Tempo Run Playlist

So, I did something unusual today. I took my iPod with me on my Tempo run! This is unusual in that I usually don't run with it when I run outside. I'm strictly a treadmill iPod user. However, I was going out into a driving rain and it was 36 degrees outside... I knew I was going to need it if i wanted to complete it while remaining motivated and on-pace. I had a great run despite the weather. I was literally reigning myself in the whole time. I wanted to go harder and faster but knew it was wiser to stay close to my M pace (9:20/mile) so as not to burn myself out or wind-up being to sore or risk bonking in the Hyannis Half-Marathon on Sunday. After my 5 minute warm-up I kicked it in to my high gear and my splits impressed me in that I truly felt like I could've gone harder and faster. For the first time on a tempo run of this distance I felt strong and not completely wiped-out when I was finished. I'm pretty sure that it was my playlist that got me through it, it certainly wasn't my running ability...

  1. Lunatic Fringe - Red Rider (Warm-Up)
  2. Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  3. Piku - Chemical Brothers
  4. Red Alert - DJ Laz (Mile 1; 8:50)
  5. Bring the Pain - Method Man
  6. I'm Bad - LL Cool J
  7. Soldier - Eminem (Mile 2; 8:42)
  8. One Step Closer - Linkin Park
  9. Rock Star - N.E.R.D. (Mile 3; 8:42)
  10. Straight Outta' Compton - N.W.A.
  11. If I Can't - 50 Cent (Mile 4; 9:42 *uphill)
  12. So What'cha Want - The Beastie boys 
  13. Break ya' Neck - Busta Rhymes (Mile 5; 9:08)
  14. Rock Superstar - Cypress Hill 
  15. Git Up - D12 (Mile 6: 9:42 *uphill)
  16. X Gonna' Give it to Ya' - DMX 
  17. Till I Collapse - Eminem (Mile 7; 8:46)
  18. Handlebars - Flobots (Cool-Down)
Bring on Hyannis and a Sub-2 hour Half-marathon!


Connecting with the Infinite

I've recently come to the realization that I love my pre-dawn long runs. There's something about being pretty much the only one out on the road between the hours of say 4am and 7am on a Sunday morning. I  know it drives my wife absolutely crazy (she worries about my safety), but I actually feel safer running on the roads when I only see a grand total of four cars pass me in either direction (besides, I'm lit-up like a Christmas tree, literally). It's completely peaceful and uplifting to be alone with my thoughts where the sound of my feet plodding along is the only thing keeping me company. I do some of my best thinking (and dreaming) during these early morning runs. So long as I'm not pre-occupied with thoughts of fingers numbing and other appendages becoming frost-bitten or falling-off, and my water bottles freezing solid I'm good.

When I'm running (especially on these runs) I feel graceful, even though I'm a huge klutz. I picture myself as Josh Cox on a 30 mile tempo run, even though I'm more like John Bingham waddling on. I feel weightless and hear my feet gliding along the ground like a gazelle, even though I know I'm lumbering along like a Clydesdale. It's in these rare moments that I am something greater than myself, and I'm running for a higher purpose. I feel connected to God and nature while understanding my place in this life. I imagine myself changing the World through my running (or just one life). In these very instances, everything is "right" in my world and I'm connected with the infinite power of running as transformative action. I see myself living forever and doing great things. I realize that I have aspirations higher than the work-a-day grind. I'm running with a mission. Even if that mission is only to try to erase the damage that I've done to my body and soul with too many years of indulgence in food, alcohol and drugs.

When I'm wrapped-up in my running mind I realize how much I love my wife for all that she does and all that she puts-up with. After all, a wise man once said that "love is finding that one person you can annoy for the rest of your life!" And I'm absolutely sure I've found that person in Lex. I realize how lucky I am to have such a bright, creative and beautiful daughter. I thank the Lord that she is healthy and I often find myself praying that she stays that way. I imagine what her life is going to bring and how I can be a better parent, and foster her growth, independence and imagination to ensure that all of her dreams come true. I think of all of the World's problems and come-up with simple solutions for them like "Wow! Why hasn't anyone else thought of that?" I'm a genius when I run! I visualize my future and all of the things I would like to do to make everyone's lives better and more meaningful. But mostly, I think about my life's more mundane problems, like what to do with our house (we're remodeling), how we're going to manage daily life when the new baby arrives, how to pay the bills this month, or my "to do" list for the week ahead.

I am really not a runner, but running is good for me mentally, emotionally, spiritually AND physically.


Accomplishing the Extraordinary

Achieve (from Dictionary.com)
Part of Speech:verb
Definition:bring to successful conclusion; reach a goal


accomplish, acquireactualize, attain, bring about, bring off, bring to pass, cap, carry out, carry through, close, complete, conclude, consummate, deliver, discharge, dispatch, do,earn, earn wings, effect, effectuate, enact, end, execute, finish, follow through, fulfill, gain, get, get done, manage, negotiateobtain, perfect, perform, procure, produce, rack up, reach, realize, resolve, score, seal, see through, settle, signsolve, win, wind up, work out


fail, losemiss

I have a bit of trouble finishing things. This has been a recurring theme throughout my life. I am an excellent and highly experienced starter however. I've started hundreds, if not thousands of endeavors throughout my life, most of them like gangbusters. I always look good starting. I invoke good feelings in those around me. I inspire, I encourage, I lead by example. I work hard, I work smart, and I make plans like the best and brightest. But something always happens along the way. I fizzle. I loose my gumption. But most of the time I find I just plain quit. I don't know why this happens, it just does. I'll call it a character flaw for lack of a better explanation. It's a source of endless consternation for all who know and love me. I fail brilliantly! Most of my life I've been the master of the "Epic Fail."

Of course, there's always an excuse. Something happens or doesn't happen, gets in the way, or my favorite "it just wasn't meant to be." I even got a tattoo to represent this on-going theme in my life. I have a brilliantly designed traditional Japanese back-piece. It's a Dragon (to represent the ever-present destructive force) and a Phoenix (to represent the ability to rise from the ashes stronger and more beautiful then before), and of course, it's unfinished. Oh, I have the outline (6 hours) and 12 hours of shading done, yet I have at least 36 more hours of work to be done on it. I've just had one reason after another to not go and sit for more work in the past 3 years (money, time, circumstances).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I fail at everything, or that I don't finish anything. In fact there are several things in my life (my current marriage, fatherhood, paramedic school, the fire academy) that I've accomplished, even succeeded, and continue to excel at. It's just that the failures and incomplete endeavors are the ones that stick with me because they are often the most lingering, painful, or biggest learning experiences. My friend Tracey just put-up a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson on her facebook page that I think is appropriate here: "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail." When I started out on this quest, this is what it was about. It was about me, proving to myself that I could accomplish something huge, something that I never thought in a million years I would be physically able to do. Somewhere along the line I realized that all of the biggest things that I had accomplished in my life, I did so because I was able to make them about something more than myself.

Running for charity is one of the best reason's I can think of to put myself through the rigor of daily torture called a marathon training schedule. Honoring Brenya's memory by running for Children's Hospital has been the crucial decision that has carried me through the toughest parts of my training. I just hope that my story and my life can have even a fraction of the impact the Brenya's short and beautiful life had on so many people. I am more in awe of her every day as donations come in with the stories of how she touched my donor's lives. I recently received my largest donation to date (thank you Sara and Sean) from friend's of Shannah's (Brenya's Mom) who decided that instead of party favors at her wedding she would make a donation to my run, inform their guests of the donation and ask them all to do the same. What can I say? I was moved to tears. A simply amazing gesture! These are the kinds of things I think about when I'm out on a 12 mile run in the pre-dawn hours and sub-zero temperatures or wind chill. I've often called on Brenya to carry me through when I hit a wall of pain and don't think I can go on. But I also think of my own family when things get tough out there as they often do trining in the middle of Winter in New England.

Lex asked me the other day what I was going to do after the marathon. I've given this question a lot of thought lately, and I'm going to continue to run for charity. I'm not sure how many marathons, or races even that I will run (because after all, I'm really not a runner), but I will run and I will do it for charity because it gives me what I need to get through. Because when I run for charity I feel like I'm carrying he hopes, dreams, and memories of so much more than myself with me out there on the course. I know that James and Shannah are going to have friends and family all along the course rooting for me (they've told me as much), I only hope I don't turn into a blubbering mess by the time I cross the finish line. Crossing the finish line and seeing Lex, Isabelle, James and Shanna is bound to be the biggest emotional release of my life. Because I haven't done any of this alone. All of them, and Brenya, have been with me the whole way. Nobody who trains for a marathon does it alone, their families and friends all make sacrifices along the way. Those sacrifices are not lost on me.

Speaking of charity... My next fundraising deadline is quickly approaching and I am only a little over 20% to my goal (I need 50% by March 15). If you would like to donate and help me get to the starting line, you can click on the Children's Hospital "Miles for Miracles" logo/link on the side of the page----> Or, you can use this link to donate via credit card on their secure site: http://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=wd0030


Technical Difficulties

Ok, Ok, I know I've been a bad blogger lately. I've sat down and started three blog posts over at least as many weeks. So, over the next few days (1 week tops) I'm going to try to edit them and publish them to bring my blog up-to-date. This is the first of those entries. It's about how I've made running complicated:

When did running become so complicated? I think it happened when I became dependent on, nay obsessed with, the technology and gadgets that make recording and logging and relaying all of the data from my runs easier. Even so much as to rely on the gadgets during my runs to tell me in real time what I SHOULD be doing. This is a huge departure for the guy who used to forget to look at the clock when he went out for a run, and might eventually drive the course he ran for measurement when he got around to it. I used to just go out and run however I felt like running.

Then I began my marathon training in earnest, andI realized I needed to keep a training log in order to keep track of how far and fast I ran. Once I started my log on RunningAHEAD (http://www.runningahead.com/logs/bc0dcb5550b34a5da6571a06cc8d28d2), I started paying closer attention to the clock as I left the house and when I walked back in the door. I'm not a watch person. I've never worn one. I own a couple, but I don't know why. They were gifts, and thus sentimental, but I really don't wear them. When I asked my friend Jeff (http://www.breakthroughperformancecoaching.com/index.html) to help me set-up a training plan, he became my de facto coach. Jeff started asking me all sorts of questions about my runs that of course I had no idea of how to answer (foot cadence, pace, heart rate, etc). He suggested I get a Garmin or some sort of training watch to help gather all of the information about my runs that we needed to keep track of. This was the beginning of my technical difficulties...

After my birthday I used the money I got from my parents and my in-laws and bought a Garmin Forerunner 405 and heart rate monitor from eBay. It was a "factory refurbish," so it was a steal at $250. I started mapping-out my runs before hand and using the Garmin on all of my outside runs. Only problem was I couldn't use it on my treadmill runs. As weather and time constraints increased, I was running on the treadmill more and more. I soon realized that entering in all of the information from my treadmill runs into my log manually was a pain in the butt. I decided I needed a foot pod! My wife said she had no idea what to get me for Christmas, so you see where this is going... In the meantime, my Coach suggested using the training software he uses (http://home.trainingpeaks.com/) in order to streamline things. Prior to using Training Peaks, I was sending him the .tcx files from my Garmin and he was uploading them on his side and analyzing the data, etc (of course AFTER I already uploaded everything to RunningAHEAD).

So, now I have two training logs. For Christmas I got my foot pod. Now I can upload all of the information from all of my runs to both training logs in no time! Sweet. I know, but I have been unable to move away from the RunningAHEAD application. I really like it's functionality and the way it links to facebook. After all I've created a group on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=169237438478) where friends and family and friends of friends and their families can keep-up with my training and fundraising progress. I often link my training log and the blog that you are reading to that group. So, now I've got this blog, RunningAHEAD, Training Peaks, my facebook group, my fundraising page (http://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=WD0030), and my Twitter account (@reallynotarunnr).

Just before the Boston Prep 16 miler that I noticed a problem with my foot pod while doing treadmill runs. The foot pod started telling me that I was running much slower (and thus shorter) runs than the treadmills were. I had turned-off the "auto-lap" feature which I used to time my mile splits during my race week preparations because it made it easier to do my pre-race facilitation workouts by just lapping splits manually. I realized just how bad my problem had become during the BP 16... Right at the 1 mile marker I noticed that I hadn't turned the "auto-lap" back on, this made me extremely frustrated. I couldn't figure out which menu it was in, let alone how to turn it back on while I was running. So, I resigned myself to not knowing my splits for this race. Then it occurred to me "I can manually enter my splits!" Duh. Only then I found that I was obsessing over each mile marker and whether they were placed in the right spot or not. Eventually I was cursing the race organizer's for putting the markers out at all. It was getting ugly.

Somewhere on that long, tortuous run I began trying to figure-out why my splits and times had become so important to me. I mean, it's not like I'm actually fast, or that I'm going to be competitive in this or any other race. Even in my age group. Even in the Clydesdale division I had entered this race in. Not. Going. To. Happen. I decided I need to get back in touch with the "natural" runner in me. The guy that just went out and ran, no matter how ugly or painful it got. The guy who could go to the dark places he needed to go to in order to push himself through the pain. The guy who didn't care about all the superfluous stuff, but only cared about how it felt to run, good or bad. When it was all over, I was looking forward to a day off. Then I checked Training Peaks and saw that Jeff had entered a recovery run of 4 miles and three more days of running before I got a day off. How did I go to 1 day off per week from 2-3 days off? Ugh. I thought this might just break me. It didn't. However, because of my work schedule, weather and other variables, all of my runs were on the treadmill that week until my long run on Sunday. I was still having issues with my foot pod, so I was running further and faster than I was supposed to, and very nearly burned-out.

On Sunday, I headed-out for my long run and decided I would re-calibrate the foot pod and just run. Run like I used to run, and not even look at my watch. Of course, at about the half-way point curiosity got the best of me and I checked. It was a good thing I checked because once it was done calibrating, apparently it stopped. For a moment, I got really angry, then just said "Screw it! I'll just run and forget about it for now..." I started the watch again, and didn't look at it the rest of the run. I even stopped and found a tree when I had to (which I've never done before). From that point on, no matter how painful it got (and it got really painful with some GI distress, but that's for another post) I just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I focused on my breathing, let the sun shine on my face and took it all in. I remembered what I was doing and why. It was a great day for a run. And when it was all over the sky didn't fall because the data from my watch was screwed-up.

I eventually figured-out the foot pod calibration. I was finally able to get it right by manually calibrating it. Just when I got it figured-out... The battery died! I've stopped obsessing over my Garmin and it's accessories. Now I  just hit the road or treadmill with the intention of just running naturally and basing everything on how I feel and guess what? I'm still hitting my paces (mostly), heart rate, foot cadence and everything.

However, now I've added a profile on the Daily Mile (http://www.dailymile.com/people/DouglasW#ref=tophd) because I noticed most of my Twitter friends were on it, and I like the social/support aspect of it. I know, it's essentially just another training log to add to the mix, but I'm not obsessing over it. I swear. My poor wife. Ugh.