Tuesday, December 13, 2011


For me, to say that this was the most highly anticipated race of the year would be a major understatement.  Not because it was part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, or that it was taking place on Miami Beach.  Not even because Pitbull would be putting on a concert after the race.  This event would signify the first time that my running buddies from Ocala would be making their way to South Florida to run in my backyard (figuratively speaking).

Jen, Elaine and Tasha (Jen’s friend) had signed up for the Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon with me, and would be staying at Stately Wayne Manor for the weekend.  It seemed like ages that we entered this run, but after the debacle last week (better known as the Palm Beach Marathon), the weekend had finally arrived.  The ladies drove down on Friday afternoon, and arrived at my house around 4:30.  Glenda and Rachel had gone to Orlando for a band trip, but would be back Saturday night.  I gave them the guided tour of the Sawgrass Mills Mall, and later dined at P.F. Chang’s.   

We woke up Saturday morning and made our way down to South Beach.  The expo was held at Lummus Park, which is located off Ocean Drive between 5th and 10th Street.  It was cute how Elaine, Jen and Tasha were acting like they had left Mayberry for the first time on a road trip to Raleigh.  It took a while to park, but it was good that we scouted out the parking situation the day before the race.  The expo took place right on the beach!  How cool is that?  The race shirt was amazingly nice (not cotton) and the merchandise store had some great gear.  The ladies bought me a shirt in appreciation of my southern hospitality for the weekend.  Vendors were out in full force, with plenty of protein bars, coconut water and gels for the taking.  After lunch, dinner, and yes…even more shopping, Jen and Tasha stayed up late catching up with Glenda and Rachel.

My alarm ran at 3:15, and it was finally race day.  We left the house at 4:30 and got to the parking garage around 5:30.  There were 3,680 participants entered in this race, and it was exciting to see just how many of them were there as early as we were.  We took our obligatory pictures before the race, and made our way to the starting corral.  The gun sounded exactly at 7, and it was interesting how they controlled the flow of the race.  You are put into a corral based on the time you expect to finish.  Corral 1 went first, and they waited a few minutes before they let the second corral start.  We were in the fourth corral, so we didn’t really wait that long to get going.

The course took us down Ocean Drive and Alton Road.  We eventually made our way to 1-95 (Julia Tuttle Causeway), which goes over Biscayne Bay.  Elaine stopped several times to take pictures, and I had a camera in my running belt as well.  After we got off the Julia Tuttle Causeway, we ran a bit through some unsavory neighborhoods, but plenty of water, gels and fan support.  We came full circle, as we made our way back by running on 3-95 (MacArthur Causeway) to the finish line at Lummus Park.  What is cool about running on the MacArthur Causeway is that you can see all of the cruise ships in the Port of Miami, as well as the Miami skyline.

Elaine and I finished a few minutes ahead of Jen and Tasha.  This was Tasha’s first half marathon, and she was pretty sore when it was over.  Elaine and I ran a strong race, but Jen was a little bothered by the heat.  I was pleased with my time, and felt great after it was over.  They gave the runners towels soaked in ice water as they crossed the finish line, and even had ice baths for those in dire need.  The medals were really nice, and they even had enough for all of the finishers (imagine that). All the vendors from the expo were there again on race day, and we grabbed even more SWAG. 

It was now time to be entertained by the musical styling of Pitbull.  Even if you are not a fan, you have to be impressed that such a high profile musical artist was signed to give a concert on the beach for a crowd of around 2,000 runners, family and friends. Pitbull performed for about 45 minutes, and we made our way back home after that.  Elaine saw the boutique “Dash,” and made me turn the car around so she could get out and take a picture.  Such a tourist! 

When we got home, the ladies showered and made the drive back to Ocala.  The race itself was first class, but the memories from the weekend were priceless!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


How can a race be so much fun and enjoyable, yet suck at the same time?  The answer is to surround yourself with good friends (and food) while you are trudging through the tsouris.

The Palm Beach Marathon is a race that has been on my radar for a few years now. Living in South Florida, you are pretty much limited to this race, the Miami Marathon and the A1A Marathon.  I decided that this would be the year that I would enter, especially since I’m totally over doing the A1A Marathon.  I was hoping that between Elaine, Jen and Pam, I would have a running partner.  Despite my constant nagging and begging, all three of them decided to take a pass.  I wasn’t going to bail out, but I really didn’t want to run another marathon “lone wolf” style.  Pam told me that Chuck, one of the members of the Turtle Running Club of Ocala, was entering the race.  This would be the 300th marathon of his career, and some of the Turtles would be running as well to help him celebrate.  I put a posting up on the Turtle’s Facebook page to see if I could run with them; Lisa and Terri entered the full, with Robin and Toni taking on the half.

During my run with the Turtles (in Ocala) the week before the race, Terri decided that she was okay with my pace and agreed to run with me.  Later that week, she told me that Chuck was having a dinner celebration the night before the race, and invited me to attend.  Since I was planning on being in West Palm Beach to pick up my race packet at the expo, it was a no brainer (not that I needed an excuse).

I started out the weekend by running the Jingle Bell Jog 5K with Rachel on Saturday morning.  It was a good last minute warm-up for the marathon on Sunday, and it’s one of the few 5K races that Rachel and I run together.  After about a three hour power nap, we got dressed and made our way up to West Palm Beach.  The packet pickup and expo was at The Harriet Himmel Theatre at CityPlace.  This is a really beautiful area, with lots of amazing shopping (if you’re into that kind of thing).

The excitement quickly turned to disappointment as I picked up my packet.  The race shirt was made out of cotton.  REALLY???  REALLY???   A cotton t-shirt for a full marathon?   REALLY???  Fortunately, they were selling commemorative tech shirts for the race, which actually had the course map on the back of the shirt.  Sadly, joy turned to despair, as I needed a shoe horn to squeeze into a double-XL.  The expo itself was pathetic, but I did have a nice conversation with the iFiteness girl (see my previous post “26.2 With Donna – 2/13/2011”).

After some power shopping with Glenda and Rachel, it was time to meet the group at the restaurant.  Chuck had chosen Il Bellagio at CityPlace for us to dine, which specializes in Italian cuisine.  I had never met Chuck before, but recognized him instantly.  Then Lisa, Robin, Toni, Terri, and Sharon rolled in with the rest of Chuck’s friends and family.  There were eighteen of us in total, and the food and conversation was excellent.  We probably could have hung out all night, but we needed to get what little sleep we could squeeze in before the race.  Chuck then presented us with t-shirts he have printed up to celebrate this milestone in his running career, which blew away the shirts they gave out for the race.  We agreed to put the shirts on before Chuck crossed the finish line, and then take a group photo.

I woke up 3 a.m. and rolled out of the house around 4:15.  I got the parking garage at 5:15, and met up with the Turtles shortly after that.  There were 2,106 runners entered into the race, with 532 competing in the full marathon.  This was down 763 from last year (2,869), probably because of the crappy t-shirt.  We took some pre-race photos, and were now ready to get down to business.  It was very windy, with the temperature around 73 degrees when the gun sounded.

The first part of the race was really pretty, as we ran on the beach and through some really upscale neighborhoods.  I took my one and only potty break at the three mile mark, and Terri decided to walk with Chuck for a little bit.  I continued to run with Lisa, who is considerably faster than me.  She can probably complete a marathon in four hours, but decided to do a slower pace and keep me company.  It was all good for about the first seven miles, but the flaws of the race became glaringly obvious after that.  As we approached one of the water stops (which are stationed every 1.5 miles), we were shocked to discover that they had run out of water!  REALLY???  REALLY???  With runners depending on hydration to get them through 26.2 miles, how can that happen?  Fortunately for me, I always carry a water bottle in my running belt; this would not be the last water station to come up bone dry.

Around mile marker eight, we were now out of West Palm Beach, and running in “crack town” Lantana (no disrespect to any residents of Lantana).  Even worse, the police were having a little trouble keeping drivers off the course itself (I guess the cones they put up weren’t a strong enough message).  Physically, I felt fine, but I was starting to get a little winded.  I was having trouble keeping up with Lisa around the seventeen mile mark, and it was at that point where she took off and left me in the dust.  I really appreciated her staying with me for as long as she did.

The last eight miles seemed to take forever, but it was obvious how much the extra training I’ve done this year has paid off.  The temperature was now up to 79 degrees, and a lot of the participants were walking it in.  As I crossed the finish line, Robin, Sharon, Toni and Lisa (among others) were there cheering me on, and I felt great physically.  My time was very respectable, and I was thankful to receive my medal.  Why you may ask?  As if the bogus t-shirt, lack of water and poor scenery weren’t enough to discourage you from entering this race again, how about the fact that they actually ran out of finisher medals!  REALLY???  REALLY???  Our running buddy Chuck was about to complete his 300th marathon at age 73 and get interviewed by the local television station.  Oh, by the way…he wasn’t going to receive a medal.  REALLY???  REALLY???  On top of that, the medal itself looked more like one you would give a finisher of a 5K race (just like the t-shirt).  Toni and I gave one of the race officials the business about it, but they promised to mail the medals out to those who did not receive one within a few weeks.

As Chuck approached the finish line, we quickly threw on the t-shirts he gave us and prepared to take our group picture.  Terri finished shortly after that, and she was equally pleased to find out they did not have a medal for her as well.  We hung out for a bit after that, but the Turtles had to get back to Ocala, and I had an appointment with an ice bath.

Overall, hanging out with some amazing people totally overshadowed how poorly organized the race was.  I was pleased on all levels, but doubtful if I’ll ever enter this race again.  That is…unless they up the level of the t-shirts.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Like the Masters, the Turkey Trot is a tradition like no other.  Okay…That’s probably a pretty big exaggeration, but the Turkey Trot holds a great deal of sentimental value for me.

If you have ever seen the award-winning documentary “I Am a Runner” (and let’s face it, who hasn’t seen it by now), you know that this is the race that spring-boarded my running career.  Although a 5K is for the most part beneath me in terms of distance, I always have a place in my heart (and my racing calendar) for this run.

Since 1996, the routine has been the same:  Doug picks me up at my house; we compete in the race, go back to his house and visit with his family, and make our way back to my house.  As the years have rolled on, we have picked up other runners along the way, most notably Doug’s two daughters Britney and Brooke as well as my daughter Rachel.  This year, my good friend Cyndy from Jacksonville decided to run with us.  Doug has experienced some medical issues over the years, and this is the only race he enters.  It’s a shame, since he was way faster than me, but now he is just a shell of the runner he once was.  Despite his physical issues, his enthusiasm for this race never dampers.

With the Palm Beach Marathon looming on December 4th, this race came at a perfect time.  Since I am tapering off before the marathon, my running schedule had me do seven miles Wednesday, the Turkey Trot on Thursday, five miles on Friday, and an always exciting eleven mile run with the Ocala Turtles on Saturday.  With over 1,500 participants, this race is always well attended.  As the gun sounded, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to attack this run.  Because the race is so short, you have no room for slacking if you want to PR.  I had a pretty good pace in the beginning, but I’ve gone out quicker in previous races.  I did have a negative split, which made me very happy.  As I crossed the finish line, I was 45 seconds off my targeted goal.  This may not seem like much, but it’s an eternity in a 5K.

Doug told me that he was within 30 feet of me in the last mile, but then felt like he was carrying a refrigerator on his back.  It was sad for me to hear that, and reminded me how fortunate I am to not have any serious physical ailments. 

As Cyndy and Rachel crossed the finish line, we grabbed a bagel and bottle of water and make our way to Doug’s house.

Let the festivities begin!


Monday, November 21, 2011


running apps

This is a race that I don’t always have the pleasure of participating in on a regular basis.  It is typically scheduled right after the Florida/Georgia game (Halloween weekend) or Homecoming weekend.  Since the Gators game was a noon kickoff, we drove home after the game with plenty of time to get some good quality sleep before the 6:30 am start time on Sunday.

This race takes place in Spanish River Park, which has been discussed in previous blog posts.  It was the end of Daylight Savings Time, so I was able to cop an extra hour of sleep.  Of course I had to screw up my alarm clock, but lucky for me, I set the alarm on my cell phone as a backup.  I parked in my usual spot, only to find out that they moved the check-in table to a new location.  In addition, I totally forgot to bring my water bottle.  Fortunately, I brought a bottle of Gatorade with me, which fit into my running belt.  As I made my way back to the car to put in my contact lenses, it started to pour big-time!  Then, I had major issues putting in one of my contacts.  Can you tell the morning was shaping up just peachy keen? 

With all of the pre-race festivities now out of the way, it was finally time to run.  Since this race takes place right on the beach in Boca Raton, you can always count on some extra wind.  Today was no exception, especially with the rain coming down intermittently.   I got off to a very fast start, and it only rained for the first two miles or so.  It had been a while since I’ve entered a race of this length, and it felt great to be back on the circuit.

I could tell I was going to PR this race, but then the bottom dropped out a little bit at the end.  I started to get winded during the last three miles of the race, which caused me to lose some time; the wind gusting in my face didn’t help matters either.  They had changed the course a bit, so you actually run through the park itself more than in the past.  I don’t know if this race was a PR or not, but it was still one of my better times in a half marathon.  I was happy to see that all of the extra training I’ve been doing this year is paying off.

The real test will be December 4th…The Palm Beach Marathon.



Monday, November 14, 2011


Although it is technically not a race, Gator Gallop is without a doubt one of my favorite runs to participate in. Not because of the distance (it’s only two miles) and not because of the course (it goes down University Avenue). The excitement is the kickoff to homecoming weekend at the University of Florida.

The weekend starts on Friday morning with the traditional homecoming parade. The parade starts at 11:30 am, with Gator Gallop leading the way before the floats come through. Later that evening is Gator Growl, which is the largest student produced pep rally. If that weren’t enough, the weekend concludes on Saturday with the football game (although this year is not the best of times).

We typically drive up Thursday night and make our way to our “spot,” which is right in front of Leonardo’s around 10 am. When I got up in the morning, I was surprised to see the temperature was a brisk 43 degrees. No worries; I brought a long sleeve shirt and a jacket to run in. Lindsey’s roommate Marisa and her friend Hannah decided to run with me, so we picked up the whole clan at her apartment.

The race…I mean run (old habits are hard to break) begins in front of Percy Beard Track, which is about one mile from Leonardo’s. As the three of us made our way to the start, the crowd was already out in full force. All the schools in Gainesville close for homecoming, and parents love to bring their kids to the event. We picked up our shirts and bibs, and did some pre-race stretching. There are about 1,500 people who enter the run, including parents pushing strollers, skaters and lots of walkers. There is no real official timing of this run, but they do give a modest cash prize to the person who finishes first (not me). Since I don’t typically run a distance this short, my only measuring stick to set a PR is the Gator Gallops I have run in previous years.

As the run starts, it’s very cool seeing all the ACRs (Alachua County Residents) lined up in the street. They are very enthusiastic in cheering everyone on. I was a little sore at first from my eleven mile run on Wednesday, but there is no time to relax when you’re only running two miles. When I got to Glenda and Lindsey, I had loosened up and was ready to take it home. I had Lindsey shoot some video of me running instead of taking still pictures. I crossed the finish line strong, setting a new PR and ready to sit for two hours as the parade was starting.

The only thing missing was my daughter Rachel, who was at a convention this year.



Friday, August 5, 2011


It has always been my steadfast policy to never complain about the heat or humidity in any of my postings on dailymile or Facebook.  This seems to be a common theme of my running friends, but I refuse to join in.  It is Florida people…it is summer people…deal with it!

That being said, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to piss-and-moan about just how hot it is out there.

Although there are races scheduled throughout the entire year, you would be hard pressed to find anything longer than a 5K scheduled during the summer months (especially in the south).  Although the majority of races begin between 6am and 7am, it’s still too hot and humid for competitive racing conditions.  With that in mind, the “unofficial” race season typically starts in October, and runs (no pun intended) through April.

In years past, I have used the summers to do most of my intensive training for my upcoming races.  My philosophy was that if you can run through the extreme heat of the summer, you would be totally prepared to run in milder weather conditions of fall and winter.  In fact, I would actually start out running around 10am, trading the intense heat for the extra sleep.  It worked out pretty well, although I finished up pretty late (which ate up a good portion of the day).  However, something happened two summers ago that changed everything for me.

My best guess is that the ozone layer just totally fell apart.  I can remember running on one particular Saturday, and could not believe how brutal the heat was.  I had to cut the run short, which is something I very rarely do.  When it happened again the next week, I knew I needed a new game plan.  I actually started setting the alarm to get up earlier in the morning in an effort to beat some of the heat, but it only helped marginally.  Running as much as I could before the sun came out was the best option, but it really takes commitment to set your alarm for 5am on a Saturday to go out and run; fortunately, I have that kind of commitment.  The early runs have helped in terms of avoiding a total beat down from the sun, but the humidity does you in as well.  I have found myself gasping for air, but my heart rate is not accelerated.  The air is so thick, it’s just been impossible to push myself more than 17 miles on any given day.

Hydration of course is another issue.  I carry two 24 ounce water bottles on my belt, but of course that’s not enough fluid.  Many runners will go out in their cars before their runs and stash drinks in the bushes along their routes.  I am fortunate, as I run past my mother-in-law’s condo around the 10 mile point of my run.  She hooks me up with a couple of bottles of Gatorade and a bucket of ice water.  I also take my gels every 45 minutes, and my Endurolytes every hour.  I’m sure they help, but there are some days that it’s all I can do to finish the runs.

I have had to rethink my training strategy for the summer months.  I have been running more after work, which doesn’t seem to be as humid.  I’m not a big fan of running at the end of the day, but it’s a great way to escape the heat.

Not that I’m complaining…



Friday, April 29, 2011


Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make you happy or motivate you.  As silly as this may seem, getting a new running shirt or a new running belt can get you “jacked” for your next run.

I had just received an early Father’s Day gift from Glenda…a Garmin Forerunner 305 running watch.  Among some of the features of this watch include reading a satellite as you run, monitoring your heart rate, and allowing you to run with a virtual partner (which is good if you’re a “lone wolf” like me).  When you are finished, you can upload your data to your computer, Garmin’s website and/or dailymile.  This allows you to share your routes with other people, and helps you keep better track of your training.

I already have a Garmin Forerunner 201 running watch, which is the equivalent of the Zack Morris cell phone.  It can’t upload your data because it’s so “old school,” but it serves my purposes nevertheless.  Lately, it’s been acting squirrely, and I wanted to replace it before it totally freaks out on me.

I decided to christen the watch this past Wednesday night.  I was about one mile into my run, and decided to take a brief moment to admire my new prized possession.  Then...out of nowhere...FUMBLE ALABAMA!!! I was doing the tango with the pavement. After a quick blood transfusion, I was back on my feet running strong. In all the years I've been running, this is only the third time I’ve gone rumbling, bumbling & stumbling.  Coincidentally, that is the same number of times I watched Pam fall during the Croom 50K last year.

Just sayin'.

P.S. No watches were harmed during the making of this blog.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011


running apps

I know what you all are thinking.  A 10K???  REALLY???  REALLY???

I hadn’t entered a race since the marathon in Gainesville this past February.  Now that my foot was completely healed, I was “jonzing” for a race with some sustenance.  With spring now sprung, warmer temperatures usually produce shorter races.  There is a half marathon in Pensacola I could have entered (Pam & Jen signed up for this race), but that’s quite a schlep…even for me.  There was a half marathon in Port St. Lucie last weekend, but the course didn’t look that appealing, considering I would have to drive about two hours to get there.  My next best option would be to enter a 10K.

The Gumbo Limbo Green Turtle Gallop took place at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton.  I have run this course many times before, and I enjoy it very much.  The race begins right in front of the park on A1A.  After about two miles, you run into a residential neighborhood with old houses that are worth in the upwards of a million dollars.  You circle through, back out onto A1A, and finish out doing a lap in the park.

As I entered this race into my dailymile calendar, I noticed that a few other runners using this social media site had entered as well.  I extended a friend invitation to some of them, and we agreed to look for each other during the race.  I was excited about the prospect of actually bonding with someone at a race not named Pam, Jen or Elaine.

I did a 12.6 mile run the day before, and was pretty tired when I woke up at 4:45 on race day.  There were 602 entrants in the race, which is a very nice crowd for an event now in its second year.  I started out pretty quick (for me at least), but I got very tired two miles into the run.  I was able to suck it up and finish strong, but not really the time I was hoping for.

After the race was over, I spotted my new running buddies Elizabeth, Damaris and Michelle.  We spoke for a while, and they all told me they enjoyed the award winning documentary “I Am a Runner,” which is currently playing on my dailymile page.  It also turns out that Michelle works at FIU with me, and I went over to speak to her today.  We made tentative plans to run on Wednesday night with the Gold Coast Runners Club.

Look at me being sociable…Pam would be so proud.



Monday, March 28, 2011


Ah…Spring Break.  It’s a time to reflect on what’s really important in life.  No school…No studying…  Going to the beach every day…Watching (or participating) in wet tee shirt competitions.  For me, Spring Break means only one thing: more time to run!

Although FIU was officially open during spring break, I took a few days off to spend time with Rachel (and to run…of course).  Having the opportunity to go out and run during the week, either early in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon, was a great way to catch up on all of those extra miles I missed while I was waiting for the swelling in my foot to go down.  In total, I was able to run a little more than 36 miles. 

The key here is running during the day.  I have always had a very difficult time motivating myself to run at night.  I’m not talking about running in the dark…I’m talking about running after I get home from work.  I don’t mind getting up ├╝ber early to run.  In fact, I have been known to roll out of bed at 4am on weekends during the summer to beat the heat.  Since I typically get up at 5:30 to go to work, the morning run is virtually a no go.  I’m usually home by 5pm, so the time to complete a leisurely 8 mile run is not an issue.  I simply cannot embrace the run at the end of the day.

I run in the morning because I look forward to it; I run at night because I’m obligated to do it.  I would have hoped my mindset would have changed after all of these years.  Any and all suggestions are welcome here. 



Friday, March 11, 2011


The healing process is going slower than I anticipated.  After my visit to the doctor (the day after the 5 Points of Life Marathon), I figured there would be no recovery run during the week.  I was planning to put in 10 to 12 miles on Saturday, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

When Saturday rolled around, my foot was still pretty swollen.  Rather than prolong this injury, I decided not to run.  I FELT LIKE A CAGED ANIMAL!!!  No running for an entire week…right off the heels of back-to-back marathons!  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  The plan at this point was to put in a run or two during the next week.  I figured a couple of three to five mile runs would be a good start to get back into the swing of things.

As the week went on, the foot was still pretty sore, and I didn't get to run at all.  It was getting better, but not at any kind of acceptable rate for me.  My brother came by on Friday night and took a look at the foot.  He was pretty sure that it was just bruised, but did not rule out the possibility of a stress fracture.  If I were still experiencing pain in the upcoming weeks, the game plan was to get an x-ray on the foot.  I told him that I was planning on running tomorrow (Saturday), and that I would call him with an update.

My goal on Saturday morning was to do anywhere from 14 to 17 miles, although I knew it would probably be closer to 14.  It’s amazing just how much not running after two weeks can set you back in your training.  The foot felt good while I was running, but it hurt whenever I had to stop (crossing the street, going to the little boys’ room, etc.).  It felt great to be back out there pounding the pavement, but 14 miles was a good distance for my first day back.  I iced down for a long time after the run and was limping a little bit for the rest of the day.

The good news is that my foot has been getting progressively better during the week, but of course not fast enough for me.  I’m thankful that my run on Saturday did not set me back, but I decided not to push myself.  I took off the rest of the week, and will look to put in a 17 mile run on Saturday.

Next week is Spring Break for both FIU and for my daughter.  I’m planning on taking a few days off, and I’ll resume a full running schedule during the week (translated…making up for lost time).



Tuesday, February 22, 2011


running apps

Remember when I said that I hate marathons, and that I don’t see myself running another marathon without my posse?

Forget all of that; times have changed!

During the 26.2 Run With Donna last week, Pam TOLD me that I HAD to run the full marathon in Gainesville the next weekend.  The Five Points of Life is a great half marathon, but the full leaves a lot to be desired.  She said that if I did indeed complete the full, I would qualify to join Marathon Maniacs.  The criterion to join this organization includes running three marathons in the span of 90 days.  Since I had already completed Ocala, and was about to finish off Donna, it seemed like a no-brainer.  But could I physically compete in two marathons within an eight-day window?  Then Pam dropped the bombshell on me…she had not entered the race in Gainesville.  I just assumed she did, but Pam was taking a pass on this one.  I tried to convince Jennifer to run with me, but her mother was coming in from Connecticut for the weekend.

Let me get this straight…run in three marathons over a 29 day span, and…by the way…run the last one “lone-wolf” style?  REALLY???  REALLY???  I said I would seriously think about it, but of course my mind was already made up.

When I woke up on Monday morning (the day after Donna), my right foot was totally bruised and swollen on the top.  This had never happened to me before, but with a week to go before Gainesville, I wasn’t worried…yet.  My training for the week included three days of running distances of two miles, three miles and two miles.  When Wednesday rolled around, my foot was still pretty bruised, but I went out and did the two miles anyway.  My foot felt a little better on Thursday, so I put in my three mile run.  I decided to skip the run on Friday, in an effort to give the foot an extra day of healing time.

I left for Gainesville on Saturday morning with my youngest daughter Rachel.  We picked up Lindsey at her apartment, and went to the expo.  My foot was still bruised, but I “super-sized” the race anyway (I paid the difference to upgrade to the full marathon).  I figured that if my foot hurt too much, I could bail out at the halfway point.

It was 55 degrees at the start of the race.  YAY!!!  There were 213 runners participating in the full marathon, and 680 taking on the half (893 in total, not counting the 364 who participated in the 5K on Saturday morning).  My goal for this race was to finish…period!

I started very slow, and it seemed as if everyone entered in the race had passed me.  I was testing out the foot, but it didn’t seem like it would be an issue.  I started picking up speed, and was running a pretty decent pace.  Around ten miles into the race, I got the feeling that this was not going to be as difficult as I had anticipated.  After all, this was the scene of my worst finishing time for a marathon…ever!  Miles 11-13 took me through the University of Florida campus, including “The Swamp.”

The second half of the marathon could not have gone better.  I ran with a guy from Orlando for a couple of miles, but he was having difficulty keeping up.  Around mile 16, I really caught a “second wind” and never looked back.  I knew at this point, barring something unforeseen, I was going to set a new PR.  It was now about 78 degrees, and I was drinking Gatorade like nobody’s business.  I also took my creatine at mile marker seven, and never cramped up at all.  As I crossed the finish line, Lindsey and Rachel were both there cheering for me and taking pictures.  It felt great to be finished, and to have conquered this course in record-breaking fashion.  However, it did not come totally without a price.

I went to my brother’s office the next day (he is my primary care physician) at Nova Southeastern University.  He runs the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Clinic, and I go for treatment every two weeks to keep me running like a fine-tuned engine.  My physical therapist Yasmin told me that I was pretty dehydrated, and that I should probably take it easy on the foot this week.  I also took an acupuncture treatment on my calves, not to mention the fun of digging into my feet to break up the Planter Fasciitis.

But in the end, it was all worth it; I’m now officially a Maniac, and I’m now TOTALLY addicted to doing marathons.



Thursday, February 17, 2011


If you have never seen the start of a marathon, this is really cool to watch.  It took about two minutes before I crossed the starting line.  Look closely; I'm in there somewhere!



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

26.2 WITH DONNA - 2/13/2011

running apps

I've tried my best to persuade Pam to come down to South Florida and run a marathon with me, but it just hasn't worked out yet.  Her "dance card" is usually pretty filled, but we came pretty close this year.  I finally decided that "If the mountain won't come to Mohammad, Mohammad must go to the mountain."  Since Pam, Elaine and Jennifer all live in Ocala, they are more centrally located to do a larger variety of races than I am.  When you stop and consider gas, tolls, hotel, food and entry fees (yes…you do have to pay to run in these races), it's hard to just pick up and go every weekend.

Pam ran the 26.2 Run With Donna in Jacksonville last year and could not stop talking about it.  I had run the A1A Marathon that same day in Ft. Lauderdale, which was actually a "training run" for the 50K we were about to do.  I registered for Donna when Pam had to cancel out on the West Palm Beach Marathon we were planning on doing, because of a prior commitment she had made.

The 26.2 Run With Donna is the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  100% of the proceeds and raised funds go to breast cancer research and care.  Jennifer was extremely happy that I entered the race, since she was very nervous about competing.  She had only run one marathon before, and was disappointed in her finishing time.  I assured her that I would stay with her to the end, which was the reason why I chose this race.

I left early Saturday morning, and after a quick shopping spree at the Under Armour Outlet Store in St. Augustine, I arrived at the home of my close friends Cyndy and Al.  They offered to let me stay with them for the weekend, which made the trip that much more enjoyable.  Al is a fantastic athlete, but his knee will not allow him to run.  We went to the expo and met Jennifer and her friend Tracy.

I was planning on running with my cell phone for the first time, so I was in the market for some sort of case.  My running belt can hold my gels and my water bottle, but not much more. Another concern was keeping the phone dry, since I sweat like a pig.  I meandered over to the iFitness booth, where they were selling running belts made of neoprene.  A very attractive salesperson decided to demonstrate how the phone does not move as she ran in place.  REALLY???  REALLY???  Was I even looking at her belt?  When she finished, I asked her to run in place for me again, only to get smacked by Jennifer.  I was there for quite some time, which provided great entertainment value for all parties concerned.  I finally decided on the Ultimate II Race Belt, and we continued shopping.  I went back once more before we left and upgraded to the Hydration Belt, which has two little water bottles on the side.  I know they all thought I was crazy, but I tried my best to explain that I needed to run with two belts no matter what.  Since I already own a Spibelt, I would wear it during the marathon, along my new iFitness belt. We had dinner at Sliders that night, and I turned in early, since I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Al was kind enough to drive me to Pam's hotel at 5 a.m.  It was 41 degrees, and I was really cold.  We took the shuttle to the Runners' Village, and met Jennifer and the rest of Pam's friends.  We still had over an hour to kill, but there was lots of excitement in the air.  There were 1,571 runners competing in the full marathon, and 3,928 taking on the half (a total of 5,499 for those of you who are mathematically challenged).  Since I have absolutely no conception of crowd size, I would have guessed there were over 10,000 runners.

It took about three minutes to cross the starting line when the gun went off.  We started running over a bridge, and I had to go potty after about two miles …my usual M.O.  At the five mile point, we actually ran on the beach for the next two miles.  The sand was hard and compact, and it was a welcomed break for our legs.

It was truly a chamber of commerce day, with the temperature now around 50 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  The crowd support for the runners was AMAZING!  It seemed like the whole city embraced this race, with people thanking us for participating in such a worthy cause.  Folks stood outside their homes and offered the runners orange slices, drinks, pretzels and even M & M's. Talk about southern hospitality!

Jennifer was consistently running ahead of us, and it was obvious we were holding her back.  At around the 18 mile mark, we told her to just take off.  It was also around this point that Pam's knee was giving her trouble and I was starting to get cramps in my left calf.  The last three miles were very difficult for the both us, but we worked as a team and encouraged each other on.

With just two-tenths of a mile to go, I got a killer cramp in my calf.  How could this happen now?  I stopped to rub it out, and told Pam to keep going.  There was no way I was going to hobble across the finish line after giving it my all for 26 miles.  I worked my calf over as quickly as I could, and did my best impersonation a man running full speed ahead.  Pam decided to wait for me, and we crossed the finish line together.  Jennifer was there to greet us, as she finished ten minutes before we did.  Not only that…she shattered her last marathon time by almost 50 minutes.  I was really proud of her.

We hung out at the Runner's Village for a little while and celebrated our accomplishments.  No personal best this day, but my times have become very consistent.  My brother (who is also my doctor) suggested I try Creatine before my next race to help with the cramping.  I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Next…on to Gainesville and a big decision to make.