Fear & the BIG 20 Mile!

Hey Kids,

I am currently using a hybrid of Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 and 2 plans. ( you can click on the Novice 1 18 week training plan on the left) I have had to move some big runs around for a variety of reasons but the big 20 miler had to be moved to this past weekend. It was on the schedule for next weekend, which is 3 weeks before NYC, but the ol’ Soulmate and I have the SONO Half Marathon to run up in Norwalk CT that weekend.  On Saturday Eileen Crushed her big 10 mile run right here in  O-Town! She is looking good and ready to go!!!! Im predicting a 2::10 or better finish for her. Again another converted “I hate running” runner!


So this past sunday I headed out on a semi familiar route to do the Big 20 mile run. Hal Higdon, who’s book Marathon that I reference all of the time, is in the camp of don’t train over 20 miles. His rational is that our bodies can only hold so much glycogen and it basically runs out at 20 miles no matter who you are or how much you train. So to avoid injury he, and many others, recommend not training over 20. And I am fine with that BTW.

This section of the training is not fun. You are doing 5 mile runs on Tues and Thurs. and anywhere from 6 to 9 mile runs on Wednesdays with a very long run on the weekends. I have basically 13-ish mile runs for the next couple of weeks as my long ones but I may throw in an 18-20 two weeks before the race depending on how I am doing. I do have a goal of a Sub-4 Hour marathon for NYC but I’m also realistic about the race being hectic and crowded so we will just have to see.

To do the 20 I started out at the bottom of the Saddle River Trail in Rochelle Park, ran to the top of the trail, through Ridgewood, into and around Ho-Ho-Kus then doubled back.


Dont forget to be my friend on RunKeeper 🙂


I got to thinking and after my first:

 Random Thought While Running

“Was the first duck that thought of this like, Hey! you got to try this, totally keeps your bill warm!”


About fear and our relationship with it. Our first reaction about fear tends to be “NO FEAR! Fear is bad! I’m Fearless!” We tell out kids, “Dont be scare, its not real, Its all in your head.” But in thinking about fear, and what it really is, I recalled a conversation I had many years ago with my friend Sean about being in the Marines

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He was telling a funny story about his time in boot camp and I remember him saying something to the effect of, ” When I got out of basic I had no fear. It was like it was erased. But I’v realized that fear is is usually a good thing, it keeps you out of trouble.”

Now before I get attacked by a bunch of Military folk I realize that the training involved here is preparing you for a situation where the absence of fear is pretty essential to achieving your mission and keeping you and those around you alive. The removal of fear has its place. That being said, for the rest of us fear is always present at some level and it can exist in many different capacities. I read recently that our brains have solved the problems of 50,000 years ago, so we have that going for us ;-). So our fears as survival mechanisms don’t always fit or are mixed up in our modern lives.

So I challenge all of us to examine our fears and assess their impact on our behaviors and actions. Ask yourself if your level of fear is appropriate and/or even necessary? Is it really keeping you safe or is it holding you back? Is it rational? Are you using it out of convenience? Unpack your fears unabashedly to find out where it comes from and make sure you trim it appropriately, even in small doses, to ensure that your fears remain beneficial. This is hard and ironically SCARY!

In all of this I came to the conclusion that we, at least for my self, should try to strike a balance between a healthy level of fear that keeps us safe, and a bold attitude that does not hold us back from attaining what we want out of this life. Ultimately we can not directly control our emotions or those of others. What we can control is our behaviors and actions which in turn can influence our emotions, including fear. It has been my experience in confronting fears that I can not erase them or remove them but in exploring them I can appropriately file and manage their impact which has resulted in achieving things that I used to think were impossible.

Now, the ultimate stroke of Irony 😉 The last time I did the Big 20 I ran a similar route up through Ho-Ho-Kus which I mentioned was kind of a second home to me as a kid. Its where my Dad grew up and we spent a ton of time there as kids. I mentioned this to my co worker friend Chelsea 13600326_10207595221541878_7258387685244728002_nwho is a native of the Ho-Ho-Kus and she said “You ran right by my house!” So for this 20 I made her house a mid point destination because she was kind enough to put out some water for me, like a dog 😉  JK, she left me the good stuff, Poland Spring! it’s from Maine you know, so its better… Thanks Chelsea


Ironically, right after pounding the ol’ Polish Juice, taking this selfie and finishing my water I looked at the stone post that this water is sitting on and realized that I was standing dangerously close to my biggest fear…


One of these lovely ladies was crouched with in inches of my arm! ahhhhahh FEAR!!!!! I told Chelsea about this because this thing obviously has a mission to kill every living thing it can bite. Chelsea agreed and is currently burning the house to the ground. This fear does have some rational value. Some spiders can be very dangerous, most are not. They are actually really important parts of our eco system.So, I looked it up and I was surprised that it had a very mundane name and not something like Yellow Fanged Death Twilight Crawler Under Your Pillow. It is actually called a Female Yellow Garden Spider and is quite harmless. Years ago I made a deal with spiders and I believe it is working out well for all involved. If a spider is outdoors and does not touch me, it lives, untouched. If it comes in my house and/or touches me… I reserve the right to terminate it from the earth!


This one chose wisely so I left it alone.


eeegggghhhhh…… Spiders, Fear, Sports!

So all and all it was a good run at marathon pace!

Finally a huge shout out to Mrs. Cristina Bernotas!10302692_10202589997940377_5644334647622343480_n

Pictured here in a glamor shot with some random fisherman. JK that is her Local Composer/Band Director/Part time hand model husband Chris:-) 

Cristina will be running her second 26.2, the Steamtown PA Marathon this Sunday. Her training has been great and she is going to crush it!!!!! Remember what you told me, “Just Don’t Stop!” Kick Ass Cristina!!!!!!!

Word of the day: 

trepidation |ˌtrepiˈdāSHən|


1 a feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen: the men set off in fear and trepidation.

2 archaic trembling motion.

Unicorn of the day:


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