February 2013 – month in review

February 2013 - Nike+ Summary

February 2013 – Nike+ Summary

February is the month of my birthday, Valentine’s Day and Groundhog Day, or the month I became a hamster…sort of…well, that’s how it felt.

Too much time on the 'mill?

Too much time on the ‘mill?

I logged 133 miles this month however it was all inside on the treadmill (as much as 16 miles at a time).  It was around this time last year that I joined the local Planet Fitness.  I had been training outdoors in the cold weather and I would come in from my runs with sore feet (running shoes are designed to let heat out but not keep it in) and tingling fingers from the cold.  I was about to buy a warm pair of gloves for about $40 when my Wife suggested I look at joining the gym for the winter.  It was only $10 a month so I had nothing to lose.  I said I would use it for the winter and probably drop the membership when the weather turned nice.  It would be less than the cost of the gloves for when I needed to use it.  Well winter turned into spring and then summer.  The treadmill was a life saver when the temperatures were over 100 or it was raining on the days I needed to get my training runs in.   However I mostly run outside when the temperatures and conditions permit.

I had my warm clothes laid out ready to go a few times but ended up putting them back.  There were a couple of times I almost got outside this month.  As I run running early in the morning I set my clothes out the night before so not to disturb everyone in the house.  I follow the weather forecast and almost always err on the conservative forecasts.  My Wife calls me a weather pessimist…I guess that must be the English in me.  I only recently stopped carrying an umbrella everywhere in my laptop bag.

This morning was my last chance this month to run outdoors.  I have a route in my neighborhood which I run and it also has some nice hills.  Well, it wasn’t until I set foot outdoors that I realized the weather was warm enough to run outside but I wasn’t wearing a long sleeve T and I didn’t have time to head back in for a wardrobe change.  They say it takes 28 days to have a habit stick.  Well, today was the 28th day of the month and I guess I just got used to getting up and driving to the gym.  Not that it’s a bad habit but still…

I umm’d and aah’d many times this month on whether to run indoors or out.  I run very early in the mornings.  I get up between 4.30-5.00 a.m. on weekdays so I can get a run in before work.  At the weekends I am up between 5.00-6.00am to get the run in before the family activities start and also so that I can look after the boys when Shari wants to go out and run which leaves me as the one to run in the dark and colder temperatures.  One recent Saturday night I was planning a 14 miler on the treadmill and someone sent me this funny post on Facebook.  It seems to sum up my mood this month.

Ellen Degeneres quote

Ellen Degeneres quote

My big discovery this month was the podcast app on my iPhone.  I don’t listen to music when I run outside and use it only on the treadmill.  I had listened to the same songs again and again on my iPod Shuffle that I found myself constantly flipping forward to find a song I wanted to actually hear.  If it hadn’t been for the ‘Mickey Miles Podcast‘ (great for the runDisney fans), NPR’s ‘Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me’ and Tom and Ray from NPR’s ‘Car Talk’, I would probably have lost my mind.  Nothing like a good laugh out loud on a treadmill to relieve the mood (although it is not always easy to keep my balance).

Spring is around the corner.  We move the clocks forward in a couple of weeks and the days are getting longer.  No excuses.  I’m heading outdoors.  Just try and stop me.

I’m taking the lead from the famous groundhog ‘Punxsutawney Phil’.  This year he came out of his burrow on Groundhog Day and didn’t see his shadow.  According to folklore this means we are going to have an early spring.  Not sure how reliable he is but I’m good with his prediction. 🙂

‘Punxsutawney Phil’

‘Punxsutawney Phil’

Oh, by the way, I did end up buying the gloves anyway…

California here I come…

California, here I come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers
Bloom in the spring
Each morning, at dawning
Birdies sing and everything
A sun-kissed miss said, “Don’t be late”
That’s why I can hardly wait
Open up that Golden Gate
California, here I come

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA at sunset.

The Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA)

My Wife and I just signed up for the San Francisco Half Marathon (the 1st Half Marathon) as part of the San Francisco Marathon weekend in June.  We were looking for a getaway for our 10th wedding anniversary and I had always wanted to visit the city and Shari said we should look to find a race out there. As I said in my previous post it’s awesome to have someone to share your interests with.

We started to ask people what there was to do in San Francisco (recommendations still welcome by the way) and someone suggested walking the Golden Gate Bridge.  My thought is why walk it when you can run it….TWICE!!!

Based on what we have seen the 1st Half Marathon (starting at a very ‘Disney’esque time of 5:30am) is more scenic and the only Half Marathon that goes over the famous bridge.  (There are two Half Marathons which basically follow the Full Marathon route – just split the course down the middle for each). Although the city appears to be hilly (based on my recollections from seeing the film Bullitt and countless others) the 1st Half is the least hilly of the two half marathons.  Not that I’m complaining.

Here is a tour of the course for the 1st Half Marathon.

Shari says that having run the Benjamin Franklin Bridge run in Philadelphia in 2011 and 2012 this won’t be too dissimilar.  Well, maybe it will be warmer in San Francisco in June than it is in November in Philadelphia.  I hope.

Although it is an early start we are staying about 15 minutes walk from the start line area and if we do our usual pacing we may be done before 8 a.m. and back in the hotel to shower and grab breakfast which still leaves us with a full day for sightseeing.  Nice.  Looking at the website the it says that all finishers over the age of 21 will get an Irish coffee at the finish line.  At 8 a.m.?  Well, you are on vacation so why not (plus the kids are at home with my In-laws).

Looking forward to writing my race report after the race.  Excuse any typos…not sure how well I function after running 13.1 miles and drinking an Irish coffee but it will be fun to find out. 🙂

It takes two…

Okay, so I am a bit late posting this for Valentine’s Day but still worth a thought or two.  Here is an article that appeared on the Huffington Post site last week.  You might recognize a couple of people (hint….Picture ’26’).

Although the article is very general it does highlight a good point.  Since Shari and I started running we have to juggle our training with our commitments to work and to our family.  Many times when I was training for my first marathon would I get up at 3 a.m., strap on a headlamp and do 18-20 mile training runs so that I could get back in time before Shari had to head out for work.  Even now I do the ‘early’ shift at the weekends, getting up at 5 a.m. or earlier so I can get my work out in be back to look after the boys or take them to an activity so Shari can work out and we don’t lose our day or time with the boys.  In fact last year we splurged on a quality running stroller so we could take the boys with us on our training runs so neither of us had to miss out.  We put at least 50 miles on the stroller together (although I was the one pushing it and getting the extra workout).

Ocean City, NJ - July 2012

Ocean City, NJ 2012

But there are those rare occasions when we do get to run together.  Seldom do we train together (as we are always on different training plans) but we have and do try to find races where we can run together.  Yes, there is the odd race where we want to PR and we decide ahead of time to run our own races, but we try to find races where can run side by side for the entire length.

As well as being good fun (we are known to ham it up for photographers just a bit) it does offer that rare time when we get to spend time together not watching TV or a movie and away from social networking and we are really doing something together as a couple.  Okay, so we are lucky that we both like to run and I’m sure that it would be different if only one of us was interested but it sure is great to share in the experience with someone who shares your life.  They just get it.

Last year Shari and I ran the LiveStrong 10K and the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon together to see if we could do it based upon our different running pace and we did it.  I sometimes push the pace but Shari can hang with me so that is good.  It also allows me to take some races easier as a PR is not the be all and end all for me.  We also ran the Hershey Half Marathon together and of course the Walt Disney World Marathon together.  I guess we help push (or drag) each other along.  I was a little under the weather at Hershey and Shari got me to the finish (she killed me on the hills that day) and she admitted it was good to have me run with her during her first marathon (although there were a couple of times when she put both earphones in and ran on the opposite side of the street!!!)

Hershey Half Marathon - October 2012

Hershey Half Marathon 2012

Bottom line…the best thing about running is that I have a partner who can stick with me, share the highs and lows and put up with my incessant chattering with fellow runners.  At the end of the day we stay healthy together and spend what really is quality time together.  Hopefully in the process we are setting a good example for our boys.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

The meaning of life…surely it’s all about the pancakes!!!

Today is National Pancake Day.  Since I started training for marathons I live for pancakes.  They are my long run treat.  Today was only a 3 mile run but who am I to argue with a national holiday.  Pancakes on a weekday???  Yes please!!!

So heading into work this morning Shari suggested I take the boys out to IHOP after school (I was on pick up tonight).  I had planned on bringing them home as I was flying solo tonight but there were pancakes involved so I took a risk and headed to school unprepared (no diaper bag) on my own (Shari was out with her sister) and with none of our usual tricks to keep the boys occupied (iPod Touch).  Yep…it was kind of like playing Russian Roulette with ‘ALL’ the bullets.  I was more than a little apprehensive, but as I said there were pancakes involved.

Surprising it went well.  It was probably IHOPs busiest day of the year (a free stack of pancakes per table).  Both boys always seem to eat well there.  Micah is the type of kid who orders chocolate chip pancakes with a side of broccoli.  He’s my kid for sure.  Asher is just happy with scrambled eggs and pancakes.  They are good eaters and I feel like I get my value for money with these kids (ha ha).  As you can see from the pictures below it was good fun and I made it under my daily calorie budget and the boys came home fed and relatively clean.

Me with Asher at IHOP

Me with Asher at IHOP

Micah patiently waiting for his 'Funny Face' pancake.

Micah patiently waiting for his ‘Funny Face’ pancake.

Thinking about my penchant for the pancake I started thinking about how much my lifestyle has changed and not just because of the kids.  It was my birthday yesterday and I turned 41.  I feel like I am much better shape now than I ever was in my teens, twenties and thirties as I am running 5 days a week.  As long as I track what I burn in calories when I run I can treat myself somewhat guilt free.  I am much happier.  I am much healthier.  I was just looking at pictures of me before I started running versus pictures of me at Disney last month for the Goofy Challenge.  Not only do I look different on the outside, I am different on the inside.  Whether it’s a true runners high or just a pancake high it is hard not to say that sticking with it, training for my first 5K then my first half marathon, first marathon and beyond has all been worth it.

July 4, 2010 - a month before I started running

July 4, 2010 – a month before I started running

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

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

All the miles, all the effort, sometimes it hurts but the rewards are there to see.   Thank you IHOP for my free stack of pancakes.  I will be back soon but first I have to earn my pancakes.

See you on the run 🙂