Another take on Why I Run

My friend Madison posted this ad on DailyMile the other day and on her blog the day after the final really long run of our training for Chicago.  Madison is running the Chicago Marathon as well!  Since I’m in the advertising business, it really caught my attention.  Here is the copy from a 2008 Nike Pegasus ad.  It was the shoe’s 25th anniversary.

“You pretended the snooze button didn’t exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes you had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you.

You ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made you feel like a warrior.

You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer’s tan.

You hit the wall. You went through it. You decided to be man about it. You decided to be woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of. Just kept putting mile after mile on your interval odometer. For 25 years, you ran. And we ran with you. How much farther will we go? As far as you will.”   -Nike

When I was back in college, I was putting together my “book” — a collection of my writing samples to use to get a job in advertising — and I needed to write a couple of spec ads.  Spec ads are used by young people trying to break into advertising since you don’t yet have a real book filled with actually produced ads.  To create one of my spec ads I modeled it after a great Nike running ad of that time:

“There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open.  Just do it.”

Chicago Marathon goals

In less than three weeks, I’ll be toeing the line at my first marathon ever, the Chicago Marathon on October 10th. I am giddy and nervous with anticipation.

Here are my goals for the marathon:

  1. Finish the race without injury. I assume this is priority #1 for anyone running any marathon, but it still should be stated.
  2. Finish the race within 5 hours, which is an average pace of 11:25/mile. Based on what I’ve been able to do during training, this goal should be pretty straightforward to meet.
  3. Finish the race within 4 hours, which is an average pace of 9:09/mile. I consider this a stretch goal for sure. Based on my longer runs (17+ miles) during training, it seems within reach, but since I’ve never been over 20 miles, I’m just not sure what to expect.


Just went to the mailbox and found my official Chicago Marathon participant guide. My bib number is 19557. If feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk: “My bib number’s here! My bib number’s here!”

Next up, the taper

Today I finished the second and final 20 mile run in my training plan for the Chicago Marathon. From now until the race, I’ll be tapering. There is one 12 mile run left for next Sunday, but that no longer seems to have the teeth it once had.

Today’s run was nowhere near as satisfying as the first 20 miler, but that was due to a little stomach bug, not the run itself. I still feel confident and ready for October 10th.

What I am afraid of is … the taper.

The last time I tapered was late April in preparation for the Flying Pig Half Marathon. I’m pretty sure my family was ready to send me to live in a hotel by the end. Apparently, I’m a little grouchy while tapering. I know all of the great reasons for the taper. And I know I’ll be happy to be rested and strong on race day. But the in the mean time I’ll just have to live with being stir crazy. For three weeks. Ughhh.

Marathon pacing question

A little less than a month until my first marathon, and I’m feeling pretty good about how prepared I feel.  But I still have a question.

I know what result I’m going for:  to finish under 4 hours.  That translates into running the whole 26.2 miles at an average pace of 9:09/mile.  When I was training for the recent half marathon, I pretty much tried to run the whole race at one particular pace, and that worked well for that distance.  With only minor variations, I was able to hold the 8:30 pace pretty well over the 13.1 miles.

But the full marathon is another beast altogether.  I’m not sure it’s a great idea to go out running a 9:09 pace from the beginning and just hold it.  But maybe it is, I’m simply not sure.  Without any real input one way or another, this is the plan I have in my head, but I’d love some guidance from my more experienced friends.

  • Miles 1 – 13, try to average 8:50/mile
  • Miles 14 – 20, try to average 9:10/mile
  • Miles 21+, hang on for dear life and average 9:30

If my math is correct, that should have me finishing at just under 4 hours.

Good plan?  Bad plan?  Discuss.

A new look and an impending taper

I decided to try a new look for my blog. Feel free to comment and let me know if you like the change.

This has been a step down week of running, which means shorter mileage for both the weekly total as well as a shorter long run. Last week’s weekly total was 43 miles and included my first 20 mile run. This week will be 35 miles and the long will be just 12 miles. Next week is the final hard training week before the taper starts for the Chicago Marathon on October 10th.

My confidence remains high for the marathon. My training, while difficult, has me feeling strong and prepared. And, knock on wood, my health has been great. Only minor little aches and pains from ramping up mileage, but nothing that has really affected my training.

My next step is going to be to reach out to my more experienced friends to figure out a game plan for race day. Having never run a full marathon, I know I’ll benefit from their advice.

One Year Later

Exactly one year has passed since I began running. A lot has happened in that year, so bear with me while I relive some of it.

Here’s what I said one year ago about why I began running again.

Lately I’ve gotten so completely disgusted with myself, my laziness, but most importantly, the example I am setting for my family that I have (re)committed to running.

I ended that post with a promise. “This time, it’s for real. I promise.”

I then went out and start the Couch to 5K running program to help get me started. One of the big differences between previous attempts to start running and this one is that I consciously decided to take it slow and easy, and C25K really helped with that. The first day of C25K has you alternating between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking. Here’s me after that first day:

And there I was wheezing my way around, wondering how 60 seconds could feel so damn long. Sixty seconds. Seconds.

That whole first week of running felt like hell, and I was only doing one minute at a time. Today, one year later, for the first time ever, I ran 20 miles and it took me about 3 hours to do it. Day one, one minute. Today, 182 minutes.

I’ve admitted it before, and I will again now. When I started, I was driven by many self-centered factors: I felt lazy, I felt (and was) grossly overweight. And honestly, I had been both for the better part of a decade. While those first days were mostly about my appearance, there was one other big factor: the example I was setting for my wife and my two young boys.

As for the physical changes, they’ve been pretty drastic.  When I started, I weighed 218 pounds, which put me in the obese category according to BMI (I’m 6’0″).  And while I never had my body composition measured, I can’t imagine that my fat percentage was any less than 30%.  My resting heart rate was somewhere in the 80s and I was just generally unhealthy, getting pretty much every cold or sniffle my kids brought home from school.  Today, I weigh 171 lbs., my resting heart rate is on the low 50s, and I had my body composition measured at the beginning of July and found that my fat percentage is just 7%.  In the past year, I haven’t been sick at all, even with H1N1 having made its presence known in my family.

I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in my body.  But what really makes me feel great is how proud my wife and boys are.  Just this afternoon, my younger boy said, “Dad I’m so proud of you for your 20 mile run.”  That alone felt like gold, but  I asked him why he was proud and he said, unprompted, “You’ve been running for a whole year to be able run 20 miles!”  I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried a bit when I heard that.  For an eight year old to recognize that hard work has to be consistently practiced over a long time to get to goals is priceless.  No amount of saying those words to him would have done it, but actually going out day after day regardless of how I was feeling allowed him to grasp a lesson that will serve him for his entire life.  I feel like I earned a Dad badge today.

A few stats to wrap things up.

I still have about a month to go to reach the goal I’ve been thinking about since I was in high school:  to run a marathon.  On October 10, 2010 I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon.