2017 New Jersey Marathon wrap-up

654315_254882040_XLargeWell, I finished last Sunday’s New Jersey Marathon, so I can now call myself a “marathoner.” However, I’m not at all happy about how it all went down.

During my longer training runs (16-, 18- and 20-milers), I went really slow…around 11:30-12:00/mile slow. I had also tried different forms of in-race nutrition/energy, such as gels and chopped-up Clif bars. Both didn’t sit well with me, so I learned about Sport Beans – carbs, energy and vitamins in jelly bean form. I figured that was something familiar to me so it might be easier to deal with. I only tried a few during a short tune-up run in the week prior to the marathon, and didn’t have an issue with them. The same did not hold true for the marathon…but I’ll get back to that later.

Here’s the good…I perfectly executed my plan for the first 18 miles of the race. I wanted to run around 9:30-9:40/mile for the first 10K and wound up right at 9:40/mile for a 59:59 initial 6.2 miles. I gradually began pulling back so I would have something left at the end (at least that was the plan). I hit the halfway point in a comfortable (for me) 2:14:00. Now, I completed the 2016 Trenton Half Marathon last November in 1:59:06, but I pushed it because I wanted to finish in under two hours. For the marathon, I figured I would cover 13.1 miles somewhere in the 2:10:00-2:20:00 ballpark. Again, I was right there. It was all going to plan.

Until around mile 18.

After the halfway point, I ripped open the pouch of Sport Beans and took 3 to 4 beans with some water. And everything was fine. So at mile 18, I decided to consume the rest of the beans – again with some water (as instructed by the packaging). Well, the same issues I had with gels and Clif bars reared its ugly head again…I couldn’t really get the beans down, which kept the water from going down properly. With each stride, I could feel the water sloshing around just below my chest and it was making me nauseous. I thought I could walk it off, but I wound up walking most of the next three miles.

What was really frustrating was that I wasn’t fatigued. I would’ve still been running if it weren’t making me feel sick. I mean, I would have probably been at a slow 10:30-11:00/mile pace at that point, but it still would have been better than a walker’s pace.

After reaching mile 21, I had enough of walking. I decided to get rid of the water the quickest way possible…I sat down on a curb just off roadway, stretched my legs out a bit and forced myself to throw up the excess water.

And I felt SOOOOOO much better after that. My legs had tightened up a bit, but after a few minutes, I was running again – albeit slowly. With about 1 1/2 miles left to go, I decided to give it all I had until I crossed the finish line…with a time of 5:14:25.

So, yeah, after a comfortable 2:14:00 first half, it took me 3:00:25 to complete the final 13.1 miles…I find that completely unacceptable.

After I finished, I immediately said to my wife and parents that I was never doing another marathon. By the next day, I was visiting the Philadelphia Marathon website and making plans to get the sour taste of this first marathon experience out of my mouth.

It’s apparent that I don’t have the digestive abilities to consume in-race nutrition in either solid or gel form. It just disrupts things for me. From now on, I’m just going to stick with a water/sport drink mixture.

Up next for me is Philadelphia’s famed Broad Street Run on Sunday. I completed last year’s 10-miler in 1:31:52. My goal this year is to come in under 1:30:00. Accomplishing that will go a long way in clearing the disappointing marathon experience from my mind.

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Back in Training: Worldwide WordPress 5k Edition

Automattic’s Worldwide WordPress 5k is taking place this week (it started Monday, Sept. 19, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25), and it allows everyone to participate. All you have to do is do a 5k (approx. 3.1 miles) walk or run, and then share a post about it using the “WWWP5k” tag.

Since I’m currently training for the 2017 New Jersey Marathon, I planned on devoting one of my pre-work training runs this week to the WWWP5k…but I went on a 13.1-mile training run last Sunday morning and I needed a day or two to recover. And I caught a late train into work on Wednesday and didn’t get a chance to go for a run at lunch.

So that brought me to Thursday—and I had already written off going for a run today (Friday, Sept. 23) due to a whole bunch of things going on at work. It had to be Thursday morning, or wait until next year.

I wasn’t really sure what I could do special for Thursday’s WWWP5k run. Obviously, I thought about a live stream, but figured I would lose connection quite frequently over the course of a 3.1-mile run. So I decided to just take a few photos and create the simple slideshow video above to share my WWWP5k run with the world.

Of course, my run time suffered since I kept slowing down/stopping to take pictures…but I’ll allow for this exception.

Happy WWWP5k!

 

Back in Training: Hightstown Triathlon edition

14225506_10100622296400064_976653149545279483_nIn my last post, I mentioned that I was training for my first marathon, the New Jersey Marathon next April.

I had planned to solely focus on running and put any triathlons on hold. Well, just a few days before the Hightstown (NJ) Triathlon (sprint distance: 500-yd swim, 11.2-mi bike, 5K run), I decided to enter it for a third straight year — without any triathlon training since over a year ago.

In the weeks prior to last year’s triathlon, I broke my left hand, severely limiting my training time. In addition, I woke up the morning of the race with a severe stomach virus. I threw up twice before I left the house at 5:30 a.m. and threw up several times after I got home. During the triathlon? It was a near-constant nausea that I fought off, but I was really feeling it on the run and had to walk a lot of it. It was a bad experience and it had a lot to do with my initial decision to put off triathlons this year.

But then I started thinking that the best way to get rid of that memory would be to do the triathlon again — this time, hopefully, without the vomiting.

Well, as far as that goal was concerned, it was mission accomplished! But I also set a new personal record for that event by nearly 10 minutes. I finished in 1:24:36 (134th overall) — besting my 1:34:19 time in 2015 and my 1:34:05 time in 2014 (when the bike ride was 15.3 miles as opposed to the 11.2 miles this year and last). What really bothered me is that my stupidity cost me at least two more minutes as I completely lost where my transition station was coming in from the bike ride. I literally wandered around the transition area looking for my stuff. Now, this was primarily because I initially neglected to account for the fact that the bike-in brought racers in at the opposite side of the transition area from which we entered to set up earlier in the morning. But even when I realized this, I still couldn’t find my stuff. I had a bright orange shirt on top of my running stuff, but the person next me had his wet suit partially draped over it. So, yeah, it kind of sucks that I could have finished in closer to 1:22:36 if I hadn’t recorded a race-worst 4:46 T2 (2nd transition) time.

But, still, considering I had no intention of competing in a triathlon — and had not trained for one — until less than a week before the event, I’d have to say that shaving 10 minutes off my time last year and finishing with a decent run (27:53 this year, as opposed to a personal-worst 5K time of 35:18 last year) was a moderate success.

The next two events for me are the WXPN Musicians On Call 5K and the Trenton Half Marathon (which I’ll be doing for a third straight year after doing the event’s 10K race in 2013). There were two local races — a 5K and a 5-miler — that I did last winter; if they are held this year, I’ll probably do those, too. After that, I think the next organized race will be the New Jersey Marathon on April 30. Hopefully, I’m ready for it by then.

Back in Training: 2017 New Jersey Marathon

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Hi there…I know it’s been awhile. Although I haven’t posted here much lately and haven’t published a series of “back in training” posts in quite some time, I have very much been in training for a few weeks now — most of which is chronicled on my Instagram account.

What am I training for, you ask? Well, once again, I will be running in this year’s Trenton Half Marathon and a few smaller races before that. However, a couple of months ago, I decided that I was going to target 2017 as the year I run in my first full marathon. And I recently decided which marathon I will make my first…

It’s the 2017 New Jersey Marathon on Sunday, April 30, 2017!

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I grew up at the Jersey Shore and it seems the logical place to do something I never dreamed of doing until the the last two or three years. And this way, I hope family and friends and can see me accomplish this.

My primary goal is to, of course, finish. My secondary goal is a bit ambitious…I want to complete the marathon with a sub-4 hour time. To do that, I need to run at about a 9:10-per-mile pace. My training times have been kind of all over the place recently, but when the weather is just right and I’m feeling good, I’m right around that pace—or better. In a chilly rain back in early May, I completed Philadelphia’s 10-mile Broad Street Run with a 9:11-per-mile pace. Granted, that’s 16.2 miles short of a marathon, but I’m fairly certain I could have run another five miles, at least, at that pace on that day. I don’t know if the crappy weather inspired me to run faster than usual, but I felt extraordinarily good running that race.

Currently, I am carrying a few extra pounds (15 lbs. or so, to be precise) that I’m hoping to shed by April 2017. Obviously, it would help if I could reduce the load my legs are carrying for a 26.2-mile run.

Of course, I’ll see how I do in the Trenton Half Marathon in late October and adjust my marathon goals accordingly. With very little training last year, I finished the race in 2:15:43 (10:21/mile pace). In 2014, when I was doing much more training, I finished the Trenton Half Marathon in 2:07:12 (9:42/mile pace). I’m looking to finish this year’s Trenton Half in 2 hours or less and, based on my 9:11/mile pace in the 10-mile Broad Street Run earlier this year and my more regular training/conditioning runs, I strongly believe this is possible.

Stay tuned…

A new beginning…

George Street Playhouse logoI am pleased to announce that I will be joining the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., as a marketing and public relations associate.

It has been a long-time dream of mine to work in the arts, and that dream has finally come true. That makes this move, essentially, a career reboot for me so it feels very much like a new beginning. I know I will love every bit of the experience, though.

Very soon, I will be helping to share the many stories of George Street Playhouse, especially those focusing on its amazing educational programs, and advancing the playhouse’s mission of enriching people’s lives by producing world-class theatre.

I am very proud and humbled to be joining the wonderful staff at the George Street Playhouse. For more information about the theater, please visit http://georgestreetplayhouse.org or check out the George Street Playhouse on Facebook and Twitter.

Update No. 3 – Back in training 2014: Preparing for a half-marathon & triathlon

Trenton Half Marathon
Atlantic City Triathlon logo

Just wanted to post a quick update on my training for the Atlantic City International Triathlon, which I’ll be competing in on Sept. 14, 2014. (See the January 18 update and original post below for background information.)

As I mentioned in my last update, I struggled during my first day in the pool at the local community college. The triathlon starts with a one-mile swim, which equates to roughly 70 1/2 laps in a 25-yard pool…but I barely made it through 26 laps that first time out. Granted, I knew I wasn’t going to swim a mile right out of the box, especially since my technique is terrible and my muscles aren’t conditioned for that kind of swimming.

However, I have been reading up and watching videos on proper swim technique (breathing, balance, stroke, etc.) and it’s already starting to pay off as I have quickly been able to increase the number of laps I am able to complete.

During my second time in the pool, on January 27, I completed 50 laps. Two days later, I successfully completed 72 laps–about 1.02 miles–in approximately 50 minutes (although I’m not too concerned about time right now). Granted, I was still taking frequent breaks and falling back into bad form, but I covered the distance. That was an important goal for me. It would be disastrous if I failed to complete the swim during the triathlon. At least I now know that I’m capable of swimming one mile, even if I have to take a short break or dial it down a bit at times.

Still, though, I need to continue getting stronger and more efficient in the pool. That will make my life a whole lot easier come September 14.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to cycling and running in the next couple of weeks. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m also training for the Trenton Half-Marathon in November.

Please see the Training Tracker below to follow my major training swims, rides and runs.

1/18/2014 UPDATE:
Earlier this month (see original post below), I wrote about training for my first half-marathon, the Trenton (N.J.) Half-Marathon taking place Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, and my other goal of reaching a target weight of 168 pounds.

Well, when I wrote that, I was also eyeing another ridiculously ambitious goal…competing and finishing in the Atlantic City International Triathlon on Sept. 14, 2014. However, I was still waiting to hear back from the organizers regarding a question about my bike. Well, I was given the information I needed and have officially registered for the event, which includes a one-mile swim, a 20-mile bike ride and a 10K (6.2-mile) run.

I’ve never done an official half-marathon before, but at least I’ve run 13.1 miles in training  so I know I can do it. I have completed a swim of around a mile, have ridden 20 miles on a bike many times before and have 6.2 miles several times. However, I am in no way ready to do all of these in sequence at one time, but I’m learning as fast as I can how to get myself trained and conditioned for it.

So I must revise the 2014 fitness goals I listed in the original post. They are now: 1) get weight down to (and stay at/near) 168 pounds, 2) complete the Atlantic City International Triathlon, and 3) complete the Trenton Half-Marathon.

Wow…when you write it all out, it looks daunting. What was I thinking? Oh well, nothing to do now but to get in shape and ready to compete.

At the bottom of each of these posts, you will find a training tracker so you can follow my progress.

Original Post – January 9, 2014:
Last year, I tracked my training for the Trenton 10K, which took place Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. It was the first organized race I have run other than a 5K. I finished the Trenton 10K with a chip time of 59:46.399, and my goal was to finish in less than an hour…so mission accomplished.

But as I watched the half-marathon runners start their race that morning, I regretted not being more ambitious with my running goals. After finally shaking off a persistent head cold I came down with the day after the race, I mapped out a route and completed a test run of 13.1 miles in 2:27:27—and, admittedly, that included about a half-mile of walking.

Now that I know I can do it, I want to announce here that I have registered for the 2014 Trenton Half-Marathon, taking place Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

I also want to use this opportunity to finally get into the proverbial “best shape of my life”— a sports cliché used by so many aging veterans heading into training camp. The holidays and two bouts with colds have basically put me back to square one as far as conditioning is concerned, but next week I’m going to start getting serious about working out everyday and tracking my caloric intake. And, of course, I’ll be tracking my training runs here on the blog.

In addition to training for the half marathon, it is my goal to finally get down to 168 pounds, which means losing about 23 pounds. I had lost 35 pounds back in 2006 after a false heart disease scare, but my weight-loss efforts stalled at 173—leaving me five pounds shy of my goal. Unfortunately, I gained nearly all of the weight I lost back again within the following year and have only been able to lose about 10-15 pounds a couple of times since then.

So…those are my two main goals for 2014: 1) complete the Trenton Half Marathon, 2) get down (and stay at/near) 168 pounds.

Training Tracker
I’ll be posting updates on my progress here every so often. The table below includes my swim/bike/run distances and times during this training period:
Date Swim/Bike/Run Distance Time
12/5/2013 13.12 miles (run) 2:27:27 – longest distance run
1/24/2014 0.37 miles (swim) – 26 laps (25-yd pool) approx. 30 minutes
1/27/2014 0.71 miles (swim) – 50 laps (25-yd pool) approx. 40 minutes
1/29/2014 1.02 miles (swim) – 72 laps (25-yd pool) approx. 50 minutes

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Update No. 2 – Back in training 2014: Preparing for a half-marathon & triathlon

Trenton Half Marathon
Atlantic City Triathlon logo

With snow and ice covering much of the cycling/running surfaces and temperatures below or near freezing for a significant period of time here in central New Jersey, I have started concentrating on preparing for the swim component of the Atlantic City International Triathlon, which I’ll be competing in on Sept. 14. (See the January 18 update and original post below for background information.)

All I can say is…I, like many first-time triathletes, completely underestimated how tough the one-mile swim is going to be. I used the 25-yard pool at the local community college for the first time last week and needed to break for a bit after just three laps. I need to get to 71 laps to cover a mile (actually 70 1/2 laps). I wound up struggling through 26 laps during my swim time that first day…and felt completely exhausted for the next hour or so.

The good news is a) it was only my first time training in the pool, and b) I was not employing any proper swimming technique. I just wanted to activate, so to speak, the upper body and core muscles necessary for competitive swimming.

I’ve read up and watched videos on proper swim technique (breathing, balance, stroke, etc.) so I’m going to work on that this coming week to make myself a stronger, more efficient swimmer. I have to be in order to get to the cycling (20 miles) and running (10K/6.2 miles) components of the event.

Please see the Training Tracker below to follow my major training swims, rides and runs.

1/18/2014 UPDATE:
Earlier this month (see original post below), I wrote about training for my first half-marathon, the Trenton (N.J.) Half-Marathon taking place Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, and my other goal of reaching a target weight of 168 pounds.

Well, when I wrote that, I was also eyeing another ridiculously ambitious goal…competing and finishing in the Atlantic City International Triathlon on Sept. 14, 2014. However, I was still waiting to hear back from the organizers regarding a question about my bike. Well, I was given the information I needed and have officially registered for the event, which includes a one-mile swim, a 20-mile bike ride and a 10K (6.2-mile) run.

I’ve never done an official half-marathon before, but at least I’ve run 13.1 miles in training  so I know I can do it. I have completed a swim of around a mile, have ridden 20 miles on a bike many times before and have 6.2 miles several times. However, I am in no way ready to do all of these in sequence at one time, but I’m learning as fast as I can how to get myself trained and conditioned for it.

So I must revise the 2014 fitness goals I listed in the original post. They are now: 1) get weight down to (and stay at/near) 168 pounds, 2) complete the Atlantic City International Triathlon, and 3) complete the Trenton Half-Marathon.

Wow…when you write it all out, it looks daunting. What was I thinking? Oh well, nothing to do now but to get in shape and ready to compete.

At the bottom of each of these posts, you will find a training tracker so you can follow my progress.

Original Post – January 9, 2014:
Last year, I tracked my training for the Trenton 10K, which took place Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. It was the first organized race I have run other than a 5K. I finished the Trenton 10K with a chip time of 59:46.399, and my goal was to finish in less than an hour…so mission accomplished.

But as I watched the half-marathon runners start their race that morning, I regretted not being more ambitious with my running goals. After finally shaking off a persistent head cold I came down with the day after the race, I mapped out a route and completed a test run of 13.1 miles in 2:27:27—and, admittedly, that included about a half-mile of walking.

Now that I know I can do it, I want to announce here that I have registered for the 2014 Trenton Half-Marathon, taking place Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

I also want to use this opportunity to finally get into the proverbial “best shape of my life”— a sports cliché used by so many aging veterans heading into training camp. The holidays and two bouts with colds have basically put me back to square one as far as conditioning is concerned, but next week I’m going to start getting serious about working out everyday and tracking my caloric intake. And, of course, I’ll be tracking my training runs here on the blog.

In addition to training for the half marathon, it is my goal to finally get down to 168 pounds, which means losing about 23 pounds. I had lost 35 pounds back in 2006 after a false heart disease scare, but my weight-loss efforts stalled at 173—leaving me five pounds shy of my goal. Unfortunately, I gained nearly all of the weight I lost back again within the following year and have only been able to lose about 10-15 pounds a couple of times since then.

So…those are my two main goals for 2014: 1) complete the Trenton Half Marathon, 2) get down (and stay at/near) 168 pounds.

Training Tracker
I’ll be posting updates on my progress here every so often. The table below includes my swim/bike/run distances and times during this training period:
Date Swim/Bike/Run Distance Time
12/5/2013 13.12 miles (run) 2:27:27 – longest distance run
1/24/2014 0.37 miles (swim) – 26 laps (25-yd pool) approx. 30 minutes

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