Out with the old ...

It’s a work in progress, but I’ve moved my blog over to WordPress. It can be found at runningbecauseican.wordpress.com. Please note the change if you have me linked on your blog. To make a long story short, I was planning on moving it at some point, but the process was sped up today when I was trying to save my template on here, but instead picked a new template (as you can clearly see). So, instead of trying to make repairs, I'm moving on ... out with the old ...

2008's numbers, plus a glance at 2009's goals

I made it well known that when this year started that I didn't really have specific goals with anything since I started '08 injured. So with that being said, I don't want to analyze my year too much -- I just want to put the numbers out there and let them be. I may sneak in a run tomorrow, but it will be minimal with my dog if I do. Can't you tell I'm just ready to get this year over with?

I've also added my 2009 goals based on my post from a couple of weeks ago using the "10 percent" rule. What actually happens will depend a lot of how the first quarter of the year goes. If all goes well with my planned 10 miler, my running miles may be closer to 2007 totals where I fell less than 50 miles shy of 1,000 miles. For now, it's best to just take things a month at a time and see what happens. I do know that cross training is now very important to my routine, so it'll continue no matter what.

Total running miles - 640.2
Best running month - August, 107.4
Worst running month - April, 22.6
Average per month - 53.35
2009 goal ('08 plus 10 percent) - 704

Walking miles (Garmin only) - 290.6

Biking miles - 232.3 (March-December)
Best month - October, 49.1
Worst month - August, 8.2
Average per month (9 months) - 25.8
2009 goal (9-month average times 12 plus 10 percent) - 340

"Other" miles (mostly elliptical) - 37.8 (October-December)
December total - 24.3
Average per month (3 months) - 12.6
2009 goal (3-month average times 12 plus 10 percent) - 166

2008 combined miles - 1,200.9
Average miles per month - 100.075
Best combined miles month - August, 148.4
Worst combined miles month - January, 63.1

The Top 10 of 2008

At this time of year, many people like to look back and do a recap of the year. Well, if I did that, it would mostly be negative since I feel like much of the year has been a disappointment when it comes to running. So instead of looking back, I'd like to do a top 10 list of the good things that have happened this year with running and working out. I think it would be good to close this year out on a positive note and flush the not-so-great '08 out of my mind.

Finishing the Shamrock Half Marathon. So when I first finished this race, I was so mad at being hurt, but in hindsight, it was an accomplishment to finish it despite being hurt.

Finishing the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. Despite taking more than 2 hours to do this race, I am once again pleased to have finished this race considering how hot it was that weekend.

Taking time off. With such an up and down year, the best thing I did for myself this year was to take off time when I wasn't hurt. I highly recommend it.

The 7-mile Thanksgiving run. This is here mainly because I surprised myself to run that much when I hadn't done much in a while.

Running a 5k again. Oct. 18 was a big day -- I ran a 5k for the first time since the summer of 2007.

Bike riding at the beach. When the Outer Banks trip came along in June, it definitely interrupted training for the Rock 'n' Roll Half, but I managed to putt out nearly 20 miles on the bike that week. Any kind of working out is a plus while on vacation.

PRs. I'm not all that pleased with the results, and I would have rather done this in a half marathon, but I did set PRs in an 8k and a 4-miler this year.

Working out the week that Conner was born. The birth of my son is the #1 non-running event in my life this year, obviously. At the same time, I am pleased with myself to hit the gym a few times the week he was born. So many people have told me how hard it is to keep working out with a newborn, but I was determined to prove them wrong early on.

Raising $1,000 to fight cancer. In the beginning of April, I raised $1,000 for the VCU Massey Cancer Center as part of the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k. While I ran it hurt, I ran it for my late uncle, my grandfather, my dad and everyone else impacted by cancer.

The discovery of cross-training. It started in March with biking, but I didn't really get into cross training until October when I joined a gym. It's put a totally different perspective on things when it comes to being in shape.

'Tis the season

It's that time of the year in which there's lots I could probably write about, but at the same time it's nice to take a break from thinking about running or working out. My workouts have continued, but I just haven't found a reason to talk about them all that much. It's like I just want to get to Jan. 1 and then refocus on this blog and everything else going on.

I do have some posts planned this week -- I doubt I'll do a full recap of the year, but I'd like to do a year-by-the-numbers thing and perhaps a top 10 list of highlights. Other than that, it's close to time to just say good-bye to '08.

2009 still on my mind

The other day I discussed my non-race goals. But you didn't possibly think that I wouldn't have my mind on races did you? Now that I've been running and working out for almost four months without a race in mind, it is time to turn some focus onto races for 2009. After such an up and mostly down year this year with running, I'm ready for some changes next year.

If you have looked closely at my blog this week, you'll notice a new counter -- it's there for a reason. I've said many times on here that I would not run the Shamrock Half Marathon again next year. After two years of doing that race, I wanted to do something different in the spring. While I still have the duathlon on my mind, I still want to do a "big" running race early in the year. So that's why I've decided to run the Charlottesville Ten Miler in April. While it's still a long distance, it's not a half marathon -- I'm still determined to stay away from half marathons until the second half of the year.

This will be just my second 10 miler. The first was in 2006 when I did the Virginia Ten Miler in Lynchburg -- the race that got me hooked on longer distances (and one that I'm thinking about doing again). As of right now, I'm not setting specific goals -- I just know that this is what I want to do for the spring.

After that, I'm still planning to do the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Virginia Beach on Labor Day weekend again. And then I still am not making any plans beyond that. I will not budge on that thinking. It helps keep me focused on things one race at a time, no matter how cliche that sounds.

In between my two big planned events, I'll likely run a few shorter races -- more than this year -- to keep me content. Too much of this year was spent being disappointed, so I'm determined to kind of go with the flow next year and see what happens. I would love new PRs, but I'm not going to stress myself out about it.

All I want, but don't really need, for Christmas ...

Please forgive me for what's about to be a very selfish post. With Christmas technically next week, I wanted to put a wish list out there. Some of these things are just big wishes; others are things I could actually use; and a few items are things I already have but could always use ... I must stress, though, that for the first time since I started running a few years ago that I feel fairly complete with what I already own. But ...

* First on my list is the new Garmin. The Garmin Forerunner 405 is probably on every runners list. It would be awesome to have that sleek watch on my wrist. It's not that my 205 isn't working perfectly fine ... but damn that thing is big. I did notice this week that my 205 stopped beeping, so I hope it's not dying. I highly doubt anyone would actually buy me the almost $300 405. One day it will be mine ... through a deal on eBay.

* Shoes. Yes, I just bought myself some, but who wouldn't love an extra pair of shoes? Then I wouldn't have to worry about buying any until my birthday gets here ... and then of course I need a nice birthday gift. After finding Holabird Sports recently, you can save about $30 getting me a new pair. My preference is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8, size 11. Any color is fine.

* Running shirts (and shorts to match). Short-sleeve. With the discovery of how great being a member of a gym is, my winter gear is fine for another year. Despite having enough, my running shirts are a few years old. So one or two would get me through 2009. Target's Champion line is just fine. Size large. None of those tight ones ... just the cheapest of the cheap.

* Socks. Anything non-cotton is fine. Actually, I probably won't be able to get through next year without having to buy new socks. I can wear socks out pretty quickly, especially since I always having them on. You won't catch me walking around barefoot ... ever. (Just ask my wife.)

* Underwear. Same non-cotton rule applies. And before you ask boxer or briefs, I like the combo boxer-briefs.

But be careful buying me clothes -- my mom and my wife will quickly tell you that I prefer to get clothes myself, although I've been on a quest for two years to find a red turtle neck sweater to wear during Christmas. So if you find one, send me a link to it. Even when it comes to running, I think that I dress myself best. And I've been doing that since I can remember. So, onto some more realistic things (although that Garmin would be lovely) that would be nice, but don't really need.

* Clif bars. I'll need 'em for the long runs later in the year.

* Gatorade Rain. A simple six pack actually lasts me a while since I still mix Rain with water (doesn't that sound weird?).

* Sneaker balls. In all seriousness, my wife has bought me these before and it's quite possibly the best gift ever from a running perspective. They work great.

* A new iPod, headphones that last longer than a year and gel insoles.

* I'd also like a cure for my over pronation, my lack of speed and some help breaking my PR in a half marathon.

2009 on my mind

As I near the end of my fifth year of running, I realized recently that many of my goals throughout the year are race-based. While there are races that I want to do next year, I would like to take a different route with my goals. It's nice to be able to do this too -- last year at this time I was hurt and had to approach 2008 with no goals in mind. This year I'm healthy and feeling good, so I'm looking at Jan. 1 a lot differently than usual. I'm approaching 2009 with as much optimism as I did when 2004 came along when I decided to get off my butt.

So, my goals for 2009 aren't simple, at least when it comes to trying to explain them. When it comes to overall mileage, I am going to take a "10 percent approach." What that means is I want to do 10 percent more miles of everything next year compared to this year. Yes, that might sound simple, but when it comes to things like biking and the elliptical machine (the main "other" thing in my workouts), I didn't do each of those in all 12 months.

My approach is to take the average of the months I did do something and then apply it to the calendar. For example, I've been using the elliptical machine only since October. If the year ended right now, I would be at 25.7 miles for those three months, an average of 8.6 miles for those three months. With that number I would take 8.6 times 12 and add 10 percent to get my goal for mileage for next year -- right now that would be 113.5 miles. (That'll increase a little bit with a couple of weeks remaining.) I'll do the same approach for the bike, which I started doing in March. I'll likely not focus on increasing walking miles, but I plan to still keep track of them the best I can.

As far as racing is concerned, I have not signed up for anything yet. I would very much like to do the Rock 'n' Roll Half again and then another long-distance race in the fall. I've hinted at wanting to do another marathon, but I'm not ready to make that commitment again just yet. We'll see how the summer goes first to see if 2009 will be the year. When it comes to racing, I want to do more than I've done this year -- six (one 5k, a four-miler, an 8k, a 10k and two halfs). That's a big drop from doing 10 in both 2006 and 2007. I want to find my speed again in a 5k and set a PR next year in that distance. I think my main focus will be setting a PR in a half marathon, but that's a goal that a little far off right now. For races, I think many of my goals have to be a wait and see approach, and I am perfectly OK with that right now.

Lastly, I want to get my weight back to 180 ... and stay at or below that number. I'm not really that far off it right now -- I just have to focus and do it. It won't take long, but it does take a certain dedication with what I put into my mouth. (But let me enjoy the holidays just a little bit over the next couple of weeks!)

Happy holidays everybody!

9 miles

It's funny how hard it seems to post during December. I feel like I'm slacking, but I've noticed that most other regular bloggers seem to fade off as well during this month. I guess it's just something that happens during all the holidays, extra darkness and fattening holiday parties.

Anyway, I managed to get on a boat and make it to the gym today -- Richmond is having a crazy rain day today. It's one of those rains in which you shouldn't be out unless you had to be out. Since I didn't work today, I guess I thought I had to be out. I managed to do 3 miles on the treadmill, 3 short miles on the bike and 3 more miles on the new elliptical. All in all it felt great.

I'm having a pretty good month so far with 26.9 miles on the bike, 12.2 on the elliptical and 8.2 running. I'm well on my way for having December being like I want with running actually being the lowest of my miles. I'm also well on my way to shattering my goal for the month, which was to simply do more overall miles than what I did in November. It's tough with a baby, but I'm able to manage my time well to get in a few workouts every week.

New shoes, a new look

It worked! My shoes that I ordered the other day -- for $30 cheaper than retail -- showed up today. See my post below for details on how I found them. I gave them a half mile test run tonight and everything felt great. I'll be slowly breaking them in this week.

Meanwhile, you'll probably notice that I changed my template today. In the process I lost some of my links, so if I read you before and you're on the list, please let me know! Also, you'll notice that some of the "comments" links are not English. Anyone out there know enough about HTML to help me out? I've done all I know how to do. It doesn't really bug me that much, but it would be nice to be consistent!

Let's hope Reader's Digest helped me

After mentioning the other day that I wanted to buy shoes, I remembered reading in the October edition of Reader's Digest about bargains. The main story in that issue was "Get A Great Deal on Anything." When I usually read stuff about bargains, I tend to ignore it, but I remembered reading about getting a discount on athletic shoes.

The article referred me to Holabird Sports located in Baltimore. To make a long story short, I have ordered a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8 through this site at about $30 cheaper than retail, plus free shipping. I wanted the black shoes, but they didn't have my size. I instead ordered the ones with yellow ... I'm currently wearing the green version. I'll let you know early next week if I got a good deal or not.

A better way to bike and not go anywhere

A couple of weeks ago it was the new elliptical machine that I fell in love with at the gym ... this week it's the new bike by Expresso Fitness.

This bike has several options and uses a screen to make it seem like you're biking with others. It felt more natural too because you actually steer the bike. It was definitely different, but I know that it'll be a big part of my routine this winter.

This has been an interesting week with not being able to do much until yesterday. Between being busy at work and trying to sleep when I can, the first half of the week was pretty dull with working out. In the past couple of days though I've hit the new elliptical machine for more than 6 miles and rode 5.4 miles on the new bike.

I've discovered this week that I need new shoes, so I'm going to be a voyage to find some sort of deal this holiday season. I've had four good months in my current pair, but the tread is quickly disappearing. Since I won't be running on the roads so much, I don't want to pay full price for something to get me through the next few months. I'd like to get to February or so before going all-out with shoes, plus most new models will be out by then.

A Rollercoaster Month

When November first began, I thought that I’d get through the first two or three weeks like I did in October – lots of miles doing a little bit of everything. Well, that quickly changed with the birth of my son a few weeks earlier than expected.

Not that I’m complaining – the little man has been a bundle of joy, despite only sleeping in two or three hour chunks. As most new parents quickly realize, I can’t imagine life any other way now. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

November also was impacted by a crazy sickness that pretty much amounted to the second worst cold of my life – the worst coming about a year ago. That essentially led to a week of no workouts.

Somehow, though, I stayed determined to keep going and not let life’s happenings stop me from working out. I thought that if I could keep moving through these major events then nothing will stop me next time I’m training for something. In the end, I managed to not let November be the worst month of the year when it comes to working out. That in itself is an accomplishment. For November, I logged 30.2 running miles (more than April and September), 18 biking miles (the fifth best month), 15.6 walking miles (more than February and March) and 6.8 “other” miles (a tenth higher than the only other month with “other”).

As the calendar flips to December, I am pretty much approaching this month with the same attitude I carried through November. I plan to run, bike and hit the elliptical machine whenever I can. If the weather stays somewhat nice, I’d like to get at least one outside run in every week. My goals from a mileage standpoint will be to beat November. If I can the year like that, then I’ll be happy. It seems like only yesterday I was closing out 2007 on the lowest of lows, so I’m determined not to let this month be a repeat of last year.

A personal 7-mile turkey trot

Some people run turkey trots to make themselves feel better by stuffing themselves at Thanksgiving. This year I was going to run a 5k, but after talking with a friend of mine the other day I decided to just run with a few other people, and log more than 3.1 miles. I was a bit hesitant at first to do what they were planning to do, but I stuck with it this morning and in the end had no guilty feelings about stuffing myself this afternoon. And I saved $20 in the process.

We ended up running 7 miles ... yes, SEVEN miles on big hills in Bedford that I'm not used to anymore. This coming from me who has cut way back on running since August. My longest run since the Rock 'n' Roll Half has just been 5 miles, I think, while I've mostly stuck to runs between 3 and 4 miles with a lot of cross training. Today was the answer I was looking for -- cross training does go a long way. At the same time, though, it doesn't fully replace running.

Don't look for me to change my plans for this winter -- I still plan to keep doing what I'm doing with less running. I am happy though to know that I can still push out a distance like I did today with no problems. Overall it was a great run. Of course with a group we started off faster than I would have liked -- the first mile was just a tad over 8 minutes -- but overall we kept a good pace. Two of the guys pushed it at the end while me and another guy hung back, finishing in just about a 9-minute mile pace. It made me feel good about what I might be able to do next time I run a 5k.

Lastly, I'd just like to say HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone out there. I hope you had a great day, and if you happened to run a turkey trot or something even longer, I hope you had a great run.

The "other" category

Since I'm still a relative newbie to the gym scene, it's easy to say that I've been hesitant to try out equipment that I'm not used to. Well, today that changed. Last week I noticed that the Gold's Gym I go to had some new elliptical-type machines that looked like fun. Usually "fun" and "elliptical" don't go together very well. Today, I got on it and had a great workout.

The new machine is from Octane Fitness - it's the Pro3700. It was so much better than a regular elliptical machine with lots of different options. It even has program and level controls on the handle bar so you don't have to worry about pushing buttons if you want to change up what you're doing. It also has a small fan on it. Today I did a mile in the "manual" mode, then about 20 minutes in the "X Mode" that targeted specific areas of the body in one-minute increments and then a "30:30" interval routine, which was pretty intense with 30 second "sprints" and 30 second "walks."

Overall I did 5 miles in about 40 minutes ... thus the category of "other" with my miles. My mileage that I'll officially mark down in my workout log will be from running, biking, walking and other. And after today, much of that other will be from the Pro3700.

November Snow

As you know, occasionally I do a weekly roundup. Well, this week was a very basic week with a couple of gym visits, a run outside and a few walks with my dog -- a week after being sick and doing nothing, it was pretty good. So instead of getting into any thoughts about the week from a working out perspective, I'll leave you with these photos of snow.

For many of us on the East Coast, it's too early to be this cold -- a normal high in Richmond this time of the year is in the upper 50s and lows are usually in the mid-30s. This week was nuts. It's one of only a few times I've actually seen snow in Virginia before Thanksgiving.

Two teaspoons of cold air

Last night I was pretty determined to get up and go to the gym. But after walking my dog and realizing that I could handle temperatures in the mid-20s, I decided to go for an outdoor run. It was my first non-treadmill run in a while and it's the first run in such cold conditions since March. Although I was running much slower that I thought I was going, it was a refreshing run. The cold, fresh, low humidity air was just what the doctor ordered.

I'm not a big fan of running in the cold, but today was definitely a break. It also gave me a chance to blow my nose like my wife hates ... fellow runners probably know what I'm talking about ... but it was really a relief.

Although I'll be doing a lot of treadmill running this winter, today was a good example of what I want to do at least once a week over the next couple of months if it's cold -- just get outside and run a few miles and not worry about pace.

Some sort of normalcy

With being sick, having a baby, experiencing strangely cold weather and catching up on work, this month has definitely been off when it comes to working out. Last week was pretty much a rock bottom with the sickness, but instead of worrying about "starting over," I've tried to resume some normalcy this week.

It hasn't been all that much, but I've gone to the gym a couple of times to get some short workouts in, including a good 3.4-mile run last night. I felt pretty good. Once all this snot is 100 percent out of me, it'll be even better. A few more hours of sleep this weekend will certianly help too. Tomorrow I plan to resume my mini-duathlon with some sort of run-bike-run routine. It'll probably be short, but it's a must.

I haven't decided on the Turkey Trot next week. We'll be visiting family in Bedford, so I'd do the one in Lynchburg. I need a few more good runs before doing it. I certainly won't be trying to set any records, but I'd like to still be able to hit around 24 minutes. We'll see ...

In need of a workout

This weekend's Richmond Marathon festivities (8k, a new half and the marathon) quietly passed without any involvement from me. The weekend almost became a tradition -- two years ago I did the 8k, last year was the marathon and until the early baby surprise and my sudden illness I was going to do the 8k this year. When I took my dog out for a walk that morning, though, there was part of me that was glad I wasn't out there -- it was very humid and strangely warm, and then the wind picked up quite a bit. It wasn't ideal for a race.

But missing out on this weekend has me thinking about 2009. Running a marathon is probably out of the question, but I can't completely rule it out. At one point this year, I totally ruled out doing the Shamrock Half again in March, but now that I've taken time off and joined a gym to avoid training in the cold, the thoughts of doing that race have resurfaced. I still want to do a duathlon, but that's not until late April, five weeks after Shamrock.

Meanwhile, there's the desire to just take it "easy" until the summer. By "easy" I mean doing a few shorter races and continuing a lot of cross training until late spring before the Rock 'n' Roll Half -- haven't I been saying that for a while now?

I think my issue right now is that my sickness and lack of sleep have prevented me from doing anything in the past week and I have an itch just to run a couple of miles. Sitting still makes me think -- when I hit that treadmill tomorrow (I hope), all this craziness will go away.

I hate you mucus

With being inactive for much of this week, there really hasn't been much to say. I'm a day away -- probably two -- from going back to the gym. Since my sickness peaked on Wednesday, I've been slowly getting better every day. A Z-Pak, Mucinex, Vitamin B, lots of water and, newly discovered last night, Breathe Right strips are making life a little easier. I was amazed at the Breathe Right strips -- I've been missing out. I think I'll have to try one out on a run. With a little one in the house, getting extra rest is out of the question, so a quick recovery isn't happening. At this point, it's a matter of not getting something else right now.

I did run a half mile with my dog yesterday and I felt OK, but I have some more stuff to get out of me before I attempt doing anything for more than 5 minutes. With the progress I've made, I'm confident I can get back into a routine this week.

I was wrong; I am sick

Last year after my marathon, I felt this way, but put off going to a doctor for a while. This time around, with a newborn in the house, I wasn't going to wait. Sure enough I have an upper respiratory infection. I essentially have no voice, am coughing occasionally, but I have no fever. My head is a little swimmy though.

So I'm on the same meds as last year that worked pretty well. I do feel better tonight than I did this morning. As long as I can get a little better every day I'm not too worried. I will lose a week of any kind of working out besides some short walks with my dog, but at this point I don't care about that. I just want to get healthy. It's needless to say, but the 8k is out this weekend. And depending on how the next few days go, a Turkey Trot may be out of the question too. I'm not giving up hope yet!

Sick? No. Just worn down

If you could hear me talk right now, it sounds like I have something stuck in my throat. It's the deep sexy losing-my-voice sound. I ask myself if I'm sick or am I just worn down with the baby ... or am I having side effects from my weekend flu shot. The one and only other time in my life when I got a flu shot, I immediately got sick. It's been downhill ever since I got it Friday.

I haven't gotten a workout in for a couple of days, so the 8k is out this weekend. I'm setting my sights on a Turkey Trot if we travel to see my family on Thanksgiving. I'm actually taking better care of myself from an eating standpoint than I usually do, so I'm not worried yet about losing my endurance that I got rolling in the past few weeks.

This seems to happen every year to me -- it's like my body saying hey, it's almost winter, don't do anything. With a gym membership in my pocket, that's not going to happen this time around.

The fresh November air

With all that's been going on from the weather to the time change to having a baby to work, I haven't ran on the road in a while. I've done a lot of treadmill running, but the satisfaction just doesn't feel the same. Yesterday I finally had the chance to get outside and get a few miles in. It was a nice, slow but steady run. It was a nice change of pace from alternating speeds on the treadmill, and it was nice to get some fresh air before the cold weather actually settles in. (Is that such a thing in Virginia?)

With all the life-changing happenings this week, it's been nice to continue working out. It hasn't been all that much, but something is better than nothing. I've helped balance out not working out as much by having a salad for four of my meals this week. I've realized quickly how important it is to make sure that I'm taking care of myself as I worry about a new life here. And as you can see, this little guy has already stolen one of my running visors!

The future runner is here

As I said the other day, I won't set any goals for November since I had a baby on the way. Well, the little guy had other plans than being a Thanksgiving baby. He wanted to be a Election Eve baby. Conner James came into the world at 6 pounds 10 ounces and 19 inches long. Since this is a running blog, I thought I'd share his impressive footprints for such a little guy. Mom and baby are doing great so far and got to come home a few hours ago.

As for my November goals, it seems things may work out for the 8k in a couple of weeks, and I'll be able to do a Turkey Trot. I'm determined to stay on some kind of schedule. I even hit the gym last night for a quick workout and got in 7.5 miles on the bike. It was a nice break from the whirlwind, but great past few days.

Au revoir October

After the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in August, I was ready to just give up on running ... hell, I was ready to not do anything for a while. I documented it pretty well that I was taking September as a rest month. In the end I did a little bit here and there and finished with 24.8 running miles, 20.8 walking miles and 19.9 miles on the bike. When October got here though, I said enough is enough, and I ended up having one of the best-feeling months I've had in a long time.

Joining Gold's Gym has turned things around for me. In just a few short weeks I have figured out how to keep going without running, although running is still very important to me. In October, I still ran 53.6 miles, the fifth most this year. I walked 36.3 miles, the second most this year. And thanks to the exercise bike, I hit 49.1 biking miles. That bike is really giving me a burning sensation in my legs that I haven't felt in a long time. I also put in 6.7 miles on the elliptical machine. It's worth noting too, that I ran my first 5k in more than a year.

All told, I had 145.7 miles of exercising for the month, just shy of what I did in August (107.4 running miles, 32.8 walking and 8.2 on the bike). As I mentioned the other day, I passed 1,000 exercising miles for the year. As I head into the final two months of the year, I'm at 1,012.4 miles (not counting today) -- 576 running; 255.7 walking; 174 biking; and 6.7 on the elliptical.

Today, for the second Saturday in a row, I did a run-bike-run workout doing 2.1-5-1.1 Just like last week, the transition from the bike to running felt weird, but it didn't seem to last long. This week I have done three run-bike workouts, and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with that transition. It's the second transition that I need to start working on.

As November begins, I am not setting goals -- I do have a baby on the way you know. I'm still hoping to do the Ntelos 8k in a couple of weeks, but the commitment has to wait. I'll do as much as I can when I have the time to do it.

1,000 miles and counting

At the beginning of this week I made a promise to myself to step up the intensity of my workouts. Well, three out of the four days I have. After tonight's workout at the gym, I'm at a total of 35.6 miles of walking, biking, running and elliptical machining (is that a word?). While this blog has always been about running and logging those miles, I'm finding it to be a fun and exciting new challenge to count all these other miles I've never done.

Interesting enough, earlier this week I went back to recalculate all my miles for the year to make sure everything is accurate. Of course I was off here and there, but nothing drastic. Anyway, with all my miles this week, I have eclipsed 1,000 miles of exercise for the year. I hit that 1,000th mile on an exercise bike yesterday. While I want to eventually have 1,000 running miles in a year, this will have to do for now. I hope that by taking this approach to less pavement running over the next few months, my body will be ready for longer distances again next year. After dealing with injuries on and off for the first half of the year and then being completely lazy in September, the 1,000-mile milestone feels great no matter how its counted.

A double digit day

Walk: 1.7 miles; Run: 2 miles; Bike: 6.8 miles. All that on a day in which I didn't really feel like exerting energy. I managed to get a walk in with my dog before a cold rain came along, and by the time 7 p.m. got here I really didn't want to go to the gym. Since it's still not a full habit yet, I forced myself to go.

When I got on the treadmill, I didn't really want to run, so I stopped at 2 miles. My initial goal was just 3 or so anyway and then bike a few miles. I ended up doing a little more on the bike to compensate. The more run-bike routines or bike-run routines I can do, the better prepared I'll be for a duathlon next year. I'll save run-bike-run workouts for the weekends. It feels good to get that started now. Plus one point of joining a gym was to do less running, so it seems to all be working out so far.

October is turning out to be a very interesting month for me mileage wise. I've ran almost 50 miles so far -- twice as much as lowly September -- and I'm looking to intensify my non-running workouts this week to end the month strong. All in all, I really like where things are headed with winter quickly coming.

A mini duathlon

One of my goals for 2009 is to take part in a duathlon, preferably the National Duathlon Festival, which will be in Richmond for a second year. If you're unfamiliar with a duathlon, it's a run-bike-run race. I've gone out for a run and then biked, and I've biked and then gone for a run, but I've never done a run-bike-run workout ... until today.

I did 2 miles on the treadmill, 4 miles on the stationary bike and then another 2 on the treadmill. Everything felt pretty good, although my legs were a bit wobbly the second time I got on the treadmill. That seemed to work itself out after about a half mile. This workout is a good start to know what those transitions feel like. I like trying it out in the gym first. Eventually I'll take it outside. It was a good day to try it too since it was raining this morning.

My running on the treadmill has gotten steadily faster in these few runs I've done. It's tough to just set a speed and do it on the treadmill, so today I played around with bumping the speed up 0.1 mph every minute from 6.5 mph to 7.5 mph during the first 2 miles. On the second two miles, I worked my way up to 8 mph, bumping the speed up every tenth of a mile once I got to a half mile.

Thankfully today I remembered my iPod ... but I forgot my towel and my usual water bottle. I'll get it right eventually.

On tonight's episode of "Treadmill Running"

I'm not a person to "need" headphones when I workout, but in a gym I find them very, very good to have. Well, tonight I forgot them and I'll take it as a lesson learned to always remember my headphones.

Anyway, tonight I had planned on running 5 miles on the treadmill, but it just wasn't going to happen. Headphones make treadmill running much easier, but without them it's just dull. I did pull out 3.5 miles with a half mile at a 7:53 pace and four quarter-mile intervals steadily faster. The last one was in a 6:58 pace. All told I actually ran 4 miles today since I got in a half mile with my dog earlier. I closed out the night at the gym with 1.1 miles on the elliptical machine.

Now that I've gone to the gym a few times, it definitely feels normal. I can't believe it's something I have never done before. I think there are so many assumptions about who goes to gyms, but none of them are true. All sexes, genders, races and weight classes are well represented where I go. With the gym moving in a couple of months to a nicer facility, I'm sure the crowd of all faces and body types will continue to grow.

A 10k of a day

Here's an interesting way to hit 6.2 miles: 1.9 miles walking my dog, 2.3 miles on the elliptical machine and 2 miles on the treadmill. That's what I did yesterday, and I found it to be a great workout all around. The walking miles were split between morning and evening, but it all adds up, right?

The 5k experience isn't always about racing

For those of you who only like long-distance races, you're missing something special in your community. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but 5ks have a way of bringing together a lot of different people.

There's the fat dad looking to get into shape; there's the mother of three who runs no matter how busy her life is; there are runners who run so fast that it doesn't make sense; there are people who run so slow that they get passed by walkers; there are the teenage girls who have on way too much make-up at 7:30 a.m.; there are kids who walk after a half-mile, but keep on trucking it; there are cross country teams; there are neighbors who join together to pass out water ... this list could go on and on, but the thing I like most is that there's nothing wrong with any of these people. We're all there for the same reason.

Today was one of those races (5k Eagle Challenge in Bon Air) in which people of all shapes, sizes and ages were well represented. There were probably way too many kids up front , but this was their event at their school after all. I actually didn't mind too much (except for the one girl who decided to stop a half mile in and turn around and let her friends catch up) and nobody else seemed phased either.

Like I said in my post last night, I just wanted to have fun. In my head I wanted to beat 25 minutes and hit close to 8-minute miles -- actually putting that down in words last night seemed difficult. Well, at the first mile I was at 8 minutes exactly. I was kind of surprised considering how slow the first quarter mile felt, but I was feeling great. The first mile was essentially flat until about the last tenth, which was uphill.

The second mile was up and down some hills -- for what I'm used to, they weren't that big. If you live in the Mid-West, they might have looked like mountains. I ran between miles 2 and 3 just under 8 minutes. Still felt great. Between miles 2 and 3 weren't too bad either -- I'd have to say it was relatively flat. I hit that mile in exactly 8 minutes. The last tenth was as smooth and consistent as the first 3 miles. I probably could have pushed it a little harder, but considering it wasn't anywhere close to a PR, I wanted my first 5k experience in 420 days to be one that would have me happy to be doing a 5k again. I didn't want to do anything stupid, in other words.

My finishing time was 24:45 (7:58 pace) -- good enough for third in my age group (out of eight, unless one of the unnamed runners listed in the results is in his 30s) and 48th out of 301 runners (should I be happy that I beat so many kids?). While it's a couple of minutes off my PR, it is a new mark to beat for my 30s. I'd love to get back to where I was last summer with my speed. Eventually I will, but considering my injuries in the past year and my focus on longer distances, I'm certainly happy with what happened today.

To close this post off, I highly encourage everyone out there to take part in a community 5k. If you can get your mind off racing for 10 minutes while you're there, take a look around you and you'll quickly realize what a great experience it is.

The 420 day streak is about to end

Last August in the middle of marathon training, I ran my first 5k under 23 minutes. It was part of a streak of PRs in a 5k. I had a 23:03 the month before and 23:49 in November 2006. It was my 11th 5k since late 2004 ... little did I know it would be 420 days later that I would be doing my next 5k. That's my longest drought without a 5k since 2006 when I went about nine months without racing that distance.

The check is written and the entry form is filled out to run a 5k at 8 a.m. tomorrow. It's looking like temperatures will be a bit nippy with lows forecast in the mid-40s tonight. It was 85 degrees two days ago. For the record, this race is called the 5k Eagle Challenge, which benefits St. Edward-Epiphany School on Huguenot Road in the Bon Air area of Richmond.

As you know it's not like I haven't entered races. Since that time I've done a 4-miler, an 8k, a 10k, a virtual 8 miler, three half marathons (Lynchburg, Shamrock, Rock 'n' Roll), a 30k and a marathon. But I've gotten away from this great distance, and I'm looking forward to it. I don't really have any goals -- how can I when it's been that long? I just want to have fun, and that's what 5ks have always been for me. I've missed it ... just how much is something I'll find out in the morning.

The DREADmill isn't so bad ... not yet anyway

I was almost at a point in which I was going to have to take a "starting over" approach with running. But tonight I prevented that. Instead of starting over, I can comfortably say "I'm back."

I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I hit the treadmill tonight with anticipation. I went away having the best run in a long time. One thing I plan to use the treadmill for is speed work, so tonight I did several quarter-mile intervals as part of a 5-mile run. After a warm up, I did two quarters at an 8-minute mile pace (with quarter-mile breaks at a 9:13 pace) and then two quarters at a 7:30 pace. Then after a half mile at a 9:13 pace, I mixed it up so much that I lost track of what I did exactly. That's one drawback of not having a Garmin to help me out on a treadmill, but at the same time it's nice to end a workout trying to figure out what I just did.

Hitting the 5-mile mark is a great milestone as well. It's my longest run since the Rock 'n' Roll Half, easily beating out 4.1 miles on Oct. 5. I've had several runs between 3 and 4 miles, but I've had no urge until tonight to even think about 5. It's nice to do it in the middle of the week too. I get wrapped up into thinking I'm too busy to run much in the week, but I know how much of an excuse that is.

I didn't join the gym to do much treadmill running, but it was much better tonight than I thought it would be. My goal with the gym is to mix it up a lot, but tonight I just wanted to run. Even though I wasn't going anywhere, it worked out pretty well.

I'm glad that I didn't have to work my way back to a workout like this. I've said it already, but joining a gym is one of the smartest things I've done in some time. Had I not done this, darkness would have been an excuse and I would have ended up only having a walk with my dog as my exercise for the day.

Easing into fall

There's part of me that feels like this was a disappointing week, yet there's another part of me that feels completely satisfied. In the end, I think it's what I realized this week with getting in better overall shape that has me happy.

It's been an interesting week with my mileage. All told I have 32 miles -- 10.6 running, 10.5 biking, 8.6 walking and 2.3 on the elliptical machine. I missed a run this week to get into the teens, but I did do a little more biking -- all this weekend. Adding it all up, it's more than last week and that's really all I was seeking. My desire to run still isn't very strong, but as I've mentioned this week my desire to stay in shape and get in better shape is growing.

I don't have any specific injuries, but I've had a lot of dull, aching pains this week in my feet and my knees. It's nothing major and it's nothing I haven't trained through before. Perhaps its the changing of the seasons and the cooler weather, or perhaps it's because I need the break from pavement. I'm not going to push it right now, but I'm not going to completely stop either. Getting in 10 miles or so a week right now is sufficient for me, as long as I'm doing other stuff.

This coming week, my goal is to increase my overall mileage from this week -- it's nice to be able to take a different approach to fitness with the ability to ease off the running. You may have noticed that I took my 8k counter down. It's not that I don't plan on doing it, but for personal reasons I can't commit to it until that week. I don't need it sitting there if I end up not running it. There's also a 5k next weekend that I'm considering, but I probably won't make that decision until the night before. It sure is nice to be able to do that.

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Vicki, who also ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half in August. Yesterday she completely the Baltimore Marathon in just under 5 hours -- congrats to her and all the other finishers out there!

Sooner, rather than later

If I had known that joining a gym would be such a big motivator, I would have done this a long time ago.

Due to various things at home, I ran out of daylight to get a run in, so I headed over to the gym I joined yesterday. I thought that it would probably be a few days before I felt the urge to go there -- the weather has been gorgeous and there's just enough daylight for another week or so to get in a run or bike ride after work. Anyway, when I was there I started thinking about all the benefits I can get with the ability to control my speeds with the click of a button.

I didn't do anything drastic this evening -- it was more of me getting familiar with the machines and the gym itself. I got in 30 minutes on the elliptical machine for a total of 2.3 miles. I hadn't been on a elliptical since early 2005 when I was in an apartment. It was very different. I was going to head on home after that, but I felt the urge to run since I've only ran once this week. I'd have some nagging knee pain out of nowhere this week, so I've taken it kind of easy. When I got on the treadmill I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. Just like the elliptical, I haven't been on a treadmill in a few years and I had really forgotten about that ability to be in control.

I ran 2 miles on the treadmill experimenting with different paces up to 7.5 miles an hour. I had a ton of thoughts running through my head on speed work I can start doing. I also was pleased with how smooth the treadmill felt. Lately I have felt like my body is taking a pounding on the pavement, thus the knee pain I think, so treadmill running will be a welcome break on my joints.

The biggest thing I realized tonight was how important it is to get in good overall shape before I focus on a longer-distance race again. In the past couple of years I have really gotten caught up in just running that I think that it automatically keeps me in shape. Well, 30 minutes on the elliptical machine tonight and a weigh-in on the scale this morning make me realize that I'm not where I want to be. Tonight is a great start on a completely new journey.

I did it, now I just have to do it

With a deal of $19.99 a month for two years, with a possibility of that price lasting a lifetime if I can convince my sister and/or brother-in-law to join, it was hard to not join a gym this evening. For those who may be reading this in Richmond, the Gold's Gym off Midlothian Turnpike has a sweet deal going on.

I left there paying a little less than $100, which consists of the first month and a "processing" fee. The rest of October was "free." And, like I said, it was only $19.99 a month for two years, with the benefit of being able to suspend during that time. The current facility will be moving in January into a much bigger place, complete with a swimming pool, basketball court and almost three times the space. For those who may reading this in Richmond, the current location is moving to the American Family Fitness location (which is temporarily moving to Steinmart before moving farther down Midlothian Turnpike next year). There's also a new Gold's opening at 288 and Midlothian Turnpike in early 2009 -- that location is part of the deal if that's where you want to work out. You can actually pay a little extra to have access to both facilities. (Click here for more details on what's going on.)

OK, enough PR talk. Now comes the fact that I actually have to use my membership. I think in the winter this will be no problem. It's really going to help when it comes to cross training. I'll likely put my home gym up for sale soon. Simply put, I just haven't used it consistently. I have gotten my money's worth, but with a baby on the way and no basement in my house, it's starting to take up space. (Anyone in Richmond interested? Just shoot me an e-mail.)

So in addition to running, walking and biking miles, I'll soon be counting elliptical machine miles. I'm looking forward to the challenge ...

To join or not to join

The question of joining a gym has followed me around for years it seems. Why can't I commit? Am I afraid I'll throw money away? I know that if I sign up, I'll use it -- I have to. Even though I don't like the elements outside, I still get out and run anyway. But in the winter, my efforts to stay in shape always seem so worthless. I hope, very soon, that I will put my mind at rest a join a gym ... or not. Those details are coming soon ...

My bailout plan is working

While September was a great month to get some rest, I can't continue with that mind frame. That's why this week was all about getting back into the groove and getting October started on the right foot. If I'm going to get back into being consistent, I have to start now.

This week I was able to log 13.9 running miles, 9.6 walking miles and 7.1 miles on the bike. While this is nothing overly impressive, it's far better than anything else I've done since August. With an 8k now less than six weeks away, it's a good place to be. My "long" run this week was 4.1 miles, which is a good starting point. Being just shy of 14 miles for the week, I'm right where I want to be to get consistent with miles in the mid-teens. And I definitely plan to build on my bike mileage too for a few weeks. I'm starting to run out of daylight, so I'm figuring out what to do about that. I continue to ponder joining a gym, but it's a tough commitment.

All in all, I am happy that October has started off well. I've kicked off the last quarter of the year better than what the economy is doing, so I guess I'm doing something right.

Silly September

At the end of the month, I usually do some sort of month recap. I've missed some months along the way -- like last month, which ended with a race and I pretty much forgot about it -- but I usually like to take a look back on what has happened both positively and negatively.

If you have followed my blog, you already know that September was pretty much an off month for me. I did it for various reasons, but the No. 1 reason was to give myself a break by choice. Sure I've had some breaks in the past year, but they were mainly due to injury. I wanted a break by choice. It wasn't a complete break from running -- it was a break from doing things because of a race. My random runs were actually pretty good. I happily increased my dog's miles along the way as well. I also got back on the bike after a couple of months off it. I didn't get many miles, but it was enough to feel comfortable again on two wheels. The totals: 24.8 running miles (compared to more than 100 miles in August); 19.9 biking miles; and more than 20 walking miles. Surprisingly, when it comes to running, it wasn't my lowest total for the year -- that came in April when I was getting over an injury.

So now that September is over, I can finally answer the question of what's next. I have decided to run the Ntelos 8k in Richmond in November. It's the same day of the Richmond Marathon and the new Richmond Half Marathon. Simply put, it's a huge running day in Richmond. While it's not a "big" race when it comes to mileage, it's a "big" race with more than 2,000 people taking part in the 8k. That distance is what I'm comfortable with right now. It'll be nice over the next six weeks to have a few runs a week in the 3-4 mile range and "long" runs in the 5-6 mile range. It's a welcome break from what I've been used to for almost two years. I'll detail my goals sometime in the next few weeks.

I may do a 5k along the way, but honestly I just want to spend the next couple of weeks getting into a normal routine. My September normal is over and it's time to get refocused.

Rain and wind ... and sleep

Whatever you want to call it -- a month off, a month of laziness, a month of recovery -- today I am even happier about the choices I have made concerning racing this fall. It's raining ... it's windy ... it's strangely cold ... and I don't have a gym membership. While I respect all of you training for an upcoming event, I am perfectly content to get an extra half hour of sleep in the morning.

Getting to the bottom ... of my feet

Last week I started experiencing some discomfort (not pain) in my feet and some pain (not discomfort) in my back. Actually, my back pain probably started two weeks ago. It was never anything that seemed out of the ordinary. I had just come off a few months of increasing my mileage and had just ran a long race -- it wasn't anything unusual ... but it wasn't going away.

Then this week it clicked -- I'm wearing nicer shoes to work that didn't have gel insoles in them. I hadn't really wore those shoes too much over the summer, so my feet really weren't used to them. So last night I bought some new insoles and today ... well, today everything felt much better. Problem solved. I guess my feet have become spoiled with using gel insoles, but man they feel good.

I'm still easing off the mileage with running while putting a little more emphasis on the bike. It's a whole lot of little things adding up to some fun workouts. September will eventually go down as a good recovery month for me. It really has helped my mind a lot with not worrying about racing.

Planning around life

I'll hit this nail on the head one more time ... I am glad I'm not training for a long-distance race right now. The weather is beautiful, but unlike last fall, I feel like I can do something with my weekends now, although much of them have been very busy. A year ago, it seemed I planned my life around running. This year I am planning my running around my life. This week, though, was actually more about getting back on my bike instead of running. And my tail bone feels fine, thankfully.

This coming week I'll probably run more than last week, although the upcoming weekend is already going to be busy. I really don't mind though -- it's a very nice change of pace.

Take It and Run Thursday: Running Blogs

Today's "Take It and Run" theme over at the Runners Lounge is about running blogs. I certainly have my share that I read -- some not even listed over to the right side of this page. I really like this theme -- I've been looking to update my list of regular blogs I read and them link to them, so I'm anxious to get to today's posts if I ever have the time. Anyway, here's a look at some of my regulars. Thanks to everyone who reads mine regularly!

Andrew is getting fit -- This is a great mix of humor, facts, weigh-ins and various motivation factors. Andrew is literally a world away and updates his blog often.

Rob Dares -- What started as a weight loss journey turned into running a marathon. Rob has a great story to tell that just keeps on going.

Non-Running Nancy -- Who doesn't ready Nancy's blog??

Recast In Iron -- Jason was one of the first bloggers I came across when I started blogging last year. Together we made it through the Richmond Marathon and the Shamrock Half Marathon ... yet we've never met! Anyway, Jason's journey continues with goals beyond doing a marathon.

A Viking, Running -- This guy is hilarious. He may be sporadic with his posting -- sometimes three or four times a week; sometimes he'll go a couple of weeks without writing -- but it's always a great read.

The Journey ...
-- This girl does it all despite a very busy life. Check it out.

Back in May, I gave a shout out to several bloggers. The title was "Yo Bloggers" -- click here to check it out.

Hello bike, remember me?

There's no question that my tail bone injury in July really screwed some things up for me in several ways. Missed runs, missed sleep, missed job interviews, no biking, no driving, lots of bitching about my tail bone hurting ... most of these things have worked themselves out, except for biking. I tried getting back on my bike a couple of times in August, BUT my butt still hurt too much for a smaller seat and bumps on the road. Instead of trying to bike at least once a week, I just ran. And eventually, my bike seat gathered a lot of dust and dog hair on the spokes.

For the past month or so, I've thought a lot about going out and biking. I then had some good excuses going on in my mind -- first was the race and I didn't want to start over close to a race; then my job came along and until this week I've had a rough time adjusting to a new schedule after two whirlwind weekends out of town. Then this weekend came and went; then I was in D.C. for the day this past Monday for work; then I ran yesterday ... and damn, I can't think of a reason to not bike today. So this evening after a walk with my wife and dog, I busted out the two-wheeler and went out for a few miles.

It wasn't much, but it was better than nothing. It was better than thinking about doing it. Now comes the fun part of making it a regular thing, all while combating the fact that daylight is getting less and less every day. I cannot get up earlier to get my full workout in, so I'm in a gradual shift of become a person who works out in the evenings. So far it hasn't been too bad. I'm pretty much staying very open minded about when I can get a workout in. I feel, though, that a gym membership may be coming this winter.

A non-title title because my creativity is lacking

While many of my recent blog posts have been about just happy being running and not worrying about racing, I haven't really discussed my actual runs too much. Well, there really hasn't been much to report. My runs have been shorter, but I feel like I've stepped up my intensity.

My runs have generally been around 8:30 to 9 minute mile paces, which is going at a pretty good clip for me considering I'm not training for anything. Maintaining that pace is key to what I would want to do in a 5k whenever that happens again, with the general thinking of what I've done in the past with races being a minute or so quicker per mile. I've been running between 3 and 4 miles, and focusing on getting more mileage with my dog. He's gotten up to about 2 miles comfortably on top of a walk or two every day. I don't really want to make him a runner for beyond 2, maybe 3 miles, but he has tons of energy to burn off. He's only 3, so now is a great time to make this part of his routine.

Lastly, for those of you continuing to train for long-distance races this fall, I just wanted to say that I hope you are really having a great time out there. Since I went through marathon training last year, I have a lot of respect for those who choose to tackle 26.2 miles. For those of you doing it for the first time, you'll understand what I'm saying once you do it.

Me random? Why not ...

For more than two years now, my running has generally been focused around a longer-distance race down the road. The Virginia 10 Miler, the Shamrock Half (twice), the Richmond Marathon and most recently the Rock 'n' Roll Half. Even when I've been hurt, I've remained committed to these races. So it's no wonder that now that I haven't signed up for a "big" race that I have a lot of random thoughts. With no "what's next" to think of, my posts are just random, and I'm completely fine with that.

Virginia 10 Miler
So on my short walk/jog with my dog and while mowing my yard this morning, I realized that I really don't want to do this race. Yes I'm in shape and to prepare for it over the next couple of weeks all I would really need to do is run more hilly routes. But if I did it, it would make it two weekends in a row of traveling to the Lynchburg area since I'm headed there next weekend and I really don't feel like doing that.

It is a race I want to do again. It was my first double-digit distance race and it's a very challenging event. But my burning desire to redeem myself in a long-distance event isn't there. For anyone within a reasonable driving distance of Lynchburg, I would highly recommend this race. (Click here for the Web site.) It's an event that used to be gigantic -- Bill Rodgers won it several times in the 1970s and it peaked in the 1980s with nearly 2,700 people running it one year. Due to some poor organization it saw a big decline, but as of last year it is now organized locally and things seem to be improving drastically. It's also very hilly -- the highest elevation is 800 feet; the lowest is 593.

Anything but double digits
One reason I'm not doing the 10 miler is because I want to do some shorter races again, at least for a little while. I'm not committing to anything yet -- I'd rather just go unplanned. I'd like to do at least two more races this fall. It's been way too long since I've done a 5k -- I've done 11 since 2004, but the last one I ran was July 2007 when I set a PR. It'll be interesting to see how fast -- or slow -- I am in that distance in a race setting.

Things will be fine in '09
It's hard to think about next year already, but I can't help it since I'm essentially ending any thoughts of another long-distance race this year. Right now, my plan is to do the Rock 'n' Roll Half again, and that's really it for long races. That gives me a chance to adjust to having a baby in my life and it gives me about 10 months off long-distance training. I'll still have "long" runs, but I'm limiting race distances to 10k or less until next September. I need the break both physically and mentally. I am very interested in doing a duathlon in April instead of training for the Shamrock Half again, but I'll save that for another day.

What's in a week?
My runs this week have been great. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I'm enjoying running just to run. I feel like I've had a big weight lifted off my shoulders to say the hell with big races right now and do whatever I feel like doing when the time comes. I'm not worried about the number of miles in a week, I don't care about hitting 1,000 miles right now and I don't feel bad for cutting it short today because it's so hot and humid. I'm in an unusual zone right now and I'm loving every bit of it.

Are you still mad as hell?

When I was running tonight, I was thinking a lot about Sept. 11, 2001. Like I often do when I run, I was writing a post in my head, coming up with various thoughts about 9/11, what it means, etc., etc. Then toward the end of my run, I had two very interesting back-to-back songs: Dave Matthews Band's "Everyday" and Garth Brooks' "The River." While I would probably usually slow down for songs like that, I sped up. I was inspired by the words ... and I became fired up like I did seven years ago today.

For those who know me well, know that Sept. 10/11, 2001, was also the beginning of the relationship with my wife. It's a story too long to tell and it's not too many people's business, but in the long run it was a life-changing night. But so was that next morning. At the time I was a copy editor working evenings at a newspaper, so needless to say, I was up late in the morning of Sept. 11 on my first "date." (I guess that word is up for debate.) Around 10 a.m. Sept. 11, a friend of mine called and woke me up and told me the horrible news.

As a copy editor, that night and over the next few days, I saw pictures that never made it in the newspapers or on TV. Looking back, I'm not sure how I made it through all that, other than the fact I was in the beginning of a new relationship, I was only 23 and only nine months into my career.

While you try to make your choice this fall of who will bring the most "change" to Washington, D.C., I will never forget the change that happened seven years ago today.

So, fast forward to my run today. Those songs reminded me that we can never forget what that day did to us as a country and as a world-wide community. I remembered how mad I felt at times that first week and month after 9/11. But I also remembered how mad I still am ... and how mad I am at other things that have or have not happened since then.

I am not going to get into too much, but I hope that 9/11 continues to always be a day of remembrance. A running blog isn't really a place to talk about all this, but if it wasn't for running I would not have reflected as much as I should have.

Running ... just to run

Ever since the summer of 2006, it seems I've been locked into the pattern of what to do next after a big race. While I still have thoughts on what to do over the next few weeks, I want to take another week before officially deciding.

Last week -- for the first time in a very long time -- I essentially took off from running just to do it. I was not physically injured after the race, but I really needed to get my mind away from it. When I went out for walks with my dog, I jogged a little bit here and there, but all told, it was probably only about a mile or so. I had a whirlwind of a trip to Ohio this past weekend, so there was no running then. Until tonight, I have had no urge to put my Garmin on. It was a planned week with extremely limited running and it was a welcome break.

Tonight I was ready for a run, but I didn't realize how early it got dark, so I only got in 2.5 miles. It was a nice run despite the humidity, and it's probably a wise thing to be light on the miles the first few times back out since the race just to make sure everything is in its right place. It felt good to run without thinking about what's next. In my last post I said that I would have things figured out by now, but I really want to run this week for the enjoyment of running. I will begin to prepare myself as if I'll run a long-distance race in a few weeks, but I don't want to commit 100 percent to it just yet. I don't have any big reasons other than the fact that it was liberating last week to do nothing, and this week I want to feel liberated from worrying about a race.

This is the first time in a long time that I've been able to let myself feel this way and it's really ... to steal my own words ... liberating. When I started running in 2004, I got involved in a lot of small and short community races. I ran just to run and raced to challenge myself. While races are still very challenging, I've gotten distracted along the way. I said this a few weeks ago, but this summer running has become fun for me again. I want that continue even if I do get focused on bigger races down the road. If it's not fun, then why do it? I hope that helps you understand why I'm not committing to anything just yet. I have to keep having fun.

Motivated to rest

With an upcoming crazy weekend with a baby shower out of town, I've never been more happy to not run as I have this week. With a walk and short jog with my dog yesterday, it was liberating to know that I'm just taking this week to do whatever when it comes to exercise. It's nice to know I decided to avoid a marathon this year ... had I chosen a marathon this fall, I would've kept to the rigorous routine and probably would have driven myself to the ground this week. Like I said earlier this week, maybe next year.

When I get back to town Sunday evening, I will have figured out what I'm doing this fall. The only thing that makes sense for me with a baby on the way is the 10 miler; anything after that isn't worth traveling to. And I'm holding a grudge against 13.1 miles right now, so I don't want to even think about that distance. I was almost convinced to run the Baltimore Half, but the price just jumped to $80, so I quickly thought twice about that. There are several community races around here that I may do and I may be very happy to just do those.

Meanwhile, here's a reminder for myself on what I want to do next year ...

A hodgepodge of post-race thoughts

I could write a lot about a variety of things right now, but instead here's a shorter list of things on my mind right now. Also, I've inserted some of my photos from the weekend to show some of the amazing sights.

Taking a break
I have not had a full, complete two-day break from running in almost three months. Even through my tailbone injury I managed to get in a few tenths at a time. The last time I went more than two days without running at all was June 10-12 when I was in the Outer Banks. You'll have to excuse me this week as I don't even think about having a running motion for a few days. Today I had a great walk with my dog and I MIGHT go for a run after work tomorrow. Otherwise, it's been nice having a break since Sunday morning.

Going Garmin free
On my walk with my dog this evening, I didn't take my Garmin. I've been so obsessed with my miles -- even walking miles -- that I feel like my Garmin is just a growth on my arm. I don't even know what bag it's packed it right now, and I may not bust it out at all this week. I'll estimate my miles based on what I know about my neighborhood or use mapmyrun.com. I need a break from looking down at my watch so much.

Post-race soreness

Despite shutting it down the last half of the Rock 'n' Roll Half on Sunday, I still have sore legs and am tired. It's not nearly as bad as usual, but it's oddly comforting to know that I put enough effort in early on to be sore. Just because things went bad doesn't take away from three months of training, and I'm exhausted both mentally and physically. I think I'm entitled to do whatever the hell I feel like doing this week.

A tale of two races
Despite the fact that I was 17 minutes slower this weekend than the Shamrock Half in March, there is something special about what happened a couple of days ago. A friend of mine called it a character-building race. He's so right too, and right now I probably don't even know how right he is. It was a learning experience in so many ways, and I'm strangely glad that it played out like it did. In March, I was hurt. I was mad as hell and I was determined to get back on my feet this summer. When I did, I turned around and fell on my butt, but I stayed determined to keep training and fight through it. When the humidity hit me like a brick wall on Sunday, it was just part of my story of things trying to prevent me from finishing this race. But I finished dammit. Unhurt and not limping across the finish line.

Rock 'n' Roll 2009
A few hours after finishing on Sunday, I said I highly doubt that I would return for this race. But by that night, when talking with my friend Vicki who ran it last year, I realized that I have to go back to Virginia Beach on Labor Day weekend next year. It's more than a year away and right now that seems like forever and a day away, but that 2:06 is already burning a hole in my feet. It's a course record for me that just can't hang around.

So ... what's next?
Ah, the question runners everywhere are always asking themselves. Well, I'm not 100 percent sure. The Virginia 10 Miler is coming at the end of the month in Lynchburg, and I've been thinking about doing it again for two years now. It's a unique race on an extremely hilly course ... it's the race that got me so hooked on longer distances. I have to get through the next couple of days and recovery runs to see how I feel before I make a decision, but right now it's the only race close by that makes sense. Despite wanting to redeem myself in a half marathon, I don't want to venture too far from home with a baby on the way in November. Plus after two half marathons that didn't go as expected, I want to get that distance out of my head for a while.

I'd like to do some shorter races this fall. I haven't done a 5k since August 2007 and I haven't had a good 10k in a long time, so I'm kind of itching to get back to what got me hooked on running in the first place.

So ... what's next after what's next?

It's kind of weird to think about 2009 already, but looking ahead, the Rock 'n' Roll Half is the only "big" thing on my radar screen (see above for all that). After that, I'm totally open to thinking about doing another marathon next fall. I've already looked at how the calendar plays out and it's ideal to just keep training after Labor Day weekend to perhaps do the Richmond Marathon again. It's just not happening this year with a baby on the way. Plus I haven't forgotten about the nagging injuries despite feeling great right now. There's something itching inside me to have a half marathon that I'm 100 percent happy with before doing another marathon, so mapping out my plans for next year will have to wait ... probably until a year from now.

Lastly, a HUGE thank you
I just wanted to extend my sincerest thanks to my wife, my mom and stepdad, my friends and my fellow bloggers out there for your support in the past few months. I've had so much going on personally and professionally, and I could not have made it without all the support. I could have easily just given up hope on a lot of things, but everybody has played a role in keeping this train from running out of steam. Thank you!! It'll be time to keep it going in a few days.

By the way, I'm in the blue waving my hands in the photo below. It's one of the very few times I've actually done something for a photo during a race. I'm looking forward to seeing the official photos because I actually put my hands up in the air for one.

I finished and that's good enough for me

It's weird to say this, but my worst race ever may be one that I am most proud to say that I finished. To get straight to the point, my time for yesterday's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach was 2:06:03, more than 20 minutes off my goal.

What? Why should I be happy about that? No, I didn't get hurt, thankfully. Instead, I encountered some extremely humid conditions that I think impacted a huge number of participants. As I did during the Richmond Marathon and this year's Shamrock Half Marathon, I started with my friend Travis who had a similar goal to me. We started this race off very well -- our first 5k split was 24:56. Despite being hot and sweating more than I ever have before, it was right where I wanted to be. After a couple of more miles around an 8:20-8:30 pace, I decided to start to push it a little bit to see if I could run a sub 8-minute mile or two in order to get to my 1:44 goal.

Despite that feeling of pushing it between miles 5 and 6, I hit a little more than 8:30. What the hell? I think I might've even said that out loud when I looked at my watch. I tried to keep pushing it between miles 6 and 7, but I kept getting slower. It was at that point, when a good portion of the race was entering a couple of miles of direct sunlight, that I decided to shut it down and make this a long run. Despite my efforts to keep running, when I hit a water stop around mile 9, I decided to walk for a little while with hopes that Travis might catch up to me. I took a cup of Cytomax and two waters and took my time for about a quarter of a mile.

At that point, I was feeling refreshed and I thought that maybe I could push it for the last 5k and beat 2 hours. When I got to mile 10, I stepped it up, or at least I thought I did, for a mile ... and that's when I decided to walk again. No matter what I tried, I could not run faster. When I made a turn toward Atlantic Avenue near my hotel, I ran so I wouldn't be walking through the large crowds. After passing off my soaked visor to my mom, I walked briefly again. Once I got to mile 12 and made the final turn onto the Boardwalk, I jogged my way toward the end. I wasn't going to walk with the finish line in sight.

I could not believe how many people I saw walking during this race. At the same time, I could not believe how miserable many of the runners looked. For the last couple of miles, there was no one near me finishing strong or having a final kick. My friend Travis, who really wants to break 1:50 for a half, ended up just 30 seconds behind me, almost 20 minutes off his goal time. My friend Vicki, who ran about 2 hours last year and wanted to run in less than 2 hours, was about 20 minutes off her goal.

We all pretty much had the same story -- the first third of the race went well, but the humidity was too much to battle. I heard others around me saying the same thing. In the end, none of us really walked away disappointed at our results -- there wasn't anything we could have done differently. I was happy to finish in one piece and unhurt. I have a little typical race soreness since I ran some of this hard, but shutting things down in the second half has saved me to do something else soon -- something for another post later this week.

The other day I said my goal was to have fun, and for the weekend I did (I'll post a few photos later). I got to catch up with old friends, have dinner with family, walk on the beach and boardwalk and see the worst concert ever (thanks B52's!). As far as the race is concerned, it is what it is. Sure, I probably could have had more speedwork and two weeks of an injury in July didn't help, but none of that could have prepared me for crazy humidity. And please don't talk to me about hydrating -- I prepared myself all week to be properly hydrated. That was not an issue yesterday.

I know that I could have done more in the second half of the race to have a better time, but strangely I'm taking pride in having my worst half marathon out of the five that I've done. Had I pushed it a little more than I did, I still wouldn't have beaten my goal, and my overall health was issue No. 1 yesterday.

I finished and there's nothing wrong with that.

Looking back eases my mind

Ever since March and the injury during the Shamrock Half Marathon, I've been questioning myself a lot in how I prepare for events. At times in the past five months, I have felt like I should just do 5ks and 10ks and not worry about 13.1 miles ever again. Other times I have felt extremely confident.

Heading into this weekend, I keep thinking about the two weeks in July that I couldn't run very well due to my tail bone injury. After getting to 20 miles in a week before the fall, I simply could not do a long run two weeks in a row. But in the five weeks after that, I have felt the best I have felt in a long time even if I can't seem to ever lose the 5 extra pounds I want to.

To help ease my mind a bit about this weekend, I went back and looked at my training for the previous two half marathons. I added up the mileage for the 10 weeks leading up to race week so I could see how I've done this summer. In the winter of 2007, when I set my PR at the Shamrock Half, I ran 193.8 miles in the 10 weeks before, logging four 20-plus mile weeks. This year for the same race, I did much less with 139.8 miles with three 20-plus mile weeks. It's no wonder I got hurt, even if I was in good shape after marathon training at the end of 2007. So in the past 10 weeks for the Rock 'n' Roll Half, I have logged 201.6 miles, with six runs of 20 miles or more.

That really surprised me. I felt that my training in the beginning of 2007 was better than what I've done recently. I probably had better quality runs then, but getting in the extra mileage is important too. If I hadn't missed those long runs in mid-July, I would likely have 220-plus miles.

Another interesting note about miles is the fact that at about halfway through the Rock 'n' Roll Half on Sunday, I'll pass 100 miles for the month. It'll be the most miles in a month this year, and it's the first 100-plus month in almost a year.

Final pre-race thoughts
There's no question that I'd love to set a PR this weekend, but my main goal is to enjoy myself. I've said it recently, but running has become fun again and all that matters to me on Sunday is to go out there and just do what I can do. I'm not going to get flustered if my pace falls off, and I'm not going to get overly excited if I start off quicker than I plan. The weather may play a role and there's nothing I can do if it's crazy hot or if it rains. All that's left now is hitting the start button on my watch and then seeing what happens! Look for a race report sometime Monday ...

What's this stuff falling from the sky?

When race weeks get here, it seems I always run out of things to say. Really all I am thinking about is the race and not doing anything stupid in the days leading up to it. This week is different with starting a new job and having child birth classes to go to on Monday and Tuesday nights, but it's not making me forget about my end goal on Sunday. But the depths of posts feel kind of blah.

Today after work it was pouring down rain, but I was planning to run no matter what. By the time I got home and ready to run, it had slowed to a trickle. While running, there were parts of me wishing it would just pour down and there were parts of me that hated it. With the forecast on Sunday having a chance of rain, it was a must to run to remember what rain felt like. It's been so dry lately that there have been no chances to run in the rain. (Until today, Richmond's airport had only one-tenth of an inch of rain this month.)

I ended up having a great-feeling run. My legs are feeling good and rested and I just feel ready to get out there and push it for 13.1 miles. Enough said for today ...

Workouts since last post
Aug. 26: Walk - 0.6; Run - 1.2
Aug. 27: Walk - 0.6; Run - 4.1

A distraction from running

Today I started a new journey in my life with a new job. I'm glad this is happening on race week rather than the middle of training. When that alarm went off an hour earlier than usual, I was dragging this morning. It was a usual planned day off a full run, but I still stumbled to a walk and short jog with my dog. He looked very pleased afterward.

Anyway, with the start of a new job, it's easy to get distracted from running until I get into a normal routine. That's a good thing this week. I'll work my mileage in at various points, but it gives me a chance to rest my legs without thinking about it. I was feeling sluggish during yesterday's short run. Before I know it, I'll be at the beach and it'll be race day. I don't have to time to think about it until late Friday evening.

Workouts since Aug. 21
Aug. 22: Walk - 1; Run - 10.2
Aug. 23: Yard sale!
Aug. 24: Walk - 1.1; Run - 3.3
Week totals: Walk - 7; Run - 22.7; and one day of painting
Aug. 25: Walk - 1.1; Run - 0.5

Taper? Sort of

A recent comment asked if I was going to taper before the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Well ... yes and no. With having a big hiccup in the middle of July, I was unable to get the mileage I wanted about mid-way through my training this summer. But in the past five weeks, I've really poured in on with the miles and after this weekend, I'll have my fifth straight week of 20-plus miles. With today's 10.2 mile run and a run this weekend, I'll have my fourth straight week of double-digit long runs. Next week, which will end on Sunday, Aug. 31 with the race, will make it six weeks of 20-plus miles and five weeks of double digit runs. I'll leave it all out there on the course, which leads me to how I'll "taper" without really tapering.

It all started today, with having my long run on a Friday. While I'll admit that I was pretty tired just five days removed from my last long run, I've given myself a couple of extra days between my last long run and the race. I'll get another 4-5 miles this weekend, and then I'll have two 4-5 mile easy runs next week. I'll back off the gas peddle a bit, since I've been pretty intense these past couple of weeks. I'll get in a very short and easy run -- probably 2-3 miles -- the day before the race so I can adjust to conditions at Virginia Beach. So, when it comes to tapering, my mileage won't be very different, but my mind frame and intensity will be. This approach is very similar to what I did in the winter of 2007 when I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon -- and set a PR -- and before I started blogging.

In comparison to earlier this year when I ran the Shamrock Half, I feel great heading into next week. I have no worries when it comes to injuries and I am very pleased with my mileage coming off a non-running injury. Things really got screwed up with falling on my steps, but I'm so glad that I've been able to move on. And while I'd like to set a PR at the Rock 'n' Roll Half, my main goal is to just run my race and have fun doing it. A PR really isn't all that important -- it just makes for a good blog entry and a new time on the right side of this page. I've done all I can do, and I'll do what I can next week to finish off the job. I won't get all worked up if it doesn't happen. Running has become enjoyable again this summer, and that's the best thing that I can ask for.

Painting = cross training

Earlier this summer I let a couple days of painting get in the way of running ... and then at the end of the week I tripped at the top of my steps. Well, this week I got the paint brushes out again, but I didn't let it get in the way of running.

As I've mentioned before, my wife and I are expecting a boy in November. With a new job beginning next week, this week is THE week to get stuff done around the house that I've been putting off. The biggest thing is the baby's room, and I really didn't want to save it for a rainy weekend in September or October. Besides, it looks like it'll never rain in Richmond again.

So yesterday I busted out the paint, the brushes, the ladder and everything else you need to paint and got it all done ... IN ONE DAY! It started early -- probably around 10 a.m. -- and didn't end until about 6 p.m. I basically only took two or three short breaks. Thanks to some fast-drying paint (and three fans), I got two coats of two different colors on, plus the ceiling. Today my wife and I finished the job with the border.

What does all this have to do with running? Well, nothing, because I haven't missed any runs, although today was probably a bit short because I was tired. Yesterday would have been a bike ride, but I got in a good enough workout with painting, kneeling and climbing up and down the ladder. Actually, I still got in a walk and short jog with my talk before all that fun even started.

If all goes as planned, I'll actually be getting my long run in tomorrow. It's a little closer than usual to my previous long run, but it also gives me a longer distance between this week's long run and the Aug. 31 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. This weekend is shaping up to be busy for me, and a double-digit run doesn't fit well with my plans.

Workouts since last post
Aug. 20: Walk - 1.1; Run - 0.7; Painting
Aug. 21: Walk - 1; Run - 4.1