Featured Athlete of the Month, (David Mick)

In order to highlight and show support of our awesome athletes, The Endurance Project (http://www.meetup.com/The-Endurance-Project/) will be choosing one athlete per month, who represents the project in every desired way. The Endurance Project, aside from seeking hardworking, dedicated and talented athletes, also looks for other traits that set their athletes aside from others. Selflessness is one of the most desired traits that we seek in The Endurance Project and, this month’s athlete exemplifies that on a daily basis.

So without further adieu, I introduce David Mick

Most recently, David has been kicking ass in the Spartan Race scene! In the past month, David has placed in the top 15 at Spartan Race Amesbury, MA at Spartan Race Wintergreen, VA and yesterday at Spartan Race Tri-State, NJ.

But, it’s not David’s recent racing success that has made him September’s “Athlete of the Month”. As his coach, his friend and as founder of The Endurance Project, it’s David’s selflessness that takes precidence over any and all other athletic success and is what sticks out the most to me.

You’ll never hear David boast or brag or talk about himself. In fact, David is first to talk up someone else, rather than himself. He puts his teammates, his friends and his family first, in both athletics and in life. An example of his character: Earlier this year, myself, along with another runner, was to pace and be seeing guides for Michael Davis (a blind athlete with Team Hoyt VB) at the 117th Boston Marathon. Last minute, the other runner could not join me so, I called David and asked him to be the other guide for Michael. Without a moment’s hesitation, he said YES! There was no “well let me think about it” or “let me see how I recover from Shamrock marathon”…..oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he had just ran a PR 3:03 marathon a few days earlier and was still recovering. He simply said yes, not because of any attention he would get or that because it was the Boston Marathon…he simply did it because a friend needed him.

On Wednesday evenings, you’ll find David (also assistant coach), working with New Energy P.O.W.E.R at Mt. Trashmore (https://www.facebook.com/NewEnergyPower). NE POWER is a running/fitness club for children with special needs. You will see David out there, pushing his friend Katiana and running along, with a dozen or more kids following in pursuit. They all love Coach David!!

In August, David was slated to push Katiana for Team Hoyt VB at the Alan Stone Memorial 5k…well, turns out that Katiana desired to take part in the RUN/SWIM/RUN portion of the Alan Stone. True to his nature, David agreed and, without any recent swim training, strapped on the harness, put Katiana in the raft and completed his first RSR for Team Hoyt VB.

To provide a quick back story, David joined our running group in December of 2011. He was a former standout wrestler, who had let the daily grind of life and work catch up to him and had put on some weight and had gotten out of shape. He had recently been a pack a day smoker and the stresses of life were catching up to him. After joining our group, David immediately started showing some natural athletic talent but, it was his work ethick and dedication that really made me take notice. His personality and sense of humor was also a great fit for our group and for my coaching style.

Since then, David has been one of the most dedicated and hardest working athletes I have had the pleasure to work with. He has consistently dropped his times in all race distances from the mile to the marathon. He completed the Spartan Ultra Beast last year, where he got lost and ended up turning a 26 mile race into a 32 mile run..but rather than quit, he stuck with it, finished and showed a ton of heart (many of the elites who got lost with him, quit at that point). David will be competing in his 2nd Ultra Beast in two weeks and is a favorite to make the podium and possibly take the top spot.

No matter the challenge or the task, David is always right there, willing to take it on. If I ask him to pace another athlete in training or a race, he does it, no questions asked. When I needed support for the 24 hour run for Team Hoyt VB, he was there, lending his time and services anyway that he could.

David is also one of the most loyal people I know and if you are his friend, there is nothing the guy won’t do for you. There is no doubt that whatever David decides to do, he can excel at. Aside from continuing his focus on the Spartan Races, he has signed up for the summer Spartan Death Race for 2014 and has mentioned doing a few ultras and triathlons.

I look forward to working with and competing with David throughout the upcoming months, year and, beyond.

Here is to many great things to come, David!

Who will be the featured athlete for the month of October? Stay tuned and in the meantime, Happy training!

Fueling for the Long Run!!

Having recently completed nearly 22 hours of continuous movement, that resulted in 90 miles of distance covered, I have been getting a lot of questions in regards to my nutrition during this event. Because of all the requests, I decided to share with you all.

PRIOR TO:

Unlike for a marathon where everyone tries to carbo load leading up the the race, to ensure their glycogen levels are high. There is not much need for this practice during an ultra. Essentially, because of the paces you are running during a 100 mile event is at such a slower pace, relative to a marathon and because you will be eating quite a bit on the go (or should be), you really won’t have to worry much about glycogen depletion.

In a typical marathon, you must rely on the on course gels and or drink provided by the race or, some people carry their own gels, sport beans, gummies, or, whatever it is you fancy to get you through to the finish without bonking (running out of glycogen).

For the 24 hour event, I was running laps around a local 400 meter track, thus, I could essentially have a Golden Corral buffet set up out there had I wanted to, because I was always within close proximity to my fuel supply.

10 days out from the race, I made sure my diet was consisting of nearly nothing but fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and lots and lots of hydration. I also started a loading cycle of several key amino acids as well. Aside from just ensuring my body stayed fueled with calories, I wanted to ensure that my body stayed supplied with the amino acids and electrolytes it would need during the run, but also to keep the tanks filled so that post run recovery was much quicker.

The night before the race, I went with a pre race favorite of Pho. This is an amazing Vietnemese rice noodle soup. I choose Pho over the traditional pasta choice of many runners, for several reason. 1.) It has no gluten, thus, it keeps my stomach happy. 2.) A large bowl of this Pho has 20+ ounces of broth that is loaded with sodium. 3.) It is served with a generous amount of fresh basil and, if you are unaware, basil has high amounts of vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. It is also a very good natural anti-inflammatory and works in the same fashion as NSAIDS. 4.) Pho is also packed with a high amount of carbohydrates via the rice noodles.

DAY OF:
The morning of, I awoke at 5:45 am to start preparing for my 9:00am start time. At 6:00, I had a mint chocalate chip SR bar (www.SRbars.com), which provided me with a quick 300 calories, 20 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs and 10+ grams of fat.

Throughout my buildup for this event, I had been training my body to burn primarily fat vs. glycogen because well, I wouldn’t be relying much on glycogen based on the paces I would be running/walking. Not to go into to great of scientific detail but, the body prefers to burn fat as it’s primary fuel, particularly over long distances. The average person can only stock 2000-3000ish calories worth of glycogen (most of which is used for brain function). Once that stock is burned through, the body starts going a bit buggy and all sorts of bad things can happen. So, in order to avoid this, the person much either continue pouring glycogen, in the form of some outside, down their throats in order to keep the glycogen levels up and thus, avoid the dreaded “bonk”. However, if you can get your body burning a higher ratio of fat to glycogen, you can push back the rate of glycogen expenditure, therefore extending your capacity of continued movement.

Once the run got started at 9:00am, my nutrition looked like this for the most part (aside from an extra calorie or two here and there)

FOOD/CALORIES:
Within each hour (for first 12 hours) : I would consume 300-400 calories per hour (gradually throughout the hour) in the form of bites of fruit (watermelon, cantalope, grapes) and via sips of a bottle of a mixture of 12 ounces lemonade and a scoop of Generation UCAN (230 calories per bottle).

SUPPLEMENTS:
Every hour – 2 tablets of Homeostasis Electrolytes (www.homeostasiselectrolytes.com).

Every 2 hours – 500mg Taurine, 500mg L-Glutamine, 500mg L-Arginine, 500mg L-Carnitine, 500mg Rhodiola

Every 4 hours – 4g L-Leucine, 1g L-Isoleucine, 1g L-Valine

12 HOURS AND BEYOND:

FOOD/CALORIES – Same as above, with the exception of 1 8oz of Red Bull at 10:00pm and one at 2:00 am. Also had a cup and a half of straight black coffee during this time. During the last 10 hours of the run, I relied primarily on my liquid calorie drink mentioned above, lots of aqueous fruits and 3 handfuls of kettle cooked potato chips.

SUPPLEMENTS:
Once the sun went down, I continued with the electrolyte tabs but at a rate of 2 tables ever two hours. I kept all other supplements and amino acid intake the same.

As stated before, aside from the swelling of the ankle, I had no muscle or joint soreness anywhere else to speak of. I believe that the proper nutrition/supplement plan is what really prevented me from getting beat up over my entire body and I believe it is what kept me going the entire time with no “bonk” or GI problems.

Miles For Smiles!!

What started as merely idle chit chat amongst two running nerds (myself and Tommy Neeson), finally became a reality yesterday at 6:00am on September 1st. Several months back, Tommy and I were discussing various ideas to raise awareness and to promote fundraising for Team Hoyt VB (http://www.teamhoytvb.com/). We were originally discussing the ideas of how awesome it would be to run a coast-to-coast run from Eugene, Oregon, to Washington D.C, with the idea of trying to find a chapter of Ainsley’s Angels (http://www.ainsleysangels.org/) and My Team Triumph (http://www.myteamtriumph.org/) along our planned route. Tommy, being the somewhat sensible man that he is, decided that particular endeavor would have to wait and instead, suggested that we start with something smaller.

That “something smaller” came in the form of running for 24 hours, covering as many miles as possible and including as many rider athletes (Captains) as possible. Having done a few charity runs himself, Tommy suggested that we attach something that would be draw a bit of attention toward the mission. In this case, 6 world records for mileage while pushing a running chair, would be the platform.

When this idea was conceived back in Janurary, it seemed like 9 months was so far away and that I had plenty of time to prepare myself. However, how do you go about preparing yourself for something like this? Sure, there are a million and one training plans and advice on how to run a 24 hour run but, none of those plans include doing it while pushing a racing wheel chair with varying sized rider athletes. I knew that for this endeavor, my upper body strength and endurance would have to match my lower body strength and endurance, thus, it would take an unorthoxed approach to prepare my body for this.

Against all conventional wisdom, I decided to forego the high mileage training that is typical of an ultra marathon traning plan and instead add quality mileage to the tune of 20-25 miles per week, supplemented with a great deal of xtraining and strength endurance work. I wanted my body to be able to withstand the rigors of such a task and I knew that in order to do that, my body needed to be strong.

From Janurary until early July, the training was going quite well and I had more than enough confidence that I was up for the challenge. Then, a bit of a setback occured. During a training run, I get a sharp pain in my heel and was forced to hobble back to my car. Diagnosis? Turns out I had suffered from an onset of Plantar Fascitis. THIS, was a a hard pill to swallow. I could barely walk around for the first couple weeks, let alone run. WHAT IN THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO??

If this had been a race for myself, I would have withdrawn and moved on. But, this event was not about me, it was about our rider athletes, it was about raising awareness, it was about MILES FOR SMILES!! I sulked for a couple of days, then I got back on the horse and vowed to have myself as ready as I possibly could. I may not be a 100% when August 31st rolled around but, I knew that I was going to do everything in my power to complete the mission. Despite only running a total of 32 miles over a 7 week period, I maintained fitness in the form of high intensity cross training and long roller blading sessions to keep my endurance up.

THE MORNING OF:

So the morning of the event is now upon us. “Are you ready”, “Are you nervous”? These are just a few of the questions I heard in the final hours leading up the the 9:00am start. To answer, I really wasn’t nervous and though physically I was not 100%, I was mentally ready 200% and for me, that was enough.

With the help of so many friends, the event started with a bang! Wheels were rolling at precisely 9:00 am with a little kick-off music by our on-site DJ, Tommy Bell (who stayed throughout the entire event, keeping us rolling with good tunes).

So as to not be a bore fest of watching a chair go around and around a track, we had a bounce house for the kids (and David Mick), a Team Hoyt relay (this consisted of pairing four runners with a rider athlete, each running 400m each), a Glo-Run (everyone running around in neon, glow in the dark attire and accessories). We had the local VB Fire Dept. out there with a firetruck, giving tours for all the children.

Aside from contending with the heat and no cloud coverage, the daylight hours went rather well. With so much on site support and activity, the hours flew by faster than anticipated. As per the itenarary, I would run for 50 minutes or so, then spend the last 10 minutes of each hour, switching out riders, changing shoes and socks as needed and replenishing calories.

For 17 hours, I couldn’t be more pleased. My body was holding up better than anticipated, my nutrition and hydration was on point (thanks in part to all those who kept ensuring I drink and eat even when I didn’t want to), I was listening to many stories from both the riders and as well as from those who were running along beside, pacing me. The tunes were blasting from the DJ booth, there were smiles galore. Everything was great and THEN…

It was about hour 18, I started to feel my ankles getting tight and a throbbing pain started to set in. My first measure of maintenance was to get my ankles taped, which helped a bit, then I decided to try some anti-inflammatory gel…then, despite everything that I stand for, I broke down and consumed some Ibuprophen (if you know me, this means things has gotten bad).

From here on out, I knew it was going to be painful, but I would keep pressing forward. There were high and low points during the next 3-4 hours. At one point, when the pain was really bad, the young girl I was pushing said “It’s amazing that you are using your running ability to help us who can’t run. I would really like to run a martathon someday myself, though the doctor’s say I can’t”. That comment got me through the next few miles, to say the least.

Finally, around hour 20, my run/walk combo had turned strictly into a walk only. Granted, I was still able to walk a decent pace, but each step was excrutiating. It was around this time that I put together one last attempt to try and get me through the remaining few hours. Another tape job, some more Ibuprophen and some more anti-inflammatory gel. None of which would end up working.

At hour 21.5, I needed just 10 more miles to get to the 100 mile mark but, it just wasn’t meant to be. The swelling in my ankles was so bad, I could not longer walk. I took a 30 minute break to ice and treat them, hoping with all hope that I could get just a couple more hours out of them.

Finally, closing in on the 22 hour mark, I had to make one very tough decision. With medical advice from Dr. Wittenburg and counsel from my wife and friends, I decided the mission would end, 2 hours short of the overall goal.

Though it has left me a bit heavy hearted, knowing I did not finish what I had set out to, I can rest easy knowing that I gave my all. I couldn’t walk another step (still can’t walk).

As the rest of my Team Hoyt VB teammates and family lined up to head to the start of the Rock N Roll half marathon, I had a tear in my eye, knowing that the last 22 hours was in fact, not a waste and, that the goal of “Total Inclusion and Awareness”, was met.

The things I learned during those 22 hours was this: 1.) Support from family and friends mean everyting. 2.) Love, compassion and smiles can fix just about anything. 3.) The human body and mind is capable of much more than you would ever think possible. 4.) Selflessness is the greatest of gifts.

In order to thank everyone who had a part in this, I would have at least 12 pages of content. So, I will instead thank many as all inclusive groups. Thank you to:

1.) Our Team Hoyt VB family and Ainsley’s Angels

2.) Our friends who were with us throughout the entire journey, especially the ones who kept us going in the darkest times, running countless miles throughout the day.

3.) The Virginia Beach Police..WOW! (these guys/gals came out and supported us in a way I would never have expected..even joining us for a few laps with their motorcyles, their horses and even a few of them on foot).

4.) To the complete strangers who came out to support us and run a few laps with us.

5.) To the entire medical staff and crew (Sentara, Dr. Wittenburg, Mrs. Peggy, Matt Bolton).

6.) Homestasis Electrolytes and SR Bars for providing me with the nutrition and supplements I needed to keep going
http://homeostasis.myshopify.com/
http://srbars.com/

7.) Our amazing DJ

8.) The city of Virginia Beach, the Mayor, the City Commisioner and Beach Middle school for allowing us to have this event on your wonderful grounds, in your wonderful city.

9.) Most importantly, I would like to thank all of our rider athletes. Without them, none of this would have been possible, nor would it have had any purpose or meaning. I truly hope that each and everyone of you know just how amazing these individuals are. Throughout the day, we had 20+ different riders. During that time, we had nothing but smiles and laughter from each and everyone of them. In fact, I have never heard so many laughs and giggles in my life.

As I sit here, with my ankles swollen to the point of needing crutches to walk, I can’t help but to think about how much it was worth it. To see the awareness this event raised and to experience the love and joy that surrounded it all, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and pride.

Again, thank you all for everything! Now, to start planning for next year’s grand event! 😉

What Are We Becoming??

EVERY single day, I hear at least one person complaining about their health, how they would love to lose weight, would love to get in shape, would love to do “this” and “that”, yet, they do absolutely nothing to change themselves. When I ask, “well why don’t you workout, eat better, etc, etc”…the answer is almost always “I DON’T HAVE TIME”…Which to me, is the worst damn excuse you could ever give.

If you want to change, you will find the time to change. What it comes down to is, this! We have become a society of complaceny, laziness and, we lack priority.

Statistics show that the average American watches 4 hours of TV per day (that seems a tad bit high to me, so lets be conservative and say 1.5 hours). At 1.5 hours, that is 10.5 hours per week, 42 hours per month, 546 hours per year (If you live to be 65, that is over 4 years of accumultive time spent watching TV).

I have never heard an individual who suffers from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, say they wish they made more time to watch TV!! Nobody has time it seems like, until they find out they are killing themselves and even then, most don’t do anything about it.

Hell, even if you do watch several hours of TV per week, try to make it a point to drop down and do some pushups, situps, burpees, etc, during every commerical break…that alone will provide a pretty decent workout routine, without allocating any special time or without taking time away from something else.

We are a nation of fast food, convenience and complete laziness…we’ll spend an hour drive time to go to a fancy reastaurant, but can’t find an hour to take care of our body by making a healthy meal or spending that hour excercising.

When the time comes that Crystle and I have children, I want to be able to go out and play ball with my kids, run around the yard with them, spend all day on a nature hike, etc. I certainly don’t want to cut their activity short because daddy is too out of shape and too overweight to play with them.

For the next several weeks, my job has me working on one of the Navy ships in downtown Norfolk and the working hours are going to cut into some of my normal training routine…So, do I get pissed about it and just say “I don’t have time to workout now?”..HELL NO!! This is what I am going to do…the shipyard is 3.5 miles from my house, so today, I walked to and from work (7 miles round trip), along the way, I stopped every .25 miles and did pushups, at every .50 miles, I stopped and did burpees.

Day one totals equal 7 miles walking, 80 pushups and 80 burpees…so weekly, that will be 35 miles walking, 400 pushups and 400 burpees (I plan to add more of each as I progress).

So, is the above example a way for me to brag? NO! But, it is me trying to show you that there is TIME, as long as you adjust your schedule accordingly.

Please do not think I am some crazily obsessive workout and health freak, cause I am not! I do, however, believe that we should try to make the best of our lives and our health while we can.

Every journey starts with the first step..so take a look at your current health and fitness and see if you can’t find ways to fix any disrepancies. Your body will thank you.

What Drives You??

Winning?, Health?, Attention and accolades?, Beer???

Having been around running and the fitness community for the majority of my life, it is very easy to see that many people do the same thing but, very few of them have the same reason for doing so.

As a runner, there are quite a few things that could provide motivation to lace up the shoes and get out there, day in and day out. If you stick around running (or any competitive sport) long enough, you’ll discover there are so many different types of runners, all with different goals and different ambitions.

Some runners, run strictly to compete..They HAVE to be competitive, whether it be in a race, or even against their training partners. Some runner’s do it for health, to fight back heart disease, weight gain or lathargy. Others run for the commraderie, the friendships and the social aspect. Some run to test their own limits, to see just how far they can go, how fast, how often..it becomes their own personal quest and journey. Some runners simply run to help others and to motivate. Then there are the ones who do it for ALL of the above reasons.

Personally, I think part of me can relate to and, at one point in time or other, I have been each of the various types of runner. For me, the biggest driving force has always been to help others, to try and be an ambassador for the sport of running and to teach and educate others on the ways of running and how great of a thing it can be, if used for the right reasons.

Sport, in and of itself (running or other), can be a wonderful tool to help promote change, promote peace, promote commanalities among the uncommon. In ancient times, wars were temporarily set aside and halted so that the greatest warriors could compete in athletic events (the orginal Olympiad).

As a coach and an ambassador of running, there are certain joys I get that I could never acheive just by going out on my own and running or racing. For me, I could care less if I ever win a single race, could care less if I get a trophy a medal or a mention in the local newspaper or Sports Illustrated, however, it does excite me and bring me joy to think that maybe I could be responsible for doing that for someone else. Trophies tarnish and newspapers get thrown away but, if you can impact someone’s life, they are likely to impact another and another and the chain builds..THAT will far outlast a trophy or newspaper column.

I know it may sound like *bullshit*, but I honestly get more joy from helping someone else do well in a race vs. me doing well in a race. Whether I am coaching a runner, pacing a runner or just shouting words of encouragement…my greatest victories have been when I have had a hand in helping someone else meet their goals and or exceed them.

It is certainly not possible to get the point across to all runners and or be able to help all runners but, if I can help get one person from the couch to an active lifestyle of running, put a smile on the face of one special needs child, who would otherwise never expereince the joy of running, without Team Hoyt, or, if I can help someone reach their greatest potential, be it an age group win, an Olympic medal or just completing a marathon and overcoming health issues, then, I will be happy knowing that I have done my job.

To me, running is a vessel of opportunity. I whole heartedly believe, that running can combat many health issues, it can create lifelong bonds of friendship, it can help unite the masses, it can provide hope, it can offer change.

In the Team Hoyt community, I have personally witnessed the effects of running on the human heart and mind. Children, who are more or less written off by society, or baffled by their doctors, come to life when they sit in that chair and race! Maybe they can’t communicate in the typical sense, but there is no doubt something magical happening every time they run a race.

For me, running has no climax nor will my efforts ever culminate into some grand ending. My mission of running is this: To reach out to as many people as possible, both directly and indirectly. If I can plant the seed, just one seed can create a forest!

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do. Be the change you want to see in the world” – Ghandi

So, no matter your running goals or ambitions, from time to time, set aside your own aspirations and see what you can do to help other’s reach their aspirations.

Chances are, karma will shine through and your own running will be enhanced, simply by enhancing others! Sometimes the Running Gods’ work in mysterious ways!!

A Professional Look at pH Balance and Athletic Performance!

I just wanted to touch again on the importance of pH balance and athletic peformance (as well as day to day lifestyle performance). The following is a writeup from Marion Hauser and her husband Dr. Ross Hauser M.D.

Take a look at Marion’s site for more information http://www.marionhauser.com/

10 ways knowing your Diet Type and pH Tendencies Can Help an Athlete1. Provides the optimal fuel for long races and workouts.
2. Helps enhance athlete performance during different weather conditions.
3. Improves endurance, preventing the “bonk.”
4. Helps normalize weight.
5. Maximizes energy during an event (and at home.)
6. Helps accelerate post-race/training healing.
7. Helps improve workout/race efficiency, thus improving race times.
8. Helps minimize commonly experienced workout and race problems such as   nausea, cramping, and exhaustion.
9. Allows the athlete to individualize their food consumption according to   the conditions.
10. Helps you realize your athletic and personal goals!

If you are interested in finding out your Diet Type so that you   can maximize your performance, schedule an appointment today with Dr. Hauser,   3-time Ironman finisher (soon to have a 4th!) and accomplished athlete. He’ll   help you determine what fuels are best for your individual body during your   events, as well as pre- and post- race meals. As an athlete himself, he knows   what it takes! Come on in today! What are you waiting for? Because remember,   if you eat great, you’ll feel great! Here is some more food for thought about   the pH-athletic performance connection from Dr. Hauser:

Putting   the 10 Reasons Athletes Should Get Blood pH Testing into personal practiceby   Ross   A. Hauser, M.D., Ironman Triathlete

1.   Proper Blood pH Will Enhance Athletic Performance During Priority “A” Races
Whether an athlete is doing a marathon for the first time or trying to peak   for an Ironman Triathlon, there are always races that an athlete is training   for. The most important ones are called priority or “A” races. Having the   right blood pH at the beginning of a race can be the difference between a   “PR” (personal record) race and “PD” (personal disaster) one!

If the race weather is going to be hot, then an athlete’s blood pH needs to   be a little on the acidic side at the start of the race. This translates to a   blood pH level between 7.380 and 7.419 on our Caring   Medical pH meter. As temperature increases the blood pH, the   athlete wants to achieve a lower blood pH at the beginning of the race, so   during the race energy production is enhanced as the blood pH rises. The   longer the race, the hotter the weather, the more important blood pH is in   determining ultimate outcome. For cold weather the opposite is true. The   athlete should start out the race slightly alkaline (higher blood pH) because   cold weather alkalinizes the blood. Of course, in both cases, you must take   into consideration your general pH tendencies.

2.   Proper Blood pH Will Enhance Training
Imagine if every time you trained you swam, biked, or ran faster and longer   than you currently do? Obviously, your sports performance would be enhanced.   If your blood pH remains out of the normal range, you will not achieve   optimum energy production. Remember that the enzymes that control energy   production are sensitive to temperature and blood pH. If the temperature of   the blood or the pH of the blood fall too high or too low, your energy   plummets. If energy plummets, so does sports performance, even in training.   By having a proper blood pH level during training, an athlete is able to   swim, bike, run farther and faster. Strength is also enhanced. Something that   all athletes want to achieve!

3.   Proper Blood pH Will Enhance Recovery
If an athlete can recover quickly even after very difficult workouts,   training is maximized. How many workouts do you miss or cut short because you   don’t feel like working out? Are your muscles sore for a long time after   workouts? Do you wake up stiff? Do you need to take time off every so often   because you feel burnt out? All of these are signs of poor recovery. Notice I   said poor recovery not overtraining. I feel most of these symptoms can be   totally eliminated by optimizing blood pH and nutritional/diet supplementation   without any decrease in sports training. Thus, the issue is not an   overtraining problem, but an under recovery problem!

One of the main reasons athletes don’t perform as well as they should is   because they don’t maximize recovery. Athletes tend to emphasize training,   but not recovery. When an athlete has an optimum blood pH level, recovery is   enhanced. If an athlete feels refreshed and energized at the beginning of the   majority of their workouts, training will be enhanced. If training is   enhanced, you get be sure that great races or competitions are soon to   follow!!!

4.   Athletes Need Maximum Energy to Live the Rest of their Lives
You thought this whole article was going to be about maximizing sports   performance didn’t you? Well, what happens when you are wiped out from   workouts and work and then are not able to be totally there for your family?   Correct, stress! Your spouse gets mad because you just sit on the couch and   watch T.V.! The additional stress just makes you more and more tired and   obviously this will decrease your training intensity, distance, or time. All   of which will cause sports performance to plummet! Do you want to know a   better way? I thought you would.

The easiest way I know of to give you more energy to maximize all areas of   your life, is to keep your blood pH optimized. The only way to do that is to   know your level. It is a simple blood test. Normal or optimum blood pH using   the pH meter at Caring Medical is 7.420 to 7.440. pH levels outside of these   levels will cause energy to plummet. Yes, you need energy for athletics, but   also for the rest of your life!

5.   So Do You Really Know What To Eat?
If we athletes were really honest, we would say we really don’t know what to   eat! You try to eat healthy, but if you have acid blood you should not be   eating all those carbs that you think will help you. Conversely, if your   blood pH is alkaline (blood pH over 7.440) you should not be eating all that   protein that you think is helping your muscles. Your muscles are hurting   because your blood pH is too high!

By routinely checking your blood pH levels, Caring Medical can teach you how   you need to eat to optimize sports performance, training, and recovery. If   you follow these guidelines, it has been our experience with ourselves and   our clients that your sports performances will be enhanced.

6.   So You Really Know How To Eat and Drink During Training and Events
#5 above relates to how to eat outside of athletics. But do you really know   how to eat and drink during training and events? You see if you are a Lion   or Otter Diet Type (have acid blood pH), you need much more   protein than the typical athlete. That means more protein and fat in the   morning and more protein/fat during the athletic event. Yes, there are   athletes that need to make a concerted effort to get more protein and fat in   their diets and during training and events.

Take me, for example. I am an Otter Diet Type. During   the Ironman I will get most of my calories for the day from protein and fat,   not from carbohydrates! How have the results been? I have dropped my Ironman   triathlon time from 14 hours to 12 hours, though I have another Ironman race   in one month! Yikes! Why am I writing this article? I should be training!   Don’t fret, I ran 18 miles in 2 hours 35 minutes up and down hills that were   filled with ice today! I thought that speed wasn’t too bad considering the   conditions and the temperature outside was 28 degrees. But then again, I know   about blood pH and how to manipulate it for workouts and performance. But I   digress…I hope this is making sense to you…

7.   So Your Future Sports Performance Will Not Be Affected By the Weather
Everyone has an optimum temperature outside where they typically perform   their best. Most of us would love to perform our best— irregardless of the   weather conditions, right? If you knew your baseline fasting blood pH at a   certain time of year, it would be possible to know how to eat at various   times to optimize sports performance for all weather conditions. Then you   would know what to do—in every situation!

Optimizing sports performance for a specific weather condition is now under   your control. If you hate the heat, blood pH can help you love the heat! Hate   cold weather? No worries, knowing your blood pH can give you that “bring it   on 25 degree” mental edge! Don’t let your hard work go to waste by a bad   weather day for your “A” race. Blood pH holds the key!

8.   To Get Rid of Sports Performance Limiters
You know what they are! You get nauseated in hot weather. Perhaps your   muscles cramp at mile 18. You just can’t finish races well. What if you could   have the edge over your competition and your energy got better as the event   went on? Would that help you? What if your muscles didn’t cramp anymore? What   if your heat intolerance wasn’t a factor? What would happen to your training   or your “A” race sports performances? You would be in “PR city” wouldn’t you?   I am telling you, blood pH is the key!

9.   So the Rest of Your Health is Optimized
Got a scratchy throat, but have a lot of workouts planned this weekend? That   is how I was a few days ago. So what did I do? Because of my knowledge of   blood pH and access to getting it tested, I tested my blood pH while I was   feeling that scratchy throat come on. My blood pH had gone from acid to   alkaline. To optimize my immunity, I needed to acidify my blood, which I did.   I did a few natural medicine treatments and altered my supplements and in two   days I was ready to cycle like a mad man. You know how I ran today. Let’s see   18 miles in 2 hours 35 minutes, lower than 9 minute miles. Remember, 28   degrees and running on ice and hills, not bad. It is now about 2 hours after   my run and I am writing this. How can I do it? Let’s recap. Sickish feeling   on Thursday, biked 2 ½ hours Saturday, and ran 18 miles today in freezing   cold conditions and then have enough energy to write this article. How is it   possible? It is blood pH, baby. It is the secret.

You may have hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, stomach   aches, terrible energy, muscle aching, poor concentration, or a host of other   health conditions bringing you down. For many of these, the one key to   feeling better is knowing your baseline blood pH. If it is out of the normal   range, getting it back into the optimal range has got to help you feel   better. In our experience, it sure has. Imagine if you had 25% more energy   for your body to repair itself? You just might feel good, right? Maybe your   immune system would be enhanced? Healing should be enhanced right? Well, what   are you waiting for? Go ahead and get your blood pH tested!

10.   So the Athlete Has Fun!
Most of us forget sometimes that the reason we do athletics is to have fun.   Having a balanced blood pH will give the athlete tons of fun. How will it do   this? Well, sports training will be enhanced. You will swim, bike, run,   compete, and perform with more energy, vitality, and intensity – won’t that   be fun? You won’t get injured and that will keep the fun going! You will PR   at your “A” race. That will be a blast! You will recover great, so you can   workout the next day. That will be good for your friends you workout with. So   let’s not forget their fun! Your stomach won’t become queasy while exercising,   so that will be fun. Those stupid side stitches or muscle cramps will stop.   That will be great! After workouts you will be awake for your family and then   you can have some fun with your kids and your spouse! That will be tons of   fun! You may get a promotion at work because you’ll be able to concentrate   better and give 110%. Your boss will be so impressed. That will be great! But   mostly, you’ll just be able to continue to exercise. You need it! It is your   outlet! Your time! Your psychotherapy! It is what you do with your free time!   It is how you and your friends have fun together! Ultimately, it makes you   the type of person you desire to be and that kind of person is a lot of fun   to be around!

Going The Distance!!

As most of you know, I am a member of Team Hoyt VB  http://www.teamhoytvb.com/ and participate in many races with them throughout the year. What you may not know is that Team Hoyt VB is only one of many organizations that carry on the spirit and legacy the original Hoyts’, Dick and Rick and their Team Hoyt Foundation.

Team Hoyt VB is actually the ONLY chapter that uses the Team Hoyt name, however, in the Team Hoyt spirit, several new organizations with the same mission, have arose.

In particularly, there is My Team Triumph, which now has chapters in 12 states across America, with the goal to expand to as many states and cities as possible. http://www.myteamtriumph.com/

Among the current chapters of My Team Triumph, I personally have close connections with the Ainsley’s Angels http://ainsleysangels.org/ chapters of Louisiana and Eastern Carolina, as well as the My Team Triumph Cape Cod chapter. The AA chapters and the Cape Cod chapters have spawned from parents of our rider athletes of THVB who have branched out and started additional chapters to raise awareness outside the Virginia Beach area.

So, with the recent announcement of our 24 Hour World Record Run attempt, these above mentioned organizations are what we will be raising funds for. From now until the date of the run, every cent raised will go to one of these organizations. All proceeds will be used to fund start up fees associated with future chapters, procurement of running chairs, entry fees of our rider athletes into races, assistance with travel for rider athletes and family members to and from non-local running events, etc.

As any of you who know me, know that these organizations are very near and dear to my heart and, I would appreciate all of your help in spreading the word and helping us in anyway that you can. Over the upcoming months, we will be building a fundraiser website in preparation of the “Big Event”.

In the mean time, please get the word out by promoting this cause and this mission. With the advent of social media, lets hit the “air waves” as often and as much as possible.

“Many hands make light work”…So lets do this!!

In advance, I would personally like to thank all of you who are undoubtedly going to be putting in much time and effort for this. I thank you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.

YES WE CAN!!!

Training Is Only Half The Battle!!

It’s been my experience (both personal and from a coaching aspect) that runners are the most stubborn organisms on the planet!! They always want to go hard, they want to run every workout faster than the previous, they want to run more miles when they aren’t ready, they want to run beyond their current limits (both physical and mental)…Essentially, majority of runners are a “now, now, now” breed and they expect to have a shiny new PR for every training run and every race.

They will put every ounce of their being into the training, but often turn a deaf ear to rest, recovery, regeneration, nutrition, strength, etc.

No matter how much you preach it, it seems that nearly every runner has to experience this for themselves before they will even consider listening and learning from it. Sometimes the learning process is only fatigue and slight burnout, sometimes it is serious injury that keeps them from running pain free or at all, for months, years and or ever in some cases.

In “layman’s terms”, in order for your body to get out what you put in, you MUST account for more than the training itself. You must understand that in order for the body to absorb a workout, you must first stress the body,  then recover from the workout, regenerate from the workout and finally, adapt to the workout.

Let’s say you were studying for some big exam. Would you feel more prepared if you could have several weeks to study for it, as opposed to only a day or two?

The same can be said for training!

You should never go 100% in training, or even beyond 90% (with the exception of short duration repeats) for that matter. When you consistenly “cram” as much intensity or volume into your workuts than what your body can handle, it’s’ only a matter of time before your body breaks down and you begin to negate any benefits of the workout.

A while ago, I stopped basing my fitness by race performances, but instead by a combination of other achievements. Who cares if I can run a fast marathon, if I can’t walk the next day? These days, I base my fitness on not only how well I do in the race (finishing time), but also how well I feel in the race and also by how well I recover from the race.

The day after my last marathon, while most people were walking down the stairs backward, I worked on my feet all day, then went for a run the next evening.

How did this happen? Recovery and nutrition!! During the race, I prepared my body for the post race. While running, I made sure I was taking in proper ratios of electrolytes, amino acids and minerals to speed up the recovery process, even before I was actually finished with race.

The purpose of a workout, is to provide a certain and structured amount of stress to the body (but not too much). You should think of it as “Every step needed, but not one step more”. What does this mean?

Let’s take running as the example. Let’s say your coach gave you a workout of 6 x 1 mile repeats at 6:00 pace. The pace and the volume were carefully selected so that you are providing your body with the right amount of stress, in respect to your goal race. The pace, depending on your goal and skill level, was likely selected for one or more reasons. The pace could be intended to simulate race pace and get your body in the groove of running that pace, or it could be to build Vo2max, etc, etc…..So, what if you were feeling good and decided to knock the repeats out at 5:40 pace? This pace, being significantly faster than the intended pace, would likely mean that you were pushing the body too hard, thus, throwing off hormone balance, pH balance and likely overstressing the musculoskeletal system to the point of pushing toward overuse and extreme fatigue. At the very least, you likely hindered and took away from your next specific workout.

In other words, a 5 gallon bucket will only hold 5 gallons. Constantly trying to milk out every extra rep, mile, second, repeat, etc., will only leave you overstressed and likely falling short of your long term goals.

To avoid falling prey to injury, fatigue, burnout or plateauing, you need to ensure that 3 things are happening.

1.) Adequate Stress and Adaptation – Every key workout should have a purpose! You should expect to push your body to a specific stress point, but not any further. Do not be afraid to swallow your pride here. Who cares if your training partner decided to do “one more rep” when the workout called for a specific number. You will likely see him/her on the sideline while you are on the starting line. Never be afraid to cut a workout a bit short if you aren’t feeling right. Tiredness and general fatigue is common in hard training blocks, but never push through pain, sickness or extreme exhaustion.

2.) Recovering/Regeneration – After you have adequately stressed your body, it now needs time to recover and regenerate. When a body is stressed, an adaptation process is triggered and the body begins to repair itself, building up an immunity to that stress so that it can readily handle the stress at a later point in time, if and when that stress is reapplied. In order for this adaptation to take place, the body must rest and go into it’s regeneration phase. This is the phase where sleep, maintenance and nutrition all work together to create a fitter, stronger and more resiliant athlete. Without this cycle, the body will not absorb all of the stress that was applied. How upset would you be to discover that for every 10 miles you run, only 6 count? That is the way to look at the recov/regen cycle. You put in the work, so make sure it counts!!

3.) Fueling and Re-Fueling – In order to make the most of your workouts, you need to ensure the body is properly fueled. Clean, healthy eating. Fueling and re-fueling also fall under the recov/regen cycle and can pretty much be all inclusive. After a hard workout, the body has been taxed and has been using all of it’s energy stores to keep your body going. If you do not replenish the energy stores, the body cannot recover properly, thus, taking longer than necessary to bounce back from the workout.

Hard workouts cause acidosis in the body. When this happens, the blood pH levels become too acidic, thus throwing off the normal functionality of the bodies fine tuned systems. The foods we eat play the biggest role in keeping pH balances in check. Take a look at the link to see what foods/drinks make the body more acidic or alkaline. http://www.drscottgraves.com/naturopathic/alkaline-acid-diet/

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Aside from worrying about pH balances, the body also needs certain nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc in order for the body to perform and function as designed and in the most efficient way possible, as well as to repair and recover from intense bouts of exercise.

How many of you actually know WHY the body needs Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Taurine, Beta Alanine, etc? These common electrolytes and amino acids are some of the key players in how the body performs, especially the endurance athlete’s body.

A quick example is the role of Taurine in the body (Below text taken from online sources).

Taurine is essential for cardiovascular function, and development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina and the central nervous system.

Taurine is conjugated via its amino terminal group with chenodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid to form the bile salts sodium taurochenodeoxycholate and sodium taurocholate. The low pKa of taurine’s sulfonic acid group ensures this moiety is negatively charged in the pH ranges normally found in the intestinal tract and, thus, improves the surfactantproperties of the cholic acid conjugate.

Taurine crosses the blood–brain barrier and has been implicated in a wide array of physiological phenomena including inhibitory neurotransmissionlong-term potentiation in the striatum/hippocampus,membrane stabilization, feedback inhibition of neutrophil/macrophage respiratory burstadipose tissue regulation and possible prevention of obesity, calcium homeostasis, recovery from osmotic shock, protection against glutamate excitotoxicity and prevention of epileptic seizures.

It also acts as an antioxidant and protects against toxicity of various substances (such as lead and cadmium). Additionally, supplementation with taurine has been shown to prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise.

I know a lot of the middle paragraphs are more appropriate for a chemistry major, but you athletes pay close attention to the first and last sentences.

Taurine just happened to be the example here, but many other key nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes play even greater roles in how the body functions.

So, no matter where you are in your training and fitness schedule, it is never too late to make changes and adjustments. All you runners out there know what it feels like when you miss key training runs. Start learning to take the same approach and the same intensity into your rest and recovery cycles, your nutrition and your regeneration. If you can put the same efforts into all of the components that that make up a quality training cycle, you will become a better athlete for it.

Until the next post, train smart, have fun and HAPPY TRAINING!!

 

It’s Going to Be One Hell of a Year!!

As 2012 came to an end and another year passed, 2013 has started with a BANG!!!

Two weeks into the new year, I ran the Disney Marathon and set a new PR for the distance, not to mention, I helped my friend Renee get her second win at Disney. So, I would say that was a good start to the year!

I had already had a pretty busy running schedule written out for 2013, but have since added a few more highlights over the past few days. The following will be a look at the BIG STUFF coming up this year!

In no particular order;

Shamrock Marathon – For this race, I plan to do some pacing to try and help a friend PR..I will also be pushing for Team Hoyt VB again this year for this race.

Boston Marathon – This year’s Boston is going to be equally as special as last year. This year, I was asked to be a “GUIDE” for Michael Davis, a fellow Team Hoyt’er and legally blind runner athlete. He will be running his first Boston and we will be gunning for a new PR for him. We will also be a part of Dick and Rick Hoyt’s Boston charity team. I also have several other training partners/clients and local 757 runners who will be up there running some great races of their own.

Ragnar Relay (Cumberland MD to D.C) – Recently was asked to be a part of this amazing cause. This won’t be a group of runners solely out for competition and team building, but will be used as a fundraising vehicle for Ainsley Rossiter, one of our very special rider athletes of Team Hoyt VB. Check the page here : http://www.crowdrise.com/AR13

USATF Masters Championships – Indoor (Regional Championships), Outdoor (State and Regional).

Umstead 100 Miler – This race, I will be crewing for and helping pace a friend, Michelle to a hopeful victory and possible course record.

24 Hour Team Hoyt VB charity run – This will be a 24 hour continous run, pushing a Team Hoyt VB rider athlete the entire time. This will hands down be the biggest and most important run of the year…It’s been my dream to do something like this to not only raise funds but, also awareness, for those who live with special needs. For me, this is about something bigger than I could ever do on my own..it gives me a chance to be the legs and the muscle to help bring a smile to our riders faces’. This will be the run that all other training and races are geared toward.

Spartan Ultra Beast – The first of its kind, the Ultra Beast is the world’s first marathon distance Obstacle Race. It will be ONE heat that will feature two loops of the main Beast course. Racers will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, TWICE, before finding the finish line. It’s not for  the faint of heart! For this race, there is a $15,000 dollar cash prize to the winning team..David Mick, William Tallent and myself intend to make a bid for that prize!!

Aside from all of the above, I intend to do plenty other smaller races and will be doing a lot of pacing for my wife and other members of my training group. There are several of my training partners and some of the runners I coach, who will be looking for some big PR’s this year and, I fully intend to whatever it takes to help them get there.

Whatever your goals and targeted races are, get out there and get going…you have 11 months left (this year) to create a fitter, faster, stronger and better YOU! What are you waiting for??

LIVE, LAUGH, RUN and Happy Training!

I Guess Disney Really Is Magical!!

As a child and like all children, I wanted to go to Disney World, when I was younger…I would see the cartoons, see the movies, knew the characters, yet, for one reason or other, I would never get my chance to go to Disney…

Now, fast foreward 30+ years later and, I finally would get my chance, but not in your normal family vacation kind of way.

Several months back, my training partner and friend, Renee High, started throwing around the idea of doing a marathon together. We had been doing a good amount of our runs together and I was doing a lot of pace work for her on her harder workouts, so we figured it would only be appropriate to actually run one of the races together. Originally, we had discussed me running with her for her October marathon in Colombus, OH…but, with such close proximity to the MCM, that didn’t happen….then, we got to discussing Disney. She had won the 2012 Disney marathon and was invited back to run it again. The race had already sold out, but she said she would talk to her sponsors and the race director to see if I could get in..Well, I DID!

It wasn’t official until sometime in December that I would be running Disney, but I was training for it either way, so I would be ready regardless. My soul intention for this race was to pace Renee for as long as I possibly could, hoping like hell I could at least get her to mile 20 and then just try to hold on and hope that she wouldn’t have to battle with any other female competitors.

Going into Disney, I was going to be running in uncharted territory. I knew I could hang with Renee and pace her for anything of 18 miles or less..beyond that, I didn’t know if I could hold her pace for 26.2. Disney made my 9th marathon, but it was only my 3rd solo (not pushing for Team Hoyt) and my first solo since November 2011. So, needless to say, I was a tad bit nervous. But, all the training was on point for a quality marathon, if I could just hold it all together on race day, my body was otherwise ready.

I decided to go with a non-traditional taper and continued training as usual (for the most part)..I continued to run all of my same runs throughout the week prior and the week of, I only changed up one run to accommodate for the race.

I flew down to Disney on Saturday morning and would be staying with Renee and Andy for the night, then racing the next morning. Upon arrival in Disney, I was amazed..the place is HUGE and is overflowing with smiles, fun and a hint of magic!

After my arrival, I met up with Renee and Andy and we had lunch, chit chatted for awhile and then I went to the expo to pick up my bib. While at the expo, I listened to a bit of Q&A from some of the past and current running legends. Desiree Davilla, Frank Shorter, Joan Samuelson, Greg Meyer, Bill Rodgers, among others were in house sharing stories and taking questions. The only thing that gets me as excited as running, is listening to the legends talking about their running…After listening to them speak for a couple hours, I was more than motivated…I WAS READY TO GO!!

Though Renee and I kinda had a race plan/strategy worked out in our heads prior to our arrival, she called her coach, Ryan Warrenburg, for some final instructions. After speaking with him, the plan was “Go conservative for the first couple miles, then gradually pick it up over the next few miles, then maintain to steady pace to the finish. Sounds easy, right??

Since the race start was at 5:30 am, we would have to be up by 3 am in order to get in our nutrition, get ourselves together and catch the bus over to the start line. So, Saturday evening, we ate dinner early and was in bed by 8:30, in preparation for our early wake up.  I will say, Renee uses the bathroom more than any person should during one single night!!! LOL!

No sooner did we doze off, the alarms all went off simultaneously (we had three set, just to be safe). I got my nutrition in me and prepared my nutrition for during the race, while Renee and Andy jammed out to “Dub Step”…whatever the hell that shit is!!

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By 4am, we were on the bus, getting ready for the ride to the starting line (I got to ride the VIP/ELITE bus since I was with Renee..pretty cool). As the bus is about to leave, guess who gets on and sits down right in front of us?? Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter!! Talk about being in runner geek heaven!!

Prior to the race, neither Renee nor her coach knew whether or not there would be any other competitive females who could contest Renee for her attempt at a repeat of her title….BUT, as we are about to get on our way, Leah Thorvilson stepped on the bus, adorned in her Tinkerbell costume. For those who don’t know who Leah is, well, she ran a 2:37 earlier in 2012 and was the 2011 Disney winner.

At this point, I don’t know exactly what was going through Renee’s head, but, I knew what was going through mine ( I knew those original race strategy plans were probably out the window now). A few minutes after the bus pulled away, I decided to let Renee know, “Umm, I forgot my Garmin, Renee!!” She offered up hers, which is exactly what I had hoped for!! In actuality, I had purposely forgotten my Garmin, hoping I could get her’s, thus, eliminating the one thing that would cause her to “think”. I wanted her to just run and not think about anything…as tough as it was going to be, it was my job to maintain pace and take in all the thinking part of the running.

We arrive at the starting line with about an hour to spare before the start….Renee was restless and got off immediately, I stayed onboard for awhile, waiting for the bathroom (a routine is a routine!!!). While we are waiting, I talk a bit to some of the other runner’s, particularly Leah! I wanted to know how she was feeling, what her plan were, etc…she gave up a bit of info, but not too much (just as I had anticipated). Based on what she told me, I decided that we would chase her, provided she wasn’t dropping sub 5:50 pace in those first few miles.

As we are approaching the start of the race, several of the legends come on the big screen jumbo tron to give a little pre-race tips. We listened a bit to Frank Shorter, Bill Roders and finally Joey Fatone (yep, the NSYNC member who had run his first half marathon the day before!! LOL!).

Finally, Corral A is called to the start, and the gun goes off. As we begin, each corral is started with their own fireworks display, which was quite amazing!

From the gun, another girl and Leah take off in front of us…we catch up to Leah fairly quickly and run with her for several miles…the first few miles were quite a bit faster than the original plan, but, we couldn’t afford to let her get away from us..if Renee was going to have any real competition, it was likely to be Leah. It was somewhere around mile 4, after doing some continuous “surging” that Leah finally dropped away from our sides and was now running a bit behind us (this was a good sign). Up ahead, there was still another girl who we had yet to catch. I decided that although she was running a bit faster pace than what was the original plan, it wasn’t so fast that it would be a “make or break” decision. So, I decided to reel her in as soon as we could and at least run with her.

At mile 5, we caught the girl, ran with her for about a mile, then gradually pulled away..Renee was now first place female and from here on out, we just had to hold this position.

The first half of the race is in the dark because of the early 5:30 start, so we just chugged along, not talking, but sharing the same understanding of what the goal was. I was willing to kill myself to get Renee her win, whether it meant me having to do a “death march” for the last 6-8 miles. At Disney, the first several miles is a lot of access roads (aside from Cinderella’s Castle..which was actually way more cool than I would have thought…all lit up in purple!!), so it not necessarily exciting for the first bit of the race.

Around mile 11, we head onto a race track (picture NASCAR)..this was probably one of the coolest parts of the race for me…as a kid, for some reason, I always wanted to run a flat out mile on a race car track…thank you Disney, for granting me that wish!

The halfway point came inside the Animal Kingdom park…we went through the 13.1 at 1:21:05 (new PR for me!). We were rolling and on our way to a very nice marathon.

I guess it was somewhere around mile 16-17 that we start entering the string of parks. We went through ESPN wide world of sports complex, where we ran around an actual rubber running track and, a baseball field (the grandstands were filled with fans screaming and cheering…that was really cool). At this point of the race, the course has a ton of turns, so pace starts to drop…it’s here in the race that the body gets tired, but the mind must prevail…tight turns and corning does not help with that..LOL!

From time to time, I would glance behind me to see if there were any other females close to Renee (I never saw one)..I had figured we had dropped them at this point, but with a 2:37 marathoner in the field, you can never be to cautious. I was also quite amazed at how I was holding up..I figured I would be struggling at this point, but I wasn’t.

At mile 22, we start to enter the section of “non-stop turns”…this is where the park is really tight and constricting. As we pass the clock at 22 miles, I realize that, all I have to do from here on out is maintain 7:30 pace and I will break 2:50!! Even though I was getting excited for both myself and Renee, I knew that 4 miles is still far enough away that tragedy can strike and shit can go terribly wrong really quickly.

As the park threw more and more turns and tight manuevering our way, the more I realized it was time to go conservative a bit. A lot of the pathway on the course was wet at this point and with extremely tired legs, I knew there was a chance I could go down and possibly blow the whole thing…so, I decided to just maintain a steady pace and not push…just maintaining pace would produce a PR and would also get Renee a win.

At mile 25, when I was just ready for the race to be done, I come around the corner and WOW!! I see Desiree Davilla (2012 Olympian), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1984 Gold medalist in the Olympic marathon) and Janet Bawcom (2012 10k Olympic team) all running their easy run for the day….as I pass, they all say “Almost there, 1 more mile”…talk about motivation!!

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A few minutes later, I round the turn at Epcot and see the finish….We had done it!! We had just finished the Disney…a new PR for me and a win for Renee (her 2nd at Disney). As the race directors and new media pull Renee aside for her interviews, I stood there crying…..why was I crying? I was elated….after several hard training cycles, that ended in injury, I had finally overcome…the monkey was off my back..my goal had been to break 3 hours and I had finally done it..I had PR’d by 21 minutes..but most importantly, I had done it side by side with a good friend and I was able to help her reach her goal.

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So, despite the fact that I had put in tough training to prepare for this race, perhaps a little Disney magic could be a part of the reason for our success…It was an amazing race, an amazing course and one that I will certainly do again.

I would like to thank Renee for getting me into the race and I would like to thank Renee and Andy for letting me stay with them in their hotel room…Renee and I shared many hard miles together and many laughs in the buildup to this race…..all of which, was not only fun, but also fundamental in our success.

I would also like to thank all my training partners, HRR and my wife….I know this shouldn’t sound like a Hall of Fame induction speech..but, without all these people, none of this would be possible…..there are many who wanted to see us succeed, many of whom put in lots of miles to help us succeed…to you who did that, THANK YOU!

So far, as of this post, Disney has been the PERFECT race for me…the pace, the nutrition, the conditioning…it all came together in this race…I was tired at the end, but never close to “the wall”….nothing hurt and never was I in fear of falling apart..I felt the strongest I have ever felt for any of my marathons.

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Also, to those of you who get caught up in the high mileage training Hooplah…I ran my best race ever off of 30 miles per week average…so, it’s just all about proper training, the right timing of training and proper nutrition…if you want something, put in the time and effort and you can make it happen.

Live, Laugh, Run and Happy Training!!