11/15/17 – 400m Repeats and a Goal

It has been quite some time since I have done any work on a track. I think the last time was when Justine was still in the NICU and I escaped away to Lake Shore Park to get my mind off of the craziness of the hospital. I remember I was just so happy to be running and doing something “normal”. Over the past several years, running and working out has served as a way for me to clear my thoughts. When I am in the middle of a workout, all I need to do is concentrate at the task at hand. All of my worries and concerns will still be there when I am done with my workout. So this time is just for me.

I told Jim that I want to run a sub-30 minute 5K. It seems like an attainable goal IF I put in the work. He told me I needed to start incorporating speed and hill work into my training. In training for the marathon, I never really focused on speed since it is all about the distance. It was hard work getting in all of those miles every week, but there is no time limit. I knew stepping onto the starting line this year at the marathon that one way or another I was going to finish the race. And I did! But now this goal for the 5K is different. It is time based so just putting in the number of miles isn’t the only thing I need. Now it is about what I do in those miles: quality over quantity.

I hadn’t done 400m repeats in a long time so I wasn’t sure how I would do on my first attempt. I did a 1 mile warmup (not shown below) and then did 8x400m with a 1200m cool down. Ideally, the 400s would be at 5k pace, but like I said, it was my first try, so I just went with what felt good. I never knew how difficult it was to hold a steady pace for 400m. The wind on the backside straightaway did not help either.

Ultimately, I think it went well for my first try. I learned I know nothing about pace so I need to focus on that. When you are as slow as I have been, there is no rush to get to that finish line. “I’ll get there when I get there”. Now with this goal in mind I want to start pushing my limits to see what I can achieve. I’ve seen how far I can go. Now it’s time to see how fast.

11/13/17- 3 Miles and 9 Hills Later

This was my first outdoor run since the marathon. I️ finally got over my cold and it was time for me to get out there. I was a little worried at first because it’s been so long but I figure I’ll do a short distance and it wouldn’t be that bad, right? Every Monday the BWRC meets up at a park near our house so it is hard to pass up. I️ have been trying to go the past couple of weeks, but I only go if Justine is napping after school. And of course she hasn’t been doing that the past couple of weeks. Well today when I got home from work she was asleep! So I got ready as fast as I could and jumped I the car to head to the park.

My Sweatshop/running friend started running with the group a few weeks back so I was glad to see her. She is faster than me but she hung back and kept pace with me. I wanted to push it a little bit since I hadn’t run in a month so I was doing my run-walk at a faster pace – more like 10:30/mi during the run according to my friend and it felt comfortable. I think all that yoga I had been doing the past month had paid off.

My splits:

  • Mile 1: 10:39
  • Mile 2: 11:27
  • Mile 3: 11:51

Me and “Wheels”

We ended up doing just over 3mi because I wanted to have some gas for the hill sprints. I do enjoy running hills but I had never run them in a group before. I wasn’t sure if I would be intimidated by them or pushed by them. The group is so great that they were cheering me on as I ran up that hill 9 times. One of them even hung back with me to make sure I finished. It is so great to be a part of this group.

Great run to come back to finally shake off the cobwebs left from the marathon. I was extremely motivated and I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow. Gotta admit, I’ve missed this feeling.

Busse Woods Running Club

Balance Training for the Marathon

It has been a month and two days since my third Chicago Marathon.  The last time I completed a marathon was in 2011, back when it was just me and Jaz and we could really just do anything we wanted anytime we wanted.  That was two years before Justine came along and completely changed how I viewed life.  This year I wanted to tackle this accomplishment again, now knowing I had a little more behind me – the experience of being a parent.

This year, to add more motivation to stick with the training, I fundraised for the Ronald McDonald House.  They helped Jazmine and I so much while Justine was in the NICU at Lurie Children’s Hospital.   It was a very different experience fundraising for them compared to other charities I have fundraised for in the past.  We have a Facebook group where all of the current and past runners for RMHC come to share experiences both on the course and off.    I cried reading some of those stories, sometimes because it sounded so much like us and sometimes because they were not as fortunate as us.  I knew that this group was what I needed to keep me going through training.

In my previous marathons, I did not have to coordinate times around a child’s sleep schedule.  As Justine gets older, her sleep habits have not been consistent.  Some nights she sleeps 10 hours, some night only 6 hours.  She may or may not take a nap in the middle of the day.  And the worst of it was that this summer we were weaning her off of one medication, so she would wake up screaming when she would finally sleep.  We are convinced she was going through some kind of withdrawal.  For about 4 months she was not a happy camper so that led to very early runs for me, running at lunch time, or right after work to make sure I was home as soon as possible to relieve Jaz of her Stay at Home Mom duties.  Occasionally Justine required much more attention so I had to skip a few scheduled runs.  I admit, early on I was irritated when I would miss a run.  If you are a runner you know how missing a run can really mess with your head.  I came to the realization that my situation was not like others and that everyone has to deal with their own obstacles to get their training in.  Life is far from perfect, but that should not stop you from doing the things you want to do.

I am not a fast runner.  Some may call it jogging, or quick walking.  My goal this entire season was to just finish the marathon.  Because of this, I take a longer time finishing training runs than most people training for a marathon.  It was ok early on.  But when the mileage built up to 6-7 mile runs during the week and then up to 16-20 miles over the weekend, that is a lot of time away from the family.  In previous years after those long run Saturdays, I would just crash in my bed and fall asleep for hours.  Now, having a family, I did not want to miss out on our weekend together so I always made it a point to go out with Jaz and Justine right after I got back from my long run.  As much as I needed the long run for my training, I needed the family time with Jaz and Justine for balance.  I never wanted to appear selfish about taking too much time away from my family while training for the race.

I was satisfied with how I trained this year.  I trained smart, backing off when I felt like I needed to and pushing when I knew I had more in the tank.  My biggest worry through the entire season was making sure I was still a good father and husband to my family.  All of the hours I ran, or thought about running, or getting ready to run, or going somewhere to run was time away from my family that I knew was necessary for training.  I wanted to be healthy enough to finish the marathon as well as be functional and not too sore to hang out with my family.  That was the hardest and most rewarding part of training, balancing running with my life.  And in the end, I hope that I am a better father and husband for it.

1 week

So here I am again…

7 days until I run the marathon.

As I have mentioned before, I was NOT ready for the marathon last year.  Not physically and more importantly not mentally.  I let it become bigger than me.  I talk all the time about how people can have so much potential inside of them to do whatever they want, but the fact of the matter is, I did not believe in my own message when it came to me.  I still thought of myself of the overweight kid in high school or would breathing heavy after running a block.  The fact is that I am not that kid anymore.  I haven’t been for a long time, and I don’t plan on going back to that kid.  There is no chance that you can become amazing unless you try to become amazing.  If I was able to show 16 year old me what I can do, the fact is, that he would think that what I am doing is amazing.  So why shouldn’t the present-day me think the same?

So what did I do? I stuck much closer to the training plan this year and I trained smarter.  The pounding of running will take its toll on a larger framed person like myself.  So unscheduled rest days are a must.  I am not a professional, so I need to make sure I take care of my body when it is asking for it.  On the same note, if I want to succeed, I need to put in the work.  No one else…just me.  So this year, I made sure I couldn’t make any excuses when marathon day came along.  This year I want to step into the corral at the marathon and know that I did everything in my power to be successful.  I believe I have fulfilled that requirement.

OK, confession time…

EVERY Sunday of this training program, I contemplated quitting.  I had many great runs and I had some bad runs, but the thought of just calling it quits was on time every week.  The day after my long runs on Saturday I sat back and I was in disbelief that I just ran that distance, or I could not believe I logged those miles throughout the week, or month.  I fantasized with the idea of just stopping my training altogether and drown my failure in ice cream.  But then Monday would come.  I would transform into this robot when I put my running shoes on.  And like clockwork I would get back into my groove once again.  I would get through the week, get my long run done, and then say hello to the question of Sunday.  It was a vicious cycle, but I knew to expect it every single week.  So I’m here on a Sunday night, thinking about quitting, just like any other week.

But something is different this week.  Yesterday I ran 9 miles for the last long run of the marathon training.  I look back at yesterday, and I know I ran it.  I look back and think, “that was easy”.  I am confident about how I ran those 9 miles.  I am confident I can do that again, almost 3 times in a row, next Sunday, with 45,000 other people, and millions of people cheering.

So here we are, on a Sunday, 7 days away from my second marathon, and I don’t want to quit.

I don’t know how to…

Another 100 mile month!

Another 100 mile month

So another month of training comes to an end, and I hadn’t really looked at how many miles I ran.  I figured it was over 100 miles, but I really had no idea how many miles over 100 I ran.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had logged 122 miles in August.  Thanks to DailyMile I was able to compare this mileage to what I did last year while training for the marathon.  To my surprise, I actually DOUBLED my mileage from last August.  I know I am expecting to do more mileage this year since I am following the intermediate training, but last year, I remember missing a lot of runs.  This year I get at least 4 runs in during the course of the week including the long run.  I really think  that has helped me so much this year.  I guess we will find out for sure on October 9th to see if all of this training really help me out. But first thing’s first, I got my first 20 miler this weekend.  I hope to stay around the 4hour mark.  Unlike last year, I am actually somewhat looking forward to it this time around.  I just need to feel what 20 miles feels like again.  Then I’ll get to do it again at the Elk Grove/Busse Woods 20 miler in 2 weeks.  I don’t expect September to be close to the mileage of this August or July, but I do hope to hover around 100 miles again.

39 days…


6 weeks down, 12 weeks to go

Hard Work This year is going to be different
Last year I admit, I did not know what I was getting myself into
I thought then, “I’ve run for two years now, I can take on a marathon
I coasted through training, only getting sometimes one run in during the week
I knew it would be difficult, but I knew I would at least finish it
October 10, 2010
90 degrees
Pains, cramps, dehydration
…I finished it…before it finished me
6 hours, 49 minutes, and 51 seconds
Now I am putting in the work
I am finding inspirations from all directions
I am finding a strength within myself that I never knew existed
Every decision I make up until the race can effect me
I don’t allow myself to slack
Get ready Chicago Marathon 2011

I’m back…and this time I’ll be ready

Chicago Marathon – ONE WEEK! Reflection…

1 week away – 17 weeks of training – 2 years of fantasizing – 30 years of disbelief.  Let’s go through each of those phases starting with the largest.

30 years of disbelief.  Since I was a kid, I declared I would never run for leisure.  Basketball was my thing when I was a kid and always will be, and I always thought that if I was going to do anything from a cardiovascular standpoint, it would have to be basketball.  No questions asked.  And a marathon? No chance! Not only does that require running, but running for a very long distance.  I question driving that far much less using my feet as the mode of transportation.  People who trained and completed marathons were not real.  They were people that would only be seen on a 2 dimensional screen or newspaper.  I would never know someone who would even attempt this…


2 years of fantasizing.  My goals in life shifted.  After years of playing basketball casually, the reality kicked in.  I get hurt all the time playing it.  Ankle sprain, back injury, concussion, pulled hamstring, etc.  Another reality kicked in.  I am dangerously out of shape.  I had issues with blood pressure as well as panic attacks, even sometimes chest pains.  Time for a change, time for someone new…time to run?! Couch to 5K program is introduced into my life.  Got addicted QUICK! Signed up for multiple races, soon enough bumped up to 10Ks.  Loved running, loved the feeling of finishing a race, PRing, a new distance.  How far could I go? 26.2? Man, that would be great.  I don’t have that kind of patience.  I am not fit enough for something like that.  I’ve seen some of the fast runners at the races I’ve done, they definitely have the drive to run a marathon.  It just amazes me.  Maybe someday…


17 weeks of training.  Friends have done it.  Family has done it.  Tens of thousands of people have done it.  Why can’t I be one of those?  What makes me incapable of even attempting a marathon.  I couldn’t come up with even one good excuse.  Midnight on February 1st comes…SUBMIT! Officially registered for the 2010 Chicago Marathon.  Training starts in July and I meet one of the strongest groups of runners I had ever met.  I’m not just talking about technique…I’m talking about heart and support.  Saturday morning after Saturday morning I find myself listening and talking to complete strangers.  Some of them like me running their first marathon, others running their 20th.  I now KNOW people who have done this.  I find strength in them.  I find support in them.  I’m also finding support in my fund raising.  With my dad not here to see me in person, I had to make sure he heard me.  As of today, I’ve raised over $2000 in donations for the American Heart Association.  I couldn’t believe I could raise that much!  Just more motivation for me.


1 week away.  I’ve never believed in myself more than I do right now.  The past 17 weeks, 2 years, 30 years have led me to today.  I’ve run as far as 20 miles.  Ask 16 year old Joey if he ever would run that far.  He would say “hell no!” and then proceed to eat his Wendy’s frosty with fries (man those are good).  Running has taught me what inner strength really is.  At any given moment, you can look inside yourself and find it, especially when you are running for hours on end!  But with enough patience, faith, and practice, you find that your inner strength is ENDLESS!  I’ve seen people amaze me everyday.  I’ve read stories that make me yearn for greatness.  I’ve heard people say that I am inspiration.  Not yet folks…I got one week.

15 miles…oh..dear…God

I decided to opt for the written post as opposed to the VLOG for this week’s training update.

Saturday came.  I hadn’t run in 10 days prior to the 15 miler.  The week prior, I felt like I may have tweaked my knee and/or achilles again.  They were just tightening up on me.  Plus Jaz and I were going to Florida for vacation, so I decided to take a little break, probably thru the weekend.  The weekend comes and goes, and they haven’t healed completely.  So I extend it till when we get back…still tight.  Decided to just wait until all felt better.  And that day came on the Friday before the 15 miler.  Oh dear.  So here I am on Saturday, carrying some extra vacation Florida weight, not run a mile in 10 days, drank a lot of vacation Diet Cokes and Smoothies w/rum in it.  I knew that the run was going to be much more difficult than it should be.  And I was right.

Right away, my right knee was tight.  I normally don’t worry too much about any nagging tightness because I know they normally work themselves out through the run.  And I was right.  4 miles in, and I felt looser, but my calves still felt tighter than I would like.  Now I drank water and gatorade the day before on Friday, but I found out later that maybe I needed to start hydrating even before then.  We hit the 1/2 way mark at about 8 miles and I was already fatigued.  The site coordinator was there too, and he even asked if I was ok.  I must have also LOOKED bad as I felt.  Oh yeah…and there were like A MILLION mosquitos out in the forest.  I was falling back considerably from our pace group.  Luckily, one of the group leaders decided to hang back with me.  For a bit I thought I was getting dehydrated, but I was ok.  At the 10 mile hydration stop was when thing started going downhill fast.  I almost cramped about 6 or 7 times.  So I had to stretch and walk each time.  It would almost happen one after the other.  Cramp….stretch….walk….start to run….cramp….repeat.  It SUCKED! By then a couple of other runners decided to walk with us as well.  Tim, Kim, and Michelle saved me that day.  I just couldn’t go on, but they pushed me to finish.  In fact, they made it bearable.  They told stories and we laughed a lot.  So it was a good time in spite of the constant cramping and swarms of mosquitos.  Then finally after 3 hours and 45 minutes, we were done.  15 more miles on my shoes and 133 mosquito bites on my back, legs, and arms.

One of the faster runners in our pace group made this for me.  Isn’t she sweet? Thanks Lisa!


Lesson: WATER WATER WATER! I need to shed some more weight so it will be easier on my joints, knees, ankles, achilles, etc. I am going to concentrate on my diet this week.  No junk food, no pop, good carbs and lean proteins.  And some strength training is necessary.  I have been majorly slacking in that department, and I think it is time for me to pick that up again.

Thank you again to Michelle, Tim, and Kim!  Without you I wouldn’t have made it out of the forest and would have succumb to the mosquito villages.

American Heart Association kickoff meeting

On Thursday (5/20) was the kickoff meeting for the American Heart Association Start! Heart Walk team for the Chicago Marathon by Sears Tower – I won’t call it by it’s new name.  I was running late but I was able to dial in on my cell so I could listen while I drive through the hell that is 90/94.  I was tweeting back and forth with @cubicledad to tell him I was going to be late.  He said I should make a dramatic entrance.  I was hoping they would ask whoever was on the phone (me) would introduce themselves and then I could pop my head in the room as I was talking.  Didn’t quite work out that way.

When I finally got there 15 minutes after it started I was just in time to catch Bernie Salazar talk.  He was the at home winner of the Biggest Loser Season 5.  He lost 130 pounds over the past couple of years, and pretty much cut his weight IN HALF! Can you imagine that? I’m not sure I want to weight half of my heaviest weight (310lbs/2 = 155lbs).  But even just hearing him talk about his struggles with weight loss and his story about his first marathon, it really gives me hope for this year.  I was able to talk to him after the meeting a little bit just to get some tips and a little more inspiration.

They also showed a video of a woman who is a stroke survivor and is still motivated to run.  I pretty much was near tears watching the video.  Unfortunately I forgot her name, (her first name is Phyllis) once I find out, I’ll write up a post about her.  Just an amazing story!

Now onto the pictures, and don’t forget to check out my donation page: http://www.runningforjerry.org


Me and Dan (@cubicledad)


Me and Bernie Salazar

Me and Bernie Salazar (Biggest Loser Season 5)



American Heart Association Team!


After the meeting was done I walked back to my car in the garage next to SEARS Tower, so I had to snap a quick picture of it…


Shamrock Shuffle 8K

My directional skills downtown has diminished. It took me forever to get downtown from Jaz’s work because traffic was backed up from the toll on 90. Decided to “cut” around it and take Lake Shore Drive, which probably took equally as long as if I stayed on 90/94. Who am I kidding, I’ve NEVER been good with directions. Then when we finally get to the Navy Pier exit off of Lake Shore, I miss the turn to go into Navy Pier! ARGH! Finally made it in and just took a couple of pictures around the expo and Navy Pier.


Shot of the Expo at Navy Pier


Me and @duclecalor – This lady is waaaay cool!


Michael Jordan Stained Glass?

We stayed in the Affinia Hotel [thanks Roderick!] about 1.5 miles away from Grant Park which where the race was taking place. The day before the race, the weather wasn’t looking too good! It started to snow in the morning before we woke up. It wasn’t sticking a whole bunch, but there was just a little slush on the ground.




Weather reports were saying that it wouldn’t get any worse on Sunday during the race, so I hoped that was the case! Sure enough, the morning of the race I checked outside and thankfully all of the streets were clear! No snow to be found, but it was still chilly. The race was scheduled to start at 9am so I figure I could wake up early grab breakfast down in the hotel restaurant and then make my way to the race. At 6:30 Jaz and I went down to grab breakfast to find out it opened at 7am, which was the time I planned on leaving. Without eating anything I made my way over to Grant Park, jogging and walking on the way. I figured they would have bananas or something there to snack on beforehand like other races I had been to. Yeah, I was wrong. I walked around A LOT trying to figure out where everything was, chatted with @dulcecalor again at the Fleet Feet tent, went to the Congress Hotel for my CARA check-in, then walked to a field my friend Rikki was supposed to be stretching at, couldn’t find him. By the time I got to the start line, I had already gone 10,000 steps. No food, a little water, somewhat tired legs, and 8K in front of me, oh dear…






Gear check for 25,000 people


Shot of the Shamrock Shuffle! WOW!


Post-race = FREE BEER!


WOO HOO! My First Shamrock Shuffle in the books [apparently I like this pose]!

So going into this race I wanted to run it under an hour. Given the factors of no food in my system from breakfast, eating like crap the day before, and already tired legs, I immediately thought that this goal was out of the realm of possibility. Obviously there was no backing out now. I was by myself and had no one to pace with, but then as we approached the start line I started thinking of all the reasons I began running. This is the type of thing I do before all my races. I start listing out reasons in my head and why I want to be healthy: Jaz, my family, my friends, my nephews and nieces, my godchildren, and everyone I could hope to inspire to lead a better life, and of course myself. I started off on my race and felt great. Being in the presence of more thank 25,000 people was just so exhilarating! Especially when people I have never met along the streets are cheering me on. Such a high! The volunteers were great helping out with the aid stations and directing traffic. They made this race such a great experience also! I loved the run and will definitely do it again! Oh an my time? 57:50, WOO HOO!! And then I grabbed all of the bananas, water, and beer I could get my hands on.

After the race I walked back to the hotel (BIG MISTAKE). Met up with Jaz at Niketown (it was way too cold for her to wait for me at the race) and saw these beauties:


ohhh my…25th anniversary edition all-white Jordans *drool*

Then to finish off the day, went to Old Country Buffet with Mike’s family and of course my goddaughter Haley!



Ain’t she CUTE!?

A great end to a great weekend in the city!