Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year In Review

2010 is coming to a close and I thought I would review my year. 

1.  Ran 2 marathons in 2010 - the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10 and the Kenosha Marathon on 5/1/10.

2.  Ran 9 New York Road Runners races (NYRR) and volunteered for one, which will give me an automatic entry into the 2011 NYC Marathon under the 9+1 program.  Also ran in the JP Morgan Corporate challenge.

3.  Completed 2 triathlons (both sprint triathlons).  This was a major accomplishment for me, as I didn't own a road bike until June 2010 and hadn't gone swimming since high school.

4.  Healthwise, I had a great year.  No illnesses (other than a few minor colds) and no fevers.  No major Crohn's Disease flare-ups and no hospitalizations.  Last hospitalization was on 12/31/09 when a capsule I took (with a camera in it to take pictures of my small intestine) for a routine test got stuck in my small intestine, causing a full small bowel obstruction.  Luckily, the doctors were able to get it out without major surgery.

5.  I averaged 4.89 workouts per week (259 days), which exceeded my goal of 4.50 times per week.   I have been tracking my workouts since 2000 in an excel spreadsheet, and my previous record was 4.44 times per week in 2002. 

6.  I ran 1,335 miles in 2010, an average of 25 miles per week. 

7.  My year end weight was 197 (with a low of 192 and a high of 201 during the year).  However, my waist size was down to 34 at year end (from 38 in 2009).  For almost the entire year, my weight was between 195-197.  I hardly ever weigh myself, as I can usually tell where my weight is by how my clothes fit.

8.  Overall, I'm proud of the year I had.  I was able to maintain a high level of fitness all year and I became a more experienced runner.  I learned that I can't run more than 4-5 days per week and expect to stay healthy.  I decided to do triathlons to take advantage of its cross training benefits.  This way, I run less and keep my body healthier by biking and swimming, both of which are much lower impact on my body.  When I became a distance marathon runner, I used to believe that more mileage is better.  I now believe that less is more, and in the future, I will train with a focus on the duration of each of my workouts, not distance.
Here were my 2010 Goals that I created at the beginning of the year and what I actually did (highlighted in yellow).  As I look back, some of the goals I set seem crazy to me today.

Goal - Average running 4.5 days per week for 2010 (worked out an average of 4.38 times per week in 2009 – started running in July 2009)

Result - Goal Achieved!  I averaged 4.89 workouts per week.  When I set this goal, I expected only to run to achieve this goal.  By year end, I realized that I could not sustain running this much, which is why I started cross training.

Goal - Run 1,404 miles for the year (average 27 miles per week for 52 weeks)

Result - Fell short, coming in at 1,335 miles (25 miles per week).  I will never set an annual mileage goal again.  In the future, I will stick to weekly workout goals (and perhaps duration goals)

Goal - Run a 5k race in under 7:00 per mile pace (haven’t run a 5k yet)

Result - I didn't run a 5-k race in 2010.  I did run a 3.5 mile race in 7:12 per mile but frankly I just wasn't healthy enough to go all out in a race.  Still hope to get there in the future

Goal - Run a 4/5 mile race in under 7:05 per mile pace

Result - fell short, running a 4 mile race on 2/7/2010 at a 7:11 pace

Run a 10k race under 7:25 per mile (ran 7:39 per mile on 12/6/2009, my first and only 10-K run to date)

Result - not achieved -  I only ran one 10-k this year, and I decided to run it at the end of a 10 mile training run, so I ran it very easy (8:36 per mile)

Run a half marathon at under 8:00 per mile pace

Result - I didn't run a half marathon in 2010

Run a full marathon at under at 8:40 per mile pace

Result - fell short, ran Chicago in 3:56 (a 9:01 pace)

Run a 1 mile race under 6:30 per mile (I haven’t run a mile race since I was 12 years old, which I think I ran in 8:28 per mile)

Result - I didn't run a 1 mile race this year, as I wasn't healthy enough to go all out in a 1 mile race.  Still shooting to achieve this goal in the future

Goal - Get weight down to 189 or less (currently 192)

Result - Not achieved!  I was around 196 for the Chicago Marathon and went up to 201 when I took 5 weeks off from running in November 2010.  I was 197 at the end of 2010.  I need to improve my nutrition!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Swim Swim Swim

It's been a while since I've posted an update.  In my last blog post, I decided to shut down my running and biking to help my right shin splint heal.  My goal was to take 6 weeks off from running and 4 weeks from cycling, replacing it entirely with swimming. 

Taking time off from exercising is MUCH, MUCH harder for me than exercising.  I need to exercise at least 5 days a week to feel healthy and happy.  I've been exercising 4-5 days a week regularly for 20+ years.  My ultimate goal is the Ironman in 2011, so now is the time to take it easy. 

So, I only exercised 3 times over the the first 2 weeks of my running and biking hiatus, and by the end of that second week, all of the bad symptoms that I experienced before I became a runner came back.  I felt tired and fatigued.  My body felt inflammatory.  My right side felt week, my right eye twitching came back, and I felt "off my game". My weight went up to 201 pounds from my marathon training weight of 193-195. I lost a belt buckle loop.  Say goodbye to my marathon fitness level. I'll have to get over the hump again.


I knew I couldn't run or bike yet, so I decided to turn up my swimming, working out in the pool 6 of the next 8 days, swimming at least 45 minutes and sometimes as long as 64 minutes (1.5 miles in this case).  I have NEVER been a swimmer.  I wasn't on any swim team growing up (although I was a lifeguard, as I could pass the sprint swim tests).  Prior to becoming an triathlete in July 2010, I never even worked out in a pool (and despite being in marathon shape I could only swim 8 lengths because my form was so inefficient).  My technique is sub-par, and that's putting it mildly.  I went swimming with my friend MH, a great athlete, a triathlete, and high school swimmer, and he had me do a kick board drill, extending my arms out holding onto the kick board while kicking my legs.  I'm not joking when I say that I was barely moving forward at all.  In fact, for 30 seconds I don't think I moved forward at all.  No kidding.  He was on the side of the pool and I must say that I was embarrassed.  No question that I have a weakness in my kick.  Well, enough about my horrible swimming skills and form.  Swimming 6 of 8 days was a serious accomplishment for me, as my motivation to go swimming is very low because I'm not a good swimmer (although I do listen to music when I swim which definitely helps and is relaxing).  Over these 6 workouts, I improved my mile time in the swim to a best of 38 minutes and felt like I was becoming a little faster (typically it takes me 42-44 minutes to swim a mile in a pool and my half mile swim splits for the 2 triathlons that I did last year were both 22 minutes (on pace for a 44 minute mile).  I'm slow, although I know that I could swim faster than a 38 minute mile, but then I would be totally dead and wouldn't have any energy left for the bike or the run!  For the first time in my life, I did a swim speed workout, consisting of 12x100 yards, with a 20 second break in between each 100 yard workout. I definitely was faster than normal in each 100 and am feeling myself becoming a stronger swimmer.  For me, 60 minutes seems to be the right amount of time for me to feel like I got a good workout in.

Checking myself

So how long did I take off from running and biking.  How did I do against my goals?

Running - Took 5 weeks off (first run was on 11/26/10).  No pain in the shin whatsoever during the run, but still some twinging in the shin when not running.  Since then, I've only been running 2 days a week, as my shin continues to twinge a little bit after my runs (but never during). 

Biking - took about 4 weeks off. 

Also did acupuncture twice, which definitely helped heal my shin quicker.  Plus, given my Crohn's, I get abnormal swelling around the shin splint area.  I find that ice helps to reduce that swelling greatly, so I have been heavily icing my leg (Anastasia, my acupuncturist, wouldn't be happy with my icing!)

Ironman Training

I'm not training for anything right now, just trying to stay fit and healthy.  I have decided to start my Ironman Training on 2/1/11, following at 30 week training program in Don Fink's book called "Be Iron Fit" (I'll follow his intermediate program).  I'd like to go into my Ironman training with a solid base of fitness.  I plan on following a strict heart rate zone Ironman training plan and will base my workouts on the duration of my workouts, not on distance.  I plan on doing a weekly writeup of my Ironman training during my training.  I also signed up for the Rev 3 Half Ironman on 6/5/11, which I am excited about.  This was the site of my first triathlon, a sprint, and is one of the hilliest tris in the world (which I need because Ironman Canada is extremely hilly).  Ironman Canada is on 8/28/11.

Here is a summary of my workouts since the Chicago Marathon:

10/17/10 - 2 workouts (2 runs - 4.4 and 5 miles)

10/24/10 - 1 workout (1 run, 5 miles) - right shin sore

10/31/10 - 4 workouts (4 rides on my trainer) - right shin sore after my rides, never during

11/7/10  - 1 workout (swim, 36 minutes) - very careful not to push off the wall hard to keep shin healthy

11/14/10 - 2 workouts (2 swims, 41 and 49 minutes).  Weight 201.  Lost a belt buckle loop.

11/21/10 -  5 workouts (5 swims)

11/28/10 - 7 workouts (3 runs, 2 rides on my trainer, 2 swims) - first run and first ride in weeks

12/5/10 - 5 workouts (2 runs, 2 swims, 1 spin class)

12/12/10 -  5 workouts (2 runs, 2 spins, 1 swim)

12/19/10 -  5 workouts (2 runs, 3 rides (2 on trainer, one on spin bike at the gym).  Weight 198-199.  I've gained my belt buckle loop back!

All of my runs above were done on the bridal path, not pavement

I took a few pictures while running in Central Park after my 5 weeks off.  It was a bummer to miss the fall season and to not be able to run in the Park before the NYC marathon, which is always fun.

From December 14, 2010

November 28, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Test results

I saw a doctor a few weeks ago, and he recommended an MRI of my right leg as well as an xray, to rule out a stress fracture.  I had been having some pain in my right leg on the bone about halfway down the leg, so I thought the tests made sense.

The good news is that I do not have a stress fracture.  However, I do have a painful, acute shin split that is causing some edema (swelling) along my bone, which is contributing to the pain (I tend to get abnormal swelling in my body due to my Crohn's Disease).  I've never had a shin splint before.  My doctor said that the best way to cure this problem is to take time off, so I have decided to do so.  I haven't run in 3 weeks as of today, and while I rode my bike 4 times over the last 2 weeks on the trainer (with no pain, as I went extremely easy), I have decided to shut that down for a few weeks also.  Therefore, all I am doing is swimming (being very careful when I push off the wall not to hurt my leg) and walking (I usually walk to and from work, which is about 1.7 miles each way). 

I went out to cheer all of my friends that ran the New York City Marathon yesterday, which I really enjoyed.  Frankly, it was very cool to watch and while I was sad I wasn't running, I knew that I made the right decision.

I really miss running and riding, but I am 100% focused on my Ironman for next year and want to be 100% pain free before resuming running and riding.  As of today, my goal is to take 6-8 weeks off from running (which means early to mid December when I resume running) and 4 weeks off from riding (which will put me in early December also).  When I resume, I will take it very easy and build back up.  I am hoping to swim 3-4 days a week until then.  I have fallen below the hump and will need to get over it again.  I will.

Yesterday, I signed up for a half ironman, the Quassy Rev 3 race, in Middlebury, CT.  I did my first triathlon, a sprint, at Quassy last summer.  I picked this race because it is extremely well run and because it is extremely hilly (one of the toughest half ironman races around).  I am looking for hilly because the Ironman Canada, which I am doing next August, is also extremely hilly and I want to be prepared.  The race is extremely popular and attracts professionals (Craig Alexander and Miranda Carfree won the race last year) as well as average age groupers like me.  I'm excited for it.  Some of my friends have also signed up for it, which is awesome. 

I ran 3 marathons in the last year (New York 11-09; Kenosha Wisconsin 5-10; and Chicago 10-10).  I won't run another marathon until Ironman Canada.  Time for my body to recover and get healthy.  Still trying to figure out why my right leg gets hurt.  It could be overuse, but I think there is more to it.   More to come on this as we try to figure it out.

Here is a copy of the MRI report

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking a break from running...

After I finished the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10 I felt pretty good.  The last 6 miles were really tough for me due to the heat.  I sit here today, looking back, wondering if I hit the infamous wall too (likely).  Temps were in the mid 80s for my last 6 miles and it took everything I had to push through the last 6 miles and finish with a time of 3:56 (a PR by two minutes).  As I was running those last 6 miles and feeling like complete sh*t, I was still thinking about running the New York City Marathon on 11/7/10.  When I finished the NYC Marathon last year, I vowed to myself that I would make it annual tradition. 

So, I told myself I would take off as much time as needed after the Chicago Marathon to rest my body to run the NYC marathon.  I felt OK on the Monday after Chicago, felt a little more sore on Tuesday (I am always the most sore two days after an intense workout), and on Wednesday my right knee was killing me.  I knew that it was my IT band, as it hurt a lot to roll it out, a tell-tale sign that my IT band was tight.  At this point, I didn't think that I would be able to run for weeks, let alone the NYC Marathon.  I heavily iced my knee on Wednesday and Thursday, stretched it out with resistance rubber bands, and rolled it out.  By Friday, the pain was completely gone.  I felt good enough to run easy on Saturday and Sunday (4 and 5 miles respectively) and I was on track to run NYC.  I took Monday off and ran 5 miles on Tuesday.  As I was running, while my knees felt fine, I felt some twinges in my right leg, the same place that an May 2010 MRI revealed that I had a "thickening of the bone".  The doctors said that I either (1) may have had a stress fracture in the past or (2) may be about to get one.  Thankfully, it didn't bother me at all during my Chicago Marathon training, as I followed a much easier training schedule with a lot of cross training.  I saw my physical therapist (AL, she just did the Kona Ironman in 10:30) and she said that I may be having "stress reaction". 

When I had the pain during my Tuesday run, I decided then and there that I was not going to run the New York City marathon.  My ultimate goal is Ironman Canada on 8/28/11, and I decided that I would likely hurt myself more by training for and then running NYC.  I thought it would be a tough decision but it actually wasn't, it was a huge relief.  I could relax, not get up early every morning, and take a break.  A week later, I'm thrilled with my decision (although sad I won't run NYC, now I can go out and cheer for all of my friends).  I haven't run for 8 days in a row and I may take 2-3 weeks off before running again.  I'll listen to my body.

Having said all of this, by yesterday, I felt bloated and missed exercising.   I decided to buy a bike trainer for the winter to get some baseline winter Ironman training and yesterday purchased a Cycleops fluid 2 trainer.  I love it!  See the pictures below.  The trainer is awesome.  I put the real rear wheel of my bike on the trainer and put the front wheel on a stabilizing plastic tray.  I already had a Garmin bike cadence accessory hooked up to my bike, so my Garmin 405 bike gets all of my stats while I ride on the trainer - my speed, distance, cadence, heart rate, time, lap time, etc.  It is totally awesome!  Plus, I get to set the trainer up in my living room directly in front of my 42" plasma screen and watch sports while riding.  I have a long cord for headphones and a fan to keep me cool (or as cool as one can be riding in a NYC apartment that is 80+ degrees).

I'll start running eventually, but for now I'm enjoying my trainer.  For my first ride yesterday, I made the rear wheel too tight and found it extremely hard.  I loosened up the back wheel a bit and it felt a little easier.  I got a great workout in.  Any and all advice is appreciated from my friends that use a bike trainer too!

Here are some pictures......

Check out this view....totally sweet!!! (if you look closely you can see my 2 year old daughter Kaiya in the background)

took this shot while riding the bike last night...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicago Marathon 2010 Race Report - 10/10/10

General Commentary

7:30 A.M. race start, I crossed the line at 7:35 A.M, having started in seeded corral D
Abundant sunshine, 60 degrees and 74% humidity at the start of the race with a mid 80s forecast for later in the day.  A fellow runner was right on when he said "a perfect day, unless you are a marathon runner"
Temperature was in the mid 80s around mile 18 with abundant sunshine

Race goal - finish under 4 hours, don't get hurt, slow down if too hot
Race plan - run 10/10/10 on 10/10/10 - goal was to run easy for the first 10 miles, run a little faster for the next 10 miles, and then finish strong for the last 10k
Stretch goal - sub 3:50

Race Commentary

Mile 1 - 9:10 per mile - Streets very wide, lots of room to run, tons of fans out at 7:30 A.M!  Awesome! Half of the first mile runs through an open tunnel, and it was hot in that tunnel!! I thought "I'm going to struggle if it is this warm during the race"

Mile 2 - 9:00 - Feel good, knees feel great.  Loving the crowd, I am very surprised at how many people are out watching the race so early, cowbells and all.  The crowd energy was really awesome (and much cleaner than the New York City streets!)  I had my music off for most of the first 2 miles.  Ran by the Chicago Theater, which had "Yo Gabba Gabba" in town.  We just saw Yo Gabba Gabba at Radio City in NYC last weekend.

Mile 3 - 9:05

Mile 4 - 8:40 - feel good, although for the first time I could tell that it was very humid, because I already felt hot at this point and was soaked.  My pace for this mile feels a little harder than it should.

Mile 5 - 8:50 - enter Lincoln Park area.  Beautiful area.  Lot of trees.  Good mix of sun and shade.  Lots of people out.

Mile 6 - 8:45 - Run along Lakeshore drive.  Tons of fans, great area

Mile 7 - 8:40 - Wrigleyville.  Awesome area.  Lots of shade to stay cool.  Feels like the temperature is rising.

Mile 8 - 8:16 - my fastest mile thus far.  feel good and strong.  Plan to run this mile hard and take the next mile easy.  Still a lot of shade.

Mile 9 -  8:44

Mile 10 - 8:47 - I slow down a little bit to look for my friend TC.  I didn't see him but he got 3 pictures of me as I ran by (I'm in the neon shirt).  Thanks TC!

Mile 11- 8:57 - More sun now, less shade, and the temperature is noticeably warmer.  Starting to feel hot.  Somewhere around this point I heard announcements over the PA system on the course saying that the alert level had been raised by one notch to Yellow "Moderate Conditions" - "less than ideal conditions, slow down, be prepared for worsening conditions".  A few times during the first 10 miles of the race, I saw the alert level at green "good conditions, enjoy the event, be alert".  I was surprised it was at the lowest level - if I was feeling hot I assumed others were too.  I remember thinking to myself  "if it keeps warming up this fast, people are going to get hurt".  I thought that the race was extremely well run and thought that it was really cool that they had an active alert system (likely the result of the hot weather in 2007, when it was so hot that they stopped the Chicago Marathon halfway through due to hot conditions.  Last year, it was 36 degrees for the race).  Later in the day the alert level was raised the highest possible level before stopping the race - High "Potentially Dangerous Conditions" (slow down, observe course rules, follow event instruction, consider stopping).

Mile 12 - 8:12  - starting to push a little but still feel good.  Volunteers were handing out green sponges soaked with cold water, which was refreshing.  I took a few sponges and soaked my head, arms, back, and even legs with cold water (and picked up a second sponge 100 yards later and did the exact same thing a second time).  This helped to cool me down for a mile and I was able to run a strong mile as a result (in fact, I was sub 8 for most of this mile, only slowing down to get some water at the end of the mile).  This race had plenty of fluids.  There was water and Gatorade every mile, which I slowed down to pick up from volunteers, who also did an awesome job.   I alternated between water and Gatorade every mile, taking 2 sips each mile.  I started pouring a cup of water on my head every other mile starting at mile 5.

Mile 13 - 8:28 - still feeling good, back in the Chicago loop, on Adams Street.  Tons of shade due to the tall buildings.  At this point I feel like I have executed my race plan flawlessly, particularly given the conditions.

Half Marathon Split - 1:55:31 -  Right on my game plan, now it's time to push.

Mile 14- 8:06  - feel good, still in the shade, feel hot but manageable.  feel like I can hold this pace in the shade.  My Garmin 405 watch says "battery low".  WHAT?  Last time this happened, the watch died within minutes.  I turned on the stopwatch on my iPhone while running just in case.  Luckily, the watch didn't die during the race.

Mile 15 - 8:06 - feel strong, still in the shade

Mile 16 - 8:36 - the shade has left the building in favor of abundant sunshine.  Hot, hot, hot sunshine.  Noticeable difference in my effort level in the sun.  Average heart rate for my first 16 miles was 158.  Perfect.

Mile 17 -8:44 - still nothing but sunshine.  For the first time during the race, I feel tired.  Just like that, I went from feeling strong to feeling completely exhausted.  I looked around and everybody else around me was struggling too.  For most of the race, I ran around the 3:50 pace group.  Not because I was trying to, but because their pace was my pace.  They were struggling to.  My heart rate was hovering around 170 at this point.  Actually pretty good given the conditions.  Average heart rate would sit around 170 for the remainder of the race.  My heart rate jumped from the low 160s to the low 170s once I was consistenly in the sun. I actually felt a few PVCs in my heart during this mile (i.e., extra beats, something I get when my heart is beating too slow, hardly ever when I run).

Mile 18 - 8:48 - still able to run a sub 9 minute mile, but by the end of this mile I felt dead tired.  Going all out to run a sub 9 minute mile.  Starting to see the carnage on the roads.  I saw at least 10-15 people down on the ground - a  mix between people looking horrible, hurt, cramped, or in two cases, passed out.  I saw a few people collapse right in front of me (both holding their leg in agony).  Scary stuff.

Mile 19 - 9:07 - took everything I had to run this pace.  Everything.  I realize at this point that I will run around a 3:55 - 3:56 marathon if I keep running sub 10 minute miles.  I feel like complete crap.  I consider walking but figure that I will feel like complete crap either way, so I might as well push for a sub 4 hour marathon and be proud of myself while feeling like complete crap.  I never felt light headed or in peril (like I did during the Wisconsin marathon).  Tons and tons of people are walking.  I feel ok to be running but it is taking everything I have to do it.  I do everything I can to find shade, even if for 20 feet.

Mile 20 - 9:15 - Giving it everything I have.  Completely dreading running 6.2 more miles at this point.

Mile 21 - 9:32 -  At this point, I know I'm done.  there is no way that I can recover to sub 9 minute miles.  I decide to slow down.  It feels like I am running 15 minute miles.  I can feel my body, but barely.  My right knee/IT band is a little sore, but it isn't hampering me.  I said to myself "just keep pushing and you'll break 4 hours".

Mile 22 - 9:51 - somebody gives me one of those green sponges.  It helps.  I start to wonder if I'm going to break 4 hours. Only 4.2 miles to go, I think.  I'm counting the miles.  Each mile marker seems 100 miles away and 9 minutes feels like an hour.  I think to myself "man, running a marathon is hard!!!" 

Mile 23 - 9:31 - somebody gives me an ice cold soaked white towel, which I soak myself with and carry with me the entire mile, squeezing out a few cold drops every 50 meters or so.  At the end of the mile, it was bone dry.   There is still carnage all over the place and tons of people are walking.  Tons of people have cramps.  A bunch of people are limping.  I'm happy to still be running, no matter what the pace.  "a great day, except if you are marathon runner", I think to myself.  Only 3.2 miles to go.

Mile 24 - 9:34 - south Michigan avenue.  The other runners around are struggling just like me.  there are more people in the crowd during this mile and tons of people are cheering.  this pumps me up, keeps me going.  Only 2.2 miles left to go.  I think I can make it without walking, although I can't wait to stop running!  A kid gives me a cup of ice.  This saved me!  I carried it for the entire mile, chewing on the ice and wetting my lips.   It cooled me down just a little bit

Mile 25 - 9:35 - More people, tons of cheering.  I want to be done now.  I dread running the last 2.2 miles but push myself.

Mile 26- 9:43 - I'm almost done but struggling big time.  I have absolutely nothing left in the tank.  My mind tells my legs to keep moving.  At the end of this mile, there is a sharp uphill.  I think to myself "what kind of a person would put this kind of hill 400 meters away from the end of the marathon????".  It took EVERYTHING I had to run up that hill, EVERYTHING.  I didn't walk but I was close.

Final 200 meters - 8:48 pace - When I got to the top of the hill and turned the corner to approach the finish line, I saw a sign that said 200 meters to go.  YES!!!!!  I can do it!  I ran hard for the last 200 meters, crossed the finish line and pumped my fist.  I did it.  While I wanted to break 3:50, it just wasn't in the cards today.  I gave it everything I had.  I had absolutely nothing more to give.

Final Time (26.2 miles) - 3:56:34 (a 9:01 per mile pace).  A PR by 2 minutes.  I'll take it!!!!!! 

To see the Garmin file and map with my splits, click here

Overall, I really enjoyed this race.  It was well run (except for the seeded coral area which had a line of at least 500 people to get into the seeded corral 5 minutes before the cutoff time of 7:15 A.M.  This caused panic and nearly a riot.  Many runners refused to wait in line after not moving for at least 10 minutes and started jumping the fence.  The security guards were grabbing a few of these runners and said that they were kicked out of the marathon.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  While I didn't jump the fence, I wanted to but thought for sure I would hurt myself doing it.)  Also, we were surprised that the seeded corral baggage check was farther away from the seeded corral than the open baggage check area.   The Chicago Marathon should consider moving the seeded corral baggage check closer to the seeded corral next year).

I'm still thinking that I will run the New York City marathon on 11/7/10 too....

I took a few pictures before the race.  I just didn't have the energy to take them during the race.  I also took a couple of short videos as I was approaching the start line.  Here they are....

Video taken as I approached the start line. The race started a minute before I started shooting the video

At 5:40 A.M. on Michigan Avenue.  Was up at 4:15 A.M. to drive into the city with my friend RFL

The medal....

At the expo with my friend RFL

Minutes before the race in the Corral D

Another Shot as the race started...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicago Marathon Update - Tracking Information

The marathon is only 2 days away (Sunday 10/10/10).  I arrived in this afternoon in Chicago and drove up to Kenosha to stay with my mom (where I grew up).  I had dinner with my friend TM, which was great. 

I tapered this week, only running 3 days - Tuesday (3 miles), Wednesday (4 miles), and Thursday (2 miles).  I decided to take today and tomorrow off to rest.   All week, I felt sore during my taper, which is normal as my body was repairing the damage done from 16 weeks of marathon training.  The soreness shows that my body is healing, that my muscles are repairing themselves.  On top of that, I have been "carb loading" all week, so I feel heavy and slow.  Overall, I feel ready ready to go.  My right knee is a little sore, but I don't think it will slow me down.  I caught a cold earlier in the week (and had some wheezing in my lungs) plus I had a mild Crohn's flare-up this week, but I feel good now.   

The forecast for the start of the race (7:30 A.M. Central Time) is for it to be sunny and around 60-63 degrees, with the high going up to the low 80s.  Hopefully it will stay in the 60s and low 70s while I run and humidity will stay low.  Ideally, I was hoping for temps in the 50s.

Chicago Marathon 2010 Tracker

If you would like to track me during the marathon, you can do so at:

Just type in Balcom or my bib number (8779) and you can sign up to get text messages that will be texted to you during my race at various points (and this will also include my average pace per mile).  I haven't figured out how one can sign up for email updates or how one can follow me on the computer. If anybody figures that out, let me know.

Something that made me laugh...

On my way to Chicago I read something in the USA Today that made me laugh out loud.  I am a big Chicago Bulls fan and was a huge Michael Jordan fan.  The article is called "Be Like Mike in NBA 2K11".  The article asks "How would Michael Jordan have fared had he played in the NBA in the era of no hand checking and zone defense?"  "It would have been feast or famine" said Jordan.  "The current game is less physical and the rules have changed, obviously.  Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would have fouled out, or I would have been at the free-throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points".

Cool Asics New York Marathon Ads

The other day, I saw a couple of cool posters in the subway.  Asics ads for the upcoming New York City Marathon.  I have included them below.  I think it is very cool that the woman in the picture is wearing headphones while running.  Most refreshing, as I love listening to music when I run.  Let the debating begin....

Look closely to see her headphones on....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week 16 Chicago Marathon Training plus a Rabies Advisory in Central Park?

Rabies Advisory in Central Park? 

Central Park is my favorite place in the world. What other large city has a hilly, 6 mile race track in the middle their city? Sometimes when I run in Central Park, I see a raccoon, skunk, or other little critter. Once earlier this year I saw a raccoon so big that I at first thought it was a little dog. I froze in my tracks... it heart starting beating super fast....I suspect the same for the raccoon....then it thought about what to do.....I was still frozen....and then it scampered into the North Woods of the park. Today as we were walking around Central Park, we saw the rabies advisory sign above. I did some searching online and found a bunch of articles saying that 3 rabid raccoons were found in Central Park in 2009 and that 20 animals tested positive for rabies throughout New York City .  What I find peculiar about this is that this is the first I've heard of it.  Maybe I live under a rock?  My kids, 4 and 2, go to a school on Central Park West and go to Central Park to play everyday (definitely lucky kids).  I am in Central Park almost every day and I go with my family to Central Park every weekend. Despite all of this, today was the first day I saw one of these signs or heard of a rabies advisory, nearly 10 months after the rabies alert came out.  I guess it took them a while to get the word out, because surely I would have seen those signs somewhere or heard about it somehow.  I really would have panicked had I known that the big dog-like raccoon I was near might have been rabid.

Now for my Chicago Marathon Week 16 Summary
I just finished week 16 of my Chicago Marathon training.  Only 1 week until the race (10/10/10).  I'm in heavy taper mode this week.  I'm running 3 miles on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, and 3 on Thursday.  Then I will take off Friday (travel day to Chicago) and Saturday.  Hopefully I'll be fresh for race day.  The forecast looks dry, with a temperatures projected to be in the low 70s.  Uh oh.  The low the night before is projected to be in the mid 50s, so hopefully with a 7:30 A.M. race start time, so hopefully it will be cool at the start.  Of course we all know that weather projections a week out are worthless, but all marathon runners look at repeatedly to get the latest updates.

I had a good week of training for week 16.  I ran 5 times, 27 miles (5.2, 6, 5, 3, and 8 miles).  I feel good, although my right knee/IT band started hurting yesterday and I caught a cold on Friday too.  My 3rd marathon taper and my third cold during the marathon taper.  Oh well.  I also got my New York Road Runners volunteer event done this week by volunteering for the 1.7 mile Norway Run (my friend JS came in second overall with a 5:01 per mile pace - he is awesome!) and the 13.1 mile Grete's Gallop half marathon.  Since I have run 9 races and volunteered for 1 race in 2010, I now have automatic entry into the 2011 New York City Marathon.  Totally sweet!!!!!!!!

Over the last week, I listened to my body and ran easy, letting my body dictate my speed.  What's funny is that all of my easy runs have gotten much faster over the last few weeks.  3 of my 5 runs were done at a sub 8 minute pace (5.2 miles at 7:58 pace, 6.04 miles at 7:49 pace, and 8 miles at a 7:42 pace).  My other 2 runs were 5 miles at an 8:25 per mile pace (in Washington DC, where I stopped to take a lot of pictures) with a moving average of 8:02 per mile and a very easy 3 miles at 8:39 pace.  No question that my fitness level is at its peak right now. 

For my 8 mile run today, I went out very easy because I was feeling crappy because of my cold.  A half mile into my run in Central Park I looked down at my watch and it showed a pace in the low 8s.  It felt very easy to me, so I held the pace.  After I was warmed up (usually takes 3-5 miles), I felt even better and started to push a little.  I still felt great, so I pushed miles 3 and 4, took the pedal off for miles 5 and 6, still felt great, so I pushed miles 7 and 8, finishing mile 8 at a 6:37 per mile pace.  A great and confidence building final run before tapering.  My splits in order were (click here for the Garmin File)

mile 1 - 8:11
mile 2 - 8:00
mile 3 - 7:44
mile 4 - 7:22
mile 5 - 8:08
mile 6 - 8:00
mile 7 - 7:32
mile 8 - 6:37

Overall - 7:42 per mile

I'm excited to go home for the weekend.  I arrive in Chicago on Friday, will go to Kenosha on Friday to stay with my mom Friday night (which I'm really looking forward to), then will go to my friend RL's house in Highland Park on Saturday.  We will go to the marathon expo on Saturday, I will stay at his house Saturday night, then we will drive to the race Sunday morning (one of RL's friends is also running the marathon and will come with us).  I will come back to NYC on Sunday night.

Recently, a guy that I met doing my first triathlon sent me some pictures from the event, and here is the one of me that I liked...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Run while on a business trip in Washington D.C.

Today (9/30/10), I was in Washington D.C. on a business trip.  I was able to get a quick run in, which was awesome.  It was very windy and raining all day (winds over 30 mph), but I was able to get my run in with almost no rain, which was awesome.  I stayed at the Georgetown Inn on Wisconsin Avenue, which is in a great location.  I walked down to the water, ran over to the Lincoln Memorial, down to the mall, out to the Washington Monument, and back to my hotel (5 miles).  I stopped all over the place to take pictures (see below).  I started and stopped a lot and took minutes off during the run, but still ended up with an 8:25 per mile pace (and a 8:02 moving average pace, which my Garmin 405 watch calculates).  The workout ended up being an interval workout, as I would run fast, stop for a minute or two, and then run fast again.  My splits in order were 8:31, 8:59, 8:53, 8:32, 7:12 (this includes the time I took to stop and take pictures).  It ended up being a great workout plus very scenic and enjoyable.  I absolutely love running in different locations!  It is the best way to see a city.

Click here for a link to my Garmin 405 file for a map of my run

Here are some pictures I took while running (the nice buildings are on the Georgetown Campus):