Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Finding my way (blog-wise)

This blog has gotten off to a slow start. I really do want to get to writing about some substantial issues and themes. My biggest challenge at this time is to find the time to write well about these things. I don't want this to be one of those "I had pancakes for breakfast, than I ran 5 miles and my time was 42 minutes" kind of blogs. I don't think those training-journal kinds of entries are worthy of a blog. Mmy aim is to go further--I want to convey what the experience feels like, and discuss issues that I ponder, etc.

However, there will be some of that sort of detail, since these details further the narrative of the marathon preparation. Running is not the focus of my life-- far from it. But it will be the primary focus of this blog. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the marathon quest will serve as a framework for my ramblings. Without such a structure this would be a mess, or, more likely, it would be abandoned.

Anyway, as for today I ran in spite of a bad cold. Maybe I should have rested, but I'm feeling behind in my training, and tomorrow is not a running day, so I pushed myself to do so today. I ran along the Charles river. Those of us in the Boston/Cambridge area are lucky to have the river paths--you can get any number of distances by choosing which bridges to run between. See, for example,

The route was 3.5 miles to the best of my reckoning. I ran a "regular" pace, neither pushing or holding back. I ran it in about 25 minutes. That's about 7:10 a mile. That's hard to believe, so I'm doubting I got the distance right. However, even with a margin of error that time gives me hope that the goal of running the marathon at an 8 minute pace is possible. (For the record, my only 10 mile race was done with slightly-over-8-minute miles). Hal Higdon say that as a first timer I should focus on winning, not speed, but I can't completely let go of the idea of a good race time.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Hitting 40

Today I am 40. I feel pretty good about where I am at this stage of my life. I have a wonderful family, my health, and a good job. We had a big party on Saturday with lots of family, and bowling too! (A bit sore from bowling, which shows how important cross training is.)

At my party, I told family members about my intention to run the marathon. This makes it in some sense official. Of course, no one would think less of me if I had to back down, but by going public this somehow makes the commitment feel more real. I think I need to make a definite commitment, revocable only for major injury or if some serious family situation takes priority.

I am planning to officially register for the race soon. If nothing else, I will have the motivation of not wanting to waste the non-refundable registration fee. The Cape Cod Marathon has a limited field of 1200 runners. I checked with the organizer and found out that they usually don't fill that number until September. Nevertheless, I will plan on sending in the entry form in the next few weeks. Then, the countdown begins!

Monday, March 20, 2006


First day of spring!

I did my first run alongside the Charles River since some time last Fall. You wouldn't know it was spring without the calender-- temps were in the low twenties.

Here's a link to a very neat web site, that allows you to calculate distances along an arbitrary route, right on a street map or even an aerial shot. Click here to try it. Scroll down and click the link to the instructions the first time.

The above image shows my usual running route around Fresh Pond in Cambridge, with distance (hmmm, less than I thought).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Things happen

No run today. Half of the kids got sick last night-- not a pretty sight. So we were up late, and I could not rise early enough to get a run in before work. This demonstrates the reason I call this blog Runner Dad-- having small kids means there is a lot that is not in my direct control. This will be a challenge further along in the training, when it becomes more critical to get each run in on schedule.

What can you do when you miss out on the morning run? I guess be a little more careful about the diet, and look for ways to fit a little exercise in, here and there. Desk calisthenics!

On a brighter note (no pun intended), I got my tomatoes set up with the grow light last night (see above) I managed to get this done after T was sick but before M started. Its very encouraging to see the little sprouts getting off to a good start. Another 6 weeks and it might be warm enough to put them outside. Hopefully by then they'll be greenhouse robust. Here's hoping for a good garden and healthy eating over the summer.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Good run

Ran twice around Fresh Pond, 43'24" (medium good time). Shorts and t-shirt. Fog hovering over the pond, and interesting light effects as the sun tried to break through the clouds and fog. Felt good.

I'm feeling skinnier the last few days. By my best guesstimate, I'm only 1-3 lbs down from my daily average for the last few months. So I think the feeling is more attitude than reality. The fast on Friday may be a factor. I feel overall less heavy, more taut.

A fast is a very useful exercise when you are working on understanding your relationship with food. It makes you aware of several things:
1. How often you might unconciously choose to pop something in my mouth.
2. Physical vs situational hunger.
3. How long you can go without actually needing to eat, if you know ahead of time that you won't eat for x hours. I mean, if I'm not going to eat for the day, then skipping the snacks is not very hard. However, on a normal day it is often very hard to resist the siren call of the snacks. Am I more hungry on normal days? Of course not. The difference is the mindset. Now, if I could just adjust the mindset on normal days, such that I would not consider snacks between breakfast and lunch, then I think physically I could do just fine with that arrangement.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Where I am going

I’m going to try to go 26.2 miles, that’s where. More specifically, I’m seriously considering running the Falmouth (Cape Cod) Marathon at the end of October, 2006.

At this point, I am planning on following the Hal Higdon plan, which is an 18 week training regimen. That means I’m not in official training mode until the end of June.

Time to put some log into this blog.

Feeling good today. I ran FP long, 29'20" (more than 1.5 min faster than Weds!). First outdoor shorts and t-shirt run in months. Another hopeful sign: my weight 209 lbs (first real under-210 reading since Xmas).

I think the marathon goal will really help with my other goal, to get back on track with the weight loss. I've been meaning to lose that extra 10 for a long while, but have not been sucessful in mustering the will to accomplish this. But as I think of the training ahead of me, the 10, 15, 20 mile runs (not to mention the biggie at the end) I can really appreciate how much it will make a difference to be lighter on my feet. (Keep this mental image in mind: I'm on the starting line, and someone hands me a 10 lb dumb bell and say "You mind carrying this with you?". Yes, I would mind!)

I'm also fasting today. For Lent we're supposed to refrain from meat on fridays. Since I'm almost a vegetarian (eath poultry occasionally) this doesn't make the day any different. Having fish is a treat, in fact. So I'm trying fasting. Maybe the whole day, maybe just till dinner. Never tried fasting on the same day that I have run, so it will be interesting to see what will happen. Since this is "at will" I can end the fast whenever I want, if I feel it is making me cranky with others, or just obsessed with when I can eat again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Where I’m coming from

I don’t want to give you my whole biography, so I’ll just give you some background to help you understand my marathon quest. I am turning 40 this month, and am a busy dad with 4 kids (7 and under!). I ran as a teen and young adult, but in my mid twenties I became more sedentary and put some weight on. I did an incredible crash diet when about 26, and lost maybe 30 or 40 lbs (don’t remember exactly). I say incredible, because it was very easy and the weight came off quickly. When I say easy, I mean my motivation was always strong.

Of course, these things usually don’t last. Slowly the weight crept back, and by age 37 I was looking at 248 lbs on the scale. I’m tall (6’2”) but that still put my BMI in the obese category. Obese--yikes! Well, somehow I found the motivation, and lost 50 lbs on the ELEM diet (Eat Less, Exercise More). As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve slipped backwards a little. However, I’ve made some substantial life changes which make me confident that this change is for good. I just need to keep working at it. A major part of this last weight loss has been exercise, specifically running.

I have the good fortune of having exercise facilities and showers at my office building. Even better, there is a nice pond with a running path very close by which offers a run of about 3 miles (actually, pretty darn close to exactly 5k when I measure it on the map with a piece of string). I have been running that, usually 2-4 times a week, for the past 2 and a half years.

In addition to these 3 milers, I occasionally do longer runs of 6-8 miles. Last fall, I ran my first 10 mile race. I have sometimes considered the possibility of a marathon. It occurred to me that it might be a nice goal to try to run one before, or on, my 40th year. However, I sort of gave it up as unrealistic. Then recently a friend who ran his first marathon last year has been pushing me to give it a try. I floated the idea past the wife, and she is actually encouraging me. This will require some sacrifice on her part, in the shape of being on her own with the kids during some precious weekend time while I do the long training runs.

So there you have it. I 40 year old former sedentary person who has become fit again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006



Yes, I am entering the world of blogging. I hope I am not one of the many who make entries enthusiastically for a few weeks, then taper off to zero. I’ve considered starting a blog for quite a while, to capture my random thoughts. However, up to this point I’ve had no compelling reason (compelling in the sense that it would have any possible appeal to anyone else). But now I am pretty seriously considering running a marathon in October. This would be my first. And that goal will provide a thread, I hope, to my journal.

Also, if anyone ends up reading this I will have a further motivation to follow through with the marathon effort.

But this will not be strictly a running/training blog, far from it. I will rather focus on the experience, lessons learned, self-motivation, etc. The subject of weight maintenance will probably occupy a lot of space, as that is my biggest challenge. About 2 years ago I lost 50 lbs. I’ve put back about 10, and it is a constant challenge to keep up good habits and resist the bad. The big issue is eating for the wrong reasons, so I will explore that. (I intend to lose the 10, and hopefully 20, before the race).

I do not intend to divulge too much that is personal. This is not a gut-spilling endeavor. However, I will use my experiences as fodder for my musings.

In my next post I will tell a little more about who I am and where I am coming from.

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