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.