2012: A Year in Review

Damn, where do I even begin? Well, since I am recapping a year, I suppose I begin at the start.

But, before I do a recap of the entire year, I will skip to August, before back tracking to January. Though the rest of the year was awesome, August takes precedence over all the other months. It was August that I married my long time girlfriend/fiancé, Crystle Santos (now Welch). We had a beautiful wedding in her hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. Many of our closest friends and family were there and it was by far the most amazing day of my life.
Through it all, ups and downs, she has stood by me and continues to stand by me. None of the rest of 2012 (or any other of our years’) would have been nearly as special, without her. She is my biggest fan, biggest critic and biggest supporter. She keeps me grounded and level.


So, now that the biggest highlight of the year has been discussed, I will now take you through a rundown of some of the other awesome moments of 2012 (WARNING: IT’S ALL RUNNING STUFF!!!)

JANUARY- The turn of the year was looking very promising. I was getting into amazing running shape and was starting to really up the training mileage in preparation for my upcoming marathons. For my Boston marathon charity run with Team Hoyt, I even had a few people who were going to donate 1 dollar for every mile I ran in the month of January. With that as incentive, it was going to be a big month..THEN, midway through the month, I suffer a serious Achilles injury!! I was devastated. When it first happened, all I could think about was “No way can I run Shamrock in March and qualify for Boston”. I had to figure something out quick, I was running out of time!!

FEBURARY – For half of January and all of Feburary, my training mileage took a huge hit. I was only able to run 10 miles per week during this time. But, instead of giving up and calling it a wash, I refocused in order to maintain fitness and concentrate on getting to the starting line of Shamrock. I wasn’t running much, but I started aqua jogging about 10 miles per week and added about 30-50 additional miles rollerblading. I may have been down, but I wasn’t out!!

MARCH – The time had come!! Although I had been selected as a member of the Team Hoyt 2012 Boston marathon charity team, the BAA decided that in order to officially be allowed entry into Boston, pushing or not, I would have to qualify just like everyone else. This meant, that I would have to run a 3 hours 10 minute marathon or faster in order to qualify and solidify my spot on the team.

With very limited running mileage for the previous two months, I was quite nervous on whether or not I would be able to pull off such a feat. My previous PR for the marathon was 3:10, and that was running solo, not pushing a chair and rider. But, I was willing to do whatever it took at this point. Too many people were counting on me and there wasn’t a chance I was going to let them down.

So, with the 3:10 looming over our heads, Tim Brown (my rider athlete) and I set out with only one goal in mind…3:10 or bust!!

I will spare you the play by play of the marathon itself….but, long story short, we ran 3:09:39!! Nothing like making it a “barn burner”!!

Also would like to a give a big shout out to my long time friend (brother, more like it) William “Micky” Tallent..he ran an exceptional race and a huge PR with a 2:55!!


APRIL – Having qualified for Boston and needing some recovery and rest time, I spent the last two weeks of March and the first two weeks of April, running only once or twice per week. The rest of the time, I was living in the pool, aqua jogging and swimming to maintain my fitness before tackling Boston.

Boston Marathon in and of itself is the biggest rock show on earth (for runners)…From the moment we pulled into town, it was a non-stop, running inspired utopia. Everywhere we went, there was something cool to be seen. Essentially, we (Thomas Hicks and myself) were in running geek heaven!! Two nights before the race, Team Hoyt had their annual charity dinner and “meet and greet”. Tim and I got to meet and chat with the greats, Bill Rodgers and Uta Pippig (even got photos to prove it).


The race itself, ended up being one of the hottest on record. By late morning, it was in the low 90’s and majority of the 26.2 miles was a complete suffer fest. Not willing to face the heat and conditions, nearly 4000 runners deferred their entry until 2013. But, for Tim, Thomas and myself, we came here to run Boston…no chance in hell we weren’t running it.

Tim and I started the race with legends, Dick and Rick Hoyt and were treated like rock stars throughout the entire run. The fan support was amazing and if not for them, the conditions would have been amplified. The crowd was passing out cold towels, ice, popsicles, lemonade, etc.


Ole Thomas Hicks had a hell of an experience as well…while conquering 26.2 miles the only way he knows how (on guts and heart), he had a bit of divine intervention…At one point, he encountered another charity team that were pushing for the MS Society (as you all know, Thomas suffers from MS). He shared a few miles with them and listened to their testimony and shared his. Then, later in the race, he runs with a man who lost his father to a lung tumor (Thomas too has a lung tumor)..needless to say, these two men inspired each other. Finally, Thomas runs into (no pun intended), the legendary, Dean Karnazes (Ultra runner machine). For several miles, they swapped stories…during this time, Dean was inspired and moved by Thomas’s testimony…Dean called Thomas, his hero!!

MAY – After Boston, there was some much needed recovery time to be had. So, for the second half of April and all of May, I continued rehab on my Achilles and minimized the time spent running. Spent the majority of the time, swimming, biking and rollerblading.

JUNE- After finally starting to recover from the Achilles injury, Thomas Hicks decided he would talk me into running the USATF Masters races with him. Though I hadn’t ran on the track competitively in over 10 years, I knew it would be a blast and because it was something Thomas had his heart set on, I decided, I was in!

In early June, there was the USATF Virginia Association Championships, in Richmond. Thomas, Rob Hunter and myself drove up to Richmond like a bunch of giddy school girls (yes, we were excited to be on the track again…once a miler, always a miler!). Though we didn’t have any real expectations, nor did we have a clue about where we would be for our mid-distance running, we all did rather well, running modern day PR’s, placing in and or winning our respective races and having a ton of fun!! In the 1500m, Thomas became the state record holder for Over 40 Masters!!


In late June, the three of us drove up to Maryland for the USATF Mid-Atlantic championships. There, we again did very well and either won or placed in our respective age groups and races. Also, it is safe to say, the Masters scene in the area, now know who HRR is!!

JULY – No serious racing or running, just good training and fun with the running group and my training partners.

AUGUST – The best month of all!! As mentioned earlier, this is the month that Crystle and I got married. After nearly 6 years of being together, we finally took our vows and became husband and wife!


SEPTEMBER – This month was special because of the Colonial 200 Relay. A huge showing of HRR and fellow 757 runners decided to take part in the 200 mile relay, from Charlottsville to Jamestown. Aside from our crazy 10 person team, HRR had another team in the race, as did our Final Kick friends and another team consisting of many of our good running friends from the area. My team, Team Procrastinators and a Diva came in 2nd overall to Team 5 Dudes and Two Boobs (our friends Dai Roberts, Tommy Neeson, Ryan Carroll, Drew Midland, Joel Bell and Renee High).


The relay was a ton of fun, lots of laughs and a few scary moments. Overall though, it was one amazing experience and something we plan to do again in 2013.

OCTOBER – This month was a big month for running. In the early part of the month, I paced my wife at the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon in Hampton. She ran an exceptional race and PR’d by over 15 minutes.

Crawlin Crab

At the end of the month, Chandler “BEAN” Doebler and I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C.
We ran together for Team Hoyt and had an amazing time. This was Chandler’s first marathon ever and he loved every mile of it. This was also a first time marathon for fellow Team Hoyters, Jenny Dugan and Jose Nogueras. The crowd support and the aura that is Marine Corp Marathon, was amazing!! Certainly a race I plan to do again.

October also produced many great races for many of my running friends and training partners. A few note worthy performances go to Justin Turner (2:31 and PR at MCM), Kris Lawrence www.kris-lawrence.com (2:50 and PR at Twin Cities) and Renee High (2:47 at Colombus) http://reneehigh.com/

NOVEMBER – This was an overall great training month, with a couple great races. In early November, I ran the Freedom Half marathon with Team Hoyt (managed to run a new PR as well)

At the end of the month, I ran the Turkey Trot 10k (another “modern era” PR).
Both of these races were a lot of fun and both produced many PR’s for my fellow HRR members and other running friends/training partners.


The rest of November was filled with several big races and PR’s for so many in the local running community. The Richmond marathon and OBX marathon, both produced lots of awesome race PR’s, were first time marathons for many and were overall great races for all!

DECEMBER – This month was a wonderful month all around. For the first time, I ran and completed a 50k race. This year, I ran the Seashore 50k. For the past two years, I paced a few friends and took part in some of the race, but I never finished it and I never set out to race it. This year, I decided I would go out and race it and see what I could do. I ended up doing quite well, 4th overall and I managed to PR my marathon in route to the finish. I had a great experience for my first official “Ultra” and I intend to do another one in the near future.


The rest of the month was filled with the holiday spirit and family time. Crystle and I traveled to Rhode Island this year for the holidays and spent time with her family and friends.

So, to say the least, 2012 was an amazing year, filled with lots of great moments. Crystle and I made many new friends and shared many wonderful experiences together this year. Our running group http://www.meetup.com/HamptonRoadsRunners/ continues to provide us with wonderful people and wonderful times.
As you all reflect on the good and bad of 2012, remember that life is always changing, always moving forward and is always an experience to enjoy. Life is not a given and you are not guaranteed to wake up tomorrow. So, no matter what your goals or what your ambitions are for 2013, remember that family and friends are of the utmost importance, don’t neglect either of them. Have fun, enjoy what you do, but always keep things in perspective. If at all possible, make amends with your enemies, love your neighbor, show compassion and open your mind to all the possibilities that are out there….it’s a big world out there…enjoy it!

Seashore 50k!


So, this race was my first OFFICIAL ultra-marathon…for the past two years, I ran half of the race pacing a friend or two. In 2011, I helped pace Kris Lawrence. In 2010, I helped pace Thomas Hicks. But this year, I decided I would throw my hat in the ring and actually try to race it.

I didn’t necessarily have any huge expectations for this race, but I did set a few small goals that I had hoped to acheive. 1.) Finish under 4 hours. 2.) Run a smart and conservative race for the first half, then open it up the second. 3.) Get my nutrtition on point and not crash and or lose significant energy over the second half of the race. 4.) Keep my heart rate in a conservative zone and do as little damage to my body as possible.

From the start, I had no intentions to “race” anybody. This year, there was a tough and competive crowd. Billy Edwards (last year’s winner) was back and looking to claim his title, Drew Midland was there (though he was only pacing), the always impressive and consistent, Steve Speirs was back and ready for business as usual. There was also an impressive ladies field, a few of my fellow HRR teammates and also a few first timers who were going to put up a great race.


So…with a very competitive top 10 in the field, I decided to run MY race and not get caught up in the hoopla. I made it a point to let the front crowd go out at their quick paces and let the race unfold however it may. My plan was to stay conservative for at least the first half of the race, not get passed by any other racers, and hopefully, with any luck, pass a few of the other runners along the way.

For the first 3 miles, I was running along with 3 of my good friends/training partners, Thomas Hicks, William Tallent and Renee High…we were pretty much doing our normal “long run” routine of laughing and having fun. Renee wasn’t racing and was out getting in her long run, so she decided to keep me company for the early miles of the race.

There wasn’t really any pace strategy for the race..but, I did want to negative split the race if at all possible (meaning, I wanted the second half to be faster than the first). After going conservative for the first half of the race, I came off the first loop of Osmanthus with an average pace of 7:16. At this point, I was still feeling awesome and was feeling really strong, but, 16 more miles is still a loooooong way to go and anything can happen.


Throughout the race (every 30 minutes), I would take my race fuel and hydration. For this race, I chose to go solely with my liquid (homemade) energy drink (combined with two scoops of UCAN) and my supplements. Every 45 minutes, it was a capsule each of calcium/magnessium/potassium/taurine/beta alinine/arginine/rhodiola… I took no gels for the race. I did however grab a handfull of Skittles at the 2nd to last aid station…I had ran out of my energy drink and I wanted to have a bit of sugar in case I needed it. I took the entire handfull of Skittles and put them in my mouth and sucked on them for the final 8 miles…if you suck them and don’t chew them, they will last for a long time and will dissolve slowly to give you a steady “drip” of sugar.

Another pre-race plan I had, was to keep my heart rate below 160 for as long as possible. My typical training paces for a moderate 60%-80% effort will reflect a heart rate zone of 130-158. For this race, my heart rate stayed in the mid 150’s the entire race, until the last mile, where I was pushing the pace a bit. Average heart rate for the entire run was 154…this was my most prized accomplishment for this race!!

At mile 17, I decided to see if I could start picking up the pace and start picking a few runners off. I passed a couple runners between mile 17.5 and mile 18.5. At about mile 19, I was creeping up on a pack of 5, that included Steve Speirs, Drew Midland, Steph Manny, Howie Hodapp and another runner (Ed). I ran for awhile with Drew and Steph, with Steve and Ed staying a consistent 40 meters ahead.

All the way down the narrows, I watched Steve and Ed slightly in front of me…at the turn around, Steve and I shared a few words of encouragement and at that point, he decided to make a move and make it a race. My pace never slowed from that point on, yet, Steve kept getting further away…there was a decision to be made at this point. Do I try to stay right behind Steve and his now mid 6:00 tempo, or do I continue to stay in my steady zone and let him go? The decision was to let him go. Steve has much more long distance race experience than I and he is a tough bastard as well. If it were the final mile, I would have been confident in my speed..but with 8 miles to go, Steve had the advantage and I knew that. I did not want to go completely in the well for this race and I knew that going with Steve would have put me there…over the next 8 miles, he put about 3 1/2 minutes time on me…but considering I never slowed my pace, I can live with that..Live to fight another day.


At this point in the race, I was sitting in 5th place. I knew catching Billy Edwards was out of the question and the way that Steve took off, chances were not good that I would catch him again, either. So, I was hoping that maybe the other two guys in front of me, might be struggling and perhaps I could pick one or both of them off. With a mile to go, I got my wish! I saw the previously ranked 3rd place guy up ahead of me as we were nearing the end of the dreaded Osmanthus trail. It was obvious that Steve had overtaken this guy and was comfortably on his way to at least a 3rd place finish. As I trailed the guy for a half mile, I knew he was hurting…I decided to stay right behind him until we got off of Osmanthus…this would be exactly a half mile from the finish line and I knew I could out kick him and use my speed to my advantage. As soon as we came off the side trail and hit Cape Henry, I sprinted past him and kicked toward the finish. I ran the last half mile at a sub 6:20 pace, finished in 3:43:57..good enough for 4th place overall..behind some damn good runners!!

To be honest, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the way this race turned out. For awhile now, I have been curious of how good my fitness actually was. I had been putting in some great training runs, but had not really raced all year. For the entire year, I have been putting a “non-typical” distance running schedule together. For 11 months, I have averaged only 32 miles per week and have only had a handful of weeks total for the year that have been over 40 miles.

All year, instead of focusing on mileage, mileage, mileage…I decided to go with a different approach. I focused on quality running, lots of xtraining (swimming, aqua running, weights, core and balance excercises). I also put a lot of emphasis on nutrition, recovery and perfecting the best race fueling and hydration practices.

This was the longest distance race I have ever ran and I can honestly say, it was hands down, the EASIEST!! I never crashed, bonked or hit the wall. I felt stronger and stronger as the race went on. I negative split the race by a significant amount and I was able to throw down my fastest mile of the race in the last mile.


This was my “BOOYAH” race! I am not one to boast or brag..but this race was for all those naysayers..all those who said that my “low mileage” plan was silly and that it wouldn’t work for the long distance races…Well, I guess perhaps they were wrong.

It is also worth mentioning that I woke up this morning without a sore muscle in my body…I felt great today and spent the entire day on my feet, with my wife, walking around doing Xmas shopping.

I did the research, I made myself a guinea pig, I stuck to the plan despite all the negativity that I heard…. and finally, “the proof is in the pudding”!

Going to Runner Heaven!! R.I.P.


Why the hell am I talking about A single pair of running shoes?????

As a distance runner, we cycle through running shoes every 200-400 miles (a bit more if you are an efficient runner or they are an extremely good pair of shoes). Most of us have a minimum of 3 pair that we cycle through each week. So why is this particular pair so sentimental?

This, now highly worn, fairly dirty and extremely smelly pair, were my first pair of the Brooks PURE shoe line and are the Brooks Pure Flow. They are a very versatile shoe and can be worn for everyday training, long races and or short races such as a 5k.

I received this pair of shoes, as a gift from Final Kick Sport www.finalkicksports.com . These shoes were a gesture of support for Team Tim and our upcoming Boston Marathon.

So, that particular reason right there is reason alone to have such a strong feeling towards these shoes.

Because I was coming off of an Achilles injury, I needed a pair of lightweight, but well cushioned shoe to get me through the grueling distance of the marathon. From the moment I put these shoes on, I was in love.

These boys have seen a lot of miles and have shared in many of my greatest experiences thus far with my running career.

Aside from the untold amount of training “miles and smiles” with great friends, this pair of shoes saw Tim and I through our Boston Qualifying time at The Shamrock marathon in March, our first Boston Marathon in April and also mine and Chandler Doeblers’ first Marine Corp Marathon in October.

They were also my go to shoe for the Colonial 200 mile relay in September…A race that I shared along side many of my closest friends.

They have been a part of several race day PR’s (my own, as well as races where I paced a friend or my wife).

As much as I hate to officially retire these shoes, it is time to do so. They will now be reserved solely for casual walking, checking the mail and taking out the trash.

Though they have been replaced with a new pair of the Brooks Pure Flow, they will always hold a place in my heart and will always be remembered.

Rest In Peace boys!!

It’s a TRAINING plan, NOT just a running plan!!

Just as the title suggests, it’s a “training” plan and not just a running plan!! What I mean by this, is that, in order to be successful, over the long haul, you need to focus on the entire package and not just on the running alone.

Majority of runners, novice and experienced alike, tend to assume that just running tons and tons of miles will eventually turn them into the runner they want to be. They find some cookie cutter training plan or they try to mimic the Kenyan plans, the Ryan Hall or Kara Goucher plan, etc, etc.

What they fail to realize is that the aforementioned runners are not only extremely talented and gifted runners, but they are also very routine oriented and adhere to a strict TRAINING regime.

So, even though nobody reading this will likely ever be capable of a 2:04 marathon, no matter how great your training is, you can still follow similar training strategies to maximize YOUR greatest potential.


First off, you have to determine your area of interest and target “sport specific” training. Though some of you are tri-athletes, ball sport athletes, swimmers, etc…for the sake of confusion and because this is a running blog, I will keep everything running related.

  • RUNNING – this is fairly obvious, but not necessarily clear and understandable. To be good at running, there is no big secret, you HAVE to run. Where this gets murky is, HOW MUCH, HOW OFTEN, HOW FAST, etc. In the world of running, there are as many training philosophies and training principles as there are stars in the sky. What is the perfect one? That is an question the will never be answered, because there are just too many variables and too many skill levels and natural talents of runners. I will not go into any great detail on my views and theories (at least not in this blog post). However, I will say, that no matter what type of runner you are or what skill level you are, if you want to maximize your potential as a runner, you should be out there running at a minimum of 3 days per week.


  • NUTRITION – This should be another fairly obvious part of training, but not very well defined. The body is a machine (a very finely tuned one at that). In order to operate as efficiently as possible, the body needs to be fueled properly. Just as your car needs quality gasoline, so too does your body need quality nutrition in order to be able to go the distance. Again, I won’t go into great detail on all the various nutritional and diet ideas out there, but I will say this. Make your eating habits a lifestyle and not just some predetermined diet that last X amount of time. I myself follow a eating lifestyle of a ration of about 60/20/20. Meaning that I eat about 60% carbs, 20% proteins and 20% fats throughout the day. Also, I try to make sure that most of my food sources are natural and not “man made”. My thought process is this “If it didn’t come from the land, keep it out of your hand”.  I tend to eat mostly lean meats, lots of vegetables and fruits, occasional whole grains and rice and a good amount of nuts, nut butters. I try to minimize anything packaged and “man made”  and try to minimize the intake of gluten. Essentially, if it’s packaged and has ingredients I can’t pronounce, it stays away from my body. My one and only weakness and vice is BEER!! I have drastically cut down my consumption of this heavenly nectar, but I still must have a few per week!


  • X-TRAINING – Cross training refers to any type of physical training other than your specific sport (in this case, running). As a runner, there is much benefit to cross training. Because we are almost always moving in a forward motion, never side to side or laterally, we tend to have biomechanical imbalances and weaknesses, which if not addressed will usually lead to an injury of some degree and or hinder performance. In order to be a good runner and to minimize the wear and tear on the body, you need a good strong core. The core, just as it states in the name, is the center of all body function. When you see an elite runner finish a marathon, are they hunched over and or running as if they are sitting in a bucket? Not likely! The reason is because they have a strong core that allows the rest of their body to extend the time and distance before their muscles get too tired to respond to demands of a hard race effort. Again, there are many examples of X-training, but some examples include : Swimming, x-fit, hiking, aqua jogging, weight training, balance exercises, etc. Cross training can also be used as a means of recovery from a hard running workout. The different type of training will engage different muscle groups and will give your tired running muscles a well deserved break.


  • RECOVERY – This one is of utmost importance!! Anybody who has been running any significant amount of time, knows those runners who are slave to their Garmins or slave to always going hard, hard, hard. Just as the KEY runs are important to your running success, so too are the easy/recovery days. Recovery does not have to mean taking complete time off from training, however, it does mean you should at least try to have a day in between hard workouts. Without going to deep into the science of it all, the body tends to get into a very acidic state by doing too many hard workouts, too often. Aside from screwing up your pH levels, frequent hard workouts will also take their toll on joints, muscles and your immune system. Fatigue and overtraining from continuous hard workouts will often result in injury, decreased performance, severe fatigue, etc. No matter your skill level, do not be afraid to take a recovery jog that is substantially more relaxed than your typical training pace. Not only will the relaxed pace allow your body to unwind from hard workouts, it also helps promote blood flow to areas that need a little TLC. Another benefit in easing up on the pace a couple times a week in between hard workouts, is that it likely will allow you to run with other fellow runners of a different skill level, maybe allow you to run with your spouse or child, etc. If you are feeling overly tired and or possibly experiencing the early signs of over training, go for a nice relaxed easy run and you just might feel better! Recovery also consists of nutritional habits and other practices to keep you running strong and ready for the next workout.

Although it is also part of the nutrition category, post-workout nutrition is considered recovery as well. Whereas most of our nutrition is designed to help us prepare for a workout/race and to help us with performing at our best, the post workout nutrition is what allows our bodies to recover from the hard training and allows us to come back strong for the next workout. After all workouts, particularly the hard efforts, get in the practice of having a recovery drink. Some perfect choices for this are BOOST, ENSURE, ORGAIN, SLIM FAST, MUSCLE MILK, etc, etc. All of these liquid type drinks have optimal ratios of your carbs, proteins and fats to maximize immediate recovery. Try to consume one of these within the first 10-20 minutes post workout.

Other means of recovery include hot/cold therapy, compression therapy, stretching, etc.

  • REST – Although this sounds like a repeat of the RECOVERY step, it is actually quite separate and unique. Whereas “recovery” can take on many possible meanings, REST is REST! It means that this is the time that your body takes in and absorbs all those hard workouts, where it adapts to the training stresses and where it regenerates itself in preparation of the upcoming training. Here, in the rest cycle, our bodies are recuperating. Though rest is usually thought of as sleep, it can also come in the form of OFF days (days of no running, or other x-training),  easy walking or just sitting pool side with a cold adult beverage 😉


  • MAINTENANCE – This category is a bit of rest, recovery and x-training rolled into one. Often, runners wait until they are injured before getting routine maintenance done. This would be like taking your car in for an oil change after you already blew the engine (doesn’t make sense, does it?).


Maintenance can include but is not limited to, stretching, massage (self or professional), hot/cold therapy (ice baths, Epsom salt baths, etc), acupuncture, ART (Active Release Technique), chiropractic, yoga, etc, etc.

Essentially, this area is focused on taking care of the body from the physical sense and taking counter measures to ensure that the body is able to continuing performing at it’s highest and most efficient levels. If you have never done any of the above types of maintenance, PLEASE look into them..they can save your running career and your sanity by preventing injury.

Okay, so there are some of the key components to a successful training plan. Though no two training plans are ever going to be exactly alike, if you take the time to focus equally on each of the above mentioned topics, I will guarantee that you will not only be the best runner you can be, but you will most likely enjoy every step of it. Remember, running should not be painful, it should not feel like a job and it should not be something that you loathe. Running is supposed to be our escape from all the stress and hardships that life often throws our way.

Though this blog post was intended to touch on the high level areas of a training plan, there is much more detailed material available out there. If you have any specific questions on any certain area, please feel free to ask me. I will provide any and all knowledge within my realm of understanding. If I don’t know the answer, I know many professionals who can provide those answers and will be happy to pass along their information for you to consult.