Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

River to Sea 17 – Run for Thea

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

This year I’ve joined with Hamilton Area Trail Runs to do the NJ River to Sea Relay on Saturday, August 4, 2012. Seven runners will trek 92 miles across New Jersey from Milford to Manasquan. This event is a lot of fun.

The team is running to raise money to help Thea Danze and other children affected with brain tumors.  The goal is $2,500 and we need your help. Thea, now age 5, lives in Robbinsville with her parents, Trisha and Jeff, and her baby sister, Lilly. In October of 2007, Thea was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and a brain tumor. She was just 4 months old. She underwent 3 brain surgeries that first week, including a nine-hour operation to resect the tumor. They got about 50%. A few days later, she suffered a stroke that left her with right-sided hemiparesis and a long road of therapy.

To date, Thea has had 43 months of chemotherapy, countless MRIs, several hospitalizations and hundreds of hours of PT, OT and speech therapy. But she is one of the lucky ones. Despite all the vomiting and hair loss, her side effects, thus far, have been pretty minimal compared to many other kids with brain tumors. Many other families are not so lucky. Please read more about Thea’s and the funraising effort Thea’s star of hope and if you are moved by her story, please make a donation:

You can also read more about the Hamilton Area Trail Runs “Run for Thea” here:

Thank you in advance!

Tracking My Mileage

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

It’s January 31, 2012 and I just made a log entry into for today’s nine mile run. My total distance for the month of January is 173.4 miles. This is something new for me, because in all the years I’ve been running I never tracked my accumulated distances so closely. I can thank Dimitri Bilenkin for his great example of how to maintain a detailed running log.

I didn’t start the year off using RunningAhead. Rather, I was using a paper-bound log I received in my goodie bag from the Asbury Park Marathon last year. It’s a nice book, however, not being able to share and compare my workouts easily with other people detracts from its social score. About mid-way through January I saw Dimitri’s log and thought, “I could really use this.” So I transferred my paper log to the RunningAhead website and have been an avid user since. Now it’s easy to send someone a link to one of my workouts or running plans by pointing them to the website. Also, the tools, graphs, and summaries on the RunningAhead site are pretty useful. I tried RunningAhead about a year ago but didn’t stick with it.  This year I am more consistent. I am also making use of the “Training Plans” feature to prepare for the Pocono Mountain Marathon: Run for the Red, on May 20. I’m using the Pfitzinger 18 week/70mi peak training plan, which is nicely laid out in my calendar log along with my completed workouts.

I mention this mileage statistic because it’s a personal record. I don’t believe I’ve ever run this many miles in a single month. With this much mileage I am trying to take precautions to avoid injury. I’m continuing my cross-training workouts, karate classes, and miscellaneous fitness activities like: pushups, stretching, and foam/pvc rolling. I believe the foam/pvc rolling is making a big difference in recovery times from my runs. For instance, I ran 17 miles on Sunday afternoon and Monday I was up and about with very little soreness. In the past, runs like that had left me walking around like a zombie the day after.

Next up: set a weekly record in mileage and continue my running streak since December 30, 2011. By continuing my planned activities, I should exceed 58 miles this week.

Discipline and Regret

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
This applies in so many areas of life. Most recently I can apply it to my marathon training and the Philadelphia marathon itself. Never give up.

Philadelphia Marathon 2011

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The 2011 Philadelphia Marathon is my fastest marathon yet. I finished in 3:13:22, which is a 7:21 per mile average. I finished in the top 6.05% of 10,000+ marathon runners. The cheering crowds were spectacular and uplifting. The bands along the course and cheer sections were awesome. The weather was very cooperative, but I think it would have been better about five to 10 degrees colder.

Frank's Finish Time 3:13:22

The last time I ran the Philadelphia course was in 2005 and my time was 3:21, so for this course I made an eight minute improvement. My second fastest marathon is now the Steamtown marathon, where I clocked in at 3:16:15. The Steamtown course is easier than Philadelphia, so to have run this harder course faster than Streamtown, even if only three minutes faster, is a nice improvement. However, I did not qualify for Boston, which requires a time of 3:10:00 until I turn 40. I would have qualified for the 2012 Boston Marathon if I had run this race before September, because it was then that the BAA enacted stricter qualification standards. Previously I needed to run 3:15:59 to qualify, but now I need to run 3:10:00.

While waiting just minutes before the start of the race, I tried to reposition my shirt and race number. But I tore the race number right off the fuel belt I was wearing. I didn’t have any pins with me (because the fuel belt has built-in bib holders), and the hole on the top of the bib was torn and now useless. The race would start in three minutes and I had no way to keep my race number on, which is critical because it also contains the timing chip. I glanced around in desperation but I was squeezed in a sea of people, poised to begin their run. I needed to make a new hole in the bib, but unfortunately I didn’t have a hole puncher handy. Playing the part of MacGyver, I thought quickly and realized that the metal part of my watch wristband may be able to punch a new hole. I took off my garmin watch and with some carefully applied force, was able to poke a hole through the top corner of the bib. Then I was able to re-attach it. Wile E. Coyote, super… never mind. Pre-race crisis averted.

During various high and lows throughout my run, my wife and boys, and many family and friends were in my thoughts unknowingly getting me through rough spots. Jeannie and the boys were out on the course and I got to see them four times cheering me on. It was so very generous of them to spend half of their day trudging around Philadelphia just to catch a glimpse of me in different spots for a couple seconds as I ran by. But for me it had a huge impact on my performance and overall mood to have them there; I’m so very thankful. As I hit those rough patches along the course, I also thought back to other family and friends who wished me well and I also thought of those who were monitoring my progress from afar (Rich C. and Dimitri B.) via the pace alert mechanism. I also called upon memories of my martial arts instructors who at times got me through training and events I once thought I could never do. I heard ghosts of their voices barking at me, telling my I was weak, or no good, and that I needed to keep my pace, or run faster 🙂 That always helps to keep motivated. Thanks everyone!

I ran the first 21 miles (or so) with a 3:10 pace team, sponsored by Clif Bar in conjunction with the marathon. The pace teams are there to help runners stay on track and cross the finish line within the expected time. Running with the pace team leader is usually a sure bet to hit ones target because these guys can probably run the predetermined time in their sleep. Unfortunately, even the pace team leader missed the mark on Sunday and finished in 3:11:15. Even early on in the course, some of us running together with the pace team leader clocked in some miles with highly suspect splits. A few of the first miles of the race were just too fast, in my opinion. Miles 1-3 were 7:03, 7:11, and 7:02 according to my Garmin 310xt, but we were supposed to be aiming for a 7:15 pace. You shouldn’t ever try to bank time early in a marathon; it’s a recipe for disaster. I should have gotten out of there when I had the chance, but I stuck with the pace team and figured either my watch was off or he simply knew better. There must have been some very disappointed runners out there that stuck with the pace team leader all the way, only to unexpectedly discover they had to increase their pace in the last couple miles which is incredibly hard to do. For the 35-39 age group, Boston no longer allows an additional 59 seconds past 3:10 to qualify, so anyone running with the pace team leader would have had to make up at least 1 minute and 15 seconds in the last mile or two to hit their qualifying time of 3:10:00. I do have to say thanks to the pace team leader for doing a great job getting us through the hills in Manayunk. But the fast early miles and faster miles leading up to mile 13 probably detracted from my performance later in my race.

The Philadelphia course is great, and there were plenty of aid stations and lots of water available. It was also exciting to see the elite runners heading back along the Schuylkill river as I was headed toward Manayunk. Folisho Tuko took first place with a time of 2:19:16. Wow, that’s a 5:18 mile/minute pace.

For me, the first 10 to 15 miles went very well, I had little to no pain or discomfort, and my heart rate stayed within the low 150 bpm range. Heading out further along the river to the Falls bridge required more and more effort from me, but I was managing well. However, I suspect it was those late though not incredibly steep hills near miles 20-21 in Manayunk that ultimately did me in. I made it through them on target, but it took considerable effort and my heart rate was then averaging around 160 bpm. I think the last straw was a hill at mile 22.75. Once I crested it then attempted to coast down the back-end of the hill, I developed a muscle cramp in my quadriceps. I can see the little blip on the elevation chart from the race, and it’s wagging its finger at me, even now 🙂 Once that happened, my stride was affected which made it next to impossible for me to keep a 7:15 pace. I kept close to target until mid-way through mile 23, but could no longer maintain my stride due to the pain. I kept running, but my form deteriorated which affected my speed. Leading into mile 24, thoughts of giving up started to edge in and I had visions of the 3:20 and 3:30 pace teams passing me by (they didn’t of course, but your mind does strange things in that state). The urge to walk or just stop altogether was strong, but I fought through it and kept running. It took almost a mile to regain some sort of stride but the damage had been done to my overall goal of 3:10. I tried to surge ahead in mile 25 (hearing echoes of “you’re weak Frank. Must do!”) and managed to squeeze out a 7:40 mile. Still too slow though.

I chuckled at the end of mile 25 and thought, “if I could just run my last full mile in 5 minutes, I could make 3:10”. HA!!! If you’re a long distance runner, you know how silly that thought is. You can’t make up two minutes in the last mile of a race, even if you’re from Kenya 🙂 Then I also remembered that my math skills deteriorate significantly the longer and longer I’m out there running, so that quick computation was probably wrong.  My leg was still in lots of pain, but I carried through to the end of mile 26 with a respectable sub-eight minute pace. The last 385 yards felt like a whole mile, but I got to see Jeannie, Matthew and Peter cheering for me near the finish line and I managed to cross with a smile on my face.

So even though I didn’t qualify for Boston, I’m still happy with my results and I continue to improve each year.

Thanks to Bill Scannon for his impressive driving skills on race morning. He delivered himself and several of us Hamilton Area Trail Runners from the Dunkin Donuts on Quakerbridge Road in Trenton to just a few blocks from the start of the race in what was probably a landspeed record. Also, many thanks to the HATRs for all those Sunday long runs. Running the 20 milers as a group took much of the monotony our of all those weeks of training. Thanks also go out to all those volunteers who worked the race expo, manned water and aid stations, and helped throughout the course. The support at the race event was stellar.

Last 20 Miler Before Philly

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Last Sunday morning’s run was to be my last 20 mile run before tapering for the Philadelphia marathon. However, the surprise snow storm on Saturday froze overnight and turned my running course into an ice skating rink. I still did the 20 miles that morning and got an intense workout to my stabilizer muscles. But I didn’t feel it was quality given I had to decrease my pace to stay safe.
Since then I’ve been itching to do another long run, but scheduling it is tough because I’m now within the typical “three week taper” phase of training. So, I was able to fit it in at 3:30 am this morning, before work. I didn’t want to wait until Sunday because that is exactly two weeks prior to the marathon. At least this gives me a couple extra days of buffer.
I ran an average pace of 8:21, but my goal was to stay below 8:30. Only one of my miles crept above at 8:31. I think it was mile 15 and there were some minor hills involved. I didn’t use any gu because I wanted to get to that feeling of no energy and fight through it in the end… Mission accomplished.
I also used this run as an opportunity to test out RunKeeper’s audio cues. I’ve used them in the past, but the settings weren’t very granular. A recent update to the app allows me to configure the pace cues at quarter-mile intervals. This worked well this morning because I was reminded of my pace every .25 miles without having to check my Garmin 310 so frequently. If my quarter pace was too slow, I pushed a little extra in the next quarter to compensate.
I was worried that quarter mile pace cues would get very irritating after 20 miles, but they ended up being very useful. Thank you RunKeeper. I will use the same technique in the marathon to help me achieve my goal of 3:10.
So my taper has officially begun but i will continue to do speed work through next week. Tomorrow I will run the Conquer the 5k(s) at the ETS campus in Princeton. And on the 12th I’m registered for the Tough Mudder. I plan to run that pretty slowly, and have fun since it is just 8 days before the marathon. I wouldn’t want to injure myself for Philly 🙂

20 Mile Run In Ice and Snow

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

I ran 20 miles at Mercer County Park with Bill Scannon this morning. It snowed yesterday into the evening, even though Halloween hasn’t come yet! This caused more than 600,000 power outages across NJ including my home which slightly affected my punctuality for the 5am run.
So that made today’s training run tough, not because it was 20 miles but because the Mercer County Park bike/running path was frozen over with ice and snow. It was particularly difficult to see where the ice and snow were on the path at 5am, even with my headlamp. So my plan of running consistent 8:30s was crushed. I had to slow things down to about a 9:00 pace for the first ten miles because of the conditions.
This run was not ideal for marathon PR training, but it was a tremendous workout for all my stabilizer muscles. Even after ditching the path and running the roads, we still encountered lots of frozen spots, much of it black ice. When we met up with the rest of the Sunday morning distance runners at 7am in the East Picnic Area, we recommended they skip the path and stick to the roads. Once the sun rose things got a little better (note: a little, not a lot better). So we managed a few 8:30s and 8:40s in the last ten miles. This was to be my last long distance training run before the Philadelphia Marathon three weeks from today, but now I’m tinkering with the idea of a second long training run later this week.
Nice running with you today Mr. Scannon.

The Negligent Blogger

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I have been pretty negligent with my site; I doubt anyone really reads it anyway. My last post is from May 2011… Life gets busy and there’s little time for writing updates. I’ve turned toward posting updates on much more frequently than on my wordpress blog. It’s just easier since I have an app on my iPhone for it. I’ll have to see about changing that. Perhaps there is an iPhone app to make it easier to post.

It’s about four weeks until the Philadelphia marathon, and only three weeks until the Tough Mudder. My plan is to qualify for Boston 2013 at this November’s Philly Marathon. Based on my age, that means I now need a 3:10 finish to qualify. My performance at the recent Asbury Park marathon leaves me with much doubt that I can accomplish the task. Sure, there was wind and sand on the boardwalk, and most of the mile markers were missing. But really, how can one truly gauge how they will perform on marathon day when all the training is done at different speeds? Slow long runs, fast repeats, easy runs, etc. My last set of Yasso 800s averaged out to about 3:06, but that’s not really a very scientific indicator.

I ran a good 15 miles on the tow path with from friend Dimitri yesterday. The pace was 8:28, which I was happy with. Unfortunately, my kneecap is suffering some pain from that run. Hopefully today’s workout and stretching help it recover. I’ll use ice again tonight too. And my Tuesday morning yoga class always helps to set things straight. I really need to get in a speed workout tomorrow, and I’d like it to be another set of Yasso 800s.

Jan 15 Training – Brick

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Jeannie and I went to Gold’s for the noon spin class on Friday. I tried to find a bike that was ready to accept my cycling shoes, but unfortunately I couldn’t. There must be a way to easily detach the foot strap component from the peddles on those spin bikes, but with no light and little time I couldn’t figure it out. Spin was good though, even in my running shoes — I liked the music mix. Class was one hour.

We did some brief calistenics: push-ups, abs, and core work on the stability ball.

Then I told Jeannie I would meet her at home and handed her the car key. I wasn’t sure how far it was, or which way I would run. It was fun just to start running and plot a course once I began. I took Grover’s Mill to Town Court, and followed it to Lawrence Station Road. Then I took Baker’s Basin Road before hopping onto the D&R Canal Path. I took the path as far south as it goes from Baker’s Basin, which ends at Mulberry Street in Trenton (just about 6.1 miles from Gold’s Gym). Then I headed to Olden Ave via New York Ave, and off to Ewing Township.

The distance when I reached my house was 8.75 miles, so I lapped the block one time to add another quarter mile. I felt great after the run, but my middle toenails still get bruised on longer runs.

First Long Run of 2009

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

After church today I put in my first long run of the season. It’s only ten miles, but I have to start somewhere. Jeannie and Peter met me along the course on the canal path. Peter rode his bike beside me for a half-mile and on my return, Jeannie provided me with gu and water. That was nice since it was pretty hot and I started my run at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Long run; out and back from home, along Olden ave., Parkway ave., Lower Ferry rd., and the D&R canal path (technically the feeder canal).
10 miles.
Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 7:52
Mile 3: 8:40 – stopped to put Pete’s chain back on his bike 🙂
Mile 4: 8:27
Mile 5: 8:19
Mile 6: 8:32
Mile 7: 8:24
Mile 8: 8:43
Mile 9: 8:34
Mile 10: 8:17

Saturday: Diana 5k Run

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I trained for an hour before the Diana 5k Run:
– repeats of gyakuzuke in place (x60 each side)
– repeats of mai geri ushiro in place (x60 each side)
– basics, combinations
– 5 attack sparring
– Striking force training (kicks and punches)

Diana Run 5k race in Plainsboro – 21:52 (7:02 avg pace):
Mile 1.0: 6:35
Mile 2.0: 7:12
Mile 3.0: 7:20
Mile 3.1: 0:44

I finished in 32nd place; not my best 5k time but I’m pretty sore from my first week of marathon training, a new circuit routine on Wednesday, and lots of kicks this morning right before the race. Congratulations to Jen Liney who took first place in the women’s category with a time of 19:49. The course was great – slight decline in the first mile, then back up the same path in the last mile. The course was laid out in a very simple way, which was nice.

I’ve actually run near this course before. When I run eight miles at lunch I do an out-and-back starting at Dow Jones in South Brunswick and turn around at the parking lot of the middle school in Plainsboro (which is four miles each way). The parking lot is where the 5k began. Now if I’m feeling adventurous and have an extra 20 minutes I can add three more miles of familiar territory to my eight mile run.