Sunday, November 21, 2010

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon

This race was all about grit to break 1:30 for the first time in a half marathon. And I feel like I almost sabotaged myself...
  • enjoyed way too much of a late dinner the night before
  • depending on maintenance running in favor of hard training
So when the race started, I knew I just had to go and get it. Drawing on my Pain to Paine trail half, I figured I could maintain the same hard effort for the distance but with a better time on a street course. My Garmin mile splits and thoughts along the course were as follows.
  1. 6:47
  2. 6:37
  3. 6:47
  4. 6:53
  5. 6:48
  6. 6:41 - First 5 miles done at above goal pace. Let's see if I can keep this going. Latched on to 3hr pacer who was slightly ahead of pace.
  7. 6:23 - Great crowds along Chestnut provided lots of energy. Good to bank time.
  8. 6:50 - Slight uphill took an effect.
  9. 6:34
  10. 6:51 - Left bending uphill seemed never ending. Needed to use arms to get up the hill.
  11. 6:31
  12. 6:41 - Time to get going, but not much left in the tank.
  13. 6:45 - WTF? Why is this mile taking so long? And where is the finish line??
  14. 2:03 (.33 miles)
Garmin time: 1:29:11
Official finish: 1:29:12

My previous personal best was 1:31:45 this past January. I felt like 1:30 was mine for the taking today after the Boston training and the maintenance work I've continued in the past few months. I just had to not be afraid to go out and get it. I kept that in mind in the last couple of miles. It wasn't easy, but I didn't expect it to be.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Race Report: Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon

Some quick 411 about the race before...
It was a terrific morning for my first trail race: cool, crisp, hardly a wind nor a cloud in the sky. We even had a revolutionary figure travel from the past to fire the musket to start the race. Race strategy? I had none. No previous experience trail racing.

Before the race start, I took about a 3/8 warmup jog with RK and EM (the same EM I couldn't catch last week) just to warm up. The musket fired and we were immediately greeted with a half mile climb on asphalt. I think that was a way of spreading out the 375 or so runners because the trail was a lot of single file running. Nice move by the race coordinators.

Trail running is nothing like pavement or running on the bridle path in Central Park. It was rocky, uneven, muddy...all the things that make trails trails. Furthermore, there were a lot of short steep climbs and quick fast descents. Rolled my ankle a couple of times and saw some spills. It was also difficult to pace because of the climbs and rapid descents, so I tried to race by my heart rate.

Around mile 7 or so into the course, I managed to take the lead in my group. I wasn't comfortable because I didn't want to get lost (again) and I don't like being anyone's rabbit. Thankfully, a couple of other runners that I had not passed earlier caught up with me. Only problem was that I couldn't keep up with these newer guys.

Mile 8 on was a series of struggles. It was a struggle to keep up with the guys that passed me, to keep my legs moving on the soft surface, to stay focused on the trail. I stumbled quite a few times as fatigue started to set in. The fast start started to take it's toll, but I dug in.

Somewhere in mile 10, I was passed by another couple of other runners I hadn't passed earlier. I was impressed by how easy they seemed to be running. "I'm slowing down quite a bit," I thought. I was passed again around mile 11 by an older gentleman I had passed earlier at a stream crossing. At that point, I thought I must have slowed quite a bit. I was having a hard time keeping up with everyone that had passed me. I didn't always check my watch and pace my eyes had to be on the trail.

My finish time was about 1:38:05, if I remember correctly. I was just so glad to have finished the race. I felt I had gone out fast and just tried to keep the effort the whole way through.

After I settled down at the finish, I checked my pace times and I was surprised to have found that my fastest miles were actually the last 4 miles. I didn't slow down at all. The 5 total that passed me were just fast. Also, my fast start wasn't fast at all. In the end, my arms were up so much to help me in balance that my shoulders had a pretty good workout themselves.

My splits were as follows:

Wrapping up, I had a blast with RK and EM doing this race. I can definitely understand why people get into trail running. The miles passed by so much faster I had to be so focused on almost every step. I definitely see more trail races in my future.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Race report: - 5th Avenue Mile

It's been a while since I've composed a race report. That's because I haven't raced in a while. I had originally intended on foregoing the 9 + 1 because I thought I wouldn't be interested in doing the marathon. Now I find myself scrambling to finish minimum just in case I decide to do it. The 5th Ave Mile is a fast, furious and fun qualifier and a must for anyone doing the 9 + 1.

I didn't have any expectations going into today's race. Actually, I did. They were mostly negative. Did 800's 3 weeks ago and my best time was a 2:51. Haven't done any Tabata sets, and I was sick last week. I felt that my warm-up jog confirmed that today was going to be a mediocre performance at best.

When I got to the race start, I didn't expect to see some of my friends and colleagues since they were in the 30-34 age group. Lucky for me, they decided to hang back and run with my heat. Even luckier, one of the guys, EM, is a fast youngin' that I was hoping would play the rabbit. And thank goodness he did.

The gun went off and I remember thinking go easy, but run strong. During the 1st quarter, I made sure to stride strong but tried to stay relaxed. Time at .25mi - 1:25

The 2nd quarter was a long gentle grade. EM had pulled away by about 15 meters, but I was able to reel him in within 5 by keeping a constant effort. Still tried to maintain strong strides going up the grade. Time at .50mi - 2:51.

(Halfway point check. I should be able to do 5:45 since the second half should be faster. Tiring, but the rest is downhill and flat. EM is only 5 meters ahead.)

The 3rd quarter goal was to maintain the effort on the downgrade or even start to speed it up a little. I think I was successful at it, but EM was pulling away again. Darnit! At .75mi, EM was about 12-13 meters ahead. I needed to start picking it up.

(3/4 mile check: Tired? Yes. Behind pace? No. EM too far? Yes. Are you going to be happy not giving it your all. NO! 400 meters remaining. GO TIME!)

At the 3/4 mile marker, I looked for EM and he looked impossibly far at about 10m. Just in front of me was a guy with a funny stride. I had to get past him first. Done. Now to EM. At 1500m, I squeezed out every last bit of effort and tried to hold on for as long as I could. I caught EM's back shoulder at about 10 meters to the finish, but I couldn't quite get past him. I was one second shy of his time.

Unofficial clock finish - 5:29.

Official time: 5:24. YEAH!!! PR!! First sub 5:30!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Insanity - Day 2

Only day 2, and I'm already questioning my commitment. Meh. The great thing about these workouts is that they're short. Heck, 15 of 40-45 mins is warm-up and stretching, albeit a very tough warm-up. It's the last 10-15 mins that seem to take F O R E V E R. The workouts are not impossible, just intense. And I'm starting to hate every form of jump squats.

Insanity - Day 1

I now understand why some friends used to call me swimming pool. After this workout, it wasn't just a puddle on the mat.

Insanity workout 1 was a cardio/plyo circuit. Wore a heart rate monitor to stay honest and saw it go up to the high 170's repeatedly towards the end of each circuit. That's my heart rate when I'm running hard repeats. It might have gone higher, but I was too exhausted to check.

The interesting about this video is that as a runner, my cardio and physical movements know how to behave when my heart rate is that high. I've adapted to an efficiency at the 80% max HR when running, so it doesn't feel as hard. When I'm doing other activities though, be it cycling or this Insanity workout, 170's and anything higher feel much tougher. But I guess that's good so I learn how to employ the rest of me in non-running extremes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Plunging into Insanity

I've decided on an impulsive plunge into Insanity. Not crazy, just mostly bored. Cycling is fun, but I sort of miss the structured schedule I followed when doing P90X. Cycling doesn't also promote the quick, efficient burn that I get from running, i.e. I have to bike ~30mi to get the equivalent of a 6mi run.

Anyways, I'm going to fall back into the mode of training when doing P90X, except that Insanity is only 60 days, and the workouts are about 35-50 mins. Short enough for me to continue cycling and other workouts.

Here are my initial fit test numbers. Oh by the way, the fit test was tough. Even the warmup felt like a workout. This series is going to be tough.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This Month's Goal - No Running

There. I said it. That will be my longest away from running since I started about 8 years ago. The reasoning is twofold. First, I want to completely heal a nagging heel injury. Second, I want to miss running. Until then, I intend to log a few hundred miles on the bike. If I lived near a swimmable ocean, I'd swim too, but alas, I'm not in Hawaii.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Corporate Challenge 2010

I dread this race every year, but this one wasn't too bad. In the end, I didn't hurt as much as I did last year, did not have the right side of my face or right shoulder pains at mile 3, and I did not almost slow to a walk at the finish. In fact, I was able to pick off about 12 runners at about the last 100meters with a sprint.

Garmin splits were as follows:
Mile 1: 6:19
Mile 2: 6:29
Mile 3: 6:38
Mile 3.5: 3:04
Total: 22:30 (6:25/mi)

OFFICIAL TIME: 22:33 (6:26/mi)

If those numbers on my watch were correct, I hit my goal right on the nose. Short of my PR by 20s, but I did not expect to PR today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Japan Day Race

Official race results: 26:29 | 35th in age group

3.3 mi easy run to start

Mile 1: 6:47 - Didn't want to go out too fast, but maybe should have
Mile 2: 6:31 - Cruised downhill along west side
Mile 3: 6:53 - Decided to take mile 3 easy with Cat Hill to prep for last mile
Mile 4: 6:17 - balls out to the finish and tried to reel in as many runners as I could. This was probably the most painful stretch.

One word to describe the race: muggy. Quads felt shot after the race. I'm still feeling the effects of last week's Murph workout.

3.3 mi run back home

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hot and humid

I thought last week's numbers were just too good to be true, and I was right after looking at Garmin Connect. The mile repeats were not exactly 1 mile, so I'm adding about 15s to each mile I did. Still pretty decent numbers though.

Ran 2 x 2 milers this evening while it was 84F and muggy. What a battle. My legs are also still recovering from the 300 squats from a workout three days ago. No way I was going to post last week's adjusted numbers tonight, but I was going to try.

Stretch 1 - 2 miles @ 13:03 (6:37 + 6:26). First half mile mostly uphill, then rolling hills from there. Second mile also rolling hills.

Recovery - .5 miles. Jogged back along the rout near the intersection of 102nd and CP West.

Stretch 2 - 2.1 miles @ 13:57. Avg pace for both miles was ~6:43. Tough stretch with headwind to add to rolling hills.

Overall, happy with my effort. I'm not going to get down on myself for this one because of the slow times. Hopefully I'll be much better in two weeks though.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Unexpected Results

Did 3x mile repeats along Corporate Challenge course. Ran to start line as a warm up. Results were as follows:

Warm up - 1.76 mi

Mile 1 | 6:04
.25 mile easy jog
Mile 1.25 - 2.25 | 5:57
.25 mile easy jog
Mile 2.5 - 3.5 | 5:57 (5:57 pace)

Those numbers are even better than my best mile repeats when I was marathon training. Don't know where it came from, but I'll take it.

Actually extended the final repeat another .3 mi at the 5:57 pace. What a difference from my last workout. I'd been feeling rather down about myself recently because my previous workout didn't go very well. But I learned something about running the course tonight, and other hilly courses in general. I can't believe it's taken so long for me to realize. I won't share it until I confirm the results in a race. I've got something to be excited about again. And just as my last workout was a bookmark for bad workouts, this workout was a bookmark for a good workout.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Running Constant

Long day at work? Feeling tired? Down? Out? Lazy? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And Yes. I knew there was only one thing that would give me any chance of salvaging my day: an easy run. Did not feel like it, but I dragged myself out the door right after I got home and enjoyed the one thing I know about running - I never come back as miserable as I when I left.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Character Builder

I dubbed this a character building run because of the rain. Little did I know. The moisture wasn't so bad. The workout itself was. This workout injected a healthy bit of doubt to my psyche.

Warmup - 1.72 mi to start
1 - 3:14
1:44 recovery (.2 mi)
2 - 3:11
1:47 recovery (.21mi)
3 - 3:13
1:43 recovery (.19mi)
4 - 3:10
1:34 recovery (.15mi)
5 - 3:09
1:28 recovery (.16mi
6 - 3:12

I couldn't believe the numbers. All consistently 10s slower than my average effort, and they felt hard! Was it the moisture? The wind? The squats, pull-ups and push-ups yesterday? The long day at work? I did 4x hill repeats last week at ~3:03 and they felt easier. I'm now doubting my goal race in 4 weeks.

As an optimist, I've always liked to "bookmark" my accomplishments. This deserves a bookmark just as much because I'll need to refer to this workout later to remind me that there are bad workouts as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My favorite workouts...

It's not any one workout in particular, but it's any workout that feels like it keeps my furnace burning. Case in point, tonight's long hill repeats. The workout consisted of 4 nearly half mile hill repeats where I focused on my cadence, form and leg lifts instead of trying to get up the hill fast. My times for the repeats were 2:59, 3:06, 3:03 and 3:02.

After I got home, I devoured more than half a rotisserie chicken and two servings of brown rice and a handful of almonds, yet still feeling like I ate nothing. Almost five hours later, even though I should be asleep, my engine is still revving with that post workout burn. I don't always get this from my workouts, but I love it when it happens.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Celebrating the Boston Texas

After signing up for the 2010 Boston Marathon, I knew right away where I wanted to celebrate. Being a Travel Channel and Food TV fan, there was no place else to go but Texas and reconnect with the carnivore in me. I decided to retrace some of the Man v. Food locales. Namely...

Salt Lick - best bbq I've had to date
Lulu's - chicken fried steak and cinnamon roll as big as my head
Chunky's - home of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" burger
Big Lou's - barbecue brisket pizza. Ended up skipping.

Some photos of the trip...
Before diving in to the meat, we had to experience at least one fine dining experience on the riverwalk. I got an unexpected treat. From Biga's on the Riverwalk, quite possibly the best dessert I have ever experienced - sticky toffee pudding on english cream.

After spending the following day at Schlitterbahn and meeting up with our friends, we went to Salt Lick in Driftwood.

If you're ever in Austin or San Antonio, you CAN NOT skip this place. I enjoyed it so much that I ate enough to keep me burping the flavor for 36 hours.

With the ribs still in my stomach, we went to Lulu's the following day to try supposedly the best chicken fried steak in San Antonio and a giant cinnamon roll.

Nope, I did not finish it.
It didn't help that I finished off most of the cheese fries at the top left of the plate.

And finally, the giant cinnamon roll.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Final Boston Marathon Thoughts & What's Next

Just wanted to share some parting thoughts of quite possibly my favorite marathon to date:
  • Absolutely loved the people. Runners, hosts, volunteers and spectators all seemed to revel and enjoy their respective roles.
  • Tough course, but I think I can do better next time if I can qualify again. Not drinking enough water to cause the cramping was avoidable - rookie mistake.
  • This race seemed to go by really fast. If it weren't for the cramps, the last four miles easily could have been my most enjoyable.
  • I'm thankful that it made me eager to sign up for another marathon - soon. Most other races, I'd just be happy to have finished.
  • I'm glad I bought a 2010 Boston Marathon logo jacket.
  • My only gripe - too many runners walked along the water stations. I wish they would have moved aside to let other runners grab and go.
  • Finally, never will I do another ice bath. If it takes another 3 weeks to recover, so be it.

What's Next
Decided that I'd sign up for the Disney Marathon in January. I had so much fun in this course that I had initially wanted to sign up for a fall marathon. Luckily sounder action prevailed. I almost forgot I had other plans this year.

On a racing note, I think I've finally learned to race marathons. I believe this was my 9th marathon, and have only done the last three without stopping for a walk along water stations or from fatigue. It's not that my body is trained better, it's my mind that has expected and accepted what comes after mile 20.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston Marathon Experience in Photos

I gave up (for now) trying to extract the images from MarathonFoto without the watermark. Here are some photos taken during marathon weekend...

Raise the roof!

Lucky #6865

Race day.............

Must stay off legs for as long as possible

This shot is two turns from the final left into Boylston St.

The best non-matching superman outfit ever! Seriously, it was just nice to get back into dry clothing after the race.

32-oz post marathon prime rib at Durgin-Park.

I think this better showcases the rib's size.


the most painful blister I've had since my first marathon....


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big City Marathon, Small Town Charm - 2010 Boston Marathon

With all due respect to all runners that try so hard year after year to qualify for the Boston Marathon on merit, myself included, I now have to argue the primary reason for running one of the world's most historic marathons is not just for the sake of qualifying. It's to experience 25 miles of New England small town charm and 1.2 miles of big city bang.

The runner in me went to Boston thankful for the opportunity to say that I've run Boston. Read: I ran fast enough to qualify. I also wanted to run a new PR for the sake of it. You only have one shot to run Boston the first time and there's no better way to do it than to run your fastest ever marathon. Did things go according to plan? In a marathon, do they ever? Of course not. My official finish was 3:18:43. Was I dissatisfied? Not in the least.

Although the day actually started with a 5:20 alarm, I had woken up at 1:12 feeling well rested and energized to get going. That's not the first time that's happened before a race. I woke up again at 4:17 because I dreamed I was running the wrong race. That was a first. Finally after about 7 hours of sleep, I was rested enough to jump out of bed, get dressed, kiss my wife bye, and headed to the lobby where many other runners were making their way to the T. Heading out the door, a shuttle pulled up. A runner's mother was so excited about the day she payed for her son and three other runners that happened to be right there, myself included. The gesture was one of many acts of kindness throughout the next couple of days I usually associate with smaller towns.

The shuttle group arrived at the bus transport area just past 6am, enough time for me to pick up a bagle at and a bottle of water at Dunkin Donuts. Incidentally, I discovered that those who miss packet pickup could still get their packets across the street from Dunkin Donuts. Lots of runners already there and as I got in line to board the bus, the first round of buses were just departing. Even as thousands of runners were making their way to the Commons, everything seemed very orderly. Volunteers were all smiles and encouraging. The energy from the runners was also very pleasant and friendly.

I settled into the school bus seat with a fellow runner named Bob, my friend for the next three hours. We discussed mostly our running experiences during the long ride over to Hopkinton. Once at Athlete's Village, we settled by the Hopkinton sign near the middle of the school track field where I met a couple of other Twitter runners, Kristen and Kevin. They both hauled a$$ by the way. Athlete's Village seemed fairly subdued. My guess is that the runners didn't want to expend unnecessary energy. The athletes were also very respectable, making sure to use port-a-johns.

After Kristen and I found Kevin, we made our way to the starting line which was about a 12 minute walk away. On the way to the start, some residents set up a tent handing out free water and drinks. Another couple of residents were cheering on the runners with their two huge great danes, one of which I played with for a few seconds. Even though I was squeezing into my corral just as the gun went off, the course marshals kept everyone organized by making sure people got in to their proper starting locations. No more, no less. And all the runners were so cooperative. I was almost incredulous. My last marathon, runners were trying to jump or tear down fences to get into their corrals. I took in my surroundings as I approached the starting line...the race had begun.

Race Breakdown
The Boston Marathon is not as loud or as crowded as the New York City Marathon, but is nonetheless spirited and exciting for runners and those cheering them on. Hopkinton is a small town of about 13000, and it seemed like every one of them was there cheering on the runners. Even at about half a mile, residents were already handing out oranges and water.

My game plan was to be about two minutes behind time at 5 miles. Since the first mile was pretty much downhill, I tried to go out as easy as I could. Result: 7:31. Even though it felt more like a 9 min pace, I backed off. My 5 mile split was 38:06, right at about my game plan. Body check felt pretty good. Achilles pain was there, but it wasn't going to derail my race, I thought with my fingers crossed. Skies were clear, though perhaps a touch warm at low 50's. My first 5 miles:

1) 7:31
2) 7:37
3) 7:39
4) 7:34
5) 7:45
1-5 total) 38:06 - 7:37/mile
time after 5 miles) 38:06

The next part of the game plan was to move to 1 minute behind goal time at 10 miles. Time start moving, I thought. So I tried. I drew back to my New Jersey Marathon experience of logging some sub 7 miles during this chunk. My problem was that this wasn't NJ. Even though I knew the course was a net downhill to mile 16, I did not feel comfortable enough to push with the all the course undulations and lack of familiarity. Miles 6-10 were as follows:

6) 7:26
7) 7:25
8) 7:30
9) 7:18
10) 7:21
6-10 total) 37:00 - 7:24/mile
time after 10 miles) 1:15:06 - 7:31/mile

Instead of being a minute back of where I wanted, I was now about 3 minutes off. But you know what, I was having a great time just enjoying the new scenery and the tour of the Massachusetts countryside with small town residents cheering us on.

I think the main reason I was reticent on a hard push was the Newton hilliness factor from miles 17-22. Regardless, I knew this was my last 5 mile chunk I had to make up any real time, so I tried. The crowds along the way definitely made it easier.

11) 7:21
12) 7:04 (Wellesley college experience. You can hear the raging estrogen from a mile away!)
13) 7:10
14) 7:09
15) 7:18
11-15 total) 36:02 - 7:12/mile
time after 15 miles) 1:51:08 - 7:24/mile

So I made up some time in this chunk, but not enough. Along the way, my achilles pain disappeared but was replaced by a new pain. Blisters! Crap! At the exact same location every single time. I wiggled my toes and positioned them differently every now and then, but I knew it would be bad since they were coming so early. I wasn't wearing anything new. My right foot just seems to expand more than my left especially in any cold this past season.

Up next was Newton. Four hills starting at mile 16, 17.6, 19.1 and culminating with the notorious heartbreak hill at 20.5. The plan over this area was to keep an even effort. Also

16) 7:07
17) 7:38
18) 7:43
19) 7:23
20) 7:41
16-20 total) 37:32 - 7:30/mile
time after 20 miles) 2:27:40 - 7:22/mile

My pie in the sky goal of running a 3:10 (7:15/mile pace) was pretty much gone at this point, but I was okay by it. I felt like I was running a good race and was enjoying miles of cheers through the country roads. The first three Newton hills weren't too bad, but each did get progressively tougher.

21) 7:59 (Heartbreak Hill. Kept even effort, but wow, 7:59 was slow)
22) 7:22
23) 7:36
24) 7:51
25) 8:03
21-25 total) 38:51 - 7:46/mile
time after 25 miles) 3:06:31 - 7:27/mile

My favorite part of the race was in this chunk of the race - the graveyard mile, the back end of heartbreak. Painfully smacked high-fives, loud, boisterous, and eager crowds spurred on by me cupping my hand to my ear and fist pumping my other hand. They made me forget that I was at mile 22. Felt awesome and was looking to finish strong. Sure, my blister was painful, my legs fatigued, but that was expected after the mileage. I was on the way to a strong finish.

Unfortunately, reality bit back hard somewhere along the next mile. I started cramping. Crap! How could I let that happen? I sipped at every station and carried my own salty water for the first 13 miles. In retrospect, I realize I did not have enough water compared to when I ran the NJ marathon. I needed to drink, not sip. At NJ, I took water and gatorade at the same water stations and didn't do the same here. Cramps effectively place a gradually declining speed limit on the body, which is evident by miles 24-26. Spirit was willing, so I pushed as much as I could so that I wouldn't have to stop.

As I made the left turn to Boylston, I was greeted by the loudest and largest finishing crowd I've experienced in my running life. What an awesome course and event, I thought, as I hobbled the half mile to the finish lined by swarms of screaming heads. I was very grateful to have experienced the Boston Marathon.

26) 8:15
26.35) 2:43
Marathon total: 3:18:43
Pace: 7:35/mile

Final Thoughts
Every runner should aim to do this race once, even if it's for charity. With the history of the New England area and the marathon itself, I felt like I was running on hallowed ground. The route was challenging, but the crowds and small towns made me feel like a welcome visitor as they handed out their self-supplied cups and bottles of water, oranges, brownies, paper towels, beer, and huge doses of screaming support.

Lastly, a big thank you to my wife for continuing to put up with hours of training for my (your adjective here) goals of just trying to be a better athlete.

Random Observations Throughout The Race
- not many ipod runners
- not as many name tag runners either
- running crowd doesn't dissipate after a few miles because most others around you are running the same pace
- some signs at Wellesley College: kiss me, I'm a senior; kiss me, I'm Latina; kiss me, I won't tell your wife. Hilarious. Needless to say, there were more than a few men that took up their offers.
- funniest sign at Wellesley held by a male: kiss me, I'm gay
- halfway up heartbreak, the left side started chanting "RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!" rhythmically to a runner who started walking and burst into joyful exuberance when the runner resumed his run. Priceless motivation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Couple of Boston Training Setbacks

Experienced a couple of unexpected setbacks in the last couple of weeks, I guess as opposed to an expected ones.

First, my 22mi run on 3/14 caused some right foot problems that I did not address properly. The achilles tendon and right heel soreness post run I thought was just due to the long run. A couple of days later, I pushed on a 5 mile tempo run that made it worse. I've been icing it since. My most recent long run was cut to ~15mi because of the injury. It's only finally starting to get better and feel like I'm back on track for Boston. Thank goodness because this is my last week of hard training.

Second, I've been having headaches from what I thought was a toothache. I saw the dentist today and it has nothing to do with my teeth. I've inherently bad gums. I floss and brush my teeth daily, religiously, but that's no defense against bad genes. Felt bad for my wife today having to put up with my crankiness. I normally don't like to take any form of drugs, but I've had to surrender to ibuprofen so that I could exist comfortably. Got a pretty good hill workout scheduled tomorrow and I hope this won't get in the way.

3.5 wks to Boston!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Different Long Runs

Last week, I was inspired by a YouTube video of Ryan Hall and Josh Cox doing 5:15-5:30min/mi at the end of a 30 mile long run. Consequently, I did a 20+ mile progression run that consisted of splits that were 15s-45s slower than my goal marathon pace (7:15). While I enjoyed the newness of the workout, it affected the rest of my training for the week. I had to lay off of meaningful speed workouts to for recovery.

This week, I ran~21.5 miles with friends at a nice and easy pace at about 100s slower than marathon pace. It was the complete opposite of last week's run. A couple of hours after the run, I actually felt I could go for another run. I can do some hard speed workouts this week without the heavy leg feeling.

Prior to last weeks progression run, I had always done my long runs at a very easy pace (mp + 60-90s) because it's what I've always known. But I think to continually improve as a runner, I need to mix in more long progression runs IN ADDITION to speed workouts throughout the week. The challenge and dilemma will be keeping my legs and body fresh enough to do both types of workouts. It might take some time to adjust.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Update - In Like A Lion

Weather wise - untrue. Running wise, March has indeed come in like a lion. Almost two weeks in to March, my legs are starting to feel heavy. And it's a welcome feeling to know I'm working. Here's why...

Week 1 (44+ miles):
  • 2 miles warmup, 4x mile repeats 6:00, 6:00, 6:11, 6:20 + 5 easy miles
  • 6x 400m hill sprints (1:35, 1:32, 1:30, 1:30, 1:28, 1:22)
  • 20+ mile progression run (8:05 avg). I was inspired by watching Josh Cox training video, where he was doing something like 5:20 pace(!!!) at miles 26-30(!!!) to finish his workout.
Week 2:

Not done yet, but that progression run is the main culprit for deadening my legs. So this week, I've held back on speed workouts, doing somewhat easy fartleks in Central Park. I have 22 planned for Saturday - 14 easy, 5 in the 8k race, and 3 miles commute home. That's the plan anyways. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I just booked my hotel in San Antonio for my Boston Marathon celebration. Looking forward to Salt Lick and other fine eating establishments.

Monday, March 1, 2010

2/3 Done - February totals

As thankful as I am, it's hard to believe it's already March. Winter marathon training is never much fun so I can't wait for spring to officially arrive.

With February in the books, I am now 2/3 done with my Boston training. My February mileage was as follows:

Total: 151.80 miles

Not very high mileage, but there were more quality miles in there. Did about two speed workouts per week and longest long run of about 19 miles. I think February will serve as a perfect springboard for a March of what I plan to be very challenging training month before tapering. It'll be challenging in the following ways:

  • maintain two quality speed sessions /wk
  • planned long runs will be 20 (3/7), 22 (3/14), 20(3/21), 23(3/28)
  • maintain fitness gained from P90X (core, upper body)
  • clean energy from a better diet by drastically reducing refined sugar intake - this one might be the hardest
  • every week should have 5 or 6 days running

Hopefully this training will bring me to a new marathon PR in Boston.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 Running Plans

Been wavering over this decision for the past couple of months, and I'm happy to finally have made a decision - no NYC Marathon. I have a bunch of colleagues and friends, many first time marathoners, running the race and I want to root for them on the course. It will be my first as a spectator. Went through the motions of training and running the 2009 NYC marathon and I don't want to do that again. Discovered after doing the NJ and NYC marathons last year that I have the capacity to seriously train for one marathon per year. This year, it's the Boston Marathon. Goal time is 3:10.

I've also decided on a secondary goal - a sub 1:30 half marathon. With minimal running, I was encouraged by the 1:31:46 finish at the Manhattan half. Not sure which race yet, but I'm leaning towards the Philly half. I'll also be running, or perhaps racing some of the other NYRR half marathons this year.

Until then, I'm in the middle of a recovery week preparing for some heavy March training. Really looking forward to it too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 Manhattan Half Race Report - An Unexpected PR

Since I set my marathon PR in sprint 09, I have taken it really easy running-wise. I did the 09 NYC marathon but with bare minimum training (no > 40mi wks, one > 20mi run). Suffice it to say, I lost my motivation to run. So I allowed myself to take off so I can spend more evenings with my wife and do the P90X strength and conditioning program, a 90-day exercise and diet commitment which ended just after Christmas.

An eight month emphasis on enjoying life outside of running really helped to whet my appetite to get back into it. I redirected my focus back to run training when the decade turned. This started with Tabata intervals on the bike and eventually up the Manhattan Bridge 2-3x/wk to get my cardio back. Also did 5x mile intervals to get a feeling for the pacing six days before the race. And that was about it running-wise to help me prepare for the race. Below are my mileage totals since the 09 NYC marathon.
November: 61.95 incl. 09 NYC marathon

December: 39.20

You can see why I wasn't expecting too much heading into the 2010 Manhattan Half because of the minimal running. I was curious, however, to test the P90X conditioning I endured. So I decided to push myself to get as close to the 7:00min/mi pace. My pace chart for the race went as follows:

Split Time Distance Avg Speed Avg HR
1 0:06:58 1.01 6:56 162
2 0:06:55 1.01 6:52 172
3 0:06:48 1.01 6:46 171
4 0:07:05 1.01 7:00 172
5 0:07:02 1 7:02 173
6 0:06:52 1 6:53 170
7 0:07:00 1 7:01 170
8 0:07:03 1.01 6:58 172
9 0:06:47 1.01 6:45 171
10 0:07:14 1.02 7:05 173
11 0:07:08 0.99 7:14 175
12 0:06:57 1 6:55 174
13 0:07:03 1 7:03 178
14 0:00:47 0.13 6:18 180
Summary 1:31:46 13.18 6:57 172

I was surprised that I was doing sub 7's the first 3 miles, and going gradually faster at that. I finished the first loop with the mile marker reading 42:00. That was good because I knew I had some leeway having started in the back of the blue corral. I felt pretty decent so I thought I could push slightly harder in the second loop. So I did. But my effort wasn't translating to faster mile splits. Bummer. I'd have to push even harder. I drew into the thousands of P90X push-ups I did by using my upper body to power me up Cat Hill, Harlem Hill and the west side rolling hills. I think it worked. The mile 12 marker read 1:24:13. Lost about 13s, but it's now GO time. My goal for every race is to do a sub 6:15 final mile. This one didn't even come close - 7:03.

My official time was 1:31:41 (6:59 min/mi), a PR by about half a minute on a much tougher course. I was definitely ecstatic about my first sub-7 pace half for the first race of the year after months of taking it easy!

Breaking down the race effort, I think that P90X did a lot to help me stay conditioned. The three weeks of Tabata intervals helped me to get my cardio back QUICK, which is why I absolutely love Tabata workouts. The mile intervals helped me to feel the pacing. If there's anything that can be improved upon, it's the last 2-3 miles. In the past, I had a better ability to pick it up. Yesterday, it annoyed me to get passed by so many. Ugh. But I know that will be fixed as I up my mileage.

I'm hoping this is a good omen for my 2010 season. I'm definitely much more excited about running again hope to set more PR's.