Took An Extra Day

While I took the scheduled rest day on Monday expected to return to running on Tuesday, I ended up taking an extra rest day. I found that despite taking Advil, wearing a brace and being mindful about my ankle my foot still felt not 100%. Rather than push it, I took Tuesday off from running. I was frustrated. Incredibly so. I found myself cranky and a grump, I was snappish and discontent.

The pain had decreased somewhat but I felt that one more day would be prudent. Intellectually I knew that was the correct decision but it still caused me some moments of grumpiness, concern and  a little self doubt. I have continued with the ice, massage and Advil regime in hopes that I can resume a slightly modified distance in tonight’s running.

I continue to stay focused and am desperately trying to remain relaxed about this issue that continues to plague me. I am confident that I am the best trained than I have ever been. I ran consistently through the off season. I have lost nearly 50 pounds. I am better educated about aspects of stretching and body mechanics. In those regards I am better prepared.

Despite the nagging pain, I am doing my best to approach things as a scholar. Doing what I do best-LEARNING. Being a geek. Using my love of knowledge to better myself in small ways while I continue to heal. And knowing that my body will take care of itself as long as I take care of it, or some other campy statement.

I think today I am grappling with self talk. Keeping myself motivated when things aren’t going quite as planned. As my Grandy always said, “Make your plans but don’t plan your outcome.” I can make and create all the training plans I want but I can’t, despite my best efforts, plan the outcome of every training session. With that in mind, I will continue to tend to my foot. I will take it day by day and make the ultimate decision regarding training/running at the time I plan to put on my running gear. I will accept that the decisions I make will ultimately result in the best marathon I can produce.

Not the most uplifting or informative blog today, but hopefully will help those that might also be struggling realize they aren’t the only ones.

Happy Running!



The Changes to the Marine Corps Marathon

At the beginning of the week the Marine Corps Marathon made an announcement that they would be making an announcement. They were vague in the reason for the announcement other than to say it related to the race time, course and transportation. I laughed and said it’s a race, what else could they be discussing. The pre-annoucement immediately triggered theories and rumors throughout various Facebook groups. Nerves and anxiety  began to grow. People started making plans for every conceivable contingency.

Much of the issue thus far has been related to the DC Metro system. For those not local to DC, the Metro system has been going through extensive repairs due to safety concerns and issues. There are regular fires, smoke issues and derailments. For many years there have been jokes about the unreliability of the system. Sadly, a rider died as a result of the issues related to Metro. There are no more jokes, instead pure frustration. For many the Metro is the only source of transportation in the city the changes in track times and closed lines, often during peak hours when people are commuting is causing anger in the community.

Typically during large events, sporting events and especially the MCM, the Metro either remains open later or opens earlier. However since they have begun the repair process known as SafeTrack, they have not deviated from their schedule. They no longer make exceptions for events as they utilize those off hours to make the necessary repairs. the repairs are so necessary that the Transportation Security has threatened to close down the entire system until Metro repairs every single issue. A threat that has thankfully not come to fruition.

Metro’s lack of exception to their policy has been known since the beginning of the lottery process. However for out of towners who were not aware of the situation and booked hotels on opposite sides of the city, expected as they always have that Metro would be open have been panicking. Many thought that MCM would prevail and that Metro would back down from their firm stance. They cited the amount of money we bring to the city. The publicity. The positive benefits the city reaps from our presence. All “benefits” that may or may not be true nor balance out the budgetary aspects of opening earlier. But due to the nature of the repairs and their reason-SAFETY-they are holding firm in their refusal to open.

The announcement that came via a Facebook live video laid out the MCM’s new plan for race day. The resulting changes are actually quite positive for runners.

The start corral will remain open until 8:55 am. This will give runners an entire hour from the time the howitzer fires until the last runner must cross the starting mat. This allows those snarled in Metro or other transportation issues to still get started.

The other plus side of this change is those runners that in are corrals at the 7:55 start will actually have more time to “Beat The Bridge.” The dreaded bridge is the 14th Street bridge, runners must be at the bridge by 1:15 pm in order to finish. The bridge is approximately 19.5 miles into the race.  By extending the start time, the deadline to reach the bridge was also slightly extended. In other words I have over five hours to travel 20 miles.

This year does have the added caveat that you then must be over the one mile bridge by 1:36 pm. I will admit that the 14th Street bridge is the longest mile known to man. It feels like it takes hours to cross, usually because you have pushed yourself so hard to make that cut off that you are filled with relief to have made it and thereby missed the straggler bus.

There were also a few other course changes announced, they shaved a few miles off the Rock Creek Park loop and added them to Crystal City. A change I am ambivalent about, while I am grateful that there is less time in Rock Creek Park, I’m not a huge Crystal City fan. Though honestly I am so grateful about the bridge and start time that I feel that those areas I typically struggle with at the end will be a bit easier to tackle.

The initial thoughts and concern were justified given previous years snafus, but I felt that this year the race director truly came up with a solution that takes any unnecessary additional stressors off the runners. In fact, there is some relief for runners who fear their ability to beat the dreaded bridge.

Back to focusing on training and less on logistics.

Happy Running!



Rest Days Are The Best Days

Thankfully Monday was a rest day. Last week I switched it up since I have class on Tuesday and took my rest day on Tuesday, however due to my ankle/foot pain I decided to follow the schedule as it’s written. I figured that was the prudent course of action to allow my foot to recover and reduce the aggravation. I spent the evening with my foot packed in an ice pack followed by a gentle massage by Jesi. 

Before I struck out yesterday to tag the property line I questioned whether I should, given the uneven woody terrain mixed with the extra mile I had done on Saturday. But thinking the property line needed to be more visible with the coming hunting season, I ignored my concern and marked forward with my plan.

Unfortunately, I think the uneven terrain really put stress on my cranky ankle tendon. Since I am doing a shortened marathon training plan, I am being even more mindful than usual with pain that seems out of the norm. I am not overly cautious, in fact I would probably say I am a bit reckless and head in the sand about pain. However, this time around I am being mindful of my body and taking the time now to make sure that I maintain the positive progress I have made this year.

As incredibly frustrated as I am by this temporary set back, I am pleased that I am taking the time to recover.This year I am pleased that I am stopping for a few minutes to take care of myself, unlike in years past when I would just push through the discomfort. I think that has been an important lesson to learn and process. Also it is making me look at other areas that I can work on, from upper body strength to my sit ups for my fitness test.

I will admit that I had a few moments of wallowing, but I am trying to maintain a forward focus and remember that pain is temporary….the length of temporary will be shorter if I am patient. While in most things I am patient, my recovery process is sometimes something I am less than patient about so I am trying to take this as a lesson in patience. Also, I find that I am learning more about the recovery process and by extension I am learning the stretches and post run recovery that I need to hone in on in order to ensure that this issue does not plague me after I recover. As much as I am not thrilled about doubling up my running and class time, I will see what a night of rest brings and then return to my training plan as scheduled tomorrow.

How do you handle set backs when you have physical snafus? Comment below and let me know.

Happy Running!

Sunday Cross-Training In The Woods and Installing Gates

According to my training plan, Sunday a day devoted to 60 minutes of cross training. This is meant to help your body recover from the previous days long run through active recovery. It also helps build endurance and promotes muscle health through the use of non-running muscles.

The list of cross training options is pretty extensive: walking, hiking, biking, swimming and rowing; just to name a few. For me this Sunday was dedicated to hiking through the woods at my West Virginia cabin tagging the property line. While not cross training, but just as important and exciting we reinstalled/repaired the driveway gate that had been damaged by the tree removal company. IMG_7064

I had a bit of a challenge with the lower portion of the property line since nothing in the entire state of West Virginia is level. I  was angled at a 90 degree slope the entire hike. A task made even more difficult by watching the ground so as not to step on any thing one should not step on, i.e. scat, large holes, downed tree branches/trees or tangle of large snakes. (The last one being a valid fear for a multitude of reasons including the fact that I had seen a ring neck snake not two hours prior). Of course while looking down you are presented with the challenging of not walking into a still upright tree or a low hanging branch that is at eye level.

My wife, bless her14086419_10154559307509175_895156666728329858_o heart, was concerned that I would be shot if I stepped on the wrong side of the property line while marking. In her defense, it is a valid concern in the deep woods of West Virginia. Sadly the only vibrantly colored clothing we have are the neon orange fleece hoodies that are worn during hunting season. I should say again FLEECE HOODIE! It is August, even though we are in the mountains it is still AUGUST and therefore 90+ degrees. Also, Jesi was worried if I tripped and fell over one of the many things listed above she would be able to find me more easily. Not wanting to worry her anymore than she already was about me striking out into the deep woods, I dressed up a neon orange FLEECE.

All but one portion of the property was marked in neon orange spray paint, because of the age of many of the trees and the horrific wind storms that have hammered the mountain, many of my usually marked trees were down so I struggled to properly mark the one border. Hopefully when the leaves come down in the fall I will have better luck spotting the last remaining border.

More exciting than the cross training the hiking  provided, I was thrilled to repair the fence that the local electric company in conjunction with the tree pruning company damaged. The logistics of replacing a seven foot long gate when the property is literally six miles up the side of the mountain on a sparsely graveled road and your only vehicle is a VW GTi, causes a bit of consternation. On top of the frustration was the fact that we hadn’t been notified of the damage and did not receive any communication from the company despite my attempts to get in touch with them.

On a lark I once again looked at the gate, something I have been doing for the two years since the mishap and finally realized that I just needed to reset the hinges and we should be good to go. I also realized that there wasn’t anything I could do the fence to further damage it or destroy it.

IMG_7057  IMG_7058

The gate had been install roughly 20 years ago and was truly a family affair…it took all three of to get the large gate lined up properly hung while someone else pushed in the pins. Thankfully Jesi and I managed it just the two of us with patience and a lot of movement in tiny increments. We were both surprised that it really only took about 10 minutes to get the gate rehung. We were even more excited that the gate seems to swing even better than it did before. Although, the process added to our frustration that the tree company not only crushed the gate, but it’s obvious that they had taken the gate out of the brackets, rather then adjust the hinges back to the proper height. But the task is done and we are super proud of ourselves that we fixed it!


Sunday was a funday mixed with cross training and productivity. Though I think that I need to invest in some neon gear that is more summer appropriate, I think I sweated out at least three pounds.

What kinds of things do you like to do on your cross training days?

Happy Running!

Saturday Long Run

My first solo long run of the training year. Ten miles in sub 2 hours. I am still giddily allowing that to sink in-a sub two hour 10 miles. Actually I was only suppose to do nine miles but I was feeling pretty good and decided to take the long way home and add that extra mile to my run.

In terms of walk versus run ratio, I definitely ran more than I walked. My walking was at a minimum. I tried instead to slow my pace down rather than just walk. I also made it a goal to run all inclines and hills, and I stuck with that goal pretty solidly.

I typically do the bulk of my long run miles in the local cemetery, a location that creeps most people. Honestly it’s a quiet location with a nicely paved two mile loop, if you run in the inner paths it is a little more than two. Also there is a clean bathroom and a drinking fountain. For my inner history buff, there are graves of soldiers that have fought in every war (American Revolutionary War to present). The largest portion of those graves coming from the Civil War. Also, Francis Scott Key and Barbara Fritchie are both buried there as well as several other famous people.

The path is well maintained, it is majority flat but has some slight inclines and with the various paths along the way one can “chose your own adventure” route so you never get bored. At least I don’t. Also, it mimics some portions of the Marine Corps Marathon which allows me to do some visualization of the course while I run.

The other exciting part of the run was that I still felt strong at the end of the run. I don’t think I could have done another mile on top of my impromptu additional mile, but I felt like I gave a strong and consistent effort throughout the run and still felt decent. I was a bit tired but not overly so. I also found that I didn’t need to consume my “marathon cookies” along the way, something I usually need to do at the halfway point because I feel depleted. I did find that I needed more water than I typically do but our dinner the night before was a little higher in sodium than most (and I have my marathoncookies.jpgmonthly friend) so I was a bit more depleted than usual.

Just to explain, my “marathon cookies” are nothing more
than the store brand version of
vanilla Oreo cookies. For some reason they have to be cheap store brand version. Literally the only time of year that I crave them is during marathon training. They are the perfect size to fit in my hydration belt and they have just the right amount of sugar to give me a much needed boost when the time is there.

Overall, I would rate the run a solid 8.5 out of 10. I think the biggest hindrance is maintaining a consistent pace. I have a tendency of starting out too fast and then slowing down and then speeding up. I really need to work on maintaining a consistent pace. I need to remind myself that even though I feel fabulous that I need to not allow that feeling override my plan and set pace.

That is a struggle that really short circuits my past MCM’s. I start out in the adrenaline and excitement of the race morning and allow my pace to be pushed faster than my starting pace AND at an inconsistently fast pace. I think I need to work on getting settled in sooner to conserve my energy.

I am excited that it looks like this marathon could be a sub 6 hour marathon. Potentially a sub 5 hour but that will only happen if I can maintain the consistent steady pace.

How was your weekend run? Comment below and let me know.

Happy Running!


Jumping On The “Moonshoe” Bandwagon

I’m a little late to the party but I finally joined the crowd and got a pair of Hoka One One’s. Or as Jesi and I affectionately call them “moonshoes.” I typically wear the Brooks Pure Flow when they don’t change it so much that it hurts my feet. Thinking back to Pure Flow 2 when they decided diagonal lacing would be a great idea, I had so much ankle pain I thought my foot was broken. Thankfully enough people complained that they changed the lacing back. Setting aside the brand, I prefer to run in a minimal drop shoe. Anything more than a 5mm drop is uncomfortable for me.

For those new to the running world, the drop refers to the difference between the heel height and the forefoot height. As you can see from the screen shot of the Rstack heighunning Warehouse website, the heel of the Pure Flow 4 is 24mm while the forefoot is 20mm, the difference between these two figures: 4 is the “drop” of the show. The lower that drop figure the closer to a “natural”/”barefoot” experience you will have.

As much as I love to run in shoes with a minimal drop, I have been finding that my knees and ankle joints are becoming a bit stiffer. I am experiencing a bit more discomfort especially after longer distance runs. I realized after reading about Hoka One One shoes I could get the best of both worlds, minimal drop (they have a 0 drop) and padding.

IMG_7023I decided to take the plunge and buy a pair. Running Warehouse was having a sale and the Clifton 2, a pair that I tried at an expo last year and liked, were on clearance. I figured it was the perfect excuse to try them.They arrived on Monday to my excitement and I wore them yesterday for my 3.25 mile run.

I will admit that they don’t response quite like my Pure Flows, though I think that’s because it feels like there is fourteen feet of foam and cushioning on the bottom. As an aside, I do feel very tall in them, which for me is ALWAYS a plus regardless of comfort. Once I got use to how my foot hit the ground and the difference in response, I must admit I really enjoyed them.

They are super lightweight and they felt as weightless as my Flows. The Clifton’s were a little stiffer than I thought they would be, but I think that is a result of them being brand new out of the box as well as having a lot of nice padding.

A few of the reviews I read said that they were tight in the toe box, which for me is a good trait to have. I have very narrow feet and find that the spacious toe boxes result in my forefoot moving TOO much. I am looking forward to having a shoe that hugs my foot in the right places, giving me the stability I need.

I was glad that I read about the “how it fits” section of the website and ordered a half-size smaller than usual; at 9.5 they give my size 10’s ample room.

This isn’t meant to be an extensive review, 3.25 miles isn’t really enough pavement time to give a thorough review of the product. But so far my initial testing/run with the Hoka One One’s was a positive experience. I am looking forward to my long run this weekend and trying them out. I will alternate between the Hoka’s and my Brook’s especially when it involves speedwork. I do that think that might be the one downfall of the Hoka’s is their ability to quickly adapt for speed. But again, without having tried that I can’t speak specifically to that.

I was very nervous about trying something new, especially shoes but I felt that i needed something for those longer runs that would be help alleviate the pounding on my joints. My ultimate goal is to be a life longer runner, but if I beat the crap out of my joints in my 30’s my life long running career will end in my 40’s.

Have you found an alternative shoe that works well for you on long runs? How did you discover it? Have you found it to be a successful addition to your running closet? Comment below and let me know.

Happy Running!


Are You Strong Enough To Be A Marathoner?

Think Sheryl Crow, accordion in hand, standing on a VH1 stage. Or at least that is what came to mind when I titled this blog.

Yesterday was a rest day, actually I switched my Monday rest day with Tuesday’s miles in order to juggle class and training. I had my Tax Law course last night and knew that being in class until 8 PM wouldn’t allow for enough time to run afterward, so I made the decision to adjust my days a little bit. In years past I would just take an extra rest day or shorten the miles in order to at least get miles in. But either option would short change my training, and with a limited window to meet my goal I decided to just switch things around a bit.

Despite not running, the marathon was still in the forefront of my brain. At a few less than interesting moments during the lecture, I couldn’t help but daydream about running. I was thinking about how smoothly training is going. I was wondering why all of a sudden I seem to have hit my stride (no pun intended) when it comes to my pace and overall comfort with running.

My questions, or pondering, were answered when I came across a The Run Experience YouTube video. The short video helped me realize that the interconnectedness [push-up/fitness test training and my marathon training had resulted in my improvement. While the video is directed predominately towards the first time marathon runner, the lesson is relevant to any runner.

Nate and Carl discussed the correlation between basic movement patterns and their indicators of strength and ability. It is true that you really can’t put an objective number on determining your readiness for a marathon, especially in training. However, utilizing a “test” of sorts based on a couple different basic body movements gives you a litmus test of your readiness. One of the basic movements they discussed was the push up. While the discussed the push-up I realized that I had discovered one of the keys to my recent success.

In September 2015 my push-ups just started to come together. I had been struggling for almost five years to get the mechanics right only to struggle getting down low enough in the push-up to meet the requirements of the law enforcement fitness test. I was told, and used as an excuse, that woman weren’t meant to do an unmodified push up. That it was an unfair test. However I wanted to pass that test…I wanted to successfully complete a minimum of 18 push-ups to demonstrate my equality with other (i.e. male) candidates.

This one particular day, I got down in the push up position and it just clicked. All the muscles seemed to work together and suddenly I was completing 5 unmodified push-ups to required depth. I have been improving every single day ever since.

The video mentions that ten is a solid and attainable number, in other words if you can complete ten push ups you are ready. I don’t feel, and I don’t think their premise, that if you can’t do ten push ups you can’t run a marathon. But from personal experience, I would say that there is a direct correlation about your ability and ease of completing a marathon compared to the total number of unmodified push-ups you can complete.

I can comfortably do 22 unmodified push-ups, 25 if I pause and catch my breath at the top. I think this ability has had a direct impact on my ability to run longer distances and at quicker average paces.

Successful push-ups have meant that it is easier to keep my body in an upright posture, allowing me to breath easier. Also I can maintain proper form through my hips and back. Lastly, it has helped with my breathing in making sure that I don’t hold my breath through the hard stuff or hyperventilate trying to get through it, two things that I often do in times of physical exertion.

There is also a mental boost as a result of the success, I worked hard for five years. Trying everything new process, asking for helping and researching strength techniques-everything I could think of to successfully complete push-ups. And I did it. I pushed through the self doubt and doubt from others.

I personally feel that Nate and Carl provide some great techniques and information about the correlation between the basic body strength exercises and your ability and success as a marathoner. I have linked the video below so you can watch it.

(As an aside, I’m personally not a huge fan of Nate’s see-saw forward motion on his push up but the overall form is good)

Happy Running! (And video watching)