100 Books to Read before you die!

Update June 27th 2021 – 6 books in and Catch 22 made me realize that if I already read the book and I did so any time in recent memory I should just mark it as read. Also, The Lord of the Rings was actually 3 books! I did quite enjoy it though!

I just re-watched the Equalizer and seeing Denzel fixated on his wife’s 100 books before you die list, has made me want to partake in the same. There are so many lists though. Too many. Luckily someone in Medium took all the biggest lists collated them into one based on the number of times specific books appeared on the lists.

From the Medium Article by Joel Patrick.
“Here are the 8 lists I started with, amalgamated, and culled.
• The Guardian’s The 100 greatest novels of all time.
• The BBC’s Big Read Top 100.
• Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime
• Harvard’s Book store top 100.
• Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.
• Time’s All-Time 100 Novels.
• The Telegraph’s 100 Novels Everyone Should Read.
• The Art of Manliness’ (hey, why not) 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library.

There were 520 books from the 8 lists, which meant there was less overlap than I expected. 65 of the books were pretty straightforward as they were mentioned at least 3 times (with The Great Gatsby and Catch-22 being the only 2 making it on all 8 lists). To make up the remaining 45 books, since my list had to be 100 books long, I simply needed to choose those books that made it onto at least 2 lists. Unfortunately, 91 books were on at least two lists. So, I decided to further cull those 91 by focusing on the books that were mentioned at least twice by The Guardian, Amazon, Harvard, Time and The Telegraph. That left me with the right number of books and, voila, the greatest list ever created now lives.”

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — Set among the rich of 1920’s New York City, the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby pursues his quixotic passion and obsession for the former debutante Daisy Buchanan.
  2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller A novel seven years in the making (published in 1961) and said to be one of the most important in the 20th century. Catch-22 primarily follows the storyline of Captain John Yossarian, a crewman of a World War II bomber who is stationed on a small Mediterranean island where he repeatedly, and desperately, attempts to stay alive.
  3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac — Inspired by the author’s own experiences, the story of cross-country road trips by a number of penniless young people who are in love with life, beauty, jazz, sex, drugs, speed, and mysticism.
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee — A novel set in the American south exploring themes of justice and innocence through the experiences of a six year old girl, Scout, watching as her father defends a black man on trial in the 30s.
  5. The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien — From quiet beginnings in the Shire the story follows hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin across Middle-earth to stop the Dark Lord Sauron, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer Middle-earth.
  6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov — A controversial and shocking classic told from the perspective of the narrator, Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged professor who falls for and becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old step-daughter.
  7. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger — Holden Caulfield narrates his story from the previous Christmas -when he was kicked out of a preparatory school- to present. We learn about his life and his attempt to make sense of himself, meaning, and the events that have shaped him.
  8. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie — Saleem was born at midnight on the night of India’s independence. He is one of only 1,001 children born at that hour and each was endowed with an incredible talent.
  9. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll — Written in 1865, Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) creates a fantasy world discovered by Alice when she falls through a rabbit hole.
  10. Ulysses by James Joyce — Considered one of the most important works of modernist literature, Ulysses chronicles the peripatetic appointments and encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day.
  11. Lord of the Flies by William Golding —A group of boys are stranded on an uninhabited island in the 50’s when they embark on the disaster of trying to govern themselves.
  12. The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck — Set against the backdrop of the great depression, Tom and his family are forced from their farm in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and set out for California along with thousands of others in search of a better life.
  13. 1984 by George Orwell — The novel was written in 1949 and depicted a future (1984) when government surveillance had reached a totalitarian state, repressing the freedoms of individuals and society as a whole. Follow Smith as he shifts from party member to rebel, navigating the Thought Police, Big Brother, and more.
  14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë — Jane Eyre, first published in London in 1874, is the love story between the independent, once-orphaned Jane and her domineering employer, Rochester. Jane comes to a cross-roads when she discovers Rochester’s terrible secret.
  15. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville — Moby dick is the story of Ahab, a whaling captain whose ship and leg were destroyed by an albino whale. Ahab pursues his mission: revenge on the whale.
  16. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf — The novel Mrs. Dalloway follows the thoughts, experiences, and memories of several characters on a single day in London, most notably Mrs. Dalloway herself, the wife of a politician in post-World War I, as she plans a dinner party for that evening. Some have said the book contains some of the most beautifully written sentences in English literature.
  17. A Passage to India by EM Forster —Written in 1924 when Britain ruled India and the Indian independence movement was active. Aziz, an Indian doctor, navigates the formalities, relationships, love interests and frustrations that develop when living alongside the English ruling class.
  18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley —Huxley writes of a dystopian future genetically engineered to provide a pain-free existence. There’s just one problem: for Bernard, life is meaningless. Perhaps visiting one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old way of life and imperfection still exists will cure his existential angst.
  19. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe — Okonkwo is an ambitious man determined to be the leader of Umuofia, the village in which he lives. His beliefs and zealousness for the ways and traditions of the land are his guide.
  20. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark — Miss Jean Brodie is determined to instil in her students independence, passion, and ambition. She advises her girls, “Safety does not come first. Goodness, Truth, and Beauty come first. Follow me.”
  21. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez — The novel, first published in Spanish as Cien años de soledad in 1967, is a tale of seven generations of the Buendía family that also spans 100 years of turbulent Latin American history. José Arcadio Buendía builds the beautiful city of Macondo in the middle of a swamp. At first prosperous, a tropical storm lasting nearly five years almost destroys the town, and by the fifth Buendía generation its moral compass as well.
  22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — Written in 1813, Pride and Prejudice remains one of English literature’s most beloved novels. Mr. Bennet has five daughters, but can only pass his estate to a male heir, risking devastation for the family upon his death. One of the daughters must marry well to stave off destitution. This pressure drives the plot, particularly for Mr. Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth.
  23. Animal Farm by George Orwell —An allegorical novella published in August 1945, two weeks prior to the end of WWII, about a group of farm animals rebelling against their farmer in pursuit of animal equality.
  24. Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky —Originally published in Russian in 12 parts, Dostoyevsky writes of Rodion, a jaded and poor student in St. Petersburg, who intends to kill an underhanded pawnbroker for money. What follows is the psychological and practical consequences of his actions.
  25. Beloved by Toni Morrison —The 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning story of an African American slave woman who escapes to the free city of Cincinnati just prior to the Civil War. The story is told by four voices and reveals a shocking narrative, which darts back and forth in time.
  26. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison — Far from the science fiction that may come to mind when reading the title of this work, an Invisible Man -published in 1952- is the powerful story of a young black man who is seen as a grouping of stereotypes rather than who he is, rendering him ‘invisible’.
  27. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut — The semi-autobiographical account of the firebombing of Dresden, Germany by the British and American air forces in the February of 1945. Slaughterhouse Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a decidedly non-heroic man who travels back and forth through flashbacks, visiting his birth, death, all the moments in between.
  28. The Stranger by Albert Camus — This 1942 novel exemplifies Camus’ existentialism, Meursault tells the before and after account of his murder of another man shortly after his mother’s funeral.
  29. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes — A middle-aged man from central Spain, Don Quixote, becomes obsessed with the ideals of chivalry and takes up his horse, sword, and feeble side-kick to defend the helpless and exact punishment on the wicked. Quixote’s deeds are typically as as forlorn as his mental state.
  30. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe — First published in London in 1719, Crusoe is the sole survivor of a shipwreck, leaving him on an uninhabited island and provides the account of how he survived and the unlikely helpers along the way.
  31. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley —A classic by any definition, Frankenstein tells the story of a scientist who creates a monster through a science experiment and is now faced with the consequences of what to do with this newly formed creature.
  32. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas — Edmond, a young sailor from Marseilles, is set to become captain of his own ship and to marry his beloved. However, spiteful enemies provoke his arrest and imprisonment, until he intends to escape in search of hidden treasure.
  33. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens —Dickens initially published his eighth work as a series between 1849–1850 and thus the original full title was, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery, which is as good of a description as it is a title. The story is told by Copperfield as a man, recounting the ups and downs of his childhood and youth.
  34. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë — The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on an impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her.
  35. Little Women by Louisa M Alcott —Published in 1868 and 1869, the novel details the lives of four sisters’ transition into womanhood and their harrowing experiences along the way.
  36. The Call of the Wild by Jack London — A compelling tale of a bold dog that, thrust into the harsh life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in man’s world and returning to nature.
  37. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame — Published in the early 1900s, The Wind in the Willows are animal tales by British writer Kenneth Grahame that began as a series of bedtime stories for his son.
  38. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh — Based on Waugh’s own experience as a war correspondent in Ethiopia, Scoop chronicles Lord Copper’s decision to appoint just the right chap to cover a promising war in the African Republic of Ishmaelia. So begins the story, a comedy of mistaken identity and brilliantly irreverent satire of the frenzied pursuit of hot news.
  39. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler — A dying millionaire hires a private detective to take care of the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters. However, he finds himself involved with more than just extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, and murder are just a few of the complications he finds himself in.
  40. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis — Jim has accidentally landed a job in one of England’s newly formed universities, which promises a comfortable future- that is to say, if he can keep away fellow lecturer Margaret’s unwelcome advances and navigate a host of other socially unbearable circumstances.
  41. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino — Praised as a postmodern masterpiece, the book is about the reader trying to read the book itself, with each chapter divided in two parts. The first part is in second person describing the process of interpreting what’s forthcoming and the second part is the continuation of the narrative unfolding — the story of a book-fraud conspiracy.
  42. A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul —Salim, an Indian man, finds himself in mid-20th century, post-colonial Africa pursuing a business venture only to discover a ruined shell of a town left behind by European colonizers.
  43. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson —Housekeeping is the story of two orphan girls living in secluded Idaho and are raised by a series of relatives until they land in the care of their aunt Sylvie, a true drifter that becomes the central character of the novel.
  44. Atonement by Ian McEwan —Atonement follows Briony from the age of 13 where, in 1935, what she bore witness to marked her life and the trajectory of the lives around her. However, could it be that her preconceived notions shaped what is that she saw?
  45. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman —A series of three fantasy novels focused on two children, Lyra and Will, who travel through parallel universes, touching on themes of philosophy, religion, and physics while meeting friends and foes in the form of witches, polar bears and more.
  46. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams — The book was originally a BBC radio program. Seconds before Earth is demolished, Arthur is retrieved from the planet by his friend Ford starting their comedic journey through space.
  47. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens — Dickens’ 1860 penultimate novel follows the story of Pip, a blacksmith’s apprentice in a country village. He suddenly comes into a large fortune from an unknown benefactor and moves from Kent to London where he enters high society.
  48. Middlemarch by George Eliot —The novel examines the classes and lives of all those living in Middlemarch, a relatively unexciting town. The story canvasses the landed gentry down to professional workers, with focuses on Dorothy and Tertius, both of which have disastrous marriages.
  49. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh —Charles meets Sebastian Flyte at Oxford College in 1923. Soon after his life becomes intwined with the Flyte family, Roman Catholic aristocrats of the time. The novel depicts his relationship with the Flytes, God, and his romantic endeavors.
  50. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy — Tolstoy described Anna Karenina as his first true novel. Others have since described it as the greatest work of literature ever written. In 1874 Russia, Prince Oblonsky, the brother of Anna Karenina, has an affair with his housemaid. Anna travels from Saint Petersburg to Moscow in an attempt to save his marriage.
  51. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth — Alexander Portnoy describes to his psychotherapist, in one continuous monologue, his life and lust-crazed existence as a young Jewish bachelor.
  52. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton — Three people’s lives are woven together are deeply affected by the rigidness of high society New York in the 1920s. Newland, a restrained young attorney, is engaged to marry May, but falls in love with her beautiful and unconventional cousin, Ellen. Despite his fear of a dull marriage he goes through with the ceremony, but continues to see Ellen.
  53. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood —Offred is a Handmaid to the commander in the Republic of Gilead. Though she once had a husband, daughter, and a job, she now navigates a world which controls her existence, a world she resists at risk of losing her life.
  54. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway — Inspired by Hemingway’s trips to Spain, a 1926 novel that portrays American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to a Festival in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and bullfights.
  55. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf — A stream of consciousness passing of time as the Ramsey family visit the lighthouse between 1910 and 1920, exploring themes of the transience of life and work as well as the subjective nature of reality.
  56. White Noise by Don DeLillo — White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler studies.
  57. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers — The novel is centered upon John Singer, a deaf-mute living in Georgia in the 1930s, the only man for whom four other characters in the town find a true confidant.
  58. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner — Set in Mississippi in the early 20th century, Faulkner’s first major novel describes the decay and fall of the aristocratic Compson family — and, implicitly, of an entire social order.
  59. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov — Fictional poet John Shade creates a 999 line poem that focuses on various aspects of his life. Shade’s friend and editor Charles Kinbotes write a forward and commentary on the poem, which focuses primarily on his own concerns, and thereby reveals a plot piece by piece.
  60. I, Claudius by Robert Graves —I, Claudius, Written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius, tells the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the beginning of the Roman Empire, from Caesar’s assassination to Caligula’s.
  61. Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin — Baldwin writes a semi-autobiographical story of John Grimes, an African American teenager in Harlem in the 1930s and his relationship to his parents, step-father, and the Pentecostal church, the latter a source of both oppression and inspiration.
  62. A Dance to The Music of Time by Anthony Powell —Not so much a book as it is 12, the story documents a British society from pre-World War I through to the 1970s, a society that was disappearing even as Powell wrote about it. A Dance to The Music of Time is an often funny commentary on the manners and movements, power and passivity in English political, cultural and military life.
  63. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller — Tropic of Cancer shifts between past and present and largely functions as an immersive meditation on the human condition. As a struggling writer, Miller describes his experience living in Paris in the 30’s, a bohemian existence where he psychologically suffers from hunger, homelessness, loneliness, and depression over his recent separation from his wife.
  64. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys — Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power of relationships between men and women and develops postcolonial themes, such as racism, displacement, and assimilation.
  65. Under The Net by Iris Murdoch — Set in a part of London where struggling writers rub shoulders with the successful. Its hero, Jake Donaghue, is drifting, clever, likeable and makes a living out of translation work. A meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures.
  66. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift — Gulliver’s Travels was published in 1726 and follows the tale of Lemuel Gulliver as he embarks on four voyages. The book is satirical look at human nature and the subgenre of travelers tales.
  67. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding — First published in London, 1749, Tom Jones is a comic tale, which is both bildungsroman and picaresque that is among the earliest English prose to be classified as a novel.
  68. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson — Published in 1748, Clarissa is the story of a beautiful, young woman, Clarissa Harlowe, whose quest for virtue is tragically thwarted by the wickedness of her world.
  69. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne — A meandering story that tells of the many trivial accidents, which are perceived as pseudo-scientific calamities, of Tristram’s life, from conception and beyond.
  70. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne — An adulteress is forced to wear a scarlet A to mark her shame while her unidentified lover is wracked with guilt, and her husband seeks revenge.
  71. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert — Published in 1857, the story of a beautiful farm girl raised in a convent, Emma imagines married life to be an exciting adventure and is let down to find that her good natured, but relatively boring husband, isn’t what she hoped for. She seeks true intimacy in romantic novels and then other men to find her life spiralling out of control.
  72. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James — James explores themes of personal freedom, responsibility, and betrayal through the story of a spirited young American woman who, in confronting her destiny, finds it overwhelming. After inheriting a large amount of money she becomes the victim of scheming by two American expatriates.
  73. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson — A classic novella first published in the 1800’s tells the story of a man and his two alter egos: the respected Dr. Henry Jekyll and the loathsome Mr. Edward Hyde.
  74. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad — Set in a fictitious South American country, the story begins halfway through the revolution, where rich businessman, Charles Gould, uses proceeds from his silver mine to keep peace by supporting the current dictator. Instead he sparks chaos and war and must trust Nostromo with a boat of silver to keep it from falling into the hands of revolutionaries.
  75. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust —Originally written in French, In Search of Lost Time could also be translated as Remembrance of Things Past. The seven-part novel follows the narrator’s remembrances of childhood and experiences into adulthood as he searches for truth and grapples with the meaninglessness of life. The story takes place in the late 19th and early 20th century aristocratic France.
  76. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence — Lawrence focuses on themes of individual’s struggle for growth and fulfilment within the smothering strictures of of English social life through the lens of three generations of the Brangwen family living in Nottinghamshire.
  77. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford — Just prior to WWI, two wealthy couples meet at a spa in Germany and spend several years in comfortable friendship until it is revealed that one of the wives and one of the husbands are in an affair. Death and meaning follow.
  78. The Trial by Franz Kafka — An upstanding bank officer who is suddenly and unexplainably put under arrest and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information.
  79. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner —As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s distressing account of Addie Bundren’s death and the family’s odyssey to bury their wife and mother in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi.
  80. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White —The novel depicts the life-altering relationship of Wilbur, a barnyard pig, and Charlotte, a spider. Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered when Charlotte intervenes.
  81. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass — Oskar Matzerath tells us his life story from the confinement of a mental institution, from birth and coming of age in the time of World Wars I and II.
  82. Herzog by Saul Bellow —Herzog is set in 1964 and is about the midlife crisis of a Jewish man, Moses Herzog. The reader learns of Moses as he writes frantic, unsent letters to friends, enemies, colleagues, and the famous, those living and dead, show the spectacular workings of his mind and the secrets of his troubled heart.
  83. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré — The book follows the endevors of taciturn, aging spymaster forced out of retirement to find a Soviet mole in the British Secret Intelligence Service.
  84. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison — A man’s attempt to fly from the top of Mercy hospital, resulting in his death, causes a scene which sends Ruth, a heavily pregnant woman, into labor and ushers in the birth of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, the first African American born in the hospital. The story follows his life.
  85. Money by Martin Amis — Money is a tale about a true consumer, John Self. He spends extravagantly and with abandon, mindless of consequence, as he seeks to satisfy his appetites: alcohol, tobacco, pills, pornography, junk food, and more.
  86. Oscar And Lucinda by Peter Carey — Oscar is an uptight preacher’s kid, Lucinda a frizzy-haired heiress. Life events means each grow up to develop a guilty passion for gambling. When the two finally meet they are brought together by their disposition for risk, loneliness, and their awkwardly blossoming mutual affection.
  87. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie —
  88. American Pastoral by Philip Roth —
  89. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald —
  90. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle —
  91. Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume —
  92. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham — Philip was abandoned as a child and raised by an unaffectionate family. In school he struggles to fit in and grows up with a desire for love, art, and experience. After a failed art career he begins studies in London, where he meets an uncaring waitress with whom he falls into a potent, agonizing, and life-changing love affair.
  93. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon — Set in 1939 NYC, a teenage budding magician, Joe, arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in height of the Golden Age of comic books, and Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze.
  94. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz — The story is centered on Oscar De León (nicknamed Oscar Wao), an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey, who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as the curse that has plagued his family for generations.
  95. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen — Corrections is centered on the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple and their three adult children, telling the story of their lives from the 1950s to “one last Christmas” together near the turn of the century.
  96. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster — A tollbooth mysteriously appears in Milo’s room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions, learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and much more.
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami — The unreality vortex circling around several loosely connected searches by the protagonist-narrator, Toru Okada, a lost man-boy in his early 30’s.
  98. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston — The novel narrates main character Janie Crawford’s blossoming from a vivid but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her hand on the wheel of her own destiny.
  99. Watchmen by Alan Moore — In an alternate 1985 America, costumed superheroes are part of everyday life. When one of his former comrades is murdered, masked vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) uncovers a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes.
  100. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera — A novel possessing both comedy and trauma, the author addresses, ‘Being’ in a world in which lives are irreversibly shaped choices and chance events in which everything occurs only once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight.

Some of these I have read, but will re-read as I go though it. So now, let’s get through the list, I wonder how long it will take me. I will come back to this post and strikethrough each entry and maybe do a blog post about each as well.

The Carmel Marathon

Well, it’s done.  After 16 grueling weeks in which my body did not know what to do with the new training regimen provided by Xplora Team, I crossed the finish line and it took me 4:11:50.  As you, my smart reader can clearly see, this is almost 12 minutes short of my goal.  Yet, let’s dissect that a bit.  

A sub 4 hour marathon has become my holy grail.  That thing I aspire to achieve, hopefully soon.  It’s part of the reason I decided to tackle this marathon with a trainer and why moving forward, I will attempt to continue to beat this time even if I think I may need to find a new way to do it.   If you have been reading my blog you know that this is my third marathon.  So far, I have done:

The Marine Corps Marathon – 10/28/18 – 4:50:12

The NYC Marathon Marathon – 11/3/2019 – 4:24:14

The Carmel Marathon – 4/3/21 – 4:11:50

All three have provided differing challenges, but all three, have had me in the same boat when I near mile 20.  For the first Marathon I trained exclusively with my sister.  So, we ran at the same pace and did the same things.  The NYC Marathon was just for me and I trained my heart out but without accountability.  The goal was sub 4, but adrenaline got the better of me at the start and I burned out hard.  

This past weekend for the Carmel Marathon, I had a dedicated plan.  A plan I was sure would work and get me that coveted, to me, sub 4.  Again it did not work! Not because the plan was flawed,  I personally think that it was a great plan that could and should have gotten me the goal.  Yet, as you may already know from reading my posts, foot injuries were a common occurrence during my training and they did not stay away or get any better on Marathon day.  I ran with pain, for the last 2 months of training.  I did not know what running without pain was anymore and the last 5/6 miles of this marathon brought all that pain to the forefront with force.  To the point I cried multiple times thinking I was not going to be able to finish.  That I would have to be picked up from the side of the road, crying like a baby whose toy has been taken away.

Let’s recap!  

Miles 1 through 13.1.  The marathon as you will see at the end of this was two loops.  The first loop was with the people doing the Half Marathon, and the second loop alone.  The last 2.5 miles of both loops were the same.   I ran hard in my training and it included many many hills.  Elevation gains became the vain of my existence.  When my coach researched the marathon, he told me, this is ok man, the Carmel Marathon will be rather flat.  So, you will be all the stronger for it.  This was an outright LIE.  Not by my coach, but by the elevation picture provided by the Carmel Marathon people.   See! 

What they had on the site up top, what I actually did in the bottom! Elevation was NO JOKE!

I had a plan, so elevation or no, the plan was going on without a hitch the first 13.1. I ran at the indicated paces. I ran a bit TOO fast the first 2 miles, but not by much, in the end though, I still felt like everyone and their mother was passing me by.  Yet I stayed true and those same people that flew by me to start, I eventually gained on with my steady pace.  I kept myself between 8:50 and 9:00 the entirety of those 13.1.  I think it did help that I ran with a gaggle of people the whole time and even though I think I ignore all around me.  The people, not the spectators those were not present.  But the other racers, help immensely.  

Miles 13.1  – 19

I stayed sort of fine. One mile would be sub 9, the other slightly above 9. But always still within the range indicated by my coach. It worked very well for me. Then, pain!!! and the wheels came off. It started as just not being able to tune it out any more and conforming my stride to try and avoid it.

Miles 19 – Finish

By mile 23, I had tears in my eyes at time and any slight hill or anything that could cause further discomfort took me down.  That could be a hard turn, or a U turn of which there were a few.  The last 2.5 miles or so where exactly the same route I had already run to finish the first half and that does no good to an already jaded psyche.  I committed myself to no more walking at Mile 23, but quickly broke that when a massive hill showed up right before mile 24.  Then again when we were about to exit the Monon trail for the last half mile.  It was a straight right turn and I walked it! A nice girl, yell at me as she passed me by.  We are almost there!  I knew that of course, but hearing that allowed me to finish running and pushing myself all so slightly at the end.  

Even before crossing the finish line.  1. I knew I had PR’ed even if I did not hit my goal.  2. I knew the constant pain would stop or at least the stabbing would stop.  3. I cried, and was at one part overjoyed to end it, and another part of me was happy to have finished against what just 30/40 minutes earlier seemed like insurmountable odds.  

The best part is that I did not finish telling myself never again like the NYC Marathon.  I need to break 4hrs, and I need to continue to run.  I just think I need to figure out other ways to do it.  I think a start is to check out Galloway’s book on the run/walk method.  We will see, until the next race! I see you NYC Marathon!

The Carmel Marathon!

Week 14

Total Miles – 30.8 Miles
Runs 53-56

Well, I though this was the week that tapering started, but as you can see I still ran 30+ miles. I asked my coach and he said this coming week. So, first week of tapering coming up, and final week of training per se. So, in theory I am trained and ready to go! Now, it’s just finishing strong, and making sure the easy, low key runs, have value.

Run 53 was super hard. After having run 19 miles on Saturday, my body was not yet ready to put in 60 minutes of running. Yet, you go out there and do it, even if its super slow and you doubt that you will be able to do Marathon pace in a couple of days, because your body hurts so much right now! Yet, unbeknownst to me, there were strides at the end of this work out at a 7 min pace. The first one took me off guard, I did not check, I just knew I had 60 minutes and the strides came as a shock. Yet, I was able to do it.

Run 54 – marathon pace 4X for 1.25 Miles each. Plus all the accoutrements that come with it turned this into a 7.5 mile mid week beast of a run. I keep being reminded that I am already trained and when it comes time to push. You push! Somehow, I am able to keep that pace and it almost feels natural and easy.

Run 55 – ran without pain! What kind of strange phenomenon is this? How do you run without pain, I have not felt that in forever! A quick 50 minutes and I’m not sure as to why. I felt no pain anywhere. I have been leveraging the Bronx River trail all week and boy did I miss the simplicity of running a familiar route. Where you know when you have to turn around, no maps, no planning. Just run!

Run 56 – What the hell happened! I ran without pain yesterday., yet today! It’s like someone hit me with a hammer in both my ankles. I’m doing a modified route I have never done, Martha and I are running almost the same distance, 11 miles for her and 12 miles or so for me.

I ran a quick warm up mile and picked Martha up right in front of the house. We ran down my block and into the heart of Mount Vernon proper. Let me preface by stating that I did not plan this route very well, when I created it, it did not seem like it was overly hilly. Boy was that a mistake! Right at the start it was massive hills just to get into Mount Vernon proper, then massive hills as you traversed it and came into the Bronx at the end 233rd reaching Baychester. We got to see a whole bunch of car repair places, next to strip clubs, next to McD’s. This part of the Bronx really does not speak to it’s better parts.

Yet, we traversed it with no issues and finally reached COOP City, where we finally got into Pelham Park. The trails here are great and almost always near empty. It’s truly a joy to partake in the up and down of the hills, with a golf course to the left and the sound to the right. I will have to come back and just run this area in the future. Back to the running, by mile 7, while I was still keeping a 9 minute or so pace, I was dying. The hills had my number, my ankles had my number and it was all a desire to finish and be done. We exit Pelham Park trail system in New Rochelle. The fancy parts of New Rochelle with the mansions, only to leave it behind rather quickly as we once again enter Mount Vernon! The last 2/3 miles were ALL UP HILL. I repeat the last 2/3 miles were ALL UP HILL. I was suppose to do 2 hours, but pulled the plug 7 minutes shy at 12 Miles.

This coming week will be better and the end is in site. 2 weeks until the marathon!

Look at that elevation at the end!
The best parts, are the ones along Pelham Park!

Week 13 and the missing 12!

I did not post last week. I wrote it up and then for some reason could not finish writing. The last couple of weeks have been a struggle. I have this pain in both my legs in the ankle region. I think it’s my Achilles tendon. I think, its overuse. I think I am using the word “think” way too much and should just see a doctor. Yet, I think that rest and relaxation will fix it. How do I know? I recently took a trip to Mexico and after a couple of days of rest felt almost back to normal.

So let’s recap Week 2. I ran a total of 28.8 miles (Runs 45-48) in a shortened week in which I missed my first run, Mexico was not conducive to me running. The new normal at least until race day, will be 2 easy runs per week, Monday and Friday. Wednesdays are race pace days where I run at race pace for X amount of time. The first happened in Week 12 which was almost 7 miles at race pace. Straight, with no breaks, after a week in the Caribbean that consisted of eating and drinking way too much. Week 12 was capped with a redo of my longest run, 160 minutes (2hrs 40min) or 16.64 miles. This time around, I parked my car in the Coop city part of the Bronx, right next to Pelham Park and ran home, all uphill I might add, to pick up Martha. We then proceeded to run back to the car by doing a massive loop around. I was dead at the end, and the aforementioned :injury: yelled at me.

So, Week 13 aka the hardest week, aka the longest week, aka almost there week, aka aka aka. I ran a total of 39.5 miles (Runs 49-52).

Run 49 was an easy run that did not feel easy. My body was still yelling at me from the weekend. The torturous 160 minutes still weighed heavy. Yet I still managed to do, a respectable to me 9:45 pace and 7.2 miles.

Run 50 was marathon pace day. After a .62 mile warm up. I proceeded to do 1.25 Miles race pace with .25 mile rest at easy pace, 5 times. This takes a toll, because mentally it plays with your mind. Even though I was able to do 6+ miles straight last week, my body is not right. It’s throwing a revolt against it all. So I doubted being able to do, what I knew I could. Yet, I did it!

As I mentioned earlier I will be doing this specific brand of mid week workout until the end. Progressively going down. First it was a full 6+ miles non stop, then 5 sets, this week it’s 4 sets and so forth until Marathon day.

Run 51 – Quick 45. Everything hurts and I have my longest run of the training for number 52. Just getting through this, is the goal. No more, no less. Just one foot in front of the other. Let the body go through its paces. It did not bode well for my confidence that it was such a struggle!

Run 52 – 3 hours! Running is a solitary sport. I enjoy just hitting the pavement. Whether I am in pain or not, whether I feel good or not. You take to the road and let it all wave through you. In the end, the body knows when it can’t go anymore. I have hit those walls, and I have stopped. My body is fine, and it will make it through the final 3 weeks of training and run the marathon. I just need to get past this 3hr run. Today, company made all the difference. While I run with Martha, we barely speak if any, it’s just the act of having someone there, to push you, to animate you in these long long runs. It Helps! It’s the same with the race. You are alone, yet not alone. I remember when I ran the Marine Corps with my sister. We ran together the entire way, and she would be basking in the crowd, in the regalia of the event. I would just pinpoint and focus on someone, something and just run. The crowd and regalia were all secondary and tertiary characters.

I started with a quick known loop around the house to clock in 5 miles. Martha, needs to do 13 for her Half Marathon training. The idea being, one quick 5 mile loop, followed by one even longer 14 mile loop! At mile 4 I called Martha to bring 2 Tylenol to our rendezvous. Everything hurt, but of more note, my ankle area on both feet. I say area because it is not really the ankles but the general area. I popped the two Tylenol and headed out, knowing I had anywhere from 13 to 14 miles remaining, depending on the pace. Up until this point it was close to a 10 minute pace, and it took me a good quarter mile to start running again in somewhat decent form again. This was all in range of what I was suppose to do, but not optimal.

We ran to the start of the Bronx River trail and ran it to the end in Scarsdale, then looped around and up some massive hills to get to Rt 22 Post Road. We took this and its massive hills to California Road which we followed all the way to Devonia Road and back to my town of Fleetwood. In the process we traversed Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Crestwood, EastChester, Scarsdale and New Rochelle. The biggest takeaway here is that instead of continuing at that 10minute pace, I increased it continuously. First to 9:30something, then 9:20something. In the end, my final miles were done at a very presentable 9:00something pace. I can honestly say it was all in the good company. It was a confidence boost that with so much pain, and everything apparently on top of me. I was able to finish the 3 hours and finish strong enough where I thought I could keep going if needed. 3 hours prior, I doubted it all, and somehow finished strong!

Week 11

Total Miles – 29.24

Runs 41-44

This is a shortened week. It’s Thursday morning as I start the process of writing about the week. Runs 41-43 were done in quick succession. I’m fitting my 7 day week into 5 days, since I am traveling.

Run 41 – Changed up the loop a bit for a change of pace. Also, looking to decrease the number of hills I have to hit. While on the screen it looked better, on the road IT DID NOT.

Hoka update! I’m setting them aside for the rest of the training and will pick them back up after this is all said and done. The dynamics of the Hoka is too much change for this late in the game. I’m getting random pains I have never gotten and don’t want to exacerbate anything.

Other than that, I struggle to find purchase to run. The snow is suppose to melt soon. I need my trails back, the hills are officially playing with my head.

Run 42 – Real easy 40 minute run. I went with a backward loop. We got more Snow mixed with rain Monday night so the sidewalks were super slippery. I had to stick to the roads the bulk of the time. On the run, Martha called me struggling with her run in Manhattan. So we ran, whilst speaking to each other. It almost felt like we were running together.

Other than running to the edge of New Rochelle and looping back, nothing interesting about this run.

Run 43 – Treadmill bound with a saucy 4X Half Marathon for 1 mile with a .25 mile break. I went to the gym, not because of any snow, but, because running one mile at an 8 minute pace with hills abound is nearly impossible for me.

When I started the run, it was like 15 minutes of easy pace before we got into the good stuff. As the good stuff started, my airpods decided to die. It’s a running occurrence with the AirPods Pro that I go run and they are either dead or close to it. Usually it’s just one of the pods that dies. Sometimes it does not make the click and I am stuck listening to music/podcast/audiobook from one ear. Today, the right ear went and I told myself well that sucks. Then my left ear went a few minutes later. Running at this pace for an extended period of time, in the gym with no distractions, was hell.

The AirPods died about 4 minutes into the first round, all the TV’s were also off, so I needed to rely on faintly listening to the gym’s music which was NOT my jam. I kept looking at the clock that was right in front of me and that seconds hand barely ever moved. The second round, I swore to myself I would wait for whatever terrible song was on to finish before I checked. I am terrible at that! At minute 3 I checked, then again at 3:31, 3:40, 3:52, 3:59. Swore again next song I would hear it completely. Nope never happened. The 4 rounds and their breaks totaled 5 miles, I could have sworn I ran way more and for way longer. Not sure how my wrists did not hurt, that’s how often I wound up looking at my watch.

Run 45 – Long Run – 120 Minutes. Woke up at 5:30AM since I am traveling this weekend, I needed to get my run in super early, then work, then wait for my son to start the festivities of celebrating his 21st Birthday with a trip. 120 minutes is somewhere in between 12 and 13 miles. Today, I decided to go into Mount Vernon and head towards the water on the southern side of New Rochelle, but without touching the Bronx. Touching the Bronx entails taking some trails that I do not know their state of cleanliness.

This was also the first run I did with the ASICS longer than 5-7 miles. They did great. The cushioning really is top notch. Like running on pillows. Unfortunately, after certain mileage, even pillows are uncomfortable. I need to change my long run a bit. I have been returning the same way over and over again, and I feel like it’s becoming too well known to me.

The next two long runs will be the worst of the training so it felt good having done this 12 miler and feeling like I could keep going and going. I can’t put the third “going”, cause the energizer bunny I am not! We are also getting rather close to the end here. I have two more hard weeks before I start tapering off for the Marathon. I can start seeing a faint glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Week 10

Total Miles – 36.8

Runs 37-40

The week started off wrong.  My Haglund’s deformity had me hurting, so much so, that on Monday morning I called my coach and prepped him for me not running for the foreseeable future.  I called my doctor, whose office was closed.  I called my insurance provider and spoke to a nurse.  I was told, dude, you don’t need a referral.  Find a podiatrist and go!  So I did!  I called around until I found someone that could see me that very day.  He confirmed Haglunds, gave me a treatment plan, showed me what I could do for the plantar on the other foot and sent me home feeling much better!  At least mentally.  Monday was skipped!

Run 37 – A Tuesday run, since my Monday was shot! First time running knowing that I had this condition.  I have had it for a while, first time it affects my running.  Smart man that I am :sarcasm:, this was my first run with the Hoka One One Gaviota 2.  (That was not a typo, that is the actual name of the brand, Hoka One One).  I did the loop I have been doing.  I started the run at an easy pace as indicated.  I also went from side to side on the road.  Crossing the street over and over again to change which foot had the most stress.  If you look at the way roads are built, they are done so in a slope for drainage purposes.  Crossing from side to side, kept the stress equal on both feet.  (Crazy I know)

At around mile 4, I felt Haglund.  I was still over 2 miles from the house.  I dreaded having to stop.  Thankfully it tugged at me a handful of times.  Threatening to bring my run to stop, but never fully doing so.  

Run 38 – Back to the Treadmill.  The snow is killing me! This was for the best I guess, since I had speed.  

The recipe was a 22 minute warmup, 4 rounds of 8 minute pace for a mile with a 2 min jog for rest purposes, capping it off with 10 minutes cool down.  I keep saying that the mind is a powerful thing.  The 22 minute warm up  was normal.  My mind was already making excuses as to why I was not going to be able to run 4 sets of 1 mile at an 8 minute pace.  

Round 1 – Normal, 8 minute pace is 7.5 mph on the treadmill.  Not awful, but for a whole mile, it’s definitely felt.  That’s like 10k pace for me. 

Round 2 – Normal at the beginning.  Towards the end it was a struggle.  I started feeling phantom twitches in my Haglunds.  I started thinking, why I am pushing.  I started thinking about the excuse I would tell my coach.  

Round 3 – I was defeated before I started.  I changed to Hamilton for music.  “Satisfied” got me through this round.  “He will never be satisfied, I will never be satisfied”. The jog for resting lasted 3 minutes this time.  

Round 4 – I had already planned, in those previous 3 minutes to call it quits.  I was going to tell Javier that my foot hurt and I could not keep going.  I then remembered that we agreed I would still finish, just at an easy pace.  So I said FUCK IT.  Just run it!  I started with my favorite Hamilton song, “Wait For It”!  Then I pushed it and finish with “Non-Stop”! 

The cool down, had me with Jefferson getting back from France and the run was done. Thank you Hamilton for getting me through this insane run!

Run 39 – Easy Run and more snow!  Back on the treadmill.   I won’t write much about this, except to say it was my second run with Gaviota 2’s.  It was on the Treadmill.  I did half the run listening to Fake Doctors Real Friends, the second half with Hamilton.  Even then, the run felt interminable.   The max on the treadmills at the gym is 60 minutes.  That is a ploy, not to limit people’s time on the treadmill, but to keep their sanity.  

Run 40 –  Longest long since 2019.  It has been snowing the last two days, so I cannot run in my neighborhood, so hooray for no massive hills.  Again, Martha needs to do 8 miles, so I figured out a way to do it together.  We parked by her house and ran to Central Park.  That’s 1 mile.  A loop around Central Park, that’s 6 miles.  During this loop we stayed together the first mile or so, after that Martha was always ahead of me.  So I spent my time looking at her booty as she headed further and further away, slowing down when she noticed how far back I was, or when she needed water/gels. 

At mile 7, we said goodbye, she had a mile left to get to her house.  I was doing another half loop around Central Park and had 9/10 miles left.  I did not know exactly the route I was going to take.  I just knew that I would head down and exit the park at Columbus Circle (59th and 8th) and zig zag my way over to the west side, to finish the run along the Hudson River.  Since I did not plan any of this, I did not know how far down I should be going.  I figured maybe 42nd Street, yet around 48th, I decided to turn in fears that I would have to walk too much at the end to get to Martha’s house.  Trust your first instincts people!  

My pace dropped after exiting the park.  From a stable 9:15/30 to a 9:50/10:10. I will attribute this to two things.  Running alone and running on the roads.  It’s very different to be in Central Park to constantly having to stop and start in the city.  Also, having someone along you, or in my case in front of you as motivation!

The trek up the West Side was great, it did have one caveat.  I know it too well, so I know exactly how much is left at any given time.  It plays with your head.  I also, did not listen to myself and had to over shoot Martha’s exit and keep going on the west side for a bit to add more time.  This also, plays with your head.  To finish it all up, the massive hills going from the West Side to Amsterdam were my end.  My speed drop to a 12 minute pace going up what felt like Everest to my tired legs and debating mind.  Yet I was able to finish. My Haglund’s deformity is inflamed and I am currently icing it. We will see how it holds up.

I bought another pair of Brooks Adrenaline! These will likely be the shoes I run the Marathon in. We shall see how they feel when they arrive! Bring on Week 11. Almost there people!

Week 9

Total Miles – 33.1

Runs 33-36
It’s actually Wednesday 2 runs into Week 10 as I write about Week 9. I actually pondered not writing since it turned out to be a week of pain, a week of changes, a week of doubting moving forward. Enough preamble, let’s get to it.

Run 33 – I keep doing this new loop that takes me through Bronxville and into Tuckahoe. Depending on the way I do the loop, dictates the hills, there is one massive one! Which I try to take at the end by slowly going up the long way and then jotting down. Taking it at the beginning on the way up, drains you too quickly. This was was a simple easy run, finishing at a tempo pace. The snow is out there and I ran on the road against my better judgement. When it came time to actually do the push, I did so with caution and not a true tempo pace.

Run 34 – More hill training, and again the treadmill was the place to do this run. The snow is still out there and there are no real hills where I could push with abandon. The treadmill also keeps me honest here. It’s a lot harder to slow down the treadmill, doing so takes deliberate action. Whereas, slowing down on the road is simply letting go a bit. The hill parts got pushed back to 6 repetitions, BUT, of 1 minute each. Those extra 20 seconds make a world of a difference.

The rest of the hills workout was what it has been the last couple of weeks. The next day my abs feel this workout more than my legs and it really puts you to the test. Another reason to do it on the treadmill is that I really do not have any areas around here with no hills. It’s all hills! So it’s hard to do the hill/flat hill/flat you can do with the treadmill.

Run 35 – Easy Run – Used to find a route to run with Martha tomorrow. The plan is a double loop for me, where I do the first loop with Martha and then continue for a second whammy, of a tad bit more length.

I did the same loop as Monday, but, in reverse and with slightly modified turns in Tuckahoe to get the extra mileage needed with Martha. That hill you read about in run 33, I hit that one head on like at mile 2. Uff! It takes a pounding! Oddly, I did not slow down at all as I hit the hill. But my heart felt it at the top and eventually had to slow down to settle myself. Good final easy run before my long run!

Run 36 – Hurt Again! Weird medical conditions, and HILLS., OH THE FUCKING HILLS! (Sorry if there are kids reading this). BUT FUCK THEM HILLS. The first part was a slightly extended version of Run 35. I added a mile at the beginning extending the loop to 7 miles. I then continued with a loop through Mount Vernon and into New Rochelle of 8 miles. I figured I would end the day with something around 14-15 miles.

The first part was great. It felt just like it did the day before, right at the beginning we hit a huge hill by the college, a product of that extra mile or so I added. At mile 3ish, we hit that big hill again. Midway up, Martha called for a break and my legs and heart happily obliged. The rest was uneventful. Martha was kick-ass getting her miles in. As for me the next 8 miles I hoped would be just as uneventful.

I started off heading from my side of Mount Vernon into the more precarious parts. I wrongly thought I had done the bulk of the hills I was going to do, and BOY, was I mistaken. Right at about the half mile mark of my second loop I hit the mother of all hills and the biggest one of the day. Not only was it steep, but it was LONG! With the road falling to pieces, I think I came to an almost complete stop.

After, I picked up the pace again, until I reached New Rochelle, where the hills welcomed me yet again! Also… the cars as I traversed Mt Vernon were not runner friendly. In Bronxville and Tuckahoe, you get a wide berth, in Mount Vernon the proper city, it’s playing Frogger, and they pretend you are not even there. Add to that the complexity of the snow and ice, and it made for a stressful run. I can honestly say I am NOT a fan!

I wound up doing a little over 14 miles, but I paid the price. My body was shot and my right heal was screaming at me. It was screaming bloody murder!

Turns out, and I went to a podiatrist on Monday to confirm this, that I have a condition called Haglund’s Deformity or “pump bump” because it was common in woman that wore very high pumps. It’s a bony bump that appears on the back of the heal. Because it protrudes, certain activities, like the long run, can cause it to inflame and cause dramatic pain. The podiatrist hooked it up, and gave me some anecdotes to deal with it. I feared this had ended my Marathon hopes, but, in the end it will just make me stronger. After deeper conversation with the podiatrist, wearing my Duck Boots unlaced, which i was doing a lot off lately was a likely cause of both this episode and my plantar fasciitis on the right foot.

For now, I’m icing my bump, and getting some orthopedic soles. For the plantar on the right I am also taping it up to remove pressure.

On an equipment update, I have returned the New Balance. I also got a pair of Hoka’s . Their best stability shoe is the Gaviota and I scored last year’s model on discount from REÍ. Once I get my credit for the NB’s I will get a second pair of Brooks. The Hoka’s I got mainly because of Carlos the Runner. If you don’t know who he is, please please please, click on the name and head over to his Instagram. Really takes a fun approach to running and is a Hoka Ambassador. I will do better next week, with posting this a little more timely.

Week 8

Total Miles – 27.7

Runs 29 – 32: The start of weekly writing vs after every run.  I just recently finished my long run of what was suppose to be an easy week turned difficult by Mother Nature.  We got a massive snow storm that dumped 21 inches of snow on my small town.  If that sounds like a lot it’s because it is. 

Run 29 – This was an easy 50 minute run that was suppose to happen on Monday but was shifted to Tuesday since, we got dumped on Monday with those 21” I just mentioned.  I wound up having to wait until late in the day to run.  The gym did not open until noon on Tuesday due to the snow and I could not go right at noon because to add complication to the week, Tuesday was also the start of an internal conference at my company. I wound up finally going out around 6pm.  50 minutes on the treadmill is no easy feat.  It’s suppose to be, but no, it’s not.  To top it all off, I wore the New Balance which are not fitting as well as I had hoped.  I experience quite a bit of discomfort on my ailing arch, but nothing overly concerning.   I figured the new book I started listening to would distract, yet it did not.  I spent the 50 minutes, changing speeds and elevation to entertain myself.  

Run 30 – Hills, but on the treadmill again.   Last week I almost died with 6 rounds at an elevation of 8 and a pace of 7:47.  This week I had 8 rounds at the same pace.  The rest of the workout being identical.  The same 25 minute warmup, followed by sprints, then hills, then 10 minutes at an 8:00 minute pace and finally a cool down.  

One thing I can honestly say is that, it has become a standard that I start doubtful of being able to complete the training, then, being able to do it.  It’s true that running is a complete mind game, it’s getting past the barriers we ourselves create.  Last week I barely finished the 6th one, today, I got all the way to the 8th with no ill effects.  This week the hardest part was the 10 minutes at 8 minute pace. The treadmill making it all interminable.  

Run 31 – Taking to the roads! 21 inches of snow do not disappear in days.  We have more snow incoming tomorrow Sunday.  So today, I laced up the New Balance and hit the road.  A brand new loop avoiding trails that are not usually cleaned, preferring just streets.  Even the streets, I needed to avoid sidewalks since those are also not all necessarily cleaned.  So edge of the road.  I created the path using the most desolate roads I could find and while the hills were murderous, it made for a very interesting loop.  The New Balance started off weird, but by the end, they were fine.  I tightened them up similar to the brooks and that made some of the difference I think. 

Run 32 – Short Long Run ending on a speedier end.  60 minutes at easy pace, 25 minutes at Marathon pace, or I think that is Marathon pace ending with 10 minutes at Half Marathon pace.  To top it all off, since I don’t feel safe pushing on the road, we woke up with a lot of black ice on the roads, I headed to old reliable, Central Park.  

I started  the run with my girlfriend who needed to do 5 miles.  She’s training to do a half, while I am training for the Marathon.  We stuck to the bottom loop avoiding the massive hill at 110th.  The first loop was uneventful, Martha took off and even though I continued to tell her to slow down, I spent the whole 5 miles looking at her booty from afar.  After she exited the path at 100th on the West Side.  I continued, 10 more minutes at an easy pace, followed by those 25 at sub 9.  That sub 9, was fine, until I reached Cats hill on 72 in the East Side.  That could be the worst hill, it definitely was today.  I was coasting at about an 8:40 pace, and keeping that up that hill was nye impossible.  I think I did, but only because I was able to speed up after.  

The hardest part, was speeding up to 8:00 pace for the last 10 minutes.  My body was not into it, yet somehow all of a sudden I‘m struggling to slow down to that pace.  I took off too quick and started in the mid 7’s.  By the time I controlled myself to an 8 pace.  My body was done and I started to slow down with 3/4 minutes remaining, not because I could not keep the pace, but because I exited the park. 

With snow tomorrow, I have more treadmills in my future next week.  Training for a Spring marathon in NY, sucks!… ENOUGH said for this week.  See ya’ll next week!

Week 7

Total Miles – 33.1

Run 25 – 1/25/21 – Treadmill Return of the Pain – It was frigidly cold today and I decided to not risk further exposure to Mother Nature and headed to the gym for my easy 60 minute run . I also needed to check what the treadmills at the gym had as max inclination just in case the snow on Tuesday actually falls and I need to do my hill repeats on the treadmill.

First of all, I hate running with a mask, once you start sweating up a storm, even the Under Armour one I purchased gets so soaked, it is hard to breath. You are pulling in your own sweat, it’s disgusting! I hate running on the treadmill and then running on it with a mask. Yet, you must adhere.

Before I even laced up my shoes today, I iced my ailing right arch, because it was tender and it just plain HURT. So when I started my slow trot on the treadmill I knew what was coming before it started. It began as a small discomfort, that ended up turning into slight constant pain with every strike. Not enough to change my strike or to slow me down, but enough for me to notice and be mentally affected. To the point where I have to think, what will my hill repeats be like. This is not the shoe, since unlike the original shoe that started this, I don’t feel the stab.

I told my coach and he wants me to see a doctor, which I will. I made the appointment for Thursday. We will see what he says. I will not stop running in the meantime.

The run on the treadmill was what it always is, interminable. It never ends. Even with a good book in my ear. It never ENDS.

Run 26 Hills – Run 27 Easy – Run 28 Longest Run in a Year – I will be honest and say I did not write at all, all week. Except for Monday’s run. This is a recap of the week. Starting with:

Wednesday Hills #26 – I could not run on the road, so I had to take my hills to the treadmill. Part of the reason for running Monday’s run, other than the cold, in the gym was to see how high I could set the treadmill, 15. So hills consisted of 40 second sprints 6 times. Before that, 4 30 second sprints on flat ground to get loose and then capping it all off, with 10 minutes of Half Marathon pace. Sandwich that in between a 25 minute warm up and a 10 minute cool down and it was a hell of a workout. Not treadmill fun! Yet, went rather quick except for the bookends, because of all the changing up of paces.

I went back to wearing the Brooks for this run, to see if I could abate the pain in my arches and that worked. For some reason the Brooks don’t cause the same pain as everything else. I have the new New Balance ready to go for the next easy run. Anyway, the hills were murderous. Running so fast, at a 7:47 pace for 40 seconds with an incline of 8 was not easy. Doable, but no easy. By the 5th go around, I feared not staying on pace but pushed on. On the 6th run, I honestly felt myself slipping but pushed on and somehow sped up enough to stay on the treadmill and not show up in someone’s YouTube video falling off the treadmill like an idiot. The one thing the treadmill does do, is force you to keep that pace. The act of changing speeds or elevation is the act of giving up, and it is much harder to do when you have to press a button to do it.

After the hills came 20 minutes of interminable treadmill hell. The 10 minutes at half marathon pace never ended. After the fast pace of the changes between the sprints and the hills, staying at that pace for 10 minutes was both hard and monotonous at the same time. Follow that up by 10 minutes at easy pace and the last 20 minutes felt 10 times longer than the first 40.

Friday #27 – Easy Run on new shoes. They feel utterly different to the Asics and Brooks, and they hug my feet in such a way to say I got you. Yet, the toe box felt wide and loose. I feared that I would be in pain quick with these shoes, since I felt them on my right foot. Yet, I just felt them and nothing else. While I did feel a tinge of pain a couple of times it never remained. I was able to put on dress shoes after and nothing of note happened. I did my usual home loop for 55 minutes and nothing eventful, except the lack of pain but definitely some pressure.

The doctor on Thursday advice me that I would not do any real further damage, it would just take that much longer to heal. So, we push on!

Saturday #28 – Long Run, actually my longest run in a year when I was training for the canceled NJ Marathon. Again, I relied on the Brooks since pain and Brooks are not synonymous. I create a 15 mile loop, hoping that 15 would be enough to cover the 2hrs and 20 minutes I needed. I went from Mount Vernon, to The Bronx and Baychester Ave. I took this all the way past Co-op city and into Pelham Park. Did you know that Pelham Park is actually the biggest park in the city. The running trails in and around it are hilly and well paved. It was really a joy to run them. From there, I cut back up to New Rochelle and then back to Mount Vernon. Quite the loop!

Here’s the issue with that loop though. The last 3 miles were all up hill. It did not matter that it was a balmy 20 degrees outside. I sweated through the cold and my energy was completely depleted with the hills. My pace went from a steady 9:30 give or take. To a 10:1X. I felt it as I slowed. I felt it as the hills took a number on me. I thankfully did not lose the fight and other than stopping for lights. I never stopped because I could no longer go.

Next week is suppose to be an easy week, that will be made difficult by the Nor’Easter that is incoming on Monday which will make all my runs be done at the gym with the exception of maybe Saturday, which I will do in Central Park.

Week 6

Total Miles. 27.26

Run 21 – 1/19/21 – Almost Skipped – Still being in Puerto Rico, I messaged my coach to let him know that I would not be doing the run on Monday, the heat and the excesses in food and alcohol were not conducive to running 60 minutes that day. He said he needed me to run. That missing the run would not be good for my training. So, I should attempt at least 30-45 minutes at an easy pace. My girlfriend, said I will do it with you. So we did a quick out and back on the same trail I did my long run, but avoiding the actual roads. It was a refreshing and much needed stretch out.

This is one of the things the coaching is shining in. Keeping me accountable of the things I am suppose to do.

Run 22 – 1/20/21 – Tempo + Stride – Oh my god, what a few days of excessive drinking and eating does to training is scary. This was my first run after my trip and it was so difficult. The plan was extensive. 25 minute warm up, some sprints to further warm up, followed by 2×10 minutes at Half Marathon pace with some cool downs.

Everything went well until the second of the 2 Half Marathon pace. Towards the end of the first push, I felt the wheels falling off the vehicle. But I kept pushing, I persisted. Halfway through the second one though, I could not push any further. I paused the watch and came to a stop. The plan was to just grab a breather and then kick it off again. But I could not take off again, hitting pause on the watch was pausing myself. I lost the mental war right there and then. Allowing my brain to dictate me pausing and my body followed suit. I wound up skipping the remainder of the Half Marathon pace and finishing the rest of the cool downs.

Stopping cannot be an option. Stopping is letting the mind take ownership of the process. I think I did well taking into account the circumstances. The abuse I put my body through over the last week. I have one more getaway that will interrupt, I hope it’s not as jarring as this one. We shall see.

Shoes update. This was my second run with the ASICS and they are still good. I also just ordered the New Balance and they have shipped. Looking forward to three different shoes at once and continued easing of my arches.

Run 23 – 1/22/21 – Easy New Route – I figured let’s start changing things up in my neighborhood. Doing the same route over and over again gets monotonous and does not really inspire. I struggled the last run due to the trip so a change of scenery does you good. I headed as if I was going to New Rochelle, and when I got to the edge of it, I took New Rochelle Road to head into Bronxville. This was a HUGE and I do mean HUGE hill. Not only did the hill never seem to end, but there was no where to really run. When this happens I like to run against traffic to see the cars as they come towards me. Mental note, you cannot do this at dusk or dawn.

It was a 50 minute run that turned out to be about 5.4 miles. I finished and touched some common grounds but the first 2/3’s of the loop were new. I think I will continue to experiment with heading in different directions to try and change it up.

Run 24 – 1/23/21 – Long Run / Fast Finish – It was cold today, oh so cold today. I have been running with a great bladder my mother recommended. It’s easy to carry on your back and has pockets not only for my gels, but also, my phone and other sundries. My water kept freezing!

This is when I start treating my long runs as race days. I do all the same things that I would do on race day. Wake up the same, do the same morning routine, try to eat the same things the night before and so forth. Add to that, running with my water bladder full to the brim. The plan is to only stop for Gatorade on race day. Never for water. I’m also having a nice oatmeal in the morning an hour or so before run time along with a large cup of coffee. I did all this today. Took my GU Energy Gel before the start and headed out. The moment that wintry chill hit my face, I regretted being out on the road. But, I gritted my teeth and continued to walk my .25 miles before starting my run.

I had a plan, I created a route. Yet, it was so cold and my haste was so present, that I forgot to set the route. I noticed about a 1/2 mile in, where I paused and checked to see if I could add the route to the present run. I could not, so I just kept going, running calculations in my head of what I would need to do to fit 12/13 miles. The decision was simple do an out and back up the Bronx River trail. The issue with that is that I know the trail so well that it becomes a burden. I know exactly how much time is left at any given time and my mind will play tricks on me. Add to that, that it is also and up and down affair the entire way. There are almost no sections where you can run without it been simply rolling hills.

Like I started earlier, on top of it, I could drink little water, as it kept freezing. Over and over again I had to play with the hose to break up the ice and be able to drink. Add to that, that apparently I am still NOT healed from the arch and the cold apparently made me feel it more and it was not a fun run.

Lastly, I had to end the run in a fast finish, and that fast finish started, you guessed it, on a freaking HILL. The idea is that after running 110 minutes, you hit the accelerator and push to a Half Marathon pace for the final 10 minutes. I will admit that I could not do it. I was able to push to about 8:25/8:30 pace. With your legs being jello, and being dehydrated from a lack of water, because it kept freezing. It was a hard end. Yet, I finished. With discomfort in my arches and a tickle in my throat from the lack of water and the frigid air. But it was done! Here’s to hoping next week it’s just a tad bit warmer as I tackle, 2hrs20min.