50 State Challenge Map

50 State Challenge Map
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Up next: Illinois

I will be traveling to Chicago in one month for the Half on July 22.  Details here.  That is more than enough time to recover from this past weekend and train for a good race.  I'm excited.  Technically, this will be my first time seeing Chicago.  I say technically because last time I visited was for two hours and I was stuck in a conference room the entire time.  I landed, cabbed it to the office, walked in, had an interview, walked out, cabbed it to the airport, and went home.  I think we can all agree that's not really a visit to see Chicago.  So, I will consider this my first.

A nice bonus to visiting Chicago for this Half is I also get to see my good friend Amanda.  She's pretty great.  She has an infectious laugh and the best accent ever.  If you ever meet her, ask her to say "apple."  You won't regret it.  She and I used to work together when we both lived in Cleveland.  We were cube neighbors.  That accounted for my not getting a whole lot of work done.  She's a chatty, spunky redhead who took a a big leap in leaving the comforts of home to move to the big city.  I was very proud of her because it wasn't the easiest decision to make.  I'm excited to see her and have her as my tour guide.

I'll blog between now and then as I'm looking to purchase a bike for some cross training.  If I do, pics will be posted. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Connecticut Half race day

Today was a day of firsts.  A lot of firsts.  My first Half Marathon starting and ending on a beach.  My first Half and visit to Connecticut.  Unfortunately, my first race ever where I had to stop and walk.  I always told myself I never wanted to walk during a race.  It was just a goal I had set for myself.  And I never have.  Not during my full marathons and never on a Half.   How many times did I stop today?  Six.  I was disappointed.  I'm not going to make excuses.  I know I didn't train well in the weeks since Minneapolis.  That's my fault.  I was also concerned about my foot.  This was also quite possibly the hilliest race I've encountered since running San Francisco.  It was tough.  And each time I stopped was pretty much midway up these hills.  I should have done my research and prepared for it.  I didn't.  So I've only got myself to blame. I finished in 1:53:14. 

But, first a few details on my weekend.  My sister Carla took the drive from DC to NJ where we stayed with my other sister Maria.  Carla decided to accompany me on yet another Half.  She does this because she's great.  Now Jennings Beach in Fairfield is only 73 miles from Maria's house.  That was the start line.  So we decided we'd stay in NJ, get up early, and drive Sunday morning to arrive by 6:30 for packet pickup.  Race start time was 8:30.

Once we arrived in NJ we decided to stop by my father's to pick him up for dinner.  We settled on El Iman, my favorite Peruvian restaurant.  If you're ever driving through Elizabeth, NJ I highly recommend you stop by.  You won't be disappointed.  We had a nice dinner and caught up on life.

Afterwards we headed to Maria's to settle in and chat a bit.  This is always a pleasure as I don't see Maria often.  However, it pushed close to midnight by the time we got to bed.  Not the best idea.  But - don't forget - I ran Cleveland on three hours of sleep after some wedding drinking and still ran it in 1:40.  And it was also above 90 that day.  So I thought I'd be OK.

Carla and I got up around 4:30 and headed out at 4:50.  It was a nice drive.  Saw a nice sunrise and got to the beach with time to spare.  We walked around and checked out the Expo.  We agreed this was a pretty cool start line for a race.  Not only was it a very nice beach but today was gorgeous weather.  If I wasn't running a Half you'd probably find me laying on the beach. 

I started the race feeling pretty good.  It was warm but not that bad.  It wasn't until mile four that I started breathing heavy and my legs feeling heavy.  Even my arms were getting tired from the back and forth motion.  All of this was concerning me so my immediate reaction was frustration.  How can I be ready to stop running by mile four???  Then came a hill that was so steep I knew I wasn't going to get to the top.  I tried.  But, eventually I started to walk.  I was breathing heavy and my legs weren't doing well.  I stopped at the next water stop for both water and Gatorade.  I thought maybe I just needed to hydrate a bit more.  It helped.  But, then came the next hill.  I'll be honest, I was getting a little mad.  This was one hilly course.  I just kept saying to myself, "Come on, really?!"

I'd stop five more times for about a minute each time.  I won't forget the time I was running around mile 10 when someone stopped and said, "Keep it going.  One foot in front of the other."

A great gesture and one that I really needed to hear.  But, I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little mad.  I was now in need of encouragement.  I'm just being honest here.  I didn't want to be that runner.  I want to be the one that keeps going all the way through.  But, it's OK.  The way I felt in no way takes away from this very nice person's outreach to get me moving.  And it did. 

In the end I finished in 1:53.  Carla was at the finish line screaming and cheering.  You may have heard her.  She's loud.  She and I then walked over to the massage tent and then got some pizza on the beach. 

I'm back at Maria's now.  I'm going to rest up a bit and start training later this week.  I've got Chicago in exactly one month, July 22.  It's going to be a fun weekend with my good friend Amanda and I will come back to the 1:30s for my finish time.  I'll keep everyone posted.

Enjoy the pics.

Connecticut Half pics

A little Peruvian dinner with the dad

Carla was my copilot this entire trip

My sister Maria's dog Max. He hates the camera

Not sure if that "P" is for PM.  This was very AM

I love D&D.  Especially at 4:50 am after four hours sleep

Sunrise with NYC in the background

George Washington Bridge connecting NJ to NY

The obligatory "Welcome to (insert state)" sign pic


I saw this running shirt and liked it.  It pretty much speaks for itself.

This is my look of defeat.

Post race massages are the best.

A guy's foot sticking out of a trunk because they stuck him in the trunk for the ride home.  I'm not kidding.

Finally home with my sister Maria.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Update from the foot doctor

So it's confirmed.  The foot doctor says I have a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis.  It's not full blown so there is some good news.  I can still run.  He told me that he wouldn't write my half this Sunday in Connecticut off.  He said I can still run.  But, a few things.

No skimping out on icing it every night.  I've been skimping.  Stretch every night and I must purchase new sneakers.  If I don't, I run the chance of inflaming this.  So that's what I'm going to do.  He also showed me how I can tape this up to lessen the impact of running/walking.  So I'll run this Sunday and evaluate how I feel afterwards.  He did say that it's possible this can remain with me and continue to be mild for months.  I don't want a mild case of Plantars for months on end but I'll take it if that means not a full blown case. 

And now I'm going to go buy some tape for my foot.

Doctor today

So I'm a little less nervous now about seeing the podiatrist today and feeling better after having gone running twice this week.  I went for five miles on Sunday and then four on Tuesday.  My foot is still bothering me a bit, but thankfully not enough to take me off running.  I of course still want to hear what the doctor has to say and take whatever action to prevent this from getting worse.  But, my heel is fine and there's a comfort in knowing it's not so bad right now that I can't even run.  Again, it''s mostly in my arch.  I'll keep icing it, stretching it, and whatever else he tells me I've got to do.

I will be driving to NJ on Saturday morning with Carla and staying at my sister Maria's house.  It's only 62 miles from Jennings Beach (start and finish of the race) so we can leave early Sunday morning to get there by 6:45 for packet pickup.  Race starts at 8:30 and then we'll drive back to NJ after it's over to rest a bit and enjoy Monday with some family.  I took Monday off work so no need to worry about rushing back.

I'll update from the road Saturday and race on Sunday with plenty of pics.  My niece is also heading off to the Naval Academy in Annapolis this month so there may be a little goodbye party Sunday.  If so, there will be plenty of family pics included.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 11

It's now been 11 days since my Half in Minneapolis and since I've gone running.  It was Monday, June 4, when I woke up and started feeling a slight bruise/pinch in the arch of my right foot reaching my heel.  Since then I've been on the stationary bike at the gym in my apartment complex.  It's been great to keep my legs moving and heart rate up.  I've also been stretching my arch and icing it the last few nights.

But, I'm itching to hit the pavement again.  I do have a scheduled run this Sunday with my running group where I'm going to take it light.  Normally, I push ahead of the group as I get my stride but I think I'm going to hold back to ensure I don't further injure myself prior to my doctor's appointment next Wednesday.  I really hope it's not Plantar's.  Please don't let it be Plantar's.  However, something tells me it is.  Let's see what he has to say and hope that I'm wrong.

In the meantime, tomorrow I will be heading to Capitol Hill Bikes.  As I said, I've been on the stationary bike now for a little over a week and have really been enjoying it.  Plus, it's summer time.  It'll be nice to get on the bike and make the six mile ride over to Arlington to see my sister every now and then.  It can also be quite annoying looking for parking in and around the city when just going to meet up with someone quickly.  A bike can solve that problem.  I've also been toying with the idea of eventually (not any time soon) attempting a triathlon.  It's something that's always intrigued me.  Well, it's a challenge.  An endurance challenge of any kind has always intrigued me.  When the Kona Triathlon is on TV you won't find me anywhere else.  I love watching that triathlon and baffling at how the elites can make the time they do.  It's amazing.

I think starting now to build my cycling endurance will be good.  A pic will be posted if/when I decide to make the purchase.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Running for peace

"He ran an average of 29 miles a day for 124 days. There was just something about Reza that told me he could do it."

A great story on Reza Baluchi.  And this link goes to his full story and mission.  Give it a read.  It's pretty incredible.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Time for the foot doctor?

Since I got back from Minneapolis I've felt a bruise like feeling on my right foot.  It's directly where the arch of my foot meets the heel.  Not center on the bottom of my foot but more inwards on the left side of my right foot.  Right there in that area.  So I can't say it's specifically the arch or the heel.  I've been concerned now because a few friends of mine have suffered from Planter Fasciitis.  I've heard it's painful and can knock a runner off his/her feet for months.  We can't have that happen here. 

There is a comforting note.  I do not feel intense pain first thing in the morning when I get up on my feet.  That seems to be a common symptom for anyone suffering from this.  So that's good.  However, I do feel discomfort (no pain) when I'm simply sitting at my desk at work.  That's concerning me a bit.  It's also noted on most sites that running shoes that are worn down and no longer providing support may be a cause.  I've had my current running shoes since July of last year (nearly 11 months).  They were used to train for the Marine Corps Marathon, run the marathon, train afterwards, and now for all of my Halfs that I've been running.  I think it's a good time to purchase a new set.

So I'm sorta in a state of limbo as to if this is leading up to something more serious or just an annoying soreness that will eventually go away.  However, I'm not taking any chances.  I made an appointment with a podiatrist to check this out next Wednesday.  In the meantime, I'm not going to run.  I will be icing my foot every night this week and going to my gym to work out on the bike.  I've been debating now getting more into biking so this is as good a time as any to get the legs moving on the stationary.  Biking, ice, rest, and ibuprofen.  That's the plan for the week.

If I'm feeling better by this weekend I may try to go for a 3-5 mile jog.  We'll see how I'm feeling by then. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Connecticut logistics

This is a first.  I was looking for hotels in the area of my Connecticut Half and saw on their site that packet pickup is the morning of the race.  The Half begins at 8:30.  Packet pickup is 6:45 - 8 that morning.  Oh well.  A first for everything and that shouldn't really be an issue if I get there early enough.

I was planning on finding a hotel near the start line in Fairfield.  However, I realized that Fairfield is only 70 miles from my sister's house in NJ.  That's not too bad.  I could make it there in just a little over an hour drive.  This way I could arrive in NJ early Saturday (race is Sunday) and see some family and friends.  I'd then head out around 5 am Sunday morning to my race.  That's more than enough time to get there, find parking, get my bib, and then drive back to NJ after the race.  That actually may be a better option then a hotel at this point. 

We'll see.  A good thing about having a car and family in NJ is being able to take advantage of it geographically when trying to get to races in the Northeast.  I think this will work out nicely. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Up next: Connecticut

Minneapolis race day

A great race yesterday, Minneapolis!  Nice job.  And a very nice route.  The hills and I didn't always see eye to eye but that's probably more on me to work out. 

My final time:  1:38:40.  I'm happy with that time and now have three weeks to rest until my next Half in Connecticut.  I think that's good as I'm reevaluating my running calendar and thinking perhaps my Halfs may be too close together.  I say that because I was starting to feel tired and low on energy at around mile seven.  That's not happened before. 

Now, let's be clear.  This could be the result of many things and not necessarily my races being too close.  I did walk a lot yesterday to see the sights which puts a little strain on the legs and feet.  It was rather warm today and maybe I could have hydrated more.  So, this is not to say that a Half every 2-3 weeks is not doable.  But, I'm being cautious.  As everyone knows, I'm always aiming for 1:30 and also want to avoid injury. 

I'll look over my calendar and training routine(s) to see where I can make some adjustments.  This is the third race in a row now I've gone over 1:35 so I may need to tweak the training.  I'll keep everyone posted.

Thanks for a nice weekend, Minneapolis.  It was fun.

Up next:  Connecticut (June 24)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Minneapolis arrival

The last 36 hours have been somewhat interesting.  Picking up from last night, my flight to Minneapolis was canceled due to bad weather.  I understand.  It happens.  I was rebooked for a 6 am flight this morning.  Lucky for me my sister lives in Arlington so I stayed at her place to get up and leave early.  Unlucky for me I couldn't fall asleep until 2 am with my alarm set for 4:30.  I'm a bit tired today.

But, I got up and to the airport with time to spare ... or so I thought.  It probably would have been wise for me to look at my new departure gate since I was rebooked.  I - without thinking - went to the security checkpoint from last night.  That's the entry for gates 10-22.  My new gate was 27.  Not good.  I spent 25 minutes getting through security only to realize I had to go back out and through security all over again.  I pleaded with the TSA agent to let me go through security at my gate considering I've already been screened.  Nope.  That wasn't happening.

I should have taken a picture of the line once I arrived at the checkpoint.  I got there at 5 am.  Flight left at 6.  The line had no end in sight.  I was panicking.  If I missed this flight after a. I was luckily rebooked and b. I got to the airport early enough to make it but was lacking focus on my gate instructions ... I was not going to be happy.  The line was moving, but it was moving slow.  I looked at my watch every five minutes and it seemed like we weren't advancing.  By the time it hit 5:40 I was still in line and hadn't reached the TSA agent to flash his light on my driver's license and scribble on my boarding pass.  I did by 5:45.  I tossed my laptop in the basket, threw everything from my pockets out, raised my hands, let TSA "screen" me, and ran to the gate.  I made it.  I then fell asleep until we landed in Chicago.  Then boarded for Minneapolis and fell asleep again.

I finally arrived in Minneapolis at 10:30 am CT.  Expo was open until 7.  More than enough time.  Weather was looking good.  I decided to take the light rail downtown after the cab told me the fare would be roughly $45.  I was cruising.  Yeah, not so fast.

We had to get off the light rail prior to my downtown stop because of construction.  OK - no big deal.  I got on a bus heading downtown and was going to be dropped a few blocks from my hotel.  However, before the bus even drove half a block everyone was jolted forward as the bus came to a screeching stop trying to not hit a car that moved directly in front of it trying to cross four lanes.  Not a smart move.  The bus wrecked the entire right side of this guy's car.  A pic follows after this post.  Seriously, what a dumb move.  I was left thinking what more could happen to try to get in my way.  After an hour of waiting around for another bus to come pick us all up, we were on our way.

After that it was smooth sailing.  I checked into my hotel.  I took a walk over to the Expo to pick up my packet.  It's a beautiful day in Minneapolis today.  Sunny skies and 75.  From there I went to Pizza Luce, considered by many to be the best pizza in the city.  It was quite delicious.

After lunch I got in a cab and basically told him to take me to a lake.  I didn't care which one.  I was in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" so no way I was going to miss out on some lake shots on such a beautiful day.  I was taken to Lake Calhoun in the Uptown District.  A very fun part of town.  I spent the better part of two hours by the lake taking shots, laying around, and grabbing a beer.  It was nice.

From there I caught a cab and went to the historic Foshay Tower at the W Minneapolis Hotel.  It has an observation deck on which you can see all of the city.  Again, perfect on such a clear, sunny day.  

And now I am back at the hotel ready to relax and order some room service.  My eyes are shutting on me after such a long day.  I'll be in bed early tonight for a 7:30 am start time.  A fun detail about tomorrow's Half that I'm really looking forward is the post race festivities.  After the race there will be live music along the Mississippi River at Bohemian Flats Park, where runners get one FREE Finnegans beer.  It's going to be a fun race day. 

I will update with race pics and details tomorrow.  Until then, good night.

Minneapolis day pics

Minneapolis arrival

Car that our bus driver slammed into delaying me further

Walking through downtown heading to hotel

I've always like the building to building walkway


My hotel view

Packet pickup

Expo at Depot Hotel Pavilion

Pizza Luce

Uptown District in southwest Minneapolis

Calhoun Lake

W Minneapolis The Foshay

View from the observation deck