The last long run and it didn’t go so well….

Today was my last long run. It didn’t go down in my running history as a textbook run…
Here is a quick run down of what went down:
*It was pouring rain when I was originally scheduled to run, so after checking the weather, my run was postponed by two hours
*I forgot to eat another meal before I went on my run as I was busy making pasta sauce and lunch for my family (but not me)
*It was the longest run I had to go one which meant I couldn’t do my ‘normal route’
*I didn’t have any chews left. Just gels. And jelly beans. So, I was starving at km 12.
*It was hot and humid out and I ran out of liquids at 21k. I couldn’t get a refill to 28k.
*I got stung by a bee above my left ankle at km 23 and that took the wind out of my sail. It affected my gait. It was painful and hard to focus on my form, running etc. I have concluded I am part baby…..
*my avg. pace reduced from 5:50 to 6:30 after that as I had no more gas in the tank
*I had to cut the run short (by 4 km)
* I was nauseous for about 90 minutes after my run. I felt better after eating some chips and having some sugary juice

So, here is what I know and learned:
I don’t get any runners high out of running long distances
I don’t enjoy running for four hours
I do have to continue to refine my long run fuel plan
I need to eat lunch regularly (some days I don’t get to it till dinner time)
I love chips
I hate foam rolling
I need to plant liquids on long runs to ensure I don’t run out of fluids
The only reason I am doing this is not because I love it or even like running this distance. It is out of love and respect for my Uncle, Brian the great, to help continue his vision and legacy with the Niagara Children’s Museum. That is the lonely reason why I am doing this. Love. Not for running, but for a person….
————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2014 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!


Why Am I Running The Niagara Falls Marathon (Again)

Hey everybody,

As we head into the middle of September, I am full on neck deep into the big distance of my training as I prepare to run the Niagara Falls International Marathon at the end of October. For those new to reading this blog, these posts all started out of documenting my journey of running my first marathon, in my hometown, in memory of my Uncle, Brian Smylski, formerly the curator and artistic director of the Niagara Falls Children’s Museum, who succumbed to Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in March 2011. That took place in October of 2013.

The intention was to run in his name and memory and raise some much needed money to support educational programming at the Niagara Falls Children’s Musuem. The response was overwhelming. Thanks to the generous donations from my family and friends, we were able to raise much needed funds to support the innovative and creative programs at the Niagara Falls Children’s Museum, but also to continue Brian the greats legacy.

Last October, when I crossed the finishing line by clicking my heels together (there is no place like ‘home’ – the finishing line), there was no second marathon. I was done. Painfully done. I had run a marathon with a post tib tendon injury. It wasn’t fun. It was painful and I hurt. But I accomplished the goal that I set I out to do. Run a marathon and do it in memory of someone that that meant a tremendous amount to me and the community that I call my hometown (Niagara Falls).

I returned home, took a ton of time off from running (a good four months), healed my wounds, spent time with my family, rediscovered what a television and a couch where and enjoyed eating chips (in moderation) and beer (sometimes in moderation).

I then determined that I would train for an half iron distance (run 2km, bike 90km, run 21.1 km) duathlon to compete in locally and maybe a few smaller distance triathlons/duathlons. Nothing serious. Just something to give me a goal towards training for. That all changed when I got this in the mail.

The moment I finished reading this, I called out to my wife and told her, ‘well, it looks like I am running the Niagara Falls marathon again this year!’ I had inspired others by doing what I did. Because of that, the team of one participating in running in memory of Brian the great grew. My sister is doing the 10k. She isn’t a runner but will be walking it. As well, museum staff and Deb the great will also be participating in some aspect, either running or walking! I have also a few friends that have expressed interest in running 5k, 10k or the full marathon. I am thrilled that people would consider doing that with me, for me, for our community, for the legacy of Brian the great and to financially support the Niagara Falls Children’s Museum!

I honestly don’t know if I can commit to training every year for a fall marathon. September is one of my ‘busy seasons’ at work and my training volume is down this year (but I have also been riding my bike to work). This is also the time of the year I do the core chunk of my long runs to accumulate mileage. It takes a big toll on my family when I have to run 3-4 hours on the weekend because that is time I could be doing something with them. They are understanding, but I know my wife will be happy at the end of October when I again resume my rest and relaxation in the off season.

There will be more to come. Stay tuned and please don’t be shy about sharing this blog with anyone to help spread the word about our run and to inform people of the legacy of Brian the great!
————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2014 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

8 things that have helped me improve my running

Hi everyone,
As I prepare to run the Niagara Falls International Marathon, I had some time yesterday on my long run to reflect and think about a few things that have helped me improve my running from last year to this year. Last year was my first time training for a marathon. After experiencing what I did last year, I know I am more experienced and wiser about what I need to do to stay healthy and train to make my marathon experience more positive.

Here is a list of a few things I was able to think of on how I improve my running from last year

1. To run faster, you need to run faster
I am faster this year than last year. I have improved my running pace by about twenty to thirty seconds and can run comfortably at a higher rate of speed this year compared to last year. Now, by all means, I am faster, but that is compared to MY own results from last year. I am, by no means, a fast runner. But I am running faster than last year. Why? How? Well to run faster, you have to run faster! It isn’t rocket science. If you want to run a 5:00 km, you can’t run it if you don’t run he km at a 5:00 pace. So, I started to run faster.

2. Treats are treats
I love chips. And beer. I am a self confessed beer snob. But beer and chips are treats. Hey are not staples in my regular diet. I enjoy them when we entertain or out with friends, but only if it doesn’t interfere with my training. Treats are treats to enjoy occasionally.

3. What I am eating/fueling my body with before I run
My diet has changed to help fuel my body for exercise. I have started to consume more nuts, granola, more leafy greens and more beans and legumes. I tried to make more soup in the Summer as well. All food that goes into my body is for the purpose of fueling my body.

4. The foam roller
Most people who run complain about the sore legs afterwards. The solution to this issue is deep tissue massage and the most convenient way for this to happen is by foam rolling. It is painful, it can hurt, but it provides your legs with some much needed deep tissue massage to help your
Eggs recover a lot quicker and to reduce in the post long run soreness.

5. A stronger core makes for a stronger runner
I am much stronger thanks to the core exercises that I do wWhen stretching after runs. My wife shares a variety of core exercises with me and I work on them in private because my body SHAKES when I do them. Still. After 6 months of doing them. In other words, my body is stronger, but I have a lot of work to get even stronger!

6. What I am eating/fueling my body when I run
Proper fueling during the long runs means I have enough fuel in my body to run for a long time. I finally found gels that I can swallow. I found chews that I enjoy chewing and found an electrolyte drink that I can consume during exercise that doesn’t upset my gut. All from trial and error, but now I am confident with my fuel. Now I just have to practice the frequency of consumption of on the run fuel.

7. Posture
I think my posture is better because of my core but I worked hard to build check ins to ensure that I am upright, gave a proper propelling lean and my legs are turning over like I am riding a bicycle.

8. The importance of a training plan
A training program is key to improvements. You can get a a good plan off of the Internet, from running books, running groups or a coach. A training plan helps focus your training with a goal in mind. You can’t improve if you don’t have a plan (in my opinion).

So, those are my reflections. Hope they help, get you thinking or inspire you to reflect on how they can help you. I know they will help me when I run in memory of Brian the Great in October.

More to come, stay tuned!

————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 (and now October 2014) in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

A long Summer recapped

Greetings everyone!
My apologies for the lack of communication. It was one long busy Summer filled with training, racing, vacations, training, moving to a new work site and more training. Did I mention the training?

I was blessed this Summer with a season free from major injuries. I trained smart and followed a great training plan that helped me become faster when running, stronger in my core (and legs) and more confident in my abilities.

At the beginning of the Summer, I competed in a local race with my brother in law and sister in law. I raced a half ‘iron’ distance duathlon (while my brother and sister in law competed in a sprint triathlon relay). I ran 2km to start, biked for 90 km and then ran a half marathon. Our duathlon race also intertwined with the half iron distance triathlon that was running at the same time.

The duathlon field was small. About 25 competitors in the duathlon. The run start went very quick for me. A little too quick but I got into a rhythm of running a pace to keep up with the field. I am not the fastest runner and that was evident in the 2k start! I hopped on my bike. This is where it got a bit odd. In many of my previous races, I am used to doing most of my rides at the back of the field where I am the one whisking by people. But this race, I was at the front of the pack and I was being passed by a lot of strong cyclists. It was a bit of a head game for me. I was going my desired pace, but I was being passed and not doing the passing. I had to use some self talk early on when I was on the bike to remind myself that I needed to focus on my race and not the riding of others.

It was a 45 km ride out and then back. The ride out was great. It was a lot of rolling hills. I got a lot faster and faster as the ride went and my legs felt great. At the turnaround, I figured out why. The headwind! The ride back was much more difficult, especially into the wind. I persevered but used a lot of energy on the rolling climbs on the way back. That took its toll on my legs and the legs of my competitors.

Once I got to transition, I took my time, ate, and got ready for the run. I rolled out for the run but my legs were heavy and slow for the first 5 km. And then I got my rhythm. I got faster and faster and started to reel people in. I had a great run , especially in the second half and finished my run in 2:06, which I was happy with considering my first 6 km were ridiculously slow.

The great news was that I finished third in my age category and got a giant ass medal. It was a great day. I was happy with my performance and felt in great shape.

The race was in early July. So I took two days off to enjoy some chips and beer and then jumped right into marathon training. I took two different training plans, combined them and started to train. I reduced the distance after the race and really concentrated on trying to do three things. 1. Run faster. 2. Cross train. 3. Not overtrain.

So for the month of July, I spent time riding my bike 25-35 km while working on fartleks and running shorter distances at a faster pace as well as not feeling terribly bad if I missed a run. By not running 6 days a week, I was hopeful I could stay injury free. But there was on issue. The issue came on slow long runs. I really had to consciously slow down the long runs to make sure I was actually benefitting from a slow long run. That is hard because my natural pace was a lot quicker than last year and had to consciously run a lot slower. That gave me time to work on my form, breathing and my thoughts.

July was great. August was a different story. Training was sporadic and inconsistent because my family was in Huntsville visiting friends at the end of July, in Disney in early August, and the. in Mont Tremblant in mid August as well as changing work sites, so my ability to run in the day at an optimal time was compromised forcing me to either delay runs, miss runs or run at night.

Now that September is here, I am hoping for more consistency as I build up the core base of my big distance as I prepare to run the Niagara Falls International Marathon at the end of October.

I look forward to again running the marathon in memory of my uncle, Brian the Great, who succumbed to his battle with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and to raise money for the Niagara Falls Children’s museum, which was his passion in life.

Stay tuned. I promise to give you more updates, some advice and my perspective on 8 months of training and preparation!
————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 (and now October 2014) in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!