The Plan 
Week two is in the bag: I'm following Hal Higdon's 15-K training plan for the 10 mile run I am doing in May. I've followed the schedule almost to the letter except that I have switched days for certain things just because of my schedule. But I have done everything on the list and nothing more and nothing less.

I bought a new pair of running shoes to coincide with this training, too; Asics Gel Foundation 8. The ITBand pain has all but disappeared. I did a few weeks of physical therapy and have some exercises I do to stretch that thing out. I was wearing a Cho-Pat knee strap too but my past few runs have been sans Cho-Pat and I haven't had a problem. Granted, the training regimen, at this point, calls for less miles than I was running before, but I want to do this right and not just complete the 10 miler, but do it in a respectable time and without injury.

Back to the shoes: it's too early to say if I have found the right running shoe for me but I really dig these Asics. I've tried Saucony and Brooks but I wasn't totally convinced either of their motion-control shoes were best for me. Once I put about 100 miles or so on the Asics, I'll know if I've found what's right for me. Since I need wide shoes, my choices are limited because only a few makes offer wides.

So far, so good. The weather seems to be getting better and running season is in full bloom.

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Feelin' Groovy 
I did a three mile run on the treadmill at the gym last night. I wore a Cho-Pat knee strap that the doctor gave me and I still had some pain and running more than three might have been tough, but the strap worked. After the run and in addition to my usual IT-band stretches, I did some hip adductor exercises on one of the leg machines and that almost completely got rid of the pain. The pain came back a little after I left the gym but it wasn't as bad as it was from some other runs so I did another set of stretches about an hour before bedtime. This morning, the knee feels good.

The doctor referred me to a physical therapist and did not proscribe me from running. I will take it easy and cap my runs at three, unless the PT recommends otherwise, but I am feeling much better already and looking forward being able to do my first five and six mile runs of the year and eventually the 10 in May.

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Iliotibial Band  
I haven't been running due to injuring my IT band. The pain is in the knee but the band runs along the leg from the hip to the knee. In doing research on the causes of it, I have discovered that I am a prime candidate for this injury. I overpronate. I run up and down hills. Most streets are arced and since I run against traffic, that explains why it's only affecting my left knee. The bike paths arc in many spots, too.

So, I have done a few runs since the pain began but nothing more than two miles as that is when it flares up. I've been doing some stretches that concentrate on the band and just doing some walks to keep the body moving, albeit a little bit.

I don' think the shoes are failing but I may need insoles and I purchased an IT band compression wrap that is supposed to support the knee while running.

It's been too cold and snowy to bike too. Biking may be less demanding on the IT band but the weather has not been cooperative. I think I can layer up enough to bike once the temperature hits about 40F or so but those days have been quite rare of late.

I will continue to rest and do stretches and try a run in a few days. I still plan on running a 10 miler in May and a half-marathon in the fall.

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10+ km 
I ran 10km this morning (10.3km, 6.4mi. actual) and what a confidence boost! I will shoot for a seven miler within the next week and try for an eight before year's end. My time wasn't very good but another runner told me that the first thing you do is run the distance (even if you have to walk for parts of it) to prove to yourself you can do it and worry about improving your time later. That, of course, makes sense since I cannot improve on a 10K time without ever running a 10K.

Six months out from the Broad Street Run and I feel confident that I'll be about to crank out those ten miles (16km). A half-marathon is a major step from where I am but my target of a fall half-marathon seems realistic at this point.

One budding problem: my right foot. For the past few runs I've been feeling some discomfort on the inner part of the foot. I could be breaking down my shoes already but I can't be sure. I padded my right foot this morning with a second sock and felt no discomfort on this run. I am not sure if this will be a permanent fix or not but I'll have to monitor it. A visit to a podiatrist is not out of the question yet but, it's just minor discomfort and not something I would call pain - maybe a "2" on one of those 1-10 pain charts with the grimacing cartoon faces.

I'll plan on a few more runs this week. Maybe I can get that weekly total up from a current 10-12 miles a week to 15-16.

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My Limit? 
I'm still running, of course, but I feel like I have hit my limit in regards to speed. I can finish a 5K in under 30 minutes and with a little effort could get that down to under 28; 28:16 being my best so far. But with flat feet, short legs, and almost 20 years of eating like someone who wanted diabetes and high blood pressure, I don't know if I can ever get a pace under a nine minute mile for distances of three-six miles and more. I can run two in under 18 minutes but I can't continue that pace, yet, for another 1.1 miles, let alone for five or six. I'm doing a 10-miler in May and my early early early goal is 1:39:59. 1:29:59 would be awesome but it would be a lot of work and a big step up. I also need to actually run 10 as well. The longest distance I have run so far is just over six. I anticipate little problem being able to cover 10 miles but doing it at a nine-minute pace is another matter.

I think I need a personal trainer with a background in nutrition. My diet is much improved and there is no doubt about the results; it's working, people see the results. I have eating to lose weight mastered but I need to figure how to eat to build strength and speed. However, a personal trainer doesn't fit into my budget at the moment. Just like I lost the weight on my own, maybe I need to be my own personal trainer too which means doing lots of reading and research.

I don't think I've hit my limit yet but I have come to a point where I need to bump it up to the next level. How many more levels I can go it not something I know the answer to.

By the way, I ran a five-miler in 47:15 this morning; my best time for five, so far.

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One Revolution 
One year ago today I started running. What started as a light jog that took me about 12 minutes to cover a mile, has turned into running regularly and having no problem getting out doing four or five without thinking twice about it. I now expect myself to run three comfortably under 30:00 and hit mile one on a fast run comfortably under 9:00. I have plans on doing a 10 miler in May and *gasp* a half-marathon next September. While I'll never be a Ryan Hall, I can still be proud of myself.

One key was starting a few years ago with changes in diet and exercise BEFORE things got too out of hand. My BMI was in the high 20's - not a point of no return - but absolutely unacceptable. Another key, and, more importantly, I finally realized that there was a problem.

This is a three-year project still in the making. Consistency is important. Nothing is going to happen overnight. No one is going to wave a magic wand and put your body into the shape it's supposed to be in.

Less than eight months ago I ran my first 5K. It took me just over 35 minutes. I have since trimmed seven minutes off that. I may not get much faster than that, but that's alright.

I've come a long way. I've learned a lot. Just as the earth has completed another revolution, I am into my own.


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Nine Things 
I am the cook of the house. I cook dinner about 20-23 days out of the month. My wife might make a meal or two and the rest of days are either leftovers or other plans like being invited somewhere, going out, etc.

When the topic comes up, people who don't know us assume that my wife is the cook and seem surprised when I tell them that I am. My wife can cook but our roles in the house have made it easier for me to the cooking. We're at the point where I insist on making it. I am not afraid to boast either; I am a good cook.

I also do the grocery shopping so I always have what I need and I plan the menu a week ahead.

Nine things you'll always find in my kitchen:

1. onions
2. crushed garlic (big refrigerated jar)
3. Lawry's seasoning salt
4. Tabasco
5. black pepper
6. bread crumbs
7. worcestershire sauce
8. butter
9. canola oil

Onions and garlic - you can't cook without them. Lawry's is a must for ground beef, even though we eat it only about once every two weeks. Tabasco is a must and I used to buy it by the gallon. I've re-discovered ground black pepper as good seasoning for many things. Bread crumbs and worcestershire come in handy for many things too. Butter and canola oil are essential.

For a few years now, we've been using ground turkey or ground chicken instead of beef in items like sloppy joes, lasagna, tacos, et al, even though we only buy 90/10 beef. You can substitute ground poultry in just about anything that traditionally calls for ground beef and you can make it taste just as good.

I like being the cook.

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Last Saturday's 5K 
The 5K I ran last weekend timed me at 28:26 but I timed myself at 28:16; either way a PR. I always start my watch when I begin running and the race, while it utilized chip timing, did not have a sensor at the starting line. So, I'll take my reading as my official time and now that's the number to beat for my next 5K. However, I was disappointed to see that I finished 6/7 in my age group. The previous 5K I ran I was 16/21. I need to goad more of my friends into running these races with me so I can have a shot at finishing in the top half for my age group.

The race itself featured a major hill for most of the first mile. I hit mile one at a dismal 9:53 but, again, I blame the hill (and the rain too, the rain stopped about halfway through the run). Mile two I crossed at 18:40 so I picked up a nice pace after that. Not a bad race overall, lots of goodies beforehand and afterwards, including coffee! I go light on coffee before races and limit myself to about 12oz. Afterwards, I catch up and imbibe my usual gallon or so.

My next goal is to get these things done in under a 9:00 pace. I'm getting closer. Getting under 10 was easy, nine should come soon, but eight looks like it's going to be tough. But, I take pride in knowing that my practice and training are paying off.

No excuses. No bull. Just do it.

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Well, That was Easy 
A 5K in under 30:00? No problem. My watch timed me at 28:55 in yesterday's 5K. I couldn't stay to see the official results but maybe they'll be posted online. Nonetheless, I eclipsed my first goal of doing a 5K in less than 30 minutes.

The numbers: 9:19 pace, 6.44 mph. (5:47/10.37 metric)

Now, the hard part - I have to run every 5K now in under 30 minutes and, the next goal: getting that pace under 9:00. Everyone has their limits but I don't think I've hit mine yet. Maybe it's 9:00, maybe it's 8:00. But, showing improvement is the key. Eventually, it'll get to a point where my improvements aren't as great but I think that's some time off. In less than one year I've gone from not running at all to running a 5K in under 30 minutes and also trimming almost 6:30 of that first 5K time recorded back in April.

My other goal - longer runs; I am doing a 10 miler in May which means I'll be running 10 at one point or another, probably multiple times, as I train for that.

No excuses. No bull. Just do it.

Update - Official results posted online have me at 28:52.9


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The Next Goals 
I am now at the stage where I can call myself a 10-minute miler, which isn't bad for running less than one year. Two years of proper eating coupled with biking as the core of an exercise regimen has enabled me to become a runner - something I never thought I'd be or ever really desired to be until about 10 months ago.

Six months ago I ran my first 5K race and now I have trimmed almost five minutes off that first finishing time. I am close to being able to finish one in under 30 minutes. I have a 5K route mapped out through my neighborhood and did that in 30:47 this morning. Mile 2.1-2.6 are uphill so I am thinking that on a flat course, I may be able to beat 30. I have registered for two 5K's in the next three weeks. Let's see what I can do.

Getting up and doing a four or five miler isn't that difficult either - I don't need to prepare for those distances. I am toying with the idea of doing a 10 miler in May. That would require some training to get up to that distance but I can do it if I can fit the training in.

I'm taking it to the next level; finishing the short ones in under 30 and building myself up for longer runs.

Talk the talk. Walk the walk.

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Marathon - today, < 2 hours from now 
The Via Lehigh Valley Marathon begins in less than two hours. It's slightly after 5 am and I'm up. Coffee is on but I can't drink too much before the race. Breakfast will be a hard-boiled egg and half a banana.

It will be a busy day. After my leg, (Leg 1), I'll have to move along, cheer, and pick up the kids by 9:30 because our fifth runner is watching the kids at the house. Later on I have an Eagles game to watch and the lawn to cut.

As a team we don't have a time goal but my wife's youngest sister is running the marathon and will likely finish before our team does.

Time to dress, imbibe, and consume. Look for tweets.

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Relay - Six Days Away 
For my last "long" run before the relay, I cranked out a 5.18 mile run* in 54:45. That works out to be a 10:34 pace and 5.7 mph. Due to situational circumstances, my last two runs, which were 4.0 and 3.11 miles, were on the treadmill (college gym, hotel) at pretty good clips - 10:22 and 9:56 respectively. But with no obstacles like hills or traffic, one would expect a treadmill pace to be better than an outside run through the neighborhood. Of course, during an event like a marathon, the runners will be isolated from traffic so that won't be an excuse for losing time.

I'll rest tomorrow and perhaps lift weights on Wednesday. Thursday will be rest and Friday I'll plan for a tune-up run of maybe 3 miles.

My official goal now is to complete my 5.5 mile leg in 59:59 or under. A 10:45 pace would come out to be 59:08 and I think I can sustain that.

*according to mapmyrun.com

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