Friday, May 30, 2014

We waved Joe!

Thursday evening's run was an interesting one.  I was not really feeling up to running and if it were not for having the group counting on my presence, there would be no way I would have gone out to run even a mile.  I was expected to be there, so I was.  I am convinced that without the support of this group, I would not have had the self-motivation to successfully train and complete the Boilermaker.

We waved!  "Hi cows!"
Our route took us from our usual starting point, in Lot C, left onto Technology Drive and off campus via Hilltop Drive.  From there, we took a left onto Mulaney Drive.  We were instructed to wave to the cows!?!  If we did not, we were instructed to "not bother coming back".  What the...?

At the end of Mulaney we took a left down Edic Rd. for a bit of a rollercoaster-style drop and climb. From there it was twice around the circle, down the trail to the lower circle.  After two loops around that circle we headed back onto campus through Lot C and two laps around the bus loop and back to the start.

The general concensus was that the route was about 4.3 miles.  Even though I was not feeling like running, I actually had one of my better performances.  My pace was better than it has been and I feel that I handled the hills fairly well.  Everybody seemed to perform well, even with the heat.  As our reward, Joe decided we could all run a few sprints!  Yeah!

Week 6 GTD Run - Start to Tennis Courts

In my last post, I wrote about this week's GTD run.  With the Memorial Day holiday, we ran Tuesday this week.  It was nice to have the extra rest day.

Tuesday evening was a bit on the warm side, about 81 degrees at the start.  I have been worried about the first 4 miles of the Boilermaker course since the beginning of the GTD program.  There I was finally facing it.  I have been running fairly well (for me) over the past week.  I have managed to run the entire distance for each outing in Week 5.

Up until this point, I have accepted the fact that I would likely need to walk up the hill at Valley View but, that I would try to run the first 3 miles up to that point.  So, even though I would have liked to keep my "no-walking" streak going, I was resigned to the idea that I may need to walk up at least a portion of that last hill.

More than 1/2 the Boilermaker!
Even though I do leave 15-20 minutes ahead of most of the group, I am become accustomed to having them all pass me, usually by the halfway point in the run.  Each time out, I hope to make it a little further before I start seeing the pack pass me by.  The last time we ran from the Starting line, most of the group had reached me by the 2-mile mark.  So on Tuesday when I went past 2 miles and had not really had anybody speed by, I was encouraged.  In fact, I nearly made it to the bottom of Valley View before they started coming!

Maybe I could do this!  No walking, I was determined to make it to the end and keep my streak alive. Before leaving the house, I told my son that I was running for him; I was dressed all in red - his favorite color.  So for him, as I turned the corner at the bottom of Valley View Road I decided that I would run up that hill before me and down the other side to the end.  I did!

I knew the view from the parking area at the top was beautiful but, it has never been so amazing as it was after running uphill for 4 miles to get there.  What a feeling to throw my arms in the air and marvel at the view and the sense of accomplisment for making it to that point.  From there it was about a mile downhill to the tennis courts.  Although tired, I finished feeling that I could have continued on.  Imagine that...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday's Run, Week 5 Is Behind Us!

Our run to finish up Week 5 was another "slight hill".  I am not a fan of hills, nor mornings.  Putting them together, is a great way to start a Saturday!  I have to admit, this Saturday was the best morning run so far.  While I certainly was not loving the idea of getting out of bed and running, I felt the best I have of all of our morning runs so far.

As difficult as the climbs are, I am starting to get comfortable with the hills.  I definitely prefer the descents.  Considering the Boilermaker Course, I know all of this hill work is necessary.  I can only imagine what our Wednesday and Saturday runs will be like in the upcoming weeks.
4.3 Miles, 8:00 a.m.
Starting this coming week, we'll get to see how well all of this hill work is paying off.  Tuesday's run is the first 5 miles of the Boilermaker course - to the tennis courts.  Anybody familiar with the course knows that the first 4 miles are basically all uphill.  The knowledge that the last mile is downhill will be what gets me through the first four.

Wish me Luck!  (Leave me a comment below)

Running - Anybody Can Do It!

Taking up running, simply for the exercise benefits, is something that almost anybody can do.  I did it, you can too!  Unlike other exercise activities, there is virtually no learning curve to getting started.

There are no machines with which to become familiar, no equipment to purchase, other than a comfortable pair of running shoes (as you advance, you'll want to visit the local running store and be properly fitted.  It will be well worth the investment).

Get Up, Get Moving!

All you need to get started is the desire to get moving.  Beginners should probably check with their doctor before getting started.  There is no need to worry about whether you can run at all.  Start by walking for as long as you can fit into your schedule, even if only 20-30 minutes - make it a routine, schedule the time 3 days a week.  

The key is to get active and establish the routine.  As your fitness improves, you can begin increasing the length of your walks or incorporating short periods of jogging into your walks.  Eventually you can work up to running the entire time.  A simple search online should yield a number of training regiments to get you started.  Check the app store for your favorite device (check out Couch to 5K - C25K).

Please Be Safe!

Recruiting some friends or finding a local club is a great way to motivate yourself to keep to the routine.  If you decide to go out alone, make sure you remain safe.  Following are some simple tips to consider to be safe on your solo outings:
  1. Stick to open, public spaces.
  2. Vary your route, in order to avoid establishing a predictable routine.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, if you wear headphones, keep the volume to a level that allows you to hear your surroundings.
  4. Carry your cell phone, if possible.  At the least, let somebody know your intended route and how long you plan to be, give them a call upon your return.
  5. Run facing oncoming traffic.
  6. Consider carrying pepper spray, be sure you know how to use it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sometimes I like Joe More Than Others!

Lovely Rolling Hills of SUNY IT Campus

This Wednesday's run was a 4-mile run on and around the SUNY IT Campus.  Instead of heading out of Parking Lot C and heading left up Residential Drive, we headed right out to SUNY IT Expressway, and down to River Road.  A nice downhill start for a good and and a half miles.

From there, we were to head back onto campus, left onto Residential Drive for the loop back to Parking Lot C.  I had never run the loop in that direction but, did not sound too bad.

Not Liking Joe So Much...

When Joe told us the route, I though it sounded like it would turn out to be a little shorter than Mondays 4.7 miles.  It was.  However, his dubious plan was not apparent to me until I was half halfway up Residential Drive and I realized what a climb we had been challenged with (from River Road, to past the residence halls is all UPHILL).

Needless to say, as I was constantly seeking the end to the torture, my mind was focused on how I could let Joe now how much I was disliking him for his choice of the evening's route.  

Maybe He's Not So Bad...

Needless to say, once I finished (with a short sprint - thanks to some encouragement) I was pleased with myself for completing the entire route without stopping to walk at all.  That makes two runs in a row in which I managed to keep running the entire distance (I even managed to pick up water and drink it while on the go).  

I was also grateful that Joe did not insist on me participating in the post-run sprints.  However, after I had a chance to get a drink and settle down, I did consider joining them for the last one.  By the time I made up my mind, they were wrapping up.  Oh well, next time.  

I do like to make fun a little but, I cannot believe how far the whole team has come in 4 short weeks! While it has been no walk in the park, at no time have I felt like I was facing an unsurmountable challenge.  The training has been perfect, even for an out-of-shape beginner such as myself.  If you are reading this thinking that maybe you could do it - you definitely could.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Week 5 GTD Run

Some Pre-Run Excitement

If that didn't motivate me to
 run (away), nothing will!

This week's Monday night run found us back at the Boilermaker finish line.  After being startled by the explosive bursting of one of the safety patrol's bike tire and some pre-run entertainment provided by "Rainbow", we were off.

In order to keep the rest of the team from having to wait for me to finish, I like to head out a little earlier than the group.  I am without question the slowest member of this year's GTD Team.  But, I am proud to be out there and covering the same distance as everybody else - it just takes me a little longer.  It is still hard to believe that I am able to run nearly 5 miles without stopping!

This Week's Course

This week, we started at the finish line heading towards York Street.  We turned onto York St. to Old Burrstone, along Old Burrstone to Utica College.  From there, we followed the Boilermaker Course back to the Finish (Champlain - Whitesboro St. - Court St.).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 4 Ends With 5K Road Race

GTD Team Encouraged to Run 5K

To help us prepare for the Boilermaker experience, the Go The Distance Team was encouraged to participate in the Commercial Travelers' National Distance Hall of Fame 5K Road Race.  This would only be my second 5K event, the first being the 2013 Falling Leaves Race.  I have been feeling pretty good about my training, although I know I am not running very quickly.

Lucky #7?
Having experience a 5K and having an idea of what to expect, I was not nervous pre-race.  However, I did not have high expectations.  I was hoping not to be the last runner to finish but, was mentally prepared for the likelihood.  Believe it or not, I was able to shave almost 6 minutes off my time from the Falling Leaves Race so, I guess I achieved a PR (personal record).  I also was able to meet another goal which was to finish my 5K run before any of the half marathon runners passed me - mission accomplished. ;)  

Besides being a little chilly at the start, it was a beautiful morning for a run.  As the sun managed to burn of the morning fog, it warmed up enough to be comfortable running.  Congratulations to all of the runners, especially my GTD Teammates!

Monday's Run - Featuring ME!

First Run of Week 4, Monday Night

As this weeks feature runner, I would be facing the camera throughout my run and an interview after running the four mile route.  The route was a fairly simple one, starting at the Boilermaker Start Line, up Culver Ave, 2 miles and back.  

My biggest concern was to be aware of the WKTV Cameraman, Spencer.  I did not want to give him any footage that I would not want to see on the news next week.  Running uphill for 2 miles was bound to make that a difficult task!

I know I do not look like a runner.  I certainly did not want to tune in and see me huffing and puffing up that hill.  Besides the ever-tough first mile, I felt that I ran fairly strongly.  I did feel like I saw Spencer in a new location every time that I looked up on the uphill portion of the route, I would have preferred to see him more on the downhill, oh well!

We'll see how it turned out soon enough.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top 10 Things I Have Learned as a Beginning Runner by Participating in Go The Distance

Thank you Go The Distance

I owe a world of gratitude to the Go The Distance Committee for selecting me as one of this years participants and, to Joe W. and all of the runners that participate in our training runs for their support and encouragement.
With each training run, I learn a little more about myself, what I am made of, and of all that I am capable.  I am learning what it will take to conquer the greatest 15K road race in the country, the Boilermaker.

It amazes me how far I have come and how much I have learned in three short weeks. 

Following are the Top 10 things I have learned to date:

2. Runners are good people
3. We don't have to run together, to run together
4. Running is much more than getting one foot in front of the other
5. The first mile always sucks
6. The right footwear makes a huge difference
7. Your phone's GPS is probably not the most accurate measuring tool
8. Rest is as important as the running
9. Running makes me hungry
10. The key to improving may be in getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

My intent is to elaborate on each item in this list in a series of posts, to follow.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How far are you running today?

With all of my family, friends and colleagues that are aware of my Go The Distance training, I am often faced with various questions, "how's the training going?" or, "how far are you running today?"

I love being able to share my experience as it forces me to be more social than I am naturally.  It also helps me stay focused on the goal. So many people continue to encourage me, there is no way I can let them down. 

For the record, my training is going great!  While I am usually sore the next day, I am amazed at the progress that I am making and my body's ability to handle each increase in distance.

Everybody knows that we are following a pre-determined training schedule that can be found on the Go The Distance page at   So when they ask me, "how far are you running today?", they expect me to be able to give them the planned distance. The problem is, unless it is Monday night, none of us really know how far Joe (our dedicated trainer) will send us. 

We were warned by GTD alumni that despite being an excellent coach, Joe's math was not so good.  As a testament to that fact, below is the route for last night's run - supposed to be a semi-flat 1.5 mile out and back (3 miles, total).
If you are familiar at all with the SUNY IT campus, you likely would not think "flat".  The mapped route came in just over 4 miles (based on my phone's GPS). Admittedly, there is some margin of error with the GPS tracking but, certainly not 33%.

None of us hold this against Joe, we have complete faith in the madness to his method. He is doing what he knows best to prepare each of us to successfully complete our first Boilermaker.  His track record stands for itself.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I am a Runner

During Week Two, I have been amazed by the sense of community that exists among runners.  Up to this point, the entire Go The Distance Team has been warm, friendly and welcoming to all.  While the Go The Distance Team is AMAZING!; the overall community of runners appears to be a friendly, supportive people.  

 It has been so nice to be able to begin my Boilermaker training experience with such a wonderfully supportive group.  Being away on a business trip for the first part of this past week, I was dreading having to fit my runs in, without the support of the team.  Where would I run?  Would I be able to push myself adequately?  What would other runners think of me when they see me huffing along?  These are just some of the questions that went through my mind as I prepared for my trip.

 I was pleasantly surprised by the quantity and frequency of warm greetings that I received during my early morning runs in a strange city.  I have never considered myself to be a “runner.”  That did not seem to matter to those that I encountered this past week.  It was so encouraging to hear a “good job” or, “keep it up” from complete strangers, as they trotted past me.  I am not sure if the same people would have acknowledged me had we crossed paths in our street clothes.  However, running seemed to connect us somehow.

I do not know whether or not I will continue to participate in the sport of running after this experience.  For now, for the first time in my life, I consider myself to be a runner.  I am a Runner!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

One Week In, Still Going Strong

One Week, Three Runs

With each training run that I complete, I eliminate another fraction of doubt that I have had.  I have believed for a while that I could complete the 2014 Boilermaker but, there was always that doubt that I could pull it off.  I am so thankful to have the Go The Distance Team to get me there.  I am more confident than ever that I will complete my first Boilermaker this July.

Having a structured training program and a group of people with a common goal is more motivating than I would have imagined.  Following are the maps and results of my first three workouts.  As you can see, each run is longer than the last.  

1.95 Miles, Completed in 28:45, Average Pace 14:44
2.9 Miles, Completed in 45:19, Average Pace 15:38

3.1 Miles, Completed in 44:13, Average Pace 14:17

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Go The Distance 2014

Another Go The Distance Season - 2014 Edition

Last night, Monday, April 21, 2014 marked the official kickoff of another season of preparing runners for the Boilermaker.  There was quite a turnout of seasoned and beginning runners for the first run of the season, a 1.8 mile loop starting and ending in the MVCC parking lot.
It was heels-up at 6:30, sharp.  Runners headed up the Memorial Parkway, down Mohawk Street, and back towards MVCC on James St.
Nice Turnout for the first run of the season!

The 2014 Go The Distance Team
As has become an annual tradition, WKTV has selected a team of first time runners to Go The Distance (GTD) and complete this year's Boilermaker.  Having lived in CNY nearly all of my life, I have seen more than a couple Boilermakers.  I have seen runners of all ages, shapes and, sizes cross that finish line.  I have even known previous GTD participants and have witnessed them successfully complete the "World's Biggest 15K Road Race."  WKTV and the GTD Team have quite a track record.
Meet the 2014 Go The Distance Team
I Hope They Are Ready For ME!

In hopes of getting all the help I can to prepare me to complete this year's Boilermaker, I prepared a nice little essay as part of my application to WKTV.  I really never have had any desire to immerse myself in a sea of thousands of runners and clamor my way 9 miles through the streets of Utica.  In fact, up until a few months ago, I hated distance running and despised crowds.  WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING!?!?

My first run with the team was about what I expected, I managed to maintain a pace slightly better than I have been keeping when running on my own.  The encouragement of the safety patrol and the other runners was certainly appreciated, whether my responses or facial expressions showed it - THANK YOU, EVERYBODY!  And I do mean everybody, since you were all there waiting for me at the end.

I'll share more about how I came to commit to running this year's Boilermaker in a future post.  Let me wrap up by saying that despite my current fitness level, I am committed to getting through this process and successfully completing the 2014 Boilermaker.

Despite what Joe W. may think, my selection to the 2014 GTD was not some cruel joke played on him by Kristen Copeland and the rest of the GTD Committee.  You may have your work cut out with me but, I'll give you all I have.