Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

My 12th Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 09/15/2013

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

I left for the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon at 6:20am, and arrived around 7am, but there was nowhere to park nearby. So I drove away from the start and ended up parking near Broad St and Spring Garden, which is about 1.5 miles from the start of the race. I don’t remember it being this crowded in the last 11 years I’ve done it, but I must admit that most often, Jeannie drives and drops me off at the start.

I spent so much time searching for parking, that I didn’t head to the start until 7:40. I stopped and used the port-o-potties along the course because I knew the ones at the start would have huge lines. I arrived at the start during the National Anthem. I stopped in my tracks and waiting for the Anthem to finish. Then I worked my way toward corral #2 but ended up in corral #3. This was no problem since I was wearing a chip, but in retrospect, it did keep from rushing out of the start too fast. I took my GU and we started at about 8:02:30. My first mile was about 6:55, which is slow for this race. The next couple miles were around 7:05. My lack of training was already showing.

I wore may Garmin GPS watch but it was off by 1/10th of a mile after the second mile. In addition, I tried to use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone to track my time, give me audible alerts, and let the family know where I was with RunKeeper Live. Unfortunately, it couldn’t get a satellite signal at the start, and so I just clicked “Start” hoping it would acquire the signal eventually. It started giving me quarter-mile splits right away so I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t even finished the first mile, but it had given me way too many quarter-mile splits, announcing that my pace was about 30 seconds per mile. Phenomenal! The voice was getting annoying, but I kept it on with hopes that it would help the family know where I was. Once I passed Jeannie, Matt and Pete around mile 4.5, I turned it off. Without the GPS signal, it was useless and distracting. After the race was over, I checked the RunKeeper website, and it reported that I had ran 28 miles when in fact I had only run 5 before I shut it off. Next race, I will be sure to get satellite lock earlier. It’s a great tool to have the audible alerts and they have worked pretty well in the past. Hopefully this issue is a one-time thing.

At the point in the race when I saw the family, I was running slower than expected. My miles were edging toward 7:30 per mile, and this is no surprise really. I didn’t train properly for this race. I told Jeannie when I saw her that I would be later than expected. I had high hopes of a finish between 1:30 and 1:35, but with 7:30 miles, that wasn’t going to happen. In fact, my knees were tight and giving me pain, as was my right hip flexor. And because I knew my finish would be slower than usual, I wasn’t very motivated. I took my second GU and was feeling down and wanted to quit at mile 5. But then I thought about all the people that can’t run but want to. I also thought about all the people that might have to walk parts of the race and wish they could have kept running. So, I pushed on. I locked into someone ahead of me with a red shirt, and maintained their pace until I felt comfortable and passed them, thanking them in the process.

The run along Kelly Drive was scenic, and I counted down the miles: 6, 7, 8. The Falls Bridge was a welcome visual from about a half-mile away — mile 9! I knew from that point, I was heading back to the finish. Sure, it’s another 4.1 miles but at least I was headed in the direction of the finish. I took my third GU and set my eyes on another runner ahead to reel in. I worked through the next few miles, trying to keep my tempo in synch with the music: miles 10 and 11.

At mile 12, I called Jeannie to let her know I had a mile left. I tried using voice commands with my iphone 4 to call her, but it wasn’t understanding “Call Jeannie Sconzo”. So, I swiped while running and made the call. Hopefully the iPhone 5s works much better at understanding voice commands than the 4 does, especially while running. With the RunKeeper failure and problems with voice calling, I’ll be glad to have a new phone soon — Sept 20!

As I approached the finish line, I was feeling strong and sprinted. Overall, the issue I had throughout the race was I just couldn’t muster consistent speed, but at least I felt stronger once I overcame my depression at mile 5.

I met up with Jeannie and the boys, and we walked the 1.5 miles back to the cars. I split off to head to a jump-rope seminar with PunkRope at 11:30.

The race, as always, was exciting and the course was well marked. There were several people dressed in fun colors, or costumes, like Elvis. There were lots of spectators, and the bands along the course were great. One negative was that the water tables seemed slightly overwhelmed. It’s possible there weren’t enough volunteers to man the water stations because as I went through, many runners were retrieving their own water from the tables which seemed to cause some backup in places. But that is my only complaint. Great race — looking forward to doing it again next year.

Now, onto the Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Sprint on Sept 28, Tough Mudder on Oct 12, Princeton Half Marathon on Nov 3, and Trenton Half Marathon on Nov 9.

Hot Diggity Dog 10k – Labor Day 2013

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

I ran a 10k Trail Race at Mercer County Park at 9:30 today. I was running late and literally registered just as the National Anthem began. I arrived at the start, back of the pack, just as the race kicked off. I had to weave my way through the crowd to get closer to the front, but the leaders were already out of my reach.

I settled into a pace behind another runner wearing an orange Tough Mudder headband. I was on his heels for the first 1.5 to 2 miles, but didn’t try to pass him because of the narrow trails. He must have felt me breathing down his neck, because he stepped to the side and let me pass. I thanked him, but protested a bit, explaining that I was enjoying his pace. He insisted I proceed. This meant I was now navigating the course with no one ahead of me in sight. Fortunately, the Bucks County Speedsters did an awesome job marking the course. They must have labored for a very long time placing all the blue markers along the 6.2 miles of the course. There’s no way I could have gotten lost, even with all the twists and turns.

It was extremely humid and the course was muddy and slippery in many spots. I navigated my way around the obstacles of mud, looking forward to the finish. At one point, I could hear the crowd at the finish line cheering for runners but when I looked at my GPS I discovered I still had another mile to go. The trail took us further away from the finish before we looped back in that direction. Because I was running late for the race, I never had to chance to change into better running shoes, and did the trail run in my Crossfit Nanos. They have very little tread, and I was slipping and sliding in several parts of the course. I never did fall down, but I did have to stabilize myself over and over. When I noticed I still had one mile remaining, I was a bit dismayed because I could feel throughout the race that my stabilizer muscles were getting quite a workout. But I pressed on and tried to pick up the pace.

My finish time was 53:10, which put me in 17th place. I definitely could have done better if I hadn’t done my CrossFit workout 90 mins before, if I had switched into better running shoes, and if I had shown up on time. But I was very happy to do the race and look forward to running it again next year, if the Speedsters host it again. The results were posted to the website the very same day the race was held – nice!

It was great to see some many of my running friends on the course too. There were over 10 runners from the HATR group, and at least four from the Uptown Gentlefriends group.

Workout Fri 05/03/2013

Friday, May 3rd, 2013


1 round of FGB, roughly one minute of max reps of each, empty Bars
Push Press
Box Jump
Wall Ball

Deck Press
5×5 (95#, 95#, 115#, 115#, 125#), 5×3 (125#, 125#, 125#)

15 min EMOM
3 Stone to Shoulder (115lb stone)
6 Box Vaults (24″ box)

easy 3 mile run on treadmill (testing shin splints, yep still there), 8 min miles.

Lots of stretching
Semi-free sparring
Enpi, Jion (worked on the steps after the Migi Jodan Morote Uke). When moving into Gedan Juji Uke, my left heel was turning ever so slightly out of place. Then when landing in Gedan Juji Uke, my right foot was turned slightly to the right. Need to land with the toes pointed left. My Jodan Juji Uke, Migi Ura Zuki Hidari Age Uke, Migi Jodan Nagashi Uke, and Migi Jodan Ura Zuki were all too high, per Sensei’s instruction. I always thought these were blocks (or attacks) to the opponents face. Apparently not.

2013 Unite Rutgers Half Marathon

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I didn’t prepare as I usually do for this event, because of shin splints that have been getting progressively worse this season. I hadn’t really done any runs longer than about 6 miles for 8 to 9 weeks. So, I was pleasantly surprised with my time of 1:31:48.

Since I knew I probably would not PR, I focused on my running form a lot during the race. I wore my CrossFit Nanos which have a much shorter heel, and tried to toe-strike during the whole race. I think I succeeded for the most part because after the race I had no hip soreness, and minimal knee tightness. However, my calves were screaming 🙂

Looking forward to the NYC marathon and the Trenton Half marathon this fall, when my shin splits have completely healed.

Workout 04/07/2013

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Today the Sconzo family ran the Action Karate 5k in Tyler State Park. The weather was just about perfect. It was just a little windy which made it feel cooler than it actually was.

The race started at 9am and there were about 150 competitors. At the start, Matthew ran out in a full-out sprint ahead of me. He held third place for about 600 meters. Once my shin splint numbed up a bit though, I gained on him and tapped him lovingly on the shoulder as I passed him. I was hoping he would keep pace with me and beat me, but the hills were tough on him. Also, he has not been training hard this season, while I have been doing speed workouts.

The first mile was blazing fast, with much downhill. I clocked it in under 6 minutes (about 5:50), but then the inclines came 🙂 I could really feel those hills chewing up my pace, but I kept pushing.

Jeannie started toward the back, with a goal of finishing. This was a really tough course for her. In retrospect she said “If I had known about these hills, I would have sat this one out.” Kudos to her for completing the whole course, with a pretty respectable time considering the difficulty.

Unfortunately, Peter couldn’t run with us, though he was registered to. He needed to stay home and work on his awesome zebra art project. He spent so many hours through the weekend trying to fit in this project that demanded so much focus and dedication. I’m happy to say he finished the project and it looks awesome. Anyway, Matthew’s friend from Fisher Middle School joined us to take Peter’s spot. He finished just ahead of Matthew.

My time was about 20:10. Like I said, the hills were challenging. This put me in third place overall, and first in my age group. The two leaders were almost 2 minutes ahead of me. This is the kind of thing that happens in a new, small race. I wish I could run these all the time 🙂 Matthew finished in about 23 or 24 minutes. The results are not posted at Pretzel City Sports yet. I think Jeannie finished in about 35 minutes.

Matthew placed second in his age group and took home a nice medal, as did I.

Nice race, and the mascot for Action Karate, a shark, chased us at the start of the race. I’ve done other races hosted by Pretzel City Sports, and they do a good job managing them. And that was the case with this one. Very well organized.

Workout 03/24/2013

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

10 Mile Run at Mercer County Park with Gary (Francis joined in shortly after the tennis courts)

I focused on the POSE running method during this run. The pace was about 8:10 to 8:20. My shin splints (right leg) bothered me a lot the first two miles, then less the remainder of the run. After the run, my left knee was very tight again, and my right shin has been in pain all day. I’ve been icing the shin, and using the couch stretch to help my knee.

80 push-ups, 80 sit-ups, 80 second side-plank on each side.

Workout 03/16/2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Warm-up run before karate.
Karate at 7am: stretching, basics, then 1-step and semi-free sparring. During basics, we did lots of kicks, which was sure to effect my race performance today 🙂
During the sparring, we tried to defend using various kata techniques instead of the typical rising block or fore-arm blocks and counters. I used some foot retraction and opposite leg kicks, trying to land the kick before the attacker lands their strike. We also practiced submission moves.
Unsa kata: when dropping to the floor, bend the right leg underneath in order to reach forward with the subsequent kick. I’ve been keeping the leg straight, which doesn’t allow a far-reaching kick. Then, when switching from the right hip to the left, the switch must be more dynamic. I’ve been doing this too slow.

9am: Bordentown St. Patrick’s Day 5k
The first mile was 6:05, but my legs got heavy (probably from all the kicks at karate this morning), and the other miles were closer to 6:30. Finish time was 19:56 according to my Garmin. I placed 11th overall, 1st place in the 30-39 age group. I’ll probably do a separate blog post with more details about this race.

Late morning workout:
73 pushups, 73 situps, 73 second side plank on each side, 15 pull ups.

Bordentown St. Patty’s Day 5k

Friday, March 15th, 2013

After I finished 7am karate class, I headed to Bordentown to meet up with Jeannie and the boys for the 9am race. I got to the Clara Barton gymnasium and found the family in line waiting to get race bibs. Matthew and Peter were running with me, but Jeannie had originally planned to work today, so she wasn’t signed up. The weather was just a tad chilly, but I knew once I started running I would feel great.

My legs and lower back were pretty sore going into this race. I did lots of kicks in karate class this morning, and crossfit workouts this week were intense as usual. I didn’t taper at all yesterday. In fact, I still ran to crossfit and back home, logging 7 miles. I also did my “March Pushup Madness” routine yesterday (and will need to do it later today as well).

The race started on Crosswicks St., then made two loops around Farnsworth, Courtland, Prince, and West Chestnut, finishing back on Crosswicks.

I didn’t have high hopes for this race given my shin splints and sore muscles and joints. However, I pushed hard in the first mile, then felt the issues in miles two and three. I probably went out a bit too fast, at 6:05 for the first mile, but it does include a downhill at the start. In mile two, my legs started feeling pretty heavy but I kept pushing. I managed to squeeze out a smile as I ran past Jeannie during the end of the first loop…

…but in the second loop at about mile 2.8, my form was not ideal and I was not smiling much anymore.

According to my Garmin watch, I crossed the finish line in 19:56. I was surprised to finish in under 20 minutes given my maladies and lack of proper taper. I can probably attribute that to all the short intense training bursts from CrossFit Mercer WODs.

Matthew had been hoping to break 22 minutes today, but he hasn’t been training for this 5k. He was pretty disappointed, but I think he did great considering his lack of training. And to boot, he placed second in his age group with the time of 22:49. Awesome!

After I crossed the finish line, I raced backwards along the course, snapping pictures of Matthew, and other friends, in my attempt to find Peter. I saw all the folks from Crossfit Mercer (Jen Soss, Donna, Jodi, Mark and Jen Costner, Patti, Rob D, etc), and John B, Angela M, and Neil Proshan. I found Peter on Prince St near Neil Proshan. He told me he hadn’t stopped to walk at all yet, and I was very proud of his efforts. I ran with him until about 0.25 miles from the finish, where I sprinted ahead to get some additional pictures of him approaching the finish. Looking at the results now, I can see that Neil finished at #427, while Peter finished at #395. So he essentially passed 32 people in the last mile. Nice job!

Here’s a shot of us that Jeannie took before the race:

The CrossFit Mercer crew did well too. Three of us placed: Jennifer Soss finished with a time of 22:38, slightly behind my friend John Beck (who is chasing a 20 minute 5k this year) and earned second place in her age group. Donna also placed second in her age group, with a time of 29:45. And my official time was 19:57, first place in my age group, 11th place overall.

Here’s the team from CrossFit Mercer (minus Patti who had left):

Here’s the course (click for a larger version):
Bordentown St. Patricks Day 5k 2013

And here are the results for 2013.

Workout 02/24/2013 – 22 Mile Training Run

Monday, February 25th, 2013

I prefer to do my long runs in the morning, and on Sundays I have the opportunity to join the HATRs for some company. I usually get 10 to 12 miles done before 7am, then meet the other runners at 7am in the East Picnic Area of Mercer County Park. But this weekend, I couldn’t be away from home in the morning. So, I had to do an afternoon run, going it alone.

I decided to run from my house in Ewing to the canal path on Lower Ferry Road, then to Lambertville and back. This was about 22 miles.

Now that I’m on the Paleo diet, I shouldn’t be eating things like Gu or Shot Blocks, etc. Also, I didn’t have my normal peanut-butter toast in the morning, or additional carbs the day before. Now, I’m not a crazy carb-loader, but I do typically consume a healthy portion the day before long runs. So, this run was going to be a serious test.

And… I failed. I was properly hydrated, but not properly fueled. I was strong until mile 14, when I started to feel a loss of energy. At the pace I ran, that shouldn’t have happened so soon. At mile 15, I felt completely energy-depleted. The last 7 to 8 miles were completely horrible. I struggled through them as if I was gutting out the last few miles of a marathon race. So, I’ll need to do lots of research on fueling for endurance events while on the paleo diet.

Natural Foods for Running Long

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

In my quest to follow the paleo diet, and still run long distances, I need to determine good foods to eat during long training runs or races without resorting back to GUs or Shot Blocks, etc. I found this list of 10 natural race food alternatives from

Race nutrition can be an experiment if you aim to fuel with whole foods as much as possible. It’s important to look for food that is natural, compact, easy to carry, and tastes good. These 10 race foods fit those criteria. Give them a try when training for your next race.

1. Dates

These can be used for making your own energy bars, or can be eaten on their own. They contain natural sugars and simple carbs that will keep you running over long distances. They’re also easy to chew.

More: 5 Foods to Try This Spring

2. 100% Natural Coconut Water

This drink provides the electrolytes your body needs to replenish the minerals you lose through sweat. It also tastes great and is extremely refreshing on a run.

3. Homemade Baby Food

Use a variety of fruits and vegetables to make your own “baby” race food. Anything is fair game, so get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to blend flavors that you will love. Just mush everything up so it’s easy to digest. You can pack it in small Ziploc bags and just suck it out like a gel when you’re ready to fuel.

More: How to Fuel Your Body for Energy

4. Sunflower Seed Butter

This has a great nutty taste and is a source of both healthy fat and protein. Sometimes you can find these in small gel-like packs that are easy to carry. Otherwise you can pack your own in small Ziploc bags. A good brand is Sunbutter, which is completely peanut-free and gluten-free.

5. Frozen Grapes

Frozen grapes are just as sweet as candy. They cool your mouth and they’re easy to carry. Freeze small bags of grapes and carry them on your long runs.

More: 5 Best Carbs for Athletes

6. Homemade Gels

Making your own gel is fun and saves you money. Here’s a recipe to try.


7 and 1/3 tablespoons of honey
3/4 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses
1/10 teaspoons of table salt

7. Watermelon Dipped in Salt

The watermelon rehydrates you while the salt replenishes your electrolytes. This is a refreshing and satisfying snack that can immediately boost your energy and help you pick up the pace.

More: 7 New Super Foods


8. Dehydrated Fruit

I bought my own dehydrator so I could make a lot more of this. Dehydrating fruit allows it to keep longer and it’s easier to carry. I also find it sometimes makes fruit taste sweeter. With a dehydrator you can make your own natural fruit rolls, and you can even dehydrate meats and vegetables. You could almost carry entire meals. The possibilities are endless.

9. Honey

Use raw, natural honey as a sugar source. Your body will appreciate the fuel and the good quality honey can also boost your immune system.

More: Eat Green to Run Better This Spring

10. Navitas Power Snacks

These are just a combination of fruit and nuts. They come in small bite sized pieces and they are gluten-free and dairy-free. They’re less chewy than a bar, but not as watery as a gel. I enjoy the consistency and the flavors are delicious.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods during training and long runs. On race day, always stick to what you know will work.