Saturday, January 22, 2011

Manhattan Half

I was not an official race entrant for the Manhattan Half. I was out there to help pace a friend, CK, and to log some miles since I haven't been running much. I could not have picked a colder morning - 12F when I stepped out the door. Luckily I anticipated it so I made a stop at Sports Authority last night to pick up some new warm socks and gloves with a gift card. The socks actually worked really well. The gloves didn't work as well as I'd hoped.

The race itself I consider a success. Although CK didn't hit her goal time, she did great considering the morning conditions. The sunshine provided token warmth, but for the most part, it was the coldest race I've ever done to date. And yet, there was a guy out there with shorts and a sleeveless shirt. My face went numb. Probably had snot lines on my face and I couldn't feel it. My fingers get a burning freezing sensation in these temperatures. And about eight miles in, my feet felt like ice blocks attached to my ankles. I think I crossed the finish around 1:51:xx, just behind CK, but I don't know the official time since I stepped out of the race path and jogged to the finish in the pedestrian area.

Besides the cold, one outstanding thought I have about this run is this: it hurt just as much as when I ran a PR in Philly. I'll attribute it to the cold conditions and that I ran Disney 2 weeks ago.

All in all, it was a great new cold experience today to pace CK, log a few miles, and get my last long run done for the rest of this winter. To finish off the morning, I headed to Sullivan Street Bakery and treated myself to a chocolate almond croissant and a couple of bombolinis which I enjoyed with milk and finally some hot tea.

First time I've seen plastic bags over shoes for warmth...
Staying warm

Vibram's in these conditions
Manhattan Half Marathon

This guy's head isn't generating enough heat to keep the sweat from freezing, or it's just plain cold.
Freezing sweat

First loop, sun still coming up.
Central Park - Manhattan Half

Snowy sheep's meadow morning
Central Park Sheep's Meadow - Manhattan Half

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Five Year Report of Activities (2005 - 2010)

It's time for another look back at another year in activity, now that it's finally over for me. But instead of looking at just one year, why not a quick look at the last five years.

Most balanced year in terms of training. Did two goal races this year - The Tinman Triathlon and the Honolulu Marathon. Course consists of 750m swim/40k bike/10k run. I finished at 19:58/1:07:27/48:09) respectively, for a total 2:19:17 including transition times.

I did the Honolulu Marathon this year at 3:33:14. I was about 3 years into running at this point and remember how tough this race was for me. I had a goal time of 3:10 to BQ. Was 1:36 at the halfway point, and totally cramped up the second half. Was really just learning how tough it was to qualify for Boston.

Moved to NYC from Hawaii around August of this year.

Did a lot of stationary biking first winter because I didn't care too much for running in the cold. A few races in Central Park and a couple of NYRR half marathons, otherwise, it was a year to transition into a new living scenario.

Decided to do try for the NYRR Grand Prix in 2007 just to get the silly certificate. Logged most running miles this year (Also did my first NYC marathon. What an experience! Results were as follows:

Manhattan half - 1:35:52 (coldest race ever!)
Bronx half - 1:36:21 (another brutally cold race)
Brooklyn half - 1:34:39
New York City Marathon - 3:28:17 (first sub 3:30! At this point, I realized how far I was from qualifying for Boston, and I had to make a serious commitment if I was going to get to 3:15)

Didn't mark the other two half marathons, but I know it was in the mid 1:30's.

Buckled down more on run training this year to see if I could qualify for Boston in the NYC Marathon, logging 1590 miles for the year. My strategy to run the qualifying time was to do lots and lots of running without much speedwork Result? 3:19:46. Still nearly 5 minutes short of qualifying time.

Frustrated by my BQ failures, changed my strategy two-fold. First, I decided to do more speedwork by introducing Tabata sets into my workouts. Second, I decided to try to qualify on a flatter course in New Jersey. Result? Success! Qualified with a 3:14:23.

After finally qualifying, I wanted to try something different instead of running, so I committed to the P90X program. At the same time, I trained and did the 2009 NYC marathon. Results for the marathon were not very good. My heart was not into it. The P90X program, I think, helped me out quite a bit. Never been able to do so many pullups in my life! See results post here.

Finally ran the Boston marathon, and it was worth every trying effort to do the race. Of all the marathons I've done, including NYC, this was probably my favorite race to date. After the race, I really wasn't sure what to do with myself running-wise. Also had a couple of half marathon PR's, finally breaking 1:30 in the Philly half.

Started off with the a personally disappointing Disney marathon, which has motivated me to train hard this year. Will revisit 2011 about a year from now.

All-in-all, I can't believe I've been in NYC for over five years now. It's been quick, I'm still enjoying myself, and I'm looking forward to coming adventures with friends and my wife.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Disney Marathon Race Report

Tardy on this race report, but friends and family on an Orlando vacation trump the recap any day. So here it is...

Among runners, I wonder sometimes if I'm abnormal in that I don't enjoy running multiple marathons per year. In 2009, it was NJ and NYC. This past year, even though the Disney is in 2011, I consider it in the same year I did Boston since almost all the training was in 2010. This is an important consideration for me because I've realized that in doing two marathons per year the last two years, I've never performed well and consequently never fully enjoyed the second race. My Disney finish time was 3:18:52.

Training for this marathon was not quite as minimal as last year's NYC. I was just hoping to continue my string of PR's on minimal training. It's in my blood to be optimistic.

The race had an announced 17000 participants, but didn't felt like it was more than that. Race morning was nice and cold. I gave my wife my one long sleeve to help keep me warm, so thank goodness for the crowd to provide general warmth during the half-mile walk to the starting corrals from the check-in area.

After a few interviews of runners doing the Goofy challenge and other runners dressed in their favorite characters, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy sent us on our way at around 5:38 AM. I positioned myself all the way in the back of corral A to ensure a slower start. My wife, by the way, was dressed as Minnie Mouse, and being the actress that she is, she was true to her character throughout the race.

The best part about the course was running through the parks, particularly Magic Kingdom. I approached the Cinderella castle just before dawn, and the combination of the sunrise and the castle lighting was, dare I say, "magical." Besides that, the course itself was flat and rather uninteresting. Lots of highway and backroad running, including running by a sewer processing area. I'm thankful for the many Disney characters interspersed along the way between the parks to keep us entertained. I saw a couple of runners pull over to take pictures with some of the belles. The longest empty stretch was between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, so I chatted with a few other runners.

Strategy wise, mine was pretty straightforward. Go out slow the first few miles, make up the time in the middle, and give whatever I had left the remaining 10k. My finish time was reflective of the training I put into it. I was hoping for a 3:15, but I think not enough training, over-indulgent holiday season and the all-day amusement park outing the day before the race ultimately did me in. All along, I saw this marathon as something fun to do in support of my wife and my best friend doing his first marathon. They both smashed their race goals. In the end, with the usual body pains of a marathon, I lamented that I didn't give the event more respect.

There are lessons to be learned in every race, and I believe I was due mine. I've been spoiled this past year with less mileage yielding better results. It was good to be humbled and reminded that I need to work to get better. And that sets me up for this year nicely. The race was less than a week ago, but I definitely feel more motivated now than I have since Boston training last year. I feel like it's safe for me to wave goodbye to my lack of motivation and say hello to a new season. And I will go on record to challenge for a new PR at the NYC marathon in November, my only marathon this coming training season.

Some photos
Happiness at around mile 11, out of the Magic Kingdom.

Still feeling alright going the Animal Kingdom with a Mt. Everest model in the background. I wish this part of the race was longer. It's on my bucket list to at least hike up to base camp on Mount Everest.

Worst. Race photo. Ever!

Obviously caught immediately at the moment that I'm springing up and everything else is still going down.