Saturday, September 8, 2007

Learn not to be discouraged

I talk to all sorts of beginner runners this time of year here in Houston who have just started training for their first half-marathon or marathon coming up in January. Many get discouraged because they can only go "so far" (whatever that might be for their current fitness level) because of the weather. Case in point... As I type this, here is what the Weather Channel has online for my current weather:

9:00 a.m.
Temperature: 86
Humidity: 100%
Heat Index: 112
Winds: Calm

Don't be discouraged. Nobody can run well under those conditions (and note again that it is ONLY 9:00 a.m.). I always tell them that during the summer months, which here can last into October, that the length of my average run is probably 20% less than what it would be in the winter or spring (our winters here are around 50-60 with many days still up into the high 70's and low 80's). I have also created my own little formula where I have figured out that my level of exertion for something like a 10 mile run in these conditions is equivalent to at least a 15-18 mile run if the temperatures were in the 50's or 60's. So hang in there and learn to live with your weather conditions, no matter where you live.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Getting back on track in many aspects

Those of you who are faithful readers (no pun intended) of the main Faithful Soles web site may have noticed that there have not been many updates to it in the last couple of months, but that will be changing starting this coming Monday, September 10. The main reason for the lack of updates has been getting my DVD produced, my daughter starting college, my son starting his sophomore year of high school, being the Vice-Chair of my 3,000 member church's Capital Campaign Committe to raise $13.9 million for new facilities, and having 3 of my businesses deciding to all take off at the same time with lots of work. On top of that, I've been squeezing in an average of about 6 miles a week swimming and around 40 miles a week running to try to keep up a decent base for my Ironman (whenever that might be) and the upcoming marathon season this fall and spring.

So why do the updates start again this coming Monday? Simply put, I have missed the time I have taken to building the web site. What I am doing in Faithful Soles is my true passion, it makes me happy, and it is what I want to start putting more of my energy into. Many thanks to all of you who continue to visit the site, and please send me some of your stories, race reports, pictures, etc. so that I can use them on the site. ALL of you are inspirational to me. Thanks.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New PR for 2.4 mile swim

ok, I realize that this was only my third 2.4 mile swim and that I have only been swimming now for a little over 5 months and improvement comes rapidly when you start something new, but I'm still proud of my effort. I swam it today in 1:15:48, about 3:30 faster than my first 2.4 mile effort back on August 7, and all of my 100m splits were under 2:00.

My running is also very strong right now and I have been consistently doing my 7-10 mile runs in the Houston heat in just under a 7:30 pace. For those of you who are not sure about cross-training, I can tell you that the swimming has immensely helped my running, especially in my upper body strength. I actually have some upper chest muscles and arm muscles now that were not there just a few months back.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The DVD "From Start to Finish and Then Some" is officially ready for distribution!

After a lot of hard work and input from more walkers and runners of all ages and abilities than I can name, the DVD is ready for sale starting September 4 (pre-order it now and get free shipping in the USA)! I am very excited about this opportunity. Please take a moment to watch my presentation about it below.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What I refer to as "Stupid Hot"

Relatively speaking, we have had a rather mild summer in Houston, mainly because for about a 45 day stretch we had heavy rains and overcast skies for probably 40 of those days. However, the sun is now out in full force and we officially hit 100 degrees today. Now for those of you in other parts of the country who may say, "oh yeah, well we get that hot", let me add this little tidbit... Tomorrow morning BEFORE THE SUN COMES UP, our humidity will be 90-100% and our heat index will be above 90... again, that is BEFORE the sun comes up. Trying to run in the morning is like having someone place a 500 pound weight on your chest as you try to breathe. This afternoon before 5:00, my son and I went swimming. I walked out of the locker room, got straight into the pool, swam 2000m, and then went straight back into the locker room. The first thing I noticed was that I was sunburned... ON MY FACE AND CHEST, and I was swimming breaststroke and freestyle the entire way. The pool water felt like a hot bath and the reflection of the sun off of the bottom of the pool is what burned me. When I walked in the door the first thing my wife said was, "I thought you went to swim, what did you do, lay out?" Yes, it is Stupid Hot in Houston now.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

First 2.4 mile swim

I started swimming 4 1/2 months ago while recovering from a left shin splint injury, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember getting into the pool that first time, swimming 800m (very slowly I might add) and thinking it would take me forever to build up to the full Ironman swim distance of 2.4 miles. So day before yesterday, I went to the pool after having completed 2.0 miles a number of times, and 1:19:21 later, I finished my first 2.4 miler without stopping and without doing flipturns to simulate as much as possible an open water swim. I'm still nowhere near strong enough to do the entire thing freestyle (I did this swim alternating breaststroke and freestyle laps), but from what I can tell from other men my age (late 40's) that have done Ironman competitions, I'm not too far off the mark of the average swimmer. My goal now will be to continue to improve on my form and mix up my swim workouts with more interval type work. I do not have a specific time that I'm trying to get down to, mainly because this is all still very new to me, but my guess is that I have a chance to get down into the 1:10:00-1:15:00 range at some point in the next year. Any input on this from the real swimmers is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

After a lengthy hiatus... a DVD is born

It's hard for me to believe that I've let 2 months go by without posting, but it has been a very busy summer since my daughter's graduation and my son's end to his freshman year. Both kids have been on a week long mission trip with our church where they helped to repair homes and build wheelchair ramps for people in need, and as soon as they returned from that, they both left with 30 other high school youth and adult leaders for an 11 day trip up to Wyoming and back. Normally, my wife and/or I would have gone on these trips, but being self-employed entrepreneurs with some large contracts coming in for one of our businesses has kept us tied down at that. My daughter has gotten a job as a Day Camp Counselor at the local YMCA for young children, which is a perfect position for her since her goal is to get her teaching degree. My son has started swimming regularly with me and wants to attempt a short distance triathlon some time in the fall. I am very blessed to have such great kids!

As for Faithful Soles, I have been hard at work on the production of a DVD entitled "From Start to Finish and Then Some", which has a release date of September 4, 2007, and is now available to pre-order on the main Faithful Soles web site. I have been giving motivational speeches to running clubs for many years now, as well as various speeches on training and racing tips, have written and been interviewed for articles in newspapers and magazines, and have made television appearances on running topics. After constantly being told, "You should have this information available for people to watch... I would love to be able to hear you tell that story again... I have a relative or friend who just started running or is training for a particular race and wish they could have heard that topic...", and so forth, I finally decided to do something about it. It took quite a while to decide the outline (major topics, sub-topics, etc.), format and storyboard. Once the outline was finished, I interviewed walkers and runners (male, female, all different age groups) at a beginner and intermediate level to ask them what they were most interested in knowing about, and found out that my outline had literally touched on every single topic they came up with. I also interviewed a number of advanced and elite runners who told me that although they knew the information in the DVD from experience, they still found it to contain great refresher topics and even some things they had not thought of before. I also asked various people who had heard me speak over the years if they had a favorite inspirational or humorous story that I told, and I got an overwhelming response to at least a half-dozen of them, which are all going to be on the DVD. Finally, once the DVD is released, I am planning to begin a speaking tour in major cities to running clubs and race events. My life-long dream has always been to do this as my full-time work because I am so passionate about it, and I am excited that I have the opportunity to go for it.

As for my training, I have been running about 30-40 miles a week, and swimming about 5-8 miles a week. I finally broke 30:00 for a mile in the swim (29:34 to be exact), and am comfortably swimming 2 miles without stopping at least once a week in about 1:03:00 - 1:05:00. Due to a big project that has come in for one of my businesses that will last several months, I made the decision to postpone an Ironman attempt until late 2008 or early 2009 simply because I know that I will not have the time it takes to devote to the training. I still plan to do at least 2-3 marathons and some shorter distance triathlons in the next year just to keep myself focused and maintain a solid base once I am ready to go full throttle on the Ironman training.

Thanks to all of you who continue to visit the main Faithful Soles web site. I hope that I can continue to inspire you as much as you do me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Congratulations to my daughter, the graduating senior!

(left to right) My son, me, my daughter and my wife after graduation

Friday night, May 25, 2007 marked the end of a long and amazing journey for my daughter as she graduated from high school. The road for her was not as easy at is for many. You see, she was born with learning disabilities associated with auditory processing and speech / language issues. If you had a regular conversation with her, you might not ever pick up on it, but if you got into deeper or more abstract subject matter, it would become increasingly apparent. Imagine going to school amongst a peer group every day where your communication skills were about 70% of age level, and that's what she faced every day. When she was 4, many of the so-called "experts" to told us she would never make it in a regular school, much less graduate on time (if ever). We refused to believe that. Through years of prayer and hard work, and meeting after meeting with her teachers and counselors to make sure she was on task, she not only ended up graduating in regular mainstream classes with her senior class (even making the honor roll with all A's and B's one semester), but she lettered for 3 years on her high school drill team, a difficult task to even make the team. I tell people all the time my daughter is a hero to me. No words will ever be able to adequately express how proud we are of her.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Getting accustomed to the tri routine (well, at least 2 out of 3)

Last week I managed to swim 10,400m (6.4 miles) and run 5 times for a total of about 30 miles (about 6 miles per run, shortest run was 3.0 miles, a couple of 7.5 milers, with an average pace per mile for the whole 30 miles of about 7:40). More importantly, on Saturday I swam 3200 (2 miles) in 1:09:40 (a 2 mile swim PR) and then ran 7.5 miles in 57:30 (7:40 pace), and felt great. Prior to this last week, I was still trying to get into the swing of running again after my layoff, and I think I'm now over that hurdle.

I have not done any cycling at all now in about 4 weeks, again just due to family and business commitments. When my daughter graduates from high school this Friday much of the family stuff will be behind me and I can move forward with the cycling. It's still at least a year until my first Ironman (probably Coure d'Alene in June of 2008), so I feel very confident that I have enough time to get the 3 disciplines in working order.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Note to Beginners: Follow-Up to Yesterday's Post

I ran my 7.5 mile route this morning in 57:12 (about a 7:38 overall pace per mile, last mile in 7:35) and felt fantastic from start to finish. Had I forced the issue on my run yesterday, I guarantee you the run this morning would not have been a good one. Learn to take your lumps (and here's the hard part) and be happy about it.

Whenever you feel alone and frustrated in your training, take heart, ALL of us feel that way at one time or another. You simply have to improvise, adapt and overcome. I will never forget when I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2000 and walked into the Niketown store in downtown Boston. In a glass case was a running journal and some of the hand-written entries in it read something like, "Today my legs felt like lead weights were in them", or "Today I went out to do a fast run and just had a miserable experience", or "Today was really a great day and makes all the training worth it.", etc. I'm sure these sound similar to days you have had along your journey. By the way, this was Joan Benoit Samuelson's journal prior to winning the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. See, you're not alone.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Note to Beginners: Learn to recognize when less is more

At 47 years old, I've been running off and on for more than 35 years, and been what I would consider a serious marathoner for the last 10 years. Last month, I resumed running after a 2 month self-imposed layoff from an injury, and since starting back running, it has been sporadic at best these last 30 days mainly due to family and business commitments. Yesterday I finally got a break and went out and ran a fairly solid 5+ mile run. This morning, I got up and swam 1600m around 6:30, came home, and since we are having nice weather in Houston today, decided to run a 7.5 mile route I have at lunch. I was really looking forward to it because our low humidity days are few and far between (65% right now, and yes for those of you in dry areas, that is LOW for us). As excited as I was to get out, I could tell in the first 100 yards or so that my body just didn't have it today. As I approached my first half-mile point, it wasn't getting any better. That is when I came to a literal and figurative cross-roads. There is an intersection where if I go right, I do my 7.5 mile route. If I go left, I do 3.0 miles. 10-20 years ago, I would have been stupid and stubborn and done the 7.5 miles, no matter what. Today, I turned left and did the 3.0 mile run and that was pretty much all I had in me. One of my personal sayings is "Train to run another day." People get so caught up with "well, I had planned to run x number of miles today, and if I don't, it will throw my schedule off." I have learned it is important to be consistent, and at the same time, flexible. Therefore, learn to be consistently flexible. I may very well head out the door tomorrow to do 7.5 miles again and feel incredible, but I also might have a repeat performance of today. If you are a beginner, accept that there will be great, good, fair and poor days, and you'll do fine.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Glad to have the "weak" behind me

We are a very healthy family, and rarely ever get sick. The last time I had a fever that I can recall was about 6 years ago. Friday before last, my son calls from school shortly after arriving saying he was not feeling well, so I went and picked him up. He had a sore throat and fever (he had not missed a single day of school in more than 2 years). Over the next 7 days, in order, my wife caught it, then I caught it, then my daughter caught it (she has not missed a day of school in more than 3 years and ended up missing only 2 classes one morning last week).

I had it Wednesday and Thursday of last week, right after having had great swims on Monday and Tuesday and a couple of good runs to boot. Friday I felt 100% again and had a great swim, and Saturday swam my second ever 3200m in about 1:10. Both Friday and Saturday's swims concluded with decent runs of about 5 miles each.

Saturday night my wife and I went to a dear friend's wedding, Debbie Goldberg, who is the Head Coordinator for Houston Fit, the largest USAFit group in the United States (Houston Fit had about 1,500 people enroll last year for the half-marathon and marathon training programs). My guess is there were close to 500 people in attendance at the wedding, and looking around at the runners whom I personally knew in the crowd, I would estimate they have run collectively over 1,000 marathons. Debbie has probably been directly or indirectly responsible for over 10,000 people completing a half-marathon or marathon in her lifetime, and it was truly an honor to be there at such an important moment in her life. I pray that her and her husband Bruce will live a long and happy life together.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Life, Work and Training

With my daughter graduating from high school in less than 3 weeks and all that goes along with that, I have been very busy with things for her at school over the last few months. Since the Spring Show for the drill team, there was her Senior Prom 2 weeks ago (an entire weekend event basically), an end-of-year banquet last Thursday for the drill team that my wife and I also attended (I was in charge of the slide show), then last Friday I got a team of Dad's to take down the catwalk from the stage after Spring Show to put it into storage, and this past weekend on Saturday my wife coordinated band escorts and I acted as a security Dad at the high school's 3rd annual Battle of the Bands. Thankfully my son is a good sport about all of this and had his running, swimming and video games to keep him occupied. We have promised him a family outing to see Spider-Man 3 this next weekend, which is a very cool thing for him.

As for work, I do web design for all sorts of businesses, everything from basic one page informational type sites to full blown database integration and forms for users where the client can capture information they need, send invoices, receive payments, etc. I can always use more customers, so please contact me if you need any web design done.

Oh yeah, and training... Because of the hectic schedule I've mostly been swimming early in the morning (swam 10,800m last week), running very sporadically (maybe 5 runs in the last 2 weeks of about 5 miles each), lifting weights 3-4 times a week, and have not had time to cycle at all. Once my daughter graduates on May 26, I'll have more time for all of this, and the sacrifices I have had to make on my training for her sake are well worth it to see her be happy and proud of her accomplishments.

Monday, April 30, 2007

From now through June 30, please help the Faithful Soles PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program

Faithful Soles, a web site dedicated to inspiring, motivating and encouraging walkers, runners, and multi-sport athletes of all ages and abilities, and whose main outreach is to get young people involved in a walking or running program, needs help from individuals and businesses in support of its PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program. PR10K targets youth and teens in underserved and underprivileged areas and helps teach them goal setting skills that are not only related to running, but can be used in other aspects of their lives as well. The program started in January and already has about 500 students involved from all over the USA, and the goal for May-June is to get at least another 1,000 involved over the summer vacation time period. To learn more about Faithful Soles and its many programs and web site features, click here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hilarious post-London Marathon video!

If you have not yet seen this, watch this video, "The Day After the Marathon". Warning: This will only be funny until the day after your next marathon.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

At 47 years old and after 25,000+ miles of running, the body remembers what to do

Just after tonight's run, I was all smiles when 5 miles was super easy again

Tonight was great. It was fantastic. I just started running again 10 days ago after my injury and tonight it was all I could do to "only" run a 5.3 mile route I have. I felt as if I had never laid off, and I could have easily done 10+ miles. Even though the temperature was around 80 and the humidity about 80, I cruised on my last mile at about a 7:20 pace, no pain or discomfort at all. I think that all of the swimming, cycling and weight training I have been doing during my recovery has really paid off and made my entire body so much stronger. I highly recommend anyone who is suffering from an injury that can do cross-training during their off time should do it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last night in the gene "Pool"

My son is definitely my son. Having just turned 15, he and I are best buddies and we love doing stuff together. As far as athletics, the main thing we have in common is that neither of us are necessarily fast, but we have what seems to be unlimited endurance. He knows that I recently started swimming, so now he wants to start swimming. Two nights ago, he goes with me and while I am swimming 100 laps (2500m), he swims only 7 laps and was very discouraged. When I asked him on the drive home what he did, he basically told me he had done some all out freestyle laps, which obviously is what exhausted him so quickly. I explained to him that I am alternating laps between breaststroke and freestyle until my endurance is built up. So last night, what does he do?! He goes with me again and this time swims 64 laps (1600m or 1 mile) without stopping! Good grief! I was swimming 2000m during this time, and kept looking over in the lane next to me wondering how in the world he was doing it. He was so proud of himself when he got out of the water, and I gave him 2 big thumbs-up and a big hug. Now he is talking about cycling and wants me to look up some local sprint distance triathlons. It is so awesome to have a son and daughter with such diverse personalities, yet they are so into what they are doing. The biggest tip I could ever give a parent is to let your child find his/her passion, even if it is far away from whatever you are passionate about or what you wanted them to do, and then give them the love and support they need to fulfill their dreams. After all, isn't that what each of us wants in our own lives as adults?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Better than expected first week back running

With my return to running after a 2 month layoff, I really did not know how I would do last week. I ended up with 20 miles (runs of 3, 3, 3, 3, 4 and 4 miles) with an average pace per mile of around 7:45 or so. In "normal" training, I would be around 40-50 miles per week at about a 7:30 pace, with peak weeks in the 50-60 mile range leading up to a marathon, but I am happy nonetheless that at least the first week back yielded a decent pace and more importantly, no pain from my previous injury.

I swam 3 times during the week (1875m, 2500m and 2500m) for a total of 6875m (about 4.27 miles). I've been swimming now for about 6 weeks and can tell a huge difference in my technique and endurance. I still am alternating laps between breaststroke and freestyle, and am not pushing off the wall so I can simulate as closely as possible an open water swim. I figure after a couple of more weeks I will start to incorporate some different routines to further build my strength and endurance (thanks again Momo and Shelley for the tips).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy 15th birthday, Robert!

My son Robert just after finishing his first half-marathon in Houston this past January

On Easter Sunday in 1992, God gave my wife and I the beautiful gift of the birth of our son, Robert. He is an amazingly loving, affectionate, intelligent and great teenager. Robert has a wonderful sense of humor, and has one of the most creative minds of anyone I have ever known. Since he was very young, he has had the ability to build things with his hands (without the benefit of plans or drawings) that I could never do. He took up running on a more serious level last August and completed half-marathons in Houston and Austin within 5 weeks of each other. He has also helped me when I go out to mentor young kids about goal setting and running. I am so proud of him.

I wrote a story about witnessing him finish the Houston half-marathon that was one of the greatest moments of my life and would like to share it with you here, "Following in the Footsteps of My Son".

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finally back to running...

After a 2 month hiatus to let my left shin heal following the Austin Marathon back on February 18, I resumed my running on Monday of this week. In the interim, I have been swimming (10,000m last week), cycling (75 miles last week) and doing some weight training. My timing to start running again coincided with the Boston Marathon on Monday, and the fact that the YMCA where I have been doing my cross-training is closed for 2 weeks for remodeling. Thankfully they arranged for us to use other YMCA facilities, so I'm able to drive a few extra miles to use another facility.

So how did I do on my run? Monday morning I laced up my Nike Pegasus TC's (the lighter training and racing version of the regular Pegasus) about 7:30 a.m. and headed out the door on a little 3 mile route around my neighborhood as follows: First mile in 7:45, second mile in 7:51 and third mile in 7:55 for a total time of 23:36 (7:52 pace per mile). I admit being very nervous about this run, and it took me the first mile or so before I finally relaxed and realized my left shin was not going to have a relapse. After taking yesterday off, this morning I ran the same route again in 23:33, and reversed my first and last mile, so today the last mile was the fastest. If I were in regular training shape I'd be doing this same route in about 22:00-22:30, so only being about 20-30 seconds per mile slower in my opinion is great. Other than some soreness in my upper legs (to be expected after a 60 day layoff), I feel fine.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pictures from an AMAZING Spring Show!

First of all, I am so proud of my daughter! It is impossible to put into words how hard she and the other 45+ members of this drill team worked on this show. It was my job before the performance to get the stage sets and coordination of the show backstage done, and to me, that is the best seat in the house. To see the girls laughing, crying, praying, and loving each other like a giant family back there is my most cherished memory. ok, so here are some of the pictures...

My daughter and I on Wednesday during the last rehearsal before the show starts on Thursday night.

Me in the props storage room putting the final paint touches on a giant rocking chair we built for one of the girls who did the old Lily Tomlin "Edith Ann" skit.

My wife and I in the old-fashioned newsstand we (prop dads and moms) built to distribute programs for the show, which also acted as a ticket booth.

Me (red shirt and shorts) giving final instructions on opening night to some of the Dads helping backstage (the smoky air is from the fog machines which help the stage lights).

Me and my daughter backstage prior to the Dad/Daughter dance.

My daughter and her boyfriend backstage. He danced with her in the Senior Guy/Girl dance.

My daughter prior to going onstage for the Senior girls dance.

My daughter (far right) during the Finale' on Saturday night.

The entire team assembled on stage after Finale' on the final night of the performance (the 5 Officers of the team are in the white uniforms).

The team huddles up and sings their team song one last time.

While on stage the final night, the team presented me with a custom-made tool belt engraved with "To our 'Prop Daddy', Love, The 2006-2007 Celebrities" and a hammer with "Prop Pop 2006-2007" engraved on it. I love all of these girls and am so proud of them, and a gift like this is priceless.

The drill team director, my daughter and me after the show.

My daughter and her proud freshman brother after the show.

My wife, daughter and I after the final performance on Saturday night.

All in all, a truly incredible show and I feel so blessed to have shared such great moments with my daughter!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Busy, busy, busy dancing, swimming and cycling

For anyone who thinks I may have disappeared in the last week, I've been swamped working on final preparations for my daughter's big spring show this week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, April 12-14). I am the Dad who heads up building all the stage sets and coordinating everything getting on and off stage during the show, as well as putting together the slide show just prior to the finale. There are about 50 girls on the high school drill team, and there will be another 100 or so from different dance troups performing in the show (32 dance numbers in all, show runs almost 3 hours). The web site to the drill team is Clear Brook Celebrities. You'll even see today through Saturday an announcement on the first page from me about needing backstage help with props (if you are in the Houston area, come to the show, it is amazing). The picture on the page of the girls in uniform looking down is the last slide in the show before the finale begins, and as the screen lifts up, the girls are standing behind it in that exact formation, very cool.

As for swimming, I'm consistently swimming 2000m on 5 days a week, so roughly 10,000 meters a week (6.2 miles) and cycling is still hovering around 75 miles. I am ecstatic to start running again on Monday.

Check back tomorrow for pictures from dress rehearsal tonight...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water...

So this morning at about 6:15 a.m. I arrived at the YMCA, went out to the pool, got ready to get in, looked down in the water, and I see a tiny crawfish about 2 inches long (half the length of my index finger, for those who need metric) swimming in the lane to my left down at the bottom of the pool in about chest-high water (yes, in chlorinated water completely unaffected, no wonder they have survived for millions of years). For those of you who don't know what these things are, here is a picture that is way bigger than the one I saw, sort of looks like a lobster that didn't quite get the full DNA chain:

Anyway, I thought nothing of it because sometimes they walk along the ground and are looking for water, and well, he found the YMCA pool. So, undaunted by the fear of what his teeny-tiny pinchers could do to me, I started my swim as the only one in the pool. Around my 20th lap, a lady comes in to swim in the adjacent lane and she is none too happy about the creature being there. Being the chivalrous gentleman that I am and clad only in my trustee Speedo, I borrowed a net from the lifeguard and after a lengthy struggle where I am sure that my life was in eminent danger (yawn) I pull him out and walk over to release him in a field next to the pool where there is access to a creek (he was such a worthy adversary that I saw it only fit that he should live for us to spar another day). I returned to the pool as a victorious hero having saved a damsel in distress from this monster that easily could have pulled her under and eaten her alive (over a period of about 1,000 years). For the record, even after the ferocious battle which left me battered and bruised, I managed to complete 2000m, my longest swim to date.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Swimming, cycling, weights... and the need to run again

I had a great week of training last week:

Swam 5 times @ 1000m, 1000m, 1600m, 1600m and 1600m for a total of 6800m (about 4.25 miles) - My goal this week (M-F) is to do at least 1600m each day, with one day thrown in of 2000m with some intervals (thanks to Momo and Shelley for the swimming tips).

Cycled 4 times for a total of about 60 miles (not as many miles as I wanted to do, but each time was about 15 miles after a hard workout on the weight machines) - My goal this week is to do around 80-100 miles with at least one ride in the 30-40 mile range.

I suppose all this makes my self-imposed restriction on running harder to deal with because from what I can tell, I have absolutely no pain whatsoever in my left shin now. What keeps me on course though is remembering how severe the pain was and not wanting to get back into it too soon and have it reoccur. My running resumes 2 weeks from today and I am so looking forward to it. It will be interesting to see what effect (if any) all of this cross-training will have on my running performance.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Current news article about our PR10K program!

I was interviewed yesterday by Bernice Torregrossa with the Galveston County Daily News about the Faithful Soles PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program and the article entitled "Inspiring young runners" is in today's sports section. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1 mile swimming non-stop and rethinking schedule

I started my swimming phase of my Ironman training 2 weeks ago after having not swam laps in about 20 years. Today I went 1 mile (1600 meters) without stopping and actually felt stronger as I went along, with my last 250 meters (10 laps) the fastest 250 meter segment of the entire workout.

I'm also kicking up my cycling (which I started back about 8 weeks ago) to around 100 miles for the week, which I do in conjunction with my weight machine workouts about 4-5 times a week.

As for the running, since that is by far my strongest of the three sports, and because I have patiently waited for my left shin to fully heal, there is no doubt in my mind I'll be back in full form by the end of May once I start back on April 16.

Having said all that, I now feel it is extremely feasible to do a Half-Ironman sometime in the next 4-6 months. I went and looked at the calendar and saw the Steelhead Half-Ironman taking place on August 4, 2007 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Since there aren't any in the fall, I may do this one (if you have done this race or know anything about it, please let me know). A plus for this is that it's only a few hours drive from my Dad's home in Ohio, and so we can tie in a visit to see him and his wife (they may even want to go and watch).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More rehearsal photos...

More rehearsal photos related to the posts a few days ago...

This is from Day 4 of rehearsals, my daughter and I taking a break from the Dad's practice for our portion of the dance (Me in my other ugly yellow shoes, my Asics Gel-Speedstars... good grief, are the only neutral training and racing shoes that suit me all made of colors not found in nature?).

Post-rehearsal picture of most of the Dads and their daughters who are in the dance. Some of the daughters, including mine, are not pictured because they had left to go watch a staff/student basketball game where the players ride on donkeys (I'm easy to pick out, just look for the yellow shoes, a la Big Bird)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Great start to the training week on the "heels" of a not-so-good Sunday

My Tarheels lost yesterday. Let me re-phrase that... They gave the game to Georgetown in regulation, then Georgetown handed them their heads on a platter in overtime. I have been an avid Carolina fan for more than 40 years, and I can not recall any game where they had a collapse like the one yesterday. I'm still stunned that they lost. I guess I'll have to keep wearing my 2005 NCAA Champions hat another year until they take it all in 2008.

On to training. I increased my swim this morning to 1,000 meters (40 laps) from 800 meters (32 laps) last week and felt extremely strong from start to finish. Swimming to me has always been about breathing rhythm and timing, and I finally felt comfortable with it this morning. My strokes also seem to be getting stronger and in better form. Tonight I will go and work out on the machines and then do my hour on the stationary cycle, hoping to get in at least 15 miles or more.

Friday, March 23, 2007

End of first full week towards the Ironman

I suppose you could say this marked the first full week of my Ironman training for 2008. Since I'm not certain what is good or not, I'll post it here and let the more experienced Ironman and triathlete bloggers tell me what they think:

M-F: 800 meter swim each morning without stopping each time (4,000 meters for the week)

Stationary cycle: 4 times @ 1 hour each session, about 14 miles per hour (64 miles for the week)

Weight machines: Worked out 4 times, kept a detailed chart of weights and reps, steady increases across the board

Running: Starting back on April 16 (If you have not read my blog before, I've set that as the target date to resume running while recovering from a bad left shin splint. I will not yield to the temptation of starting any sooner, although my running shoes have been calling out my name lately.)

I hope everyone has a great and safe weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rehearsal pictures

As promised, rehearsal pictures from the previous post...

This first one was taken during one of our amazing opening moves (note how all of us are in exactly the same position... NOT)

This is my daughter and me post-rehearsal showing our "hip-hop attitude" (it's hard to take my attitude seriously when I have on Nike Pegasus TC's that have bright yellow bottoms, solid black with shiny black trim uppers, and stark white shoe laces)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dancin' Daughter (and her Dad)

I have an awesome daughter who is one of the greatest and most kind-hearted people on the planet. I'm not sure that it's possible for a father to be more proud of someone and her accomplishments as I am of her. She is a senior in high school and is in her third year of being on the drill team. For those of you not in Texas, this is a BIG deal (just ask my wallet). These are the girls that wear the cowboy-style hats and do the high kick routines at football games and then perform at other events and competitions throughout the year. Her high school team has about 50 girls from sophomores to seniors, and they are absolutely awesome, having won various team and individual awards at competitions.

Each year, they put on a big spring show that runs for 3 nights in April. Their instructor is an awesome lady, former Broadway performer, and extremely enthusiastic. She loves getting everyone involved in what the girls are doing... enter the Dads. We will be having our third rehearsal tonight for the Dad and Daughter dance in the show, and about 20 or so of us Dads have discarded our egos to make fools of ourselves onstage by dancing to "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani. Yes, I said "Hollaback Girl". We get to dress in blue jeans, a tshirt and make up our own hip-hop hat to wear during the performance. We do some pretty fun moves, including our own improvisation of a strut across the stage at one point, and the best part is watching my daughter's face and the faces of the other girls laughing hysterically while we practice. You can tell it really means a lot to them that we are taking the time to be part of what is so important to them.

Stay tuned for pictures of us during rehearsal and the performance in April...

Monday, March 19, 2007

"March"-ing on with my training

Let's see, since my last post on Thursday, UNC won their first and second round games in the NCAA tournament and have advanced to the Sweet 16. They have a tough weekend coming up with a game against USC and if they win, they would play the winner of Georgetown/Vanderbilt to see who goes to the Final 4. I can already feel myself getting hoarse for these games.

The swimming and cycling portions of my triathlon and eventual Ironman training continue to go very well. This morning I swam 800 meters at the pool without stopping (only my third time to swim), alternating again between breast stroke and freestyle for 32 laps and without pushing off on the wall. I had a couple of more really great workouts on the machine weights and stationary cycle over the weekend, and I've actually managed to put on a couple of pounds of muscle weight. This is a very good thing for me because when I don't run, I actually lose weight since my percentage of body fat is so low and muscle weighs more than fat (yes, people hate me for that).

As for when I will start back running, every now and then if I move slightly the wrong way or make a sudden movement or sharp change of direction, I'll get a small pain that reminds me of my left shin splint. My goal remains to be 100% healed before I run one single step, and with the cross-training I am now doing, my overall fitness level is not being jeopardized at all. Having said that, I probably will now wait a couple of more weeks past my original date of April 1 to start running again, and have targeted Monday, April 16 to do so. For the serious marathoners out there, you understand the signficance of this date, because it's the day of the Boston Marathon. Since my goal is to qualify for Boston again, I think it would be a big psychological boost to start on that day and I have no doubts that I'll be fully ready to resume my running by then.

In the meantime, the main Faithful Soles web site continues to blow me away with people who are becoming members and sponsors to help our PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program. Also, be sure to check out the main web site (just click on the Faithful Soles logo in the upper right of my blog home page) and read the "Story of the Week" and "Runner of the Week". I promise you that these 2 people will really inspire you in a major way.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness, weights and swimming

Although I'm in Texas, I grew up from 2nd grade to 8th grade in Durham, North Carolina, and had a job as a kid working at the UNC basketball games in the late 60's and early 70's. To say that I am an avid Tarheel fan is an understatement, and I love and follow ACC basketball, especially this time of the year. I don't know if my Tarheels will go all the way this year because they have a strong bracket to contend with just to get to the Final 4, but it's always a thrill to watch all of the games in this tournament. Watching these kids from all 65 teams pour their hearts into each game to me is what makes this tournament so incredible. If you've never watched it, be sure to watch the first round games today and tomorrow, there are always amazing finishes and huge upsets.

On to exercise, I hit the weight machines last night and then the stationary bike (upright) for about 30 minutes of hard pedaling. This morning I went to the pool and swam 30 laps (750 meters) and felt really good.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The first swim

I hit the pool at the YMCA last night instead of today because we are expecting strong storms in Houston all day today and tomorrow, and I knew the pool would more than likely be closed since it is outdoors. I swam a total of 500 meters (20 laps at 25 meters per lap) by alternating each lap between breast stroke and freestyle. I suppose I surprised myself because I never stopped, and instead of pushing off the wall each time, I merely turned around and went back the other direction each time. I figured by doing that I'm truly swimming the 500 meters and not getting the benefit of a push-off which obviously will not occur in an open water swim. I did not time myself because I would not have known how good or bad I did anyway. I figure I'll give it another week and then start timing myself once a week or so. After the swim, I went in and worked out on the machines, then rode the stationary bike hard for about a half-hour. I did finally figure out how to get my heartrate up, and I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but using the stationary bike where I have to sit straight up rather than the one where I am sitting down reclined makes a huge difference. On the straight up one, I can get my heartrate up to a bit over 140 after about 20 minutes of hard pedaling, but on the one where I recline, the same effort barely gets me above 110. I'm not sure why that is, but I won't be doing the reclining one any more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cycle, swim, weights and eventually running

Due to my left shin injury, I have by default started my triathlon training way ahead of schedule. I'm going to the YMCA regularly, now cycling pretty hard for at least an hour or more 4 times a week, and tomorrow I'm going to start the swimming phase (that should be humorous). The machine weights have been going much better after the initial round of new soreness, and I can feel my upper body strength increasing. I'll never be Conan the Barbarian, but at least I won't be Pee Wee Herman. I have also figured out a way to "politely" get the people off of the machines who just sit there staring into space by asking, "Are you done using that?", instead of saying, "There's a nice lounge chair out in the lobby that would be much more comfortable and you can do your 1,000 blinking reps there instead." Thanks to a friend of mine who is a physical therapist, I have been doing stretching exercises for the shin that hopefully will strengthen it for when I resume my running. Now that I have these other cross-training things going on, I'm in no hurry to start back with the running "on April 1" if I am not absolutely 100% sure that the injury is totally healed. I had a 6 month layoff a few years back with a severe groin pull and it only took me about a month to get back up to 40+ mile weeks, so I'm not too worried about losing any fitness in that respect. I have my Speedo and regular swim trunks packed for the YMCA tomorrow. I have no idea what these folks wear in the pool since this is a family place and the kids are on spring break, so I'll go with the flow as far as suit attire.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Blog Database Statistics and PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) update

With the searchable and categorized Blog Database rapidly approaching 200 bloggers (I am estimating by the end of March it will be around 250-350), I thought it would be interesting now that it has a nice cross-section to start updating the page weekly with statistics so that members and visitors can see where they fit in with others, so be sure to check it out.

With respect to the Faithful Soles PR10K program, we have had great support from bloggers who have become members or sponsors to get youth involved in the program ($15.00 per year), and I am presently working with a number of schools in the U.S. (and am beginning talks with schools in other parts of the world). Right now, the waiting list of youth in underserved areas that we will be able to provide matching memberships to through our Faithful Soles memberships or sponsorships will be in the neighborhood of at least 1,000 by the end of this month. As more schools sign up for the program, I think I can easily reach my goal of 10,000 by the end of 2007 at the earliest, or mid-2008 at the latest. After that, I suppose I'll need to rename it to PR20K or PR100K or whatever it needs to be to keep getting young people involved in learning how to set goals and establish a walking or running program for themselves. Remember, in less than 5 minutes, you can make a big impact on the life of a young person.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Free Weights or Free Waits

I'm by no stretch a big and bulky muscular person, but I've always been very naturally lean and fit. About 30 years ago when I got out of high school, I started working out on the old Nautilus machines and put on quite a bit of muscle mass in about a 2 year period, and at 5'11", I went from 115 lbs. to about 150 lbs. (all natural, NEVER used steroids or other substances of that nature). At one point, I actually became a certified Nautilus instructor, and even trained some of the Houston Astros baseball players during the off-season in 1980-81. Shortly thereafter, I started pursuing a possible career on the PGA Tour, so I stopped on the weights and just continued running because the weights seemed to make it too difficult for me to have a nice flowing swing (although I did play in college on a golf scholarship, I was never quite good enough for the PGA Tour, perhaps a story for another day). Basically for the last 25 years or so, I have not returned to any weight machines until last night. I got on the elliptical again and after about 25 minutes just could not take the boredom of it. I started looking around the YMCA, and it was not very crowded being a Sunday evening, so I thought, what the heck, do the machines. The first one I got on was the triceps and knew immediately that I was incredibly weak from the upper body perspective. I ended up doing a pretty good upper body workout, as well as some leg work and calf raises (which I am hoping will strengthen my shin area where the injury is). It really got me fired up to continue this regimen, so I'm sure I will be doing it for the remainder of March until I start running again in April. One of the main reasons I have stayed away from the weight machines is because of the wait. Honestly, most people have no idea how to use them properly, both from a range of motion perspective, and more importantly, from a session/rest perspective. I see people walk around (slowly), from machine to machine, get on them, sit there for a minute or two watching TV or just looking around, and then finally they start lifting. That is not how I work out, nor how I used to instruct. I want to tell them that most of what they are doing is useless, but I keep to myself and simply hope the "instructors" (translated as employees who walk around and talk to each other, not the members, and get paid for it) will tell them what to do. When I work out, I move rapidly from machine to machine, no breaks except for the time it takes to get up, wipe off the seat, and get to the next one and start at it. So hopefully this next month I will regain some upper body strength without too much aggravation on the busier nights waiting on the machines.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Today is 2 weeks since I ran (jogged, walked) the Austin Marathon, and the pain in my left shin is about 90% gone. Every now and then if I move in a particular direction I will still get a pain, but nothing like what it was. I got on the elliptical for the first time yesterday and did that for about an hour, still unable to get my heartrate much above 120 even pushing it hard, but at least it's something. Since Boston is out for April and I really don't have any short-term goals prior to the fall, I probably will not run again until April 1 and give my shin a full 6 weeks recovery. In the meantime, I'll continue doing some cycling and I'm going to start swimming again. I used to swim a mile 3-4 times a week back in the mid-80's, and it took me quite a while to build up to that, so I know it won't be easy. Since my plan is to do my first ultra (a 50 miler) in December, then move on in 2008 to a half-Ironman and Ironman, I may as well start the swimming now (I guess in a way it's helping me that I can't run and it forces me to start swimming).

My 14 year old son is now training for his 3rd half-marathon, so this time also gives me a chance to help to coach him a little more closely. He wants to complete 5 half-marathons this year, which will earn him a special award in the Texas Half-Marathon Challenge. I am very proud of him for setting this goal.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

25 New Youth in the PR10K Program in 1 Day!

Yesterday I was asked to come out and observe a training program at a middle school in an underserved area to discuss ways to get involved in either directly or indirectly coaching some of these kids starting in the fall. They presently have about 25 youth who walk/run after school 4 days a week, and all of them either did the recent half-marathon here in Houston, or the 5K that was run in conjunction with it and the marathon. As I was talking to one of the coaches, I mentioned the PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program on the main Faithful Soles web site that we are promoting all over the U.S. and will be expanding into other countries, and asked how many of the young people in the program would fit the criteria we set out for a youth membership on our site through PR10K, and he basically said, "All of them." So today, he is emailing me the information with all of these kids names and we are setting each of them up in PR10K. Based on some other discussions, there is also the potential for a very cool new program that Faithful Soles might launch as part of PR10K, and I'm dying to tell you what it is, but at the moment I am still working on the logistics. Stay tuned...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Austin Marathon - pictures

I posted a few photos of my son and me during the weekend of the Austin Marathon from February 16-18. Click here to view them on the main Faithful Soles web site.

Friday, February 23, 2007

If you don't read a single other post on my blog, please read this one...

I am a firm believer in asking for and telling people what you want, especially something that you are very passionate about, so I am doing that here. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to read this. Whether you are a regular visitor to my blog or this is your first time here, I want you to understand that my entire focus is to do whatever I can to spread the word about the main Faithful Soles web site so that I can help get young people involved in our PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program that helps them establish a walking or running program. This idea all started for me last fall when I was asked to come out to a school in an underpriviledged area to help coach a group of 5th and 6th graders to run their first 5K. This school has students through junior high, and I found out that they have a great group of 7th and 8th graders on their cross-country team who love to run, but many of them are doing so in street shoes (a great friend of mine, Debbie Goldberg, who organized this, was able to work to obtain running shoes for them). The track they run on is in back of the school, and is basically nothing more than a cracked asphalt path, and before the kids can play on the playground area adjacent to it, we were asked by the school administrators to sweep the area each time for drug paraphernalia left behind by addicts who come onto the grounds at night (the picture below is one of our training sessions on the track and that is my son in the back left running with them as a mentor in the program).

Through all of this, these kids have amazing attitudes in circumstances that most of us can not imagine. When they run or walk a certain distance and we pat them on the back or give them a hug and tell them "great job!", their faces absolutely light up, and I can not wait until later this spring when all of them complete their first 5K and get their medals. My goal now is not only to help these youth, but as many youth as I can everywhere and introduce them to running. Every single time we get a new member on Faithful Soles, whether they are joining for themselves or have gotten a membership for someone in their family or for a friend, or if someone doesn't necessarily want a membership, but simply wants to sponsor a youth, I am happy because I know they understand what I am trying to accomplish. More importantly, I know it means one more youth in an underserved area who I am able to provide a matching membership to that will help them to learn goal setting skills, start a walking/running program where they can track their progress, and receive a "Goal Achievement Certificate" once that goal is reached. All of these things are designed to help build their self-esteem. Many of you who read my blog have already joined as a member or sponsor, including individuals, families and businesses, and I am so grateful for your support. If you want to be a part of this, it takes less than 5 minutes to join, and a membership is $15.00 for a year ($25.00 for 2 years), and sponsorships are also available for a suggested amount of $15.00 (the cost of a regular membership, and with a sponsorship in this amount or more you receive a free membership to keep for yourself or to give as a gift), or you can sponsor for any other amount more or less as you see fit. Please go to the "Membership Overview" page to learn more about what all a membership entails with links to our membership and sponsorship enrollment pages.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Short and Long-Term Goals

Now that I've had time to be home for a couple of days (by the way, marathoners should never have homes with stairs during post-race recovery), I have started to think a bit about what I want to do in the short and long term as far as my running goals. I never have had a magic number of marathons I've wanted to complete (16 so far), so there's no number out there like that lurking in the distance for me. As far as running accomplishments, I have 3 Boston Marathon medals, and that's 3 more than I ever thought I would have, so there is nothing left to prove to myself as far as that goes (ok, another Boston medal would be nice, I won't lie). In reflecting where I've come from and what I still want to achieve, here is the basic list as I see it right now as I sit at 47 years old through my 50th year in 2010:

1. At some point in the next 3 years, I want to run the Pikes Peak Marathon (August) and Death Valley Marathon (December), sort of a celebration of the highs and lows if you will.

2. December of 2009 - Jacksonville Marathon in Florida where I was born, and it will be run just a few days after my 50th birthday.

3. Qualify for and run Boston again, hopefully when I'm 50 in 2010. Coincidentally, that year my son's 18th birthday is on the day of the Boston Marathon, and he can run in it. It would be almost impossible for him to qualify (sub-3:00), but there are a limited number of charity spots available and I'm going to start lobbying for one of those the year before. How cool would that be to run the Boston Marathon on your 18th birthday with your 50 year old father? ok, maybe not cool to most 18 year olds, but my son and I are best buddies and I've already planted the bug in his ear and he seems fired up about it.

4. I want to do my first ultra this December at Sunmart in Huntsville, Texas. I can choose between the 50K (31.0 miles) or the 50 miler. Knowing my personality, I'm sure I'll end up doing the 50 miler. Besides, when I slow down and am not racing a marathon distance, I can run forever.

5. 2008 and 2009 - A half-Ironman and an Ironman (at least one Ironman, perhaps 2 or 3).

6. These are all probably not feasible in the next 3 years, but at some point I want to do the New York, Chicago, Paris and London Marathons (these are 4 of the 5 world majors with Boston being the 5th).

7. Ultimate for me I think would be to do a 100 miler and eventually the Badwater Ultra-Marathon. I was built mentally and physically to go forever, not fast mind you, but forever.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Austin Marathon - Race recap

For those of you that have been following my blog up to this point, you already know that the Austin Marathon on February 18 was my 16th marathon (4th Austin Marathon), and I ran it with a very bad left shin splint that I have been trying to get over since the first of the year. I was taking it as easy as I could for the first 15 miles or so at about an 8:30 pace (a full 30-50 seconds slower per mile than my normal marathon racing pace), but the pain started to be too much to bear, so starting at mile 16 I decided to walk for 3 minutes, then run to the next mile marker for as long as I could keep that up. At mile 21, the pain was too much, so I simply walked the final 5 miles to the best of my ability. I knew that my family was waiting for me about 200 yards from the finish line, so I mustered up enough to "run" past them down to the finish line. I still finished in a respectable 4:32:02 and am proud that I accomplished my main goal of simply finishing without any expectations as to a particular time. I got to visit with a lot of really neat people over those last 5 miles, some of them members and readers of Faithful Soles who saw my tshirt from the back with the Faithful Soles logo and simply stopped to walk and talk with me, all at the expense of their own time. My 14 year old son Robert ran his second half-marathon in 2:25:51, beating his previous best at Houston last month by 3:59, which is amazing considering that Austin was one of the hilliest courses I have ever run.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Austin Marathon - 1 day and counting... and Round Rock Fit

Last night I gave the keynote motivational speech to a group of about 100 walkers, runners and their families who are members of Round Rock Fit, one of the local chapters of USAFit here in Austin. About half of those in attendance will be doing their very first marathon or half-marathon tomorrow, and prior to my speaking there were some amazing and emotional testimonies from some of these great folks. One in particular was Judy, a lady who will be walking the half-marathon, and who originally set out to do this as a weight loss program. Not only has she lost 40 lbs., but more importantly she talked about the way the whole experience has changed her life for the better. As she spoke, there were slides in the background of her from when she started until now. Not only could you see the transformation in her physical appearance, but more importantly, I saw the transformation in the smile on her face, and how much greater it was as she progressed. I am always humbled by how powerful this entire experience is to witness people accomplishing things they never thought were possible.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Austin Marathon - 2 days and counting... and the peace within

For those of you that have been following my journey here through my recovery of my left shin splint injury leading up to my 16th marathon this Sunday, I appreciate your interest and thought I would share with you my thoughts as I prepare to head to Austin. This will be my first marathon since January of 2004 when I hobbled my way through the Houston Marathon with a groin pull. For the remainder of 2004, I rested that injury and cut back considerably on my running, even deferring what would have been my 4th Boston Marathon that April to 2005. In late 2004, my daughter made her high school drill team as a sophomore for the 2004-2005 school year, which here in Texas is a REALLY big deal. My wife and I have always been very active in our kids lives, and when I found out that the drill team's big spring show required Dads to get together on weekends to build props, I jumped right in. That cut out any chance for training for the Boston Marathon, but having already run it 3 times, it was way more important to me to be involved in what my daughter was doing, so I passed on it totally again. The next school year, 2005-2006, I was the Dad that headed up the entire spring show for building stage sets, and that takes nearly 3 months of work on the weekends, so again my training was cut back considerably pretty much nixing any opportunity for serious marathon training, but I did not mind at all. This year, her senior year, I'm heading up the spring show stuff again, so even if I did qualify for Boston in April, I wouldn't be going because the show is that weekend. I say all of this because I am completely at peace with my running and what I have accomplished through it. My running is no longer about me at all, it's about helping others. I honestly do not have a clue how I will do on Sunday, but I do know that I will finish. I know what to expect, I know there will be pain and doubt and all that goes with completing a marathon, but I've been there before and I know how to mentally and physically handle it. I know that while I am in the race there will be lots of people around me doing this for the first time, and I hope that I am able in some way through my experience to help them along on their journey. My thoughts will also be with my 14 year old son who will be there running in his second half-marathon. I was with him in Houston last month when he completed his first half-marathon, but this time he'll be going it solo and I know he will do great. Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Austin Marathon - 3 days and counting... and some cool announcements

I did a bit over an hour on the elliptical last night (average 85-90 rpm and heartrate got up to about 110 max). I also did something I have not done before, which is bring a book to prop up and read, "Into Thin Air", which I've already read once. It really made the time go by more quickly. If you are not familiar with this book, it's about climbing Mt. Everest and the tragedy that occured in 1996, which cost 8 climbers their lives. Reading this book makes me doing marathon look like I'm going out to get my newspaper in comparison to what these people go through.

Announcement 1: If you are participating in the Austin Marathon or Half-Marathon this Sunday and are looking for something to do on Friday night before the race, I will be the keynote motivational speaker, as well as providing running tips, at a dinner put on by Round Rock Fit (one of the local USAFit groups based just outside of Austin). If you want more information, just click here to go to the Faithful Soles news section.

Announcement 2: The categorized and searchable Running Blog Database has officially surpassed 100 bloggers in the first 15 days, with 31 states in the USA and 16 other countries being represented with people of all ages and abilities! What I am most proud of is that I am not adding any of these people at all, this is the bloggers themselves going to the site and linking their blogs, which tells me that people really do see and understand the benefit of it. If you want to link your blog (it's free to do so), it only takes about 2-3 minutes to do so, and you can access the page by clicking here. If you want to visit the blog database, there is a link to the upper right here on my blog page.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Austin Marathon - 4 days and counting... and Happy Valentine's Day

Short stint on the elliptical last night for about 30 minutes, just taking it easy.

Happy Valentine's Day to my beautiful wife of 22+ years and to my daughter and son. Thank you for putting up with my running and ADHD personality. I love you all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Austin Marathon - 5 days and counting... and youth

It rained last night, so my 14 year old son who will be doing his second half-marathon in Austin (just did his first half-marathon in Houston last month and it was truly one of the most cherished experiences of my life to see him cross the finish line) went with me to the YMCA to run on the treadmill while I did the stationary bike. We just joined the Y a few weeks ago, and this was his first time to go, and his first time to ever run on a treadmill. Now you have to know, my son is my best buddy in the world, but I'm still Dad, and regardless of the fact that I've done x number of marathons, have given countless motivational speeches to running groups as well as talks on running tips, I'm still Dad, which means that I know nothing (and my parents knew nothing, and your parents knew nothing, you get the picture). So, he gets on the treadmill and I get him started. He insists (Dad advises otherwise) to set the machine to a pace that I knew was too hard, so I let him do it. I go over to the bike and start my routine. Not 10 minutes later, there he is standing beside me pouring sweat insisting that I had set the machine too hard. I just smiled and told him to get on the stationary bike next to mine. He does. I tell him to set it this way and that way, and try to keep it around 75-80 rpm. Then trouble. A group of teenage girls from his school walk in and start exercising around us. I look over and he's about 100 rpm. I leaned over and said as softly as I could, "Buddy, slow down." The response, "Oh Dad, don't worry, I can keep this up." About 5 minutes passes and he is done. I just smiled and leaned over and patted him on the back. He takes a break and starts up again, this time wanting to increase the tension (again, against my advice). Same results. He looks at me and says smiling, "I hate it when you're right." One thing I love about him, he learns from his mistakes, so I don't mind letting him take a bit of a fall every now and then to help him learn how to pull himself back up.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Austin Marathon - 6 days and counting... And "Pimp My Running Shoes"

Left shin splint update: I decided last night to test the limits of what pain, if any, I still might have. I did a full flex up of my toes on my left foot as far as I could get them to go, and there is a tiny area, maybe the size of a dime, that has a little pain, but nothing like it was a a few weeks ago. When I pointed my toes down, same result in the same area. I'm just going to stick with the Aleve, ice, rest, ointment routine, and still will not run a step until next Sunday.

I did not exercise any yesterday, but I did get some errands run in preparation for the marathon next weekend. I picked up a new pair of Nike Pegasus TC's (the racing flat, not the normal Pegasus) and have been walking around in them getting them broken in. They are jet black with white laces and solid yellow bottoms, with some shiny black areas. Are they ugly? Yes. They look like they could have been on an episode of "Pimp My Running Shoes", but hey, as long as they get the job done, I don't care. And yes, I know that conventional wisdom is not to wear "new" shoes on a first run, but I have raced in these for years (3 fastest times ever in these shoes) and they typically are fully broken in for me after only 2-3 days of walking around. Besides, since I'm now not running Austin for time, if something should go wrong with them, I'm giving my wife my backup pair of training shoes I've been wearing and I can just stop on the course and change shoes (by the way, those are Asics Speedstars, a bright yellow not found in nature, what's up with these shoe colors?). I plan to go to the YMCA tonight for the elliptical again, and will probably do it daily through Thursday, then rest up completely on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Austin Marathon - 7 days and counting... And the big WHY?

I woke up this morning for the first time in at least a month and had absolutely no pain in my left shin. I flexed my foot up, and I flexed it down, expecting at least of twinge of something that said it still hurt, but nothing, zero. Does that mean I'm going to lace up the shoes now and hit the road? Nope, I have not quite yet reached that level of stupidity. I'm sticking to the elliptical, and the next running step I take will be next Sunday when the gun goes off to start the marathon.

ok, the big "WHY?"... I have gotten a lot of emails and feedback on the main Faithful Soles web site. In the past month I've contacted probably close to 500 people about listing their blogs in the database there, joining the site, submitting stories, nominating a Runner of the Week, etc. The emails and feedback I have gotten are honestly 95% or better favorable, but that 5% or so, and I have to think in the back of my mind that at least some of the 95% and many who have not emailed or sent any feedback, are really wondering why I do this. I wrote a story for the site about 2 months ago that I wanted to share with you here, so if you are in this "why" category or just generally curious, please read "A Non-Athletic Geek is Born". I don't think there is anything else that I could add to my "why" than what is stated there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Austin Marathon - 8 days and counting

I did not do any exercise yesterday, decided to just rest the leg all day. This morning I returned to the YMCA, did a similar routine on the elliptical as day before yesterday, finished with almost zero pain or discomfort. My main hope is that the cardio part of it and the way I'm positioning my legs to simulate hill climbing, especially in my quadriceps, is actually going to help me in Austin because you basically climb from mile 8 to mile 18. Were I doing my normal training right now, I would be on totally flat ground (the only "hill" within miles of me is a bridge in Kemah about 10 miles away that goes over the bay, and it's only about a 1/4 mile climb). The proof in the pudding will be next Sunday when I actually start running. I purchased some additional ball-of-foot padding for my running shoes and have been walking around in those to make sure they soften the blow, and I can tell a huge difference in the cushioning just when I walk.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Austin Marathon - 9 days and counting

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), the shin pain is down to below 5 now. The swelling is gone and so is the redness. I'm going to remain smart and not run on it at all. I went back to the YMCA last night to try the elliptical trainer again, and I think I might have had better results. I got on a different one that was able to measure heartrate and a bunch of other stuff. I set it to a "hilly" course and started at it. The first 15 minutes or so I was still discouraged, because my heartrate was barely getting above 70 (my normal resting rate is 35-38 bpm). I increased the level of tension and finally got it to where I felt a level of effort without having to push down too hard on the pedals. It took me a good 30+ minutes to get the heartrate up to above 90, then around 45 minutes I finally topped 100, then really pushed it for 15 more minutes with an RPM of about 85-90 and got the heartrate up to maybe 110-115. I ended up staying on for about an hour and 15 minutes total and worked up a pretty good sweat and felt as if I had at least gotten my legs a decent workout. It still doesn't replace the running workout for my upper body, and I feel a bit awkward just sitting there with my arms hanging down or resting on bars, but I guess that's what you do. I had considered a stair stepper where you can also move your arms back and forth on the upper bars, but looking at it made me think it might be too much pressure on the left shin.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Austin Marathon - 10 days and counting

I need some input here... Last night, I figured since I can't run, I'll go and try the elliptical machine at the YMCA to get some sort of cardio without the impact. I've never done this before, so I need some advice from anyone who reads this because I was on this thing for an hour keeping it at an RPM of about 75-80, and I have to be honest, I got off of it and felt like I had done nothing. Am I doing something wrong, or is it that running 50+ miles a week has put me in a position where I have to be on it for hours to get any benefit? Anyway, good news is that when I stopped I felt no strain or anything on the left shin.

Running Blog Database and PR10K (Promote Running to 10,000 Kids) update: I am overwhelmed by the response I have gotten from people linking their blogs to the Faithful Soles Running Blog Datbase (link at upper right of this page). I had no idea how this would go over when I started it on February 1, but thus far it is averaging better than 10 bloggers a day linking to it (as of this morning, over 70 bloggers from 24 states in the USA and 12 other countries). The cool thing for me is being able to go on there and selecting, for example, men in my age group who are advanced runners who do marathons and being able to read about what they are doing. I had one lady who told me she felt very alone being a beginning walker, but she has been able to find blogs in her age group of other women who are beginners and reading their entries and it has really inspired her. Probably the thing that has touched me most are the youth and teens in my PR10K program who are reading the blogs and really getting inspired by them. A lot of these youth come from underserved areas and may not live in the best of situations as far as neighborhoods, parents who care, or having a real mentor, and many of the bloggers are inspiring them to show that you can overcome tough obstacles in your life. My goal on Faithful Soles is to continue to get these youth involved in a running or walking program through our memberships. If you have not read about the program, when you become a member of my site, we provide a youth in an underserved area with a matching membership, and we give them a goal setting sheet and a mileage tracking sheet. When they reach the mileage goal they set for themselves, we send them a "Goal Achievement Certificate" with their name and what they accomplished. It is amazing what a difference this is making in their self-esteem. Just think about how you feel when you get that medal at the end of a race, that's what these certificates mean to these young people (by the way, I'm now exploring getting them a medal with the Faithful Soles logo on it with the words "I REACHED MY GOAL!" printed on it, I'll keep you updated on this). Also, I am in the process of talking to a major shoe manufacturer about providing many of these kids with running shoes, something most can not afford. All of this information and more is on my main web site (again, link at upper right of this page).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Austin Marathon - 11 days and counting

I went to a booster club meeting last night for my daughter's high school drill team which was held in their dance room. They have mirrors up from floor to ceiling all over the place. As I was walking in to take my seat, I looked down in the mirror at my left shin area and was amazed at how red, swollen and inflamed it was, something I had not noticed in looking down at it normally. Thankfully after the meeting was over I ran into one of the team trainers who knows I am a marathoner. She took one look at it and really scolded me for having run at all on it. She recommended I try some ultrasound and switch to Aleve rather than Advil, so I'm scheduling an ultrasound treatment tomorrow and have started with the Aleve.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Austin Marathon - 12 days and counting

On a pain factor scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, the left shin was an 11 this morning. My plan now is very simple: I may not run at all between now and the marathon and just let it completely heal up, then take my time (obviously) on the day of the marathon. The last time I did this, when I had a severe groin pull in 2004, I had not run a single step in 6 weeks and finished the Houston Marathon in just under 5 hours by jogging and walking. This time at least I've gotten several 10-20 milers in over the last 4 weeks, so I should be much better off come start time. I appreciate the comments and emails I have been getting from people.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Austin Marathon - 13 days to go

Reality check: ok, so I ran 15 miles yesterday at a good clip and felt really good about it. This morning when I woke up, my left shin felt like it had been hit with a hammer. I looked down and it had a mouth, and it spoke these words to me, "You are nuts if you think you are going to RUN fast for a full marathon in less than 2 weeks. I'll be happy to jog, walk, stroll along with you for the distance, but if you push me any harder than that, I'm quitting." So as I sit here at about 10:30 a.m. on Monday, I'm abandoning the 3:30 goal and will just do the marathon in whatever time it takes me. I did this in 2004 at the Houston Marathon when I had a severe groin pull, and it actually ended up being probably the most fun I ever had in a marathon. I jogged, walked, stopped and talked to people, did everything I would never get a chance to do if I were focused on running a specific time the whole way.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Austin Marathon - 14 days and counting

I ran a pretty solid 15 miles today (1:55:03, overall 7:40 pace, last mile in 7:24) through a pretty good amount of pain in the left shin for the first 8-10 miles. Over the last 5 miles I felt like it finally began to loosen up, and I just put the hammer down on the last mile to test it and ran the last mile the fastest. I have 70 miles to go to get to the number I wanted to be at when I set out on the shin saga on February 1. I still think with the amount of pain I am having that a sub-3:30 in 2 weeks is not likely, but if I can be smart, eat right, get plenty of rest, do my shin stretches consistently between now and then, anything can happen. Today at least showed me that I'll have no problem in finishing the race. As I've said all along, if I can make 3:30 and qualify for my 4th Boston, that's great. If not, I'll enjoy the day and count my blessings over the mere fact that I have my health and I am able to run.

Side note: I am getting such a great response to people signing up to the Running Blog Database. Please link your blog to it by going to, or go to the home page of my web site to try it out at

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Austin Marathon - 15 days and counting

Rest day today, probably do 10-15 miles tomorrow afternoon. Shin this morning is feeling significantly better, but still pretty sore.

Side note: I have been reading many blogs and posting comments on them introducing people to my Running Blog Database on Faithful Soles, and so far better than half of them have linked their blogs to it. It is very inspiring to read what everyone has to say. At the pace it's on now, I envision having a few thousand blogs linked to it by the end of the year. If you have not yet visited it, please go to and you will find the link to it from the home page (you can't miss it, there's an animated blogger making his entries). If you want to link your blog to the database, just click on "Link your running blog" under "Free features" in the lefthand column (takes about 2 minutes).

Also, I am looking for nominations from around the world from our weekly features of "Runner of the Week", and stories for our "Story of the Week". If you have someone you would like to nominate, or have a story you would like to share, please select the links from under "Free Features" in the lefthand column on the home page.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Austin Marathon - 16 days and counting

Still some pain in my shin, but I was encouraged. I did 7.5 miles again today, this time almost 2 minutes faster than yesterday with what felt like the same effort (first mile in 7:50, last mile in 7:39, overall pace for the whole run about 7:40 per mile). 85 miles to go until February 13.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Austin Marathon (aka - The Shin Splint Saga) - 17 days and counting

2 months ago today, I turned 47. I have a tradition I call the "birthday run" where I run 12.1 miles every year on my birthday (born 12-1). I did that run in a respectable 7:30 pace after having completed 200+ miles for November. I finished December with 200+ miles again, and was running as fast as I have in years. I had Austin in my sites to try to qualify for my 4th Boston Marathon, and I needed a sub-3:30 to do so. On December 31, I would have probably told you I was capable of a sub-3:20. On January 1, I woke up with a soreness in my lower left shin (shin splints) and have been fighting it every day since. I ran maybe 100 miles for the month of January. I've been doing this long enough to know that aches and pains are part of the deal. I ran 5 marathons (2 Houstons, 2 Austins and 1 Boston) with a groin pull in 2001 and 2002. So today, I decided to go for broke over the next 13 days prior to a 5 day Austin taper. If I can get in about 100 miles between now and February 13th with at least one 20 miler around February 8th or so, I might still have a shot at the 3:30. Experience and logic tell me it's a longshot at this point, but heart and guts and years and years of running tell me there's a chance. If I see it's just not doable, I'll back off, run, jog, walk, whatever, and complete my 16th marathon regardless. So today I put in 7.5 miles at an easy 8:00 pace, now just 92.5 miles to go until the 13th.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Austin Marathon and Shin Splints

ok, so I had planned to try to qualify for my 4th Boston Marathon at the Austin Marathon next month with a sub-3:30 and was (notice the past tense) having some of the best training sessions I've had in years, and I come down with a shin splint in my left leg (not just the garden variety, the "Who stuck the knife in my leg" type). So now, I've gone from 2 consecutive 200+ mile months in November and December to barely 100 this month and haven't been able to run more than about 20 miles in the last 2 weeks. I'm still going to do Austin, and I have no clue what my time will be, so I'm just going to enjoy myself and do what I can. If by some miracle I can get in a decent 10-12 day stretch of training, I might still have a shot. If I can run the whole way by then, great, if not, I'll walk or crawl or do whatever it takes. You all know the drill. So I may make up my own pace sign that says "3:30-6:00".

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Searchable/Categorized Running Blog Database!

I have the sample up and running on my web site for what I believe to be the only categorized and searchable running blog database on the internet. You can take it for a test drive by accessing The web site has only been online now for about 7 months, but we are already up to more than 2,000-3,000 hits a day and people thus far seem very excited about this feature.

If you would like to include a link to your blog in the database (no cost to link your blog), simply fill out the 2-3 minute form by going to

The Running Blog Database will give members of my site the exclusive ability to see other bloggers by selecting specific categories such as age group, sex, location, experience level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, elite), running type (walker, jogger, runner, etc.), type of events completed and/or training for (such as 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, triathlons, ultra-marathons, trail runs, etc.), and a description of what the blog is about. Once they have streamlined what they are looking for, a list of blogs meeting the category or categories they select appear on screen so that they can link immediately to those blogs that most fit their own personal goals or interests.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This is my first blog post, but I've kept a diary on my running since about 1986...

I have kept a fairly detailed running log in a database format since about 1986 that includes date, mileage, time, pace, weather (including temperature, heat index or wind chill, percent humidity, windspeed and direction), type of run (easy, long, tempo, race, etc.) and general comments for each entry on how I felt that day, what was going on in my life or in the world, and so on.

I'm not sure how much I will post here, since my main focus and all of my information is on my web site at On Faithful Soles, you will find my running background under "Meet Robert" from the main menu, but most importantly lots of amazing and inspiring stories and information about walker, runners, and athletes of all ages and abilities.

My inspiration to create Faithful Soles came at the 2000 Boston Marathon in a story I call "The Greatest Marathoner" (you can access it through the web site via the link under the "Message from Robert" on the home page). I have shared this story in nearly every motivational speech I have given to running clubs, schools, businesses, churches and various other organizations. I have had people come to me years after hearing it to tell me they still think about it when things get tough in either their running or their life.