May: Twice as nice as April

In this final week of non-training, I laid off running a bit to give my feet some extra rest before I began official training on June 1 for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. It gave me a chance these past couple of days to get a little more comfortable on the bike to know I can easily do 4-6 miles starting off on my cross-training days. It's better than being completely unfamiliar with how my body will do on a bike.

To sum up May, I'll admit that I'm a bit disappointed that my mileage totals aren't higher, but I knew coming into this month that I'd have to take things slow. I knew this was a transition month -- it was about building some kind of base without injuring myself. So, the goal of being injury-free was easily accomplished. When adding up my miles, I ran 40.8 miles and biked 21.6 -- both more than twice my mileage in injury-plagued April. I also got in at least 20.9 miles of walking. I also lifted weights six days out of the month -- less than what I wanted, but I'm noticing improvements each time I lift. The month was also interrupted by being out of town for five days, so all in all I'd have to say I'm pleased with how the month played out.

For the year, my running total is 250.4 miles; I've walked at least 107.5 miles; and I've logged 45.1 miles in biking. Everything would be much higher if not for my injuries.

Looking ahead to June, my plan for my first week of training is to get in about 15 miles, one day of biking and one day of weight lifting. The second week is going to be a challenge since I am traveling to the Outer Banks for a friend's wedding. It'll be nice to get away and run along the beach, but it kind of throws a kink into early training plans. Running-wise for the month, I'd like to hit 60-65 miles. I'd like to get in about 25 biking miles as well. I don't want too big of an increase so I don't burn out too quickly. I have to remember this is just a half marathon and not a full marathon that I'm getting ready for. I want to increase my long runs slowly and hit double digits again by the end of July.

I know that the half is still a little ways off, but my early goals are to set a PR for that distance. I'll be turning 30 in a few weeks, so it would be a great way to start off a new decade. There are some other races this summer that I'll be doing that'll hopefully get me ready for the half. Like I have discussed before, it would be great to set PRs in a 5k and 10k, but right now I'm focused on staying healthy and building my mileage up.

Flipping the switch

I have mentioned a few times that June 1 will be the official start for training for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Is it really that easy to switch to the training mind frame. Yes ... it is.

While the first week or two probably won't be too drastically different from what I'm used to, once I flip the switch to training mode, there's something that changes both mentally and physically. When in training mode it's much easier to break into a routine. For example, I'll have tempo or interval days, a mid-week longer run, a much longer run on the weekends, etc., etc. Also when in training mode it's much easier to blog about my specific runs. Generally speaking, it's kind of boring to write about an easy run unless something strange happened. I find it much more interesting to discuss intervals, plus it helps me track my progress.

A couple of things that will be different with my blogging this summer vs. last summer during marathon training are my plans to track my weight and to make small lifestyle changes each week during training. Since the marathon, I've let my diet slip and losing weight is a must. I haven't gained any more than usual in the "off season," but it'll help me tremendously to drop a few pounds. My first weigh in will come this Friday.

Each week during my training, I plan to write about a lifestyle change that I will make that week -- or maybe made already -- and then stick with it through the race (and hopefully beyond). They'll be simple, like giving up french fries or adding certain foods to my diet. When I first lost weight in 2004, I made a lot of small changes that made a big difference and hopefully the same will happen this summer. When I was training for the marathon, I often felt I could eat whatever, and really I could, but something just feels different this year.

With this all being said, I have a few more days to do what feels right before flipping that switch. Just like last year's marathon training, I look forward to having you on my journey come June 1. I greatly appreciate all comments and suggestions along the way.

I can still run "fast" if I want to

I'm on a brief trip to visit the in-laws in northeast Ohio, but I managed to get in a decent 4 miles yesterday, which included a quarter mile interval in 1:50. While it was only a quarter mile, it felt good to know I can still run at that pace. It felt pretty good, and I'm really looking forward to getting speedwork in once I begin my "official" training for the half.

That's all from me for now! Just wanted to get in a quick update.

100 days, 11 hours ...

If you haven't noticed, I tend to notice milestones. Well, today marks 100 days to go until the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. While I'm not in "official" training mode just yet, I realize that this race isn't all that far away. I do have all of June, July and August to prepare, so that eases my mind just a bit.

While I'm discussing this race, has anyone out there tried Cytomax? It's the new official sport drink for this race. I'll of course try it beforehand to make sure my stomach can handle it, but any insight before trying it would be great. Free samples would be even better.

Take It and Run Thursday: Cross Training

Today's "Take It and Run" theme over at the Runners Lounge is cross training. It's an interesting theme for me considering that I really only recently discovered the benefits of cross training. For four-plus years I've thought running was just the thing to do to get or stay in shape. For a brief time in '04 I lifted weights, but I thought it only made my arms look better. I didn't realize that it could help my running.

If you've followed my blog, you know that in the past month or so I've taken up bike riding and weight lifting after back-to-back injuries this past winter. Now that I'm pain-free again, I am feeling the best I have felt in a long time when running, and I have cross training to thank for that. By mixing in a little bit of weight lifting and a little bit of bike riding, it's taken my focus off running a little bit. My running is feeling more care free these days, and that's a good thing. Running feels more natural than it ever has before -- I always felt I was thinking about it too much.

I know I have a long way to go to get back to the shape I was in, but I can guarantee that cross training will be a big part of my training this summer for Virginia Beach's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I hope in three months I can revisit this subject and actually offer some advice on what to do. I'm already considering taking part in 2009's National Duathlon Festival, so getting in better biking shape will be key to me later this year.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I haven't mentioned swimming ... well, to put it simply, I don't swim. I'm not totally ruling it out -- I did do a marathon after once saying I never would -- but I highly doubt it'll happen anytime soon. In addition to needing lessons, I also would need to join a gym or join my neighborhood pool this summer, both impossible considering things going on in my professional life.

Yo Bloggers!

Since I enjoy reading other people's blogs as much as I enjoy writing my own, I wanted to give a shout out to a few posts I've noticed over the past couple of days.

First off, congrats to Rob for finishing his first marathon this past weekend. I've really come to enjoy reading Rob's blog over the past several months as he has been on a weight-loss journey and a marathon journey.

Next I'd like to congratulate Joe at Learning to Run for staying focused on running while his wife gave birth. He's running on empty, but consistently, and he even ran to the bank the other day -- literally.

Then there's Jason, who has moved his blog to Recast in Iron. Jason and I haven't met yet, but we have done two of the same races in the past six months or so -- the Richmond Marathon and the Shamrock Half Marathon. His plans this year are for a triathlon and another marathon, and then an Ironman in 2009. I say go for it -- it's something I'll never do, but I'll support him 110 percent.

Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Jeff and his Running Diary. Jeff and I know each other via his wife, and I hope that I've given him some valuable running advice in the past few months. The main reason for my shout out, though, is because of his recent post and how he ran just fine without his iPod. I've tried to convince people that you don't "need" music to get through a run, especially in a race. Jeff proved it and I didn't even suggest that he try it.

Halfway to 10

These past four weeks have been all about getting back out there and feeling comfortable on my feet. I've hit the milestones of 3 and 4 miles, which seemed to come fairly easy. Earlier this week, it seemed 5 miles was a giant task I wasn't ready for, but sure enough, today I got in 5 miles.

Overall, things felt great. I felt like I could have put in another mile or so with the effort I was putting into it. Feeling like I could've done more is always a great feeling to have. Since I feel like I'm just building a base and not in official training mode yet, it's best not to push it yet.

Today marks 15 weeks to go to the half marathon. Getting another week in the teens is a good place to be right now. In two weeks, on June 1, I'll flip that switch in my mind into training mode and get focused on getting stronger, faster and lighter on the scale. Thirteen weeks is a good countdown to 13.1 miles. For now, all I ask for this coming week is another week like the past two -- consistent and pain-free.


I think most runners agree that it's tough to be consistent. Whether it's things on the job, stuff at home, the weather or even your mood, getting consistent is tough. Well, since the marathon six months ago, I have been doing a great job of being consistent with my inconsistency. In the past two weeks, though, things have turned around.

On my run today, I realized how up and down things have seemed since the marathon milestone. It's like I got caught up in being pleased with finishing the marathon that things stopped mattering so much. Now that it seems like I'm on the right track, I'm ready to plot out things between now and the end of August. My plan for the second half of this month is to just stay consistent -- hit my weekly miles in the teens, ride my bike a few times and lift weights a couple of times of week. Come June 1, I'll be ready to get into details of what I want my long runs and weekly miles to be. I'll be ready to discuss my weight and my goals for the end of August. I'm prepared to make June, July and August be the best running months of my life, and I'm just laying the ground work this month.

Speaking of consistency, things are going well this week. Monday was a weight lifting day; Tuesday was a 1.1-mile walk and 4.2-mile run; Wednesday was a good 2-mile walk and 4.6 miles on the bike; and today was just shy of a mile walk and a 4.1-mile run. Tomorrow I hope to bike and/or lift weights; Saturday will be house-work day; and Sunday I hope to run another 4 miles or so.

Good runs keep on coming

How hard is it for you to have two good runs in a row? How about three? What about four? It seems that the biggest problem with running is that good runs don't happen often enough. After nearly every run my wife asks me, "Did you have a good run?" It's usually hard to answer that question. If it's a normal day in which I don't care about pace, it's tough to have a bad run, but it's tough to say yes. If I have a tempo run, "good" can turn to awful if I'm a few seconds off the pace I seek. If I'm running more than 10 miles, "good" may be determined by the weather or if I had to take a bathroom break during the run.

But in the past week, with the focus of my runs being to get through them without any pain, I've had excellent runs. I haven't focused on pace, but my trusty Garmin tells me I'm in about a 9-minute mile pace. It's so great to be at that pace for a comfortable run. It makes me eager to do some sort of interval training very soon. With no planned races yet, I have nothing to worry about. Being able to run worry-free is an added bonus I don't think I've ever had.

So back to this consistency with good runs. Today I put in 4.2 miles (as well as a mile walking) and things continued to go well. My upper body was sore from lifting weights yesterday, so things actually felt weird at first. It had been a while since I lifted enough to be this sore, but it's a great feeling to have. It's almost like I can feel things changing even though my scale doesn't want to change.

Also with today's run, my May miles passed my April total. That's almost hard to believe, but it's great to put all that behind me now.

Feeling like a teen

This weekend I got a chance to run the Bedford "loop," plus an extra half mile, to get my total for the week to 13 miles. It's the first time in almost two months that I've hit teens for the week, so I feel great about that.

This week I want to remain consistent and get in the teens again. Things are feeling great and all I want to do is build off the best week I've had in some time.

That's really all I have to say right now surprisingly. When things are going well with running, it's best to just stay focused ...

4 more miles

I guess it takes the lowest of lows to really appreciate running. I'm not sure what happened today, but halfway through my run I actually liked what I was doing. It's been a while since I felt that way. When I wasn't hurt for that short time this winter, everything felt so ... I don't know ... blah. I was going through the motions.

As you've read, I've struggled to really get into running this year. Even when I have, it's been tough to be positive. Something clicked today, though, and I ran a great 4 miles. That would be two 4-mile runs two days in a row. Excluding the 8k/half marathon weekend, I haven't hit distances like that in consecutive days since March 1 and 2 (5.8 and 8) and March 5 and 6 (3.9 and 4.5) -- a full two months ago.

More important than the distance, though, it how great everything feels, both physically and mentally. I feel I've gotten over that mental hump of being worried about hurting myself. It's also giving me a chance to think about other things going on in my life. Physically, it feels great to not be hurt and to not have my lungs give out on me. It's nice that some of my conditioning has stuck with me. There's still a lot of work to do, but if you would've told me a month ago that I'd be feeling like this today, I would've told you that you're crazy.

4.1 wonderful miles

A few months ago, when I was getting over my right foot bothering me, I sort of felt like I was forcing myself to run and get ready for the Shamrock Half Marathon. It was the middle of winter and I was lacking some motivation. Now that I'm getting over my other foot, though, my runs are feeling more worthwhile. Each run feels like it means something for a change. I don't know if it's because I need the time to sort of clear my mind or if it's the warm weather, but I'm feeling good right now when it comes to running.

Today was like a lot of other days in which I started with my dog and then didn't know if I'd feel like doing anything after our walk/jog. Well, I went out and did 4.1 miles total (1 with my dog) this morning, and feel so much better because of it. Passing my "long" distance from last week feels like a big accomplishment right now, especially since it's Wednesday. It'll take all these little steps to make this a successful summer.

I'm no Michael Jordan or Larry Bird, but ...

For the first time in a few years, I shot basketball today. It was just for about a half an hour after getting a good 2-mile hike in with my dog. For those who know me, you know that I'm doing some major job hunting right now, so I thought some basketball would help pass the time a bit.

It did, and I can't believe how sore my arms are 6 hours later. Shooting basketball actually uses muscles? I would have never believed you 10 years ago. Anyway, I had a good time. I used to shoot ball by myself a ton when I was a teen, plus played rec league basketball from third grade through my senior year in a high school, so it's not new to me. All in all it was a good addition to my workout and I'll probably do more of it in the near future.

It was kind of nice to do something that didn't focus on total miles -- it was just a half hour of shooting and chasing down my missed shots. It's like having a workout without even thinking about it.

It's time to move on

One of my goals in the road to recovery was hitting double digits for a week. I didn't really have a set week in mind -- I just knew it would be soon. After my run yesterday, I added up my miles for the week and realized I was only a half mile from hitting double digits this week.

So, even though I wasn't planning on running today, I went out this morning and ran a mile with my dog bringing my total this week to 10.5. I had planned to just do a half mile, but somewhere along the way I lost my wife in our small neighborhood, so Duke and I kept going a little longer.

Now that the double digits goal is crossed off my list, it's time to focus on some smaller goals to get me ready for half marathon training. Next week I hope to hit the teens and then steadily increase my miles week by week until I get to 20. Along the way I'll add speed work and refocus on long runs. If all goes as planned, I want to run in the James River Scramble again this year and improve on last year's time. Click here to read that race report. To this day I still call it the toughest thing I've ever done.

I'm so happy that things seem to be turning around for me now that the weather is so nice. The second half of March and all of April were just forgettable in terms of working out and 8-plus inches of rain. Now the time has come to stop talking about it and move on.

The big 4.0

Excluding races, it's been almost two months since I ran 4 miles or more. I ran 6 miles on March 8 and participated in the 8k on March 15 the day before the half marathon. Ever since then -- except for the 10k in early April -- I haven't ran much. When I have, it's only been a mile or two at a time. When last week came along, I got in three miles, which was a good confidence builder.

This week I've gotten in runs of 2.1 miles, 1 mile and 2.4 miles. Today, though, I hit 4 miles. I've been overly worried about running coming off back-to-back injuries, but hitting 4 miles tells me that it's OK to run again. I'm not going to all of a sudden bump my mileage back up, but after two weeks of decent short runs, I'm ready to lay out a game plan to slowly build it up. Slow and steady wins the race ... or at least will make me a better runner by the end of August.

On a cross-training note, I must admit that it's very nice to be back into a routing of lifting weights. Even though it's only been a few weeks, I can already see small results in my arms. It's like 2004 all over again. This is about the time of year I started and by July I was feeling great and could really see the results. This year, though, there's no excuse of a wedding and honeymoon to interrupt things.

Non Photographer -- That's me!

Just like there are many runners out there who don't call themselves runners, I have been a photographer for years, but never called myself one. As part of my job I have taken photos and I'll often be the one at a party just snapping away. I got into taking photos in high school as part of my journalism class, but slowly things shifted away and then I ended up kind of forgetting how much I liked it. To be honest, I didn't take the time to learn that much about photography -- all the language and lingo about cameras are as foreign to me as most languages out there. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the art of photography.

Well, to attempt to bring back some of that passion, I've started a new blog - Non Photographer at Feel free to check it out and make comments if you'd like. My hope is to post quite a bit with old and new photos alike.