Monday, December 29, 2008

5 2009 Racing Calendar Starting to Take Shape.....


Now that the MCRRC's 2009 race schedule has finally been posted (Yesssss!), I've been reworking my 2009 race schedule a bit.

For logistical reasons, I've decided to drop the following races from my schedule:

4/18/09, 6:30 am - Charlottesville Half Marathon (I'm doing a lot of races that month, & something had to give! ;-) )
4/26/09, 8 am - GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler/5K (Just found out that this race is on the same day as Pike's Peek 10K. The speed clinic I recently signed up for gives free admission to
Pike's Peek (10K), so that makes the decision a no-brainer. :) )
5/31/09, 7 am - ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon & 10K (Due to a recent change in plans, will probably not be able to participate in this race.)

...and for that very same reason, will be adding a few others:

3/1/09, 8:30 am - Runaware 5K
4/15/09, 7 pm - Firebirds Mile
11/28/09, 10 am - Turkey Burnoff 5M/10M (Although I did the 5M race this year, it wasn't originally on my racing schedule for 2009, because the dates might possibly conflict with one of the marathon weekends. Still not sure if I'll be able to do this race, since those marathon dates have yet to be posted, but -- Oh, what the heck! -- it's easy enough to remove this race from the schedule should there be a conflict.)

I'll also be volunteering for a few races & track meets as well..... (More details on those as the time approaches.)

Since last year marked my return to regular running & racing, & this year's race calendar is going to be even more challenging -- filled with even more running & racing! -- it's important to carefully plan out the year, so that the races I select complement the projected points of where I hope to be in my training.

As is my nature, I usually start out fairly cautiously, & then as I get a better sense of what I'm able to handle, increase from there. After all, you can always add more races! :)

It's important not to overextend oneself or "bite off more than can be chewed," as the expression goes, because the resulting fallout is often a decreased interest in training & running. Or worse, overtraining to the point of injury. And I'm determined not to let either happen! (Fingers crossed!)

Past experience has certainly been a good teacher! ;-)

It's easy enough to let one's "wild horses" (i.e., the "twin horses" of ambition & adrenaline!) take over, especially during race day (!) or at various stages of training, but consciously practicing "balance and moderation" in one's training & eating behaviors is something that will help to reinforce the wisdom of these principles & ensure a long & happy running career!

OK, that's a wrap.

Happy almost-New Year's Eve! :)


Saturday, December 27, 2008

0 Check Out Just Finish & DailyMile


Hello Everyone!

I'd like to encourage you all to join the "Just Finish" & "DailyMile" communities. Both provide excellent fitness & nutrition resources, as well as motivation to stay active & eat healthfully.

There are lots of people who participate in both running/fitness-related groups, & especially if you are already plugged into the vast social network of runners & health-conscious folks out here in cyberspace (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Wellsphere, Nike+, Runner+, CRN, Runner's Lounge, etc., & various other social networks), chances are you'll very likely know some people at these two particular sites already. If not, you can always invite all your existing buddies or make new friends while you're hanging out there. :)

So, once you join us, please help spread the word about both of these wonderful running sites!

To those of you who have already joined or who are currently in the process of signing up, thank you for your participation in these online running communities. It's people like you who help to make the running community a vibrant & exciting place to be!


Friday, December 26, 2008

0 Changing Our Eating & Exercise Behaviors: Health is A State of Body AND Mind


Below is a reprint of an article I wrote earlier today for the "Healthy Eating Initiative" group I recently started on the "Just Finish" site:

So I thought I'd start at a very logical place, by starting a discussion about the essence of change. This might seem esoteric or beside the point to some, but it's actually highly relevant.

If you've joined this group as a way to improve your nutrition/health, of course you obviously already realized that some of your behaviors are going to have to change in order for you to become healthier. However, this doesn't have to be a bad or painful thing.

I encourage you to think of the process as a positive transformation. Think of what benefits you will gain & how you will feel. If need be, make a list of these benefits & post it in a prominent location where you'll see it on a regular basis. And keep thinking & reminding yourself of these plusses, even when you are struggling or encountering challenging situations. In setting both fitness & nutritional goals (as well life goals), visualizing success is a huge part of "winning the game."

So, how do we go about improving our nutrition & exercise behaviors? And what allows us to have breakthroughs & succeed in a long-term manner, when in the past we couldn't seem to "step out of our own way"? Well, we'll get into that in a minute....


A big recurring theme you'll hear both on this site & at my running blog is "balance & moderation."

Personally speaking, these particular ideas have been the key to my long-term success, both in terms of fitness and maintaining a healthy weight & body fat percentage.

These ideas might not sound as "sexy" as the multitude of programs & products offering supposed "quick fixes" or an "easy way out," but one thing's for certain, if you put these concepts to good use, they will work for you! If you follow the slow & steady path to change -- to good nutrition, fitness, & a healthy body weight -- it's almost certainly going to be a lot healthier & a longer-lasting route to health & progress! Furthermore, changes like these run deep; they are not just cosmetic or superficial. Once the "light" of knowledge is turned on inside of you & you start to "get" it -- the bigger picture of how good nutrition is a crucial part of overall health & well-being -- that light doesn't just flicker out so easily with a gust of wind. ;-)

This highly effective pathway to progress isn't just some nutritional "makeover" to be used for a few weeks & then discarded. These ideas can change a person's life. Forever. In profound ways. This is about developing a new & better way of thinking & being. A new healthy lifestyle.

I have probably talked about "balance & moderation" until I am blue in the face, but the thing is this: The reason I keep talking about the importance of these concepts over & over is that I know without a doubt that this health philosophy put into practice is the better pathway to progress, & I'm hoping that, one of these days, the people who say "yeah, yeah, I hear you" & then go on some crazy fad diet, overeat/overindulge themselves, or do some other circular, self-sabotaging, guilt-producing behaviors, will have a epiphany (i.e., a "light bulb" moment) & then suddenly realize the profound point of this message. :) But in all seriousness, I realize there are probably some people who might never "get" it, or that sometimes, people just have their own time table & aren't able to see things (with their eyes wide open) until they are ready to see them, but as they say, "hope springs eternal." :)

The ideas of "balance & moderation" sound really simple, & the ideas ARE simple, in fact, but when you finally realize what they mean to you & how they will alter your existence & way of thinking, especially when you've lived most of your life in the food & fitness "fast lane," it's a profoundly powerful & transformative experience.

However, it's something we have to know by doing. In other words, it's absolutely essential to do more than just intellectually grasp this concept; we must deeply know the truth of it by putting it into practice on a regular basis.

Of course, no one can learn this crucial lesson for another person, but all the same, it's really important that we learn from our mistakes, so we don't keep repeating them in an endless loop.

I really believe that it's possible for people to change their behaviors in lasting ways, as most times they are just patterns that have been learned by repetition. So it stands to reason that these behaviors can be unlearned & replaced with more constructive patterns via the same sort of repetition. :)

I think that the best approach is to focus on making gradual, long-lasting changes, instead of trying to change too much too fast & then have all of that hard work disappear in a flash.

How many times have we heard stories of people who keep searching in vain for that perfect panacea -- perhaps in pill form or as a crash diet -- only to find out that these same people, after getting suckered into following some program promising quick results, have since gained the weight back & then some?

Here's the truth, straight-up. (Now this truth really shouldn't be all that surprising, but somehow still manages to surprise people now & then. LOL!): Instant gratification can be empty as an ultimate end unto itself. :) Many a mature adult has learned this lesson the hard way, but ultimately, it doesn't really matter in the end as long as the lesson has been learned. Yes, hard work & effort is really where it's at, people. And sometimes the reality is that the work isn't even truly that hard; it just has to be done.

The trick to losing weight, eating healthy, or getting into shape is simple: There is no trick. :)

What really needs to be lost is the dieting mentality itself, & the public perception of exercise & nutrition only as a means of losing weight! Societally speaking, there's also way too much focus on how much one weighs & the cosmetic aspects of one's weight, (particularly with regard to women & how they are discussed in the media), when what people should really be focusing upon is their overall state of HEALTH and PHYSICAL FITNESS, of which maintaining a healthy body fat percentage is certainly a significant part. Monitoring one's body fat percentage is a far better indicator of overall health & fitness. Moreover, the goal of getting to a healthy body fat percentage is NOT simply cosmetic; it's an important preventative health care measure, helping to protect us from all sorts of diseases & potentially serious health issues.

Tracking one's body fat in a normal (& non-obsessive!) manner also helps shift the focus away from fixed numbers to relative percentages, which is much healthier for one's mental state! After all, one's acceptable body fat range is a relative figure, & can differ based on various factors, including body composition, gender, & ethnicity (i.e., bone density levels differ somewhat amongst people of different ethnicities, which can affect one's acceptable body fat range). Moreover, it is possible to more easily disassociate oneself from the whole "scale obsession" thing when using calipers. ;-) Or, if you use a body fat scale, I encourage you to ignore the weight number & just track the body fat percentage by how much you are improving your overall percentage.

Retraining one's mind & redirecting one's energies towards "getting fit," instead of obsessively fixating on one's body measurements also seems to have a healing effect on one's psyche as well. :) I find that this is particularly true of women, who, on the whole, tend to internalize some of these false messages which wrongly equate a woman's worth with their body weight &/or size, & so, tend to be a bit more preoccupied by their weight/size than men.

As a personal illustration, I can tell you that the moment I stopped focusing on my weight (or fixating on metrics in general!) & retrained my brain & psyche to think about getting into good physical shape instead was the moment when I started making real strides of progress. And I've seen this change happen in others as well.

Our self-worth truly can never be measured in pounds or kilos!

If you have to lose weight, focus on the workouts instead of the weight/body fat loss. If you do the workouts & eat healthfully, the weight/body fat loss will come as part of the process.

When we let go & stop trying so hard to force progress, that's when we often move forward. There's a lot of truth in the expression, "a watched pot never boils." :)

As long as our focus stays on moving forward -- celebrating our milestones & successes & letting go quickly of our failures while still learning the lessons -- regardless of what happens, we will do just fine. :) What we can learn from sports is truly incredible. Lessons for life, ya know?

So don't make the weight loss the sole end goal, because it's not a deep enough emotional reason. Exercise for you. Exercise because it stirs your soul & gives you joy. Find exercise that is fun. The people who seek these deeper-rooted things from fitness are the ones who are going last in the "exercise game." :)


While no one can deny that maintaining a healthy weight/BMI is important, I think that if we look through such a narrow lenses, we are missing the larger & ultimately much more important picture: Good health is a life-long pursuit. And the proper use of metrics in fitness & nutrition should be reserved for the measurement of our progress; scales & calipers & stopwatches are simply tools to help us reach our goals, & should not be internalized as measures of our emotional state. ;-)

And yes, obtaining good health is certainly important, but it really matters quite significantly how we go about achieving it! Plus, we need to take the long view instead of the short one.

When it comes to changing our eating & exercising behaviors, it's been shown time & time again that people who start out by taking small steps (both literally & figuratively speaking), & taking those steps consistently over time, are more likely to be successful at maintaining their lifestyle changes in the long-term.

Furthermore, eating healthfully isn't solely about weight loss even though many people are very focused on the link between the two. I think that in many cases, the real issue is that people need to retrain their brains to think about concepts that are larger than just "counting calories" and the number on the scale.

What I mean by all of this is that our health is not just a biological fact, it's also a mindset.

That is why it is important that we take the long-range view. So let's let go of those broken notions of "what we should be" and instead focus on "what we can do." By putting ourselves in "action mode" (versus "self-reprimand" mode!), our minds will start to synchronize with the inherent wisdom of our bodies. And this is a wisdom that's already been there, lying dormant. It's there without us even having to do anything about it. Instinctively, we KNOW what to do. We already know that, scientifically speaking, food is linked to mood. What we put in our bodies affects our bodies AND our minds. And we KNOW we feel better physically & mentally when we nourish ourselves with healthy food. It's really not rocket science. We just have to listen to this very simple wisdom that allows us to do what's best for ourselves, & takes us in a forward-moving direction.

Choosing good health is really about choosing progress for ourselves. No matter what our current situation is or which course we've chosen for ourselves, it is still possible to reverse the path we're on & head in a new direction. We always have the option to choose progress & make things better.

And a big part of that is retraining our minds to accept a new path & let go of old pathways that just don't serve us in a positive way. The territory of eating & exercise are so often loaded down with our own mental "baggage," which can weigh upon our minds & souls like two-ton pieces of luggage! -- that we first need to dump it all at the "healthy express" depot before beginning our journey to better health.

So how do we get to our fitness & nutrition goals? By rediscovering patience & perseverance, & focusing on what we CAN do. And when we do in fact reach those goals, we need to celebrate our milestones in positive & productive ways, to spur us onto even greater accomplishments. And when we fall short, we need to be gentle with ourselves, let go of our mistakes & learn from them, regroup, & then move forward. It's just one step at a time. But first we've got to be sure we start today what we'd like to accomplish tomorrow.

Trust me, it's really that simple.

These are simple but powerful ideas. So repeat after me, "Everything in moderation. Gradual progress paves the path for lasting change. Balance is key." :)

And now we shall begin......

0 "Healthy Eating Initiative" Group (on is Now Ready For You to Join!


The "Healthy Eating Initiative," which is the companion program to "Thirteen Weeks To A Healthier You," is now ready for you to join. To join the group, simply request membership.

I encourage you to join both groups on Just Finish, as the two programs will be working hand-in-hand to promote total health & well-being via fitness, nutrition, & overall healthy living.

Yes, the "Cyberpenguin" & the "RunningHoosier" have joined forces to bring you the help & support you need to reach your health & wellness goals!

Thanks for joining our groups! We look forward to helping you to achieve your fitness/nutrition/health goals! It's going to be a great group dynamic!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

3 Check Out Mark Dilworth's New Blog, "Her Fitness Hut"


Please check out blogger pal Mark Dilworth's new blog, "Her Fitness Hut Blog." Mark is going to be one of the guest bloggers for the upcoming "Healthy Eating Initiative" program that I'm putting together.

We'd like to get as many people as possible to join with us to commit to eating healthy, nutritionally-sound foods which both satisfy their taste buds & make them feel great inside & out!

In addition to getting lots of group support & helpful tips from the articles posted on this blog, participants of the "Healthy Eating" initiative will have an incredible & rare opportunity to get expert, customized help from a fitness professional -- Mark will be providing FREE Nutrition Assessments and Meal Plans for all of those who sign up for the "Healthy Eating Initiative"!!!!!!

Soon, more details to follow on how to sign up for the Healthy Eating initiative!

2 Join Our Healthy Eating & Exercise Initiatives!


In conjunction with my pal Robert (a.k.a. "Running Hoosier")'s efforts -- i.e.,"Thirteen Weeks to a Healthier You" -- I've decided to launch a "Healthy Eating" initiative, which is intended to be a companion program. ;-)

After all, healthy eating is an important counterpart to exercising on a regular basis & maintaining a healthy weight!

I'll also be one of the featured guest bloggers on his site, along with many other running pals, & will be regularly posting links here to his blog, to help him launch his program & help recruit participants.

It's truly wonderful what he's trying to do & I support him 100%!

I'd also love to have him as a guest blogger here on this very blog, to talk more about his program, whenever he's available. Hint, hint. ;-)

Be on the lookout for more information about both programs in a bit......

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

0 Off-Topic (But Not Really!): Why Social Networking is Important to the Running Community & Society At Large


I'd like to reprint the recent comments I left on Coach Adam's blog, Racing with Purpose, because both the original topic of the post & related commentary are something I feel really strongly about, as they have something to do with the "big picture" ideas of what the running community & many Twitterers (& other social networkers & social networking groups at large) share in common & also, I think, what both are striving to accomplish:

To read the original post, please visit this link. That'll give you a context for the below commentary:

Hi Coach Adam,

Kudos to you for encouraging others to join the Age of Technology & social networking culture! ;-) I’m right there with you; we need more forward-thinking people to promote the idea of democratizing tech & making it accessible for everyone.

Of all the social networking groups out there, I believe that Twitter & Facebook are actually some of the more pertinent & useful networks out there. Their real value lies in in their effectiveness in seamlessly connecting people & communicating information. They also provides an easy & efficient means of staying in the loop with the goings-on of one’s family, friends, coworkers, & business associates, etc. These tools can also help you expand your existing social and professional circles in profound & life-changing ways. I’ve seen it happen & have personally experienced it myself.

These tools can also help you keep current (with regard to news & events) & also keep track of your contacts in a centralized, real-time way.

And for you skeptics out there, no, these tools are not just for wasting time! You can make these tools whatever you choose them to be. It’s really up to you. And the possibilities are endless.

In general, I really do believe that social networking tools can become anything that you want them to be; they really don’t have to be time-wasters. It’s all about how people use them. I think that the real trick is to make these tools work for you as resources versus feeling apprehensive or overwhelmed by them.

To create new technology takes imagination, vision, passion, & dedication, & a little bit of persistence to realize these ideas & see them through. And as a result, new societal structures or modes of behavior often spring up around these technologies to accommodate and support their continued development. Of course, this is not something to fear; it’s something to embrace.

To continue living life as we always had before is to reject our own growth trajectory. And that is really not an option if you think about it. Either we move forward or backward; there is no standing still. (Well, actually standing still is really moving backward in a way.) “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” The way forward to progress is acceptance of chance. It’s as simple as that.

Technology is only as good as the people who are using it. And that’s the key word, “people.” It’s the connective thread, & we can’t forget the various social realities that govern human nature. Better that we recognize our limitations at the outset to help overcome them, & evolve our thinking and problem-solving abilities as a species.

I believe that certain social networking tools — like Twitter & Facebook — have a lot of inherent value, (even if that value isn’t initially recognized or realized by many people at first), especially when they are used as resources to communicate information and create community.

Social networking is inherently significant & relevant as a larger societal trend, & is not likely to go away anytime soon. It’s important for people not to prejudge these concepts, since we are on the forefront of emerging technologies that can take us into new & as-yet unrealized directions. I find the whole area incredibly fascinating. Many facets of these networks have already turned out to be much more useful than people originally anticipated or even intended.

People might roll their eyes, but a lot of those same people are the ones I’ve gotten to sign up for sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. ;-)

To quote Shakespeare, “Me doth think the lady protests too much.” ;-) It’s often the ones that scream “No!” the loudest that are secretly unconvinced of their own positions on the matter.

It’s like the Gertrude Stein quote about the way in which society works & how it accepts/assimilates new ideas/paradigms into its existing framework: (I’m paraphrasing here….) “At first people say no… and then all of a sudden, they say yes.”

It can take time for some people to accept & adapt to fundamental technological changes that alter the very fabric of society, but I believe that we can all do out bit to help ease people into the Digital Age; we can all help to change hearts & minds about the benefits and transformative positive power of technology in our lives.

I certainly applaud your efforts towards this end! It’s the “pay it forward” principle, and it could very well be as simple as doing a “retweet” in twitter. 8- )

I’d even go as far to say that it’s a civic responsibility of those with technological savvy to help show others how new technology can add value to their lives. And of course, these efforts are crucial for our development & advancement for our future as a nation, both economically speaking & educationally speaking.

My not-so-secret agenda is to get more and more people to integrate technology into their lives and to use it as a positive social catalyst and force for good. Slowly, I am working on this, one person at a time. But it’s not just about individuals & their value as separate entities. Much of the value of social networking tools lies in group interaction. And of course, helping people to connect to each other is not only a great way to facilitate new ideas that come out of a collective, collaborative effort, but is also important for people developing meaningful bonds with others and feeling like they are part of something larger than themselves. We can bring out the best in people this way, as they begin to recognize the altruistic value of such contributions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10 Registration for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler: Total Madness!


Whoah. I think a new record was set for this year's Cherry Blossom online race entry registration. It didn't even take the usual 4 hours for the online registration to fill up & close this time around.

I won't bore you with the mundane details (especially since I already tweeted & FB'd about it earlier & don't really feel like repeating myself here), but the bottom line is that I've got a spot in the race. Yay!

The only thing I'll say about the above is that registration was total & utter madness. The flurry of people (probably from all across the nation & world!) trying to register was unbelievable. I won't even tell you the number of times I encountered web server errors trying to submit my application online. Needless to say, the webservers were being brought to their knees.

If I run this race next year, you better believe that I'm going to be standing by in the "ready" position (sitting in front of the computer with website up & mouse in hand - Click, click, click! ;-) ) at 7:50 am on race registration day.

Looks like pals @Coach_Jenn, Bryan F., & Lisa R., will also be running the 10-Miler as well. Congrats everybody on getting in!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

5 Race Results: Jingle Bell Jog 8K


Just a quick post about today's race results because I've got to do other stuff right now. Will elaborate later in an actual race report.

My goal today was to break a 10 minute pace, which I accomplished (just barely!). Ran the 8K in 49:35 (or a 9:59 pace) in this morning's Jingle Bell Jog 8K. Finished 14/25 in my age group (or 49.7th percentile) & 68/139 (48.9th percentile) for all of the female finishers.

(If you'd like to see the full race results, you can view them here.)

It felt pretty good to finish out the last race of the year with a new PR!

Looks like the speedwork I did last week & the week before (from the FIRST marathon training program) is starting to pay off!

Speaking of which, I hope to see even greater dividends in the upcoming months, as the level of difficulty in my speedwork is going to increase significantly starting on January 10th! Reason being: I just signed up for a speedwork clinic coordinated by our local running club. Several people have mentioned that it's an excellent program & so I'm really looking forward to participating in it! I expect that I'll probably have to modify my current (i.e., FIRST marathon) program somewhat to incorporate the speed clinic workouts, but if anything, the two programs will hopefully complement each other nicely; and, as the speed clinic includes 3 weekly group workouts (including 1 weekly track workout), the speedwork we do in this program will very likely be more than enough of a challenging substitute for the FIRST program's speedwork! 8-)

Race report to follow. Stay tuned......

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

3 Run 1, Week 17 (FIRST): Some Speedwork in the Dark!


Today, I ran 1.5 miles of warm-up laps around the track (i.e., 6 laps), followed by alternating intervals of 6 x (1/2 lap fast + 1 lap easy), & then another 1.5 miles for the cooldown. (In case you're curious & don't feel like doing the math ;-), that's 5.25 miles total.)

Due to scheduling & some other reasons that aren't worth going into, I ended up doing my workout in the dark (i.e., from a little after 5 pm until 6 pm or so). Or, more accurately, I began in dusk & ended in dark. 8-) (Although there are lights around the track, I don't have the key to turn them on!)

It was unseasonably warm outside, which while still somewhat windy, made tonight's workout very pleasant indeed! The workout felt good; although the speed intervals were certainly challenging (I estimate I ran them at around at 8-9 minute/mile pace), I made a quick recovery on the easy laps. (Didn't bring my iPod, because it keeps dying on me, so I'm obviously just guestimating the pace.)

Had to hurry home after tonight's workout, as our family is headed out shortly for a college basketball game (at 7 pm). OK, time to get ready, prepare dinner, & then head out for the game!

Goodnight all!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

4 Some Revisions & Decisions RE: My Racing Calendar


Well, things are starting to take shape. Now that my marathon training program's in place, it's become vastly easier to make decisions regarding my racing calendar.

Having said that, it looks like Philadelphia (in November 2009) might very well be my first marathon. Several people have recommended this race to me as a good first marathon (including blogger pal Steve Heath), the course is relatively flat, it's close enough for my family to attend, it's a quick & easy train ride away, & I have a free place to stay, so all these factors certainly make the decision-process a heck of a lot easier! ;-)

Also, I've decided to do about 1-2 races per month, choosing the Frederick Half Marathon (5/3/09, 6:30 am) over the Potomac River Run Half Marathon (5/3/09, 7 am), & dropping the Shamrock Marathon (3/?/10, TBD) in favor of the Ocean Drive Marathon (3/?/10, TBD). The first of these decisions was easy to make, especially given the likely possibility of meeting up with runner pals at the Frederick Half. ;-) The second decision was not as easy, but logistics, familiarity with the area, & a free place to stay tipped the scales in favor of the latter marathon (i.e., Ocean Drive). (Both marathon courses are relatively flat, so course elevation wasn't really a factor in the decision-making process.) Also, Erik's family could possibly be there for Ocean Drive, which is another motivation. Maybe that'd also even convince Erik to start racing again & enter the 10 miler or the 5K, just so his family could see him race! ;-)

Of course, if I did Ocean Drive that'd be marathon number two, which is just too far-off into the future to contemplate. Just so you know, doing Ocean Drive isn't a certainty by any means! Let's first see how numero uno goes & if I even like the marathoning experience. I expect that I will, but one never knows. ;-) Let's first get to building up the mileage, & then see where things go from there. One step at a time!

I expect that the 2009 racing schedule will still have some kinks to be ironed out in the months to come. There's the possibility I might be going out of the country sometime in May, so that might also change my racing & training schedule a bit. (Whatever happens, I hope the Frederick Half will still be on my racing schedule, as I'm really looking forward to hanging out with our running buddies & meeting blogger pals Steve Speirs & Dane Rauschenberg face-to-face for the very first time. Both of them have said they plan to run the Frederick Marathon. Yay! How exciting! Can't wait!)

If I do end up going abroad, you better believe that I will be running wherever I am! ;-) Who knows what exciting possibilities lie ahead?! May I'll enter an international race or atleast have a really incredible backdrop for running!

All in all, I'm really looking forward to a year filled with new & exciting experiences, as well as meeting up with old friends & making some new ones too!

Hope you're all having a great Sunday afternoon!

2 FIRST Marathon Training Program


Earlier this week, I started the FIRST marathon training program for first-time marathoners. If you'd like to see an outline of this program, please visit this link.

The thing I like about the program is that it's centered around 3 key workouts per work, which is very close to what I currently do. Of course, the main differences will be that (1) the mileage will increase exponentially (at a rate of no more than 10% over the previous week) over the span of an 18 week period, going from my current weekly mileage of 22-30 miles/week to around 40-45 miles/week, & (2) speedwork will be incorporated into my training on a regular basis, which will be a much-needed change (!). Also, I will probably end up tossing in a 4th workout every so often, but other than an additional workout or two, I will pretty much stay true to the training program.

The training program will take me to about April. You might notice that there's no marathon scheduled for April, although there are some 10-milers & a half marathon. That is not a mistake or a misprint; it's 100% intentional. The half marathons I run in April & May should be excellent indicators of my marathon finishing time, & should also put me on track for the challenges that lie ahead.

After I finish the FIRST marathon training program in April, I intend to do another 20 week training program to take me (in)to November. Hopefully, by that time, I'll be more than prepared to run a decent first marathon. (After all, while it is possible to overtrain, still, you can never be too prepared! And yes, there is a major distinction between the two!)

While one of my goals for the first marathon is certainly to finish, at the same time I also want to finish with a "respectable" time. ;-) Now, I realize that this concept is relative & can mean different things to different people. When I use this term, it's meant solely in relation to my own abilities, & is not meant to be a comparison to or with others. ;-)

Since I'm not currently part of the "competitive class" of runners (nor am I very likely to ever be, even if I were to shave 3 minutes off my current pace! -- and I'm fairly OK with that), I am not running races to win them, or even to place in the top 3 or 4 finishers. Now maybe if I really work at it, I have a crack at finishing in the top third of my age group, but I'm not expecting miracles. At least not without an incredible amount of hard work to back them up! 8-)

Instead, I realize that I'm ultimately racing against myself: The object is to work on beating my existing PRs, and not to measure myself against others' yardsticks. (Well, atleast I try very hard to do this, at any rate! ;-) ) When I use the term "respectable," the connotation (i.e., intended meaning) should be interpreted as "what is reasonably possible for me to achieve." For me, that means a time of under 5 hrs., preferably somewhere in the realm of 4-4.5 hours!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

2 Has Cyberpenguin "Gone Fishing"? (Well, Sort Of!)


Hi All,

I feel like I need to put up one of those "Gone Fishing" signs -- in an online version. ;-) Hmmm, that would be quite apropos; after all, my online alias & alter ego IS "Cyberpenguin." ;-)

It seems that several tweeps & peeps are wondering why I'm "missing in action" online. I guess people seem to think I live there 24/7 (i.e., in cyberspace, that is!). Oh wait, that's right, I practically do. ;-) But seriously, it's nice to feel missed, so thank you for missing me. I miss you all too!

Those of you who didn't see my previous post (or perhaps didn't get the twitter memo ;-) Heheheh!), here's the reason for the deafening silence on Twitter (LOL!): I'm currently at home visiting with the 'rents. Their lives are not as "digitally oriented," so since I'll be hanging out with them over the next week, expect sporadic blogging & tweeting at best. ;-)

My mom broke her finger, & can't cook or do much of anything else, so basically that means that I'm in charge of the household (cooking, chores, straightening, cleaning, etc.) while the rest of the family are away. (Please note, the current "lapse" into domesticity is an anomaly & is only being done to help others. I'm not ordinarily the domestic type. Hell, I don't even do this much cooking & cleaning in my own home. ;-) However, when in Rome....)

Translation: More time spent with family & doing chores = less time spent online. ;-)

Plus, there's a new family member, a bulldog puppy named Lily (i.e., Lily Rose Irwin!), to take care of who is rather cute & needs lots of care & attention.

Right now, Lily is taking her afternoon nap. (We are tip-toeing around the house, so as not to wake her up.)

Here are a few photos of Lily, if you'd like to see what she looks like:

Oh yeah, and I ran 6.5-7 mi on Thursday afternoon. ;-) Will probably include a brief backdated post on that, whenever I can find the time!

Until then, enjoy the doggie pix. ;-)

And now, I'm off for my long weekend run. Have a great afternoon!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

3 Run 1, Week 18 (FIRST): Some Morning Speedwork


This morning I went to the local university track with my sister. (Yes, I drove home to see my family yesterday.)

We did a gentle-10 minute warmup, doing a few 400s to get ready before our speedwork began.

My sister accompanied me for the first lap of speedwork, & then ran about 6 more 400s or so at her own pace, with some walking in between each lap. Then she hung out & cheered me on as I finished my speedwork.

I was proud of her for getting up so early & running with me, & I think she surprised herself too for getting up so early & running outside in 35 degree weather. ;-)

I did 1.5 miles (or 6x400s) of speedwork, interspersing each fast 400 with a 400 of easy running. My total milege was probably somewhere around 4 miles or so.

We made a deal; for every lap of speedwork that I did, she had to run a lap. She still owes me 2 laps & I'm not going to let her forget about it any time soon. Hahahaha!

Wow, that was some workout. I'm fairly tired, but am not sure it's all from the workout: I only got 6 hours of sleep; there was a lot of late-night chatting & catching up to do amongst the ladies of the household. My mom & I didn't go to bed until 2 am!

It was a lot of fun, but I think tonight's going to be an early night! ;-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2 Turkey Burnoff 5-Miler: Just A Quickie Post


Just wanted to share the results of the Turkey Burnoff 5-Miler. It was a fun race with lots of hills to keep things interesting. ;-)

Hmmmm, OK, this is really weird. I just checked the results again, just a few seconds ago, & it looks like my posted finish time has been revised. I was originally listed 92 out of 172 female finishers, but now I'm listed as 90/171. How did they lose a person in the process? ;-)

(Still ranked as 15 out of 25 in my age group though.)

Also, my times have dropped from 51:26 (or a 10:17 pace) to 51:14 (or a 10:14 pace).

That's really odd! Not sure it's accurate though, because unless the clock was off, I remember seeing 51:24 on the digital timer clock as I was nearing the finish line (& have got a photo taken by Erik to confirm it too!). Were they going by gun time or net time? Maybe that explains the discrepancy. Oh well, either way, I'll take it! 8-)

Full race results can be viewed here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4 Planning For Marathon Numero Uno.....


Hi Everybody,

As you can see from the last few posts, I've been planning out my race calendar for the remainder of 2008 & also for the coming year.

Of course, setting one's schedule also obviously requires planning out training programs, so I've also been considering enrolling in some speed clinics & a marathon training program (in 2009).

And of course that brings me to the big goal for the end of 2009 or possibly the beginning of 2010. Yep, you guessed it. The marathon. Or rather the very first marathon.

As it stands right now, I am still trying to decide which marathon will be "numero uno." It's currently a toss-up between Harrisburg, Ocean Drive, or the Shamrock. They are all relatively flat courses, which, as many veteran marathoners have repeatedly advised me, is definitely the way to go for the newbie marathoner.

There's also the possibility that Harrisburg might be a relay team run instead, which'd be good to get the flavor of the marathon without actually running the whole thing. ;-) Since the Harrisburg Marathon is typically held in November (2009), it'd also be a good "introduction" to the whole marathon scene, which I have yet to experience, other than being on the sidelines cheering on a marathoner I knew, whom a bunch of us came out to support. 8-) To be honest, I've only personally witnessed one marathon thus far that I can recall, & that was the Marine Corps Marathon several years ago (circa 1994-6).

So if the marathon relay happens, that'd also give me slightly more training time to run either the Shamrock or Ocean Drive, which are both in March 2010. This latter idea is probably the more realistic plan, considering I'm only currently doing 22-30 miles per week on average, & it takes time to build up to the necessary weekly mileage required to adequately prepare for a marathon!

So while I haven't yet made up my mind just yet on the specific marathon, I have been doing something a bit more important -- reading & researching everything I can about marathoning, & planning for my upcoming marathon training.

One such useful article on the subject can be found here. (I also tweeted earlier today about this Runner's World article, entitled "26 Tips for Running Your Best 26.2.")

Also, I recently just got Blaine Moore's audio CD, "Run to Win With Tom Ryan: How to Regain & Maintain Your Competitive Edge As You Age", & then also purchased his digital book, "Marathons Don't Have to Hurt," as a companion piece, which I've just started reading. I will very likely be referring to these media in upcoming posts, so stay tuned for feedback.

To promote the new "Run to Win" CD, the first 50 copies will be given away for free. The last time I checked there were less than 15 left. However, if you act now, you might still be able to get the CD for free (i.e., you only have to pay a minimal cost for shipping), while supplies still last. And, if you purchase the book at the same time you get the CD, you can get the book at a discounted rate. Both the audio CD & book are packed with information!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

8 Unofficial Race Results: King of the Road 5K


Hi Everybody,

Just thought I'd quickly blog about some brief details about today's race experience:

Ran the King of the Road 5K this morning in approximately 30:25, or a 9:48 pace. That's a new race PR for this season. Yay!

On a personal note, it was nice to finally meet @runningrambling for the first time in person & to see @jegill again after so long. Also, just wanted to express a big thank you to @phantom4 for getting up this morning & freezing his tail off to come out & support me.

We all met up afterward for a little post race chat. It was great fun, guys!


I'll post a more in-depth race report after the final race results come in. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

6 2009 Race Schedule: Racing Into The New Year....


Here are some of the races I'm considering for 2009 & beyond:

1/1/09 - New Year's Day 5K

MARCH 2009:
TBD (probably late March) - Piece of Cake 5K

APRIL 2009:
4/5/09, 7:50 am - Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
4/18/09, 6:30 am - Charlottesville Half Marathon
4/26/09, 8 am - GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler/5K
TBD (probably late April) - Pike's Peek 10K

MAY 2009:
5/3/09, 6:30 am - Frederick Half Marathon
--OR --
5/3/09, 7 am - Potomac River Run Half Marathon
5/31/09, 7 am - ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon & 10K

JUNE 2009:
TBD (probably early June) - Capital Crescent 5K
6/13/09, 9 am - Sunbury YMCA 23rd Annual 5K
TBD (probably late June) - Run for Roses 5K

JULY 2009:
TBD (probably mid July) - Rockville Rotary Twilight 8K
TBD (probably late July) - Riley's Rumble (Half Marathon)

AUGUST 2009:
TBD (probably late August) - Kentlands 5K

TBD (probably mid-September) - Parks Half Marathon

10/4/09 - Army 10-Miler

TBD (probably early November) - Rockville 5K/10K
TBD (probably early November) - Harrisburg Marathon* (Might run this event as a relay team.)

TBD (probably mid-December) - Jingle Bell Jog 8K

MARCH 2010:
TBD (probably late March) - Ocean Drive Marathon*
TBD (probably late March) - Shamrock Marathon*

* = Whichever marathon I decide upon (I'm picking just one, in either late 2009 or early 2010), it'll be my very first marathon!


Obviously, the above schedule still needs a bit more fine-tuning, & as it's still fairly early, nothing's been set in stone just yet.

As I continue to build my mileage with the intent of running my first marathon in late 2009 or early 2010, it certainly feels great to be lining up possible venues for next year, & at the same time, to begin thinking about next year's prospects & goals!

So what are your big hopes & dreams for the upcoming year? What are your goals? Are you at the outset of your fitness program (i.e., trying to get back into shape), or have you been working out for a while now & are perhaps looking to set some new PRs?

Have you begun to think about road races for 2009 & if so, what racing events do you plan to do?

Here's to fulfilling those big hopes & dreams in 2009 & beyond!


Monday, November 10, 2008

2 Update: New Road Races Added to 2008 Racing Calendar!


If you've been checking out this blog's sidebar, you might've noticed that I've recently added a few new races for 2008. These will be my last few races of the year:

11/16/08, 9 am - King of the Road 5K
11/29/08, 10 am - Turkey Burnoff 5-Miler
12/14/08, 9 am - Jingle Bell Jog 8K

I'm really excited to race this weekend! I've been consistently running fairly close to a 10 minute/mile pace for the 10K, so it'll be interesting to see what I can crank out for a shorter distance like the upcoming 5K. ;-) Also, Erik & I are looking forward to meeting up with friends for a few of these races, so it'll be a fun social occasion too!

Have a great night!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

5 New Posts Are Coming Soon, I Promise!


Yes, I know there are lots of missing posts. Lots of runs & a road race, but no posts. Promise to rectify that soon. Also some fitness & nutrition articles coming shortly as well. So stay tuned!

Monday, October 27, 2008

2 Win A Free DVD of "Run For Your Life" at Blaine's Blog, "Run To Win"


Although I've been really busy & haven't had much time to spend online as of late, today I managed to "make the rounds" of the blogosphere to see what my blogger pals have been up to lately. It was during this time that I discovered a contest that my pal Blaine is having on his blog, Run to Win.

He's giving away 5 copies of the newly released DVD, Run for Your Life.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment on the contest page. (Be sure to include your name & email address in the appropriate fields of the blog's comments form. No need to worry about spam; your email address won't be publicly displayed.)

Plus, if you link to his contest page on your blog, you'll get a second contest entry!

The winner of the contest will be chosen by random drawing via

To enter the contest &/or to learn more about the contest rules, just click here.

If you are curious to learn more about the movie, you can read Blaine Moore's review here.

Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2 "The Hurrier I Go, The Behinder I Get." ;-)


The funny little saying that forms the title of this post is not only one of life's great little truisms, but was also once long ago made into needlepoint art &, if I recall correctly, is currently hanging on a wall somewhere in my parents' house. Mom, if you're reading this post, feel free to comment on my blog to verify that recollection one way or the other. ;-)

Anyhow, this quote perfectly expresses how I've been feeling as of late. In my personal life, I've been absorbed in multitudinous time-intensive projects that seem to be taking forever (& right now, are probably also taking over my life!). They are all off-line activities (i.e., no computer required!), & so that probably explains why I seem to have "gone off the grid" in the electronic world as of late.

I've been so absorbed by these all-consuming activities that there hasn't been time to do much else!

So to address anyone who is wondering why I haven't responded to your emails, please know that I'm not intentionally ignoring you & (excluding spammers! ;-) ) do sincerely appreciate your emails! I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the mountains of work & the sheer volume of email I get on a daily basis. ;-) Of course, there are many more of you than me, so please be patient while I sift through the daily deluge of my Inbox, & take the time to craft thoughtful replies. ;-)

Have you ever had those moments in your life when you feel like you're inching along very slowly, but there's a lot of (external/internal) pressure to be making much greater strides? That pretty much sums up my current situation in terms of both the personal projects & the running.

For me, this is both literal & metaphoric. Although I haven't posted about my runs/workouts in a while, I've been working out here & there but haven't been running all that much. And it's not just about tapering for the upcoming race. ;-)

I'm honestly not really in the mood to explain why this has been the case, as I know it'll probably prompt a whole lot of questions that I really don't feel like answering. All I will say is that I've been dealing with some knee-related issues that could've been avoided. The whole situation could be summed up by that famous Homer Simpson-ism, "Doh!" ;-)

But that doesn't mean I'm out of commission entirely. I'm still working out, but when I stand on my feet for too long, the knee pain recurs. Not sure where that leaves me in terms of my status for the upcoming race, but I'm still able to workout, provided that I stay off my knees & use the bike & the elliptical machine.

Currently, the strategy has been to do 65 minute gym workouts to get the aerobic benefits of exercising (& to work out for the same amount of time that I'd be on my feet running 6.5 miles) but to avoid doing any load-bearing activities that put too much stress on the knees.

The only problem with that plan is that my last gym workout was on Monday, 10/20/08, & my last run (6.5 miles) was on 10/18/08. ;-)

In other words, I basically haven't done squat for a whole week.

OK, I'll admit that this past week I've been putting these projects ahead of everything else, including exercising. But since it's only been a week since my last workout, I think everything will be OK. Missing a week of exercise certainly isn't the end of the world. And I don't think I'll have lost too much fitness in that time. Plus, what's done is done. Can't get that time back now & won't let the missed workouts derail everything I've worked so hard to achieve.

So moving ahead, I just need to make sure that I'm doing more than a big fat zero next week. ;-)

However, this doesn't mean that I'm going to try to make up for all of those "missed workouts." That'd be insane. Furthermore, that kind of screwy thinking is the same type of stuff that derails people who've just eaten one too many pieces of pie & then think they've suddenly got to go off & exercise 24/7 &/or eat nothing the following week to make up for it. I can assure you I certainly won't be doing that!

Simply put, I'm a reformed perfectionist, & refuse to take the bait. No getting sucked into that "all or nothing" thinking that unseats/undoes many so people, not only just the perfectionists, but also those who are so attuned to habit that they can't break out of their molds, even if it'll help them in the long run. No getting stuck in a box or trapped by my own worst habits. Time to escape & choose new options!

To quote the inimitable Chaka Khan, "it's time to get out of your own way."

Plus, in the overall scheme of things, I realize that, even though there are a lot of things that really need to get done, hurrying along isn't really going to make them "get done" any faster. So the only option is to just take it one step at a time.

That piece of wisdom might seem simple & trite, but it's nonetheless a valuable lesson, well worth its weight in gold. When it comes to fitness accountability, I'd rather take the truth, straight-up, no chaser.

So, I can just recuperate the knees & still maintain fitness, I'm hoping to still run the race. Fingers crossed. Really want to run in it, but if the knees aren't in good shape by race time, I'm certainly not going to risk doing anything rash either. The point is to be able to keep running for a long time. That's much more important, long-term.

So, will any of you be running in the Rockville 5K/10K? If so, I'll see you there!

Good night all,

Friday, October 17, 2008

6 Look Ma, I'm Famous! 8-)


Wow, this is really a superfantastic warm fuzzy moment: My pal Steve Speirs of Run Bulldog Run just added one of my recent twitters to his blog's motivational quote page.

Thanks for the honor, Steve. Blush, blush. That's just too cool for words.

OK, well maybe just a few words. ;-)

To think that my brief little quote is keeping company alongside the quotes of inspirational greats like Jesse Owens, Hal Higdon, Steve Prefontaine, Ann Trason, Sir Roger Bannister, Dr. George Sheehan, Joe Henderson, & the like. Wow, just wow. I'm just humbled & thrilled.

Speaking of sports-related motivation, you might also be interested in following Steve's tweets because he's got plenty inspiring & uplifting words of wisdom to share.

Plus, he's a very thoughtful, kind of a guy, who knows how to say just the right thing to make someone's day. He's like the patron saint of nice guys. And in his case, nice guys certainly don't finish last. In fact, they often finish first. ;-)

7 Hundred Pushups People, Check THIS Out!


OK, just thought I'd point out that the Hundred Pushups program is now available as a very handy one page, pocket-sized, foldable printout (a.k.a., "pocketmod"), which can be obtained by clicking here.


Friday, October 10, 2008

0 Are You There, IRL World? It's Me, Cyberpenguin. :)


Erik just told me that some of our friends who live in the local area are now reading &/or possibly subscribing to this blog. (Earlier in the day, he'd been chatting with some mutual friends from his workplace who'd mentioned this to him.) Wow, that is just SO cool! I mean I was actually aware that a few family members & hometown friends were following this blog -- mostly because they told me so themselves! -- but didn't know that some of our local area friends were also doing the same. Now I'm certainly curious to know which of our friends from the DC area have been dropping by here on occasion. (Most of the people I'm describing don't have BlogCatalog or MyBlogLog IDs, so it's not like I can tell they're stopping by. :-) )

So no more lurking about (lurk, lurk!). How about saying "Hello!" in the comments section of this blog, or letting me know in some other fashion that you're been following this blog? ;) It'd be great to hear from you! C'mon IRL friends, don't be shy. :-D

I realize that this might require some of you to get a Blogger/Google or OpenID account, since I've disabled anonymous comments to curb spam and other undesirable behaviors. ;) So, in other words, you might want to get one of these accounts if you'd like to interact with me here. :) And, if you find that you browse blogs on a semi-regular basis, you'll probably want to get an account anyhow, as it provides a lot of value besides just being able to leave a comment. ;) For example: If you sign up for a Google account, you'll get access to a zillion different useful services, other than just the Blogger account component.

So, anyhow, I just wanted to give a shoutout to all of my real-world friends to thank you for following this blog, and to let you know that I know you're out there. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

3 YES, This Is What I've Been Saying All Along!


For a brief moment, let's just ignore the fact that I haven't blogged about my last few runs like I usually do --the more important thing right now is that they're still getting done! ;-) -- & instead let's turn our focus to something I've been advocating on this blog for a very long time.

So what is this "something" that I've been yammering on & on about?

Simply put, it's the joy of running & working out! And by joy, I mean both "ectastic enthusiasm/happy anticipation" & "the absence of pain." ;-)

As many of you already know, the big eternal catchphrases of this blog (especially lately!) have been "moderation," "the 10% rule," "interval training," & "common sense."

And apparently I am not alone in my thinking, as this particular approach to fitness is spreading like wildfire & captivating the attention of many other people around the blogosphere. Lately I've seen articles like this spring up everywhere -- most recently, at Jeff Galloway's blog.

Whereas there once were many people crazily gung-ho about their fitness routines who then quickly lost motivation & petered out, now these same people seem to have finally learned their lessons & are now realizing the benefits of gradually building fitness over time for lasting conditioning/health benefits & sustained motivation.

Hallelujah! Finally people are beginning to see that those so-called "quick fixes" & "quick results" are nothing short of a "quick route to unecessary pain & injury"! Those dangerously quick results are often achieved at great cost to one's well-being. How much better it is to plan smartly & realistically & approach each day's workout one step at a time, focusing on our progress & celebrating each milestone along the way. That way, we are giving ourselves every opportunity to succeed!

I'm sure we probably have the ever-popular Couch to 5K interval training program to thank, in part, for this sweeping change in public perception. Through this program, so many people have actively experienced how effective gradual interval training can be!

In some cases, this shift in attitude is most likely due to the maturation process itself: the hard-earned wisdom of adulthood has at long last replaced the impatience of youth. ;-) After all, many marathoners are age 30 & above. ;-)

The other important part of this enlightened attitude has to do with an overall shift in perception about exercise itself. People are starting to realize that exercise doesn't have to hurt & yes, oh my goodness, it can actually be fun!

Now I realize that there are many people who still think of exercise as work. However, I suggest that if you feel this way, that you might want to re-examine that sentiment, & carefully reconsider what prior experiences might've led to those conclusions. But it's probably not a good idea to focus on the "why's" of that aspect for too long. For once you realize what led you to those thoughts, maybe you could then consider the equal possibility that exercise -- the right physical activity for the right person, mind you -- can be a sublime experience, & that this way of exercising & thinking about exercising is well within the realm of possibility. After all, "exercise" is just another word for "moving your body."

Well, when it's phrased like that, it doesn't seem so bad now, does it?! 8-)

Exercise can be fun, joyous even! When we are open to that possibility, it sure changes our attitude, and fast!

And might I suggest that if you don't think exercise can be fun, then maybe you're doing the wrong exercise. ;-)

Not everyone's cut out for every sport or activity, so if running's not your thing, that's perfectly fine. Take your pick & find something fun that you truly enjoy!

So once you start taking that first step -- & you don't have to think much further than "OK, I'll just lace up my sneakers, go out the door, & see what I feel like doing...." -- you'll be surprised at what you can do.

Those first few steps can jumpstart something really incredible. It's a beautiful journey just waiting to happen....

Maybe you'll want to set some small goals & track your progress, or maybe you'd just rather pick a workout program & focus on completing it. Whatever works for you!

And then, when you start seeing your progress, you'll want to keep going! It's so incredibly motivating!

The process of reaching new milestones then transforms into something else, as your mind & body slowly begin to readjust to new possibilities.

Monday, October 6, 2008

4 Next Stop, "Marathon Planet"!!!!


Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like everyone around them is marathoning these days?! Everywhere I go -- the supermarket, the bookstore, the hair salon, boutique, hotel lobby, etc. -- I bump into people who are either running in a marathon very soon (i.e., Chicago, NYC, etc.) or training for their next one. It's unbelievable.

OK, well it probably has to something to do with the area I live in (running is HUGE here!), & my age bracket (30 something to 40 something! ;-) ), both of which rank higher-than-average on the "marathoning" demographics chart.

But going a bit deeper, I think I know why there are so many runners & marathoners in this area. And that reason has everything to do with the immense amount of brainpower congregated in this little swampy patch of the universe, otherwise commonly known as the Greater Washington DC area. ;-)

Of course the connection is that we runners are a fairly cerebral & contemplative bunch, & well, DC is full of thinkers -- think tanks, lawyers, politicians, technical & policy writers, news & political correspondents, etc. From the vantage point of a person who's lived in this area for over 15 years, it's not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but it does possibly explain the reason behind the large concentration of runners in this area. And likewise, it also explains why there are so many running clubs per square mile in this region of the country, & also why the MCRRC is one of the largest running clubs in the nation.

Chances are, that if you threw a Garmin Forerunner up in the air anywhere in the Greater Washington DC area, there'd probably be a runner standing somewhere nearby to dash off in time to catch it, so it wouldn't hit the ground & break into 50 million pieces. Now I've never dropped a Garmin before (I'm saying this with my fingers crossed), but I'm not about to test that theory either. ;-)

This area is "analysis heaven." And when those DC thinkers need to blow off steam & get the thinking-machine juices running again, they do what so many other DC area people do -- They go out for a run!

Not so surprising really, when you come to think about it. The body moves the mind, & vice versa.

I wonder if anyone else has blogged about this correlation? The link between the prevalence of runners in the DC-MD-VA area & the braintrust that exists here?

What if someone were to poll the runners in this area by job title? I'd like to see the results of that poll! Wouldn't you?! I bet the results would be fascinating. In all likelihood, I bet someone's already done it.....


But as to why I notice so many people training for marathons, it's most likely because I'm training for one myself, so the radar's a little bit more sensitive. I'm highly attuned. My ears perk up when I hear the word "running" or "marathon," & then I just have to engage that person in a conversation to find out what race they're training for, what they thought of the last race they ran, or what their opinion is of running-related product X or Y, . ;-)

By now, I'm sure that my non-running friends & family are probably sick-to-death of hearing me go on & on about "my favorite topics" -- running, marathon training, working out, nutrition, etc. ("Yep, there she goes again!" ;-) ), but for those of us who run & are passionate about the sport, it's certainly a conversation-starter.

And it's the reason why complete strangers have been known to talk to each other at road races & even on the trail. ;-) It just gives people that natural connecting point. A comfortable commonality. And because I live in a city, it also usually removes the "freak factor" that typical jaded city dwellers usually associate with people who strike up friendly conversations with absolute strangers. (I bet many of you are probably picturing insane drunks talking to themselves & others on the subway at 2 am, right?! ;-) )

And while I certainly understand the reasoning behind the "Don't talk to strangers" premise for children, I generally disregard it as an adult. I'm not one of those "typical jaded city dwellers," & probably never will be, despite the fact that I do live in a city. It's just not in my nature. Plus, I've found that you don't typically get very far in this world if you only stick to what & whom you know. Of course, I'm not talking about doing something rash or stupid, but when you own your own business, by the very definition of entrepreneurship, you've got to put yourself out there. There is no "hiding" when you are the face of your business. That's for sure!

And so of course, that means that I'm constantly meeting new people through my business & various networking outlets.

And the same goes for the running. While I don't typically consider myself a "joiner" -- I'm not a big fan of the initial awkwardness or the seemingly temporary & somewhat superficial nature of certain social connections which can be commonly associated with joining activity groups -- I am really happy that I joined the MCRRC.

And it's not just so I can endlessly discuss marathon training with other like-minded people, OK?! ;-)

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the quality of human beings I've met through this organization & through the running community at large. I've found a lot of people with whom I genuinely connect. It feels like home; I'm truly happy to find some people who "get" me & of course, love the sport of running as much as I do.

Maybe some of you are nodding your head right now, because you completely understand & feel the exact same way. And then perhaps others of you are possibly perplexed by this statement. I have no idea. Maybe you'll comment on this blog post & let me know. ;-)

But seriously, I think that I've just hit on one of the core reasons that I'm currently living on "Marathon Planet." It's not just about seeing what I can accomplish. I'm trying to find meaning and meaningful human connections through running & the marathon/marathon training experience. And of course, let's not forget the fun aspect either!

And while most days I might train alone or with Erik, I'm very much looking forward to the time when I'll become part of that larger human experience of running in a marathon. I can't wait to feel that awesome overwhelming emotion of being surrounded by swelling masses of humanity all lined up at the starting line..... I want to know what that whole marathon experience feels like. I can't wait to experience it.

Of course, it's something that I can only guess at or imagine -- the reel of the opening race sequences of "Spirit of the Marathon" are playing in my head! -- mostly because I've yet to run one. But from what I hear from my friends who've already done one, it's such a surreal & almost indescribable experience.

2010 Shamrock Marathon, here I come!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

3 Just Asked John "The Penguin" Bingham for An Interview!


Those of you who read Runner's World will undoubtedly know John "The Penguin" Bingham as a long-standing (& humorous!) running advice columnist. OK, I just realized that to those who aren't yet familiar with his name, the moniker of John "The Penguin" Bingham might sound like the name of a mob hitman along the lines of Bugsy "Twinkle Toes" Malone - LOL!, but from what I can tell, John seems like a very nice & normal, down-to-earth kind of a guy.

Now, having stated the above, please witness the following recent twitters:

cyberpenguin john bingham is a penguin after my own heart: wonder if he tweets?! ;-) maybe if not, i should ask him to start!

cyberpenguin ok, just commented on the runner's world blog of john bingham, a.k.a. "the penguin." only problem is typepad thinks my comment is spam. :-(

Well, as the above twitters indicate, I decided that I would contact John Bingham & see if I could get him to start twittering. And also drop some helpful information to help him get started.

The only problem is that Runner's World blogs use Typepad, & as you can see from the above tweet, Typepad's anti-spam filter now thinks my comment on John Bingham's blog is spam.

My comment is being "held ransom" until the blog's author approves it.

So, until my comment is published on his website, I'll just list it here, for safe keeping. Who knows? Maybe John "The Penguin" Bingham might actually visit my blog? (After all, I did list the plain text URL in my comments - which, come to think of it, might be why the spam bot thinks the comment's spam!) And maybe, just maybe, he'll see this comment & realize that I'm not some kind of spamming kook & actually want to help him by bringing some beneficial technology to his blog. I also mentioned a few of my fellow twittering runner pals' blogs in there, so check it out & see if your name's been listed! ;-)

So here are the comments I tried to post to John's blog:

Hi John,

Another fellow penguin here. ;-) I'm a big fan of your Runner's World column & have been reading it for many years.

Got a great idea for you: Have you ever considered using Twitter ( to broadcast information to your friends & fans about various topics? It can also be used to converse & get updates from others as well. It's one of the more dynamic & effective applications out there on the web.

You can also send "twitters" to specific people or direct message them. This allows people to have a dynamic conversation with each other & also get updates from each other on various topics. Lots of famous people & politicians have even gotten into the act as a way of "staying current." And now runners have officially gotten into the act as well!

You can add a widget to your blog page to encourage other people to "follow you" so that they'll get your updates. (You're welcome to view my blog to view an example. ;-) )

One of my pals, John Frenette of, (a running music website & blog), started a Twitter group called "Go Run," (, which tracks running-related twitters. There's also a great listing of runners who twitter at my friend Tim's blog,, as well.

More information about the concept of Twitter + Runners is also available on our Blog catalog running group called "Runners, Runners, Everywhere!", Steve Speirs (, a.k.a., the "British bulldog," of "" fame is also a participant in this forum. (Steve, John, & Tim are all great guys!)

Of course, we'd be honored if you'd consider joining our Blog Catalog running forum!

(BTW, Blog Catalog is a great place for people to promote their blogs. Out of all the social networking groups, this site is one of the more friendly & normal places on the Internet. ;-) )

Would you perhaps be up for a phone interview one of these days? I'd love to feature you either on my running blog or or at our Blog Catalog running forum.

Look forward to hearing your reply!

Corey Irwin (a.k.a., Cyberpenguin)
Twitter ID:

Friday, October 3, 2008

0 Two Articles on Runner Safety (Some Backdated Posts for Your Reading Pleasure....)


OK, I just finished two backdated posts on runner safety-related issues. Here they are:

Are Some People Just Crazy?! Debating The Merits of Running In Record High Temperatures & Humidity (7/30/08)

Is That Pepper Spray in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just NOT Very Glad to See Me!?! ;-) (8/3/08)

0 Moving On to New Goals


OK, it's once again time for a goal re-eval/reconfig....

My currently-listed training goals are as follows:

WEEKLY GOALS (8/17/08-11/15/08):
--Do warm-up/cool-down walks & stretch.
Run BBOHR program, 3x/wk (until 9/20/08).
HPTP, 3x/wk. (until 9/20/08).
--50 crunches 1x/wk.***
--3 sets leg lifts/squats x 20 reps (each leg), 1x/wk.***

--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses of water a day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & glucosamine chondroitin daily.

SHORT-TERM GOALS (6/07/08-11/15/08):

--Complete BBOHR by 9/20/08.
--Complete HPTP by 9/20/08.

--Lose an additional 8-10 lbs. by 11/15/08. (A secondary goal.)
--Lose 5% BF by 11/15/08. (A primary goal.)
--Register, train, & run in the Rockville 5K/10K, on 11/2/08, 8:30 am.

LONG-TERM GOALS (8/03/08-12/31/10):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 5/30/09.
--Run & successfully complete my 1st marathon, (possibly by 12/31/10). (Will revisit this goal in late 2008. Considering doing the Shamrock as my first marathon.)
--Follow modified Abs Diet + Canyon ranch meal plan for maintenance.

--Weight train regularly, starting with 1x/wk. Over next 1-2 yrs., do 100 pushups, 5oo sit-ups, 100 leg lifts, & bench-press body wgt.***

--Run a 5K in 27:54 & a 10K in 55:00, or a 9 minute mile pace.

(*** = Goals needing further revision & refinement.)

And now for a drastic revision:

WEEKLY GOALS (10/02/08-11/15/08):
--Do warm-up & cool-down walks, & stretch.
--Run Penguinator 10K Program 4x/wk.

--Do HPTP, 3x/wk.
--50 crunches 1x/wk.
--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses of water a day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & glucosamine chondroitin daily.

SHORT-TERM GOALS (10/02/08-11/15/08):

--Complete the Penguinator 10K Program by 10/31/08.
--Train, & run in the Rockville 5K/10K, on 11/2/08, 8:30 am.
--Complete HPTP by 11/15/08.
--Lose an additional 8-10 lbs. by 11/15/08. (A secondary goal.)
--Lose 5% BF by 11/15/08. (A primary goal.)

LONG-TERM GOALS (10/02/08-3/31/10):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 5/30/09.
--Run a 5K in 27:54 & a 10K in 55:00, or a 9 minute mile pace.
--Register, train, & successfully complete my 1st marathon, 2010 Shamrock Marathon (March 2010).
--Follow modified Abs Diet/Canyon Ranch meal plan/Runner's Diet for maintenance.


I've decided to get rid of any unnecessary fluff goals which, at the moment, just seem to serve as extra padding but aren't entirely realistically achievable, given my current schedule. So I'm going to streamline, streamline, streamline, baby!

Anyhow, I can always revisit old goals later that I've temporarily tucked out of sight for lack of time. It's more important right now to present a succinct & cohesive plan geared for success!

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