Monday, October 30, 2006

Run To Remember: Update #2

It is said that it is far better to give than to receive. I generally tend to agree with this biblically-based colloquialism. However within the context of my Run to Remember fundraiser I must object.

When I set off on my marathon training in early July I also set off on a journey to raise money to honor the memory of my grandmother who passed away due to complications related to Alzheimer's Disease.

The first step in this journey was the most difficult for me. When I sat down to relive my memories of Grandma Connelly and commit them to paper I was rather surprised by the grief I felt, even two years after her passing.

Four months have passed and I’ve run more miles then I care to count, but, I have also enjoyed the support, kindness and generosity of family, friends, colleagues, bloggers and strangers alike - more so than I ever anticipated.

I am absolutely thrilled to report that I have not only achieved my goal of raising $100 for every mile of the marathon ($2,620.00), I have crushed it! To date, I have raised $3,384.80 $3,534.80 (Update: 11/17/2006) to benifit the Alzheimer's Association.

I would like extend my genuine and heartfelt thanks to the following individuals for their tremendous support:

Alan Stiles
Alan Wagman
Alfred Payton
Anne Crawford
Cabe and Melissa Morphew
Craig Adams
Carolyn Whipple
Dan and Lori Durbin
David and Amanda Moncur
Erica Cornwall
Gary Connelly
Greg and Erin Stadnik
Harold and Mary Baldridge
Henry Watkins and Sharon Kossoff
James Sherman
Janine Leveque
Jared and LuAnn Mestre
Joe Brady
Jung Lee
Kaitlin Keaveney
Kate Sunbury
Lisa Richard
Mark MacLeod
Megan McConagha
Michael Laskoff
Mike Heffron
Neil Rhodes
Paul Mitchell
Rich and Pam Morphew
Richie Yap
Sandy Haberman
Sharon Sutton
Susan Newton
Suzanne Hughes
Thom and Judy Christopher
Wendy Davidson
William Beckler
William Hennesey
Yasmin Marinaro
Yvonne Damm

The New York City Marathon is just days away and now it is my turn to contribute. I shall give every bit of strength, will and heart I can possibly muster. Along with me will be your generosity and the memory of Grandma Connelly.

Thank you.

"For it is in giving that we receive."
-Saint Francis of Assisi

Eight is Great

Yesterday was my final "long" run. I ran 8 miles down a hilly back-country road. It was windy, cold and, at times, sleeting.

Four months ago 8 miles would have seemed a reasonably long run. Now it seems sort of ridiculous calling an 8 miler a "long" run. Hmmm, I guess everything is relative.

This week brings a couple of 3 and 4 milers and then the New York City Marathon. I am nervous, excited, hyper-aware of every ache, pain, sneeze and sniffle. My hip and knee are still sore but I am doing my stretches and exercises. I've also gotten a new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus - identical to my two prior pair - and have begun breaking them in. The weather report looks cool and dry.

All that's left to do is to stay healthy and wait.... My fingernails are in for a difficult week.

"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble."
-Titus Maccius Plautus

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Rub Down

First, let me just say that orthopedic massage is not the same thing as Swedish or other more gentle touch massage techniques. Not even close. It’s a fallacy even calling it massage. Sure, there was dim lighting and soothing Zen-like music but there were no hot rocks, aromatic oils or gentle bodywork. This was the teeth clenched, white-knuckled, breathe-through-the-pain, work out the knoted muscles kind of massage.

This massage along with three days off from running and I still have that funk in my left hip and left knee. It isn’t debilitating but it is tender and sore, and well, worrisome. My masseuse discovered that my ilio tibio band is tight while the muscles of my inner thigh are loose and weak. This imbalance may torque out my left leg which may be causing the discomfort. I’ve got some stretches, foam roller exercises, and yes, some Suzanne Summers Thigh Master type exercises to do.

Admittedly it was nice to get a massage and my legs are probably the better for it. My hamstrings, quadriceps, and calve muscles are looser. Please keep the “tight ass” jokes to yourself, but, my glutes were tight too.

Now, I am off to a "secret location" for three days of New England leaf peeping (pictures to come), R&R and some easy trail runs.

UPDATE (10/30/2006): I am remiss for not linking to my masseuse. Despite all my complaining, Anne Taylor of New York Orthopedic Massage did a very nice job. She's thorough and professional and I'd recommend her if your considering an orthopedic massage.

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
-Chinese Proverb

Friday, October 20, 2006

Say it ain't so!

Ahhh, the longest of the long runs are behind me. The grueling weeks of high mileage have past and over four months of focused conditioning will soon be put to the test.

I've run in exceptional heat and humidity. I've run in the cold. I've run in the rain. I've run so early in the morning the dog won't even get up with me. I have run late at night when most rational people are sound asleep. I have run past farms at the exact epicenter of nowhere and I have run through the very heart of the media, finance and cultural capitol of the world.

I've eaten veritable mountains of salad and ginourmous plates of enriched wholewheat pasta. I was surprised at myself by how annoyed I was with the spinach / e coli outbreak. I want my spinach salad!

I've gone so far as to deprive myself of beer, wine and cocktails. Even my beloved Bombay Sapphire & tonic has been banished from my glass these past six weeks (okay, okay, okay... I did have one small glass of Bordeaux on my Anniversary but that was a special occasion).

Now, as I ease into the next two weeks of taper I can rest assured that I have done the work. But wait... What's this tender soreness I am feeling in my left hip and knee? Drat! It cannot be!

I am no doctor but based on location of the pain and a little research I think I my have done something to the adductor muscle group in my left hip / groin which may also be causing the tenderness in my knee.

I've read that this can be caused by inadequate arch support in shoes which causes the ankle, knee and subsequently the hip to pronate and thus become misaligned.

I shall give my self a couple of days off and I have scheduled an appointment for an orthopedic massage. I will also retire my neutral Asics Gel-Nimbus shoes which have approximately 400 miles on them and use my secondary pair which have about 200 miles on them.

Question for the blogoshere:
  1. Do I have time to get a new pair of shoes and break them in in time for the marathon?
  2. Has anyone had a similar experience and have sage advice to share?

"Do not consider painful what is good for you."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mocha Frappuccino

One February day in 1999, I had a fateful incident with an exploding Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino and a beautiful woman. That currious moment would forever change my life.

Three years ago today that beautiful woman became my wife.

I am a very lucky man.

"Love is something eternal— the aspect may change, but not the essence."

-Vincent van Gogh

Friday, October 13, 2006

Conquering What's Next

As Marathon Sunday draws nearer I find myself filled with mixed emotion. I'm excited by the prospect of running through the streets of New York with 2 million spectators cheering me on. I am also keyed up about the prospect of achieving a significant personal record. I feel pride in all the miles of training I have put in over the past 3 months but I'm also a little nervous about the payoff.

I am grateful to my wife for pushing me out the door on those days I'd rather stay in bed, for her awesome homemade penne alla vodka and her killer angel hair with fresh pesto before those long runs. And I am especially grateful for her being so understanding of my stubborn and time consuming commitment.

I am humbled by the generosity so many have shown in their support of my fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association in my grandmother's honor. I am inspired, encouraged and challenged by the words and actions of my teammates, by this blogging community of runners and by the broader world of running.

Interestingly enough, I am feeling a sense of “what now,” or perhaps more aptly put “what’s next.” The marathon is almost here and I still feel as though I have improvements to make, fitness to achieve and goals to set and conquer.

Maybe I should see how I feel tomorrow after my last long run of 22 miles before setting off for Everest.

UPDATE (10/15/2006): Ouch. I am having difficulty climbing stairs. Everest will have to wait... For now.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tune Up

Who thought it would be possible to pull a 900° turn while airborne on a skateboard? Tony Hawk did.

When Pete Sampras exploded at the US Open in 1990 with his 120+ mile per hour serve the tennis world was stunned. In 2004 Andy Roddick served a 153 mph serve at a match in London.

On May 5th, 1954 there were those who believed it impossible to run one mile in four minutes. Roger Bannister proved them wrong on May 6th with a time of 3:59.4. Just six weeks later John Landy ran a mile in 3:58.0. Today the record for the mile is 3:43.13 and is held by Hicham El Guerrouj.

Years ago I was a heavy smoker and was 40 pounds heavier than I am today. My first runs (if you can call them that) consisted of two to three city blocks worth of huffing and puffing followed by 20 minutes of walking.

Sport provides constant challenge and we’ve invented various ways to measure progress - whether it’s rotations while airborne, speed on a serve or how fast we can run a given distance.

Running, in my opinion, provides the most pure form of challenge. Half pipes have gotten bigger and skate boards stronger. Tennis racquets have gotten lighter and more rigid. While the manufacturing, material and arch support of running shoes have improved the basic challenge of running has remained the same. Runners compete against themselves, time and distance.

On Sunday, I ran the New York City Marathon Tune Up, an 18 mile “preparation” race in Central Park. The race was by most all measures a success. I arrived early. The weather was delightful. I ran even splits and ran them faster than my intended marathon pace. At mile 17 Morrissey passed by me and I had enough juice to stay in contact with him and then slip by in a finishing kick. Thanks for the inspiration Morrissey!

When I ran this race in 2004 I finished in 2:51:59 – a pace of 9:33/mile.

The following year I ran it in 2:37:29 – a pace of 8:44/mile.

On Sunday I finished in 2:16:35 a pace of 7:33/mile.

On paper these are huge improvements. I should be thrilled. I should be delighted. I should feel confident about the forthcoming marathon…But my elation is tempered by the competitor in me. I’ve already got my eye on a sub-7 minute pace.

Who knows what the future may hold for me but sport in general will continue to amaze as athletes continue to press the boundaries of what is possible.

"It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off."
-Woody Allen

Thursday, October 05, 2006


As you can plainly see, I've updated the look and feel of my blog.

Well? What do you think?

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
-Sir Winston Churchill

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Retired Marathon Runner

My commute into work each day generally takes about 40 minutes, door-to-door. On my way in I typically read the paper, a book or listen to podcasts (every now and again I nod off and dream of the beaches of St. Martin).

Among my favorite podcasts are the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the Slate Daily Podcast, and the Onion Radio News.

Fairly recently the Onion ran a story about a retired marathon runner which I found very funny and would like to share with you. If you are not familiar with The Onion it is a tongue-in-cheek satire news source.

You should be able to hear the podcast by clicking here. If you have trouble with this link you can also find the podcast here.

UPDATE (10/5/06): I should note that the podcast is all of :30 in length.
"I'll publish right or wrong. Fools are my theme, let satire be my song."
-Lord Byron

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Grete's Great Gallop

Things got off to a fairly decent start today. The alarm went off. I made coffee. I took Harry for a walk. I drank the coffee. I finally woke up.

I gathered my things and headed out of the house for the Norwegian Festival Half Marathon in Central Park with plenty of time to stretch out and warm up but the subway line I need to take into Manhattan refused to leave the station.

After some time, fellow runner and Hellgater, Alan, stepped into the same subway car and we passed the time chatting about running. Unfortunately the MTA had chewed into our warm up time and we were now a bit rushed. Compounding the issue was a light rain and the faulty instructions I had to the race start which put us about 10 blocks north of where we needed to be. Sorry about that Alan!

The light drizzle turned to a outright downpour and as I dropped my belongings at the baggage check the air horn sounded - marking the start of the race. Drat.

Rather than wrestle with the thousands of people inching their way through the starting chute, Alan and I decided to wait a couple of extra minutes to get a clean - if late - start. I also took the opportunity to use the Port-a-John. Hey, the race had already started so there were no lines... Carpe Diem!

Alan got out in front of me and I spent the next few miles zigging and zagging around the back of the packers chasing him down. Somewhere around the hills at Harlem Meer I caught Alan and then slipped by.

The next few miles went well but I began to fatigue as the course made it's second loop around the north end of the park. At mile 10 I said to myself "Self, you've just got a 5k to go. Stay strong." I listened to my own suggestion pressing on the flats, kicking up the hills and motoring down them. With about a mile to go I began to push hard to the finish and sprinted the last 400 meters.

At first I was a little disappointed in my final time of 1:37:05 but given the poor start, constant rain and hilly course I should be pleased with this race. But there's always that voice in the back of my head saying you should have prepared better, run faster and kicked sooner...

Here's a photo of me after the race debating with that voice.
"You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head."
-Matt Groening