Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dress for Less

While I was at the store looking for running shoes with my wife last week, I had a look at some running shorts. I found some pretty sweet shorts from Nike. I loved everything about them--the look, the feel, the fabric, and especially the little pocket near the top for keys or gels, etc.--except the $35 price tag. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate, but that's a little too much for me. Needless to say, they made their way back to the rack.

The other day, I stumbled across a Ross store. I've gotten some good deals on clothing there in the past, so I thought I'd have a look to see what they have in the way of running shorts. What do you know? They had the exact same shorts for a fraction of the price, only $12.99! They had a limited selection of sizes, but I'm okay with a large instead of a medium at that price. I tested them out this morning, and I am very pleased with them. They also had a pretty good selection of technical tees. I'll definitely be checking out Ross the next time I am in the market for more running apparel.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


What's the deal with spam? I've gotten 3 comments on my last post all from strange names just saying "see here" or "click here." I'm afraid to click any of the links in case of viruses. It's really annoying! Is anybody else receiving similar comments? Is there any way to prevent it?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cross Training

Well, maybe not.

After a decent 12 mile run this morning, my family and I went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. It was so much fun! We got to do some things we'd never done before. I tried out this cool bungee jumper thing. I'd actually never done a backflip before, so it was a lot of fun doing it for the first time 30 feet in the air. We took the girls on an elephant ride, and got to experience all the sights, sounds and smells of the renaissance. So after running 12 miles, doing backflips, and walking around all day, I am pretty tired.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Creation - Revised

With Boston less than two months away (less than 2 months!!), I figured it was time to revise my original training plan. I really haven't been following it since the end of December when my hamstring started to really bother me. Things were going really well for me up to that point, and I think actually having a plan to follow really helped me stay motivated and gave me a purpose to each of my runs. I have had some really good runs in between then and now, they just haven't been on the schedule. So, without further ado, here is my new and improved Boston Marathon training plan (just click on the image for a larger view).

Thursday, February 21, 2008


How did I end up here?! It's always been hard for me to just go for a run. I remember getting ready for lacrosse season in high school. About a week or two before try-outs were starting, I'd suddenly wake up and realize that I needed to get myself into shape. So I'd drag myself out to jog through the crazy maze of roads around my house in our tree-filled Boston suburb. It was torture. I hated it. For most of my 27 years of life, I have wondered how anyone could really think running was fun. Fun?! Are you kidding me?

The truth is... I actually always thought runners were cool. I had friends on the track and cross country teams. And sometimes we had lacrosse practice on the football field while they practiced on the track around us. There was something about the people on the track team... mellow, laid back, generally friendly and smart. I guess it's no surprise that I ended up marrying a runner. And as I've skimmed through his Runner's World magazines and snapped photos as he finished many a race over the last 6+ years, my feelings haven't changed. I still think runners are so cool. I still have the same awe and respect for the drive and passion coupled with mellow kindness I see in these dedicated athletes. Deep down, even though I found running to be torturous, I actually really wished I could be a runner.

Even so, I've made all the excuses over the years. I have weak ankles. I don't want to get up that early. It's too late. I don't want to go by myself. I'm pregnant. It's too hard with kids. I'm just not a runner. My body wasn't made for running. And on and on. Why did I keep making excuses to NOT do something that I deep down really wished I could love doing?

A few weeks ago I realized that I was ready to stop the excuses. I realized that it was silly of me to be a "health-nut" in every other area of my life and not THIS one. We all know that exercise is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health. I absolutely knew that. But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I decided once and for all that I cared enough about my body and my health to decide that I wanted to get regular exercise.

So, no more excuses. Instead I'd like to give you a list of reasons why I love (or will grow to love) ;-) running...

1) Prevention! I loved reading not long ago in one of the Runner's World "Peak Performance" updates that exercise lowers risk for 25 chronic diseases. I know Reid's going to live a healthy long life because he's always going to be active. I want to enjoy that long life right along with him.

2) Happiness! Studies have shown exercise to be just as effective as anti-depressants. Who doesn't want more happiness in their life?!

3) Friendship! I've loved getting to know my lady running partners better as we've been running the past couple of weeks. I knew very little about them before, but now I'm happy to consider them my friends! I love the chats we have as we run in the early morning together.

4) Energy! I notice a huge difference on the days I've been running. I expected running to sap my energy levels, but it does the opposite. I feel invigorated, pumped up, and MORE energetic those days. I love that feeling!

5) Nature! Our runs mostly ramble through trails in our housing development, so there's not much nature there, but we get to see the most beautiful pink and orange sunrises. I'd never seen an AZ sunrise before this past week. It's definitely worth rising early for that!

6) Excellence! I remember taking a Philosophy class in h.s. and discussing the idea of pursuing "excellence." Aristotle said, "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." I think he was referring mostly to moral and ethical behavior, but I think his point applies here too. It takes self-mastery, dedication, and effort to be a runner. Seeing myself make running into a habit is enormously fulfilling. I feel as though I am pursuing excellence. And how can that not feel good?

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm a runner. I'm a real live runner. Cool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


As my wife is now officially a runner, with new shoes and everything (not to mention that she is addicted to blogging), I thought it fitting that I add her as an author here at Life Strides. Her name is Lani (pronounced Lonnie), she is my best friend, she is an awesome (published) writer, and she looks really cute in her running gear. She already has three other blogs, so she may not post here as regularly as I do, but I hope you enjoy her thoughts, insights, and experiences.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Running Couple

In a previous post, I mentioned that my wife has started running. She was using a pair of pretty old shoes, so, being the running enthusiast that I am, I encouraged her to get some newer shoes. So, yesterday, we took advantage of a President's Day sale and got her a pair of Asics GT-2120's for a great price. She'll be taking them out for the first time tomorrow morning. I'm excited for her. I love the feel of running in a new pair of shoes.

While we were at the running shoe store, I naturally had to look in the men's section because, you know, my current shoes are getting up there in miles, and I've got a big race coming up in a couple months, as well as my birthday next month, and since they were on sale, I picked up a new pair as well. I got the Asics Gel-Cumulus 9's. These are the exact same shoes I am currently running in, although you wouldn't be able to tell because the old ones are so dirty.

We are both excited to hit the road in our new kicks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What a Run!

Occasionally, you have a run so good, that you just can't stop thinking about it. Yesterday was one of those runs. It started out with a nice three miles with my wife and kids through the neighborhood. We ended back at the house and I set out to finish a 10 miler. I wanted to take it pretty easy considering this run would about double the mileage I had last week. I started out with mile 4 being just under 8 minutes, and the rest getting better from there. In fact, I was feeling so good by the end, I surprised myself when I took a look at my splits. Here they are:

Mile 4: 7:57
Mile 5: 7:55
Mile 6: 7:38
Mile 7: 7:36
Mile 8: 7:26
Mile 9: 6:51
Mile 10: 6:08

Pretty sweet, huh?

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Official

I did it! I registered for Boston today! I qualified in October 2006, but was unable to go last year. My wife and I are excited to take the trip out there for the weekend. Our first time leaving the girls for any length of time, though. We'll see how that goes. We also booked our flight and hotel. Wow! Quite the chunk of change! By the way, we're taking donations. ;-)

Lani sort of grew up in the Boston area, so it will be fun to catch up with some old high school friends, see some sights, maybe catch a Red Sox game, and of course run the race. I have set the goal of breaking 3 hours. Unfortunately, my injury has slowed my training a little bit, but I still feel like I can do it.

Boston, here we come!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Moments of Pleasure

The past week has brought forth a plethora of running joys:

1. I have always daydreamed about getting paid to run. I finally figured out how to do it! Many of you know that I am a school psychologist. I work at two schools in the district. My wife and I only have one car. She needs the car most Mondays and Wednesdays. I often have to travel between schools for meetings, etc. So, last Wednesday, when my wife had the car, and I needed to be at both schools, I brought my running shoes. It usually takes about 5-6 minutes to drive 1.7 mile stretch, and I took a short cut through the neighborhood, cutting the distance to 1.25 miles, ran the distance in just over 8 minutes. So it takes just a couple minutes longer than driving, I get a couple extra miles in, the district doesn't pay for my mileage, and I am actually getting paid to run.

2. I found the miracle stretch! After the 9 on the 9th, my hamstring and butt were feeling pretty tight. I was reading about sciatica and other hamstring injuries and came across this stretch. Literally right after I got up, I felt no more discomfort in my booty, and it has been fine since. Still looking for the miracle stretch for my hamstring, but I'm sure I'll get that sorted out soon.

3. Track season at the middle school started yesterday. You might remember that I coached the cross country team in the fall. Now I'll be coaching the track team! I am really excited about that. We had a pretty small turn out--still more than we had for cross country, so we are happy. And these kids seem to much more motivated and easy to manage. Hopefully, next week after baseball and softball tryouts are over, we'll have a decent sized team.

4. Last, and definitely the coolest... My wife is starting to run! She has always wanted to run, but hasn't been real motivated to do it. We have done a few 5Ks together, but it has never been anything real consistent. She is running with some friends three times a week at (get this) 6:10 in the morning! Wow! I can't even get myself up to go that early. She is going to need some new running shoes, so I am excited to go get some with her. She only has one technical tee, so we may need to pick up some of those too. I've tried to get her to wear a headband, but I don't think she's gonna go for that. But, it is still super cool. Way to go, Lani!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

9 on the 9th Race Report

"It was a beautiful day!" U2's song on the iPod couldn't have been more appropriate to start out my 9 on the 9th Virtual Race this morning. It truly was a beautiful day. Clear skies, a nice 57 degrees, a comfortable breeze, and South Mountain in the distance. Luckily there were no ferocious dogs on the course today, so it was smooth sailing.

I was a little worried about pumping out 9 miles after all the time I had to take it easy in January due to injury, from which I am still recovering (I'm happy to report that this is going very well), so this was a good test of where I am at right now. The time off did take a lot out of me, but not as much as I was fearing. Today's run felt pretty good.

My wife and kids came with me over to the park by the library. The kids played, while I headed out around the foothills and back to finish at the lake. I finished with a time of 1:08:25, met with the open arms of my adorable girls. Just before I crossed the finish line, however, is when the actual 'Sweetheart Shuffle' began. It was a race between me and my wife. I was racing to finish, and she was racing in the other direction to get in position for a picture. It was close, but I think I won. ;-)

It felt great to still be able to go that distance after such a long time off. The competitive part of me was hoping to go faster, but it was still a faster pace that the last virtual race. Thanks Nancy for organizing yet another wonderful race! See you in a couple months for another??

Official race results are in! I am officially a Rapid Romeo! Click here for photos, results, and race reports from other runners.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Half-Enjoyable Half-Marathon Memories

I had always wanted to run a marathon. What better way to step into training than by running a half-marathon. I had only run a few 5Ks since high school, so I was still pretty new to racing. I decided to run the Hobblecreek Half-Marathon since it was close to home and all downhill. What could be better?

Training for the race went pretty well. I was feeling confident that I would be able to go the distance, even though my longest run was only about 7 miles. My dad, a former marathoner, always told me that "If you can run half the distance in training, you can most likely run the complete full distance in the race." I trusted him on that, so when late August came around, I felt ready.

I woke up the morning of the race extremely nervous. Maybe I didn't feel as confident as I had thought. I went through my regular routine: use the restroom, eat breakfast, get dressed. I was able to get some food down; however, the only thing I was able to do adequately was get dressed. The time came to head out, so my wife drove me to the finish area to catch the bus to the start. My nervousness continued on the slow, bumpy bus ride up the canyon to the starting line. By the time we got to the start, I really needed to take care of some business, so I jogged over to the port-a-potties, and waited (and waited, and waited) in line. By the time it was my turn, everyone was being called to the start line. This really didn't help my nerves! I did what I could and ran over to the start, glad to have at least had an opportunity to relieve some pressure.

The race started, and once I got going, I was feeling really great! It was a little chilly running through the canyon, but when the sun came up, the beauty of the canyon was revealed. The canyon walls and the aspen trees lit up, accompanied by the occasional sound of the creek flowing downhill. I was able to settle into a strong pace and chat with some other runners along the way. And then...

Somewhere between miles five and six, my lack of success in the restroom started to haunt me. I started to feel very uncomfortable and had to slow it down a notch. As the miles passed, I noticed myself slowing more and more. I finally had to jump off course for a secluding boulder. Again, no luck. I ran back to the road, trying not to look too conspicuous, and continued on.

Without going into more detail, I was able to make it to the finish and head straight for the bathroom, feeling like I was going to die. Looking back on this now, I can smile and laugh about it. I definitely learned a lesson from this experience, and this is my advice to all new half-marathoners (and racers of any distance): Relax! You've put in plenty of miles. You don't need to worry, this is just another run. Doing this will help you take care of business before the race, so you can really take care of business during the race.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

January running

At the beginning of January, I posted about my awesome December and the progress I was making in my training. Things were going great. Then, my hamstring and ankle started acting up. My January miles dipped considerably, which was very frustrating, but I think the time off, as well as my visits to the chiropractor have made a big difference. I expect my February miles to jump back up and more resemble my original training program. Because I AM running Boston this year, and I WILL still break 3 hours!

Below are my planned runs and actual runs.