And so it continues….the Niagara Falls International marathon part III

Hi everyone,

It has been a while. I hope you are all doing well. Sorry for the absence, but there really hasn’t been much to write about until now. My family is gearing up for the Niagara Falls International marathon. This will be the first time that my entire family gets to ‘race’. But this year will look very different than it has in the past! At the request of my wife and my aunt, Deb the Great, now the curator of the Niagara  Falls Art Gallery and Children’s Museum, I will be running the 1/2 marathon to get to spend more time with my family (enjoy a family dinner the night before but then get to go to family lunch after the race). So the plan is that I will run the 1/2 marathon, Deb the Great, will walk the 1/2 marathon and my two children (aged 7 and 9) will participate in the schools challenge (with my wife), which is pretty cool. They run a 2km race the day of the other races with other school aged children after doing 4o.2 km of running at school as part of the Physical Education and Daily Physical Education program. Although excited about their race (and with the experience of having competed in a wide variety of kids triathlons and running races), they are nervous but understand that they are doing this running challenge to help continue the legacy of Brian the Great.

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. I ran the marathon again the following year in October 2014 and then this year, my family joins me!

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. We continue use this legacy again this year. So please get off of your wallet and donate money, not necessary for me, but for my kids, who will be training over the next 6 weeks to run 40.2 km to complete the last 2 km of the accumulated marathon distance at the same time I am running the 1/2 marathon. That is an impressive feat for a 7 and 9 year old.

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 and family running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2015 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 http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy and his family 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.
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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 http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. 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 http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

Week 1 of 16 for half Iron distance (70.3 miles) duathlon in July

So, I am back on the horse officially!
This is week one of formal training for the Peterborough Half Ironman distance duathlon that takes place in early July. I have taken a half ironman training program designed by Matt Fitzerald, a triathlon plan guru (who you can see in person, as he is the keynote speaker at the TriSummit in Muskoka in early April. For more information, check out http://www.muskokatrisummit.com/) and fitness writer. I took his plan and slightly tweaked it. I took out the swims and jilt in some BRICK workouts later in the training to adjust to some transitions. This training plan is very different than my plan last year, as my training has increased from five days to six days, but I really like this plan as the weekday portion is doable in terms of time it will take to complete the training, as well as the long distances are scheduled on the weekends!
So, week one started on Monday. It was a rest day. I love Mondays!!!
Tuesday was the first day back on the bike, which is set up on the trainer in the basement. 40 minutes moderately with some small manageable intervals spaced throughout the 40 minutes on the bike. It felt good while on the bike. I get off the bike at the end of 49 minutes and my legs felt like they were cinder blocks….I then did a small amount of core training that will grow in time and intensity as the weeks progress.
Wed was a 4 mile run with some hill sprints. I was kind of hesitant when I went out as I have spent less time running then on the bike over the ‘off season’, but was very surprised by how great I felt running. No pain, not slow and I felt great! It wasn’t exactly warm but I was pretty sweaty guy by the end of the run.
Thursday was a 40 minute bike ride that was consistent and Friday was a 4 mile moderate run that I thoroughly enjoyed. It felt great. My ass is experiencing some saddle soreness but my legs are really good, but I think that has to do with the amount of time I spend on the foam roller in the evening after each activity. Or maybe it is the new shoes!
The weekends are scheduled for the big distances.
Saturday I had to ride the bike (on the trainer) for 35km. Due to the shape of the day, I couldn’t ride till after the kids were in bed…and after dinner out with friends…and a beer….and half of the best tasting Cherry Donut I have ever tasted! So, the ride was long and hot. Did I mention it was long? However, it was a great time to catch up watching concerts and music videos on YouTube to keep my attention!
Sunday was a 10k run. Another cold day, but beautiful and glorious! The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky. A great day to be outside. The run was great. A wonderful run with a pretty good time for a ‘slow pace’. I made the comment to my wife that my muscle memory was great. The body kicked in, the legs and lungs knew what to do and I felt super and pain free throughout the run.

Let’s see how next week goes, so 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 http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

Getting back on the horse

Exercising can be daunting for some people. Some of my friends love to have exercise as part of their daily regimes. Others feel like they need to add it to part of their daily routine. But for me, I love to exercise when I have a plan and a goal in kind. That is the motivation that gets me off of the couch. It is the motivation that keeps my hands out of a family bag of plain rippled chips. It is the motivation to get me on the bike on the trainer in the basement or running when the wind chill is cold!

So, it is this goal and plan that will help me as I say, ‘get back on the horse’. As most of you know, I have committed to compete in a 70.3 half ironman duathlon in early July and then the Niagara Falls International Marathon for the second time (to raise funds for the Niagara Children’s Museum in honour of my uncle, Brian the Great) in late October. So, looking at the calendar, getting back on the horse is what I need to do!

This week was getting my legs used to running again, a great week to do it considering it was our Spring break where I live and had time to dedicate to getting my legs used to running again. The bad news, if you can call it that, was that my family was on vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampahire where we skied and skied and skied. So, in reflection, I didn’t run as much as I would have liked, but did downhill ski, skate or run six of the seven days.

After returning home, I am currently nursing either a bruised shin or am suffering from what could be a shin splint, not necessarily from running, but from downhill skiing. We shall see tomorrow when I get out for a run!

Stay tuned for more info as this week, I attempt to get back on the horse!!!

————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 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 http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

And so it begins…again

Hi everyone,
Hope all of you are well and you are all happy and healthy since the last time I have blogged. As most of you know by now, my journey to completing the Niagara Falls International Marathon is over. After an injury plagued final few weeks, I painfully completed one of the hardest things I have ever physically done in completing a marathon. It was emotionally and physically demanding and exhausting, and due to injuries, I took some time off over the off season to recuperate…and recuperate I did. I took up some new hobbies, like watching television, eating chips and drinking beer!

I have run only three times since October. The first one was a painful 4 k, which led to new shoes. The second and third were getting me back on the running wagon and that takes where I am today. I have cross country skied and enjoyed regular rides on my bake on the trainer in the basement, but am nowhere near any physical condition to run longer than 5k!

Last week at this time, I was preparing myself for March Break and then starting my training schedule to complete a half iron duathlon in early July in my current hometown of Peterborough Ontario. I run 2k,bike for 90k and then run a half marathon (21.1k) A big challenge, but I am ready to get back on my bike and ride the roads and toss in some 1/2 marathon training as well.

That was my plan. Then this came in the mail.

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So, my mind started to run (at least something is) and decided that if friends and family of Brian the Great are going to keep the traditional alive and make this an annual event and run (a variety of distances) at the Niagara Falls marathon, then I am in…and if I am in, I want a better experience than last year!

So, I hereby declare that in October 2014, I will be running the Niagara Falls International marathon again in honour and memory of Brian the Great (as well as to raise money in his name for the Niagara Children’s Museum). Let the pain begin, but that is a story for next time!

Stay tuned for more!

Marathon training continues….well, not really!!!

So, it is close to a week away from the Niagara Falls International Marathon and I am typing this, lying in the comfort of my bed, wearing shorts, compression socks and an ice pack tied to my left ankle. It seems that I am still recovering from an injury that has compounded with marathon training that has made running extremely uncomfortable. The discomfort comes for my left lower leg in my ankle. The strong discomfort comes from pushing off in my running stride and I can really feel the strong discomfort at around kilometre three or four when I run. So, I have resigned myself to running the marathon in discomfort or possibly pain, as that seems to be my reality.

Not running the marathon is not an option. There is no turning back. When I decided to run the marathon, I did so with the intention of running in memory of my Uncle, Brian the Great, who passed away in March 2011 from Non-Hodgins Lymphoma. It would be a great way to honour his memory, provide some spread to his legacy and help raise funds to support the educational programming for the Niagara Falls Children Museum, which he helped create. So, I really am running this for him. I am not trying for a personal best or to qualify for another marathon. My moral purpose is for another. That is why I will throw in my compression socks, my shorts, shoes and run. Strong discomfort, pain and all.

So, as I lay here, I think to my family who is gathered in the Northeastern United States to remember another uncle who recently asked away. I hope they are strong in their memories, short on grief and remember to spread the legacies of my uncles (both of them) on a daily basis.

Andy

Ps. Help me spread the legacy of Brian the Great. For more information on how to do this or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/