Running …

… because I can … because it's fun … because it's healthy … just BECAUSE.

Running in the moment

Carytown 10k bib, Richmond, Va.

My last PR came at the Carytown 10K in May 2012.

In the past year and a half, I’ve had many thoughts about not wanting to do another marathon.

With the exception of the time I was running at Disney in January 2013, I’ve had no excitement about doing this distance since training ended in fall 2012.

Now that I have climbed my way out of a funk, I understand more and more than my funk lasted for so long because I felt like I should be training for a marathon, or maybe even beyond.

All other runs didn’t seem as important without having a goal for 26.2 miles in mind. I got too caught up in other people’s emotions and what it was like for them to hit goals for that distance.

I had a hidden secret that I was going to do the Blue Ridge Marathon this year; the reality is just before Shamrock I knew Blue Ridge wouldn’t be able to happen. After realizing what I need to do just to perform better at a half, I opted to move along from cramming in more miles and instead focus on another half … and then eventually knocking out a PR in the half and/or other distances.

While doing several quarter-mile intervals this morning, I realized even more that I’m just not excited about training for a marathon. I’m excited, though, about running faster. Out of nowhere, one of my intervals was in 1:47; they were all under 1:54.

When looking back at 10 years of running, the times I remember the most have been when I’ve gone for a PR at shorter distances.

Conquering the marathon distance for the first time in 2007 was definitely thrilling; breaking 4 hours in 2011 after an injury was amazing; doing Disney was quite magical; but my overall feeling toward long runs of 2-3 hours and 40-some mile weeks in the middle of summer (or winter) is not a positive one.

My last PR was in a 10K in May 2012, which came at the end of an awesome year-plus span of running. I know that I haven’t peaked yet.

It’s very possible that I take another 3-year break from the marathon like I did after 2007; the bug may bite me sooner; it may never bite again.

It feels so out of the ordinary and crazy to improve my 5K time and try to get it closer to 21 minutes; I need to find a 10K or two and go for 45 minutes; and, of course, I’d love to read 1:39:59 on a half marathon clock within the next year.

It’s time for me to live in the moment and go for other things with running that, at least right now, are more exciting and feel right. Now I just have to figure out what to go for first.

March 2014 & Q1: By the Numbers

If I focus on the now, I’m disappointed in this month; when I look at the big picture I’m pretty excited about the first 3 months of the year.

I’ll focus on the latter.

Last week’s stomach bug butchered my March miles. Couple that with extra rest after Shamrock and I probably fell about 20 miles short for what I was hoping this month. It’s not the end of the world … I’m well rested now and in a good spot for Q2.

On with some numbers …

  • 66.6 running miles (fitting, right?) for March; 231.6 for the quarter. That’s a nice increase of about 30 miles from Q4 to close out 2013.
  • 0 biking miles for March. I blame the weather and my lack of desire to go to the gym that I’m about to cancel. I have xx for the quarter.
  • 3 pounds lost; 9.2 pounds for the quarter; Less than 5 to my next goal.
  • 152 seconds. That’s all I was from my PR at Shamrock. In some ways that’s a lot, but considering how hard it was to train this winter it’s not much.
  • 0 … that’s how many fall races are on my calendar. That needs to change soon. Still at 33.3 for the year.
  • And 1 moonrise over Virginia Beach …

moonrise at Virginia Beach


Set a goal, get sick

1,138 days. That’s how long of a streak I had since the last time I got sick. REALLY SICK, if you know what I mean. It’s certainly a streak that I would have loved to have continued, but it’s over.

This week was going to be a week to get back to normal after some time off after Shamrock, but instead it’s put a huge dent into my March miles and my confidence for the goal I put out there the other day for the Blue Ridge Half.

At least, from backtracking everything that happening in the day or two before I got sick, it was out of my control. In fact, on Monday night I told my wife that I feel like I had finally woken up from a week of being tired after Shamrock and a long weekend from an event at work.

My first run back yesterday afternoon after my unexpected time off felt like breathing through a straw, but it was a small victory in an otherwise awful week. I also got up this morning to get in a few miles and felt strangely normal.

After starting March off so well and having a great Shamrock, I’m now eager to get through the next few days and get to April and Q2. Great things are ahead … as long as all stomach bugs stay away.

A new focus for Blue Ridge

Back in November when I was pacing my sister to her first sub 2-hour marathon, I realized how much focus I had lost with my own running. While doing things like the Disney Marathon and randomly changing races during the Runner’s World festival weekend were fun, I hadn’t set a hardcore goal for myself in more than a year.

That was when I decided to set a goal for Shamrock after being mostly goal-less at year’s race. It’s also given me renewed focus on goals in general — things like setting a goal of 1,000 miles for 2014 are enjoyable once again.

I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to PR at a half again this year, or what other PRs I’ll go for, but it’s so nice to be back in a state of mind in which future races have more meaning that just to run them.

The new Blue Ridge Half course, complete with a second major climb in the final few miles.

The new Blue Ridge Half course, complete with a second major climb in the final few miles.

In a month, I’ll be tackling another half marathon — the Blue Ridge Half Marathon in Roanoke, Va. As similar to the past few years, I was actually signed up for the full, but lack of training for it, tired legs after Shamrock and taking most of last week off led me to what I think is a wise decision to do the half.

This will be my fourth time doing this half; in my previous three races I’ve come away feeling tremendously satisfied, but also disappointed. I’ve generally approached this race with no goal in mind … just finish it … have fun with it.

While having fun and completing this beast of a course have been nice, I’m ready to set a goal — 1:50.

That almost seems crazy considering last year was just a little more than 2 hours, and the previous two were at 1:57 and 1:59. This year’s race also incorporates the Peakwood neighborhood, so there’s even more elevation change. I feel like with some focus over the next few weeks, though, that going for 1:50 is realistic.

I don’t know how much I’ll write about my goals and training — life is quite busy with two kids — but I’m putting it out there and ready to keep things rolling in 2014.

Now I’m off to find some hills to get ready …

Sham Rocked VII

Shamrock Half 2014

I went for a PR, had that pace going for 6 miles, but I just couldn’t quite hold it together to get there for my 7th Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. 

And I’m perfectly OK with that.

A year removed from my personal worst Shamrock, I rebounded to improve my time by 6 minutes from 2013 and also came less than 3 minutes from a PR, set in 2012.

After nearly a year and a half of races that left me feeling underwhelmed, I’m excited to finish today in 1:43:10, my 3rd fastest half out of 20 since 2007.

I did very little speedwork this winter, I missed a few runs because of snow and I’ve certainly had much less sleep in the past several months with a baby who still won’t sleep through the night.

I was pleasantly surprised that I could hold my PR pace for so long today — after the turn back toward the finish and hitting some wind, my legs just didn’t have enough to keep that pace. I knew heading in that even getting close to a PR would be difficult, and now I’m leaving my favorite race with a renewed sense of confidence and the knowledge of what I need to do to get closer to breaking 1:40 in a half.

All previous six Shamrocks have set the tone for the year, both good and bad. Now is a great time for that tradition to continue and do some great things in 2014 …

Shamrock Half Marathon finish

Pre-Shamrock thoughts

A few days after last year’s Shamrock Half Marathon, I wrote this: This year I’m just kind of mad at myself for not being in prime shape for my favorite race. While I ran a time that I fully expected, I can’t help but know that I could have been more mentally and physically ready this year.

Fast forward a year and I can easily say that I’m in much better shape and much more mentally prepared. That said, I don’t know if my PR is even close to realistic. As just about everyone in America knows, it was a cold winter. We got a little lucky in Richmond with not as much snow as others, but a few storms still impacted several runs.

Here are a few notes about Shamrock No. 6:

  • I didn’t train much at goal pace. I don’t know why that even worries me. I never do for this race. It’s damn near impossible to.
  • After a warm-up this week, then another cool-down Thursday, the weather looks to rebound this weekend for good weather conditions. It’s still a little early to get excited about that.
  • I logged 5 10-mile training runs in February and early March. That’s about right on track for the Shamrocks that have gone well. My total mileage in January and February are comparable to those good years, too.
  • It’s only a few pounds, but I do weigh less than last year. I’d have to dig way deep to see how I compare to my PR year from 2 years ago, but I certainly feel a lot better than any point since late 2012.
  • This will be my first son’s 3rd and final Leprechaun Dash, held the day before the race. While it’s a bit sad he’s getting that much older, the tradition can continue next year with my second son.
Virginia Beach sunrise - Instagram

Just a few more days to see this!