Sunday, May 31, 2009

Race Report: Japan Day 4-miler

First of all, here is the official line from the race:
Here is my race according to my Garmin 405.

Quick summary:
Finish time: 26:14*
Pace: 6:33*
Overall place: 166

* PR! Previous bests were 26:33/6:38

This was one of those races where I would be satisfied with the time my max effort gave. I wasn't sure if max effort was going to be a PR, but I entered the race pretty well rested and relaxed. I was more concerned about some friends doing a race for the first time today and making sure that it was worthwhile for them.

Got to the race at about 7:45am. That was a little late because I wanted to warm up. Left my friends and Sara after the cab dropped us off so I could do some warm up yardage. I wanted to start off this race faster than the last race, which to me meant about 6:30 or so. I also wanted to to see if I could run the last mile sub 6.

Mile 1 (from Garmin splits: 6:43 covering 1.01m - 6:40 avg )
Like I said, I wanted to start off faster than my last race. NYRR speed classes 3 wks ago were 800m repeats and I wanted to try and replicate just a little less than the effort of 800m @ 3mins. I ended up doing 6:43, which was a little slower than I'd hoped but didn't feel too bad considering that the 1st mile was rolling hills. Max HR was 181, which means I was serious today.

Mile 2 (from Garmin splits: 6:24 covering 1.01m - 6:22 avg )
If you're wondering, the extra .01 mileage comes from the weaving and running with traffic. The second mile included the descent from the highest point of the park so I wanted it to be a fast mile. Max HR was 184, indicating that I continued to push.

Mile 3 (from Garmin splits: 6:50 covering 1.01m - 6:47 avg )
This mile included Cat Hill so I knew it was going to be a slower mile. I tried to approach this mile as damage control. I didn't like seeing my time above 6:40's, but I felt like I was starting to red line so I had no choice. Max HR of 189 confims that I was red lining.

Mile 4 (from Garmin splits: 6:19 covering 1.02m - 6:11 avg )
I don't monitor my HR during a race, but I knew it had to have been high because I was hurting. As I passed the mile 3 marker, I knew there was no way I could do a sub 6 mile. I tried to shoot for 6:15. Thankfully, a fast local runner passed me. I tried to keep pace with her but failed. The final 800m was some of the most painful 3+ minutes of my racing life. I just tried to draw from my previous workouts/races to remind me that I could hold on. Finally crossed the line at 26:17. Max HR was 193. That's the highest HR I've ever had and seen that only one other time during last year's urbanathlon.

I didn't go into today's race thinking of a PR but glad I came away with one for the third straight race now: Run As One, NJ Marathon, and today. Last year, I didn't want to run these shorter races hard. They hurt. I'm discovering, though, that they're rewarding in a different way.

Japan Day NYRR event page

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blowouts Are Boring

Just finished watching the Lakers/Nuggets game. While I'm ecstatic about the result, the game wasn't that interesting. The Nuggets didn't play like they did the first 5 games: lack of hussle and bad defense. Credit to the Lakers for an extremely efficient offense and tighter defense, but the Nuggets just weren't the scrappy group that I was expected especially in an elimination game. I feel like that lack of effort is disrespectful to the team and to the fans.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prepping for the Japan Day Race

I know it's only Wednesday, but I think it's never too early to start planning a race. In this case, the Japan Day 4 miler. I actually started thinking about it Monday. I've already run Monday and did a speed workout last night. That means no running Wednesday and Friday; 30 minutes of stretching instead. Tabata intervals on Thursday, easy 10k Saturday, then run like a bat outta hell Sunday. My goal is to run between 6:30 - 6:35 and further drop my 4mi PR this year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NYRR Workout | 3x Harlem Hill

I was actually hoping rain would offer me up an excuse to skip this evening's workout. Unfortunately, the skies stayed mostly shut so I had to go. It was good thing I did. I needed to get out there after an easy week.

Before going to my splits, I do want to preface that I've been trying to do my speed workouts more "smartly." Read: lazily. I've been used to going all out for every interval workout but that's very taxing. After a PR effort marathon, a biathlon two weeks later, I guess I should have expected a desire to notch down my workout efforts. Going forward, I think I'm going to go at about LT threshold workouts instead of MAX HR. Here's my splits from tonight's workout around Harlem Hill.

The laps are those that measure 1.13 to 1.15. As a comparison, here's my splits from the same workout on March 17.

It looks like the two workouts compare favorably, but I much prefer tonight's effort level. Looking at my HR, it was still a great workout, but it felt a lot less taxing.

The other reason I'm trying to save legs on this workout is that I'm running the Japan Day race on Sunday and I'd like to try and race it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back To Life, Back To Reality

All good things must come to an end, and this long weekend can't escape the same fate. Enjoyed a terrific impromptu trip to DC with Sara and some friends. Been to DC a few times before but never on Memorial Day weekend. It was great to be in the middle of patriotism on display. I'mnot always a big fan of the noise generated by Harley's, but this time, I didn't mind the thousands of them circling the Washington Monument. I'm also glad Sara and I finally got some photos together there. We also visited a few museums and just basically enjoyed a nice day walking about.

In terms of running, that break also has to come to an end this week. I went running just TWICE last week, and they were both recreational. Got a race next Sunday and then the Corporate Challenge in three weeks. After I catch up on my sleep, I'm sure I'll feel rejuvenated.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Following Ryan Hall

Not literally, of course. I would need a bike. I'm following him on Twitter. If you're interested, he's ryanhall3. Currently, he's taking votes from his tweeps about whether Chicago or NYC marathon. His last update was NYC-52 CHI-51. If you're from the tri-state area, cast a vote for NYC please :-)

The other reason I'm following him is to see what his workouts are like. He won't publish the details in a short tweet of course, but maybe I'd like to try my own versions and perhaps gain a little bit of speed in the process.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thinking of Newtons and Running Form

Usually, that means fig newtons, but what I really mean are the Newton running shoes. Since my plantar fasciitis bout 3 yrs ago, I changed my running style to mid-to-forefoot striking. I don't have any quantifiable performance measurements, but I know I've managed to avoid sidelining injuries since even when running very high mileage (for me, 60-70 mi/wk) during NYC marathon training last yr. It would seem that these shoes would be a perfect match for my run form.

Speaking of run form, check out Newton's optimal run form page. They also have a bunch of YouTube videos about run form. I started practicing the principles in those videos when I learned about the Pose method to rehab my foot. Check out this page of Pose videos on Google. Both Newton and Pose running forms share the ball-of-foot strike. BTW, I'm not saying these will work for you as they did for me, but if you're after efficiency and injury-free running, you might want to give it a try. Word of warning - your calves will hurt (badly?) the first couple of weeks.

Here's a bullet list of benefits from the Pose running page:

Pose Running technique will dramatically change your entire perception of running. It makes running easier and better.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Staying Motivated

I know I'm not the first to deal with staying motivated for running. It's unnatural, at least for me, to be so sharply focused every single day. My situation this time is slightly different in that I don't want to go running to get faster. I feel like I've been doing that for a while and have successful results during races (NJ Marathon, Run As One, Queens Biathlon). I just wanted to go running for the pure joy of it.

So I did.

I'm going to enjoy this week as a recovery week and get back on my horse when I feel like it. Work has been taking a little more out of me and forced me to rearrange my schedule. When I find the balance, I'll be back to chasing lower times.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Queens Biathlon: Official Results and Final Thoughts

The official times for Queens Biathlon:

Finish time: 1:37:07
Leg 1 (3mi run): 21:38 (7:12 pace)
T1: 1:20
Leg 2 (20mi ride): 51:50 (20.8 mph avg)
T2: 1:00
Leg 3 (3mi run): 21:17 (7:06 pace)
Overall place: 15 of 146
Age place: 4/14

Final thoughts:
  • Way off my estimate of 250 people
  • Spent too much time in the transition finagling with my Garmin
  • Slower than last year's race by about 47s. Lost 3mph on the bike!
  • Looks like I took it too easy on the first leg
This was a great, fun race. Kudos to New York Triathlon! Looking forward to doing it again next year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Race Report: Queens Biathlon

Yesterday I wasn't sure if I was going to do the Queens Biathlon (run 3/bike 20/run 3). I had a pretty long day working. Immediately afterwards, a couple of good friends surprised us so we went to dinner at Blue Ribbon (try the bone marrow marmalade!) and walked for probably an hour to ease down the food. When we got home, I thought I should prep my bike and gear anyways and try to sleep early. Finally decided that around midnight, I'd race if it wasn't raining.

Woke up, and whaddya rain. Packed up, left relatively early at about 6am so I had time to commute and sign up once there. It was an unpleasant commute once I got out of the train. I rode 5 cold and windy miles, which I figured would be a precursor for the cycling part of the race.

Once there at about 7:20, I met up with colleagues doing the race and also cheerleading. I always appreciate when friends are rooting us on. Also chatted with a few familiar faces from last year's race.

The race started at 8am. I'm guessing there were 200 max participants. Started towards the back. I always find that more fun when I know I'm not going to kill myself racing. Picking off people helps me to move faster.

Leg 1 - 3 mile run (~21:30)
  • Times are approximate until official results are out
  • Very hilly out and back run
  • I believe that going out too fast, particularly in races that last more than 90 minutes, does a lot to decrease performance and increase pain and recovery period. Even so, heart rate reached 181 in the last 100meters at the end of the leg.
Leg 2 - 20 mile ride
  • It was a brutally windy course heading out to the turnaround. I don't even know what the gusts were, but I'm guessing it hit 30mph against the riders. The course is a 5 mile out and back course done twice.
  • During the first loop, since I have not been biking at all, I realized I wouldn't have any biking power. Consequently, just tried to spin comfortably on the way out. On the back half of the first loop, I let my nifty little Lightspeed rocket me to other riders ahead.
  • In the second loop, I spun at a higher gear to get a little more speed on the way out. The winds were still unrelenting. On the way backside of the second loop, I was able to take off again and was able to catch more people.
Leg 3 - 3 mile run
  • The first 3/4mi or so, I couldn't feel my legs! I knew I was running, but my legs just were seemingly absent. If you've done a brick workout before, you know what I mean. This was my first brick workout since...last year when I raced the Queens Biathlon :-)
  • I thought I could pick off a few people in this last leg because I was relatively fresh. According to Phil, I moved up from 20th to about 14th.
  • The last 800m is uphill. I wanted to catch this one last guy that was about 100m ahead at the 1.5mi mark. I was able to pass him with about 50m to go, then both of my quads started to cramp up. I knew at the finish line, he would pass me again if I wasn't able to loosen them up. Obviously not enough time for that so I got passed with 10 yards to go. Ugh. My consolation is that I started at the back of the pack so I probably finished ahead of him anyway :-)
  • I didn't even look at the clock when I crossed, but luckily Phil recorded it. I crossed, gun time, at 1:37:06. I'm guessing it took about 30-45s to get to the starting line, which would make my final time around 1:36:30.
Wrapping Up
  • I think multi-sport events are always a lot more fun.
  • Didn't place in my age group this year :-(
  • Figured out how to use the Garmin 405 for multi-sport events only after the race
  • I'll do this again next year :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

To Race or Not To Race...

That is the question this weekend. I have a few friends doing the Healthy Kidney 10k in CP tomorrow, but thank goodness I didn't sign up for that. I have work tomorrow. I'm talking about the Queens biathlon. Off the top of my head, here are my reasons for doing and not doing the race:

  • IT'S FUN! This weighs heavily. I love racing on my bike and this might be the only time this year I get to do so.
  • Several colleagues doing the race.
  • Small race, which means I could win my age group. Last year I was 2nd and I didn't feel like I was quite as serious.
  • NOT RACE READY. Labored through what was supposed to be an easy 14-mile spin around Central Park today.
  • Spending money on a race that doesn't count for the 9 towards the NYC marathon.
  • Have work to finish on Sunday.
  • Race forecast is mid-50's and showers, like the marathon.
  • Only 2 weeks removed from the marathon. I should still be recovering. See first reason.
Not sure what I'm going to do yet.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today's workout - CP lower loop with Tabat set

I know the NJ marathon was only 1.5 wks ago and I shouldn't be running hard yet, but I felt like I needed a short intense workout tonight before this Sunday's race, if I indeed do it. The perfect workout in this case was to do a Tabata set in the middle of an easy run. If you don't know what a Tabata set is, simplistically, it's 8 repeats of 20 seconds 95% - 100% sprint effort, 10 seconds rest. It's exhilarating after one set, tiring after two, struggling at three, and hanging on for dear life for the rest. You can find more by Google'ing Tabata intervals. You can find out more by trying it yourself :-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYRR Workout | 800m repeats

Still recovering from the NJ marathon, my goal for tonight's workout was to not go out at full effort for every repetition. I thought 3:00 - 3:05 per was a reasonable effort. Except for the last split, which I wanted to run fast, my pace stayed pretty true to 3:00 - 3:05.

Got another high intensity workout on Thursday, but it'll be a circuit workout in the gym. After that, the Queens Biathlon coming Sunday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What's Next?

Now that I've accomplished my blog's raison d'etre, I've been pondering, "what's next?" I think I've come up with my plan.

I have two more target events with the following goals this year:
  • NYC Half-Marathon on 8/16/2009 - break 1:30
  • NYC Marathon on 11/1/2009 - break 3:10
With roughly 3 months from now 'til the NYC half and another 3 months to the NYC full, I'm going to dedicate the next 3 months to speed workouts. That means shorter, more intense runs. My longest runs of the week will probably be my Tuesday night NYRR workouts and one weekend easy run of no more than 10 miles.

I'm not going to put too much thought into marathon training yet, but my current thought is to replicate my method for this past marathon. Will do 2-3 speed workouts per week with shorter mileage; add cross-training; weekend long runs. Maybe I'll do one or two 60+ mile weeks, but we'll see when the time comes.

Friday, May 8, 2009

09 NJ Marathon photos from Brightroom

A few pictures of a wet and wild marathon...

Taken sometime during the 1st loop because I still have my Roctane's and salty bottle of water in hand.

I tried to smile whenever I saw a brightroom camera. Would have done a "shaka" if my hands were empty.

Around mile 23 or so, by the lake. The spirit is always willing at this point in the race, but the body isn't always in synch. This day, my body was in willing, manifesting in a fist pump.

Probably within the final quarter mile on the boardwalk. A full-out sprint of 7:15!! :-P

Definitely feeling good approaching the finish line. It's amazing how the body always feels sprite the last 50 meters of any race.

I was so eager to check that I beat 3:15 that I forgot to wave at the camera.

Clock time: 3:17:21
Watch time: 3:14:23
Official time: 3:14:24

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Harder Than A Marathon

I'm supposed to be recovering and relaxing this week, but 3 days of inactivity got under my skin. So I decide to join my fitness enthusiast colleagues in their new weekly fitness challenge in the gym. The circuit consists of the following:
  1. 800m on treadmill
  2. 50 back hyperextensions
  3. 50 sit-ups (not crunches)
  4. 800m row
  5. REPEAT 3X
With a little bit of hubris, I thought, "how hard can this be? I just completed a marathon and two weeks ago I did a thousand crunches a day. Why, I could just blast right through this!"

There's a saying that goes "pride comes before humility." Indeed.

  • 1st set - 800m treadmill. No problem, I thought. 5:45 pace. 50 hyperbacks and 50 sit-ups, some struggle, but managed to go straight through. Same with the 800m row.

  • 2nd set - 800m treadmill, problem. Stayed at 9.5. Out of breath. 50 hyperbacks and 50 sit-ups had to be broken down to 3 sets with rest. 800m row was about 10 seconds slower.

  • 3rd set - 800m treadmill, big problem. Couldn't do more than a 7:00 pace. Hyperbacks and sits again broken down with 3 rest sets for each. 800m row was another 10 seconds slower.
34:40 later, I thought I was going to pass out. I know what that feels like because it's happened at the Honolulu Marathon. I felt like I just did a 5k at a 6:15 pace, something that's just out of reach for me.

I left the gym feeling humbled. I'm going to approach these fitness challenges with more respect. I think runners have a different kind of fitness.

Regardless, it was a good full body workout. I started the workout with tight right quads. I think the fast repeats shook out all the lactic acid.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Endorphin addiction

That's my self-diagnosis. Still got too much lactic acid in my legs to make it nearly impossible to run, but I've been itching to do some physical activity. My upper body feels fine, so I ended up doing a several 10-rep sets of pull-ups and some crunches. Just enough to alleviate some guilt about the red velvet cup cake, two slices of cheesecake and some chocolate cake I had while watching The Biggest Loser.

I think I've also read that eating produces endorphins. I dread the day I lose my physical capacities. Going to thank God for good health and make sure I use it while I have it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Race Report: 2009 NJ Marathon - Part 2

After 36 hrs (longest I've had to wait for chip results), it's official. My BQ effort was 3:14:24.

Some final thoughts about yesterday's race, in no particular order:
  • How much did my non-running workouts help? The crunches, biking, push-ups, pull-ups, light weights, etc?

  • I ran a negative in a marathon for the first time (1:38:21 & 1:36:03)! I'm really proud about this, but I didn't try to do it. I just tried to keep the foot on the pedal and hang on for as long as I could from mile 10.

  • Significantly less training mileage than last year's NYC marathon, yet I feel that's almost inconsequential because...

  • ...of the smarter salt and fluid intake. I was confident in my running ability but not my hydrating strategy. In ALL my other marathons, I'd start with the gels at about mile 6. This time I started at mile 4 and took every 3.5 to 4 miles, drinking lots of water along the way. There were water stations where I took Gatorade at the front, guzzled it, and took water at the end of the station. This was in addition to the small Poland Spring water bottle that I mixed with lots of salt.

  • Also can't discount that the flat course made the pacing significantly easier. Although it rained, in my mind that wasn't going to prevent me from my goal time.

  • Next on my running checklist? Get faster in the shorter races. Have the Queens Biathlon in two weeks. It'll be a nice change of pace to get back on my bike. Now if I can only find a free body of water to swim.

  • Personal rewards - my wife said I should buy a new "super suit" for myself if I BQ'd. I'm heading to Jackrabbit this weekend to pick it up :-)

And I think that's about it. I titled this blog "Boston or Die Trying." I thought of going into blogging hibernation now that I've accomplished that but I've also enjoyed chronicling these little goals. Maybe I want my kids to read these some day. In any case, for now, it's good-bye spring marathon training, hello summer fun!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Race Report: 2009 NJ Marathon

The official results are not up yet, but according to my Garmin, I legged a 3:14:23 marathon. Good enough to qualify for Boston. WOOHOO! Here's how my day went...

Woke up at about 5:40AM to get ready, get dressed. Thankfully, my friend and my wife agreed to drop me off when I had originally planned on driving. Pre-race morning was cool and wet, with sporadic light rain. Left the house with the following ammunition:
  • small bottle of water with 20 pinches of salt - easier for salt intake than salt packets
  • 6 Roctane Gu gels - 4x the sodium than other gels
  • 2 emergency energy table samples (did not use)
As I noted in my previous blogs, I needed to hydrate more intelligently and take in more salt to have a chance at Boston, thus the salty water and the Roctane Gu.

Was dropped off at the hotel for baggage check where I met up with Ansky. After I dropped off my bags, I made my way outside the hotel to the starting line on the boardwalk, but halfway there, I was told that the start was delayed 15 minutes. A shuttle bus took its load towards the wrong town. I headed out 15 minutes later, and was told it was delayed another 15 minutes.

The race finally started at 8AM. I made a decision to start in the pack instead of being towards the front. It would force me to start off slower. It was much slower than I wanted - 8:49. Crap. Too much traffic and weaving. Needed to speed up some, but not too much yet. My plan was to settle into the race pace after about 10k, which was anything sub 7:20. I also knew with my slow start and anticipating a slower last few miles, that I would have to run a few miles at around 7:00. The following is my mental breakdown of the race. Complete splits are here.
  • Miles 1-5: Go easy, letting my legs, body and mind ease into the pace. This part of the race was very enjoyable as I enjoyed the camaraderie around me and the sights. As the race started, there was a light drizzle.

  • Miles 6-10: Start to pick up pace and get into the race at sub 7:20. I averaged this set at about 7:17. At this point, I was thinking I could keep this up forever. I was feeling pretty good, but experience has taught me that won't last in a marathon.

  • Miles 11-15: Pushed my pace a little faster but stayed comfortable. Fastest mile in this set was m14 @ 6:57 followed by m15 @ 7:01. It looks like I did about a 7:07 average in this set. Obviously, I was still feeling pretty solid.

  • Miles 16-20: Around mile 18-20 is when I typically start worrying about the wall, but I was hoping my game plan of taking in lots of salt and a little more fluid than before would help me through. I was especially more mindful of it since miles 13-17 averaged about 7:03. Around this section I remember thinking, "RUN STUPID." Run as if I had no idea about my past shortcomings trying to qualify for Boston. So I did. Managed to average about 7:06 in this block, with 6:59 being my fastest. Also felt blisters under my right foot from the moisture, which at this point had become a light steady rain.

  • Miles 20-25: In my mind, I was going to qualify for Boston TODAY. I was surprisingly still feeling pretty sprite, until I hit mile 22. The splits reflect that. "Pain be damned and screw the blisters " I thought. I just tried to keep the same effort as my legs felt heavier. After the feel good energy left, it was all grit. The same effort was now giving me 7:25 miles. Mile 25 was 7:42! Legs were stiffening and signaling cramps if I continued much longer.

  • 1.2 miles: That stretch along the boardwalk was taking forever! Was I going to qualify for Boston? Oh yeah baby. My stop watch read 3:14:23 as I crossed the finish. As soon as I stopped running, I felt my legs stiffen up bad, making walking harder than running. But alas, pain never felt so good. I was glad to finally have reach a goal that had eluded me for years.
More thoughts coming tomorrow. It's time for bed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2009 April Mileage

I wish there was some tool to merge my data onto my blog, but for now, these screenshots will have to do. I've been logging my activities there for years and I don't want to lose my workout data, but it would be nice to have a module that publishes my to FB or elsewhere. Maybe I'll create one in my spare time. What do you use to log your workouts?

Not included in my mileage calendar are the crosstraining workouts I've done. We'll see how those help me out on Sunday.

Friday, May 1, 2009

T minus 2 days

Two days out, still carbo loading. Thankfully, my wife made a great meal - Chicken Assagios and chocolate walnut brownies with Haagen-Dazs ice cream - seen below:

If you're wondering if I finished all that food, I did, plus a little more dessert. Needless to say, I feel all carbed up. One more high carb meal mid-day tomorrow, and I'll be nutrionally set.

As far as training for the race is concerned, all systems are go. I checked my heart rate yesterday for my pace training run and it was about the same as the NYC marathon, which indicates similar fitness. My racing HR will average in the 160's. I'll just have to make sure I hydrate properly throughout the race to prevent cramping.

The only thing I (and the other 9000+ participants) will have to watch is the weather. There looks to be a decent chance of rain. Praying and crossing my fingers for a rain-free race.