Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ran With A Heavy Heart

As you know, my friend and fellow marathoner Tim Feeney passed away on December 18th. I had been scheduled to run the Jacksonville Bank half-marathon on Sunday, December 21st. I had thought about not running, but decided this would be a good way to "celebrate" Tim's life. With all the things going on in the days prior to the race, I had not eaten or slept properly. I was concerned that it would be a futile attempt. A group of runners from Orlando were going, so it helped to have the support.

We drove up to Jacksonville on Sunday morning, leaving the Orlando area at 3:30am. We arrived there just before 6:00am, the race start was scheduled for 7:00am. I felt better as the start time came closer. In tribute to Tim, I wore the shirt from the 2006 Disney World Marathon. That was the only marathon Tim and I ran together, it was his first. The weather was nice about 60 degrees at the start. The cannon sounded and we were off. I wasn't sure how I would run the race, something I usually have planned well in advance of the start. I decided to let Tim's spirit guide me. I knew I was being well taken care of.

My splits were good averaging about 8:15 per mile for the first half of the race. It began to warm up in the second half of the race. I remember reaching mile 10 making the turn onto Baymeadows Road. I was starting to tire, but felt a gentle push at my back easing me forward. I knew Tim was with me giving me that extra little push I needed when it got tough. The last 300 yards of the race is on the track at the Bolles School. It is a beautiful synthetic track with spectators around the perimeter as well as in the stands. I wasn't exactly sure of my pace or time at that point, but I put on one final charge into the last turn and down the home stretch. When I saw the clock at the finish, Tim and I had achieved a new PR of 1:51:53.

The photo was taken following the race.

On Monday, we had a memorial service for Tim and said "goodbye".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Finish Line - Tim Feeney

This is a post that I hoped I would never have to publish. Recently, I had a post telling you about Tim and Susan Feeney. I wrote about Tim's battle with brain cancer since June 2006.

Below is the e-mail that Susan sent out this morning.

"Tim lost his courageous battle this morning at 5:15am, with me at his side. It was peaceful. He ran this marathon for a long time with strength, dignity and grace. Approaching each mile marker with always the most positive attitude. He ran a 30 month race and we crossed the finish line today, together. But I stopped and he ran on. I know he's reached that special place by now and he's at peace. He will be greatly missed."

When I spoke with Susan today, I mentioned I was supposed to run tonight. Her response was instantaneous, "you better, Tim's watching!" We ran our usual route, only tonight we stopped on a dock that goes onto Lake Baldwin. We paused, gave thanks to Tim and knowing that he was watching, moved off quickly.

The evening before Tim's passing I had the opportunity to visit him one last time. Raymond and Sheri from our running group stopped by his house. Tim was resting peacefully as we spoke to him. There were no outward signs from Tim that he heard our voices. We then visited with Susan for about one hour. As we were leaving, I returned to Tim's room. I leaned over him and told him we were going to run another marathon one day. He stirred, I know he heard me and was saying, "lace them up and let's go". At 5:15 am he left us to get a good spot on the starting line. I can hear the angels telling him to go to the front you earned the elite position.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

OUC Half-Marathon & 5K

Another week, another event for the Orlando runners. The photo is of some of the people from our running group; Shannon, Carol, me, Sheri, Bob (Hemingway) and Heather. They all ran the half-marathon, me I ran the 5K. I'm not sure who stuck the bottle of beer in my hand.

Over 2,500 runners participated in the event. It was a great morning for a run. The temperature was in the 50's and it was overcast. In past years this race has been run on very warm days.

Prior to the race I saw Maddy and Shirley in the crowd.

I have a couple of weeks off until the Jacksonville Bank half-marathon on December 21st.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Space Coast Marathon

Just a quick follow-up to my last post. As you can tell the theme is all about the astronauts and space travel. Above are a few of the "perks" of the race. They redesigned the finishers medal, making it about three times the size from previous years. Instead of a mylar blanket at the finish you get a colorful beach towel. The award for my 2nd place finish in my age group, is a photo of Florida taken from a space shuttle...awesome! It was a fun race.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What It's All About

I have had the priviledge of being a "Group Leader" with the MarathonFest Training Program here in Orlando, FL. I started with this program as just another runner in June 2004. Over the years, my focus has shifted from my goals, to assisting new runners complete their first marathon, or veteran runners improve their personal best times.

In June 2008, my co-leader Kim and I took to the roads with approximately 25 runners. The majority of the group was comprised of runners who had completed between one and nine marathons. As a group, we collectively had completed over 80 marathons! While the experience factor was there, the excitement and passion to train and improve was visible.

Within the group we had two runners who had never attempted to run a marathon. It would be the goal of Kim and I as leaders to help guide Aileen and Tom through 25 weeks of training. Both of them trained very hard to reach the start line of today's marathon. I could see the anticipation in their faces and their moods as it became time to test themselves on the road.

The day began slightly overcast, but very blustery. There was a wind of about 15-20mph, with gusts even higher. During the race these conditions continued. We trained for many different scenarios, heat, cold, humidity, but never wind. I have never run on such a windy day.

I was positioned near the finish area in Riverfront Park awaiting their arrival. First it was Aileen, then Tom a short time later. To paraphrase a line from the Master Card commercial, the look on their faces "PRICELESS!" It was a wonderful achievement for them to complete the marathon.

This is what running is all about. Sharing the achievements of your group, your "team". Being part of and sharing in a moment Aileen and Tom will never forget. I don't recall who said it about running your first marathon. "Nobody can ever take that away from you"!

CONGRATULATIONS to Aileen and Tom. It is runners or more importantly, people like you who keep me going. Thank You!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank You

I would like to thank everyone who has visited this blog and especially those who have left such heartfelt comments for Tim and Susan. A special "Thank You" to Shirley and Charlie, who added this story to their blogs.

I saw Tim and Susan on Saturday morning and Tim wanted to talk about marathons. On Sunday, another friend and marathoner Raymond, took Tim out for a walk in his wheelchair. Tim wanted to go to Cady Way Park where our training group meets for our weekend runs.

In my other blog "The Pink Bandanna", I close with "Prayers & Love". To all of you and to Tim and Susan, my "Prayers & Love".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Moment to Reflect

The photo is of Tim and Susan Feeney. I took the photo one day after the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon. We had met at the World War II Memorial and walked around the monuments pausing to eat lunch at a hot dog truck. Best hot dog I ever had!

Tim was unable to run the marathon with us. In June 2006, several days after completing the Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD, Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumor. For over two years he has fought hard and endured pain and treatment which puts a marathon in the category of "a walk in the park". I often feel a sense of guilt when I complain about an ache or a pain. We can take two Tylenol and and put an ice pack on the injury and it goes away. Unfortunately, all of the modern technology and medicines could not take Tim's tumor away. Several weeks ago Tim made a decision to cease any further treatment for the tumor. He is at home with Susan and is receiving hospice care.

He has been running about the same time as myself, four plus years. We have done training runs, 5K's, 10K's, halfs and marathons together. He was a "Group Leader" in our training program, teaching new runners how to adapt to the rigors of marathon training. He helped many runners accomplish goals they never thought possible. However, no matter how hard we try, we cannot help Tim achieve the goal of health.

As runners we enter a race with the goal being the finish line. Tim is running the race of and for his life and this time we don't want to see the finish line. We want someone to declare a false start and go back to when things were fun and we laughed and told stories.

Susan has been continuing her running, in fact she completed a training run this morning. She may be tiny, but her nickname is "Big Dog". Several years ago Susan didn't think she could run with our pace group. The old saying is, "if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch." Well, Susan got off the porch and ran with the "Big Dogs".

I read a quote from Olympic champion Jesse Owens that's speaks to the battle Tim is facing. "The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at."

Please keep Tim and Susan in your prayers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mohawk-Hudson Marathon

I awoke to a crisp clear day in Albany, New York, on Sunday, October 12th. I left Orlando with temperatures in the 80's with the ever present humidity. A walk outside to the back porch gave me a view of a large thermometer reading 42 degrees. This is the kind of day runners in Central Florida dream about. It had been almost two years since I had ran the Chicago Marathon in 40 degree weather.

I was looking forward to this marathon for several reasons. Jennifer, who I have been training with in MarathonFest was running, as well as her best friend Peggy, who lives in Albany. It was a chance for me to return to New York for a mini vacation as well. I spent several days visiting with my family in the Syracuse area. Two other runners from MarathonFest, Hung and Melissa, were also participants.

The race limits entries to 650. The 5K's here in Orlando easily double that figure. It was nice to be part of such a small marathon after running in places like New York City, Chicago and the Marine Corps Marathon with over 30,000 runners. 18 miles of the course are along the paved bike trail adjacent to the Mohawk and Hudson River's. It is a point-to-point run from Schenectady to Albany. There is a net elevation drop of 370 feet.

I was concerned with a "late" start time of 8:30am. By then the temperature had risen to a balmy 44 degrees! Dressed in two tech shirts, one long-sleeved, shorts and gloves, I felt very comfortable. You would think someone from Florida would have been dressed in a snowsuit.

At 8:30 sharp, the horn sounded and we were off. I checked my watch and it took 16 seconds for us to cross the start line. This was the first year in the 26 year history of the marathon that they used timing chips! Being cold, I wanted to begin slowly and allow my body to warm up. No muscle pulls in the first few miles. I would say that within the first two miles I felt comfortable and warmed up.

After the first 3 miles through a residential neighborhood in Schenectady, we moved onto the bike trail. At approximately mile 4, we turned and for the first time saw the Mohawk River several hundred feet below. The day was clear with virtually unlimited visibility. Autumn was in full color and the views were spectacular. Only when we left the bike trail and entered the cities did the view become less than colorful. I was very happy to return to the trail for the final 5 miles into Albany.

Jennifer and I were setting what felt like a comfortable pace. We were passing some runners and others passed us. We managed to run together for the first 9 miles at which time we split up. The miles are marked with cones and a fluorescent orange lines painted on the pavement. The first time clock was located at the half-marathon point. Up to then we had to rely on our watches. I arrived at the half way point in 2:01:30. I was a bit surprised because I didn't think I was running that fast. Bottom line I was feeling great! the next clock was at mile 20 which read 3:08:08, still ahead of my goal time and my previous PR.

Physically I felt good throughout the marathon. I'm not sure what others experience, but I always have that little gremlin on my shoulder at about mile 22 who repeatedly tells me what an idiot I am for attempting to run 26.2 miles. It's a good thing much of the time I was running alone, cursing the gremlin and trying to get rid of him! I really struggled between mile 23 and 24. Once I got within the final 2 miles, I knew I had defeated the gremlin.

With approximately one-half mile left, I began to pick up the pace. The crowds were their largest and the finish was in sight. I looked for the clock at the finish and was thrilled to see it at 4:12:58.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taper Time

Yes, I'm still out here in the "Blogosphere". I've been running with only one brief slowdown due to a minor flare-up of tendinitis in my left ankle. That's what happens to "Running Geezers!"

My marathon is scheduled for October 12th. I am running the "Mohawk-Hudson Marathon" in Albany, NY. Actually, it is a point-to-point race from Schenectady to Albany. 18 miles of the run are on paved trails along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. The course has a net elevation drop of 307 feet. It will be a small marathon as the field is limited to 650 runners! I am looking forward to the cooler weather that awaits us.

With one more long run scheduled for September 20th, 24 miles, we have begun talking about "TAPERING". The October issue of "Runner's World" has an article on the subject. They also have several articles from years past available on-line. Following the long run, our mileage and intensity will decrease as we near race day. In the past I have followed a similar schedule, with little distance during the week prior to the race.

Several key points that "Runner's World" raises are; "athletes can achieve an optimal taper if they reduce their mileage by 41 to 60 percent but keep the training frequency steady. Additionally, they say, "marathoners need at least two to three weeks of reduced volume."

Do you taper? How do you approach the two weeks prior to a marathon?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boilermaker 15K

On Sunday, July 13th, the 31st annual "Boilermaker 15K" was held in Utica, NY. Over 10,000 runners were registered for the race. As with most locations around the country, mid-July can be hot and humid. The weather forecasts in the week leading up to Sunday were indicating temperatures into the 90's. Even though I train in Florida, I know that at high temperatures you must slow the pace. So, I was prepared to run the race as a training run if necessary.

On Sunday morning I awoke at 4:00am to find the temperature at 81 degrees! What wasn't in the forecast was the rain that started at 5:00am. We drove most of the way to Utica in a rain storm. I had my large trash bag with me to keep the rain off, or hopefully provide a dry place to sit if the rain stopped. At approximately 7:15am, 45 minutes prior to the start the rain stopped. The announcer kept asking the crowd to pray for sunshine. I knew what the conditions would be if the sun started to heat the humid air. We lucked out and the official start time temperature was 75 degrees with the humidity at 75%, not as bad as it could have been. Several areas along the course are open and there was a nice breeze blowing. All in all the conditions were OK.

For a 15K race the spectators from the community are out in force. Water stops are plentiful and bands are dotted along the course. At about the 8.8 mile mark they had a bagpipe band that gave me the extra boost for the final one-half mile. Crossing the finish line I realized I had set a new PR for the distance at 1:21:20.

The photo is of my niece Eileen who ran the 5K and set a PR and my nephew Jim, who to bloggers is "Runner's Anonymous". He too set a PR for 15K. Quite the family event.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just Another Runner?

Last weekend I was in Utica, New York, for the Boilermaker 15K Road Race. How many of you knew that the "National Distance Running Hall of Fame", is located there? On Saturday, I attended the race expo where Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were speaking at the "Runner's Forum". That is quite the collection of "Hall of Fame" distance runners in America.

As you can see from the photo, Kathrine Switzer was gracious enough to pose for a photo or two as well as sign an autograph and chat. The same was true for the others. I have not spent much time around athletes from other sports, but running "superstars" are the most accomodating people. I have had the opportunity to meet many others at expos and at work and they talk with you as just another runner.

In NYC last November, I got to meet Grete Waitz, the 9 time winner of the NYC marathon. Many people stood back and watched her from a distance, some approached for an autograph. Those of you who know me, I'm not shy! I started a conversation and it was like she wanted someone to talk too. She inquired about my running, was curious if I was running the NYC marathon the next day. I told her "no" as I had just completed the Marine Corps Marathon. She congratulated me, read that again, she Grete Waitz, congratulated me for running a marathon. When we finished chatting she took a hat she had under the table and autographed it for me. Needless to say that is a prized possession.

So to Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Jim Ryun, Jeff Galloway, Brian Sell, Keith Brantley, Kathrine Switzer, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers, "Thank You" for being so gracious to me, "just another runner."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Watermelon 5K

What would the "Fourth of July" be without fireworks and a 5K road race? This morning the 18th annual Watermelon 5K was held in Mead Gardens in Winter Park, FL. Close to 3,000 runners participated in the event. The morning started off comfortable, but by race time the temperature had approached the "hot" zone.

The photo is of Shirley, Geezer, Sheri and "Sponge Bob", as we awaited the start of the race. The race winds through the neighborhoods of Winter Park. Winding is an accurate definition as it seems you are always turning. It is a relatively flat course with only a few small rises along the way.

The highlight of the after race party is the abundance of sliced watermelon. Who wants a banana when there is iced watermelon! Walking through the crowd after the race, I spotted Maddy's pink bandanna. I haven't seen Maddy since a 10K in March.

It was a fun morning and a great way to say, "Happy Birthday America".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Running Safety

Sometimes running is not the fun sport it is intended to be. Tragically, here in Orlando, earlier this month a young woman was murdered while jogging. She was running alone on a normally busy trail in the early evening hours. It was daylight, but the afternoon had been stormy with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. This factor may have kept some runners from going out on the trail. There have been several incidents along this trail, but none with such tragic results. Our own Shirley, is familiar with this trail and will not use it.

While human nature tells us, "it won't happen to me", it can. It doesn't have to be along a desolate trail and you don't have to be a woman. I have a friend who while running in the Boston area, was attacked by a man carrying a knife in Harvard Square.

Prior to and since this murder, I am surprised by the number of women who run alone in the late evening and night time. Most are wearing an i-pod (which is another topic for discussion). I tell friends and the runners I coach, Do Not Run Alone!

I believe this topic must be discussed to make more runners aware of the dangers. If you have a story you would like to share, please do so. Be Safe!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Training Session

After a brief absence, I have returned to blogging. My computer quit shortly after my last posting and then my brain quit. I bought a new computer, but I wasn't able to generate any new stories. They would come and go, but never end up on the blog. So here I am!

On Saturday, June 7th, I begin another session as a "Group Leader" for the MarathonFest training program here in Orlando. The program is administered by the Track Shack Foundation. This will be my sixth session of helping to train and motivate runners to new goals and achievements. It is a lot of fun and very rewarding. I get more pleasure out of seeing a runner finish their first marathon than I do finishing mine. So many times I have heard a runner say, "I can't do that." My response is simple, "Yes you can."

I have chosen to run the Mohawk-Hudson Marathon in Albany, New York, on October 12th. It is a small race with a capacity of 700 runners. Most 5K's here in Orlando surpass that number twice or three times. I am looking forward to the marathon which is run almost entirely on a paved bike trail. The first 3 miles is in the City of Schenectady, then onto the trails along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. There is another point where you exit the trails, but in total 18 miles are run on the trails. October can be a beautiful time of the year in that area of New York. The fall foliage hopefully will be in full color as we run the course.

Our own Shirley has run this race several years ago and was struck by the beauty of the fall foliage. I will take a hint from her and be sure to carry a camera with me. The race is a Boston qualifier, maybe not this year for me. It is described as a downhill course with a net elevation drop of 370 feet. I will tie this event into a visit with family in the Syracuse, NY area. I am looking forward to October.

In 5 weeks, I will be headed to New York to run the Utica "Boilermaker" 15K. I did a post on this race back in May. The "Boilermaker" is sponsored by the Matt's Brewing Company of Utica. The company, originally Utica Club and founded in the late 1860's suffered a devastating fire two weeks ago. One of the original buildings, used for canning and bottling was destroyed. The finish of the race and the post race party, with all the free beer you want, is at the brewery. The last I heard is that the fire will not have an affect on the festivities.

Now all I have to do is get my photos ready to add to my blog and I'm back in business.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Read Any Good Books?

Funny how topics for posts happen. I was recommending a book to a friend when I realized most of you probably find time to read about running or triathlons. If you have a favorite book, please leave a comment with the information. It can be about training, an event, or a person. I have several favorites, most given to me as presents, here are three of my favorites.

"Anything for a T-Shirt", by Ron Rubin. This is the biography of Fred Lebow, who was the founder of the New York City Marathon. He was a Holocaust survivor, who made his way to New York City and became one of its most celebrated residents. I was given this book prior to running the 2005 NYC Marathon. If you have run the New York City Marathon or plan to run it, you must read this book.

"Duel in the Sun", by John Brant. This is the story of what many consider the greatest marathon ever run, the 1982 Boston Marathon. The story details the lives of Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, prior to and after this marathon. These two men battled the entire distance as described by the author, "in each other's pockets."

"The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life", by Amby Burfoot. This little book, 150 pages, is packed with page after page of inspiration. Written by the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, he writes about; "winning, losing, happiness, humility and the human heart."

So, if you have a favorite book, please share it with us.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The "Geezer" Rides!

Since I have dusted off the bike for a new season, thought I'd post the "Riding Geezer". This was taken at the Killarney Station on the West Orange Trail. We were at the half way point on our 28 mile ride. For me that was the longest distance I have ever biked. Since I am only interested in biking as cross-training and "Sprint" distance triathlons, I don't expect too many "long" rides. I would like to work on my endurance up to 15 miles, and speed up to 20 mph, that should cover most "Sprint" races. Now all I need to do is get my swimming in order. I biked 14.8 miles this morning and it is beginning to feel more comfortable.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon

Registration has opened for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. In previous years it had sold out in approximately two weeks, so hurry if you want to experience it.

Funny how this post came about. I was looking at some photos from last years marathon. A group of us from Track Shack in Orlando had run it. In one of the group pictures, taken prior to the race, I thought I spotted "Marathon Chris". Last October I did not know who she was. It wasn't until the Winter Park Road Race 10K this past March that I met her. With the help of Maddy, I was able to get the photo to Chris. In a subsequent e-mail Chris asked if I had done a post on the marathon. I had not since I only started this blog in February. Bingo! Do my recap as a promotion for the marathon.

I have run eight marathons and and as far as overall satisfaction, this was the best! I was able to stay with friends in Arlington. The condo overlooked the Marine Corps Monument and the finish area. The expo was very well organized, what else would you expect from the Marine Corps. I was able to have a reunion with six of my high school classmates. Gathering with about twenty runners from Orlando at the start was fun and exciting.

The course was excellent, great support along the way. For anyone who has not run this marathon, you finish up a steep hill the last one-quarter mile. There are signs painted on the road to encourage you up the hill. There are thousands of spectators and Marines cheering you to the finish. You look up the hill and see the Marine Corps Monument at the finish, very emotional. Marines are stationed just past the finish line "presenting" the finishers medal to you. It is not handed to you like all the other marathons I've run, you stand in front of a Marine officer and they place the medal around your neck.

If you're thinking about running, sign up now.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Week of Winners!

There have been a number of events that were held during the past few weeks. I would like to recognize my friends who achieved some impressive accomplishements.

On April 13th, Keith completed the Arizona Ironman. This was his first attempt at this daunting event. A side note, after returning home, his car was stolen from his driveway. He wasn't too upset with the car being taken, but his Ironman medal was in the car. Within 24 hours, the local sheriff's department had recovered the car and the medal! The thieves obviously know nothing about Ironman triathlons.

This past Monday was the Boston Marathon. I'd like to recognize two runners and their achievements. One of my coaches, Sarah, competing in only her second marathon, ran an impressive 3:16:50. The other noteable person is Richard, who at age 75 completed his first Boston Marathon. He has completed numerous marathons and is a past Ironman finisher.

Keeping with marathons, another coach, Nate, ran his first marathon. I'll repeat that "his first" marathon in Oklahoma City. He ran a 2:36:43 and won the event!

Of course we have our own Shirley "Humble Triathlete" who ran a strong 3:56:59, at the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville, KY. Way to go Shirley.

Five runners from my training group: Sheri, Carol, Diana, Linda and Raymond, participated in the MS150 bike ride this weekend. They opted to do the "long" course and traveled a total of 166 miles. The ride raised money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Congratulations!

For those of you who are not from the Orlando area, consider this. On Thursday evening, with temperatures in the low 80's, over 10,000 runners and walkers participated in the IOA Corporate 5K race. The race stages in the "Citrus Bowl" in Orlando.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boilermaker 15K

The photo is of the "Geezer" along with my nephew aka "Runner's Anonymous", prior to the "Boilermaker 15K" in 2007. The race is held in the Central New York city of Utica. This year the race will be held on July 13th, and we both plan on being there. Contrary to popular belief, the race is not named for the intoxicating combo of a shot and a beer. Rather, it is named for one of the major manufacturing facilities, Utica Boilers, Inc. For many years this race was the largest 15K in the United States, attracting over 10,000 runners, 2007 was the 30th anniversary. This year it was surpassed by the "Gate River Run", in Jacksonville, FL.

For a Florida runner like myself, it is a hilly course. Locals in Utica and "up north" are not as impressed with the hills. Two years ago I was running up one of the hills around mile 7 and found myself next to a young man who was huffing and puffing. He was cursing the hills as we moved along. I asked him where he was from, figuring he was another "flatlander" like me. His response surprised me, he said, "Utica." He went on to tell me he doesn't like to train on hills!

The July date also makes it a very hot run. The start time is 8:00am, please move it to 7:00am! The course has an average of three (3) water/Gatorade/ice stops per mile, that's correct, twenty-seven (27) stops! The locals are also helpful in bringing out the garden hoses and spraying the runners.

The event attracts many world class athletes, including myself (just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) There is a contingent of Kenyan runners, along with top U.S. runners. Brian Sell, a qualifier for the 2008 Olympic marathon, ran in 2006. Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter are regulars each year.

Do you have a favorite race you would like to tell us about? Maybe one not familiar to the readers. What is your "secret" race?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How Do You Supplement?

One thing I have learned about runners, is that everyone has a different taste when it comes to supplements. A quick list of what I have observed and/or tried include; gels, shot blocks, power bars, fig newtons, pretzel bits, sport beans and "Smucker's Uncrustables". Additionally, there are any number of electrolyte drinks and capsules.

Personally, I supplement my long runs with "gel". At the present time I am using "Hammer" brand, plain flavor. I have used other brands and flavors, but cannot distinguish a marked difference in the result. On average, I consume one packet every hour. At races that provide a sports drink, I will drink one small cup every other stop, alternating with water. With the high temperatures and humidity we experience here in Florida, I have added "Succeed- S!caps". They contain only sodium-341mg and potassium-21mg. The recommended dosage is one capsule per hour.

Once again I am asking for your input and/or suggestions. What do you use?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

26.2 with Donna

John Lennon wrote, "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one....." Not only are the organizers of the "26.2 with Donna-The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer", dreamers, they are doers.

I know that February 15, 2009 seems far off, but now is the time to start thinking about registering for the marathon or half-marathon. Registration is open.

Many of us who ran the race this year have our hotel rooms reserved and will be registering soon. I am not sure if I will do the "full" or "half", but I will be there. If you are not a long distance runner, you now have more than enough time to train and participate. Once again, 100% of all money raised goes directly to the Donna Hicken Foundation and the Mayo Clinic.

The race organizers have been very responsive to the input of the runners and several changes have been made for the 2009 race. Most importantly, they have moved the start time back one hour to 7:30am.

I will keep bringing this event to the forefront of this blog. The photo entitled "The Kodak Moment", showing my friend Donna, who is currently battling breast cancer, is a permanent fixture.

If you are a new visitor to this blog, please read some earlier posts from February. They are; "The Kodak Moment", "It's Not Christmas" and "Mind Over Matter". All three relate to the 2008 race.

"Imagine" what we can do.

The photograph was taken at the John Lennon Memorial, "Strawberry Fields", in Central Park, New York City.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Looking For The Clock!

I usually don't like the photos that are taken at races, also don't like the price. However, I decided I liked this photo and bought the digital image.

This was about fifty feet from the finish line at the Winter Park Road Race 10K.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Winter" in Orlando

No, the reference to "winter" has nothing to do with the season. It was 62 degrees at 7:30am today. The reference to "winter" is for the CNL Winter Park Road Race 10K, that was held this morning. It is one of the largest races in the Orlando area, over 2,000 runners participated.

My training for the past six months has focused on increasing my speed. I had hesitated in the past fearing injury. I have been running two evenings a week with a group called "Five & Dime". It is a training program run by the Track Shack, a running store in Orlando. The program is designed to improve 5K and 10K performance. Since I began my "speed" training, I have set PR's in the half-marathon (thanks Shirley!) and the 5K. This was my first 10K in two years.

I had been focusing on this race since January. I approached it like a marathon. This past week, I watched my diet, rested and adjusted my training pace and distance. So, this morning I was ready to attempt another PR.

The day started with a two mile warm-up run to the race with several runners from my training group. We took it easy, arriving in plenty of time for a potty break and taking in some fluids. We got lined up and off we went. For those of you who are not familiar with Winter Park, it is a beautiful community with gorgeous homes and large shade trees. The course was primarily flat, except for the "Alabama" hill just after the two mile mark.

I kept an eye out for the split times along the way. I entered the long home stretch feeling good. (Remember my Jeff Galloway post?). I had an idea of what my time would be, but I strained to see the large digital clock over the finish line. Yes, I had done it! A new 10K PR of 46:31.

The photo is of "Coach" Wayne, he's the tall guy on the left, the "Geezer", "Sponge Bob" and Winston, who began running with me four years ago. He won't mind if I tell you he is 71 years young! Photo courtesy of Lorraine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nutrition - No, Just Food

"Dietary requirements for proper health and development." That's how the dictionary defines nutrition. I might take issue with that, but the dictionary has been around longer than me.

There are not too many of us who don't love to eat. Now comes the tricky part, what should we eat. I'm not going to attempt to tell you, as each of us have our own diet and knows what works best.

I would like this post to be interactive and have each of you give me a short list of what foods you prefer while training. They can be entrees, side dishes, snacks and yes, dessert. Nothing technical, no details, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. If you enjoy it, that's good enough for me! My list includes; broiled or baked chicken breasts, black beans and rice, baked sweet potatoes, frozen yogurt in place of ice cream. I eat "Trail Mix Crunch" a Post brand cereal. It's good as a cold or hot cereal and also as a snack.

The photo is the aftermath of a pre-marathon dinner in Chicago 2006. A group of us went to Trattoria Roma, 1535 N. Wells, for an incredible Italian dinner. Thank you Renea for finding the restaurant. I PR'd the next day, so whatever I ate worked!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Triathlete - Who Me?

OK, so there is no "Ironman" tattoo yet. If the "Ironman" is the pinnacle of achievement for triathletes, I'm somewhere below "Aluminium Foil Man".

It all started when I was trying to convince my friend Sheri to do a second marathon. In a moment of weakness I said, "if you do another marathon, I'll do a triathlon." Little did I expect her to say, "yes." Now what do I do? I do a triathlon, that's all. Easy to say when you don't even own a bike! From what I understood that is a key piece of equipment necessary to compete. I also learned that there were triathlons called "Sprint" distance that do not require double digit hours in order to complete.

So, I purchased a bike and all the equipment. I'm a runner where all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a pair of shorts. So with the help of Sheri and Bob aka "Sponge Bob", I was ready to begin to practice. It is correct to say you never forget how to ride a bike. However, I'm a "Geezer", I grew up with a one speed bike that weighed 43 pounds! My problem wasn't riding or reaching speeds I barely do in my car, I had a problem stopping. More accurately, staying upright after stopping. Foot or feet must be firmly planted on solid ground. How many of you remember Arte Johnson riding his tricycle on "Laugh In", remember how he always tipped over? Maybe I watched too many episodes.

In May of 2006, I entered a "Sprint Relay", I'm no fool, I did the run. In August of 2006, I participated in my first solo, the "Babes & Bums Triathlon". Now to confuse me more about this sport, they reversed the order of events. We started out running, then cycling, then the swim. When all was said and done, I finished 2nd in my age group! (There were only two "Geezers") I did the "Babes & Bums" in August 2007 and placed 3rd in my age group. There were actually five competitors this time!

So, I will be dusting off my bike and getting ready for at least two triathlons this year. Maybe I can finish this year at least a "Tinman".

The photo is of Sheri, Bob and I after a duathlon, they canceled the swim due to rough seas in the ocean. Don't pay any attention to my left knee, it was just an "Arte Johnson" moment. Thank you Sheri and Bob for all your help and staying far enough away that I don't crash into you. I think Sheri owes me another marathon.

I really hope my friend and blog buddy "Humble Triathlete" is too busy training for her "Ironman" that she misses this post :-) In case she reads it, thank you Shirley!

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Anniversary

This month marks the 4th anniversary of my return to running. As I mention in my "profile", I had no long term goal in March 2004. I joined an introductory running group presented by a local running store, the Track Shack.

I showed up to find the two coaches, Bob and Jim, eagerly welcoming the new participants. Several were returning from a previous training session so they knew the system. Surveying the group I saw that it was comprised of all age groups, fitness levels, ethnic groups and about a 4:1 female vs. male ratio.

I had arrived early, that's my nature, always on time. We acknowledged each other as we awaited the start of the session. As we were brought together by the coaches, I met a lady by the name of Lena. I remember two things, she was from New York and she kept telling me she ran like a duck. I can only tell that now because 4 years later Lena and I are still very good friends. We were directed to run around Lake Eola, situated in a beautiful park in downtown Orlando. Someone mentioned it was about one mile around the lake back to our location. The group of about 25 quickly spread out. Lena and I teamed up and made it about one-quarter of the way around the lake. I remember stopping with her and wondering what in hell I was doing out there. I was exhausted after running, no jogging, 400 yards. We walked maybe 100 yards and ran a little more. We finally made it, we finished one complete lap of Lake Eola! That's when the coaches told us to do it again. I don't have a recollection of the second lap, by then I was exhausted. You hear about hitting "the wall" but not in a one mile run.

As the weeks went on, Lena and I became quite proficient. I'm not sure which week it was, but we made one lap without stopping! At this point I had also befriended Winston, a jovial man in his late 60's. He was from New Jersey via London via British Guyana. He and I still run, he is now in his 70's.

What I gained from the 10 weeks of training was the ability to move on to the next level of training. The group was now discussing doing a 5K run on the 4th of July. There was also a whisper of "half-marathon" in the group. What had happened to the group of novice runners who showed up that March evening? We were turning into runners. We had the proper running shoes, we wore "technical" shirts and used Body Glide.

We passed the test on our first 5K. With the help of the Jeff Galloway Training Program, we were slowly becoming distance runners. In December, less than one year into our training, we ran the OUC half-marathon in Orlando. As they say, "the rest is history." Today I am pleased with the progress I have made. I never thought about one marathon in March of 2004, let alone the eight that I have completed.

I cherish that night in March for two reasons, one of course is my improved physical health. Most importantly, I cherish the friendships that have developed from that night. Lena and Winston who were there with me on day one continue to run marathons. So many wonderful people who I have met, who make running not a tedious exercise, but a life experience. You're always afraid of leaving someone out but I must add a few more names. Friends who ran the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon and miles and miles of practice. Inspiration that keeps me focused and always looking to put forth just a bit more effort. So here goes; Sheri and Renea (Thelma & Louise), Wanda, Sponge Bob, Edna, Sheron & Richard, Tim & Susan aka "Big Dog", Raymond, Lorraine & Dan and more recently Jennifer and Cathy. If you have been a regular to this blog you already know about Donna!

May we all be blessed with many more years of this incredible journey.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Friends Then, Friends Now

What's better than one "Geezer"? Seven "Geezers". What is memorable about this photo is that all of us were on our high school track team in the '60's, you do the math!

We have been able to stay in touch and most recently had a reunion at the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon. Thank you my friends. Thanks Coach Clarke.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

26.2 with Donna

I was pleased to learn that my "Blog" is listed, along with several others, on the official website for "26.2 with Donna - National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer". I consider it an honor to be included. I regard the listing as an indication that what we have done, can do and will do is going to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

If this is your first visit to the blog, please see earlier posts, "The Kodak Moment", "It's Not Christmas" and "Mind Over Matter."

The photo is of our running group from Orlando, FL, prior to the race on February 17th. Thanks to Fred who was our "official" photographer.

Prayers & Love to Donna & Donna.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Head for the Hills!

For anyone living outside of Central Florida, this post may seem odd. In order for us to do any serious hill training, we must drive 30 miles west from Orlando, to Clermont, FL. At one time Clermont was one of the largest citrus producing areas in Florida. The citrus groves are all but eliminated, replaced by houses, houses and more houses. In tribute to the citrus industry, a tower, "The Citrus Tower" was built. It sits high atop a hill, visible for miles. My best description of it would be that it looks like the space shuttle waiting to be launched.

Many distance runners, cyclists and triathletes use the Clermont hills for training. The "National Training Center" is located here for good reason.

One of the final hills on the 7.5 mile loop we run is called "Hospital Hill." Yes there is a hospital nearby, how clever! I read a quote from Marty Stern, a coach at Villanova University. He said, "If a hill has its own name, then its probably a pretty tough hill." "Hospital Hill" is that.

So on Sunday morning, about 20 of us from our running group headed for the hills. We started our run in the darkness at 6:00am. "The Citrus Tower" was illuminated and looked more like the space shuttle. Up, down and around, up, down and around, up, down, we went, then it was all done in just over one hour. You feel a certain sense of accomplishment in conquering the hills.

Following the run we gathered at Cafe Bandoli for a hearty breakfast and to tell tales of our adventures on the hills. Soon after eating we made our way back to the "flatlands" of Orlando.

If we had only listened to U. S. Olympic marathon runner Don Kardong who said, "Hills, you entered a marathon with hills? You idiot."

Disclaimer - The photograph does not accurately depict the hills in Clermont, FL.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Watch Your Elbows!

I was asked to tell this story about the largest 10K race in this area, the Winter Park Road Race.
In 2005, when I was about one year into my training I signed up to run this race. I had been following the training program of Jeff Galloway, utilizing his run/walk interval system. I learned prior to the race that Jeff would be running and leading a group at a 9:30 minute per mile pace or a 59:00 minute 10K. Wow, I can run my first 10K and I can run with a former Olympian, it doesn't get any better than this!

A group of us met up with Jeff and we lined up for the start. Off we went trying to keep up with Jeff as he dodged around runners in front of us. Like clockwork Jeff would call out our walk break after each 5 minute run segment. As we moved further into the race, I was concentrating on the fact I was running with Jeff and not paying attention to splits. He talked the entire way, answering questions or explaining how to run a hill. WOW. As we got about a half mile from the finish Jeff told us to go on ahead. At this time there were four of us still hanging on for dear life. We told him "no" we came this far, we're staying with you!

The road to the finish is a long straightaway. We were all in close quarters, trying to muster every ounce of strength and reach the finish. With about 100 yards left we were lined up across the road, Jeff was directly to my right. I don't know if I waivered from being tired, but the next thing I remember was giving Jeff Galloway an elbow to the ribs. Oh my God, I just assaulted an Olympian. I knew that as soon as I crossed the finish line they were going to confiscate my shoes and I would never be allowed run again. I apologized to Jeff for the next 20 minutes. I followed him around saying, "I'm sorry." He was a good sport about the entire incident. Did I mention I pulled ahead after the elbow incident and "beat" him across the finish line.

Later that morning he was at a book signing and of course I had to get an autographed book. He saw me and said, "I'll sign the book just don't elbow me again." The following January, Jeff was at the expo for the Disney World Marathon. He was speaking with someone when he saw me approaching. I never thought he would remember me, but he said to the man he was speaking with, "watch out for this guy, he's got sharp elbows." Jeff is a class individual, who I have had the prividledge of meeting numerous times. Maybe he will be in Winter Park on March 29th for a re-match. "I'm sorry Jeff!"

The photo was taken in August 2007, you can see we are still friends and the elbows are in.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Kodak Moment

The "Geezer" and Donna celebrating after the finish of the "26.2 with Donna-National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer." We will be back next year! If this is your first visit to my blog please check out the previous post for "our" story. Thanks Fred!

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Not Christmas

It's February 25th, not December 25th. It's not October so it can't be my birthday. Despite those facts, I received two of the most beautiful and precious gifts today.

The first gift came from my friend Donna who, if you read an earlier post, is battling breast cancer. She was my inspiration during the half-marathon last Sunday. (She is an inspiration everyday). When I completed the race, she and her husband were waiting at the finish. We posed for pictures between the hugs and tears. What I received today from her, is a picture capturing that moment. Remember the ad, "a Kodak moment." Now I know what they meant. Or the adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words." That photograph is my "Olympic Gold" medal!

This afternoon, I received my second gift. It was an e-mail from another Donna, Donna Deegan, the founder of the "26.2 with Donna - National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer." I and probably several thousand other participants contacted her to congratulate her on the success of the event. She too is battling breast cancer. Her kind and inspirational words have brought this event "full circle" for me. She says of the events success, "it makes me think that anything is possible."

I made my room reservation last night for next year's event, February 15, 2009. If you have never run a half-marathon or full marathon, better yet if you have never run, take the time, make the effort to start training and run next year to support the fight against breast cancer. Here is the link to the website 26.2 with Donna Please take a moment to visit the site, you will come away inspired.

I will have the photo to post soon, I promise!

"Prayers & Love"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Go Figure

What an eventful week of running. I started out Sunday with the half-marathon in Jacksonville Beach, FL. (1:55:24). I did my ususal Tuesday evening workout, doing 5 x 800's at a moderate 4:05 - 4:10, in addition to warm-up and cool down. My quads were still a bit tight from the half-marathon. On Thursday, I went for my scheduled practice only to be rained out after about 1 mile. I had signed up to do a 5K in Winter Park, FL on Saturday morning. I have never run a race in the same week that I have done a half or full marathon. Prior to the 5K, several people from my running group and I did a 4 mile warm-up at about a 10:00 minute per mile pace. Slow and easy. Something else I have never tried. I arrived at the starting line about 5 minutes prior to the race. The temperature was about 66 degrees, humidity was about 90%, but there was a nice breeze. The race started and I felt good as we headed out. I reached mile 1 in 6:50. I reached mile 2 in 13:45. I began to tire as we neared the 3 mile mark. I could tell my pace was slowing a bit. I crossed the finish line with a new PR of 22:03 and a 3rd place finish in may age group (3rd of 20 and 180th of 718 males).

So what does that tell me about my conditioning? If I hadn't run the half-marathon would I have gone faster in the 5K? We'll never know. That's what I like about running, you just never know what's going to happen. Go figure!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Would You Do?

You go on a road trip to a race with a group of friends from your running club. You share a hotel room to keep the costs down. You think you know your roommate well, after all you're sharing the room. At 2:00am your roommate gets up to use the bathroom. You hear something, but you're not really sure what it was. Looking at your friends bed you realize it's empty. A quick glance around the room and you see their motionless body on the floor, blood coming from their ear.

First, you are going to call "911" from your cell phone. Do not call the front desk and ask them what to do. (unless you cannot contact 911 from your phone). Call the front desk after you notify emergency services. This will help in directing the EMT's to the room. Do not move the person. Help arrives to take care of your injured friend, but they are still unconcious or incoherent. Do you know who to contact if a friend is injured? Remember they can't tell you who to call.

There is a program that gained much publicity several years ago, it is called "ICE". It stands for "In Case of Emergency". Everyone who owns a cell phone should have at least two phone numbers listed as "ICE". Simple to do, add "ICE" as you would enter any name, then the persons home, work and/or cell phone numbers. Emergency Responders are, or should be, trained to look for this on a victim's cell phone.

This scenario, with a few changes, actually took place recently. Thankfully the "victim" was staying with her husband and the notification was not necessary. We lucked out!

Do you have "ICE" entered on your cell phone. If not take a moment to add the numbers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mind Over Matter

We were having a discussion last evening over pizza and beer. Yes, runners can eat pizza and drink beer. Great article in the March issue of Runner's World, "The Suds Report."

Our discussion was how the mind can control the body. Specifically, I was running the Breast Cancer Half-Marathon on Sunday in Jacksonville Beach, FL. It turned out to be a hotter than expected day with temperatures well into the 70's and no shade. I had started out with a fast pace (for me). I completed the first 5 miles in 40:38. At the turn around point I began to feel the effects of the heat and direct sun. I slowed my pace, knowing I was still below my goal of finishing under 2:00 hours. A 9:00 minute per mile pace will give you a 1:58. At the 11 mile mark I was maintaining a pace that would put the 2:00 hour goal in jeopardy. I reached the 11 mile mark at 1:40, one minute behind pace. I have a dear friend "Donna" who is currently battleing breast cancer. I was running for her, with her in my heart and her bib number was pinned under mine. She had signed up to run, but was unable.....wait until next year. I knew she and her husband would be at the finish. At that point, mile 11, I let my mind take over. My body said "NO" my mind said "YES". I completed the last 2.1 miles in 15:24 or a 7:20 minute per mile pace. That's my 5K pace, not my half-marathon pace. "WE" finished in 1:55:24.

Under Construction

Thank you for visiting my blog. I must apologize as this whole process or project is new to me. If you notice, one portion of the title is "Geezer", not to be confused with "Geek". My hobby is running not computers. So please bear with me for awhile as I begin my quest to complete my first "Blog". It took me about one year from the time I started running to completing my first marathon. Hopefully, this project will reach conclusion sooner than that.

I hope you like the photograph, I took that at an event on the Florida Gulf Coast, specifically at Crystal River in Citrus County.

The other photo is of me, "The Running Geezer". It was taken the day after the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007.

A special "thank you" to Shirley and Jim!

Look for more coming soon, I promise.