Decompressing After Greek Races

After the “2015 Greek Islands Adventure,” we flew to Munich and then took a train to Hinterthal, Austria to visit our Sarasota friends Jim and Nina (who are spending the summer in Austria). Due to their generosity and hospitality, we were able to enjoy such a special time in Austria. We went sledding down a glacier, biking/running/hiking in the Alps, and visited the picturesque city of Salzburg. Here is Jim and Nina below an amazing rainbow…

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After Salzburg, we went to a Mozart concert in Vienna, flew to beautiful Prague (my favorite city on our trip), and finished up in Frankfurt. We flew back to Florida this past week for a couple of days of recovery and reloading.

I fly up to New England tomorrow to hike “The Grand Canyon of Maine” with my older brother, Richard, and my niece, Aubrey, who is soon off to college. I have been doing some killer workouts this week in Florida trying to prepare my new hiking boots. The main focus was on doing a few thousand stairs a day on my gym’s stair stepper. New boots on a multi-day hike can be quite treacherous. I hope the boots are sufficiently broken in for the trek.

I will write again in a couple of weeks answering the many questions I have had about my training for the Greek Islands tour. Did I train differently at 52? What was the overview of my weekly workouts? What was added or removed?

Amorgos, Greece – Final Race (#5) of the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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Today we completed the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure tour in Amorgos, Greece. Amorgos is one of the smaller Cyclades islands and is the easternmost island in this group. Amorgos is home to one of the most amazing monasteries in Greece, Panagia Hozoviotissa. It is a cliff side monastery northeast of Chora. It is breathtaking to see this structure overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Today I finished in 4:42. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel that I could complete this tour at 52 years of age. Every tour has begun with inner doubts and fears, which leads to finding trust, which then forms into a faith that we can accomplish our aspirations. My body held up to the pounding, after racing the mile 5 times in 12 days in 2015. Since 2008, injury-free racing has been our theme. To have the ability and belief that I can put my toe on the starting line and feel I have an opportunity to break 5 minutes again and again. Thanks to my beautiful wife, Sekyen, and the www.OneMileRunner.com team members who help me stay physically healthy and spiritually inspired to break personal goals year after year.

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This was my final multiple-race tour. I will participate in a couple of road mile races that I have not attended before in the US and Canada in 2016. We have done an incredible amount of mile racing since 2008. Now after six months of training, we will travel to Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany for a little rest before heading back to the States. Thank you all for your support and encouragement during all our races throughout the years.

Naxos, Greece – Race #4 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

 

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As we await to hear what is going to happen with the Greek bailout, banks will remain closed all week and we will know by Sunday if the EU accepts the Greek proposal. Our time on the islands still remains peaceful and “business as usual” as I have even seen my first credit card transactions since we have been here on the island of Naxos.

Naxos is one of the bigger islands in Cyclades with a deep ancient history. We have enjoyed our time here taking in some of the ruins and archaeological digs on the island. This was the first race I ran without a “Meltemi” – the dry, northern wind I spoke about in my last post. We all had our best day this morning as our team ran the event seamlessly. I felt strong and safe on the road and ran a 4:41. Please take a quick look at the short video below highlighting the last quarter-mile of the race. Check out how we had to go around the man on his donkey… a great memory of our Greek runs.

Thanks to people like Petros (below), www.OneMileRunner.com has been able to execute these mile races around the world. Thanks for all your care and expertise Petros.

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We now travel to Amorgos on the slow boat tomorrow afternoon. We are planning to race on Sunday morning. That would be 5 races in 12 days. Now it is time to recover for a day and finish well in my last race.

Ios, Greece – Race #3 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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Beautiful Mylopotas beach is one of the best beaches in the Cyclades Islands as it continues to receive “Blue Flag” recognition with its golden sand and super clean waters. We had the opportunity to race in the area and it did not disappoint. This was the first race where I could actually warm-up on and train on beforehand. I think that helped with my visualization as I ran a 4:45 for Race #3. We have been dealing with extremely windy conditions this past week on the Greek islands. We have learned a new word since we have arrived, “Meltemi”, meaning a strong, dry north wind of the Aegean Sea. It has kept temperatures cooler, but the seas have been rough.

Last night was a huge vote for Greece. As the Greeks overwhelmingly rejected the demands for more austerity in a landslide NO vote 61% to 39%. This was the first Greek referendum in 41 years. It was a huge victory for Prime Minister Tsipras and his party. The banks will still be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Eurozone negotiations begin with a new finance minister for Greece, Euclid Tsakalotos as Yaris Varoutakis stepped down after the voting results. It should be an interesting couple of days of meetings now with the European leaders.

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We travel to Naxos tomorrow. The weather forecast calls for hotter weather without the windy conditions of the meltemi. We will see what this does to not only our boat ride, but also our race conditions next week.

Folegandros, Greece – Race #2 on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure Tour

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So the big Greek citizen referendum is Sunday. Many people have been inquiring about the financial situation here. It is simple. It is all cash. I am traveling in the islands and it is very peaceful, but you must have cash in your pocket. I was planning on paying the hotel portion of the tour with my credit card, but with the capital arrears in place this past week, the local businessmen have no idea when they might get the money from the bank on credit card purchases. So put the credit cards away and take out your Euros – at least until Monday. Then we will find out if the Greek banks open or not after Sunday’s vote. Good thing we brought some extra Euros for our travels.

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We had to run race #2 a day earlier due to some local changes. So with only a day rest in between my races, I crossed the finish line in 4:52 a bit fatigued. My first race I was very even as I ran a 2:22 half and then another 2:22. Today was different. I faced an incredible headwind in the first half of the race running a 2:29, then finished with a 2:23. Today reminded me of my speed workouts that I ran every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for this tour. I broke up the workout into two knowing I would have to find that level of performance with very short rest. I think those workouts helped me run well today in these conditions.

Since we finished the race a day earlier, we had an opportunity to visit some of the island’s best beaches.  Beautiful. The water is so clear and so blue it almost looks artificial. The highlight was Katergo, accessible only by boat, as it is considered by some as one of the world’s best beaches.

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We are now off to Ios on Saturday July the 4th. Hope everyone back in the States has a great holiday weekend!

Santorini, Greece – 1st stop on the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure

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What a time to be in Greece! After a long day of flying from Tampa to Miami, Frankfurt, Vienna, and then Santorini, we made it to Greece on 7/28. The last time we visited Greece was just three years ago. Financial problems and arrears were happening then, but this time it is worse. We have heard amazing stories since we have arrived and it should be an interesting couple of weeks as Greece fights for its financial future.

After the banks and financial markets closed on Monday 6/29. People were saddened, but did not panic. We all waited until late on 6/30 to see if Prime Minister Tsipras was going to arrange a final deal before defaulting on the Greek loan, but it did not happen. Now the focus moves to Sunday as the Greek citizens have the opportunity to vote “yes or no” on a Euro zone referendum. After that vote on Sunday, we will all know if the citizens back their prime minister or not. If a “yes” vote wins, Tsipras will surely step down. If a “no” vote wins, then Tsipras will stay in power. Will the banks open on Monday 7/6? What will happen to the Greek people and their financial future? Stay tuned…

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We raced on the morning of July 1st. It was not the same course I ran here in 2012, but similar. I even ran the same time as in 2012, registering a 4:45 in my first race of the 2015 Greek Islands Adventure. We had a little trouble getting the proper safety established on this bustling Greek road, but fortunately we did not have any problems. I felt a good bounce in my legs as this 5-race tour begins. We take a boat tonight to the nearby Cyclades island of Folegandros for race #2 on America’s Independence Day 7/4.

 

Peak Performance Or Injury?

Athletes walk that tightrope of peak performance on one side and injury on the other. I am two weeks away from Race #1 of the 2015 www.OneMileRunner.com annual event entitled “The Greek Islands Adventure.” I definitely was on that tightrope this week.

After traveling to Maine last weekend for my niece’s high school graduation, we had our usual dress rehearsal prior to each of my mile event tours on Tuesday. The half mile course is nearby my house and is not an easy course to run on with many twists and turns. I have had difficulty in the past years breaking 2:30 on this course. In 2012, I thought my training was right on schedule, but I posted a 2:32 time in our dress rehearsal. I went on to race great solid times in 2012 on “The Isles Mile Challenge.”

I have tweaked a couple of things in my training at 52 years old, but I felt confident that my training has been on schedule leading up to my race season. On Tuesday, I ran 2:28 at about a 90-95% effort, I was shocked and discussed the run with my team. So I decided to go back to the starting line and run it again…how can I run faster than the 2012 dress rehearsal? I ran the course again and posted another 2:28. It freaked me out a bit, but I will share the changes I have made to my training in August when I return from Europe. So that was one side of the tightrope – peak performance. Then came Wednesday…

On Wednesday, I ran an easy 6 miles on the shell trail at Benderson Park. Just after the 5 mile mark, I accidentally stepped on a pine cone and landed on the side of my foot. I yelled at the pain and shock of the errant landing as I have never before missed the bottom of my foot completely. I felt like I “dodged a bullet” as I limped around avoiding serious injury. The next morning my lower left extremity felt worse, so I soaked in the hot tub and took two days off from running. Yesterday I ran 7 miles and did some barefoot sprinting in the Siesta Key white sands. I was back. Repeat 1/4 mile sprints this Sunday morning, followed by a full body weight workout, and then hit the massage table to have my massage therapist, Lori, check my lower leg.

It was a strange week of walking the peak performance/injury tightrope two weeks away from race day. Let’s hope I can avoid other pine cones this week…

3 Steps To A Faster Mile

1) Build Speed From A Shorter Distance To A Longer Distance

I train a bit differently than most runners who are searching for their race form. For each Annual Event since 2008, I do the customary build up that most runners do in the months of preparation = a strong long distance base, intense tempo runs, and smart recovery within the week’s plan of action. However, when I begin my speed work, I start at 100 yards and then build to 1/8 mile, then 1/4 mile, then 1/2 mile.  Many runners tell me that they dive right into the 1/4 mile repeats, but I do not want to attempt a 1/4 mile unless my form and speed is definitely there. For example, here is my build up this season: 100 repeats (13-15 seconds), 1/8 mile repeats (30-32 seconds), 1/4 mile which I ran (1:05-1:10) today (Thursday) and Tuesday with only one day off in between workouts this week (similar to my race schedule in Greece), then next week begin the 1/2 mile (2:18-2:24). I feel there is no reason to lengthen my distance if I do not feel the proper speed in the shorter distance. I take my form in the 100 yard workout and stretch it out to the 1/2 mile. Speed first, then lengthen the distance.

2) Mentally Approach Your Workouts Like A Race

Over the years, many people have asked how did I do so well in my first race when I have not raced in 6 months. The answer is that I have been mentally racing over the last few months of my training. Especially in my speed workouts, I put my toe on the line as in a race, prepare the same way as a race, and feel the intensity as in a race. Sprint against others or against the clock – feels like I have been racing every week.

3) Do Not Underestimate the Dress Rehearsals

Leave nothing to chance that you can control. Dress rehearsals are important part to prepare your mind for the pain, test drive your equipment, and build real experiences for your confidence. Today in my 1/4 mile repeats I test drove my: New Balance 1400s, Maui Jim sunglasses, Sigvaris graduated compression sock, Faklis made orthotic, 2xU arm sleeves, race day watch, race day clothing, sunscreen, Vega All-In-One pre-race drink, shaved my head and body with my HeadBlade razor, and prepared my muscles with The Stick. Your confidence will not be fragile if built upon a great foundation of meaningful experiences. Repeat, rehearse, repeat, and rehearse. The mile race is an extension of your hours of preparation. Enjoy the process of being an athlete.

How A Runner Should Celebrate A Birthday

How should a runner celebrate a birthday? At top speed, of course…

Every birthday I make it a habit to run 10 x 100 yards at full speed. Not only is this a great way to check my running form, but also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate another year of movement. With my 2015 event soon approaching in July, April is usually the first month that I check my speed in this 100 yard workout.

I usually have runners join me in my sprints. Sometimes I race a high school track runner. Other times I chase a running friend. And other times I just sprint by myself with no technical devices as I listen to my breathing and feel my heart pumping. Sometimes I wonder if we are getting away from the sheer joy of running fast…it is satisfying enough on its own and one of the joys of life. Hope you can sprint on your next birthday. And welcome your next year on the planet with a smile on your face.

Faklis once again constructing O’Meara’s foundation for fast and injury-free racing

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Vasile Faklis of Faklis Orthopedic Services creates the foundation for my racing fast and injury-free. I met Vasile back in 2004 as I came limping up to his booth after a race suffering acute pain from plantar fasciitis. Since that race, I have not run a step without Vasile’s foot orthotics providing the support and comfort that I need to keep me away from injuries all these years. Whether it be Vasile’s artistry in a custom orthotic or his new off-the-shelf customizable foot orthotic, he mixes his years of experience with an exceptional product.
I could not have successfully accomplished all my crazy one-mile events over the years if it was not for Vasile’s assistance. Vasile takes the time with his customers ensuring that they have the proper orthotic, gait, and fit via his measurements and evaluations. I will be racing in the Aris Pro Orthotic in Greece this summer. It is an off-the-shelf orthotic that shapes to my foot as I wear them. The uniqueness of this off-the-shelf orthotic is that it can be modified and customized to your personal needs. So Vasile has taken my off-the-shelf orthotic and has modified it to fit my personal needs (all at a fraction of the cost compared to custom orthotics). Here is a photo of the bottom of my orthotic showing off Vasile’s modifications:
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Now you can get his orthotics, no matter where you are in the world at www.arisfit.com.  If you would rather call to make an order, all Aris orders can be taken by phone at either Faklis Orthopedic Services:  727-938-1525 or Aris: 855-888-2747.  Please feel free to contact Vasile directly by email at: Vasile@faklis.com.  Aris is running a promotion through May. If you purchase one pair of Aris Pro at regular price,  you receive one pair of Aris Elite at 1/2 price (modifications are extra).
Here’s hoping that with the help of Vasile and his new Aris products, you can reach your racing and health aspirations!