Thursday, April 30, 2009

T minus 3 days

Started the carbo loading at lunch today with the plate below.

Yep, I'm surprised by the plainness also. Usually, I have almost as much dessert as I have pasta. But eliminating desserts from my meals last week took away my craving for sweets. Let's see what clean fuel will do for this race.

Also went on my last run before the race. My main objective was to feel the pace at the start of the race at 7:25 or so. I'm planning on starting off my first five miles like this:


I've never planned out my first few miles before, but this is a pretty flat course so I think it's a good idea to try.

Back From Vacation

If there was a perfect time for a vacation during marathon training, it would be during the taper week. I'm now back from spending time with my brother and his fiancee here in the city and my in-laws in Virginia Beach, and have to return to some...uhh...hard tapering? I've definitely enjoyed the last week or so with family, but I'm also happy to feel that I'm back on my schedule. My plans are still sort of loose until Sunday, but it goes something like this:

Thursday: short run (4-5mi) with intervals/begin carbo-load
Friday: rest/carbo load/shop for race goodies
Saturday: packet pick-up/last meal early afternoon
Sunday: qualify for Boston :-)

And there you have it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One Week To Go

One week to the NJ marathon - where do I stand? Here's a current brain dump of my mental checklist of to do's and do not's:
  • Pacing - I think I should be okay here. I don't think I have a problem keeping a 7:25 pace throughout the race. The challenge will be the hydration.

  • Diet - I nearly made up for my lack of dessert this week in one night. My brother and his fiance are visiting. I can't NOT enjoy my time with them. I'll just have to be a little more diligent about my diet the first few days this week.

  • Mileage - About 3 miles short each week of my tapering mileage last fall for the NYC marathon, which I think should be okay because I have run lower mileage to train for this marathon.

  • Runs this week - Probably will do about 3, none of which will be more than 5 miles.

  • Challenges - Driving down to VA Beach and seeing family. These get together's, although lots of fun, always include eating unhealthy foods. Will have to find time to sneak in a run.

  • Other thoughts - Continue to stretch out this week and do crunches in a much lessened capacity.
I'm sure I've missed quite a few from this checklist, but that's all about I can come up with for now. Have to prepare for the road trip tomorrow after a long day eating and walking all around the city.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My First Leg Massage

I've been running for about seven years now, and never have I had a leg massage. That all changed today at my chiropractor visit.

In one word, the massage was all about PAIN. Elbow on my hammies, pressure point on the quads...I don't know how many times I grimaced as tears welled up. I thought my face was going to need a massage when I was done. In the end though, after I got stretched, it was a good experience and probably something I should do a little more often. For you active types, I highly recommend it.

In other activities, I just completed day 3 of 7 for my 1000 crunches. Only 4 to go. Woohoo!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tapering activities - 1k crunches/day and a revised diet

While I'm tapering for the NJ marathon, I thought I'd get even more disciplined about my conditioning. Since I'm reducing miles, I wanted to do the 1000 crunches (various positions) per day again. Luckily I have friends at work who were willing to join me in the endeavor. In addition, I've decided to cut out desserts until the carbo-loading.

The 1000 crunches per day isn't hard. I'm willing to endure the pain. I've even added push-ups, stretches, etc, to add variety. What I'm having a hard time with is cutting out the desserts. Those that know me know I have an incurable sweet tooth, having dessert after nearly every meal. Thankfully this goes for only another 8 days.

We'll see how these tapering activities help me out for the race. Obviously I'm hoping it'll carry me to a Boston qualifying time. When that happens, I guess I can stop documenting about my Boston marathon efforts.

NYRR Workout - 3 x 1200 at East Meadow

I always go into these NYRR workouts with a little bit of anxiety. Tonight was no different, but I decided to try to take it easy to ease my mind. I figured that I had reason since I'm tapering, did a long run on Saturday and raced on Sunday.

Except for the heavy legged feeling tonight, the workout wasn't so bad. Three sets of 2x600m loop with undulations. I forgot to hit the lap button each time. If I remember correctly though, my times were 4:35, 4:31 and 4:34. Max heart rate was 180 on the 3rd interval after trying to sprint in the final 100m or so.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Thought About Yesterday's Race

Before anything, congratulations to all the Boston Marathon participants. Proud of the Americans finishing third, but happier for my training buddies that did a great job. With some luck, a Boston marathon will be in my future.

There's one thought that kept popping to mind after I digested yesterday's race results. How in the world did I do a 3.5 mile race at a 6:20 pace? The 3.5 mile race was in reverse of most of yesterday's route, meaning it felt more uphill throughout. Granted it's 800m shorter, but unless I crawled those last 800m, my pace wouldn't drop to the 6:38 I did yesterday. My legs weren't fresh yesterday either, but I can't attest the time differential to that. I must have had an out of body experience that day. Whatever it was, I need to find out so I can replicate the energy. That same race is coming up in less than two months.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Race Report: Run As One 4-Miles

Having run 6 of 7 days this week, I had not planned on really racing today. To that point, I didn't even put on my racing shoes. When the gun went off though, I thought, "why not." I didn't think it would hurt to do a short race two weeks before a marathon. I also wanted to try and redeem my efforts from my 10k last week when I failed, officially, to break 6:45.

My race splits were as follows:

Mile 1 (6:49) - Considering that Cat Hill was in the first half mile, I thought to take the first mile relatively easy. I figured I couldn't make up all my time in the first half mile, but I could lose a lot of time if I pushed too hard.

Mile 2 (6:31) - More down grades than up, which meant I could push the pace. A 6:40 average after two miles was good progress. At this point, I was thinking I may be able to break into the 6:30's if I didn't mess up mile 3.

Mile 3 (6:40) - I didn't have good memories of this mile. During the summer heat last year, I ran an 8+ minute DURING a race. I was just as surprised as I was out of breath. I had that in mind so I tried to maintain my effort instead of pushing. This was also an uphill mile, so I figured it would be slower. At the mile 3 marker, I was very happy with the 6:40 pace.

Mile 4 (6:28) - Put the foot and the gas and hold on for dear life. It helped that there was a lot of down grade on the last mile. As I turned onto 72nd, I saw the race clock and just wanted to finish under 27:00. "No problem," I thought, but I actually had to sprint the last 25m to cross at 27:00.

Officially, my race time was 26:33 @ 6:38/mile. Woohoo! Lowered the 6:44 on my bib.

I have 6 more races to do this year, which means I have ample opportunity to try to bring that time even lower. Last year, it was all about doing miles for marathon training. I think it will be fun to focus on lowering my time for short races this year.

14 days 'til race day

I had a realization today that I can run a 3:15:xx NJ marathon in two weeks. All this time, I've been worried about not being able to sustain the pace, but today I've come to understand that the pacing won't be the problem. The one problem I've encountered during every fast marathon is cramping. In order to run a 3:15:xx, I'll have to make sure I hydrate properly throughout the race. Last year's NYC marathon was about 3 minutes short of my goal. I brought 4 packets of salt which nearly lasted the whole way. I cramped up at mile 23. I think if I bring 6 packets, taking one every 4 miles, I'm hoping that will stave off the cramping.

So I completed my last long(ish) run for the NJ marathon today. I had planned on doing 13-16. I went for 13. Told Sara I'd be back by 2pm and I used that as an excuse to keep my run short. This training season has gone by pretty quickly. I'm looking forward to more cross training for a couple of months after this race.

Have a race tomorrow, which means that I'll have run 6 of 7 days this week. As expected, my legs don't feel as fresh so I'm not sure how much of a push I'll have. I'm thinking of just doing marathon pace tomorrow, but we'll see. Race report coming tomorrow (actually, today). Race starts in 7.5 hrs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Little Less Tapering

In the past, I'd start cutting my mileage in half starting three weeks out. That would mean 25 miles this week. But as I've stated in previous posts, I'll be tapering differently as an experiment. I figure my mileage this week will be in the low 40's. The following week I'm planning to do 30's, and finally, something in the teens the week before. I haven't logged the miles this early season for a drastic taper, and I don't want to go through the physical aches of mileage withdrawal that can knock my confidence.

My running this week has been really easy. I did a Tabata set yesterday in between easy miles. Did core workouts and stretching this evening. Tomorrow, I plan to run some pace miles during lunch. Saturday, doing a long run of 16. Sunday will be a race in the park.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NJ marathon route practice run

When I read that New Jersey Road Runners was organizing a 20 mile practice run three weeks before the NJ marathon, it was a no-brainer for me to attend. All I knew about the route was that it was a repeat loop. I wanted to at least "feel" the route once before the marathon. I also wanted to get a better feel for pacing the last few miles of the route before the race.

The course, as it turns out, was largely uneventful. It starts on the boardwalk and basically makes its way into the Long Branch residential areas. There were just enough turns to keep me from thinking that I was running endlessly. Still, there are a couple of straightaways (Long Branch Ave. & Ocean Ave.) that felt long. The boardwalk stretch finishing up the loop was a very windy two mile straightaway along the beach. It could also be windy by Lake Takanasee.

In terms of hilliness, there really isn't any. That's my favorite part about the course. There are some grades, most notably after the right turn on S. Broadway (about mile 6 and mile 19) and the left turn onto Elboron Ave (about mile 10 and 23), but they're quite small compared to NYC marathon hills and bridges.

Running the course gave me a decent sense of familiarity. I decided to take the first loop easy to observe and absorb. As I got away from the ocean breezes and into the residential areas in the second loop, I decided to try and pick it up the last 3-4 miles and see how my body would feel doing at or near marathon pace. At about 19 miles, I felt surprisingly spry even after Saturday's race, working my pace down to 7:23. I took the last mile easy jogging back to Super Runners, but I definitely got what I wanted from this last long training run: course feel and an added boost of confidence.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scotland 10k Race Report


Before going to bed Friday night, I checked the hourly forecast on for the race day weather. I went to bed with hopes of decent weather (read: no rain). It didn't turn out that way when I woke up.

After getting appropriately dressed and packing for my gear, I headed to Central Park at about 8:40. Was supposed to meet some friends at Columbus Circle at about 8:45, but when I got there, I didn't see anyone. I headed to the baggage check just north of Tavern on the Green, and didn't like what I saw: mud all over the place. Thankfully, Scotland Run sponsors provided a poncho that I reused to wrap my backpack.

Having dropped off my bag, I took off for the starting line with about 3 minutes before the starting gun. Managed to get into the front corral, but waited for the fastest runners to pass before I started. After finding a break, I jumped in. The race had begun. Woohoo!

I had missed the euphoria of actually racing. Once I surrendered to the weather, I knew I was going to have a great time. Had my music, fresh cool air, some extra moisture in the air to keep me was good. 6:45/mile, here I come!

Mile 1 (6:24) - Heading into the race, I had my game plan. Mile 1 was going to be a little fast, as expected, with the adrenaline of starting. Took stock of the other runners around me and we all seemed to be pacing within a few seconds of each other.

Mile 2 (6:41) - I figured I could take mile 2 a little slower because of the rolling hills and uphills, and I did. I tried to keep my effort even, but not push too hard.

Mile 3 (6:28) - More than any other race, I raced the downhills. This mile had the big downhill heading down after a relatively sharp climb to the top of Harlem Hill. I had to make up some time because the next mile was going to be slow.

Mile 4 (6:58) - In retrospect, I may have taken this mile too slow. My goal was to do it at 6:50, just kind of rolling up the hill, conserving energy for the last two miles.

Mile 5 (6:38) - Time to pick up the pace again! So I did, but somewhere along this mile, I remember thinking that this race wasn't feeling as painful as I had expected.

Mile 6 (6:43) - My Garmin 405 told me my average pace was 6:40. All I had to do was stay steady the rest of the way, so I did. I was going to break the 6:45 goal pretty easily.

Finish - Did a mild sprint to the finish, again not over exerting. At the finish, I, I think I've worked harder in the speed classes. I was happy with my effort. 6:40 wasn't as bad as I thought!

Two hours laters, I got home from brunch and checked the results. Finished at 42:13 at a 6:48/mile pace. WTF!?!? It turns out my GPS screwed me over by adding just a little bit of extra distance. It made sense. I didn't feel like I worked as hard because I DID NOT. How disappointing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tomorrow's goal: 6:45 pace

I think that will be a good effort for tomorrow's race. A sub-40 minute 10k is out of my reach right now. I'd need to do at least 6:27/min. Even with tomorrow's expected precipitation, hilly course and thousands of other runners, I couldn't do that anyway. Someday...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Race Anxiety

No, not for the NJ marathon, but for the Scotland Run 10k. There's no other race that makes me want to quit in the middle of it like a 10k. The Scotland 10k is a clockwise loop, with mile 2.75 - 4 is uphill and grade inclines. I imagine it'll be rough. I think what makes me most anxious is that I'm hoping to best a 6:40 pace. I'm not sure I'm capable of sustaining that for 10k on this course, but I really want to do it. I think if I can do that for 6 miles, I might have enough kick over the last 600m or so to try and break 40. The flip side of this is that I totally crap out. To make matters more interesting, rain is also forecast for race morning.

I guess there's no point in overthinking the race. What happens will happen. I've trained honestly so at this point, I just have to trust my preparation.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thoughts about running this week

I usually write something after my NYRR workouts, but this week I didn't see that as appropriate. I didn't work out hard enough. I'll be running the Scotland Run on Saturday so I want to take it easy most of this week before the race. Sunday will be my last long run (20-24 miles) before I taper.

Keeping the easy theme going, I did the same thing as Monday - core strengthening, stretching and push-ups for an hour or so. This should be my last solid strengthening week as well. While I'm tapering my miles, it'll be strength maintenance.

This early training season has definitely been easier with less mileage than last year, but I've added more functional strength and speed workouts. It will be seriously interesting to see how the marathon will turn out.

Monday, April 6, 2009

132 lbs

I was a little surprised by my scale reading this evening just before dinner considering that I had not run the last couple of days and I'd been eating really well. It's a good thing though. That means I'm right at about my race weight for the NJ marathon. This is going to be my last "high" mileage week for this marathon before taper. It will include the Scotland 10k in CP on Saturday which I intend to race. I'm planning on following that with a 20-22 miler Sunday in Asbury Park.

High Mileage Slacker

That's what I kind of feel like today. As noted in my previous entry, I've posted my highest mileage this year at just over 45, and I still feel like I've slacked off. As an excuse, I'd like to say that I just wanted to stick to the training theme for this marathon ... minimality. Used that rationale to take two naps and to take off completely. No stretching or core exercises.

On the bright side, I did three hard workouts last week as well as the previous week. That's probably the most hard workouts I've done in a span of two weeks. I hope to continue that streak this week. So...I guess I'm not such a slacker after all.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

4 weeks to go...

and two more 'til taper. This season, that means just a little less running than I'm doing now. Last season, I felt like my body went into a running withdrawal during taper and I actually was more sore during the tapering than when I was logging 50-60+ miles/wk. Last week was my first 40+ week and I hit 40+ again after today's long run. Below is my March and first week of April mileage:

Miles: 178.73
Not on there: at least 1 session of core and general body strengthening and stretching/week
Also not on there: spin sessions

So, am I ready? I guess I'll just have to wait and see. This NJ marathon has become more of a training experiment. I definitely feel strong for shorter races with the speed workouts and strengthening, but the long runs start to hurt sooner than they did last year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NYRR Workout - 2mi | 1mi | 600m intervals

Tonight's workout were three intervals of decreasing distance but increasing intensity - 2 miles, 1 mile, then 600 meters. All the intervals were done at the Central Park lower loop and finished at the NYC marathon finish at the Tavern on the Green, which means an uphill finish after rolling slopes.

My splits were as follows:

2 miles - mile 1: 6:37 | mile 2: 6:24
1 mile - 6:10
600m - 1:39

The 2 miler was at a relatively nice quick pace until we got to the 600m mark. From there, I tried to pick it up and run past this one other (tall) runner whose name I do not know, but I couldn't do it. I passed him briefly, then he took off.

The 1 miler was more fun. Jaime decided to drop down to our group from the faster group. I hope to be running with his group sometime this session. Anyway, we took the first 1/2 mile at about 6:35 pace, but again starting at about the 600m mark at Columbus Circle, I decided to pick him off. He got a head a little bit, but I was determined not to be passed again. On the uphill with about 150m to go, I pushed past him and tried to clear. However, at about 30m, I heard some furious steps coming at me and I knew it had to be him. I was able to stay just ahead of him, but man, that hurt. I pushed so hard I thought my forearms were about to cramp up. I think I now better understand why sprinters bulk up. It's all about power.

The last 600m was harder than I thought. The first 75m felt easy, then all of a sudden, I felt like I was going to fall apart. It took a lot of concentration and strength to not spill on to the pavement. I think my arms were wildly flailing towards the finish. I think 1:39 was actually a good time considering the previous two intervals.

What definitely helped me mentally for this workout was the Tabata intervals and the inverted ladder intervals I've done on the treadmill. I was able to draw back on those workouts and knew what I could expect from my body.