Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

I don't have much to report. I've still not gotten any runs in.  I had hoped to start doing some short jogging as I'm feeling somewhat better, but work has been hectic and by the time I get home, I'm wiped out. 

Since my last post, I've attempted a CPAP titration, had to stop in the middle because I could not breathe, caught a rough cold, that turned into bronchitis, gotten better, attempted and successfully completed another CPAP titration, and am no waiting to hear the results and get my Rx for a machine/mask. 
Wow that was a long sentence! 

I have been feeling somewhat better, but I'm anxious to start treatments and start feeling better. 

In the mean time, the family and I are heading to Oklahoma for the Holidays.  We fly out Christmas Day and return on January 2nd.  I'm taking my running gear and hopefully will get some runs in with my sister.  I'm sure she's far above me at this point but I always enjoy running with her. 

If I don't post before, have a wonderful holiday season and I'll catch ya on the flip side!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I'm missing lately

I miss the "good fatigue" that comes with finishing a hard run and knowing you gave it your all.


I WISH I was missing the "bad fatigue" that comes with deprived oxygen from sleep apnea.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I’m a Sleepy Sleeperson!

The good news…. my thyroid is fine.  The extra testing came back normal.  The bad news…my sleep study identified I have moderate sleep apnea with slight hypoxia (my blood oxygen level hit 89% and the normal range is 90% and above).  I’m not sure if that 89% was an average of the entire night or just at one point.  So now I’ve got to schedule a CPAP titration and prepare to start wearing something on my face all night.  Ugg!   But then again, if it kicks this fatigue away, then I’ll happily wear it. Isn’t it basically forced air into your nose and mouth?  I LOVE sleeping with a fan doing that anyway so maybe that was my body/subconscious trying to attempt a crude version of a CPAP.   In the end though, is this going to solve my problems?  Who knows. I sure hope so!

There’s not much to update about exercise.  I haven’t done any running since last weeks poor two miles.  I did get some cardio and strength training in at the gym.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, but I’ve been too busy to get back and frankly I’m too wiped out to do much of anything.  The fatigue is still around, it comes and goes, and is keeping me very tired by the end of the day. 

I’m also not at the office this week, I’m taking a blueprint design review course, and yeah, it’s kicking my ass too!  I have NO experience with reading blueprints, so this is all new to me.  The instructors are like a German Olympic gymnastics judge on a bad day.  After lunch, one group walked in literally one minute past time.  The instructors broke out Hawaiian skirts and leis and made them wear these for an hour.  Something about being on “vacation” and not taking the course seriously.  Good thing it wasn’t me! 

But I digress (I always love using that term!).  Getting back to running, I’m hoping to get these damn health issues sorted out and back on the road.  I’m itching for another experience run somewhere before Winter fully sets in.  YUK!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Trot "Race" Report

On Thanksgiving the family and I participated in the Green Valley Turkey Trot.  I ran five miles.  Jen and the kids walked a 5K.  Barring my recent health junk, it was a great event.  Plus we all went into turkey dinner with a calorie deficit.  How great is that?

We missed the pre-registration night so we decided to get there as soon as registration opened the morning of the run.  So we got there, paid the entry fee(donation) and got our shirts. But wait!  no bib?  Nope, there was no bib, no official time, and no starting or finishing line! Although we weren't aware of the latter until race time.

So there we are with about 45 minutes to kill before the run started.  Since it was a local race, one of the local Zumba instructors (not Jen's) was leading some warmup routines.  Of course, since Jen's become the resident Zumba expert, we sat around critiquing her routine and trying to stay warm.  Then about five minutes before the run was to begin, the run director started making some announcements.  Once he was done, everyone just started heading down the road.  No official gun start.  No official starting line.

I took off at a slow pace with a planned 1:30/1 interval.  Shortly after starting, I ran into some of my Fleet Feet Friends but they were doing a different interval so I didn't stay with them. The run was through a nice area with rolling hills and pretty homes.  One large 5 mile loop.

Normally, it takes about a mile for me to settle into a breathing rhythm and get into "the zone".  I never settled in on this run.  I felt perpetually in that awkward first starting a run feeling, and I was tired as heck from the get go. The run was nice, relaxing, and a friendly atmosphere, but I struggled with my energy and ended up not having a good run.  I finished, but with several extra walks.  It was by and far the worst "race" I've done these last two years.  Still, I finished in just over one hour. There was no finish line.  No definitive finish.  It just sort of ended at the same corner as it began.

After finishing, I found the family and we headed home.  I was tired and feeling rather crappy. We got home and had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving at home with Wii games, movies, and yummy food.


Yesterday I had a followup visit with my doctor. My blood pressure has been excellent so that's good.  But we discussed in depth (well as in-depth as can be with an always rushed doctor that sees patients for about 15 minutes tops!).  We discussed thyroid issues and he explained some of the things I wasn't clear on but he also ordered some further thyroid testing at my request.  In addition, he ordered a sleep study because I'm a heavy snorer and he thinks the fatigue may be sleep related. 

I did get a 2 mile run in yesterday before heading to the doctors.  It wasn't great, nor was it even good, but I got out there.  The weather was in the upper 60s/lower 70s and it was a gorgeous day out.  I tried enjoying it, but the struggle of no energy was enough to classify it as a crappy run.  I sure hope things get cleared up soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This morning I had my Occupational Health physical at work and everything checked out ok, except the fatigue issue. The nurse practitioner there gave me some good advice for dealing with my general doctor, plus she said it was probably a good idea to find someone else.  Since I ate this morning, and they needed me to fast (wasn't aware of that) I have to go back on Monday for blood tests.  I've also got a followup with my general doctor. I fully intend to push the other thyroid testing with him. So other than the fatigue, things are decent.  Well enough to hit pavement again.  Yay!

So tomorrow's planned 5 miler is on!  This will definitely be the last race of the year and I've got no clue how it will go.  Slow, steady, and fun is the plan.  I'm not even sure if they talley results as I've not found previous years results anywhere. 

On a somewhat different note, I came across a link for the Blue Ridge Marathon and I'm quite intrigued. It's at the end of April so I'd need to start training for it soon if I decided to do it.  It will also be one hell of a marathon.  It goes by the slogan "Americas Toughest Road Marathon", and takes you up and back down two mountains!  You heard that right, MOUNTAINS, not hills!  To give you an idea of how tough it is, the winner last year ran it in 2:42.  It will throw my 2012 goals off, and likely I could get a DNF on the course, but for some reason, I'm interested.  Go for it in 2012 or plan for 2013?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mystery Solved! Well, Maybe.

Unfortunately I didn't get a run in like I planned.  In fact I've not run in two weeks.  This health issue is really kicking my butt.  I'm fatigued all the time and hitting pavement is the last thing on my mind, although I'm missing it terribly. 

As I mentioned before I had some blood tests done and the results were being mailed to me.  Well once I got them I scrutinized everything and came across a discrepancy.  My Thyroid (something I've suspected all along) TSH level was fairly high.  Now there are several different thyroid hormones, but only this one was tested.  In doing some research the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists have made recommendations to change the standard scale for this test, tightening up the "normal" range.  According to their newer (2003) guidelines, I'm in the Hypothyroidism range.  According to the lab that ran the test, I'm not.  Given that I'm exhibiting many of the symptoms of Hypo. and my level was fairly high, I'm pretty confident that this is what it is. Yet, I'm struggling with the Doctor.  His stance is that I'm normal.  I have a followup on Monday and plan to come armed with the new guidelines and if he is not at least willing to get the other tests, then it's time to find a new doctor.  Until then, I continue to fight fatigue and headache/light headedness and struggle to get through the day. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Health Update

The conundrum continues.  I'm more or less back to my regular ole self, but the underlying issues are still present.  My new blood pressure medicine is working great, maybe a bit too great. My temperatures have moved up some, but still below my normal.  My blood work came back great, for the most part.

After about three days being on my new blood pressure medicine I've started having some numbers on the low end. For the most part, the numbers have been down.  In the mornings, right before taking the next dose, I'm around 130/85.  Slightly above the optimal, but not bad.  It fluctuates throughout the day but mostly the numbers have been good.  I've had a few instances where the numbers were too low. If it stays this way until my two week follow-up, then I'm going to request that I try the combination without the diuretic.  I was on Amlodipine and HTCZ (diuretic). The new med is one pill that contains both of those in the same dosage as before, and Valstran.  The Valstran seems to be working really well.  I think I could do without the HTCZ and still have good numbers, and they just so happen to make one without it.  We'll see how the next week goes and what the doctor says.  It would be nice to get rid of one out of the two diuretics that make me have to pee all the time!

There were only two concerns regarding my blood work/urinalysis.  One, my glucose level was slightly elevated.  Not near diabetes range, but enough to keep an eye on it given my genetic per-disposition for it.  Two, I have a moderate level of bacteria.  Not really sure what the means.  Otherwise, everything was in the normal ranges.

On the running front, I'm going out this afternoon for a run.  I only have a half day at work so I'm still deciding if I want to run there or come home and run the neighborhood, but I will get out there today. :)

I nearly registered for an 8K this Sunday at the Baltimore Zoo.  In fact, I planned to, but when I went to register, it was full.  Oh well, I'm definitely going to do the Turkey Trot 5 miler near my house. 

Regarding my diet, I've been doing great at it and according to the scale this morning I'm down nearly 8 pounds from two weeks ago.  Yippy Skippy!

Things seem to be on an upswing. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


For the last several months, I’ve been having frequent headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath.  I’ve attributed it to the weight gain I’ve had coinciding with these symptoms, but the last two weeks things have stepped up inducing me to reevaluate the situation.

Throughout marathon training, I was slowly loosing weight, from around 215 in November 2010 to 192 in late March 2011.  After the marathon, I plateaued then started gaining it back.  For the last 2-3 months, I’ve been back to around 210-218.  Even through half-marathon training, I continued gaining weight.  I thought it was due to laziness and lack of tracking my nutrition.  I’ve been tracking it again, trying to eat between 1500-2000 calories a day, still, the weight hasn’t dropped and my fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath has continued. My blood pressure has, for the most part, remained consistent, roughly 135/85 to slightly higher.  I’ve been on bp meds for over two years and back in March my doctor was considering taking me off of them since the numbers we so well.

Last week I started thinking something else might be happening besides just weight.   Several days in a row of severe fatigue and frequent headaches induced me to call the doctor and have some bloodwork done.  My though was a thyroid issue or anemia.  I made the appointment on Thursday while at work.  On the way home that evening, I was feeling very light headed.  Immediately, I checked my BP and it was a whopping 154/106!  Yes, I took my meds that morning.  My temperature was 96.8.  I typically run near or slightly over the 98.6 standard, so something obviously wasn’t right.

Friday morning I had my 4 month post-surgery eye exam.  Things went well for it.  I read at a 20/20 in each eye, and 20/15 combined.  The doctor could see some dryness and suggested I return to using the tear drops to help lubricate them throughout the winter. 

I then had my doctors appointment to address the above issues.  His thought is it’s blood pressure related, and switched me to a three-in-one pill with the two meds I’m on plus an additional one.  Bloodwork was ordered “to rule out other things”.  Now most of the symptoms could be bp related, but up until last week, it’s not fluxuated much the last few months.  And I haven’t read anything linking low temperature to high blood pressure.  I’m not convinced, and neither is Jen.

Since Friday, I’ve basically been lounging the house, feeling rather crappy. Its too early to tell if the new meds will work better than the old, but I’ve mostly been down around 120-135 over 80-95.  My temperature has stayed below 97.7 with a low of 96.2 this morning.  I’m waiting to hear back on the bloodwork.  I had it drawn Saturday morning and hopefully the results will be in early on Monday.  I’m anxious to get some answers so that I can treat what it is accordingly. 

For now, I’m holding off on any running.  Trying to eat doubly healthy and just get myself back to functioning normally.  Thankfully it was a holiday weekend and my normal day off giving me a four day weekend.  I sure hope I’m feeling better by Tuesday, I’ve got a critical food sanitation inspection in DC early morning.  Due to the specifics of it, I’d hate to have to reschedule. 

More to come as things change.  For now, I’ll finally catch up on all the movies I’ve been waiting to see. 


Sunday, November 6, 2011

National Mall Run

This morning I met a friend in DC and ran a 5.5 miler along the National Mall…

Location:  The National Mall in DC is the centerpiece to the city.  On one end, you have the United States Capitol Building, on the other end are many of the National Monuments.  Smack dab in the middle is the Washington Monument and directly north of it is the White House.  On the Capital side, you’ve got the Smithsonian Museums and art galleries.  On the monument side, it’s fairly wooded, with winding paths to the various monuments.  Just west of the National Mall is Arlington Cemetery, another great place to experience if you haven’t before.  If you’re not familiar with the Mall, or have never been, it’s quite an impressive thing to see. 

The Mall is a favorite spot for many runners.  Every time I’ve been down there, I’ve seen a multitude of runners of all sorts.  Not only is the atmosphere great, but it’s, for the most part, a flat area with paths everywhere.  I could write a ton about everything to see here, but I’ll keep it simple and just state that if you’ve never been here before, take the opportunity to visit.  I highly recommend a tour around the Mall with visits to the Natural History, American History, American Indian, and Air and Space museums.

Route:  I met my friend on the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, the Northwest corner of the Washington Monument section.  We headed west, looping around the Lincoln Monument and down the center paths with a sideline to the Korean Monument.  Close by the Washington Monument we came across a gathering for the kick-off of a 5K Walk4Hearing put on by the Hearing Loss Association of America.  They were just about to get started, and we sidestepped it around to avoid getting in their way. 

We continued down the middle through the museum section and made a loop around the front of the Capitol building.  As much time as I’ve spent on the Mall for my previous job and many leisure visits, I’ve not really gone up to the base of Capitol Building, so we went as far up as possible.  Lastly, we made a B-line straight through the center and back around to where we started making it a nearly 5.5 mile loop. 

The Experience:  The run was nice and relaxed, at least for me.  The plan was to do a 1:30/1:00 run/walk ratio.  My running partner has recently gotten back into running and was suffering some shin pain throughout the run.  We took a fair amount of extra walking breaks to help him out.  For me, it made a great opportunity to snap some photos. 

The weather was nice.  It started a bit cold, but once we got into it, the temperature was perfect.  It was moderately crowded, but we didn’t have to fight our way through anywhere.  The only exception was the 5K walk crowd. All in all, a great day for a run at our nation’s capital.  

After the run, we fought DC traffic to grab an early lunch at a nice Portuguese restaurant called Nando’s Peri Peri, for yummy flame-grilled chicken.  Then it was the long fight with traffic back home.

The full picture album can be found here.  And now for some highlights.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunset Loop

I had a great sunset run this evening on a new route.

Location:  Quarry Lake at Greenspring is a small residential and commercial site in Baltimore County, just east of Pikesville.  I’ve yet to identify if the quarry was created specifically for this community, or if the community was a result of beatifying the quarry. Regardless, the area has been built up into several condo buildings, single family homes, and a commercial area known as The Shops at Quarry Lake. Several nice restaurants and shops are there including California Tortilla (a favorite of mine), Starbucks, and The Fresh Market, among about 25 others.  Surrounding the lake is a nice paved pathway approximately 1.75 miles.  There is also a smaller pathway with seating along the overlook.

Route:  This afternoon, we stopped by California Tortilla and I noticed a few runners and walkers out.  Even though we frequent the shops on occasion, I’d never really though of it as a place to run, until today.  I surveyed the area and it looked like the pathway went completely around the lake.  The path contains a fairly significant incline/decline.  It starts low, then circles around an overlook and back.  Perfect for training for a long steady incline.  I’ve never seen a large amount of people on the pathway, so it’s not a fight like some of the other locations.  The scenery is beautiful.  Vegetation growth is filling in nicely and there were ducks and geese on the water. 

The Experience:  I didn’t make it back for my run until the evening.  I’d hoped I could get two laps in, but I could only get one in before dark.  I ran counter-clockwise, facing into the setting sun, and heading up hill.  I was going for a 2:1 run/walk.  Temperatures were cold, but not horrid, nice and crisp air.  When I reached the overlook, I took quite a few pictures.  The view was awesome.  I just missed the setting suns rays over the view, but it was still a sight to see. 

I was running with a fairly fast pace, especially along the backside with the long gradual downhill. This was only my second run in the GT-2160s and they felt much better this run.  No shin pain to be noticed.  I did end up with a few blisters along the inside heel.  The insert sits slightly higher than my old shoes causing rubbing further up the ankle.  Not a problem, just have to toughen up the skin right there.

Now for the photos. As before, I’ve uploaded all the photos to my Smugmug account, and have all of todays photos at Lake Quarry 10-30-11.  Here are a few highlights:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Shoe Wars Saga Continues.

In a galaxy far, far away….

It is a period of civil war.  Rebel spaceships, striking from a….. WAIT that’s not right!

A few months ago I mentioned that the owner of my local fleet feet said I was in wrong fitting shoes.  Since then, I’ve had my form checked out a couple of times, from various stores.  Each one seemed to say something different.  One said I’m supinating, another I over-pronate.  One suggested a neutral shoe (which I was currently in), another said I needed support. 

I didn’t post it here, but I decided to try a third store, explain the situation, and see what they had to say.  This store was patient, they heard both stores suggestions, and walked me through an extensive analysis.  The results:   I tend to supinate while walking, but once I start running, I start pronating, and the faster I go, the more I over-pronate.  Their recommendation, a support shoe.  I tried several and made a mental note of the ones I liked.  Being that I’m  a cheap bastard bargain hunter, I didn’t buy one at that time.  I also was finishing my half marathon training and did not want to change shoes right before a race.  So I waited.  It’s worth mentioning that my current pair had gotten me through all my running since Christmas of last year, including marathon training, the marathon, and everything since, without any complaints (minus the orthotic incident).

Last week I decided to order the model that seemed to be the best according to the third shoe store, ASICS GT-2160.  I got them through Runners Warehouse using the remaining gift card money I had and spent a whopping $35 total. The shoes came in on Thursday and yesterday I got in a decent 2 mile run. They felt pretty good at first, but by one mile, I could feel some tension along the outer shin, about 3-4 inches above my ankles.  I’m hopeful that I just need to get used to wearing support shoes since I’ve been wearing neutrals for nearly two years.  Slow and steady with alternating between the two is my goal.  Are these going to be the “right” shoe for me?  No clue.  The more I’ve researched and dealt with the realm of running shoes, the more I’m learning that it’s not a simple matter of finding the right shoe for me, but it’s more about finding what works for the current situation.  And so, the saga continues….

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Welcome to a new topic here at the Runners Bug.  Movie reviews! I'll be sharing some running connections in movies and my input on them.  Sure I can do reviews for the typical "running movie", but that's just not me.  They may not be centered on running, but all will have some connection, no matter how small, to the sport we all love to hate, or hate to love!

Movie:  Yes Man
Year:  2008
Lead Actors:  Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, and John Michael Higgins
Synopsis:  Carl (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut, a very big rut.  He's "recently" divorced and becoming more and more a hermit.  A chance meeting with an old friend leads him to a seminar on saying yes, and he decides (or is hoodwinked into) agreeing to say "Yes" to everything.  He meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel) the same night and a long and twisted rebirth happens for Carl, with Allison in tow. 

Reasons I Like This Movie:  Although quite comical, the overall concept of opening one's self up to new possibilities by saying "yes" is intriguing.  How many missed opportunities have you had because you declined an offer, or otherwise said no?  If one was to actually adopt this philosophy, there is no telling what life may bring. We could all stand to bring a little more "yes" into our lives.

Running Connection:  The connection with running is pretty lose.  Allison leads a running photography club.  It's comprised of people that like to run and like to take photos.  She just put the two together.  The running photography scenes are quite funny, and although only a minor part of the movie, they illustrate the quirky nature that is Allison.

Since seeing the movie several years ago, I've always liked the concept.  Two things I enjoy doing thrust together in a swirling spiral like peanut butter and banana.  They might not traditionally go together, but can make for quite an interesting treat.... just ask Elvis!

I must say, I picked this movie because of my last post.  I already had a review of this movie in mind when I decided to take pictures throughout my last run at Centennial Park.  I imagined myself in Allison's group, although I did stop to frame shots and not just randomly click the shutter.  It was a fun experience, and I'll be continuing my Running Photography Club of one.  Who wants to join the club?

Check out "Yes Man" for an upbeat comedic movie with an interesting philosophical bent.  Even if your not a Jim Carrey fan (like Mrs. Runners Bug), I promise you'll take something away from it. 

Now expand that mind of yours and say YES!

Things To Watch Out For: 
A perfect fit for Third Eye Blind's Jumper song.
Good performance by Terrance Stamp.
Zooey Deschanel in her naturally zany self
Jim Carrey dressed as Harry Potter and Zooey Deschanel dressed as Hermione Granger
The Drunken Brawl


Monday, October 17, 2011

2012 Running Goals - Experiential Running

You know the type.  Runner's World Magazine dedicates one page per issue to a photo of someone running up a majestic mountain or along a deserted trail.  The runners always appear at peace, as if running were as effortless as breathing.  This is my favorite part of the magazine.  It's also my goal for 2012.  To run as many of these kinds of runs as I can. 

Since high school I've always considered myself a runner.  More often than not, I was a runner on sabbatical.  For the last two years I've integrated running into my daily life.  I spent a year just focused on making running a routine part of life. Then this year I ran distances I've never run before, completing both a marathon and a half marathon.  I've also moved past the dogma against run/walks and do both full running and run/walks.  Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to where I wanted to go from here.

A couple of months ago, I had a thought.  Why not run the "Rave Run"?  Why not do it often?  Why not make it my goal?  So here it is my "Race" plan for 2012 (which I'm starting a few months early). 

Goal One:  Increase my running frequency.  Pretty much this entire year I've focused on a three run week or less.  Typically Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  I'm hoping to increase the amount to about 5-6 times a week, for at least a mile each run.

Goal Two:  In my last post, I mentioned I was going to stop documenting my times.  I've become obsessed, as many runners do, with the clock.  "I was a few seconds slower today than yesterday!  What happened?"  Unless I'm running a race, I don't plan to keep track of times.  Instead, I'm going to a more subjective form to evaluate my efforts.  More...experiential. I'll elaborate more on this in a future post, but for now. It's bye bye watch.

Goal Three:  Find unusual/historical/intellectual/personal locations to run and document each one as an event.  I want to choose locations and document my experience with them.  Why did I choose this location, how was the run, what did I experience, what were the pros/cons of it. Photos will be taken and shared on here. 

This might sound vague, so let me elaborate.  I live close to DC, yet I've never run the National Mall just to run it.  Both times I've run there were during races. I'd like to run the entire mall. Maybe stopping at a few of the memorials and experience them through my running self. 

Another example might be to follow in the footsteps of another. Experience what they experienced.  Not long ago, I watched Rocky for the first time in years.  Philly is only a few hours away.  I'm thinking of trying to retrace the famous montage that ends with Rocky running up the steps of a museum and throwing his hands in the air.  It might sound corny, but then again, what might you be thinking when you reach the top?  I'd like to find out for myself.

My work takes me on frequent (although not so lately) business trips throughout the Eastern United States. Each trip offers me a chance to run somewhere different.  I plan to find something unique about each location and experience it through a run. 

So that's it.  My 2012 Running Plan - Experiential Running.  I'll probably add in some races here and there too, most likely the Army Ten Miler.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Near Perfect Fall Run


This morning I headed over to Centennial Park for a relaxing 5 miler.  The run turned out to be near perfect.  The only hitch, I had some more knee pain towards the end.  I went out with only my hat, sunglasses, water bottle/holder, and my phone.  Without a watch I wasn’t able to really do intervals.  I simply ran when I wanted and walked when I wanted.  Trying fro around 2/1.  More often than not, I stopped for a picture instead of a walk. 

Location:  Centennial Park is a 325 acre regional Park in Howard County, MD, Just north of the planned community of Columbia.  The park is used for a variety of events from the free summer concert series “Sunset Serenades” to church services and sporting events.  The park consists of several play areas, picnic pavilions, an outdoor stage, several tennis and basketball courts, and a nearly 2.5 miles paved trail all surrounding a lake. 

Route:  I chose this route for many reasons.  It’s a favorite local sport for running.  The scenery is awesome with waterfowl, people watching, gorgeous lake views, several bridges, and a dike.  The trail is about 10 foot wide, paved, with a wide variety of elevations.  If you like short and steep hills, this place is for you.

The Experience:  The weather was perfect for a mid-morning fall run.  Temperatures were in the low 60’s with a slight breeze and sunny skies.  I snapped a before photo (sorry for the blurriness, I had it the setting on macro).  There were many people out and about on this wonderful morning.  Right off the bat, I saw a group of people sitting on the outdoor stage in what I thought was a yoga pose.  I came around the bend to find some flyers for Falun Dafa, a Chinese meditative practice, similar to yoga.  I haven’t looked into yet but the flier looks promising. 

I continued on and crossed paths with many people doing wide variety of activities.  From fellow runners and walkers to fisherman, photographers, and families teaching little ones how to ride a bike. Everyone was out and enjoying the cool breezes and warm penetrating sunlight.  The path was fairly crowded and at times I felt as if I was navigating through a crowded race. 

I mainly focused the run on photographs today.  The run itself was slow and steady with punctuated impromptu stops for photos.  When I wasn’t capturing the souls of others in digital format, I simply enjoyed the rhythm of running.  Feeling the sun’s radiation penetrate my being, and listening to the sounds of nature.  It was quite meditative in itself.  Towards the last mile or so, I did notice some slight discomfort in my left knee. The same place it’s bothered me in the last two races. I need to spend more time with the foam roller and stretching. 

Now for the photos.  I’ve begun using my Smugmug account again and have all the photos from today at A Near Perfect Run, if you’d like to see them all.  Feel free to check out my other photos.  I haven’t been using Smugmug in awhile so there isn’t anything recent other than todays.  Enjoy!

View from the boat house.

Looking out from the dike.

Fall trees

A quiet break in the crowd.

A new endevor?

Practicing Falun Dafa.  I thought this was yoga at first.

Fall leaves.

Feet don't fail me now.

Why wouldn't I stop for views like this?

Fall Fishin'

Runners World "Rave Run" contender?

Doesn't look much different than before I ran.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Fond Farewell.

You've been my trusty friend and faithful companion for nearly two years.  We've been through tough, happy, lonely, excited, and painful times, but alas, I must say good bye for now.  You've served me well, never failing to capture an hour, a minute, or even a second as required.  When needed you've been there with memory at hand.  For this, I thank you, but it's time to move on, at least for now.  Our paths are diverging and it's time to cut the cord and proceed ahead alone.  You will not be forgotten, and when the time comes and I need our service again, I'm sure you'll be there with all your might.  But for now….Adieu

IMG_7570Now my faithful readers may be wondering "what in the world is he talking about?"  Well, I'm moving into a new phase with my running.  I'm putting down the watch.  No more tracking my pace or times on runs.  I have no planned race goals and therefore no need to worry about how fast or slow I am running.  I will continue to track my mileage and other metrics, but time is not an important component for what I’m wanting.  The quality of the experience itself is what I'm seeking. 
This years race goals are done.  I've completed what I wanted to and have begun to move towards my 2012 running goals.  I'm still planning things out, but not requiring a watch is most definitely a big part in what I plan for 2012.  I’m probably going to run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving, but other than that, I’m looking towards the future.
More to come soon...

P.S.  I'm not sure what's up with pictures having a white bar at the bottom.  I'm using Windows Live Writer to make posts.  I might try reinstalling it when I get around to it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Army Ten Miler Race Report

Ah, the Army Ten Miler (ATM), you broke me down last year, but this year I kicked your butt!

Packet Pickup and Race Morning

IMG_7500First we had Paige’s second soccer game Saturday morning.  She’s in first grade and the program she’s playing through had issues getting started so she’d had a total of two practices and one previous game (which the won).  Today didn’t fare so well.  They played a stronger team, and they just didn’t play as hard, especially Paige.  She was off in Lala land a lot.  Oh well, she’s only 6.  After the game we drove down to DC for race packet pickup.

Packet pickup went quick and we were able to register Paige for the kids 100m race.  She was so excited.  From there we hit the expo, didn’t find much.  I wasn’t looking for anything and Jen found a few items.  The Women’s Running booth peaked her interest and she started looking at their Arizona HM next fall to run with my sister that lives in Phoenix.  They’ve both soft committed to run it together now!  Awesomeness.   But I digress. We left the expo, and outside there were some Army booths with guns and vehicles, even a Blackhawk helicopter that the kids were able to hop in.  They loved it.

We headed back towards Baltimore and stopped at an Olive Garden for dinner. This is becoming the traditional pre-race meal for us.  I’ve started having allergies, so was fairly sneezy and feeling crappy.  Yeah, that appears to be tradition now as well, me feeling crappy the night before a race.  Yuk!

We awoke at 4:45 yesterday morning for the race.  About a 45 minute drive to the metro, with a coffee and donut stop, and we missed the first train by about 3 minutes.  After about 15 minutes of waiting, we got another and quickly found out we’d need to change trains twice due to track maintenance.  Nowhere did we read anything about stations being closed.  Stupid MTA!

Finally, we made it to the Pentagon stop, yeah, it was crowded as heck.  It took awhile to get out of the metro station and from there, the organizational mass confusion kicked into high gear.  We couldn’t make heads or tails of where to go.  Everything was changed from last year, and we needed to hit the bathroom.  Everyone was standing around, confused, and not sure where to go.  Finally, we figured out that it was the racers checkpoint and I said my goodbyes to head on down.  By this time, it was about 20 minutes before my wave was to start.  I hit the “Don’s Johns” line and had to wait about 10 minutes.  There was no toilet paper (Thankfully I’m a guy!) and the seat was a gross mess.  Yuk!  From there, I headed towards the starting line.

The Race

Last year’s race was well organized, Each wave was corralled behind a loop of colored balloons, We were able to hear the National Anthem, and each wave went off without a hitch.  Not so this year.  I got in line where my color was (the back) and everyone was just walking.  It was about a 15 minute nonstop walk to the starting line. There wasn’t any distinction between waves, or at least none I could tell.  Just one massively large 30K sea of people slowly making their way to the starting line. 

Miles 1-3

IMG_20111009_082631Finally, I crossed and the race began.  With so many people, it was impossible to run at a specific pace, let alone do run/walks.  I was stuck at the mercy of the crowd.  No big deal, it was VERY slow for the first half mile or so.  There must have been a ton of people that either forgot to pee or do to the confusion, just didn’t have time.  I came across this site about 3 minutes into the run.  When you gotta go, you gotta go!  I didn’t suffer such fate!  Mile was close to the Lincoln Memorial. I tried to get some photos, but they didn’t turn out too well.  I did get the Washington Monument. Not bad of a pic either.   I was having fun. I was trying to maintain a lose 12 min/mile pace, but mainly I was enjoying the crowd, the sights, the other runners, just all of it. 


IMG_20111009_092631Miles 4-5

This section of the race was along the water, near the infamous Watergate and the Kennedy Center.  A nice section to run on Somewhere during mile 5 I noticed some pain in my left knee, not as sharp as the HM two weeks ago, but enough for me to be worried. I slowed it down some more, took some painkillers, and applied some Biofreeze. 

Miles 6-7

Although I was going slower and worried about the knee, I loved this section of the race.  It was along the mall near where I used to work.  The crowd was huge, and the course double backed so we could see the runners ahead, then behind us.  My leg continued to have the slight pain.  It wasn’t noticeable at the beginning of a running interval but was by the end.  I was playing it safe, no rough surfaces or sharp turns, just slow and steady. 

Mile 8-9

This section took us back over the bridge towards the Pentagon.  Most people consider this section the worst of the race.  Not much good scenery, and running over a dull bridge.  I personally like it.  My knee cleared up.  No more pain, and I slowly started speeding back up towards my 12 min/mile pace.  There was a possibility that I could still make it under 2 hours, but I needed to make up some ground.  I cautiously started increasing the running ratio. It seemed that 75% of the runners near me were walking. I did a lot of passing through here.

Mile 10 and a long finishers shoot

When I hit the 9 mile mark, I calculated I’d need a sub 10 min/mile to make the 2 hour goal.  Nothing doing.  I wasn’t about to injure myself and run the risk of not finishing or worse, cause long term damage.  I just kept it steady.  At the last turn, there was about 200 yards left and I started kicking.  The last 50 yards, I was going full speed and crossed the line with a 2:01:55.  Much better than last years race, but nearly 45 sec/mile slower than two weeks ago.  I was done, yet we had to walk about 10 minutes before we could get out of the shoot.  No water was provided to us, although later I saw a ton of empty water there.  Thankfully Jen and the kids were at the exit where I got my finishers coin and some Gatorade Jen got for me.  I was feeling great actually.  Only during the sprint at the end did I really push myself.  Otherwise I was following Mr. Bingham's advice about getting your money’s worth.  It was a great way to run the race. 

Youth Run

This was a HUGE fiasco.  It started nearly 30 minutes late. We had to walk about 15 minutes to the start and were sandwiched in the finishers shoot.  There was no way the parents could get out.  We were told to put the kids up front and we were to run behind them.  An industrious guy was able to break the zip tie and some parents got out, Jen included.  I stayed behind. We only registered Paige, but there were a bunch of other kids without bibs, and Connor really wanted to go with his Sissy, so we let him.  When the gun went off, Paige ran with Connor hand in hand, I was behind.  I told her she didn’t need to stay with him and she took off like a bolt of lightning.  I finished with Connor, and both of them got medals.  Now these were no kiddie medals.  They were actual metal, better than some I’ve received for real races!  


With the race over, we had a fiasco meeting up with my friends that live by there because the metro bus station at the Pentagon was closed.  Again, nowhere was this stated!  Finally one of them picked us up and we hit some yummy Mexican food for lunch. 

Overall, the race was great.  Yeah, I had some pain in my knee, and I’m going to need to address that now, but it didn’t last the entire race. The race was far less organized than last year, and from the complaints on Facebook, I’m hoping they change it back. 

Now I’m off to enjoy Columbus Day sitting on the patio in 70 degree weather!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Army 10 Miler Is In The Bag.

The race is done. Some pre  post-race report thoughts….

The organization was horrible.

The course was slightly better than last year.

Some pain in the left knee, again.

I finished strong.

I ran fairly easy.

The kids race was a mess.

Lunch afterward was awesome. 

Stay posted for a full race report, probably tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


4:45 alarm, have to be at the metro at 6:00, race at 8:15, Paige's race at 11:00, Lunch with friends about 12:00, Back to the metro about 1:30, to the car about 2:30, home to rest 3:30. At some point after that will be dinner and family movie night to finish out the last Star Wars movie. Whew! I'm worn out just typing it all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hooah!!  That's the Army's battle cry.  This weekend is the Army 10 Miler and I've got mixed emotions about it.  On the one hand, I'm excited to do it again.  The race is huge, well organized, and has several personally significant features. 

1.  It's the Army, and I work for them.
2.  It takes place in DC along the National Mall, where I used to work.
3.  Last year, I had a near DNF when I pulled a hamstring.

Up until last week, I haven't had this race on my mind.  I had the Hidden Treasures Half Marathon to worry about. What's 10 little ole miles when I'm doing 13.1 two weeks before hand? 

Well since the HM is over, the ATM is the next big thing.  My last post I mentioned I may have done something to me knee/ITB during the HM and was taking time to recoup.  I decided to just rest the entire two weeks so I've not logged a single mile since then.  I've done the foam roller a few times, and plan to use it more over the next few days and hopefully things will go well on Sunday.

That brings me to the mixed emotions.  I'm slightly worried that I'll have a repeat of last year.  I'm hyper sensitive to sensations around the knee area.  Could it happen?  Yeah, there's a distinct possibility that something will go wrong, but I've only had two instance of pain and I'm putting in the rest so I'm hedging against it. 

With that said, my goal is to finish strong and beat my time last year, which isn't hard to do.  No pushing it, no trying to hit that magic time.  I'm going to relax, enjoy the scenery, the crowd, and have fun with it.  To paraphrase John "The Penguin" Bingham; you spend a lot of money for the privilege of running a race, why not slow down and get your money's worth?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


My stomach appears to have recovered from the pukiness of earlier this week.  All things considered, it was a relatively minor bout of stomach flu.  I've had much worse.  Not a pleasant experience, but I'm thankful it didn't hit me the day before.

Moving on from digestive issues, this morning I awoke to stiffness and minor pain on the outside of my left knee, right where I had sharp pain towards the end of my HM on Sunday.  It hasn't bothered me since the race, so I thought it was an isolated incident.  I guess there is more too it now.  I may be overly cautious, as I'm prone to do, but after researching the specifics, it may be the beginning of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS).  The pain was right where ITBS symptoms occur.  I may be wrong, and I hope that I am, but since I felt something four days after the race I'm going to cautiously treat it as such and limit my running until the Army 10 Miler in 10 days. I DO NOT want another repeat of hobbling into the finish!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The stomach flu sucks!  I've been sick with it since Sunday night.  I took Monday and Tuesday off.  Back at work but still feeling the effects of it.  Yuk!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hidden Treasures Half Marathon Report

I did it.  I finished my first half marathon this morning.  It was a little anti-climatic compared to my first marathon back in March, but it was still an exciting time.

maryland map

We began this adventure Saturday afternoon with a 3 hour road trip down to Salisbury, MD.  For those of you unfamiliar with Maryland, the state is divided into by the Chesapeake Bay.  To get there we had to take a trip across the “dreaded” Bay Bridge, a large 4.3 mile bridge that connects the rest of Maryland to the Eastern Shore.

We stopped at a favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch and hit the road back down.  It was a rather uneventful trip down and we made it to the civic center to pick up the race packet.  There was supposed to be a Fitness expo going on and Jen was excited to hit up the booths.  I knew better.  Last year the race consisted of about 300 runners total for the HM and 5K.  I figured there might be a couple of booths there. Maybe a couple of the sponsors, and a store or two.  Yeah, it was one tiny booth of clearance running apparel.  Jen was quite disappointed! 

We checked into the hotel and rested, or should I say, I rested, Jen and Paige watched a movie, and Connor, well he did what he does best, annoy everyone!  We hit Olive Garden for dinner and I had a yummy Seafood Alfredo.  I wasn’t feeling too well, thought I might be getting sick, and afterwards we headed back to hit the hay, dreading the forecasted rain, we stopped by Kmart for an umbrella for the family and a poncho for me.


This morning we awoke about 6am to find NO RAIN!  It was foggy out though.  We had breakfast and headed to the race.  There were quite a few runners, but still it was a small race.  The mandatory bathroom stops and we were off to the starting line.  I got in place, the family shortly behind to cheer me on.  We listened to a horribly slow version of the Star Spangled Banner and the race was on.

Mile 1-2:  I started off with the same strategy as my marathon, take it slow from the gate and build up from there.  While everyone else gunned it with the energy of the race, I was quickly positioned in the rear, only a few people behind me, just where I wanted to be.  About 1/2 mile in, I meet up with a woman that looked to be attempting run/walks and I offered for her to run with me.  She kept with me for about a mile, then started trailing off.  This happened with another woman (this one claimed the longest she’d run was 3 miles, I wonder if she finished?).  Again, I soon left her in the dust. 

IMG_7141Mile 3-4:  The family was planning to find a spot at mile 3 to cheer me on, we even drop by yesterday to figure out where the race crossed.  The one thing we did not plan, an underground tunnel.  Thankfully the were waiting on the other side and I did “knuckles” aka, a fist bump, with the kids then headed on.   From there it weaved through Salisbury University then off through some residential areas. 

Miles 5-8:  I can sum these miles up as residential with a view.  There are some beautiful lowland waters that we ran past, and many of the houses were really nice.  As for the race, I steadily continued to pass people.  With starting out in the back, I had a lot of rom to catch up on, and it seems nobody else was using the same tactic.  I passed people, nobody passed me. I did not bring my Gymboss to run with and was at the mercy of hearing my watch beep, so I decided against using headphones.  I put the music on my Droid 2 phone and turned it up.  Some people complimented me for it and said they should run with me. In a small race such as this, I think it was fine.  I would definitely not do this for a large one.


IMG_7156I again crossed the underground bridge at mile 8 with the family cheering me on.  There where few-to-none spectators for this race, and as I am told, Paige and Connor did an excellent job at cheering for all the runners.  Maybe we should go to a few races just to cheer.  The vast majority of non-runners were either police at intersections or water station crew.  There were about 8-9 water stations on this race, far more than I’m used to.  Everywhere I turned I had people asking “Sir, water or Gatorade?”  It was nice!

Mile 9-10: These miles were out along some farmland.  Nice and flat and I enjoyed the scenery.  I continued passing people, but not near as quickly as before. Still, nobody had passed me yet. At this point, I was wondering if I started out WAY to slow and would be trying to catch up with my pace the entire race. I was starting to feel the fatigue but was still going strong.

Mile 11-12:   Shortly after the 11 mile mark, a woman challenged me.  We were doing the run/walk shuffle for several turns.  I’d pass her while running, then she’d pass me while I walked. I guess she decided she was not going to let this “walker” get the better of her and sped up enough to pass me for good.  There went my streak! 

Not a single runner passed me outside of the beginning (unless you count just passing them then hitting a walk, but as soon as m next run started I would leave them in the dust!).  Two more people passed me before the end of the race.  It was very motivational to start in the back and do nothing but pass people.

Around mile 12 I had a sharp pain hit the outside of my left knee.  My first thought was ‘Oh shit! not another Army 10  Miler”.  I took a few extended walking intervals and slowed it down some.  It did return after the first walk, but not the second.  I kept it cautious and trudged on, knowing full well that my hope of a 2:30 just got shot.  Up to that point I was hovering around the goal the entire race.


IMG_7165Mile 13:  The last mile was an incline, not steep, but not what you want to have at the end of a race.  I was feeling the tiredness, and was treading on thin ice with my knee.  I plowed on through to the finish, but did not have it in me to gun it at the end.  I came in a little over a minute behind my  Hopeful goal of 2:30 with a 2:31:21 (watch time, not gun time).  I met my my middle and basic goals of finishing and being under 2:45 so I’m happy.  I know that had my knee not felt that pain, I would have pushed it at the end and would have met the 2:30.  Oh well, I really can’t complain.  The pain hasn’t resurfaced and I’m willing to bet it was just a phantom pain.  I’ll definitely keep an eye on it though.  The Army 10 Miler is in two weeks and I WILL NOT have a repeat of last year

Conclusion:  The race was a success.  I won’t say I felt as good as I did after the marathon, but It was still fun, I got a good workout, obtained an automatic PR, and I would recommend this race to others for next year.  I can’t say I’ll do it again, but who knows.  I’m still brewing a plan for the Runners Bug 2012 Season.