A look back at '07

While December has been frustrating with being sick and then an injury, I'm not about to let that take away from an awesome 2007. The obvious accomplishment comes from finishing my first marathon in November, which is the whole reason for actually having a blog.

Before my blogging days began in April, I set a PR in a half marathon at the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. My chip time was 1:44:23, just under my goal of 1:45. That race made me really like half marathons a lot. With my foot issues now, it's tough to set a goal for the 2008 race, but I'd really like to beat that time. I set the bar high for myself with that race last year, but I know I can be faster.

This year has also been a great year with my 5ks. Coming into the year, my fastest 5k was 23:49, which was also my only time under 24 minutes. I broke that time twice -- in June I did a 5k in 23:03 and in July I broke the 23-minute barrier with a 5k in 22:42, "winning" my age group. (I was the only one in my age group that race.)

I saw set a PR in the mile (6:26) and 5 miler (36:59), although those two distances are very hard to find in races. I struggled though the extremely cross-country style James River Xterra 10k in May, and then had serious doubts about long distances by running a 30k in October.

I finished the year with 960 miles, well short of 1,000 miles, but much farther than I've ever gone before. I didn't start logging miles until the end of last year -- it was always time ran before that, but I know I haven't ran this much in a year. Despite a bad December, I'll take an average of 80 miles a month.

I've accomplished more this year in running since I started running again in 2004. It'll be a year I'll never forget, mostly thanks to the marathon.

As for 2008, I'm starting the year by giving my heel some rest. After I de-Christmas my house and get the boxes out of my way, I'll be doing some weight-training beginning this week. I'll probably hold off on running for just a few more days so I can heal my heel. The end of this year has become a lot like last year -- I think I want to get through the winter/early spring before making decisions on another "big" race. I definitely have the urge to do another marathon, but I don't want to stay hurt either.

Happy New Year everybody!!


My new shoes felt great today. My right heel, however, didn't want me to go more than 2 miles. It's frustrating that I took my body where it had never been before with the marathon and now I'm having this issue. It's not as bad as last week and it hasn't bothered me during the day too much, so I know things are slowly getting better ... I just have to be patient. With a half marathon less than 80 days away, it's tough to do. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm starting off 2008 in better shape than I did 2007 ... but that'll go away quickly if I can't get back in a regular routine soon.

New shoes for a nearly new year

I was all prepared last night to buy another pair of Asics 2120 shoes when to my surprise saw that the Asics 2130 were available. I had been misled by the Asics Web site earlier in the day that said the shoe wouldn't be out until January.

It wasn't that my old shoes were completely done, but it just seemed like they weren't supporting my feet as much. Following the marathon, I wore them more as everyday shoes and not solely running shoes, so that probably factored into it a bit. Plus they were becoming the smelliest shoes I had ever owned and washing them didn't help too much. And besides, who would resist the next version of their favorite shoes? It reminds me of my video game-playing days when the newest version of Madden would come out -- nothing was really that different about it, but damn, you have to have it!

So now that I have the 2130 pair, those will be used for running and running only until they wear out. My marathon shoes will probably get another wash and be for everyday use. Then my even older pair of 2120 shoes will be retired for yard work.

Running ... for a cause

I've never been a person to donate anything besides worn out clothes, and I've never been one to take part in a fundraiser. That's all about to change.

Today I signed up for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k that's in early April. It's one of the largest 10k races in America. I also signed up for a 10-week training program that will hopefully help me train for the Shamrock Half Marathon. It'll give me a chance to meet a few more runners as well, plus give me an opportunity to run with a group once a week. The timing of the 10k works well this year with it being three weeks after the half marathon. I wanted to do it last year, but the two races were too close together. I also signed up for it because I still hate the thought of running a 10k, even after doing a marathon. It's a challenge I hope to overcome in 2008. Plus I wanted to do it just to do it -- everyone tells me it's an awesome experience.

But this race will bring on much more meaning to mean as I have signed up to do fundraising for Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center. As I have talked about before, my life has been touched by cancer in the past few years with an uncle, my dad and grandfather all having cancer. To me, this is finally a chance to fight the disease. To contribute to my effort, click here. (Please let me know if that link doesn't work!) I have set a goal of raising $1,000. Every dollar counts, so if you'd like to make a donation, please check it out. If I can give a few dollars ($50 to be exact), anyone can. I plan to give a little more as the race draws closer.

So there you have a second "big" race for me in 2008. My main focus will still be on doing well in the half marathon in March though. I hate 10ks, so here's to hoping the Monument Avenue 10k will be the beginning of positive comments on that distance. I'm still hoping to do a 10k on Jan. 1, but don't expect me to be happy about it. ;-)

A Merry Christmas to all

Merry Christmas to everybody out there celebrating Christmas ... and to those not, just enjoy the day off!

My running has been a bit off this past week with my heel issue (now on both feet), plus a trip to Ohio, where I did get a 3.1 mile run in. My feet are feeling better, but I'm going to wait a day to run again and hopefully get some new shoes. I bought some heel supports that help tremendously. My marathon pair of shoes seem to be losing their support despite still having good tread left on them. They'll be a good pair of everyday shoes, while an even older pair will get some good use this spring in the yard.

As for 2008 ... as promised, I'll get to it soon, as in before Jan. 1. If things go well these next couple of days, I'll be kicking off the year with a 10k. Nothing like a race that I'll probably be slow in to get me motivated for the half marathon in March!


In 8 months of blogging, I've been fortunate to not have any injuries. Since fall 2006, I've basically stayed injury free. I had some nagging heel pain back in March, but nothing major. My main goal as I trained for the marathon was to stay injury free.

So imagine my disappointment this week when my right heel started bothering me. It's similar to what I felt back in March -- it's more of a major discomfort than a real pain. Since the marathon, I've had some discomforts here and there, but this is the first issue I've had in a while that actually made me not run for a day. This morning it was just too much. I opted to just walk my dog and by the end of the walk it wasn't too bad. It's been a day of where I can feel it, but it doesn't feel major.

I guess it's good that I have an upcoming trip to Ohio and that Christmas is right around the corner. I don't want to ruin my chances of running in the Shamrock Half Marathon, so I'll be doing a lot of not pushing it too hard for the next several days. That seems to be the story of my running life these last two months of the year. Some downtime is good, but I feel like I'm falling behind. But the way I look at it, I'm still in much better shape than a year ago when I was getting ready to start training for Shamrock. Rest did me some good with my knee issues then, so I'm counting on rest doing its thing this time.

So this will end all talk of hitting 1,000 miles this calendar year. Fellow blogger Danny suggested that I could still do 1,000 miles ... just do it in a 12-month span. No need for the calendar. It's a great idea and something I'll consider.

As for my 2008 plans, let me get through this issue first to make sure I'm OK ...

Good news, bad news

After completing the Richmond Marathon, running wasn't high on my priority list. All I felt like doing was getting some rest. When I did run, I felt unmotivated despite having one more goal this year. Then I got sick. Talk about being unmotivated.

Then came this week. I have finally felt healthy and rested, so this week was about getting back on my feet and feeling normal again. At week's end, I find myself just shy of 20 miles (19.6 to be exact), including a "long" run today of 6.1 miles that made me like running again. Today was the first time since the marathon that I can say I felt like running for a reason. I felt comfortable and once again I felt focused. I think all I needed was downtime to get back to this feeling, but in the past month I have been frustrated instead of being patient.

Today is a relief. With 90 days to go until the Shamrock Half Marathon, it felt like a kickoff training run. Finally, I can run with confidence again.

Now, about that 1,000-mile goal. I should have done this a while ago, but today I went back and recalculated my mileage from the year. Since hitting 1,000 miles was never a goal until I realized how close I was to it, my mileage-keeping wasn't the best. While my weekly mileage was accurate, I had a few miscalculations for monthly totals including being off a few miles in January, June and 10 miles in September. All total I have 13 fewer miles as of today for the year than I thought I had. I'm at 944.7. While hitting 1,000 miles is still a possibility, it's a little more out of reach than I first thought, especially with a trip coming up. I blame my usually good math skills on this one, but getting sick and having two weeks with just 7 miles certainly didn't help.

I'm a little mad at myself, but like I've already said, hitting quadruple digits just wasn't something I thought about until recently. With time running out in 2007, I need two 28-mile weeks. While I want to be in the 25-30 mile range for my half marathon training, I don't want to overdo it just to hit 1,000 miles. Coming off a rest period and an illness, I don't think it's the smart thing to do. Between now and the end of the year, I want to run smart before I get heavy into training again and higher mileage.

This all being said, I'll lay out my 2008 goals sometime soon. And you better believe running 1,000 miles will be on the list.

Normal running coupled with wacky weather

A sense of normalcy has returned this week, at least in my running world. Following a short 1-mile run on Monday with my dog, I put in 3 miles yesterday and 4 today. Everything is feeling OK, although my legs are a bit sluggish. It's just nice not to be sick. Everything will eventually come around to feeling completely right again. I'm just being very patient right now.

Today's weather was very surreal. At 7 a.m. on Dec. 12 it shouldn't be in the upper 50s and low 60s. All the leaves should be off the trees by now. The only things that made it even seem two weeks shy of Christmas were the decorations and the fact that I mistakenly wore a long-sleeve shirt. Sandwiched in between a very little bit of ice last week and temperatures in the 40s this coming weekend, it's early summer here in Virginia. It's not completely bad, but when the temperatures fall again, it's going to feel drastic. I'm sure those iced over right now would love to trade weather patterns. Sorry. I'll hang on to Florida for at least another day.

A month later

After two useless weeks, I finally feel normal this weekend. It's tough to say I'm at 100 percent (I'll say 91 percent today), but I didn't lay around and do nothing. I got in 3 miles yesterday -- the longest since 4 miles two Saturdays ago. I had hoped to do a 5k today, but picking up pesky leaves called my name today. Doesn't a couple of hours or so of picking up leaves count as a mile? I won't add it, but it was definitely a good workout.

So now that I've had two poor running weeks, I'm setting my sights on returning to normal this week. The extremely cold weather seems to be staying away this week from this part of the country, so it'll be a good transition to get back out there and then have a solid long run next week. I'm avoiding any week goals just yet since I've had so much downtime in the past month. Hitting 1,000 miles is still within reach, but I'm not going to focus on it too much until the end of the week. I know what I have to do to get there and if I stay healthy, don't get hurt and don't run into an Ohio blizzard near Christmas, I should hit it.

Once Christmas gets here I'll get focused on more specific mileage as I begin training for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. I'm in much better shape now than I was a year ago when I started getting ready for this race, so I'm going to be very focused on beating this year's 1:44:23.

So a month after the marathon, I feel that my body has hit the Reset button. Getting sick has made me realize how important my health is. Staying healthy is much more crucial than any goal I have right now. Unlike previous down times, I don't feel like I've gotten out of shape. I have marathon training to thank for that. Now I'm just ready to move on and let this sickness be a story I tell years down the road.

75 percent

Did running cause me to get sick? That's a serious question I've been thinking about these past two days. Did the high of the marathon cause my body to just shut down? I've done lots of reading on post-race depression and what people go through following big races. It's not that I really feel sad or anything, but everything changed following race day. There wasn't as much reason to get out of bed. So that leads me to wondering if because I slowed down, everything else in my body slowed down with it.

I guess you could say I'm at about 75 percent now. I ran 2 miles this morning, but certainly would have like to have gone at least 3, if not 4. I know not to push it, and I didn't really feel like pushing it. The end of this illness is in sight; it's just taking much longer than I ever thought possible. I've only been sick like this a couple of times in my life, so it's hard to take it easy.

Just like the marathon, this past week and a half is difficult to describe. It's like it has given me too much time to think about things, but no time to sort anything out -- that's one reason I like to run. I don't have that "out" that I'm used to having. I hope by this weekend, I can break out of this funk.

I won't be doing the 8 on the 8th (a quick shout out to Non-Running Nancy), but I hope to run more than 2 miles at one time. There's a 5k nearby on Sunday that I might do. As long as I continue this slowly steadiness of feeling better, I should be up for it.

The end is slowly getting here

Between about 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. I feel pretty good. But now I have an annoying dry cough at night (that has slowly gotten better since it started at the end of last week) and I wake up feeling like I have a hangover. There's a slow improvement every day, but it's enough to not have much energy to run in the mornings. Just a walk/jog routine with my dog is all I have in me. It's better than nothing I guess. In between the a.m. woes and p.m. annoyingness, I'm doing pretty good. My voice my say otherwise, but unlike last week, I feel I can think more clearly and I get through the day without many problems. I guess this is what it really means to be sick.

Missing out on a tradition

For the past three years on the first Saturday of December, I have ran in the Bedford Christmas Classic in Bedford, Va. Even though I moved to Richmond a few months ago, I had every intention of making this race my first post-marathon event. I think it would have been a perfect chance to return to the 5k distance that I first fell in love with.

But as you've probably already read, the snot in my head had other plans for me this week. Two days after getting on a prescription, I'm finally feeling worthwhile today. There's not as much cloudiness in my head. I was sluggish this morning, but by noon and a quarter box of tissues later, I took my sad-looking dog out for a walk. Poor thing hasn't had his usual walk/runs this week. We even ran for 0.7 miles, which felt pretty good. It had been a week since I last ran -- my longest running drought since September 2006. Even though it wasn't even a mile, it does a lot for my confidence. My legs still work and they felt great! And I think the full week off helped me fully recover from the marathon. On Thanksgiving and on Saturday, I had some discomfort in my right heel and my left knee, but nothing major. I stress discomfort over the word pain. Perhaps completely taking time off is the medicine my lower half of my body needed to get back to running again.

So, on a day that I lost a 3-year-old holiday tradition, I feel like I've actually gained a lot when it comes to running. Now, about those 1,000 miles I want to hit ...