May 2016 – Month in review

Okay, so I know this is late June as I write, but May is still technically last month so I’m squeezing in a late ‘Month in review’ (you’ll understand why below).

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May 2016 – Nike+ Summary

At the beginning of the month my wife and I ran the 2016 New Jersey Marathon. You can see the distance recorded at the start of the monthly summary. What you see after that is a long gap of 9 days between runs and a total of just under 84 miles run in the month. I shall explain shortly. As you can see from my Garmin data below (where I record all activities swim/bike/run) I covered a total of 288 miles (8 miles swimming, 196 miles on the bike and 84 miles running) as my focus after the marathon was on training for my half iron distance triathlon in July.

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May 2016 – Garmin Connect Summary

As I mentioned in the review of the 2016 New Jersey Marathon, it was a very wet and cold day. After the race I came down with a cold and a bad sinus infection which resulted in a nice expensive journey to the Minute Clinic early on a Sunday morning to get a prescription for some antibiotics. In addition to this, I had a pretty bad cough which led to some sore chest and back muscles. I took a few days of rest to help everything clear up. I thought I was doing okay so I got up on the morning of the 10th to do a bike workout and as I bent over to put on my bike cleats I threw my back out. Ouch….a long crawl back to bed where I was laid flat on my back for two days with a strained sacroiliac joint. That kind of put a damper on all the triathlon training I had planned.

I ended up missing almost two weeks of my training plan and was getting a little concerned as I haven’t gone beyond a sprint triathlon before. Multiple trips to the chiropractor over a series of a few days, lots of ice and heat treatment and I started to loosen up. My wife was the race director for an inaugural 5K for her company and we had been the first to sign up. I was a little concerned about running still so I took an easy 2 mile run the day before to see if all was okay. Thankfully it was. No sign of any recurrence. I was feeling good going into the race.

The morning of the 5K my wife left early to set up so I headed down with my Father-in-law and the boys. My Father-in-law and I were running the 5K and the boys were running in the 1 mile run which took place after the 5K had completed. We got to Cooper River Park early and my boys went straight to the post race refreshment table. I don’t even want to know how many donuts they ate while I was getting everyone’s bibs for the race. I was still a little concerned about my back but the park looked pretty flat so I thought I would see what kind of pace I could maintain as I don’t run many shorter distance races these days.

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My favorite Race Director

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Ready to run the Freedom Mortgage 5K and 1 mile Fun Run

I actually ended up running a very decent pace (although the race was actually more than a half mile longer than a 5K). I ended up 10th overall and placed 3rd in my age group with a sub 8 minute pace. Pretty happy considering that I was laid flat on my back a few days earlier.

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Good enough for 3rd place in my age group.

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Proud parent moment. The Heir and the Spare running the 1 Mile Fun Run

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Looking good

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Priceless. Crossing the finish line

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Two very happy boys.

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My eldest however didn’t realize how many laps made up the mile distance. It took him a few minutes to recover.

With the boys new-found excitement for running we decided to do what we could to encourage them to do some more. I signed both boys up for another 1 mile fun run on July 4th (the Washington Crossing Revolutionary Run which I ran last year) and I also signed them up for the new Disney Shorts Virtual 5K. We plan to train with them all summer and run the actual 5K when we are on vacation in Myrtle Beach in late August. I will give them their medals and they can wear them around the beach resort.

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Mickey Shorts medal

We took the boys out to run along the Delaware Canal Towpath over the Memorial Day weekend which was a lot of fun. Hot, but fun. As we did when we ran with them in the stroller together, we started and finished outside of our favorite bakery so there was some incentive to their efforts.

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Running south on the canal on our first outing.

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Running north on the canal on our second outing.

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Running back to the bakery on our second outing.

Now that I was feeling back to normal it was headfirst into the triathlon training. I’ve trained many times for marathons but this was a whole lot different and much more intense. I guess it’s the daily double workouts typically about an hour each which is the main difference. I am doing my second workouts sometimes after the boys are in bed and it is pretty late for someone like me who is usually an early bird when it comes to training.

The biking and running brick workouts on Saturday are typically more time than I spend exercising especially when I still have my long runs to do on Sundays. It is worth it to achieve my goals but it is exhausting. I’m sure it will all pay off as I have put in a lot of effort to try not to miss any scheduled workouts. I am feeling much better with my swim. I still have my concerns about the bike but I am at least feeling a little more comfortable in the saddle. You can see from the summary below how much time I am putting into this.

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Training Peaks workout summary for the triathlon training.

And  how early I am getting up to do these workouts (from my Fitbit sleep tracking).

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With all this extra training, it does build confidence. I am feeling stronger in the pool and I’m actually enjoying and looking forward to my swim sessions. The bike, I’m still ‘eh’ for now but hopefully I’ll be more comfortable as my training progresses in June.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Apologies for the late write-up. As I said when I began, technically it is still last month so I’m getting in before the SAG wagon creeps up on me.

April 2016 – Month in review

 

April 2016 - Nike+ Summary

April 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike summary shows a total of 122.7 miles. Added to that 35.39 miles on the bike and 0.98 miles in the pool (okay, that was just one swim) it was another active month. Actually this was supposed to be my taper to the 2016 New Jersey Marathon which you can actually see by looking at the declining long runs on this months chart.

The biggest takeaway from this month wasn’t the actual workouts but what happened to the weather. It seems like we had a very mild Winter and just skipped Spring. April is around the time I’m usually heading out the door to get my long runs in for my Spring marathons. The weather didn’t cooperate. My wife had run her last long run of 20 miles in cold and wet weather. I followed up with a long 20 mile run in rain and then snow(!). So much for Spring.

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My last long run took place under less than perfect conditions.

My last long run took place under less than perfect conditions.

Seriously...how was your run?

Seriously…how was your run?

The weather finally broke (for about a week) and I was able to get out for the first time on my new bike. It was more of a test ride to see if I was comfortable. I think so, my hands were cold from the temperature for the most part but I survived and there were no falls. I’ve got to build a lot more time in the saddle before my half iron distance triathlon this July, but it’s a start.

Sunshine and cycling. A good combination.

Sunshine and cycling. A good combination.

I had signed up for the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon which I ran for the first time last year. The weather on the day, thankfully, was phenomenal. Perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I managed to finally set a new PR at the Half Marathon distance after almost 3 years of getting close. I was very happy and would recommend the race if you are nearby. You can find my race review here and also my review on the Runner of a Certain Age podcast here.

I tried a new product this month, Honey Stinger Organic Waffles, which I used before the UNITE Half Marathon. I was loooking for something more than just a PowerBar before my races/long runs. Not as many calories as a PowerBar but more than my regular GU gel (and more tasty). These were recommended and worked out well. I took one of these waffles and a cup of coffee on my way to the race, felt good and then the PR. I cannot complain…I know it wasn’t just the waffle but it didn’t hurt.

Tasty. Have to hide them from my two boys.

Tasty. Have to hide them from my two boys.

As always, the registration for the Philadelphia Marathon opened up on April 1st. I was lucky again to be one of the first 500 registrants which provided a discounted registration. I coupled this with another discount code I received for completing a survey from them about the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon. Happy to be back to run one of my favorite races again this fall.

Back again for Philadelphia Marathon number 5 this Fall.

Back again for Philadelphia Marathon number 5 this Fall.

The New Jersey Marathon was set for May 1st so as usual before any big event I make sure that my body is ready for whatever I am going to put it through. I usually have a chiropractic adjustment the Friday before a race to make sure I am properly aligned and all the bits that are supposed to move are in fact moving. This month I also decided to add a deep tissue sports massage into the process. Ouch. Seriously, ouch. My wife asked why I didn’t say anything to the masseuse. I told her I was doing my best not to cry. Oh well, lesson learned. I did feel better…eventually.

On my way to a new Half Marathon PR at the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

On my way to a new Half Marathon PR at the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

May brings us the New Jersey Marathon and then it’s ramp up time for my half ironman training. Plenty to look forward to.

Thank you for reading.

 

March 2016 – Month in review

March

Nike+ Summary – March 2016

My total mileage for the month was 200 miles. Although my Nike+ summary says 150.5 there seems to be an error in the site 😦 as the total running actually adds up to 163. I managed to knock out 1.6 miles from the limited time I spent in the pool this month and I put down 36 miles on the bike (unfortunately indoors on the bike trainer only).

This was a big month for marathon training for the upcoming New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. Although I still have one long run left in April before the taper, March saw me crank out three long runs of 17, 18 and 20 miles. I’ve managed to wear down two pairs of shoes so I’m getting ready to break in the new shoes for the marathon soon, taking my last two pairs of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15‘s out. Post marathon I’ll be looking to do some more runs in the Altra Provision 2.0s and looking to move up to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16’s. The Brooks has really been my ‘Go To Shoe’ (GTS) since I started running marathons back in 2011.

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Breaking out the last pairs of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15’s to break in for the marathon.

At the beginning of the month we found out the results of the New York City Marathon lottery. My wife was accepted but for me it’s another year with no entry. I actually had signed up for the Princeton Half Marathon on the same day prior to entering the lottery but now that my wife is running I will forego the race so I get a chance to travel, support and cheer for her on race day. I’m looking forward to going and I’m planning how I can crisscross the subway system to see her as many times as possible. I will probably look at the lottery again for another year.

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Maybe next year.

With not getting into New York City this year I looked to a Fall race that my wife and I had discussed as a backup plan. We are now going to be heading to Albany, NY in October to run the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. My wife will be running the half marathon that day as it fits nicely into her training plan for New York City. We have family up there so are planning to take the boys and making a weekend out of it.

With my calendar now all confirmed for the year (plus signing up again for the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon when registration opened up on April 1st) I was able to update my training plan for the year. You can follow the link to my insanity here.

This month I finally got fitted and took ownership of my new road bike for the upcoming HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July. The folks over at Guy’s Bicycles near me were really helpful in finding the right bike for me for the right needs and at the right price I could afford, a 2015 model Scott CR-1 30. They took time to explain the different options available and they fitted me for my specifications on the bike swapping out any components that needed to be adjusted to fit me just right. I’m looking forward to getting outdoors on this once the weather improves and I have enough early morning daylight hours to ride outside before work.

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The fitting process included adjusting the seat height, angle of the seat post/saddle and the reach over the frame. They did replace the saddle….

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See? I did leave with a saddle.

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Ready to roll. Yes, my license plate does say 007.

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Back home and ready to ride.

Mid month I had to take a trip down to McLean, VA to do some work out one of our offices. It was an opportunity to run outside again as it was a little warmer down there. The office is on a very large corporate campus near Tysons Corner, VA and my hotel was right next door. I planned out my routes and each and every day and still I got completely lost. It was only the sight of my office building (beautifully lit from the outside) that I was able to locate my hotel each day. Headlamp running does have its drawbacks, especially for the geographically challenged.

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This was my guiding light home every morning. Easy to spot and much more impressive when seen for real.

Also this month I ran the Philadelphia Phillies Charities 5K with my wife. She has run the event every year since it began and this was a first time run for me. It was a chilly morning but it was a fantastic run. We ran together and hit a pretty good pace. The swag from the race was impressive with each of us getting a shirt, a medal and two tickets each for a pre-season game, one of which we were able to swap for a later game in the season. We also got a chance to get onto the field to take a few pictures after the race. We earned our pretzel that day.

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Pre race. Trying to keep warm and wearing as much red clothing as I could manage. Go Phillies.

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Medal, schmedal. I got a pretzel!!

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Happy with our pace. We ran step for step together.

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And finished with a fun photo opp.

I got a package late in the month from my buddy, fellow Mickey Miler and host of The Marathon Show, Eddie McCoy. In addition to all his training, work, life and other activities he has managed to plan for and provide team shirts and jerseys for our running team the Mickey Milers. Looking forward to wearing my new long sleeve jersey (although hoping for warmer weather to so I don’t have to wear it too often).

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Hmmm….wonder what this is?

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Yup. They got that right. Mickey Milers purple and yellow.

Earlier in the month I was invited to participate in a recording of the ‘Let’s Run Disney’ podcast to discuss my ‘Goofy in a Day’ experience from last May. The podcast was released at the end of the month and you can get to the link from here. It was fun to talk about the experience and it was nice to be a part of the show.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my month in review. I appreciate you stopping by each month. March was very busy but there is plenty to look forward to this year with the upcoming New Jersey Marathon coming sooner than later.

As a reminder, I will be participating in the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July and raising funds for Autism Speaks through this event. If you would like to sponsor me you can get to the sponsorship page here. I appreciate your support.

Autism Speaks

February 2016 – Month in review

February 2016 – Nike+ Summary

February 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike + Summary shows 127 miles for the month. There was still no cycling this month but I got 2 miles done in the pool.

I did, however, go to my local bike store (Guy’s Bicycles) to meet with the owner regarding a new road bike for my upcoming half iron distance triathlon this summer. I had briefly spoken to him during the annual Bucks County Triathlon Club get together at the start of the month and subsequently set up an appointment with him. I think I’ve chosen the best bike based upon his recommendations and what I can afford and will be waiting for the weather to get warmer to go out for a full test ride. The bike has been built and we are just waiting on the weather. Very exciting.

As per last month, month of the training was done indoors on the treadmill. I’ve certainly got more use out of my home treadmill this month than I have since we got it last May. I just have to get up extra early now so I can coordinate with my wife who typically uses it mostly during weekdays before work while I run outside. I’ll be happy to be outside again so I get to sleep in a little longer and we can both start at the same time.

During the month I finally ran in my first Bucks County Road Runners ‘Winter Series’ race. I have been a member of the running club since 2011 and never had the chance to run in a Winter Series event. My wife has done a few of these but I was always training for a Disney race and the distances and timing/logistics with family never worked out. Our friend is the Race Director this season and our boys happened to have a sleep over that weekend so both my wife and I were able to run together in the ‘Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe’ Half Marathon in Tyler State Park.

I have run many miles in that park and the course still took me somewhere I had never been. Somewhere new to include in the course rotations going forward. It was fun. They had a great number of runners and people could choose a series of different distances (based upon the number of loops run). We did the half marathon distance which was the most available on the day. It fit nicely into our New Jersey Marathon training. There was a great post race gathering which apparently happens every week during these races. There is a fire pit, coffee and hot chocolate and all the food you can think off. I took my share of the oatmeal raisin cookies and the (really good) hot chocolate with me as we had to head out to pick up the boys.

Running the 'Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe' Half Marathon

Running the ‘Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe’ Half Marathon

Also this month we entered the lottery for the TCS New York City Marathon. It is the 40th anniversary race this year and sure to be something special in addition to being one of the world majors and a bucket list race. My wife and I both tried for the lottery in 2014 and didn’t get in. This year we both entered again and committed that whoever gets in will run regardless of whether the other doesn’t (spoiler alert – the drawing took place on Tuesday March 8th. My wife got in, I didn’t).

At the end of the month I launched my fundraising page for Autism Speaks. I’ve run for Autism Speaks for the last few years at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This year I will be raising funds for them through participating in the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July (the name changed from the Kingston, NY to Hudson Valley, NY this month with a slight course change). I am hoping to raise at least $1,000 this year. You can reach my fundraising page here and read about my fundraising here.

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to more outdoor than indoor running as we move headlong towards Spring.

Autism Speaks

 

 

 

January 2016 – Month in review

January 16

January 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike + Summary shows 121 miles. There was no cycling or swimming this month. Not sure why but probably because of travel, weather and general fatigue and no races I took it rather easy. Still, managed to knock out 121 miles.

We had just returned from our Florida trip when I had to fly out to Arizona. I think the drive time from Florida to Pennsylvania and the transcontinental flying finally caught up with me combined with the change in temperatures (winter finally arrived) sending me to my basement treadmill for my runs.

I think the major ‘funk factor’ in this was the fact that this was the first Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend I have missed since 2012. I had to live vicariously through all my friends and fellow Mickey Milers team mates Facebook and Twitter posts. I was itching to be there so bad this year but the logistics of home life, work travel and also costs just made it an impossibility this year. Sad, but there will be other times. I’m focusing on my first half ironman triathlon distance this year so really cutting back on racing and focusing on the training plan…boring…but hopefully fruitful come July 🙂

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Trying my best to not feel left out…with my 2015 Half Marathon shirt and my extremely overpriced 2013 Marathon coffee cup

With the weather forcing me indoors I actually have the opportunity to try transitioning to Altra Zero Drop shoes. I would have liked to try this previously but there is a 3-6 week adpating period where you wear the shoes progressively more and more each run but switch back to your regular shoes mid-run. Generally when I am running outdoors I am not looking to carry a spare pair of shoes everywhere with me. Indoors at least I can put the shoes next to the treadmill and easily switch mid-run. We shall see how this goes. I am trying to transition  from my Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoe with a 12mm drop (from heel to toe) to the Altra Provision shoe with a 0mm drop. It will take time I’m sure and I will probably have a few strange aches and pains during transition. We shall see how this works out. So far I’ve managed to get up to 6 miles. A way to go if I’m going to be into these shoes before the New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. The key is to getting to the start line injury free. If it isn’t working out I’ll be running in the Adrenalines.

So, as I’m saying that I will be registering for less races, I did manage to sign up for 2 first time races for me this year. The first is the Philadelphia Phillies 5K race at Citizens Bank Park on March 26. I figure a 5K during the marathon training will be a good time to see how my speed is going. Not sure it will be a fast 5K given the nature of the race but I will see nearer the date. Also, I signed up for the Princeton Half Marathon in early November. My wife ran this race last year and I was really jealous of her ‘squirrel’ medal so it’s my turn this year! It’s in November after my triathlon season so I can get away with my previous comment about running less and concentrating on the triathlon 🙂

One day the squirrel will be mine...

One day the squirrel will be mine…

Oh, I almost forgot, I registered again for the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon. It fits nicely into my training plan and it was a nice race for me last year.

My wife and I registered for the lottery for the New York Marathon. We will find out if we get in together in early March. I figure if either one of us gets in we should run it regardless of whether the other does or doesn’t. It is such a big race and the lottery is just that…a lottery. Who knows if we will get selected. It’s a big race but it’s definitely a bucket list one. I figure it’s a one and done type of race because of the size of the field and the logisitics of the weekend just sound a bit too much for me. I’m sure it will be fun and I am hoping that we both get in. I’ll let you know 🙂

Both my wife and I are in training for the New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. The weather has driven us both to the treadmill unfortunately. Looking forward to getting out whenever we can but making sure to be sensible and safe. No point in running in the cold and icy conditions if we don’t really have to. Better to be safe inside. The conditions in May will not be replicated in January that’s for sure.

We had the first big snow of the year…and it was big. On top of my long run that day (11 miles on the treadmill) I was outside shoveling snow for over 4 hours. Quite a workout but I prefer swimming and biking as my cross training!!!

My youngest in the snow. Reminiscent of Hoth...

My youngest in the snow. Reminiscent of the planet Hoth…I think he is looking for his tauntaun.

I hit another personal milestone this month as I made it past the 8,000 mile mark since I started recording my workouts back in September 2010.

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I’d been running about 5-6 weeks using a ‘Couch to 5K’ program before I started logging my activities so this is pretty much from the beginning. So now I’m onto the next milestone. In that time I’ve completed 19 half marathons and 14 full marathons and countless other events. I’m feeling pretty proud of how far I’ve come. I think this is also going to be a big year for me and January was a good start to 2016’s adventures.

 

 

 

December 2015 – Month and Year in review

December is over and a new year has begun. Time to take a look back at the month, the year and look forward to what 2016 has in store.

Dcember 2015 – Nike+ Summary

December 2015 – Nike+ Summary

For the month of December I ran 128 miles, swam 1.3 miles and cycled 39 miles. This is nothing compared to the 1,150 each way journey I embarked on from my home to visit my parents in Florida. Interesting journey…just pleased (and relieved) that my 9 and 5 year old passengers were awesome the whole way down.

2015 – Nike+ Summary

2015 – Nike+ Summary

All in all for the year I ran less but still racked up mileage by introducing swimming and biking as I started my triathlon career. A total of 1,964 miles for the year. 1,576 running, 366 cycling and 22 swimming. No wonder I am so tired.

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

See...they're in the back. This is outside a Dunkin' Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

See…they’re in the back. This is outside a Dunkin’ Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

Before I revisit the year I’ll take a quick look back for the month of December.

With such a mild December I was able to still run outside for the most part, even when I visited Atlanta, GA for business (although it was cooler there than I had expected). It was just a matter of avoiding the rain. More often than not I was outside. When I got to Florida, the weather was glorious. Very hot and humid so that slowed my pace a little but I was fortunate to have my parents look after our boys so that my wife and I could get out almost everyday for mid to long runs. It worked out great.

Nice to have a chance to run together

Nice to have a chance to run together

While we were down in Florida we signed up for a the local Bradenton Running Club’s Annual Manatee River 5 Mile Run. We even signed the boys up for the kids races. It was a hot day and not much shade but it was a good day to be out there. I also met up with my fellow Mickey Miler team-mate Robert.

Ready to run

Ready to run

Running family

Running family

Discussing race strategy

Discussing race strategy

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

Reward for his 200 meter run

Reward for his 200 meter run

Making it look easy

Making it look easy in the 400 meters

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Reserve in Palmetto, Florida

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Preserve in Palmetto, Florida

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Determination

Determination

A great end to a fun year. Lots of family time and a great chance to get out and run a lot. We did eat a lot of ice cream on vacation so the running was badly needed!!

2015 – Looking Back

It was a very busy year. My wife and I ran 3 marathons together and I ran 4 in total. This included us running for Autism Speaks while we ran the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World back in January. We ran the Pittsburgh Marathon together in May and the Marine Corps Marathon together in October. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November as well as a few half marathons during the year. Happy to be able to compete and even better for being able to run with my wife for most of these events.

In May I ran my first unofficial ‘ultra-marathon‘ (any run longer than 26.2 miles is considered an ‘ultra’) for the charity ‘Give Kids The World‘. I ran 39.3 miles in one day (the equivalent of the Goofy Challenge – a half marathon followed by a full marathon but all in one day). This charity is supported my my running team, the Mickey Milers and through this event I was able to raise $1,250 for this cause.

This was also the year I ventured into triathlons. I attempted (weather shortened) my first triathlon back at the New Jersey State Triathlon back in July. I was able to finally complete my goal of a sprint triathlon at Medford Lakes, NJ and then added a final sprint event before the end of my triathlon season in Hightstown, NJ so I could concentrate on my Fall marathon schedule.

It was a year of accomplishments for me and I’m grateful I was able to complete these events and remain relatively injury free.

2016 – Looking Forward

While my running schedule isn’t set for the full year, I am signed up for a couple of big events. First, my wife and I are signed up to run the New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. I’ve run this event twice before and this is still my marathon PR race. We also entered ourselves for the New York City Marathon in November. We will not find out about whether we get in until March so I’m looking at other races in the Fall just in case although I haven’t committed to any yet. Of course, I will be signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon as long as I am around that time of year.

The big event for me this year is that I will be participating in my very first Half Iron distance triathlon (70.3 miles) in Kingston NY in July. This is quite a step up from the sprint triathlons I did in 2015. I hope to be in good shape and ready when the time comes. Looking forward to it very much.

My other goal this year is to work on speed (and stay injury free). I’m looking for a fairly local goal race in the Fall (maybe before New York if we get in) to see if I can get to that 3:45 marathon time goal I seek. We shall see.

Thank you for sticking with me for the last few years as I have been writing this blog. I hope that I have lots of good stories to share in 2016 (and beyond).

Wishing you all success in all your endeavors this year. Happy New Year.

 

2015 Hightstown Triathlon race recap

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On September 13th I finished my second sprint triathlon. The Hightstown Triathlon in Hightstown, New Jersey.

With all the training I’ve done this year getting ready for my first triathlon (New Jersey State Triathlon) and then the fact that I didn’t get to complete it because of a weather event I was looking for other events as a chance to make up the race. Although I did complete my first triathlon (Medford Lakes Colony Sprint Triathlon) in August, this race was another that I had looked at for a number of reasons. It was (fairly) close to home as I drive past the area every day on my commute, a few colleagues were getting together to do this event and had asked me and finally it was very reasonably priced and had good reviews.

With that said, I was comfortable with my swim performance in the last two triathlons and the run was also fine but I got my butt handed to me on a plate during the bike section both times. It’s not my favorite part of the triathlon but still as hard as I was pushing on my hybrid Trek FX 7.2 bike I was getting passed by everyone on a dedicated road or tri bike. It really felt like I was the one on training wheels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is a barrier to entry for competing in a triathlon, it isn’t, but I wanted to see if I would be able to do better on a road bike just once. I took to social media and asked if anyone had a 58″ road bike with SPD pedals they would be willing to lend me for the race and was fortunate enough to have a friendly neighbor offer their bike for use.

I haven’t had the chance to ride a road bike since my teens and I remember how sensitive the steering feels at first so I decided to take it out for a practice run to get used to the feel and the gearing (different from using the old levers attached to the top bar I was used to). I took the bike up to the old naval base figuring that a flat road would be easiest to start on.

After a few wobbles I was up and running (or riding). I did quite a few straights up and down the airstrip to get used to the gear changes. It was a warm humid morning and every couple of miles I had to stop to clear my glasses as they were full of mist. I was particularly wet but it was fun to be out and riding at some decent speeds (although nothing advanced…still afraid to fall). I managed 14 miles during the ride, eventually moving around the perimeter of the park so getting used to maneuvering about. A good session to build confidence on the bike. It was then off to Atlanta for the week on a business trip. Glad to get the ride done.

Test ride at the air strip at the former naval base.

Test ride at the air strip at the former naval base.

I arrived back home late Friday so I had to plan on heading to the packet pickup on Saturday. I pass this town on my way to work everyday. It’s the exit I take off the New Jersey Turnpike to get me to my office. After a busy morning with the family I knew it would be a quick journey to and from the staging site.

Unlike road races, I think it helps me to go to the actual event site before the race so at least I can see the swim course. I have no problems reading up on bike and road courses but for me I need to see the water. That is the anxiety point still in my triathlon experience. As I arrived at the packet pick up at Peddie Lake there were folks out on practice swims so I got to see part of the course in advance. They were still setting up the transition area for the bikes but I got a good sense of the layout, after all running in and out of transitions is very much part of the sport and it helps to know where to set up and where the entrance and exit is (more on that later though).

Packet pick up was pretty simple. Two tables, one for packets and one for shirts. There was a vendor tent (TriEverything) who were also renting wetsuits for the next day. I looked at how people doing practice swims were dressed and also from hearing from a couple of the folks swimming and I decided to pass and save myself some money at this race.

Packet pickup

Packet pickup was pretty straight forward

TriEverything was there for any last minute supplies

TriEverything was there for any last-minute supplies

They were still setting up the transition area when I arrived

They were still setting up the transition area when I arrived

This was the lake we would be swimming in the next day

Peddie Lake – This was the lake we would be swimming in the next day. You can see the buoys they had out marking the course as well as people in boats and kayaks monitoring the safety of the swimmers.

Some folks taking part in the open swim that was available before the race the next day.

Some folks taking part in the open swim that was available before the race the next day.

The race shirt had the Swim Bike Run logo and ran big for the sizing. It actually was a pretty wide fit. It seemed to get wider the lower down the shirt in a reverse taper. At least mine did. Nevertheless it was a nice soft technical shirt and I did wear it after the race that day.

The race logo on the shirt

The race logo on the shirt

I went home and assembled my gear for the next day. I used the same method of packing the Home Depot bucket that I had in my previous triathlon although I packed a little less this time as it was a lot to drag around and I didn’t end up using all I had brought last time. I packed my car with as much stuff as I could the night before the race and then just tried to relax after leaving myself a whole bunch of reminders at the front door before I went to bed to not forget my water bottles, food, Garmin watch etc.

Other than getting in my exceedingly snug one piece tri suit (it wasn’t this snug at the start of the summer) it was easy getting up and ready to leave the house the next morning. A big change was putting the road bike on the back of the car this time around. Wow…a revelation. It was dark as it had been in my earlier races this year but the bike was so much lighter. I didn’t struggle in the dark to make sure I had the bike racked correctly. Nice!!!

I got there early and it was still dark. The parking lot which I had used for packet pickup was closed to participants as it was part of the transition and staging area, so I followed everyone else with their bike on a bike rack at 6:45am into one of the parking lots a block or two further. I had a little foresight in packing to bring my running headlamp with me so I could actually see what I was doing once I had arrived. I un-racked the bike and got all my gear from my car and started to follow everyone else to the transition area. It was pure coincidence that I bumped into my colleague Kathy and her husband Bill. Kathy was about a month from finishing her first full Ironman (Ironman Mont Tremblant). We walked to the transition area together where we were body marked with our race number and age by the volunteers.

I set up my transition area in an empty rack at the far side so I would only be next to someone on one side. I’m still fairly new at this and I know I’m not heading for a podium finish so I just want to be in a place where I can be in my own race and not in a really busy transition area with the competitive athletes. I set out my gear, made a quick bathroom stop (or as fast as you can make it in a one piece tri suit) and tried to keep myself calm.

My transition area

My transition area

Relaxed and ready to do this again.

Relaxed and ready to do this again.

Since I no longer wear contact lenses when swimming I am relying on my prescription goggles to help me see in the water before I swap into my prescription sunglasses for the bike and the run. That’s all well and good for the actual race but it makes waiting around a bit tough if you cannot see things clearly as to where to go and, as I was also barefoot, where to walk and stand without injuring myself 🙂 I ended up walking around holding one of the eye pieces up to the one eye I see out of. Pretty much like a sports monocle LOL.

I met up with my colleague Bryan and we waited together while they made the race announcements and sang the National Anthem. They were running about 5 minutes behind schedule but it wasn’t too big of a deal. The race wasn’t too crowded. Once given the word we made our way to the opposite side of the lake to wait for our swim wave to start.

The swim wave started in the actual water. We had to climb down a steep concrete drop (further than I thought while wearing my prescription goggles (they are not an exact strength…but I’m not exactly reading while I’m swimming so it’s good enough). On the race website they had some FAQs about the swim which included:

How deep is the water?

The water is shallow at the entry and exit points of the course, and is between 8 and 14 feet deep throughout the rest of the course. You will not be able to touch bottom throughout the swim course however, you may hang onto a buoy or rescue kayak as long as you do not get assistance with forward movement.

Should I worry about aquatic animals?

No. The fish and turtles etc. in Peddie Lake will dive for cover when they see so many people in the water. We have never had any issues with aquatic animals bothering people in the water.

Okay then. No sharks and I can tread water. I think I’ll be okay here.

As you can see from my face in this picture…it was a little colder than I expected upon entering the pond. Not cold but not as warm as I had thought it would be.

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There were quite a few lily pads at the edge of the lake and when were given the signal to go it felt like escaping a net, but once I got going I was okay. As planned, I waited until everyone had started and was out-of-the-way before I began swimming so as not to get too caught up in everyone’s moving limbs. Early on in the swim another competitor right next to me got into trouble and started yelling for assistance. I waited until he made it safely to a boat and then headed on. Just before the turnaround I started being passed by the lead swimmers of the wave behind me so I swam a little wider to get out of their way. in about the last third of the swim I was passed by a few of the competitive female swimmers. I looked up and could see I was near the end of the swim leg so I felt okay.

Getting out of the water was a bit more difficult than I expected too. I know I had struggled getting up and out of the lake at the New Jersey Triathlon which was quite rocky and seemed a little steadier on my feet at the Medford Lakes Colony Triathlon which was a gradual egress onto a beach. This was an exit up what seemed like a boat ramp. I didn’t quite gauge the angle of the exit. It was concrete and I stood up too early, lost my balance and fell down and off to the side of the ramp scraping up my knee. A little concrete rash but nothing to cry about. Just glad to get out of the water in one piece. Swim time 00:12:45.

From there it was onto transition. I sat down on my upturned bucket and washed, dried and put talcum powder on my feet before slipping on my Injinji socks and my bike shoes and headed out of the transition with the road bike.

This was a much better experience than my two previous races. 1) there was no lightning, and 2) I was faster. In fact I felt comfortable on the course and was actually passing people not being passed which was the case at my last race.

Midway on the bike course I got passed by Kathy who yelled a passing word or two as she took off on her bike into the distance. The bike was actually fun. A few up and downs and a couple of hard left turns which had me wobble a bit but it was a good ride up until a car drove onto the course around mile 8 and stopped a number of us from passing. Hmmm….eventually it moved over and we were able to pass. Still I managed to maintain a reasonable speed about 3-4 mph faster than my last ride on my own bike.

The bike portion of the race

The bike portion of the race

Coming down the home stretch of the bike course I was really pleased and eased off a bit to save my legs for the 5K portion of the race.

When I entered the transition area I was a little disoriented…that’s my only explanation for running down the wrong section and recognizing that none of the gear was mine. I figured out where I should be, quickly racked my bike and changed my shoes and headed out for the run. Bike time 00:37:31.

I had put a small 8oz water bottle at the back of my race belt which actually turned out to be a good idea as there was only one water stop that I recall on the run which was at the turnaround.

The 5K started up with a gradual uphill across the street and then ran through the surrounding neighborhood streets. It was a bit twisty so you couldn’t exactly see where the turnaround was. Early on I passed by Kathy on the outward part of the run. I saw my colleague Bryan on the inward stretch as I was still headed out. Good to see everyone looking good out there on the course.

The 5K route. Quite a few turns during the out and back.

The 5K route. Quite a few turns during the out and back.

It was getting warmer at this stage and so I was pretty happy to have my own hydration with me and ran a comfortable pace. As I turned the last corner and saw the finish chute I picked up the pace a little and made it through with a run time of 00:25:06.

Coming down the finishers chute

Coming down the finishers chute

My overall finish time for the triathlon was 1:22:18 including both transitions.

Once crossing the finish line I received my medal from a volunteer and a bottle of water.

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Bryan was there at the finish line and so we waited for Kathy and also our colleague Steve and Kathy’s husband Bill before we headed back across the street to the staging area for the food and other refreshments (soft pretzels, donuts, fruit, sports drinks and water) and to watch the award ceremony.

We took a couple of group shots to share with the office and then packed up our gear and all headed in our separate ways. Easier said than done. Remember I was wearing a headlamp when I left the car? Well, I couldn’t remember which parking lot I had parked in and then once I found the correct lot I had to walk around to find my car. I’m directionally challenged.

With Bryan, Kathy, Bill and Steve after the race

With Bryan, Kathy, Bill and Steve after the race

Overall I really enjoyed this race. The race director and his team did a great job communicating with everyone before, during and after the event and they did a great job staging everyone and providing all that we needed for a successful event.

I would recommend this race for someone local. It’s a nice course in a small town in New Jersey. Great fun as I continue this triathlon journey alongside my marathon madness.

Thank you for reading.