Halloween and a busy November.

 

Holloween Halfathon 5k

So the race season has begun in earnest. With my race calendar full for the month of November I am both excited and a bit nervous as to what this season holds for me. The Florida road race series presented its second challenge for me a few days before Halloween (10/29), with the Halloween halfathon and 5k. This race series is held at Fort Desoto which is a pretty nice place to run. The conditions were not terrific for this race, it was a very windy morning, cooler than it had been. I have not been able to equal my timing from the Disney race back in April and although I am not that far off that pace, I have not been able to equal that speed. The same held true for this race. I was able to run a 26:05 5k which is not terrible but (in my opinion) not worthy of an age group 2nd place, just sayin’. Needless to say I earned an age group second place. I like the Fort Desoto course its a fairly simple out and back course, run along the water but all on paved sidewalk. The wind was rough on the turn but tolerable. I felt good and think I ran a good race. Good times!

 

Disney Wine and Dine 5k

Disney, oh Disney, you do know how to organize a race. I have really enjoyed my past experience with the Disney races and other than the ungodly hour that one must wake to participate, the races are a lot of fun. 3:30am  arrived very unwelcome. This race was run at Disney Animal Kingdom, a park I have never been to. With the new Avatar world having just been opened I was curious to see it, crowd free. Disney had characters waiting for photos, pre race which made the nearly 2 hours before the race start easier to deal with. I had to get my Donald and Goofy on of course.

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The race itself was a blast and with the number of 5k participants the race went off with waves in each time corral. This was a welcome change to the congested start of some previous races. The run through the park was awesome, running through the Avatar world of Pandora was so cool at night, really made you feel like a moment that you were there. My timing was not great but not far off my 25-26 min timing. This was not a chip timed race so I am working off my Garmin. I ran a 27:05 and did not feel that badly during the race but lost some time in stopping for an in race character and then deciding against it. Very fun none the less, with beautiful medals and T-shirts, this was a worthwhile race that I might do again.

Phil Doganiero 5k 

This was an inaugural race put on by someone I consider a friend, I always like to join in on the more local stuff, I feel it supports the local running community. This race is up and over the Memorial Causeway bridge which can actually be a tough course. It is the closest to running hills that one might get here in Florida. With another simple out and back course I did not expect a drastic time change, wanted to continue to stay in that 25-26 min range and with the up and over portion I though I might lose some time. I finished at 26:03 which again is not bead but not stellar either. I feel like I am working towards breaking that 25:00 min mark but I am still a few months may be another year away. No age group placing this time or at least I did not stay to find out, I didn’t think that with a 26 min 5k I would have been in the running for a placement with a much better attended event. Another fun and challenging race that I felt good in. really nice medals and shirts and a beautiful morning for the run.

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With one last race for the month, the St Petersburg run fest 5k next weekend I will round out a pretty good month of racing. With December and January being less busy and the weather offering some cooler days (hopefully) I might just see the sub 25:00 5k by the beginning of 2018. Thank you loyal reader and as always Run Happy!

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Surviving Irma

To begin, my prayers go out to all those affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria, If you are able, please do what you can to assist in the recovery effort. As a Floridian, you get used to spending June -November watching “The Tropics”. At least this Floridian does, we prepare for the possible Category whatever to uproot trees, knock out power, damage the roof and quite possibly the worst of all turn our small 1940’s wood frame home into ultra exclusive waterfront property, when the “storm surge” hits.

To be quite honest I’m sick of it. I drag out the Hurricane shutters, make sure there is an appropriate supply of water (one gallon per person per day, minimum of 3 days), gas up the cars, chainsaw and the generator, collect non-perishables, pack valuables incase of the possible evacuation and we watch. We tune into our local Fox affiliate’s Meteorologist team, In my humble opinion they are the best.

As this massive storm came barreling through the tropics, we watched it. Irma became one of the most powerful atlantic storms on record and had its sights set on the east coast, then on the east coast of Florida, then on the “spine” of the state, with hurricane force winds that stretched 60 miles from its center. Irma then set its sights on the Tampa bay area, for a time it looked to be a category 4 storm as it passed directly over Pinellas County. Roxanne and I had always agreed we would board up and prepare the house as best we could and stay, if it were a category 2 or lower. A category 4 would be devastating and we decided to evacuate as the storm got closer. As large as Irma was everyone would be impacted . Our decision was to head east, to be closer to family and if in fact the storm stayed on its current track and remained at its projected intensity, We might be safer further from the eye. We gathered up our irreplaceable treasures, the birds, the cat and the most important the us and headed east.

Hunkered down in Lakeland Florida, with family, Waiting to see what would happen, expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Irma, who continued to be unpredictable, lost a bit of strength moving from a 4  to a 2 and moved east, placing us, right in the “eye of the storm”. We sheltered in a closet for 2-3 hours while the eye wall passed, eventually being able to try and get some sleep. we woke to find damage to roofs in the neighborhood, trees down, power out. Not a bad outcome, when you look at where we were supposed to be 24 hours ago. We helped clean up a bit, and reached out to our neighbors, who advised us that we still had power and other than some limbs down everything looked ok. We were VERY lucky.

After a tense drive home navigating numerous intersections with no traffic signals (no power…no traffic lights) We returned to out little St Petersburg abode, thankful to have survived Irma. We were able to reach out to friends over the next few days and offer our home (we had power). Floridians tend to be a hearty bunch so most stayed close to home and eventually the power came back, yards got cleaned up and things went back to “normal”. We step back and wait for the next one…oh, hello Maria…

Since the writing of this blog post, Hurricane Maria ravaged areas of the Caribbean that had already sustained damage from Hurricane Irma. The island of Puerto Rico is completely devastated and some areas are completely un-inhabitable. If you can, please donate to any one of the many charities and organizations that are offering aid and support to those affected in Texas, Florida and across the Caribbean. There are many options, The Red Cross is a good starting point.

Look gang, there are times when we need to look past politics and do what we do best as human beings first and Americans, second. We rally during times of tragedy and become our “better selves”. We help, we support, we give, please.

Thanks loyal reader, Run Happy!

 

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Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall 2017

Well there is a great deal to cover. I have not been that active on my social media (working full time tends to keep one busy). My last post covered Gasparilla, since then i have had  2 races, The Florida Halfathon 5k at Ft. Desoto, on March 12 and the Disney World Dark Side Half Marathon 5k on April 21. My last 5k was in October and I ran it in 27:30, so with a few months of decent training on my committed schedule,(4 days a week running no more than 3-4 miles at a 9:00/mile pace and 1 day walking briskly with my beautiful wife.) I thought I might be able to improve on that. The weather from November – April is usually pretty good here in FLA. Its cool and dry so…pretty good…not this year, summer began in March so I did not have as long to benefit from the cooler weather as I expected to, needless to say training has gone well despite the climate change that is absolutely not happening, no matter what scientist may say, I mean all the best research is done by politicians and real estate moguls, everyone knows this (sarcasm by the way).

Florida Halfathon 5k April 21, 2017

Well, I love the races that Florida Road Races puts on, Fort Desoto is a very pretty course to run on, I did the Halloween Halfathon in October 2016, the course was nearly the same. I did not really have a goal time in mind, I just wanted to run a bit faster than i did in October. The race began with what I thought was a pretty small crowd, I thing the 1/2 marathon drew a larger crowd, in the end I think the total number of runners for the 5k was about 450. The morning was cool and dry and a perfect morning to gain some time on my last 5k placing. I ended up pacing with a small group during the last mile or so, just to hold pace and not fall back, that worked out well for me as I tend to get lazy and “feel my legs” a bit more late in races, I need to work on that.

I ended with a finish time of 25:20, which was good (with the light turnout) for 2nd place in my age group. I was pretty happy with a podium finish for a time tat would not usually warrant a podium. Even If I had not gotten an age group placing, i would have been and still am very happy with the result of the race. I cut almost 3 mi off my last 5k finish and really felt good throughout the race. I have already registered for this event as well as 2 other 5k’s with the same organization, the first one in October. I you have an interest in participating in any single race or the 5k series check out. floridaroadraces.

Disney World Dark Side 5k

This was the next on the 2017 agenda and was a race I really enjoyed last year. Im not a huge Star Wars fan, I do enjoy the films and the characters though and I gotta say if Disney does anything well, its big crowds and big events. So its a no brainer they would do a big road race well. This one is through Epcot and although it is in the very early morning on a Friday there are quite a few volunteers and park employees who stand a cheer along the route. There are also Star Wars characters scattered throughout, which is really cool and this year I had to abide tradition and get my Chewbacca picture

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I will try to always re-register for this race it is a lot of fun, The course is well laid out and its kinda cool running through some of the countries and past the big “spaceship Earth ” in Epcot. The medals are really nice, there are tons of porta potties, if thats important to you. There are additional characters at the finish area, including Darth Vader and Boba Fett.

IMG_0255My finish time for this race was not as good as the halfathon 5k, 26:23, so I lost a minute, I have no real reason, maybe a difference in temperature, not really sure. needless to say I was and am still happy with the result, If I stayed at the 25 -26 min mark for a 5k I would be more than ok with that. i recognize that hitting low 20’s or maybe topping a sub 20, will more than likely be impossible, and probably not good for my artificial hip joint.

Good Times! and if you would like to participate in any  of the disney races you can go to rundisney.

Summer is Coming…

Well the long hot days have already begun I think my last two runs (before today) have been at almost 90 degrees and around 60-70 percent humidity.The summer in FLA, is always a tough time to train, I will however have to come up with a way to train that does not involve me trying to run in the middle of the day (heat) or after 6 pm (T-storms). It a solvable problem, and in the scale of 1st world problems its not even on the list. Anyway, a long hot summer approaches, and if i need to i can always hit the treadmill at the gym and get in my miles. With 2 races in October a November Disney race, 2 December races and a bunch at the beginning of 2018, I can only hope to stay vigilant to my training. For anyone left out there, loyal readers, thanks for hanging in there. I would promise more attention to updates, but I would be lying, I will tray and get something posted weekly, that I can abide. Run Happy!

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Gasparilla 2017 8k

The Gasparilla distance classic weekend has been a tradition for me since doing the half marathon (my first) back in 2010. The pre race expo is often not to be missed, and since I still had to pick up my race bib and shirt, Rox and Brenna joined me early Saturday. I knew it would be a bit crowded since the 5 and 15k had taken place that morning, what I did not know is that I would have a chance to meet an idol of mine. Brenna was not happy to wait on what turned out to be a 1 hour line to see MEB! thats right Meb Keflezighi, Olympic silver medalist, NYC marathon winner, and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon at 38 making him the oldest winner since at least the 1930’s. I have followed Met’s career since his NYC Marathon win in 2009, and have always looked up to his humility and hard work. The fact that I also got to meet Bill Rodgers 3 time Boston Marathon winner, and Bart Yasso, Runners world chief running officer.

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Bart Yasso

 

 

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Bill Rodgers

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MEB!!!

 

Now, onto the run itself. I did the 5k last year and decided to go a bit further and do the 8k this year. My training had consisted of no more than 3 miles per run, as of a few months ago I bumped that up to 4, so I though an 8k (5 miles) should be no problem.

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Start line…Windy!

It was a very windy start, especially as you come towards the finish line. Thankfully at least half the race the wind would be at my back, as this was a simple out and back, down Bayshore. The great thing about this race was that it is just long enough that there were not many walkers so there was no real bottleneck at the start. I was actually able to run from start to finish (which i actually did) .

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The route is pretty basic, Bayshore is really pretty, super expensive homes on one side and Tampa bay on the other. The support crowd had dwindled as the 8k was the las race of the weekend and it did not start till 9:15, however there were still pockets of folks cheering , playing music and generally enjoying what was an amazing Florida day, 60 degrees, bright sunshine, perfect! I had in mind to try and maintain an under 8:30/mile pace, and run the entire race, no stopping, slowing if I needed to but no stops. The first part worked out really well, the second, not so  much, in the last 1.5 miles i did have to stop, but only 2 times. I finished the race strong, and was able to manage a 42:04 time 8:22/mile pace.

This was a really great race and I will plan to do the 8k again next year!

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Happy Holidays!

Greetings loyal reader. I Wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

Its been quite a December for me and although by definition its totally narcissistic to think that any of you care about “how my December was” . It is a blog that is written by me, so I guess it makes sense that its about me. Anyway, December was a busy running month. It began with a little local trail run (5k), at one of our many local parks here in Pinellas county, one that surprisingly we had never been to, but will be visiting more often.The Boley Centers Jingle Bell run was just a few days later. It would normally be a 5k, but since they knocked down the St. Pete pier in preparation for the new pier, it was more like a 4k. I always love this run, its very festive (including snow falling at the start line)

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Then the Say no to Drugs 10 and 5k . Another race that I have always done, as long as I was in town to do it. The race is really well done, awesome goodies, really nice shirts and medals. the course is fantastic, up over the memorial causeway bridge which makes for a challenging uphill and downhill section. The post race, PANCAKES are a highlight and i cut my 5k time down to 27:18. Yeah me!

So, that will do it for 2016, heres hoping for a better 2017, always hope for better…Hope it was great for you, and is great in the new year! Run happy!

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2016 review

Well as we round the corner towards 2017, I have been thinking about 2016, it was a very strange year. Politics aside, There was running (of course) a new job , a job loss, a job search another job loss, some more running, new shoes (we will discuss those) a new watch (discussed) and the possibility of another move. Where to begin, lets start with the employment picture for the Neilsons. The massage thing did not work out for me, hindsight, I did not work hard enough to make it work. Penang spoiled me, I was an anomaly , and had some great folks doing some of the heavy lifting for me. Here in Florida I am 1 of 1,000, so i need to sell myself much better. I figured that out by finally getting tired of sitting around playing GTA5, and took a job with an addiction (drugs and alcohol) agency. to be honest it was an agency that when I was in the field, I swore I would never work for, a close friend was the director though, so I figured, why not. Big mistake, I am a damn good addiction counselor, however I was not a good fit and my real passion was the massage stuff. I take a new job and as I am just starting, Roxanne has some changes in her employment future. So as I sit here, we are both staring at new opportunities.

The running has been another story of change. I began the year with a very slow Gasparilla 5k (31:02), I was barely able to manage 3 days a week at 5k/day. I would balance the lack of running early on with some indoor cycling training and I joined a gym and began some strength training (July). The last 4 months of this year, I have been running 3-4 days a week, I can run a 5k consistently and my race time has improved dramatically. I ran the Halloween halfathon 5k in 27:30.

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Combining the strength training 2-3 days a week and the running 3-4 days a week and a really good body work specialist (Thanks Jeremy) has really shown some results in my times and my pace. I am in better shape than I was at the start of the year, dropping almost 15 pounds from my post op weight gain. December will be my biggest month for racing in quite a while. I will do a 5k trail run on the 10th, a fun run on the 14th and a competitive 5k on the 17th. looking forward to Gasparilla 8k in February and the Disney Dark side 5k in April.

New gear update. I blogged sometime ago that i had given up on Brooks. Far to many unnecessary changes (in my opinion) to some of my favorite shoes. They got rid on the Green Silence (a favorite) they ditched the Launch for a period of time and have since brought it back, for some reason though the platform is different, it feels very stiff and the heel cup seems narrower than previous models. Then they changed the pure flow completely, I mean the pure flow 4 and 5 and TOTALLY different shoes. I loved the 4 I hate the 5. I got some advice to try  Hoka one one, New Balance and Saucony. I liked the Hoka, and felt the cushioning would be good, I could not “feel the run” though, I hope you understand what i mean by that, I may try them again now that i have my stride sorted and my speed is coming back. Saucony not for me, can’t give you a solid reason why I just did not like anything I tried. I settled on a New Balance shoe called the “Fresh Foam Zante V2”. I love it, its my new “go to” shoe, its light, I can “feel” the run, It still has good forefoot cushioning, nice wide toe box, wide heel cup and some really good mid foot support.

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My next gear update, was my watch. I had always been a Garmin guy and I still am, however I have gone with a “fitness” watch rather than a traditional “running watch” mostly because at my age and my level of ability, i don’t need all the “bells and whistles” that you get with a watch like the Forerunner235. To be honest the 235 was my first choice. it has wrist based HR functioning and although it has extras i would never use, the color display and activity tracking features were a must have. the $300+ price tag was a bit much though. So I went with an equally jam packed watch, the Vivoactive HR. This watch has everything i both need and want. Tracks distance time and pace, wrist based HR, and activity tracking features like sleep and app based extras. The price tag was also much more manageable.

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I have had the watch for 3+ months now and I gotta say I love it. I dont get the promised 8 days of battery life, I manage more like 5-6 days, that was never a deal break or make though. Not a traditional running watch , I get everything from it I need though.

So here is hoping for a great 2017, lots to look forward to, changes galore. Praying we get to  stay in St. Petersburg and employment choices and changes don’t result in another move.

A very Merry Christmas to you all, I may post again before the holiday…in case I don’t though.

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NYC and Fort Desoto

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Sitting here, watching the gorgeous NYC marathon, beautiful weather, the city looks awesome with all the fall colors, the crowds are huge and I know some folks who are participating. It makes me think back to a time when doing this race was possible, now it will never happen so the best I will get is as a spectator. NYC marathon was always a goal because NY was my childhood and  although the city was not my home it was close enough to have spent some time in, I still have family in the area and would have loved to be a part of the celebration of running that the NYC marathon has become. All the best to those 50,000 strong.

Anyway  it has indeed been a while, a while since my last post, a while since i have raced. Most of my time as of late, has been devoted to training, building my strength back up, working on my stride and desperately trying to loose the limp on my right side. With 3 to 4 days a week on the road, no more than 4 miles at a time, I have also been in the gym doing some strength work. I have been able to reclaim some of my biomechanics, I honestly think that with my right side, the damage has been done, especially with the lateral hip flexor, which has been cut on 3 separate times. I am able (finally) to consistently complete a 3+ mile training run without walking due to cramping or discomfort. So my last race was Disney star Wars Darkside 10k and that was a double digit per mile pace, the Gasparilla before that was the same, double digit per mile pace. This past weekend I decided to register (last minute) for the Florida Road Races Halloween Halfathon 5 K. This race series which includes 4-5 yearly events, all being held at Fort Desoto state park (often voted  in the top 10 most beautiful beach in the country by DR. Beach.) are truly some of the nicest races in the area, super nice medals that are unique to the events, quality T-Shirts, a well run well managed event with tons of volunteers, and its a really reasonable price.

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I felt like with this 5k i could acctually have a plan for the race, my training had become more consistent, my pacing and times were predictable, so I thought lets go for single digit per mile pacing, i thought 9:00 (which is a far cry from the 7:15 pace I used to run…humble brag) which based on previous performance was pretty good, that would also put me way under 30:00 5k, which based on how difficult this recovery and rehab have been was a top tier goal. I felt really good when the race started, it was about 70 degrees  at the race start, so that was nice and the race was not heavily attended, I think 500+ people for the 5k. The course was well planned and I really felt like I could do well. My first mile was at 8:43/mile pace which admittedly I thought was a bit fast. I felt pretty good though so I figured lets hold that pace, why not? Mile 2 was an 8:40/mile pace and again, not really feeling it. mile 3 at 9:04/mile, lost a bit during that last mile and if there is improvement it in conserving so that splits are better. I finished at 27:40 an 8:55/mile pace (my Garmin had it at 8:47/mile, meh) I placed in the top 100, out of almost 600 participants. I was 7th in my age group, out of 17. Needless to say I was very happy. I was able to maintain my pacing and stuck with my goals. Its really nice that things are becoming more predictable and that is what I want to get to, a place where based on  y training I know what I can do in a race. Not bad for a guy with a fake hip! Next race is the “Say no to Drugs 5k” the course is quite hilly, so i am not sure what the goal will be there but a time closer to 25 min for the 5 k would be nice. Thank you for checking in loyal reader, I promise to be more attentive to this little blog, until then RUN HAPPY!

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