Posts Tagged With: fitness

Chicago Marathon Recap – Putting the Pieces Together (Finally)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself an athlete…someone reliant upon body, mind, and spirit in pursuit of “something” greater.  Of course the “something” has changed, evolved, and grown over time, but my belief in needing all three (body, mind, spirit) to get closer to “it” hasn’t.  And while my pursuit continues…and I know I won’t get “there” till I get “there”…maybe surprising to some, I’ve never considered myself a runner, but instead often choose to run…and have even set running-specific goals, for the lessons it’s continued to teach, and the ways it’s helped me to strengthen (my body), sharpen (my mind), and enrich (my spirit) along the way…
I guess you could say breaking the 3 hour marathon mark has been a bit of a lifelong goal…or at least the primary athletic focus since 2010 when I first “publicly” stated it…not exactly sure why…maybe it’s because I’ve always been inspired by my Dad’s story of breaking his marathon goal by exactly 1 second…maybe it’s because after my first marathon in ’08, I knew it was something that was possible with a great deal of work..but not something I could just wing or rely on “natural” ability to achieve…or maybe it’s because in my five failed attempts and the events leading up to each in the years precedingChicago 2015 (2:58:30), I’ve continued to learn more about myself and things I’m passionate about (health, training, nutrition, fitness, the importance of relationships, faith, community, etc.)…and have met so many great people, training partners, and  friends throughout.
But when I look back…the “how I did it” isn’t really all that different than anything we’ve talked of before……the pieces of the puzzle were the same…the elements that make them up..the same…it’s just that this time around, I paid closer attention to them…acted upon them with more discipline, focus, and precision…
BODY: MOVE + FUEL + RECOVER – For years I’ve placed too much value on “harder” and not nearly enough on “smarter”.  This year I made use of all of the resources available to me…and with the help of our team here and the various training systems we use, I closely monitored each training session and the stress (training load) each placed upon me…training almost exclusively with a watchful eye on heart rate (the body’s objective window into the inner workings) instead of subjective “pace” as my guide.  I followed a systematic progression where I provided ample time for my body to establish a fitness “base” prior to encouraging it to “build” speed and strength via increased intensity, all while balancing and allowing the appropriate time to recover both in between workouts, and throughout training cycles (3 weeks up, 1 week easy, repeat x 4-5).  Although looking back, I probably could have done a better job adhering to my strength training routine (2x / wk), I made sure to jump in the treatment room whenever I was on the verge of breakdown or felt something not “right” (happened twice), and was so very fortunate to be able to rely on our PT’s to help me get back on track and facilitate the recovery process, FIRST, prior to returning to intense training….the results?…The blue line below is indicative of fitness progress / gains from 5/27-10/12 (race day)…something I was able to complete injury free for the first time since I took up this type of training…maybe the tortoise was on to something with his slow and steady approach.
My FUEL choices moved from primarily to almost exclusively a whole-food, plant based selection, and for the first time since I began extensive marathon training I didn’t “ache” post long run….I was somewhat surprised to finish a 19+ miler on more than 5 of the final 8 weekends in the season and still feel relatively fresh later in that given day…I guess I shouldn’t be given the anti-inflammatory properties of this type of nutrition…but to take it one step further, I was very excited to get down to “race weight”…nearly 15 lbs lower than I started in January…without ever feeling hungry, all while completing LESS total training volume (mileage) than in years past….can only be attributed to one thing…the right mix of FUELING (actual myfitnesspal results below).
MIND: ENDURE – If I’m totally honest, in years past…I’d have to admit that I’d often slip mentally before physically.  I’d approach workouts with ONLY the end in mind…cutting a little off the front here and a little off the back there….I’d tell myself I’d listen to my body if I was aching..but wouldn’t totally trust it and would default to cranking out more mileage just because “that’s what the plan says to do”….I’d tell myself how I’d eat “almost vegan”, but often almost turned out to be during the week with a junk binger on the weekend because “hey I just worked out really hard”….and what’s worse…if / when I failed, I’d often be more worried about my pride than the ways in which to improve….
Enter the world of positive psychology…the power of mindset…theways to make stress your friend…the concepts of grit and resilience..and so many more….with the help of these “friends” and their teachings…my mind stayed (for the most part) focused in the moment….on incremental change…knowing full well that my actions in the moment would dictate my outcome in the end.
SPIRIT: CONNECT – I had the opportunity recently to attend a mindfulness meditation led by a Tibetan monk…and though much of what he spoke of was fascinating…the two things that stuck with me were 1) we are all connected by something much greater than each of us individually…and 2) faith above all is the most powerful thing in this world…A “believer” even before I attended, not sure I could agree anymore strongly.
Throughout the training, and most especially on race day, there were so many people in this community I was pulling strength from.  If you’ve read this far, you’re most assuredly one, and I’m not sure any words will do justice to the gratitude I feel towards each of you.  When the going got tough…as it always does…I thought of you…struggles you may have gone through and obstacles overcome….I prayed almost continuously, and especially when the “hurt” set in between miles 22-25 and I began to lose time while fighting with what I had left not to lose faith……it became a bit of a mantra for me, “I can do all things through God who strengthens me”. With calves literally seizing on and off from mile 22 to 26.2, I’m convinced that your strength, prayers, and God saw me to the finish line right when I was supposed to arrive, in time to reconnect with a stranger I’ve only met once before on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon 2011, where he tells me I may have helped save his life (scoll to bottom of linked page), and in achievement of my goal, one step closer to “there”.  Somethings aren’t coincidence.
The 2015 Chicago marathon and events that led to it pushed my body…it pushed my mind…and it pushed my spirit…and when I crossed the finish line, arms outstretched in gratitude, it broke me emotionally, like only something you’ve emptied yourself for can.  Whether you know it or not, whether we’ve connected recently or not…you and yours helped push me through.  Should you be ready, I eagerly await the opportunity to repay the favor.
Happy Training,
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Dear Mom

So I’m a couple of days late with this post, and I’ve been fortunate to be somehow associated with so many incredible achievements and cool things going on, I wasn’t quite sure where I’d go with this post.

There’s my best friend who, after over a year of training, has just logged his first 50 mile ultra marathon, qualifying him for the “Western States”….what he calls, “The Boston Marathon for Ultra-marathons”!  And instead of giving himself a much deserved pat on the back, he deflected his success, crediting his wife and the community that supported him.  Read his recap here.  How incredibly awesome!

There’s my pending “sprint” triathlon this weekend (oh yeah, conveniently forgot to mention this), where I’ll be entering the open water for only the 2nd time in my life (suffice it to say that my last attempt, with 40+ degree air temps and no wet suit, and next to zero training, didn’t last long and I got the dreaded DNF).  I’m a bit of a last minute entry, but figured it’d be a good test as I get ready for my first Olympic distance on 6/3.  Probably the coolest part of this weekend is that I’ll be doing the race with two of my brothers, and good friend Chris.  And although I’m thinking they’ll probably be so far ahead of me that they’ll be finishing when I’m just getting off my bike (or before)…beware gentlemen, if I see you on the run course, I’m not above tripping you just before the finish if I have to…ha, kidding of course!

There’s my two nieces, who have trained incredibly hard, and have been vying for their spot in the HS varsity chearleading line-up (with three high schools in our county alone placing nationally year after year, chearleading is quickly becoming one of the most competitive sports around), and while it only worked out as planned for one of the two….I’m confident that if each of them continue to truly desire greatness in the sport and stay focused, they have the love, support, and resources available to reach whatever they set out to achieve.

There’s my grandfather, a WW II veteran, who was just flown to DC by an incredible not-for-profit “Honor Flight“, to be recognized and honored along with two PLANES FULL of his fellow servicemen, for the extraordinarily selfless work they did for us overseas 65 years ago.  I am eternally grateful, and humbled for the sacrifices these folks made so that we can live the life we do.

There’s my brother-in-law who just graduated from college….and for those of us who have been there, we know what a hugely impressive…and sometimes daunting next step this can be….after all, with the real world comes real responsibilities and accountability to self…..but not to worry Jeff….what also comes is the real chance of “freedom”….to live the life you want!  Probably the best advice I ever received was to do what you love first, worry about money later….and even though I was too stubborn to listen right away (shocking, I know), after 4 months in a cubicle and some serious life changing events….I quickly realized that if there was ever a time to take a chance and follow your passion….the year(s) immediately post graduate were certainly it.  I urge you to consider the same, and am confident that if you do….you’ll land happily on your feet!

And then, there’s the one day each year when we actually stop for a second, and honor the people that brought us into this world….those so instrumental in giving us our greatest gift…life!  Mom’s may just be the most incredibly strong people in the world.  Somehow, from the moment their feet hit the ground in the morning, they start sprinting with one main mission….to take care of the people they love.  It’s pretty amazing really that they keep their sanity at all….and what may be even more impressive, it doesn’t seem as though they slow or stop as their children continue to age.  And in that, they may be life’s all-time best endurance athletes!

I’ve been fortunate to have had so many “moms” in my life supporting me….from the sister’s and sister-in-law who’ve made sure I’ve always had what I needed (also known as “spoiling”) and do the same for their kids, the Mom’s of friends who have “adopted” me over the years, the clients-turned-friends who have been so incredibly care-taking and generous, a mother-in-law that has treated me as her own from the moment we met (and recently trekked to Boston just to watch her granddaughter and support me in the marathon), and now a wife, who in only 4 months as a mom, has shown me the most incredible demonstration of strength, will, and love that I’ve ever seen.

But of course, this blog wouldn’t be near complete without a testimonial to my Mom.  This woman is nothing short of incredible.  With six kids and 11 grandchildren, she has in some way figured out how to make each of us feel like her favorite.  And it’s not just us…..having spent a career in education, I’m yet to meet someone more devoted to the lives and enrichment of children then her.  She has a gift, an endless love, and I couldn’t be more thankful that God chose her for me.

Happy Mother’s Day all!


The “All-time Momma’s Boy”…Eric

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Finding Inspiration in Others…

Well, you guys did it…I’m totally flattered.  The response from you all, my readers, to last week’s Boston Marathon recap blog was unbelievable, and it’s important that I publicly express my thanks and gratitude for your kind words, and positive feedback.  From the facebook comments, tweets & retweets, those of you who went out of your way to make mention in passing, send email, or even make mention of me in your own blog… the individual who shared the blog with his sister’s running club, the college kid who sent his positive feedback home here via his mom, and to my father-in-law, a very well respected NJ athletic coach in his own right, and all of the colleagues he shared it with who said, “our North Hunterdon athletes should read this”…..I couldn’t be more honored to know that in some small way, my story may have inspired a few or shed a positive light on your day.

And while, if you’re like me and giving compliments & positive feedback doesn’t exactly come easy, please know that by doing so, you’ve helped me take one step further in fulfilling my personal mission:To Live Each Day with: Uncompromising COMMITMENT to family and personal integrity, Relentless DRIVE to identified goals , a Sincere PASSION for bringing out the best in others, and the Courage to pursue EXCELLENCE, taking PRIDE in both work & play.”

So thank you to each and everyone of you who have taken an interest, shown support, and continue to follow along with me as I strive to live my mission.  You should know that I will continue to give my best, and although I am so very happy to share inspiration when given the opportunity… I’m constantly pulling more than I could ever give from all of you, the amazing community that surrounds me….and for that, I am forever grateful!

Please take a moment to watch the video below of Libbie W. – a friend, client, and member of our “Family of Athletes” at Pro-Activity.  Libbie, you inspire me!  Thank you!

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A Humbling Journey Can Be Most Rewarding – Boston Marathon 2012 Recap

In April of 2011 I was ready to rock…had trained like a mad man and was so incredibly excited to run my first Boston Marathon.  My physical fitness was in a great spot, and my mental fitness may have been even better.  Each workout leading up to the race was another step forward toward my goal of a PR…and I rarely struggled to “bring it”.  The results followed….a 3:04:45 performance and another “BQ” (Boston Qualifying time), and a 5 minute and 15 second PR, but still no sub 3 performance…which has been the lifelong running goal.

Shortly thereafter my sister-in-law(s) Lindsay and Stephanie and their excitement, maybe unknowingly, convinced me to run the Marine Corps marathon in October.  More training….more workouts…more focus…more discipline…a professional runner as my coach and personal pacer for the day….another PR (3:02:00) but still no sub-3. By the time 2012 rolled around, and I added in some life changes (mainly an 8 lb. 5 oz addition), I was pretty burnt on this whole marathon thing, and even more so…the training to be prepared.  I’d get through the workouts I had to, but only because I had to.  I’d avoid the track whenever I could, and cut a mile off the warm-up here, a mile off the cool down there….anything I could do to just get it done.  Needless to say it wasn’t exactly the most conducive training plan to a blistering marathon pace.  And worse yet, I had lost my passion for running….and had forgotten why I got so hooked on the distance events in the first place.

In the weeks leading up to this past Monday, the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, I found myself almost wishing it was behind me….and then last Thursday it finally started to hit me… was as if my conscience swooped out of my head and gave me a much needed slap across the face….”Get over yourself, you idiot!….This is the freaking Boston Marathon we’re talking about…this is an honor and a privilege!” I quickly came to the realization that I was being a selfish, whiny, baby….I mean seriously….people train their entire life to get a chance to run in this race…and here I am doing it for my second year in a row.  And after a great discussion with my brother Mike on Friday night, that wasn’t intended to be a pep talk but resulted in one for me…an inspirational “tweet” from my sister Amy….and countless emails, texts, facebook comments, etc. from my endurance club members, family and friends….I started to remember that I didn’t get into this marathon thing just for personal records and self accomplishment…but to embrace and model a lifestyle that represents health, fitness, discipline, and perseverance…..a lifestyle that embraces challenge as an opportunity for accomplishment….and maybe most importantly of all….a lifestyle that facilitates community and kinship with others via time shared together on the “road less traveled”….literally!

By the time I was on the bus to “Athlete’s Village” (the staging area where 26,000 marathoners hang out for 2 hours prior to the gun), I finally had my head in the right place.  While Saucony has their athletes promoting a brilliant advertising campaign and “Finding Their Strong”….I was determined to instead, “Find My Fun”….something I had lost sometime between this year and last.

Now, knowing my training wasn’t what it’s been in the past, and my fitness had followed suit…my plan was to simply enjoy myself, control my heart rate so as to not get wrapped up in the adrenaline rush (who me? Imagine that!), and stay at a comfortable pace….my estimation was that this would be at heart rate of 165 and a pace somewhere in the low 7’s.  But when developing this strategy and figuring these calculations I had failed to factor in one very important thing…..the weather forecast in Boston this past Monday was calling for record highs of 89 degrees throughout the race….yikes!  Now I’ve run a marathon in decent temperature before…in the 70’s at West Palm Beach Marathon in 2010….but nothing like this.  I knew the sun would take it’s toll, but wasn’t exactly sure just how much….so I promised myself that I’d keep my heart rate at 170 or less…knowing that this was probably a bit too high to run the whole race, but was still safe.

I guess I should have given the sun and heat more credit than I did since I was getting emails the day prior to Monday from the Boston Athletic Association encouraging participants to either defer to another year, or cut their pace by 2 minutes.  Holy cow…would I really have to run a 9 minute pace…no way!…Or would I?  We shall see…..

As I, and roughly 1,000 other runners, squeezed into corral #4 at the starting line at 10am, race officials were announcing it had already eclipsed 80 degrees…and you could feel it climbing quickly…and within a few minutes, we were off.  Now, one of the draw backs of starting in a corral based on a time you ran at your peak fitness is that the people in there are likely going to run about the same pace and are targeting a 3 hr marathon (6:52 / mile pace).  And while this group went cautiously slower out of the gates (by their standards) we were still running 7:15’s on the slight downhill out of Hopkinton without a ton of effort.  I was actually feeling pretty good….but almost instantly (actually at .79 miles) my heart rate was at 173 beats.  I cautiously continued on…..after all, had I slowed, I would have likely been trampled.

The first few miles flew by as they normally do in marathons….but this year, in the spirit of the “Find My Fun” I made sure to keep the headphones out of my ears so I could hear the crowds…. slap hands with each of the small children cheering on the sides, and look around at all the spectators.  My pace slowly started to creep from 7:15’s to 7:25’s between the 5k and 10k (mile 6.2) marks, and by mile 8, I was really starting to feel the heat, and the heart rate continued between 170-176.  Now keep in mind, when I go all out on a flat 5k course at a 5:30 pace, my typically heart rate peaks at 182…so clearly the heat was a major factor.  Thankfully race officials had ensured water / gatorade at every mile marker, and the incredible support from the spectators who filled the sidewalks the entire way, handing out extra water, spraying us with hoses, etc. gave us a little reprieve as we trekked on.

By the half marathon mark my pace continued to slow to a 7:33 average, and the heart rate maintaining around 173…at this point, I was in search of ice….it was hot… I was enjoying the spectators, looking forward to seeing my wife Amy and friend Wes (at mile 16), but my main focus was on finding shade (fail) and finding ice.  By the Grace of God (as my Dad would say), a little boy was handing out ice bags from a cooler…and I gave him the biggest smile I could muster.  It was like finding a freaking pot of gold…I couldn’t believe how thankful I was…and for the next couple of miles, I carried the ice in the palms of my hands (a trick I learned from my “Ironman” brother who completed Ironman St. George last year in 90-100 degree heat!).

Now as I was running, and keeping a close eye on things…both the external environment and what was going on in my internal world….I decided that as soon as I saw Amy and Wes, I was going to take a break….drink some gatorade, give Amy a sweaty hug and kiss, and hang a little…letting my heart rate come down substantially before tackling the dreaded hills in Newton Mass..that culminates with Heartbreak Hill.  Unfortunately the damn Red Sox and all their fans (there is always a home game on Boston Marathon day) crowded the T-train so much that Amy and Wes couldn’t even get out to mile 16.  It was a slight heart break prior to the hill…..and so at mile 17.5, just after the first of the three hills in Newton….I took a good long walk….4 minutes and 27 seconds to be exact (aren’t Garmin watches great!)…and my body thanked me….heart rate down to 129!  It gave me a chance to think about all the people back home rooting for me, probably wondering why my pace had dropped so much, worrying about me in the heat, and hoping for the best.  And then, as you might expect, I got a little prideful, and promised myself that no matter how many times I’d have to walk from then on…one thing was for sure, I’d be running each of the hills in Netwon including Heartbreak hill at Boston College as a tribute to those rooting from home.

But before I got to that…and while I was enjoying my little stroll…smiling and joking with spectators

on the way….I have to admit to something that’s not easy for me to say (little inside family joke here, but I think you’ll get it)….at about mile 19, I became the 2nd Eisenhart male to get “Pink Tu-Tu’ed!  Yup, that’s right…the man you see to the right passed me on the hill just before Heartbreak.  I smiled and chuckled to myself, thinking of my brother Mike and his kids who heckled him for allowing this guy to pass him.  But take nothing away from Mike or this guy for that matter….although he may look a little…..ah confused…..he’s a great runner, and incredibly consistent.
Soon after being “tu-tu’ed”, I was upon Boston College and Heartbreak hill…my younger brother Greg’s alma matter.  I vividly remember my time there in 2011…a spot where I quickly saw my family and heard the “rebel yell” my Dad had made famous in his sons’ wrestling days throughout the state of NJ.  I remember pumping my fist to them last year, and getting choked up seeing them.   But this year, BC and Heartbreak hill brought some of the most fun in the 2012 Boston Marathon for me.  You see, like my younger brother Greg, who bleeds maroon and gold, the BC students are amazingly passionate.  They holler and scream…they jump up and down (likely after many morning beverages), and they get you going….and I have no doubt that for the years he was there (except the year he decided to walk on the Boston Marathon and run it with limited training…psycho…just sayin’) Greg was right in the mix.  So when passing BC, I thought of Greg…and it pumped me up….and before I knew it…I was literally running and screaming “Yeah BC, Yeah BC, Yeah BC” as I smacked hands along the way….and the place erupted!  It was like there they were…desperately trying to cheer on the exhausted runners who had just crested Heartbreak hill….and the runners couldn’t give them anything back…..but me…..I had found my fun again…and I was ready to share!  10k to go.
The last 6 miles were pretty brutal… shade….had already been out there for 2 hours and 45 minutes and the estimated temperature was 87 plus…and I started thinking it might make sense to walk the water stops, or at least every other….my heart rate remained in the low 170’s but now each step started feeling like someone was taking a ball peen hammer to my quads…..and then, something pretty special happened.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it……I saw another runner in a pretty bad spot so I thought I’d extend a hand and see if I could help him out.  I asked him his name, and heard a mumbled “Frank”, and told him “Ok Frank, let’s finish this together” as I helped him off the curb.  He wasn’t looking great…and my initial thought was just fatigue….but after a few first very swurvy steps…I realized Frank was in a much worse spot then I had originally thought….and we

quickly sat back down.  Almost immediately Frank started moaning in pain, complaining that he thought he would vomit and I ordered a spectator to run back to the mile marker (about .5 miles back) for help, and I’d wait with him.  My best guess is that Frank was suffering from heat exhaustion or possibly hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) and we got a little gatorade in him while waiting for the med techs.  And about 8 minutes later…they arrived (turns out Frank had recently been in the med tech tent and had left) and after a quick phone call to Amy to let her know I was fine, but had stopped to help someone…I was on my way.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time…after thinking about the situation with Frank for the last few days, it is a prime example of what’s so great about long distance endurance sports….while it seems every man for themselves (and probably still is at the elite level)…for those of us that are the “every man”….it’s “every man for every man”.  It’s a community….and we don’t just do it for ourselves…but are here for each other.  I got the opportunity to help this day, but I have no doubt that had I been sitting on the curb, and Frank was in my shoes…he (or someone like him) would have stopped at my side as well.
And then….onto the finish!  The last mile of the Boston Marathon is unlike any race or athletic experience I’ve witnessed.  There are literally tens of thousands of spectators smashed onto the sidewalks cheering on amateurs like me…people that are unpaid…un-sponsored or endorsed…just your average every day Joe’s and Jane’s doing extraordinary things.  Last year I ran the last mile ( in a time that felt) so fast and was in so much pain I couldn’t even tell you what it looked like…I just wanted it over.
This year….I took it all in.  Waiving my hands and pumping my fists….blowing Amy a kiss and sending a thumbs up to Wes… raising my hands up offering thanks and honor to God for keeping me safe and allowing me the opportunity to partake in such an amazing event….and then in the last 100 yards….coming in for a perfect landing.

It was a bit humbling to run 40 minutes slower than my previous PR in the marathon distance…heat or no heat…but I’m confident that there was much more to this race then the finish time at the 26.2 mile destination…there was a much bigger reason for me to slow down and focus on fun.  The journey allowed me to regain some passion for distance running,  live it up at BC, and help a friend in need. I’m not sure when my next marathon will be (hopefully the 2013 Boston Marathon), and I’m not sure if I’ll go at it hard and try to go sub 3….or if I’ll just have some fun again…but one thing is for sure – I’ll be sure not to forget that the journey IS THE REWARD!
Thank you friends and family for your support, thoughts, prayers, and love that…as always…helped carry me through.
(credit to for the photo proofs)
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Fit 2 Be (A)Live – real people, real stories

6 days to the Boston Marathon and sometimes I have to remind myself why…

This is why…This is Fit2Be (a)Live.

“When you cross that finish line, no matter who slow or how fast, you will have changed your life forever” – Dick Beardsley, Boston Marathon Runner-up

You Can Do It Too!

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Priorities, Priorities!

So last week I recapped many of the highlights and wonderful fit2be(a)live moments in 2011, and in the weeks leading up…I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted 2012 to look like. What goals I’d set in each of the important aspects of my life. And as in years past I’ve set goals for myself in the following areas:

1. Family life & personal relationships
2. Spiritual / Faith based
3. Health & Fitness
4. Professional
5. Community Service & Philanthropy

I really try to put my heart into my goal setting. I take lots of time to think and reflect about what I want to achieve…what impact I want to have on this world in 2012…and what experiences I want to have and share with others.

And while I plan to not only share these with my readers and the world (did you know your much more likely to achieve when you share your goals publicly and with people you care about??’s true!)….you’ll have to wait till next week (please stay tuned) for the details, because priority #1 is finally here!!!

Amy and I are most elated to welcome our daughter, Emma Julieann Eisenhart to the world!


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