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A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… The Treadmill.. Yep I said it

This weekend’s thank you goes out it to that dreaded run machine that we all find ourselves attached to from time to time. It is more useful than you know. Easy to find, convenient to use, whether while traveling, at home, or at your gym. It means you dont always have to go huge distances to find a good run. Yeah,  it may not be the track in Eugene, or the Big Sur Marathon Route, or in my case even Flatwoods Park; Yet I find it to be an extremely helpful tool in my training. You could too

Thank you Treadmills!

Thank you for your convenience! Thank you for your reliability!

Thank you for your ability to always give me whatever type of run I am looking for, no matter what the conditions are outside!

Thank you for starting me off on my running path!

I was bitterly disappointed this morning when my navigational failures deprived me of a great opportunity. A chance to run the Croom Trail up in Brooksville with old friends and a chance to meet new ones. It is supposed  to be one of the premier running spots in the area for trail runners and it fit my run week perfectly. I missed it today because I couldnt find it. I was angry. I was pissed. I was furious. So what did I do? I went back to my gym, and blasted out 8 miles of hard ascending hill repeats on the treadmill. Then after a spin class, I jogged out 4 more on the treadmill. Frustration over.

Words cannot describe how angry I was at missing out on these beautiful trails this morning. I was happy to stomp that anger out on some hard treadmill miles

Im grateful to treadmills even though runners hate them. Treadmills, if you are runner, are super easy to develop a variety of workouts from. Florida doesnt have a lot of hills? Treadmill has a hill option. Want to avoid the heat for Intervals? Treadmill has speed intervals on it. I use them to build a pretty intense Fartlek workout on Fridays. I also use treadmills for pure speed workouts, gradually increasing speed over a set time. Treadmills are cheap to me because they are found at every gym, lots of peoples homes, and in hotels. No extra time or money spent in search of a good run when you want to stay indoors or your plans fall through.

Somedays indoor running just makes sense, and Im thankful that the treadmill exists for those moments

Treadmills are safe and convenient. I dont have to worry about cars, potholes, and stray animals. They are always close to the bathroom, which comes in handy all too frequently. They have TV so if I dont have to make the decision between a good workout and watching an amaziing game. They are near weights and spin rooms if you want to stack workouts or mix runs with fitness classes. The ability to get one full varied workout involving all of those elements in 1 locations helps hugely with gas and expenses.

When I started running, I was only doing one day a week outdoors and the other 3 on the treadmill.  Iw as intimidated by the wide variety of runs available to me outdoors. The wealth of workouts overwhelmed me by its sheer size. So I used the treadmill to keep my fitness and build my confidence. The outdoors I left for marathon base building. For me and others, I think the treadmill can be a good option for people who dont want to jump into the deep end of the pool when they start to run to stay in shape or get into as a hobby. I didnt want to spend tons on a watch or fancy running sneakers until i was sure I could handle it. My work on the tready convinced me I could.

While I love going up to San Antonio to work hills, it isnt super easy or convenient to always get up there. The only other hill workout option is on the treadmill

The treadmill isnt perfect. I crave the outdoors many days. I crave trails, amazing veiws and scenic locations. I always crave the crisp smells and fun sounds of the open roads as much as anyone. And you certainly cant run in a group on a tready. But its there when you need it. When you live in the disturbing heat of Tampa, that occurs quite frequently.

One of my favorite blogs (runstrongereveryday.com) described the treadmill as a “sometimes workout”. I would agree. Even though now, I run on the road far more often, I know I have that option of going back to that infernal machine and blasting off a good hard run. It may not be exactly the same, but it does work and it is effective. So a huge weekend runcheap thank you to the treadmill, for its reliability, convenience, and possibly variety.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… My awesome running friend

I was happy in last week’s post that I got around to thanking some of the people (my spin instructors) who keep me running strong an running cheap. People are obviously at the core of my inspiration and motivation for my running. Above all though, my running friend RD (not sure if she is comfortable with her name being mentioned specifically so thats what I will refer to as) is the most motivating, encouraging, thoughtful, diligent, and well rounded person and runner I know. She is one of those people who you meet in life, who make you take a step back and say wow, Im hope I am half as good of a person- let alone runner- as her.

Thank you RD!

Thank you for being a motivator, an inspiration, a mentor, and a great friend!

Thank you so much for helping me out with my development as a person and a runner!

I first met RD through capoeira several years ago. She was one of my first capoeira instructors and originally one of the only people I would train with. Before I got the lay of the land at the academy, she was one of the only people I really felt comfortable with. This is not to say that her classes were easy. Not only did you learn lots of capoeira but you were challenged from a fitness perspective as well. Classes could be grueling. Once I relaxed into it, I  became friends with her and we had many great capoeira experiences together on road trips, rodas, batizados, and she helped me a ton during our unreal experience in Brazil. I was amazed at her level of dedication. That she could hold down that level of responsibility at the academy, raise a family, and was still a dedicated runner. It was inspiring to me. It constantly made me think  that I could do more as a person and from a fitness perspective.

I love capoeira, it was my first huge step into a healthier world and RD was my first instructor and helped ease me into it until I found my footing and my ginga

I honestly dont think I would have gotten into running without RD. When my fitness level from capoeira training (5, 6 nights a week) plateaued, part of the reason running was a natural progression for me was because of her interest level in it. Every time I would run a new distance, I would text her and get an encouraging response back. One of my first races as runner she was there for. When I blitzed my first half marathon, she was the first person I sent a text to. Same after my first marathon at Disney. All times I get a thoroughly encouraging and genuine response from her.

I texted RD the morning of the Gasparilla Half at like 430 am, whining about the conditions, she responded and it calmed me down. Ended up being my strongest race yet

It hasnt changed. One of the reasons I dont look for a coach is because of RD. Coaches are supposed to motivate and inspire you, and I get that from her more than I ever could from some stranger. When I post on daily mile whether it be a good run or a bad run, she always has a good level headed comment for me. More recently as I have been struggling with a new marathon time goal, I have been consulting with her about it. She help me fix that goal, but as usual has higher expectations for me then I do for myself. I think it is great to know someone like that.

Since RD has stepped away from capoeira, I definitely dont get to see her as much. It makes me cherish the races I do get to run with her even more. Running can be a lonely experience, especially when you have only a small group of friends (who mostly dont run and dont like running). On race days, it always gets the blood flowing to see a familiar positive face out there. During runs she always shouts something positive at me as we pass each other which makes me step up my effort no matter how tired I may be. And it is always nice to decompress after a hard effort with a good friend and discuss.  In fact, one of the reasons Im excited about my ridiculously small 5k on Friday Night is because I know I will get to hang out with my friend afterwards and the group she runs with.

Even though this race was 2 weeks out of the Gasparilla Half, I was excited to run it because I got to hang out with RD her family, and her strider friends at the beach afterward. It was tons of fun.

I remember when I started doing these “Thank You” style postings, I noted that I could write a forever post about  my mother. I probably could for RD as well. Impossible to overstate the importance of good people and good friends. Beyond impossible. I honestly dont know if I could be where I am now as a human being and a runner, if I had not encountered RD. If I leave this area, she will be one of a small group of people who I will thoroughly miss. So on that note, A huge colossal runcheap weekend thank you to my awesome running friend- RD. Thank you so much for being a great friend/ great running running mentor for many years. Keep running hard and running strong.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Fuel and Food Favorites

Remember when I said that the Wish List Wednesday posts mostly wouldnt be simply about running gear that I am craving that I cant really afford? This week is one of those cases where it will be. This is an item I really need, and I crave having one as much as I crave the other item on the nutrition part of the post.

For my running wish…..

I wish that I had a Fuel Belt….

Set up- So much to carry, so few hands

I want to start going longer distances and building up to try my hand at further marathons, trail runs, and ultra runs. In order to better prepare/ perform in these races and training runs, I need to a way to refuel during my run. I need to be able to carry food, water, cell phones, keys and other items in a convenient way so Im not death gripping six different items while going distance and checking pace on my watch. Although I have resisted, I know I need one. The problem is they are a little out of my price range.

One of these would be so helpful to improve my running

The Ideal Wish-  Love Ifitnessinc

I know exactly what I want is this case and here they are. Either one or the other would be fine

http://www.ifitnessinc.com/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=14

http://www.ifitnessinc.com/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=15

I wish that I had one of these so I could strap it on, ram all the stuff I needed into it and get running. I wish that when my nutrition fails me I could reach into my pouch for another gel, or some other tasty treat I prepared for my run to boost my energy. I wish that I could put my phone safely away so I wouldnt be worried about dropping it and breaking it. I wish that I could put my keys in their so they didnt hurt my hands when I grip them on lengthy runs. I wish I could put my credit card in their as a just in case type deal. I wish that I actually had water with me on long runs to keep hydrated and train better. I wish that I had a fuel belt that would allow me to stay hydrated/energized/refreshed on these long runs so I could perform my best.

The Reality- Dehydrated and uncomfortable

I dont have one. On runs longer than 17 miles, I carry gels (or granola bars) with me in my hand, along with my keys, my gate opener (sometimes), and my phone. Its quite a pair of handfuls. Its uncomfortable to run with. Plus-notice something missing? No water. I rarely do distances between 17-20 with water. I know its not good for you and it limits performance but I simply cant carry anything more. I have to make those decisions beforehand. When I go longer than 20, I water place. I go out the night before, find 2 spots and place water bottles along the route. This is extra work and extra gas and gets me creepy looks late at night. There have literally been times when I have become so hungry and/or thirsty while running that I looked at the side of the road for water bottles and such. Seriously. Only a couple of times but still. Im sick of carrying everything in my hand. It is frustrating and limiting.

I have no free hands to carry one of these. On really long training race, I have to hunt for spots to hide them on my running route

The Possible- A Shoe Solution

Stuck on this one. I tried one at the expo for Gasparilla where I believe it was on sale. I was THIS close to buying one, but I had to resist the urge. It is a good thing I did. What stopped me? Uh, 1 pair of broken glasses and 1 severely bent pair. Plus, a cell phone that badly needs to be replaced. None of those have been fixed about a month or so later. Tack on having to pay $300 dollars to get the sideview mirror of my car fixed after I knocked it off on parents gate like an idiot. I certainly dont have the money for it. There is a 10 dollar device that they sell at Fitniche (a local runners’ store) which attaches to your shoelaces and is probably good enough to squeeze in a few things- a gel, a key, credit card maybe-  to free my hands of some of the stuff. It is not ideal, but it would be a step in the right direction and I can probably justify that expense

One of these for 10$ will probably be a purchase I make soon

Forward to my nutrition wish……

I wish I could have a real NY Bagel!!!!!!!!

Set up-  Cheap, yummy, and perfect for runners

I love bagels, absolutely love them.  Not to mention that for a runner its an excellent (and usually cheap) nutritional source in a variety of circumstances. It is good during glycoloading phase before big runs, good to replenish after runs, good as a breakfast before a big workout. To a runner it is an excellent source of needed carbohydrates. To a non runner it is fine too. Despite being labled by the South Beach and Atkins inspired Carb Police as an unhealthy food because of the caloric count and carb heavy nature, bagels can play a healhty role in a well organized, well thought out diet. I used to eat them a lot after my long runs, but the quality of bagel down here is so lousy that I miss the real deal. The ones I grew up with. The bagels down here are not worth the price they put on them however small.

The Ideal Wish- I miss that NY flavor

That I could enjoy a bite into a nice fresh, Long Island made bagel after a hard saturday of cross training, or a hard 17 mile long run. That I could replenish my carb supply with that delicious bit of NY flavor. That I could glycoload using one of those huge tasty bagels you can find any where on the streets of New York City. That as a treat, I could smother some peanut butter on half of one and use this as a quick, delicious, energzing breakfast. That I could enjoy the tasty product I grew up loving, that I took for granted when I was there, and that came in that white bag with the pungent yummy smell most weekends of my childhood… so good.

Totally craving a nice fresh LI bagel

The Reality-  A huge bagel snob

I dont refuel, carb load, or treat myself with bagels down here any more. Why? They are terrible. Im a huge bagel snob. I genuinely dislike bagels from just about any chain place ( 1 exception). When someone tells me about a delicious bagel from Panera Bread or Dunkin Donuts, I literally cringe. I look down my nose at bad bagel eaters the way my sister the beer snob looks down at me when I sip a hard cider or Miller Lite. Publix makes tolerable bagels, but even after running the marathon in Gainesville, I really didnt want to eat those mini offerings. When I was unhealthy I use to eat 7-11’s bagel with cream cheese most mornings plus a muffin and feel ashamed of myself both because of the excess of what I was eating and the poor quality of what I was eating. These bagels are brutal. To me this could be a useful, delicious food source as a runner. Another connection of a food that I love that also serves a cheap and effective purpose in my running. Instead, I almost never touch them anymore down here in the F L A.

Panera calls this a bagel and while it may be tasty to some, it doesnt work for me.

The Possibility- One acceptable place

Not planning any NY or metro area trips anytime soon due to expense and time purposes, so that option is out. Unfortunately visitng family from Connecticut did not smuggle down a bunch of those delicious goodies during their visits this year. Colossal, galactic sized fail on their part! Occasionally one of my fathers business friends shows up with some from NY, but I feel badly taking from my parents since they miss the bagels almost as much as I do. It looks like for the near future, I am going to have to be content with the closest possible substitute- Big Apple Bagels. Big Apple Bagels is a decent chain down there that stresses that they sell NY quality bagels. NY style bagels can really only be found in NY (ok maybe Jersey and CT as well) but BAB makes a bagel that is pretty good. It is the only acceptable substitute within driving distance of my place. They are not good enough, but will have to do for the time being.

This is the only place I will eat a bagel from in Florida. Not quite NY, but not close enough.

Oh wow, now Im really craving a bagel! Damn!

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

A Tale of Two Marathons: Disney vs Five Points of Life (Part 1)

As a brand new endurance runner,  I have been fortunate to complete 2 full marathons this season. First, the uber-sized, mega spectacular , borderline luxurious Disney Marathon in early January. Followed by the smaller than most 5ks, tiny but it tries hard, borderline nonexistent 5 Points of Life Marathon in Gainesville. Both were vastly different experiences in every major way possible. Both were extremely worthwhile and entertaining experiences, but for VASTLY different reasons.

Let me start with Disney. Now I know what any reader may be thinking. This is a blog about running cheap, and my first post was all about how running competitively was too expensive. So he is wrting about what? One of the most expensive marathons in the US? Follow me here for a second. Lets just I ended up running this race for free because of umm… “Personal Corporate Sponsorship”. Yeah, thats what Ill call it.

How did I end up running this race?  

Back last year in mid spring I made the decision to try a marathon sometime next year. I figured I needed lots of time to train to become more comfortable with my long runs, and wanted a nice cool Florida day to race. I started targeting runs for the following February in Ocala and Gainesville. These races were cheap, they were close enough to drive, and they fit my distant training schedule perfectly. I mentally selected either of them and decided to wait a little bit for signing up. When I expressed my desire to try a marathon to my sister a few months later, she was aghast that I would chose to run such a boring race.

“Do you really want to look at Ocala for twenty six miles?”  She asked me rhetorically.

Point well taken, I did not.  However,  from an expense standpoint I had little other choice. Tracy was undeterred she suggested Disney and convinced herself that my parents would love it. They would make a whole weekend out of it and totally would get behind it. I was not convinced. Still she persisted, and later that very same day she had my mom firmly sold on the whole idea. Why would my mother  do it? Lots of reasons I guess. She was into me challenging this distance, she has always been super supportive of my interests (even the weird ones), and maybe it was an excuse for her to just go out and enjoy the Disney. It dint hurt that my parents had a connection at a hotel called the Swan and Dolphin either. Bottom line was that I was now officially stoked, pumped, thrilled ( ok better adjectives are escaping me right now) ; I was getting to run Disney! I knew very little about the Disney marathon other than it went thorugh the 4 parks and was ultra expensive, but it simply had to be cool. I mean its Disney. I have always said about Disney that it may be costly , but you generally get what you pay for. I imagined it would be highly organized and completely over the top. I was beyond  thankful and appreciative to my parents for giving me what may be a once in a lifetime race.

Pre- Race Weekend  for Disney MarathonGetting ready at the S &D

My family left for Disney on Saturday morning so i could get to the expo to check in , turn in the waiver, and get my race number. Everything about the operation screamed massive. For starters the check in was in an entirely different building from the expo where I picked up my “goodie bag” (alright but not spectacular) and my tech shirt (loved it, still love wearing it or just leaving it by my closet and looking at it) . I thought it was classic Disney that after picking up my stuff they deposited me into a locale with lots of over priced Disney goodies for sale. It is very similar to how all of the rides in their parks deposit you conveniently into gift shops on the way out. The expo itself was fun for a first timer like me. Lots of free samples, and giveaways and items that were cool to look at and look at and look at and look at some more, and maybe wish I could buy. I would have spent more time thre but we needed to check into our hotel at the Swan and Dolphin.

Cool Tech Shirt

The S & D is a resort of the first class. I dont know how much my parents paid for it, and I dont want to know. I could look it up this second,but I really still dont want to know. Nor do I want to know how much the expensive dinner at the great Italian restaurant inside the resort was. The Il Mulino New York Tratoria was one of those places that just screams money to me. The kind of place that rich foodies might review and write snarkily about. Dinner there was fantastic, I scarfed on a delicious pasta dish called Penne Rigate, tons of bread, and a fruit styled dessert. Yep as you can see, I believe heavily in carbing up. Plus, I dont get a chance to eat in places like this often, so I had to weigh my marathon needs with my life desire to experience great food.

Race Expo

RACE DAY  AT DISNEYSeriously,  once in a lifetime…

Disney shuttles people to the staging area and from there, you walk not a short distance to the start line and wait for your corrall to start. The whole thing was ordered perfectly, and I found the seemingly nine million portalets in the waiting area beyond comprehension. I wanted to camera phone a picture and send it to everyone. Of course, my crappy phone doesnt actually have a camera and it was it 4 am in the morning, so not so much.

Each wave went off with a Disney character counting down,  motivational music playing,  and a display of fireworks. It got everyone going. Most races that I have run typically do a good job (on a smaller scale) setting up the race start. The beauty of Disney was how they managed to keep it the entire course. At no moment did you ever feel isolated in your race doom. Spectators were everywhere, marching bands were playing, and there were aid stops constantly throughout the course. In between those things, the magic of Disney sustained you. There characters were everywhere, and not just the big ones either. It seemed like every employee, every form of Disney entertainment was out there. Im not a huge Disney fan but I did have a couple of “holy crap” moments where the enormity of it caught me. Running through the Princess’ Castle and running through downtown Disney after the park had opened were two of those particular instances.

Disney Race Start

I ran the race really well too. Spent the first few miles sifting through the crowds, and settled into a nice pace that I ran pretty much until mile 22 or so. Not bad for a first timer, and I thank the Garmin (a gift, from siblings) for keeping me on my pace. I faded those last few miles but crossed the finish line with a tme of 3 hrs and 41 minutes. I was ecstatic as I was dead tired, and I was really tired.

Disney Post Race– A Golden Mickey 

Post race at Disney was a short experience for me. First came the medal, an impressive golden Mickey that impressed me a lot more than I thought it would. I wore it/held it for a long time that and was not shy about showing it off the next day at work. Next came a quick picture. In my post race fog, I thought Disney would send to me for free. Yeah right. Beyond that I grabbed what I could from the recovery line, stuffed into my pockets and met my mom. No time to bask. Time to head back to the hotel to chill and check out and be on our way. A shuttle, a snack, and a shower later and we were in the car headed back home. As we were driving happily away and my legs were going into “store as much painful lactic acid as possible” mode,  I could still see tons of people who had not come close to finishing yet. Once again the scale of the mega marathon caught me.

Marathon Medal

SummaryEndless thanks

Most distance runners can probably recall fondly their first marathon experience. This is certainly no different for me. Im happy I got to run a spectacle style race like this for my first, because who knows if I ever will get a chance to run another dream-like supercharged one again. It was also really enjoyable to run a race and not have to worry about cost. My parents spoiled me on this one, and Im grateful they did. Endlessly grateful. The next one I would get to do all on my own and would bear no resemblance to anything that I just discussed.

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