Sunday

Training Video Blog 1/25/15

Fun on a cold run today.

I just didn't feel like getting out today. There are several writing deadlines looming in the not too distant future and we're still in the grip of a cold snap here in Rochester, NY.

In short, I have a few good excuses not to run today or not to train at all. But worse than getting (further) behind on my deadlines or dealing with the cold would be to cave in and not train...still, the thought of doing a gym workout sapped my energy even more.

What do you do to get yourself out the door  when motivation is low?

I just dug down deep today. It was all mental. Knowing that I caved in to body aches and fatigue yesterday made getting out today paramount. I not only knew that, I was mindful of it. My current state of mindfulness and how well my body is responding to all this training was the spark that ignited a fantastic run.

Today was fantastic, not for the time and certainly not for climate, but for the experience. I took a different route. I worked my paces. I practiced my form.

The plan called for 4 miles. At the end of mile 5 I was still feeling great...kept going. Same thing after mile 6. I finally called it at 7 miles. This was one of those runs that could have gone on and on...may have done a 13.1 had it not been 3 degrees outside.  @rickrussotti 


Saturday

Why I'm Not Training Today

What keeps you from running?

I'm totally pissed off at my lack of motivation today and more than a little disappointed in myself. I had a nice run yesterday and was looking forward to another energizing session today. Looks like thats not going to happen. 

I expect a lot out of myself on a day off and chances are you do, too. Its frustrating when the weather or some unexpected happening pinches off your ability to follow your training plan...that happens to all of us, I'm sure. External forces are one thing...internal lax is another. 

I woke up sore...at least I think I woke up. I'm just not sure the day ever got started. Its been so overcast and cold here for the last few weeks that its starting to tap my desire to do anything. Is this what its like to live in Alaska in the winter? I hate to blame my low-running-drive on the weather, but I'm going to anyway.

Regroup. Rest. Try again tomorrow. 

Training Video Blog 1/23/15

7.02 miles of feeling good today.
A great run today! I've gotten back to regular training distances after the combined prep and then recovery from the Winter Warrior half marathon.

Todays training focus is running with special attention to form and heart rate. I'm working accelerations into shorter and mid-distance runs in addition to speed work. Paying close attention to heart rate and form is also a key in this training cycle.




Tuesday

Training Video Blog 1/20/15

It's still a cold run out there! Today marks the beginning of the first full week of this training cycle in preparation for the next goal race: the Flower City Half Marathon (4SC #2). I tapered up last week after a 2:26:06 Winter Warrior finish. I'm aiming for a sub two-hour half marathon by September, 2015.  My goals and training cycle outline are listed if you like to take a look. Constructive comments are welcome.

Monday

Countdown: 14 Weeks

14 Weeks until the Flower City Half Marathon and River Challenge Duathlon

The Winter Warrior is behind me and its time for a fresh training cycle to begin. I'm looking forward to getting onto the bike for the first time in quite a while - even if its the trainer.

I took a couple of days off after the Winter Warrior to recover, then started a taper up week (last week). During that time I reviewed my goals, did a lot of self care and active rest. Basically, a couple of easy runs and a good swim workout is all I did last week. The longest run of last week was 5.6 miles - noteworthy only because of the residual calf and hip pain that followed. I'm not sure if the pain is from running in the snow and ice, need for new shoes, or leftover strain from the WW1/2. I still think that race took a lot out of me and I'm still feeling the effects.

Got on the bike trainer today at LA and thought I was going to die. Three miles into this 10 mile session my legs were killing me, bring quads. I felt out of shape - had to remind myself that I'd let bike training go since October '14 and shouldn't expect too much now. Total: 10 miles on the trainer 22:17 - an eternity. Bike training was followed by some light cross training (bodyweight work) - I'll be working more core training into this cycle.

My races and goals are now posted on their own pages - see 2015 Events  and 2015 Goals.


Winter Warrior 1/2 Marathon

Half Marathon, Full Effort

My first half marathon is behind me. As I sit to write this post a week after crossing the finish line,
I'm slowly realizing the true impact of this race has made on my life. I started running in March, 2014 after a two decade lay off and ran my first 5K the following May. The goal was to complete a sprint-distance triathlon in July, 2014 and I'm happy to report that goal (and much more) has been met. The gains made through triathlon training gave me the guts to re-learn to enjoy running and try something more...enter the idea of a half marathon.
After completing the Autumn Classic Duathlon in October '14 I changed the training plan from multi-sport to endurance running focus. To that point I'd run no further than five or six miles at any one time. The first race I could find was the Winter Warrior scheduled for January 10, 2015, and with fourteen weeks to train, figured it was doable. I rationalized that if one could run a half marathon in January in Rochester, New York, it could be done any other time of the year...enter the Four Seasons Challenge idea...I wouldn't be satisfied with just one - I'd now train for four half marathons in one year despite never having run one, ever.

Over the 14 weeks in this training cycle the weekly milage gradually increased and I (thankfully) remained injury free. Milage continued to grow and shoes were replaced as the Rochester weather steadily crept in. Short days and small temperatures nearly derailed my effort to train outside on more than one occasion. On those cold, rainy, snowy, windy days Joanne would remind me "if the race were held today, you'd have to run it" leaving me no margin of comfort to slip onto a cozy treadmill workout. With her encouragement I've remained running outside in the worst of conditions well into 2015 and have no plans to hibernate in the gym this winter. Instead, I'd run outside at least four times a week over various routes and in all kinds of weather. I wanted to be ready for whatever January could bring...and a Rochester January can indeed bring anything. 

The training plan continued to pay off and within three weeks ran the first of four scheduled 13.1 mile training runs. After that first 13.1 miler I was exhausted but kept training. After the second and third runs of that distance I could appreciate pace and began to realize that competing in a half marathon was as much mental as it was physical. At the end of week thirteen I ran the final half marathon training run that marks the start of a taper week and the reality of the actual race. I knew now that the first 6-8 miles could be run at a good pace (my definition of a good pace), miles 8-10 would push my stamina, and miles 11-13.1 would be all mental toughness. I felt ready.

My view at the starting line
The night before the race was comfortable, pre race anxiety was noticeably absent and I was able to sleep quite well. We arrived at the race base camp, a local indoor hockey complex, surrounded by over 1100 other runners. The winds were pounding the flags to attention and across every inch of the exposed course. The air temperatures held steady around 7 or 8 degrees. And then there's the darkness to deal with. The race planned start was 4pm - that, according to local forecast, will leave us just 55 minutes of daylight. I'll be in the cold, wind and dark very soon. "Will I really be running for the next two hours in this?" I asked myself stepping into the starting area.

And then we were off. The horn sounded and the inaugural Winter Warrior was under way. I could feel myself going out at a faster than training pace - I was actually keeping up with other people. We ran into the wind at every spot on the course, or so it seemed. Despite the cold and the wind the first 3 miles flew by with a pace just shy of my 5K race pace. My wife and at least one of my kids hung out near the starting line and cheered for me on each loop. The cold was finding its way under my hat and running jacket and I couldn't imagine how cold it must have felt to be standing on the sidelines watching the race. Again, into the wind, miles 4,5,6, and 7 passed quickly, "just like training...only faster" I said to myself. That phrase became my mantra for the second half of the race.
   


Before I realized it, the second half of the race was well in hand. Miles 8-10 usually make me work a little harder in my training runs, but on this day I was just cruising. There was no pain, my legs felt strong. I was well ahead of my planned pace. Even the wind died down - miles 8-10 became an enjoyable winter evening run. Somewhere around mile ten I had pulled my face mask down, leaving it hanging around my neck. Trying to pull it back up and finding it frozen and stuck to my jacket was a good wakeup call for the reality of the temperatures. 

The euphoria of the last few miles became excitement, almost delirium, when I realized there were only three more miles to go. These final miles are the ones that caused me the most pain and tested mental toughness during training runs. But not today. I actually felt myself running faster in anticipation of the finish line waiting on the next loop around campus. 

Voices over the loudspeakers and music from the finish line were getting stronger, louder. I'd past this point on prior loops, catching a quick glimpse of earlier finishers, but the sounds didn't seem as pronounced. Maybe it was all mind games now that it was my turn to finish. And suddenly, it was reality. Suddenly, almost too fast, my first half marathon would be over.

The volunteer directing me towards the finish chute seemed genuinely excited for me. He said "you did it, turn here and you're done!" is all I can remember. Turing into the finish chute, lined with strangers cheering, I had a flash back in memory rather than a focus on the finish line. A bright realization of what I was about to do became the only thought. "This wasn't possible a year ago" I thought followed by the blur of images of those who inspired me, supported me to go from couch to 5K to Triathlon to Half Marathon in ten months; my wife and kids, my track team kids.


And there I was. On a frosty night in January, 2015, completing a half marathon with my name, my name, being called over the loudspeaker. I crossed the finish line in 2:26.02 - fairly pedestrian by most standards - but it is what it is and it is what I could do. A finishers medal was hung around my neck, a nice snowflake shaped thing. And then my wife, who'd been outside for nearly two and a half hours, was there. "I'm so proud of you" she said, with a little tearfulness. We hugged just past the finish line  - holding me up would be a more accurate statement - before moving inside to the post-race party.

After a milestone accomplishment such as this, you might have to set a new goal or ask yourself "whats next?" - I don't. I know what's next. On April 26, I'll run my second half marathon (the second in the Four Seasons Challenge) - the Flower City Challenge. Only this time there'll be a duathlon the day before!

This is what I did...Because I Can.


Friday

First Half Marathon - The Day Before

Here we are! The day before my first half marathon, the WInter Warrior. My writing promt for today asks simply "how are you feeling?" 

I'm feeling good, real good.
I can honestly say that this 14 week training cycle has been productive. I've made the most (and gotten the most) out of every training session. Although I've missed a session here or there becasue of a schedule issue or some other issue, those missed sessions were few and far between. Lets face it, no matter how well you plan, someting, at some point, is going to get in your way...hopefully not often.

I feel prepared. 
The training for this half marathon started on October 6, 2014, after completing the Autumn Classic Duathlon. Up  till then, I'd been training for running distances of 3.1 -5 miles. In fact, I've never run anything more than six miles in my life. Using what I've learned from 2014 Tri Training activities, I made my own plan to get ready. My homemade plan is build around a four-day traiining week (I typically dont train after working a 12 hour shift). I wanted to stay safe and push my limits at the same time - so I increased miles fairly quickly. Within three weeks I ran the first of four scheduled 13.1 training sessions. I also stayed outside in all weather - the good and the bad. You can see the changing conditions in the Training Video Blog posts. I have to admit that I was actually afraid of running on a treadmill after running outside all year. So, I stayed outside, ran all the sessions I could in bad weather knowing that the Winter Warrior could be held on a day with cold/snow or mild/sun. Rochester is like that. It could go eiter way. The miles are there. The quality is there. Having run 13.1 in training four times (in a cold, wind-driven rain, in a flufffly, happy snow, on icy road, and facing nasty cold/wind chills below zero) I think I'm as prepared as one could be. 

I feel accomplished. 
I have to keep reminding myself that regular running (outside) didn't start until March of 2014. Prior to that I hadn't run outside in ten years. Now I'm just gettiing warmed up between 4 and 6 miles. My body composition has changed, too. Although not as lean as I'd like to be, I've maintained a 55 ound weight loss. 

Up next: What do I expect on race day?


Tuesday

2014 was a good year

I'm happy with my training and level of fitness in 2014. Now that I have a base of fitness to work from and a few races/duo's/tri's under my racing belt I'll look forward to even better progress in '15. 

Training Video Blog 1/6/15

This is day two of taper week (week 14 of this training cycle) in preparation for my first half marathon. Taper week is made up of shorter milage and additional cross training. Todays workout was supposed to be a "swim & spin" day. Although I got the 2x800m swim done in good time, I just wasn't feeling too good this afternoon, and skipped the spin.

I've been feeling worn out the last few days and had been concerned about getting sick. And getting sick now would be disastrous! The weather has something to do with how I'm feeling...maybe. I hate to blame nature for how I'm feeling, but it's been cold and windy. Temperatures in the low twenties to high teens, wind chills in the -1 to -3 degree range.

The Winter Warrior is scheduled for 4pm on January 10, 2015 and will be run on the campus of Monroe Community College. The course is exposed on all parts - weather will be a factor. Given the start time, I expect less then an hour of daylight. It could be a dark and very cold run.


Monday

Training Video Blog 1/5/15

Welcome to week 14, the final week, of this training cycle. Today is the first taper workout in preparation for the Winter Warrior half marathon on January 10. The training plan this week calls for reduced running miles with consistent speed and intensity. Cross training in the form of swimming and biking (stationary, indoor) will be an important part of the taper.

Todays run was a 5K on a well known route - its one of my base training routes that I default to for race prep and tempo work. The weather hasn't been cooperating though. Temperatures have been in the upper teens and lower twenties with wind chills around -1 to -2 degrees. Other people outside (those at bus stops and sitting at traffic lights in their cars) are giving me odd looks...one guy rolled down his window and scolded me saying "you're setting a bad example running now," "you're gonna get hurt."

The fact is that the Winter Warrior is just a few days away and the weather is not forecast to change much between now and then. The race starts at 4pm with sundown (if we see the sun at all) at 4:55. Most of my race will be run in the dark along with the cold. I'm simply practicing for race conditions.




Saturday

Training Video Blog Janurary 3, 2015

Today is the last regular training session of this 14 week cycle. Next week is the taper week and final preparation for my first 1/2 marathon, the Winter Warrior. The focus of this cycle was to prepare for a half marathon - that meant going from training for 3 -5 mile runs to increasing speed and endurance to manage 13.1 miles. Thats on top of learning how to run a 5K earlier this year and getting through first-timer training for sprint distance triathlon.

My training plan called for me to run 13.1 mile sessions four times this cycle and I've nailed all four. By "nailed" I mean completed the distance with minimal or no walking. I've also learned a lot about pace and how to pace myself. I've also had a great increase in what I call "running awareness" - that is, how and what I'm thinking about while running. Keeping my thoughts positive and frequently reviewing my mental running checklist to keep things going in the right direction.

The mental game of running has me mentally tough and ready. My form has improved and my endurance is there. I'll often come to the end of a 6 or 8 mile session and feel like I could continue without any trouble at all. I've also run my best 5K during this cycle, indicating that speed is improving, too. And lets not forget that I've been injury-free since July 2013!

Next week (week 14) is the taper. Miles will go down and there will be a bit more rest while cross training in the form of swimming and spinning will fill in some of the void.

I am ready. I will do this...Because I Can.


Waiting for Input

An early morning that doesn't have to be puts me at the table before sun up. Coffee mug in hand, sipping more flavored cream than coffee, there's a smile. Not from the flavor in the mug or the precious few minutes to enjoy the silence, but from the slogan on the mug and the mug itself. A gift in every sense of the word. "My coffee tastes better when you're running" is what I say to my track team and its whats blazoned on my mug. Handwritten in black pen against a green background with a maroon stripe circling the middle of the mug, artistically, thoughtfully, lovingly designed to mimic a running track.  Love, Jyl written vertically on the handle. The sum of the words, artwork, and thoughtfulness equalling a prized possession.