Monday, June 27, 2011


DNS=Did Not Start...

I used to have a running blog but, considering that I haven't been able to run since May, I'm probably not very behind in my updates.

In a nutshell I wasn't able to reboot after Boston. I took a week off and ran two easy 45 mile weeks, one 5K, then struggled through two 20 mile weeks and crashed hard. It's been 8 weeks since my first symptoms and six weeks since I stopped running and time off hasn't helped. I'm dead in my tracks looking for a diagnosis which hopefully might show the path towards recovery.

I was looking forward to this stretch of late spring and early summer as a time to run races for fun and focus on not having much focus. I had already signed up for three races which have all gone by unraced. To make maters worse I tried to compensate for my running volume on my bike and got a secondary injury by most likely ramping up too quickly. Fortunately that one was clear cut and I'll be fully recovered from that soon. I'm already back on the bike.

But that running injury? It's still undiagnosed. I've seen my doctor twice, an orthopedist twice, and had an x-ray and a bone scan. Nothing. Last weekend I saw a sports medicine specialist who has ordered a compartment syndrome test next week. They advised me to go ahead and take some Tylenol an hour before the test. Great! I guess that's a kind way of saying it's uncomfortable. If that's negative my next move is an MRI.

I've run a couple easy one mile test runs and they didn't go well. In the meantime I've discovered I'm a much better swimmer than I ever knew. I've been swimming every other day and average more than a mile per swim. I can comfortably knock out a mile is less than 40 minutes. Those YMCA swimming lessons back in the early 80s are paying off big time right now.

That's my update. I still owe a report on my second half of Boston but the cliff notes version is that I faded in Newton due to having trashed my quads in the first half but held steady in Brookline and had a very strong finish from Kenmore easily passing more than 100 runners down Boylston.

I'm keeping my focus on overcoming this injury and am still registered for New York, which I hope to run. I don't expect to set any PRs this year but think I might like to try my hand at this local race April 16, 2012 once again. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Healthy Melrose "5"K

Two weekends ago I toed the line at the Healthy Melrose "5"K. This was to be the season opener for racing with William. Unfortunately the race director decided last year's route wasn't hilly enough and made this year's edition downright brutal. After a recon earlier in the week I decided it wouldn't be safe to race it with William. Just like last year the course seemed at least .1 mile long so, considering the steep hills, there was no reason to run for time, rather, I was running for place. Also, I decided that I'd wear the GPS but not bother using it for pacing. Data collection only!

The race went off with a bang. Since the lead runner went off like a jackrabbit I felt obligated to go with him. It was obvious that we were on a torrid pace so I decided it was time for a chat to gauge if I should be running with him. Unfortunately our chat was completely unintelligible with the exception of me learning that he didn't know the course. At that point I took my only peek at my GPS and saw we had run .35 miles at a 5:05 pace. Since it was unlikely I was going to run a sub 16 5k, especially while still recovering from Boston, I wished him luck and let him go. Interestingly he only went 15-20 seconds ahead where he would remain for the rest of the race.

The first hill was steep but runable. At the top I hit the first mile at 5:56 and was starting to feel the effort. Recovery was short since there were still a couple inclines to ascend. It was my plan to put it into high gear down the long hill in the middle of the race but a decent side stitch set in and forced me begin some healthy suffering instead. I didn't put it into high gear as my second mile split (6:15) indicates.

The final hill was rough but when I realized I wasn't ceding any ground I hung on and suffered some more, just in case. The stitch eased in the last half mile but it was still apparent I wasn't going to make up any lost time. Glancing back down Melrose Street as I made my final turn I could see no runners behind me so I hatched a plan. Since I had second placed locked and wasn't running for time I decided to find William and finish the race with him. I was still bummed not to have run with him due to the course.

I pulled into the final straight about 15-20 seconds behind the lead runner but, as I approached the finish, I jumped in the crowd and grabbed William in his wheelchair and began pushing him towards the finish. The woman who was managing the finishing chute kept waving as to say "no, over here!" As we neared the line the photographer from the local paper was scrambling to get a picture so we stopped and waited for him before crossing the line. My shenanigans cost me about 15-20 seconds but William seemed to enjoy it. He likes to finish up front in these little 5Ks and this was the best I could offer.

Despite this I still finished the hilly and long 5k in 19:32, over a minute ahead of the third placed runner. For a 5K it was pretty sloppy and my Boston effort from just 12 days prior was still lingering in my legs. If I made it look easy I'm a good actor.

Another highlight of the race was that I ran representing the Roosevelt PTO (William's school) and won $250 in gift certificates for them to auction off. I'm guessing this was the grand prize. How often can you get beat in a race and walk away with the biggest prize?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Notes from a Boston Marathon Rookie: The First 20K

First off, I’d like to once again thank everyone who supported me in making my run in the 115th Boston Marathon a personal Run For our Sons race. The only way to end Duchenne is to all chip in and work together. I’m proud to have played a small part in brining many of us together in this task. This may be the conclusion of my build up and run in this year’s Boston Marathon but I’m not done Running for our Sons. In November I’ll run the New York City Marathon and will continue to post here. What follows is part one of my best attempt at a race report. I’ll be posting it in parts over the next several days. Participating in the Boston Marathon is unbelievably experiential. It’s still settling in, more than I expected.

The Road to Hopkinton

I have to imagine, for a runner, going to the Boston Marathon is analogous to a child going to Disney. Unlike going to Disney, you don’t just get on a plane, go and enjoy yourself. You have to work hard, sometimes for years. You have to suffer, sometimes tremendously. You have to be persistent, sometimes tenaciously. You must also be ready to have it taken away from you, sometimes at the last minute when you least expect it. If you overcome all of this and find yourself corralled at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton on Patriots day with 24,000 others you’ll know an unspoken camaraderie shared with the runners huddled all around you. This is not unlike the unspoken understanding I find among other parents of sons with Duchenne. These can only be truly understood through experience, yet the two are polar opposites.

I find running a marathon to be reward and validation for hard work. Most of us have it within ourselves to run a marathon if we’re willing to commit to it and do the necessary preparation. If you find yourself prepared to run a marathon you will understand that it’s a positive celebration of what we should all be capable of.

As you can read in my earlier posts, my lead in went very well. I could quibble about training through the worst winter in recent memory, or not lining up workouts or miles exactly as I wanted to but that would be petty. Monday morning, April 18th, I took my place in the sixth corral of the first wave of the 115th Boston Marathon as prepared, rested, and injury free as I could have hoped. Not only was I physically prepared I had sorted out every detail from logistics, to gear, and reconnaissance runs. There was nothing more I could have done with the time I had. Still, this was to be only my third marathon and my first Boston. I was a total rookie.

Despite my rookie status I gave myself a very ambitious goal of running under three hours and finishing in the top 1500 runners. My previous marathon best was 3:12 just six months ago. Knocking off another 12 minutes, or two minutes per month of training, on Boston’s course would be a coup. Over the winter I read, researched, and picked experienced runner’s minds about the course. One thing was consistent. Go out too fast and you’ll pay for it dearly over the last 10 miles. But what was too fast for me? There was only one way to find out.

At Boston your bib number is assigned based upon your qualifying time. This also determines your start order. The 24,000 runners are organized into three waves containing eight corrals in each and each corral contains a thousand runners. My bib was 5461 so I was in the sixth corral starting with over 5000 runners ahead. Most runners do not run Boston faster than the time that got them there. With that in mind I knew I could be in for a possible log jam considering I planed to average at least 30 seconds per mile faster than most runners, not only in my corral, but in the two ahead.

The race started easy and quickly and my fears of being boxed in at the start were soon eased and I ran down the left of the road as if I had my own express lane. Never once did I weave as I easily passed more than two thousand runners in the first 5K. This was mostly heavy pounding downhill but, due to the crowds and adrenalin, you could hardly feel it. I had decided in the 30 minutes prior to the start to forget about my elaborate pacing strategy and run this by feel using my GPS only as a gauge to track my splits and overall pace. I wanted to keep my run on the easy side of hard but if a particular pace felt right that’s what I was going to run.

First 5K Split 21:01

After the first 5K passed by the race was still shoulder-to-shoulder. Despite this I had no problem running my own pace and continued to pass more runners. As I looked around I soon noticed I was wearing the only bib that started with 5 or higher. I would use this look around test at different points in the race to determine my position in the field. In this second 5K I spotted Brian Denger’s green Run for our Sons shirt ahead. He started two corrals before me so I knew I was covering ground quickly. I reeled him in slowly over the next mile but couldn’t help but to give a little surge as I got closer. We chatted briefly as I let my mile split drop back to where it was before continuing on through the field. Like me, Brian also seemed to be running easily as should be expected so early in the race.

Second 5K Split 21:03 (Total Time 10K 42:03)

After the first 10K was past I got to the point in the race where the road is straight and flat through Framingham and Natick. I was really looking forward to this 10K stretch of the race as I intended to put it in cruise control and focus on staying fluid and fresh. That’s just what I did. At one point in Framingham the crowds subsided for a moment and I could hear the familiar sound of footfalls from the runners around me. I enjoyed that brief moment of solitude and never heard it again.

Near the end of this stretch I passed Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick had stopped to attend to Rick as runners were being directed around them. Soon after passing the Hoyts I approached Wellesley College. You could hear the Wellesley girls screaming for half a mile before you got to them. They are known to offer runners kisses and various antics often ensue. I didn’t see any guys doing pushups or too many kisses. By this time many of the bibs I was running with started with 3s and I have to assume most of them were focused like I was. I had my game face on and, as I planned, pulled to the opposite side of the road and cruised right past the screams.

Third and fourth 5K Splits 21:04 & 21:08 (Total Time for 20K 1:24:15)

Next up: Wellesley, the half Marathon, and the start of the Newton Hills.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This week I met the modest fundraising goal I set for my run in Boston. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm done or will stop raising money for this cause. Every drop in the bucket counts and I am happy to help fill this bucket. Every single dollar is needed and will be used to help beat Duchenne. If you have donated "Thank You," your generosity continues PPMD's mission to improve "the treatment, quality of life, and long-term outlook for all individuals affected by Duchenne through research, advocacy, education and compassion." If you are thinking about supporting us the time is now. Here's the link, and Thank You!

Fundraising wasn't my only goal. I also hoped to further awareness about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Results for this goal are not as easily measured. This week I was featured in the Melrose Patch and the article turned out to be the top story of the week. Judging by the number of Facebook shares for the article I think people are paying attention. Via a few other channels the word has gotten out and I've watched the traffic to this blog grow. I hope this continues.

It may not have been obvious but I also hoped to inspire those of you who can run, to run for those who can't...Run!

Run for our Sons is signing up runners for races of all sizes and distances. If a marathon's been on your "bucket list" or you want to give greater meaning to your running, the time is now. If you've been running, consider joining us at the New York City Marathon in November. Not only is it important, it can be rewarding.

Finally, my sporting goal... That comes tomorrow. At the right you'll see my "pace band." I've got no idea if it makes sense or how much I'll use it. At the minimum it will help me know if I'm on pace or not. As I write this I see the weather conditions are shaping up to be near perfect. I'm confident in my training, I'm rested, and injury free. There's just one thing left to do.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Expo Day

Today William and I went to the Boston Marathon Expo. Our first order of business was to head up to the main expo floor and get my bib and packet. On the way there, we bumped into Rick Hoyt on the elevators. Sometimes it's funny who you meet on the elevator. Of course, William's primary interest was THE elevator. Those of you who know William will know what I mean by that. We grabbed my number and race packet. That process was smooth and easy which was the opposite of the expo. That was a bit of a mob scene. No worries, we made the most of it and checked out products and food. William and I ate a lunch worth of samples and drinks.

Our final stop at the expo was the New York Road Runners booth to say "hi" to Anne's high school friend Sean Haubert, their man in charge of Social Media. William was a good sport as we chatted a bit. I'll be running their big race, the New York City Marathon, in November and I'm already looking forward to it.

The whole time we were chatting with Sean, Bill Rodgers was right next to us. I tried to explain to William how many times Bill won the Boston Marathon but he just isn't the kind of kid to be star struck.

No trip to Back Bay would be complete without a visit to Mecca (a.k.a. the Apple store) so that's where we went next. William enjoyed checking out shiny new tech and for the Nth time reminded me just how much he likes the new MacBook Air (the 11 inch one)!

Finally we headed back to our car via a closed Boylston and across the finish line. I took special notice of the gentle downhill along that stretch of Boylston. No doubt I'll appreciate it Monday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Not only do you have to charge up them, you have to keep going strongly over the other side.

Runners are happy to give advice and tips and I'm usually eager to listen. One of the most common bits of advice I've been given, more than any other in my preparation for Boston, is to run hills. Practice not only running up them, but down them. The Boston Marathon is well known for the Newton Hills that rise to a crescendo at Heartbreak Hill but what many don't realize is the reason these hills hurt so bad is because the first 16 miles are run mostly down hill! That can be tough on the quads!

One of my favorite loops takes me up Farm Street in Wakefield then down Main Street in Saugus, about a mile up and a mile down each side. If you hit it with a few miles in your legs, and run it strongly, you can really feel a good burn in your legs and lungs.

Down the backside I usually fly by the Elks Lodge in Saugus but, Saturday May 7th, it's going to be a destination. Friends we've met through the Jett Foundation will be hosting Beat Duchenne, an evening of music and fun featuring Acme Music Trio right along side a hill that has led me to Boston. Check out their website and consider going or supporting them.

I've often said running is the easy part but, really, it's easier to climb the hill together while rocking it out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The boy likes to go fast

Boston may be in a week but we are already looking beyond. Next up on the calendar is a 5k that starts and ends about 4 blocks from our front door, the Healthy Melrose "5K" on April 30th. Last year William and I ran this together and finished 5th in a field of over 100. Considering the route is hilly and the course is inaccurate (long) we wont be racing for time. Rather, we hope to improve upon our placement from last year. This will be a tall order since you never know who will show up.

Later this spring we hope to run the Team Hoyt 5K in Waltham, MA. There our goal will be to be first across the line with a run chair as we start taking stabs at sub 19 together (So far we're down to 19:46/6:22 pace). I've already run with the Hoyt's in a race and it is inspiring. Really, there is no difference between William and I racing than when Dick and Rick race. It's just a father and son sharing the experience of competition. William is becoming accustom to the flow of 5Ks. In the race we talk strategy, keep track of splits, and he tracks our position and yells at me to go faster. I've been trying to convince him to run a half marathon with me but so far I've had no success. You see, he likes to go fast and thinks the half might just be too boring, so 5Ks it is.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Just as it seemed the winter would never end the daffodils are now blooming in our back yard. Two weeks ago I was feeling banged up and in need of that so called taper period. Now I'm feeling fresh and rested and enjoying the warm air. That said, I'm sure it will snow at least once next week.

Although it doesn't feel like it, the big race is looming. Because Boston requires logistics unlike most races I've begun getting everything in order. I'll be taking a club bus to Hopkinton that should afford me much more comfort and tranquility than the race organized school buses that dump runners out on a cold, damp field known as "athlete's village" to wait for a couple hours before the race starts. If you don't already agree marathons are crazy here's what's going in my bag:

  • Asics DS Racers
  • Feetures socks
  • Zensah calf compression sleeves (red)
  • North Face "Cardiac" running shorts
  • RFOS shirt
  • Race bib (5461)
  • Nike arm warmers
  • Old fleece hat and gloves that I can toss when no longer needed
  • Throw away cotton sweat pants an long sleeve T to wear before the start. (These are collected and donated.)
  • GPS w/ heart rate monitor
  • Pace band for 2:59:00
  • 6 GUs (Roctane - blueberry pomegranate)
  • Water bottle to run with so I can avoid water stops for the first few miles
  • Two bandaids
  • Body glide
  • Large garbage bag
  • Empty 32oz Gatorade bottle
  • And a change of clothes for when it's all over
What am I missing?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Runner Tracking Info

If the idea of watching people inflict pain and suffering upon themselves interests you, it's no longer necessary to travel to Boston on Patriots day to witness it. Via the miracle of modern technology you can now receive instant updates directly to your mobile device or via the internet.

Head over to the Athlete Alert Page and enter the runner bib number(s) for the runner(s) you would like track. You'll need to do this before 6am race day.

I'm bib #5461.

My RFOS teammate Brian Denger is #3903. I predict if you watch the race in person you should be able to see both of us within the same 10 minutes at any point. Just look for our avocado lime colored RFOS t-shirts.

Athlete Tracking offers four splits. Here they are along with my goals:
10K - 42:30
Half Marathon - 1:29:00
30K - 2:06:30
Finish - 2:59:59

If I'm slower than these goals you'll know something didn't go according to plan. If I'm much faster than these goals it's cause for concern! In reality, getting to my 30K goal shouldn't be a problem. It's just the last hour that's going to be tough. Yes, all this work is going to come down to being able to hang on to my pace for an hour.

Oh, the running is still going well. I met my March goal of running my first 300+ mile month with 323 miles and still took 4 days off. If that wasn't enough I also squeezed in 101 miles on the bike. Sunday's 20 miler went as planned and my mid week medium long run was a near effortless 13.1 in about 1:35. The next day I caught William's cold and am now taking an unplanned break of sorts with some easy miles as I feel like it. It's good timing. The "hay is in the barn" as they say and there's plenty of time to rest.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peak week and looking forward to the taper

Another week in the training log and another week closer to my next race, Boston. Because I ran the "ras" 5k (stolen photo left w/ the goofy socks) now three Sundays back I moved my long run to the following Monday, which I knew would set me up for a high mileage week. Little did I know I'd finish with just over a hundred miles for the week. Tuesday through Friday I ran my usual milage leading to Saturday's long run, my longest training run ever at 22 miles. These weren't just any 22 miles. I joined the Greater Lowell Road Runners for their recon of the Boston course from the starting line in Hopkinton to Boston College, just past heartbreak hill.

It was a great recon and the third time I've run on the course. If I didn't know what was best for me I probably would have ran the last five miles to the finish. Perhaps I really don't know what's best for me because after a medium long run the next day I noted over 92 miles in my log for the week so later that evening I went out for another 7+ to get that 100 mile week.

What does this mean? Not much more than I'm fit enough to run 100 miles in a week. That’s not a bad thing.

As if that wasn't enough, Wednesday I ran a Yasso type workout (10 X 800m) with an average pace of 2:49 per 800. The last two were the fastest. This bodes well for my sub 3 hour attempt. All the usual predictors indicate sub 2:55 for me but let's not forget my lack of experience at this distance, not to mention the late hills at Boston. If I don't meet my goal it will most likely be due to my head, not my legs.

William has been very aware of my running, the significance of running Boston, and that I'm dedicating it and my hard work to him and everyone affected by Duchenne. Because he's seen me working so hard this month he seriously asked me if I was obsessed. I told him no but in reality his observation is probably on the money. I just want to do the best I can and am looking forward to reducing my weekly mileage to a level that’s easier to sustain for a while.

"Taper" starts Monday. That means I'll be dialing back the running and start trying to find fresh legs. I've averaged almost 70 miles for the last 7 weeks so next week I'll run around 60, then 50, then about 40 the week of Boston. I'm really looking forward to purposely running less!

William is also eager to watch me run at Boston but I'm very concerned the experience could be a let down. For example, where do I recommend he and Anne watch? Living in the Boston area only makes me more aware of the pros and cons of each possible place to view the race. Too early along the route they might miss me in the crowd, despite giving an accurate time window. If they see me it could be for just a few seconds. Too late along the route and they would have to battle traffic and crowds and my time window would be large. How would they know if I crashed and burned or already went by? Anne works in the Fenway and has easy parking so watching at about mile 24 seems most logical but the crowds could be tough and would William be able to see over people from his wheelchair? If any readers want to join Anne and William just let us know.

Monday is William’s 9th birthday. Birthdays are always bittersweet for me. A big part of me wants to just stop time and keep things as they are. Fortunately William has always been a blast to be with at any age and I expect no less in the future. This weekend his cousins and Anne’s parents are here to celebrate. William’s has been very excited about it all week and has already opened a couple presents. He’ll be sad to see them go back home to New York tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Settling in from vacation and the final push to Boston

Since my last update we were fortunate enough to escape the Northeast for a week in Florida where we spent a full week at Disney. I underestimated how much fun William would have there. He was on cloud 9, or beyond, the entire week. Since we stayed on the Disney resort we never saw the “real world” for the week, which went a long way towards getting a much needed mental break for all of us. What was William’s favorite thing about Disney?? The rides!! We did Thunder Mountain 9X, Splash Mountain 4X, Test Track 4X, Kali River Rapids 2X, Haunted Mansion 2X, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups 2X, and most everything else at least once. William is already planning his return trip!

Next, I was spotlighted in Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy's (PPMD) recent newsletter for my efforts to make my Boston Marathon my Run For our Sons (RFOS) race. Considering how much so many other RFOS runners have raised I'm humbled to be recognized.

Now back from Florida we can smell spring in the air. Almost. After months of cold and snow it’s easier to enjoy this time of year despite the erratic weather. It’s relative and the weather has been relatively better, not to mention the fact that we once again have clear roads and sidewalks!

With daylight savings here and the snow gone I’m seeing much, much less of the treadmill and more of the bike, which should benefit me in the final push to Boston. In the last week I kicked the biking year off with over 50 miles supplementing nearly 80 miles run. I’m also reintegrating “run commuting” into my schedule. I can run the 9 miles from work to home in just 20 minutes longer than my regular commute. So why not? The route isn’t scenic but the miles are good.

In addition to the constant signs of spring, the running continues to go well. I finished February with 245 miles, which was actually about 30 miles short of my monthly goal. The silver lining for February is that my diet has gone well and more than makes up for any missed mileage. Yes. I’m actually trying to drop some extra weight during the hard months of this marathon training cycle. Many advise against it but I’ve lost about 10 pounds since late January, still feel strong and energetic, and hope to drop a couple more by mid April. I counted calories for a few weeks until I got into the habit of cutting my portions and making better choices. Seeing success has made it easy to continue and I already feel a little swifter and lighter on my feet while running. My goal is to run Boston in the 160s which is even more unfathomable when I consider that two years ago I could hardly run 4-5 miles and weighed close to 225.

So far March has gone very well. A week ago I toed the line at Stu’s 30K (18.6 miles) hoping to get a hilly, well supported long run in the books, not necessarily race. I hoped to make the run hard and ran it as a progression run. The first hour went by at a conversational pace and then I slowly picked up the pace to the end. Without going into race effort I was able to finish in 2:06 (6:50 pace) and passed all but 24 people. On paper Stu’s is harder than the Boston Prep 16 miler I ran in January yet I went just as fast with much less effort. That really surprised me and reinforces the fact that I’m on track for Boston.

This past weekend I ran the Ras na hEireann 5K in Somerville with over 5000 others. Can you find my head in the photo? You'll have to click to make it bigger if you want to play "where's Waldo." This 5K was just for fun and to serve as a fitness check of sorts. At this exact point in my marathon buildup last fall I ran a 5K in 18:22 so sub 18 would have been great but, upon seeing the undulating course prior to the race, I thought sub 18 was out the window. Fortunately my legs didn’t agree with my head and I ran 17:33 for a 35 second 5K PR. At that distance you could call it a small breakthrough and I’m eager to run more 5Ks after Boston since I feel I’ve got faster ones in me. The 5K distance isn’t universally enjoyed by marathoners but I really enjoy them. It’s a chance to open up the throttle and give it all you’ve got and not feel wasted by the effort.

I’ve got about two more weeks of training before my marathon taper begins. I hope to hit 300 miles in March. This will be a tall order since I’ve never run 300 in a month before. BUT…that mileage won’t be at the expense of quality training so we’ll have to see how it goes. So far, so good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shifting Gears…Into Vacation Mode

Trying not to make this just another running blog, I've gotten a little behind on entries because my "next" entry continues to languish on my desktop in search of better words.

...So here's a little update on the running and what we're doing this week.

Two weekends ago we went to Portland, ME for a weekend out of town and so I could run the Mid Winter Classic 10 miler on Cape Elizabeth. Unfortunately, they cancelled the race due to a fear of possible winter weather! Imagine that! I had planned to run the race with Brian Denger who's two sons, Matthew and Patrick, like William have Duchenne. Undeterred, we made the most of it and went for an 18 miler on his usual training route, much of it along the Maine coast. Regretfully black ice and slush kept me from enjoying the views as much as I would have liked since I had to pay extra attention to my footing. Fortunately I only hit the deck once. That afternoon we visited with the Dengers and enjoyed good food and conversation.

Progress towards Boston continues to go well. Last week I went over 70 miles and had a very good long run of 20 miles with miles 8 to 18 at "marathon pace," which for me will hopefully be about 6:50 per mile. This was a good confidence boost since I'm inexperienced at going significant distances at that pace. My mind is still catching up with my body!

As I write this we are flying 30,000 feet over North Carolina heading to Orlando. William is so excited to start his Disney vacation tomorrow that he might just burst. The trip has gone well with no delays and upgrades to the front bulkheads. The only stressful part has been the stowage of William's wheelchair onboard the jets. You see, despite having the right to stow William's chair in the closet where it fits comfortably the crew pressures, tries, and insists to get you to gate check the chair. Really, they give a lot of grief and caused undue stress just because they don't want to move their own carry on luggage from their own "private" garage. We've been through this six times now. Sometimes it's harder than others. Our first leg was one of those times. Our second leg wasn't so bad and, in addition to the seat upgrade, I got a complementary beer.

It's time shift gears into vacation mode!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thank You!

Thank You!

Last June I made a deal with myself. If I could do the work to enable me to run a fast enough marathon to qualify for Boston, I'd register and dedicate my run to charity. You see, no Muscular Dystrophy organizations receive coveted charity entries to Boston. When it comes to running I never seem to take the easy route. If I was going to represent the community I'd have to earn it on our behalf. It's often said that the fight against Duchenne is a race against time so this wasn't something I wanted to do "one day" it was something I needed to do "now!"

When I put forth my fundraising page I had no idea how it would go. To put it mildly, I'm absolutely blown away by the generosity shown by our friends and family over the past month. Every penny raised is important in the fight against Duchenne. For your generosity, THANKS!

A couple running items... Recovery from last week's 16 miler went well. (That's me the left passing the half marathon split running in 12 degree weather.) I took the opportunity to take Monday off and stop my 90 day run streak at 712 miles, or an average of 7.9 miles each day for about a quarter year. This week was a "cut back" of sorts as I ran 59.5 miles capping the month with 286 miles. As I was increasing mileage through January I found myself loosing focus in my training so I've decided to reboot and refocus. Therefore, I've decided follow Pete Pfitzinger's "12/55-70" plan to give me some structure down the final 12 week stretch to Boston. I was successful following his "18/55" plan this summer so I'm confident.

Again, Thanks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Racing more miles than degrees

This weekend I ran a “moderately challenging” little race in New Hampshire. Here’s the report.

Sunday I ran the Boston Prep 16 miler in Derry, NH. It's a long, hilly, usually cold, 16 mile grind through the New Hampshire woods. Signing up for this race is akin to declaring yourself somewhat crazy, yet it usually sells out. This was my second year running "Derry."

The day promised to be interesting since near zero temps were forecasted. When I left the house it was barely above zero and I found the door on my car frozen shut. Trying to get in I inadvertently ripped the handle right off the door. Ooops! Fortunately the travel gods were soon on my side as I made every green light out of town and was soon passing Priuses with 26.2 stickers on the way to Derry. A typical early Sunday drive to a New England race.

Despite the 10 degree race start, most runners agreed the conditions were better than expected. A little sunshine goes a long way. Many runners run Derry as a well supported long run while many others race it. I was racing. It was positioned on my schedule to serve as a fitness marker on my way to Boston. If I could run under 1:50 without killing myself I just may be in position to challenge 3 hours or better come April.

Having run the race before I knew success would be built upon good strategy. I had to assess my strengths and weaknesses and apply them in just the right doses across the course and distance. With the hills I would have slow and fast miles and needed to save enough to finish the last 4 miles well under goal pace.

The race started with a mile and a half climb in which I found a comfortable pace so that when the road leveled I was able to comfortably move to a nice tempo and pick my way through the field. With each hill I eased up, focused on leg turnover, and avoided any "burn,” then again moved back to a nice tempo. The goal of the first 9.5 miles was to hit the two big hills with a little time "in the bank." That I did. Unfortunately, with the steep incline of the first hill, I spent all that time and would need to take out a sizable "loan" on the second 1.5 mile long hill. I had to manage my effort and give up no more time than I knew I could get back over the last four miles to meet my goal. Having earned back some time I passed the half marathon split still 34 seconds behind goal pace. I had to run well ahead of goal pace over the last 2.9 miles. It wasn’t easy and required incredible focus. At the line it turned out my strategy was spot on. Not only did get those 34 seconds back I gained another 53 along the way. I had met my time goal of sub 1:50 with a 1:49:06 (6:50 pace) along with my secondary goal of doing it without completely wasting myself in the process. This was a substantial improvement over my 2:03 from last year.

Kudos are well deserved by the Greater Derry Track Club for putting on such a well managed race. My reward for finishing 40th out of over 650 runners of was a nearly empty cafeteria with a great spread waiting. Chili and pizza were never so good.

As soon as I got home William’s first question, as per usual, was “what place did you get?” My 40th place didn’t elicit an immediate response but, after a moment, he gave a smile, two thumbs up, and said it was good. Then, he wanted my race number to put with the rest of his collection on his closet door, which is well on it’s way to being covered.

That was fun but now it’s back to training and keeping focus on the goal this spring.

You can also read the local news story Runners Conquer Low Temps in Boston Prep

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hello World!

So, after four weeks of procrastination after promising to start a blog chronicling our journeys living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and my road to the Boston Marathon, in which I hope to support fundraising and awareness for Duchenne by dedicating my race to my son William and all affected by Duchenne, here I am. Hello World! Don't expect to be regaled with profound thoughts on life and (fingers crossed) I won't bore you with the everyday minutia of life.

It's just 12 weeks to the start of the 115th Boston Marathon…and I'll be running it. For a runner it's been a quick trip to Hopkinton, the race's starting town. I've only been at it for about two years. (Yeah, I ran a couple years in high school but that was two decades ago!) I've always been a warm weather cyclist but, unsurprisingly, in the two years following William's diagnosis I put on about 20 lbs. It was time for a change.

I had always wanted to run a marathon and thought, perhaps, it would be reasonable to run myself into shape during the winter of 08/09 and give it a go come springtime. Well, after that winter I ran myself into good enough shape to plod through perhaps a quarter of a marathon. I had underestimated the huge volume of work involved by at least 20 miles! Regardless, I kept at it through the spring and summer trying to run more and farther. By August my weekend runs were finally in the double digits. Only then I admitted to my family that I hoped to run a marathon that October. So, I did. It was a great experience running the challenging Cape Cod Marathon. Somewhere along the road in Falmouth on Cape Cod I was bitten by the contagious running bug. I came home wanting more.

I kept running almost daily and watched myself improve, go faster and faster, and drop almost 45 pounds by the following spring while I ran two half marathons, a 16 miler, a 10K, and many 5Ks. I even ran a few 5Ks pushing William in the jogger. Speeding along as fast as we can is thrilling to him. Twice we finished in the top 5 and once broke 20 minutes together.

I had planed to run another marathon and, based on a recent half marathon time, decided that if I ran almost every day, stayed focused, worked hard, and sacrificed I would have an outside shot at qualifying for Boston. At the time I gave myself a 1 in 4 chance but, as the summer progressed, so did my odds. I ran almost a thousand miles last June to October. By the time I toed the line at the Baystate Marathon I was 100% confident in my readiness to run a Boston qualifying marathon and did just that.

That's it. Two quick years of running and here we are just 12 weeks out from Boston. There's a lot more work to be done.