The real benefit of running 21Apr12 | back to top

So, what does 6 months of running every single day actually accomplish?

In a practical sense, it resulted in a loss of 25 lbs. And interestingly enough, data from my Garmin estimates I burned somewhere around 100k calories. At 3500 / lb, I guess it wasn’t too far off. There are more stats below, but what the numbers don’t show is how incredibly powerful my running routine was in my making it through one of the most difficult times of my life. Something each and every one of us will deal with at some point, that is the loss of a parent.

Just a month into my running every day routine my mother passed away. It wasn’t one of those tragic, unexpected, events like a car accident or a sudden illness. But even when you see it coming, the emotional toll isn’t much less.

My mother passed before dawn and putting on my shoes later that day to go for a run wasn’t easy. But it did provide time to linger on my thoughts. The next day was hard as well, and the next. But after each run I felt I was getting to a better place, and finding it easer to gain perspective.

Five months later I was still at it when I finally decided I was done. Not done with running, just with that specific routine. That was last September, and I’m now finding myself longing to try something new, I don’t think it will be a “run every day” thing again, but something. Perhaps another try at a 100k. But whatever it is, I know that the simple act of running, of taking things one step at a time, is more powerful than the numbers would lead you to believe…

Six months of running by the number

Six months of running by the numbers

Running in New Orleans 01Aug11 | back to top

Tl;dr – Running every single day in NOLA is proving to be very hard, but I’m not stopping now.

Yesterday marked my first full week of running in New Orleans. First impression – not fun. Between the scorching sun, the humidity, the unending flats, and the hard concrete… well, I’ve decided I prefer the trails in the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD). No surprise there. I doubt I’ll ever find a place more enjoyable to run than the MMWD. But life has placed me here in the south for awhile and I plan on making the best of it.

There are a few pluses. First is running in the rain. It’s too much fun to pass up, even when there is a little thunder and lightning. Between the rainy spring in Marin to the fall hurricane season here in New Orleans I’m getting a lot of rain runs in!. Also, I’m only .75 miles from Lake Pontchartrain and Levee Lake road. I’m still figuring out the best routes, but at least when I’m running up near the lake there are amazing sunsets and on rare occasions a light breeze. I’ll also continue to explore City Park. Deanna and I ran the 3-mile stretch of road along the westside of the park and from the looks of it there could be some nice places to explore. Still flat as can be, but least something other than city streets.

Speaking of the streets. Because of the high water table the road are always cracked, patched, and uneven. And the sidewalks are a disaster! You’ll be running along on the sidewalk and all of a sudden it’s gone. And then it’s back again with a few broken blocks that will most certainly catch your foot and send you flying if you don’t spot them in time. In some ways it’s almost like trail running I suppose.

And the flats… Back in the MMWD I was averaging something close to 2500’ of elevation gain per week. This past week, 29’. That’s almost a rounding error. It’s too flat here and I need to find an alternative.

Stats after 150+ days of running: Average speed is up to .2-mph to 6.4, and my average heart rate has dropped by 3-bpm to 143 (both due to the all flat running). Cadence is down a bit this past week. Not sure why, but we’ll see if it holds. Below is an updated screen cap from my Garmin Connect summary screen.

Garmin Connect running stats for July

Garmin Connect running stats for July

100 days later 09Jun11 | back to top

Wow! 100 days of running and my legs haven’t fallen off, yet. When I started all this I honestly wasn’t sure how long I could keep going. I figured that I would eventually miss a day due to injury or some simply forgetting. But truth is, I look forward to my run every single day. It’s simply part of what I do now. And as for injury, I’ve been rather lucky, although I did manage to run through two pulled calves (more below).

Bon Tempe Lake - View from the southwest shore along the trail

(Bon Tempe Lake - View from the southwest shore along the trail)

Over all my legs are doing just fine if yesterday’s 10 mile run is any indication. Granted, I don’t think I had a mile that was under a 10 minute pace. But then again, in the first mile I climbed over 550′. A few ups and downs from there, finally reaching 980′ near the 6.5 mile mark, all adding up to a over 3000′ elevation change. And this morning I hoped out of bed and the legs don’t even feel sore… hummm, perhaps that means I need to push things a little harder.

Speaking of yesterday’s run, you can check out all the details on Garmin Connect. And my entire run log here. But to be honest, I think these images in this post tell the store better than any numbers or maps ever could…

View of the lower part of the MMWD w/ Mt. Tam in the background

(View of the lower part of the MMWD w/ Mt. Tam in the background)

How the body responds
I wouldn’t say I have fresh legs, ever, even after a down week (last week I dropped back to 25 miles).  But they do seem to be adjusting to the daily grind nicely. There are of course a some days where my inner ankles get a bit sore (poor form or bio-mechanics?), or a calf is tender, but for the most part those things don’t linger long. Well, the two calf issues did. Both were minor pulls. Right calf first after two days of really good hill climbs. By the end of that second run I knew I had pushed things way too far. It took about a week before the soreness went away. Than a few weeks later I did it again. This tim to my left calf. But it wasn’t a hill climb. All it took was a stretch of running at a much faster than normal pace where I was up too far on my mid-foot. Within a 100 yards I knew what I had done, and the following day’s run proved it (you can see the big drop in pace there just after 2 miles where my calf started to cramp.)

But again, after several days of taking it easy things were back to normal.

The lesson, slow and steady and try not to push things too hard. This can be frustrating at times, especially on single-track where there is the constant desire to open it up and have fun.

By the numbers

When I started this I was sitting right around 184 lbs, and was near 177 lbs about three weeks ago right before a little bout of food poisoning. The five pounds I lost that night have mostly come back, but I’ve been consistent right around 174 for the last several days.

For the rest of my weekly stats, take a look at this post. Truth is, I’m happy with the progress. 100 days in, nice consistent improvement each week. Just need to keep logging the miles and continue building a solid base.

Lake Lagunitas spillway

(Lake Lagunitas spillway)

Running by the numbers 09Jun11 | back to top

There are two things I love about running, and the strange part is they are somewhat contradictory. The first is the simplicity of it all. A pair of shoes, maybe a water bottle, and a off you go. The other thing is the data. GPS, pace, heart rate, cadence, elevation, you name it. Some say it takes away from the experience, but I guess it’s in my blood. I love seeing the data behind each run. So for those of you like me who like seeing the numbers, below is a chart for the last 100 days. Broken down by week. Enjoy, Shawn.

Weekly stats after 100 days

(Weekly stats after 100 days)

50 days come and gone 20Apr11 | back to top

Some 50 days ago I got the bright idea to start running again. The first month went well and ended with an average pace of 5.3-mph. Not fast, but a good start. I’m now 20 days into the second month and my average pace is up to 5.7-mph. Of course there have been some changes. Almost all of March was spent running on trails up in the Marin Municipal Water District around Phoenix Lake, unlike the last few weeks, which have been on much friendlier (and flatter) trails and roads (aside from a few runs where I ran on railroad ties).

Even though I’ve been away from home since April 2nd, I have fortunately been able to stay consistent and run a minimum of 3-miles/day. Another point of consistency has been my cadence. March average was 83-spm (steps / minute) and the avg. for the first 20 days of April has been exactly 83-spm as well. This was a bit surprising since in the past I’ve usually averaged up closer to 90, even breaking into the 100s on fast downhill single-track. A lot of people believe your cadence is a near constant, I know that not to be true. At least for me, it is linked to pace and at a slower pace my cadence tends to drop. What will be interesting is to see if they both rise together as expected in the future.

Potomac River

Potomac River

Day 50

So, in celebration of 50 days Deanna and I decided to get out and run a 5-miler here in D.C. There was a bit of elevation change, but over all it was a great run. Going forward I think I will try and do 6 on day 60, 7 on 70, etc. And in between I’ll slowly continue to add a bit of mileage. An extra .25 or .5 here and there seems to be adding up nicely come week’s end.

The photo above was taken on one of the first runs Deanna I did exploring the trails in the parks near her apartment. One of the trails lead down to the Potomac River. It split off up and down stream from there. Looking forward to exploring both on future runs.

A Note On Body Sensing

One thing I’ve been very focused on since March are my legs, specifically my lower legs. Doing something new like this, i.e. running every single day, has resulted in my legs never feeling “fresh”. Every single run my legs feel heavy, and although it varies day-to-day, there is always something slightly out of sorts. Be it a calf, an ankle, or sometimes an Achilles tendon… nothings serious, or even chronic, but it seems I can always count on something warning me not to push it too hard. On one hand this is a little bothersome since I would like to ratchet up the distance and intensity from time to time. But, as it stands I would rather consistency and to keep injury at bay. Hopefully as the days pile on the legs will finally get the hint and catch up.

1000memories (dot com) 16Apr11 | back to top

I first came across 1000memories last summer when they launched their service. Knowing the situation my mother was in I realized I would sadly have reason to use the site sooner than later.

On April 3rd that day came when my mother passed away after having suffered for two-and-a-half years in a skilled nursing center in north eastern PA as  result of a crippling stroke that left her bed ridden and unable to speak more than a few words. I say she suffered because, for as bad as her physical condition was, she was extremely conscious of the situation she was stuck in. She had taken care of her own mother, Erma, after my grandmother had a series of strokes. Being stuck in the same place, not able to communicate, was her own worst nightmare.

By the morning of Monday April 4th arrangements were being made and in the back seat of the car on the way home from the funeral home I took to my iPad and headed over to 1000memories. As sign-up processes go, this one was clean and simple. After a few quick questions I was uploading the first photo that would be used as the home page. The next step was simple… invite others to contribute. Four days later, in time for the viewing, Betsy’s friends and family had contributed over 80 photos and comments (and counting).

Even though it was a time of mourning, every time 1000memories sent an email notice that a new photo or comment had arrived there was a moments reprieve.

Through the use of 1000memories we (my brothers, sister, and I) received a gift we never expected, photos of my mother from her childhood and throughout the years raising the six of us.

I never expected this simply because I, like my siblings, had no idea many of these photos existed. People think the digital photo revolution will save the day, that we will never miss out on those special occasions and never forget the important things. I’m not so sure of that. Just like a shoebox full of photos that find their way to the back of a closet to never again see the light of day, digital photos can suffer a similar fate. Be it the cold dark corner of some long forgotten laptop or lost in the noise of a million photos dumped untagged onto the internet.

To save those photos it takes is an event that wakes people up to the world around them. An event worthy of remembrance. But even when the motivation is finally found, there must be a solution that meets the needs with perfection. A solution that doesn’t try to be everything and end up doing nothing well. And most important for an event such as this, a solution that is elegant and respectful. The remembrance of a loved on shouldn’t be left to a Facebook photo album or generic solution. It should be an event in and of itself allowing people to share and engage in the creation of something worthy of the person it’s meant to honor.

For me, 1000memories is that solution.

In loving memory of Betsy Davenport

(Update: My thanks to Jonathan Good @ 1000memories for picking my mother’s memorial page as his 04.16.11 obituary of the week.)

31 days in a row, and counting 31Mar11 | back to top

Well, today marks 31 straight days of running. Slow running. And not very far. But consistent, and at this stage that is what matters.

After the extremely limited and sporadic running I did leading up to, and after, my DNF at Miwok, I knew I needed a change to my training strategy. Also, about a month and a half ago I left my job as a Sr. Consultant with Mandiant so I could pursue my startup, MyECInfo, full-time. After the first two weeks on my own I knew I needed a routine and to get back in shape.

Thus the decision was made to kill two birds with one stone by forcing myself back into a consistent running routine. 31 days later I feel great.

My daily distance has been 3-miles for all but one run of 5.5. Slow and steady has been the focus, but unfortunately I did succeed in pushing things a little too hard by doing a five hundred foot road climb only two days after a grueling 5 miler, which included 2500 foot gain. This has left my right calf very tender and for the last two days it has reminded me every step of the way that if I push too hard there will be serious problems.

Fortunately I’m happy to continue my daily 3-miles in a slow and steady fashion. I just wonder how many days in a row can I make it…

Races Schedule & Results 02Jan11 | back to top

2010

2009

2008

  • Run Wild for a Child 10K – Nov. 30th (48:22)
  • US Half Marathon San Francisco – Nov. 2nd (1:56:20)
  • Chicago Marathon – Oct. 12th  (4:31:19)

The looooooooong taper 28Apr10 | back to top

When I put my name in the hat for the Miwok 100K race lottery back in December I knew my odds of getting in were slim.  But why not, there was no cost to enter the lottery.  When my name got picked I knew my training would have to kick into high gear if I had any hope of finishing the course.  But again, why not, I had a solid four months to train.

I had done three marathons and two 50k trails runs earlier in 2009.  Training for and then doubling my longest distance should be possible.

Then of course “life” got in the way.  I’m not going sit here and tell you a bunch of tails of horrible injuries that kept me from running.  Or about family or work issues that got in the way.  There wasn’t anything that really prevented me from running.  It was just laziness and enjoying life that did me in.  Lack of commitment perhaps.  A willingness to accepting excuse after excuse.  Why run today when you can put it off until race day right?

So here I am.  Race day is just around the corner.  And by corner, I mean 66-hours and 20-minutes…

No point in running now unless it’s running away.  All I can do is lay out my gear (like my new Garmin 450t hand-held GPS), figure out my nutrition plan, review the course and cut-off times, and, well that’s about it.

Looking back over my training log for the last 6-mounts I see that I’ve ran about about 135-miles total.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be a few runners at Miwok that have logged 100+ mile weeks leading up to this race.  I can think of a few that might have logged over my 135.

But there is the difference.  I’m not racing.  I’m going out to see if I can finish.  And what better way to test yourself than to jump in head first.  For me it will simply (simple does not mean easy) be a very long day fighting to continue my forward progress.

I know full well this is going to hurt.  Mind, body and soul.  But in some strange way I’m looking forward to the suck.

So here’s to the looooooong taper.  To not giving up just because your unprepared.  If you do you’ll never find out what you’re capable of.

Running a few miles to fight cancer 10Aug09 | back to top

Thanks for stopping by,
A little over a year ago I signed up to train for the Chicago Marathon.  Rather than do it on my own, I opted to do it with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training (TNT) program.  Since then I’ve continued to train and run various events from 10K road races all the way up to 50K (31-mile) ultramarathons out in the woods.  For me, running has had a huge, positive, impact on my life allowing me to find some much needed clarity.

[Don't feel like reading anymore, please click here to donate!]

This summer marks my third season with TNT (second as a mentor) and I’ve just a few short weeks to raise my goal of $3210 for LLS.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how money given to charity is put to use.  But by being involved with TNT I’ve had the opportunity to learn first hand the impact LLS has.  From Ryan Massey, a TNT Honoree and cancer survivor who I ran the Rome Marathon with and am now honored to call my friend, to the mother of one of my best friends!  The money raised has had a direct effect on so many lives by funding research and paying for treatments!  And in the end, you do make a difference!

If you supported my fundraising efforts last year, I offer my thanks and hope you can do so again.  If you were not able to then, perhaps you can this time around! Just click here to get to my official fundraising page!

Speaking of this time around… I’m training for the first annual Kauai Marathon.  Now I know what you’re thinking, must be nice to go to Kauai and run a marathon.  But rest assured, I’m not making it easy on myself.  As a warm up for the marathon, which I expect will be hot as hell, I’m planning on running/hiking the Kalalau Trail on the Nā Pali Coast the day before.  This 22-mile out and back trail has been described as, “strenuous” and “dangerous when wet”.  Should be a blast!

Then, 6am the next day, I’ll be out on the start line to see what my legs have left in them.  And of course, I’ll be running in my Vibram FiveFingers (read: almost barefoot.)

So, you see, I’m making it all into a nice challenging adventure.  But trust me this challenge is nothing compared to what hundreds of thousands of people face every day in their fight against the diseases LLS hopes to cure!

So please take a moment to click on this link and donate what you can.  $10 or $100, every penny makes a difference!

With many thanks!
Shawn

My first 26.2 23Oct08 | back to top

After a little more than four months of training, running over 350-miles, who would have thought a little marathon would be so difficult!

Race day started at 5:30AM with a banana and some Gatorade. After putting on the crazy shoes, the timing chip, my race bib, and an entire bottle of sun block I was ready to head out of the hotel. The majority of people I trained with all season were running a marathon in San Francisco, but fortunately there were a few of us from the team in Chicago.

As we walked to the starting line, about a mile from the hotel, we all quickly started to realize what an amazing day was in store!

When someone says, “the support in Chicago is fantastic” it’s true, but I didn’t really appreciate that statement until I saw it for myself. From the start line through to the 5K mark I don’t think there was a single foot of sidewalk, on either side of the street, that was empty. People everywhere, sometimes four deep, cheering and clapping, smiles and big signs pushing you on. There of course were some places along the course, around mile 21 and 22, where the side walks were a little empty, but not for very far. The support truly was amazing!

During my training a few people told me I might be setting a lofty goal, that was to finish in under 4-hours… My perspective was simple, if you can achieve a goal the first time out, you didn’t set the bar high enough! I missed that mark… I completed my run in 4-hours, 31-minutes and 19-seconds. For what I accomplished, on that particular day, I’m happy. But, that goal still remains!

To all of you who donated, you’re donations and more importantly your support and encouragement turned this entire process into an absolutely wonderful experience! So wonderful in fact, I’ve decided to return to the Team in Training program as a mentor for their winter season and will be continuing my training to run a marathon in Rome, Italy in March (don’t worry, I won’t be hounding you for donations this time around.)

So, we shall see… lessons learned, training plans reworked, happy feet in their crazy shoes… after a few hundred more training miles I may just achieve that goal!

Thank you again for all your support, donations and encouragement!! I could not have done it without you!
Shawn

PS. Your donations helped the San Francisco Chapter of Team in Training raise over $650,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!!! Simply put, YOU ROCK!

For the curious, here are my results, and thanks again!

Fundraising for LLS/TNT – Chicago Marathon 2008 13Aug08 | back to top

A few weeks ago I did something a little crazy. Crazy for me at least. I signed up to run a marathon. I knew I wouldn’t train on my own, so I decided to train for it through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training (TNT) program. (Now you know where this is headed don’t you?)

Since then, I’ve ran more than 100-miles… starting with small runs a few times a week, and working up to my most recent run of 12-miles this past Saturday. That was farther than I had ever run before. But there is much more fun yet to come, and I only have eight weeks left to train!

This post is to ask for your support, both financially and through any words of encouragement you may wish to offer!

LLS’s mission is to find cures for blood cancers and to help patients, who are fighting for their lives, live longer and live better! But to do that, they rely heavily on donations from people like you. Friends, family and others who I feel fortunate to know.

Please use this link to donate online quickly and securely, plus learn more about my progress. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

Thank you very much, and I hope you and your family are well,
Shawn

P.S. If you know someone you think may like to support the LLS and my fundraising campaign, please email them a link to this page, or directly to my donation page at
( ARCHIVED PAGE ). For many of my friends I don’t have any contact information for your parents, and every donation makes a difference!

Of course, if you who would prefer to donate by check, please contact me for address information. And don’t forget to check and see if your employer offers matching donations.