Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Got Got Got No Time

"No time left for you
Distant roads are calling me
No time left for you...
I got, got, got, got no time
I got, got, got, got no time
I got, got, got, got no time
No no no no no no no time
No no no no no no no time
I got, got, got, got no time"

(In case you're wondering, the lyrics are copied and pasted from two different parts of The Guess Who's 1970 song, No Time).

A lot to say, and too little time. My 19 days of vacation after summer school ended today, so I'm back to work. Between trying to be creative with organizing my fund raisers for team Autism Speaks and helping my daughter FINALLY finish renovating her condo, I've had time to eat, sleep, and run, and little else. I've been reading your blog posts, I've been reading your wonderful comments on my blog posts, but unfortunately I haven't been commenting on your posts. For that I apologize. You're all wonderful, and as I've said previously, I'm kinda glad I have 25 followers. It's a manageable number as far as me keeping up to date on what you're doing, and you keeping up to date on what I'm doing (like not responding to your blog posts!). First, I haven't talked about my fund raising effort for my New York City Marathon run on team Autism Speaks lately. That's because I've been stuck on $1750.00 raised. I still need to raise an additional $850 before October 17th, so I've been spending too much time with too little results on organizing fund raiser events. I have several pages full of ideas, but nothing concrete. Long story short, I'm getting nervous. Anything short of the $850 after October 17 will be billed to my credit card by Autism Speaks. Talk about an expensive marathon registration fee! For those of you who are new to my blog, please read the Autism Speaks info. on the right, click on the link, and you'll get all the information. Also, please feel free to make a contribution if you can afford to. OK, moving on, my marathon training continues to go well. I have been able to run four of the past five days, for a total of 23 miles. The past two runs have been my best. Monday's run was 6 miles, and all my splits were less than a 9 minute mile. Overall, I averaged an 8:44 pace. Today's run started with a 9:01 first mile, but my next three splits were all in the 8's, and overall I averaged an 8:43 per mile pace for the 4.1 miles. The 85 degree temperatures aren't affecting me as bad as they used to, plus my legs are feeling strong. I believe that the combination of Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes (to prevent cramping in the heat), GU Blueberry Pomegranate Chomps, GU Vanilla Bean Gel, and Hammer Nutrition gels are definitely helping me. Also, having a tool (hydration) belt with two 16 oz. bottles of water is a must in this heat and has definitely helped. One concern I do have that is scaring the heck out of me is the pain I had after my Sunday and Monday runs. I would compare it to someone taking a sharp knife and stabbing it into the outside part of my left knee. The sharp pain came out of nowhere, and repeated itself several times both days at random times while I walked or even if I stood still. Fortunate thing is, it never happened while I was running. I completed today's run about three hours ago, and so far I'm pain free. I'm hoping that yesterday's rest did the trick. My greatest fear is getting injured before the N.Y. Marathon and not being able to run. YIKES! Lastly, I owe the good people at POM Wonderful a product review. Janny was kind enough to send me a complementary package of three of their 10.5 fl. oz. POMx Chocolate Iced Coffee, and three of their Cafe au Lait Iced Coffee. A quick blurb about them from the letter I received: "Made with premium, all-natural ingredients, POMx Iced Coffee is a delicious blend of antioxidants, caffeine and rich coffee." Here's their website if you want to read additional the info. about it: If you're a coffee drinker, which I am, you'll LOVE these. The taste is fantastic, especially if you drink it ice cold on a hot day, or after a run. The buzz part is true, since both kinds have 175 mg. of caffeine. Of the two, I liked the Chocolate flavor better. It also has less fat, at zero grams, The Cafe au Lait flavor has 3 grams total of fat, along with 170 calories. The chocolate flavor has 190 calories. So I guess the one downfall is the calories. However, in my opinion, the great taste along with the "buzz" makes it all worthwhile, as does other things explained in their website. Honestly, I couldn't copy and paste the info., and I'm too lazy to type it right now! So go read about it, will you?! OK, I'm done babbling, so it's time for me to go read your blogs. I hope everyone is happy, healthy, and running pain free. P.S. I'm probably going to enter the Hartford Marathon on October 10th. Thank-you everyone for telling me what I wanted to hear: Go for it, but be sensible. I will, and I will. I also will print and laminate everyone's comments and have all of your advice with me as I run-walk-run the 26.2 miles. Slow and steady completes the race! P.S.S. Damn, I shouldn't have drunk the Chocolate POMx iced coffee as I typed this before. Now I'm buzzed, and keep thinking of things to add. The Sugoi (TM) shorts that I trashed in my August 16th post got a reprive. I gave them a second chance. The sweat factor is still a problem, meaning they still kept all the sweat in the fabric, and since they're a lighter color of brown (or "ugly brown," as I called them), there's no hiding the wet look. However, I must say that they are VERY comfortable to wear, and some positive things are a back zip pocket, an inside key pocket, and a mesh liner. I still cannot recommend them as a running short mainly because of the "wet sweat" look. I checked their website, and see that they're also available in a "Tank Green" color, which also looks like it would have a problem with showing sweat; as well as a black color, which probably would at least disguise the wet sweat look. So, instead of a generous donation to Goodwill, I've decided to keep my comfortable Sugoi (TM) shorts, and wear them around the house.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Makeover is Complete

Thank-you Leslie for putting up with me and spending the past week doing my blog makeover. Notice the NY Giants blue and red?! How many of you thought I meant a personal makeover?! For anyone interested, Leslie's prices are very reasonable, and as you see by my new look, she does quality work. E-mail me or post a message if you want her contact info. I've been slacking lately. Not slacking running, as I've run the past 3 days. I've been slacking blogging. I'll be commenting on all your blog posts later, plus letting you know what I've been up to. I don't dare to even try to do that now, since I'm fasting for the next 2 1/2 hours because I have to have blood work done. No coffee means slow and cranky Rick. TTYL...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Should I, or Shouldn't I?? Your Feedback Please

I'm sitting at my computer, looking over the remaining 10 weeks of my training schedule for the N.Y. City Marathon, and I have a "crazy" thought. I'm scheduled to run-walk-run 28 miles (Yes, 28) the day after the Hartford Marathon. So now I'm thinking that maybe I should enter the Hartford Marathon and test the run-walk-run in an actual marathon. Based on how well or how badly it went, I could readjust my training for the 3 weeks after it leading to the N.Y. City Marathon on November 1st. At 6 a.m. and after drinking one cup of coffee it makes sense to me. It certainly wouldn't be too strenuous, since I'd be alternating running for 4 minutes and walking for one minute the entire 26.2 miles. Your opinions, please! UPDATE: I'm not looking to PR at NY. NY's going to be my 3rd (or 4th) and LAST marathon. I just want to finish NY, take it all in, and most importantly HAVE FUN!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Twilight Zone

Random Road Run: Temperature 88 degrees, (Feels like temperature was 94 degrees); Splits 8:57; 9:21; 9:26; 9:30; 9:21; 9:33; 9:35; 11:07; 9:41; 2:17; 1:28:48 total for 9 1/4 miles; 9:35 per mile pace.

I haven't run since Wednesday. I'm not being a slacker, at least by my standards. In my opinion, a slacker is someone who decides not to run for an unacceptable reason, such as the moon and the stars weren't properly aligned. I took the last two days off for two reasons. First, my daughter's away on vacation, so I wanted to surprise her by completing as many important tasks as possible that are left to do in the condo she bought, before she returns today. With help from my father in-law and brother in-law, we have accomplished just that. My daughter is a kindergarten teacher who is stressing about getting her classroom ready next week for her morning and afternoon "juice faces." She's also stressing about being able to move into her condo before school starts on September 1st. Living in her condo will cut her commute time and distance in half. Her condo is now in "live-in" condition, or will be by the end of this weekend. I guess to qualify as being able to be in "live-in" condition means the tile floors in both bathrooms need to be completed before she moves in, huh?! I've learned a great deal of DIY stuff these past two months, including how to drink beer and improperly hang doors. Overall though, things went well due to not drinking beer and repairing and replacing items.
Second reason: My run on Wednesday was difficult. It started well, actually VERY well, and ended with me having to stop 3/4 of a mile short of my goal of 10 miles. My training schedule had me running anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. I decided to go for a "long one" as Jeff Galloway calls it instead, knowing that I wouldn't be running the two days afterward. I was prepared, having drank ample fluids plus carrying gels and water with me. I even ate a yummy tasting PowerBar "Berry Blast" flavored bar with its 43 carbs. (NOTE: I didn't receive compensation from them to say this). Even though it was a "feels like" temperature of 94, I was feeling fine and running quicker and with less effort than I had anticipated, but about mile six or so started to feel myself fade. I think the long, gradual incline of a road without shade called "Mountain Road" had slowly worn me down. (Perhaps the name "Mountain Road" should have clued me in not to run it that day). After Mountain Road I started running on the Farmington Canal Linear Trail (see pic on the right), hoping that it's shade and flatness would rescue me. I also knew I could refill both of my water bottles, since my 40 oz. of water was nearly gone. At about mile 7 3/4, I stopped at the water fountain, filled my bottles, and evaluated my situation. On the positive side, I only had 2 1/4 miles to go, two full water bottles, a flat trail ahead to the finish, and one gel left to consume if needed. On the negative side, I was starting to experience what I call the "Twilight Zone," where my perception of reality was getting clouded; my legs were feeling like stone, and I was sweating more than usual. Certainly the bad was outweighing the good at that point. However, stupidity won over logic, since I certainly didn't want to walk the final 2 1/4 miles to my car. That was going to take too long, and I also wasn't a quitter. At least the trail was busy, and if I happened to pass out, I was wearing my runner's ID with my name, address, and phone number...LOL. So onward I went...

getting spacier and slower as I went. I reached the end of the trail, checked my Garmin (9.05 miles), looked at my car parked there, with its cool air conditioner waiting for me, and turned around and started running AWAY from my car. Only another 3/4 of a mile to reach 10 miles. I definitely wasn't thinking straight. Relief was available, and I had run away from it. I'd like to say that I sucked it up and completed the last .95 of a mile, but I can't. I was out of energy by mile 9.15....shot, burned out, wasted, trashed, exhausted (or pick your own adjective) beyond belief, and drenched in sweat, I still had enough common sense to call it quits. Passing out and bashing my head on the asphalt trail didn't appeal to me at that time. So I turned around, toughed out the last 1/10 of a mile, and called it a day. I lived to run another day, and I'm damn proud that I did! P.S. I started my "makeover." My blog will have a new look in the upcoming days, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Run With a Story and a Moral

Linear Trail: Temperature 88 degrees; feels like 92 degrees. Splits 9:37; 9:08; 9:15; 9:06; 9:04; 9:00; 55:10 total for 6 miles; 9:11 per mile pace. (Planned pace was 9:30 or better and a 4 mile run).

With some of my fellow bloggers having children starting school now or soon, or working as a teacher, I decided to tell a story. Feel free to share this story with your children, or your classroom children. I'm sure it will inspire many children in this world to excel in whatever they do. (Yes, I'm joking, but bear with me,OK?!)

Once upon a time, Marathonman had a brain. (Side note: my wife sometimes doesn't believe I know how to use my brain). Marathonman's brain, like all other human brains, has a scientific explanation of why it thinks and behaves like it does. You see, experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. Left brain is logical, sequential, rational, analytical, and objective. Right brain is random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, subjective, and looks at "wholes."

Today's story is about how right brain tricked left brain into running. At 10 a.m., it was already 85 degrees outside, with a "feels like" (temperature and dew point combined)temperature of 90 degrees. Right brain told left brain that Marathonman could run on the Farmington Canal Linear Trail today because it has shade and is mostly flat. Plus, as a reward for running, Marathonman could run a 9:30 per mile pace, and only run for 4 miles. Nice and slow, on a flat paved and cinder trail, with lots of shade...However left brain still wasn't convinced. Right brain upped the anty. How about some delicious Blueberry Pomegranate GU Chomps and a Vanilla Bean flavored GU Gel before the run? We'll take an Endurolyte to help prevent cramping. Plus Marathonman can bring along the delicious Blueberry Pomegranate GU Chomps, another Vanilla Bean gel and a Hammer Nutrition Apple Cinnamon flavored gel for the run. Of course he'll have 40 oz. of ice cold water available with his tool(hydration) belt. "DEAL" said left brain, so off Marathonman went to the trail. Mile 1 was slow and steady...Garmin chirped and displayed a 9:37 split. Left brain was thrilled. Marathonman was hardly sweating, there was a breeze blowing, and the humidity wasn't bad at all. "What a joke this run is going to be," thought left brain. One mile had been completed at a slower than expected time. Life was good for left brain. Right brain was angry. How dare left brain take advantage of his kindness? It was a perfect day to run, a breeze was blowing, it wasn't too hot on the shaded trail, the scenery was great, and the trail wasn't too busy. Legs were complaining that left brain was holding them back. They wanted to move faster. Feet agreed, as did stomach and arms. Right brain, legs, feet, stomach and arms took control. Garmin chirped again at mile 2, and a "9:08" appeared on its screen. Left brain was upset, even though the mile was smooth and easy. "I'll slow down," it threatened. "We had a deal." Right brain decided to pacify left brain with a couple of Blueberry Pomegranate GU Chomps and water. As left brain was enjoying the bribe, right brain, legs, feet, stomach and arms were conniving to continue the quicker pace and increase the run an extra mile. At the 2 1/2 mile turnaround point on the trail, all was still well with right brain, legs, feet, stomach and arms. Left brain was enjoying the effects of the continued water consumption and the chomps, and suddenly realized that body had gone an extra half mile before turning around. Left brain was angry and slowed the pace a little. Garmin chirped at mile 3, showing a 9:15 split. "Ha-Ha" left brain thought, "My plan worked." Right brain knew the slower third mile was due to the turn-around, but of course said nothing. Still feeling well, left brain started thinking that 6 miles was a possibility. Legs, feet, stomach, and arms also agreed it was a possibility, if only they could keep left brain content. Right brain decided that since food worked before, why not try it again? So as Garmin chirped and showed a 9:06 mile 4 split, Marathonman ingested 2 more chomps. Hearing no complaints from left brain, the journey continued. Legs were actually feeling stronger, and the Endurolyte pill was helping stomach stay cramp free. Arms and feet said they were fine. At mile 4 1/2, right brain told legs to take a left turn. Left brain was upset. He suddenly realized that the initial 4 mile run was well past that, and now legs were taking body in the wrong direction. Left brain tried telling legs that they hurt. Legs disagreed, and said they felt fine. "Then feet, you've been pounding this hard asphalt trail for a long time, and now you're running on a, now a road...don't you hurt?" "No," feet replied. "We're fine." Left brain didn't bother asking arms how they felt. He knew they were fine since they kept waving to everyone they passed on the trail. Stomach was his last resort. Stomach said it would make a deal with left brain. If left brain stopped complaining, he would reward it with his favorite Hammer Nutrition Gel: the Apple Cinnamon. Stomach and right brain had deliberately saved the Apple Cinnamon gel until the end, knowing that left brain loved the sensation that stomach and taste buds gave him whenever the gel was ingested. It was like liquid apple pie. Left brain agreed that was a fair compromise, as Garmin chirped and a 9:04 appeared on its display. The gel was eaten, and stomach and left brain were excited. This stimulated legs and arms to move faster, and Garmin happily chirped a 9 minute last mile. The last 3 miles had been completed quicker than the first 3 miles, and with descending splits. Right brain, legs, stomach, feet, and arms were thrilled. Left brain was grumpy that he had been tricked.
What is the moral of this story? Be strong and stand up for what you believe in (Right brain). Don't let anyone tell you to quit, or that you cannot accomplish whatever you put your mind to (Like left brain tries to do).

When it's 95 Degrees, With a Feels Like Temperature of 103

You don't yesterday I didn't run, even though I wanted to. But I also want to live past age 53, LOL. It doesn't look too inviting for today either:
Hot Summer weather once again today! Temperatures will rise to near record levels with sunny skies. A small threat for a pop-up thunderstorm today. Similar scenario tomorrow with more showers and thunderstorms likely Thursday and Friday. We are also watching Hurricane Bill now a category 2 storm. TODAY: Hazy sun, hot and humid. Breezy. Highs in the 90s.

I've never run in a hurricane before. Just think of how fast my splits would be! Hey, I'd be as fast as Lindsay!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Long and "Shorts" of it

Random Road Run: Temperature range start to finish 64 to 75 degrees; Splits 9:32; 9:12; 9:03; 9:08; 9:09; 9:05; 9:21; 9:19; 9:21; 8:46; 1:31:47 total for 10 miles; 9:10 per mile pace.

I woke up at 5 a.m. so that I could get out of the house early enough to complete my 10 mile run before it reached 90 degrees. Prior to running I had a Hammer Nutrition Expresso Gel with its 50 mg. of caffeine, an Endurolyte pill to keep away the cramps (Works like a charm), and of course two cups of coffee and two english muffins with pb and j on them. I mixed up 24 oz. of water with Hammer Nutrition Mandarin Orange Heed, filled my 16 oz. water bottle, grabbed a Hammer Nutrition plain flavored gel, and put them all in my "tool" (hydration) belt. As promised, I was wearing the Sugoi(TM) Mobil Trail Short and Headsweats Relay Hat that I talked about in Friday's post. It was the second attempt at wearing the hat after an unsuccessful trial run with it on Friday. First, the run. Normally for a ten mile run in the heat I'd be following the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run training plan of running for 5 minutes, walking for a minute, and repeating this pattern for the entire ten miles. I decided to see if I could run the entire ten miles without taking a walk break. Why? I don't know. Perhaps to challenge myself a little more. It was one of my better "long" runs. I felt good the entire time, so I skipped the walk breaks. Impressive to me, since I was running for the fourth day in a row, which to a lot of you isn't a big deal, but to me is! The water and the Heed definitely helped, along with the one Hammer Nutrition unflavored (blech!) gel I consumed. My splits were fairly consistent (I love consistent splits) with the exception of mile 7, nature's bathroom break; and mile 9, uphill killer hill. It was great actually seeing people at miles 3 to 7, the Farmington Canal Linear Trail part of my run. I thought that by me being there at 7:30 to 8 a.m. it would be deserted. I thought wrong. The parking lot was filled, and I saw a variety of people along the trail, from the elderly to the young, beautiful, and much faster than me female runners. Needless to say, I had a lot of people to say "Hi" to. If someone's running past me, I just wave. Most runners will make eye contact and/or wave. I've found that about 50% of the "non-runners" won't make eye contact or respond to a "Hi" or a friendly wave. Why is that?! Are they jealous of my studly (not) psyche? Are they offended by my sweaty smell?? Are they jealous of runners in general??? Or are they just anti-social snobs???? Ah, the great mysteries of life...OK, product re-review. I gave the hat another chance. I wore it tighter around my head, and made sure it was ready to soak up my sweat (Ewwwww). I kept it on the entire run this time, because although not perfect, it performed better than its initial test run. Still, with a retail price of $22, and the fact it still didn't do a great job wicking away the sweat from my head, I cannot recommend this hat. It will become my new hat to wear whenever I mow my lawn. The shorts failed miserably. Sure, they wicked the sweat away from my body, but they also kept all the sweat in the fabric. When I arrived home from my run and walked into my house, my wife burst out laughing. It was then that I realized that it looked like I had (I'll put this nicely) been soaked with a hose during my run. My entire shorts were wet. Noticeably wet. So wet that I could have wrung them out after I took them off. Wet and HEAVY feeling. There's nothing positive I can say about them, especially with a retail price of $50.00. I don't even like the color, "Vicuna," or ugly brown as I've called it, so I won't even wear them as casual shorts. They'll be washed, dried, and donated to Goodwill or another deserving charity.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meg Was My Motivator, and One Runner's Perspective

Random Road Run: Temperature 88 degrees (feels like 92 degrees; dew point in the 70's) Splits 9:48; 9:32; 8:57; :50; 29:07 total for 3.1 miles; 9:22 per mile pace. (Planned pace was to finish before passing out!).

Today was going to be a day of rest. I'm scheduled to run 10 miles tomorrow, I'd run the past two days in hot and humid temperatures, and at 10 a.m. it was already 85 degrees and humid. Then I checked my e-mail and opened an e-mail I received from another running blogger, Meg. Her kind words about my blog inspired me to run today. I decided to go out, have a good attitude, and just have fun. Normally I try to do that anyhow, but it was nice to be reminded that running is fun, and something that I've chosen to do not just because I'm training for my third and last marathon, but because I LIKE to run. When I run, anything in my life that is stressing me out doesn't exist. Life is good, life is simple, and the sights, smells and sounds I experience while running are priceless. I think that only us runner's appreciate that. More so the casual or non-competitive runners, like myself. Not to say that competitive runners don't experience it, but in my opinion it's to a lesser degree. I guess what I'm saying is appreciate running for what it is. Enjoy the sights, the scenery, the smells and the sounds as you're running. If you turn down the volume on your Ipod or even leave it at home at times, you'll enjoy your run even more. Life is full of amazing people, places, and things if we just open our minds while running. Be thankful you're able to run. Many people can't run for a variety of reasons, which I'm sure you're all aware of. Every time I'm able to get out of bed, put on my running clothes, lace up my running shoes, and go out and put one foot in front of the other for mile after mile, I'm thankful. Appreciate the gift that you have-the gift of running. The gift of being able to run for as far as you want, for as long as you want, wherever you want, and whenever you want. Do yourself and others a favor. Enter a race that runs for a cause. Whether it's cancer, leukemia, muscular dystrophy, etc. enter a race that by you running in it benefits someone besides yourself. You'll not only get the satisfaction of helping someone else, but also the satisfaction of knowing that you have become a better person by doing so.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Heat and Humidity Are My Kryptonite

Random Road Run: Temperature 85 degrees; Splits 9:24; 9:20; 9:24; 9:20; 9:21; 9:28; 4:33; 1:00:49 total for 6.5 miles; 9:21 per mile pace. (Planned pace was 9:00).

I was prepared for today's run. I took a Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte, I ate a PowerBar Tangy Tropical Fruit Snack, with its 42 grams of carbs, I mixed a packet of Hammer Nutrition Heed in 24 oz. of water and carried it with me along with a 16 oz. bottle of water. As planned, I ran for an hour. As not planned, I averaged a 9:21 per mile pace, and had a difficult time battling the heat and humidity. I carried and ate some of the Blueberry Pomegranate GU Chomps during my run, along with drinking adequate amounts of the Heed and water. Overall though, I'm satisfied with my run. I fought the weather, and today I wasn't so "Super, man." The heat and humidity were my kryptonite.
I struggled at times, or so I thought. But my splits were consistant, as you can see above. Also, I wore the complementary hat that I received from Devon at to review. The hat is called a "Relay Hat," and is lightweight (2 oz.). It's sold by Headsweats, and on its tag it claims it has a CoolMax(R) Comfort System. According to the tag on the hat, "The CoolMax(R) terrycloth sweatband has loops that increase the surface areas for incredible moisture transfer.""Pulls moisture away from your skin." "Dries 3 to 4 times faster than cotton." I took it off a few times while I ran, and readjusted it on my forehead to try to catch the sweat, but to no avail. I took it off after 2 miles. I actually felt like I was sweating more by wearing it, and even if I wasn't, the hat didn't wick the moisture away from my head as promised. Sweat was pouring down my forehead and burning my eyes as I wore it. Once I took it off, I sweated less. I may wear it again on my next run. It was comfortable to wear, and I'm having a difficult time believing that it doesn't deliver as promised. I didn't wear the Sugoi(TM) Mobil Trail Short that I talked about in yesterday's post. I researched it on the internet, and found the following: "Made with Mobil and FinoMesh fabrics, the shorts offer free movement and extreme comfort, without too much bagginess. The Mobil Trail Short moves seamlessly from trail to gym." It has 1 back zip pocket and an inside key pocket, so despite the color being "Vicuna," or ugly brown as I've nicknamed it, I'm going to wear them soon and let you know my opinion. Speaking of opinions, I have a few things I need to get off my mind. First, when I started writing this blog, it was with the intention of having a written log of all of my runs starting from the day of my first post. Unfortunately, I didn't learn or attempt to blog until 2 years after I began running. I had always hoped that I would have "Followers," who are indeed my motivation for running. I am happy to say that I have 21 Followers/Motivators. I try as hard as possible to read all of your posts, and also to comment on them. Lately I haven't been able to keep up with all of you for reasons I've mentioned in my latest posts. I honestly feel guilty whenever something interesting or exciting happens to one of you, and I've missed it. Also, I'm disappointed in a few of the blogs that I follow or read. Some running blog writers have shifted their focus from their personal stories, achievements, accomplishments, ups and downs of running, etc. to giveaways and product reviews aimed at getting us to buy and promote certain products. I want to clarify a few things related to this. First, the GU Vanilla Bean Gel that I gave away (Congrats Lindsay) was purchased by myself for full price from a well known website that sells running gear. I do rave about that particular gel not because I'm obligated to, but because I use it and it works well for me. The same goes for the Hammer Nutrition products that I blog about. I purchase them from their website at full price, and use them because I've found they're a healthy supplement choice that works for me. The POM Wonderful product that I reviewed I reviewed on August 1st, and also explained my reasons for trying it: "First off, other than getting the 100% pomegranate juice for free, I have absolutely no pressure to say anything good about this product. I wasn't asked to say "nice things" in exchange for receiving the juice. If I had been, I would have turned down their offer. The juice was sent to me by them to try with the hope I would write about it in my blog. Fair enough!" The same can be said for the hat and shorts I'm reviewing. I received an e-mail stating: "Hi Rick, My name is Devon and I work at OutsidePR. A few of our clients include GU, Sugoi, Headsweats and Cannondale. I couldn't help but notice, via your blog, that you frequently use GU (and do some crafty raffles!) Would you like to do some product testing? I'll send you some of our clients' products, and you post reviews. You may keep whatever I send you." As you see, there is no pressure for me to say positive things, or to persuade others to buy the products I receive. That being said, you saw my honest negative opinion earlier about the hat. I will always be willing to suggest products for you to try such as GU gel and Hammer Nutrition products because I've tried them and had good results with them. I will NEVER accept free products under the condition that I have to promote it, persuade others to buy it, or say positive comments about it. I will never have give-aways that have been given to me by retailers under the condition I promote it as I'm giving it away. In other words, I can't be bought. I have always been, and will always be, honest and informative in my blog. I'm disappointed that other bloggers can't say the same.

Bad Diet Equals a "Super" Run

Yesterday's run: Linear Trail: Temperature 69 degrees. Splits 9:13; 8:42; 8:36; 8:37; 8:30; 4:14; 47:52 total for 5 1/2 miles; 8:42 per mile pace. (Planned pace was 9:00 or better).

First off, I ran on Tuesday before going to the casino. Funny thing is, I didn't write down my usual info. of splits and temperature, and I don't really remember anything interesting about the run, so I guess it was just a boring road run of 4 miles. My time was 36:51, or a 9:12 per mile pace. Slower than I like to run, but at least I ran before going to the casino with my wife for 24 hours of gambling, eating, and drinking. Now THAT I remember! I won and I lost at the casino. I won because I spent quality time with my wife away from home (We stayed overnight), and I lost money. I also spent money... It's the first, and hopefully last time, that I eat a $50 steak. I'm not bragging or proud of it, I'm just saying that Michael Jordan's Steakhouse at Mohegan Sun Casino has great food, great service, and expensive prices. But the steak helped me establish what I call the "base" (a stomach full of food) before drinking beer.
OK, back to my running. Yesterday I was a good father and spent most of the afternoon at my daughter's condo hanging window shades, replacing a bathroon vent fan (With a dead bird falling out of the old vent fan-gross), and other assorted odd jobs. I arrived home at 3:30, totally forgetting that I had planned to run. Perhaps the overcast sky and raindrops that were supposed to stop 6 hours earlier had helped me to forget. Or maybe the sight of my still green in the middle of August, needs to be mowed every 4 days, should be brown and not growing this time of year due to the not happening heat wave, should have been mowed 2 days ago but I ran instead, lawn distracted me. In any case, my daughter asking me at that point if I was still going to run brought me back to runner's reality. I am training for a marathon, and I did need to run. Even though it was still sprinkling raindrops, at least it was 69 degrees and cool for this time of year. (Side note: This means my lawn probably just grew another 2 inches overnight). So I changed my clothes and headed to the linear trail for a planned 5 mile run at a 9 minute pace. My training schedule had me scheduled to run for 45-55 minutes, so at a 9 minute pace, I figured that I could get in a quick run before dinner and still abide by my schedule. I consumed a PowerBar Creamy Citrus Fruit bar before starting. It's something I never tried before, but it was a free sample I received at a previous race, so I decided to see what it was all about. From the PowerBar website: "Start every workout properly fueled with POWERBAR®s C2 MAX-optimized carb blend and the goodness of real fruit. Formulated with the same ratio of carb sources shown to increase endurance performance by an average of 8% in 8 trained athletes compared to glucose alone*, POWERBAR® ENERGIZE bars prepare you for your toughest workouts. This energy bar serves up the delicious, refreshing taste of a natural fruit smoothie. Try one about an hour before exercise to top off muscle glycogen stores and get the energy you need to help maximize your performance.

* 3 great-tasting flavors: Berry Blast, Creamy Citrus and Tangy Tropical.
* Made with real fruit + 17 vitamins & minerals.
* No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
* 42g of carbs and 6g of protein with 210 calories per bar. (220 for the Creamy Citrus bar)
* Fruit POWERBAR C2 MAX-optimized carb blend with the same ratio of glucose to fructose shown to speed energy delivery to muscles where the calories are burned quickly and efficiently.
I LOVE the taste of it!! I also love the 43 grams of carbs, but don't like the 220 calories it has. But I guess you take the good with the bad.
I started my run at a nice comfortable pace, figuring that the cheeseburger pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (Yum!), steak, french fries, mass quantities of beer, bacon, eggs, cinnamon rolls, Chocolate Cherry ice cream (Buttonwood Farm, Griswold, CT) and everything else that I had consumed the past two days was going to slow me down and/or at some point cause me to have wicked stomach cramps. I reached mile 1 at 9:12. Damn, I was 12 seconds slower than I had planned. Left brain wanted me to accept that as being ok, but right brain reminded me that I am training for a marathon, and I actually was running pain free at that point. I also noticed that I was feeling strong. There was more life than usual in my legs. Without even consciously trying, I could feel my legs moving quicker and with less effort. Psychologically, and maybe in reality, I was believing that the great tasting PowerBar was giving me "Superhuman" strength. Each mile was "faster than a speeding bullet, " "more powerful than a locomotive," and I was able to leap tall puddles in a single bound. My 2nd mile was an 8:42, followed by an 8:36, 8:37, and a last half mile of 4:14. Overall, I averaged an 8:42 per mile pace, (8:35 after the first mile) far better than my goal of 9 minute miles. I'm going to run for 6 or 7 miles today. I still have one PowerBar left, so I'll eat it and see if the results are the same. Also, I received a complementary pair of running shorts and a hat from Devon at to review. I'm not crazy about the shorts being colored brown, but I'll wear them and overlook the color. The hat is a lightweight (2 oz.) mesh type that claims to wick moisture away from your head. I'll let you know my opinions after today's run.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Last 8 Days in Review...

Where have the last 8 days gone?? I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted. Between working at school, working two nights at Weight Watchers, helping my daughter fix up her condo, fund raising for team Autism Speaks, and doing yard work and other jobs at home I still managed to run six of the last eight days. For most of you, that's not a big deal. For me it is. I usually run three or four days per week for reasons I have stated in previous posts and won't repeat.
Last week I ran a total of 36.1 miles, including a 20 miler yesterday. Lately I've been running 36 miles in about two weeks, so I feel like I've accomplished a lot lately with my training. Even though it's summer, we haven't had a 90 degree day in Connecticut since April. Weird. However, it's been close to 90, and the humidity is still here. So my daily runs have averaged anywhere from an 8:29 per mile pace (a week ago), to a 10:34 per mile pace during my 20 miler yesterday. I really don't have any great stories to tell or memorable moments to tell about any of my runs, other than the 20 miler. So I guess I'll give you some highlights of the 20 miler...
Before starting, I did my pre-long run ritual of mixing up two 24 oz. bottles of Hammer Nutrition's Sustained Energy. I also filled up my two 16 oz. bottles with just water. The reasoning behind this is that I run half of my long run with a bottle of Sustained Energy and a bottle of water. The Sustained Energy, as I said in another post, "One of the original long distance fuels, Sustained Energy has attained a legendary status in the world of endurance sports since its introduction in 1992. Tested and proven in virtually every endurance event on the planet, Sustained Energy's unique 7:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, and it's neutral flavor, is still the first choice of thousands of athletes. After about two hours of exercise you need to have some protein in your fuel or you will start to cannibalize or break down precious muscle tissue." So I alternate drinking it along with water, and honestly believe it helps. Most importantly, it doesn't give me stomach cramps or other issues. I also downed a Vanilla Bean flavored GU Gel 15 minutes before I started. I was disappointed that I didn't have any Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes to take, since they offer "Superior cramp prevention, a full spectrum electrolytes in a balanced formula, and a versatile dosing for a variety of conditions." Turns out I could have used some "Superior cramp prevention." More on that later. (Busy, busy, busy-I'm continuing this at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday!). I decided to run from my home and to the Farmington Canal Linear Trail, which is 2.75 miles, then run an additional 2.25 miles on the trail, and back home. This way I would have run 10 of my 20 miles, be able to switch water bottles at home, and go out and repeat the first 10 miles. Clever, huh?! I decided the nice scenery and flatness of the trail would make up for having to twice go up and down a steep hill to get there. Also, I'd be passing by a water fountain twice, where I could refill my water bottle if necessary. In theory, "Yes"; in reality, "No!" Things were going as well as they could be for a 20 miler. I was feeling good, my fluid intake was good, and the weather was perfect. The second time around on the trail, I saw "roller blading, disco dancing, karaoke singing, linear trail lady." See my May 20th post for more about her. Also, left brain (April 21 post) was telling right brain that it was time to start thinking about walking. After all, I had run 14 miles at this point, I still had the steep uphill battle ahead for miles 18-19, and I should conserve my energy. I ignored left brain, and ran on. I had also forgotten at this point that there was an uphill incline leading to the "killer hill." So as I reached the steep uphill, I was running on reserve energy. I had taken the GU Gels at the 45, 1 1/2 hour, 2 1/4 and still had one left, so I sucked it down, and chugged some water. I attacked the hill, and made it to the top without too much of a struggle. I need to remember to use crosswalks, however, as I dodged a few cars without thinking clearly to cross the street and head home. I had less than a mile and a half to go. I felt the beginning of possible leg cramps in my left leg, and slowed down. I was wishing that I had taken the Endurolytes, as I've never had even a twinge of a cramp after taking then. Just as my Garmin beeped and signalled mile 19, my left leg went into major cramp mode. Damn, it hurt! I swore out loud, stopped, and grabbed and massaged it. I decided to walk the last mile, but quickly changed my mind as the one minute walk had decreased the pain. I resumed a slow jog, then felt well enough to run a normal pace. About a quarter mile from home, Garmin beeped for mile 20, and displayed a 10:08 split, which amazed me. I guess "No pain, no gain" in this case. Overall, it's Tuesday, my initial aches and pains are gone, and I have new dull pain in both my sartorius or adductor magnus muscles...I think! I'm going away for a day with my wife to Mohegan Sun Casino, so I'll catch up on your blogs soon. I hope everyone is doing well, meaning running pain free and enjoying the weather and hopefully getting some rest and relaxation.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

3 Months to Go...and a Product Review

If all goes well, I will be running the New York City Marathon 3 months from today. Today's 6 mile run completed week 13 of my 26 weeks of training. It's hard to believe that I'm exactly at the halfway point of my training. As I keep saying, things are progressing well with my training. I attribute it to: 1) My running shoes. As I've said previously, I recently bought a pair of Asics GT-2140. They are the first pair of running shoes I've bought that weren't designed for runners who overpronate when running. Thanks to a fantastic podiatrist, I realized I was wearing the wrong shoes, therefore causing more harm than good. I used to have hip and knee pain, and now I don't. 2) Following Jeff Galloway's marathon training plan. I bought his book, "Marathon!" (ISBN# 0-9647187-3-1) and as you know, have become a Galloway addict. The run-walk-runs on the Sunday long runs (Long Ones, as he calls them), have resulted in a good running pace with consistent splits, and most importantly no injuries and a quicker recovery time after my long runs. 3) Hammer Nutrition products, and GU products. The Hammer Endurolytes and Sustained Energy are great. See my July 25 post for more info. about them. Same with the Vanilla Bean GU Gel. 4)Common sense. Even though I'm 53 and still feel like I'm 23, I have accepted the fact that I only need to run 3 or 4 (preferably 4) days a week in training for the marathon. I used to run 4 to 6 days a week, and that combined with the wrong running shoes always resulted in injury. I lost 2 months of training for the Hartford Marathon in 2007 due to groin and knee injuries, and had to withdraw. I had achilles tendinitis at the beginning of this year and had to start from the beginning, running a mile and slowly increasing my distance.
As far as my runs this week, it was a mix of good and not so good. Monday's run is in a previous post. Wednesday I wanted to run 4 miles at a 9 minute or better pace, and was successful as I ran at an 8:49 pace in beautiful 78 degrees temperature. Thursday I ran the "Xtreme Scramble" 5K with my daughter, which consisted of running on blacktop, trails, through the woods, up and down a gravel trail, and through a large patch of mud in 85 degree temperature. As I promised, I stayed with my daughter the entire run, and we finished in a slow but respectable 29:40 (9:33 pace). My daughter has difficulty pacing herself, so when she/we ran the first mile in just over 9 minutes, I knew she'd be in trouble later. Our second and third miles were slower, as the humidity caught up with my daughter and caused her to have to slow down. Overall, we finished 260 of 596 (Corrected 8/7/09...596, NOT 296!) runners, so that's not bad! The free post race Harpoon beer made us feel much better however. Today's run was a struggle. I went out at 7 a.m. to beat the heat and humidity for a planned 6 mile run. It was 69 degrees, a perfect weather day for running. As I started to run, it felt like my legs were lead. Occasionally that happens, and usually once I'm warmed up it goes away. A quarter mile into my run, the small hill I was going up didn't feel so small. It felt HUGE! So I started analyzing why it might be happening while at the same time telling my left brain to shut up, that quitting and walking weren't options. I decided that yesterday's lunch from Randy's Wooster Street Pizza Shop in Wallingford (Yes, that's a shoutout for them) probably did me in. Ordering and sharing the "Killer Dillers" (Thinly sliced pickles, breaded and deep-fried, with ranch dressing); "Boneless Dallas Wings" with BBQ Chipotle sauce; and "Wicked Sticks" (Strips of fried dough seasoned with herbs and spices, served with marinara sauce)was probably affecting me 18 hours later, along with the humidity. I haven't belched and sucked wind (not passed gas!) like that since I first started running. I couldn't even catch up to "pink shorts girl" who ran out from a side street midway through my run. At least she was a good pacer until I turned around at mile 3 and headed back home. My splits were all over the place: 9:22, 9:34, 9:01 (mostly downhill), 9:27, 9:26, and 8:46. My goal was to average 9 minute miles or better, but I averaged a 9:16 pace. Oh least I got my runner's high and didn't quit.
Product review. I feel like a celebrity!! The good folks at POM Wonderful ( were kind enough to send me a free, yes free, 8 pack of 8 oz. bottles of their 100% pomegranate juice. From their website:
"A Taste Unlike Any Other
Slightly sweet. Slightly tart. One sip and you’ll discover a refreshing beverage with it’s own unique personality. But there’s more than great taste inside the bottle: you’ll find more antioxidant power than any other juice in our line. Maybe that’s because the 16 oz. bottle of 100% Pomegranate Juice contains the juice of almost five fabulous fresh pomegranates. Wow.

More good news. 100% Pomegranate Juice:

* contains no added sugars, preservatives or colors
* is a good source of potassium
* is gluten free
* is flash pasteurized to retain both flavor and nutrients
* is available in 8 oz.(limited distribution), 16 oz., 24 oz., 48 oz. and 60 oz. sizes (237ml, 473 ml, 710 ml, 1.4 L, 1.7 L)
* is certified kosher"

My review: First off, other than getting the 100% pomegranate juice for free, I have absolutely no pressure to say anything good about this product. I wasn't asked to say "nice things" in exchange for receiving the juice. If I had been, I would have turned down their offer. The juice was sent to me by them to try with the hope I would write about it in my blog. Fair enough! So here goes...My first thought as I opened the bottle was to do the "smell test." I wanted to have an idea what it would taste like before I actually drank it. My initial impression of its smell was "wet mowed grass"... a very faint smell of wet mowed grass, but wet mowed grass nonetheless. However, strange as it may seem, I do like the smell. I've since had a second bottle, and now that I'm more used to the smell, it smells less like mowed grass. I was hesitant to taste it, probably due to what I just explained. I honestly had already formed a negative opinion beforehand. I thought pomegranates grew in the ground (wrong). They grow on trees...I knew they were healthy, so how was I going to like a healthy ground growing, probably tastes like dirt drink?! Well, I like it. It tastes like a less tart version of cranberry juice. It's easy to drink, and I was drinking it like it was a fine wine and savoring its taste. I didn't want it to be finished, and was wishing it was a larger bottle both times I drank it. Speaking of the bottle, it looks cool too:

I wish I was able to sample the Blueberry, Mango, Tangerine, and Cherry Flavors also. I'm expecting them to be as good, if not better, than the 100% Pomegranate flavor. My only negative comment is the calories. An 8 oz. bottle like I sampled had 180 calories, so a 16 oz. bottle would have 360 calories. However, as a runner who burns calories quickly and rather easily (lucky me), its health benefits I believe outweigh the calories. As their website says, "A final word: maybe you’re on a diet (who isn’t?) and are worried about the calories and carbohydrates in pomegranate juice. Just remember that the carbohydrates are from naturally occurring fructose and glucose found in the fresh fruit. And that a single glass of delicious POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice won’t make you fat…but may help you be healthy." Actually, as a runner, I like the fact that a 16 oz. bottle contains 40 carbs. I'm definitely using POM Wonderful whenever I carb load before a marathon or any long run. Lastly, I'm not positive, but the feeling of euphoria that I'm currently feeling I believe is in part due to having consumed POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice. In conclusion, please read the information on their website, and if you think you'd like to try it, I can forward the e-mail address of the person who contacted me. I'm guessing that they would like to have more running bloggers try it and review it. FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I have raised approximately $1700, meaning I'm now $900 away from my goal.