Customize Your Foot Strike

The fourth reason I was able to complete the 20/20/20<5@45 feat was due to custom orthotics and proper footwear. I first met Vasile Faklis, one of the Consultants and sponsors (Faklis Orthotics) of the,  back in 2003 as I traveled up to Tarpon Springs to defend my 5K title from 2002. At that time I had plantar fasciitis in my right foot that I thought might be better, but after racing the first half of the race, my foot was screaming in pain. It was a point-to-point race, so since I was already 2 miles into the 3.1 race, I thought I might as well complete the race since the finish line was closer than going back to the start.

After the race, I met Vasile at the small expo. To get to the source of the pain is the key on injury prevention. The lack of a cushioned custom orthotic coupled with a new race shoe that was lower in the heel created my foot problems at that time. I cured my plantar fasciitis with a new shoe, new custom orthotics, the night splint, and rest. Since that time my custom orthotics have evolved over the years. At the moment, I am working with Vasile to adjust my custom orthotics. Since I have been back on the tennis court the past few months, my plantar fasciitis in my right foot has reappeared. I saw Dr. Tjamaloukas for an appointment and x-rays and he let me know that I have a very difficult foot structure. This is why custom orthotics are so important to me. How we hit the ground is personal and unique to each of us. If you can afford a custom cushioned orthotic, I cannot recommend it enough. I am fortunate to have Faklis Orthotics take great care of my foot needs and I excited to try my new orthotics on 1/3/09. My hope is that once again – Vasile will take away my foot pain with his new creation.

My shoe sponsor for 2008 was Brooks. The knowledgeable Florida rep, Gene Ulishney, was very helpful to me in finding the right shoe for my foot. We let the custom orthotics do the corrections – so I could then train and race in a neutral shoe. I did my heavy distance in the Brooks Glycerin, my trail/beach running in the Cascadia, and my mile road racing in the Brooks T5. The only problem that I had with Brooks was with one of my favorite racing shoes – the T5. With my new orthotics, I needed a 12.5 size shoe. The T5 stopped at size 12 and then had a size 13. No 12.5 in this shoe size. The Glycerin and the Cascadia fit very well in the 12.5 size, but the size 13 in the T5 felt like “clown shoes” as they were just too long. So Vasile put the size 12 T5 on a shoe stretcher and then sent the shoes to me on the road. Proper fitting shoes are key to training and racing. I am undecided on what shoe company I will be associated with in 2009, but I will be certain that the combination of the Faklis Orthotics, SmoothToe Energizing Socks (new sock sponsor for 2009), and the shoe fit together wonderfully for maximum protection, fit, and performance.

As my Dad told me when I was a kid – never compromise on footwear! As runners this is the main piece of equipment for our sport. I am very excited to welcome the SmoothToe compression sock to the team of sponsors in 2009. This energizing sock will help my  blood flow, recovery, and performance. It is the “Rolls Royce” of socks and I will let you know how you can try a pair in an upcoming blog entry.

So please take care of your feet this upcoming year. This is the foundation of your running. If your foot strike is good, then that will keep your ankles, knees, hips, and back in alignment. Give yourself a foot massage to begin the year and get ready to accelerate in 2009!

Are Your Choices Freeing Or Limiting?

This 20/20/20<5@45 event really pushed me. Mentally and physically I felt challenged during my 5 months of continued racing. I realized that my life’s interests lie only in attributes that I cannot touch like courage, strength, kindness, etc. I am in the process of working on my third book called Inner Success (update: renamed Creating Amazement). I will be sharing the 20 attributes I learned in my travels. 

The third reason that allowed me to complete the 20/20/20 quest is having a limitless mental outlook. I am not going to allow my mind to limit me. When I run the mile well, there is pain – physical pain in my legs and lungs and mental pain wondering how much will I take before slowing down. When I am racing the mile, I am never comfortable. I am on that edge of speed that hurts. However, in that uncomfortable place is the internal learning that I desire to experience. It is tinkering on that “fence” of high performance and pain that I learn about myself. These are experiences that I cannot purchase. It is why I race.

There are people that tell me not to race so much. They tell me that people at my age should not stress out their hearts by running under 5 minutes in the mile. But I do have a desire to push the boundaries of my own life – physically, mentally, and spiritually. This  is where self discovery exists, but I guess I SEE things differently.

In my seminars and presentations, I often discuss the power of perception. Perception is how we see events, others, and ourselves. This generates all our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Perception does not describe reality, but it does add meaning to an observation. I use an example of a deer standing on the edge of the forest in my book, Play Better, Live Better. I discuss how I have a farmer, a hunter, and a young girl standing next to me looking out at that deer. The farmer claims that he is scared of the deer venturing in to his garden and eating his vegetable garden. The hunter wants the deer as a reward for his wall after he shoots it. And the young girl says that the deer is very cute and looks like Bambi. The same deer creates three different perceptions. And those perceptions shape how the farmer, hunter, and girl think, feel, and act. 

Did you ever wonder why one basketball player sees a last second shot as terrifying or threatening and another as exciting or challenging? It all lies in their perceptions. When I hear people talk about changing the way they think (“I am going to have positive thoughts”), feel (“I am going to have a positive attitude!”), or act (“I am going to have good behavior”), I often wonder how long will it last. They have not uncovered the source of their challenges, but have put their energies in temporary fixes. Getting to the source of the problem is the key and perception is the basis of lasting change.

The great part about perception is that it is your choice. How you see life is your choice. Really. Do your perceptions limit your life or free you to reach your potential? Do your perceptions bring you closer to your aspirations or further away? It is time to take control of one of the few things in life that you do have control over – your perceptions. Then you will see so clearly…

Nashville in November

The 50th Anniversary of the Pedorthic Footwear Conference (PFA) took place in Nashville from 11/5-9 properly entitled the “Golden Age.” I was the keynote speaker for this anniversary year with my presentation called, “Active In Our Golden Years.” It was a pleasure meeting many new people at the expo and at my book signing. I had the opportunity to recap how I accomplished my 20/20/20<5@45 feat and to share how we can stay fit in our own “golden years.”

Please check out this video clip (under 5 minutes) of my speaking engagement.

My last blog featured the first of seven reasons why I accomplished the feat – personal inspiration. The second reason for my success this summer was my Support Team. The 7 Consultants at included Vasile Faklis (Biomechanics), Mike Forgrave (Equipment), Dr. Peter Fort (Sleep/Recovery), Stacie Nevelus (Massage Therapy), Marc O’Meara (Nutrition), Jacqueline Moore (Mental Outlook), and Ray Helsing (Training). These 7 people were my source of information and guidance while on the road. I leaned on them and their expertise on many occasions. I cannot thank them enough for their input and unconditional support.

In addition to my 7 Consultants, there were others that played a major role in helping me. Sekyen Shikse directed daily operations and really took care of me. I could not have done the 5 month event without her love and care. I spoke to my brother Brian almost everyday as he is the very gifted director of the website. Brian has always “had my back” in whatever I try to do in my life. Then there were friends and training partners, like Anthony Velardocchia, Wayne Johnson and David Putnam, who I spoke to every week helping me solve problems and discuss strategy to make it through the races and the travel.

Whatever your dreams, goals, or aspirations might be – you need your own Support Team as well. It does not need to be a professional team like mine, but it does need to be a group of people who care about you and are aware of your goals. It can be family, friends, or associates. Your spouse or child could be a huge help to you attaining your aspirations if you include them. Do not be shy to share your aspirations with the people in your life. Their support of your effort, time, and commitment will lead you on a path of success.

I will blog again at the beginning of December sharing My Mental Outlook in the 20 week event and the key element that I speak about at my corporate and sport seminars in order to make a lasting change in your life.

Active In Our Golden Years

On November 8th, 2008 I will be the keynote speaker for the PFA (Pedorthic Footwear Association) Conference in Nashville, TN. It is PFA’s 50th anniversary as it was established in 1958. My presentation, “Active In Our Golden Years,”is focused on what needs to be done to be active as we get older. Also, my talk will discuss the 7 themes that allowed me to accomplish the 20/20/20<5@45 feat. Interestingly, the same 7 themes that enabled me to accomplish my goal of running not just one mile under 5 minutes, but 20 of them in 20 weeks in 20 different cities – are the same themes that allow older adults to be active as we age. Not only am I excited to share my views on what happened over my 5 months of travel, but also I am honored to be an example of an older athlete trying to inspire other older adults to be active. As I say, life is better on the move. By appreciating the freedom and joy in that morning run, Saturday bike ride, or late night swim, we should cherish and treat with great respect the ability to move.

The first of my 7 themes is Personal Inspiration. At the beginning, I discuss the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation comes from the outside and externally in the form of awards, praise, or fear. Motivation gets people to look outside themselves for a reason to act. Most people work hard to get a reward or to avoid punishment. Both of these motivational aspirations try to go inside the individual and become a part of them. Unfortunately, motivation is very temporary. Awards might motivate you for a while and fear can work to get one to do something for a while, but eventually these motivational mechanisms fade.

As a Classics major from Bowdoin College, inspiration is one of my favorite words as it comes from Latin origin meaning “to breathe into.” I am listed as a “motivational speaker,” but I am really an “inspirational speaker.” I believe everyone has a unique spark inside of them. A spark is the essence of someone, the energy of their soul. I attempt to take everyone’s unique spark and blow inspiration over that spark and try to turn it into a roaring flame. How can you tell what your spark is? Take a look at what you feel passionate and love for – that is your source of enthusiasm. Another one of my favorite words, enthusiasm, comes from Greek origin meaning “God within.” I believe deeply that if everyone on the planet was aware of their own spark , their own passion, that the world would indeed be a different place. 

Personal Inspiration is the cornerstone and foundation to whatever you would like to accomplish. Your inspiration begins on the inside of you and then is manifested and seen outside of you in your actions. Motivation goes from the outside and tries to go inside, but inspiration is the opposite as it starts inside and then is seen outside. I hope you all find your inspiration in 2009 and that you can find a way to act on what you are enthusiastic about in your life. In the remaining two months of 2008, I will share the other 6 themes and I look forward to writing my next blog entry after my keynote address on 11/10/08.

Finishing Up In NYC!

It was very special to finish up my 20/20/20<5@45 in NYC at the 5th Avenue Mile. I had many friends and family present to celebrate my last race. They traveled in from Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and Kansas for a long weekend. We visited “Ground Zero” and the Brooklyn Bridge area on Friday before the race. Megan, Nandi, Brian, Sekyen, me, Rena, Vasile, and Dwayne all came out in support!

Also on Friday, I was the guest at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant for lunch adjacent to the Empire State Building. The owner, Shaun Clancy, had me autograph a baseball to put up on his “sports wall.”

On Sunday, the weather was another beautiful day in NY. I did not feel that much speed or bounce in my legs before or during the race, but I just gutted out a sub-5 to complete the 20 race quest. The video below shows a bit of my warm-up in Central Park, a foot massage from Sekyen (one of the things my massage therapist and guest consultant, Stacie Nevelus, recommends before a race), and a little race footage with avid reader of the web site, Bill Zink from NY by my side…

Here is a photo after the race with Vasile Faklis, friend, guest consultant and sponsor of We started with his race in Tarpon Springs (#1) and finished in NYC (#20) – just as we planned. From Tarpon Springs, FL to NY, NY…

As promised, Paul Hermann and Mike Flores from Paul and Mike’s Excellent Mile in Amarillo, TX (Race #14 on our schedule) traveled up to race at the 5th Avenue Mile. It was great to see them again! All we needed were their cowboy hats after the race…

It has been an incredible trip. I have traveled over 45,000 miles in 5 months attending featured one-mile events throughout North America. I have met so many wonderful people on my travels and I want to thank them dearly for their support and new friendship. I will continue to write my blog entries detailing HOW I managed to complete the 20/20/20<5@45 feat. I will share my training, recovery, nutritional intake, biomechanics, etc in my blog entries, so please look for these additions every other week. Also, if you are in the Nashville, TN area in early November, please come out and attend the 50th Anniversary of the PFA Conference (Pedorthic Footwear Conference). I am the keynote speaker at the PFA Conference recapping my 20/20/20<5@45 journey and talking about what we need to do as older athletes on Saturday, November 8th.

In 2009, will be preparing for three events: First, I will focus on my speed for just one mile event – the Masters Indoor National Championships in Maryland at the end of March. I will be looking to break my indoor time of 4:37 time in 2007. Second, will be going international as we race in the “Greek Isles Miles” in June of 2009 in Greece. And third, we will prepare another feat that contains speed, strength, and endurance later in the year that will be very unique.

Please feel free to continue to pose any of your questions to the Guest Consultants. Just email me and I will forward your question to the appropriate consultant. Thanks for all your support in completing our first event in 2008. I look forward to hearing about all of your fitness exploits. And remember, you can “accelerate at any age.”


In Honor of Judy

It is Race #19 on the 20/20/20<5@45 schedule after I failed to make the 5 minute cutoff in Falmouth, MA. Sideways rain, strong headwinds, and water over my ankles in the last quarter should have told me not to run in the event and just save my body from the race pounding. However, since I had traveled all that way I decided to give the Main Street Mile a shot, but by the half mile point, I knew there was no chance of breaking five minutes in those crazy conditions (no one did). So I chose to bounce back on Tuesday evening, with the “Sprint With Judy.”  

The “Sprint With Judy” One Mile Road Race took place in Woodstock, CT, just over the MA border. I was looking to run one more event in MA , but mile events were not available and this was close enough (as my Mom and Dad grew up in nearby Webster and Dudley, MA). Judy Nilan was a social worker at the Woodstock Middle School. The school and staff that loved her so much started a 5K road race in her honor in 2006 called “Jog With Judy.” I ran in the auxiliary portion of the fund raiser entitled, “Sprint With Judy.” Instead of the 5K road race, the “Sprint With Judy” takes place on one Judy’s favorite running roads, but it is a mile. So instead of a jog, it is a sprint. In 2009, the organizers will make the “Sprint With Judy” a part of the 5K festivities every May. I have been invited to not only race again in Woodstock next year, but also to speak to the Woodstock school system. It should be a great time! Here is a photo with Race Director, Chris Mayhew, congratulating me after the “sprint.”

If you would like to donate to the Judy Nilan foundation, you can send a check to the following address:

    Jog With Judy Fund
    c/o Chris Mayhew
    Woodstock Middle School
    147B, Rt. 169
    South Woodstock, CT 06267

Thanks to Dr. Brian Bigelow in Nashua, NH, I was able to perform at a high level on Tuesday evening, even though it was my fourth race in nine days. Dr. Bigelow is a avid bicyclist and runner himself and he knows the importance of making certain that I am in proper alignment. I ran a 4:45 and surprisingly felt some bounce in my legs before the race.

I fly to NYC tomorrow afternoon. The 5th Avenue Mile in New York City on Sunday will be my fifth race in two weeks. I am hoping to conclude my 20/20/20<5@45 quest in NYC on 9/21. My 20 week time period concludes on 9/27. There would be no better ending than to break 5 minutes in “The Big Apple.”

Race #18 Finally Finished

After the disappointment in MN, I flew back to Florida for about 20 hours, then flew back to Boston after I received an invitation from Charlie Olbrias, owner of, to run in his 9/11 invitational event. I participated in one of Charlie’s open events on July 4th, The Boom Box Mile, and he has been watching my race results ever since.

The new #18 event took place in Mansfield, CT called The Last Mile Country Mile Road Race. The race took place on a beautiful country road. The Last Mile Racing Company did a superb job with a lead car equipped with a digital clock on the back for all the runners to see as we wound through the course, a trail vehicle to be certain to keep other cars away for the runners’ safety, and a side bicycle to monitor the race and other traffic. It might have been a small event this year in its inaugural year, but the quality of the runners were very good. I ran a 4:48 finishing in first place after hanging on to the lead runners after their quick start. Sekyen shot this video from the back of the lead vehicle as she was granted permission to videotape the race. You can hear her voice at times as she shot some extensive race footage. The organizers gave me bib #18 for my 18th race. I hope you enjoy the racing below:

After the race, I got to know the other racers invited to the event. Sam, Nick, and Andy are not only great runners, but also fine young men. It was a pleasure to get to know them more on our cool down and at the post race meal with the organizers. Charlie and his wife Sue with their two young daughters Olivia and Madison, Gary and Patty who helped put on the race, Nick and Sam made it over to the post race dinner, and beautiful Sekyen.

I will be trying for my third race of the week as I race on Cape Cod Sunday in Falmouth, MA called the Main Street Mile. This race takes the place of The Front Street Mile in Maui, HI. After what happened in MN, I needed to double up on the races this week. Many of my support people did not think the trip to Hawaii was a good idea in the first place as they thought the added jet lag was unnecessary. They were opting for the Magnificent Mile in Raleigh, NC or the Main Street Mile in MA –  so since I was already in the area, I thought I would venture to the place where my family used to go on a summer holiday. We used to visit my aunt and uncle in Easton, MA on Cape Cod for the July 4th holiday. I have never raced on Cape Cod before, this will be my first time and I am looking forward to racing on Sunday afternoon with rainy conditions expected at race time.

How Metrics Killed The Mile

Roger Bannister, who is the first man to break 4 minutes for the mile, spoke about the beauty of running 4 laps in under 4 minutes.  Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier on May 6, 1954. At that time, the mile was a huge international event as he and John Landy from Australia were trying to become the first man to break 4 minutes in the mile. 46 days after Bannister broke the record, Landy broke Bannister’s record. 

Today almost all of the tracks in the USA are on the metric scale. No longer can we talk about “the beauty of running 4 laps in under 4 minutes” as Bannister did for the mile. It takes 4 laps and another 9 meters to run the mile now on the metric track. It is all fairly confusing now as we have the 1500 meters (100 meters less than 4 laps = metric mile), high schoolers running 1600 meters and thinking that they ran a mile, and then the full mile.

I know the world uses the metric system and we in the United States are following the international standard in track and field. But as long as I can buy a gallon of milk or drive on our roads measured in miles, I want to promote the idea of the mile race. Americans can relate to the mile. They all have a feeling for what it is. Try to mention 5 kilometers or 10 kilometers to a non-runner and they do not really know how far that is. And even the people and runners who do know the distance, they say that is 3.1 miles or 6.2 miles. It always comes back to miles. The 5K and 10K races that are run in the USA are still marked in miles. Runners often ask me in a 5K race, “What did you run the first mile in?” It always comes back to the mile in the USA. We are familiar with it. 

The metric system killed the international popularity of the mile, but that does not mean it is totally dead. I have been traveling around North America since May running mile road races. It is a wonderful event that takes speed and strength. And if you run it to do your best, it is a painful event. The lactic acid builds in your muscles, your lungs burn with every breath, and your heart pumps faster and faster. From a fitness perspective, it is a wonderful addition to the many aerobic exercises that are propagated in the health field today. If people, who are able and healthy enough, could run one mile twice a week in addition to their normal exercises, the benefits of this workout would be amazing. I met a ultramarathoner at a recent mile race and he was saying how much more he was hurting after the mile race than after a long marathon run. If you treat the mile as a speed workout, it is one of the best workouts you can do. I have people commenting to me, “It is only a mile race?” Referring that it is not that long (as most people are accustomed to more distance in road racing), but if you really go for it…it is plenty long enough.

One of the frequent readers at and staunch advocate of the mile, David Wrenn, voices many of the same feelings that I have for the mile event. Now that the 5K is taking over the 10K in running popularity due to more people being able to run the distance while avoiding the injuries and illnesses of the marathon and is less complicated to conduct a 5K event than a 10K. Why is the mile not the next natural progression?  It is even easier to arrange a one mile race for every race director and even more people are attracted to the mile as they are able to run the distance. And as David points out, “Who envies the physique of an elite marathoner?”

The one mile race today is still as majestic as Bannister mused about the mile back in the 50s. Try one out and tell me what you think. 

The Minnesota Mile

After flying to Minneapolis on Friday and then driving 3 hours to Duluth on Saturday, Mother Nature caused me a few problems on Sunday that I did not overcome. With rain and a headwind, I failed to break my 5 minute goal. I ran a 5:01 on the wet brick road of Duluth’s main street called Superior Street. The Minnesota Mile is a great race with 7 different heats that range from a kid’s race to the elite race.

I was disappointed to not take advantage of the quick beginning of the race as the long slight incline takes place in the second half of the race. At the half-mile mark, I knew I was in trouble as I was at about 2:26 with the incline still upcoming. The organizers of The Minnesota Mile are the same organizers that put on the famous Grandmas’ Marathon. They put on a fabulous race with prize money, chip timing, and a point to point course.

From the beginning of my 20 race journey in May, I stated that if I do not break the 5 minute barrier in one of the selected races, then the race does not count toward my aspiration. So I now must find a replacement for the Minnesota Mile. I am sorry that the Minnesota Mile became the first race that I failed to break the under 5 minute goal.

I will make the decision to run in HI, MA, or NC next week in the next 48 hours and let the schedule show my changes in the races.

We thought that I would experience a few of these difficulties during these five months of racing. Adversity and persevering through it is definitely part of this journey.

My Most Eastern Race #17

Thanks to the assistance of PJ Gorneault from Caribou, ME who I met at Race #7 in Bangor, I found an opportunity to race in Bar Harbor, ME on August 30th. I contacted PJ after the Downtown Mile in Lowell, MA was canceled at the beginning of August. PJ informed me about the Eden Athletics Running Club on Mount Desert Island, ME putting on the first ever Jack Russell Downhill Mile. It worked out very well for my schedule as I could drive on Friday about 3.5 hours from southern Maine to Mount Desert Island and then race on Saturday morning.

Frank Hague, President of Eden Athletics, was instrumental in helping me make arrangements from the moment I contacted him about the opportunity to race in Bar Harbor. Frank is the leader of a wonderful group of athletes that were very welcoming on my trip to their community. The runners know that they are fortunate to live in one of nature’s spectacular places. Couple that with Acadia National Park and its 45 miles of carriage roads, a gift from philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family, it makes for an outdoor athlete’s summer paradise. From the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the sunrise can be seen first in the United States. 

The mostly downhill course winds through a residential area. It has a small patch of incline in the first quarter mile and a few portions of flat, but it is quick course. The idea for the event and course came from Tom St. Germain, who is an Eden Athletics member and a chef who works long hours at the Jack Russell’s Steakhouse. Tom got his wish for runners to come out and feel the fast turnover on the mile course. As the race progresses over the next couple of years, I am sure that the very caring organizers will alter the fifty yard finish on the grass and keep it on the road to ensure the safety of the racers. I finished in 4th place at 4:36 for race #17. I came in behind 3 runners preparing to do excel at the Philadelphia Marathon in November: Judson Cake, PJ Gorneault, and Evan Graves. I enjoyed the cool down run with them after the race as I learned more about the area and their upcoming aspirations.

When I was registering for the race, one of the organizers gave me bib number 500 (saying it was for 5:00 minute mile). Then before I could leave for the starting line, another organizer came up to me and made me laugh as he then exchanged my bib number to 459 (saying to think positively for an under 5 minute race and wished me well). Here is a photo with Tom St. Germain and his son Walker and Frank Hague – thanks guys for a great event!

I am planning to fly to Minneapolis, MN on Friday morning right after McCain addresses the Republican National Convention of Thursday evening (that is, if Hurricane Gustav doesn’t cause too much trouble on the Gulf Coast -there are reports that they might alter the start of the convention). We will see what Mother Nature brings us this week. I am planning on running the Minnesota Mile in Duluth, MN on Sunday September 7th – this will be my first visit to Minnesota during this 20 week trip.