Saturday, June 29, 2013

Upcoming Runners of Inspiration Series...

During the day, I enjoy listening to various podcasts and a few days ago, I was listening to Dirt Dawg's Running Diatribe Podcast. This show is about Mike Croy, a father, husband and teacher who also happens to run and has covered distances from 5k to Ultra-Marathons (any distance over 26.2 miles).... Pretty entertaining, I must say.  Anyway, the topic for this particular episode had to deal with his personal Mt. Rushmore of running.

After listening to the episode (click here to listen), a light bulb went off in my head... I thought about who would be on my Mt. Rushmore of running... I couldn't really come up with anyone.  Frankly, I haven't been in the sport long enough to really know about many notable distance runners.  So, it only made sense to educate myself further about this sport that has helped me to drop 45 lbs and become healthier... I figured I'd bring you along my journey and we can learn together!!

I contacted @Dirtdawg50k on Twitter and asked him, if he would have a problem with me giving him credit in my post for the idea and naturally, he said yes. So I'm proceeding with my new series: Runners of Inspiration.  You can find it under the GO Plugs tab.  I'll post a short blurp about a new Runner of Inspiration and why they are inspirational to me, once a month and we'll see how it goes.  Until next time, get out there and GO!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is this running thing a choice?

I finished my 4 mile run this morning and did as I normally do, which is post my workout thru my twitter feed @dzlrunner. One of my Facebook friends saw my post and responded with encouragement, but she then said something that was quite profound to me.  She stated that "...working out is not a choice. #keeprunning4yourlife"

I thought about this and I have to say, I agree.

Sure, you have a choice to exercise or not to exercise, initially. But what happens when you make the choice to do this on a consistent basis? What happens when you begin to see positive results in your weight loss, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and your waist line?!?!

The positive benefits of us: interacting with our families and coworkers in a calm and positive manner; of a routine checkup at the doctors office, being just that... a routine checkup; and being more productive in all phases of our lives, make our decision to exercise no longer a choice, but a must. It becomes a part of us and something we just have to do. The pros significantly outweigh the cons, if there are any cons at all.

In order to keep the positive results appearing and reappearing, we must decide that this is a lifestyle change. We must make a conscious decision to make our lives better. And this isn't just in leading a healthier life, this applies to living life in general.  Don't you think?

They tell me I'm an over-pronator... I say thank you... Wait, what's an over-pronator?

A few weeks ago, I went to get my gait measured at a running store in Columbia, MD.  This was my first experience doing something like this.  For the past couple of years, I've been going to my local Modells to purchase my running shoes.  I figured that I needed running shoes and well, the local box store sells... running shoes.

But, the more knowledge I seemed to get on a daily basis about running, the more I realized how counterproductive I was being by keeping the right shoes in the running store and not on my feet.  I learned some valuable information on the day I walked into this running store.  I began to understand that many injuries can be caused or prevented by the shoes we wear.  It's even more imperative that heavier runners, like myself, respect and care for our bodies by wearing the proper shoes.

I stepped into the store and surprisingly not many people were in the store at the time.  I must admit that I was initially hesitant and apprehensive to go in, because, I had a particular image in my mind of what a runner looks like, and well, that image was not me... for sure.  But, I went in and caught the eye of one of the associates there. I explained that I had been running for about 2 years, had lost some weight and needed him to measure my gait (the rhyming was not intended here).  He was nice enough to make me feel welcome.  He asked me to step onto this machine that showed a colorful image of the imprint of my feet on a screen in front of me.

There was quite an assortment of colors, mainly red, green and yellow.  He explained that the machine shows the distribution of my weight on my feet.  I remember seeing a lot of red where my arches were supposed to be.  He told me, that I'm an over-pronator, which generally means... I'm flat footed.

He went on to tell me that as an over-pronator, when I run, my arches fall, and illustrated this point by placing both of his hands flatly in the air, palms facing down and began tilting the inner side of his hands downward. He assured me, that I need a shoe that provides the much needed arch support every time my foot lands on the pavement.  He also stated that in some cases of over-pronation, running without proper support of the arches can cause knee pain and pressure in and around the knee joints.

The associate then asked me what size shoe I wore, went into the stock room an brought out three pairs of shoes... All size 13s!  I told him I wore a size 12!! These were a full size bigger!! This may have been a little exaggerated, but my mind immediately went to an image of my 2 y/o daughter, sticking her feet in my shoes and trying to walk in them.  Little did I know, I would learn something else in a few moments.

The associate proceeded to explain that the reason he got me a size 13 is due to the fact that as we run, especially longer distances like 10 miles or more our feet spread.  They spread while we run anyway, but a continuous pounding on pavement for a long period of time can cause our feet to swell.  Thus, the reason for getting a larger size.  He also mentioned that a reason some runners get black toenails, blisters, etc. can be due to not having the proper sized shoe, as well.

This was all news to me and after having him explain a little more about over-pronation and the mechanical process of running, I couldn't have been more grateful.  I had learned so much... I almost felt like I had taken a class on running.  My professor was so knowledgeable, smooth and procedural in his lesson... I couldn't have asked for anything more.

That day, I walked out of the store with a new mindset.  I walked out of the store with a new confidence and a determination, not to cheat on my feet.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Crofton Kiwanis 10k Challenge Race Recap

Its Friday night, June 7 and I'm in the bed looking forward to a good night's rest. The TV is on and Gladiator is playing on TNT. It automatically catches my eye and I'm up watching it. I know that I should be sleep, and I figured I would fall asleep by the end of the movie. But, Gladiator doesn't let you do that. I consciously have to turn the TV off, in order to focus on going to sleep. Have you ever experienced that? Well, I ended up going to be later than I initially decided to when I woke up that morning (11:00pm).

Anyway, it's Saturday morning and I wake up to the sound of my alarm at 4:30 am. Because this was my first ever, 10k, and first time ever going to the Crofton Country Club, I wanted to be there early and avoid any potential problems. So, I left my house at 5:15am to start my 20 minute journey to a race that started at 8am that morning.

It wasn't extremely hot, but I remember noticing the warmth as I stepped out of the front door... 67 degrees. I preferred a much lower temp, but you've gotta play the hand that you're dealt with regard to the weather, right?

My stomach felt a little weird and I couldn't quite shake it. I then thought about the 4 hot dogs I had eaten the night before, around 9pm, in the name of "fueling" and attributed the pain I may feel in the next few hours to that decision. It's true what they say, you know... one bad decision can be consequential to your future happiness.

So, I got in the car, shaken stomach and everything and drove to the location of the race, Crofton Country Club. I arrived around 5;45 and as I expected, no one was there. I drove around the neighborhood and parked my car a short distance away from the Country Club. This race was sponsored by the Crofton Kiwanis Club and Surlis Re/Max Real Estate Team and that peaked my interest in running this race as I needed a 10k to do and I have a background in real estate... But, I digress. My stomach settled down a little, but I was not 100% and I didn't go into the race feeling as good as I would've liked. I figured, I would just have to make the best of it.

While at work, I enjoy listening to podcasts about running, as they inspire, inform and increase my knowledge about this incredible sport that does so much for so many. I had been listening to The Extra Mile podcast over the past two weeks. This podcast is built around the audience and their experiences in training and races. The host, Kevin, does a wonderful job facilitating such an organic program and helps to bring a fresh approach to podcasting about this sport.

I decided to call The Extra Mile and inform them of my upcoming race. After a few re-recordings, I submitted and saw that it was around 6:15am. Registration started at 6:30, so I proceeded to walk to the registration tables. I was 2nd in line to register and everything was well organized. This was a smaller race and after looking at the results and everything, there were only 250 participants. The website stated that there would be about 400 runners and as 7:51 am, there didn't seem to be 100 runners there. But, it filled out as we moved towards the starting line.

The gun went off and the race started on time. I decided to start from the back of the pack and wanted to do 12 minute miles. That wasn't happening... My first mile was completed at a 10:55 pace and I was still falling behind. This was a pretty fast field. So, there was no choice but to try to hold on. It normally takes me a mile to a mile and a half to warm up and after that I was in a pretty good groove.

A friend of mine on Daily Mile was doing the race too and she stated that this course had a few rolling hills. Now, the website stated that it was a flat course... Thanks to my friend on Daily Mile, I was prepared. There were some hills in this race. I took a GU around mile 3.5, but I didn't feel any kick or jolt. I just felt like I could continue the pace I was running.

Around mile 4, I was looking to pick my pace up a little. The race was getting short. I needed to make some moves. I noticed that I was steadily in a mental battle. I wanted to stop running and walk, but my mind kept saying that I've done 6.2 miles many times before. I'm learning that these races really test what we're made of. The easy option is always to stop, but the test comes in pushing one's self past what they think is their limitations.

I kept going and it seemed like the course would never end as it winded through this quiet middle class neighborhood. I came up on the final aid station and one of the volunteers I saw at a previous aid station was chanting "Come on green! Come on Green!" I was wearing a lime green shirt in the race. This support seemed to put me back in check, mentally and my determination to finish rose. There was a guy in a blue shirt in front of me and I said to myself, "You can get him, you can get him". Slowly but surely I gained on him.

After finally catching up with him, it seemed like forever before I could pass him. We were running about the same pace and I was trying to push ahead. I finally get past him on a turn, but I can hear him not far behind me. His cadence was in my head and I couldn't get it out. I decided to focus on the woman in front of me, who had been about 50 yards ahead of me all race long. I remember noticing her odd running form earlier in the race... Well, I wanted to pick her off too.

My mind was telling my legs to go faster, but it seemed like my legs were moving at their own pace. I tried pumping my arms but, that didn't work either. I don't know what was going on. Eventually, the distance between us began to dwindle down and I don't know whether she was getting tired or I was in a full press forward... What I do know is that the finish line just seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

This was it!! The final stretch of this race!! All the folks who had finished before me, were waiting at the finish line. This was an awesome feeling. As I'm getting closer, I feel strong all of a sudden. A wave of energy just comes over me and there's new life in my legs. My lungs are burning, my legs are burning, my arms are tired, but none of that seems to have an effect.

I finally got past the lady with the odd running form and its all downhill from there (figuratively speaking). The finish line is getting closer, the race is almost over and I hear someone chant "Push! Push! Push!" That's all I needed. I was already saying that word in my head and the person in the crowd just vocalized it. I'm coming through, I'm almost done... FINISH!!

I crossed the finish line. I wanted to check my time on the race clock, but totally forgot to do it while I was crossing. I went over to get my after race snacks and there was a great assortment of foods and treats.

Smoothie King, Chik-Fil-A (I will do this race again next year, just for this!), Brusters Ice Cream, bagels, orange slices, and more!! This race did not disappoint on the post-race food. After eating, I went to check my time and I finished in 1:07:38. This is my first 10k, but the fastest time I've ever run this distance. So, I was pretty happy about that. I was number 198 out of 239 total runners, which I'm ok with. I got what I wanted to get out of it, which was the experience and a documented 10k race time.

As I enjoyed my meal, I enjoyed the atmosphere. Pictures, laughs and memories were all around me. I decided at that moment, that I would come back and do this race again.

As we were waiting for the awards ceremony to start, I overheard an older guy telling a story about his neighbor. He was saying how runners tend to look like they're in pain, when they are running. I chuckled to myself, because I know exactly what he meant.

He continued to say that his neighbor had been running for about 20 years. One day, he saw him running while driving past him in his car. He said that his neighbor looked like he was in so much agony, he asked him if he wanted a ride. The neighbor yelled NO! The older guy said that he didn't know whether he offended him by asking him if he wanted a ride, but he looked like he was in so much pain...

I love this sport, but sometimes, I consciously think about the faces I've made while running. If someone who doesn't run or wants to start running and saw me at times, they'd probably say "...forget it. I'm not doing that."

If you look at some runners, while they are running, their demeanor may not sell you on how wonderful running can be. But, talk to some of us after a good run and you may not be able to get us to shut up about the joy of running.

Well, after watching the awards ceremony, I walked back to my car to head home. Overall, this was a great race!! I enjoyed this experience immensely and look forward to doing it again. I'll tell others about it and hope to bring them with me next year. Great job Crofton Kiwanis/Team Surlis Team!! Keep up the great work!! See you next year!!

Ocean City 5k Race Recap

The Ocean City Tri-Running Island 2 Island Half Marathon/5k was my first race of 2013 and my goal was to just run the 5k hard and shoot for a PR of 31 minutes... My stretch goal was to be under 30 minutes.
I hadn't run all week since Tuesday and I found myself getting pretty anxious by Saturday. (I now know that as I prepare for longer races, I'll probably drive myself crazy during taper weeks) I weight trained Wednesday and Thursday and didn't do anything Friday, as I was trying to figure out a routine for race prep. I was also adding mileage each week up to this point and decided to rest my legs a little.
So, as I arrived to the packet pickup, the energy was definitely high. I heard motorcycles roaring all around and this was due to it being bikers weekend in Ocean City. There were people all over, cars blocking the entrance to the hotel, dogs and bikers. But the overall atmosphere was friendly.
I stayed at the Bonita Beach hotel, which was surprisingly not that bad of a hotel to stay in. The hotel employees were accommodating and pleasant. After checking into the hotel, the kids were getting pretty restless and were ready for something to eat, so we stopped at The Dough Roller for dinner. I normally do pizza the day before a long run and so I decided to keep the routine going even though the next day was just 3.1 miles.
We went back to the hotel and I started getting everything ready for my race.
My racing shirt was pretty cool. It was a black tech short with the logo on the chest and back. I pinned my racing bib to the front along with my Boston tribute bib. I was dedicating this race along with all my races of 2013 to all those connected with Boston.
I finally got in the bed and the pure excitement kept me from getting a good night's sleep. I kept waking up every hour on the hour.
It was finally time to get up officially and I was stoked. My family was there, it was my first race of 2013 and I had a goal of running it as hard as I could.
We drove to the start of the race and both the half marathoners and the 5k runners started at the same point. So I arrived extra early to make sure I saw the half marathoners start their race. In that moment, I vowed that I would run the half next year.
As the half marathoners continued, I knew it was almost time for the 5k to begin.
I started to get nervous and I got goosebumps. Excitement overwhelmed me!! We lined up by the DJ and the mayor of Ocean City's daughter gave us the directions.
The gun went off and we were off. I ran the outer border of the course in the beginning so I wouldn't have to worry about dodging around other runners. We ran around the Ocean City Inlet parking lot and onto the boardwalk. The boardwalk was an out and back.
I didn't run with music, as I have not done so for a while. So, I was able to hear all that went on around me. There wasn't much talking, just the sound of feet pounding the boardwalk in a continuous rhythm.
As I got halfway down the boardwalk, we began to see the leaders on their way back. The overall leader was a tiny guy... About 155 lbs, 5 foot 7. I thought to myself how extremely fast he was. He finished in 17 mins and some change. They tell me he actually ran the course twice...
Well, I continued on and decided that I would keep up with a woman who had a Boston dedicated bib similar to mine (which I obtained from Facebook, c/o Marathon Training Academy page). She was ahead of me the entire race and I knew she was running at a good pace that would allow me to run a good race and push myself.
I was surprised at how good I felt throughout the race, considering my legs felt like noodles when we started and I was running a faster pace than I ever had before.
As we continued on, a runner a few yards ahead of me shouted, ".2 miles guys, only .2 miles to go!!" I decided to see what I had. I always remembered someone telling me that pumping my arms will make you run faster... So I tried it. And wow!! My stride opened up!! It felt awesome!! I was running!! I was able to keep this pace up through the finish line. It was like an epiphany!! It was like I found a super power that I could put in my arsenal whenever I battle a particular distance and fight for the finish.
Everything was great!! My wife and kids were at the finish waiting for me, I finished my first race of the season and I hoped to have a good chip time.  Interesting enough, as I got a few yards past the finish, I was still breathing hard and with each breath, I felt like I would throw up. I didn't, but I guess those are the effects of pushing yourself.
There was water, chocolate milk, pretzels and other snacks in brown paper bags. I got a water and looked for the family so we could go get some breakfast.
There were other activities for runners after the race and the half marathoners were still running. But the family and I decided to go back to the hotel and enjoy the rest if the day in Ocean City.
Next year, I'll definitely be running the half. Really looking forward to it!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Excited!!! 3 days out from my first 10k!!!

Its Wednesday, and Saturday can't get here fast enough. I'll be running my very first 10k race in Crofton, MD... The Crofton Kiwanis 10k Challenge.

From what i'm told, its a small race and I decided to do it because it's close and I needed something on my calendar for this month. Plus more races give you more experience, right? So this race is number 2 of 4 for the year 2013.

I'm counting each day down and it seems as though the weekend is laughing at me, as time passes so slowly. Even lunch went slow!!

I can barely concentrate on my work, because i'm thinking about my splits, if i'm ready, what similar training runs i've done and how I felt during those runs. I actually found myself reassuring myself that I would be fine and that i've run this distance plenty of times before... By this time i've even got 2 ten milers in the books... But nothing can calm me down.

Even while writing this post, my brain is going 100 mph. Nervousness, anxiety, excitement, almost even to the point of frustration. All appropriate to describe what i'm feeling at this time.

I'm just gonna stop here...

Check back after the race for my race report and I'll tell you how I did...