30@30: By The Numbers

This may be my favorite post. 

Here’s a look at how the numbers stack up for the year:

Races Run: 30
Money Raised for Camper Scholarships: $30K+
Races Won: 2
Total Miles Run: 1350+
Rabbits Followed: 4
Friends Raced-With: 70+
Best Friends with Medical Degrees Who Refused to Help me Blood Dope: 1
Pieces of Run Gum chewed: (ERROR NUMBER TOO GREAT)
Significant Injuries Sustained: 2
Pounds of Fat Lost: 25+
Total Pounds of Weights Lifted: <1.2 million 
Dollars Spent on Running Gear: No comment. 
Milligrams of Ibuprofen Ingested: 50,000+
US States/Territories Run: 12
Countries Run: 3
Stretching Tools in the House: 8+
Pairs of Shoes: 7
Times Gotten Legally Married: 1
Recovery Equipment Stolen from Wife: 3+
Trips to PR Running Store: 40+
Former NCAA All-Americans Ran With: 3
Olympic Gold Medalists Met: 1
World Champions Raced Near: 1
Participation Trophies: Many
Most Miles Run on Treadmill at Once: 11.5
Dogs Run With: 1
Surfaces Run On: 8
Running Books Read: 12
Smoothies Made: 120+
Friends Inspired to Start Running Consistently: >5
Times Murat & Lindsay Each Claimed to be “Out of Shape” and Still Effortlessly Jogged with me as I Ran Hard: 1,000,000,000
Running-induced naps with Russell: 50+
Bad Suggestions from Tyler for This Post: 6

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Ranking All 30 Race Performances

As part of my 30@30 retrospective, I’ve ranked all of my race performances beginning with 30 (worst) down to #1 (best).

What constitutes success? It’s a rather murky amalgamation of a race’s result based on finishing time, overall/age group place, performance given adverse conditions (weather, health), and performance relative to pre-race expectations. 

As my brother-in-law astutely pointed out, any arbitrary ranking of performance would be incomplete without some artificial Bill Simmons-esque categories as sectional sub-headers. Simmons artfully groups rankings based on something like historic Celtics’ title teams, eras in Dustin Hoffman’s career, or Wes Welker’s statistical season performances. What categories should I use to organize my arbitrary rankings? Equally arbitrary categories, of course. 

Christopher Walken’s Performance in the James Bond film: A View to a Kill
Really bad, but oddly enjoyable – if only for the comedic value.

30: Stalin Island (Race 3). A slow 5K with uneven splits.

29: Fletcher’s Cove Park Run (Race 1): The opening race was eye-opening. I ran so slow that I didn’t even publish my time in a race recap. I can’t even remember what it was.

28: Labor Day Great American 5K (Race 6): A poorly executed race in which I went out way too fast and spent the majority of the race trying not to die.

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27: Firecracker 5K (Race 30): The final race of the campaign was slow and painful. Despite heading out at what felt like a reasonable pace, I crawled to the finish line. The heat was brutal and I didn’t factor it in appropriately and probably over-extended myself during warmup. A brutal way to finish the campaign.

2004 Team USA Basketball Olympic Bronze
Pathetic by its own relative standards, but altogether objectively decent. 

26: Teddy Park Run 5K (Race 9): This was an injury-recovery race where I was testing out my recently-strained hamstring. Though I managed to make it through the race, I probably shouldn’t have run.

25: Mother’s Day 4-Miler (Race 27): My decent finish of 12th/604 overall disguised what a poor race this was. I felt progressively weaker each mile and my finishing time was significantly worse than a 4-mile race months prior. At the time, I called this my “worse race yet” relative to expectations.

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24: Winter Classic 5K (Race 14): Another hamstring-recovery race. My pacing was slightly better, but my overall performance was still very slow. However, I was pleased that I could largely stick to my race plan. It was very, very cold in Boston.

23: Summer Georgetown 5K (Race 2): A slow race the day after my opening run. Pleased with my time considering my tired legs, but a poor time and equally poor finishing position.

Fast and Furious (4th movie)
Pretty good, actually. Especially relative to others in the series.

22: Ringing in Hope 10K (Race 28): Though my overall time (41:21) was not atrocious and ultimately good for 6th/197 and second in my age group, this was a disappointing finish considering my expectations. The conditions were decent and I had Murat as a rabbit (who went on to win the race), so there was a chance that I could break 40min. However, after a tough second and third mile, I was mentally thrown-off and abandoned that goal. I did manage to tough out the final three miles at decent pace, but my head let me down in this one. I was never in it. 

21: Red Bandana Run 5K (Race 10): Injured and jet-lagged, I managed to eek out a half-decent performance given my inadequate fitness, but the overall results were unimpressive.

20: Veteran’s Day 5K (Race 13): This was a workout-race, designed to fit into my training schedule and requiring me to run a few miles both before and after. I largely stuck to my plan.

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19: Brew Hop 5K (Race 11): An easy jog with a season’s best, albeit unimpressive, time. This was among the more low-key organized races. We were there for the beer.

Fast Five
Fan favorite.

18: Run Your Heart Out 5K (Race 18): Rabbits Lindsay and Murat dragged me to my first sub-20 5K. That was the goal and we did sneak in just under the 20-min barrier… but it required a ferocious kick and felt much, much harder than it should have.

17: Draft Day Dash 5K (Race 25): A good time considering this race course was at least a quarter-mile long and it was unquestionably the most annoying course. I didn’t quite meet my expectations, but they were misguided based on the information I was given. The end result was the best metric: 6th/1742 runners.

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16: Parks 10K (Race 12): My goal was to break 46 minutes and thanks to Rabbit Lindsay, we managed to crush that barrier by about 40 seconds in the rain. It was quite exhausting.

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15: Founders Day 5K (Race 7): A decent performance relative to recent races on an average course without much competition.

14: Dulles Day 5K (Race 8): My first 5K averaging under 7min/mile of the campaign, thanks to a strong finishing kick and quicker last mile. I’m looking forward to running this race again…

2010 Boston Celtics
Started off weak, picked it up when it counted, still no cigar.

13: Leesburg 5K (Race 4): Though my time wasn’t very impressive, I ran a tough race on an moderately-challenging course which was good for 2nd in my age group.

12: South Lakes 10K (Race 5): Planning to ‘see how I felt’ and run around 8:30/mile, I felt good and picked up the pace to average about 7:45. My last mile was my fastest.

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11: Rock the Coast 5K (Race 18): My goal was to win this tiny event and to break 20min. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to be challenged for the win and was off 20min pace, I shut it down early and cruised. Got the W, as desired.

The Restaurant Scene in Goodfellas (Funny how? Funny like a clown?)
Highly memorable and makes for a great retelling. A lot of unexpected improv.

10: Butterfly 5K (Race 22): My bachelor party 5K was run under non-ideal physical conditions. This included both a hangover and running in a bunny suit. I didn’t go all-out and started a bit too fast, but finished as the top bunny in the race while Murat and Terence ran strong times.

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9: Reston Runners Marathon Relay (Race 23): We crushed the event in a relay course record, however, I was waived in the wrong direction and wound up running an extra few slow miles. Frustrating.

Marshall Faulk’s 1999 Season
Big-time performances that are already under the radar.

8: Holiday Hustle 5K (Race 15) My time and finish were nothing special, but I ran faster than I had planned on a very difficult course in very cold conditions. It was my fastest 5K of 2017.

7: Loudon 8K (Race 24): Months prior, I set the goal of running a sub 32:30 8K (5 miles), which would mean a 6:30/mile pace. Secretly, I had hoped I could run much faster. Coming off injury and getting ditched by my rabbits midway through the race, I was ultimately pleased that my time of 32:24 was good for 6th/340 runners.

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Larry Bird Scores 60 Against Hawks in 1985
Season’s best performance. 

6: Long Island 10K (Race 26): This was brutal. I was hoping to break 40min for a 10K and missed by about eight seconds. I did finish 9th/1,017 runners in a massive PR, but man, was I pissed. Thanks to Kelli for coming to watch.

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5: Running of the Balls 5K (Race 29): My best 5K time of the campaign in 18:42, finally smashing the 19min barrier. I ran a really gutsy race, opening up in 5:45 for the first mile and hanging on for dear life. It was one of the more physically miserable running experiences of my entire life as I was just exhausted half-way through the race and was passed by several runners in the last mile. But in the end, the finishing time spoke for itself.

4: NYRR Night at the Races Indoor 1-Mile (Race 19): Hoping to run 5:45, I smashed my goal an ran 5:28 thanks to a viciously quick final lap (200m in approx. 34 seconds). Racing indoors for the first time since college in the very arena where I spent many days as a nervous high school runner, I experienced more pre-race anxiety than during any other event. I overcame it and have the footage to prove it.

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The ‘Diner Scene’ in Heat
Simply the best.

3: Lucky Leprechaun 5K (Race 20): Although it was only my second-fastest 5K of the campaign, it was by far my best 5K race. I felt smooth, light, and fast. In the cold weather, I crushed the last quarter-mile and finished 19th/913 runners in a then-seasons-best 19:06, which was way ahead of my expected progress to that point. I had been hoping to run about 19:45 and killed it.

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2: Naples Daily News Half-Marathon (Race 16): The longest distance I’ve ever run. Scheduled mostly out of travel convenience, I spent a few weeks ramping up for this race and beat my goal by a wide margin. Hoping to run at a 7:45/mile pace, I averaged just under 7:30/mile and my last 5K was my fastest. It was a major, unexpected success.

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1: Scarsdale 4-Miler (Race 21): Prior to this race, I wasn’t feeling great. Once the gun went off, everything changed. I crushed this wintery race. Hoping to break 26min (6:30/mile), I broke 25, running 6:14/mile for a 4th place overall finish in 24:56. My closing mile was in 5:31. After the race, I felt like I could run it again.

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For complete recaps of every race, visit the Race Schedule page. 

What I Learned: Supplements

If you missed my last post about recommended gear, make sure to check it out here

At a certain point, many amateurs enter the “Supplement Phase” of their running trajectory. Suddenly, there are all sorts of strange gels, pills, bars, drinks, and whatnot that you’re convinced are the difference between success and failure. This is completely untrue. That said, they can (and do!) help – and some are better than others. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Run Gum: Yeah, you knew this was coming. I chew Run Gum for the calorie-free caffeine on most of my runs – certainly the tough ones. Mint flavor tastes like Winterfresh Gum, Fruit flavor tastes like Juicy Fruit, and Cinnamon tastes like Big Red. I’ve actually yet to try the new, extra strength flavor, Spearmint, but it’s 2x the caffeine and supposed to be great. Use code jaket10 for a discount 😉

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Nuun: My wife turned me on to Nuun. It’s a little tablet that dissolves in water and packs some useful nutrients. There are also caffeinated flavors – great for a pre-morning hydrated alternative to coffee. I am a big fan of tangerine and blackberry. 

Picky Bars: Made by runners for runners. This has the 4:1 carbs: protein ratio perfect for a post-run snack (eat within an hour!). I recommend Blueberry Boomdizzle. 

Gu: For endurance workouts longer than an hour, a little Gu gues a long way. Chocolate Coconut is my favorite flavor (tastes like a Samoa cookie!) and Chocolate Sea Salt is great too. Lots of flavors to try. 

Muscle Milk Pro 50 Knockout: This chocolate-flavored protein goes great in smoothies and packs a ton of protein/calorie. 

Isopure Coconut: This drink packs 40g of protein in just 160 calories. It tastes just like (a slightly tart) coconut water. 

What I Learned: Gear

This yearlong exercise (pun) has taught me a lot about different gear and other goodies. I’ll highlight some of my recommendations below:

Bluetooth Headphones: Are an absolute must. Do not waste time and energy carrying your phone in hand while you run. That’s so 2013. Instead, try these great bluetooth headphones. For less than $30, their value is unbeatable. Simply strap your phone to your arm (or grab a smartwatch that stores music!) and enjoy. 

Shades: Another solid buy for under $30. They’re sturdy, handle sweat well, and multi-functional. You waste a lot of energy squinting through tough sunlight that can tense up your face/neck/shoulders. If you don’t want to wear a hat, wear shades. 

Wristband: Need a place to store your keys while running? This sweatband has a little zipper pocket. $3. 

Socks: I like these double-socks. They’re lightweight great at preventing blisters. 

Anti-Chaffing Balm: You won’t notice it’s there, but you’ll notice it post-run if it’s not! 

Soreness Balm: This arnica-based gel feels great on your muscles after a tough workout. I also apply it pre-race to muscles that I know will hurt, so that when the fatigue sets in I am treated to a cooling sensation that makes the pain much more tolerable!

Plantar Socks: Got bad plantar faciitis? These sleeping socks keep your foot flexed overnight and are a game-changer. 

Foam Roller: If you’re not foam rolling, you’re doing it wrong. For less than $20, this is all you need. 

Stay tuned for the next edition – all about supplements!

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Big Announcement: The Sub-5 Challenge

With just two weeks of formal time left to reach our goal of $30K, we have less than $5K in pledges to go! 

And now that my 30 races are complete and I plan to continue training at a vigorous pace, I need (at least) one new goal. 

Enter: The Sub-5 Challenge:

I’m going to attempt to run a sub-5 minute mile at the famous 5th Avenue Mile, on Sunday, September 9th, in New York City! 

While I could hit the track and cruise a sub-5 mile as a fit high school runner, I’ve never actually recorded a sub-5 mile in an actual race. You might remember that I did run a one-mile race this winter indoors at the Armory, where I surprised myself with a strong final lap to run a 5:28.

Running sub-5 at my age requires a different level of fitness with the real need to improve my speed and anaerobic ability, and doing more speed work as a part of this effort should help improve my 5K times as well. 

So I’m going for sub-5… in more ways than one!

Want to run the 5th Ave Mile with me? Sign up
Want to help my other sub-5 goal? Pledge a donation!

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What’s Next?

The 30 races are complete!

So…. what now? 

Should I continue to build on the immense fitness improvements, healthier lifestyle I’ve created, reignited passion for running, and rediscovered drive for self-improvement by continuing to train and race as a competitive amateur runner?

Or should I just stop?

Hmm. When you put it that way….

While my body desperately needs a reset and the proper cyclical training approach, I am definitely going to keep pounding the pavement (and rubberized-surfaces). 

I’ve got a few ideas for some racing goals – some more attainable than others – and I’m going to get started with periodized training right away. In fact, I plan to announce an ambitious goal in the next week, so stay tuned…

The real question I have for you is… should I keep this running blog going? Would you read it? If so, do I change the name/website? Take the poll

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30.

Race #30: complete.

Woah. 

With morning temperatures already in the 80s and humidity hovering around 2,000,0000,000%, the PR Races’ Firecracker 5K in Virginia still drew a huge crowd.

It also drew the fabled 30@30 CTC Running Squad (CTC = Chip-Time Champions). Murat, Dathania Kat, Kelli, and Brendan all Voltroned’ up with me to try and score some team points in the final race of the campaign. 

The day went better for some than others. 

After arriving early and getting in a solid warmup (dynamic stretching, two-mile jog, more dynamic stretching, a few drills), I was drenched in sweat and probably more dehydrated than I let myself believe. Jess and Russ kept me company while I got my gear set up. Singlet, Run Gum, arnica cream, headphones, shades.

The start of the race seemed to arrive faster than anticipated.

I felt reasonably ready. Despite a few weeks of training that consisted primarily of intervals and heavy weights (focused on weight loss), I felt like I would be ready to run decently. The previous race on this course was one of the best of the campaign. 

My plan was to run the first mile in about 6:10. The second mile is a general net-downhill, so I hoped to run that in about 5:45, and then would just try and push through the final mile (80% of which was uphill). 

I fired up my music – mostly so that I wouldn’t hear my own heavy breathing, which always psychs me out.

Gun sounds. Let’s go.

During the first mile, I felt okay. About a mile in, my watch beeped 6:15. Not terrible, but not great. My quads felt heavy and my calves were sore from all of the track work and lifting. 

I saw Jess and Russ on the side of the road which gave me a slight boost.

Then, things got progressively worse. Like, much worse.

I wouldn’t say I “blew up”, though that is the running term for what happened.

Instead, I felt like I very quickly withered away. 

My legs had no power and my turnover felt forced and difficult. My foot started to hurt (oh, hello again, plantar faciitis). At about the halfway point, things got even worse. 

I felt heavy and bloated, like I was carrying around a fanny pack full of marbles. Every stride was a struggle and I felt like I was losing, not gaining ground.

Two miles in I was exhausted. I had slowed down tremendously during the very mile I was planning to pick things up: 6:45 for mile two. 

Runners were starting to pass me one by one. I had thought that I had began far enough back from the starting line that it would be unlikely that anyone would pass me. (I suppose if I had been running at PB pace, that would have been true.) Instead, I was continuously getting passed and had nothing in the tank. 

I felt like I was going to throw-up. I immediately switched my focus from running a decent time to simply finishing the race and not stopping/walking. 

I slugged through the last mile. More runners continued to pass me and not even my playlist could save me. I tried some running techniques. Counting, thumb-tapping, positive talk. Nothing. My mind would immediately drift back to the pain. 

At about the third mile marker, I saw Jess and Russ once again. They could tell I was not looking good. 

I did manage to pick up the pace slightly over the last 0.1, but my final mile was a disastrous 7:15. I ran through the finish line and nearly collapsed.

My time was a pedestrian 21:04 – just a few weeks after running 18:42 over the same distance. I barely cracked the top 100 – finishing 99th overall (out of 1,578). I was so relieved to be finished.

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I staggered around and grabbed waters for the rest of the squad. Importantly, Murat, Kat, Kelli, and Brendan had each run very strong races in the heat. 

After dowsing myself in water and debating sticking my head into the garbage-bin full of Gatorades, I found Jess and Russ and we joined the group for a photo.

The final 30@30 race photo:

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The race didn’t go as planned, but it went.

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30 races complete.

I’ll need some time to reflect on the accomplishment. In the coming weeks, I hope to ink a few summarizing blog posts, touching on subjects ranging from what I learned along the way (about running and otherwise), ranking my performances and various events, recommending the best gear/books/etc. that I found throughout the year, what my future plans are (should I keep this running blog alive?), sharing some photos, and much more. 

So stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, we are closing in on $30K. We have about $3.5K to go. If you haven’t made a pledge yet, please consider doing so here. It just takes 23 seconds. 

Thanks, as always, for the support. In so many more ways than one.