Defying the Devil for My Dad

As many of you may know, I lost someone very special to me recently ~ my Dad ~ I have decided to train for half a marathon in remembrance of him (Joseph McKernan). The race is June 23 outside of Las Vegas, NV in the Mojave Desert. I grew up with my dad training me, often times he took me out in the heat of the day (12 noon) to make me workout because that’s what you did to be tougher. Guess what, the half marathon starts at 12:00 noon. See the connection? I will be posting many updates and photos of me training – I will love your support during this time. This first photo is one of the course – I will post many – so you can get a feel of what I will endure – it is called ‘Running with the Devil.’

Sunday, June 23, 2012 ~ I Finished !

After spending most of Friday playing golf out in the Nevada desert with my son, I decided that after all the weeks of training I had earned the right to eat my favorite dinner. My entrée of choice …..Pizza!

I found a great PizzeriaSettebello in Henderson, which was recommended to me by my brother-in-law. The family and I enjoyed pizza that was certified by the “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” (AVPN), a non-profit organization founded in Naples, its mission to promote and protect the “true Neapolitan pizza“ (“verace pizza napoletana“). Any Pizzeria that is AVPN certified, indicates that the Pizzeria adheres to the strict requirement standards of the culinary discipline of the AVPN – from the preparation of raw ingredients to the cooking method in an approved wood fired oven. Only organic “Pomodoro di Napoli”, fresh mozzarella, fresh herbs, and fresh yeast are permitted. I have to admit, I was hungry and the pizza was delicious!!!!

The next morning I woke up early feeling excited and anticipating the run. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast of a banana and granola bar, and decided to leave the family at the hotel (away from the desert heat) and caught a taxi to the starting line. When I arrived, I noticed the group of runners gathered was not large, but was amused by the runners that I saw that had opted to don devil costumes, in honor of the brutal running conditions we were all about to endure.

As the race began, many runners took off fast and I forced myself to run my pace. Half way through the run I realized that the “hills” were much bigger than I had anticipated. The aid stations were plentiful and as I settled into a comfortable gait, I thought about the journey that had brought me here today. As I grew tired, my thoughts turned to my Dad. My father had just recently lost his life after a hard and courageous three year struggle. He always showed me true strength, grace and courage. He was my friend, my mentor and I miss him, but as I ran, I felt close to him.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had accomplished what I had hoped to do. I was happy with my time, and realized that the training for this race has probably got me in better shape than I have been in a while. After recouping for about 15 minutes, I found myself making plans to return next year to run all 26 miles of Running with the Devil.

Friday, June 22, 2012 ~ Blowing in the Wind ~ THE DAY BEFORE

Unbelievably WINDY! I was expecting the heat, but definitely did not expect to experience the hot, relentless THERMAL winds. The winds are steadily blowing 15-20 mph with gusts up to 25-30 mph. The heat tomorrow should be tolerable, but the winds will be brutal!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 ~ Summer Cut – 3 Days to Marathon

I can remember when I was young, and when school would end, my brothers and I would partake in that summer ritual of the “summer cut”. You know what I’m talking about …. the buzz cut that would last the whole summer …. the cut that would make you look like you were getting ready to go off to boot camp? Well in preparation of the Mojave, I went in today and told my stylist to “cut it off”.

Tue sday, June 19, 2012 ~ Happens All the Time – 4 Days to Marathon

Went to PT yesterday and told them what happened Sunday. They said this was a common injury, and by stretching my foot (around the chair leg) for a prolonged period of time, I had actually dislocated my talus bone, a bone that forms the lower part of the ankle joint. With a painful maneuver, the therapist was able to pop it right back into place. I was amazed how quickly my foot felt better! Therapist advised taking it easy for a few days.

Monday, June 18, 2012 ~ Aches and Pains – 5 Days to Marathon

This morning my foot has not improved, really hurts to walk and instead of running today at lunch I think I will go to Physical Therapy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012 ~ Happy Father’s Day – 6 Days to Marathon

I discovered something today. Apparently bad habits can be painful.

I was having a great father’s day lunch with my family at one of my favorite restaurants, and as we sat and visited, I curled both feet around my front chair legs, apparently a habit that I have had for a really long time.

After about 15 minutes of being in this position, I started to stand to leave and experienced a sharp excruciating pain in my right foot. Surprised and embarrassed, I limped out of the restaurant and went straight home and immediately applied ice to my foot.

Friday, June 8, 2012 ~ Happy Birthday

Today was a rest day. It seems as if I am eating more and more fruit and vegetables. So, I decided to take it easy and enjoyed a dinner out with the family to celebrate Riley’s birthday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 ~ Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk

Yesterday my calves were still sore but after two days of rest I knew that I had to get back on the blacktop. The cooler temps of North Carolina were nice, but now I need to run in the heat. I pulled out my sauna suit and at lunch I headed out to put in a few miles. Today was hot, in fact just before my run a friend text an image of an outside temperature reading in B.R. which showed a reading of 100 degrees. I was surprised how hard it was to run, as each step was brutal, and I noticed that after 4 miles my heart rate was twice as high as what it had been in North Carolina.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 ~ The Scales Don’t Lie

Since I have started training hard again in march, and eating better, I have lost 18 pounds. I hope to lose another 10. This means more running and eating well.

Monday, June 4, 2012 ~ See Gordon Run

  • Shannon and I just got back from North Carolina where I ran a ½ marathon this past weekend. I got up and ate an early, light breakfast. When we arrived at the starting line, there was a nice crowd gathered and the organizers indicated that they had signed up 400 runners for the race.
  • The purpose of this run was to get ready for the hills of Running With The Devil. These hills are much bigger and steeper than what I will be running next week. My legs were really sore for serveral days afterwards.
  • When I got to the last hill, I was tired and kept envisioning the finish line. I wish I could say I ran the entire three-quarter mile last hill, but I didn’t. It got to me. When I saw Shannon, I managed a smile as she snapped my pic as I crossed the finish line.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A bonus of running in the sun at lunch …. I’m getting a lot of compliments about my tan. I’ve been averaging about 35-40 miles weekly this past month, as I try to build up my endurance. I would like to sign-up for a running event this weekend in order to test my stamina.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Running plus heat plus humidity equals sweating. I’ve increased my water intake, because if you drink too little water you run the risk of dehydration. I will need to take in more electrolytes in the days leading up to the marathon to avoid cramping. It will be interesting to run next month and experience the “absence of humidity”.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The days are heating up and I’ve been resting my legs a little this week. I ran five miles on Monday and another five on Tuesday. Both were easy runs … but hot. Today I took the day off from running to allow my joints and muscles adequate time to rest.

Friday, May 25, 2012 ~ Happy Anniversary Shannon

Today is my anniversary, and I had a hard run yesterday and I plan on a hard run tomorrow; so I will take the day off. Hard to believe I have been married 21 years, but what a great ride it has been. God blessed me with woman of my dreams.

Thursday, May 24, 2012 ~ Running at the Bluffs

I had an appointment in St. Francisville today and packed my running clothes so that I could hit the black top at lunch and take advantage of the rolling hills of West Feliciana Parish. Those high temps and big hills really were tough. I sure hope the hills are not this big in the Mojave.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 ~ Every breath you take

Heard the weather man say they will be monitoring the Air Quality Index through the afternoon and evening, as DEQ has issued an Ozone Alert for today. This is the second consecutive Ozone Action Day for metro Baton Rouge, but I don’t think we reached Orange alert yesterday. Nothing like a breath of fresh air while running in 90+ degree Louisiana heat! Did an easy 5 miles at lunch.

Tuesday, May 22 ~ Boost Endurance

Had a great work-out today. I ran what is known as Yasso 800s. This is a series of ten 800 meter runs with a 400 meter recovery lap between each 800. I was pleased with a 7:35 pace for these 800s. My fitness is getting there. The only downside is that I had this workout indoors – no heat.

Monday, May 21 ~ A Run Through The Park

Today’s run was uneventful. An easy five mile run with my wife at noon. The funny thing is that a five mile run at noon used to be really hard. Now, it is not My wife would disagree. All she could talk about yesterday afternoon was wanting to go to bed. I think the recovery time yesterday was just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, May 20 ~ A Day of Rest

Saturday, May 19 ~ It’s Getting Hot

I started my run at 1:00 to take advantage of the 90 degree plus heat. I was thankful to have my new running pack filled with water with me today, as I set out for a 14 mile run. I’m not sure if it was the heat, or the lack of sleep from the night before, or just my aches getting the best of me, but I knew from the beginning that this was going to be tough. The good news is that I didn’t quit or cut my run short. The bad news is that I got my butt kicked on this run. One of the toughest runs I have ever done. It makes me wonder if I will be ready for the desert 110 degree heat.

Thursday, May 17 ~ Aches and Pains

If you’re an avid runner, you know that occasional pain is just a part of the activity. I must admit that I have kind of been a little sore, probably because of my sharply increased hill activity and mileage recently. As I write this, I have pain in my calves and Achilles, my left knee and my left hip.

I am starting to have the debate with myself – do I press through this pain and stay with my current workout plan, or do I cut back and nurse these injuries. Then, I remember that I am running in the desert in the summer up and down hills. I better get more familiar with pain and learn how to run through it.

Wednesday, May 16 ~ Hydration Is the Key!

Today’s High temps forecasted for Lake Mead is 100 degrees, here in Baton Rouge …. 82 degrees. Need to start running with my race pack to see how annoying it will be. I’ve heard race packs called many different names, hydration pack, fuel pack, speed pack, booster pack, waist pack, bro pack, etc., but they all do the same thing … enable a runner to bring a few necessities along with them on the race and the most important necessity is water. I keep hearing that 110 degree dry heat is not as bad as 95 degree humid heat. It will be interesting to find out.

Tuesday, May 15 ~ You are what you eat

For those of you who know me, you realize that one of my few indulgences is pizza. I could eat it every day. Ordinarily, I have a very healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you ask a Trainer they will indicate that sprinters need slightly more protein to develop large, powerful muscles (which is not me), while marathoners benefit from a higher carbohydrate load. That is why pizza would be great for me every day, except I would put on too much weight. One of the guys I admire in distance racing sometimes eats a pizza during his long runs of over 50 miles. Think about that – running along and eating a pizza at the same time. Crazy!!

Monday, May 14 ~ Running Partner = Motivation

Although the milder temps the last few days have not been ideal for preparing for the heat that I will be facing in Nevada, it has allowed Shannon to join me running. I really enjoy her company and the conversation we share really makes the run more enjoyable. As we are running, I’m thinking about those 13 miles next month … I am thinking how much I enjoy her pleasant chatter about the kids and our summer plans … I’m thinking about how running alone next month will affect my pace …..

Saturday, May 12 ~ Heavy Shoes

Training in Louisiana can be challenging. The past few days have been wet, and although I can run indoors, I prefer not to run long distances on the treadmill.

Some runners say you can actually breathe easier when it is raining, because the humid air goes into the lungs easier. However, the downside is that when you run in the rain your shoes get heavy.

, Defying the Devil for My Dad

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tuesday’s hill training has left my calves sore, and I realized today that my last marathon was over three years ago in 2009, when I ran the Houston Chevron Marathon. With over 8,200 runners signed up for that marathon and a total of 18,000 runners participating in the day of running, I was in good company. I can remember getting ready for the run and that the January morning was kind of warm and muggy for Texas standards which did not make for good race conditions.

The big difference between the Houston marathon and my upcoming run in June will be the heat, hills and number of runners. Obviously, it is going to be hot in the desert. However, I wasn’t expecting the hills or the lack of participants. The pictures show this to be a “rolling hill” course and they are expecting only about 100 runners in the half marathon. As I ice my calves I’m wondering, am I ready for ‘Running with the Devil?’