Weekly Wrap-Up: February 4-10

This week was pretty crazy. The running was fine, though. I’m still not quite at the quantity that I’d like, but the quality has stayed pretty strong.

Weight Check: 166.4, down 3.7 pounds from last week. I don’t understand it either. I did pick up a pretty mild cold this week which may have impacted my appetite. Still, I’ll take it.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 3.11
Tuesday 3.11
Friday 3.11
Saturday 3.11

Total: 12.44 miles

A little more each week, I guess.

Monday, the weather was cool, 34 degrees. I sped up along the way, which is pretty common these days. I felt pretty good and finished strong.

On Tuesday, the weather was close to perfect, 48 and clear. I felt fine. Once again, I sped up over the course of the run.

Yeah, my comments are getting less detailed without a coach. The majority of my runs have been pretty similar, though, and they’ve been the exact same distance.

There’s a two day gap for Wednesday and Thursday, which is not ideal, but an improvement.

I got back out there on Friday. It was warm, 62, but not humid. I think I’m coming down with a chest cold. Clearly, neither of these affected my running, because I ran pretty fast. It was my fastest run of the week. I’m pleased.

Saturday, I took it a little slower, since I really shouldn’t be going all out on every run. I felt fine. I still managed to gradually speed up over the course of the run, I just started at a slower pace than my recent runs. I wish I had gotten out there sooner, then I might have gone a little farther. Still, it was a nice relaxing run.

So, yeah, that’s it for this week. I did manage to make a little bit of progress on my Charleston write-up, so there’s that.

Next week, well, hopefully I can get back to 5 days, and maybe even a run that’s more than a 5K.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 28-February 3

This is late because I got sidetracked. I watched a terrible football game (I say that not just because I was unhappy with the outcome, but I was indeed unhappy with the outcome), then I was busy Monday and Tuesday nights, so I’m posting this on Wednesday. And if you think this is late, wait until you see my January wrap-up. And my Charleston recap, too.

One post at a time, I guess.

I got a little better last week, although I’m not quite where I want to be quantity-wise. Quality-wise, I’ve managed to somehow stay pretty strong. I don’t understand it either.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, around here I think the coldest it got was 18. Which is pretty cold, just nothing like they saw in the Midwest.

Weight Check: 170.1, up 4.5 pounds from last week. OK, I knew a week ago was a fluke. I knew there was a 99% chance I’d gain weight. I was just hoping to stay under my weight from 2 weeks ago (169.3), but I didn’t quite make it. Mom and Dad came to visit, and while I love them dearly and enjoy spending time with them, I also end up eating more than I should when they’re around. I think Mom still thinks I’m a growing boy, but unfortunately, my waist is the only thing that’s growing these days. Hopefully I’ll get back down a bit soon. Of course, maybe if I ran a little bit more…

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 3.11
Tuesday 3.11
Saturday 3.11

Total: 9.33 miles

Baby steps, I guess. Better than last week (which is a pretty freaking low bar), but still not where I want to be.

Monday felt cold, but was actually 36. I ran better than Sunday. I didn’t feel tired. I started with a reasonable pace on the first mile, then sped up each mile after that. It was a pretty good run.

On Tuesday, I got one last run in before the cold air arrived. Once again, I felt good and sped up on each mile. Apparently my longer than planned layoff last week hadn’t affected me…yet. (I said “…yet” on the day of the run, but I still haven’t noticed any effects.)

I took a few days off. Wednesday was legitimately cold, and I think not running was probably the right choice in a vaccum. The problem is that Thursday was not quite as cold, and Friday was cold but bearable, and I skipped those days too.

Well, Saturday, even with my parents visiting (and possibly because my parents were visiting), I got out there and ran again. It was right around the freezing mark, which isn’t terrible. There was an odd GPS glitch with 30 seconds of no data, but it looks like I ran really well, and sped up over the course of the run. I felt pretty good, too, in spite of the cold and the layoff.

So far, I’ve run 2 out of 3 days, which isn’t bad, but I really need to get out there on Thursday. We’ll see.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 21-27

So, yeah, I fell off the wagon. I did finally get back on (and spoiler for next week, got back out there Monday morning), but my first week without a running coach was not ideal.

And since I felt like I needed a short term goal, I signed up for the Elizabeth 8K Road Race, which I’ve added to the sidebar. (I’m still doing the Teal Diva 5K, I’m just listing one upcoming race at a time.) There’s also about a 95% chance I’ll sign up for a fall half marathon, and hopefully a warmup race before that.

Weight Check: 165.6, down 3.7 pounds from last week. This wasn’t the way that I wanted to get my weight back down. On Saturday afternoon, I got hit with what I think is a migraine. It’s a pounding headache (which probably feels even worse to me because I almost never get headaches) that’s followed by nausea, and it usually ends with my emptying the contents of my stomach into the toilet, and that’s what happened Saturday. I think I was on track for a small loss before that, which, considering how little I ran, is pretty good. Still, I do not recommend the migraine weight loss plan.

This Week’s Runs
Day Total Miles
Monday 3.11
Sunday 3.11

Total: 6.22 miles

I knew I’d be taking a column out of the table. I didn’t know I’d need to take out a whole bunch of rows, too. (The rows will come back next week. The “Scheduled” column will only come back if I start following a formal training plan again, which is unlikely, but we’ll see.)

Let’s just go through each day.

Monday I had the day off. It was really freaking cold in the morning, so I waited until it warmed up a bit, which turned out to be 12:43 PM, a rare afternoon run. It got up to a balmy 34 degrees at that point. It was still pretty cold with an occasional wind that cut right through me, but I gradually sped up over the course of the run, so I was pleased.

I planned to take Tuesday off. I was thinking that I wanted to drop back to 4 days a week of running, and the easiest way to do that would be to make Tuesday a rest day. That was fine.

Wednesday morning, there was some cold rain, and the temperature was hovering just above freezing. It’s bad enough when it’s raining and 33 or 34 degrees, but if it does drop down to 32, then it gets a whole lot worse. So I decided with no race on the horizon, and with the Y probably still too crowded with Resolution Runners for my taste, I could take another day off as long as I got back out there the next day.

Thursday was when it started getting bad. I don’t have a good excuse. It was cold, but not that cold, and it was dry. I was wasting time after I got up, and the next thing I knew, I didn’t have time to run before leaving for work.

Friday wasn’t any better. Time wasting in the morning, and no run.

Saturday kinda sorta almost had a decent excuse, because I was planning on going to the Charlotte Women United March, but I still could have gotten up a little bit earlier than I did and squeezed in a short run. The march was good, and luckily the migraine didn’t hit until just before I got home.

Sunday, I finally decided that I needed to get back on the wagon. (Side note: I did my weigh in before the run, so my weigh in was after only 3.11 miles of running for the week.) I started too fast, and struggled a bit in mile 3 because of it. Still, I did better than expected after a long layoff.

This week, I’m still going to have to work around a little bit of weather, but I should be OK. And I’d like to work on my Charleston recap, too.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 14-20

I recovered pretty nicely from Charleston.

This was my last week with my running coach. With no major goals or big races on my radar, there’s really no point for me to have a coach. She’s been great, though. She had me ready for New York City in 2017 (it’s certainly not her fault that my stomach had other ideas that day), and she did the best she could trying to get me ready for New York City in 2018 (if nothing else, I think that without her I probably would have ended up over 6 hours). She gets to leave on a high note, though, she definitely had me ready for Charleston. (No, I haven’t finished my race recap.) I’m fundamentally a better runner after working with her.

Of course, now I might not be so diligent about jotting down notes after runs, so my weekly wrap-ups might suffer. We’ll see.

I started looking around at some other races, and while ultimately I decided not to sign up for any, I noticed a few races had moved around. The Hot Chocolate 15K (They do races in a bunch of different cities, I believe last year was the 1st year they’ve run it in Charlotte, but I was in hernia surgery recovery mode so I missed the first one) which had been in mid-February last year, was Saturday (as in yesterday as I write this), the Charlotte 10 Miler was moved from mid-to-late February up to the beginning of February, and the Joe Davis 10K/5K, normally early January, will be in early March this year (but like in 2018, both races start at the same time, you can only do one race unless you’ve got a time machine). Like I said, I decided not to sign up for any of them (I’ll have a separate post explaining why, although I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K one week after Charleston), I just thought that was interesting seeing all these races moving around.

Weight Check: 169.3 pounds, down 1.2 from last week. Woohoo! That’s still higher than I’d like, but getting below 170 definitely gives me a small psychological boost. In a week where I didn’t have a whole lot of miles and I went out to eat 4(!) nights in a row, that’s excellent.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Wednesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 3 miles easy 3.11

Total: 9.33 miles

I guess I’m going to have to reformat that table, since I no longer have any kind of training plan.

My coach recommended that I wait until Wednesday to start running again. As usual, I think she had the right idea.

Wednesday was cold, 31 degrees. My legs weren’t completely recovered, but they felt good enough. I was definitely a little slower than my previous weekday runs, which I expected, but it wasn’t too bad. I did gradually speed up as my legs warmed up a little in more ways than one.

On Friday, it was pretty close to the same weather as I saw in Charleston last Saturday, but it’s not as bad when I’m running 10 fewer miles. My legs seemed to have recovered. I was pleasantly surprised and had a nice speed up on the last mile without pushing too hard until near the end.

Saturday was cool and damp with occasional mist, but no rain. My legs felt fine. I was a little slower on the first mile than on Friday, but I was a little faster after that with a nice push at the finish.

Next week, well, I’m on my own. I figure I’ll run 3.1 miles Monday, maybe 4 on Wednesday, another 3.1 Friday, and 4 or 5 Saturday. It depends on the weather, of course. It’s supposed to get really cold this week.

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 7-13

I had to update my header picture. (This is a good problem to have.) I got my PR by just under 13 seconds and had a strong finish. I’ll have a full report eventually.

I’m late because I wanted to wait until I got an official weigh-in on Monday morning (I forgot about it Friday morning before I left town) and I ended up going in to the office on Monday instead of working from home (which is rare on Mondays), and then I got together with friends Monday evening (which is also somewhat rare).

I forgot to mention in my last wrap-up that I signed up for the Teal Diva 5K again this year. They moved it again, now it’ll be downtown, which means I’ll probably have more room to run, but it also means it probably won’t be as flat. And since I haven’t signed up for any other races, that’s currently my next race.

Weight Check: 170.5 pounds, down 0.9 from last week. I definitely enjoyed myself in Charleston after the race (Translation: food and beer), so I can’t complain. It would have been nice if I had gotten down into the mid-160s for the race, but I still did OK.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 3 miles easy 3.11
Tuesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Wednesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Friday 2 miles easy 2.01
Saturday 2019 Charleston Half Marathon 13.1

Total: 24.44 miles

Monday was cool but still pleasant. My legs felt OK. My pace looked a little inconsistent, but the general trend was that it got faster as I went along. I’ll take it.

On Tuesday, it wasn’t as cool, 51 degrees, but very comfortable. My legs felt fine. I got faster as I went along. My average pace was a hair slower than Monday, but it was still a pretty solid run.

Wednesday was definitely cooler, 42 degrees. My legs felt fine. I started out a little slow, but once I got going, I really got going, with an average pace for the final full mile of 10:07.

Friday was a shakeout run. I’ve got mixed feelings about running the day before a race, but if I wanted to do 5 runs for the week, my options were either run 4 days in a row and take off Friday, or take off Thursday and do a shakeout run Friday. My coach recommended the second option. (Considering my updated header image, I think it worked.) It was cold, 32 degrees, but it would have been worse if I hadn’t waited until after 9 AM. The sun helped. My legs felt OK. I wanted to take it easy of course. I was maybe a hair faster than I wanted on the first mile (although the cold probably got me to subconsciously speed up a little bit), but I settled into the pace I wanted on the second mile.

Also, I wore my t-shirt from the 2016 Charleston Half Marathon. That one went pretty well.

Saturday was the race. I’ll do a full write-up, of course. And, yeah, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Up next, I start running again on Wednesday. I’ll ease back into it this week.

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 31-January 6

I made it to 2019. The first day was a little rough (and it was mostly my fault), but the rest of the week went well, even if I had to juggle my schedule a bit.

I’m basically caught up now. I haven’t done a post about my goals for 2019 because, well, I want to see what happens in Charleston first.

Weight Check: 171.4, up 2.9 pounds from last week. Yikes! I did go to a party last night and did some grazing, and I did overindulge a bit on New Year’s Eve, but otherwise, I didn’t think this week was that bad. I’ll just have to buckle down a bit this week before I head to Charleston.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 4 miles easy 4.18
Tuesday 3 miles easy 3.19
Wednesday 15 minutes easy, 20 minutes comfortably hard, 15 minutes easy 4.81
Friday 9 miles easy 9.01
Saturday 4 miles easy 4.01

Total: 25.2 miles

So that schedule is after I moved some stuff around. The workout was originally scheduled for Tuesday, the 9 miler was scheduled for Saturday, the 3 miler was supposed to be Friday, and the 4 miler was supposed to be Wednesday. I moved the 3 miler to Tuesday because that’s all I was capable of doing, I moved the 9 miler to Friday because I was going to be on call Saturday morning, I did the workout Wednesday, and that left the 4 miler for Saturday. (It sounds really complicated, but I was able to figure most of this out while hung over, so it can’t be that bad.)

On Monday, I closed out 2018 with rain. The rain wasn’t that heavy, and it stopped just before the end of my run, but luckily it wasn’t too cold. My legs felt OK. My pace was a little more inconsistent than I’d like, but it was in the range that I was hoping for, with a little push near the end. I did add on an extra .18 to close out 2018.

So, Tuesday. Well, I was out late on New Year’s Eve and had a little too much fun, and the weather felt like July (67 degrees and really humid), so this run did not go well at all. Eh, it happens. I figured I’d be fine after a day of rest, and the temperatures were supposed to cool off just a little bit, so my next run would probably be better. (Spoiler: It was much better.) I did manage to continue my tradition of running on New Year’s Day, which I’ve done every year since 2013. I also added .19 to the end to welcome 2019, and I’ve done something similar every year since 2015.

On Wednesday, I definitely recovered from Tuesday. The weather certainly helped, 52 and overcast. I was a little faster on the warm up than I’d like, but I sped up a little because someone let their dog out in the front yard. (It was a small dog and wasn’t a threat, other than maybe to my hearing because it barked loudly the entire time I was near it.) I don’t think it affected the rest of my run.

I kept a fairly steady pace for most of the workout with a slight increase towards the end. I did need to take a walk break at the beginning of the cool down, but after that, I finished the cool down at a respectable pace.

Friday I had to get up early so I could run 9 miles before work. I was greeted by rain. Luckily, it was never really heavy, there was no wind, and 53 degrees isn’t too terrible. My legs felt fine. I did stop just before mile 5 to get some water – I left a bottle outside my house.

Since I had to fit this run in before work, I stayed in my neighborhood, so it was a little more hilly than the greenways where I normally do my long runs. Other than mile 2, I kept a pretty steady pace over the first 6 miles or so, sped up a little bit on 7, a little more on 8, and then took off on mile 9. Considering the conditions (and the fact that it was still dark when I started) I was very happy with the way it turned out. In any other month, this would be a strong contender for Best Run, but with Charleston coming up, I really, really, really hope this run only gets a shout out. (Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a shout out.)

On Saturday, it was cooler, 44 degrees, but still pretty nice for running, and after Friday, I really appreciated the fact that it was dry. Apparently I didn’t feel much of an effect from the 9 miler, and my legs felt fine. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Also, I didn’t get interrupted by work, which is always a plus.

Up next is the Charleston Half Marathon. A nice flat course. It might be wet though. I’m watching the forecast. Still, based on my training, I’m feeling pretty good about the race. We’ll see how it goes.

Yearly Wrap-Up: 2018

Well, it was tough, but there were some bright spots, and I made it through to the end.

That’s a good summary of the 2018 New York City Marathon, and of the entire year of 2018.

I only had one goal for 2018.

Goal 1: Finish the 2018 New York City Marathon.


I had to go through a charity, I did a poor job of fundraising (to be fair, there were a few stretches where I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be able to run the race, and it’s even more difficult to ask for donations when you don’t even know if you’ll be running), my training went really badly, and my lack of mileage led to a lot of walking after mile 18 or so.

But I finished, and after 2017, that’s an accomplishment.

I didn’t set a mileage goal, which is good, because I probably would have set it higher than 1,150.08 miles. Considering, well, everything, I’m glad I was able to get that many miles, even if it’s my lowest total since 2014.

I didn’t set a goal for a number of races, which is good, because I probably would have set it higher than 2. Here are the recaps (both of them):
2018 Teal Diva 5K
2018 New York City Marathon

Weight Check: I forgot to do a weigh in on December 31, so I have to go with my last official weigh in of 2018, from December 30, 168.5. I started the year at 166.3. So, uh, a gain of 2.2 pounds. Not ideal.


I ran in Portland again. The weather was glorious (the beer was pretty good, too), and I had some really good runs.

The Teal Diva 5K raised a bunch of money for ovarian cancer, and, considering everything, I ran pretty well.

I recovered from whatever the hell was wrong with me in late August/early September (more on that under Lowlights).

I finally succeeded in mostly eliminating Mountain Dew from my life. I’ve switched to no/low calorie sodas, primarily Coke Cherry Zero, and occasionally Diet Mountain Dew or regular Coke Zero Sugar. I don’t know how much it helped (and I probably should still be drinking water instead), but I’d say it’s a small step in the right direction.


How much time have you got?

Like I mentioned earlier, my fundraising efforts did not go well.

I started the year with a hernia. I had to defer the 2018 Charleston Half Marathon to 2019. I had to reduce my mileage before my surgery, then I couldn’t run at all for a full month.

Related to my hernia, but not directly related to running. I saw my nephews 3 days after my surgery, and my younger nephew, about 1 and half years old at the time, ran over to me, looked up, and put his arms up because he wanted me to pick him up. Since I wasn’t allowed to lift anything over 20 pounds at that point, it broke my heart. (He forgave me pretty quickly, though.)

Summer was absolutely brutal, like no other summer I’ve ever tried to run through. I read a stat that there were 90 days where the temperature never dropped below 70, an all time record. (And it wasn’t a dry heat either.)

In late August, I started getting severe fatigue after 10-12 miles, which is not normal. I missed an entire week of training. I had to get my heart checked out. I went to a sports doctor. Nobody could figure out exactly what was wrong. But whatever it was, the rest seemed to help a little bit. Still, it caused me to miss a significant chunk of my training, leading me to be undertrained headed into my goal race.

And then there was the New York City Marathon.

(For the record, that’s the 3rd and final time I’m using that sentence in a Yearly Wrap-Up. It’s meant something different each time.)

I didn’t have the mileage in training that I wanted. To be honest, I didn’t really have the race I wanted. The last, oh, 8+ miles of the race were pretty brutal. The battery for my Garmin Forerunner 220 ran out after 21.85 miles. However, it’s still a race through the city where I was born, the greatest city in the world (I know, I’m biased). I still loved it. And I still think my last minute decision to put my name on my shirt was a great decision. The crowds are already pretty great when they don’t know your name. Throw in a whole bunch of “Go P.J.!” cheers from people other than my parents, and you’ve got an even more amazing experience. I still got to run through Brooklyn. I still got to turn on to 1st Avenue. I still got to see the sign that says “Welcome To The Bronx.” And I got to cross the finish line.

There’s not much else to say. It was a tough year, and I’m relieved that I got through it.

Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2018

This month was about getting ready for the Charleston Half Marathon. For the most part, it was a good month, although I didn’t finish as strong as I’d like.

December 2018
Total Mileage:
107.33 miles
Average Pace: 11:21/mile
Number of Runs: 20
Last Month (November 2018): 67.02 miles
Last Year (December 2017): 89.44 miles
Races: None

Total Mileage for 2018: 1,150.08 miles

I’m glad I did that thing where I ended the last run of the year with an extra .18.

I missed a couple of days due to our winter storm, and missed another day due to my sore calf, but I still had a pretty solid month.

Best Run: December 8, 9.01 miles, 11:03/mile

Holy crap, this was a great run. I was doing pretty well, then I decided to take off on the last mile, and I ran that last mile in 8:53(!), in all likelihood my fastest mile of the year. And that was after running 8 miles. (Then again, the fastest mile I ever ran was on the last mile of a 10 mile race, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.)

Shout out to my December 1 run, also a long run (only 8 miles) with a significantly faster last mile.

Worst Run: December 26, 4.01 miles, 11:37/mile

Unfortunately, this one had another run to compete with, December 15, when I made it 9.16 miles (out of a scheduled 10) in really miserable wet conditions. December 26 had a sore calf, though. Actual pain beats plain old suffering. Both runs sucked in different ways. Also, on December 26, I was supposed to run 50 minutes, and I ended up running just over 46 minutes (and part of that was just trying to get up to 4.01 miles).

I have to say, outside of those two runs, it was a good month.

Next month (Hey, this’ll be early enough that I can actually do a preview of the next month), I’ve got the Charleston Half Marathon on January 12. After that, recovery, and then, well, I don’t know yet.

Weekly Wrap-Up: December 24-30

Hey, look, my New York City recap is finally done!

My left calf decided to flare up last week for no good reason, which sucked, but I got through it. That’s 2018 in a nutshell, parts of it sucked, but I got through it anyway.

Christmas Present Update: Directly related to running, I got 4 Gu packets and 2 pairs of Balega socks. Adjacent to running, I got a pint glass with the New York City Marathon course etched into it, a framed poster of the New York City Marathon course, 3 photos from this years race in a nice frame, and one more picture of me crossing the finish line. (I’m not sure why I didn’t get gifts like this after I ran NYC in 2016. Not that I’m complaining, of course.)

Weight Check: 168.5, up exactly one pound from last week. I ate and drank a lot, and to only gain one pound from all of that…well, it doesn’t quite qualify as a Christmas Miracle, but I’ll call it acceptable. It could have been a lot worse, I guess.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 4 miles easy 4.01
Wednesday 15 minutes easy, 20 minutes comfortably hard, 15 minutes easy* 4.01
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 12 miles easy 12.01

Total: 23.14 miles

Yeah, there’s an asterisk next to Wednesday, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Monday I was at my parents’ house. It was cold, 37 degrees, but not too uncomfortable. My legs felt OK. I’m not sure what happened in mile 2 that caused me to slow down, but something clicked on mile 3 and I got through the last 2 miles at a faster pace. Considering how I don’t like running in my parents’ neighborhood, it turned out pretty well.

I took off Tuesday. We drove to my sisters’ house in Raleigh after my run on Monday, so I got to see my nephews open all their presents on Christmas morning. They’re the best.

I expected Wednesday to be tough, the day after a holiday. I didn’t expect my calf to start feeling sore during the warm up. I tried taking a walk break to see if that would help, but it didn’t. I was a little late starting the main workout (that was mostly just a brain fart, but I was probably a bit distracted by my calf). Anyway, after a few minutes at an increased effort, I was struggling to stay under an 11:00/mile pace (a minute per mile slower than my recent workout paces), and my calf didn’t feel any better. So I took a 1 minute walk break after 7 minutes, turned around about halfway through the walk break, and tried increasing my effort again for 7 minutes. I was a little faster, though still noticeably slower than on my recent workouts, and my calf was still hurting, and after 7 minutes, I started my cool down with some walking. I resumed running more slowly, and my calf started to feel a little bit better. I added a little bit to the end of the cool down to get to 4 miles.

I originally had a run scheduled for Tuesday, but my coach noted that I could push it to Thursday (my normal rest day) if I wanted to. And that was my original plan, but after my calf problems on Wednesday, I decided to rest on Thursday. My coach agreed with this strategy.

Friday, I was back home. I got on the treadmill one last time before the Resolution Runners show up. My calf wasn’t quite 100%, but it felt a lot better than Wednesday. Still, I took it somewhat easy, starting out at an 11:32/mile pace, going to 11:19/mile after 1 mile, then waiting until around 2.8 miles to bump it up to 11:07/mile for the finish. My mind hated it as usual, but I think it was good for my legs in general and my calf in particular.

On Saturday, the temperature was pretty comfortable although it was pretty damp. My calf seemed to be OK. On the first few miles, it may have felt just a little bit off, but I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t been focusing on it so much, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

My legs in general felt a little sluggish, though. It was a long week, and while I enjoyed seeing my family, I spent a lot of time eating, drinking, and playing with my nephews (who are still the best), and all of that probably didn’t help my running.

It had rained on Friday, and while it wasn’t as bad as previous weeks – none of the greenway was flooded – there were a couple of muddy spots, one that I walked through to keep from kicking up a whole bunch of mud, and the other I took a detour around. It had stopped raining sometime Friday evening, so there weren’t many puddles left.

I found one water fountain that hadn’t been turned off, and stopped there at around 2.3 miles. I had a Gu (with some more water) at around the 6 mile mark. I did take a couple of quick walk breaks on miles 10 and 11, but I did manage to speed up a little on mile 12.

Overall, it wasn’t a great run, but I got through it, and my calf seems to be doing better. I’ll take it.

This week, well, I start tapering for Charleston. I did wrap up 2018 this morning, so now I need to do a December wrap-up, a 2018 wrap-up, and a look ahead to 2019. You’d think finally finishing up my New York City recap would free things up, but no. Stupid calendar.

Race Report: 2018 New York City Marathon

I’m relieved. I finished.

I feel like there should be something more epic, but between last year’s DNF and this year’s unbelievably terrible training cycle, those are the two thoughts that come up the most for me when I look back at the race.

The race didn’t go how I’d hoped, but neither did my training. Still, I managed to get under 6 hours, and even though New York doesn’t have a time limit, I really wanted to make sure I finished sub-6. How times have changed, as I was hoping (in vain) for sub-5 in each of my previous marathons.

Like I did the last 2 years, I flew up to Newark with my parents on Friday and got a shuttle to the hotel on Staten Island. We ate dinner at the hotel next door, and I ate pasta, as usual.

Once again, Saturday was my trip to the expo. Again, the expo had a different layout, but it was still freaking huge.

I got my bib from the Team For Kids booth, which was a lot closer to the entrance, and also very likely less busy than the booth where I would have needed to go to pick up my bib. I didn’t take a picture of my bib right away, because I saw a wall with all of the runners’ names on it, and thought it would be a much better picture if I got my name on the wall along with my bib. (And I figured I’d get a picture of just my name on the wall as well.)

Hey, I finally got a picture of my bib in landscape mode!

I don’t remember if they had a wall of names the last two years. I might have missed it. (Huge expo and all that.) I’m glad I saw it this year, though.

I also got a t-shirt. They came up with another great design this year.

I think I like the 2017 shirt just a hair better, but this one is still really nice, and has the added benefit of being from a race that I, you know, finished.

After I was done, my parents and I grabbed lunch inside the Javitz Center. There was a place that sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. I went with a hot dog.

I lucked out after that. A friend of my parents lives on the Upper West Side and invited us to come visit for a couple of hours. We took a taxi to her apartment, and I was able to sit for a while, which I appreciated. It was a good visit. I don’t know her as well as my parents do, but she’s led a really fascinating life, and she’s a good storyteller (Clearly, it didn’t rub off on me), so I could still appreciate spending time with her.

We took the subway back to the Staten Island Ferry. I noticed in the ferry terminal that the sports bar where I had gotten beer and a burger after the 2016 race had closed. Luckily, I did a quick search for nearby burger joints, and found one just one stop away from the ferry.

We picked up sandwiches at the ferry terminal to eat for dinner, and rode back to Staten Island, and then the hotel. The problem with waiting so long to do a write-up is that I can’t remember exactly what kind of sandwich I had. I’m sure it was good, and I do remember having a large chocolate chip cookie with it. (Carbs.)

I stayed off my feet, hydrated a lot, and got to bed at a decent hour. I somehow managed to get a fairly decent night of sleep. It’s the same weekend as the time change, and I’ve often joked that everybody else gets an extra hour of sleep, and I get an extra hour to toss and turn, but this year, I slept a lot better. Compared to other nights, it was barely mediocre, but for the night before a race? It was fantastic.

I had a reservation on the 6:15 shuttle. I think I set my alarm for 5:15, but I woke up around 5, because I always wake up before my alarm on race day. I showered, used the bathroom a couple of times, got dressed, and went downstairs to get on the shuttle. I was surprised to discover that I was the only person who made a reservation for the 6:15 shuttle.

Traffic near Fort Wadsworth wasn’t quite as bad as last year, when they had to scramble to add security just a few days after a terrorist attack, but it still wasn’t quite as smooth as 2016. The shuttle driver took a couple of back roads, and dropped me off near a security checkpoint that was primarily for volunteers, but runners were allowed through as well. Because most of the volunteers had already gone through, and there weren’t many runners, I got through in no time.

I then made my way to my new temporary home.

Team For Kids had a tent in the Start Village. It was heated, so it was nicer than the pre-race temps which were in the upper 40s. Also, it kept me out of the sun for a few hours, which, with my complexion, is a very good thing.

I took that picture right after I got there. It got a little more crowded once buses from the ferry started arriving, but then it started clearing out a bit after Wave 1 and Wave 2 had to leave.

They had bagels, bananas, coffee, water, and Gatorade. They may have had a few other snacks, but I didn’t partake in anything that I didn’t eat before any of my training runs and stuck to the 4 Chocolate Chip Clif Bars that I brought and some water to wash them down. I did drink a little bit of the Gatorade.

We also had our own port-a-potties. I used them several times, and at worst I had one person in line in front of me.

After last year, I was in full Howard Hughes mode, trying to avoid germs as much as possible. They had some hand sanitizing wipes available. I’m surprised they didn’t run out considering how many I used.

I went outside to get a picture of the rest of the Start Village. I like to get a shot of the Verrazano, but I didn’t notice the line of port-a-potties in the foreground.

I also got my annual shot of the elite men and Wave 1 just after the start.

I went back into the tent for a little bit (It wasn’t that cold, I just wanted to stay out of the sun for as long as possible). When I was in there, somebody made an announcement about an “Arts and Crafts” table (it was really just a first aid table) where they had markers if you wanted to decorate your gear and add your name. I wandered over to the table and considered having my name on my shirt. On the one hand, I thought it would be cool to write P.J. on my shirt and have people cheering for me by name. On the other hand, I wanted to wear my shirt to the Y (I only own one other singlet, and I find that I generally like singlets on the treadmill where they help me stay cooler without exposing my upper arms to the sun), and I would feel funny showing up there with a shirt with my name on it. Luckily, I noticed someone who grabbed some medical tape, wrote their name on it, and stuck it to their shirt. I wasn’t 100% sure the tape would stay for the entire race, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I’m going to spoil it: This was hands down the best decision I made that day (and quite possibly the 2nd best running related decision I’ve ever made, second only to going to a local running store to get fitted for some running shoes right after I started running). Hearing people yell my name all day was awesome, and I highly recommend putting your name on your shirt if you’re running a race with good crowd support.

I did my usual set of pre-run stretches, and then, when they called Wave 4, they led us outside where a coach ran us through some stretches. He wished us luck, told us there would be other Team For Kids coaches out on the course, and then they walked us over to the corrals.

We got to see Wave 3 start while we were in the corrals, which, while not quite as exciting as Wave 1, is still pretty cool to see.

Then we slowly made our way to the starting line.

A guy who was running the race sang the National Anthem. I remembered to remove my visor, so at least I got that part right.

They shot off the Howitzer, New York, New York started playing (unlike 2016, it didn’t get cut off, and unlike 2017, it wasn’t the duet version with Tony Bennett, this one was all Frank Sinatra), and we were off. I crossed the starting line at 11:04 AM.

Miles 1 and 2: Staten Island

Mile 1 was up the Verrazano, but on the lower deck. I swear it feels impossible to tell where the actual peak is when you’re down there. Still, I took it easy, and got through the first mile in 12:56. Mile 2 was downhill through the rest of the Verrazano, then it flattened out a bit on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Like most non-elite runners, it was my fastest mile (I think…more on that later) at 10:25. Maybe a little faster than I wanted, but it wasn’t ludicrous speed.

Miles 3 to 12: Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a whole lot more fun when your gastrointestinal system isn’t going haywire. In the back of my mind, I knew this was in all likelihood my last run through Brooklyn, so I tried to soak up as much of it as I could. It also helped that my legs were still feeling OK through here.

I stopped at every aid station, and got water if I had just eaten a Gu (miles 4, 8, and 12), and Gatorade at the rest. I tried to work in a few walk breaks as well so that I might not be completely wiped out near the end.

I really enjoyed this stretch. Also, this was the first time total strangers were yelling out my name, and that was really cool.

Just like two years ago, I saw some Jets fans and yelled to them, “Beat the Dolphins!” (And, just like two years ago, the Jets did not beat the Dolphins.)

Then I got to mile 12. You know, the mile where I stopped last year.

The aid station was a little bit before the end of the mile, but I recognized it immediately. Last year, I had gotten a cup of water, then was hit with a wave of nausea that told me that drinking the water would be a bad idea because it wouldn’t stay down for very long, and I even looked around for a tree or some other place I might be able to throw up on. I kept going until I saw a medical tent, and that’s where my day ended.

This year, I saw the medical tent in the exact same spot, and I started to tear up. I knew I was going to go farther than last year. I turned a corner, and I could see the Mile 12 marker. I looked at the crowd, and I saw a woman with a sign that said “You will finish.”

I teared up some more.

The feeling of passing the 12 mile mark was just amazing. I knew I had a long, long way to go, and there were still a million different things that could go wrong before the finish line, but I got a huge boost knowing I had made it that far.

Another mile, and our time in Brooklyn was about to end. This time, I was able to leave Brooklyn on foot rather than on a bus, and I was extremely grateful.

My times through Brooklyn were 11:59, 11:49, 12:16, 12:18, 11:56, 12:27, 12:25, 11:57, 12:18, and 12:45. (I guess the mental boost didn’t result in a physical boost. Oh well.)

Miles 13 and 14: Queens

We ran over the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. We didn’t get to see much of Queens, but the crowds are still great through there. I got through in 12:30 and 12:28. My time at the halfway point was 2:39:38. I felt like that was fairly close to where I wanted to be. A perfect split would have given me a PR, but I kind of figured that wasn’t going to happen.

Mile 15: The 59th Street Bleeping Bridge

It’s The Big One. I was about as ready for it as I could possibly be. It’s a slow slog climbing up the first half of it. I did take some walk breaks this time, I was smarter about it. (It still sucks, and adding Bleeping to the name is still warranted.) While I knew how bad the bridge was, I also knew that the turn on to 1st Avenue was waiting on the other side, so slowing down was tough. I managed, though, with a time of 13:25.

Miles 16 to 18: Manhattan, Part 1

Yes, the turn on to 1st Avenue is so much more fun when you’re running than when you’re riding on a bus. I’m not sure why, but I felt like the noise built up more gradually this year, while two years ago it seemed more like a giant wall of sound that hit me all at once. Still, the end result is the same, the loudest cheers of the entire course (this year, with added shouts of my name), and once again, I got choked up. I did reach out and high five a few people under the overpass as you turn on to 1st Avenue, and I think I even thanked them, because it really is a huge highlight.

Here is a good spot to mention that New York City is the greatest city in the world. (But I might be a little biased.)

I was still feeling pretty good at this point, and then I had to focus on looking out for my parents. Once again, I had given them instructions to stand outside a Subway (as in the fast food restaurant, not the underground train) between 86th and 87th Street. (And, like 2 years ago, I again have to ask, why would anyone go to Subway when there are so many great delis near by?) This time, they saw me before I saw them, since they weren’t right in front of the Subway. I ran over and hugged them. Even if I was writing this hours after the race, I couldn’t tell you what I said to them or what they said to me, it just didn’t register. But the words don’t really matter. I know I was thankful that they were there to support me, and I know they love me and were proud of me.

After that, things started to go south. With my reduced mileage in training, I just didn’t have the endurance that I wanted. Even though my paces had been slower than any of my previous marathons and I had taken some planned walk breaks (including on the 59th Street Bleeping Bridge), I still had almost nothing left by around mile 18.

I had Gu at 16. I got though these miles in 13:01, 12:39 (Mom and Dad gave me a little boost), and 13:02.

Miles 19 and 20: The Bronx

I was really struggling. Even the sight of the “Welcome to The Bronx” sign wasn’t enough to overcome my lack of sufficient miles in training. (I still choked up when I saw it, of course.) I was happy to be back in the borough where I was born, and the crowd was great (of course they were great, it was The Bronx), but I still had to walk a lot.

Right around this time, my Garmin Forerunner 220 started beeping at me and warning that the battery was low. It’s over 4 years old now, so the battery life isn’t what it used to be. The combination of me being out there for a while, and the tall buildings making it harder to lock in to GPS signal meant that it wasn’t going to make it to the finish. (It’s OK now, I recharged it and I’ve been using it since then. It just can’t handle a marathon any more. Kind of like me.) All I could do was hope that it made it out of The Bronx. For some reason, I didn’t want it to stop while I was in the borough where I was born. I don’t understand it either.

I had Gu at 20. My times were 14:18 and 15:29. Yeah, this is not a good trend.

Miles 21 to the Finish: Manhattan, Part 2

As I crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge (the last bridge, and several people had signs noting this) and landed in Manhattan, my watch was still (barely) alive. It had made it out of The Bronx. I was relieved.

However, at the 21.85 mile mark, its day was over. It served me well, but now, I’d basically have to run blind. I mean, it’s not like I could speed up that much at this point, but it would have been nice to know my paces. To my surprise, I was able to retrieve the data up until it stopped, but after that, I can only rely on my 5K splits that I got from the race app.

In this stretch, I saw a few Team For Kids coaches. They seemed to always catch me while I was walking. (Then again, I was definitely walking more than I was running, so the odds were in favor of them seeing me walking.) Of course, each one checked in to make sure I was OK and wasn’t hurt. Nope, just undertrained and exhausted.

I made my way down 5th Avenue, then into Central Park. As I was turning into the park for the first time around 90th Street, they had a video screen set up. In the official app, they had a thing where you could generate cheer cards for a runner, and there was a chance they might get to see the cheer cards somewhere on the course. Well, my parents made one featuring a picture of me at the end of the Trophy Trot 10K, and I happened to see it on this video screen. That was really cool, and I think I did manage to start running a little bit right after I saw it.

I had my last Gu at mile 24. This time, I actually stopped for Gatorade at the mile 25 aid station. Two years ago, I had been trying in vain to get a marathon PR and skipped the last aid station in the hopes it would help. This year, I figured I needed the aid.

After that last stop, though, I did start running again, and I pretty much ran the rest of the way, with one exception.

We came out of Central Park onto 59th Street. And near 7th Avenue, my parents were waiting for me. Once again, they saw me before I saw them, but I slowed down so I could give them hugs, and then I headed towards the finish.

Mile 21 was, uh, 17:09. The last 0.85 that my watch caught was at around a 16:15/mile pace, although I don’t know how accurate that 0.85 measurement was. I think it was pretty close, I could buy that the next mile marker was roughly 0.15 after that. My pace from 35K to 40K (21.7 miles to 24.8 miles) was 16:12/mile. My pace from 40K to the Finish was 11:26/mile(!) which was a pleasant surprise. I somehow managed to finish strong.

As I approached the finish line, I knew what I wanted to do. It’s something that I thought about before my first marathon, but in the moment when I got to the finish, I just completely forgot about it. I’m sure it crossed my mind in 2016, but I’m not sure why I just ran across the finish line. Maybe it was because I was disappointed that I didn’t PR? Anyway, I knew that there was a very good chance that this would be the last time I’d cross the finish line of a marathon, so I decided to make this one count.

I’ve got my arms raised up, and I’m making the N.C. State Wolfpack hand sign with each hand. I’m a proud graduate of N.C. State (Go Wolfpack!) even if I wasn’t much of a runner back then. And, as you can see, my little piece of medical tape with my name on it made it to the end.

Side note: This is not only the best marathon finishing photo I’ve ever gotten, it might be the best race finish photo I’ve ever gotten.

My official time was 5:52:03, an average pace of 13:26/mile. I have to admit, when I saw it, I kind of winced. But I finished, and that’s the most important part.

After I finished, I got my medal, and then they had some photographers taking pictures of people with their medals. A few lines had formed, so I waited, and ended up with a picture that looks like I had been waiting in line and just wanted to get going. (I’m not going to include that picture.)

I got my heat blanket and goody bag after that. The goody bag had a delicious McIntosh apple, some off the wall flavor of Gatorade that was almost clear but tasted like cherry (I really didn’t care after 26.2 miles), a bottle of water, a protein bar (meh), a vanilla protein shake (I think I drank it on Monday rather than waiting until the morning of my flight and realizing it wouldn’t get through security), and a bag of pretzels.

After that, a Team For Kids volunteer found me and guided me to the special post-race area they had set up. It’s on Cherry Hill, so, yes, I had to walk up a hill to get to it. I survived. We had a heated tent (not that it was all that cold outside) with chairs. I was a bit worried that if I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get back up, but I took a chance.

Also, while seated, I took the picture I’d been waiting for.

I did manage to get up after a few minutes, since I wanted to go meet my parents. The thing is, when you leave Cherry Hill, in order to leave Central Park, you have to take a path that includes a pedestrian bridge, and the bridge has steps leading up to it, and (even worse) steps leading down from it. I survived this as well.

I exited the park at 72nd street and found my parents. We walked a couple of blocks west to Broadway and got on the 1 train. I was able to ride for free with my medal, which is a lot better than riding for free with a MetroCard that a volunteer gives you after you have to drop out of the race due to illness. We got off one stop before the end at Rector Street and walked about 2 blocks to Bill’s Bar and Burger. Last year’s dinner was ginger ale and saltines. This year, I had a beer (Five Boroughs Brewing Company Pilsner, which, based on the name, I think would make an excellent choice as an official beer of the race) and a cheeseburger, and it was glorious.

So here’s my usual picture of the medal with a packet of Gu for scale.

(Fun fact: I used my last Gu during the race. From then until Christmas, I had no Gu packets in my house. I always get a few for Christmas, so, since this report was so late, I used one of my gifts in the photo.)

It’s roughly the same size as the 2016 medal, a hair thinner, but with a little extra near the top of the bridge. I do like the medal design, but I’m a little biased.

I haven’t mentioned the weather during the race yet, because really, it was perfect. 52 degrees, sunny (OK, I would have preferred a few clouds, but I didn’t get any sunburn), and most importantly, no wind. It was good enough that the Men’s winner, Lelisa Desisa, finished with the 2nd fastest time ever for the course.

So, almost two months later (sorry), what does it all mean?

My time was definitely slower than I’d hoped. But my training didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. There’s one thing that I noticed when I looked at my training cycles before my previous marathons. For those, the average pace of my marathon was slower than the average pace of the majority of my long runs. This time, my average pace was faster than the majority of my long runs. That’s really how it’s supposed to work, your training kicks in and you race faster than you ran your long runs. You could argue that I underachieved slightly in my first two marathons, and, if anything, I actually overachieved in this race.

I guess I’m satisfied with my performance. I’m still disappointed that my training didn’t go well, but considering how poorly it went, I did OK on race day, and I finished. That’s the important part.

It doesn’t erase 2017, though. Maybe if my training this year had gone as well as last year, and I ran a really good race, I might feel differently. I’ll never know how well I could have run last year if I hadn’t gotten sick. It still sucks. But on November 4, 2018, I did manage to find a little bit of redemption. This time, I finished, and I’ll never take that for granted again.

And with that, I’m about 99% sure that I’m done with the marathon. I won’t say never, but right now, if I was a betting man, I’d bet on no more marathons. Each has been an unforgettable experience (Unfortunately, I couldn’t forget 2017 if I tried), and I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of doing through each training cycle and running each race. But I’m 45 years old now. It’s not going to get any easier. And the amount of time and effort that I have to put in to train for and then run 26.2 miles…I just don’t think I can do that again. Ultimately, though, at this point, I just feel like I have nothing left to prove. I’ve completed 3 marathons. Not many people can say that. I’ll still run shorter races (as I write this, I’m just a couple of weeks away from the Charleston Half Marathon), and I’ll continue to enjoy running, because I do love it. It’s just highly unlikely that I’ll ever run 26.2 miles again.

I said in my 2015 Raleigh City of Oaks recap that I’d heard this saying: “I’m not saying it will be easy, I’m saying it will be worth it.” I had wondered if it was true as I was training for that race, and in the end, I realized that it was absolutely worth it. The 2016 New York City Marathon was worth it, too. Even if it didn’t turn out as planned (that’s an understatement), the 2017 New York City Marathon was worth it.

The 2018 New York City Marathon? Yeah, it was absolutely worth it.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: TCS New York City Marathon
Location: Starting Line on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Staten Island, New York
Date and Time of Race: November 4, 2018, 11:00 AM (Wave 4) (Actual start: 11:04 AM)
Bib Number: 68671
Official Finishing Time: 5:52:03, 13:26/mile. 46,977th of 52,697 Overall, 4,378th of 4,699 in Age Group (Male 45-49)