Nike "Find Your Greatness" Commercial: We Are All Capable of Greatness

Greatness. It's just something we made up.
Somehow we've come to believe that greatness is a gift, reserved for a chosen few.
For prodigies,
For superstars,
And the rest of us can only stand by watching.
You can forget that.
Greatness is not some rare DNA strand.
It's not some precious thing.
Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.
We're all capable of it.
All of us.

I was intrigued by this Nike "Find Your Greatness" commercial the first time. Watched it again and again and just love it. Touching. The image of this kid out there all alone, making it happen. So I just had to post here and share, along with the the script that accompanies the footage.

Advice to Someone Looking to Run Their First Full Marathon in Less Than 2 Months

Crystal posted the following comment to another post covering marathon training tips: 

I'm running my first marathon ever, the full 26.2
I have less than 2 months to train for it.
I'm active but had a baby, and a few surgeries this past year...
All I need is someone to tell me I can do it. In such a small amount of time.

Well, Crystal, the quick and dirty answer to your comment is YES, you can COMPLETE the full 26.2 marathon in less than 2 months. Barring injury or illness, anyone can cover the full 26.2 mile distance in my opinion. But "how" you complete the full marathon is the real question.

Someone walking at a casual pace of 3 MPH can complete a full marathon, but it'll take you close to 9 hours to do it. I think most people can walk at that pace and cover close to the 26.2 mile distance without much training.

But for Crystal, I'm assuming that she has some running base on her, say 10 to 20 miles per week. Maybe her long run is 6 to 8 miles. With 2 months to go, I can see her possibly increasing her long run distance by 2 miles every other weekend, getting her theoretically up to 14 to 16 miles in 2 months.

I think 13 miles would even be enough. Here's a story from a previous post relating to someone that I helped to convince could run his first marathon 20 years ago:

I remember it well.  Barack (not his real name...but I do know of one Barack) started his marathon training at probably 240 lbs at a height of 6'.  Most of that weight was in Barack's belly.  Barack was a busy executive who didn't have a lot of time to train, but he took it seriously.  However, 2 months before the 1996 Los Angeles Marathon, he confided to me that his longest run was only 10 miles.

Barack was determined to run his first marathon.  I told him that if he could ramp up his long run to at least 13 miles (half the marathon distance), I think he could slog through the whole marathon.  I could have taken a harder stance and told him to do at least 16 miles, but I knew that wasn't possible for him at that point.  He would probably injure himself.  He needed the mental encouragement more than anything.  He could finish the marathon indeed...but he may have to walk/jog a good portion of it.

Sure enough, 2 months later Barack was ecstatic.  He finished his first marathon.  He was thrilled to earn that medal on his neck.  It took him 6 hours or so to finish the race, but he did it.  I don't think his peak mileage was more than 25 miles.

26.2 Tips to Run Your First Marathon

Interview with John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks, Winner of 2012 Malibu Marathon

John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks demolished the course record at the 4th Annual Malibu Marathon on Sunday, November 11th. His finishing time of 2 hours, 37 minutes placed him nearly 12 minutes before the 2nd place finisher and was almost 5 minutes faster than the previous course record.

I met John several years ago at The Oaks Mile in Thousand Oaks and was impressed by his speed. In 2011 he ran the Boston Marathon in a personal best time of 2:34:45. He had trained to run the New York Marathon on November 4th but the race was cancelled on the 2nd as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

John is married, has 4 kids and at age 43 is running like he is in his twenties. I figured, why not ask him about his training as perhaps we can all benefit from whatever he's doing!

1. How do you feel about your performance at the Malibu Marathon? Were you happy with your time, given the challenging course?

I ran about what I expected I was capable of running. I didn't think the course was that challenging compared to what I was expecting in New York which would have been over 2x the elevation gain. The hills toward the end of the race were a bit challenging, but I was expecting them so I made sure I had enough left in the tank to finish well.

2. Were you expecting to win the race? At what point did you know you were going to win? Was there any point in the race where you felt any self doubt?

A couple of days before the race, I spoke with Blue Benadum (the Malibu Marathon race director who placed third in the Santa Barbara Marathon the day before in an impressive 2:28) who warned me that I would probably be running by myself. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to running by myself, but I just thought of it as a training run with aid stations. My goals were to win the race, run a course record and try to run as close to six-minute pace as possible. 

There was a point at about mile five where I thought I might not be able to finish because my hamstring started acting up. I thought, "Oh no, this would be embarrassing--dropping out of a marathon at mile six," but I was able to relax just a bit and the pain went away. Half the battle, as you well know, is getting to the start of the marathon in one piece.

I had several setbacks during the final weeks of this marathon build up. It started with a groin strain during a 20-miler I ran the day after running a cross country race with the kids I help coach. I learned it's not a good idea to run 20-milers the day after a race. As soon as I started getting over the injury I ended up catching a cold which set me back another couple of days. As soon as I was well enough to run I went out with the kids on a 10-miler and got hit by a car! I had to take a few days off of running to allow my knee to heal.

As soon as I was ready to get back to the marathon training I went out and bought some racing flats to try out on a 15-mile marathon pace run. The problem was that the shoes were a bit too small and I developed blisters on the ends of my big toes. Unfortunately, I developed a strep infection and had to take two different antibiotics to get over the infection and I had to have my toenails removed.

Thankfully, I still had about two weeks before the NYC Marathon so my toes had time to heal. After all of the travel to New York I returned home feeling exhausted, but still wanted to run a marathon so I decided to run one last tempo run. Unfortunately, I didn't warm up properly and felt a strain in my hamstring which took several days to recover from. As any master's runner knows, running at this age is mostly about managing injuries.

[Editor's Note: HOLY %^&*!! And I thought I had a lot of setbacks in my training! Wow!]

3. The marathon started over half an hour late this year. What goes through your mind when this happens and how do you deal with a change in plans like this, both mentally and physically?

I figured it would start late having read that it started late last year. I heard they were waiting for a bus to arrive from Santa Monica. When it comes to punctuality I do not have a very good track record, in fact I'm one of the worst. I joke around with my family that we should change our last name to Feder-late-than-never! I just kept doing my warmups and tried to stay warm. Also, I was happy that I had the chance to use the bathroom one last time.


4. Speaking of change in plans, where were you when Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the 2012 New York Marathon on Friday, November 2nd, what went through your mind, and how did you end up choosing Malibu?

I was in a toy store in Montclair, New Jersey with my family when I received a call from my friend telling me about the marathon being cancelled. It was a hard thing to hear and at first I didn't want to believe it was true. So much time and effort--not to mention the travel expense--goes into preparing for a marathon that it makes it hard to think about things rationally. My thinking was that since they ran the marathon after 9/11 that they would run this year as well. However, it was just too soon for a lot of people. It was a sad time to be in New York and we returned home sooner than we had planned. I still wanted to run a marathon, but found that all of the big races had filled up. After all of the travel I felt it was best to run a local race. I couldn't run Santa Barbara because of a conflict with high school cross country CIF prelims at Mt. SAC, so I decided to contact Blue to see if he could get me into Malibu.

5. You ran a fantastic time at Malibu. Can you give us mortals some training advice...how about the most important things you did in your training?

I try to follow the Jack Daniels approach to running which breaks up training into four phases. The first is the Foundation/Injury-Prevention (F/I) phase where you just build up your miles by running easy. The second phase, called Early Quality (EQ), involves short repetitions (200s/400s) at mile race pace with long rest to work on running economy. The third phase called Transition Quality (TQ) is the most difficult phase where you run longer intervals (1000s/1200s) at 5K race pace with equal rest based on time. Lastly, there's the Final Quality (FQ) phase which focuses on race-specific workouts which for marathon training involve a lot of tempo runs and marathon pace workouts. I try to get my miles up to about 70-80 miles per week during the F/I phase so that my body can handle the more demanding phases to come. Daniels says that it's important to know what the purpose is for every run. Before I read his book, Jack Daniels' Running Formula, I really didn't understand how to prepare for a marathon other than just go out and run. I don't always follow the plan exactly because of injuries or other interruptions, but I know how to get in the necessary work so that when I step on the line I am confident that I can run my goal pace for 26 miles. Probably, the most important aspect of marathon training can be distilled down to just one word...consistency.

6. Some specific training questions: What is your peak weekly mileage, how many long runs did you do prior to the marathon, do you do any speedwork, how often do you take rest days and how long was your taper for the marathon?

For this marathon build-up I think I got up to 90 miles once, but I usually just try to hit 70 miles per week. I always hope to do more, but injuries, etc. seem to get in the way. I got in about six long runs ranging from 16-20 miles in the final three months leading up to the race. I definitely try to get in speed work in preparation for the marathon. If you want to run fast you need to run faster than marathon pace in your workouts. It's not always fun especially when you are training by yourself, but if you can workout with some runners that are close to your ability it's much easier to finish the workouts. A typical week consists of a long run on Sunday followed by two or three rest days then an interval workout followed by another two or three easy days and then a long tempo or marathon pace workout. I'm not a big fan of the long taper because my immune system lets down when I back off the training, so I usually just taper for one week. However, I was forced to taper two weeks due to the cancellation of the NYC Marathon. I actually felt like I was ready for a faster race on less rest a week before Malibu.

7. You are a self-employed graphic artist with a wife and 4 kids - how do you balance your training with work and family?

The short answer would be I don't--if you have figured it out please let me know! Unfortunately, all of these other areas in my life take a hit because of my obsession with running and yet, running has helped keep my life moving forward. I can get down sometimes when the business isn't going well or a family relationship is strained, however the very act of just putting one foot in front of the other keeps up the forward momentum.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is found in Philippians which says, "…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Probably the best thing that has come out of running is that it can be an inspiration to others.

My wife, Adriana has been running for about a year now. Also, our daughter Bella started running cross country at Oaks Christian High School this past season and made some really good friends along the way. Our oldest son, Nathan just finished his first season of cross country with the Newbury Park youth cross country team. He's really gotten into running this past year. For example, he had an assignment in his 5th grade class to write a famous person and he chose one of America's greatest marathoners. He was so excited when he received a handwritten full-page letter from Ryan Hall a couple of weeks later. Lastly, our boy Xander said the "R" in his name stands for "Runner" in a recent school project (hey, it's a start!) and our youngest boy, Christian considers himself the fastest runner in the family because he's beaten me in a couple of "races" down our street.

Thank you so much, John, for sharing such great advice and inspiration! I think any runner will find your advice quite useful. Keep us posted on your next big race!

Waiting Until the Last Minute to Register for a Marathon This Fall

I'm biding my time right now. At the (hopefully) tail end of a heat spell that has brought record temperatures to the Southland, I have managed to slowly but surely ramp up the length of my long runs to the point I'm comfortable I can run a full marathon in a few months.

But what marathon do I run?

That I don't know. Yet.

So awhile back I signed up for the Bulldog 25K trail run on August 25th and had a reasonable performance for where I was at in my training. That was a nice mental boost. But still no marathon plans in my mind at that point.

A week later, after a 5 month wait, I finally retrieved my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt from my friend who picked it up for me since I couldn't run the race. Yes, this shirt cost me $150 (the price tag on the shirt actually says $30...but of course the $150 includes the cost of entry into the marathon).

So I'm thinking, what's next. I haven't run a marathon since December 2010 and am not signed up for anything at this point. Then I thought, it has been many years since I ran the Los Angeles Marathon and I've never run the latest "Stadium to the Sea" course.

The L.A. Marathon is March 17, 2013. There were nearly 19,000 finishers in the 2012 race. I've run L.A. a total of 9 times over the years, about 6 times "seriously" and 3 times as a "paid training run" for another marathon. My first L.A. Marathon in 1994 was my first ever marathon, in a wet, rainy 3 hours, 3 minutes. My last L.A. Marathon was a "training run" run/walk/jog in 3 hours, 13 minutes. In between those races, 6 of the other L.A. Marathons were under 3 hours.

Due to the size of the race, organizers have 4 start corrals after the "elite" athletes. I will run L.A. only if I can manage to get into the 1st corral, which requires a sub 3:01 time no earlier than 7/1/11. Gulp. I haven't run a sub 3:01 since my 2:48 in Long Beach in October 2004. However...since then, I've only run 4 marathons, none of them with all cylinders on.

So my predicament is that, I need to run a sub 3:01 marathon this fall if I want to run L.A. But I don't want to travel far for the race. And I still need to train. That brings me back to the Malibu Marathon on November 11th. A race that in 3 years of existence, has brought a measly 14 sub-3 hour performances.  My 2010 time was 3:05 but it was unseasonably warm and I cramped up due to lack of electrolytes. I feel I can run sub-3 at Malibu if 1) the weather is reasonable...no unseasonably warm temps and Santa Ana winds and 2), I can run a 1:24 or faster half marathon prior to then.

Huh? Why 1:24? Because I use a 2.1 multiple in deriving projected marathon time from a half marathon. In my book, a 1:24 half marathon equates to a 2:56 marathon, leaving enough cushion to pull it off.

Next step? Keep doing long runs, possibly a 5K/10K or two, and run the Inaugural Marla Runyan Half Marathon in Camarillo in October. And think happy, positive thoughts to keep illness and injury at bay. Then I'll decide what should be my Fall marathon...

2012 Marathon Trials Winner Meb Keflezighi is Motivational For a Number of Reasons

Before I get to that, a brief update on me. Boston Marathon is less than 3 months away and until I hear about my "next steps" for my lousy 20/70 vision in my right eye. If I hear that surgery is viable to correct the vision, that will sidetrack my training. In the meantime, last Saturday I was able to comfortable boost my long run to 12.5 miles in 1 hour, 35 minutes. If the rain is pouring too hard tomorrow morning, I'm hoping to run another 15 minutes longer.

So last Saturday was the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where, the top runners around the country who met qualifying time standard competed for 3 slots to the Olympics. The men's "A" standard (and thus receives funding support to the trials) was a 2:19 marathon, 1:05 half marathon or 28:30 10,000 meters on the track. The women's "A" standard was a 2:39 marathon or a "B" standard of 2:46 full, 1:15 half or 33:00 10,000 meters. I'm happy to say that back in the day I met all the women's standards...though unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) I'm not a woman.

So in a nutshell, naturalized U.S. citizen Meb Keflezighi, won the Men's Olympic Trials in a personal best time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 8 seconds, with favorite Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman rounding out the top 3. Notably, the top 2 are both California residents (Mammoth Lakes).

At age 36, he's the oldest winner of the Marathon Olympic Trials after an injury slowed him down at the 2008 trials. In 2004 Meb won the silver medal in the Olympics, the first U.S. male medal winner in the marathon since Frank Shorter in the 1970s.

Perhaps though, this is what inspired and impressed me the most with his recent performance. Only 68 days prior to Saturday, Meb finished 6th place in the New York City Marathon. But he did something really lame that day. Something I can relate to. He accidently ran with a Breath Right nasal strip in his left shoe. And it messed up the ball of his foot so badly that he got an infection. As a result, he had to take extra time off to heal.

Yes, this world class runner made a rookie mistake that I can relate to! Like the day I stupidly ran 45 minutes in "barefoot" running shoes in my first attempt. Even the best of the best make boo boos. This is really motivating! We're all human and we all make mistakes! But we move on!

Congratulations all trials winners! The women's top 3 that are going to the Olympics are Shalane Flanagan (2:25:38), Desiree Davila (2:25:55) and Kara Goucher (2:26:06). Agoura High alumnus and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and U.S. marathon record holder (2:19:36) Deena Kastor finished 6th in 2:30:40. Not bad for a 38 year old who became a mother just 10 months ago!!

Time, Training and Tenaciousness Tames the Training Tiger

This past Saturday I ran a hilly 11 miles and change in 1 hour, 24 minutes. This was my longest run since my first detached retina surgery on September 15th. A comeback milestone while I decide if I will run the Boston Marathon in April.

What was most satisfying about this run is that it felt effortless. The weather was agreeable as I stepped out the door around 8 a.m. Not particularly prepared for a longish run, I had a few glasses off sweet tea and brought no liquid with me. But I was perfectly fine.

Dogged by tight hamstrings since and sluggishness since getting back into running 2 month ago, as has been the case in previous layoffs, suddenly, out of the blue, my body kicked back into gear. No explanation, no rhyme or reason.

But maybe there are some reasons for this. Perhaps it is my knowledge and experience from nearly 19 years of running that it was only a matter of time. The passage of time, the consistency of my training and the tenaciousness in my mind that I would keep the faith in my comeback.

As with anything in life, success is not easy to achieve. It takes effort.

In any case, the next day, Sunday (yesterday), was the 2nd Annual Camarillo Marathon. The first running of the event on October 3, 2010 was dogged with problems, including a lack of fluids and port-a-johns on the course. The 2nd annual event was originally planned for last October but scheduling issues ensued. The marathon race results this year showed 96 finishers; about a 40% drop from the prior year. That didn't stop 27 year old Peter Ellis of Issaquah, Washington from blowing away the field in 2 hours, 45 minutes, a full half an hour before the next finisher.

Next year's Camarillo Marathon is planned for January 6, 2013. Something to consider, if you like flat, low key marathons.

7 Days Back Into Running and Starting to Feel the Love Again

Last Monday I was cleared to start physical activity again after my 45 day hiatus from running and other physical activities. While my retina detachment is fixed, my vision in the affected eye continues to be terrible, absolutely terrible. But luckily that is offset by the excitement of RUNNING again.

The first week back at running has been a crescendo of positiveness. I was very careful to start out very slowly and not run too far. The first week, last Tuesday (the 1st) through yesterday (the 7th) was fraught with off and on sore shins, hamstrings and calves. I had hoped to run an easy 8 miles with some friends on Sunday morning, but woke up nursing sore shins. Shin splints from time to time have been my nemesis, causing me to drop out of the Tucson Marathon with them years ago.

But this morning I felt different. The air has been cool, we gained an hour of sleep on Sunday as Daylight Saving Time went buh bye and I started feeling like myself again. Just easy, enjoyable running around town. No major pains or aches.

With the Boston Marathon still 5 months away, today made me felt like I've still got my mojo.

In other news, I'm hoping that I can last until age 100 so I have a chance at beating Fauja Singh's 8:11:15 record performance at the Toronto Marathon on October 16th. That equates to 11:59 per mile.

The way I see it is as follows. I can easily run a 7 minute pace marathon at age 47. If I slow down by 5 seconds per mile for the next 53 years, I'll be able to run a 11:25 pace in the marathon at age 100, demolishing Singh's new age group record!

Congratulations to Singh! You are an inspiration!

Eye, Eye, Eye...37 Days Without Running and Boston is Less Than 6 Months Away

The good news on Monday was that my 2nd surgery seemed to go well. The retina is no longer detached. 32 days after my initial eye surgery and my detached retina seems to be healing.

But the bad news is that the eye is blurry as hell still. The gas bubble placed inside the eye has dissapated but the vision is the equivalent of looking at one of those "fun house" mirrors that stretch objects out of proportion and mis-shape them. Eye, eye, eye. This is not fun, yet it is progress.

In the meantime the doc says to stay away from running and over-exerting myself for another few weeks at least. Today is Day #37 of no running. The next time I see the doc I'll be on Day #46, further extending my longest no-running streak since I began running in 1993. I guess the upside to this is that at least I'm setting a personal best this year for something!

This is a RUNNING blog!?  Yep. Even when I'm not running. My body is chomping at the bit. It feels so much like running it is maddening. I did trot down the staircase and across the Trader Joe's parking lot today. Not much. Felt so damn good.

My biggest challenge when I actually DO start running again is to ease my way into it. Don't need to injure myself.

In the meantime, I'm out walking every morning. Not as far or long as I'd like to be doing, but I'm getting out there every day for a minimum of 20 minutes. Not a lot, but heck if everyone went out and at least walked for 20 minutes each day, no doubt in my mind the obesity rate would drop. I've been surprised that I haven't gain a lot of weight with the dramatic drop in aerobic activity. But I do eat less to some degree and the walking no doubt helps.

Four Weeks Without Running...How to Train When You Can't Run?

One month ago today I called to make an appointment with my optomologist. The next morning in his office he asked me to stick around and meet with the retina specialist. An hour later I was told to prepare for a vitrectomy surgery the next morning. No running for probably a month I was told! How does someone (namely me) that runs 2,000 miles per year deal with such prospects!?

The doc did say that I could start to train with light weights after a week and walk, but the running was off limits. So I walked, not a lot, maybe 20 to 30 minutes per day, and it felt o.k. Not particularly enjoyable running with one eye blind due to a gas bubble in it during the recovery process.

For whatever reason, the detachment didn't heal up 100% and 2 weeks ago I had a follow-up surgery. This surgery was only 20 minutes (compared to the hour long initial surgery) to go in and laser up the detached area.  Uggghhhh....back to square one.

Earlier this week my surgeon told me it looks like it is healing up nicely this time. Fingers crossed. Not to complain or anything because at least I have one eye that I can see out of...but it sure is hell frustrating having only one eye. The doc says don't wear a patch, even though the gas bubble that is slowly dissapating prevents me from seeing fully out of this eye. In fact, as I type this, both eyes are open, but my left eye is doing all the work. (When I close my left eye, my right eye sees a blurry computer screen.)

The lovely green wristband I've worn an entire month now while gas bubble resides in eye.

I'm taking this situation pretty much in stride. There's absolutely nothing I can do about it, so why sweat it. In fact, I think it is actually easier being in this situation - one on which physically and biomechanically I'm ready to run - but to gain back my eyesight I cannot - then a typical running injury. When I tweak a hamstring or my lower back, I'm frustrated as hell when I'm unable to run.

So I continue with my 20-30 minute walks in the morning. I get bored easily while walking, so I bring my smartphone with me. I could bring the iPad but prefer the smaller device. Sometimes I grab the newspaper and read while walking. Maybe I'll stop multi-tasking if I ever run into a mailbox or light pole.

The Boston Marathon is 6 months away. Hoping in the next week or two I'll get the go-ahead to start actually RUNNING again. Chomping at the bit here.

Four Days Off From Running and Counting...and Just 11 Days From a Marathon

So once again, my body has gone awry in the final weeks leading up to a marathon. Though I haven't been training particularly long or intensely for the Ojai2Ocean Marathon on June 5th, I was looking forward to an enjoyable experience.

One of my cooler race take-homes...a plaque from the 2nd Annual Rock N Roll Marathon in San DiegoNot so says this old body. But this time I'm not sick at all. I feel just fine! No colds, flus, pink eye, bronchitis.

And I'm not injured in any of the typical places. My back is fine (knock on wood). My quads, hamstrings, calves, achilles, ankles, bottoms of feet, toenails, etc. are all peachy keen.

But since May 7th, I've had a pain in my lower abdomen as a result of (I believe) wearing my water bottle belt too tight around my waist. Damn.

I have no one to blame but myself, but I felt I had no choice but to continue training in the hope that, like many other injuries, the pain subsides over time.  So I ran a 21 miler on the 14th and the pain got worse, then not quite so bad by the weekend, when I had to decide what to do 2 weeks out from the marathon.

In true gritty marathoner spirit, I felt I had no choice but to run a shorter, 13 mile slightly faster paced run to give my body a little more taste for marathon pace. Well...that was Saturday. Today it is Wednesday and I haven't run a step since then.

Four straight days of walking is normally only reserved for my post-marathon recovery and vacations. But as a last ditch effort to address the injury, I'm walking. In the streets, on the gym treadmill, wherever. My ass hurts as a matter of fact because I'm not used to using those muscles.

My self assessment is that I bruised a stomach muscle or perhaps my intestine. It normally doesn't hurt but gets irritated with the movement of running. Walking doesn't have the same impact.

So...I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that this thing will go COMPLETELY away by the weekend so I can at least have some recollection of what running feels like in time for the marathon on June 5th. If it does not go away soon...might have to wait for another marathon. ARRRGGGHHHHH!! Always something!!