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! ;-)

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