It’s been a fun and rewarding journey…and I haven’t finished yet

A few months ago my Wife told me about an application for the iPhone called ‘Timehop’ which describes itself as follows:

A time capsule of you. See your photos and updates from this exact day in history. Timehop helps you celebrate the best moments of the past with your friends!

Or as some folks probably would say it shows how much time you may have wasted on social media over the last 4+ years (LOL).

For me though it provides a window and a reminder of some of the things I did with my kids when they were little (they are still only 7 and 4 but time flies for sure). Today’s ‘Timehop’, however, was a big ‘Wow’ moment for me. In the feed today it had the photo shown below.

Timehope 2010

This is me back in June 2010 at Sesame Place with my youngest who was about 5 weeks old.

Also in the feed were a few more photos (which for personal reasons I will not be re-sharing) showing me playing in the water with my eldest son and wearing a heavy cotton shirt despite the sweltering temperatures on that day. Why is it a ‘Wow’ moment? It is this picture that  which prompted me to change my habits and start to get healthy. I got my first iPhone around this time and started using the LoseIt app. Shortly after this and I began running a few weeks later using a Couch to 5K app. My life over the last 4 years has transformed.

You can see from this blog as a whole how much I seem to enjoy life and not just running but family and other activities we do together and with friends old and new. It is amazing how I had been a yoyo dieter and an exercise quitter for many years over and over again. Something about this picture of me holding my newborn son changed everything…for the better.

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

Running the 2014 Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

I’m very proud of how far I’ve come on this journey and what I have achieved. I didn’t do it alone and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the support, especially from my Wife who has joined me on this journey. I never knew what I was capable of and I am still tapping into that potential but along the way I have had the most amazing time. I’ve also been able to use my new passion for good and have to date raised over $8,000 running events for Autism Speaks. None of this would ever have been possible had it not been for my reaction to that photo. Thank you Timehop for showing me how far I have come.

2013 San Francisco Half Marathon

2013 San Francisco Half Marathon

Thank you for sharing this adventure with me. Long may it continue.

Father’s Day and a Fun 5K

2014-gpr-masthead-300x130Yesterday was Father’s Day and as I had done a couple of times before I signed up with my Father in law to run the ‘Gary Papa 5K for Prostate Health International‘ in downtown Philadelphia. It’s a 5K run along the West River Drive (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) and is just at the side of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is a fun race for a good cause and is also the site of my 5K PR (23:31 back in 2012). I don’t run that many 5K races anymore and I probably should as they are a good workout and will make me (in theory) run faster in my other races. In addition to running a 5K I had made plans to meet up with my friend Joe from my running group (the ‘Mickey Milers‘) who up until now I had only chatted to on Facebook, so I was really looking forward to the event.

I am at the halfway point in my training for the ‘Chasing the Unicorn‘ Marathon in August so when my Father in law told me he would pick me up at 6:30am I had an extra hour of sleep compared to my regular running schedule. The race wasn’t due to start until 8:30am and we made good time heading down to Philadelphia but it was lucky we arrived that early as it took us almost 30 minutes to find a spot to park. I’m glad I don’t live down there…sheesh!! It was almost a 5K from where we parked to the start line LOL. Once parked we headed over to bib and t-shirt pickup. They had not e-mailed out the race numbers beforehand so we had to look them up on the boards they had set up and then head to the appropriate table. I had a bit of a surprise when I spotted my number. Eek!!

Seriously? I have to race with this number?

Seriously? I have to race with this number?

Well…I just went ahead and pinned it on.

Here with my Father in law. No we didn't coordinate our outfits in advance.

Here with my Father in law. No we didn’t coordinate our outfits in advance.

I had received a text message from Joe as I was arriving so once I had my bib I headed over to the steps of the Art Museum to meet up. Social media is a great medium to communicate and meet people on line but it is much better when you get to meet that person for real. We had about 30 minutes until we had to head to the start line and so we chatted and relaxed. As I have said in previous blog posts, I find it so much more relaxing to have someone to hang out with prior to the start of any event and it was fun to hang out with Joe.

Representing the Mickey Milers at the Rocky statue

Representing the ‘Mickey Milers’ at the Rocky statue. ‘The Eye Of The Tiger’

Having never run before with Joe we hadn’t really discussed pace, walk breaks, goals or anything else about the run in advance so we just agreed to take it easy. I was out to enjoy myself and not set a PR today. The weather was cool and clear (although it did heat up as the race went on) and it was best to just start and see how we went on. We walked down to the starting area and were still chatting as the race began. I’m a talker for sure and Joe is obviously a very tolerant fellow to put up with my endless chatter….my wife would have run off at this stage. Thanks Joe 🙂

Anyway, we ran 9:21, 9:03 and 8:38 for the 3 miles which gave us a nice 9:00 average pace for the run. Neither of us took walk breaks. It was quite a busy course with the number of people out there so we did have to do a bit of weaving about but we stuck together the whole way. I forgot to tell Joe I don’t see out of my right eye so I did unintentionally bump into him a couple of times 😉

On our way back after the half way turnaround we passed by a man laying on the ground. He didn’t look in a good way. You always look out for other runners and it seemed that there were plenty of people around him at this point. Not sure of what, if anything, we may have added to the situation so we ran on although we were still thinking of the man who was down. We saw an ambulance heading up the course so we knew professional help was on it’s way. The good news (and it was in the news) was the runner is now recovering and is okay but it seemed it was quite a scare for everyone out there. Glad it is a happy ending. You don’t really hear of people collapsing at a 5K and he did look pretty in shape but as I said it was beginning to get warm and we didn’t know of any other factors.

Joe and I made it to the finish line and crossed together. I had a great time running with Joe and I look forward to running again with him sometime. We are both running the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in September but hopefully we can arrange something before then.

At the finish line. 5K in the books.

At the finish line. 5K in the books.

After Joe headed out home to spend Father’s Day with his family I waited for my Father in law who was running not too far behind us. He did great too. He is just beginning to get back into running after taking a couple of years off. He’s doing well so far and is also signed up for a few more races this year.

As this was Father’s Day we had plans to meet up with everyone for a beach day in Atlantic City, NJ (about an hour from Philadelphia). Typically we shower at my Sister and Brother in laws in the City and head down to meet everyone but this year my eldest Son’s Flag Football team had made it into the Superbowl and my Wife was watching the game which started at 10am and then they would head down later. I was unable to get back up in time so I was getting play by plays over text message as I was on the Atlantic City Expressway (I wasn’t driving so don’t worry).

My Son’s Flag Football team had played and 8-0 season and had won their playoff game last week so we had high hopes going into the Superbowl. Although they were down early in the game they rallied and won the game in the second half. I was a proud Dad (as I always am) this Father’s Day. He was so excited and yes, I am building him a trophy shelf in his room.

Go Texans!!!

Go Texans!!!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach, walking, digging and playing in the sand. We came home after dinner with two very tired boys who were fast asleep and needed to be carried up to bed.

What a great Father’s Day this year.

Thank you for reading.




Get out and run for a good cause

Just a reminder that as part of my fundraising efforts this year I am hosting 2 virtual 5K run/walks. You can run or walk each of the events. There is no need to submit a proof of time but if you want to win one of the prizes you will need to submit a photo so that other entrants can vote on the winners. Here are the two medals that are available for the events.

'Going Goofy' 5K medal

‘Going Goofy’ 5K medal

'Secret Agent 005K' medal

‘Secret Agent 005K’ medal

Last year there were some great photos submitted for the ‘Where’s Dopey’ 5K and the event was a big success. I even did my own entry during a trip to San Francisco. Here are a few examples of photos that were submitted.

12974_221615817988514_1509098446_n 988269_221615824655180_806247907_n 995976_221616017988494_1739712951_n 1003520_221615467988549_1610459434_n 1146663_221615447988551_1843898926_n 1146708_221614634655299_1532530944_n 1148939_221614681321961_1711435627_n 1157605_221615521321877_341710910_n

Please take a look at the events and I invite you to take part. Funds raised will be going to Autism Speaks for their ongoing research and support for autism and autism awareness.

Here is the link to the ‘Going Goofy 5K’ and here is the link for the ‘Secret Agent 005K’.

Have fun out there. I look forward to seeing you photos.

Autism Speaks

April and May – Month(s) in review

As I was starting my review for May I realized that I never posted the month in review for April. It may have been that I was a little busy around the month end (see here) which took my mind elsewhere for a few days and I never actually realized my oversight until just now. April, after all, was a pretty big month for me.

April 2014 - Nike+ Summary

April 2014 – Nike+ Summary

My monthly stats show 152 miles but that is not the whole story for the month. I set a new Marathon PR (3:54:30) at the New Jersey Marathon. In addition I ran a the inaugural Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K and the Bucks County Half Marathon. With the inaugural Philadelphia LOVE Run back on March 30th this made for a very busy few weeks of training and racing. The cool thing about that is that all my race times were around my marathon goal pace so I actually went into the marathon with confidence. All the hard work paid off. I was a very happy fellow for a few days…until I had to take about 10 days of unforced rest.

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K

Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K

Bucks County Half Marathon

Bucks County Half Marathon

What else…oh yes, my wife and I signed up for the Baltimore Running Festival. We will be running the Baltimore Marathon together. My hope is that we can bring her marathon PR down further. I’m confident she can. We also signed up for the 2014 Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. I was hesitant to do this again as I have run it for the last 3 years and we had discussed skipping this but for some reason we decided to give it another chance this year. After all, we have a family wedding later this year and we want to look good in the pictures.

April was also registration time for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Again I signed up with Team Up/Autism Speaks for a third year but this time ‘just’ the Goofy Challenge. My wife also signed up with Team Up so we are fundraising together (harder than training if you ask me). As part of our fundraising efforts we are running two virtual 5K fun run/walk events. This proved both popular and successful for me last year and we are hoping for the same this year. We actually have some really great medals and vendors have been generous to offer some cool prizes for participants this year. I hope you take a few minutes to take a look, perhaps join in one of the events and please do share this with your friends/running partners. It should be fun. Here are the medals designed for the events.

005K medal

005K medal

Going Goofy

Going Goofy

With a rather abrupt end to April (running wise) and a short break in training in May I had some ground to make up…well, really I was antsy and wanted to get back out there ASAP. Here is my recap for May.

May 2014 - Nike+ Summary

May 2014 – Nike+ Summary

I still managed to get 113 training miles in during the month and was very grateful to be able to do so. The weather outside in May has been glorious. Yes, there have been some cool mornings but with the exception of a couple of rainy runs it has been great to be outdoors in the early mornings as the sun is rising and get my runs in. Now that I am training using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 training program my weekday mileage has crept up a little. I’m glad for the extra sunlight so I am not so reliant on the headlamp right now.

My wife ran in a couple of races this month. Early in May she ran a new PR at the Broad Street Run 10 miler in Philadelphia and on Mother’s Day I signed her up for a local 10K where she came back with a 2nd place age group finisher award. Go Shari!!! I’m a big fan (when I can keep up with her).

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group - Mother's Day 10K)

My wife with one of her awards (2nd place age group – Mother’s Day 10K)

The rest of this month has really been focused on managing the new training program and the increase in mileage. I am trying to follow the program diligently and doing the pace runs before the long runs. So far so good. Holding about an 8:30 min/mile pace on the hilly course where I train so I’m pleased with that.

On Memorial Day I finally took the bike out for my first ride of the season. I’m pleased to say that I got in 20 miles and felt comfortable. I have signed up for a third year now for the Cycle Bucks County riding event in June so I’m looking forward to that. I think 25 miles is my comfort level when it comes to cycling right now. I’m not yet ready for the Ironman training.

Memorial Day was also the last time we did a family run with our double stroller. The boys are just too big. We bought the double stroller back in 2012 so that my wife and I could both run together with the boys. We have put on well over 150 miles running together with the stroller including three 5K races as well as a couple of long vacation runs. We figured that the boys were on the cusp of the weight limit at the end of last summer but held on to it over the winter. We took it out on Memorial Day and I just couldn’t keep up with my wife. My boys are getting bigger and we were not able to keep up with each other. It was time for it to go but we had some great times running and a lot of fun. It went to a good home.

Our last stroller run. As you can see, the boys are big enough to push me.

As you can see, the boys are big enough to push me.

With the good results of the medical procedure behind me I can now concentrate on other matters. One thing I wanted to look at since I PR’d at the New Jersey Marathon is a chance to better it. I think I can do it. I signed up for a local marathon held in late summer on a flat and fast course along the Delaware Canal Towpath. It is in August so there may be some heat to deal with but that is my goal and after that I can enjoy Baltimore and then Goofy with my wife.

I’ve also signed up for the Gary Papa Father’s Day 5K in Philadelphia. I ran this back in 2012 and this is still my 5K PR (23:31) although I don’t run many anymore. I haven’t decided if I am going to race this for a PR or do this for fun. We shall see how I feel closer to the date. It is a good fundraiser for prostate cancer awareness and draws a large number of entrants. It is a fairly flat and fast course down by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That is coming up on Father’s Day (June 15).

Also, I finally I decided to sign up for a race that I had been tempted to in the past but had not done yet. A midnight 8 miler in July as part of the ‘philadelphia#in24‘ series of races taking place along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on July 19 through the 20th. It is a 24 hour event featuring an ultra marathon, a relay challenge, a midnight run and a 5K. Should be fun. I’ll be there all lit up in lights and reflective gear.

I have a pretty busy season coming up and lots to look forward to. It’s not all running though. As much as my wife and I pack in with our training and racing we still have plenty of time for our boys. There is a swimming pool in our development for those hot summer afternoons, we just bought a trampoline so our kids can tire themselves out (hopefully) as well as memberships at Sesame Place, the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (thank you Groupon for all you do!). We are also planning a weekend in New York City with the boys and are planning a trip to the Statue of Liberty. As I said, running is just part of our lives…not all that we do.

Thanks for reading. Hope you are having a good start to the summer.