I always hope that the last week or two before a race will be tranquil.

I have visions of heading into a race feeling fully rested, relaxed, hydrated, and confident.

How many times has that happened?

Once.

Ironically enough, I wound up having my worst race ever (the Run For Justice) when I headed into a race feeling great about everything. I do recall that my foot did hurt a bit the day before that run, but I do remember heading into the race feeling well-rested, stress-free, and excited.

If history repeats itself, then I’m shaping up to have a fantastic half marathon on Sunday at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, because last week was a heckuva week! Read the rest of this entry

Have you entered my giveaway for 2 tickets to the VIP Brunch at the Cleveland Marathon? Click here for the post and be sure to enter by Tuesday, May 14th at 11:59PM!

After two great training runs during the week, I was stoked for my weekend long run! I was prepared to go 9.5 miles, which would be a 1 mile increase from the distance of the long runs that I had conquered over the past two weeks.

While I enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness of the Towpath, I figured that having at least one run on the final part of the Cleveland Marathon course would be helpful. Additionally, familiarity can often breed contempt, and I’ll need to get in multiple runs on the Towpath throughout the summer as I prepare for the Towpath 10-10 in June and the Towpath Marathon in October. In order to guard against getting bored with the Towpath, I decided to head downtown for my long run. Read the rest of this entry

Whew! It’s been a crazy two weeks. I have no idea where the time goes these days!

I was somewhat dreading Week 8 because it marked the first time in my half marathon training plan during which I would be running a new distance. Read the rest of this entry

After another stressful week last week, we headed out of town for a much-needed getaway. Although we weren’t gone for a long period of time, we were blessed with an enjoyable and relaxing trip! I’ll put up a post about our trip within the near future so that all of you can see that there’s more to my life than running and showing off Butters more fervently than most parents show off their kids.

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My bride and my Butters

Many of you who know me in real life know that I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. While I enjoy being able to make last-minute fantasy football lineup changes after church on Sunday (contrary to popular belief, I don’t do it during the service itself!) and am grateful to be able to access email at all times, I absolutely hate talking on the phone, especially when it involves matters that can be dealt with via text or email. Nevertheless, I never put my phone on silent unless I’m at the movies. Why not? I’m my mom’s only son, and I want to be there for her if she needs to reach me in an emergency.

However, one of the reasons for going on this getaway was so that Sheila could escape work-related stress, so after her phone happily died 10 minutes after we were out of town, I decided to put mine on silent for the duration of the weekend. We work at the same organization and our jobs often intersect, and I wanted to make sure that she was kept unaware of anything that occurred at work while we were on our getaway. Although I did periodically check my phone, I didn’t spend much time on it at all.

Of course, this meant that I didn’t find out about the tragedy in Boston until I got home and was beginning to prepare for the 7 mile training run on the books for the week. Read the rest of this entry

I’ve never been much of a comics guy, which probably explains why I didn’t like The Avengers very much (I feel like a bad Clevelander saying that!) and why I was completely lost during the X-Men movies.

However, the one comic strip that I have consistently enjoyed throughout my life is Calvin and Hobbes, and the title of this post is a homage to one of the compilations of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons that I still have somewhere in my mom’s house. My mom used to leave funny Calvin and Hobbes cartoons along with notes for me when I got home from school, and I still enjoy the strip to this day. While I understand Bill Watterson’s desire for privacy, I would love to see a Calvin and Hobbes movie during my lifetime!

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Although I definitely am grateful for the benefits of adulthood, I would be lying if I said that I never wished to be able to take a trip back in time to the days when I was Calvin’s age. These past few weeks have been packed with a variety of stress in just about every aspect of our lives. Hence, I completely dropped the ball on blogging about Week 5 of training. One picture will explain why: Read the rest of this entry

Much of the focus of my previous training blogs has been on my weekly long runs. This is understandable. After all, the point of training for a half marathon is to gradually increase one’s distance, and anyone who’s ever prepared for a race knows that the rewarding feeling that one gets after they successfully knock out their weekly long run and know that they are one step closer to their goal cannot adequately be described in words.

That said, success on long runs is simply unattainable if one doesn’t adhere to their training plan during the week. I had two really great training runs during the week, and I’d like to focus on one of them.

Why am I focusing on a 3.5 mile run even though I knocked out 6 brutal, windy miles in downtown Cleveland on Sunday?

6.01 miles in 59:02 - not bad considering downtown Cleveland's omnipresent wind and the fact that the incline on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was deceptively difficult!

6.01 miles in 59:02 – not bad considering downtown Cleveland’s omnipresent wind and the fact that the incline on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was deceptively difficult!

I’m doing so because I want to encourage all of us—especially those of us during the half marathon—to keep following our training plans even though training could possibly be turning into a bit of a drag at this point in the midst of Cleveland’s impossibly long winter. Although running these shorter runs may not provide us with the same adrenaline rush that knocking out a new distance may provide, I’ve learned that these runs can teach me some very important lessons about running and be unexpectedly refreshing as well!

Read the rest of this entry

I celebrated my 32nd birthday last Monday, and I headed into last week believing that it would be a relatively light week because Tri-C was on spring break. I had visions of writing up several non-training related blogs and catching up on other work that needs to be addressed at my other job as well.

Sheila and I at my birthday dinner (photo taken by our good friend Stephanie)

Sheila and I at my birthday dinner (photo taken by our good friend Stephanie)

Man, was I wrong. Last week turned out to be one of the busiest weeks in months.

For decades (I can say that now because I’m well into my 30s, right?), I allowed fitness to fall by the wayside on these types of weeks. Fortunately, though, those days are over. Although I was tempted to take a mulligan on my training plan multiple times, I powered forward with each of my runs and cross-training walks. I’m glad that I did, even though some of them were among the most difficult runs that I’ve had in recent months.

Read the rest of this entry

Maybe this is an early onset of a midlife crisis as I prepare to turn 32 next Monday, but I really like the phrase Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) that I see emblazoned upon the attire of youths approximately half my age.

Some people use it to justify reckless, life-threatening activity, and maybe that’s why I know a sizable number of people who hate the phrase.

I love this phrase because I use it to justify challenging, life-enhancing activities like taking the risk to run a half-marathon! It’s true—all of us on Earth only do live once. Why not spend our one life attempting to conquer challenges that will help us become healthier people in the process?

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Unfortunately, I still experience plenty of times when I temporarily forget about my own human fragility and completely forget that keeping my body in shape for running is a daily effort. My first week of half-marathon training was filled with those times.

Read the rest of this entry

My Half Marathon Training Plan

Ever since I decided to run the half marathon in May at the Cleveland Marathon, I’ve been evaluating the pros and cons of various training plans. Although I really enjoyed using a training plan for my first 5K, I haven’t used one since that time and essentially just went running three days per week with the goal of gradually increasing my distance over time. Miraculously, this approach has worked well and I’ve been able to reach seven miles without hurting myself.

While I’m sure that this approach could potentially keep working, I don’t want to roll the dice with my health. I have high hopes for my 2013 racing season, and I’d hate to have a foolhardy approach to training send me to the sidelines for an extended period of time. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to have a training plan in place far in advance of the time when I would need to start training in the hopes of setting myself up for another great year of racing.

Here I am at the Cleveland Turkey Trot – a great end to my first racing season! With God’s help and smart training planning, I hope to have many more of these moments in the years to come.

Read the rest of this entry

For much of the day on Saturday, the weather was beautiful and I was pumped for what was going to be my third outdoor run of the week. Sheila and I are slowly converting our study\guest bedroom into a place for yoga and exercise, and I decided to postpone my run until later in the day so that we could spend a few hours organizing multiple years’ worth of documents.

Don’t ask me how this lifelong Clevelander forgot that the weather can change on a moment’s notice around here, but I got a harsh reminder when I took a peek outside a few hours into the cleaning process only to see white-out conditions. I was frustrated, but I figured that investing a few hours into creating an indoor exercise space was just as important as running.

We finally finished cleaning at 8:45PM. My urge to run hadn’t gone away and snow was no longer falling. The sidewalks didn’t look too covered, and I hoped that there wasn’t any ice on the sidewalks either since they had been clear earlier in the day. I figured that every Cleveland runner needs to learn how to run on snow-covered surfaces at some point and that Saturday night was as good of a night as any. Throwing caution to the wind, I laced up my trust Mizuno Wave Inspire 8s and headed out for a quick 3.3 mile run.

Once I got the hang of running on snow, I settled into a comfortable pace and I had a blast! Sure, I felt the ground slip beneath me a few times, but the feeling was similar to the feeling of running on wet pavement. The crisp evening air and sparking snow created almost a Narnia-esque atmosphere in my neighborhood and I trotted along with a gigantic smile on my face and 90s rap playing in my ears.

I turned around at the 2.3 mile mark to head home and thought to myself, “Boy, this has been one of my best runs ever.”

My joy turned to shock as I promptly wiped out headfirst approximately 3 seconds later!

God was definitely looking out for me that night, as I fell forward onto a snowbank and had a relatively soft landing. I was more stunned than anything else. As I slid, my phone changed from my Pandora station to phone mode and called my boss’s cell phone, which was answered by his daughter. I had been listening to an Eminem song from the era in which he used to put his daughter’s voice on his tracks, and I thought that her voice was actually the voice of Eminem’s daughter and that it was part of the song! Fortunately, my boss is very understanding and he told me at church that he and his family were concerned about me until I texted him when I got home to let him know that all was well. I’m blessed to have a boss who reacts like this—many of my former bosses would not have responded so favorably!

Anyhow, after I recovered from the shock of falling, I got right up and felt absolutely no pain whatsoever! Feeling very invigorated, I proceeded to run the last mile home with a gigantic smile on my face. I did eventually feel a bit of knee pain, but it was nothing serious and I felt absolutely fine on Sunday morning.

I think my experience throughout this run is a microcosm of the ups and downs that we all face as we train for a race. There are days on which the wind is in our sails and on which we feel wonderful. However, there are also days on which injuries, the stresses of daily life, weather conditions, or many other factors can beat us up and make us feel like we’ve been tossed the ground.

On those latter types of days, though, we must keep pushing forward one dogged step at a time. Maybe you’ll finally break through and end your run with a smile on your face, or maybe you’ll wind up back at home feeling horribly. I’ve only been running since June 2012 and I’ve had both types of endings to a tough run.

What I can guarantee, though, is that you’ll look back on these types of runs after you rip off a great race at the end of your training and think, “I’m so glad I didn’t quit.”

Unless you’re hurt, don’t quit when you’re feeling battered and worn down. Even if you have to stop and walk multiple times and your pace per mile turns out to be that of a turtle, don’t quit. All of us read the story of the tortoise and the hare when we were younger, right? Slow and steady won the race for the tortoise, and slow and steady dogged determination over time will add up to a great race for you at the end of your training program!

Do you think this brave pup would quit during a training run?

How do you push through your runs on a tough day?