Tag Archives: running

The Maryland Double + My First Marathon = DONE!

The 2013 Baltimore Running Festival. My first full marathon. Done.

Running this completed my goal of achieving the Maryland Double this year: half marathon at the Frederick Running Festival and either the half or the full at the Baltimore Running Festival. I went with the full. (Here’s how the half went, in case you missed it back in May.)

26.2 miles. 4 hours, 52 minutes, 14 seconds. For my first venture I’m very proud of that finish. I had this odd experience about a mile in. I was pacing exactly where I wanted to be, but all of a sudden I just wanted to finish well. Finish strong. I had over 25 miles of unknown experiences ahead of me and I just wanted to be sure that I endured it all and crossed the finish line knowing I did my absolute best for the whole time I was out there. Mission accomplished.

Some people write great race recaps. I am not one of those people. I really enjoy reading someone’s recap and seeing how they navigated the logistics and details of race day, but writing one becomes a stressful experience for me once the OCD, or ADD, or… PTSD? AC/DC? OPP? You know me. I don’t know. Whatever my issues are. Once they kick in I start freaking out about whether to include this detail or that detail and then everything gets wacky.

So here’s my version of a recap. It’s more about what I learned and observed than what I actually did.

A few thoughts in no particular order:

• It isn’t possible to train too hard. Yeah, yeah, I know it is. Technically. Be smart. But really, it’s not. The harder you train, the more ready you are and the easier the recovery. Example: other than sore muscles and a crazy toe nail I felt good. It took a couple days for the soreness to go away and it seems like it took a few more days to feel rested again (I was constantly tired), but relatively speaking, training as hard as I could lead to a speedy recovery. It works like that in life too. Train hard and recovery after a struggle will be fast and easy. And maybe even a little fun.

• Never miss the opportunity to run a hill. Hills throughout training provide additional conditioning that will prove beneficial during the main event. If we miss the opportunity to run a life hill – to struggle and focus and push – we are missing conditioning that will benefit us down the road.

• It’s the middle part that really sucks. My experience matched up almost exactly with everything I read and heard. Imagine that. Somewhere between miles 17/18 and 21/22ish, everything gets very much bad. The advice? Find a way to keep going. Slow down, speed up, crawl, log roll, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter as long as forward motion is involved. Just. Don’t. Stop.

• “We’re total strangers but I am so proud of you.” I saw this sign a couple of times around the course. It surprised me how much power that phrase carried. “I am so proud of you.” I needed to hear that. It was a gift. Who needs to hear that from me? Who can I give that gift to?

• Always make it home. This has been one of those odd phrases that stuck in my head at some point during training. Part motivation, part safety reminder, it kept me focused at various times. It also hit me that I have the most incredible home waiting on the other side of the finish line. I couldn’t have done any of this without Michelle’s love, support, and encouragement. She and TheBoys waited near the finish line so I got to see them and high five them all just before crossing. Talk about a meaningful moment and a true gift. (Thank you!)

The Baltimore Sun thought it was pretty cool that Michelle and TheBoys came down too. They were interviewed as part of a feature on the festival. In case you missed it, here’s their experience from that day including a link to the article.

So now what? Great question. I will do another marathon; the only real question is when. I’m in the process of looking ahead to 2014 and setting some goals. I’ve got a lot of things swirling so we’ll have to see.

Just on case you’re into this level of detail, here’s a link to the 2013 Baltimore Marathon course and here’s some neat information on the course highlights.

This was physically and mentally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was a fantastic and oddly spiritual experience that feels difficult to describe. Knowing that Michelle and TheBoys were on the other side of the finish line (figuratively and literally) meant that I won before I started. The lessons learned from training and completing the race are still sinking in and I have a feeling I’ll continue to draw parallels.

I’m still figuring out what’s next. How about you?

What’s next?



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The Slow Kind Of Fast

A couple days after I ran my first 20 miler I experienced some ankle pain. With a little over a month left to my first marathon this is not the time to start hurting. In case you’re not in to the whole running thing let’s keep it basic: there’s a couple more weeks of heavy (for me) training followed by some less intense training leading up to the event. Basically pain interrupts more training.

After lots of reading and talking it out with a friend who is a physical therapist I decided to take a full week off. Ice, stretch, rest, repeat. Then ease back into it leading up to a sponsored course run followed by 3 more weeks of training before the event.

Why? Something my friend said hit home. He told me that he sees lots of runners in this spot and lots of them try to push through it, keep training, and end up with a full on injury right before the race; or they don’t rest enough and they get 4 miles in and then have 22+ miles of pain, misery, and regret. He reminded me that I’ve done the long runs. I know that physically I can complete the event. The rest of the training will boost performance if done properly, but I can go the distance.

You know what I noticed after a week off and properly recovering? Going faster is easier. My first couple runs have felt easier but when I check the time at the end, I’m faster. Not much, but I’m still running at a pace that feels easy.

I slowed down, then sped up.

How many times do we need to apply this lesson?

Want improvement in sales numbers? Take the time to improve/learn specific sales skills. After some practice you’ll see a sudden lift in the numbers.

Interested in better personal relationships? Slow down long enough to listen to each other. Really communicate. After some time the relationship will have new depth and life.

It’s really just a variation on the “measure twice, cut once” mentality.

I guess what I learned was that sometimes rest, recovery, and lack of apparent speed can produce improvement. We don’t always have to push as hard as we can to make forward progress. Sometimes slow is the way to go.

Have you ever used/seen that principle at work? Slow down to speed up?

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3 Lessons From 20 Miles

I’m training for my first marathon so I recently completed my first ever 20 miler. Here’s 3 things I learned.

1) I’m having a hard time regulating my pace over the long haul. I need to work on that. Running slow to gain distance and running faster to pick up overall speed. I need to work on both: speed and distance.

2) The occasional walk/run combo is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s about finishing the distance.

3) There are numerous variables involved in distance runs. Dozens. Don’t over think it. Just do the work.

Sounds like life doesn’t it?

We need to do some things immediately and we need to do some things gradually, one step at a time.

We need to remember that sometimes, things happen. We slow down or we are slowed down. It may not all be in our control. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we make a strategic choice to slow down, and sometimes we simply have no choice in the matter. The important thing is that we keep going. We may even come to a complete stop. At some point though, we need to keep going down the road. The finish line is still out there.

Work. Work hard. There is no improvement, there is no growth, there is no progress… In fact, I challenge you to find anything of substance and value that is possible without hard work. Do the work and the race will take care of itself.

What are you learning?

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Pacing And Rest

I took this picture during a moment of calm while Michelle and I had TheBoys out on a fishing trip.

The funny thing is, the trip was a total blast and not nearly as calm as this picture would have one believe.

Marathon training has taught me a lot about pacing. One lesson is how to find a moment of rest even while running.

Rest doesn’t always mean a complete stop. Rest can be relative. Rest can have more to do with effort and less to do with actual motion.

For a moment, in the middle of a highly active weekend, there was no effort. The “stride” was even. The breathing wasn’t labored.

There have been times I’ve held down multiple jobs, sometimes including night shifts on top of full time day jobs. Living in a state of sleep deprivation requires a certain pacing as well. It requires finding moments of rest just to make it from shift to shift. It can take extreme effort to engage in relationships or community, so moments of rest are necessary; periods of less effort, even while moving, are necessary and beneficial.

I tend to be extreme an think that rest requires hours of extra sleep or a full on vacation. I’m learning that pacing and rest work together throughout life. I’m learning that moments of less effort can be just what we need to keep going.

How do you pace yourself?

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16 Miles And No Picture?!

I bit off more than I could chew and ended up with a mouth full of lessons. I think it tasted like chicken. Obviously.

I’m in the early stages of training for my first marathon. I ended up with back to back mornings where I had enough time to double up long runs. So me and my love of moderation over did it just a smidge.

Monday I did 10 miles and Tuesday I did 16. I did in two runs what I will do in one on October 12th, 2013. On both days it was 75 degrees and humid at the start and 90ish and humider and the end. (Humider. Work with me.) Suffering is a great instructor.

• Those gel thingys. I need ’em. Anything above 8 or 10ish, I do better with them.

• Time to figure out that whole water bottle on the move thing. Double clutching the Deer Park isn’t cutting it anymore, folks.

• Hearing your stomach growl in the middle of a long run is sort of a primal thing. I considered taking down a biker. You know, the one lagging behind the group. Then I remembered that I should have brought those wonderful caffeinated gel thingys and I came back to civilization. In my head.

• Must. Train. Harder. I knew running that far this early in the training cycle would not end with awesome results. That said, I got a glimpse of how hard I have to train in order to enjoy the race. A glimpse.

• That whole “buy your shoes a half size bigger” thing. Yeah. Don’t mess that up, Blister Boy.

• Chaffing. If I say more it’ll trigger spam for the next decade.

• In spite of all the technicalities that I didn’t like or do well with, the bottom line is this: I spent more time traveling the furthest distance I ever have. That’s a win.

• Rule Number 1: Always make it home. (Or to V.B.S. To pick up your kids. I did both.)

No matter how far you go, I hope you learn something and find a win. And make it home. Always make it home. Oh, and I found the 8 mile marker on the trail and didn’t get a picture. Darn it.

What have you been learning lately?

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A New Horizon

I found a new trail marker this weekend. So far, the furthest distance I’ve run is a half marathon. With about three weeks to go until the half at the Frederick Running Festival followed by training the rest of the year for my first full marathon in October, I wanted to exceed that distance as a neck punch to The Resistance. I did. Now I know.

Now I know I can run farther than 13.1 miles.

Now I know that I can keep going.

Now I know that I can keep extending my target, and hit it.

Now I know that I can push even harder in Frederick. Because I’ve run further.

Now I know what it looks like beyond the horizon. And I’ve seen a new one.

I know what my goals and targets are. What I don’t know is what happens when you crack the horizon you’ve been watching for so long and you see a new one?

Let’s find out.

Are you learning anything about yourself? What?

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2013 a.k.a. The Year of #NameItAndClaimItBaby

I’m claiming 2013. It’s mine. I own it. Or pwn it. Or both. Remember when the Irishman joins the group in Braveheart and he says that he owns Ireland? “Yeah. It’s mine.” That’s me with 2013.

Let’s talk about running. I’m running a half marathon at the Frederick Running Festival in May. This will be my third half and the second that I complete in under 2 hours. Last time I made that goal by 2 seconds. Literally. In May the gap will increase. I’m training for speed through the winter and early spring. #NameItAndClaimItBaby

But wait, there’s more.

In October I will run my first ever full marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival. I’ll complete that in under 4 hours. Arrogant? No. #NameItAndClaimItBaby

There is work to be done. There is training to be worked through. There is suffering to endure. There is pain to gain and miles to go before I sleep.

There will be failures and missed targets and frustrations galore. Because this is life. I don’t care. It’s mine. #NameItAndClaimItBaby

2013 is mine. In addition to running I’m staring down things in my personal relationships and my professional life. My marriage, TheBoys, friendships, a new professional team and organization…It. Is. Mine. #NameItAndClaimItBaby

There’s one more thing. Remember Frank Costanza? You know, Jerry Stiller? You gotta say “Baby” the way he does. This is not a Patrick Swayze “nobody puts Baby in a corner” kind of “Baby”. This is a “Pulp can fly, BABY!” Kind of “Baby”.

The Maryland Double: Half in Frederick, Full in Baltimore. It’s mine. #NameItAndClaimItBaby What are you claiming in 2013?


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