Thursday, February 14, 2008

New shoes and awesome dudes

Here are my new Brooks Glycerin shoes -- $119 at Fleet Feet in St. Louis, minus the $50 gift card Matt's girlfriend Amanda's family gave me from that store. I just felt like they needed to be showcased, so apologies to my ex-wife as I borrowed their centerpiece, because they kind of look like fruit. Plus, they were perfectly clean out of the box. The marathoner saleswoman at Fleet Feet was excellent, gathering every piece of data about my feet, announcing that I have high arches (I had no idea, could be a major step forward for me after plantar fasciitis!), and having me run out front in a few different pairs. These were the ones. I love them.

I was able to house-sit my 16-year-old Ben and my 13-year-old Josh that whole week while my ex and her husband were in Mexico, and my 20-year-old Matt and Amanda were there on both weekends from University of Missouri. It was a GREAT week with my crew who I always miss so much. They are the reasons I am going back to St. Louis for the April 6 marathon...looking forward to showing them how we roll.

Here's Josh, the "Big Chief" -- love that buzzcut:

Here's Ben, my Mr. Football, with Erica as I made them a candlelit dinner the day before Valentine's Day (since I had no one to make one for):

Here is Matt and Amanda, the straight-A power couple:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bronx Half Marathon: 2:20.32

Today was the second event of the year in the New York Road Runners Half-Marathon Grand Prix series sponsored by Continental Airlines, and this one was in The Bronx. Not a PR (Manhattan last month was my PR at 2:18), but I was very happy with my time of 2:20.32 today. That's because it was my hardest running course yet. Very hilly, and constantly pounded by wind the entire way, swirling so it always felt like it was in my face. It was a brutal run. Mysterious bumps appeared on my lower-outside left leg, and I stopped just to see what is up with that. It was at about the 2-3 mile mark, searing burning feeling in that area, and I think those bumps are just a result of the inflammation of that tendon. Whatever the case, once again they went away after a couple more miles.

After running this Half, I ran to Laguardia to catch a flight that connected through Minneapolis to get me to St. Louis so I could spend the week with my boys. It was all worth it. All things considered, I'm very happy with my time in this Half.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Two months till St. Louis

Just a quick status checkup now that I see the St. Louis Marathon is two months away. It will be my second marathon, following the ING New York City Marathon three months ago. I have not been as diligent in recording a daily mileage log as I was in advance of my first one, and I need to get back to that asap, because it's necessary for training as well as shoe-usage monitoring.

Instead, here are a few typical days in the life of me lately:

Saturday I tried to finish the book manuscript (up to 246 pages and almost ready to chase agents), wash running gear (who cares about other laundry??? lol). Sunday morning I ran the Gridiron Classic 4M, preceded by the Football Throwing Contest, all at Central Park, and then that night I worked throughout the Super Bowl as we at Major League Baseball officially take the handoff. Monday was a blur of meetings and content preparation for with Spring Training just around the corner, and that night I went home, threw my workout gear in a bag and walked over to New York Sports Club on my block. I LOVE NYSC! I joined in December in an effort to reduce the nagging injuries that plagued me before the NYC Marathon, and I have been Attack Man on this front.

I warm up with 20 minutes on a lay-back bike with arm and leg tension, set at Intervals. Then it's straight to the Xpress Line equipment -- eight machines that work every main muscle group of your body. I am doing three sets of 10 to 15 reps depending on the machine, starting with leg press and working my way around to curls for lats and delts. Imagine being in a gym with marathoners all around you. That is my little world next to Central Park. Then I hit the elliptical for 30 minutes. Then I went upstairs to the stretch room and did a LOT of core work, heavy on planks and crunches. I learned from watching someone use a squish-seat for crunches, but for me, I like my old-fashioned way the best of just bringing legs and head up at the same time while laying on my back. I have my Nano Red on my sportband the entire time just as I do running around Central Park, and I'm in my own world and feeling on top of the world.

This morning I briefly considered just going to work because I had worked out the night before, but I am in my boot camp again with my game face on and I went out in the rain and ran 11.5 miles around the park, mixing up my route and staying mostly on moist bridle paths. I felt strong. I felt great. I was wearing shorts and windbreaker in winter, just like Sunday. Now it is time for me to mix in intervals, which is about where I was when training with Team for Kids for NYC. It is more challenging doing this completely alone, but I am getting up to the 30s in weekly mileage now. It is time for me to elevate my game, time to put the long in long runs again. I have to revisit my NYC prep and one of my books and follow some instruction.

I am very excited about my second marathon. If you read my first post here, then you know that I overcame mountains just to finish New York City and I obviously want to shave at least an hour or more off my finish there. My goal will be five hours for this one. I just ran a 2:18 Manhattan Half (PR), so that's certainly doable, health willing. I am sitting here typing this while surrounded by a bagful of oranges, celery, a pear, some kind of juice from the sacred Goji berry of Tibet, and unsalted mixed nuts. I am trying my best to avoid late-night eating, which is generally my biggest roadblock in this life as a crazy runner. Here at my desk at our MLB offices, I have the black bumper sticker that I got at the Oklahoma City Half last year: "Marathon Freak." I am not the fastest marathoner but I love it as much as anyone.

Also: NYC Marathon registration starts Feb. 25. It feels good knowing that I won't have to rely on the lottery this year. I ran the nine required NY Road Runner scored/qualifier races in 2007 for guaranteed 2008 entry, and then some -- about 25 events.