Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best Running Month Ever

January is over now and with it my best running month. I did not run a race this month but aside from that, this month has truly been top-notch on all levels.

I set a record high for mileage in a month with 222.

I had a 20-mile run that was my best training run ever.

I ran every day this month.

I am constantly encouraged by how strong my legs feel.

I ran long runs of 18, 12, 20 and 12 this month. The fewest I ran was a 1.24 on Jan. 14. I had an all-day commitment to tend to but got up at 4:30 a.m. and ran a mile and change. I averaged a bit higher than that - 7.16 miles a day.

About the only problem I have is my Achilles heel is acting up again. I hope that once I finish refereeing high school soccer games that my heel can heal.

February maybe won't bring 222 miles. However, I will run two half marathons and a 22-mile run in February so I will give 200 miles a run for its money.

Monday, January 30, 2012

One Half, Two Half

When talking about multiple half marathons, you can either say "half marathons" or "halfs." I think. Well, you wouldn't say "halves" because that just doesn't sound right. But then again, "halfs" is grammatically incorrect so I generally avoid my references to those races in just one word.

Anyway, there's a point to this. I didn't just wake up and decide to start spewing gibberish on this blog.

When the year started... scratch that... when last week started, I had not intended on running a race until the LA Marathon. But in the span of about five days I decided to run a pair of half marathons.

On Sunday, I'm returning to where it all started for me - Surf City. I'm going to participate in the Surf City Half Marathon. Instead of running the full marathon as I did the last two years, I'm going to run the half. I wasn't going to run it at all but had planned on being out there to help celebrate with my fellow Lopers. But a fellow runner on Sunday told me she had a friend who was looking to sell her bib and 65 bucks later, I'm in. I'll have to run as a female but that's fine. Won't be the first time.

That will be a fun day, and I'm sure I'll dedicate a post to what I hope to accomplish from that race, but it won't be the only race I have coming up. On Feb. 12, the following Sunday, I'm going to run the Palm Springs Half Marathon. I'd actually decided on running this before I jumped at the chance to run Surf City. One of the runners in my pace group is running Surf City full on Sunday - his first marathon (!!!) - and is running the Palm Springs half the following weekend, so I decided to run Palm Springs with him. I wasn't going to gun for a PR or anything in that race, mostly just wanted to run a race and run it with him.

I'm not quite sure yet what my race calendar will look like but this could be the year of the long-distance races. Along with the Run Through Redlands (which I'm planning on running) and the Fontana Days Half Marathon (registered) I could run four half marathons (as opposed to four halfs/halves) by June 2 of this year. Add to that the two marathons I'm running (LA, San Francisco), the other two I am eyeing (OC, Long Beach) and my calendar could get lengthy really quick.

But that's fine. I'm not complaining. On the contrary, I embrace the challenge and the multiple races, even if they don't really have a straightforward way of making them plural.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TTT: A Full, Heel Sans Heal, No Surf

1. So how many marathons do I want to run this year? I'm registered for two marathons - LA and San Francisco (okay, not registered for the latter but as Ambassador I will be running the full). I am keeping an eye on other marathons but I wanted to wait until after LA to decide on another Spring full, and then had thought about doing the same for a Fall full with SF. Well, after Sunday's awesome 20-miler, I may re-think that thinking. I might be strong enough to run more marathons than I had originally thought. I suppose physically I am but mentally I think is where I needed to make sure I was in tip-top shape before deciding. Anyway, the Long Beach Marathon opened for registration on Wednesday and the price right now is $80 for the full and $60 for the half. I am tempted as all heck to sign up for the full. I'm going to have to seriously ponder this. The downfall to this would be having to run straight through the summer, run after SF and not take a break, but who am I kidding, I don't anticipate taking a break for anything. I may go for it, and worse comes to worse I can just run the half.

2. My heel is hurting. Ouch. My stupid shoes that I use to referee high school soccer games in have done damage to my Achilles heel. It's tender and forces me to limp. I hate it. I bought some new shoes in hopes that they will be more forgiving on the heel. I am hoping that does the trick.

3. Bummed about Surf City? I ran Surf City Marathon in each of the last two years but am not running it this year, neither the half nor the full. I am a little bit bummed about it to be honest. It seems as long as I've been running I've been focusing on this race, at least when I've been running through the winters. I'm going to be out there for the race because three of the runners from my pace group are doing the full and others are doing the half but it will be strange to not be running it. I know what will happen, though. Right now and in the days to come I will be bummed about it but when I'm out there seeing all the full marathoners slogging into the finish, I will say "I'm sure glad I did not run it this year."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Top 20 Miler

It's been a couple of days but the glow of Sunday's 20-miler has not worn off. Not only did I prove to myself how good of shape I am in but I also showed myself what some preparation, focus and determination can lead to.

Now, when I was done with the run I called it the best training run I've ever had. And I mean it. I've had some really good training runs, runs that left me surprised with what I'd accomplished or wondering where I got some strength/speed from but this one topped them all.

Not only did I finish in a good time but I also, for the first time, was not completely wiped out at the end of the run. I really feel like I could have gone a few more miles. Who knows, maybe I had 26.2 miles in me that day.

What I do know is that it's just another sign of my progression as a runner. 20 miles is a distance I've only run five times prior (I've done a pair of 22-mile runs but I'm leaving those out for now). If you compare Sunday's run to them... well, there really is little comparison.

12/20/09 -  20 miles, 3:44:00 - 11:11 pace

This was my first-ever 20-mile run. It's my slowest time, which is to be expected. My goal here was exactly as it should have been - to finish. I finished. I was proud of myself and I slept for hours afterward.

6/20/10 - 20.00 - 3:38:99 - 10:54

This one was rough.  First, I ran all 20 miles alone. And when I say alone, I mean alone - nobody with me, down a desolate and lonely road all the way for 10 miles and then turn around and run 10 miles back with nothing to see. I foolishly did not have my Garmin with me so that threw me off. I felt so bad after this one physically that, combined with the mental anguish I felt, that I shed some tears afterward. No way I could have run another step.

1/02/11 - 20.11 - 3:29:32 - 10:25

My first run of 2011 was a 20-miler, so to add some spice to it I decided to make it a 20.11 mile run. Ha. I felt good afterward. I was in the midst of training for Surf City and had logged a lot of miles, making the experience better for me.

1/16/11 - 20.01 - 3:31:12 - 10:33

Instead of running 22 miles as my final pre-marathon run, I decided to run 20. I figured it was about the same. My group was supposed to have run 14 that day so I ran six alone beforehand, then ran with the group for the final 14. It was hard and I faded the last 3-4 miles.

3/20/11 - 20.05 - 3:41:39 - 11:03 pace

This was possibly the toughest of them all. More so than just physically, mentally I was spent well before this run even started. I'd just run Surf City and now was training for Diamond Valley Lake and my mind wasn't all the way into it. I decided to just run for the heck of it and set out on a as-long-as-I-get-20-miles-done-I'm-happy run. I ran 10 miles on the track at the high school and finished less than three minutes faster than my first-ever 20-miler.

1/22/11 - 20.06 - 3:15:56 - 9:46 pace

In all the previous runs, I couldn't have kept going afterward. I mean, if my life depended on it, I could have, but that's about it. But in my last 20-miler I felt great and I most definitely could have kept running. I chewed up the mileage without really worrying about what distance I was, what my pace was, how fast I'd run the last mile in... I ran with my phone/running app of course but didn't pay a whole lot of attention to what the statistics said. I knew at times I was running faster than I should have and I knew at others that I was running a bit slower than I'd been but I always felt strong, always felt like my legs had plenty left to give. At the end, I ran fast and finished my last mile in 8:15. That's pretty fast considering I'd run 19 miles already. Also, the time is in my favor for the last run. I beat my previous best time by almost a full 15 minutes.

So.... the question is this... will this mean that I will have a great LA Marathon? Well, I don't want to go there yet. I have to keep my focus on what's coming up, and that race is not quite coming up just yet. My next big test will be the 22-mile run, our last long training run before we hit LA. That's on Feb. 26. But there are many, many runs before then so I will not allow myself to ponder that just yet.

For now, I will take this 20-mile run as a reminder that I am in top shape and that if I want to stay there I have to keep working hard.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Best Shape Ever? Oh Yeah

Remember my post on Thursday, about me being in the best shape of my life?

Well, Sunday was the test of that belief. 20 miles on the schedule... that will test anyone's mettle.

If that run was a test, then I passed. With a solid A, if not an A-plus.

20.06 miles in 3:15:56 for an overall pace of 9:46.

It was an unbelievable run. It really was. I felt so strong throughout the run. I never felt that familiar muscle-tightening, cramp-inducing, brain-killing ache that just seems to drape over you during these really long runs. It was more like I had a bounce in my step throughout and no matter what distance I was at, I felt strong. I felt great at Mile 5, felt superb at Mile 10, felt splendid at Mile 15 and felt ridiculously strong at Mile 18.

I wound up running most of the run with one other runner (within a group of six). Two of the guys took off ahead at about Mile 13, and about Mile 18 my running partner and I took off. She felt strong, so did I and we went for it. Mile 19 we ran in 9:16 - our fastest mile since Mile 19 - and Mile 20 was our fastest mile at 8:15. I wasn't gassed at the finish either. It was encouraging knowing that I could have run more and been fine. My legs really responded in a big way and I never felt mentally out of it. I didn't look at my phone much to see what distance I was at, although I knew from the course, but I was always surprised when I looked at the distance because it just didn't feel like we'd run that far already, whether it was at 4.7 miles, 10.03, 13.27 or 16.24.

The best part about the run though was helping my fellow runners get to 20. My running partner felt a twinge in her leg at about Mile 12 but she powered through it, took a Motrin at one of the water stops and didn't complain about it afterward. Two first-timers were the ones who took off ahead and came in about three minutes before us and another first-timer came in about a minute after. Seeing them finish, congratulating them after such a memorable run and being a part of it all is really special.

And I couldn't have done it had I not worked so hard in order to put myself in this position.

That declaration that I so boldly made on Thursday... I think I backed it up today.

I truly am in the best shape of my life.

All smiles once I got home.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Best Shape of my Life

When I was building up my mileage and developing as a runner, I often had a recurring thought.

"I am in the best shape of my life."

Now, back then of course it was easy to say that. I had been overweight my whole life, was not too far removed from 300 pounds and, well, with that in your background it's really not saying much.

Still, I felt that I was pushing myself more and more, reaching new ground and my body was responding in kind. Training for races and running long distances was only making me feel better and stronger, and thus I constantly felt like I was improving my fitness levels.

Thus, the feeling that I was in tip-top shape was ever present, for quite some time.

Before my first two marathons, I felt like I was on top of the world. I felt like I was really in my peak physical condition. But somewhere in between Marathon No. 2 and Marathon No. 3, that feeling dissipated. I'd taken some time off, was running long distances, yes, but it wasn't new ground any more. I was in a groove somewhat but the same "I am king of the world" feeling was gone.

I reached the start line of Marathon No. 3 and felt good, felt great but I did not know if I could honestly say "I am in the best shape of my life" before I ran it. I set a PR, shaved almost 15 minutes off my previous PR, and did feel good, but somehow that "best shape" feeling was not there.

And it has not been there for a while.

Until now.

I ran 8 miles on Thursday morning, ran them in 1:07:11. That's a pace of 8:22. Three of the miles, I ran un under 8 minutes.

I felt great. I felt superb. I had that familiar feeling. And I gave into it.

I really do feel like, right now, I am in the best shape of my life.

I don't have a race to prove that in, at least not one that's close. LA is still two months away and I don't know that I will run anything before that.

But I do have a huge challenge coming up. On Sunday, I am going to run 20 miles. It will be the longest distance I've run as a pace leader, the longest distance I've run since my last marathon, in April of last year, and only the eighth time I've run this distance in training.

I don't often get to these heights, but I am approaching it as best as I can. I do feel strong. I feel stronger than I can ever remember feeling. I'm trying to be more confident in my ability to power through runs. It's always a struggle with me though because it feels as if I try to show more confidence I end up being overconfident and then I suffer. But I do feel good about my abilities, about how strong my legs are, how strong my will has grown, and how top-notch I feel right now.

We'll see how the 20 miles goes on Sunday but I've done my part in getting there. I just have to follow through now, and I guess I will find out soon enough if I really am in the best shape of my life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Run, Ride and a Rodent

The weather did thwart our beach plans Monday. It was just too chilly to have the girls play in the sand and water.

So what did we do?

Well, I ran. Made sure of that. The two nearby high school tracks were being used (boo) so I had to drop the girls off at my mom's and then go on a run. Knocked out 4.5 miles in the process. I have a 20-mile run on the weekend so I hope that wasn't too much mileage to start out the week.

The girls wanted to head out to the San Bernardino County Museum. Since we have a family pass it cost us nothing to get in. Once inside...

There were some friends for Kennedy to play with. First she got her hands on some baby ball pythons. Then, she got to hold a mouse...
Of course, she was fearless around animals. She rather likes animals. Well, she didn't get to hold these, and not sure if she would have...

As for Yvie, she was happy looking at (stuffed) animals through glass.

After our adventure at the museum we went bike riding. It was so cold and I didn't have my jacket with me. My fingers were frozen but we got in nearly five miles. The sun was setting on us so we had to motor through the last mile quickly but in a few short months we will have more than enough sunlight for us to ride twice that if we wanted.

So, no beach for us Monday but plenty of other things kept us busy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Foiled By The Weather

It's January 16.

I suppose 50-degree weather shouldn't be a surprise.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of our "winter" I'd planned on heading out to the beach today. The girls are off school and I figured a beach run for me, bike ride for them would be a great way to spend the morning. Then after our run/ride I could let the girls play in the sand and shore as I sat and relaxed nearby, maybe reading a book or listening to music or just soaking in the rays.

But today's forecast for the nearby beach is mid-50s, cloudy and nothing like the low 70s that the beach enjoyed just a couple of weeks ago.


Now, I can still head out there and run/ride with the girls but the whole playing-in-the-water part would probably not happen. It's one thing if the sun is out and is warm but cloudy weather would make for a chilly time on the beach and that's probably not all that enjoyable.

Double ugh.

So I don't know what we'll do this holiday. I gave the girls a lot of options - bike riding nearby, tennis, climb Mt. Rubidoux, baking, a combination of things - but they seemed rather nonplussed about the options. I don't think I can handle Disneyland today since it probably will be crowded, given the holiday and all.

Anyway, I best get on with my day. I feel like leaving you with a picture so I will.

Kennedy got all dressed up this weekend for a quincenera (a cousin of mine turned 15 and she had a big Mexican-style bash to celebrate) and it was a treat for Kennedy to be dressed the way she was.

I was the photographer for the ceremony (along with my sister-in-law) so we snapped plenty of pictures of Kennedy...

Happy Monday!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five Things Friday

Ugh. Haven’t posted all week, figured I owed you some more content.

1. Run streak is alive and well. I made it a goal to run every day at the start of the year and so far, so good. Through Thursday, I’d run for 12 consecutive days and had logged 83 miles over that span. I’m feeling great too. My legs feel strong. I ran 18 miles on Sunday and recovered enough to run a solid four-miler on Monday, a hilly six-miler on Tuesday and 8-mile runs on Wednesday (at an 8:50 pace) and Thursday (8:32 pace). I’m chewing up these miles and I couldn’t be happier about it.

2. My pace group is awesome. I can’t wait to run the LA Marathon with them! Even if I don’t run every step with all of them – which I already know I won’t – it will be so great being on the same course as them and the best part of course will be greeting them all at the end of the race. I know we still have more than two months from now ‘til then but I really am excited. There are four newbies in the group and they are all so strong and determined. It’s really contagious. They make me want to become a better pace leader.

3. The marathon bug has got me. As of now, I’m only running two marathons in 2012 for sure – LA Marathon on March 18 and The San Francisco Marathon on July 29. I had not set any goals for myself as far as running anything beyond San Francisco – half, full or what have you – and I still haven’t really decided. However, I do not want all these training miles to go to waste. I’m considering the OC Marathon on May 6 and possibly the Long Beach Marathon in early October. We’ll see how I do after LA but I think squeezing in another marathon between LA and San Francisco could be manageable. A lot will depend though on how I feel after LA.

4. The Year of Living Actively is in full swing. So far this year the girls and I have been bike riding five times. We went last week for three consecutive days and they were not tired at all. Kennedy has really improved. She can now take off on her own and she can ride far. On Tuesday, she rode two miles without stopping. The most we’ve ridden thus far has been four miles but I think they can ride more. We had to cut that one short at four miles because we ran out of time. We’ve also climbed up Mt. Rubidoux and have gone to play tennis twice. Tennis is a work-in-progress but they really do like the sport so we shall continue to foster that.

5. Monday is going to be a fun day. As you know, Southern California has totally awesome weather. This winter has been anything but cold. In fact, it was really chilly (for us) in late November/early December but for the last three or four weeks or so, it’s been spectacular. Save for some really windy days, it’s been almost like spring here. We had a stretch where the highs were in the mid-70s and low 80s. Unreal. Anyway, since there is no school on Monday we are going to head over to Huntington Beach and ride our bikes on the bike path there. I may run a little and then ride my bike with the girls but either way I am going to get my run in no matter what. The girls are already quite excited about it. I’m not sure how much they will enjoy the water itself since the water tends to stay cold until the summer months, but they’ll have fun playing in the sand and riding their bikes. Should be a fun day in sunny SoCal for us

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ambassador Profiles

They're up.

All the profiles of the San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors are up on the race web site. Included is a picture of each of us (a lot of us anyway) and on some there are links for ways to get ahold of us, via email, our blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. There's also a bit of info about each of us. Not sure but I might be the only former member of the 300-pound club in there. Ugh.

Anyway, the contact info helps get locals in touch with their local ambassador. I'd be happy to run with IE locals who are also training for San Francisco, so if anyone asks I'm sure I could work something out. I'd love to take new runners to Mt. Rubidoux for instance. That's the mecca of hill training here in the IE if you ask me.

Anyway, here's the link to the page. I'm the only guy wearing pink... sigh. In fact, not too many of the ladies are in pink. Ah well, I'm true to my running club so what are you going to do?


Sunday I ran 18 miles and Monday was not a rest day. I wanted to run four miles. I went to Mt. Rubidoux but ran on the bike paths outside there. I headed down towards a nearby lake and ran around that twice. it's kind of a small lake so it's only like a mile around it. I had to run twice around it to avoid running out on the bike path more than I'd wanted to. Anyway, I wound up running 4.23 miles and I actually felt good. I might have felt a bit more winded than I usually do but otherwise I was fine.

That's another benefit of running every day. My recovery time is lessened. I can get my legs back to action quickly after a hard run and not feeling many negative effects. I could have kept on running and in fact was slightly tempted to plow through and get to five (I think I could have gotten to six without collapsing) but stopped at where I was.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another 18-mile Challenge

In Nov. 2009 I ran 18 miles for the first time. It's a distance I haven't done a whole lot. I've surpassed it several times but I think I've run exactly 18 miles (give or take a .2) four times. Before Sunday anyway.

I've run four marathons. Notice a pattern? Yeah, only time to run 18 miles (for me) is when training for a marathon.

Sunday I ran an 18-miler for the fifth time ever. Now, I'm writing this a few hours after having completed it, I still have white stuff on my face from sweat and I haven't even taken a shower (TMI, but I like to keep it real here). But I'm trying to compare it to my other 18-mile runs. I don't know, I can't say that I feel super strong. The run went great, it really did, but as far as feeling like I feel after 12-15 milers... not there. Part of me thought that running all these miles I've been running would have given me strength like I've not had before, but while my legs were able to push through stuff, I still was gassed at the finish.

Maybe it's just my body mentally preparing for getting to the end of my run, and since it was 18 miles my body had exactly 18 miles in it. Had I run 16 or 20, perhaps I'd have felt the same.

Okay, well I don't mean to be a downer so I'll get on with this post...

One area that was better was after the run. I wasn't gassed to the point where I just had to collapse on the ground or that I was a useless blob after the race (although I do plan on taking a mean nap here as soon as I finish this post). And I've been walking around and I actually feel a bit of a bounce in my step.

Thanks to the wonders of Dailymile I have the times of all my runs sans my first one. But, well, my first one is probably the most memorable training run of my life and certainly the toughest training run I've ever done. So I remember that time.

11/22/09 - 18 miles, 3:18:00 (11-minute pace)
5/16/10 - 18 miles, 3:02:10 (10:07 pace)
12/19/10 - 18.21 miles, 3:12:00 (10:32 pace)
3/06/11 - 18 miles, 3:08:05 (10:26 pace)
1/08/12 - 18 miles, 2:59:25 (9:58 pace)

I remember feeling good after my second-ever 18-miler. I was training for the 2010 San Francisco Marathon so I was running a lot of hills at the time and I think that made a big difference. The only thing that tarnished that run was all the blood (my blog post about it, with picture).

And as for my toughest-ever run, I did in Seattle. In rain and 40-degree weather. A truly memorable run.

Sunday's run was the third I've run on the Loper course so perhaps that's why these other two runs stand out, since I didn't run them on the usual course.

I'm happy with my run and I'm happy with the work I've put in. Part of why I've wanted to ramp up my training was to be able to not just get through these really long runs but do them in a manner that will benefit all of the other runners in my pace group. And I think I did that with this run.

Okay, off to nap now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Year of Living Actively

Aside from setting a lofty goal of 2,000 miles for 2012, I've also made it a goal this year to be a more active family.

Now, it's not that we haven't been active in the past - my girls have played soccer since each was four, plus have done karate, ballet, gymnastics - but this year I really want to focus on it. They are still very young and very impressionable and they get excited about fitness-related activities so I want to foster that.

So what will we be spending our time doing this year?

Santa was kind and got them each their own tennis racquet. I think this actually got me started on this whole fitness kick. Tennis is a difficult sport to master, and it's even tricky to get started in, but the girls had been saying for a while that they wanted to learn to play tennis (thanks, Wii Sports) so Santa must've been listening. We've been once and, well, I have to do some research on helping them get started. They did have fun and all but they were frustrated, Kennedy particularly - she wasn't making contact with the ball well and it got to her.

Anyway, tennis is definitely something that will help them be more active but it's not the only thing.

Kennedy is starting to become a strong bike rider. She was very tentative to ride her bike but lately I've been pushing her and she's responded. Now, in the spring we rode our bikes often (Kennedy's had training wheels) but then there was a problem with her bike and it was out of commish for a while. Once we got it back, we rode sporadically. I got a flat on my bike sometime in late summer and that hurt our excursions. Now, though, with both of them being able to ride on their own I can run as they ride their bikes. So that's another way that I will be able to get my runs in when they are out of school. And best part of that is we can go to the beach more often now with our bikes. Oh yes, I anticipate a lot of beach trips not just this summer but in general.

Another thing we can and will do - and perhaps the toughest of all - is climbing Mt. Rubidoux. On Wednesday we rode bikes first, then climbed Mt. Rubidoux after and we were all beat afterward. I've run up that thing many times but walking up is much more of a chore. I hardly ever feel sore after a run but after every hike up there I'm sore, and this time is no exception.

I kept the elevation for this but stupidly forgot to start the app after I paused it  when we rested for the last time, but we gained more than 400 feet elevation from the bottom to the top, over the course of one mile.

I'd hoped to use this as a gauge to see if the girls would be ready for a proper hike, somewhere off Mt. Rubidoux's paved path. I'd even prepared the girls before going up Mt. Rubidoux, telling them different things about hikes and what we'd do when we go on them. It was a tough hike and they were tired so I think a few more trips up there would serve us all well before we go trekking in nature somewhere.

We did have a good time though.

Yvie was excited once she got to the top.

So between tennis, cycling and hiking we've got plenty to keep us busy. The girls also have been wanting to run so that is also in our future, as is soccer of course. Yeah, that's a lot to keep the LB girls active.

But there's also one other thing that will compete for our active minds and bodies.
Disneyland consists of a lot of walking, as evidenced by our trip there Tuesday. The girls were worn out by the time we left, and we left early. Got to the park at 7:40 and left at about 2:30. Heck, I was worn out so I can imagine them.

Tennis, cycling, hiking, running, soccer, Dinseyland...

This is the Year of Living Actively indeed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Running Every Day

On Tuesday, I ran two miles. It was my third consecutive day of running. It's not quite the infancy of my running streak but rather the embryonic stage. Yeah, this egg just got fertilized.

From early October through late December, I ran every day. My streak reached 75 before I got sick on Dec. 23 and had to shut it down for three days. I piled up 499 miles over that stretch, an average of more than 6.5 miles a day.

When Jan. 1 came around I knew I had to start another streak. I wanted to do it right so I rested on Saturday, making New Year's Day the first day of my new streak.

I want this streak to last more than 75 days. I would like to see it hit triple digits. I was hoping the previous streak would hit the century mark but it fell short.

So why the fascination with running every day?

It worked for me. It made me a stronger, faster, more efficient runner. It helped tackle barriers and helped minimize some mental challenges. It helped me recover faster from both long runs and shorter, harder runs and it just kept me feeling fresh.

For me, rest days always seemed like a bit of a regression. I'd typically run long on Sundays, rest on Monday and when I'd go back and run Tuesday I always felt the long run at the beginning. So that Tuesday run was not necessarily a recovery run but it felt like it. And that always kind of felt like a setback, like I couldn't get into the rhythm I wanted to or needed to. But now, I recover on Mondays no matter the Sunday distance and I feel refreshed and ready to run hard on Tuesday. Also, running the day before a long run was something I didn't used to do often but now it helps keep the blood flowing and helps my legs start fresh on Sundays instead of it taking me some time to get the legs from feeling like lead.

Running every day helps me push through hard runs. With how strong my legs feel, I really do feel like I can get through any distance. Now, that will be tested on Sunday when I run 18 miles but so far during all of my tough runs I just reach down and draw strength from that and my legs respond.

Now, I'd always wanted to run 40 miles a week or more but found it difficult to get that in, but running every day helps me get to that number consistently. I had 10 consecutive weeks of at least 40 miles. In the 10 weeks before the start of that 10-week stretch, I had one week of 40-plus miles.

I've been eating miles like crazy lately and it's had nothing but a positive effect on me. On Wednesday I plan to run some and the streak will reach four days. Before too long it will hit double digits and the deeper it goes the more I will gain.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lofty Goal For 2012

Before I get into this post, just wanted to say thank you for making this blog a part of your day and hopefully year.

With 2012 upon us, I needed some goals. I needed to set some sort of target for myself, right? In the past, I've either had races as goals or PRs but this year just felt different. I feel like I have to keep it simple. That's not to say that I don't have those goals on my list because I do - it's just that there is one thing that is more important than anything to me.

My number one goal this year: to run more than 2,000 miles.

Why is this important? Well, running that many miles helps everything else. Running that much gives my legs strength, the strength necessary to get through marathon training properly and enough to finish marathons strong... hopefully. I've never felt strong at the end of my marathons, so that's something I hope will change. It also will allow me to chase down some other PRs, most notably in the half marathon and possibly the 5K.

But whatever positive side effects arise, getting to the magic mark of 2,000 miles is what I have set my sights on.

So how does that break down, this 2,000-mile figure?

Well, this year there are 366 days (thank you Leap Year) so divide 2,000 by 366 and you get 5.46. So that's what I have to average a day. Yeah, but that figure doesn't really make it manageable.

Divide 2,000 by 12 and you get 166.6666666666666666.......... um, 167.

That's an average of 167 miles a month. Okay, that sounds a bit better. But still, how about a plan for conquering that? Well divide 2,000 by 52 and you get 38.5. Ah, that's better.

So if I can average 40 miles a week, I will get to my magic figure of 2,000 miles for the year.

Can I do that?

Beginning the week of Oct. 10, I ran 10 consecutive weeks of 40-plus miles. The low was 44 (twice) and I cracked 50 miles four times. I averaged 48 miles. The streak ended with a 19-mile week as I got sick before Christmas but I bounced back with a 51-mile week to close out the year.

I ran 194 miles in October, 206 in November and 189 in December, an average of 196 per month. Translated over an entire year and that's more than 2,300 miles.

So this goal wasn't just something I plucked from mid-air. I keep setting a high bar for myself and did so, kind of without realizing, as I got on my streak. I pushed myself, responded and kept pushing myself. Before too long, things that didn't seem that simple became the norm and I just kept plugging along.

This goal then is the result of that increased mileage and confidence.

I'm happy that I put together a three-month stretch like I did to close out 2011 but also realize that this goal will take a lot of work, a longer run streak and some commitment and discipline.

But I'm okay with that.