Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Published in Feb. 27th Record-Courier newspaper

The phone was ringing at about 4pm yesterday and on the other end was a sports editor from the Record Courier, Portage County's local newspaper. Turns out, they heard about the my marathon running and wanted to "run" an article on me. He asked if I had a few minutes to answer some questions and of course, I did! Since I didn't have the benefit of proofing this article before they published it, what better place to clear up the errors than here on my blog! All-in-all, a pretty good article. (here's the link to the article on their website) You can also click on the image above..it's in picture format.

Some corrections from the article:
1. I'm 34, not 35 years old. However, 35 is only a few months away.
2. I served in the Navy for 10 years, not the "Naval Academy"...however, that would have been awesome if true!!!
3. In case you're wondering, when they talk about weight requirements compared to height, my height is 6'2".
4. Paragraph 6: the reference to "corps" is incorrect...that would imply "Marine Corps" which I was never in nor did I say I was. Navy all the way, Baby!
5. Paragraph 8: I have completed 2 ultramarathons, not 4. Also, I "guess-timated" on the number registered for the 50K portion of the BT50K. Not sure of the exact number.
6. Last paragraph: the reference to "2% of marathoners can run a qualifying time for Boston" was another guess...given that the average finishing time in the U.S. is so far off of Boston times, I'm guessing I can't be too far off with that number.

OK, I think I've "cleared the air" on all the errors in the article. Again, my thanks to Colin Harris, the sports editor for publishing it. It was nice to wake up to the sports section this morning...motivation for my breezy 19F run in a few minutes! Have a great day!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buffalo it is...T-91 days and counting

It's felt like a never-ending shopping experience (for a guy, this is murder!)..."shopping" for my 20th marathon and the first marathon I'll attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. My top choice was the Eugene Marathon held in Track-Town USA....Eugene, OR. It's held on May 4th, the same day as Flying Pig in Cincinnatti....the 2nd marathon I ran in 2007...the BEST organized marathon I've ever run. Flying Pig was also a consideration as it's within driving distance and I know the course. However, with 5 of my 7 marathons in 2007 all happening in Ohio, I REALLY wanted to get out of the state for my 20th and knock another state off of my 50-state goal.

Medals from the first 14 marathons

On yesterday's long run (I knocked out a healthy/good-feelin' 16 miles), a few of the folks referred me to the Sunburst Marathon held the weekend after Memorial Day. The finish is on the 50 yard line of Notre Dame stadium. It has so-so reviews on Marathon Guide and date, while only 1 week after Buffalo, was getting simply too far out. So on to Buffalo: it's Memorial Day weekend...on Sunday...and only 3 to 3.5 hours from home. Easy drive up on Saturday and back Sunday night. Plus, Marjie and a girlfriend of hers is going to walk the 1/2 marathon (way to go!). I talked to the race director last night of the Buffalo Marathon and he expects about 3000 total participants (marathon, 1/2, and marathon relay)...perfect size and minimal congestion. The course is also known to be flat and fast. So Buffalo it is! Goal is Set....now back to the training....

SPRING IS NEAR!!!! ALMOST TIME TO SHED THE WINTER GEAR!!!!


Posted 1 hour later:
G R E A T run after the post above! 16F, no wind, full sun, 7 miles @ 6:57 pace on a rolling road course! No greater way to start the day!

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Spirit of the Marathon" Movie Review

I missed the initial screening last month due to Navy duty in Newport, RI so I wasn't about to miss the 2nd and last theater screening. Nationwide, it was broadcast to select theaters via satellite at 7:30pm local time. Turns out, it was sold out in Akron last month and last night, another great crowd showed up. It was a mixed crowd of veteran marathoners and novices alike....kinda had the "atmosphere" present at the starting line of many of my past marathons. It's always a thrill to be in the same room with complete strangers while at the same time having so much in common....the desire, the drive, the goal...to cover 26 miles, 385 yards.

On with the review: First off, if you missed it...not to worry. It will be released on DVD this summer. To get on the e-mail newsletter list for future news, sign up at the movie's website.

Don't worry! No spoilers in this review!

The movie is shown in documentary format and has at it's core, the goal of completing the 2005 Chicago Marathon, held each October. Covered are a wide array of athletes from 2 first time marathoners (a single mom in her 30s and a late 20s PhD student single woman), a veteran male runner in his early 30s with the goal of qualifying for Boston (sound familiar?!?!?), a 70 year old male veteran marathoner, Deena Kastor (the USA's top female marathoner right now), and a Kenyan attempting to win his first marathon...after finishing 2nd and 3rd previously.

The movie moves across all of the athletes as the marathon approaches. If I had not done a marathon before and was watching this movie....perhaps in an attempt to be inspired....I'd agree it did the job. The "meat" of the movie and most powerful parts were watching those who were tackling the distance for the first time and how they grew and adapted to it. Plus, that 70 year old man has got to inspire just about anyone...novice or veteran. His spirit and approach to our sport is spot on. Deena Kastor's coverage was also well done and did what I'm thinking the film producers were trying to do...to paint her in a light of a mere mortal just like anyone else. She battles physical ailments, mental challenges, and must work hard just like anyone else. Granted, she's been blessed with an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers and endurance, but outside of that, she's just like us! It was awesome watching her race to the finish at Chicago. The coverage of the Kenyan, in my opinion, could have been omitted. Granted, he's phenomenal and a great athlete but I just don't think his story line flowed nor inspired like the rest of the movie did. However, it was very interesting to hear about his background and culture in Kenya and how running has transformed that country.

Lastly, I appreciated the many "experts" inserted throughout the movie offering their viewpoints and explanations. I have read many of their articles in Runner's World over the years or even met a few on more than one occasion (ie: Bill Rodgers, Kathrine Switzer). That was cool to put a face to all of the words I've read over the years.

Yea, it's a short review but most is best left for viewing. All in all, I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars and a must-have for any marathoner. It won't compete with classics like Prefontaine or Without Limits due to its documentary format but it was extremely well done and comes at a perfect time as we all trudge through the winter base-mileage building phase and prepare for our spring marathons.

What I took away from it: as my training has been constant since last summer (40-50 miles/week for months on end) and seems a bit too routine, it "grounded" me about the power of the marathon and no matter how much one may train, the unknown awaits on race day as just about anything can happen....from super good to worse than imaginable. It's the courage, desire, and strength to train and toe the line that unites us all, regardless of ability. All-in-all...set a goal, do the training, give it your all, and respect the distance. No matter if you've done 1 or 100, it's still 26+ miles and never really gets "easier." 7 marathons last year makes this year's goal of a PR and a qualifying Boston time no easier but does give me the confidence and knowledge of the distance to help me better train for and hopefully, achieve my goal. Like I said before....goals must be set if you plan on accomplishing any!

3" of fresh powder on the ground today....time for a trail run!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thankful to Run...especially at 16F

It's been a tough week so trails were on order today. The VR groups were meeting at 6:30am and 7:30am but I hit the trails (Pine Lane and the Buckeye) just before 6am. With all the snowfall, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the trails are in PERFECT shape right now. Basically, with the amount of snowfall and some melting, all the rocks, stumps, roots, etc. that we trip over are covered over and the surface is smooth and comfy for running! I headed out to the Boston store then back on the Towpath to meet the 7:30am group....overall, I knocked out a necessary 17 miles today...oh yea, it never got over 16F during the run...PERFECT!

I've been meaning to post this...I took the pic last week when we had 25-30mph winds dropping the windchill into the lower single digits. I rarely pull out the balaclava but this was one of those days....as always, I was glad I headed out. Later that day, the windchill dropped the temps into the negative area.

Now comes some inspiration...or maybe just thoughts pouring uncontrollably out of my skull. Regardless, one (or many) may ask, "Why Run?":

Why Run?
For those who did and can no longer
For those serving this great country
For those who have given the ultimate sacrifice
For those who have been injured so badly and cannot run
Why Run? I run in honor of them...my fellow soldiers...and runners

Why Run?
To get away and listen...
To get away and prioritize...
To get away and set goals...
To get away and return refreshed and renewed...
Why Run? I run to be a better husband, father, and friend

Why Run?
To live a healthy lifestyle
To live to my fullest potential
To challenge myself again, again, and again
To inspire others to join me in person or spirit
Why Run? To express my thankfulness for the ability to take the next step

Towpath Trail near Lock 29, Feb. 16, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm Published!

Note: to comply with restrictions on blogs, I have removed all references to my employer who published this article. Instead, [company] will fill in those blanks. Thanks!

[company] NewsDaily

February 7, 2008

What’s Your Passion? – On the Run for Fitness, Family and Country

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?’" – Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian and sub-2:12 marathoner

The quote above appears on the home page of Nick Billock’s personal blog, and it says everything about the passion he feels for distance running.

Nick is a financial services representative in northeast Ohio with [company], which is the segment of Individual Business serving teachers, hospital employees and government workers. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Regent University in Virginia and joined [company] in 2005.

Since 1997, Nick has run 19 marathons of 26.2 miles each and in 2007 alone completed seven marathons and one ultramarathon trail run of 50 kilometers (31.2 miles). Just last month, Nick ran his second ultramarathon, the Buckeye Trail 50K in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and placed fourth overall with a time of 4 hours and 47 minutes.

His personal best marathon time is 3 hours, 21 minutes, which he nearly matched in his most recent outing, finishing in 3 hours, 26 minutes in Richmond, VA last November.

Nick has even completed two half-Ironman triathlons, each one consisting of swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles and running 13.1 miles.

How does one develop such endurance? You run a lot … and then you run more.

"I run 40 to 50 miles per week," Nick reveals, "mostly before dawn as I have a young family and my career with [company]. I’m also a marathon training coach on weekends, helping others as part of a training team. My next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon – to make Boston you have to run 3:15 on a certified course."

The aforementioned family, career and hours of running would fill up the schedule for most people, but the 34-year-old has also found the time and energy to become Ensign Billock in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

"I was enlisted in the Navy for 10 years as a nuclear mechanic and served mostly on aircraft carriers," Nick explains. "However, with my business education along with my MBA – concentration in finance – and my career choice with [company], the Navy recently accepted me into their very competitive program as a direct-commission officer in the Supply Corps.

"The Supply Corps is the financial and logistical arm of the Navy and they look for professionals with a finance background. I applied and was commissioned last September."

With so many activities, Nick appreciates the work-life freedom he has at [company].

"As a financial services representative, being in the Navy Reserve matches well," he observes. "I drill once a month on the weekend near my home and two weeks per year away. I do my running before my family’s even awake, and my wife supports me when I go out Saturday mornings to do 15 to 20 miles with the training group. You feel extremely good and healthy after running.

"I am very passionate about running and fitness but also to serving my country," Nick concludes. "I really believe my career with [company] compliments both of these by offering the flexibility to do all of these but still being able to serve my clients well and without compromise."

Note: 3 pictures also appeared in article which are shown in right margin of this blog (Navy Ball photo, Richmond Marathon finish, and Akron Marathon photo)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Recovery and Moving On

I think the 7 marathons, 1 ultra, maintaining the 40-50 mile weeks through the winter months, and keeping the long runs in the 20-mile range have definately taken their toll on me. Now hold on just a minute....I didn't say I'm "burned out" or have "crashed,"...just a bit worn down! Since the 50K only 11 days ago, I just haven't "bounced back" like before. For some reason, these hamstrings of mine can't seem to relax like they should. Still, I've joined the VR group for speed workouts at the Kent State indoor track the last 2 weeks and they've been great workouts.

For the workouts, I've used McMillan's pace calculator to target my intervals. I input a 3:10 marathon finishing time and go off of the long-distance runner interval pace chart. For the past 2 weeks, I've consistently been 5-10 seconds faster than the target time...which is a good sign considering I am early in the season and my goal marathon is sub-3:15 this year. Here's what we've done the last 2 weeks:

Last week:
Warm-up 2 miles, then....
400m x 2 (400m recoveries), then pushups till fatigue
800m x 2 (400m recoveries), then situps till fatigue
1200m x 2 (400m recoveries), the wall sit with 35lb weight on lap, till fatigue
400m x 2 (400m recoveries), then cool down...PureFuel bar and Hammer's Recoverite

This week:
Warm up 2 miles, then...
800m, 2-3min recovery
1200m, 2-3min recovery
800m, 2-3min recovery
1200m, 2-3min recovery
800m, 2-3min recovery
Cool down 2 miles.....PureFuel bar and Hammer's Recoverite

Time for a reset. Lori (my massage therapist) is going to work her magic on me this Friday and hopefully get these hamstrings under control. The target still remains, though: qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2008...hopefully as I celebrate my 20th marathon.

Happy Trails!

"Dream barriers look very high until someone climbs them. They are not barriers anymore." - Lasse Viren, former Finnish athlete, winner of four gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics and 1976 Summer Olympics