Thursday, April 30, 2009

Believe In The Run - Placed 37th

Out of 365 entries in the Believe In The Run contest at, I ranked 37th based on the number of votes, and was the 14th "most viral" entry.

Thanks to all the people that voted for me!  I am definitely in the top 100 entries that are eligible for prizes.  Judges are going to pick two people to go on the trips to Nike in Oregon and to a marathon of choice, and two more to receive the Nike equipment kits for second place awards.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Response to Sarah Stanley

Responded to this post at Sarah Stanley's blog ...  she wrote about liking the idea of running barefoot, but unfortunately goes on to recommend using Superfeet insoles, which are OTC orthotics.  I wrote the following:

It is too bad Nike messed up by giving the Free shoe an elevated heel - they missed part of the point of running barefoot.  Their Zoom Waffle XC (a $35 shoe) provides a much closer to barefoot experience than the Free series shoes.  I do about 30% of my mileage barefoot (May-November).  In 35 years of running, besides running 100+ mile weeks in my twenties, it is the best thing I have ever done for my running.  I used to be a heel striker, and I used to get injured.  I don't do either anymore, even when I run in shoes - which are always XC flats, both on and off road.  I admittedly can't run and race barefoot as fast as I do wearing shoes.  That and cold NJ weather in winter are the only things that really keep me using shoes.

I am kinda glad all runners are not jumping into running barefoot for several reasons.  The selfish reason is it retains my training edge over people that stick to the shoe company marketing brainwashing about the need for their expensive stuff, that continue to run with poor inefficient technique, and continue to get injured.  I'm also glad because for most people used to elevated heels, cushioning & support, jumping into it will lead to injuries.  Runners should never change something in training abruptly, even if it is a return to the running technique we were genetically designed to perform.  It takes a year or so to slowly add barefoot running to your training.  I have been a member of the online barefoot running community for a few years (see - and I know this is hard to believe, but people just don't get cut by glass or step on nails.  It is the #1 fear cited by people to fault running barefoot, but it just does not happen.  The hazards out there are exaggerated, you tend to avoid them as you would if shod, and your foot is a lot tougher than you have been led to believe.  Your foot is more likely to get brutalized by the inside of a shoe, via blisters and chafing and resident bacteria.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009 - Pre-Race

Twenty-three years is a bit of time between Boston Marathons for me.  This year's race was a lot different than 1986.  In '86 I believe we drove to the start.  In '86 I think there were only a few thousand runners.  In '86 I could run under three hours.  In 2009 twenty thousands loaded yellow school buses for the hour drive to Hopkinton.  In 2009 I ran a relaxed 3:32:54.  Almost 15 minutes slower than I ran in the Philadelphia Marathon last November, but I was in better shape for that event.  I hold that it is very difficult for a north-easterner to run a spring marathon, because most training must be done in the coldest weather with the least amount of daylight.  Add to that my own propensity to try to get thirty days of skiing in over the winter, and you have a serious lack of preparation for a spring marathon.  From January 1st of 2009 through the day before the Boston Marathon, I only ran 259 miles (and biked 551).  My plan was to go to Boston to enjoy the race, to train through it in preparation for the Towpath "Train"ing Run (34 miles on June 6th), and to finish smiling.  I accomplished those things, and finished in the time I predicted to everyone that asked.

It was a whirlwind trip for me.  I left as late as possible: about 1 PM on Sunday, April 19 for Monday's race. I had Ed pick up my number and other registration materials.  I was to meet him and others from my club at a restaurant in the North End section of Boston.  I almost missed them due to the NJ Turnpike going down to one lane for construction before the George Washington Bridge.  It took about an hour to go two miles.  That totally killed my drive time.  When I arrived in the North End of Boston, there was absolutely nowhere to park so I drove around for another 20 minutes looking.  I finally parked in a lot that looked like it had reasonable rates and seemed it might be close to the restaurant.  Ed and friends were on their way out of the restaurant when I called them after parking at 7 PM - six hours after starting this drive that should have been 4.5 hours.  They waited on a corner and I managed to navigate to them and get my stuff.  I got back to the car to find that the $4 rate I thought I saw for the first hour on that sign didn't hold on weekends - when everybody pays the same for any amount of time.  That 30 minutes cost me $14 dollars.

Back in the car for a 20 minute drive to a cheap motel in Lexington where I had a $10 spaghetti dinner at a little Italian place called Maria's.  Checkout that value compared to parking in Boston's North End!

Set up all my race clothes and bag before sleeping and set the alarm for 5:30 AM.  I was out of the room by 5:45 and parking at a metered spot in Boston only about a block from the finish line by 6:15.  I was meeting my running club buddies near the bus boarding area at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets at 6:30.  Found a perfect parking spot at a meter on the street only about three blocks from the finish line, near the corner of Clarendon and Newberry Streets.  Walked and jogged barefoot the 5 or so blocks to the meeting place and actually saw them in a taxi on the way to that location before I got there.  It was Ed, Bob J., John, John E., Jodi, Laura, Kristin & Justine.  There were tons of people converging on the buses to the Hopkinton starting line.  I needed a coffee to go with my banana and bagel that I brought in my race bag.  But I neglected to bring any money from my wallet that was tucked into my car's glove compartment.  There was a Dunkin' Donuts across the street packed with runners grabbing their coffee and carbs.  The heck with my personal DD boycott  - I had a marathon to wake up for.  Luckily, Bob J. was buying!

We took some pictures and soon we boarded one of the busses for the hour ride to the staging area of the Boston Marathon: Hopkinton High School.

Below: Ed's photo from the Boston Marathon bus ride - L to R: Laura, Kristin, Justine, Bob.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Previous Boston Marathons

I found my results from previous Boston Marathons.  I honestly forgot the years and the times.  It seems like another lifetime...  It wasn't easy.  I had to go into a closet and go through a bunch of notebooks and logs - things that we used to keep before Excel files and online training logs.  Couldn't just type in a search term!

In 1986 at 26 years old I ran a 2:54:33.  Here is a scan of the actual finisher card (that is something we used to get mailed to us after some races before the Internet...)

In 1984 at 24 years old I hit the wall bad, walked the last 4 miles for a 3:27.  I berated myself for such a poor performance.  I had big goals and already had a 2:41 PR.  On Monday I will be running the whole thing in around that time, or slower!  But I will finish with a smile on my face and recover quickly  :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Featured on Brickfish Home Page

Check out the screen caps
Top left is me.  Please go there and vote me up .  I would really like to win the contest and get the trip to Nike in Oregon.  Thanks!

Believe In The Run

I am trying to win this contest.  Please vote for me...  Thanks!~

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Found While Looking for Past Boston Marathon Times: My Marathoning History

I am on this slow psych-up for Boston this week.  I figured I would look in my old "Race Results" file and see if I could find some record of my previous two Boston Marathon times.  I ran it a long time ago.  I would say the last time I ran it was at least 20 years ago.  No kidding.  I did not find any certificates for Boston - I have not given up because I have a shelf in a closet full of old running logs from when we had to write it down in a notebook - BUT I did find four interesting certificates from 1975-1978.  The Jersey Shore Marathon was my first road race.  Yes, after cross country there was no indoor track at my high school.  A bunch of guys decided to train for this marathon thing.  Why?  It was the year after Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon.  Bill Rodgers was on a roll.  Marathoning was what distance runners did when they got serious.  We didn't even know that there were other, shorter races on the road.  We were pretty dumb about road racing, and about running marathons.  But we just did it.  Is that crazy or what?

I ran my first marathon when I was 15 years old, January 19, 1975.  I was a sophomore in high school.  My son is 15 now - a freshman running track.  I showed him my certificate and told him I ran my first marathon when I was 15.  I asked if he wanted to try it.  Not yet, he said.  I hope my running history does not put undue pressure on expectations of his performance.  It probably does, but I really try not to push it on him too much.  Just setting an example and showing interest in his efforts, whatever the result is, should be enough.  Too much will push him out of it, probably.

Here is a scan of the 1977 certificate.  I ran a 4:24:18 in my first marathon.  If I remember correctly, I didn't train too much for it.  I think probably only a few weeks of running, maxing out at only about 12 miles.

The following year, with another track and XC season behind me, I ran it again.  If I remember the race correctly, it was freezing cold and snowing.  I remember an icicle formed on the face-mask/hat thing I wore.  I touched my chin at the half-marathon turn-around and thought my chin was literally frozen, but it was just the icicle formed by my exhales.  At 16 years old I ran 3:35:30.

In my third marathon - my third road race, at 17 years old, a senior in high school - I broke three hours, running the Jersey Shore Marathon in 2:53:21.  In retrospect, I feel like I was a fairly good distance runner at a fairly young age.  I didn't really appreciate that until now, at 49, when it was a painful struggle to to run 3:18 last November in Philly.  Also, this makes me kind of psyched, to recall all this marathoning history that I honestly forgot about, as I am heading into Boston on Monday for its 113th running.  It will be my 19th marathon, if I have my count correct.

In 1978 I was a freshman at Rutgers.  I was a lowly walk-on to the Rutgers XC and track teams.  I ran the Penn Relay Marathon in 2:41 and change.  I was the third college runner, and I have a bronze Penn Relays medal to show for it.  This was a time that I was doing hundred mile training weeks leading up to marathons. 

I think I was lucky.  My desire to run marathons at a young age was fueled by Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, and the culture of distance running that I became acquainted with.  It was, and still is, my source of friendship and feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment.  I am hoping that Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher become roll models for the young high school aged runners and spur them on to a great running life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bill Rodgers Running Boston

In the media circles I follow, there is a general buzz about Bill Rodgers running Boston this Monday.  Bill is a great guy and one of my true heroes.  He will talk and have a beer with you, as you can see by the photo above from the 2003 Boilermaker 15K.  I make an almost annual trip to the Boilermaker 15K with people from my running club .  At that venue, Bill is always approachable and will talk with you about anything as if he has done a hundred miles of running with you.  He gave tons of advice about how to run the course to one of my friends last year.  Here is a cool video of his 1979 win at Boston.  Gotta love the hat!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Finally on The Taper and Marathon Day Forecast

Ran a light 2 miles today while waiting for my son to run his race at the most cold & miserable track meet ever. Legs were tired from the last three days of training: Ran 10 on Saturday, Ran 19 on Sunday, Biked 22 on Monday on my single-speed over a hilly course.

The weather is looking close to perfect for a marathon on Monday. As long as the rain holds off. If it rains, it might throw in a bit of a chill. Cloudy and 54 would be sweet.

<--- screen cap

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How to Care For Your Camelbak (Cheap)

One key to keeping black moldy stuff and bacteria from growing inside your Camelbak water bladder and tubing is to dry it out between uses.  First empty the bladder as completely as possible.  Suck and blow all the fluid out that you can through the bite valve.  Then I use an air pump that is meant for blowing up air mattresses.  You just shove the pump tube into the bladder and let it run for about 15 minutes.

Next, bend a wire clothes hanger into the configuration shown, and add an elastic band.  Shove the hanger into the bladder to hold it open and attach the elastic band to something.  Now you can hang the Camelbak up for a day or so.  This will allow any moisture the air pump missed to evaporate.

Finally, store your Camelbak in the refrigerator to make it inhospitable to any invading microorganisms.  And remember to enjoy a beer after your run!

PS - written on May 31, 2011.  Since posting this, I have actually been in close contact with the Skweet people.  They sent my running club samples.  I have been using Skweet, and it is really a great product for keeping the Camelbak fresh!

Training: April 6 - 12, 2009 and Camelbak Commentary

Good training week - was my last chance to "cram" for Boston.  I just finished a 19 mile trail run at Watchung Reservation.  Felt just fine.  I love my Camelbak and PowerBar Gels.  It is so great to finish a long run not dehydrated and craving carbs!  I tried out a new Camelbak today.  It is the "Blue Wave Vigor ".  Seventy ounces of fluid.  I had been using my skiing Camelbak "Zoid". The Zoid's tube and pack are insulated, and the bite valve has a heavy rubber cover to prevent freezing.  So the tube bounced around a bit too much for running, and I always had to tuck it in under the shoulder strap when not in use.  The new one works much better - no tucking necessary - once I figured out that the sternum strap was movable.  At first it was set as shipped, which was too low.  The strap was bothering my chest and I couldn't get the shoulder strap fit right.  After about an hour I took it off to grab a gel, and I realized I could move the strap.  It took me a couple minutes, but once I moved it the Camelbak fit perfectly.  It also has a better zipper pocket than the Zoid version.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Training March 30 - April 5, 2009

This week was an improvement over last.  The weekend was breakthrough.  I had been feeling bad on every run for almost two weeks.  Obviously overtraining and lack of sleep.  So I took Friday off and slept 9 hours on Friday and Saturday nights.  The result was a morning 7 mile run with my son on Saturday that felt good, and a great 34 mile bike ride in the afternoon.  The bike ride was very windy and I managed a 17 MPH average on my single speed.  Today I ran 21 (or maybe it was 22) miles at Watchung Reservation and I felt kinda fine for the whole thing.  Today's run was pretty muddy, but I importantly got twice through the area where I fell and broke my rib last January.  I ran that area very carefully because the memory of that was actually weighing on me.  Silly, huh?  It was the first sunny warm day in a very long time.  Ran with my Camelbak and almost finished the whole thing.  Used three PowerBar Latte gels.

Training chart from Zelky below, some pics of muddy shoes and legs, and a cool new Blogger location widget!