The Runner Returns

I last wrote about run­ning on this blog in Novem­ber 2013. Look­ing back at ear­li­er posts, it’s hard to believe how chal­leng­ing it was to run after Char­lie arrived. I’m remind­ed that my run­ning bud­dy for my first Philly Dis­tance Run, Mark Gat­ti, promised his wife that he’d take a break from run­ning until his son turned five, a sto­ry he told Jen A. Miller for the Inquir­er back in ’08.

Con­sid­er­ing how many sleep­less nights and impos­si­bly ear­ly morn­ings I had with Char­lie from ’09 to ’11, I couldn’t find the ener­gy to get out and run and when I did, I over­did it and injured myself repeat­ed­ly, cul­mi­nat­ing in a pret­ty seri­ous adduc­tor strain in 2012.

I’ve peri­od­i­cal­ly got­ten out for runs since rehab­bing, but those were very short stints. I imag­ined mov­ing to Jer­sey would trans­late into fan­tas­tic runs along the Coop­er Riv­er, but I still couldn’t find the time.

Now that we’re in Michi­gan and have set­tled in our new home, I’ve start­ed get­ting back after it. I start­ed out in late March with the idea that I’d ease back into shape and not make the sort of com­mit­ments that have end­ed in injury and inac­tiv­i­ty. Welp. I don’t think it was May before I signed up for the Freep Marathon in Octo­ber.

Unlike what hap­pened in 2012, I’ve man­aged to baby myself just enough to get into decent shape. My goal is to qual­i­fy for Boston, just as it was 8 years ago. I’ve set an ambi­tious goal to get as close to that 3 hour thresh­old, but if I come in under 3:10, I’ll be thrilled. Hope­ful­ly this will be my last couch-to-marathon train­ing!


No Goal But Mileage

It’s been a while since I called myself a run­ner. After run­ning con­sec­u­tive marathons in ’08 and ’09, I took a long hia­tus. Turns out being awake all hours with a sleep­less infant isn’t con­ducive to dis­tance run­ning. I tried com­ing back in clas­sic couch-to-marathon style last year, only to injure myself about halfway through train­ing. After months of phys­i­cal ther­a­py, I still didn’t feel quite right, but that didn’t stop me from try­ing again this year, only to meet the same end. It’s been frus­trat­ing since I still want to run that Boston qual­i­fi­er I just missed in freez­ing temps in ’08.
A few weeks ago I start­ed run­ning again. Just three miles, five times a week. No goal but mileage. It’s tak­ing me back to a time before I had a Garmin watch, before I micro­man­aged every step I took on a run. I’m just out there in the cool fall air putting one foot in front of the oth­er. I’m feel­ing bet­ter than I have in years. Turns out run­ning with­out a race in sight is help­ing me build the base I need to get back on track.
Well, that’s not entire­ly true. I signed up for a half marathon at the end of March. I couldn’t help myself. I need a rea­son to stay moti­vat­ed dur­ing these long, dark win­ter months run­ning along­side the Coop­er Riv­er. In the mean­time, I’ll be log­ging miles at a snail’s pace until I feel good enough to push toward my real goal of qual­i­fy­ing for Boston.


I Want to Run

I want to hide, more accu­rate­ly. I’ve run just once since Char­lie start­ed sleep­ing more sound­ly, but that has to change. Not only do I need to run to blow off stress, I need to do a bet­ter job of man­ag­ing my weight. I can’t do that exclu­sive­ly through exer­cise though. Some­thing I need to do a bet­ter job of in 2012 is eat­ing smarter. I know I’ll feel bet­ter if I eat right.

I need to get to the gym, too. Right now I’ve paid $120 for one gym vis­it. There’s no good excuse for that. Can’t wait to get my act togeth­er in 2012!


I Miss Running

I miss run­ning. Last time I ran was the 2009 Philadel­phia Marathon. Just got to be too hard get­ting Char­lie ready on top of try­ing to get out and run in the morn­ing. Hope I can get back on track once the snow and ice melt and the side­walks dry.

Excit­ed to get back in the gym, too! Need a work­out bud­dy? I just got a mem­ber­ship at Plan­et Fit­ness. Think­ing about MWF @ 8 pm. (Look­ing at you, Mark.)


No Marathon for Me This Year

I had big plans for the 2010 marathon sea­son after my marathon mess last year. Instead I won’t be run­ning at all. Sit­ting this one out. And I’m major­ly bummed.

What hap­pened?

For starters, snow. Lots of it. Even if I want­ed to get out­side and gear up for spring races I couldn’t have as Philly was besieged by a record 73″ of snow. But that shouldn’t mat­ter, right? Skip those spring races and train for fall! That’s the tick­et!

Wrong again, sad­ly.

Morn­ings are a tricky thing in our house­hold. Char­lie still wakes up to nurse around 4 AM or so and can­not ever set­tle him­self back to sleep. And Helen’s not a morn­ing per­son, so morn­ings are Daddy’s duty. So instead of knock­ing out 3 or more miles a morn­ing, I’m chas­ing Char­lie around the house try­ing to feed and clothe him before he’s off to day­care.

Much as I’d like to be Super Dad and find a way to work out either dur­ing the work­day or after­wards, I just can’t. Run­ning at night in Fishtown/Port Rich­mond is worth your life sim­ply because of vis­i­bil­i­ty and traf­fic. And who wants to run after din­ner? Not me, that’s who.

I like to think that once Char­lie weans he’ll be more will­ing to sleep lat­er sim­ply because he won’t have the urge to nurse the moment he wakes at the crack of dawn. Maybe then I’ll be able to sneak out, fire up my Garmin watch and get in a few miles before I have to get him dressed and ready for preschool. Fin­gers crossed!


I Ran My 2nd Philadelphia Marathon

Want a marathon pro tip? Have a race plan. It’s the only way you’re going to live to tell the tale.

You know what I did wrong this year? I didn’t have a race plan. Unlike last year, the world inter­vened, mak­ing it hard­er for me to train at the lev­el I did in 2008. It rained fre­quent­ly and hard. I had a beau­ti­ful baby boy. I came down with a bad head cold at the end of Octo­ber.  Yes, I did the best I could con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances, but when I caught a cold after a few too many runs in the Octo­ber rain com­bined with a baby who’s just learn­ing to sleep on his own, marathon train­ing kind of goes out the win­dow.

What was the out­come? A com­plete­ly respectable 3:35 marathon. I didn’t set the world ablaze like I did last year when I ran a heart­break­ing 3:13 and just missed qual­i­fy­ing for Boston in my debut, but I man­aged to main­tain my dig­ni­ty and come in with a time most ama­teur run­ners would kill for. I’m not ashamed of that.

I am ashamed of how stu­pid­ly I ran. I met my friend Pat at the start. He was shoot­ing for a 3:40 time, and that sound­ed rea­son­able to me after tak­ing so much time off. I wish I could’ve main­tained that out­look for more than a mile. I took off hell-bent for the 3:30 group just as I hit Delaware Ave. I felt good! I fig­ured I might just uncork a decent run! I was in for a sur­prise.

I caught up to the 3:30 group by mile 5. I still felt great, but that’s prob­a­bly because I wasn’t pay­ing any atten­tion to my wild­ly fluc­tu­at­ing splits. I sud­den­ly believed that I could catch the 3:20 group by, say, mile 12. And thus end­ed any chance of me recov­er­ing any sem­blance of a race plan.

What hap­pened from that point for­ward can be summed up pret­ty eas­i­ly. I took the fly and die approach. I ran very hard right up until about mile 18, where­upon I real­ized how dif­fi­cult the next 8 miles were going to be. Ordi­nar­i­ly, I run 8 miles an hour. Last Sun­day, I found myself walk­ing and jog­ging just to be sure I would fin­ish the run. I learned a hard les­son.

I crossed the fin­ish line in agony, but I fin­ished. I also real­ized that the OCD lev­el of dis­ci­pline that I brought to my first marathon is a must if I’m going to achieve that sort of suc­cess again. Am I dis­cour­aged? Not at all. I’m invig­o­rat­ed. I’m excit­ed to train hard this win­ter and I plan on enter­ing some spring races. Bring it on!


I Ran the Philly Distance Run

When I ran the Philadel­phia Dis­tance Run last year, it was a tremen­dous relief just to be able to run at all. I’d spent the bet­ter part of a month suf­fer­ing from seri­ous ten­dini­tis in my right ankle and hadn’t even been able to run the week before the race. For­tu­nate­ly, the rest did me good and I was able to run. I fin­ished with 7:58 splits. I ran about half a minute faster than I expect­ed to run and felt great about it.

This year I haven’t had any of those set­backs, but I was still uncer­tain about my goals for this race. Should I take it easy and treat it as a prac­tice run? Should I push myself and try to hit the 7:15 pace I need to qual­i­fy for Boston in Novem­ber? I met up with Kris­ten ear­ly yes­ter­day morn­ing think­ing that I’d do the for­mer. My mind was made up, or so I thought. I didn’t want to be dis­ap­point­ed if I tried to hit marathon pace and failed. This was a fail­safe. Con­tin­ue read­ing