Wednesday, December 21, 2016


One of the great things about living in Florida is the weather.  When it’s in single digits around the country and piled up with snow, we are rocking temperatures around 80 degrees.  One of the bad things about living in Florida is also the weather.  It never gets cold.  Not even in December.

I love going to Mount Dora this time of year.  The town reminds me of Stars Hollow (I didn’t see Taylor or Kirk), and the holiday lights are amazing.  In the four previous years, the temperature had dipped into the 50s and 60s.  This year, we strolled (and raced) in a winter wonderland of temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

The whole family went up on Friday afternoon, as Lindsey had signed up for the 5K.  We stayed at the Mount Dora Historic Inn, since we had such a positive experience last year.  As we walked around before dinner, one thing stuck out like a sore thumb…very few people in town.  Maybe the warmer temperatures kept visitors away, but we had never seen the town so empty.  In previous years, you could not get into a restaurant without reservations; this year, we were able to walk right in.

After sleeping in on Saturday morning, Lindsey and I went to pick up our race packets.  The tee shirts were nice (as always) and the race bib was very festive.  This was the fifth anniversary of the race, and I was getting a commemorative jacket for participating all five years.  There were only 23 of us receiving this prize, but we would have to wait until we finished the race to get our hands on the goods.  We walked around town most of the day, and sat by the lake for a few hours.  I took some photos of the Christmas tree and the holiday lights before dinner, but it just seemed so strange doing it in shorts.


The half marathon started at 7am, with the 5K starting at 7:15.  Lindsey had been suffering from an LCL sprain, and was hoping for a pain-free run.  1,077 participants made their way to the starting line, which was an increase of 427 from 2015 (463 runners entered the 5K).  With the temperature around 73 degrees, it was 25 degrees warmer than last year.  I remembered running this race injured last year (see previous post), and was happy the patella injury was now a thing of the past.  As we were on our merry way, I caught up with fellow Turtles Marlo and Amy.  I noticed they were doing intervals, and Amy convinced me to do the same (great decision).  Training with Mary and Lindsey has shown me the advantages of interval running, especially if you are starting out, or looking to increase your distance.  Since this race is so hilly (especially compared to South Florida), this was a good opportunity to see how it would work out.  I did 4x1 intervals (run four minutes; walk one minute), which actually made the race more enjoyable.  As I navigated my way through the course, I noticed a large amount of runners doing intervals as well.  As warm as it was, the sky was totally overcast, and the humidity was not that high.  Lindsey text me after she finished her 5K to give me the unfortunate news that her LCL was hurting big-time.  Oh the life of a runner!


My finishing time was not the best, but certainly not the worst.  Rachel got some great photos of me, and the medal was very nice.  I was then able to get my hot little hands on my five-year jacket, but of course Dunkin’ Donuts ran out food once again (they should get a jacket for not having enough food for all of the finishers for the fifth year in a row).  We met up with Lisa, Chuck, Angela, Marlo and Amy after the race, who invited us grab a bite to eat with them.  Jen was driving in from Belleview to meet us for lunch, so we had to politely decline.  After a quick shower, we packed up the car and walked over the Lakeside Inn for some well-earned grub

This race continues to deliver, and I’m sure I’ll be back next year.  Next up, Clearwater (and a milestone).


Tuesday, December 13, 2016


With the summer officially over, I was very excited to get back to racing.  I was also excited to grab that early registration special for $25!

Just to give a brief recap, the knee has felt great.  I managed the mileage very judiciously over the summer by running more days with shorter distances.  I usually kept my long runs between 8 and 11 miles, with the exception of one special 16-mile run with Mary (as she was training for the Marine Corps Marathon).  The biggest surprise of the summer (and fall) was the addition of my new running buddy.

My daughter Lindsey decided she now enjoyed running.  Lindsey had been going to Zumba a few days a week for quite some time, and was in phenomenal shape.  In past years, she had participated in the Tamarac Turkey Trot, but had to walk part of the time.  Her mission this year was to run the entire race, and I became her personal trainer.  Needless to say, it did not take long, and she actually finished about one-minute ahead of me.  Her next race was the Flanigan's Rockin' Rib Run 10K, which took place on November 20th at Vista View Park.  I did not run the race, as I was “working” the event for Runner’s Depot. I did capture her crossing the finish line, and her pace was excellent.  She has already signed up for the Miami Half Marathon and the Gasparilla Amber Challenge.  Needless to say, I’m a proud papa.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the Weston Run for Tomorrow Half Marathon is not one of my favorite races.  It’s not terrible, but it is on the low-budget side.  I had to skip this race last year because of my patella, and was looking forward to the event.  The course changed slightly this year, as the start and finish took place in front of Cypress Bay High School.  The course is an out-and-back on major roads, but the scenery is very pretty.  One major improvement this year was the shirts and the medals.  In previous years, the race shirt was cotton, and was exactly the same every year.  This year, the race entered the polyester era.  Still nothing to write home about, but improvement nevertheless.  The medal was a spinner and die cast, which was a big improvement.

This race started at 6:20am, which is earlier than most half marathons.  534 participants made their way to the starting line, with the temperature right around 73 degrees.  There was rain in the forecast for the entire day, but it never came down hard enough to make it difficult to run.  On a positive note, the precipitation kept the sun under wraps the entire time.

I felt very good during the entire race, considering I was at the tail end of one of my infamous four-week colds.  I started getting a little tired around the 11-mile mark, but caught a second-wind and finished very strong.  My only negative was the Mayor’s One-Mile Challenge, which had started a few minutes before I would cross the finish line.  As I came down the stretch, I had to dodge a group of kids sprinting towards the finish line with their parents.  I also felt the crowd at the end of the race were there more for the kids, as opposed to the half-marathoners.  That being said, this would not have been an issue if I were a wee bit faster.

All-in-all, a very positive experience, with a major milestone coming up soon.  Keep reading to find out.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…At least in a public forum.  I always try to remain positive within the confines of my blog, but I just don’t like this race.  Although the start is literally ten minutes from my house, the course goes through South Coral Springs.  Since this is my “hood,” I would obviously prefer if we ran through the north part of town.  This race is very pricey, and you would expect the shirt and the medal to be of higher quality.  With all my negativity and lofty expectations now out of the way, this run is for a great cause, and I always will continue to support hometown events.  Besides that, I am grateful that after more than one year, I’m physically able to compete two consecutive weeks.
Unlike most half marathons, the Race for Women’s Wellness takes place on Saturday.  The Church of the Glades dominates the traffic patterns on Sunday mornings, but I’m not bitter at all about that.  Additionally, this race starts at 6am, which I actually prefer.  I woke up early, and made my way to the Sportsplex at Coral Springs.  It is extremely easy to get to, and lots of parking.  I met up with Christina, who is the Manager of the Runner’s Depot in Coral Springs.  Besides being a real sweetheart, she is also a coach for FIT (Friends in Training), and would actually be running with a group slower than me!  Is that even possible?

As I made my way to the starting line, there would be 470 runners participating in this event.  Even at 6am, the temperature was over 30 degrees warmer that last week in Atlanta.  On a positive note, no hills. I felt great right from the start, and made sure I stayed hydrated the entire time.  A good portion of this race consists of roads that I run on during my training, which is why I yearn for North Coral Springs.

The highlight of the race for me takes place around the ten-mile mark.  This is where I run past my house, with Glenda and Rachel cheering me on.  Rachel got some good in-action photos, and Glenda hooked me up with a Coke Zero (I’m sure they were not that thrilled to get up so early).  I finished strong, and the knee felt great.  I don’t have anything else on the schedule until the end of the year, but I’m hoping to do some virtual runs this summer.


Friday, March 25, 2016


As hard as this may be to believe, I have never competed in a race outside of the Sunshine State.  The Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon has always been on my radar, especially since I have friends who live in Atlanta.  When Betsy and Mark invited me to their daughter’s wedding on March 20th, who knew the race would be the same day?  With the future of my knee “hanging” in the balance, I decided to go for the half marathon.  As my knee pain totally disappeared, I actually contemplated super-sizing to the full marathon; with no training for the additional distance, I decided to play it safe.  Glenda was not able to fly up with me, as we were in New York the previous week for my cousin Aidan’s Bar Mitzvah.  She is over-the-top busy this time of year, so I took Rachel as my plus-one.

We flew out at 5:40am, and the highlight of the flight was a girl who puked her brains out as soon as we touched down.  After 15 minutes of very loud spewing, she comes out of the restroom and says to the flight attendant “I’m sorry, I threw up in there.”  Ya think?  The whole plane started laughing when she said that.  It was quite the symphony.  I booked a room at the Omni Atlanta At CNN Center, since it was literally a stone’s-throw away from the start of the race.  Our room was not ready when we arrived, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat in the CNN food court.  The race expo was right next door at the Georgia World Congress Center, which was a gigantic building.  We took a walk over, and I picked up my race packet.  Mizuno was the official sponsor, which was a first for me.  I picked up a race jacket to add to my collection, as well as an Atlanta Track Club jacket and shirt.  We had plans to meet up with my friend Susan to visit the College Football Hall of Fame, which was also conveniently located outside our hotel.  This exhibit actually exceeded my expectations, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves college football.  After we said our goodbyes to Susan, I dropped Rachel off at a friend’s house, and met up with Betsy and Mark for dinner.

We slept in on Saturday, and took a quick walking tour of some of the more historical buildings in downtown Atlanta.  Rachel made plans to see more of her friends for lunch.  After I dropped her off, I went to see Betsy and Mark at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina (where the wedding would be taking place).  I hung out in the hospitality suite with them until I got the call from Rachel to pick her up, and we then took a quick stroll through Centennial Olympic Park.


Race time on Sunday morning was 7am, but of course I woke up at 5am.  It was 43 degrees, but absolutely no wind at all…Perfect running weather!  There were 7,324 participants for this event (1,381 for the full and 5,943 for the half), and I was totally impressed how organized the start of the race was.  There was no pushing and shoving, as each corral started three minutes apart.

I was very lethargic for the first four miles of the race.  The knee felt great, considering it was not the usual flat running I’m used to in South Florida.  That being said, the race was not as hilly as I was led to believe.  There were lots of ups-and downs, but no killer hills like Gainesville.  The original forecast for the weekend was rain, but there was not a cloud in the sky!

After the four-mile mark, I was really starting to hit my stride.  The course was very scenic, and we ran past both Georgia Tech and Georgia State University towards the end of the race.  Of course, I had to stop and pee several times, but what else is new?

As I crossed the finish line, I had plenty of energy, as Rachel snapped several photos with my new Nikon D7200.  The medal was just okay, and the race shirt was nothing to write home about.  That being said, I would definitely do this race again.



Friday, February 26, 2016


Taking less than ten hours to get to Tampa was not the best thing that happened this weekend.

I had such a blast running this event last year, I was literally counting down the days until this year’s festivities.  I have to say, this is by far and away my favorite weekend for running.  With my knee seemingly in “remission,” the only thing I really had to decide was which races I was actually going to run.  I signed up for the Ultra Challenge, which consists of a 15K & 5K on Saturday, and the Half Marathon & 8K on Sunday.  My “medical team” had urged me to go easy, even though I had been running pain free for the past month.  During the drive up (which only took four hours this year), I made the decision that I would probably skip the 8K on Sunday.  The 5K on Saturday was still up in the air, but I would probably make that a game-time decision.  A bunch of the Turtles were coming over from Ocala, along with Jen, Mandy, and Tasha.  My long time friend Doug was coming from Titusville, and we would be sharing a room.  I made reservations at the Westin Tampa Habour Island really far in advance.  The parking was a breeze, and the view from our room wasn’t too shabby. Doug and I both made it in around the same time, and we walked over to the expo (literally right next door). The race shirts were very nice, and we got to take our picture with Tampa Bay Bucs (and former Florida Gator) wide receiver Louis Murphy.

Doug had a previous dinner engagement, so I decided to go back to the expo with Robin, Melissa, Judy, Stephanie, and Deb.  Once Jen, Mandy, Tasha and Beth (Tasha’s friend) joined us, it was now time for the big decision…where to eat.  Mandy wanted to dine at Jackson’s, since they were only staying one night.  Robin’s contingent was staying both nights, and we decided we would do Jackson’s on Saturday.  In our quest for Italian cuisine, we inadvertently ended up eating at the same place as last year (not that this was a bad thing).

The 15K on Saturday started at 7am, so we all met in the lobby at 6:30.  After a few photos, we made our way to the starting line.  There were 32,150 entrants for the entire weekend, with 6,332 runners for this race.  Everyone from our group was running the 15K, including Lisa and Chuck.  They drove in that morning, and we met up with them at the start.  Doug is still relatively new to running, and decided to keep up with a pace group.  Jen would be my running buddy for this race, and everyone else partnered up as well.  I felt really good during the run, and we even ran into a few giraffes.  It was 57 degrees at the start, and it warmed up pretty quickly.  Jen and I hadn’t run a race together for a long time, and it was fun to catch up (no pun intended).  As I crossed the finish line, the knee felt great, and I was at least going to walk the 5K.  After many more photos, I said goodbye to the ladies and made my way over to the start of the 5K.

With 14,057 entrants, the 5K was jammed packed to say the least.  This race starts in four waves, and it’s bumper-to-bumper for the first mile.  I decided to at least try and run in the beginning, but felt good enough to run the entire race.  After picking up my medal, I met everyone for a few cocktails, and then lunch at the Columbia CafĂ© Riverwalk (along with more cocktails).  Doug joined us, and you could have not asked for better weather or company.  I made a quick stop to the expo after lunch to register for the Clearwater Half Marathon next January.  They were having a half-off special, and Jen had already signed up.  The rest of the day consisted of nap…dinner…beddy-bye.

The half marathon on Sunday started at 6am, so it was an early rise-and-shine.  To be honest, I had no idea how I would feel when I woke up that morning.  For one thing, I had not run this kind of distance on back-to-back days since Gasparilla last year.  Additionally, how would my knee feel?  It’s been all-good recently, but would this race burst my bubble?  The first question was answered when I rolled out of bed.  I was not sore at all, including my knee.  Doug and I were the only two running this race, but the other ladies would be there at some point to support us.  6,558 runners took their mark, and we were off and running.  My knee could not have felt better.  I was so happy, and could only hope this would translate into a very enjoyable run.  However, I was really dragging.  I attributed this to the amount of mileage I was running this weekend, but this had to be the longest half marathon of my life.  Since I was running “lone-wolf,” I had my music with me.  Ironically, the song playing on my iPod as I crossed the finish line was “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers Band.  I made the executive decision to walk the entire 8K, as the ladies would be making their way back to Ocala.

Moving forward (again, no pun intended), I don’t think I will register for the 8K next year.  After finishing 13.1 miles, who wants to run another 5 miles?  Apparently a vast majority of the 5,203 entrants felt the same way, as many of them decided to walk.  I enjoyed taking in the sights, and grabbed some photos as well.  I met a new friend along the way (Jennifer) and we stayed together for the last two miles.  As I eventually crossed the finish line, I was ecstatic that my knee felt great, and the weekend was a complete success.

As I drove back home, what trip to Tampa would be complete without seeing the dreaded “I-75 closed ahead” sign?  I was able to dodge this bullet with minimal inconvenience, and made it home in less than ten hours.