Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 4: On the road again

Another busy week of travel, things to do and places to see! Thursday night we traveled about six hours to Roanoke, VA so Chris could participate in the  Roanoke Academy of Medicine Alliance Book and Author Dinner on Friday. This event is a fundraiser for many community organizations, and I think it is always a good thing to see people excited about books, too. We pulled the kids from school and made it a short family vacation, visiting the Transportation Museum and Science Museum, as well as walking around the charming downtown area and eating some yummy chicken and waffles.

After all of the Friday night excitement (Chris's talk was extremely well received--he even spoke about Fisher House-- and he sold all of his books!), we were up bright and early Saturday to drive the six hours back home, as B had a prom to attend that night. His presence was also required at photos, dinner, and pre-prom activities, so we were on the road by 645am. Needless to say, by the time we made it home, helped B get ready, took some of our own pictures, etc, Chris and I were tuckered out. There was no way we could think of running 4 miles that day, so we instead took a nap and put the run off until Sunday.

Weekly Stats:

Tue  4/24  2.02 miles in 19:17  (C missed this one)

Wed  4/25  3.07 miles in 30:25

Thu  4/26  1.64 miles in 15:07

Fri  4/27  30 minutes of walking (we did at least this much around Roanoke, so I counted this as our cross training day)

Sun  4/29   4.19 miles in 42:15

Total mileage: 10.92

Thanks for reading, catch you next week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 3: Rainy days and a race!

This week was more of the same as far as our training mileage; the only changes I'd say we are noticing are a somewhat faster pace and fewer aches and pains. We had some iffy weather this week too---normally I would never choose to run in the rain, but I figure it is something I'd best learn to tolerate. If I can't handle 3 miles getting a bit wet I'll never manage 16 or 26.2, and I'm not about to bow out of the marathon because of some drizzle. This isn't to say I don't have my limits---lightning, a hurricane, a nor'easter---but regular old rain? Gotta suck it up.

We took a short trip this week to Gettysburg, PA. Chris had a medical conference where he was a speaker and we decided to take the kids out of school for a little history lesson on the side. The drive was about two hours; we stayed overnight Tuesday and woke up early Wednesday to a gloomy, drizzly day. Chris and I headed out on a 3-miler recommended by the hotel that took us to part of the Civil War battlefield. It would have been nice to go farther but with the less than optimal weather and Chris needing to prepare for his talk, we stuck to our schedule and kept it short.

The afternoon was spent at Gettysburg National Military Park, where we saw a short film about the battle (narrated by Morgan Freeman, with Lincoln performed by Sam Waterston!), an impressive sound and light show/cyclorama, and a museum of Civil War artifacts. The boys were fascinated by the weapons and also by the doctor kits and tools. One of the exhibits showed families divided by the war (brother fighting brother, father fighting son), and the kids seemed to have a difficult time comprehending that fact. Before leaving town, we made a final stop at Robert E. Lee's headquarters, which is now smack dab in the middle of a motel parking lot. Lee had the door of this little house torn off and turned into a map table out on the field of battle; the woman who lived there wasn't too pleased but I guess she didn't have too much say in the matter.

Saturday we were able to run a very nice 5K in Milton. The course was partly through the pretty downtown area and partly on trails through a park. The weather was supposed to be terrible but fortunately the sun stayed with us long enough for a beautiful race. I felt like Chris went out waaay fast---I was huffing and puffing trying to keep up---but he said it felt normal to him (maybe I was just tired). We finished in 36th and 37th place out of 71 runners, but we had to wait until everyone finished to find out our time. While we were waiting, a raffle drawing was held and I won a nifty waterproof shoulder bag! It seems like it will be useful for camping or a day at the beach.

Now for our weekly stats:

Tue 4/17    1.66 miles in 14:45 (seriously fast for us, an 8:45 mile)

Wed 4/18   3 miles in  30:00 (this was Gettysburg, my GPS was off and I had to guess)

Thu 4/19    1.59 miles in 15:09

Sat  4/21     3.12 miles in 29:35 (I knew it was fast! Normally we can run 1-2 miles at this pace but not over 3. No wonder I was tired.And yes, I know this is considered SLOW by most experienced runners--it's all relative.)

Sun 4/22     2.57 miles in 42:32 (a chilly drizzly walk)

Thanks for reading. I also want to thank everyone who has donated to Fisher House through our Team LoveLife. If you haven't yet contributed, and would like to, there is a link at the top of the page. Every donation is hugely appreciated!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 2: Taking the show on the road

This week was a lot of fun with family and friends. The weather was nice, no major aches or pains to speak of, and we had a great change of scenery running along the CT shoreline over the weekend. Our youngest Mr. R joined us on one of our shorter runs during the week, and Chris's sister Amanda kept us company on our Sunday walk. Besides our long run on Saturday morning, there was beach time with the kids (they even went swimming--brr!); mountain biking in a forest; shopping for new school shoes; and even some dancing that night! Needless to say we were all ready for serious sleep by the time we made it home last night.

Here's what we accomplished:

Tue 4/10    1.54 miles in 14:50 (I did this one on my own, Chris had a long day at work)
Wed 4/11   3.07 miles in 30:01
Thu 4/12    1.51 miles in 15:19 (this is the one R joined us on)
Sat  4/14     4.02 miles in 38.55 (this was only supposed to be 3.5 miles but the GPS wasn't working so we ran based on time; just went a little faster than we thought!)
Sun 4/15    2.25 miles in 39:44 (nice walk)

Most of these times are faster than I am used to running, and I won't be at all surprised if we get slower as the distances get longer. I will definitely be curious to see how this pans out!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 1--A solid start

We have finished week 1 of training! It is undoubtedly a small step on a very long road ahead, but we are purposely starting slowly and building the miles over 30 weeks to increase our chances of finishing the race healthy and strong.

In the past, Chris and I have had very different methods of training for a marathon. His was to start running, keep running until he got tired, then turn around and run back home. The distance could be 3 miles or 13 miles depending on how he felt that day; he might hit the pavement 5 times per week or once a month depending on his schedule. And for whatever reason, this training style worked for him, getting him across the finish line 4 times.

When I decided to run a marathon in 2002, I bought a book. I have found when it comes to exercise, I do much better if a) I have a goal and b) I have a concrete plan to achieve that goal. Left to my own devices, I'm likely to come up with any excuse in the book to avoid getting out there. A lot of the books/plans I found seemed very complicated (what's a fartlek?!?) and also demanded a great deal of time--6 days of running with up to 70-80 miles per week. When you run a 10-minute mile, that's a lot of hours on your feet. The plan I found was very simple and designed for someone just like me, a recreational runner who just wanted to finish the race in one piece. And it worked perfectly. I'd be using the book this time around except I gave it to a friend in TX, thinking I'd never be nuts enough to attempt another marathon. Ha on me, I guess.

Luckily, Team Fisher House provided us with a few recommended, time-proven training plans. One was by Jeff Galloway; he advocates a run/walk program that has worked for thousands of marathoners. There are two main reasons I did not choose one of his plans: 1) he has you cover 26 miles before the race, which to me is asking for trouble, especially since 99% of other plans indicate you will do just fine covering 18-22 miles as your longest run, and 2) he wants you to walk/run or run/walk, when Chris and I are in agreement that we would like to just plain RUN. Well, JOG might be the better word, I guess.

I ended up choosing a method by Hal Higdon called Novice Supreme. This is a 12-week program designed to get you up to 6 miles followed by an 18-week marathon plan. I picked this for a few reasons. First, we coincidentally had about 30 weeks until the race when we signed up so it would fill the time perfectly. Second, while technically we may not be first-time marathoners, our running has been sporadic enough that I figured we would be safer training like beginners. Third, if we are being completely honest, we have only been running consistently again for about 2 months, and never much longer than 3 miles 3-4 times per week. We are just not really ready to jump whole hog into intense long-distance running.

Hal's plan has us running 4 days per week, with one extra day of walking or cross-training. There are no fancy workouts with weird names, just putting in the miles. Our longest run before the big day will be 20 miles. Another aspect of the program I like is that he builds mileage for a few weeks, and then backs it off again to give you a chance to "recover" slightly. I will be following this plan to the letter as much as possible, Chris probably less so--partly because of his work schedule (he may miss runs some days) and partly because he will most likely be able to succeed however he chooses to train. We both prefer it when we can run together so we are going to try for that as much as possible.

So here is what we did this week:

Tue. 4/3      1.63 miles in 15:44
Wed. 4/4     1.99 miles in 20:35 (Chris had to miss this one)
Thu. 4/5       1.52 miles in 16:01
Sat.  4/7       3.02 miles in 30:18
Sun. 4/8       1.63 miles in 34:54 (hike/walk on mountain)

Total miles    9.79

Aside from the "long run" on Saturday, these runs were all shorter than our usual, but hopefully this will keep us from falling into the deadly trap of TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) which has ended many a marathon dream. Slow and steady wins the race!

Thank you for reading and I'll catch you all next week!

Monday, April 2, 2012


Hi, and welcome to the blog. Over the next 30 weeks, I'll be writing about what happens when two 40-somethings (who both sometimes feel a bit "over the hill") take on their first marathon in over 10 years. I'll also be spreading the word about Fisher House, the organization for which we have decided to run. Some of you may already be familiar with this charity through Chris's book; we obviously feel it is a very worthy cause!

As I mentioned above, Chris and I both have previous marathon experience. He ran cross country in high school, and then four Marine Corps Marathons with his dad between 1990-93. His best time was in 1991 when he ran 3:57:10---not too shabby! If Chris completes this year's Marine Corps Marathon, he will be eligible to join the MCM Runners Club, which guarantees him entry to the race for life---we'll see how eager he is to take them up on that October 29th.

I only have one marathon under my belt. In March 2002, I ran the Inaugural Washington DC Marathon; I believe it was actually the inaugural and the final as it was cancelled the next two years and no longer exists (though there is now a spring Rock'n'Roll DC marathon in its place). I finished in 4:27:24, just beating my goal of a sub 4:30.

Since completing our marathons, our running has been sporadic at best. There was a 20k in '97, a sprint triathlon in 2004, countless 5k races---but something would always get in the way of consistency. Busy career, busy kids, illness, injury, weight gain, and even just plain old laziness all hindered our running at some point. And while starting up again always seems to feel easy for Chris, for me it is definitely a challenge. For whatever reason, I seem to be more prone to injuries and aches and pains; this may be due to a few extra pounds I'm carrying, or perhaps simply because my body is not really made for running, and I have to work a bit harder to condition it to do so.

Though I trained for and finished my previous marathon injury-free, I have had problems almost every time I have started running again in the decade since. Most, if not all of these issues have been with my lower legs (shin splints, muscle strains), culminating last July with a diagnosis of Tibial Stress Reaction in both shins-- a precursor to a stress fracture. I took a full 3 months off from running and have been going slow ever since. Chris's weak spot is definitely his knees; he is on his feet a lot and it has taken a toll. The good news is I am feeling much better, and Chris swears his knees are no big deal, so I think we are good to go, even if we are more tortoise than hare.

Why a marathon now? We both love running but felt we didn't do it nearly enough, and while we each had run a marathon, we hadn't done one together yet. The kids are old enough that we can get out of the house for a few hours a week to train. And I know I am better about working out when I have a definite goal in sight with a solid training plan to follow.

Why run for Fisher House? Oddly enough, we got the idea to run a marathon March 8. I checked out the MCM website to see when registration opened, and found to my astonishment that not only had it opened the day before but had already sold out in under three hours! Our only options at that point were to wait until next year, or run with a charity. When we saw Team Fisher House listed on the charity page, we knew it was meant to be as Chris had already designated FH as the recipient of proceeds from his book. We know they do a lot of good for military families, as well as having an exceptional 4-star ranking on Charity Navigator.

We signed up for the marathon that same night.

If you are still reading, thank you! Future entries should not be nearly so long and I will usually be posting once a week to just let you know how our training is going. We appreciate all of your support in this endeavor, and hopefully we can make you proud.