Sunday, February 28, 2016


  Some of you may already know my brother, Brennen, killed himself on Wednesday night.  He was a veteran who served in Afghanistan.  Sadly he was one of those who did not come home whole and who has been fighting depression since he returned. He lost that battle this week.
  There has been an outpouring of support for myself and my family from all corners of our lives that has been humbling and overwhelming and I'll be thankful for it for the rest of my life.
   I have a feeling I won't be posting here for a while but I wanted to take advantage of this platform for two things.
  First to say thank you publicly to everyone who has reached out in so many different ways to myself and my family.  It has meant the world.
  Second my Brother left his girlfriend and her son, whom were dependent on him, in a bad place. Though they had been together more than ten years they had never married so she does not receive any VA benefits and Brennen didn't have insurance.  My parents and I are able to pay for simple funeral services that my brother wanted but we have set up a gofundme account, Brennen's gofundme.
  This account is to help Brennen's girlfriend with all of the basic expenses that are left and that are sure to come up in the coming months.  So many have already helped out and I consider each donation to be a personal favor for which I am eternally grateful. So thank you for your support, your understanding and your love.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Training February 15 to 21, 2016

Monday AM valley spofford 6 mile solo, 0 degrees a bit cold for Uta,  41:45.
               3PM road 10, first 6 with Uta in 43 mins then solo for 4, 69mins total time.  Low back was tweaked a bit after AM run- weird it has been great for almost 2 years.
               5PM Bikram yoga, 90mins hot yoga, skipped sit ups and was careful on forward bends. Back felt much improved after.

Tuesday AM 6 miles, valley spofford loop, with Uta, in around 45mins- Uta just wanted to shuffle along- she is usually less bouncy when Melissa and I are around the house all day for a few days.
                PM 3.1 warm up, strides with jog back.  I actually timed these strides and was shocked that they were around 20 seconds.  I kinda assumed my strides off the track were always short.  Seems maybe they are always long.  By this point it was raining pretty hard and I was having a hard time staying warm.  That combined with how poorly my last two hard sessions had gone had me feeling very nervous.  Moneghetti Fartlek around glendale loop- covered 3.89 miles, 5:07 pace.  Huge improvement from last weeks abysmal 3.80.  Honestly I was hoping for 3.85 so this was real nice.3.1 cool down

Wednesday AM 18.2 miles, same loop as Sunday.  Worlds of improvement. 1:55:26.  Felt pretty good. Calves shredded.  Struggled to toe off well after 14 or 15 miles,  Feld coordination threatening in the last mile or so.  good run.
                    PM bikram yoga, 90mins hot yoga, put the back to rest.

Thursday AM valley spofford 6 mile with Uta, 41mins, calves really shredded.
                  PM 3.1 warm up, skipping warm up, light drills, strides, 3 mile tempo run in 15:22- 5:12, 5:10, 5:09, focused on taking it a little easier and feeling strong.  Still not without some trepidation as that was the plan last Saturday and I died after a 5:14 first so this was a good step in the right direction.  1min recovery then 8xhill sprint- estimating around 100m. with jog down recoveries.- all jog downs were 49 or 50 seconds all the reps were in 20 seconds except the 6th which slipped to 21.0 and the last which dipped down to 19.9. Focus on toeing off and keeping shoulders back with good power. tough to do calves very tired. 3.3 cool down, 23:45.

Friday AM valley spofford 6 mile with Uta in 44mins
             PM raliegh tavern 10, 67mins
             5PM bikram yoga, 90mins hot yoga

Saturday AM Raliegh tavern 12.2 miles in 1:19
                 PM valley spofford 6mile  solo, 41mins calves very tight still but on right side this has brought in the ITB as well.  Did a lot of foam rolling and exercises

Sunday AM 3+ warm up, skipping warm up, light drills, strides, Race USATF- NE 5k 3rd place in 14:55. 3.5 cool down in 26mins.  splits(220yard laps on this track not 200m) were very consistent- fastest was 35.4(twice), slowest was 36.8. mile- 4:48.7, 2mile- 9:34.99, 3 mile- 14:24.5

 111 miles for the week, two decent workouts, one race. Made it to yoga 3 times thanks to being on vacation from school for the week.  
  The race;  On the positive side 14 straight years of at least one sub 15 5k race is checked off the goals for the year list, My 2016 goals . I was also happy that although the pace became hard to maintain it never felt fast.  I felt controlled and steady.  That is a much better place to work from than when you feel like you're flying and the splits tell you that you're crawling. I ran very consistently and was hurting but I didn't get a great effort out.  That is to be expected given the lack of racing and track work that I'm doing at this point in the year.  In terms of fitness I would say this is a slightly better performance for me than the Jax half and the super Sunday 5 mile.  On the downside 14:55 is pretty slow even without doing track work and I have a long way to go to get real fit.  So out the door again tomorrow and hopefully build on the consistent last couple of weeks and keep chipping away for a while.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Update on Coordination Struggles

  My coordination problem has, unfortunately, defined my running career.  At least from my perspective.  It has followed a few trajectories along the way with very distinct turning points.  Some of which were so clear that I new them the instant they happened and others I only saw in retrospect.

 The problem started in late January 2007 during an alternation workout, actually it was one of the better sessions I have ever run.  It happened on the last effort of the workout.  I was so far gone I just thought it was a symptom of being on the edge of darkness.  Quickly it would become a much bigger issue. Killing a couple workouts before I got mono and was forced to take a 6 week break.

  The problem seemed in a holding pattern during the build up to the Olympic Trials.  It was always there but it would only bother me in the very late stages of specific workouts.  As such I was able to get very fit in spite of it. I even was able to race well in races where I lost the coordination.  I lost coordination just after mile 7 at the BAA half and still finished top 10 in 1:06:17 which was a solid time on that course.  I have little doubt I would have been sub 1:05 without the issue but I ran well.  At the trials I lost control of it coming up to the 19th mile mark.  It cost me.  My last 10k was 32:56 with out the hobbling effect of losing the coordination I have little doubt I would have been able to match my previous 10k of 31:26.  So I would have been able to run perhaps mid 2:13's.  I may or may not have been able to catch Dan Brown.  In the scope of things it was a minor difference.  My time was slowed more by the hills than by the coordination on that course and the difference between 6th and 7th at the trials is small.

  In January of '08 I was following a schedule Canova had sent me.  I was sure with some treatment and focus the leg would sort itself out.  Instead as my fitness soared my leg crashed until by march or so I couldn't do any of the long workouts.  I also ran an abysmal half in Houston.  I hit the the 5 mile mark in 24:05 feeling good, shortly there after I lost control of the leg and hobbled in with a 1:08:22.

  At this point I changed tactics. Avoiding fighting the coordination in training and still trying every treatment I could find to fix the problem.  For the next three years the pattern stayed the same.  Slowly, ever so slowly, my leg got a little worse and little worse.  I was forced to learn new ways to train.  I worked well around it.  I set PR's at the mile, 3k, 5k and 10k.  I qualified for two USATF national indoor championships but all the time I was tortured by the knowledge that my best at 5k was middling on a national level at best but that a guy like me who has a 58.8 400 meter best in shape to run sub 14 for 5k is ready to kill a marathon. BUT I couldn't run one.  I could barely run a 10k.  By late 2010 I couldn't even do that anymore with any consistency, particularly I struggled it if was flat.

  In January 2011 I had surgery on my low back.  By march I was back running.  The improvement was HUGE.  I could race 10k with no problems, even if it was perfectly flat.  Half marathons became what 10k's had been a 50/50 shot at getting by.  I could do training runs longer over 9 miles again.  I could do tempos up to 10k, sometimes more.  I thought it was just a matter of time before I worked back to being fully functional.  I was wrong.  For two years this is where I held.  The biggest victory was that pre surgery I knew it was only a matter of time before running would be taken from me completely and now I was not losing ground. I still searched for an answer but for the most part I was resigned to the fact that I would at least be able to keep running on some level but that I would never get to do the long workouts or races that I loved best.

  In November of 2014 I raced Josh Mcdougal.  He told me about his success in combating the problem by focusing on ankle flection and thoracic posture.  It was a lighting bolt.  I felt my ankle had been fixed by my back surgery- my disc had been cutting off nerve function to the ankle area.  The improved posture caused a huge jump in what I could do without coordination.

 I still had bad days but I had good days.  I did a 20 mile HARD for the first time since 2007.  I completed real marathon workouts.  My fitness surged.  I dnf'd at Boston but that was diet and fitness related not because of coordination.

  Over the next year I struggled with health, mostly due it seems to diet, and my coordination stayed about the same.  I could, on good days, do a lot.  On bad days I could still struggle on an easy 12 mile run.  With my diet issues sorted out I started running well again late last fall.  The mileage back up.  The workouts back in the mix.  I managed a 36k hard, on grass.  Still at times it seemed no matter how hard I held my shoulders back it wasn't enough.  A few times I lost coordination and I swore my shoulders were pretty damn good.  More and more I was realizing I was in a new holding pattern.  I had been since January.  I could get through half marathon races.  I could do half marathon length tempos.  Longer on soft surfaces but doing so was VERY hard because of the amount of focus and work on my shoulders needed to do so.

  Then it hit me. "If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains however improbable must be the truth."  It was impossible that for nerve function I somehow needed to run with my shoulders behind me.  The problem must be elsewhere….  What was it McDougal had told me. Thoracic and Ankle!  I had assumed my ankle was totally fixed. Yet I was running better on soft surfaces.  On soft surfaces you inherently toe off more.

  Monday I started focusing on toeing off more.  It was hard.  My calves are weak.  By wednesday I did my medium long run.  A weekly slap in my fast in terms of coordination.  I generally do 16.  I don't generally lose coordination BUT I do fight it constantly.  Flexing my spine/shoulders back again and again.  Feeling the coordination threatening to go from 10 miles on and struggling so hard to stay ahead of it.  This time I ran and ran.  My calves were begging for mercy by 14 or 15 miles but for 18 miles I didn't have any sense that I was going to lose coordination.  All this and my shoulders were in Good position but not forced way back.  I didn't have to do any isometrics while running to force them back more.

 This may not be the last step in this long journey and it is going to be a couple awful weeks on my calves but this is another huge step in the right direction and I'm feeling very upbeat about my chances of really racing a marathon this year.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Training February 8 to 14

Monday 6AM road 6.2 with Uta in 43mins
               10AM -I don't do many 6am/10am doubles these days but I had a snow day and the snow was starting to fall so I decided to get out before it got bad- 10 miles 71 mins pretty slick. eyes kept getting frozen shut by the snow
               5PM 90mins of bikram yoga

Tuesday 5AM shoveling and snow blowing.  Honestly I was betting on a delayed opening and we didn't get it so I had to do the clean up so we could get the cars out and go to work instead of a morning run
                PM 3 warm up on curve treadmill in 23:34, skipping warm up, light drills, 6 laps of indoor track(6/10 of mile) with 1 or 2 short strides on each loop, 3 miles of sprint/float/sprint- about 80m/80m. splits- 1-5:10.98, 2-10:17.43(5:06.45), 3-15:12.87(4:55.44), 3 miles and 4 extra laps cool down

Wednesday PM Road 18, first 6 with Uta, focus on toe off- see summary- 2:03:18.

Thursday AM 6.2 with Uta, 45mins
                  PM 3.1 miles warm up 23mins, strides and light jogging, Mona Fartlek on glendale loop,  only covered 3.8 miles, personal worst for this loop. Long day in general and it was very cold, wind chill -3, there was a long stretch into the wind and some ice on the loop.  All that said the real issue was my calves were shot. 3.1 cool down 23mins

Friday AM 6.2 with Uta, very cold, wind chill -9, 45mins
             PM road 12.2 solo, 1:21:13, focus on toe off.

Saturday AM 3 mile warm up, light drills, skipping warm up, strides, 3 mile tempo run- AWFUL- it was very cold and my legs were sore from toe off focus this week but that doesn't explain this shit, 1-5:14, 2- 10:34(5:20), 3-16:01(5:27), 3 mile cool down

PM 6 miles with Uta, cold, 39mins

Sunday Noon 18.2 miles in 1:58, one of the worst runs I have have ever had, it was very cold but I was crushingly tired.  Just wanted to stop and curl up in a ball and die.  was supposed to do 22.  lucky to survive 18

Summary  113 miles for the week, 1 decent workout, 2 shit workouts.  Need to get bloodwork but I'm fairly certain my iron is too high.  I have been taking iron for a few years without a break and my numbers have been slowly coming up.  I haven't had my ferritin tested in a long time but each of the last few times it has been the highest I have ever had.  I did some research and apparently like too little iron you can see symptoms as an athlete before you get to being medically out of the zone and the symptoms line up very well with what I'm struggling with.  I'll have the doc do a full work up but I'm guessing my ferritin will be very high.   Hopefully I'll come around over the next few weeks just by stopping supplementing.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Training February 1 to 7, 2016

Monday AM 10k in 45 with Uta, sore throat.
               PM 10 miles in 66 felt like I was flying, that's not good. still had sore throat.

Tuesday AM 10k with Uta in 42. sore throat
                PM 3.3 warm up with Uta then another 1/2 mile of jogging with strides mixed in. Mona fartlek- only covered 3.87 miles- 5:10 mile pace.  5k cool down. No pop at all just slogging. sore throat, exhausted.

Wednesday Off sick- fought through the last one and that didn't work so trying a different approach.

Thursday off sick

Friday off sick.

Saturday- feeling a bit better but not great.
                 AM 90mins bikram yoga
                 PM 10 miles with Uta and Mark Larosa in 68mins.

Sunday AM 3 mile warm up, skipping warm up, light drills, strides, race RaceMenu Super Sunday 5 mile, 2nd place 24:50, splits- 1- 4:58, 2- 9:54(4:56), 3- 14:47(4:53), 4- 19:59 (5:12)- wicked side stitch- 5-24:50(4:51).  I don't get side stitches often and I haven't had a bad one in a long time.  This thing killed me I felt like I couldn't breath. It started to let go in the last mile but never fully subsided. Though obviously it was MUCH better.
                 PM 4 miles with Uta in 28:07

Summary Obviously a crap week. Not sure what to make of the race.  If I hadn't stitched up and I had run the 4th mile in the range of the 3rd and 5th I would have been about 20 seconds faster and very happy with that.  As it is I just don't know.  The time isn't that good but it isn't that bad.  On the plus side it checks off one of my 2016 goals extending my streak of sub 25 5mile/8k races to 13 years.
  I'm feeling much better sitting here now and hopefully that was my last cold of the year and I can get some consistency going.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Accomplishments of Which I am Most Proud

 Melissa and I were recently went to George Davis Night at a UMass Lowell Hockey game.  George was the Track and XC Coach at UML from when he started the program in the early 70's until 2003. It is a nice annual alumni event.  The highlight this year for Melissa and I was a nice chat with Bob Hodge, 3rd at Boston in 1979 and a dozen other crazy good accolades including a 2:10:59 marathon PB.  It was a great and varied conversation but one thing Bob said really stuck with both of us.  He said "You know I had only two goals in running, to win the Boston Marathon and to make an Olympic Team.  I didn't accomplish either one but I don't look back on it like I failed.  I look back satisfied on what I did accomplish.  It isn't what I set out to do but it was good enough."  It struck very deep with both of us but I know particularly with me because I have been looking back a lot lately and I have been feeling the same way.  If all my good running is over it is ok.  I didn't get the things I set out to achieve but I did get some pretty darn good runs.  Here are my favorites.  Oh and by the way Melissa said I shouldn't post this blog because it sounds like something Craig Virgin would write.  So far warning this is self aggrandizing feel free to not read on.

1. I married way out of my league.  She is a great runner, a great person and way smarter than me and obviously really beautiful.  Not a day goes by that I wonder how a girl like that ended up with a runner geek like me.  Ok the rest are running things.  I promise!

2. Being a member of team USA.  I was the 5th man on my High school team.  I was never an all american.  Never a star.  Heck at one point one of my high school coaches called me the best not talented guy in central massachusetts. Yet I eventually got to put on the Team USA kit at the biggest meet outside the Olympics.  That is a heck of along road.

3. Olympic Trials.  This one is obvious.  It is what I am known for.  What I'm most proud of is in the last half mile I passed Meb and he passed me back.  For a moment I said ok that is all I got and he is just better than me.  Then I remembered this is what I worked for my whole life and it wasn't about beating Meb it was about going back and forth with him in the home stretch.  The result I assumed would be the same but the effort would be far greater.  In the end the result was different too.

4. Finished third at Cow Harbor 2008.  This was my first Cow Harbor.  It is always a strong field so I had to beat some pretty darn good guys, including Jason Lehmkuhle who was one of the few who I had never beaten before.  I got by him in the home stretch and he gasped "'bout fucking time." For those who don't know I breath very heavily when I'm going hard and he could hear me coming for a good while. It was a PR at the time but it was more about competing on that level effectively.

5. Top 10 at 3 BAA half marathons. 2005-9th, 2007- 7th, 2012- 7th.  I'll be the first to admit the BAA half marathon is not the marathon and they don't bring in the deepest fields on the planet but it is a very strong race and it is in my backyard so I am really glad that I have cracked the top 10 a few times.

6. This race, ,  The time wasn't great, it was hot.  At the time I didn't think much of it, just another race.  Looking back however I see the guys I'm banging heads with and I take a lot pride in that one.

7. Top 10 at crescent city classic, it was a really weak field and I actually ran better there other times and finished higher but it is one of the great classic road races so a top 10 is pretty awesome for a road running nerd like me.

8. Top American at Boilermaker 15k, like Crescent City one of the absolute classic races.  In fact to me running the boilermaker is what I imagine road racing in the 80's was like. In 2006 the Top American was Mike Morgan edging out Brian Sell. In 2008 it was Fernando Cabada edging out Nick Arciniaga and Me.  But in 2007 I was top American and damn proud of it.  Had to beat some solid Hansons guys to do it, Rizzo, Chad Johnson, Verran.  It was a breakout race for me and I always want to go back.

9. Scalp list- have you ever played the 7 degrees of separation game with Kevin Bacon?  I'm like the key guy in the 7 degrees of separation between most runners and beating the best in the world.  I have run some God awful races and taken some bad beatings.  I actually got highlighted on tv coverage getting passed by Kim Smith once, no I did't catch back up.  But I have also been lucky enough to catch some very great runners on bad days and get that one beat.  Here is a short list of some of the bigger names of people who were unlucky enough to have a bad day and let me slip buy. Meb, Khalid Khannouchi, Evens Rutto- one time Kenyan National Record Holder in the Marathon, Alan Culpepper, Fernando Cabada, Jason Lehmkuhle, Nick Arciniaga, Clint Verran, Jon Brown-fourth in two Olympic marathons, Richard Kipligat- had run right about 13 flat that year, Suehiro Ishikawa- 2:09:10 marathoner from Japan. Michael Aish- D2 legend and personal hero. There are others but you get the point. Also clearly all of these guys are better than me that is why I'm glad I got them once or twice along the way.

10. US 10k classic- This was a tough course and I had had a tough summer.  They paid 5 deep and told me I was one of 7 elite runners coming in.  This was 2008 when I paid the rent and food bill with prize money so a small field was nice to see.  Only it wasn't to be.  An agent brought in 14 other Kenyans and Japan's corporate Honda team who was training in Boulder decided to come down to Sea Level to test fitness. The course for anyone not familiar is a perfectly straight point to point course with non stop hills that look savage when you drive the course.  Honestly I couldn't believe anyone had ever broken 31 and couldn't imagine I could break 32.  I did.  I finished in 13th place in 30:33 one tenth of a second behind 1:01:57 half marathoner Ernest Kimeli and 1.1 seconds behind Patrick Nthiwa who would go on to run 1:00:23 for a half marathon that fall. This is also where I scalped a few of the names above.  The key though was I came in.  I was intimidated but I just went out and raced. I lead, I fought, I surged and I competed.  Then they tossed me in a van to the airport hours before my flight and it was awesome.

11. RRCA National Title- In 2008 I won the RRCA national 5k title.  Ok it's not a "real" national title.  Don't care. Ok I kinda care but it's the best I got.

12. Top 10 USATF 5k road championships, it was a weak year but a top 10 at a USATF championship is still a pretty big deal for a guy like me.  I honestly take a lot of pride in getting to a 'top 10' level.  It may not be flashy but I'm not flashy.  I was no where near the top 1000 high school kids in the country when I was there.  To get to where I had a couple top tens at USATF championships means a lot to me.

13. Qualifying for two USATF indoor championships.  I qualified for and ran in the 3000m in 2009 and 2010.  Both times I qualified by running under the old 5000m standard which was 14:07.  Then they changed that to 13:30 so you have to actually split the 3000 qualifying time to get in through the 5000m.  I joke they instituted the rule to get ride of smucks like me from the USATF championships.  In 2010 I lined up with 14 other guys including Rupp, Lagat and Solinsky plus two other sub 28 10k runners on TV on a track.  It was a very neat experience.

15. Top American in he BAA triple crown in 2012.  Neat event, 100k on the line. Never had a shot at it but in the end. 1- Allan Kiprono, 2- Lani Rutto, 3- Sam Chelanga, 4- Ali Abdosh, 5- Nate Jenkins.  One of these things is not like the others!  By the end many of the initial competitors pulled out but still it was neat.  Also I ran fairly well at all three races.

15. Sub 30 at Penn 2011 coming back from back surgery.  I set out a crazy goal of breaking 30 on the track at Penn at the end of April after my back surgery on January 11.  I had only been back running since about the start of march.  I had only done a couple of semi workouts.  I ran it on memory and super even splits.  Not a great race in the scope of things but it was gratifying to set a very tough goal and achieve it.  It was great to run a race perfectly for the fitness I was in.  It was also a ton of fun with Tommy Neal, a good friend and one time roommate, and UMass Loweller Jeff Veiga both beating me and running real well.  A great night and a real good race.