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!

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 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 Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

Countdown to the Marathon

Today is a grey dismal day outside. The temperature is dropping, the leaves are falling, the rain is starting and I am reflecting. Reflecting on my marathon training schedule, the long hours of training and preparation that I have put in to run this marathon and it all ends on Sunday. That is when the Niagara Falls Marathon takes place.

I am pretty excited for a variety of reasons.
1. Race day will finally be here. Race day is always exciting because you get to compete against yourself to see how far you can push your body for mental satisfaction (there is no physical satisfaction that I can think of….)!

2. I get to see my Niagara family and friends. I don’t see them as often as I should or as often as I would like, so I hope to make the most of the weekend!

3. Good meals! I can’t wait for my pre-pre game meal at my Mother in Law’s house on Friday (which means I don’t have to cook! Woo-Hoo!). On Saturday, I am looking forward to some traditional Italian fare via Strada West in Niagara Falls (so excited) and then Sunday, the post game celebration will take place at the Y Not Again in Chippawa! The BEST pizza and wings! And Beer. Mmmmmm…beer!

4. I get to run from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. Over the Peace Bridge. How cool is that?

4. I get to honor my uncle. For those of you that aren’t regular readers, there is a reason why I am running the marathon. And even for you regular readers, here is more information which inspired me to train for months to run this marathon

So, I am still hurt. I haven’t been able to run longer than 6k in the last two weeks with strong discomfort in my left ankle. I have spent more time in the last two weeks riding my road bike, averaging 20-35 Km a ride. And without pain or discomfort! Yet I remain anxious. Tired. Worried. Yet relieved that this weekend, it all ends. This could be me only marathon. Only time will tell. Only time will tell!!!

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

Marathon Training continues: tips for recovery from training

Hi everyone. First off, I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea that my training for the Niagara Falls International marathon is all gruelling and long and disheartening, because it isn’t. I re-read my last couple of blog posts and I firmly believe they come across as negative and ‘poor me’ when I really didn’t intend for them to come across that way. However, when I decided to do the blog, I wanted to be honest and true to my feelings, emotions and, as you can read from previous blog posts, the ‘ups and the downs’ of training to prepare to run a marathon. So, I am going to make a more concerted effort to make my posts less depressing and woeful and more positive!

This week is the last week for my last big training run before I start to taper and wind down my distance, and I started to think of the various strategies I utilize to recover from my long runs on Sunday that allow me to walk on Monday and resume my training on Tuesday (Tuesdays my legs still ache a bit but that is the best run date I usually have all week!)

1. Foam roll. I can’t speak highly enough of the use of the foam roll. It has helped me immensely through my training and recovery for bike riding this summer and for my marathon training. There is a lot of emerging research on the effects of deep tissue massage post exercise as a way to help your sore leg muscles rebound, and the use of a foam roller is the easiest and most convenient way to get a deep tissue massage. By the way, I hate foam rolling! It hurts! I mutter cuss words to myself while rolling, but I can tell the difference when I foam roll and when I don’t! I use it on my lover body, especially my calves, hamstrings, quads and IT bands. Even though it hurts, I still go back to it!

2. Milk. I am not a big milk drinker. However, I have found that drinking chocolate milk after a hard long workout has also made me less thirsty and makes me feel better after long tough workout (versus not having any milk post workout). Once again, I drink milk post workout only.

3. Muscle Milk. I love this stuff. Muscle Milk is the name of a high protein drink that we discovered last year at a ten mile race my wife and I competed with our good friends in Newmarket (the Olsons. Great people!) and have fallen in love with this product. I drink it only after my long runs as having high protein after a run will help the muscles recover without depleting the protein already stored in your muscles, which means you have longer to recover from abusing your body. As my wife tries to explain, your muscles deplete the protein stores in your muscle as you exercise. When your exercise is completed, you need to give your muscles more protein to repair themselves, hence why this product (which isn’t cheap) is so valuable and useful as a recovery drink post workout. I love the banana flavoured product. The chocolate version wasn’t bad. The vanilla flavour was sub par.

4. Greek yoghurt. High in protein and delicious tasting. See above for reasons why I eat it (high in protein).

5. Ice baths. I just started these and I strongly dislike them. But, I have been having some calf soreness, some Achilles soreness and some ankle pain, and when I put them in cold water, they tend to recover faster than when I don’t! I tried the immersion method, but am too much of a wuss for that. I prefer the bucket of cold water and ice method for my lower legs!

6. Hot bath. The hotter that my body can take, the better. These don’t necessarily make my body feel better the next day, but it helps get my muscles warm before a good intensive foam rolling session.

7. Ice. I ice my knees, below my calf and my right Achilles after long runs. It helps immensely with recuperation. Plus, I get time to sit, relax and decompress from the long run when icing my legs. Not a bad deal at all!!!

Well. There you have it. Looking over the the seven points, I still sense some negativity. But no one said you are going to love every minute of training and recuperation did they? I didn’t think so.
Thanks for reading and your support and the official countdown to the Niagara Falls International Marathon is on!

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

Marathon Training continues: Whole lotta hurting going on!

So, it is 27 days to the Niagara Falls International Marathon and this is my first day of running after running my long run at or near race pace. I ran 30K in 2:53:21 at a pace of 5:47. Impressive (for me) and based on my calculations, would put me running the marathon in just over 4 hours. Great news! My training partners did their 30K in 3:04, which is awesome. Super happy.

What isn’t super happy is my body! Where to start because I have lots of aches and pains as my body is preparing to do something it has never done before. 4 hours of continuous exercise! Heck, even baseball games are shorter than that!!! So, as I start tapering my distance over the next three weeks, I hope my body gets a chance to recover as these parts of my body are sore:

  • knees. My knees generally hurt Sunday after long runs and Monday (which are rest days because of Sunday). I am generally icing them, elevating them and trying to avoid the stairs. Funny thing, my knees don’t hurt after I resume training on Tuesdays.
  • calves. Tuesdays, Instead of my knees hurting, my calves hurt. Generally it is my left calf. A bit below the calf actually. It provides some soreness and discomfort in running but generally it doesn’t hurt so I usually run through the discomfort. Again, icing my calf (or the area below) helps reduce the hurting!
  • back – my back hurts because it is tight. I really need a massage but I am embarassed to say I have never had a massage and really don’t intend on getting one. I really don’t like people touching me….
  • Big toes – they hurt after my long runs. Probably my gait and where I push off during my stride. A nice bath really helps!
  • Soles of my feet – they also hurt after long runs. I give them a nice massage with the tennis ball and do lots of stretching and that seems to help

The common denominator for all my aches and pains? THE LONG RUN! When the marathon is over, I will need to reflect and re-evaluate my training schedule, as well as my gait, running stride, shoe selection, diet, fuel etc. I am pretty sure that I heel strike which leads to a lot of issues with running, as does my shoe selection, as they are heavy and supportive, but a lighter shoe would probably do my sore legs and running parts a whole lotta good!

So there is the hurt. That is the bad news. The good news is what I am doing to avoid extra hurt. But that is s story for another time!


—————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great,  follow this link 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!

Marathon training continues: Battling physical and mental fatigue

There are less than thirty days till the Niagara Falls International Marathon and the marathon can’t come soon enough.

This week I have come to the realization that I am battling fatigue. I am tired both physically and mentally from training. It isn’t the training that has drained me. It is the combination of work, training, family and everyday responsibilities. Working upwards of fifty hours a week, in addition to my responsibilities as a father and husband are enough for the average man. Then throw in five days a week of training, and finding time for the other aspects of my life (rehearsing in the band, cooking, baking etc) that I like, and that creates a recipe of trouble, especially for those who lack some serious organizational skills or time management. Not to say that I am not organized or can manage my time, but still, I am tired.

I am tired. Physically tired yes. And that comes to be expected when training for any athletic competition. But this is not training for hockey or baseball or football. I am training my body to do continuous constant exercise for four hours. I am training my body to respond to running on tired, sore and overused muscles. I am training my body to do something that it has never ever done before (I haven’t even run 42 km ever! Yet I am training to run that distance and even in my training program, I don’t hit running 40 km at all). I am essentially training my body to run while tired and fatigued. Isn’t that irony!

Another key reason for being tired, beyond training, is the lack of sleep. I used to be a sleeper. My mom sent me to bed at 7:00 when I was young, but now realize she just needed the break!!! Due to the fact that I do most of my running late in the evening, after the kids are in bed, makes for a difficult wind down. When my wife is ready for bed, I am eating, stretching or just winding down from my run that I just completed. So, going to sleep right after exercise is a bit more of a challenge, causing me to sleep less, which compounds into making me more tired.

Mental fatigue comes with my job, but it also comes with running. When training, I spend a lot of time by myself and my thoughts. Self doubt, negativity and the mental wall provide excellent obstacles to overcome. But because my body is tired and I am tired, my mind is more at risk for blowing off exercise or using excuses not to exercise. Without my own personal motivation to run the Niagara International Marathon (running for Brian the Great. Read my other blog post, ‘the Moral Purpose’), I doubt my success in achieving my goals and my commitment to my training program.

I will be happy in thirty days for having achieved the accomplishment of completing a marathon, raising awareness of the legacy my Uncle Brian left and raising money for the Niagara Falls Children’s Museum. Then, I take a well deserved break from exercise and return to normal…whatever normal is (or was). But that is a story for another time!


ps, Thanks Niagara This Week for the press. Check it out!

—————————————————————————————————————–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 Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!