Sunday, August 17, 2014

8 Weeks to Chicago

Ten full weeks of training are in the books with eight left to go!

So far, so good. I've been doing almost exactly what my plan calls for. In fact, I missed my first run of this training cycle this week (it was for a good reason, to help someone empty out a flooded basement).

After running my 17 miler this week at Paint Creek, I understand why you don't miss runs. It seemed to make this one much harder than it should have been. For me, a 17 miler may always offer challenges, but my Saturday one (and my Thursday run with the stroller for that matter) felt like I missed a month rather than one stinkin' run. Life happens, but I don't intend to miss any more.


I finally put up the medal holder my kids and wife made me for my birthday (last year - I'm bad).

I knew I had a lot of medals, but I didn't know I had 30 of 'em. At least for now, I didn't think there was room for all of them, so I put up my favorite / "most important" 15 of 'em. They include:

  • 2011 Iron Turkey - My first 10k (actually also my first double race 5k & 10k)
  • 2011 - 2013 Brooksie Way Half Marathon
  • 2012 - 2014 Rock CF Half Marathon
  • 2012 - 2013 Crim 10 Mile
  • 2013 Milford Labor Day 10k (my 10k PR)
  • 2014 Weekend Warrior Half Marathon
  • 2012 Shamrock N' Roll 10k
  • 2012 Open Door Julie Run 5k 2nd place age group (my 5k PR)
  • 2013 Detroit Free Press Marathon
Most of the other medals I have are Kona races I've paced and age group awards. I like the age group awards, but they don't look as cool as the "big race" ones and they don't all mean the same to me. A couple of them don't even have the race name anywhere (front or back). I remember what they are now, but not sure if I'll remember later. Guess I should write on the back or put a sticker on 'em. 

I like the medals I have but never dwell on them. It is nice now that they are "on display", but they only show where I've been, not where I'm going. (I think I would fight someone if they took my Marathon medal though. :)


Eight weeks to Grant Park and beyond! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Marathon Training / New Theme Song


So much for blogging the weekly details of my marathon training. I'm a big picture guy anyway so here's it is:

Marathon training is going pretty well as I approach the halfway point of my journey to the Windy City. I'm nearing the end of week 8 of 18 (with the end of week 18 being the Chicago Marathon). Using the Hal Higdon "Novice 2" training as a guide, I typically run Tuesday "short", Wednesday "mid-distance", Thursday "Short" and Saturday is my long run. Sunday is a cross-training day and Monday and Friday are rest days. This week I ran 4 miles on Tuesday, 7 on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday and will be running my longest run this year of 15 miles this Saturday for 30 miles total.

I'm handling the gradual increase of mileage very well. In fact, I have been tempted to run more (like adding a Monday run), but have resisted (probably wisely so). My runs during the week have all been after work and often a couple hours later due to family activities, weather and the like. I'm already tired when I start many of these runs. I don't have a physically demanding job necessarily, but I work hard and the day has a way of wearing me down. So far, without exception, I've gotten my 3 weekday runs in each week. I haven't worried about my pace too much. Every once in a while I push it a little, but largely my effort is rather moderate. After about 3 weeks of training, I started to feel stronger and now I am finally out of my "feeling undertrained" mode. It isn't a finished product yet, but I'm back on track.

For my long runs, I have been doing most of them with the Clarkston "Wolfpack". They are a group that has been running together for a few years. There is a mix of people from their 20's to their early 60's. Some of the older people in the group can deal. They outpace me in these training runs and probably could do so in most races too. There are Boston Marathon runners, qualifiers and near qualifiers. Most of this group is faster than me, and that is mostly a good thing. I'm pushing the pace of these long runs faster than I would alone and am running many of them near my marathon pace. I know that you're supposed to run a minute or so slower than your race pace, according to some experts, but I'm not killing myself to run this pace. 14 miles last week was reasonably comfortable. Perhaps my goal pace is too slow? (I don't think my goal pace is too slow)


For every training cycle, I've had a theme song and, up until this week, I had none for this one. Past songs include "In For The Kill" by Budgie, "Into the Arena" by Michael Schenker, "Go Faster" by the Black Crowes and "Built for Speed" by Motorhead. All fine songs, but I wanted something that was not used before and not on my normal running playlist. Last week, the song found me - "Painkiller" by Judas Priest.

It is apparently about a robot motorcycle savior to smite evil which has brought about Armageddon. Um, yea. I found a way to relate it to running by the title and through many of the lyrics which reference speed, power, redemption and crushing evil under wheels. Who could ask for more? Besides that, this is a pretty sweet song. I had heard it before, but just happened to hear it on the radio (probably XM Ozzy's Boneyard) and decided this was my jam.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Back to the Blog

Hey! Hey! Hey!

I've ignored this blog for long enough and it's time to get back to it. So.... What has happened in the 3 months since my last post? Well...

I ran two half marathons, Rock CF at Grosse Ile and Weekend Warrior in Armada. Both went alright, if not a bit slowly. The Weekend Warrior was a much better performance. I ran something like 1:57 and felt surprisingly well while doing it. It was the most "even" I had ever run a race, with mile splits darn close to equal throughout. It was about 9 minutes off of a PR, but given where I was in my training (not particularly good), it was a success.

The other "big" thing is that I got into the Chicago Marathon! It was a lottery (with about a 60% chance of getting in, apparently).

I started my "official" training about 4 weeks ago, using a slightly modified version of Hal Higdon's Novice 2 marathon program. The main modification is that I've added a mile or two to some of the runs, no big deal. So far, I think it is going well. I'm already much stronger now than before the training and am moving a bit faster in training. I think regularly running (4 days a week plus one "cross training" day) and running on hills often has helped quite a bit. It is still a work in progress, but I have 14 more weeks before the race, so I should be good if I can keep it up.

That is enough of a "catch up" for now. Next post will be about some new and exciting adventure?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Progress delayed

I think I have been waiting to post something on this blog until I had something good to say. Maybe a breakthrough of some sort. Perhaps to brag about a great week of training?. Maybe I'm ready to set those PRs I was talking about in my post about the upcoming year. Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of positivity to impart, other than that I haven't completely given up.

My next race is coming up this weekend at Rock CF Half Marathon on Grosse Ile this weekend. I am not in good enough running shape to PR this race. Nor do I think I'll be able to best my previous times for this race. I don't think I'll break two hours. In fact, I may not even beat my slowest half-marathon time, which was my first half-marathon. My training has been erratic and I'm currently home from work on the second day of an illness.

I still intend to run Sunday and have decided that I will be happy doing it, whatever the result. There are really only a few choices at this point anyway. I can run and be happy about it, I can run and be miserable or not run at all. Option 1 seems like the only acceptable choice.


I was able to be a pacer at the Kona St. Patrick's Day race in Plymouth a couple weeks ago. It was brutally cold, but otherwise it was enjoyable. I was going to pace 60 minutes for the 10k, but instead ended up running 65 minutes with Lorenda (her blog). That was fine by me. Usually, when I'm pacing, I talk quite a bit and try to be encouraging and helpful to those around me. It was too darn cold for that on this day.

I also ran the 5k holding the "first time 5k" sign. I tried to run what I thought a first time 5k runner would run and probably finished in around 34 minutes.

I did get this nice photobomb out of the first race.

Hopefully I'll feel better soon, the weather will improve and I'll be able to get some real training in. Until then, I'll continue to muddle along. Spring will soon be here?


I decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon and see what happens in the lottery. If I get in, that should motivate me. If I don't, I'll likely sign up for Indy Monumental Marathon and will use that and the "rejection" by Chicago to motivate me. Gotta take it when you can.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Marathon Madness

Apparently, enough time has passed where I now think of my Detroit Marathon experience as overwhelmingly positive and have mostly forgotten the pain and woe. With a good running week (finally) under my belt, I started to think about running a marathon again. That's all it takes, I guess. Over the past few months I've gone from "No way" to "Well... perhaps" to "I gotta sign up now!".

I have considered a few fall marathons (no spring marathon as I'm not even close to ready for a half marathon, much less a full one, but that's a different post) and I keep coming back to two races that I want to do. The Chicago Marathon was my first choice, but now I'm leaning towards the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Each race has pros and cons for me, which I will note below:

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon!

I grew up in the "Chicagoland" area, about 40 minutes from Downtown Chicago. It is my "home city" and I followed Chicago sports teams, watched Chicago TV, etc. We visited the museums and went to Sox games (we were Cub fans but Comiskey Park was much closer and easier to get to) on occasion, but most of our interactions with the city itself involved driving through and getting stuck in traffic on the Dan Ryan and / or Eisenhower with my Dad on many weekends. On the highway, we would hide as not to be kissed by the Magikist lips signs (I don't know why).

So, I'm not a "true" resident, but it was our city.

As the Chicago Marathon is in my "home city" and it is one of the biggest races in the country, I have wanted to run it for some time. The "Spirit of the Marathon" movie did not diminish this desire. That said, I have cooled on this race somewhat, and it has much to do with the lottery.

After a registration fiasco last year, the organizers of this race decided to have a lottery entry system for those not granted "exemptions" for entry. I'm not so down on the lottery as how it is being implemented. One can sign up between March 5 and April 7, and, if you "win" or "lose", you will be informed on April 14.

Do people really need over a month to enter? Isn't April 14 a bit late to know if you're in or out? It isn't too late in terms of training, but it is when trying to decide about entry to other races. I haven't registered for another race, but some of the races I have considered will cost more or be sold out by then. Have the lottery, let people know if they are in or out and let them move along.

Besides the lottery thing, the race cost is $185. Wow. To be fair, it is a bit less than New York or Boston, but come on. That's over 8 million bucks from race entry fees and I'm sure there is a huge chunk of $ from sponsorships. It costs money to organize a race (and even more with heightened security) but still... I know parking is going to be expensive and a pain and I'll need to park at least twice (pick up and race) in the city. I'd love to spend the night at a hotel downtown, but rooms are crazy 'spensive too.

Hometown race
Considered a top 5 (maybe top 2 or 3) marathon in the country with good race history
Run with elites - some of the worlds best
Crowds are great
Great scenery
Can stay with family about 20 miles from race start
Highest possibility that family outside of household would attend

The whole lottery thing
Cost (race, parking, etc.)
Not able to afford hotel room close to race start / finish

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon!

Detroit is my "current city", Chicago is my "home city", but Indianapolis is my "third city". I grew up near Chicago, but in Indiana. I went to Indiana State in Terre Haute, a little over an hour from Indy, so we visited on occasion.

This race really wasn't on my radar until Jeff aka Detroit Runner talked about this race and posted about it on his blog. They really enjoyed the race and had a good experience overall. It is much cheaper than Chicago ($80 vs. $185) to boot. We would likely stay in a hotel for this one, but the difference in race cost makes that less of an issue than it otherwise would be (though I just noticed parking prices at the downtown hotels are ridiculous).

No lottery - you sign up, you're in.
Reasonable race fee
Good scenery / course
Hotels close to race start / finish which are not outrageously expensive
Some family may attend
I like November 1 race date

Not Chicago
Race lacks deep history - less participation (4,000 marathon / 15,000 total vs 45,000 for Chicago)
Lesser elite participation
$27 parking (daily) at downtown hotels is not cool.
Must get hotel
Kids probably miss Halloween trick or treating


Choices include: 
A) Sign up for Chicago, see what happens, skip marathon in 2014 if not selected.
B) Sign up for Chicago, if not selected, sign up for Indy.
C) Sign up for Indy, forget Chicago this year
D) Don't sign up for any marathon - after all, that was the original plan
E) Run Detroit again or another nearby marathon
F) Quit running, eat more donuts

B or C are the leaders in the clubhouse right now. I should be able to wait to see what happens for Chicago and then sign up for Indy. The hotel rooms I would want should still be available, but the overall uncertainty is not ideal. Is there a 90% chance of getting in to Chicago? 50%? 10%? No one really knows right now. If I register and don't get selected to race, I'll be TO'd (Kip Dynamite would be proud).

Do you have difficulties in race selection? 

Are race lotteries the most fair way to deal with demand? Is the Chicago one goofy or par for the course?

Would you like to sponsor me and pay for all of my races, travel and meal expenses? (worth a shot)

Have a good one!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Ultimate Rock Running Playlist

Besides running, one of my “passions” is rock music. It’s much more about listening to it than playing it, as I can’t play at all. Anyhow, I consider myself somewhat of a classic rock / hard rock connoisseur in that I know quite a bit about that “genre” and I continually seek out both old and new music that I like. 

I tend to be on the same page as Eddie Trunk (That Metal Show and radio show host), when it comes to hard rock / heavy metal. Not in lock step with all of his opinions, but in agreement with many of his reviews, editorials, etc.

Eddie Trunk with Joey Kramer & Brad Whitford of Aerosmith
Given that I like running and rock music, it is only logical that I combine the two. When I am running, I am probably without music the majority of the time, but it is nice to have it on occasion, particularly when running alone and on familiar ground when I’ve seen all there is to see on my route. What I have found that works best is using my phone, without headphones, in an arm holder. It allows me to hear the music well when it is reasonably quiet, but still hear traffic and other ambient sounds.

With the advent of streaming services (I use Spotify), you can create multiple playlists from a choice of bazillions of songs. While there are a few artists missing (The Beatles are the big one, but there are others) and the catalogs of ones that they do have are not always complete, having 80% of all the music I want at my fingertips is still amazing to me.
The playlist I have spent the most time working on and listening to is my Running Rock list. I created this, primarily for myself, because the other lists that are out there are either woefully incomplete or feature far too many songs that have zero relation to running.

Here are the criteria that I have used over the past couple years when adding songs to this list:
  • Tracks should fit into the general category of rock. Hard / classic rock preferred. No specific tempo or beats per minute (BPM)are required, but I’ve tried to avoid anything that is too plodding.
  • Songs specifically about running (such as “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” by Iron Maiden or “Marathon” by Rush)
  • Songs which have some form of “run” or “running” in the title or as the main subject of the song (i.e. “Runnin’ Wild” by The Rods).
  • Songs which have some form of “speed” or “fast” in the title or as the main subject (demonstrated by two Slash songs – “Hard and Fast” and “Speed Parade”).
  • Songs about the road, ‘cause I’m a road runner, baby! (“Road Runner” – Aerosmith, “All Over The Road” – Rival Sons).
  • Songs of Defiance (“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” – BTO, “Gimme Danger” – Iggy and the Stooges).
  • Songs about winning or victory (“Victory” – Megadeth,  “Live to Win” – 2 different songs by Motorhead and Paul Stanley).
  • Songs about endurance, perseverance or power (“Push” by Dio, “Double the Pain” by Heaven and Hell).
  • Songs about Detroit, my current and long-time area of residence (“Detroit City” by Alice Cooper is a little known gem).
  • Songs about locomotion other than running (There are two versions of “Train Kept A Rollin’” in this list). I am The Train.


Without further ado, here is the list, by artist:

3 Doors Down – Race For The Sun

Accept – Fast As A Shark
Accept – Ahead Of The Pack

Aerosmith – One Way Street
Aerosmith – Don't Stop - Single Version
Aerosmith – Road Runner
Aerosmith – You Gotta Move
Aerosmith – Three Mile Smile
Aerosmith – Train Kept A Rollin'
Aerosmith – Get The Lead Out

Airbourne – Runnin' Wild
Airbourne – Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast

Alice Cooper – Catch Me If You Can
Alice Cooper – Detroit City
Alice Cooper – Under My Wheels

Anvil – Running
Anvil – Race Against Time

Bachman-Turner Overdrive – You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Roll On Down The Highway
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Down The Road

Bad Company – Run With the Pack (Remastered Album Version)

Beatallica – Running For Your Life

Billy Idol – Speed

Black Country Communion – Burn - Live From Germany/2011

The Black Crowes – Go Faster

The Black Keys – Run Me Down

Black Sabbath – I

Black Star Riders – Bound for Glory

Boots Electric – Speed Demon

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

Bryan Adams – Run To You

Budgie – In for the Kill

Cake – The Distance

Captain Beyond – Dancing Madly Backwards (On A Sea Of Air)
Captain Beyond – Raging River Of Fear

Cheap Trick – Time Is Runnin'

Chickenfoot – Runnin' Out

Coheed and Cambria – Ten Speed (Of God's Blood & Burial)
Coheed and Cambria – The Running Free

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through The Jungle
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born To Move

Damn Yankees – Don't Tread On Me

Deep Purple – Burn - Remastered LP Version
Deep Purple – Speed King - U.S. Album Version from 'Deep Purple In The Rock'
Deep Purple – Highway Star - Live Version
Deep Purple – Fireball
Diamond Head – Run

Dio – Push
Dio – I Speed At Night
Dio – One More For The Road

Dropkick Murphys – The Warrior's Code

Edgar Winter – Rebel Road

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Pump It Up

Eric Johnson – On the Run

Fabulous Thunderbirds – Runnin' Shoes

Fastway – You Got Me Runnin'

The Folksmen – Start Me Up

Foo Fighters – Breakout

Gamma – Fight To The Finish

Gnarls Barkley – Run [I'm A Natural Disaster]

Grand Funk – Runnin' - 24-Bit Digitally Remastered 02

Grateful Dead – The Race Is On [Live]

Halford – Speed Of Sound

Hawkwind – Kings Of Speed

Heart – Kick It Out

Heaven & Hell – Double The Pain

The Hellbenders – Runnin' Wild

Humble Pie – Road Runners G Jam

Iggy & The Stooges – Search and Destroy - Iggy Pop Mix
Iggy & The Stooges – Gimme Danger - Iggy Pop Mix
Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power - Iggy Pop Mix

Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Iggy Pop – Run Like A Villain

Iommi – Dopamine

Iron Maiden – Be Quick Or Be Dead
Iron Maiden – Running Free
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
Iron Maiden – The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

The J. Geils Band – Detroit Breakdown - Live

Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin'

Jo Jo Gunne – Run Run Run

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Roadrunner

Joe Satriani – Speed Of Light

John Fogerty – Walking In A Hurricane

Jonny Lang – Hit The Ground Running

Jorn – Push

Journey – Keep On Runnin'

Judas Priest – Breaking the Law
Judas Priest – On the Run
Judas Priest – Turbo Lover
Judas Priest – Delivering the Goods
Judas Priest – Running Wild - Live

Kamchatka – Out of My Way

Keel – Speed Demon

Kiss – Mr. Speed
Kiss – Detroit Rock City

Krokus – Go Baby Go
Krokus – Fight On
Krokus – Keep Me Rollin

Lenny Kravitz – Where Are We Runnin'?
Lenny Kravitz – Always On The Run

Lindsey Buckingham – Holiday Road - Live

Lita Ford – Can't Catch Me

Locomotive Breath – Speed Driven

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Call Me The Breeze

Marilyn Manson – Running To The Edge Of The World

Megadeth – Fast Lane
Megadeth – Victory - 2004 Digital Remaster

Metallica – Seek & Destroy
Metallica – Fuel

The Meters – Running Fast - Single Version

Michael Schenker – Speed
Michael Schenker Group – Run to the Hills
Michael Schenker Group – Finding My Way
The Michael Schenker Group – Into The Arena

Molly Hatchet – Flirtin' With Disaster
Molly Hatchet – I'll Be Running

Mötley Crüe – Kickstart My Heart
Mötley Crüe – Too Fast For Love

Motörhead – Live To Win
Motörhead – The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
Motörhead – Speed Freak
Motörhead – Built For Speed - 1987 / Live At Brixton Academy, London
Motörhead – You Better Run
Motörhead – Iron Horse/Born To Lose
Motörhead – The Train Kept A Rollin'
Motörhead – Runaround Man
Motörhead – Built For Speed
Motörhead – Ridin' With The Driver
Motörhead – Built For Speed - Live at Monsters Of Rock, Castle Donnington 1986

Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog

The Offspring – Race Against Myself

The Osmonds – Crazy Horses

Ozzy Osbourne – I Don't Wanna Stop
Ozzy Osbourne – Over The Mountain - Remastered Original Recording

Pat Benatar – You Better Run

Paul Stanley – Live To Win

Pearl Jam – Supersonic

The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Mach 5
The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Kick Out the Jams

Queen – Headlong
Queen – Stone Cold Crazy

Quiet Riot – Run For Cover

Rainbow – Long Live Rock N Roll
Rainbow – Kill The King
Rainbow – Run With The Wolf

REO Speedwagon – Keep Pushin'

Riot – Run For Your Life

Rival Sons – Keep On Swinging
Rival Sons – All Over the Road
Rival Sons – Pressure and Time

Robin Trower – Day Of The Eagle - 2007 Digital Remaster

The Rods – Runnin' Wild

The Rolling Stones – You Can't Catch Me

Rush – Fly By Night
Rush – Marathon
Rush – Finding My Way
Rush – One Little Victory - previously unreleased R30 Live Version

Sabaton – The Price of a Mile

Saxon – Wheels of Steel - 7'' Version;1997 - Remaster
Saxon – Warrior
Saxon – Run for Your Lives
Saxon – Running Hot

Scorpions – Bad Boys Running Wild
Scorpions – Speedy's Coming
Scorpions – Love On The Run
Scorpions – Sting In The Tail

Skid Row – Let's Go

Slash – Hard & Fast
Slash – Speed Parade

The Sounds – Running Out Of Turbo

The Spencer Davis Group – Keep On Running

Stone Temple Pilots – Fast As I Can

Stray Cats – Built For Speed

Sweet – Fox On The Run

T. Rex – Chariot Choogle

Ted Nugent – Stormtroopin'
Ted Nugent – Hammerdown
Ted Nugent – Weekend Warriors
Ted Nugent – I Take No Prisoners - Live
Ted Nugent – I Shoot Back
Ted Nugent – Motor City Madhouse

Tenacious D – To Be The Best

They Might Be Giants – Speed and Velocity
They Might Be Giants – It's Kickin' In

Thin Lizzy – Running Back
Thin Lizzy – Warrior - Live Album Version

Tin Machine – Run - 1999 Digital Remaster

Todd Rundgren – Yer Fast

Tom Petty – Runnin' Down A Dream
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Running Man's Bible

Triumph – Lay It On The Line

Twisted Sister – I Will Win
Twisted Sister – Blastin' Fast & Loud

UFO – Rock Bottom - 2007 - Remaster
UFO – Running Up The Highway

Van Halen – Unchained
Van Halen – Runaround
Van Halen – Runnin' With The Devil

W.A.S.P. – Running Wild In The Streets
W.A.S.P. – The Running Man
W.A.S.P. – Show No Mercy

The Who – Motoring - Shel Talmy - Stereo Version
The Who – Run Run Run
The Who – I Can See For Miles
The Who – (I'm A) Road Runner - Live (1971 / Young Vic, London)

The Winery Dogs – Elevate

Y&T – Don't Stop Runnin'

The Yardbirds – The Train Kept A-Rollin'

Yngwie Malmsteen – Faster Than Speed Of Light

The Spotify playlist is available here: Running Rock

I intend to keep this list updated on a webpage in this blog. I am always looking for new music to add to this list. If you have any suggestions, please let me know here or on my Facebook page!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gym Rat


In my last post, I mentioned that I would start running at least a mile a day to try to get back on track. While that hasn't happened, I did have a much better week thereafter running / working out. I ran, often with additional "cross training" on 5 out of 8 days. I can live with that. This past week, I went to the SEMR Beer / Group Run in Royal Oak and ran today (Saturday). That's it. Oh well. I'm done beating myself up about it. I'm trying.

Fun at the SEMR Beer Run - Included a 5k-ish run, beer and prizes.

I don't love working out inside, as I'd rather run outside, but it seems to be working out for me at the moment. Two of the five workouts last week were done at my home on my crummy treadmill. It is a hand-me-down that has a belt that moves, but it is relatively narrow and is not particularly comfortable to run on, but that's about it. I don't think the mph listed is particularly accurate. 6 mph on this treadmill is much more difficult than at the gym.

The gym I go to is Planet Fitness. For the price, it is tough to beat. They have two levels of membership - the standard one, which includes access for your home club only, for $10 a month and PF Black, which allows you to bring a guest, use other clubs and use of the hydromassage, massage chairs and tanning for $20. (There is also an annual fee of something like $39). I chose the $20 membership mainly to use the hydromassage and to be able to attend other Planet Fitness locations (though I have only done so once so far).

My local club is only a couple years old and it has already expanded. There is the main room, an area for a 30 minute circuit, tanning rooms, the massage and hydro massage rooms, red light therapy room (not sure if I buy the value of red light therapy yet), a smaller, new room with mostly cardio machines, and locker rooms. The machines are all in good shape with about half of the machines being less than 6 months old. The treadmills are the most comfortable I've ever run on. They're still treadmills, but they are good ones. They lack most fancy, custom workout features but have adequate preset programs. The ARC Trainers, Ellipticals and such are good too. Bikes are fine, but again lack programs allowing heavy customization. The weight machines are fine for anything I would use them for.

Overall, the vibe is pretty casual, which is what they shoot for. There is a dress code (no jeans, nothing overly revealing), they discourage grunting and they have a lunk alarm for the lunks that drop weights. I haven't heard the alarm this year. If you are "hardcore gym guy / gal", this place isn't for you, but if you're a casual gym user, it generally has what you need. There is no pool and no child care, which may be issues for some (I would love child care).

The weather continues to be brutal, I cannot run in my neighborhood because the roads and sidewalks are ice and snow covered, and my schedule continues to be unfriendly to running, but I'm not giving up. I'm still determined to be in shape for two spring half-marathons and any other races I may do.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An Inauspicious Start

I almost titled this post an auspicious start, because that is what I thought I meant. Just to make sure, I looked it up and auspicious means encouraging or favorable. Inauspicious is what I really meant, which is exactly the opposite.

2013 ended with a race on New Year's Eve, the New Years Resolution 8K run in Flint. This is the 3rd year in a row that I've run this race, put on by Riverbend Striders. They put on good, low frill races for a fair entry fee. The races I've done with them have the shirt as an option, which I like. The entry fee was $25 with a hooded sweatshirt and $15 without. I chose without this year, because I have more than enough hooded sweatshirts (I could use ones without hoods).

It was in the upper teens and I may have skipped it if not for posting it on the Facebook page of a local running group and seeing that one of my running pals, Kevin, said he was going to go. Aw... I probably would have gone anyway. The race itself was fine. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as windy as predicted and the weather was manageable, though most of the roads were snow covered and somewhat slick. I finished a couple minutes slower than the previous year, but I was OK with how it went and I was glad I raced.

The race wasn't inauspicious, but the start of 2014 has been quite inauspicious (last time using that word today). I did a 3 mile treadmill run about 8 days ago and then a 2 mile run during the middle of a snow event that would leave us with about 15 inches of the stuff.

It really was snowing, but Google + decided to add the snow effect.

I was able to run a couple miles on the unplowed roads. With all of the slip-sliding, it was challenging
Those runs weren't the bad part. The inau.... bad part is that I didn't run for 6 days in a row, which is exactly what I said I shouldn't do in my post about running goals for 2014. This lull was weather-influenced (that's what -14F temps will get ya) and schedule influenced. With the weather, not only was I not going to run outside due to road conditions and temperature, I had to get up early each day to shovel and to get ready to get to work on time. With the extra time for travel and increased need for concentration on the roads, I felt wiped out by the time I got home. Add to that evening activities for the kids and running didn't happen.

I have decent excuses. but as I struggled during my "easy" run at Indian Springs Metropark this morning, they didn't matter. It was way too hard and indicated to me that I need to step it up if I want to meet any of my goals this year.

I have decided to take drastic moderate measures to get back on track. I am implementing a plan where I must run at least a mile every day. Erica from Life as a Running Mom has a 2 year daily run streak going and it seems to work well for her. I have a one day daily running streak. My hope is that, if I get myself ready to run one mile, I'll usually end up doing more. I don't care if it is on the home mill, the gym mill or outside, I need to get back in the habit.

Here's to the streak! *cheers*

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goals for 2014

Hey ya'll or Hey you guys! It all depends on where you're from. I took a NY Times Linguistics survey and it told me where I was from, just in case I forgot:

And it was pretty darn accurate.

Anyhow, a new year brings a new list of running goals. I feel that setting goals is nearly essential in making progress in my running endeavors. Without goals or plans, I tend to do "whatever" and end up not running as much as I want or need to (to improve, to maintain health and for mental well-being).

Since the Detroit Marathon in October, I have continued to run, but not nearly as much or as consistently as during the summer when I was training for the marathon or even as much as I did during last spring, when I was drifting. The weather, lack of daylight and family / holiday schedule have played a big part, but not having any goals did as well.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party to set goals for 2014 and begin to act to meet those goals with some modicum of urgency (20 bonus points for using modicum in a sentence). For the most part, I have tried to make these goals simple and to allow myself, if I should fall short of completing the full goal, to be able to complete portions of the goal and feel some level of accomplishment. So, without further delay, here are the goals I plan to work on for the upcoming year:

1. PR (set a personal record best time) every main distance I run, from 5k to Half Marathon (or Marathon).

This would seem, on the surface, to be a quite formidable task and I will admit it won't happen without a good deal of effort. I continue to maintain that, if I apply myself, I can be significantly faster than I am right now. When I was on my marathon training plan in 2013. I PR'd both the 10 mile and half-marathon distances even though they were not goal races (I ran them as part of my training, not as the goal of my training - the main difference was that my training was not geared towards those races and, perhaps more significantly, my preparation in the week or two prior to these races was different than if these were "goal races").

The plan: 
I am going to start a half-marathon training program oh... about now! I'll probably use a Hal Higdon plan (Novice 2 or Intermediate) with some tweaks to accommodate my schedule and preferences. These are 12 week programs and it just so happens that, at the end of 12 weeks, I plan to run the Rock CF Half Marathon on Grosse Ile. This is a flat course I am familiar with, having run it in 2012 and 2013. If the weather cooperates and I train as I should, I intend to PR at this race. I may also run a late April or May Half Marathon because I want to and to act as a back-up race in case Rock CF doesn't go as planned.

To PR a 10k race, I simply need to run a 10k race (which I am not pacing) while I'm in "race shape". I have beaten my 10k PR during the course of at least one longer race and have come close to it in practice when I wasn't racing. Not planning any special training for this distance.

For the 5k PR, I plan to be "in shape" after completing my half marathon training, then shift to a plan which includes more speed work and exercise to train my body for a shorter, faster race. I would hope that, by mid June (about the time of the Open Door Julie Run) that I would be in a good position to PR (PR can be a noun or verb, apparently). The good thing is that, should I falter at any one particular race, you can find a 5k race on any given weekend.

This leaves the marathon. I don't know if I will run a marathon this year. If I do, it would likely be the Chicago Marathon. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and that is a race that I want to do at some point (I considered trying to get into the race this year before deciding that it would be better for me to run in Detroit - which is where I have lived for over 15 years now). It is a popular race, and there is no guarantee that I will get in, especially if they decided to go to a lottery. If I don't get in, I will either think about running the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis (I guess that would be my 3rd city I feel some connection with) or not run a fall marathon and instead focus on a fall half marathon, where I could hopefully beat my spring half- marathon times.

2. Run a 20 minute 5k.

Not since high school have I run a 5k race under 20 minutes. My 5k PR is currently 22:16 and I hope to beat it as part of Goal #1. 20 is a nice round number and it has been in the back of my mind ever since I committed to running. I know I can do it (and knowing is half the battle).

Knowing IS half the battle. The other half involves a lot of work and the doing.

The Plan:
Run fast. Seriously, I think the main thing I need to do is to run fast and do so more often. I considered making this year 100% about meeting this goal and forsaking all other distances and goals, but I'm not willing to do that at this time. I am committed taking up to a couple months where getting ready for this distance is my primary focus. I'm not sure of any specifics about how I will get to 20 minutes, but I don't need to know that right now. Hopefully by late March, I'll have a better idea.

3. Run 1000 Miles.

I was supposed to do this in 2013 and didn't (I think I ended up with 858). If I run over 1000 miles, that should mean that I won't have too many periods of time when I run once or twice a week. I have learned that this isn't enough to maintain, much less improve.

The Plan:
Try to run at least 3 times a week. I should run 4 to 5 times a week when I am "in training" so, if I keep to the plan, those periods of time should not be a problem. It is when I am not training for something that I tend to wander. I may be "in training" for something for the good part of 9 months if all goes well and I do not get hurt. This should be OK since the training isn't all-out-all-of-the-time. There will likely be at least 3 different cycles during training and each will have a time to ramp up (which may be dialing back from the previous cycle).

4. Help keep my family participating in exercise.

I have a little bit of control over this one, but hopefully, I can help. We all need to be active and try to stay healthy.My wife is planning to walk 1000 miles this year and she can do it, but will need our support. My oldest daughter ran cross country last year and may run track this year (if it is available to her grade - at the moment, it is not). My son can begin to train to run if he so chooses - I think he has some natural talent for running if that is something he wants to do. My youngest daughter has boundless energy and goes all of the time. In fact, if she wants to turn it down a notch, I'm all for it.

The Plan:
My wife needs to self-motivate - that is on her. As a family, we can encourage her and help her deal with things around the house and, more importantly, the baby so that she can get some time to do her walking. It would be nice if, at some point, the baby would be willing to walk with her a little bit, but I'm not counting on it.

My daughter is a good kid and student. She needs to find some motivation as well. I try not to push, but I want to be encouraging. At this point, I just want to set a good example and give her every opportunity I can to be active. The same is true for my son, with the added issue that he loves his video games and watching videos about other people playing video games (I like games too, but don't really get Minecraft and get watching videos about that game even less). They both could use a bit of competitive fire and I'm not sure how to instill this in them. Is it simply something that you have or you don't? I think it can be learned to some extent.

I have learned enough over the past 3 years that I can train them all to walk / run or help in other sporting endeavors. The main thing is to be there for them and help as I am able.

I'm looking forward to this year and hope to do well! Best of luck to all of you in 2014!