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Monday, December 24, 2012

A Year Later

It's now been a little over a year now since the heart catheterization that revealed my coronary artery disease.    Thanks to my good friend Dr. Cliff Packer, I did not elect the coronary bypass surgery that the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic recommended.   The doctor from the Clinic in his letter to my family doctor indicated that "the patient could try medical treatment, but I consider coronary bypass surgery his best option".      Dr. Packer is my baseball teammate who read the report and suggested that if I was up to the task, I might be able to reverse my heart disease with lifestyle changes that included diet and exercise.

Considering my relative young age (57), if I elected to have the surgery and did not change the lifestyle that most likely caused my heart disease, I would be back in the hospital for another bypass operation 10 years down the road, so if figured WTF, lets see what the lifestyle changes can do.

The changes:

  • Daily exercise of 30-60 minutes.     Began with slow walking and escalated into cycling and finally into running.    
  • Diet:   Elimination of animal protein, saturated fats and liquid calories.   No fast food, no fried foods, no soda.   Lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
The Results

Weight Loss:   Beginning Weight 211,  Weight now 169
Cholesterol:   June 30, 2011:  Total 211; LDL (bad cholesterol) 135, HDL (good cholesterol) 45
July 10, 2012 - Total 136, LDL 73, HDL 52
Exercise Heart Rate: Walking August 15th, 2011 4.03 miles in 1:08:28 (16:59 per mile) HR Avg 123, Peak 151.   Same course August 17th, 2012 1:04:37 (15:57 per mile) HR Avg 108, Peak 120.
Cycling : September 2,

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Big Day

My First Half Marathon! It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (seems like I've heard this somewhere before). In the two days prior to the race, I had been feeling some pain in both heels. I feared that I might have an injured Achilles or maybe a plantar fasciitis problem. I had skipped my planned Friday run as a precaution, but when I woke up at 4:30am on race day the pain was still there. I got dressed and headed out of the hotel for a quick pre-dawn run through the empty streets of downtown Cleveland. Nary a soul in sight with the exception of a couple workers hosing down the sidewalks around Progressive Field in preparation for the Indians-Marlins baseball game later that day. I worked up a decent sweat but the heel discomfort remained. I did not train 5 months to let this day end in a scratch, so I decided I could handle this. I later discovered the reason for the pain. During my last run on Thursday, I ran with a pair of running shoes that I've been breaking in. The Reebok's had deep wide grooves in the heel that I can only surmise were for cushioning and inside these grooves I discovered that I had picked up a grape sized stone in the heel of each shoe. Apparently I had bruised both heels during that last workout.

After the morning shakeout run, I headed back to the hotel room for my usual breakfast of Oatmeal with Craisins, ground flax and Silk then headed down to the race with son in law Brad who was also running his first half marathon.  We were among the first runners to arrive at Cleveland Browns Stadium and headed to the 9:00 pace group starting area where I was to meet my OSF Everyday Athletes teammates for a pre race photo shoot. Only two of us made it there because the rest of the team had difficulty finding parking close enough to the race.

Brad and I before heading to starting line.



By 6:30 the crowd was starting to swell and I had already run into several groups of friends and exchanged good lucks and well wishes and managed a few photos.
Bill Tobia and Chrissie Barrickman-Vendetti
Sebastian Ornelas, Shawn Van Buren, Erik Van't Veer


6:45 - Time for some pre race fuel in the form of Gatorade Primer. People are flooding in now, not leaving much room for any kind of jogging and you can feel the excitement building. The DJ is getting everyone pumped up.
6:55 The National Anthem plays, I can't believe the time has arrived. Since the first of the year I've logged 480 miles in 96 workouts in all kinds of weather.
7:00 The gun goes off and the crowd roars and NOTHING. It seems like 5 minutes before our pace group begins to move and then its only for about 25 yards. After a little longer delay we begin to move, at first just a slow march, then a little quicker jog.
7:07 We finally reach the starting line and I start the watch. The race has begun.

Mile 1: I'm putting lessons learned from previous spring races not to go out too fast. That was pretty much an impossibility anyway with the crowd of runners. We made our way around the stadium and head up an incline of about 150 yards making our way to Lakeside Avenue, then turning west towards the entrance ramp of the west shoreway. Once on the shoreway, I could not believe what I saw. A mass of humanity shoulder to shoulder on the freeway for as far as you could see. Now I understood why it took us 7 minutes to make the 200 yard trek from our corral to the starting line. The pain in the heel was tolerable and was non existent as long as I was landing on my toes and not my heels. I pass the Mile 1 flag at 10:35, right about where I wanted to be. I got in with a 10:07 pace group hoping to run 2:12:30 and I was only a few seconds off the pace.

Mile 2: The second mile was mostly downhill as we are on the back side of the shoreway bridge heading into the near west side neighborhoods toward Edgewater Park. By the time I reached the two mile mark, I was running free of pain and so relieved that the heel was ok. I also was able to make up the deficit on the pace group with the help of the mostly negative elevation gain. Second mile ticked off at 9:31.

Mile 3: Still running without pain and maintaining sight of the 4:25:00 pace group that I was in. The temps were starting to rise and I take in some water at the first aid station without having to lose much time. I'm feeling good and am pleased to see my neighbor Christina wave as she passes by. Christina is a faster runner than I and the fact that I was with her 3 miles in gave me some confidence. Pass the mile 3 flag at 30:46 (10:15 pace), a little bit slower than the 10:07 pace group but I'm happy considering the heat.

Mile 4: I pass a young couple wearing t-shirts with writing on the back. Hers said "Getting Married" and his said "Next Week". We were now running through the shaded streets of Lakewood, but the heat is starting to wear on me. I took in more fluid at the 4 mile aid station and the fourth mile slows down to 10:40. I've resigned myself to the fact that I would not be running anywhere close to a 2:12:30 today and decided to pursue the goal of finishing with a smile on my face and not worry about the time.

Mile 5: I'm able to pick up the pace slightly (10:29) perhaps from the energy of the crowds that are forming along the route. I'm taking in the energy from the crowd and start giving high fives out to the locals.

Mile 6: The shade from trees lining Edgwater Drive and Lake Ave have given way to the concrete jungle of Detroit Avenue and the sun is unleashing its energy sapping rays. I approach the six mile aid station thinking I'm glad I carried a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade in my running belt. We are almost at the half way point and I realized I hadn't taken my GU Gel at the 45 minute mark that I had planned and we are 60 minutes into the race. I rip open the Gel package and suck it down in time to get a couple of cups of water to wash it down at the aid station that I walked through this time to maximize the amount of fluid I could get. By now my legs are feeling heavy and it shows on the clock with a disappointing 11:25 sixth mile, almost a full minute off the previous mile.

Mile 7: The pace slows even more to 11:38 and I'm starting to have doubts about even finishing.

Mile 8: Really starting to become a mental battle now. The infusion of energy from the GU Gel hasn't kicked in yet and I'm seriously consider walking the rest of the race. I had "Hit the Wall". Just before we get to the Mile 8 aid station when I'm feeling the worst, I see the Dunn family. The Dunn's made the 60 mile trip from Ashtabula just to watch the race. They had set up lawn chairs on the tree lawn on a nice shady street in Cleveland's Ohio Village. They recognize me and shout out some encouragement. "Your looking good Bill" is what I heard, but "I'm feeling like crap" is what I'm feeling. I want to stop and walk but can't do it hear in sight of friends from back home, so I plug on to the next 8 station. Mile 8 split 12:00

Mile 9: I again walked through the aid station so that I could take in a 2nd cup of fluid and I think that the GU has kicked in, because I'm was able to resume running at slightly faster pace (11:53) for mile 9.

Mile 10: Pace improves a little more(11:42) as I pass through the neighborhoods of Tremont. The 10th mile ends with a nice steady descent into an industrial valley on the west banks of the Cuyahoga River, but finishes with the sight of an unexpected killer hill. 

Mile 11: The start of mile eleven begins with the most demoralizing sight in the form of a hill taking us from the river valley back up to Lorain Avenue. The course was advertised as one of the flattest and fastest courses in the country. The hill was only about an 1/8 of a mile on the map and the elevation gain was only about 70 feet, but it felt like a climb up Mount Suribachi. I made it about 20 yards up the hill and decided to join the rest of the masses and walk the rest of it. As a result, the pace fell off considerably (12:51).

Mile 12: Only 2.2 miles to go. I can do this. The last half of mile 11 I had joined up with Traci Kitnoja, a runner from our local running club and we ran together for a little over a half mile while crossing the Lorain-Carnegie bridge. We chatted about this and that and it really helped to take my mind off the race. I was getting a 2nd wind now, but when I reached the aid station at the start of the 12th mile I was disappointed to find out that they were out of water. I still had one sip of water left in one of the bottles I had carried with me, so I finished it off and headed on my way. Despite the dry oasis, my cadence had picked up and I was feeling stronger than at any point in the race so far. The streets of downtown Cleveland were lined with spectators and the slow constant parade of runners passing me by was replaced with me passing runner after runner. I passed the 12 Mile mark with an 11:01 split, almost 2 minutes faster than the previous mile.

Mile 13: 1.2 miles to go and still feeling strong. For a brief moment I had a sick feeling that I missed the split where the half marathoner and full marathon courses splits off. I looked behind me at the runners I had just passed, then looked down at my own bib, relieved to see the colors matching. We turn north on East 9th street and I see the wonderful blue waters of Lake Erie ahead of me. I can smell the cool water of the lake and best of all, it's all down hill from here. My pace quickens even more and when I make the turn on to Erieside Avenue for the final couple hundred yards, I break into a full sprint passing scores of runners on my way to the finish line. With 50 yards to go, I'm thinking I started my kick too soon as my legs are starting to feel the fatigue of the sprint. I manage to dig a little deeper and cross the finish line with my arms raised high in the air and semi collapse into the waiting arms of my niece Lizzie who had finished about 15 minutes prior. Almost 25 years previously I was holding Lizzie over the baptismal fountain as her godfather. I fight back the tears and give thanks to my creator for giving me the strength to finish.


I Did It
Recovering with Lizzie


Finish time 2:30:49


After about 30 minutes of recovery time and consuming all the liquid I could, I called my friend and baseball teammate Cliff Packer to thank him for his advise and suggestion. Cliff is a Doctor for the Veterans Administration and when I called him after my heart catheterization last summer, he suggest that I research and consider a life style change in lieu of the coronary bypass operation that was suggested to me by the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. I did the research and made the necessary changes to my exercise and eating habits. Ten months after I was unable to run 60 yards without being out of breath, I can now call myself a marathon man, or at least a half marathon man.



Brad, Bill, Annie, Emily and Lizzie





Friday, May 18, 2012

Ready to Go!

Training for the Cleveland Half Marathon is complete.   For the past five months, I've gradually built up my weekly long runs as well as my weekly mileage.   It began in the first week of January with a total of 19 miles culminating with a 5.6 mile run at 12:00 per mile pace.   During that first week I averaged a pace of 12:58 per mile.   Over the next 10 weeks, my average pace steadily dropped 10 to 15 seconds per mile until it had reached a low of 10:13 per mile, then started to slow down into the 10:35 - 10:45 range.     I think this was a signal that I might be over training, so I inserted a recover week where I dropped my mileage in half for the week.

The following week I felt much stronger and had some quality runs but my average time was staying in the upper 10s.     I wasn't concerned about the times though because around this time, Don Gill joined our morning running group.    Don is an 80 year old runner who can still move pretty good in races, but in training he keeps his pace near 12:00 per mile.   Even though these runs were easy paced, they helped get my mileage up and I was getting some quality speed workouts on the in between days with some mile intervals below 9:30.

Mileage peaked at 35.5 miles with a long run of 13.2 miles  at the end of April before starting a four week taper period.

In four and a half months, I've managed to log 467 miles with a peak of 129 miles in April.

Cleveland 10-Miler
April 28th, 2012

It was a cold day in the mid 30's on the shores of Lake Erie at Cleveland's Edgewater Park.   Two weeks before, I had a miserable 5K race when the temperatures rose into the 80's.    I started that race out way too fast (8:29 first mile) and paid the price for it at the end.    I was hoping for a least a PR in this race and at best to break the 30:00 mark.    Neither happened as I crossed the finish line at a disappointing 31:45.

This race I was determined not to make the same mistake and went out slow, hoping to maintain a 10:15 mile pace throughout and finish at 1:42:30.   My GPS was off today for some reason and was giving me all splits in the 9s.    However when it told me I had completed one mile, I was still 75 yards from the Mile 1 sign.     The same thing in subsequent miles.    The GPS would announce that I had reached a certain milestone but the actual mile marker kept getting further and further away.    I crossed the official half way mark at 50:49 (10:10 pace).   When I reached the 9 mile mark at 1:32 something, I thought that with a decent last mile I might reach my goal of 1:42:30..     Fortunately the last mile was to a large degree down hill and I was able to finish strong with an 8 something final mile and cross the line at 1:40:55.

Geneva Community Days 5K
May 12, 2012

In a final tuneup race before the Cleveland Half, temperatures started rising right around race time. Felt if I could keep the pace at about 9:45, I would have enough in the tank at the end and be able to break that 30:00 5k for the first time. I was worried when I hit the mile mark at 8:39 (too fast). When I hit mile 2 at 17:44 (9:05) I was starting to tire, but started doing the math figuring I could hit my target goal of 29:30 by running a mere 10:00 3rd mile. At 3 miles (27:10), I knew I had my 29:30 and might even break the 29:00 mark. Kicked it into high gear for last 100 yards and was really excited to hear 28:50.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Six Months of Running

Since it is almost six months now since my cardiologist gave me the thumbs up to start working running into my exercise program, I thought it would be  a good time to look back and see what kind of progress has been made.

Here is an entry that I logged into dailymile.com, the website where I log all of my runs.

September 19, 2011

Cardiologist gave me the ok to start working in some jogging into my walks. Started out with 20 minutes of zone 1 walking, then picked up the pace. Worked in stretches of 100-200 yards of jogging about 6 times. Figured I got a half mile jogging in. Felt GREAT each jogging session for the first 20 strides, but heart rate would spike into the 150's and figured it prudent to back off the intensity. Still felt good to push it a little. Total time was actually 3 minutes slower than last time I walked this course, but that's because of the extremely slow first mile. When I did this course in 83:06 I only spent 3 seconds in zone 1.

Distance:  5.08 Miles
Time: 1 Hour 26 Minutes 53 Minutes
Pace: 17:06 per mile
Speed:3.51 miles per hour
Heart Rate:  Average 132, Maximum 167

A note about zones:    Zone 1 is a area where your heart rate is 60-70% of maximum heart rate.   Zone 2 is 70-80% of maximum heart rate.


Now lets fast forward to today.    I thought it would be a good idea to see where I am today, so I decided to run the same course I ran that day in September.

Distance: 5.08 Miles
Time: 55 Minutes 05 Seconds
Pace: 10:53 per mile
Speed 5.5 miles per hour
Heart Rate: Average 139, Maximum 152

When I completed that first walk/run in September, I had serious reservations about whether or not I should have gone through the bypass surgery that doctors at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic had recommended.   A meager 100-200 yards of running was pushing my heart rate near my maximum and I quickly became out of breath.   From that day it was nearly three months before I could complete a 3 mile run without  having to stop and walk and another month after that till walking was no longer required to get me through my running sessions.  Today I am convinced more than ever that I have made the right decision.

I am convinced now more than ever that Coronary Artery Disease is a food borne illness that can be prevented and even reversed by making some simple lifestyle changes.  What are these changes?

1) Eat Properly:   For me that meant eliminating all meat, dairy, oils or nuts.   As Doctor Caldwell Esselstyn puts it, eat nothing with a face or a mother.  Eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and lentils.   When I first started on this program, my cardiologist suggested having fish (specifically salmon, tuna and halibut) twice a week and a nice lean steak once a month.   He didn't want me to fail, so he allowed me to cheat just a little.    I no longer have the cravings for red meat and have adopted an even stricter diet.   Keep in mind that I'm trying to reverse a blockage in one of my main coronary arteries that took nearly sixty years of unhealthy eating to develop.   If you don't have coronary artery disease, you don't necessarily have to go to the extremes that I have.

2) Exercise:   At least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.    Something aerobic that gets the heart rate up.   Sorry guys, golfing is not exercise.  I think running is perfect for me, but you can walk fast, play tennis, swim or some of the new high intensity programs like Zumba.

3) Medication:   Since I had advanced coronary artery disease, I needed to get my high cholesterol down and reduce my risk of stroke and heart attack.    My doctor prescribed a high dose of Lipitor for my cholesterol,  a low dose beta blocker to keep my heart from being able to pump at high intensities to reduce the risk of a stroke and finally a low dose aspirin regimen .   I have taken control of my own health care and I agreed to these medications as a short term treatment until the life style changes can take effect.   But my orders to my doctors are to come up with a treatment plan that weens me off the drugs and treats the causes of the disease rather than the affects of it.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Road Racing Season Off to a Good Start

The 2012 road racing season got off to a good start.     I signed up for the St. Malichi 5 mile run and set a goal of 50:25 based on my training in recent weeks.    In training runs, I've been able to get some decent runs in at about 10:15 per mile and I figured I ought to be able to knock 10 seconds per mile off that in a race environment.   I downgraded my goal a little because I decided to run the 2 mile race that day with my grand daughter.    In my senior year in high school, I did double duty in track.   I competed in both the mile and half mile and although my half mile times did suffer slightly when I ran two races in a day, it wasn't dramatic.

Going into the two mile, I had already eclipsed my goal of 19:00 in training with an 18:50 earlier in the week, so I was hoping to take 10 seconds per mile off that and get a 18:30.   I reached the mile mark at 8:54 and thought to myself, "Wow, if I can keep this pace I might crack 18:00".      Last half of the course was mostly uphill, so my 2nd mile split dropped off considerably and I finished at 18:34.

After a 15 minute break in which I wolfed down a banana, downed a bottle of water and changed my running shoes it was time to line up for the five mile race.   The starting line was a mad house with over 2300 hundred runners jammed into the narrow Washington St..    I spent most of the first quarter mile jockeying for position, weaving in and out of the masses trying to get some running room, but after the first mile the runners became spaced out and it wasn't too bad.    My strategy was to try and run this race with negative splits, to just take it easy the first mile and run a pace that I knew I could improve on in the 2nd mile, then to run the third mile faster than the 2nd, and so on so that my last mile would be the fastest.   A sound strategy I thought till I realized that the first half of the race was primarily down hill and that I would have to battle 1 very tough hill and two long and steady inclines on the return back to the finish line.

The first incline was from the west side of Cleveland Browns Stadium running up West 3rd to Lakeside Avenue.   It wasn't a real steep incline, but it was long.   The reward for getting to the top was a brief level run west on Lakeside Avenue which then went down a steep hill into Cleveland's FLATS.   The bottom of the hill was the four mile mark, which I passed at 39:59.    Hmm!  Under 40:00 which meant I only had to run the last mile in 10:25 to beat my target of 50:25.   The only problem was that after running through the Flats, we had to run up a long AND steep hill before getting to the home stretch.    I looked down at the ground through most of this hill because looking up would only tell me how much more I had to go up.

Finally I reach the top of the hill at Superior Avenue.    Just over a half a mile to go and the watch reads 43:10, but half the distance left still in on an incline.   When I reached the highest point on the Detroit / Superior bridge I knew I had a chance to break 50:00 if I could finish strong.      When I turned the corner onto Vermont Ave I could see the clock at the finish line and it read 50:30 with still another 50-60 yards to go.    I crossed the finish line at the clock read 50:53, a new PR but not as well as I hoped.    Then I realized that was the Gun Time and not my Chip Time.    Chip time was 49:49:32,  A new PR and 35 seconds faster than my target time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Month 2 in the Books

February brought another month of unseasonably warm temperatures and great running weather. It also brought a setback in the training in the form of a groin injury. After returning home from a Florida vacation that permitted me to run every day in shorts, I returned to six inches of snow on my scheduled long day. Temperatures were warm so I got the Yak Trax out and had my wife drive me out to the Western Reserve Greenway, an old rail line that had been converted into a bike path that traversed from northeast Ohio to Cincinnati. The snow had been packed down by snowmobile traffic and for the most part the trail was shielded from the wind by trees. The Yak Trax helped, but after about 3 miles of the scheduled 7.5 mile run, I felt some pain in my upper leg.

It's not unusual to have some soreness the day after a long run, but when the pain occurs during a run it is not a very good sign. I cut the run short and called the honey to change the rendezvous point. This occurred on Sunday and by Wednesday it felt much better, so I headed out for a quick 3 miles at lunch to test it out. The leg felt great and I hit the first mile under 10 minutes. Mile 2 slowed down significantly and before I reached mile 3, the pain returned. Three days prior to the first 5k race of the season and I have to shut down the training again.

Saturday February 18th: First 5K race of the season and I'm waffling back and forth about competing in the "Running Out of Our Mine" 5K race in Wampum, PA. Since four of us were making the trip, I decided to go and decide after I had a chance to warmup. Since the race was in an old mine that had been re-purposed for boat and RV storage, the temperatures were a constant 55 degrees and we got there in plenty of time for a warmup run and stretch. The leg felt good, but I was still a little apprehensive about going 100% in a race environment and risk setting the training back even further. I finally decided that I would treat this as a training run and just take it easy (at least for the first mile). I was running with grand daughter Lexi and and we hit the mile 1 mark at 10:15, slightly slower than my usual race pace, but slightly faster than my training pace. I could feel a little tenderness in my leg, but not the sharp pain of the two previous workouts.

Mile 2 was exactly the same pace as mile 1 and the leg felt better so I told Lexi that we were going to pick up the pace a little. The harder we ran the better the leg felt and we were steadily passing other runners who were fading at the end. When the finish line was in sight, we picked it up even more but Lexi had more in the tank than her dear granddad and beat me by two seconds. The groin stiffened up a little on the way home, but it felt pretty good but I'm going to give it a couple of more days before resuming full training.

The Orange Hat Running Club


Earlier in the month, I had emailed one of the board members of our local runners club to find out when they would be publishing the new year race schedule. In the course of the email exchanges, I had mentioned that I had seen him with a small group of runners occasionally. The group called themselves the "Orange Hat Running Club" and got together on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for runs of 5-6 miles. They graciously invited me to join them, an offer I gladly accepted. They said they usually run about an 11:00 per mile pace, which fit perfectly in with my training program. On Wednesday Feb 22nd, I joined them for the first time. Their plan for the day was to run 5 miles on a course that featured several challenging hills. Up to this point most of my running had been on fairly flat courses. We ended up with an average pace of 10:34, a little faster than I was used to, but it was still a conversational pace. The guys told me of another larger group that met on Saturday mornings for even longer runs. I told them I would skip their Friday session and check out the Saturday morning group, but reconnect with them the following week.

The Saturday group was a much faster pace but Warren, the leader of the Orange Hat Club ran with me while the faster pace group quickly put distance between us and were soon out of sight.   The run got challenging at about the five mile mark, but I fought through the wall and eventually finished the 7 mile run, my longest in 3 weeks.

Monthly Recap

 Total mileage for the month dropped  due to the injury and the resulting downtime, but my overall fitness is continuing to rise.

The numbers:
Week 1: 23.54 miles; Average pace (10:59); Longest Run - 7 miles
Week 2: 20.44 miles; Average pace (10:49); Longest Run - 3.9 miles
Week 3: 6.05 miles; Average pace (10:36); Longest Run 3.1 miles
Week 4: 20.93 miles; Average pace (10:44); Longest Run 7.02 miles



Sunday, February 26, 2012

The OSF - Fleet Feet Photo Shoot

Pretty cool experience today.   Got to meet with five of my teammates on the Ohio Sports and Fitness Magazine Everyday Athletes team for a photo shoot.    We were modeling spring running fashions supplied by local retail Fleet Feet Sports.    The shoot wasn't very glamorous, but the merchandise we were modeling was too cool.     Can't wait to visit their store and see everything they have.

Each athlete was photographed individually, then we were paired with partners.    Following the individual shoots, we all ventured to Cleveland's near west side to shoot the cover for an upcoming issue of Ohio Sports and Fitness Magazine.   Modeling spring fashions outdoors in Cleveland in February!    I think I'm ready to give up modeling already.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Month of Training Complete

One month of training and the progress has been slow but steady. Logged 90 miles for the month that has seen my long Sunday runs progress from 5 miles to 7 miles. What a wonderful month of January we've had on the north coast. There were only two days that I had to move my runs to indoor on the treadmill due to weather, and only two others that I had to utilize my Yak Trax outside. My goal for the month was strictly to build a mileage base so that I could continue to build up my endurance and reduce the risk of injury once the training intensity increase as the half marathon date grew closer. I did not try to run faster, but that ended up being a product of my training.

Here are the weekly summaries of my first month of training.
Week 1: 19.13 Miles ran; Average pace 12:58, longest run 5.6 miles
Week 2: 19.51 miles ran; average pace (12:07); longest run 6.11 miles
Week 3: 19.86 miles ran; average pace (11:28); longest run 6.11 miles
Week 4: 20.54 miles ran; average pace (11:20); longest run 7 miles.

I'm beginning to think that my stated goal of a 2 hour and 30 minute half marathon may have been too conservative. My long runs have settled into a comfortable pace of about 11:15 per mile with no emphasis on speed. I feel that if I get to the starting line healthy that maintaining an 11:15 pace is certainly achievable and that would put my half marathon time at 2:27:29. With that said, my only goal for this first half marathon is to get to the starting line healthy and to finish with a smile on my face.