Saturday, June 2, 2012

Useless Fenway fact of the day.

One could run 112.5 laps of the Fenway park warning track and run a marathon!

Each lap is 0.2328 miles around.

In 1991, working security at Fenway Park, I once ran 17 laps counterclockwise, 17 laps clockwise, and one more lap for good luck, in an 8 mile run! (Thank you, Joe Mooney!)

Have a great weekend ... Go Sox!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

An Emerging Natural Act

     “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

..... It's profoundly good advice. However, when it comes to matters of self-coaching and running, I can be a bad student.

     I am struggling. I have run more this month than I have in many months. That is good. I have lost 12 pounds over the past three weeks. A good start. It's just that ... I am not feeling like what I am doing remotely resembles ... a natural act. When I run, as I just completed doing over the past hour, I feel awkward. Perhaps the beautiful, sun-drenched Boston weather in the 70's F contributes to this awkwardness. As I run around my local reservoir, I feel my neurotic self-awareness heightened by onlooking critical eyes wryly watching me stride past them in the opposite direction resembling a shuffling, out-of-place Hulk of gammaflab attempting to leap across the stage of Swan Lake.

     Others running in my direction pass me. I can rationalize this repeated act of perceived dominance over me as not bothersome. I know that today, for instance, I ran 5.3 miles in 63:05. Unlike most of my runs of late, I did not run/walk the distance. However, I did use my heart rate monitor, and I ran as slowly as I had to to keep my heart rate around my target rate of 134 BPM. Over the last two miles, I allowed for cardiac drift in the warm weather, allowing the heart rate to climb to 140 BPM - but no higher. The first mile or so felt very pedestrian. My proud Clydesdale's trot dissolved with every passing mile, however, into an increasingly painstaking crawl. One foot in front of the other. Muscles feeling like over-boiled shrimp without any crisp synapse capabilities. Just neuro-patterning strides restricted by an oversized haul in tow.

     However, it was a successful run. Running the trail at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir that I have run, some years much more than others, since 1973, it's calm beauty remains an urban oasis hiding us who circle it from the swelling industrialization lurking just around the next construction site.

I will always enjoy coming to this area, and I find it absurd to even fret about faster runners passing me by. It's just that that used to be me doing that here!

     "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old".

     So it's time to release the anchor of my ghostly fleet feet to spring forth with 'a new thing'. I love the honesty of running. One becomes as fit as one commits to the pursuit. If you run more, to a certain extent, you will get faster. I'd like to get faster. At least, faster than today. However, I need to get healthier, and I know that running is one key component, along with diet and stress management, that will take me to a healthier me. That's important, because I want to keep up with my six year old son for many years to come, and most critically, I do not want to get older. I will age, of course. None of us get out of here alive! My point is, I want to live for a long time, with as much vitality as I can joyfully muster, and I am not willing to settle for getting old. Maybe that is what Pete Townshend meant when he wrote, "I hope I die before I get old"? If that wasn't what he initially meant, I bet it is now!

     Therefore, I accept this awkwardness. We wait, in soreness, for muscles to recover from a workout with new, gained strength. Likewise, self-image is relative. It is worth looking and feeling a bit awkward now, because I have faith that the honesty of running will prevail, exactly to the extent that I commit to it. There have been too many days, even within this past month, where memories of how effortless running used to be restrained any fledgling enthusiasm for today's run to emerge. Just thinking about that day's run would suffocate it in a sea of excuse, dreading that baseline awkward feeling, that feeling of one's own body not even feeling like your own in motion, before I could even lace up my shoes. Excuses tempt me with empty guilt.

     Today. Clear the distractions. The past was never committed to memory in order to choke today. Memories are fun to spin at campfires and the like, but the past, for better and worse, does not equal the future. Do the 'new'! Forge a new path. Create a natural act.  What can you climb today?

     Don't look back.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A quick update


     firstly, I would like to thank everyone of you who have humbled me to graciousness with your well wishes. Thank you, and I pledge to not let you down. Wouldn't it be something if we could all pull ourselves up together? I have joined the Facebook group, 2012 Spring Clean Reboot, and hope to become active over there with you as well.

     I am seeking recommendations regarding online log books to begin recording my runs on. I have used Buckeye Outdoors happily in the past, but I must admit I am out of the loop of cutting edge web-bery, so if you love your log, let me know why? Thanks.

     I ran a nice 5 miler with Riley T. Dog this morning. He's happy to have his personal training job back! While out there, I listened to the latest episode of The Runner's Roundtable  Dr. Dave and his band of doctoral gypsies spoke about stain drugs that fight cholesterol, and of how studies with rats have suggested that statins drastically increase muscle fatigue and inflammation. As it turns out, I have been on a statin since 2009, when I got my arterial stent. This study fascinates me, and I want to research this finding more before I confront my cardiologist. What do you know about statins? If you think you can help me, kindly forward your knowledge here in the comments. Could it be that I have been sabotaging my health, as well as my running, with a pill that is supposed to be helping me? I am particularly concerned about anything that I may ingest that could lead to chronic inflammation. That's the big, silent killer out there, in my opinion.

See ya!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm 'Howard Beale':

                                                     " ... get up out of your chairs, open out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

     I have finally hit it. the bottom. The abyss. The reflection of myself that speaks back to me, "HYPOCRISY".
     As a runner, I have run marathons, including a BQ. I have run one mile under four and a half minutes. I have run up the entire access road of Mt. Washington, and I generally earned a reputation among my peers of a tough, but amicable competitor. Perhaps you could beat me, but you would sweat to do it. As a running advisor, I have given prudent advice to hundreds of people, maybe more, and most of them have achieved  remarkable heights in fulfilling personal goals. I have been proud to have helped their running progress a little more prepared for having lent my proverbial two cents to them.

     Never wanting to live my running dreams vicariously through others achievements, I have always deflected credit given to me towards the runners themselves that I worked with. They did the work, and so, they deserved the credit. I was most proud of runners who were able to hit personal goals without me after spending some time with me. If I helped them to achieve self-sufficient running, then I felt I had been a good teacher. Truly, advising in an arena of shared passion left me feeling good about having given back just a little to a sport I so love.

     Yet, something was amiss.

     The ironic paradigm that follows is one that I am not rejecting, but rather, one that I am proud of. Nonetheless,my approach is in need of a tuneup.

     For the past several years, I have kept busy. No more busy than most of you, I imagine, but, suffice to say, my time has seldom been idle.  I work as a Deputy Sheriff in Boston, which in this context accurately implies a wealth of accumulated stress wrapped in a blanket of forced overtime made from the fabric of care and custody of thousands of lost souls. My wife and son are blessings beyond compare, but I would be typing less than honestly if I were to suggest that I never brought the byproducts of my profession through the radiations of my furrowed brow onto the dinner table. Stress, in fact, has been the mostly senseless jailer separating my spirit from my being over recent times. I work responsibly. I am, I think, a very attentive husband and daddy. I am generally proud of my contributions to my community and to my family. However, I am losing my fight with stress.

     It has been over three years since I have posted an original blog entry. I have not run a race of any accomplishment or satisfaction since 2010. Moreover, the number of miles I have run over the past year totals approximately the amount of miles I used to run per week when I was running competitively. As I write, I am exactly 70 pounds heavier than I was when I last ran the Boston Marathon in 2005. Of more grave concern, in that time of weight gain, I have been diagnosed with cardiac disease to the extent that a stent was placed in my LAD "widowmaker" artery in 2009 as I was, according to my doctor, "one cheeseburger away from a heart attack."

     Yet, I have gained weight since that procedure.

     Am I crazy? I have helped people to greater fitness and health, but I am watching my lethargy towards running ... RUNNING(!) assist in essentially shortening my lifespan. I love to run. I really do. Yet, for the past few years, I have all but ignored it. "What is (my) major malfunction?"

      Overtime .... overeat ... overwhelmed .... over! I have been chained to a couch of'something else to DO', but I have had the key all along! I have something I need to do: to run! I'm pain free, gym boss buttressed, and praying that this moment of catharsis doesn't dissipate upon the first time I have a new conflict of interest. After allowing myself to believe in any number of pitiful excuses as to my premature retirement from my own well being, I am at the point of this realization: if my life is to continue, if my life is to be authentic, if I am to reclaim my life from being defined ONLY by the responsibilities to others that I keep, I must manage my time. I am not going to stop keeping my responsibilities.I love my family and that will always be my first priority. However, if I am dead in five years, as my doctor has suggested to me that I could be on this path, then how much good will I be to anyone then?

     I have allowed myself to believe that my stress was unique, that no one, not even my wife, could understand my pressures. Stress is poison, but having recently extracted my head from a pile of self pity, I know that you, yes, YOU, likely have just as much daily stress my yours truly. Maybe more! Yet you are running, reacting to the stress instead of surrendering to it. The author, Danzae Pace said, "Stress is the trash of modern life - we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." There are a plethora of healthy ways to take out the stress, as it were, but for me, I have always enjoyed the soul cleaning satisfaction of coming home after a good, sweaty run. have you ever felt worse after a run? Yeah, me neither.

     So I have arrived at this point of declaration. I, hear by, am taking on the most challenging person that I have ever advised in running ... myself. I have started recently. I am running up to 8 miles at a time, but utilizing the Galloway run/walk method. I am humbly but happily running at a 2:1 ratio for the next few weeks, when I will evaluate my fitness with a "magic mile." Some days I will run less than others, but I will try to run more days than I do not run.

     But wait! There's more!

     I also want to commit, at this time, to this blog. I hope that it will motivate me to continue when I am less motivated, and I also want to pro-actively re-enter this community with you, because I have missed speaking with you all, and I hope this blog can serve to help you invigorate your running as much as I hope it serves my own running. So if you have a chance, sometime hopefully in less than three years, write me a quick note here and let me know how you are doing, okay?

I'll see you back here soon .... because I am sick of acting as mad as hell, and I am not going to take any excuses anymore.

John E.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

dun dunt .... dun dunt ... dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut dunt dut - dnt ta dah!!!!!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is Bill Rodgers Running Boston?!?

thank you Universal Sports!

Weather to dictate Rodgers' Boston return
Fri Apr 10, 2009 By Dave Ungrady / Universal Sports

Watch Boston Marathon LIVE on Universal Sports

Bill Rodgers did not compete in the 2008 Boston Marathon, but he did attend a press conference during race week, shown above.
A suggestion for those who hope to see running legend Bill Rodgers take part in the Boston Marathon on April 20 for the first time in 10 years: pray for cool weather. Rodgers said this week that he will run the 113th running of the race if temperatures stay around under 70 degrees. If not, he’ll likely be an impassioned spectator. “My plan now is to run it,” Rodgers said by phone from Boston, where he still operates his running store. “The last I heard we’re expecting some cool weather. But if it’s hot, I might have to wait until next year. After all, it’s been around for 113 years. I think it will be around next year.”
Runner often don't know how they're body will react to conquering Heartbreak Hill on the Boston Marathon course at about mile 20. Due to the course's proximity to the waters of the eastern Massachusetts coast, weather on Boston Marathon day can be as strong a variant. Races have been run in chilly, rainy conditions as well as in sun drenched heat as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunny skies and temperatures that rose to the high 60s greeted runners at the 2008 race.
Rodgers has completed 15 Boston Marathons, winning four times from 1975 to 1980. He last ran the race in 1999 but did not finish. At age 48, Rodgers last completed the Boston Marathon at its 100th anniversary in 1996 in 2:53. He had planned to run the race in 2008 but recovery from prostate cancer surgery in January 2008 forced him to drop out. The cancer is still a concern for Rodgers, 61, who may face radiation treatment in May. Still, he’s been able to train well for this year’s Boston race, running as much as 70 miles per week. He’s also logged runs of 16, 20, 21 and 23 miles, the latter on the Boston marathon course. “It beat the living daylights out of me,” he says. “I haven’t done such a long run in 10 years. I didn’t drink enough. But training’s going okay.”Rodgers completed the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, D.C. last weekend, running a 7:10 per mile pace to finish in 1:12.02, 9th in his age group and in 798th place overall.Rodgers has not completed three Boston Marathons three times, a fate he hopes to avoid this year. In addition to the 1999 race, he did not reach the 26.2 mile mark in his Boston Marathon debut in 1973, dropping out at mile 21. He was a victim of a too-fast start on the slight decline in the first few miles and a general naivetĂ© about running marathons on such a demanding course. Oppressive heat stifled Rodgers in the 1977 race, forcing him to drop out a couple of miles from the finish. Rodgers chose to seek cool refuge nearby in the renowned Eliot Lounge, a pub frequented by runners in Boston that closed in 1996. He said with a laugh Thursday that since he will not be near the lead runners he might have to seek out a television in a pub during the race this year to find out who’s winning what will likely be an intriguing race with top U.S. marathoners Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher expected to content for victories. The only time Rodgers remembers walking in a marathon occurred at the Vietnam International Marathon in 1992. He led up to about mile 23 but walked some from there to the finish due to the heat and ended up 19th. Rodgers welcomes walking part of the Boston race on April 20 if required and hopes to break four hours. “I’m not racing on the course,” he says. “I’m retired as a competitive marathoner. I’ve got too many miles in my body. After cancer, it means a lot more to me. If I finish it will feel like a victory. When I ran the 100th Boston, I didn’t race that one. It was pure celebration. That’s what I want this to be.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The 2004 Changling

By 2004, I needed to get healthy. Never mind that 287 pounds on my 6'3" frame was not helping my re-entry into running with any grace of movement. 287 pounds just wasn't healthy at all. It wasn't muscle: it was 32 percent body fat. Double shifts and last call, with 3 hours of sleep before repeating the process -- yeah, I reaped what I sowed.

John Belushi: "I logged a lot of miles training for that day. And I downed a lot of doughnuts. Little Chocolate Donuts. They taste good, and they've got the sugar I need to get me going in the morning. That's why Little Chocolate Donuts have been on my training table since I was a kid."

So, on Friday, the 13th of February, I resolved to get back into shape once and for all. Or, at least for now. I was living with my girlfriend, and I knew that marriage and family were on our horizon. (It was, thankfully, and we have a three year old son now!) The way I looked at it, if I didn't give myself this year to turn my physique around, it was only going to get more challenging in subsequent years when I was would happily choose to place myself away from the center of my own world. 'If I couldn't balance my fitness into my life now, I might not ever get it right', I feared.

Indeed, I committed to this year as a last chance.

Barbara, who became my wife, saw from my early attempts at running through this New England winter out of shape, and frustrated with the impossible task of trying to run alongside my ghost of fitness past, that I needed a seismic shift to my training's focus.

"You can't run until you lose some weight (she is a nurse practitioner). You're going to get hurt again unless you cross train."

"But ... I'm a runner and"

"You're overweight. C'mon, join the gym with me?"

So, realizing the validity of her suggestion sometime after the initially succumbing to the thriving treatise of whatever she wants, we joined our local gym. As a result of being just smart enough to listen to her further, I also saw a nutritionist, who got me to restrict my calorie intake to 1800 calories for the day initially, and got me to rediscover the joys of grapefruit, oatmeal, and really, that whole fruit and vegetable category at large. I began eating six times a day, but I ate smaller, more balanced meals, and I found my body adjusting to this culinary revolution quite nicely. Just as I began to get a bit hungry -- it was time to eat again: cool!

... and did I mention the "cheat days"? Once every month, it was a wonderful, one day digression back into all things involving a greasy Italian pizza! The trouble was, once I started gaining fitness, I didn't want to break my momentum, so even the cheat days became more moderated ... y'know, with veggies on the pizza! (insert wink here)

What I began to discover for myself was what I came to refer to as my triangle of fitness: running, weight training, and responsible eating . I won't call it dieting, because that term infers a short term regimen. We're talking lifestyle changes in how we choose food, here!

My laymen motivation for weight training stands as follows: for every year we age over the age of 30, we humans lose approximately one pound to one percent of our body's muscle mass each year, which is oftentimes replaced by fat on our frames. (see Sherri MacMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training in Portland, Oregon, and author of Fit Over Forty: The Winning Way To Lifetime Fitness.) At age 38 in 2004, I deduced that maintaining some regimen of weight training was the closest thing I was going to find to my personal Fountain of Youth. If I could gain a bit of lean muscle back onto my frame, I hoped that I would have more muscle available to burn fat from my midsection and beyond.

I had seen a certain 'fit but fat' phenomenon in myself over the years, and among many other runners I saw through the Bill Rodgers Running Center and at local road races. Aging runners who could put up some impressive performances on the roads, who physically looked strong in the legs, but a bit rotund around the middle. These runners, some of whom are friends of mine, (that's Henry Rono, former world record holder in the steeplechase, 3k, 5k, and 10k ... all done over 80 days in 1978) could still run well on the roads, but it seemed that they were, nonetheless, slowly losing the lean tone that defined their physiques just a few years before. These are often gloriously trained runners, running year after year without major injury, so it seemed increasingly peculiar to me that these same athletes of such merit could, after all of those miles, still be getting somewhat thicker through the middle, while simultaneously losing their former muscle definition throughout their bodies. Sometimes, I saw an increase in bad knees and sore Achilles tendons in formerly Teflon-like trainers. Other times, I'd see a former speed demon not gain fat around the middle, but lose so much lean muscle tone that they became brittle with age, even suffering from osteoporosis.

Consequently, I felt that if I could get lean and stronger, that I could then maximize my running towards a place I hadn't seen in years. I didn't have a racing goal in mind at this point. I didn't even know if I could race anymore. I just wanted to feel like I was flying on the roads again. I wanted to float through some miles with a sensation involving not always involving maximal effort, but absolutely involving that quiet harmony of fluid movement and ease of pace that felt just occasionally like ... flying, where one feels totally in control of an act that, by virtue of its pace, was essentially out of control.

That's fun! I wanted that feeling again.

It came slowly, but I began to see some small changes, changes which motivated me to stay consistent through the inevitable challenges of time management. After two months of my triangle training program, I had lost thirty pounds and had simultaneously felt systemically changed. I became a vigorous human, and it was a welcome return.

At about this time, I ran in a 5 mile road race that I ran in every year, regardless of fitness, because it was a charitable run that drew many entrants from my workplace along for the run and subsequent post race festivities. I ran 41:10 that day, and it was a hard effort. However, it was fun, too, in that a scant 8 weeks earlier, I could barely cover 5 miles without stopping for a portion of humility. It was a pace that would become a bookend for me in this year ....

I trained very consistently, with some small amounts of variety to my workouts, but more consistency than works of whim. The following was a sample week from May 10 -16th:

M: 5 miles easy, plus 2x circuit training routine (total body weight training)

T: 6 miles easy over hills.

W: same as Monday.

Th: 7 miles on the Charles River (from work) out to River St. Bridge tempo (8:19 pace for 3.4 miles in 28:19)

F: same as Monday.

S: 3 miles (bonked out after work from a longer run -- nothing in the tank!)

S: 7.5 miles over hills.

Tot: 37.5 miles.

That was pretty typical for that period, though during most weeks I had a day off in there from running. I do clearly remember having a handful of bonked runs during that period, though. They were much more rare in my 20's! A concession to age and recovery.

By mid June I had lost over 60 pounds, down to 224, on a morning I was off from work. On a cable TV program called "Cold Pizza", I perked my ears when I heard the tease for an interview with American distance running legend Bob Kennedy. I was in the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta in 1996 when Kennedy made a bold move with several laps to go in the 5000 meters, gallantly finishing in sixth less than 5 seconds behind VĂ©nuste Niyongabo of Burundi. I admired Kennedy so much for his bold efforts that warm and muggy evening, even if a medal was not in the offing for his decisive run. He made that race exciting. Now he was on TV, announcing his intent at running that fall's ING New York City Marathon, his first marathon. I think everyone likes to root for the home team, and Kennedy is an American running a race more recently dominated by foreign champions. As a fan of professional racing, I was excited at Kennedy's prospects. However, I became intrigued when the talking head opposite Kennedy mentioned something about the lottery still being open online for random entry into this race!

I felt more energized than I had in years, and my legs were responding well to the increased training. A marathon, though? That represented a leap into the blind. I had not run a marathon in 21 years, and though that one yielded a 2:46, my current condition had nothing to do with that runner! I couldn't run five miles in early February!

I received an email from the New York Road Runners Club a few weeks later.

I was accepted. I was in. Running the same race as Bob Kennedy. The same race my some time employer, Bill Rodgers, won four times. The same race my former boss in my time in New York City working at Super Runners Shop, Gary Muhrcke, won in its inaugural year of 1970.

I would be running the New York City Marathon.

Now what do I do?!

NEXT TIME: Running towards New York