Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Team Cherico/Zimmerman to Participate in the Ghost Run on 11/6/10

Hi everyone,

You might recall, I put up an October post about a number of running friends who have passed away. We had hoped to participate as a four person relay team in the Hartford Marathon this year. Unfortunately, things just didn't work out. But Team Cherico/Zimmerman is back at it next weekend in Hebron, CT to run the Ghost Run. It's a 13.1+ mile race that takes place mostly on the Airline Rail Trail in Eastern CT. I've run the race twice in memory of Dave. Team Cherico actually took first place for the COED Division one of those years.

The race is a point to point affair so we'll be shuttling back and forth that morning. The race legs are 3.5, 4.5, 5.5 miles respectively.  Do you think anyone will wear a costume?

Anyway, I can't wait to do the race.


Speedwork for the Young and Old

Most people I know that run say that long runs improve your endurance while speedwork helps you run faster.  I've been running for over twenty years now and for a number of those years I kept a log of my workouts. I recently decided to pull out my 1997-1999 logs and compare the speedwork back then with what I did from 2008 -2010, and in particular, for ten consecutive weeks last year.  I've felt that last year's speedwork block just didn't produce the expected results. Did I do something different last year that hindered my results? Perhaps it's just because I'm ten years older now or maybe there's something more to the story.


My 1/2 mile repeats back in 1998 and 1999: Range (2:44 to 3:00 minutes)-12-13 workouts per year
My 1/2 repeats from 2009                          :  Range (3:14 to 3:35 minutes)-10 workouts

Note: I did mile repeats 2 to 3 times in 1999, but not in 1998 and 2009.

Mileage in  1998 and 1999: 40 to 50 miles per week
Mileage in 2007                :  35 to 45 miles per week
Mileage in 2009                :  30 to 35 miles per week

I was training for fall marathons in 1998 and 1999
I trained for the New Haven 20K in 2009

Manchester Road Race: 1998 (4.75 miles) 30:35
"        "        "        "       : 1999 (4.75 miles) 29:31
"        "        "        "       : 2007 ( "   "    "    ) 34:23
"         "       "         "      : 2009 ( "    "    "   ) 35:11

I'm going to ponder these results for a while and give you my impression later this weekend. What do you think?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Half Marathon Preparation Tips

Many of the same points I mentioned in my post about marathon preparation apply equally to half marathons. However, there are a number of other tips that can help make your next half marathon a success. These tips can be divided into two categories, physical and mental.


1) Plan to do a 7 to 8 mile run in the middle of the week. The pace for this run should be about 30 seconds slower than your goal pace, except you want to pick up the pace in the last two miles and finish strong at goal pace. Don't worry if you start out a little slower though. You want to negative split these runs.

2) An alternative to 1)  above would be to do the same distance, but work in various surges into the run. For example,  start out by doing a 5 minute warm-up, then do surges: 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 2 minutes. After each surge, rest the same number of minutes before starting the next surge. It's important to sustain a reasonably fast pace during the rests though so that you get used to running when you're tired. I suggest going 45 seconds per mile slower than goal pace. Try to plan it so that you finish the last surge about a half mile from the finish of the run.

3) During the weekends, plan to do a long run of 8-12 miles and again try to negative split the run. I like to do my long runs on a nearby rail trail because it has a soft terrain and not a lot of vehicle traffic. Increase the length of this run by no more than a mile every other week. So it would take you ten weeks to reach the second 12 miler. Plan to do this run two to three weeks before the target race day and taper thereafter.
(I like to mix in 30 second pick-ups at a pace a little faster than goal pace during these runs, which helps your speed and endurance.) Try to do 10-20 of these each run and distribute them through the workout.

4) Plan to do at least one 10K race at the half way point of your training program and substitute that run for one of your long runs.

5) Do half mile to mile repeats at a pace fifteen to thirty seconds per mile faster than goal pace. Do this workout once every two weeks for a total of 5 miles with a two minute rest in between repeats.


1) Keep track of  each of your runs in a logbook (time, distance, pace, weather, how you felt etc.) and periodically review what you've done to build confidence in your plan.

2) Visualize having a successful race after you have run and scouted the race course.

3) On race day, think positive and listen to music that puts you in a happy, but energetic mood.

By following these tips, you'll be putting yourself in a position to do well on race day.

Good luck and happy running.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marathon Advice: Preparation and Race Day Tips

I recently gave some advice to a new member of the blogger group I'm setting up.  His name is Tom and he's running the Green Mountain Marathon this morning in Vermont. I hope this advice helps him and others run a great marathon. Good luck, Tom!

1) Forget about the racing flats. Run with the shoes you've been doing long runs with-the good pair-the ones you like that aren't worn too much, but are broken in so you won't worry about heal pain from rubbing etc.;

2) Start drinking electrolytes and other fluids several days before and up to race day;

3)Don't pee in public unless its during the race. Find some trees that provide some privacy or preferably use a porta-potty;

4)If you're doing this for the first time your goal should be just to finish. For more advanced runners, I recommend running conservatively for the first 14 miles. (30  to 60 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace) My experience has been that you lose most of your time in the last 10K if you go out too fast.  Plus, it feels good when you start passing people who didn't run conservatively;

5)Don't-I repeat-don't-I repeat-don't go out fast. Try running with someone who's going slower than you were planning to go and talk. In other words, just enjoy being out there. Does he or she have kids? How many do they have?  I think you get my point. This takes some of the stress of the race off and you will pass the time quicker than you would have thought. Get to the twenty mile mark and have something left because you conserved energy during the earlier miles;

6) Eat pasta the afternoon or night before the race, but don't eat too much;

7) You're probably going to sleep less the night before the marathon so rest a lot the day before the race. Don't spent the day walking around, cutting the lawn etc... Just vegetate and get some R and R on that day if you can.

8) This was specific for Tom, but you can adjust your times accordingly. He did some of his long runs at a 6:30 pace.  The 6:30 min/mile for long distance is pretty fast. That's a 2:50 marathon- a time that is difficult for even experienced young marathoners. I'd forget about that pace. Start out doing 7:35-7:45 min./mile and pick it up after 15 or 16 miles. That's a 3:16 marathon pace- not bad for a first time. If you can manage that and you have a lot left, try to run the last 10K in about 43 to 44 minutes. That's just over 7:00 min./mile pace. You'll negative split if you do that, which is always good.

9) As soon as you feel the need to pee, do it-don't wait. You'll save time in the long run by stopping.

10)For cooler fall marathons, wear tights if you have them, several coolmax layers on top, thin gloves, and a baseball cap. Old clothes can be shed if you get hot. Use Vaseline under your armpits, nipples and between your legs.

11) Borrow a more dependable car to get to the race if you can so that isn't a worry.  What I mean here is try to minimize anything that stresses you out prior to race day.

12) Take in fluids and gels every 30 minute or so during the race. It should be the stuff you've been practicing with-nothing new. Put some stuff you like in your pocket in case you want something and you're away from a water station.

Good luck!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

We Need a Group Name. Any Suggestions?

I've been visiting various blogs and leaving messages in hopes of creating a nice network of people who share a number of commons interests. Please don't be intimidated though if you're just starting in an area like running, mountain biking, writing or whatever it is that gets you feeling like a kid again. We all need to try new things or recapture that feeling. I know there are people out there like me that have had a desire to pursue something that they previously didn't have the time because of family commitments etc.. Why not take a chance and give it a shot now?

I'm in the process of thinking about changing careers. Let me know if you're having some of those same feelings.  There's a John Mayer song on his first CD, Room For Squares, called No Such Thing.  It talks about people pursuing "safe" areas for a career etc... Part of the lyrics uses the language "They love to tell you "stay inside the lines". But something's better on the other side."  It's taken me some time, but I'm finally fighting off the status quo. How about you?


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Trail Travels-Part 2

On the eve of the 2010 Hartford Marathon, I find myself drawn away from this race and toward the Airline Trail in Hebron, just off of Route 85.  This trail has some great features.  You can truly escape from your everyday hassles for a little while on this trail.

There's a beautiful wetland that the trail passes through right near the beginning of the course I run.  Down a little further, you pass over the Salmon River, a waterway protected by the Connecticut General Statutes. I believe the state built the bridge over the river. I plan on running out there tomorrow morning. I'll let you know all about my run later this weekend.


Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the Airline Trail due to time constraints. I did go to the Hop River Rail Trail though. I arrived at the trail on Saturday morning at 9:00 am.  The temperature was around 60 degrees F and it was sunny.  There were very few of the regular Sunday crowd. However, I was surprised by the number of cars in the parking lot. The vast majority of the people there were riding bikes.

As I was doing my pre-run stretches, a gentleman finished his walk. I recognized him once he neared the picnic table. His name is Ed. He is recuperating from shoulder surgery. His orthopedic surgeon is the same guy I used to repair my knees, Dr. Dan Veltri.  He admitted that it's been difficult being patient while his shoulder healed. But he didn't want to have another setback so he was following doctor's orders- no running for 4 months. I knew what he was going through but things could have been worse.

I said goodbye and headed off for my 6 mile run. My energy level was good. I quickly got into a rhythm and cruised along at a 7:57 min/mile pace for the first mile. Just after crossing over Tunnel Road, I picked up the pace a bit. This is where the pitch of the trail starts to rise. By the time I reached the 2 mile mark, I had covered the distance in 15: 52. My pace had increased slightly despite the incline. I thought about my friend, Gary, who's house is along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. He has a full house now since his wife's daughter and her four kids moved in. I think, in spite of the obvious chaos that occurs when things like this happen, he's enjoying the company.

By the time I reached the three mile mark, I had seen numerous birds, several squirrels, a chipmunk, and four dogs. My time was 23:39, the same as last week. This is a 7:53 min/mile pace. Not bad for an uphill trail run.
On the return trip, I was able to shave off ten seconds from my time last week or 22:39. This is a 7:33 min/mile pace and I covered the last mile in 7:24. I briefly talked to a young female runner as she was preparing to start her run. I headed home about 10:00 am with a sense of accomplishment knowing that I just trimmed ten seconds off my PR for the return trip.

How was your last run/workout? I'm interested.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remembering Co-workers/Running Friends

I've had the pleasure of knowing and running with a number of friends that have since passed on. Dave Cherico, Doug Zimmerman, Ron Waghorn and Stan Alexander are the subject of my post today. Dave is in the second row, second from the right (The guy pulling both my ears) and Doug is also in the second row, first from the left (The guy leaning to his left).

In particular, David Cherico, who was killed in a boating accident in his backyard back in 2001, was an especially good friend. We spent countless hours running different trails all around Eastern Connecticut. Dave had purchased a Connecticut trail guide, which we used to discover new trails and plan runs. We often ran on the trails at Soapstone Mountain and Gay City State Park because we lived fairly close to those areas. Dave was a co-worker of mine at the Connecticut DEP for many years, a Connecticut wildland firefighter, and an avid fisherman. From 2003 to 2005, I formed a relay team and we ran the Hartford Marathon in his memory.  I'm not ashamed to say that during that period Team Cherico finished 1st in their division 2 out of the 3 years and 2nd one year.

Dave and I had talked about submitting a letter with a photograph of one of our favorite spots to Runner's World to see if we could get our spot in the magazine section called "Rave Run." I haven't given up on that idea. It would be a nice tribute to him on the 10th anniversary of his death, in April, 2011.

Unfortunately, my small running group experienced another loss this year. Doug Zimmerman was a great guy and one of the comedians in our group too.  We also played softball together for a number of years. He always helped us keep things in perspective. Doug went out for a lunchtime run with several of us and died from what appears to have been some kind of a cardiac issue.   We actually ran together for the first 1.5 miles, but split off from him. The strange thing was that he showed no signs of any problem that day. We were goofing around the whole time until we split off. It would have been nice to pay tribute to him with a Team Cherico/Zimmerman relay team, but we couldn't get a team together because of vacations and injuries. We'll find a way to do it at another race.

Stan and Ron were two of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. Both Stan and Ron were good athletes. They also worked for the DEP for a number of years.

Stan loved basketball and played at a very high level while in the service and for years after locally. He was also a very good softball player and played for state and local teams for a number of years. He was one of the guys that helped me when I first started out at DEP. As one would expect, I had a lot to learn after starting work the day after Thanksgiving in 1980.  Stan was quick to give advice when you asked for help and had a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, he left DEP in 1986 for a job with a local consulting company. Stan died from stomach cancer in his early forties.

Ron was a very good runner, but his passion was cross country skiing.  He used to enter all types of ski races and did quite well from what I've  heard. I remember one year we met up and ran the the Manchester Road Race together. I really enjoyed running with him that year. He also organized relay teams and I was fortunate enough to race with him at Josh Billings and the Highland Lake races. Ron canoed with a friend and I ran for the team.  Ron died from a brain tumor in his early forties.

I think about these guys often, but especially when certain races come around each year.  I hope we all can stay healthy and keep this small running group together for a long time, even after we retire.

Do you have a group of friends that participate in activities together? Let me know.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trail Travels-Part 1

Every weekend I plan a run along one of the many trails in Eastern Connecticut. My favorite trail, which I'm most often on, is the Hop River Rail Trail that runs from Vernon into Andover and beyond. There's a number of great spots to park along the trail too. I usually park on the paved lot along the trail off of Church Street.

The Hop River Trail is only a mile or so from my house so it's the most convenient place for me. Plus, it's in great shape for walking, running, and biking. You can take a road bike on it too and not worry that you'll get a flat tire for most of it.  There's just one small section that does have gravel across it that you need to walk your road bike over near the lower Bolton Lake.

Anyway, I'm headed to the trail and all it offers. I'll let you know how it goes later today.


There were many cars in the lot when I reached the trail today, but still plenty of room for others. There was a large group of younger runners stretching and talking near the picnic table and shelter too. It was a local college running team preparing for a workout. I usually see them running towards me on the return leg of my out-and-back route. That made sense because I was a little behind schedule today.

I did my usual stretching routine and briefly chatted with one of the coaches as she was sitting at the picnic table with a laptop in front of her. No doubt she was preparing to log in details of today's workout. She said that the team liked this trail and that they had a nice 12 mile loop to do. She went on to say that they sometimes run further though.

I noticed sitting on a bench near the picnic table some other frequent Sunday morning runners. In particular, I noticed this one tall guy with short hair and an Abe Lincoln-type beard. I know he's fast. He runs with a group of people that train for the Hartford Marathon.

The day was overcast and  the temperature was about 60 degrees with a slight wind. I started out at a fairly steady pace (7:58 mins./mile) for the first 2 miles when I passed two older ladies walking. They're always out walking every Sunday. Good for them. I said hello and continued on towards Valley Falls Park, which is north of the trail, down a steep hill. The trail was covered with red, orange, yellow and green leaves. The storm yesterday brought down quite a few leaves and branches.

I like the fact that the trail has quarter mile markers, which help you gauge the pace when you're running. On the way out, it's a gradual uphill  slope. That's okay with me because this allows you to push yourself in the beginning and negative split the run on the way back.

At the 3 mile mark, I stopped and turned around. I planned to only do 6 miles today. I'm still nursing my left knee, which I have arthritis in.  I felt pretty good though. I reached that mark in 23:39-a 7:53 pace. There were a lot of people walking this morning. One younger kid was even riding a skateboard on the trail.

The return trip was good, although I didn't feel quite as strong as I did last week. My knee didn't bother me at all. I covered the last 3 miles in 22:51- a 7:37 pace (my splits: 7: 53, 7:42, 7:16). Not too bad.