Half-Marathon: Recap 
The training plan I followed was a 12 week plan and I stuck to it pretty well. The plan calls for three or four days of running, a stretch and strengthen day, two cross-training days (or one if you run four days), and a rest day. Of the running days, two were moderate, starting at three miles and working up to five and one was the “long” run – starting at four and up to 10 (11 in my case). Cross-training consisted entirely of biking.

I had to jostle some days around but I only skipped one day – in the 11th week I took two consecutive rest days to prepare myself for the longest run of training - 11 miles. Earlier in the training, the third week, the heat wave came in – 98º, 101º, 99º, 93º, 91º but I did my runs early and cut them short by a 1/2 mile. Then, the heat continued through most of July with 15 days at 90º or above. But, really, it wasn't too hard to deal with it. I had most of my runs done by 8-8:30 during those hottest days.

Around week 10 I started to feel some discomfort in my left knee. It wasn't enough to stop and it didn't hurt; maybe a .5 on a 1-10 scale. Quad and hamstring stretches helped but the discomfort never really disappeared. The knee was my biggest concern going into the race.

I maintained my regular diet as well: beef no more than once a week (and probably less than that), lots of fruits and vegetables, wheat pasta, wheat bread, and wheat tortillas, salads with every meal, watched the sodium and sugar. Protein was mostly from beans, chicken, pork, turkey, peanuts, peanut butter, and the occasional PowerBar (maybe half-dozen total; they go well with iced coffee post-run). I did not lose any weight during training although my body fat was measured at 5.2% in late July.

During the entire training, nary a drop of rain fell on me. Which, of course, meant that race day would be a soaker and it was. The rain wouldn't normally be a problem but since the course had long stretches of dirt and cinder, it was muddy. In hindsight, the mud wasn't too bad but, like many runners I'm sure, I had purchased new shoes for the race. Mine had about 50 miles on them which is enough to break them in for a special event.

The course had some bottlenecks at the beginning but once we moved off Sand Island it thinned out and then continued to do so. By mile five I had established my own personal space and felt comfortable. It felt like I was running alone too which is a-ok by me. People were passing me and I was passing others but there was plenty of space to pass from the half way point on.

From about mile four to mile seven or so, I worked up to a two-hour pace but was unable to hold it. Those two little hills at Hugh Moore put an end to the sub-two hopes. Personally, I feel a 2:03 for a first half-marathon is very good.

In short, I found it much easier than I though it would be. Before the race, I broke the course down mentally into segments. Segment one was the start to Freemansburg, the second was Freemansburg to the boat launch, then boat launch to Hugh Moore, and lastly HMP to the circle. I thought this would help me as I could view it as several small runs all in a row, in case I got into trouble. It turns out that I never really paid attention to the segments. I just kept going.

Finishing in just over two hours makes it easy to pick my goal time for my next half in the spring. I'll be ready.

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Via Half-Marathon 
I did it; 2:03:30. My goal was 2:08 and the race was easier than I anticipated. I was on a sub 2:00 pace for a while but lost it around mile eight and that was it. Since it hasn't rained much over the past view months, it was a given that today would be a soaker and it was. The heavy rain stopped about an hour into my run but that didn't matter because of the mud. Nonetheless, I feel good.

My next half-marathon will be in the spring and the goal time is obvious.

By the way, the chart on the previous post is a Pittsburgh Half-Marathon.

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The Proof 
I ran a 5K this morning and set an PR - 26:10. While that brought some joy the real joy today came not from the time but from another number.

After I picked up my packet, I got on the Tanita TBF-300A and then the woman gave me the little printout. My body fat percentage read 5.2% which means I have about seven pounds of fat on my body. These results were recorded and after the race was done, awards would be given for lowest percentage. I beat the winners of every age group except mine. They stacked the deck and snuck in a ringer who came in at 3.8%. Ok, maybe it wasn't a conspiracy but the man who won my group did come in at 3.8%. Women, by the way, have higher BF percentages than men.

When I saw the number, I knew it was good but I didn't know it was that good. That reading really gave me a mental boost and probably is what pushed me to an 8:26 pace.

The race featured about 150 runners.

In a pool of runners my body fat percentage is exceptional. Compared to the rest of the population, I'm top tier. Hard work pays off. I may sound vain but I am really proud of myself for all I've accomplished in the past two years. Start small, work yourself up, and be persistent.

Update - Hardbody contest results are here.

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Facebook 
I caved. It was a good fight and I held out as long as I could. Now I can be friends with people I'm friends with. I can also see who's got extra lumber and whose kingdom is being pillaged by marauders.


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37 Minutes 
In my previous post I mentioned that my average workout for the first half of this year was approximately 37 minutes long. Within the average day, those 37 minutes make up about 2.5% of the day. Inverse that, and that means one can spend an average of 97.5% of the day not exercising and still put in quality workouts that garner results over a period of time.

For example, in 37 minutes I know I can:

- run four miles
- bike six at slightly above leisurely pace
- get a basic weightlifting workout in
- walk about 2.5 miles

Swimming: I don't swim for exercise but my guess is that 37 minutes of doing laps, at any pace, isn't a bad workout. In fact, 37 minutes of any constant movement forward is probably a good workout [yeah, sounds funny, I know; [insert your own sexual innuendo joke here if that pleases you]].

Seriously, though, take 37 minutes out your day and see what you can do. You may be surprised. You may start slow like I did, but improvement will come if you persist. Believe me, I know, and about 1/39th of your day is all it takes.

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By The Numbers 
For the first six months of 2010, I have:

- run 299.85 miles in 48:20 for an average pace of about 9:40. The first 150 have been faster than the second 150.

- biked 248 miles in 21:55

- done 123 workouts in a total of 75 hours. That works out to be about 37 minutes per workout. This includes walks and lifting weights too.

For the next six months, I hope to increase these numbers. I am also quite satisfied that I am well above what the average American puts into fitness. I am also ahead of the masses in diet too as I effectively manage salt, sugar, and beef intake. If you see me about, give me a big "atta boy!" Vanity? There's nothing wrong with it as long as you can back it up.

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Another PR 
I ran the Freedom to Liberty race this morning in 35:12; a PR for four miles, besting the 36:36 I put up a while ago through the neighborhood. I didn't expect a PR today but I did it. There were no markers on the course so I don't have splits.

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Broad Street Run 
Well, I did it and, it was one of the most difficult yet rewarding single events I have ever done.

First the bad:

I set a pre-race goal of 99 minutes which is a 9:54 pace. I finished in 1:41:16, a 10:07 pace. I started off too slow. I hit mile one around 10:30 and then mile two in just over 20. By mile four I was at 40 even and then made miles five and six in under 50 and 60 respectively thus, getting my pace to where I wanted. Then, the stomach cramps that had been slightly nagging me since mile one, took their toll and I slowed some. I was hoping for a nice burst from four to seven and hit mile seven around 68 and try to stretch a gain to a sub 10 minute pace. But, it didn't happen and once I hit seven around 71 I knew that the 99 wouldn't be seen. While I wanted to hit mile one slow, I think I was too slow. Ideally, I wanted to hit the first mile around 9:45 but it wasn't to be. Additionally, the weather (humid, sticky, about 80 at 9:00 am) did not help. I also botched the pre-run fuel. I ate a banana about 6:45 am (race started at 8:30 am, my corral started close to 9) and that was it. I had a small cup of coffee around 6:15 am too but I think I should have eaten something else (like half a PowerBar) around 7:45 am or so. I carried Shot Blocks with me but they did nothing. Lastly, I think pre-run jitters gave me six hours sleep. I awoke at 4:00 am and never fell back asleep.
Tired. Hot. Hungry. But...

The good:

I finished and I did not walk or stop! I had no pains anywhere either. Post-race, I'm a little sore here there but during the run, nothing flared up. I did not need any potty stops. Although I grabbed water at about five stations, the heat made me sweat it out. I voided at 8:30 am and did not pee again until 12:15 pm. I chugged about 16 oz of Gatorade at the end and then a 16 oz of water and it was an hour after that I finally had to go.

The Mrs. and I efficiently used mass transit to get to the start and then back to hotel when we were done. We had no problems getting to race or getting back to the hotel.

Even though this was very challenging, I will likely try a half-marathon in the fall.

What I learned:

Don't break the routine. Eat a little something close to run time just like I do when I do long runs during training. Sleep: not sure how to fix this. We stayed in a hotel and I don't always sleep as well in a hotel bed as I do my own. Don't be afraid to bolt out of the gate and hit that first mile a little fast. If the pace is too fast, I can still slow it down and get into a good stride.

Races like this use a corral system. You are assigned a corral based on your own estimated completion time. I played it conservative and filled in my time as 1:45 even though I expected to be below 1:40. Next time, I will subtract five minutes instead of adding five. If I start in a "faster" corral maybe we'll all get off the start quicker and instead of weaving and dodging, maybe I can hit mile one at the 9:45 pace I want. With so many people, weaving and dodging isn't avoidable but I need to manage the first mile better.

The weather, although not ideal by any means, could have been worse.

The Race:

Organized. Fun. Recommended. Philadelphia is a great city and, in all my years, never thought I'd actually run down Broad St. from Olney to the Navy Yard. I didn't count the water stops but they said there were nine. The city opened up fire hydrants at every mile or so past two and I ran through most of them. Kudos to volunteers and the first responders who stood by waiting to assist as well as the Philadelphia police.

Channel 6 news story on the run: [Link]

That being said, I'm glad it's over. I feel pretty good.

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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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