Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts About My Weekend Long Run

Sitting in the train and looking at the crummy weather this morning, I'm thankful that I did my long run Saturday afternoon. I wasn't really anticipating this cold and damp morning.

I did my longest run yesterday at just over 22 miles
. I didn't feel quite as fresh at the start of the run, and that's usually a signal that I'd be sore towards the end. Was I ever right. I wanted to stop at 20 but decided that I could leg out 2 more. It was just boring to run by myself. I figured I just had to go for about 3+ hrs. I got home after about 4 hrs because I decided to stop at the Fairway Market on 74th and then ran up to Fairway Market at 125th St.

As for the run itself, the first 10 miles was in Central Park. The West Side Hwy stretch from 74th to 125th was long, boring, windy and seemingly forever even though it was only 2.5mi. By mile 16, I stiffened up pretty good. Thankfully I expected it.

I've been trying to develop a habit of icing my legs and lower back after long runs this season and I think it's paying off the day after. I definitely don't feel very sore today and I'm able to enjoy a relaxing day at a friend pace.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Feeling Under-Prepared

The NJ marathon is just over 5 weeks away. That means I have about 3 full weeks of training left. I've decided to taper for only two weeks for this race because I am not logging the 50-60+ mile weeks like I did for the NYC marathon. That's one reason I'm feeling under-prepared. The main culprit is that I decided to look over my training log from last season to compare where I am so far this season relative to the race date. I was definitely faster then. Even though I knew that, I can't help but to feel a little bit discouraged. Not enough mileage and my current speed workouts are slower. Bah.

If there's a silver lining to this, I am getting a good training base and start for the NYC marathon in November. Boston, here I come!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NYRR Workout - 2 x 1.25mi along east river

With a head cold, I reluctantly headed to class tonight. It's not that I was concerned about being sick and running hard, I didn't want to get anyone sick. I just tried to keep my distance from people.

The workout was 1.25mi out and back with an option to repeat. I did only one because I was spent after the first out and back, and it was going to be a longer than usual run home. The following are my splits:

The intervals were splits 2 and 4 in the above chart. The first one felt pretty nice and easy. In fact, I kind of discovered something in the last 50-100m. Instead of tensing up and brace for a sprint finish, I decided to drop my arms, lean a little bit more forward and relax. When I did that, I was able to separate from my group. Even better was that it felt easier!

The interval back had a little more intensity. I started in the back so I had to work my way back to the front. I never got there, but I managed to finish about 1-2s behind the lead group. I kept trying to catch the leaders but they never let up. I didn't know if I was struggling because the pace was faster, it was the second interval, or that I was sick. It probably was a combination of all three.

I stuck with my original plan to head home after one set. There was a small temptation to do the second out and back, but I didn't want to be pushing too hard in this condition. Besides that, I was pleased with my efforts tonight. I've still got a ways to go. I'd like to be running one group up towards the back half of this class. That's in 3 weeks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How To Get Sick During Training

It's quite simple, I've learned. Stay up late. Mix it up with a bad diet, and ta da! You have successfully compromised your immune system! That's exactly what I did last week. I'd been feeling pretty good, but I decided to cap off my week with a filet-o-fish and angus burger at McDonald's for lunch. (I hadn't been there in years and I couldn't get that singing fish commercial from my mind). I followed that with cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. Just a little later, I had a severely scratchy throat, and I knew that was it. I spent the rest of the day drinking lots and lots of tea, pee'ing, eating fruits and trying to undo the damage to no avail. Idiot.

When I got home, I decided to ignore it and did some spin intervals on my bike trainer. I think I should have rested instead. So I decided to go to bed early (11pm) and didn't get up until I thought my throat was better (11am). Still sick. Later in the day, a friend comes over from NJ and decided he wants to get something good to eat (read: rich foods and dessert). I try to be a good host, so I can't resist.

What I was most worried about was my Sunday long run. I almost skipped it altogether today, but thankfully Sara was going also. She helped me get out the door. In the end, I did about 15.6mi. I probably could have labored to 18, but I think a recovery week is in order since I haven't done under 18 in a month.

Hopefully I'll be done with this head cold in a couple of days. My body doesn't feel so bad, but my head and sinuses are stuffy. I still also have not done a 40+ mi week yet, and I'm down to 6 weeks for the NJ marathon. I was hoping to do a couple of 60+ mi weeks before the event for mental (and physical) reinforcement, but it's looking unlikely.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts About Tuesday's Workout

I've been thinking about the NYRR workout I had this past Tuesday and how it was such a pleasant surprise to stay with my group. Since I haven't even logged a 40+ mile week yet, the only things I've done differently this season is to concentrate more on core workouts and stretching. Usually, on the final repeat of any interval workout, I feel like I'm holding on to my running form for dear life. While the last interval was tough, I didn't have that feeling like I was going to collapse.

I ended up doing another speed workout yesterday - a Tabata set at the great lawn. Tonight, I didn't have a chance to run because we had dinner with a visiting friend, so I took the opportunity to do more core strengthening and stretching.

A couple of posts ago, I wondered what a quantifiable measure might be for a stronger core and flexibility. Over a mile distance, for me at this particular point in training, I'd estimate about 5-10 seconds.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NYRR Workout - 3x Harlem Hill @ 1.15mi per repeat

Okay, the first NYRR speed workout of my season wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I didn't feel all that great during the workout itself, but I'm glad it's done. Jogging to the meeting area, I had a feeling it was going to be some sort of Harlem Hill run so I was mentally prepared. Coach seems to always start off every new class with that workout.

My run tonight is in the screenshot image. Laps 2, 4 and 6 were the repeats. What I like about the HH repeats is that it's a steep hill, one long downhill, and finishes with a long uphill along a winding path. It breaks down really nicely and I can pace myself and know where to start picking up pace. I ran towards the front during all 3 repeats and was able to improve my time on each repeat as planned. After the last repeat, coach yelled at me for running too far up front ahead of everybody. That wasn't the case at all. I picked up the pace by 1 second from my last repeat. Everybody just really tailed off at the end for whatever reason. Because of that, I'm probably going to be moved forward one group - the 6:00 - 6:30 milers. I don't think I'm up for that yet, but I didn't think I was up for tonight's workout either.

So I have to say that I was pleased with my effort tonight. I think I probably could have gone even harder, but it was a good effort. I finished with an easy jog home, and at the end, completed just over 12 miles. It was a good evening.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Effects of Core Training and Stretching

Like yesterday, today is another lazy day. That is, I didn't run. Granted I did run 20 on Saturday and raced miles 10-15, but I still felt good enough to run. I just didn't have the will power. To alleviate my guilt, I've done core strengthening exercises and stretches both days. So it got me thinking, how will a stronger core and better flexibility affect my running performance?

I've read a few articles about the importance of core training. A couple of years ago, I decided to do 500 crunches every day for a week to see how it would affect my running. I remember it made me feel rock steady. It was like my core was a battery back powering my limbs making every stride feel easy. I haven't kept up the core training, but this season, I'd like to put more of a commitment to it. I'm running lower mileage than when I had trained for the NYC marathon last year, so I'm hoping that it will make a difference. If there are studies out there that reflect a quantifiable improvement, I haven't found them.

The same goes for stretching. I think the benefits of stretching, if any, are harder to quantify. But I'm committing to a stretching regimen this season as well. Since I've been doing this for a couple of months now, I've seen a noticeable improvement in my flexibility. I'm nearly as flexible as I was in high school now.

The real test for this core strengthening and stretching regimen begins tomorrow. I'm starting the speed sessions again with NYRR. I'm very anxious about it. I'm guessing I won't be able to keep up with people I used to run with last year, but hopefully I'll catch up in a couple of sessions.

Will start reporting on speed sessions after tomorrow's workout.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

First race of the year - check

Finally did my first race of the year today. I had decided when I signed up that I would fold it into a long run, and use the race to increase my pace at the second half of the race. I was hoping to do the race from miles 12-17 of 20 with 3 mi cool down jog back home, but I kept hitting the snooze button this morning. Anyways, the day went something like this...

Snooze, snooze. Finally got up at 6:25 and left just before 7. I had planned on leaving at 6:40. Jogged throughout the bridle path for about an hr, then to the gazebo at 102 where I was to meet some friends. No one showed up, so I kept jogging back and forth and around 102 to keep my meter running. At 8:15, I finally decided to head over to bag check hoping to find KC there. I had her race number. Thankfully, she was there and had been waiting there for about 30 mins. By the time we left the bag check, the horn had already sounded...the race had begun. KC and I made our way over to the end of the group of runners, and coincidentally, we found JS! We sort of walk/jogged to the starting line, and once there, I split up with them again.

Now for the race, I had hoped on pacing at sub 7:30. The first mile was about 8:07 b/c it was so crowded. The following miles were 7:21, 7:23, 7:20, and 6:31 (.99 miles). I was pretty pleased with the effort. It wasn't easy to keep the 7:20's pace, but it wasn't difficult either. At this point in my training, I don't think I could keep it up for 26.2 miles to qualify for Boston. The last mile I just decided to run fast.

After the race was over, I did a light warm-down jog with another friend and then circled back to the finish line to meet with JS and KC. I warned them that miles after a race always feel more difficult. Today certainly was no exception. KC went three miles to Columbus Circle. JS and I went for four, and those were probably the hardest miles I ran all day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Losing Sucks

Our company basketball playoffs started tonight, and unfortunately, we lost. Not that it's any excuse, but we were unexpected short-handed. We definitely put out a good effort, having a six point lead after the first half, but we lost the lead midway through the second half. Personally, I feel like I could have done more, but we were matched up man to man and our offense operated a little differently without a controlling big man in the middle. I was so annoyed after the game that I went to do some interval workouts on the spinner after the game. Even then, on the way home, I took the train heading the wrong direction and didn't realize it until two stops into Brooklyn. Bah. Anyways, I was a 35 year old rookie this year...I think I'll be better next year. To console myself, I went to Daisy May's - the best barbecue I've ever had.

Now that the basketball season is over, I can focus on running. I've just missed logging 40 mile weeks last two weeks, but I never counted the basketball games. I wonder if they count as some sort of a speed workout. I don't log it, but I think it definitely strengthens me in ways that supports my running. With seven weeks to the marathon, I'll need every bit of help to meet my goal time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday Long Run

I only learned Saturday night that I had to move the clock forward an hour, so I wasn't excited about losing an hour this weekend. I thought that would carry over to my attitude about running Sunday morning, but I was surprised that I wasn't fazed at all. I was even eager to get out up and early so I could finish my run early.

I left the apartment at about 6:30, giving myself ample time to reach the GWB lighthouse by 7:30. I decided to run straight up Broadway since I'd never gone walking past the 80's. The neighborhoods looked the same up until Columbia. Past that, it felt a little more shady, so I took a left at 125th to the west side highway route. I didn't feel unsafe this morning, but I just didn't like the neighborhood.

I arrived at the lighthouse at about 7:25, a distance of just over 7 miles from home. I stretched out for a couple of minutes while I waited for Ansky, then continued on figuring I'd meet him. I did just a minute later, and we headed back south. He was in mile 2 and I was in mile 7.

When I go on my long runs, I don't like to carry anything with me. That includes liquids or gels. And at this time of year, public water fountains are still off. We stopped at Fairway Market at 130th St. around mile 9 for me, but they were still 8 mins from opening. I didn't want to wait. I figured I could just plug along until 42nd St, but I wasn't so sure since that was another 5 miles away.

I've been training without water on these long runs to get my body to adapt to slightly lesser hydration hoping to prevent cramping. Thankfully I didn't cramp up today. I was able to get a bottle of water at nearly 15 miles into the run, the longest I've ever gone without a drink. In the end, I didn't even treat myself to a smoothie as I usually do because I actually felt pretty decent. Instead, I had a couple of servings of Vita-coco, blueberry waffles topped with peanut butter and a banana. Yep, I'm trying to replenish with healthy foods and save the junk for later.

Today's long run was quick and pleasant. The GWB area was quite serene. I felt like I was in a painting as I ran along the water. And running back with Ansky was motivating. I sense he's gotten faster and I think he'll do pretty well in the NJ marathon. And that motivates me to want to train better.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Change of Heart for the Treadmill

Admittedly, I have never been a treadmill fan. In my 7 years of running, I've run in torrential rains (Hawaii) and freezing temperatures (NYC). This winter season though, in the last month alone, I've done four treadmill workouts. It's been a frigid winter and I have not felt motivated to run. What I've discovered for myself is that treadmill workouts are not that long as it's interval training. I don't think I have the mindset to do a steady 45-60 mins on watching TV and waiting for time to pass. Broken up into sprint sessions, the workout is a lot more fun and productive. Tonight, I did inverted ladders as follows;

1 mile warmup @ 8:30
7 mins @ ~ 6:49 pace
3:30 break
6 mins @ ~ 6:44 pace
3:00 break
5 mins @ ~ 6:39 pace
2:30 break
4 mins @ ~ 6:30 pace
2:00 break
3 mins @ ~ 6:22 pace
1:30 break
2 mins @ ~ 6:15 pace
1:00 break
1 min @ ~ 5:45 pace
2 mins cooldown

It was a pretty decent workout. Next time I think I can push just a little more. Oh, and one other thing I like about treadmill workouts.......less laundry :-)

Feeling Pretty Good

I had expected to be a little stiff today as I had from my previous long runs this season thus far, but I'm happy to report that I feel pretty good. If it weren't for the snowstorm I may have gone out for a run. Rather, my wife and I went for a nice walk to the upper west side, enjoyed some dessert and magazine's at Barne's and Noble, and had a decent dinner at Josie's.

Workout wise, I did about an hour of core workouts and stretching. I'm hoping that having a stronger core and better flexibility will make up for some of my late training start for the NJ marathon. It's also a new year's resolution for me to be more flexible and to have a stronger system. While stretching out tonight, I could tell that I've definitely made progress in flexibility. I can now sit with my legs together, straight out, toes up, and tough my toes with my wrist. I've never been able to do that.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

9 Weeks

'Til the NJ marathon. That's not much time to do long runs so I figured I had to get my first 20+ miler done today. That should leave me with 3 or maybe 4 more long runs depending on how I feel doing consecutive weekends with 20+ mile runs. The route I ran today was fairly flat after the hills in Inwood Park, which is good because the NJ race is flat. I won't say it was an easy run. I ran with a friend for the from about mile 2-10 so that was pleasant. After that, it was a matter of grinding out the miles. My body is definitely not marathon race ready. I ran really easy to reintroduce long mileage to my system. In the end, I avg'ed about 9 mins/mile. The good thing about that is that I'm not really sore tonight.

Anyways, I got to thinking about how I'll be treating this race. I think I'm just going to do the best that I can with the flat course. At this stage, I don't think I could break 3:15. I'll see where I am in 9 weeks. If running the flat west side today is any indication, I may have an outside shot. If not, I'm in early preparation for the NYC marathon, which is definitely a good thing.