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Monday, July 29, 2013

[Week 4: Journey to WDW Marathon] A shout out to Citrix Systems...

In week 4, before I start with my summary, I felt it important to highlight a vital aspect of my Walt Disney World (WDW) Marathon training, which is the financial support that I get from my employer Citrix Systems, Inc.  "Citrix is the cloud company that enables mobile workstyles—empowering people to work and collaborate from anywhere, securely accessing apps and data on any of the latest devices, as easily as they would in their own office." Without Citrix, none of my aspirations towards running at Disney would be possible.  Do you have any idea what it costs to take a family of six for four nights and five days at a Disney Resort along with only a single day at one of the parks?  Add to that the cost of the Marathon itself registered for both Alexis and I (no, they don't throw in a free entry into the park), and one finds themselves leveraging the equity in their home; unless of course they are blessed to work at a technology company like my own.  While the financial income aspects of my employment are key, this is not the only advantage of working for Citrix.  Citrix takes work/life balance seriously and encourages a "fit" life style with programs and incentives for its employees; not to mention the flexibility of working from home that enables me to get out and jog when the weather it not cooperating.  I could go on for days of the benefits of working for Citrix, but suffice it to say that I thank the Lord daily for this blessing and I'm indebted to this company for a long and enjoyable career. If any of this interest you, I would encourage you to take a look at the opportunities we have available at our career site (make sure to tell them that "Jason Furtak" sent you... no seriously, on the web application there's a box).

Now to the summary:

Of course, the big news from this week was the completion of the half marathon distance on Saturday. [Full report at: http://www.tminus110.com/2013/07/just-training-run-half-marathon-booh.html ]  Our previous long distance was 8 miles and so this betters that distance and proves that we can now complete a half marathon.  The rest of the week was fairly standard with a 3.5 mile hill run on Wednesday and greenway running the other days.  Alexis and I continue our muscle fitness on Mondays and Fridays and a cross training bike workout for one hour on Sunday.

Bring on week 5!

~Jason Furtak~

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just a training run... Half Marathon! Booh, yeah!

Alexis and I set out this morning with one goal; perform the week 4 long run on Jeff Galloway's Walt Disney World (WDW) Marathon training.  The schedule calls for a 5.5 mile walk/run but since we've been doing 10K or better distances (two weeks ago we did 8 miles), I decided that we would run 7 miles today.  The schedule would catch-up to us in two weeks.  We also set out with the goal of running from one end to the other on our local Big Creek Greenway.  Alexis decided to pace with me today since Gabrielle will be dropping out of our long runs.  Gabrielle will continue to do the runs during the week but the distances are getting too long for her young body.

I felt strong going into mile three and knew it was going to be a good morning. We hit the end of the Greenway at roughly mile 7, and I came to the realization that if we stopped at this point we would have to walk back at an average pace of about 18min/mile.  I was also tripping on a fairly serious running high.  I turned to Alexis and asked, "do you think you can do 10 miles?"  She chuckled at me and said, "yes."  I later asked why she chuckled, and she told me that my pace was fairly slow.  I believe it because at that point we were at a 11'11 pace and Alexis typically does under 10' on long runs.  I use my HRM to watch and support a comfortable heart-rate on my long distance runs.  Between 145 and 150 is sustainable on a non-stop run for me, but at this moment, that only gives me about an 11 minute mile.  Far slower than Alexis average mile pace. 

As we approached the 9 mile distance, I came to the realization that at 10 miles we would only be short of a half marathon distance by 3.1 miles.  Again, I turned to Alexis and asked if she could do the half marathon.  Again, she chuckled and said, "yes." At this point, I was honestly hoping that she was going to say no.  The runner's high was wearing off and I knew that the additional mileage would be a challenge.  As we hit mile 10, I slammed into a runner's withdrawal that was pretty serious.  I looked over at Alexis who was truckin' along and suggested that she not let me hold her back anymore.  Off she ran and there I was facing my demons... alone.  I have hit brick walls before but nothing like this.  My pace slowed down drastically and I was doing about  a 13min/mile but I finished.  When it was all said and done, I (we) had run my longest distance ever.  I still had a half a mile walk back and it sucked bad.  Every muscle in my body was weak and my mind was fuzzy.  You see, in my preparation this morning, I only preparred for 7 miles.  I didn't pack any electrolyte replenishment and my water ran out at mile 8.  I was physically and mentally wasted.  My beautiful daughter ran up to the parking lot and filled her water bottle and brought it back to me. Water never tasted so good!

My total time on the Greenway for this run was 2:39 with a 12min/mile pace. I'm pleased I pushed through this difficult ending so that I would have the experience for future races.  In the parking lot, I shot the following video to mark this occasion: YouTube: Tminus110 video and shared on FaceBook.  I haven't been running long but I get all emotional when I hit records like this.  When I shot this video my mind was a bit fuzzy which I have never experienced before.  So much so, I made the mistake of saying a half marathon was 3.1 miles. In short, this is what I was trying to say:  This event marked my first ever 13.1 half marathon distance. I symbolically liken my struggles with weight-loss and running to my wife fighting cancer (in a feeble sort of way) but at the same time, I'm more impressed with her fight during this present chemo treatment cycle which is now half way done.  Lord willing, this will be the end.  I'm also thankful to my daughter Alexis, who has been training with me all along and motivating me everyday.  Same is true for Gabrielle who has joined us on most runs.  I'm also thankful to the rest of my family in ways that I can't adequately express in this blog.  This sentiment extends to my friends who are as close as family who often extend words of encouragement.  As a final word of thank you, I extend appreciation to those 84 family, friends and complete strangers who have "liked" Tminus110 and continue to encourage me along the way.

Here's to the next "13.1",

~Jason Furtak~

Saturday, July 20, 2013

[Week 3: Journey to WDW Marathon] Heat/humidity is kickin'...

Week 3 of my journey to the Walt Disney World Marathon is now complete.  Alexis and I are on track and moving along at a good pace.

Well, the theme for most running WWW blogs over the past few weeks has been heat, and the same would be for this blog.  The irony of my complaint with heat is that it really isn't all that hot for this time of the year in Georgia.  We have yet to hit a day over 90 degrees; mainly because of overcast and raining weather.  The rain has cooled things down and made the running somewhat bearable. I say somewhat bearable because with the rain, I can tell that the humidity is kicked up a notch.

Since this was a resting week, I didn't break any records but I felt good about the training.  We did a 5K distance Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and did 4 miles on Saturday, even though the training called for only 3.

Next week is another long run week and we're going to try more hill running on Wednesday.


~Jason Furtak~

Monday, July 15, 2013

[Week 2: Journey to WDW Marathon] Long run record and faster per minute miles...

I know it sounds cliche but I can hardly believe that we're already done with week 2 of the Jeff Galloway WDW Marathon training. The training is essentially setup in two week segments.  The first week are "easier" shorter runs.  Saturday in the first week is also a short run.  The second week of the set includes the "long run" on Saturday.  Since the girls and I have been running for several months, we've advanced the long run day a little father than what's on the calendar by planning 7 miles instead of 4 this week.  By our vacation weekend in August, we'll be matched up with the Galloway plan for the long run.

This week marked a week of records for the girls and I.  To begin with, we ran our farthest distance for our "long run weekend" for a total of 8.1 miles.  For the most part, I did this run non-stop with the exception of the two stops I did for a traffic light in the middle of this route.  I felt real strong but also noticed that I kept my HR at a 145 to 150 level.  For me, between 154 and 160 is pushing it and typically gets me tired out sooner.  With the runner's high, I felt I could have done a half marathon and the eight miles was farther than I had planned (7 miles) before I stopped myself.  This run is just under 12 minute miles which is a bit slower than I want to be but I'm giving myself some credit for the stops at the traffic light.

My other record came during the middle of the week with this 5K record.  While it was great to hit a record total time with the 5K, I was more impressed with my minute per mile time.  It felt good to be at a 10.5 minute mile.  My initial goal is to have a comfortable 10 minute mile for the length of the 5K, and this run was quite comfortable at 10.5.  I could have done much better if I pushed myself, so I'm fairly proud of this achievement.

Muscle Fitness

I should probably note, that I've also kicked in my muscle fitness to support this marathon goal.  I'm doing a fairly standard upper body routine including curls, bench presses, tricep extensions and the like. Most of these are being performed on a machine.  This week I was impressed with my exponential improvement in weights.  Now that my upper body is settling in, I need to find some good "core" strength training.  It seems the WWW is all the buzz these days over planks, so I'll probably start here.  If you have some suggestions, please let me know.

Bring on week 3.

~Jason Furtak~

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Race Summary - We the Runners - 10K - July 4th

We the Runners 5K/10K was hosted by a local running store by the name of Totally Running here in Cumming, Georgia, and it benefited the March of Dimes.  Overall it was well organized and I was very pleased with the race when it was over.  Obviously, we wanted to do the world famous Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta but we were too late for the registration this year.  We opted for this race as an alternative. 

I ran this race with my lovely daughters; Gabrielle and Alexis. We also had some very good friends (friends that are as close as family); Robert and Jackie Moody running the 5K race which started at the same time. The 10K distance is the next natural progression for our Walt Disney World (WDW) Marathon training.  This was our first 10K which we were well prepared for since we've been doing this distance, or more, during our long run training on Saturday.  It was great having a patriotic theme on this July 4th to help celebrate our country's Independence while at the same time my own independence from unhealthy living.

On July 3rd, we were a bit concerned since the weather forecast for the 4th called for 100% rain.  On the good side, we knew that it would be cooler and likely make the run fast; even if we got soaked.  Thankfully, it drizzled a little but there was no rain for the run itself.  Like I predicted, the weather was also cooler at roughly the high 60's which is fantastic for July in Georgia.  It could have been much worse.

This run seemed real long.  Let me explain.  Even though we have run this distance for a few months now, this particular run went down a major road here in the area called, Peachtree Boulevard, and then circled back to the start.  Unfortunately, it's a major 4 lane divided roadway that is long and lacks interesting views.  Since you can see long stretches of this course (outside of the hills), it just makes for a real long run.  I much prefer courses that wind through neighborhood or city streets or even a long straight course through a wooded area would have been better.

Overall, I did very well on the race itself.  As you can see from the chart below, I kept an elevated heart-rate that pushed me just slightly.  At the start of the race, I felt real strong and actually had to slow my pace a bit since I was running under a 10 minute mile.  I hit a mini brick wall at mile 4 but that only lasted for a quarter of a mile or so. 
When it was all said and done, I actually hit two records.  One for the 5K distance and another for the 10K distance.  To put this into perspective, my 10'51 pace beat my previous 10K record of 11'52.  I also did the race without walking or stopping. A very big day for me indeed.  It just felt good!

Undoubtedly Embarrassing: I have two cool stories to wrap things up.  Firstly, I found myself a bit embarrassed during this race.  You see, I bought a new set of clothes which were semi-patriotic in nature (red shirt, white and blue shorts).  I bought my typical size (2X) shorts as I have been doing but hadn't worn them yet.  As the race was progressing, I could feel that my shorts were slipping.  I even re-tightened the string a couple of times (while running).  As I approached the turn-around, I wasn't paying attention and all of sudden I found my shorts past the crest of my rear.  I quickly pulled them up and re-tied.  I imagine that my face was probably flush from the embarrassment.  If you watch the video, coming out soon, and look at a few photos on my FaceBook page ( http://www.facebook.com/tminus110 ) of the finish, you'll notice that I'm holding up my shorts.  I didn't want a repeat performance at the very crowded finish line.

Proud father: Better than this, tho, was a great surprise that we received at the award ceremony.  For a little background; when I was running I took notice of the people that were passing on the return trip.  Since the 5K turned around much sooner than this, I had a fairly good view of the competition.  I first took notice that I was clearly not in the top three of my own age group, but then, I also noticed that there were no children the girls age either.  The girls were just behind me at the turn around so I knew that they were in contention to place.  We weren't going to wait for the 10K awards ceremony because of the finish line offense (explained below) but I had a feeling that the girls may place.  Imagine our surprise when we heard the third place time announced.  We knew that the girls had done a better time but you always have this doubt in your mind; like you have your times wrong or that you misunderstood.  The announcer called for Alexis, 2nd place, and proceeded to apologize a bit.  You see, Alexis and Gabrielle came across the finish line at the same time but in the registration order Gabrielle was first and Alexis second.  In reality, they tied and I was so thrilled as a father to see these wonderful girls of mine work hard and accomplish this award.  They truly are best friends on the course, keeping pace with each other, and it only seemed fitting that they would place like this.  As a side note, I should also mention that they have also been there right along with me and continue to train with me towards the goal of reaching the WDW Marathon.

Areas for improvement:  My only gripes with the management of the race were surrounding the finish of the race.  For some reason, they felt compelled to begin the 5K awards ceremony before the bulk of the 10K racers were finished.  If this wasn't bad enough, they situated the ceremony at the finish line so when I turned the corner for the finish line, I was disheartened that they were already starting the awards ceremony and then I was having to weave past folks standing in-front of the finish line.  I understand that you want to highlight your store but certainly you could have situated one or the other at a different location.  If an earlier awards ceremony was necessary as to not loose your 5K audience, then it may help to stagger the 10K and start a little earlier in the race.  Just a thought.

Overall, I was very pleased with the management of the race and would consider doing another in the future.

Here's a great video that Alexis did during the race: http://youtu.be/1UPN2_V2yIc

~Jason Furtak~

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

[Week 1: Journey to Marathon] Training with the Mouse and Jeff Galloway...

Well, this week starts our training for the Disney Marathon.  My weight-loss journey has taken me for quite a ride so far.  Several months ago, I would have been more than happy to be able to run a quarter mile much less even consider in my wildest dreams a Marathon, and here I am posting my first Marathon training update.  The Lord has been faithful, and both my weight-loss and fitness goals have far exceeded my expectations.  It is based on this progress that I move forward in confidence with this training.

Alexis and I decided to take on the full Disney experience for our first Marathon, which included participating in the official runDisney training plan written by marathon legend, Jeff Galloway. I particularly liked Jeff's program for two reasons: First, it was designed for beginners like Alexis and I.  Second, the training ramps up slowly which I believe is necessary for my inexperience and my continued weight-loss, strength and fitness build up.  I might be 75 lbs. down, but I'm still rather heavy on my joints when running. The training program does "long runs" every other week, giving us two weeks to recover before the next long run, and runs 28 weeks (29 if you count the post marathon recovery week) as opposed to 12 or 18 with more aggressive programs.  Another thing about this program is that it only runs three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I haven't decided but we may also throw in Wednesday since we've been doing that for the past couple of months and it seems to be working well.  While the runDisney Marathon Training Program only covers the "Magic Mile" as a different type of run, I think we'll also incorporate Tempo and Speeds runs into the "off" weeks. 

Technically, we were supposed to start this training program on Tuesday but Alexis, Gabrielle and myself have a 10K here in Cumming, Georgia, on tomorrow, July 4th.   We decided to do a long run on Saturday (6.2 miles), a maintenance run of two miles on Monday and rest on Tuesday and Wednesday before the run.  Since the first week of the Jeff Galloway's program is rather simple (30 minute runs and a 3 mile on Saturday) and we have been already training for the 10K, we didn't think doing something different in the first week would be a big deal.

Every now and then, I'll let you know how it's going and provide an update.


~Jason Furtak~