Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2 Years Ago...


My first run and my most recent marathon.

Wow.  Amazing how much difference a few years make. My first run where I couldn't make it an entire mile without stopping (and walking) compared to my latest marathon.  As I try to type this tonight, I keep thinking back about those first days of running and how hard it was to even get out and start every morning.  I remember forcing myself to keep trying harder, keep fighting that asthma, keep facing that cold winter air.  

And now look how far I have come.

2 years, 50 pounds, 385 workouts, 2223 miles.

All that hard work lead up to a pretty satisfying performance for me at the Indy Monumental Marathon this past weekend.  To be honest, I wasn't sure how it was going to go.  I had been training with this new SMART plan which had me resting more than the previous marathon plans I had used.  I had run some of my best long runs during that training and even had a great half marathon race at Iron Horse.  I knew I was getting faster but how would that translate to race day as I tapered down my training leading up to it?

I tried to figure out what pace I should be able to run.  I really had no idea.  Could I pull off the 7:13 pace that I did for the Iron Horse?  That pace would put me very close to Boston qualifying, could I possibly qualify already?  I came back to reality.  That was a half marathon and if I went out at that pace, I would be done by mile 15. However, I knew I should be able to run faster than my last marathon... but how much faster?

I didn't really decide on how fast to start out until race morning.  I got up and was getting ready when I noticed I didn't have my armband for my phone.  We had packed up things rather quickly that day before we drove up to Indianapolis so I figured it had separated from the rest of my running things.  After some time searching I came to the realization.... I had left it at home!

You have to understand, I had used my phone to track EVERY SINGLE run/race/walk/workout since I started that first day in the winter of 2011.  I have my running playlist of music on it as well as the notifications of what pace I am running for every mile.  I had recently been debating about running without it and just going with how my body felt since I had read that people have ran their best races that way.  This day my decision had been made for me!

As I headed into the race corral that morning I remembered that Indy Monumental had pace runners. Basically there are runners who are confident in the time that they are going to finish and carry a small sign with that time on it.  Runners can run with them to try to achieve their goals for finishing times.  I knew my last marathon in Louisville earlier this year I had posted a time of 3:44 so I figured a good goal would be 3:30 for this one as it was a flatter course.

I started in that group around the pace runner but noticed that my body kept wanting to run faster.  I figured I would listen to it since I could tell my heart rate wasn't too high and I felt pretty good.  I pushed ahead of the group and before long, I caught up with the 3:20 pace runner and group.  I settled into that pace and it felt about right, until I got to about mile 20.  By this time, I could tell that I had been running faster than normal for that distance (and it hurt).  I figured I was already ahead of my best time so I just told myself to try to keep a steady pace and I would be happy with the results.  I fell a little behind by the time the finish line came around but I still finished with a great time of 3:22 which is about a 7:45/mile pace.

I think I am going to run without my phone or music for every marathon from now on.  I had a lot of comments on my St. Jude Hero shirt which allowed me to talk with a few folks along the way.  Being in the pace group was a good experience as well.  The pace runner that was with the 3:20 group was great at it.  You could really tell that he enjoyed running by the way he interacted with the group.  There was also great crowd support with plenty of cheering, bands, cowbells, and hilarious signs so I never really felt bored during the entire race.  A good experience all around.

The 3:22 finish puts me 17 minutes away from Boston qualifying.  That really makes the goal seem more obtainable doesn't it?  Especially when I realized that I improved 31 minutes from the same race last year.  I now have a training plan that I can adapt as I improve and know for a fact is working.  Hopefully 2014 is the year that I pull it off!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Best at Iron Horse Half Marathon

This was only part of the beautiful course.


As some of my Thompson family would say - "What a great day!"  I got up early Sunday morning and made the trip to Midway, Kentucky with my parents for the Iron Horse Half Marathon.  We hit a little traffic coming into Midway (it is a pretty small town) but we were able to find a parking spot on a side road not too far from the starting gate.  The rest of the race went as smooth as the start for us.

This was a really beautiful course.  I was a little worried about the course map at first and this is why I say that.  If you look at it, you run out a few miles, turn around, run back through town and out a few miles, turn around, run back into town, and finish.  I usually don't like races that turn around and run the same road more than once, but this half marathon was rated one of the best in the country so I figured it was worth a shot.  I am really glad I did.

The scenery in this race is so wonderful that you don't even think or notice that you are running down the same road.  The roads are country roads with no markings on them and they are either lined with fences to horse farms or trees.  At one point during the race, there was a herd of horses that seemed to be running with us.  They would go back and forth from one side of the fence to the other.  It was great to watch them gracefully run up to one side and then all at once, turn around and head the other way.  

This race probably isn't the best race to try to get a personal best.  It seemed like the whole race was either going up a hill or down a hill.  I know at each turn-around a small part of me said to myself "I have to go through those hills again??"  Luckily that thought passed rather quickly as the scenic view takes over.

All in all it was a well put together race which I really enjoyed.  Both my father and I earned our best half marathon times and enjoyed every minute of it.  There were plenty of refreshments at the end of the race, nice long sleeve technical shirts, and a good looking medal.  There was a band playing at the end and a pretty good turnout of people cheering in town as well.  I believe we will both be signing up for this one again next year.

Pretty good finish for a hilly half marathon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Training is paying off!

That's right! :)

16 weeks of training. 9 weeks down and 7 left to go until The Monumental Marathon.  Training has been going pretty good since my last post.  I am hitting all my major runs and getting some easy runs in between.  

This past week, I could really tell my training was in full effect, both negatively and positively.  I started the week with my normal interval run and tempo run.  I finished them but my legs were really feeling it for both of them.  This has happened to me before in each of the other marathon's I trained for.  During peak training weeks your legs just turn to mush.  I didn't finish those runs at the time that I would have liked but I pushed myself to finish them none-the-less.  On Friday I had a nice easy 3 mile run which felt really good.  When you run 6-7 miles on most training days and 15-20 on long run days, 3 easy miles just feels awesome.  I think that small 3 mile run kind of rejuvenated me in some way.  I ran without my headphones, didn't care what pace I was running, and really just enjoyed getting out in the cool morning air.  

Since I hadn't hit a pace I wanted all week and my legs actually felt pretty refreshed on Sunday morning, I decided to see what I could do.  

My training plan had a goal for me to run 20 miles at a 7:47 pace (I have never hit one of my long run pace times during this entire training plan).  I figured if I could keep it around 8-8:15 I would be doing pretty good.  I started off at a good pace (7:49) and kept a similar pace through the first 5 miles which somewhat scared me as I thought I might be pushing a little too hard.  At mile 6, I came around a corner to a long stretch of road and saw another runner about a quarter mile in front of me.  Of course at that time my goal completely changed to passing that guy :). I kicked it in gear and was able to pass him, also recording my best mile during this run (7:14!).

Now by this time I am really worried about keeping pace and making it through 20 miles.  Not only was I going at a pace faster than what I was used too, but I just used quite a bit of energy to get past the other runner I saw (which was totally worth it by the way!).  Especially since I was just about to hit the hilly part of my run.

As the hills came, I just kept my eyes focused about 10 feet in front of me and tried to keep the same foot turnover that I had been doing (grinding it out).  I just kept thinking, push up the hill and you can rest going down.  I slowed a bit through those hills, but still kept my time right around 8:00/mile. 

After the hills, I just kept the same mentality through the rest of the run.  I made it through 20 miles in 2 hours and 38 minutes and not only beat my 20 mile best of 2 hours and 45 minutes but beat my half marathon best by 1 minute and 51 seconds.  What a great feeling it was when I hadn't been able to hit a pace all week and then really crush it on my long run.  Like I said before, I could really see the training starting to pay off.

This has somewhat changed my goal for The Monumental Marathon.  I had been pushing for an 8:20/mile pace but I am debating about pushing that to 8:00 or below after this weekend.  If I could pull that off I would be ecstatic!  That would be a pretty big improvement over the 8:44 pace I did last year.

I also signed up to be a St. Jude Hero for the Monumental Marathon.  I figured since I am already running, why not put it to good use?  If you are not familiar with St. Jude, they are an organization that helps children with cancer and other diseases.  Please consider donating to this wonderful organization and help me reach my goal!  You can donate or learn more on my personal site for St. Jude -  http://heroes.stjude.org/nthompson   

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Asthma Sucks!

Thought I was just about done with this thing!

11 weeks to go until the Monumental and what I had hoped to be a bounce back to good training was short lived.  After writing my last blog post, I was able to get back on track and get a good training week in. Unfortunately it took a turn for the worse after that.

For the ones that know me, you know that I have fought asthma most of my life. But since I have been running, my battles with asthma had been very few as I got in better shape. This past week was a shocking reminder that it is still a part of my life. My whole family got hit by some sort of chest cold and it hit me particularly hard. I was suddenly back to using an inhaler as it caused my chest to tighten and fill with gunk as I was constantly trying to cough it up. I attempted to run with it a few times but it was nothing but hacking and being out of breath. If you have asthma then you know this is a horrible feeling. Being sick also affected my energy levels and just my overall mood which didn't exactly help me get up in the mornings to run.

I am still fighting through it and have just about kicked it though.  Tuesday was the first time in over a week that I didn't have to use an inhaler before or after my run. It wasn't the perfect run but I will take it at this point. I was also able to get in a good tempo run and an 18 mile run today in 2:30 which is faster than I have ever ran 18 before.  As my buddy Dave would say #beatasthma!

I also have the Iron Horse Half Marathon in 9 weeks which I am really looking forward to.  Not only is it rated one of the top half marathons in the country, but my father is racing with me.  It is in Midway, Kentucky and the course has some very scenic rolling hills around the horse farms in the area.  Hopefully training continues to progress and I am able to PR this half along with IMM!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

14 Weeks Until Monumental Marathon

It sure did the past 2 weeks.

I have started my training for the Monumental Marathon in Indy the past 2 weeks and honestly, it hasn't been too great.  Basically, I was able to get in my interval training, my paced run, and my long run in each of the last 2 weeks but my cross training/easy runs have been non-existent.  I was however, able to make those important runs during those two weeks so I am still on track.

What happened?  Plain and simple - Life!

  • A golf scramble (Always kills the good eating habits)
  • Late nights working (Makes it hard to get up in the morning)
  • My youngest son's 1st birthday (Planning for the party, bad eating
  • My mother in-law's 60th surprise birthday party (Ditto as above)
  • 2 deaths in the family (crazy huh?)

So here is hoping the next few weeks are uneventful and I can get back on schedule!

In regards to my schedule, I wanted to lay out a few of the changes that I am making for my training this year.  I have done some research (what would we do without Google?) and decided to change a few of my running habits.
  1. Change my running form and habits to strive for "injury free" running.
  2. Take better care of my muscles.
  3. Change up my weekly training schedule to include more intervals and paced running.
To start off, I know I didn't have good form when running.  I could tell that by the way my heels would wear on my shoes before anything else (heel striker!).  I had always followed the philosophy of run comfortably and if you don't have any injuries don't worry about it.  Well, I decided to change that when I decided to strive for Boston qualifying.

The first thing I did was read up about "injury free" running and I found a few things that really seem to help.

Chi Running basically adjusts your running posture to land more mid-foot with a slight lean forward from your ankles (not from your waist).  What this does is allows your feet to work with the ground instead of against it.  Let's put it this way.  If you are running and hitting your heel first every step, you are actually stopping yourself every step and then pushing off again.  When you hit the ground with your mid-foot, your legs are already propelling yourself forward when they hit the ground so there is no slowing down before you push off.  Here is a good video on it.


The next step in trying to stay injury free is to take care of my muscles.  Here are a few things I am doing to help with that.
  • Stretching - One thing I make sure that I do before every run is stretch.  I stretch my calves, thighs, back, and quads before every run.  
  • Warm-up and Cool-down - I try to have a warm-up and cool-down segment to every run.  Basically just a mile or 2 of easy running before I really dig into the meat of my run.  This and stretching help to keep from "shocking" your muscles and causing an injury.  
  • Strengthening Core Muscles - These muscles are mostly located in the center of your body (abs, gluts, etc.).  They really come into play during long distance running (and just running in general).  I won't go into too much detail on the exact exercises but there are some good ones that are somewhat easy to do - Lolo Jones' core workout.  
  • Foam Rolling - My wife laughs at me every time I use it but I am really starting to see the benefits of it.  You can pick up one of these foam rollers at a store like Target for around $20-25. What this cylinder of foam does is allow you to roll different muscles which has an effect like a deep massage.  It basically loosens the muscles so that they are more pliable when you go to put them to use.  Don't get me wrong, this hurt like HELL the first few weeks that I tried it.  I knew it was working when it stopped hurting as much.  Another benefit to this is it helps your muscles recover faster so you can get out and run more.  Most of the rollers come with a DVD with some instructions and various techniques but here are a few more exercises on a very informative website that I read - Foam Rolling for A**holes!   
I can definitely tell that healing/recover time has diminished by putting the above steps into place.  I also am not as sore after my training runs.  So far so good.

Finally, I am attempting a new training schedule that includes interval runs.  I had seen the interval options in the Endomondo running app I use but had never tried them.  I looked at a few options out there and decided on the FIRST Marathon Plan (The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training).  I actually used the above link and THIS to come up with my plan.  It is a 16-18 week training plan that focuses on pace and resting so that you are ready to achieve peak performance on main training days.  You have 2 important runs during the week and then a long run on the weekend all based on a certain pace.  The days in between you either cross train or do an easy run.  If you are more interested in the program the links above go more in depth.

The interesting part of this training plan is that you have to figure out the paces based on a past race.  Can you see why I like this training program?  Numbers and science built into a specific plan to get faster; does it get any better?  Luckily, I found a website that helps you calculate all of it - VDOT Calculator.  So I basically put in my last 5k time and let it calculate the paces for me.  I then put them into the training plan.

For an example, here are the first 2 weeks of my schedule:

I can honestly say that interval training is a humbling experience for me.  I can run 26.2 miles under 4 hours but I am having a hard time running 2 miles as a warm-up, running 1 mile hard and 10 seconds easy (3 times) and then 2 miles cool-down.  I can get through the first 2 hard miles but the next definitely drops off in time.  I am assuming it gets easier the more I do it, or at least I am hoping so!
So far these changes do seem to be working.  I have noticed that my speed in shorter distances has improved but since I am using different muscles (more calf) it is taking some time to train those muscles for distance.  I guess I will find out as I work through the 16 week training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November.  Wish me luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Road to My First Marathon

Passing someone right before the finish line!

I started running about a year before I lined up in the starting corral for my first marathon.  I remember joking with co-workers back then about how I would never run a marathon, I was just running to get in shape and to have more energy.  How quickly that changed!

I started the year signing up for the Louisville Triple Crown of Running and the Kentucky Derby Festival MiniMarathon.  I remember thinking at that time, can I really run 13 miles?  The most at that point that I had even attempted was 3 miles and those were at a 10 minute pace.  I did some more reading and decided to add a long run every weekend to build endurance.  When I look back now, I realize how determined I was.   I was running 3-4 times a week, cross training 2-3 days, and only resting before the day of my long run.  By the end of January, I was able to run 10 miles!

Every weekend I went a little bit farther and by mid February, I had mapped out my first 13 mile run.  I not only made the 13 miles without stopping but I did it just a little over a 9 minute pace!  I was amazed at how much my speed had improved as I dropped weight and my mileage grew.

March started all of those races I signed up back in December.  I was pretty shocked when I walked to the starting gate of the Anthem 5k and saw all of the people lined up to race.  I went through all 3 legs of the Triple Crown and had my best times for all 3 races.  I even finished the MiniMarathon with 8 and a half minute miles as well.  By that time my confidence was at an all time high!  So what did I do with all that confidence?  I signed up for more races, including a FULL marathon in Indianapolis.... in November!

Unfortunately, my summer months are always pretty hectic because of work.  Our biggest projects drop during this time so it usually involves me travelling quite a bit. No problem right? They have treadmills in hotels that I could keep up with my running.  This would work great... or so I thought.

All of my training up until that point had all been either outside running or hitting the weights/exercise bike in my basement.  I had never ran on a treadmill because I didn't have one.  Plus, who wants to run on a treadmill when you can view the sunrise every morning!  But, how bad could it really be?  I could still listen to music or watch TV while I ran.  Well, I walked into my first hotel gym (right beside the pool area) and it was HOT!  it had to be over 90 degrees in that room.  Even better I thought to myself, I will be sweating more and lose even more weight. Boy was I about to hit an experience I would never forget.  I couldn't even run 5 miles.  It felt so awkward running on that machine; so boring, and so hot!

So my running took a big hit in June/July but I was able to bounce back and start training in August/September.  I actually started following a training plan for the first time designed by Hal Higdon (http://www.halhigdon.com/)  I put together a modified version of his Novice 2 training plan based on the days I knew I couldn't get up and run early.  It didn't seem too bad with 3 days of running, 1 day of cross training, 2 rest days, and a long run.

I followed the plan almost exactly.  It worried me a bit that I would peak at 20 miles as I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it to 26.  Luckily, when the time came to run the 20 miles, I felt like I still had some gas left in the tank for more when I got done.  I feel like it was a pretty great way to start training for my first marathon.  I definitely wasn't disappointed with the results.

RACE DAY!

I woke up pretty early that day.  I made sure that I had ate an early enough breakfast so that I had energy ready to be used.  Oatmeal, a bagel, water, and a banana a few hours before the race and then some Powerade and an energy gel about an hour before the race.  I walked down to the starting corrals and I found the 4 hour pace guy and stayed close to him during the start.  This is the guy I wanted to make sure I beat come the end of the marathon.

One thing I didn't think about was all the fluids that I was putting in that morning.  Not just before the race but I made sure to at least grab a small drink at every aide station.  Sure enough about halfway through the race, I was searching for a port-a-potty!  I found 3 open on the side of the road ahead and started making my way towards them.  Just my luck, 3 lady runners hit each one of them right before I got there.  A minor setback which I swore to make up during the next few miles and I did.  I definitely learned my lesson in that race though.  I go to the restroom before I get in the starting corral EVERY race now.  I don't care if it just a 5k.

I made up my time in the next few miles after my restroom break and was feeling pretty good about not seeing that 4 hour pace guy since the beginning of the race.  About mile 18 or so, it started to sleet.  It was pretty interesting hearing the sleet bounce off of my hat as I was running through it with a long sleeve shirt and shorts.  Honestly, it motivated me a bit.  It was an extra challenge that I had not expected and I actually picked up the pace during that time.  At about mile 21, I thought I was going to regret that push as I started to feel the tiredness in my legs (here comes the part of hitting the wall I had read so much about).  I just kept telling myself I had less than a 10k left to go and if I just keep the pace I am going, I will do better than I expected.  I was able to keep that pace and was able to push even harder during the last part of the race passing a few others to a strong finish.  It definitely helped to have some family support at the end!

I can honestly say that it was very rewarding to finish the race like I did and beat my goal of 4 hours by 10 minutes.  There isn't much out there that tests your mind and body like 4 hours of consistently running.  I also couldn't have done it with my awesome family support. My wife, 2 sons, mom, and dad were all there to support me and I couldn't have done it without them!

So there is the story of the road to my first marathon.  I hope it helps to inspire some of you out there to give it a shot.  I am proof that you can go from doing almost no exercising to a marathon in a year.  I even had a few set backs during that time and was able to pull off my goal of finishing under 4 hours.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How I Lost 50 Pounds in 5 Months


Here are 7 things I did to lose (on average) 10 pounds a month.
  1. WATER.  I can't stress this one enough.  Drink lots of water.  There are many benefits from drinking water including helping with hunger and boosting your metabolism.  Those diet sodas and alcoholic beverages do nothing but kill your metabolism which can actually make you gain weight.  Bring water with you everywhere!  (unsweetened tea and black coffee work too)
  2. Do some kind of physical activity every day.  It doesn't have to be running a marathon.  Take a walk around the neighborhood, take the stairs at work, or chase your kids around the house!
  3. Track your workouts and calories.  Being the tech/math geek that I am, I found an app on my phone (Noom weight loss coach) which allowed me to easily estimate how many calories I was eating every day.  Compare those with the calories you burn working out (Noom also keeps track of that!).  You need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight and build your metabolism.
  4. Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 big meals.  This also helps to build your metabolism.  Make sure you eat a good breakfast every day and try not to eat much a few hours before bed.  If you get hungry late, try eating something good like fruit to satisfy the hunger.  I usually try to have things like almonds and fresh fruit around the house.
  5. When going out to eat look for the healthier meals.  I know it is tough when everyone else is ordering a double cheeseburger.  I look for things like fruit/nut salads, grilled chicken/salmon, and whole grains.  Most restaurants will have items that are under a certain amount of calories.  Choosing these items will also help with #2 because you will have an idea of how many calories they have.
  6. Lay off the sweets!  This one is really hard for me because I love chocolate, ice cream, and warm cookies. :)  The easiest thing I can tell you is get them out of the house.  If they are not there, it is much easier to turn to an apple or orange to satisfy that sweet tooth.
  7. Sleep.  You guessed it, sleep affects your metabolism as well.  Having 7-8 hours of sleep is much better for you than 4-5 (for other reasons as well).
After following these for a while, you will get used to this lifestyle change and keep the weight off.  I dropped 50 pounds in 5 months and have kept it off since.  I do run somewhere between 25-35 miles a week but you can ask my wife, I eat quite a bit to keep up with that workout routine!  Once again the amount of calories burned versus the amount of calories eaten are what you are looking for to lose the weight and boost your metabolism.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why The Boston Marathon?

One day... One day...

People who aren't runners probably have no idea why The Boston Marathon means so much to a runner.  I am hoping to explain the best I can why this marathon stands above the rest in the running world without diving too much into the history.

First off, it is the worlds oldest annual marathon.  It started back in 1897 and is ran on Patriots Day every year.  It attracts over 500,000 spectators each year and an average of about 20,000 participants.  Last year it had over 26,000 registered runners and has been as high as 38,000.

One thing that people don't always realize is that you have to qualify to run in The Boston Marathon.  To qualify, you must complete a certified marathon course in a certain time depending on your age and sex.  Below were the qualifying standards for 2013:
Boston Marathon
Qualifying Standards

(effective for 2013 race)
AgeMenWomen
18–343hrs 5min3 hrs 35min
35–393hrs 10min3 hrs 40min
40–443hrs 15min3 hrs 45min
45–493hrs 25min3 hrs 55min
50–543hrs 30min4 hrs 0min
55–593hrs 40min4 hrs 10min
60–643hrs 55min4 hrs 25min
65–694hrs 10min4 hrs 40min
70–744hrs 25min4 hrs 55min
75–794hrs 40min5 hrs 10min
80+4hrs 55min5 hrs 25min
To put this in perspective, my 1st and 2nd marathons I ran in 3:50 and 3:44 respectively.  From what I have read in the running community, a lot of people try to finish under 4 hours.  That was my original goal when I set out to run a marathon.  To qualify for Boston I have to run 39 minutes faster then my last marathon time.  That is about 1:30 faster per mile!

So if I can get my time down to 3:04:59 then I am in, right?  Not exactly.  The 20,000 spots are filled giving faster runners priority so even if you qualify you aren't guaranteed to be in the race.  What a bummer that would be!

Once you actually get qualified, you have to prepare for the race.  There are training plans out there tailored just for this race.  The Boston Marathon is considered to be one of the more difficult marathon courses because of the "Newton hills" and specifically "Heartbreak Hill".  These hills start at mile 16 and challenge runners with late climbs after running downhill up to that point.  Heartbreak Hill only rises 88 feet but it hits racers at the worst part of the race.  Between the 20th and 21st mile marks, muscle glycogen stores are most likely depleted (what runners call "hitting the wall") and cause a lot of runners to walk up it.

Heartbreak Hill got its name because of the race in 1936 where defending champion John A. "Johnny" Kelley overtook Ellison "Tarzan" Brown on the hill, giving him a pat on the shoulder as he passed him.  This gesture motivated Brown, who caught up and pulled ahead of Kelley to win the race, "breaking Kelley's heart."

The history, qualifying, and overall difficulty of the race makes a pretty good motivating tool for serious runners.  It is the Super Bowl of marathons and one day I will hopefully be posting about my experience in it!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Training and Parenting

Behold! The Fitness-Equipment-Lock-inator!

"Dude, I was raised by ocelots, literally. Disowned by my parents and raised by Central American wildcats, and you're telling me you lost a toy train? That's it? That's all you got? Really? I had to work as a lawn gnome, I was forced to wear hand-me-up girl's clothing, neither of my parents showed up for my birth!" - Dr. Doofenshmirtz

Hopefully we are all better parents than the ones Dr. Doofenshmirtz describes.  I am sure a few of you out there will understand my thoughts in this post though.  Balancing being a parent and trying to train for upcoming events is not an easy task.  Here are a few of the things I do to make it happen:

Early morning running/training - I want to spend as much time with my family as I can.  Working full time (and sometimes more than full time) can definitely limit the the time I have to spend with them.  Since most of the chores are done after they are in bed, getting up early while they are sleeping to run is the only option I have.  Sure the neighbors think I am crazy with all of my neon shirts, neon straps, and lighted headbands but its that or limit the time with my family.  I'll take the crazy option :)

Stretching or core during wind down time - Being able to spend time watching Phineas and Ferb with the family before bed time is a perfect time to stretch or do core exercises.  You can spend time with the family and use your Stretch-Inator!

Flexible Training Schedule - One thing about kids, they keep your life interesting.  I usually try to have 2-3 runs each week that I make sure I do.  I then leave time open for cross/easy runs to use as replacements.  This way if one of your kids crawl into your bed at 6AM in the morning with a bad dream and can't go back to sleep, you can spend that time comforting them and move your important run to the next day.

What about Races/Events? - This one is a little tougher because you can't adjust the schedule of races.  It all depends on your family but hopefully they support you and will want to make a day out of it.  Since my son is usually interested in my running, I sign him up for the kids runs when possible.  If you have never seen one of the kids runs, you should watch one because it is pretty entertaining.

What do you do to balance training and family?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Having trouble deciding what to wear for your run?

I was checking the weather tonight for my 6 mile run in the morning and wanted to pass on a site that I use all the time.  http://www.whattoweartool.com is a great site for figuring out what you should wear on your next run.  You have many options to nail down exactly what to wear.

The options include:
Gender
Temperature
Conditions
Wind
Time of Day
Workout Intensity
I like to feel...

I have used this site since I started running and it has always been right on the money for what to wear.  It is especially nice to have for those cold runs in the winter.  It even works great on a mobile device!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How I got started.


225 to 175.  Looks like it was mostly in my face!

One thing I often get asked when talking about running and racing is "How did you get started?"  I will go through the basics of that story so that you can at least see how it all came about.

I never thought I would get into running.  Sure I attempted track and cross country during high school, but I never enjoyed it.  Back then I loved basketball and fought through my asthma every year in conditioning and basketball season.  Not even asthma attacks that involved waking in the middle of the night and not be able to breath stopped me from doing what I loved.

So what got me started?  About a year and a half ago I was 6' and around 225 pounds.  I never thought I was really fat or completely out of shape… until I had kids.  It started with my oldest son who loves to run.  He is always talking about how fast he is and how he is faster than me :-).  I found myself coming home from work every day to him wanting to run around the house and chase daddy.  The problem is that I was so drained by the time I got home from work that after a few attempts around the house, I would have to quit.  I still remember him yelling at me from the other side of the house - Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!

Being the tech geek that I am, I immediately started looking through the free apps of the day that I had collected over time on my Android.  I had to find something to not only track my progress but to hold myself accountable.  I found a few apps and decided to put them to the test.  No longer could I let my son become disappointed because his daddy was out of breath.

So one morning in 2011, I decided to get up early and go for a run.  This was a late October morning in Southern Indiana so it took quite a bit to even walk out that door and not go back to my warm bed.  I went out in a hoodie, basketball warm-up pants, and a pair of basketball shoes.  I hadn't gone a half mile before I had to stop and walk.  I could feel the cold air infecting my lungs while I heaved and wheezed.  I broke out my inhaler from my pocket and took a puff as I walked down the sidewalk.  Once I got my breathing back in order, I started to run again.  After 4-5 similar walks and 1.59 miles later, I came back to my house with a mind-numbing time of 19:30!

Every day I would try to go just a little bit further.  On days when it stormed or snowed, I stayed inside and worked the small weight bench in my basement and what felt like a 100 year old stationary bike given to me by my father in law.  I bought an actual pair of running shoes, started reading about running and eating right, and talked to a few friends that were taking on a weight loss plan at the time.  Before long, I didn't need to bring that inhaler with me on my runs and I was able to run the entire time.  I was noticing that I had more energy every day after work and was able to keep up with my son.  I was really starting to enjoy my morning jogs and the effects they had on me!

It was all downhill from there.  I signed up for a few races including a 5k, 10k, 10 miler, half marathon, and even ran my first marathon almost exactly a year after starting on that first run.  All it takes is a little determination to get things started and before long, you could be addicted to a more energetic and healthier life!

Keep an eye out for future posts with tips and tricks on how I got to where I am today.

Monday, May 6, 2013

In the beginning...

So, I am starting up this blog for a few reasons.  One main reason is that I have a goal of qualifying and running The Boston Marathon one day.  I am hoping that posting to a blog will help me stay focused and accountable for that goal.  Second, I wanted to keep a journal of my time, training, and results on the way to Boston Qualifying. Finally, I want to help inspire more people to live healthier lives.

It won't be all running related though. My work and family play a huge role in my life and I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Stay tuned and enjoy the journey.