Day 2 Week 13 – Carpe Diem!

6 mile easy with heart rate of 114 – 120 and 124 – 133 for the inclines.

Out about my neighborhood this morning for my 6 mile run.  The crackling sound of my every step meeting the dried-up leaves on the ground tells me that autumn is around the corner.

Looking up and down the street, trees are turning colors and shedding their leaves.  A clear sign of Mother Nature doing her part, and I can feel it in the air.  The cool morning breeze that gently caressing my spirit reassures me that autumn is on its way.

This changing of the seasons always tucks at my raw emotions.  It ever so gently reminds me that few things in life are permanent.  I am nothing more than a speck in the big scheme of things.  Better get on with what is important.  If not now, when?

What does the transient nature of life mean to you?

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Day 1 Week 13 – Quality Runs

2 X 10 minute threshold interval w/ 90 sec rest, 3.3 mile warm up and cool down, nice & pleasant 68 degree Fahrenheit.

Three weeks ago, I started my lactate threshold phase of the marathon training.  The phase I allotted to work on my speed.  Due to unforeseen event last week, I lost a week.  Which made this week’s workout doubly important.

With this in mind, I was motivated to make today’s threshold interval work out count. To that end, I could not have asked for a better day to do this.  The weather was picture perfect – overcast with a slight breeze.  Which made it easy for me to clinch the threshold intervals.

While mileage still matters, my plan is to make the balance of my 20 week marathon training high quality (i.e. at pace closer to my lactate threshold).  In addition to my watch,   I am considering adding my heart rate monitor to my runs as an objective measure.  Any thoughts?

How do you ensure quality in your workout?

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Week In Review – 17 Sep 2017

Total mileage this week: 18 – a set back due to unforeseen event

Ever being in a dream and the time just disappeared?  That is how I felt about this week.  I spent the first four days of the week in the hospital with my mom.  Where life were transformed to a regimented schedules of pills, shots, checking vital signs and waiting for the doctors.

It was a surreal experience from my daily life and totally devoid of the outside world that I am accustomed to.

By the time when my mom was discharged from the hospital, everything between Monday and Thursday became a blur for me.  Physically and emotionally exhausted from this crisis, all I could think of was what snatched from me throughout the week – rest.

The one and only run I had this week was the long run on Saturday, the 18 miler.  In hindsight, the C & O Canal Towpath was not the right place for me to develop mileages with my sandals nor to recoup any mental refuge from the week.  A hard lesson to swallow, but I am not sorry about it.

Have a good week.

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Day 6 Week 12 – A Different Long Run

18 miles easy on the C & O Canal Tow Path. 9:30AM.

Typically my long runs are monastic events – solitude runs on the C & O Canal Towpath with spiritual-thought sprinkled in every so often.   Today’s run was different. I got started late.  So I decided to run towards Washington DC for a change of scenery.

Unbeknownst to me, there was  a full & half marathon taking place around the same time and place. Yes, the Abebe Bikila International Peace Marathon & Half.  Unlike my typical long run, there were crowds, music, volunteers at the Fletcher’s Cove, and runners of all sizes ans shapes scattered throughout the towpath.

At a first blush, I thought having the company of other runners is a good thing.  Moral support, camaraderie, etc.  That did not turn out to be the case for me.  Instead of a meditative run, I tried to cheer the runners as I approached them.  Showing my support.

After a while, I realized I myself was getting tired.   Wearing my sandals, my feet ached from the impacts of rocks and pebbles on the trial. My pace got slower and I began to feel the marathoner’s struggle.  And I was just out for an easy pace run!

So my long run turned out completely different from I had expected.  Many factors contributed mentally and physically to my experience today.  I will have to sleep on it to sort them out.

Have you noticed what different in your life impacts you the most?

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Day 5 Week 12 – “Sorry” Is Unnecessary

Life is a full of surprises – whether you’re ready or not. Natural disaster, man-made event or even what’s for dinner, fate has a way of teasing us, testing us, and keeping us on our toes.  Because the unexpected can knock us down on our ends if we are not careful.

On Monday of this week, I took my mother to see her cardiologist for a complaint about her racing heartbeat.  Within a few minutes of examination, the doctor promptly sent us to the hospital’s emergency room. That was the beginning of our saga which lasted four days.

As it turned out, my mother had contracted pneumonia, unbeknownst to her (and us), which caused atrial fibrillation in her heart.  Given my mother’s advancing age (80’s) and prior heart conditions, the hospital treatment was a controlled dosage of medications to address the infection and attempts to slow her heart back to normal.  The outcome was successful, but the process was four agonizing days.

When confronted with surprises, it’s bravado to say “bring it on!”  The reality is that no one is always ready for this sort of things. Not only impractical, it is impossible to be ready for all contingencies. Hurricane Irma and Harvey are recent examples that are still impacting many victims in Florida and Texas.

How we face the surprises, deal with the unknowns, and react to the challenges define the quality of our life.  We may not control our fate but we are in control of our behaviors.  No sense to deny that risks exist nor be pessimistic about their consequences.  If we have done our best, saying sorry is unnecessary.

How do you deal with life’s surprises?

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Day 6 Week 11 – Longest Run

18 mile easy. Nice running weather, temperature in the low 60s.

Today’s long run is the farthest I have run thus far. Because the cut I got on my right foot from last week’s long run, I have been wearing socks & shoes this week instead of the sandals to give my foot a chance to heal.

Personally, I prefer running in sandals for the freedom it provides.  The question is will my trail sandals provide enough cushion over the distance.  I will find out next Saturday which is another 18 miler.

In addition to my trial of footwear, the easy pace 18 miles puts the load on my body, conditions my legs through good mechanics, and builds my stamina & muscular endurance.  I actually feel better at the end of today’s 18 mile than last week’s 16 miles in the rain.

As for spicing up my workout, I will target my lactate threshold by doing graduated threshold runs at or below my lactate threshold – 7:52 to 8:01 (threshold pace) but no more than 40 minutes combined to avoid going into anaerobic zone.

How do you spend your long runs?


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Day 5 Week 11 – A Training Lull?

Rest/ Off day – Yoga for core

My marathon training is hitting a lull.  Trucking along at scheduled pace and mileage. Day after day.  Things begin to feel a bit flat.  Kinda like the feeling between mile 15 through 19 during a marathon – the end is nowhere in sight, and it’s too far to turn back.

Sure, grit and determination will get me through.  But I usually reserve them for the rough patches during actual marathon.  For now, week 11 of a 20 week marathon training, I need to dig deep and find my mojo.  After all it is only week 11.

How am I going to find my mojo, you ask?  Well, here are some possibilities:  1. tomorrow I have a 18 mile run.  Plenty of time to mull over the answers.  2. enter a race, the competition may spark my drive or provide feedback.  3. take an easy recovery week as a break, or 4. read other marathon blogs for inspirations.

What would you do to get out of a lull?

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Day 4 Week 11 – Marathoners United

7 mile easy

Marathon is a lonely sport.  Some would disagree and call the whole thing nuts.  But with the hundreds and thousands of runners gather at the starting line, only one matters – me. Having said that, everyone carries a personal story that got them to the starting line.

It is true that no one else could finish the race for me.  No one else would feel the struggle I experience. The mile after mile training runs I have practiced.  Nope.  Only I alone know. Be that as it may, no reason to make the marathon running more lonely than it’s necessary.

At the Starbucks today, an older gentleman sat down at a table next to mine.  He was wearing a finisher shirt from the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon.   All I had to do was mentioning casually that I too am a marathoner, we spent the next 20 minutes talking everything about our families, running shoes, etc.

Tom is 77 years old, a thyroid cancer survivor, and a finisher of the Marine Corps marathon 4 times.  On his bucket list is qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  His dilemma however is that his Oncologist, and by extension his family, told him to stop running for the fear of dislodging the tumor located in his spine.

First of all, I wish that I could still run when I get to Tom’s age.  Even though I ran the Boston back in 2008, I like to do it again but this time do it the right way – no injury, no over training, and no mental anguish.  I have learned over the years that I am running for my health.

Before the two former strangers shook hand and parted way, I suggested to Tom perhaps he could volunteer at the next Boston Marathon.  To immerse in the event, feel the spirit and the atmosphere without the running.  It was an earnest recommendation from one marathoner to another.

What bonds you with others?

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Day 3 Week 11 – Patience, Part 3


5 mile easy.

When my mind is agitated, my patience becomes short.  Regrettably, my behaviors sometimes follow suit.  As you can probably guess that the outcome is never good.  Hurtful feelings linger on.

Then I came upon April Stern’s piece on understanding.  Particularly her point on “our irritation with others can come from our own preconceived notions of the world.”  Bingo. The light bulb came on for me.

My preconceived notions preempt me from any chance of seeking to understand other’s view. My cup, not only full, is overflowing.  As a result, efficiency takes over, and empathy is out of the window. Like the saying that I am right but dead right.  Disaster pursues.  Even though I might be right.

Because as Stern said, everyone is different.  People will only get to the conclusions on their own terms.  Not by forced and certainly not by being bullied. Whenever my mind starts to boil over, more reason for me to be patient.

Real understanding requires patience.

Part 1, and 2 here.

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Day 2 Week 11 – The Cutdown Run That Wasn’t

2 mile warm up, 4 mile cutdowns (8:30, 8:20, 8:10, 8:00), 2 mile cool down

What started as a cutdown workout today ended up more like a progression run.  Instead of following the specific paces as scheduled, I deviated and ran by feel.  Meaning I chose not to let my watch drive my pace but only use it to record my time.

My actual time on the “cutdowns” were 9:13, 8:33, 8:02, and 8:27.  On that last mile I thought I was pushing myself. But my pace was much slower than I felt. The very reason for cutdown training.

So, in hindsight, I  would run my future cutdown on a track, for 6+ miles to simulating the marathon finish, and let it rip on the last mile.


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