The streak ended at 5. It ended because of travel. Well, it ended because I wasn't strong enough to overcome the burden of travel. I awakened at 2am on Wednesday morning, went out for 2 miles, and hustled to the airport for a meeting in Connecticut. With little to eat during the day, I gorged myself at the airport with a hamburger, bleu cheese and bacon, then hopped back on a plane which landed around 11:50. My head hit the pillow at 1am, and the next morning wasn't an easy one.
So here we are. Day 1 again. I took our puppy around the lake for a walk / run this morning. It's best for everyone if he gets out. Puppies are great. They're best when they're someone else's. Our dog is a wonderful, cute puppy. But he's a puppy. He's full of energy and taunts our older dog with nips and bites and seemingly incessant energy. I say seemingly incessant because nothing cures that chaotic energy like a run. Today was over 3 miles, and we walked more than we ran, but it was exactly what he needed. We went out longer than he's ever gone before, which is a big accomplishment. His name is Apollo, and he has a rough time with loud bass noises. If there's a loud exhaust, or a deep bark, he cowers and freezes up. Today he did better than ever before. For the run out, he needed less cajoling and encouragement than other runs, which is encouraging for my running. It's tough to consider it a workout if I keep stopping to spur Apollo along. Many times, that "spurring" ends up being a tug on the leash. Half way out, he started crying. I wondered what it was all about and understood this to be a cry to be carried. Everyone around thought it was cute. Except me. This wasn't a "carry Apollo" trip, this was supposed to be a "run with Apollo" trip. The good news is he fell in line and ended up running the last mile consistently with me. The best news is he's been resting on the blanket ever since we arrived home.
If I can get him this tuckered out every day, then every day will be a good day.
I'll be running a 10K on April 2 with a friend. Not sure how well I'll do, and not going to try and win it. Between here and there, I'll be getting strong and making sure I'm consistent. I know what needs to be done. I just need to do it, and not overthink it.
My name didn't get selected to run the NYC Marathon this year, and neither did my brother's name. We decided we'll try Marine Corps, which opens up soon. Given how difficult it is to get in to MCM, we'll likely not get picked. The good news is my youngest brother also wants to run. If we don't get into MCM, I'll try and talk them into the Space Coast Marathon here in Florida at the end of November. All that said, I didn't overcome the challenge of travel last year so didn't run a marathon and fell WELL off my plan to be fit. That changes in 2016.
This coming week will be a challenge to that approach. I travel to Wisconsin tomorrow (Sunday night), then to Indianapolis, then New Jersey, then Chicago. And I'll make every run amazing!! The challenge will be to find cool runs everywhere I travel and share them here. Maybe that'll be the spark that prevents me from falling off the plan. Running in New Orleans was fun, and it was as much about getting out in New Orleans as it was the run itself. We'll see how it goes!
+1 The Reset
+3 New Orleans, Louisiana
There isn't much useful on Bourbon Street at 4:00 in the morning. Based on how things are going at work, I expect I'll be on the road more than I was in 2015 which is more than I was on the road in 2014. I'll document progress along the way for two reasons: (1) selfishly, it holds me accountable for what I say I'm going to do in some weird way; and (2) there's the remote possibility someone will read this and be inspired to overcome their own challenges and accomplish their own lifelong goal.
My challenge with running has been in maintaining consistency, and work travel is what threw me off last spring. Progress was made from Achilles recovery into training, but travel picked up considerably in the spring and it threw off my strength training. I realized this weekend my focus had always been on the goal, and not on the process. I tell people, "I'm not a runner, but I want to run Boston." That doesn't happen. People who aren't runners don't qualify for the Boston Marathon. So now I'm a runner. I've been a runner for 3 days. This morning I ran on Bourbon Street and tomorrow I'll run at home in Orlando, Florida.
This morning I ran while others staggered on the streets. I chased the garbage truck for part of the route, then stumbled across a silhouette of Jesus as the words "The only easy day was yesterday" played in my head. It's a beautiful morning. It's a beautiful day. The new week starts now.
+1 - Running for The Frog
Day 1 was rough. Next week is BattleFrog where I committed to bringing boys from my Sprint Team to run the 5 mile obstacle designed by former Navy SEALs. I'll be volunteering and watching the boys compete while I get my sorry ass back in shape and prepare to run a 10K in April and hopefully a marathon in the Fall. The Frog will be back in Central Florida in December, and I'll be prepared then.
Between here and there, the challenge is getting my ass on the road. I'm following the path paved by a fellow regular guy who kept a running streak alive for a long time. I can't remember how long - but it propelled him to Boston. Getting on the road regularly is easy for me compared to what it took to strength train. His plan was to run at least a mile every day, with marathon training obviously requiring far more than that. We've communicated via e-mail, and I haven't asked him this question, but I have to assume the consistency is what drove him to qualify for and run Boston. I've had my head wrapped around what it's going to take to first get strong, and that was a focus on the goal and not on the process.
Today was a steady 1.46 miles with the new puppy for part of the time, and just me and 20lb. vest for the rest of it. I'll also be running while I travel this month - which will create its own challenges. Tomorrow I'll be in New Orleans, then Wednesday I'll be in Connecticut. The following week I'll be in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Chicago. The following week I'll be back in Chicago. Here we go! Ready or not, here I come!
March 5th. Back at it, brothers and sisters. Starting today . . . getting the rituals back in line. Once again, I'm done working on the "before" photo. The goal remains the same, however I was taken off track over the past seven months. With a new role at work, managing a move of the family, and the regular craziness of life that serves as nothing more than yet another bullshit excuse, I've fallen off the rhythm I was establishing around establishing the right habits to create an amazing experience - or set of experiences.
It's easy to see how things fell off track with all the happenings. We have another dog, my daughter is now at a new school, and we've decided the best path for my son is to be home schooled. My oldest is continuing through college, making sure the experience lasts, and here we are seven months later without much to show for it in terms of AMAZING EXPERIENCES.
Blogs about goals and intentions are by definition a bit selfishly aligned, however anyone who knows me understands the intent behind writing all this down here is for two purposes; first, to further solidify what's important; and second to perhaps share challenges, failures and successes with others so they may learn from what I've done and perhaps add color to your own life experience. After all, our lives are different in the detail, but we're all living somewhat similar experiences. As kids, we all want to accomplish and experience great things. As kids, we felt if we work hard and make good decisions, everything will work well and great things will happen. For the most part, that's true - however challenges arise along the way. As a result, most of us aren't doing what it takes. I'm a great example. Why is that? Where does it all start? Let's start with what's most important. If we can agree our families are the most important thing to us in our lives, and we can agree it's important for us to be healthy in order to be on earth longer to create more experiences with our families, and we can agree if we're in our best shape we can bring create the best experiences for our children and spouses to remember for a lifetime, then why isn't fitness a priority?
In the past, the food we ate was natural and day-to-day survival required physical activity. Now with food being processed and most jobs requiring us to sit most of the day, health doesn't just "happen." In fact the opposite happens, and many of us live a life of slow death.
One of the problems in American culture today is the devices and society have created bad habits; habits where we either think without doing, or do without thinking. Why is that? I think it boils down to rituals and routines - or habits. The first step is an awareness of the habits we have. EVERYTHING we do is the result of a habit, since we're not creatures of discipline. Those regular routines in the past involved something physical with healthy food to fuel bodies. Today, we need to be more intentional about it or risk a daily march toward death without bringing our best energy.
The word for the year is STRENGTH - with a focus on PHYSICAL strength, MENTAL STRENGTH, EMOTIONAL STRENGTH and SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. What are the GOOD habits to want retain that create strength, and what are the BAD habits to replace? My good habit is I wake up early every day. Sometimes 4am, sometimes 5am. But early. My bad habit is lately (like for 6 months) not engaging in PHYSICAL ACTIVITY in the morning. I'm AWARE when the day starts with something PHYSICAL in the morning, the rest of the day, week, month, quarter, year, life is STRONG. If the day DOESN'T START with something physical, it likely won't happen and as a result the daily experiences aren't as good as they could be. Therefore, a CORNERSTONE RITUAL to create a LIFE OF PURPOSE is to start every day STRONG and FAST with something physical. So let's start there, with the long term goal to run a marathon in 2016 (my name is in the hat for the NYC Marathon).
Another goal for the year is to get Just Keep Pouring established as a profitable program assisting parents in setting and achieving goals with their kids. A key to credibility will be to write a book focused on the program, and regular writing adds to MENTAL strength. To that end, writing 750 words a day will create CONTENT and the ritual of writing leveraging http://www.750words.com. I've played with 750 words, and like how it provides a simple framework for success around writing consistently. We'll start . . . now.
Emotional strength is important for being fully engaged. As a regular listener of Tim Ferriss' podcast, I've learned many high achievers (nearly all he interviews) have established a ritual of meditation to achieve balance. Between exercise and writing, a MEDITATION practice will tee things up mentally.
Spiritual strength is also a key factor to success and bringing your best energy to every event. To that end, every morning it'll help to write the mission for the day, week, month and year, giving time to reflect and ensure what is done every day aligns to the deeper purpose and deeper mission.
And now it's 2:50pm on Saturday - and no more procrastination (the WORST habit I have). Time to get strong.
THIRD QUARTER - New Beginnings
The month of June came and went. Overall it was a good month. I finally received my Jeep, which has been "in process" since November. It will be an ongoing project, but it's good to finally have it. I'm excited because I can take it to the gym, to the trail, or fishing and not worry about making a mess. It's waterproofed inside, so it just needs to be hosed out.
The career has gone well with a new role, and significant momentum. That role has required more travel, and that travel and the effort required to establish momentum has impeded progress in other areas. Like fitness . . .
Overall, life got in the way. The Achilles remains an issue, but gets better when I work on it (surprise, surprise). The lack of focus resulted in a step back with fitness. The meal planning has been unplanned, and there hasn't been much movement.
Sooooo . . . where does that put us? I've made the decision to NOT train for the Space Coast Marathon. My legs need to be in better shape. I WILL be entering the Battelfrog in November to see if I can improve upon my 3rd place finish in my age group. It'll be more competitive because they're combining the 5K and 10K races into a single 8K, but I have five months to train.
But first, this Achilles needs to get fixed. The month of July will have a focus on strength and mobility. Once again, back to rehab. This time it'll be self-motivated. Unfortunately, days are slammed with work and I don't have time to see the doc, so this time the rehab will be self-motivated.
So tomorrow, it all begins again. Meal plan and movement. Every single day! Back at it, boys and girls. Back at it.
Achilles Recovery, Round 3
The month of May has not been kind, and it started with the month of April. Yesterday I took a trip back to my PT team at Stride Physical Therapy here in Orlando, and learned what I kind of knew. I have mobility issues in my lower body. There's a good chance those mobility issues are impairing how my body is functioning, and likely giving me the issues I've had with my lower body.
The trip to Stride was the result of a sharp pain in my Achilles I've had for the past couple weeks that's kept me off the road. I know enough to stay away from impact, but that I need to keep moving. After my trip to Stride, I learned I had a credit at Sports Authority, so bought the weighted vest you see pictured here. The idea is to stay low impact, but push myself with the vest. The reality is I was able to run with a limited stride - short steps.
The call back from Stride told me I needed to revisit the doc to update my prescription. I'm not sure when that'll happen since the travel schedule and working hours limit my ability to do much during daylight. I've learned quite a bit, so the challenge will be to apply what I've learned to keep myself moving and fit without making this Achilles any worse. We have a marathon to run in November, and cannot miss a beat.
Lessons from Injury
The photo is courtesy of my friends at HTFU. They make good stuff with good messages.
Over the weekend I promised to give an update on my progress against April goals, and I missed my self-imposed deadline. I'm doing it now, so shut up.
I was rather aggressive in April with optimism fueled by recent successes. While March and early April saw unexpected success, May began with reality spitting in my face. My business trip to Vegas took me off my strength-training routine. The time on my feet tightened things up, and when I did return to the gym, we took it easy on the lower body because I kept up with my running (but not my sleep). The result . . . an Achilles that went from tight to being painful. After my run Saturday, I spent Sunday limping around the house. Things improved a bit today, but it's still not in great shape.
So the lesson I learned . . . I CANNOT let my lower body strength training slip. I need to continue working on mobility, and I need to build strength training throughout my day. I've developed some great habits, routines and rituals over the past few months, but I have not followed through to maintain strength training while on the road.
Back to April's goals . . . I set aggressive goals to (1) finish a 5K averaging 6:55/mile; (2) get my 6-pack; (3) do 100 push ups; and (4) do 20 pull ups. I was 0 for 4. The results aren't surprising because there wasn't adequate focus on each of those four.
So what about May? Limping into the month, averaging a 6:55 mile over 5K is too aggressive. If I can hit 7:20 per mile, that'd be a big accomplishment. How I finished the Wounded Warrior averaging 7:33 per mile, I do not know. The strength goals I'll keep, and add a couple:
So, here we go! On the road, and dedicated to keeping up with mobility / strength. The big question . . . do I run tomorrow? We'll see how the leg feels.
On the Road and Back
Another busy week, starting with a business trip and ending with an Orlando City soccer game.
The trip to New York was productive for work, and I was able to get in a run on a beautiful Tuesday morning. I woke up a bit later than expected since I didn't get to sleep until midnight, but the timing was perfect for some great scenery.
My hotel was in the Financial District, not far from Battery Park which is where I started my run heading east to the East River. The walk turned north along the FDR toward the Brooklyn Bridge. My thoughts when in New York were less flashbacks of my experiences while I lived and worked there after college, and more an effort. I guess that means a lot has happened since I was putting in 100 hour weeks and reading about what I did the next day in the Wall Street Journal. Let me be clear. The articles didn't mention me at all since I was a mere legal assistant at one of New York's large corporate law firms. Those articles were coverage of whatever deal I was working, and validation that what I was doing was important. To someone. It was important to me too, but not so much for the sake of the deal as what that role would be as a foundation for all else that was ahead.
After approaching the Brooklyn Bridge I turned east. Because I got a late jump, I was concerned with the time left to get ready for our meeting. I crossed north of Chinatown then headed south. The run itself was good with the exception of the nagging, slight tightness in my right Achilles left over from the 5K I ran a few days earlier. It loosened up after about a mile, which it usually does when it's tight and a bit sore. The air was crisp and cool, the blue sky accented by an occasional puff of clouds colored by the sunrise to give it character.
At some point I turned south and remembered the last time I was in the City. We celebrated my mother-in-law's 70th birthday that weekend in Brooklyn. Being a weekend trip with family in Brooklyn, we didn't have a lot of time to go explore Manhattan. My son and I had a flight leaving out of Hartford late Sunday afternoon, so we decided to take a whirlwind tour of New York City. We valeted the rental car on the far southern part of Manhattan, walked to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty from afar, took the subway to Grand Central Station, walked to see where I used to work across the street from Grand Central and the Chrysler Building, took a cab back to the Financial District to see the Freedom Tower, walked on Wall Street to see Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange, then scurried back to the car in time to make the drive all the way back to Hartford in time for our flight with 15 minutes to spare.
As I turned onto Wall Street darkened by the shade thrown by tall buildings, I remembered a picture of Jacob standing in front of the statue of George Washington at Federal Hall with a hand on each hip and his chest puffed out, Washington looking over him from behind. I turned south in front of the New York Stock Exchange, barricaded to traffic. There weren't many people walking, but there were some and they all walked with a sense of purpose. I ran by them all, and made it to the hotel in time to get ready for my own meeting.
The rest of the week was marked by lack of sleep, and my Achilles taking a long while to warm up in the morning. I went to the gym for a light workout on Wednesday, took Thursday off and ran Friday and yesterday. Yesterday's run was a crisp, clear day in Florida where I ran five 4:00 sessions at 5K pace with 2:00 walk / run breaks in between on the West Orange Trail from Winter Garden. As with earlier in the week, it took the right leg a while to warm up, but it did. For the first time in a long time, I felt strong and loose. The run went well, and I learned I have more in the tank. I also learned I still haven't figured out this whole "pacing" thing. Once again, I went out a bit too hard for the pace I'm trying to keep.
That brings us to right now, and the new / old problem. After the run I started having a tough time. The Achilles started tightening up. Last night I went to an Orlando City Soccer Club game with my daughter and her friend, and I wore compression socks and a Tiger Balm patch. I went to bed, and woke up having to do the Old Man Shuffle. Usually I only have to do that for a few minutes, but today it's not getting loose. So . . . we're back to having a problem with the Achilles. I'll figure out what to do with it, but I need to get this fixed. Looking back, I'm thinking I took the eye off the ball for too long on the strength side. I haven't focused on calves in a few weeks with all the craziness at work. I'm wondering who to ask. I don't want to go see a doc. And my chiro will likely throw Graston on it. Maybe I'll go see my PT guy again. Back in December, I promised to show him my new Jeep after I picked it up, and I'm finally due to pick it up next week. Maybe that's a sign. There's a reason my Jeep rebuild project is three months late.
Back At It
Ugh. Note to self . . . there is no such thing as taking a "week off" physically unless you're dead. As long as you're breathing your body is working. May as well push yourself a little harder for 20 minutes.
First day back to the gym after a week out of town, and it wasn't pretty. At all. The good news? Everything between now and bedtime is easier than what I just did. NEXT!
This afternoon I leave for New York City where I'll take my running "on the road". Then I'll be home for another workout in the gym on Wednesday, then working out Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's the end of April, so I'll revisit the goals I set and see how I did. Then it's time to set goals for May!
The week began in Tallahassee where I visited my son at Florida State, taking in a doubleheader against Pitt on Saturday, and logging good runs on Saturday and Sunday. After Tallahassee, I hit the road for work and spent most of the rest of the week in Las Vegas where I logged zero miles. I had the best intention to run at Red Rock Canyon, but once in Vegas realized getting there around scheduled meetings would be impossible. The lure of "running on the Strip" didn't do it for me, and I wasn't able to find the motivation to get out the door. Combining a packed schedule of meetings and work-related meals with very little sleep, and the week itself was a marathon.
On the good side, taking a few days off seems to have calmed the noise coming from my right hip. There isn't much pain during normal day-to-day movement. Unfortunately, my right Achilles is acting up again. I've been doing the "Little Old Man Shuffle" when I awaken until it warms up enough to walk regularly. Walking down stairs is another challenge.
What set it all off was The Run for the Trees 5K yesterday. After a week on the road with little sleep and zero miles logged, I didn't have high expectations. My first goal (set soon after finishing 3rd in my age group at 7:33/mile in my last 5K) was to run faster than 7:00 per mile. Aggressive. But over the past couple races, I EXCEEDED my expectations, so I felt bold enough to aim high this time. Given the results of recent workouts, and tightness in my hips and my right Achilles during those workouts, I figured that would be a stretch. My backup goal was to run faster than I did my last race, which a 7:33 per mile pace. My third level goal was to at least beat 24:00.
Beating 24 is deeper than just beating the clock. Beating 24 also means winning against my strongest competitor - the younger me. My number when I played football in high school was 24. It's how I defined myself as an athlete. "I am 24" is what goes through your mind. It would be more appropriate to say, "I was 24." I've always viewed myself as an athlete, but I didn't do anything truly athletic for several years. More time was spent sitting on my ass at a desk than pushing my body to see what it can do. While that has changed over the past couple years, I'm still chasing 24. I'm still learning how I can push my body and train my systems to work efficiently to cover more ground quicker and quicker, and do it without causing injury. And doing it while accomplishing more and more professionally and at home.
I arrived at the Run for the Trees 5K in Winter Park, Florida around 7:00 for a 7:30 start. I ran this race once before in 2008 with my son when he was 7 (which means we walked more than we ran). I had fond memories and hopes that he'd be with me. That didn't happen this time. I ran it solo.
The starter announced that over 1,500 people signed up this year. I stood in a packed crowd about 30 yards from the start line when the horn sounded. For much of the first mile, I used a lot of energy zig zagging around slower runners - something I avoided last race by starting at the very front of the pack. This route had something you don't see often in Florida. Hills. Not REAL hills, but inclines. The route is a point-to-point with spots where you do go up. The race was smooth, but there wasn't a sense of strength I had last race.
The route meandered through Winter Park with the occasional resident sitting in their driveway on a lawn chair sipping coffee and waving. The last quarter mile is a wooded stretch on Genius Drive, an unpaved, sandy road usually closed to the public. The signature element of this stretch are the peacocks you don't notice at first. In fact, I didn't notice them until I heard one squawk loudly overhead, then saw another one cross the path. At that stage, I was more focused on my breathing, form and pace to notice much around me.
The final stretch is a cobblestone private drive lined with multi-million dollar mansions. By this time, I was BEAT, but found enough in the tank for a final push to the end. I ended up running 24:03. So while I did beat 8:00 per mile, I didn't beat 24 today. I pushed with what I had, and am confident I did what I could with what I had. The bright spot today was a comment after the finish. With about a quarter mile to go, I passed a girl wearing a Boulder Ironman tank top and matching visor, pushing herself hard on the sandy trail. At the finish line she caught up to me and said, "When you passed me, you reminded me I need to focus on my form. You have great form." So I have that. And that's a good thing since I've been focusing on putting things together the right way. And that includes form. That alone wasn't enough today, and it never will be, but hopefully it'll get me where I need to go in the long term.
The week ahead will be focused on getting the Achilles straight, strengthening the core (with a focus on hip mobility), and balancing another week where I'll be traveling for work. NYC, here I come!
Run On, Sentences follows the path of the author as he evolves from a lackluster inaugural marathon time to pursue a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Along the way, he'll deal with the challenges of a short attention span, growing older and the chaotic calendar of a husband, father, corporate executive, and active member of the community.