was on Saturday before the race at Peddie Lake in Hightstown, NJ. I traveled up to the race with my boys to pick up both mine and my brother-in-laws race packets as we were meeting him later that afternoon. It was a very hot afternoon and that bode well for the water temperature for the next day. I didn’t have a wetsuit for this race (it was a short swim and I didn’t have one!) and I would be racing in just a tri suit (or as my son calls them “pajamas”).

Me and my little guys at packet pickup.

Me and my little guys at packet pickup

Packet pickup was quick and simple. As we got there they were still setting up the transition area for the next day and people were taking practice swims in the lake. It was a really beautiful afternoon.

Easy and efficient packet pickup

Easy and efficient packet pickup

Setting up transition

Setting up transition

My boys appreciated the frisbees in the race bags...they aren't angels!!!

My boys appreciated the frisbees in the race bags…they aren’t angels!!!

We left transition and headed back for a family afternoon. It was to be an early start in the morning.

My brother-in-law met me the next morning around 5am so we could rack our bikes to my car and set out early to get a spot in transition. I remembered from last year that we had to park in a lot a few minutes away from the transition area. Hightstown is about 45 minutes away so we made sure we had plenty of time to get there, unpack, transport our gear to transition, get body marked and then set up.

Yes, it is still early enough that it is dark. I had my headlamp on to get to transition

Yes, it is still early enough that it is dark. I had my headlamp on to get to transition

If places are unassigned I like to set up right at the end of a transition so I have a little extra space on the side to set up my gear and also that I will only have one person next to me (I’m not anti-social, I just like space at races!).

My 'personal space'

My ‘personal space’

My brother-in-law and I set up next to each other (it was his first duathlon) and coincidentally we set up in the row next to my colleagues. Nice to see familiar faces at races. I also recognized a member of the Bucks County Tri Club setting up and had a quick chat.

With my colleagues Bryan and Steve

With my colleagues Bryan and Steve before the race

With my brother in law Mike

With my brother-in-law Mike before the race

After a quick pit stop, transition closed around 6:45am and we headed over to the staging area to hear the National Anthem and get race instructions. The duathletes would be running 1.2 miles as the triathletes swam 500 yards. We headed over to join our swim waves. I was with Bryan in the same swim wave.

There was about a 15 minute delay at the start of the race as the entrance to the water was blocked (the railing had to be removed so that swimmers could enter). Once the water entry was cleared the first couple of waves headed out. The swim starts in the water. This involves climbing down into the pond and treading water until the start signal. The steps in were a little slippy and slimy so I was not very sure-footed on my way in. Also, there are plenty of lily pads at the edge. I felt like I was trying to escape a net while starting to swim, I even had some strands of the lily pads attached to me until around mid race.

Looking a little awkward in my green swim cap

Looking a little awkward in my green swim cap

The swim was nice. I wasn’t going out too hard and just kept a steady pace. I was doing fairly well and my sighting was good. I got to the turn just as the fast women swim wave came upon me. At this point I got fairly well beaten up, kicked and stabbed by long finger nails. Needless to say I slowed down a little just to swim out of everyone’s way. Ultimately I got stuck behind a slower male swimmer ahead of me and whenever I tried to move around him he seemed to anticipate it and moved in that direction. Grrr…

The swim leg in Peddie Lake

The swim leg in Peddie Lake

Nevertheless, unlike last year, I got out the lake without falling over and grazing my knee. Success!!! Unfortunately I forgot to stop my watch so I wasn’t sure of my exact swim time and now my transition time was messed up. My watch said 14:15, my official swim time was 12:47.

I quickly dried off and got my feet into socks and my new bike tri-shoes. (I had recently upgraded my pedals and this was my first ride outside with them). Then just as I was putting on my helmet the strap came away in my hand. NOOOOOO!!!! With adrenaline running through my body my hands were shaking as I was trying not to rush and delicately thread my helmet strap back through all the loops in order to get my helmet back together. Ugh. Eventually I got out of transition and onto the bike.

Out on the bike

Out on the bike…finally

The ride was fairly none eventful and enjoyable. I wasn’t killing it but I wasn’t going slow. My average speed was around 17.9 mph according to my Garmin for a time of 37:40. My official time was 37:43 at a speed of 17.8 mph.

The ride leg of the course

The ride leg of the course

Interestingly I saw Mike as I was heading back for the last few miles. I thought it strange that he was so far behind me. It wasn’t until later after the race that he told me there had been a mix up on the duathlon. There was nobody at the turnaround on the first leg. While the duathletes were supposed to be running 1.2 miles they actually ended up running the full 5K course for their first leg. Oops. That would explain the distance between us.

Heading back to transition at the end of the bike course

Heading back to transition at the end of the bike course

Jumping off and re-racking my bike I quickly headed out onto the 5K course. My luck was continuing from the transition. This time my race belt came apart as I started my run. This was going well!! A quick fix (while running and not tripping over) and I started out on my run. Thankfully it wasn’t as warm as the day before. Last year I had run with a water bottle and I had mentioned to my brother-in-law that it might be a good idea to run with water as I remembered only one water stop on the 5K course. I was right about the one water stop. Unfortunately I didn’t follow my own advice and forgot to bring a handheld bottle. Thankfully it was just a 5K and was fairly flat and not too sunny at that time of the morning. It would warm up for later runners.

Feeling good out on the course

Feeling good out on the course

The run was the final leg of the race

The run was the final leg of the race

The run felt good. It wasn’t anywhere near my 5K PR and I think I ran slower than last year’s 5K leg but I came in at 27:19 according to my watch with and official time of 27:15 for combined total sprint triathlon of 1:25:10. This was a couple of minutes slower than last year. Maybe it was down to the bike helmet issue but I think all three of the legs were 10 to 15 seconds slower. Nevertheless I was happy with my finish and proud of my 3 triathlons this year.

Heading home

Heading home

Enjoying my finish

Enjoying my finish

Another fun race

Another fun race

A special medal to commemorate the day

A special medal to commemorate the day

The finish line was on the main street of Hightstown this year, different from the prior year and a much more fun finish. I felt good. I was a couple of minutes behind Bryan who was waiting by the finish line. We grabbed some refreshments and headed out to wait for Steve and Mike.

At the finish line with Bryan and Steve

At the finish line with Bryan and Steve (you cannot see it but were were standing on the podium….before the real winners arrived)

I went back out to cheer in Mike and watch him finish.

Mike heading in

Mike heading in (note that he has a water bottle!)

Happy with our medals

Happy with our medals

After grabbing some refreshments we headed back to transition to pack up our gear. As I was cleaning up I found all the missing pieces to my helmet and thankfully I was able to put everything back together for real. My helmet is good. It will live to ride another day.

It was another fun race at Hightstown and a nice end to my triathlon season. Mike enjoyed his first duathlon and mentioned that he would definitely do another next year. From now through the end of the year I’m pretty much into marathon training. I have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon also in September, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October and the Philadelphia Half AND Full Marathon (The Rocky Challenge) in November.

Thank you for reading.

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August 2016 – Month in review

A fun month with lots of running, relaxation and family time. No races this month but lots of other activies.

August 2016 - Nike+ Summary

August 2016 – Nike+ Summary

This month was the most running I had done in a long time as I am ramping up the training for the upcoming Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon in early October. We also had a family vacation so I used this extra time to get a few extra miles in (I ate a lot of ice cream that week).

I didn’t do too much cross training this month. The majority of my miles were from running although I did do a couple of swim sessions totaling just over 3 miles. No bike riding this month though.

Garmin Connect - August 2016

Garmin Connect – August 2016

The month started off with a quick work trip to Atlanta. Atlanta in August is hot hot hot. I had a couple of hot runs out there but I was fortunate that the hotel where I stayed provided cold towels in their gym so as soon as I returned from my run I went up to the gym and grabbed a couple of cold towels to cool down. BEST THING EVER.

Cold towels provided to hotel guests. So welcome.

Cold towels provided to hotel guests. So welcome.

I got back from Atlanta and we took a quick family trip to Washington DC to see some of the sites and explore the museums. It was a really hot and humid weekend but the boys were troopers and the museums were nicely air conditioned so that helped.

A great family weekend in the Nation's capital.

A great family weekend in the Nation’s capital.

Another week at work followed but I took the Friday afternoon off to see my boys to finish their summer day camp. I was happy that my son came home with the following award from his bunk at day camp. I can only hope he enjoys running as much as I have over the last few years.

My future pro?

My future pro?

Packing with a 6 year old is always a challenge/fun. Here I am trying to pack my bag…he was lucky I didn’t put him on the roof with the rest of the luggage!!

My 6 year old's attempt at packing a suitcase.

My 6 year old’s attempt at packing a suitcase. Not what we had in mind.

Finally we were all packed and headed out on the road to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Looking forward to a week of family fun together.

On the road

On the road

So, Myrtle Beach in August is hot and humid. Very. I haven’t really done marathon training in the Southern States during the summer and it was quite a shock to the system. I had on my plan a 17 mile run at the beginning of my vacation and an 18 mile run before heading home. I had plenty of time to relax during the week so I didn’t mind getting up early to beat the heat. There were, however, a couple of times when the heat nearly beat me. Thankfully I run with a debit card and a $5 bill in my running belt when I travel away from home. This was the first time that I had to stop midway during a run to refill my 50oz  Camelbak water pack.

I had to stop around mile 9 of my 17 mile run to replenish all my fluids.

I had to stop around mile 9 of my 17 mile run to replenish all my fluids.

I’m not exaggerating (well maybe a little) but I swear I saw this on my run:

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Anyway, hot or not, there was ice cream to be had this holiday in addition to daily rounds of mini golf for the boys so there were daily runs by everyone in the family. We had been working with the boys to run a 5K this summer and I had signed them both up for the runDisney ‘Virtual Running Shorts‘ series so by the time we reached the end of summer they could run a 5K and earn the ‘Red Pants’ medal.

Despite the heat and humidity (they would be running later in the morning than I would) they both managed to run and finish their 5Ks. Luckily we planned the route so everyone finished at Dunkin’ Donuts everyday for a treat and some chocolate milk (and coffee for the parents). Both boys seemed to really enjoy the experience (one more than the other) and they were both totally thrilled when I produced the medals for them to wear.

Asher completed his run first.

Asher completed his run first.

Micah completed his run the next day.

Micah completed his run the next day.

Both boys were really happy with their new medals. The medal was quite impressive.

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It was a great vacation (the boys said it was the best ever) but ultimately it had to come to an end and we had to get back home and get ready for the start of the new school year.

A fun family vacation.

A fun family vacation.

Back home and shopping for school supplies.

Back home and shopping for school supplies.

August was a fun month and as we wound down our vacation ready for the new school year we look forward to what September will bring.

Thank you for reading.