Training for my Second Marathon ... I must be nuts.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Welcome Back

Hello? Anyone there? It has been well over a year (almost 2 years) since I last posted something to this blog. The reason behind it was a big change happened. We moved. So moving, starting over in a new place, and training for a marathon didn't all fit into my schedule. Now that we are a little more settled I've been able to buckle down and train again. Its been slow going, but I've been relatively consistent running 2-3 miles twice a week. However, for me to get seious, I'll have to run at least 3 times a week and increase my miles to really get ready. I'm working towards a 10K in June, hopefully another marathon this fall and ... the Tough Mudder in September. That's right, a Tough Mudder. In case you are not sure of what a Tough Mudder is, this website has all the information you need:

Yes, I might be crazy, but it should be fun! I guess fun depends on your definition. Well, I look to update this more fequently as this running season goes along. For now, gotta run.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Lending Hand ...

I wasn't sure how to title this week's (actually last week) run. I was going to call it The Power of Wind, but I decided against it.  Here's the reason. My Monday run was my 2nd 5 miler and I was feeling good. I carved out a whole minute from the week before's 5 mile run. Wednesday I migh have got out to run too soon after eating, but I pushed through some parts of the pain to run it in 45 minutes (approximately). Then Friday ... it was windy and cool. I had a rough first 2 miles. I was trying to get settled into my pace, but with the wind it was hard to get in a rhythm. I try to keep a certain pace, but with the wind in my face I tried to push harder to keep up my pace. However, then I get tired out more quickly and I have to slow down once I turn a corner. Well, around mile 2.5, I am running on the sidewalk along a busy road. Up ahead is an intersection and biking to the corner coming from a perpenticular direction, was a boy on a bike, maybe 4-5 years old. It seemed odd to see him out all  by himself. I look around to see if there is an adult around, but I was it and I was pretty sure this wasn't my child. I stopped to see what he was doing and he said he was going to the bank to see his Daddy. I knew I had past a bank about 3 minutes prior, but this kid was biking in the other direction. He crossed the street on his bike while a younger girl maybe 3-4 years old was running after this boy calling after him in that child language of a 3-4 year old that was a mystery to me. The wind was blowing and she was trying to tell me something, but what I assumed was her brother kept biking farther away I decided I would take this girl to her brother and find out where their parents were. So I took her little hand and we quickly trotted off after the boy trying to get him to stop.

We caught up with him and convinced him to turn around. I acertained from the girl that they lived in  the house on the corner of the street we crossed. So on the way back the boy biked off faster than the little girl and I did and he got to the intersection way before us. I tried to yell at him to wait for us to cross the street and he peddled right out into the street and crossed the street. After my heart calmed down I took the little girl across the street and back to what they said was their house. The little girl went in the back door while the boy stayed outside a little longer than she did, but I wanted to make sure he was inside the house before I left. Finally, he did go inside and out of a weird fear of having some strange person thinking I'm the weirdo holding hands with their kids I decided they were fine inside and I jogged off. In what was probably only 4-5 minutes, it put me in quite a hole.

The next mile I pushed it quite a bit to try to make up the time, but not thinking I could. A little mile 3.5 I turned to have the wind at my back. It really did feel like I was being pushed forward. My strides felt like that of a guy who was 6'6". It was pretty trippy. The last mile I felt good and it turns out I ran it in 45 minutes. The same time it took 2 days before. I was pretty amazed.

At any rate I felt good about offering a helping hand to the kids on the street. With that I gotta run.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Three's a Breeze ... not really

Not sure why I choose that title for this post. The phrase, "the third time's the charm" was what I wanted to say, but it didn't make sense as I was trying to say that this week I was able to run 3 times this week. Then I threw a rhyme in there just for good measure. ANYWAY, as the weather is slowly and surely (well maybe not that surely) warming up and with my first running event less than a month away I had to start running 3 times a week. Monday was the first run of the week and it was a dreary and very blustery day. The first 2 miles of my 4 mile run the wind was blowing right in my face. To make it worse, much of it was uphill. After recovering from the strenuous first 2 miles, it was a welcomed change to have some tail wind for the next mile and no real wind the last mile. However, I'm blaming the wind as to why I only averaged a 9:30 pace. All in all it took me 38 minutes.

Day 2 or Wednesday, I went out again. A nicer day with little to no wind. I was feeling pretty good. I could tell I was running better and had better all around feeling in the mechanics of my running. My feelings were correct as I got home and saw that I ran 4 miles (4.02) in around 34 minutes, which is an 8:27 minute mile pace. The best pace time thus far.

Day 3 (Friday) I had to bump up my miles to 5 so that I could get ready for my first 10K of the year. I had mapped out a good course that brought me home real close to 5 miles (5.05) However, I guess I didn't realize that at the beginning of mile 4 brought me running in front of a graveyard. Which isn't a big deal, but I didn't get out until much later than I had anticipated (around 9pm when I passed by). So it was dark. I'm not sure why, but the town didn't seem to think that this little stretch of road needed to have street lights. I suppose they thought, we can't have the dead disturbed all night with annoying street lights. I mean how could they sleep with a constant beam of light shining on their graves? To keep it light as I ran past, in my mind I started singing Michael Jackson's Thriller. "Cause this is THRILLER! THRILLER night, and no one's gonna save ya, from the beast about to strike ..."

After surviving the darkness and the graveyard, I finished my run with a time around 45 minutes, an 8:54 pace. not too shabby for my first 5 miler. I'm hoping this will go down the next week and my body gets more familiar with a 5 mile run. So this week will be only 5 milers and then I'll bump it up to 6 miles for the next 2 weeks. The week after that I'll run one 6 miler and then a 3 miler and then I'll run the 10K. I should be ready by then and my goal is to beat my time of 56:39 set last year. Gotta Run.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Trying to get into a Groove

I haven't done a good job keeping up on my progress over the past few weeks. I haven't quite kept up on my goal to run 3 times a week yet. By that I mean I haven't done it at all yet. I have run twice a week (up until this past week, but that was a special circumstance), and I'm starting to feel a little better about my running. Unfortunately with the colder weather I have been stuck running on the treadmill the past few weeks. It seems however, that the few times I have run outside I have been unable to run faster than a 9:15 minute mile pace. Here has been the breakdown since the last time I posted:

Distance   Pace    Time (min)
4 mi         9:15     37
4 mi         9:30     38
4 mi         10:00   40
3 mi         8:55     26:47
4 mi         8:56     35:44

The first 2 times are outside times and the last 3 are inside times. That 40 minute time for the 4 miler is not accurate. I had some issues with the treadmill becomig unplugged during the run and thereby erasing my time. So I guesstimated about how long it took. It'll be nice to be running outside again as long as the weather cooperates so I can settle into a groove. I think its finally started warming up, but now that its April I have the rain to contend with. The forecast for the week is rain just about every day. Anyone got a pancho? Gotta Run.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Things Remembered

So it has begun again. I have begun running outside as the weather has improved somewhat. Last year at this time I could only run inside as I did not have the proper attire for running outside in Wisconsin in early March. My first run in the great outdoors has caused me to remember things I have forgotten. There are 3 such things I have remembered. First, running outside and running inside on a treadmill are two separate things. Second, running outside in early March in Wisconsin and running inside on a treadmill are two separate things. Third, running outside in early March in Wisconsin with a stomach full of fast food and running inside on a treadmill are two separate things. So my first run outside was not a smooth as I would have hoped.

I was able to run 3 miles (3.13 actually), but it took me 29 minutes to do it. A 9:17 minute mile. Faster than last year at this time, but not what I was hoping. My lungs burned and my muscles ached as if I hadn't run at all last year. The one things that I can say is better is my mental toughness. Running 26 miles is hard to forget, so knowing that I only will be running 3 is a breeze ... mentally speaking of course. That was Monday. After an extended gap between my first and second run, thanks to a freak snow storm on Wednesday, I got back out there on Friday. It was another 3 miles (again, 3.13) and I was able to run it this time in 28 minutes, which puts me at a 8:56 minute per mile pace. At this point anything under 9 minute miles is a good thing. For this run my breathing was better and my aching muscles were not much of an issue. I hope that it will not take me too long to get back into the shape I was in last fall.

Next week I look forward to increasing my miles to 4 and to run 3 times instead of the 2 that I ran this week. Let's hope that in the future I'll remember the lessons I learned last year BEFORE I'm forced to re-learn them. Gotta Run.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Start of Year #2

Recovering from the marathon took a few days for me to finally walk straight again. The feeling of accomplishment hasn't diminished though it has been months since the marathon. Along with that feeling is the feeling of wanting to do better. However, I have gotten off to a slow start this year. After the marathon I took a few weeks off. After about 4-6 weeks I heard that it only takes 6 weeks for your body to forget everything it learned in training for a marathon in 6 weeks. WHAT?! So, in December I ran once or twice to make sure my body didn't totally forget everything it had done over the past year. Then in January I resolved to be better with my running. So for 2 weeks I did a good job of sticking to my plans. I ran Jan 6th, 8th, 11th, 13th, and the 22nd. Each for 3 miles and all were either 9 minute miles or below, with my best pace being 8:15 minute miles. Then a wrench got thrown into the cogs of my routine.

My wife and I were expecting our 4th child. Her due date was Jan 31st, but Deb started contracting weeks before that. So with our child possibly coming at any moment I stopped running. Our 4th daughter decided she wanted to hold out all the way until her actual due date (a first for our babies). So all that time I spent waiting, expecting her to come came and went and my wife was still uncomfortably pregnant. Eventually our now youngest came with much fanfare, but my training suffered because of it. Now that she's here I should have a better opportunity to train, well at least that was what I thought until she stopped sleeping at night. I have found it is difficult to drum up motivation to do anything much less run when you are dead tired. Even so, February came and went without me running once (well running while playing tag with my girls inside the house doesn't really count).

Well, I was able to run once this past week. I was pretty gassed by mile 2 and I figured it wasn't a good idea to try and push it too hard, so I ended up running 2.5 miles for 20 minutes and 45 seconds at a pace of 8:18 minute miles. I'm still able to keep my speed, but I'm going to have to slow it down for a few weeks to get my distance back up.

Since this is my first post of the new year my goals for this running year is to train yet again for a marathon (preferably the same one I ran last year) and run it in under 4 hours. In leading up to that race I will also run a 10K in May (the same 10K I ran last year) and run it a little faster as well as run one or 2 other races this year. Those distances are yet to be determined, but preferably they will be another 10K and a half marathon to prepare me for my 2nd marathon in the fall. To accomplish this I plan to be more faithful to my training that I was last year, slowly increase my distance as to not injure myself again and add a better diet to maximize my training routine. I feel with the success I had last year these goals are very achievable and I look forward to a great year. That is it for now. Gotta Run!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Making History

Now as promised the day of the race had arrived ...

By now I have explained how I took a month off of running due to a stress fracture in my foot, as well as the week of the race I caught a cold. So spending a pretty horrible night tossing, turning, coughing, and blowing my nose at around 3am in the morning with very little sleep I was beginning to think that running the marathon might not be in the cards. I as tired, sick, and a little bit angry that I had to deal with all of this when I had already gone through so much just to get here. With lots of pressure in my sinuses and ears, I was able to finally get some quality sleep from about 3:30 to 5am. I got up and ate a bowl of oatmeal to get my system ready for the big race. About 5:15 I crawled back into bed hoping to get just a few more precious minutes of sleep. Other than dosing for a few minutes here and there, sleep was no longer in the cards. I guess I can't blame all my sleeplessness on the cold as I was very anxious about the race and what would be in store for me. So around 5:45 I got up to get myself ready. I figured I try to clean out my sinuses with a sinus rinse devise I got years ago. Well, that only caused the pressure in my ears to worsen and didn't clear me up in the slightest. I should have known.

So I took a decongestant and some cough medicine hoping that would help by the start of the race and if I needed more I could get some from my wife along the trail. Laying next to me all night, my wife was concerned that without adequate sleep and being so sick, that maybe I shouldn't run the marathon. Being the wonderful lady that she is, she was worried about my well being. For about half a minute, I agreed with her. After that half a minute all the doubt about running melted away and I knew that I should do it. I might not finish, but at least I should try. I have worked too hard for too long to give up now. I reassured her I would be fine and the medicine would help me during the run.

I spent the next 10-15 minutes stretching and getting myself ready mentally trying to clear out the negative thoughts since I can't seem to clear out all the gunk in my throat and nose. Knowing my buddy and his family would be arriving at 6:30 I helped gather up all the snacks for the kids as well as get them ready so we could be out the door when the time came, which it did. With the kids in the car and everyone ready, we left hoping we would get to the race on time and without getting into too much traffic. We got 50% of what we were hoping.

There was crazy traffic for race in its first year of existence. We knew where we were going thanks to our day before drive through, but apparently over 1000 other people thought the same thing. So, we improvised. We didn't park in the authorized parking for the race, but we found adequate space just across the street. It was much colder at the race location that it was leaving the house. I was hoping to shed my jogging pants, long sleeve shirt, and my hat, but it was just too cold. Since we knew we would see our families throughout the race, I knew I could ditch whatever I needed at those key points along the trail. By now the pressure in my head had lessened and I was feeling well enough to run a few miles. I still had the cough, but I was hoping that the medicine would kick in soon so I wouldn't be hacking the whole race.

It was a nice set up and one thing I really liked better at this race than at the mini-marathon was the lines to the port-a-potties. It only took us 5 minutes instead of 25 it took for the mini. After a few more minutes stretching and downing a last minute gel (see below) we were ready to go.

Last minute preparations

We kissed our families and headed off to the start line. We were shooting for a time under 4 hours. So we nestled into a spot around 3 hours and 40 minutes. The race had thoughtfully placed runners with fake hands on a stick with the projected finishing time on them so we'd know where we are both before and during the race. Then came the countdown. 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... all those months of training had come down to this ...7 ... 6 ... 5... though the situation was not ideal, me coming off an injuring and having a stinking cold ... 4 ... 3 ... now it is here and it is time to get it started ... 2 ...1 ... BANG!

Its hard to see, but I'm in the red circle with the black cap. I just started a marathon!
Just like the mini-marathon, we started jogging only to slam on the brakes before we'd run into the people in front of us. It only took us a little less than 2 minutes to get up to the start line and then we were off with one final wave to our families, we had 26.2 miles in front of us and at the moment we had each other to keep ourselves company. Running on pure adrenaline and excitement the first mile was cool as we were actually running the marathon.

The first 3 miles were a blur, but we were running a good pace, probably too fast for me in my condition, but I was hoping my body could keep up at least for the first few miles. These early miles were spent chatting with my buddy and trying to keep up with him. I was also enjoying all the outfits as this marathon was Halloween themed and participants were encouraged to run in costume. My favorite was a guy dressed like one of the Blues Brothers. I mean running in a suit took a lot a guts.

Miles 4 and 5 we began settling into the run. The first 3 were a bit hilly, but not so bad. However, I knew my tune would change as we would have to run these hills again on the way back in miles 22-24. But miles 4 and 5 were smooth as it was flat and we got off the main roads and onto a bike path. Physically I was feeling fine, no muscle pains yet and my foot was fine. My cold wasn't much of an issue at this point either, but I was coughing every so often to remove loose phlegm though my breathing was fine.

Mile 5 was the first time we saw our families, which really gave me a big boost for the next 3 miles as I knew I would see them again at the end of a long loop. They were very supportive which helped us struggling runners keep going. We saw them again around mile 8 and I was still amazed that I was keeping pace with my buddy who was blazing quite a trail. The next section was all hills.

Here we are passing by our families. I needed to stay hydrated.

Going into mile 9 I was still side by side with my buddy, but I could tell our pace had slowed and I was the reason for the slowing. We had just started the hilly section and I mean really hilly section. We were close to mile 10 when a group of folks came loudly up behind us and then passed us. A guy in the front of the pack held a stick with a hand on it and a sign that said 4:00:00 meaning we had now gotten behind the 4 hour finishing time, which is what we were aiming for. We were running up a hill and a little distance began to separate me from my buddy. I stopped to walk at the aid station and I was concerned because I started to get lightheaded and knew I couldn't keep up the pace anymore. My buddy turned to look at me and I gave them the sign to keep running. We had a deal that if one of us couldn't keep up with the other, the one who was faster could keep their pace. We made this deal in our first run together, the 10K, but it wasn't until now that we had to use that deal. With all that had happened to me, I knew I would be the one to fall behind. As he kept running I walked a few minutes to get my head back in the right place.

I was tired, my body hurt, my head was full of mucus and I still had 16 miles to go. These 4 miles were very difficult. I walked most of it trying to get my body to cooperate. I was not feeling well and I could only run for a few minutes on these hills before I had to stop. I knew I would see my family after mile 14 and I began to contemplate quitting when I saw them and my wife could drive me back to the finish line so I could turn in my chip. I kept saying that if I started feeling much worse that this is just what I would do. While that would have been a shame, I think with all the factors that I had to go through it was still amazing I was able to make it this far.

Finally I stopped running/walking uphill and started running more downhill. I did feel a little better being out of the hills, but not like I did at mile 5. I turned onto a main road and I knew that my family would be coming up soon. The decision was to be made and soon. I heard them before I saw them and their cheers and shouts of encouragement persuaded me that I could keep going. I must not have looked very good because my wife asked if I wanted Sudafed the next time I see them. I said that would be great. I gave her a kiss and I was off again. However, once I was out of sight of them I started walking again.
You can't tell, but I'm really struggling at this point and its only mile 14.

The next few miles (15-17) were a mixture of running, walking, and coughing, though with the mixture of walking once or twice a mile (usually at aid stations) I began to feel much better. I didn't like having to walk all that time, but there was nothing really I could do about it. Sometimes the coughing was bad enough to wear I would need to stop and get out whatever gunk was in my lungs. After the hacking session I would feel better and continue running. The miles went by slowly, but it was nice to see my family again so soon after seeing that 3 miles before. This was wear my wife gave me some Sudafed hoping that this would help at the end of the race as I still had an hour and a half left (minimum).

I know it looks like I'm barely moving, but I'm going as fast as I can. Also, I just passed my youngest daughter being held by my wife's sister. Seeing the family is always a big boost while running.

Just as I thought that those 3 miles went quickly so too did that 1.5 miles from 17 to 18.5 when I saw them again as I just ran a quick loop. At the turn around point they had an aid station that was blaring the tunes. I never realized Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline would be so inspiring while running a marathon, but if I ever get an iPod I'll be sure to put that tune on it.

I have to give a shout out to my buddy's family who stayed and waited with my family for me to pass by both times before they left all for the finish line. I wasn't expecting them to do that and it was extremely uplifting for me to know that they wanted to stay to see me pass by many minutes later.

After mile 18 I begin to count down the miles I have left. At mile 19 I said to myself that I only have 7 more miles. I would run that no problem during training. Mile 20 meant I only had 6 miles left. I ran that the Monday before the marathon and I did it in 55 minutes. Mile 21, only 5 miles left. At this point I really began to believe that I was going to finish this and I was just hoping that I would break the 5 hour mark. It was around this time that my buddy was crossing the finish line. I didn't know it at the time, but he had accomplished his goal by finishing with 11 seconds to spare (3 hours, 59 minutes, 49 seconds).

Here's my buddy finishing his first marathon at 3:59:49. Great Job buddy!

The last 4 miles I was back on the street retracing my steps from about 4 hours before. It was hillier than I remembered, but I would simply walk up the hills and try to pick it up a little bit on the way down. On what happened to be the last big downhill run I saw an aid station and a sign that said mile 25. This is it, only 1 mile left (well 1.2 miles left). At this point I was around the same group of people that would pass me when I needed to walk and then I would pass them when I started to run and they were walking. There was a girl dressed as Wonder Woman ahead of me and I vowed I would pass her, because if I could finish before Wonder Woman that would be an amazing accomplishment (like just running and finishing a marathon wasn't accomplishment enough ... all I can say is that after running 25 miles, your brain isn't thinking clearly anymore).

I had a half mile left. I was ahead of Wonder Woman and it looked like I was going to pass a guy further up who was walking. I had said I wasn't going to walk the rest of the way. I heard someone shout from a car I had barely noticed say, "GO MORONI!" I had no idea who that was. I looked and it was a lady with brown hair. That's all I knew. I waved, but at the time I had no clue who that was. I knew they knew me because they pronounced my name correctly (as it turns out it was my neighbor who's husband had ran the same marathon only ran it much, much faster than I did).

There was a slight hill at the sign that said mile 26 (I was almost there!!!!) and I see my buddy sitting with his sons waiting for me. He said its just down there and I looked to the left and I saw the finish line. At this point I had taken off my cap and long-sleeved shirt so they could see my number as I crossed the line. This was where I picked up the pace and sprinted as fast as I could for the finish line. I couldn't see my family yet, but I was just focused on crossing that line. I heard the MC announce "And here is Moronie Mills finishing strong!" (Not too many people pronounce my name right, but this time it was a beautiful sound)

I crossed the finish line and exhaled. I had ran a marathon and I finished. I didn't care what the time was. I look to my left because I heard people shouting and I saw my beautiful family. I went over and hugged my wife who had teared up, which caused me to get a little misty. She said, "You did it! I'm so proud of you." I did do it. I continued down the line and they gave me my medal and a neat silver shiny ... blanketey .... wrap of some sort. I'm not sure what it is, but it was supposed to keep you warm after running, but it was as thin as tin foil. My legs ached as did my feet, but it was done. I had ran a marathon.

I am now a marathon runner! I got the medal to prove it!

2 good lookin' guys who ran a marathon and are in desperate need of a nap.

My wonderful family who ran back and forth from place to place for 5 hours to see me and give me encouragement, which I so desperately needed. They are so great!

I can't believe it is over. 8 months of work came down to 5 hours. As it turned out I finished my first marathon in 4 hours and 40 minutes. Not what I was shooting for, but an amazing feat and proof that I can do anything. I'll post again on my feelings in retrospect as it seems like it has been a marathon just to post this story. I'm just grateful for my buddy who invited me to join him on this journey. Thanks, buddy. Lastly, I have to say thank to my family for supporting me for 8 months and thank you to my wife who has had to deal with me gone most Saturday mornings as I was running my long distances and was always supportive. It is because I her I was able to finish this goal so thanks baby!

Well, you know by now my usual closing, but it will not be true as I'm taking some time off to rest my legs, feet and body. However, this isn't the end of my running so I'll see you all again sometime soon. Done running for now ... but not for long.