Friday, November 11, 2016


A late race report but hopefully welcome because we all need a bit of good news!   

Nearing the end of my 2016 running streak, the small but perfectly formed marathon in the neighbouring town of Abingdon loomed.  

Loomed, because there is nigh zero crowd support (just the odd sheep); you aren't allowed to wear earphones as they don't close the roads, and the weather can be precarious.   Nevertheless, it was selected as it is an 11 minute drive from home, and anyway... it all went ABsolutely-FABulously.  

Daughter as race crew as wife had to go to Canada urgently -
but she watched my progress on iPhone findfriends

Executed marathon properly.  Finally.   For the last three marathons I've failed at sticking to the plan.  Either too little running and too much rowing.  Or went out too fast and blew up.  Or just failed, full stop.   Or followed the plan and the legs didn't cooperate after 18.   But today it all worked.  

Plan was 10, 10 and 6.2:   first 10 miles of patience and holding back.  Rein rein rein.   Starting with 8.45 miles and gradually easing down to 8.35s by ten.  Letting people run away knowing I'd pick them off later.  Enjoying the views.  Turkey farms and sheep and no crowds just countryside.    
This is on my arm, not leg.   Haha  

Then 10 miles of focus, getting down to 8.30s and holding there.  Not suffering or racing just hold hold hold.   Picking off runners and executing the plan.Then the last 6.2 was drive drive drive.  "None shall pass" me.  And no one was allowed to.  Pace thus picking up and dipping under 8.30s.   

I physically felt the Wall at 22: It was a double loop course reasonably flat and suddenly at 22 I couldn't breathe for half a mile as my body switched to fat burning.   
Amazing that I didn't fall apart but I'd run 2000 miles in training this year so my body and little mind could handle it.   So I gulped air and Gu and dug in for the final push.    And SMILED AND SMILED AND SMILED

Ecstatic at the Finish.  Daughter got the announcer to name-check me as I ran around the stadium track, noting this was my 20th marathon and that I'd last run this one in 1998 when daughter cheering me on was 3 years old!

Then tea and results check 3.41.01.    Faster than the last time I ran this course all those years ago!   And better than I'd aimed for for the last three marathons and this one i.e. 3.45.    Fabulous.     The days of 3.16 marathons may be gone but I'm really chuffed.    Phew!!!!  

and finally, here is a photo from the same race in 1998, with the same daughter as pacer that time


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Catch

So, recovery from the Chicago Marathon proceeds apace. I have a few pulls here and there (calf, left shoulder) that I think have more to do with doing less and not stretching enough than they have to do with running the Marathon.

Yesterday I took a group of students running, and I was focussing on form rather than speed.  Today I cross trained and, on the bike and in the pool I was focussing on a smooth pedal and swim stroke.  It occurred to me that in all three disciplines, a (the) key to a smooth and efficient stroke/stride was timing "the catch."  This is more obviously and traditionally a part of the wisdom on swim technique.  The stroke is divided into the glide, catch and pull.  But the same is true on the bike, as your foot hits the bottom of the stroke, you pull back, engaging the hamstring.  That little pull back is the difference between pounding like a piston and a smooth circular pedal stroke -- stomping v. spinning.  I didn't really realize until recently that the same is true with running.  How smoothly does your foot transition from landing (toe/midfoot/heel) to catching and pulling you back. Ideally the plant and the catch are virtually simultaneous.

In all three disciplines, the catch is where the stroke/stride shifts from getting into position and/or shock absorption to transmitting power.  Timing "the catch" makes a huge difference.  In the swim, you suddenly notice yourself moving steadily (rather than choppily) through the water.  On the bike, your hips pivot slightly forward, your legs relax, and the power transition seems natural.  Running, suddenly the stride gets smooth.

Does this make sense? Am I making it up? Max??

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Ten days out. Recovery seems to be going smoothly.  I did a shakeout run on Friday after the Marathon -- 3 miles slow.  Sometimes my legs feel zippy during the first run after a marathon.  They did not  No pain, though.  Saturday I met D and we went for a birthday run. His b'day was 10/8, mine 10/13.  He is a lot younger than me, but we are slowly returning to the running form we both enjoyed a few years ago.  It was delightful.  Then out for coffee.  Then Sunday swim and spin, followed by an actual run at pace on Monday.  I'm feeling good. This makes me nervous.  The few weeks after a marathon have always been dangerous for injuries, so I'm trying to take it easy, but it's going to be hard. . .

Friday, October 14, 2016

Race Report -- Chicago Marathon

So, there's really no such thing as a no goals marathon.  There are always goals and metrics for success.  But, if there was going to be a NGM, this year's Chicago Marathon was it.  I had a short time to train, got sick during the taper, and only bought my airplane tickets three weeks before.  But by any measure (except finish time), the Chicago Marathon was a rollicking success.  I got to run a great race in a beautiful city, with huge friend and crowd support on a perfect day.  Absolutely no complaints.  I flew into Chicago on Friday, with enough time to meet Spencer and go for a shakeout run on the lake.  Sorry Brooklyn Bridge Park but there is no better place in the world to run than the shore of Lake Michigan.  It's worth the trip in and of itself.  Proving that Spencer knows everybody, we were even overtaken by a former client of his who is training for Comrades . ..  For dinner, we met Max (in town for a conference) and his wife (who was speaking at the conference) for greek food, and even talked antitrust.   Saturday was laid back.  Expo, brunch with SBRC buddies, and then early dinner carb load at the perfect little italian place on the North Side.

Race day was cool but clear.  Made it to the start from the L in time to drop my bag, pee (illegally), line up, and pee again (legally).  My plan was very simple.  I was going to let the crowd slow me for the first couple of miles, then settle in as close to a 9 minute pace, meet Spencer at mile 6.5, and then hang on as long as  I could.  Best laid plans.  I was at the back of the first wave.  I was sure there would be some back up, but kudos to the corral seeders.  As soon as we hit the line, the pace went straight to 8:30/9:00.  So did I.  What the heck?  Notwithstanding texts from Spencer to slow down, I hung with the pack, feeling good (and stupid).  Spencer dropped in at mile 6.5, and we had a delightful long run together.  We hit the half at 1:58, dialed it back a bit.  I still felt good at 30k, but then the wheels started to come off.  I could tell, because Spencer was talking and I wasn't.  Then Spencer was running and I was running to catch up to him. . . No disaster, just lost a gear.

Anyway, Spencer got me through Chinatown, Mile 21ish, and then I slogged it in.  I made a decision, a bit before Spencer left, that I was going to have fun, and minimize suffering in the last hour.  No way I was going to break 4 hours, and no reason to ruin a nice day by courting injury.  So, I walked the water stops, concentrated on form, didn't feel too bad, and was certainly ready for a beer at the finish.

Considering that I was not running at all in mid-July, and that even finishing a marathon seemed like a remote possibility and a bad idea, Chicago was a victory.  Also, a truly great city with a great course.  I would completely do it again.

Thank you Spencer for hosting and incredible support, and congrats to my SBRC buddies for great (much faster) races!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Still feeling mediocre

So I met my taper goal of not going very far or very fast.  3.6m at a 9:00 pace.  it was hard. My lungs still aren't clear.  Did I mention that I always find something to whine about when I'm tapering . . . ?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tapers Never Go as Planned

Chicago is Sunday.  I fly out Friday, will go for a short run Friday evening with Spencer, then hang Saturday.  Spencer has promised to keep me company miles 6-19, and for that, I am truly thankful.  I'm gonna need company.  This is going to be a slog.  This is by far the shortest prep I've ever done for a marathon.  I was feeling optimistic a week ago, when I'd done a confidence building 18 and another confidence building 17.  I had planned to go at it pretty hard two weeks out, but my body had other ideas.  Sunday I had a sniffle.  Tuesday I had a hacking, Hillary Clintonesque cough.  I took Tuesday off because of class, Wednesday off because I was sick, and Thursday off because of class.  Friday, I decided to try to run.  The legs were willing, but my lungs were a mess.

Saturday, I ran with my wife and daughter, three slow miles around the monuments.  It was one of the best runs of my life. How much fun. I felt miserable, though, still on the down slope of the cold.  I managed a slow 8 miles with my friend Jim Halpert.  Yes, he really is named Jim Halpert, and he was friends with the Office show runner in college.  Max was going to run with us, but only he understands precisely what happened. Monday felt good, and Tuesday felt mediocre.  My lungs are still a bit iffy, not completely clear.

Now, however, there's nothing I can do about it.  Time tor rest, rest, rest, and rest.  We'll see what happens on Sunday.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Choose Your Own Cliche or Hashtag Half Marathon

September 26th was the Chicago Marathon.  The Chihalf is my favorite race, and based on the number of long sleeve racing shirts in my closet, the race I have run the most times.  It starts in Jackson Park just south of Hyde Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.  It starts and finishes just past a giant gold statute of the Greek goddess Nike with her arms raised in victory.  It meanders through Jackson Park, Hyde Park, Kenwood, and South Shore (where my grandparents used to live) onto the Outer Drive at 67th, north to 31st, and then back again.

Lats Sunday my wife drove me down to the south side at the crack of dawn and found a back way to drop me off one block from the corrals.  Somehow I got corral N which made me cranky because there didn't appear to be a corral O.

But when it came to run, I ran like it was 2008.  Its seems all the exercise physiology I did finally came together. My new gait matched my breathing.  I ran and didn't walk except at a couple of water stops.  I didn't bonk and ran a chip time of 2:11 fairly effortlessly despite having to weave my way through the scrum of he back half of the runners. 

This is despite spending at least 11 minutes on 5 different pitstops and waiting in line for the port-a-pottys.  Sadly my stomach forced me to make 2 early lengthier stops and a couple more shorter stops along the way.  My guess is that I actually ran a sub 2 hour half if you don't count the interruptions.  That would be my second ever sub 2 half.

Even with the chip time, I ran a reverse split half which is also a rarity.  In comparison to the beginning of last year, I was combating stiffness and left knee pain to lumber to a 2:26 half in New Orleans with brother Sag.  Last week was fun indeed.

Now I face the challenge of being Ted's "reverse rabbit" for the Chicago Marathon this Sunday.  Not sure how flattering it is to be the guy to try to hold Ted back to a 9:40 ish pace, but happy to give it a try.  He will pick me up at mile 6.5 on Sheridan Road by my apartment and then I can be a drag on his running pace for the next 14 miles until I peel off at Chinatown and take the el home.

So will it be #IhungwithTed or #Ican'thangwithTed or #banditmarathon or #homemadehalf?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Race Report -- Marathon Tune-up

Well that went better than expected.  Sunday was the NYC Marathon Tune-up 18 Miler. It is designed to be a hard long run, 7 weeks out from the NYC marathon, but I decided to use it as a last long run/gut check before deciding whether to run Chicago on October 9.  The 18 miler last weekend was a miserable slog, and left me with little hope that eight miles more would be anything other than extended misery.

This week turned out to be a different story.  I felt a bit sore from Friday plyo, so, again, I wasn't too optimistic. Walking didn't feel great, so how could I actually run 18.  There was a pretty good bunch of us from the South Brooklyn Running Club in group E, so we all lined up together.  Marcus was going to run with Caylin at a good clip.  Andrew was going to find the 9 minute pacers and run with them. Sara was gonna run 9:30s.  I had no particular plan . . .

My main thought was to let the crowd slow me down for the first mile or two, and then see how I felt.  This worked pretty well, and just as I sort of got up to speed, the 8:57/mile pace group went by.  Andrew, who was with me, latched on, I went with him.  Marcus and Caylin were off in the distance vaguely visible.  For much of the rest of the race, I found myself yo-yoing with that pace group.  I descend quickly and climb slowly, so I'd drift forward on the downhill, and backward on the uphill.  I believe I was driving the pacers nuts . . .

Coming back up the Harlem Hill, Marcus came up on me from behind.  Caylin was run walking, and he didn't want to.  We ran pretty much the rest of the race together.  He kept me honest going up, and I pushed the pace going down.  The downhill miles tended to be around  8:30-8:45.  The uphill miles 9-9:30.  My average was either 9:00/mile per Strava or 9:12 per NYRR.  Either way, that was respectable, considering where I started back in July.

The big story is that I didn't slow down much at the end. Mile 18 was 8:53, and the last half mile kick was at an 8:20 pace.

So, I went ahead and bought my tickets. I guess I'm gonna run the Chicago Marathon.  I'm still quite modest about my goals.  Aiming at fun and no injury.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Couple of Good Runs

Here's to the fitness effects of the long run -- even a miserable long run like the one I did on Saturday.  On Sunday I slogged through a long cross-training workout. 2200 yards swimming, followed by a double spin class.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of last weekend napping.  Monday, my legs were mostly recovered, I did a comfortable 8 miles at a 9 minute pace.  Historically, that's nothing to write home about, but it's the first time that 9s have felt comfortable in months.  I took Tuesday off (too much to do at work), and then had a really nice fall run on Wednesday.  I averaged 8:30 for 8.6 miles. Mixed in amongst the 8:30+ miles were an 8:10, a 7:54 and an 8:11.  I felt good the whole day, focused on form and kept my cadence high. It was my best run in months.  It's good to be back.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Meh to Bleh . . . But got it done . . .

Well, yesterday was do or die on the marathon training schedule.  18 miles or bust.  When I showed up for the 7am meetup, I was pretty sure it was gonna be die.  Heat, humidity and dead legs -- the trifecta.  Worse yet, only the fast guys showed up.  I told them not to wait, and went out at my own pace -- slow. . .   To get back in time to meet up again at 8:00, I took the short Prospect Park loop.  The speedy gang went by me like I was standing still going up the hill.  This would have been depressing, but I bumped into my long lost running buddy, M_, who was in town from New Jersey.   We ran together for a bit, and then back to Carroll Park.

The air in the Park was still.  By the end of the first loop (7 miles), I was drenched and despairing.  We gathered another gang of runners at 8:00 am, including some slowpokes, so I had company from mile 7-11, at the far side of the Manhattan Bridge.  From there I soldiered on alone, up to the Williamsburg Bridge, through Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and then home.  It was miserable.  I was in survival shuffle mode pretty much the whole way.  But I slogged through it and got it done.

All I have to do is run 20 next weekend (ugh), and then it's taper.  I still haven't bought my airplane tickets, but it will be worth it, just to see Spencer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

From Bleh to Meh!

The last few days have felt pretty good.  Saturday and Sunday I ran medium runs (6-8 miles) at an 8:40 pace.  Monday, I ran 14 at a 9 minute pace when I was with folks, and a 10ish pace when I was on my own for the last few miles at the end.  Today I span and swam.  I am not feeling fast but I am feeling reasonably fit.  I bumped into my friend C_ at the gym this morning, and she asked how I was doing.  I said, "I've finally left the zone of Bleh!!"

This is most emphatically not to be confused with a return to form.  But it is a return to feeling healthy.   I've moved from the zone of Bleh to the zone of "meh."

The big question remains: will running a Marathon in a month help me move forward or set me back. .

Monday, September 5, 2016


I'm acting like I'm training for a marathon, but I am far rom convinced that this is true.  I've geared up. Bought three new pairs of shoes -- two low drop, and one cushioned neutral, shorts, and a box of GU.  I've raised my mileage.  And, I'm finally beginning to feel like a runner again.  A 9 minute pace doesn't hurt, and I've been able to string 8:30s together. That said, the idea of going further than 15-16 miles still seems inconceivable.  Maybe I'll be able to break through next weekend . . .

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yay Spencer! Glad to hear you are back at it. I am crawling back myself, but in a bit of a quandary.  June was a bust, an July I was hurt so could only cross train until Mid July.  This wouldn't be a big deal, except I'm signed up for the Chicago Marathon on October 9.  The puzzle I have been facing is, "is it possible to go from zero base to Marathon in 10 weeks." Well, I'm pretty surprised that the jury is still out.  I've been ramping up the long run - two 13s a 16 and a 12.  I'm beginning to get some pace back, but even a 9 minute pace feels ambitious these days.  If I can manage an 18 and a 20 miler in the next few weeks, a WTF marathon seems plausible.   We'll see.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Training the Marsden Way

Just to bring you up to date.  Last year sucked running wise with achy hurty knees with very little cartilage left particularly on the left side.  Past things happening when I ran faster than 10 minute mile pass.  Lots of exercise physiology and home exercises.  Difficulty adjusting to new gait to minimize further cartilage loss and run more efficiently and breathing while doing so.  Still got in two lumbering half marathons but neither really fun.

2016 a lot better so far.  I did a home-made half marathon in the spring and used the summer to finally get breathing in synch with new gait.  Results are promising so far.  Averaging low 9s in both cool, hot or humid weather with long stretches in the 8s and easy sprints in the mid 7s.  Dropped the hammer this morning on a 4 miler and did a short 6:30 stretch.  If this keeps up, this is more 2006, my only double marathon year, than 2016 as my chrono clock approaches 60.  Main challenge is keeping up my long runs since I haven't done more than 8.5 since my home made half.  Left knee isn't perfect but ice, advil and home exercises should get me to the start line for my September half-marathon.

So how to train?  In the past I have sung the praises of doing it the Rocky Way (wear a hoody and run under the el and up museum stairs) and the Hulk Hogan Way (the training, the prayers, the vitamins and the Hulking up for the big finish) but have switched to the Marsden way (no days off). 

Technically there is a difference between the Marsden Way (#Iruneveryday) and the Waller Way (#nodaysoff) besides the distances and speeds involved.  There are days I don't run, but work out in some significant way like my 10 mile mountain bike in Ojai etc.  And ok, I took off a couple of days when they extracted a tooth under general anesthesia.  Plus there seem to be less farm animals on my daily runs than Phil.  But I completed more than 2 weeks of #nodaysoff and really beginning to enjoy the rhythms of my daily toil.  And as I have learned even a bad day running beats a good day associate dean so the physical gains and stress reductions are both major positives.

Thanks Phil!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer training FINDS.

Salted caramel Gu gels.

Nocciola hammer gels.   

Just saying.  

Also in England I would like some sunshine and a light breeze.   

Daily running streak persists.   Amazing gentle feeling of competence inside instead of borderline or actual injury. 

Small field tester local marathon this Autumn in Abingdon.   

Then the madness of the 100 miler Centurion London to Oxford run next April.   

Simple things.   

Oh and work.  

How's the summer going for you?   And what finds?

(Apologies for post formatting - post created while standing in home made ice bath in back yard).  (Scaring the neighbours).  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Scratch . . .

Well, if I thought the Brooklyn Half was going to be a launch pad into the summer, I was mistaken.  Training wise, things pretty much went sideways from there.  A month of travel (including an epic climb of Mount Fuji) and family matters, led to much eating and very little exercise.  Just as I was getting organized to get serious again, I yanked my achilles, and, well, that's all she wrote.  Yesterday, I formally acknowledged what I had known for a while -- I will not be doing the NYC Tri next weekend.  I have deferred, and will do it next year.  For the last couple of weeks, I have managed to go for a few good bike rides and I've been swimming pretty consistently, but yesterday was the first day in weeks that I have been able to run without pain in my right calf.  So, right now, its treadmill, spin and pool, and not too much of that.

This raises another difficult question.  Is it still realistic to think about the Chicago Marathon?  I have not done a long run in two months.  I have no base, and I'm heavier than I have been in years . . .  I guess it depends on what happens during the next few weeks.  I'll report back . . .  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Make Running Great Again!

It was bound to happen.  This from some random RD who bought my email address from some other random RD:

The XTERRA Big Elk course is the best course you've ever seen. Trust us.

And the medals! The medals will be HUGE. The swag will be so unbelievable, you’re going to say, "Please stop giving me swag, I can't handle how amazing this is!" And we're going to say, "No! We have to make running great again!"
It'll be great. You'll do great. Trust us, we know, we've dealt with this type of thing before. Everyone's going to sign up, believe us.

The Big Elk Marathon & Half Marathon is less than a week away. Online Pre-Registration ends Wednesday so sign up today and help us make running great again!   

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Race Report -- Brooklyn Half

It has taken me a while to get around to doing this, but here's the race report for the Brooklyn Half.
Short version is that it went a lot better than I expected.  Indeed, it went better than I had hoped.  The day was perfect for running (though not the best beach day ever).  I went over with the SBRC gang, and we did a pretty good job of timing our arrival.  The Brooklyn Half is now the biggest half marathon in the world (says the NYRR).  At around 27,000 runners, who am I to argue.  This has led to logistic nightmares in the past.  The last time I ran it, in 2014, we did not anticipate the delay associated with metal detectors, fences, etc. and ended up running to the start, missing the closing of baggage, etc. This time NYRR did a great job of handling the crowds.  Baggage claim was outside security.  This was an interesting choice, but incredibly helpful in terms of timing.  So, we got off the subway, dropped our bags, and then went through the metal detectors.  Because bags were dropped, the security was quick, and we were in our corrals in plenty of time.  The most important NYRR innovation (they've been doing it for a while) is to have the port-o-potties in the corrals.  So, you could line up, take care of whatever, while already lined up.  All, in all, a non-stressful start to the day.

I was toward the back of the first wave (E of A-F), which was fine. NYRR has changed its method for calculating corrals. Instead of using your fastest 5k, they normalize your fastest pace to a 10K, and then use that.  It took me a while to figure out how the they'd come up with 8:08 as a predicted pace, but it was consistent with the 8:30ish paces I ran in Grete's Gallop in the Fall.  Anyway, it worked pretty well.   I started with E's and mostly finished with E's.

The Brooklyn Half starts hilly and ends up flat, so it's important not to blow up in the beginning.  The start line is at the Brooklyn Museum, at the top of Prospect Park.  The first 1/2 mile is downhill on Washington Avenue.  The second 1/2 mile is uphill on Flatbush, then then you turn around and run back down Flatbush, continue around the bottom of the park, run up the same damned hill again, inside the park, and then back down it on the other side of the park.  The mind game is that you carry a lot of adrenaline speed down the first hill, and then have to moderate your pace goals as you head back up.  Also, it's a deceptive hill.  Particularly the second time up, in the park, there's a false summit, and then a steeper pitch to the top.  So you have to be careful not to redline too early.  I did a pretty good job.  I watched my heart rate. It got a bit high near the top both times, but came down nicely once the course turned down again.

First 5 K went by at about an 8:15 pace.  Second 5K a bit slower.  8:50ish, then picked it back up for the last two, 8:35-40.  I had a couple of bad water stops, that cost about 10-15 seconds, but otherwise everything went smoothly.  I felt comfortable the whole way, and, if anything felt like I had a bit left in the tank at the end.  So, 1:53.06 feels great for an early season result.

Big shout outs go to the South Brooklyn Half cheer squad, who gave key lifts at Grand Army Plaza and on Ocean Parkway, as well as Martin and Martha at the top of Prospect Park Hill.

I will post a few photos that will show (1) that I am not in peak racing form; (2) that I have aged a lot this winter; and (3) that, without noticing it, I finished alongside a former student and SBRC running buddy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fear, Trepidation and Low Expectations . . .

The Brooklyn Half is on Saturday.  I'm going to run it.  I love the race, but I'm nervous.  I'm not nervous about finishing. I've logged a 14 miler and a 12 miler in the last four weeks, but I am nervous about what those runs showed.  I'm not in very good shape.  The winter has been tough.  I lost a big chunk of time to my hamstring, and lost my Fall marathon fitness.  Family logistics have had me traveling most weekends, with limited opportunities for runs.  Also, my class schedule seemed to get in the way more than usual.  Blah, blah, blah. . .   Anyway, I'm heavier than I should be, and the result is that my sustainable pace is, um, slow. . .

What I need to do is adjust my expectations, treat it as a lovely day for a training run that ends at the beach.  We'll see if I can pull it off. . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

London Calling

Had a great trip to London last week to do a PhD oral exam for a doctoral candidate at UCL and give different talks at the CMA (thanks Phil) and UCL.  Had the pleasure of an 8 miler with Phil before my talk at the CMA ( see photo of us all cleaned up on Instagram).  We ran through various parts of Bloomsbury and eventually made our way into Regents Park ran up to the zoo and dropped into Regents Canal.  Headed as far out along the canal until we hit a locked gate and then back to Kings Cross and off to our respective hotels and clubs to shower and dress for my morning talk on the legacy of the Apple Case in the US.  All great fun and an honor to join Phil for his "I run every day" goal of 2016 miles in 2016. Thanks Dude!

Topped off my London visit with a solo 7 miler along the Thames heading east on Sunday morning.  Fun to get lost on the way back and somewhere end up at St Paul's Cathedral instead of my hotel near the British Museum,  But a quick consult of a map and a helpful passerby did the trick in plenty of time to clean up for Mother's Day brunch with L at Berner's Tavern.

Just to add an odd note to the trip, ran into a very jet lagged Bill Kovacic on Oxford Street on the way to brunch!

The Home Made Half Marathon

So i was supposed to run a half marathon on April 9th but I wake up to weather in the 30s, ice on the ground, and high winds and head back to bed.  I almost never skip races (isn't that the point of overpaying to register and picking up your packets?) but this was not what I had in mind for a spring half.

So I wait one week and wake up to a sunny day with a light breeze and temperature in the low 50s and head out for my home made half, heading south to the very edge of McCormick Place Expo Center on the lakefront and back.  It was truly a joyous run and a final time of about 5 minutes faster than the last half I rumbled through back in the fall of 2015.  I took whatever detours most amused me, even took a sledding hill on the wya and fortunately remembered the bathroom in the parking lot for Soldier Field when I needed it most.  My only goal was to hit 13.1 on my running program and then stopping the clock which occurred about 3 blocks from home.

Obviously I have run lots of training runs of 13.1 or more working up to marathon race days but this was the first time (but not the last) that I do a DIY half marathon.  I highly recommend.

Man v. Marathon

Can the 2 hour mark be broken?  Here's what the NY Times Says,

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rule: "I run every day"

Last autumn: 
no running due to weird neurological thing going on with my eyes
no rowing due to same and a fat pad impingement in knee
weight gain (2 stone! that's 28lbs - shocking).  

Then, new year, new me, cleared for light slow exercise, especially slow running - HURRAH!           you might expect ...................

I rediscover that Rules are better than Discipline and create the new rule in the post title.  Slow, fat burning runs, no watch, just enjoying, hilly, muddy, fartlek if I feel like it, walk if I feel like it, stop to feed a horse if I feel like it:  BLISS  

Bliss, even if a run-every-day rule means some had to be done at 5am with a flashlight due to early trains/planes.   

Plus:  during this goal (actually, a system rather than a goal itself), I get to lose the autumn weight (almost all off), enjoy running again, not need rest days which I did when training for races, enjoy my cross training if I do any, and at my current daily mileage may hit 2016 miles for 2016.   (TODAY:  am at a nice round 570 miles for 100 days).

Highly recommend this.  Yes I am being careful, yes I am dialling up the mileage but gently, and yes am stretching and generally trying to be good.  

bring on
the next 100 days
the next 100 days
the next 100 days
etc etc etc.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Still slow.  Did 5ish at 10 minute pace yesterday.  Couldn't have really gone faster.  Not sure what's going on. Maybe I'm fighting off the bug du jour. . .  Resting today, will try again tomorrow. . .

Sunday, March 13, 2016

30 Mile Week -- Dead Legs

You never know when dead legs are going to hit.  I was feeling good on Tuesday, great on Thursday, pretty good on Friday.  Saturday I went up to Boston to visit family, and couldn't get my legs to turn over.  The same was true today.  Maybe it was the unfamiliar terrain, but even 10 minute miles felt hard.  Go figure . . .

Monday, March 7, 2016

Best running conversation with my daughter ever

"Hey dad, can I run a half marathon with you if you give me time to train?"

We have targeted the fall 2017 Newport RI Marathon.

Starting with a 5K in Providence on March 19th.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Marathon Week

Some weeks, you run 26+ miles in a day.  This week it was a major victory to do that over the course of a week.  My hamstring still makes me nervous.  It occasionally reminds me to pay attention to form, but it has not "sproinged" in a month. I managed the Prospect Park loop for the first time in months.  It's nice to be building up some base.  Maybe I'll be able to run the Brooklyn Half after all . . . .

Friday, February 19, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Still Cold -- More Cross Training

I was going to run outside today.  Really, I was, but our upstairs neighbor's pipes froze, and we had to turn off the water in the building.  This meant I was going to have to shower at the gym one way or the other, so another tri-day, this time spin/run/swim.  I am feeling my base coming back, and am looking forward to warmer weather over the next few days.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Cold Outside!

This weekend it's too cold for me.  I'm not averse to cold weather running.  In fact, I like it, but I wanted to do some long slow base work, and I just didn't have it in me to handle the single digits.  My hamstring is better (it seems), but my aerobic base has vanished, and in its place I'm still carrying around Christmas dinner (and maybe a bit of Thanksgiving).  So my plan this weekend was to go long in the gym.  The only thing worse than spending two hours out in the single digit cold is spending hours on a treadmill, so yesterday and today I mixed it up with some long slow brics.  Both days, I did 2000 yards in the pool, 45 minutes on the bike, and 30 minutes on the deadmill.  It was still pretty boring (except for the spin class this morning), but I've figured out how to watch Netflix on the bike, so it was bearable.  There's no way to make laps interesting, but boy are the good for you . .   I think next week will be warmer, and I'll be able to get back to the regular routine.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Knock on wood!

I don't want to jinx it, but, while I've been keeping the mileage short and the pace moderate, my hamstring is still behaving.  I've run almost every day this week, and no twinge. Yesterday, M and I went for a 7 mile run outside, and nothing bad happened.  I'm pretty excited to be moving out of the ranks of the injured, and hopefully for a while.  Now, of course, the frustration is fitness lost.  In October I was in sub-4 hour marathon shape.  I ran 20 miles at about an 8:20 pace.  Now, even an 8:30 mile feels ambitious.  I'm wondering what my next goals are.  There's a 4-miler in Prospect Park in two weeks. I'm not sure if that will be a confidence builder or a confidence buster . . . Hmm . . .

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mediate Goals

With Comrades the goal for Spring 2016, I need things to get me there.

Thing 1:  the Seneca Creek Trail 50K.  I'll be running this one with long-time running buddy J__.  J__ coaxed me into my first marathon, my first Ironman, my first 50 miler . . . maybe even my first joint.  It will be nice to be back sharing a starting line with him.

Thing 2:  a marathon.  Any grand ideas for April or May?  I'm tempted by this silliness, with 7000+ feet of elevation gain and billing itself as "America's Toughest Road Marathon."

I like how all the grand ideas of running sub 3 hours are gone and I'm just out looking for adventure.  And I do mean I like it.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Running Mysteries

I will never cease to be amazed at the surprising ways in which our bodies react to offbeat stressors.  I've discussed "good pops" and "bad pops."  Now it's the mystery of the blizzard.  I've been wrestling with a pulled hamstring since Thanksgiving.  Consistently after a few miles, my right hamstring would cramp and force me to walk. Recently it seemed to be getting worse, not better, kicking in after only a mile.  I was working it out slowly on the treadmill when the snowstorm hit, and I did the foolhardy thing. I ran outside, in the snow, two days in a row, and increased my mileage.  Boom, the hamstring pain vanished.  I don't want to count my chickens, but I have now run 3-4 miles each of the last three days, twice outside and once on the treadmill, with no pain.  I've kept it slow.  I've stretched a lot, but I'm a bit flabbergasted.  What was it about slow snow running that finally got the stubborn muscle to let go.  I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth (stop that metaphor), but it's odd.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Morning After

I thought twice about running at all today.  Yesterday was great, and I felt like I got away with something, because my hamstring never twinged.  Three days in a row seemed like asking for trouble.  Spencer is in town and he invited me to Manhattan to explore Central Park.  I declined, quite frankly, out of fear.  Nothing would be more depressing than coming up lame in the middle of a snowy Central Park.  I decided to stay close to home, and, again, keep it very slow.  Now I feel bad.  I should have pushed Spencer to come join me.  I kept it slow, running 11:30 ish miles.  The surface varied from wet pavement, to packed snow, to unpacked snow, to climbing over snowbanks.  So, the pace was not as slow as it might seem, but it was pretty slow.  I decided to run down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and see if it was runable.  It was. Indeed, it was spectacular.  There were dads dragging kids on sleds.
Dogs off their leash.

Dads demonstrating how to sled, sorta . . .

There was even ambiguous art:


Whatever . . . It was cool.

Anyaway, I probably would have taken even more pictures, but my camera froze.  The end result was a successful, slow, 5 mile run with no pain!!! Hooray!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard Run

I was going to take the day off and swim, but the gym was closed due to the blizzard of the century.  Instead I did 3.1 super slow miles, through the snow.  My pace was laughable, but still, no pain in the hamstring.  That is something.  I was worried that running through the snow would aggravate the injury.  Instead, the soft surface and slow pace, interrupted periodically by the need to avoid a snowplow, or climb through a drift, seemed to be okay.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cross-training, and not . . .

The transition to triathlon a few years ago taught me some great things about cross-training.  It allows us to increase training volume with less risk of injury.  It fights off boredom.  It exercises different muscle groups.  It also allows us to shift events when injured. All of these things are good.  One thing is bad.  There is a big difference between running 5-6 times a week and running 3-4 times a week.  The same thing goes for swimming.  I notice less of a difference with cycling, but FWIW, I'm more of a natural cyclist than the other two.  When I increase my focus on running, my running form improves.  Right now, I'm not running, so I've been swimming a lot more.  My swimming is improving.  I wonder if we shouldn't work more periods of training that focus on improving just one of the events, while deemphasizing the others.  Is it possible to improve, and then maintain the gain, or is it better just to keep rotating.  I suspect that there's not one right answer to this question.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Speaking of Comrades, I have generally had very little interest in "ultras."  Max's feats amaze me, but I know how I feel after a marathon, thank you very much, and 100 or so miles on a bike is plenty.  But I do feel an odd attraction to the Comrades Marathon.  Its history, the idea behind it . . . There's more to it than just the miles.  Maybe someday.  Max, is it uphill or downhill this year?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Welcome Back Max

Welcome back Max.  It's good to hear that you are back to enjoying running. I would actually like to hear more about the logic of your hiatus.  The psychology of "on" and "off" is currently very interesting to me, as right now, I'm struggling a bit with motivation, and I'm not sure why.  Okay, I'm not entirely mystified.  At the moment I'm wrestling with the aforementioned hamstring pull that is proving to be more stubborn than I had hoped.  Every marathon has its "lurker," and this has turned out to be a good one. I went straight from a really fun 10x400 with lots of optimism about the future to old mr. gimpy again.  I've managed to hold it together with spinning an swimming, but each time I try to run again, the microtear, sciatica, or whatever it is reasserts itself.  This week, even the motivation to improve my swimming, which had been keeping me going, has fallen off.  I have truly fallen into a winter slough of despond.  I find it mystifying that the same brain that finds joy in running long miles to train for a marathon or a tri can fall into a pattern where even swimming for 40 minutes seems like a chore . . .  Oh well, it's January.  Max, talk me out of this . . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ted's Right

Ted's been carrying this blog for the past several months.  Regrets from this end.  My excuse is that my running for the 12 months from November 2014 through November 2015 was almost certainly in the double digits of miles.  Next to none until November, when it picked up a tad. 

So, congrats to the co-bloggers for last fall's good half-marathon (Spencer) and good marathon (Ted), and I'm sure I'm missing something because I've been out of it.  Regrets at missing out on some good group runs that I know took place.

Glad to report that I finally started getting busy in December.  I did some great running in Miami while attending a seminar; got in some miles in Austin over the holiday; and had two cool runs in NYC while attending AALS.  One, along the Hudson, south from 34th to Wall Street and back. 
A little cooler than this last weekend.
And two, along the Highline from 34th to the southern end and back.  I've been running with long-time training partner J__ on weekends on the Glen Echo trail, with a couple of long runs in the 15-16 mile range.

The Highline.  The plants weren't quite so green last weekend.
Too early to predict that I'm back in the saddle.  I am on a ratcheting the mileage upward plan, with a long week of about 40 miles recently and still feeling great.  And I do have a goal, with a bib reserved for Comrades (South Africa) in May -- and the need to get a marathon in before then for a qualifying time.
I'm in.
And I hope to catch one or more co-bloggers for a run in there somewhere.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year -- Hello Out There

Okay, so we've all fallen silent since late October.  It's a new year, though, and time to recommit to the blog.  I have been quiet because I've been in post-marathon tailspin.  I don't know what's up with the rest of you, but I'm curious about our various aches, pains and small triumphs.

I felt great after the Marathon in mid-October, but have fallen victim to a series of pulls and cramps since then.  First my knee got twingy.  Then at Thanksgiving, as that got better, my hamstring seized up.  That has taken a while to resolve, so it has been a frustrating late Fall.  Right now, it seems to be okay for about 2 miles. Then it gets iffy after that, and debilitating somewhere between miles 4 and 6.  It's better if I keep it slow, but as soon as I go above a 9:30 pace complaints start.  Yeesh.  So, I've rededicated to swimming for the moment, and am hoping to start the crawl back in the next few weeks. I don't have any major races scheduled, so will concentrate on returning to form.  How about the rest of you??