Inside the finish of the NYC marathon

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I learned from my own NYC Marathon finish in 2014, that the volunteers are a special breed of human.  From a runner’s perspective, NYC Marathon volunteers, wear official jackets, along with unofficial halos.  They take the time to look you in the eye, grant your every wish (mostly), restore your anxiety to a sense of calm, listen to you as if you were the most important person amongst a sea of thousands, and let you know that no matter how much pain you are in, everything will be all right.  These are the volunteers that make up an army of 12,000 to support the 50,000 runners on NYC marathon Sunday.  I wanted to be a part of that army of angels – or at least try.

I arrived at my designated location on 33 Central Park West to sign in for my shift.  Our shift was from 10AM to 6PM.   I was assigned to “Zone 3” in the NYC marathon finish area.  Zone 3 is a location 5 city blocks past the actual finish line.   When you run the NYC marathon you are not actually finished when you complete 26.2 miles.  That’s just part one.   Part two is the additional mile walk that all runners must endure.  It is the longest mile you can imagine, and your body has only one thought.   It want’s to shut down.  But no, you must keep walking. Continue reading

Elevated

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Mill Mountain Star

Mill Mountain Star

Every once in awhile, you challenge yourself beyond what you think you are capable. You push the limits, and there is still a reserve to push harder.  You consider the “Q” word, but somehow manage to talk yourself out of quitting.  You think the worst is over, only to find you need to push yourself even more.  You wonder what provoked the need for such a challenge?   Or, maybe you just don’t realize what you have signed up for.

We had signed up for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon in the dead of winter.  The days when the temperatures were in single digits, the outdoor runs were slim to none and signing up for something that was advertised as the “worlds hardest half marathon’ seemed like a way out of the winter doldrums.  We live at sea level in Maryland.  Our altitude of 300′ with hills that might reach 1/4 mile at most is plenty challenging.  Yet, we were drawn to an event that claimed to reach the stars.  Words that touted 2 mountain climbs with nearly 4000′ of elevation change drew blank stares.  Fixated by the claim of the worlds hardest half marathon – well, I had to see it to believe it.  In that blissfully unaware cold winter day, sitting at my computer with a hot cup of Joe – I clicked on the “Register” button.   Now, all I had to do was to convince my running partner to do the same.  Fortunately she didn’t read the fine print. Continue reading

Flying palm trees

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Krabbed IT on Kent Island!

Krabbed IT on Kent Island!

Many people consider the Chesapeake Bay as the waterway that divides the Maryland mainland and the Maryland Eastern Shore.  However, hidden in the geography details, is a small island.  Kent Island. An island where the “Q” sisters rule.  Sisters Quaint and Quiet.

It is also a splat of land where the terrain is sculpted perfectly for runners.  Perfect in my world translates to flat terrain, off road running trails, unbelievably scenic views of the Bay and roadways mostly devoid of traffic.  Welcome to the karma of Kent Island.

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Making the best of February….

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Snow Angels!

Snow Angels!

Somewhere in February, the arctic air took over Maryland.  With temperatures in single digits and winds that put the “real feel” even colder, my exercise wardrobe morphed from running tights and windbreaker jackets to ski parkas, ski pants, sheep lined boots, and goggles.   And no, I wasn’t skiing.

I “get it” that my neighbors north of Maryland – are faring much worse.  I can’t even begin to feel their frozen pain.  Yet for 2015, Maryland has become ‘one’ with Canada.  Can’t we just start an early spring?  But no.  That little groundhog from Pennsylvania (Phil) had other plans…

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4 food groups in my new Paleo breakfast: protein, fats, carbs and chocolate

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Chocolate Chip Strawberry Breakfast

It all started when my running partner was running late for our rendezvous in Bethesda.

With 15 minutes of spare time on my hands, I wandered through the Barnes and Noble bookstore. With no particular agenda (other than to stay warm for 15 minutes), I pretended to be a customer. Meandering along shelves of books, and stopping now and then for some pretend interest. And then I stopped cold in my tracks.

There is was. A book with a photo of healthy vegetables on the front and a title that was calling my name. “Paleo for Beginners”. And if that wasn’t enough – it opened directly to page 95. A recipe for Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins.  I suddenly needed to “go Paleo”.  Sold.

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A starfish afterlife

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Bennie – the Starfish

My recent art project had unexpected beginnings, twists and turns and a surprising ending. Much like my favorite way of wandering through life. Without knowing the ending. Getting lost in the process. Let me explain.

It started as a bike ride with a long-time friend, along the Isle of Palms shoreline in the middle of January. It wasn’t particularly warm, and the wind was blowing whatever heat could be felt from the sun clear north to Canada. My friend Cindy and I were riding beach cruisers – which have no gears. This means you can’t shift down to make the pedaling any easier. I quickly accept this reality and worked extra hard to keep the bike moving into the challenging headwinds. Just having the opportunity to escape the more northern chill of a Maryland winter — via coastal South Carolina puts me in an excellent mood. The beach was mostly deserted with the exception of a few walkers.

In 30 minutes, Cindy and I reached our southern turnaround point – Breach Inlet. To go further south would require swimming. And, I would not be swimming today. Instead we turned our cruisers around, and quickly appreciated the strength of the new-found tailwinds. Barely pedaling, we are scooting along and catching up on days gone by. When suddenly, Cindy spotted a starfish. I missed it. We were cruising too fast. A minute goes by and this time I spotted 2 starfish. Not alive of course, but washed up on the beach. What a lucky discovery, I thought. Suddenly my mind went into “art mode”, and I wondered if there was an art project I could create that might involve a starfish? There was no time to finish that thought, as we pressed on with our bicycles. Continue reading

Charleston Touristas!

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This photo compilation captures the essence of some of our favorite moments discovering historic Charleston…

The Food

16123977507_9269666043_z16308963152_bf67830ffc_z16122697930_c8ce015857_zLow Tide & Dolphins

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Taking in Charleston via the Charleston Half Marathon and 5K

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16299021661_bf26caba9f_zToday, I will run the Charleston Half Marathon – which is a charity running event that supports the Arts in Charleston SC.  We left our campground in Mount Pleasant by 6AM – for a 30 minute drive into downtown Charleston.  At 36 degrees, I was expecting to be cold, bone cold while waiting outdoors 1.5 hours for the 8AM start.  I was thrilled to find that the Burke Middle School was open to the runners, and all 4300 of us piled inside to stay warm.

This is where I met Rosanne – a lovely lady in her early 50’s who is a cancer survivor and has run over 30 marathons and a few Iron-Man triathlons.  She was quite inspiring and engaging and I nearly forgot that I was preparing to run a half marathon.  With 10 minutes before the race starts, I said goodbye to my new friend – and stepped outdoors. Brrr.  I was wearing too many clothes for running – but I really need to stay warm at the start.  Aaah, the runner’s dilemma boils down to how much clothing to wear. Continue reading

Seeking heat – A winter diversion to Charleston

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We are seeking a winter reprieve to 20 something degree Maryland temperatures, and choose Charleston SC as our destination.   What’s not to love about Charleston?   A big city, with a small town southern charm.  Oh – and it should be warmer than Maryland.

Our southern mini-vacation began with a good old fashioned ice storm.  The kind of ice storm that starts in the south, aligns itself directly with the I-95 corridor, and dares us to really really really want to make this trip.  We do.  And, it’s a long one.  An ice storm from the south translates to just enough ice and snow precipitation to barely coat the roadways, with show stopping multi-vehicle accidents.  For some, this is a very bad day.  For us, it means more time on the road.  More time to dream about reaching warming temperatures. Continue reading

Inspired by a touch of summer…

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With temperatures rising to 32 degrees and a rain-sleet storm heading in our direction – I had a mid-day window to get in my 10 mile run.   I’m wearing my usual wintertime running outfit — long sleeve moisture wicking shirt, thin insulated jacket, lined sweat pants, wool socks, mittens and a bright orange cap.  Born-n-raised in upstate NY, I should be able to handle 32 degree weather.

After the first 3 miles of hilly terrain – I had worked up some steam.   Apparently not enough steam.  I was passed by an older man wearing t-shirt and shorts.  That’s right – wearing summertime clothing.  The last I checked, it was still winter in Maryland.  And he zoomed past me.  Continue reading

The perfect healthy post-workout snack!

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20150107_133456My cooking skills are limited to boiling water, making popcorn and baking a whopping total of 2 old fashioned cookie recipes.  Thankfully, I married someone who knows his way around the kitchen…and thinks “healthy choices” on my behalf!   So after a double-header workout (indoors on my elliptigo followed by more indoors in the pool) – Chef Paddy took over the kitchen and delivered what I consider to be a Foodie-Hit!   It covers the bases with Carbs-Proteins-Fats, and does it with lots of whole foods that I would have never thought belonged together (apples and celery?).   And to satisfy your sweet tooth — a hint of honey.   A great snack post-workout – or as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

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Helloooooooooo 2015!

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Strategy for January:   Impromptu

If I learned anything at all about training and running the NYC marathon – I could sum it up as an adventure in discipline.   But now — 2 months after running the 5 boroughs of NY – I’m ready to balance that discipline with something else.  A new strategy – at least for the next 30 days.  Impromptu.   Now, it might not sound like much of a running or exercise strategy – but it resonated for me.  Less planning, more in-the-moment, winging-it, dance in it type of theme.  Finding new ways to keep the flames hopping in my metabolism fire-pit.  So – let’s see what this looks like so far:

January 1 – New Year’s Day:   No running, no exercise, Nada.  I admit – I was a bit nervous not starting out the new year with some round of intense exercise.   At first I thought this might not be the best way to start out a new year.   But then re-framed that thought around the theme of re-balancing and impromptu.  Rest is good.   Rest is healthful.  Rest is part of training.   I’m deciding in the moment – that today I will rest fully – and without guilt.   And I did.

20150102_095154January 2 – Noticed a detour during a Tundra Bike workout – and decided it was worthy to explore.  It was an abandoned airplane landing strip for the locals.   Maybe not, but that’s my story.  It’s a long wide road, never noticed before, and next to the BWI airport with lots of room for airplanes.   Sounds like a landing strip right?   And – why else would it be called Park and Fly?   Continue reading

Day 14 of the Holiday Challenge: Aqua Fartleks

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Outdoor running zones

For today’s thought challenge — Can an aqua running workout yield the same cardio intensity as running outdoors on pavement?  Today I would put this question to the test with some measure of objectivity.

To clarify – aqua running workouts are invigorating – but they still land short of the real deal.  When running outdoors, my RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) feels lower at the start, and much higher toward the end.   And when I load all that good data from my Garmin – my RPE is generally spot on.

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Day 13 of the Holiday Challenge: 13.1 mile mental test

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My running volume has considerably diminished from marathon levels – less than 2 months ago.  Since the NYC Marathon on November 2, my longest run was one half marathon (13.1 miles) on November 23.     Since then….even less.   And while I’ve enjoyed changing up my routine – especially with my thought rut challenge – I signed up to run a virtual half marathon.   The Polar Bear Run —  a 13.1 mile charity fundraiser run that I could do anytime and anyplace  between Christmas and New Years.

The funny thing about running, is the less distance you run – the more your mind is convinced that anything longer is a really big deal.   In the last month – my long runs have peaked at 9 miles.  Despite the fact that I was running a 1/2 marathon+more each week for 5 months,  I’m not entirely convinced now that I can run 13.1 miles.  Continue reading