Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Marathon?

Earlier this year, I had placed on my Outlook Calendar at work a note that registration for the Marine Corps Marathon opens today at noon.  This is the largest marathon in the DC area - it is held in October, but registration is now and normally fills up in a few hours.

In January, when I put this note on my calendar, I was thinking that perhaps I'll really be into my marathon training and I'll want to run TWO of them this year.  I didn't want to miss the boat on registering for this one.

As much as I have liked my marathon training - and I believe that this weekend's race will not be my last marathon - I don't think I'll be running another full marathon this calendar year.  I have found that marathon training takes TONS of focus and commitment (and time), and I'll need to get back to putting this focus, commitment and time back into my family and work.

So....I will not be signing up for the MCM later today, and I don't feel sad about it in the least.

Once this weekend is over, I will definitely re-evaluate my running goals for the end of the year, as my #1 goal of running a marathon will be checked off.  However, running marathon #2 will not be one of those goals for 2008.

No Speedwork - But FAST Easy Run

My mid-week "longer" run is normally when I do my speedwork.  However, since this is my last taper week - when I'm supposed to rest my body - and the mid-week "longer" run was only 4 miles, I decided to just make it an easy run.

As an aside, for the first 4 weeks of my training, my mid-week "longer" run WAS 3 or 4 miles.  It's pretty ironic that I now feel that this is too short of a run to do speedwork!

With no music, I was able to focus on my running (OK...when my mind wasn't wandering off to think about work stuff or the marathon itself this weekend).  I tried to keep my HR under 150 for as much of the run as possible.  I did a pretty good job as the average HR for the full run was 151.  However, my surprise was when I finished the run and saw my time - 43:22.  This was for a loop that was 4.43 miles, which meant a sub 10 minute mile for an easy run!!!!

I doubt that I'd be able to keep this pace up for 26.2 miles, but if I did I'd run a 4:16:46 marathon.  WOW!  My original goals (and still my current goals) were:
  • Finish a marathon
  • Finish in under 5 hours
  • Stretch goal - finish in under 4:30 (this would mean averaging a PR on both half marathons)
I think I'm well on my way to accomplish these goals (maybe not my stretch goal...but it's not totally out of reach).

Oh, and BTW - I hope I didn't just jinx myself...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hey 319!

I received an email from the Frederick Marathon.  Bib numbers have been assigned!

I'm 319

Bib and packet pickup are on Saturday.  I can't wait!!!!!!

Wimping The Weather

As I mentioned on my post yesterday, the warm weather has made me a wimp to the cold. So, for this morning's run in 45 degree temperatures, I put on the running pants instead of shorts.

However, I stuck with only the long-sleeved tee and baseball cap - no windbreaker, winter cap or gloves :-)

It was a nice, short "easy" run. Barely enough time to warm up! It seems so odd to run such short distances with such a big run coming up this weekend, but I'll respect the taper and try to remind myself that I ran 20 miles three weeks ago, so 26.2 is well within my reach.

Again, I tried to keep my HR down...I did pretty well with an average HR of 151. My pace was 10:11/mile. The glass of Shiraz from last night didn't impact my run at all ;-)

Today's music was the sounds of nature. Since I will not be wearing an iPod during the race this weekend, I want to get used to not being "plugged-in" to the music while running. I heard so many different songs of various birds it was amazing! I wish I knew which birds sang which songs...but I'm not one to join the Auduban Society or go birdwatching or anything.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Weather Is Relative

During my training over the winter, if there was an overnight low of 44 degrees with a 40% chance of showers, I'd most likely lay out shorts and a long sleeved shirt and a baseball cap.

That's the forecast for tomorrow morning, and I'm considering wearing running tights, and a windbreaker over a long sleeved shirt. It's funny what a few weeks of warm weather will do to you!

Day 1 of The Taper Week has gone pretty well. First of all, I'm able to eat breads again - so I had a bagel for breakfast. YUMMMM. I definitely missed bagels! I had black bean burritos with baby spinach for dinner - I missed Mexican food as well :-)

Since I didn't cross train yesterday, I went to the gym this morning and did 36 minutes on the elliptical. It was nice to get my body moving - even if it was not for a run.

Rick left a nice comment for me about how strange this week will be in terms of my runs. 3 miles, 4 miles and 2 miles - and then rest, rest. I know I'm going to WANT to run more. But I will respect the taper.

I'm also trying to hydrate a bit more this week. I had a liter of water with NUUN tablets at my desk today. I'll try do drink a lot of water and/or electrolyte drinks during the week this week. And I'll try to cut down on the alcohol...not that I'm a big drinker, but I normally have about 2-3 drinks a week due to doctors orders to help raise my HDL cholesterol (seriously...those are doctor's orders!).

It's kind of a bummer, as I was going to have a drink tonight to celebrate - I took my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Exam at work today and passed on the first try! OK...perhaps I will have a small glass of wine in celebration as we have an open bottle of Shiraz in the fridge...

Checking The Weather...

The Frederick Marathon is now in 6 days. Time to see what the weather report is saying, right?

The current prediction from is 40% chance of rain with low temperature of 52 degrees and high temperature of 71 degrees. Basically, it looks like the weatherman is playing the averages.

I would actually love to run on a slightly overcast morning with temperatures in the high-50s. That would be perfect running weather for a long run like this.

Unfortunately, the weather did not turn out so great for my college friend - and a big fan of my blog - Zia who ran a half marathon yesterday in 80 degree temperatures. I haven't received the lowdown about the race, but did get a text message saying that she finished. CONGRATS Z for pulling out a real gutsy performance!!!

I had one DNS last year for a half marathon that I trained for. It was the weekend of the Nor'easter. It was to be my second half marathon - I put in all the training miles and was ready and really excited for the race. I knew the weather was going to be crappy, but I psyched myself into running the race anyhow. I woke up the morning of the race and I could hear the hard driving rain against the roof and windows of my house. I still was not deterred from running this race, so I got my running gear on, ate a snack and got into my car. As I started driving toward the highway, I couldn't see a damn thing through my windshield! It was at that point I decided to turn around. I knew that once I started running that the rain wouldn't have bothered me so much; however, I didn't want to stand around getting soaked and cold (it was in the mid-40s) for 20-30 minutes at the starting line of the race. Let's just hope that the weather this Sunday is a lot better than this!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Passover Is OVER!!!


This year - because Passover officially started on Saturday night and you're not supposed to do work on the Sabbath, Passover was 9 days instead of eight. So I was REALLY ready to eat some bread this evening!

My wife and I had originally planned to go to a nearby Ethiopian restaurant after the kids were in bed. However, I called them this afternoon and found out that they close at 7pm on Sunday evenings. So we decided to go to Dogfish Head Alehouse - a micro-brewery restaurant nearby. They have an awesome grouper sandwich - on grilled pumpernickel bread with cole slaw, swiss cheese and Russian dressing - and we split a beer sampler. YUM!

I'll most likely take my son out to our favorite bagel place tomorrow morning...

...after I hit the gym. Today was supposed to be a cross-training day, but I did not get to the gym. So I'll hit the elliptical machine early tomorrow morning.

It's the last taper week - so my runs are much shorter - 3 miles on Tuesday, 4 miles on Wednesday and 2 miles on Thursday. Then two full rest days before THE BIG DAY. I can't believe how close it is!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Last Long Run

This morning was my last long run.  It was scheduled for 8 miles, but I decided to go 9 miles instead.  I had a nice 9 mile loop and not much for 8 miles - and the fact is, I was just a bit too lazy to map a new route out yesterday.  Plus, this course gives a great perspective on how the City of Gaithersburg has progressed over the past 100 years (see my post from when I first ran this course) and I really wanted to run it again.

I really wanted to keep my heart rate low during today's run, but I kept on getting lost in my music (that dissociative runner syndrome again) and running a little too hard.  My average HR was 157, but my average pace was 10:21/mile (9 miles in 1:33:18).  And I felt like I could have run at that pace for another few miles...I have got to find a Half Marathon after I recover from next weekend's marathon, as my PR for that distance will be falling for sure!

I took a look at my training log and found that the last time I ran this loop - as a long run in Week 4 of my training...13 weeks ago - I ran an 11:59/mile pace with an average HR of 153.  What a difference 3 months makes!!!  I also remember the first time I ran this route it was cold and dark (the training log says 23 degrees).  This morning the sun was out when I left the house at 6:30am and it was about 40 degrees warmer - in the low 60s.  I much prefer today's weather to January's :-)

The music I listened to this morning was Idan Raichel (both Idan Raichel's Project and MeMe'amekim since I had a good 90 minute run).  There is a song on the first album - Hinech Yaffa - which was inspired by passages of The Song of Songs.  This book of scriptures is traditionally read during the Shabbat of Passover - which is today (I chanted excerpts from 4 of the chapters of Song of Songs this morning at synagogue) - so I decided this would be good music to listen to this morning.  Idan Raichel came out of nowhere on the Israeli music scene about 5 years ago - creating a unique fusion of Israeli pop/rock with Ethiopian music.  There were two big waves of immigration of Jews from Ethiopia in the mid-80s and early 90s, however, the influence of the Ethiopian immigrants did not have as large of an impact on Israeli culture as immigrants from other countries did.  For example, when I lived in Tel Aviv in 2000-2001, I could not find an Ethiopian restaurant (more about Ethiopian food in an upcoming post, as I believe I'll be breaking Passover tomorrow night at an Ethiopian restaurant!!).  Idan Raichel's Project helped bring Ethiopian musicians (and to an extent their language Amharic) into wider Israeli culture - which I believe is helping the Ethiopian Israelis gain more acceptance.

I believe that this was the first long run I did without a single GU packet.  Again, it's Passover and some of the ingredients in GU originate from foods that are not Kosher for Passover, so I have been S.O.L. this week in terms of electrolyte replacement.  I am so glad that tomorrow is the last day of this holiday!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Countdown...

The marathon countdown clock on my blog shows 8 days and some-odd hours left until the big race.

More importantly, there are two days and some-odd hours left of Passover. I can't wait to have all of those wonderful carbs again!!!

I stepped on the scale this morning to see what Passover and tapering was doing to me weight-wise. I gorged out at the seders, eating way much more than I should have. I have been hitting the sweets more often this past week, as that is really the only "munchy food" around (besides potato chips which are way to oily for me anyway). I also feel like I have been hungry all of the time!!! On the other hand, I may have lost weight as I'm not eating as many carbs and I'm still exercising (Atkins must work if so many people are doing it, right?), and I'm not snacking much (nothing to snack on...). So, to my surprise, when I stepped on the scale this morning it said 162.0. I have actually lost a few pounds this week. I don't know if I'll weigh myself again until after the marathon - I don't want weight to be a factor into how I'm tapering.

Tomorrow morning I have my last "long run" before the race. Eight miles. It's actually the shortest long run I have done since week 7 - that was over two months ago! I haven't chosen my route yet...I guess I'll look over it tonight.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Single Digits Now!!!!

I just looked over at my countdown tracker on the blog. I'm less than 10 days away from starting my first marathon....WOW!!!!!!

Easy Three Miles

As the taper period continues, the mileage is coming down considerably. I don't believe I have had a 3 miler on my training schedule in weeks (now that I check - it's been 7 weeks!), so running this distance was a piece of cake (kosher l'pesach...of course!).

However, the thing that was NOT a piece of cake was making this easy run an "easy run" - that is with my heart rate in the 70%-80% of max HR range. Perhaps I was still living off of the fumes of yesterday's speedwork, but I found it difficult to reign it in this morning. My average HR when all was said and done was 157 bpm - a bit high for such a short run. Luckily, my pace followed my HR - I ran at a 10:00/mile fastest "easy" runs so far have been at a 10:20-10:30/mile pace.

Perhaps I was running to the cadence of the music this morning? I had a collection of The Police on my iPod Shuffle - not exactly music that I would associate with a fast run, but the beat on some of their tunes does keep you going.

Being that some of my runs have been at a faster pace than I would have liked, my goal for this weekend's long run will have to be to run SLOW. I want to ensure I can reign it in when necessary - especially for the long-haul of 26.2 miles.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tempo Run This Morning

It's Wednesday - which means speedwork for me.  Instead of hitting the track for intervals, I decided to do a tempo run this morning.  Since the mileage is decreasing this week with the taper, I was only doing 6 miles - so I was able to use one of my neighborhood loops.  The actual distance on this loop is 6.2 miles - so I'll be able to see what I can do with a 10K race :-)

I started the run out with an easy first mile - my HR was in the 140s most of the time - and I clocked it at 10:05. body felt really sluggish and tired - like it was hard to move - yet my pace was really good.  It was perfect running weather - about 55 degrees and overcast - so perhaps that was why I did so well?  Maybe my body really has adjusted to all the training and I'm in great running shape?  Who knows.  I know why I felt sluggish - not enough sleep and not enough carbs....and I still have 5 more days of Passover - YIKES!

After the easy mile I kicked it into higher gear.  I wanted to keep my HR in the 160s.  I did this through miles 2 and 3, however, during miles 4 and 5 there were some uphill patches - and some were on the steeper side - so I ended up getting into the 170s.  But I kept my pace up.  I finally slowed down with about 1/3 of a mile left - I know it was a short cool down...I was thinking it was 1/2 mile to home, but I underestimated the distance.

I ended up running the full 6.2 miles in 58:07.  My PR for the distance is 56:14 at the 2006 Pike's Peek 10K - which is a net downhill race.  The past two 10K Turkey Trots I have not done so well - times over 1 hour - but in each case I had donated blood less than a week before the race...and I am now seeing the correlation between my blood donations and running performance.  Either way - I'll take a 58:07 10K...and I may use this as a race strategy for my next 10K!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Only 10 Days Until Race Day!!!

I received an email from the organizers of the Frederick Marathon with that title. WOW!

It also mentioned that there were a few minor adjustments to the course due to road construction closings. I have barely looked at the course yet - so I have a question to those of you marathon veterans (or just race veterans - whether it is 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, etc.). Do you scope out the course before the race?

I believe I did drive the course before my first Half Marathon...but I'm not sure it helped me much.
This morning I did hit the gym for my 4 mile easy run. I had woken up in the middle of the night and heard strong winds, so I planned on the gym. However, I probably could have run outside without any issue...oh well. An ounce of prevention, right?

I still had some Jethro Tull on my iPod shuffle, so I listened to Stand Up and Benefit. They're both on the mellower side, which was good for a nice mellow run.

For the first two miles, I don't believe my HR was over 150. Then I started to push it a bit, but once I hit 160 (halfway into mile 4), I backed down my speed to bring my HR down. Overall, I ran a 10:43/mile pace at an average HR of 146.

Even though I had run on Saturday, it felt like I hadn't run for a week. This past weekend was difficult - with all the guests and lack of sleep. Add the fact that my carb intake has gone way down, it was tough to run. Luckily this is a taper week :-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Surviving Seder

Yesterday we were having 25 people for seder number two.  Eight of them under the age of 6.  I don't think I was prepared for the amount of noise and chaos that would be in my house from the hours of 5pm to 8:30pm.

Just preparing the house to hold a dinner for 25 is crazy in itself.  We strung together our dining room table with both leaves inserted, an 8' folding table and two smaller "bridge" tables.  My wife talked me into doing disposable plates and utensils (the plastic-y ones that we bought in bulk at Sam's Club) instead of using our nice Passover dishes...excellent call!  We had enough dishes to clean after everyone left just in serving pieces and soup bowls...I couldn't have imagined washing 40 dishes and silverware as well.

All of this chaos would have been enough!  (Dayeinu - right?)  However, early in the morning - while preparing stuffing for the turkey - I made a pretty good slice into my left thumb.  OUCH!!!  I put pressure on it and it finally stopped bleeding about 10 minutes later.  The rest of the day it was bandaged up. However, any time during the day I needed to use that thumb, I got a "zing" up my arm.  I went to my doctor first thing this morning and she told me that it should heal fine, however, I got a tetanus shot.  I had no idea when my last one was.  I said "it may have been 8 years ago before I went to live in Israel...but I wasn't sure".  So my doctor said it was time for me to get one.

So, now I have a cut up thumb and a pain in the arm.  Luckily, it's a low mileage week!

Tomorrow is a 4 mile run and it has been very rainy lately.  I'm not sure if I'll brave it and do the run outside or go to the gym and run on the dreadmill.  I'm supposed to keep the bandage on my thumb dry, so that may be the deciding factor to hit the gym.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nutso Day

So, today was Shabbat - I was reading torah at synagogue - and this evening was the first night of Passover - and we were having 20 people for seder (we're having 25 people tomorrow - yikes!)

My plan was to wake up by 6:15am and run my 12 mile long run, be back in time to go to synagogue and then come home and finish preparing for seder.  This is exactly what transpired - except for the fact that my younger son woke up crying at 3:30am.  So I had an interrupted night sleep - and not nearly enough sleep :-(

Since I left the house at 6:30am, the sun was already starting to rise.  I went back into the house for a pair of sunglasses.  I ended up not really needing them until about mile 9 or 10, however, that is probably what will happen for the race in a few weeks, so I may as well practice now.

The weather was beautiful for a run.  Clear skies, 47 degrees when I started, no wind.  I'll miss these crisp, clear Spring mornings in a few weeks!

The run was pretty uneventful.  I felt pretty fatigued during the first 3 or 4 miles.  I'm not sure if this is due to being woken up the night before, going to sleep too late during the week to prepare for Passover, or if my body is trying to tell me that I should take a few rest days.  Luckily I had some good tunes!  For most of the run it was the Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed and Exile on Main Street, and then I listened to the beginning of Jethro Tull's Aqualung as my run finished.

I ended up running pretty well when all was said and done - a 10:23/mile pace with an average HR of 155.  That pace is equal to my Half Marathon PR, and that was with an average HR that was much higher.  So...I'm pretty sure that I could run a Half Marathon PR right now (note to self...sign up for a half marathon as soon as you recover from the marathon!).

Seder also went well this evening.  Although I am totally exhausted right now!  Time to go to bed soon...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Post Marathon Beer????

I received my Runner's Information Booklet in the mail this week and started reading it yesterday. In the information about the Finish Line festivities, it mentions where to get your "beer coupon" and pick up your free beer.

Areyoukiddinme? After running 26.2 miles, I'm going to drink an alcoholic beverage? Won't I dehydrate on the spot?

I decided to post this question on RunningAhead - a great website where I have my running log and I read many forums on all topics running. Here's the beer thread - and it ends up that drinking beer after a marathon is not such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quick 2 Miles

I had about an hour and a half open in my schedule late this morning, so I got out for a short run.

Unfortunately, I did not get out of the office as quickly as I thought I could, so the 4 miler that I was thinking that I might be able to do became a 2 miler (actually, when I mapped out the route when I got back it ends up that my 2 mile route is actually a 1.84 mile route...bummer!).

After my first mile - and seeing the time and knowing that this was going to have to be a shorter run that I had wanted it to be - I decided to switch up from an "easy run" to an "attack the hills" run. There were two big hills on the second part of this loop, and I decided to run them at a faster clip and then recover on the flat/downhill sections.

I got back home for a quick shower and back at my desk with 15 minutes to spare before my 12 noon conference call!

Slept In This Morning

After helping out with more Passover prep last night, I didn't get into bed until 11:30pm. I decided to forgo my 5 mile easy run this morning and sleep in :-) OK...I woke up naturally at 6:25am - but that has become "sleeping in" in my life at this point.

However, this may not become an unscheduled rest day. It is BEAUTIFUL outside, so I may be able to get in a run in between meetings (I have a conference call scheduled at noon, so it'll either be an early lunch run or a late lunch run...) or in the evening.

Best of both worlds - no alarm and I'll get a run in on a glorious day!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passover Prep

Passover officially starts this Saturday night and continues through the next Sunday. There is a lot of preparation that goes into Passover in our home, and we've been busy preparing since last weekend.

It is customary during Passover not to eat any leavened bread or anything made of chametz (and Ashkenazi Rabbis added kitniyot to this as well - thanks guys...). From this tradition, comes lots of rules, regulations and madness.

In an effort not to consume any chametz or kitniyot during Passover, most observant Jews turn over their entire kitchen and do a thorough "Spring cleaning". Also, any processed foods need to have a special hechsher (certification or marking) for Passover which is kind of an approval symbol that no grains or corn/beans/rice were used in the making/processing/packaging of these foods. (this is the only time of year where you can purchase Coca Cola that uses sugar and not corn syrup! look for the yellow caps and Passover certification...). Let me tell you - eating carbs will not be easy next week. Luckily potatoes are allowed!

We're relatively strict in our observance of the holiday - we have separate dishes, flatware and pots and pans for Passover (so that there is less of a chance that we will eat non-Passover foods). Last night was spent doing some more Passover shopping, and took all of our non-Passover foods out of our pantry and brought them down to the basement. Tonight we'll most likely clean out the refrigerator and freezer and by tomorrow we won't consume any non-Passover foods in our house until after the holiday is over. Thursday night we'll swap out our dishes and pots and pans.

The good part about all of this is that it forces us to clean out the pantry, refrigerator and freezer at least once a year. It's amazing what you find!!! :-)

However, all this preparation makes me wonder whether we're losing touch with why we're not to eat chametz in the first place. The Israelites left Egypt in such haste that there was not time for their bread to rise - therefore, no leavened products. Could you imagine if the Israelites tried to turn over their kitchen or search for Passover-approved foods before leaving Egypt? We'd still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt!!!

On top of all the normal preparations, we are hosting the festive Passover seder meals on both Saturday night and Sunday night...and we're having a lot of guests. Saturday night will be dinner for 21 and Sunday night will be dinner for 24 (perhaps up to 26, as there are two people who still have not given us an answer).

I'll need every drop of those four cups of wine to get through the weekend!!!

Another Speedwork Morning

This morning's plan - 8 mile speedwork session. Run up to QOHS track, do 7 x 800 intervals with a 400 recovery jog, and run back home. This would be a little over 8.25 miles. Great plan.

We got to bed later than I would have liked. We were doing a lot of Passover prep (I'll post about this later...) and then watched the finale of the Biggest Loser (amazing that some of those people now weigh less than me!!!) I somehow woke up at 4:45am and waited for my alarm to go off at 5:15am. I turned it off and then could not get myself out of bed. I was thinking of lots of excuses why not to run this morning, but I finally dragged my behind out of bed at 5:45am.

BTW - I believe that my body could be telling me that I need more sleep and to take a day off (this was one of the things I was saying to myself in bed). But I won't take a speedwork day off - they're too important. Perhaps I'll let myself sleep in tomorrow (do I hear my wife cheering after uttering these words????)

I walked outside in my long sleeve Mizuno BreathThermo shirt and a pair of shorts. It was much colder than I thought so I went back inside for my windbreaker and gloves - good call! After my run I checked the weather site and it was 32 degrees (probably 30 when I started).

When I got to the track, the sun was starting to rise. Excellent! I get to see my interval splits as they happen today.

There were also a bunch of people at the track this morning - many of them looked like they were part of a group doing some kind of Sarge's Program - they would run around the track a few times and then do some exercises on the field.

My first interval I went out waaaaay too fast. Basically, I ended up racing the other people on the track instead of staying within the pace that I should have. When I looked at my watch for my split after I finished the second lap, it said 3:41. That's a 7:22 mile pace. That's INSANELY fast for me. My 800 interval times should be 20 to 30 seconds slower than that, so for the remainder of my time at the track I tried to reel it in so that I would not run so fast. And by my last interval I was really starting to get starting out too fast hurt me.

I really need to bring this lesson with me to the marathon on May 4. There will be lots of people there running the race (I believe it's 1500 running the marathon and even more running the half marathon). I need to be able to pace myself and not try to keep up with or out run others around me. I'll try to develop a mantra to chant to myself at the beginning of the race to remind me :-)

Here are my interval splits: 3:41, 3:54, 4:03, 4:05, 4:03, 4:06, 4:08

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Staying In Bed Too Long :-(

This morning, I heard my alarm and I immediately turned it off. I didn't do it just happened.

By the time I rolled around to look at the clock, it was already 5:50am. YIKES! I had a 5 mile run scheduled and I had promised my wife that I'd take my older son to school (need to leave the house by 7:30am). I got my behind out of bed and threw my running clothes on (laid them out the night before - shorts and a long sleeve shirt as the weather was going to be in the high 30s this morning)...I was out of the house by 6:05.

I decided to cut the run short by a mile so I would not be too rushed when I got back into the house. I figured I was supposed to do 5 miles today and 4 miles on Thursday - so I'll just swap them. My runs the day after speedwork are usually awesome anyhow, so I don't think I'd mind the extra mile then :-)

Actually, today's run was great. I ran a bit fast - my average HR was 152, and there were many times I would look down at my watch to see a HR at 160 and make myself slow down. My pace was a 10:20 mile - actually 20 seconds per mile faster than my Tuesday easy run last week at the same average HR. So, I'm really seeing the gains from last week's 40 mile total including the 10 mile speedwork and the 20 mile long run!

I listened to some Israeli "mizrachi" (middle-eastern influenced) pop music this morning. Most notably Sarit Hadad and Hamsa. Good beats for a good run!

Later this morning I finally figured out why yesterday was so tough for me. There were many times where I've left the house at 6:30am and didn't return until after 8:30pm and it didn't bother me much what happened yesterday??? It hit me when my 2 1/2 year old son came downstairs this morning and gave me a big hug. I didn't see either one of my kids the entire day yesterday! That's what was bothering me. How could I not figure that one out???

I guess the other times where I had 14 hour days with work were either before we had kids, or while I was working from home - where I would at least get a break and see the kids for a little bit. There had been days where I didn't see the kids due to me being out of town, but there have been very few days - if any - in the past six years where I have been in town and not seen my boys. I'm hoping days like yesterday are few and far between.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Last Beer Before Pesach...

In the days leading to Pesach (Passover) we are trying to consume all the chametz products in the house. That includes beer. I don't keep too much beer in the house most of the time, but I still had the leftovers of a six pack of Amstel Light. I had one last night, leaving one left to consume before Friday. I decided to down this last beer down tonight :-)

It's been a long day. I was in a Project Management training seminar in Waldorf, MD. It is a good hour and fifteen minutes from the house - but I needed to leave early because traffic in the DC area can be a nightmare at times. Luckily, today wasn't one of those days and I made it there in an hour and twenty minutes....which got me there 40 minutes before the class began. I had a minor ordeal at work to navigate through during breaks of the training - so I wasn't able to do much networking at the seminar (networking one of the reasons I signed up for the thing...that and earning PDUs to keep my PMP certification).

After class I finished up a little more work - using the wifi network at the hotel where the course was held. Then on the way home I made a shivah / condolence call to a friend in Silver Spring whose father had passed away. I finally got home around 8:45pm.

When I used to work in an office near Tyson's Corner, VA, there were definitely days when I left the house before 6:30am and returned after 8:30pm. However, since I'm now a full-time telecommuter I don't have many days like this anymore. Thank goodness!!!!
Looking at my training plan for this week, I still have a good amount of mileage to put in - 5 miles tomorrow, 8 miles speedwork on Wednesday, 4 miles on Thursday and 12 miles on Saturday. Definitely a step down from the 40 miles on the schedule last week - but 29 miles in a week ain't too shabby either. Before I started my marathon training, I believe my highest mileage week was somewhere around 22 miles.

Tonight it is supposed to dip down below freezing again, so no shorts and a t-shirt for tomorrow morning's run :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two Rest Days In A Row

Sundays were supposed to be "cross training" days, however, they have pretty much become an additional rest day. I do lead an Israeli Folkdance session for two hours each Sunday evening - so I do get some exercise - but it's not as intense as hitting the elliptical machine for 45 minutes like I was doing earlier in my training program.

Today my legs are still a bit sore and tender - I expected this to be the case after running 20 miles yesterday! - so 30-45 min on the elliptical may have been a good thing to get the blood pumping.

Now that I'm starting my taper period, I'll try to be a bit more diligent about doing the cross-training.

Tomorrow will be an official rest day. Then it'll be back to running on Tuesday.
And talking about running...Rick finished his first marathon in 4:38 today. Way to go!!!!!

I can't believe that 3 weeks from today I'll be running my first 26.2 mile race. YIKES!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The 20 Miler

Now that I have some time to write, I'll give a few details about my 20 miler this morning. Luckily, it was pretty uneventful!

I had a horrible night's sleep last night. I don't know if I was just antsy about waking up so early (4:30am on a Saturday just isn't normal for me - even recently with the higher mileage of marathon training). My older son woke me up at 2:30am saying that he had a bad dream; after I put him back to bed I went in and out of a light sleep until a few minutes before my alarm was to go off (and I turned it off so I would not wake up my wife).

I knew the weather would be warmer than I was used to, so I was going to wear shorts and a t-shirt. Hooray!! I also was going to wear the new pair of Balga socks that my sister bought for me last week. I was very apprehensive about wearing a new pair of socks for such a long run - but these worked out very well. The bottoms of the socks are thicker (padding for the long run) and the tops are thinner (better breathability - especially for the warmer weather). I would definitely recommend these socks...I may even buy another pair or two for myself.

The weather was great - and maybe a wee bit too warm for such a long run. When I walked out of the house it was 57 degrees, calm winds and a little foggy. Of course it was still dark - it was 5am. I ended up running about 3/4 of the time in sunlight and the temperature most likely rose about 10 degrees while I was outside. I may want to run a few of my last longer runs in the sun - with my sunglasses - just to get used to that before the marathon.

My plan was to keep my pace on the slower side so that my heart rate stayed lower. I chose my music accordingly - mellow. I listened to Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainright, Jack Johnson, The Eagles and Carole King.

I was able to keep my heart rate low for the first 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I kept my heart rate in the high-140s to mid-150s with the exception of hills, where it climbed into the 160s. After that I hit a few problems - first, my course started to be mainly uphill (I really need to start checking the elevation of my courses...if I would have known this fact, I would have run the course the other way!). More importantly, I started to run out of water. I brought the three 8oz flasks of water on my AmphiPod, and I did not have a chance to stow another waterbottle somewhere on my route. UGH!!! 24oz of water proved not to be enough for my close-to-four hour run in temperatures that were warmer than I was used to at this point. As a result, miles 16 through 20 were pretty tough and my heart rate stayed in the high 160s for most of that last 45 min. My finishing average heart rate was 157bpm.

However, I got through the entire run without much physical pain. I was able to walk to synagogue (1/4 mile from my house) with no issues - unlike 2 weeks ago where I hobbled there after my 18+ mile run. I'm a bit sore now - especially in my feet, calves and the side of my left knee - but I expected to be sore. I mean, come on - I ran 20 miles this morning. :-)

20 Miles - I DID IT!!!!

I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to leave a quick message that I finished my 20 mile run this morning!!!

My finishing time was 3:46:52.  Training log details are here.  The route is below.

Friday, April 11, 2008

20 Mile Loop, Passover Carb Loading and Good Luck Rick!

Yesterday evening I did some "homework" to come up with a 20 mile loop course for tomorrow's run. This will be my longest training run of the program - and the last really long run before the marathon. After that I start to taper (some notes on tapering from Sara's blog are here...I'm not looking forward to this!).

I tried a bunch of different routes - adding on to, or trying to combine some of my previous courses - but they all came in too short or too long. In previous weeks, I didn't care if my 16 mile run was 16.8, but for 20 miles (and in a bit of a time crunch as I'll be going to synagogue afterwards), I need it to be 20 miles.

I finally got one to measure 20.05 miles! I'll be running through Olde Town Gaithersburg, down Rt 355 and picking up the Rockville Millennium Trail going the opposite way that I'm used to.

The last thing I may want to do is figure out if there is a place I can stow a water bottle tonight (or figure if someone I know lives near the course and have them put a water bottle somewhere???). We'll see....
During the tapering period, you're supposed to keep your carb intake at the same level during your training (for me it's been about 60-70% of my calories from carbs...take that Atkins folks!). However, Passover starts in a week - so carb intake will be a bit difficult. I have nothing against matzah and potatoes, but I don't think I'll be able to get such a high percentage of calories from carbs on matzah and potatoes for a week.

I remembered seeing a recipe for home made granola in Runner's World about a year ago, and I was thinking perhaps I can substitute broken up matzah for the oats and make Passover "matzah-nola". So I tried this out last night - substituting broken up matzah for the rolled oats and bran flake cereal, and substituting matzah meal for wheat germ. It actually came out pretty good. It still has that matzah aftertaste, but the honey and cinnamon and raisins makes it bearable. I'll definitely be making this stuff during Passover!
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to one of my running "dot-comrades" Rick who will be running his first marathon this Sunday in Toledo. Rick has endured a really horrible winter up in Michigan, and a pretty bad lower leg injury in the later part of his training - but he's getting it done and will be at the starting line Sunday morning (and no doubt at the finish line later that morning!!!). I decided to check the weather in Toledo to see if at least he'll have nice conditions to run in:
  • Sunday: Rain and snow showers likely, mainly before noon. Cloudy, with a high near 43. North wind between 13 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%
Sounds yucky to me :-( Hopefully the wind will not be that strong come race time...


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post-Intervals Easy Runs ROCK!!!

I have noticed a trend. The easy run that follows my speedwork - most notably interval work - is always an awesome run.

This morning was no exception. Never mind that the weather was great - high-40s and a bit foggy...and no wind! My pace was a bit faster than Monday's easy run and my average heart rate was a bit lower - at 149 which is exactly where it should be. much as I don't like going to the track - I definitely see the results from those workouts.

Another trend I'm seeing - it takes a good 3-4 weeks after I give blood to get back to my previous level of aerobic fitness. Within a few days I can run without problems...but my pace and HR don't stabilize back to where they were until 3-4 weeks later.

I decided to bring my iPod on this morning's run - I'm starting to run without it a bit more as I will not be running with it on race day. I listened to two albums from the late 70s / early 80s: Joe Jackson's Look Sharp! and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True.

Good tunes, good run - what a way to start the day!

"What Time Is It In San Francisco??"

We took a family vacation to San Francisco in December 2006 (here's some pictures from that trip). My older son, Doron, loved that trip and hanging out with his cousins - so much so, that many times he'll ask me out of the blue "What time is it in San Francisco?"

This morning on the way to school he asked me that question. It was 7:45am here, so I let him know that it was 4:45am in San Francisco. "4:45 in the morning?", he asked me. I replied, "Well, it's really still night time. If you woke up that early you would have to go back to sleep."

Of course immediately after I said that, I remembered that this Satruday I would most likely wake up at 4:45am so I could get my 20 mile run in before going to synagogue.

Perhaps I should have said "Mentally stable people would go back to sleep if they woke up that early..."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Big Toe is OK

I went to the chiro during lunchtime to have my big toe checked out.  Everything is fine - whew.

I had been having some minor pain in the joint and I was really concerned that it may be the start of a bunion developing (I've never had one and I never want to have one!).  Now I have piece of mind that it is just soreness.

I'm wondering how often I'll be running to the chiro during my taper - obsessing that every ache and pain may be an injury which will keep me from running the marathon...

Speedwork - 10 Miles...UGH!

I have been doing my speedwork during the mid-week "longer" run. This week, the mid-week "longer" run mileage peaks at 10 miles. Pretty crazy that 10 weeks ago this was my weekend long run and now it is just a mid-week run.

My plan - wake up at 5am (so that I could get this long run in and start working at a decent time), jog to the Quince Orchard High School track (that's pronounced "kwinse" - like the fruit; not "keen-say" like 15 in Spanish), run 9 x 800 with a 400 recovery jog, and do an easy run back home.

Again, it was dark when I started so I was running by feel and could not see what my interval times were. I knew that I was running hard. I knew I was running faster than normal. I just didn't know HOW fast until I got home and checked my splits (see below). It ended up that I had two sub-3:50 half mile splits and one other sub-4:00 split. I'm thinking that my splits should be in the 4:05 to 4:10 range, so I know I was hauling it out there. Of course, once the sun rose I was able to run a bit more controlled as I was able to see the feedback from my HRM.

During the last few intervals I really wanted to quit. But of course I didn't. I had to get through this workout - just like every other workout leading up to the marathon. This is part of that mental toughness that I have developed that will get me across the finish line on May 4.

I really started to think about why each of my four runs per week are important. The speedwork runs is where I improve my pace, develop the "fast twitch" muscle fibers which will help me at the end of a race and make me a stronger runner. The weekend long runs improve my endurance and get my body used to pounding the pavement for extended periods of time. The other two easy runs help my body recover from the harder workouts, and also help "lock-in" the gains. So, with 3 intervals to go and part of me was begging to quit - I knew that I needed those last three intervals to help make me a stronger runner...both physically and mentally.

Here's the splits:
3:49, 4:01, 3:47, 4:04, 3:51, 4:01, 4:07, 4:10, 4:07 other mention. Another milestone! Somewhere during my time on the track I hit 350 miles for the year. It's not even May yet! I think a few years ago I had 400 miles for the year...crazy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Gear and Congrats To A New Marathoner!

One thing that I neglected to mention in my blog yesterday was that an awesome surprise was waiting for me when I returned from New York on Sunday night. My sister had given me a gift of new running gear to help prepare for my marathon.

I knew I was in luck when I walked in the door and saw a big Fleet Feet bag on the kitchen table :-)

In the bag was an assortment of goodies - each of which I was psyched to get. The largest item in the bag was "The Stick" which is like a big rolling pin that you use on sore muscles to massage and loosen them up. There was also a new pair of running socks, a stick of Body Glide, a race bib belt/holder and finally a "26.2" magnet for my car. (Interestingly enough, I was just thinking about buying one of these last week, so my sister beat me to it!)

Lauren - YOU ROCK! Thanks!!!!!
Another exciting piece of news I found out on Sunday night - one of my fellow running-bloggers, Sara, finished her first marathon! She has been an inspiration for many - running with Team-in-Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of the child of one of her friends who passed away after a bout with cancer. She raised close to $5000...AMAZING!

Here is her wonderful marathon race report. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Preparing for "The Big Week"

So this week on my training plan is Week 15 - 40 total miles. My longest so far (you've heard that plenty before), but also the longest on the marathon training plan.

After this, I will start my taper (reduction in mileage leading up to the marathon so that your body can repair itself and rest up for the big day).

Here's the weather forecast for the mornings - tomorrow will be drizzly and in the mid-40s for a 5 mile run, Wednesday morning will be clear and mid-40s for a 10 mile run (speedwork?) and Thursday will be about 10 degrees warmer with a chance of rain for another 5 miles. Not ideal conditions, but not too bad either. By Friday it is supposed to be a high of 74 degrees, so my 20 mile long run on Saturday may be in shorts and a t-shirt!!!

One concern I have - the base of my big toe on my right foot is a little sore and I'm getting a "cracked knuckle" type sound when I scrunch my toes in (flexing my toes down). I'll see how I do on my run tomorrow, but if the pain gets any worse I may go to the chiro to see if perhaps it needs a little adjustment.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

14 Miles

This was a stepback week - 14 miles for the long run (which is a lot shorter than the 18 miler last weekend and the 20 miler next weekend).  I took the route that I used for my 13 miler a few weeks ago and extended it a bit.  I ended up going 13.75 miles - it's close enough to 14 that I wasn't going to scramble for an extra quarter many of my long runs have been a half to three-quarters of a mile longer than the planned mileage, so I'll give myself a break here.

I had planned to wake up at 6am and be out of the house by 6:30am.  For some reason I woke up at 4am with a lot of congestion - I was in and out of a light sleep from 4am to 6am when my alarm went off.  I kept on telling myself, "If I'm not asleep by 5am (and then 5:15am, and then 5:30am) I'll just get out of bed and start my run early..."  That never happened and I finally got out of bed at my alarm.

I had set the playlist in my iPod the night before with an upbeat "running mix".  However, that did not suit my mood this morning.  So - for a first in my marathon training - I fired up my computer before the run and changed the playlist on my iPod shuffle.  I chose a more mellow mix of Israeli tunes.

It was a nice morning - about 50 degrees and a bit foggy when I left the house.  I'm so psyched that Spring is here!

I ended up running a bit harder than I should have - my average heart rate was 159 and should be about 10 bpm lower.  For next week's long run I really need to work on taking it slower - even if it means my pace will be closer to 12:00/mile instead of 11:00/mile.  I know that if I train at the lower heart rate that I improve my aerobic fitness's just tough to slow down when you are in a groove.
For you loyal blog readers - I won't be posting a blog entry tomorrow.  I'll be on the road with the Israeli Folkdance Troupe that I co-direct, so I won't have access to a computer.  I'll be back blogging on Monday!

Friday, April 4, 2008

T - Minus 30 Days....

Today is April 4.

The Frederick Marathon is on May 4.  Only 30 days away.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

This morning was a 5 mile run.  I usually run very well the day after speedwork, so I was looking forward to running this morning.  I checked the weather last night and it was supposed to be in the high 20s overnight - so I laid out my running jacket and some gloves with my running clothes.  Unfortunately I got to bed much later than I wanted to (around 11:30pm) so when my alarm went off it was a battle of "should I go back to sleep" or "should I run".

I convinced myself to get out of bed.  The kicker was when I started to consider my weekly mileage.  Next week I'm peaking at 40 miles - along with a 20 mile run on the weekend.  I didn't want to log less than 30 this week as that would be too drastic of a jump in my mind.  It's funny what things will get a crazy runner out of bed.
I put on my older running shoes.  I have used the new ones for both runs this week and they feel good, but I believed that my old shoes still have some life in them so I was going to alternate between the two pairs for the first two weeks.  Well...about two miles into my run I decided that this would be the last one for this pair of shoes.  The newer ones felt so much softer and's no wonder I hurt so much after last weekend's 18.8 mile run (OK...most of the hurt was related to the fact that I ran close to 19 miles - not the shoes - let's get real).

So move over Brooksie G5 Sr.  Here comes Brooksie G5 Jr.  You're being retired at 334 miles.
I didn't get out the door until 6am.  It was still dark, but the sun started to set very soon afterwards.  So, most of my run was not in the dark this morning.  Hooray!

Actually, I started to think about this week's long run of 14 miles.  The latest I can start the run and be home by 9am is 6:30am.  So I can potentially run a full long run in natural light.  Hallelujah!
I actually overdressed this morning.  I probably did not need the gloves (they came off about 2.5 miles into my run) and I would have done fine with a baseball cap instead of a winter hat.  I was definitely compensating for yesterday's run where I underdressed and was frozen!
I crossed paths with a good number of runners this morning.  I'm a friendly runner who normally gives a wave, a nod or a "good morning" to fellow runners - even though I don't know these people.  To my surprise, I waved to one of these anonymous fellow runners and then did a double-take (she did as well) as this was someone that I know from synagogue :-)  After our double-takes we both did a quick "oh, hi!" but neither of us stopped.  We'll probably talk more on Saturday morning.
I wore my iPod this morning (I didn't take it for my speedwork yesterday...I probably wouldn't have been able to hear anything with the wind whistling in my headphones).  I had two early albums by Seal (both named Seal - one from 1991 and the other from 1994) on in Shuffle mode.  I hadn't listened to these albums in a while so it was nice to hear them again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fools Article

During my run yesterday, I had contemplated writing an April Fools blog post. Something like "I decided to do a 'magic mile' run and clocked a 5:59" or something like that (heck, I would be ecstatic with a 7:59!). But I decided against it.

However, Runners World online did go forward with an April Fools blog post. And some of the comments (like here and here) are hilarious!

Speedwork Again...Finally

I hadn't done speedwork in three weeks. Two weeks ago I gave blood and took it easy. Last week I was traveling and decided to run "easy". (If you would have told me last year that soon I'd be going out for an "easy 9-mile run" in the middle of the week I would have thought you were crazy!)

My alarm went off at 5:10am and I did not want to get out of bed. I somehow got myself out, got dressed and out the door by 5:35am. I was a bit under-dressed - I was wearing a long sleeved running shirt, shorts and a running baseball cap. It was in the mid-40s with winds which were a lot stronger than the weather site said they would be. A windbreaker and some gloves definitely would have helped me...oh well, I toughed it out.

The plan for today - jog up to QO High School track (1.64 miles each way) run eight 800 intervals with a 400 recovery jog in between each one, and then jog back home. 9 miles total.

Intervals were a bit more difficult than normal with the wind. I started my intervals at the halfway point of one of the straightaways at the track...and the wind was blowing at me on this straightaway. On the other straightaway, the wind was at my back. Even with the wind helping me out half of the time, it was still difficult to start and end each interval into the wind.

For the first 4 intervals at the track it was dark, so I had no idea how fast they were and how high my heart rate was at the time. It ends up that the first interval was on the slower side (4:24) and the other three were really fast for me (3:55, 3:52 and 3:51 - if I could take those last two 800 splits and put them together, I'd have a 7:43 mile...WOW!).

Then the sun started to rise, so by the 5th interval I was able to see my watch. I finished that one in 3:56...still a bit too fast for me - and my body started to let me know it. I was getting some side-stitches during this interval and also my right calf muscle was starting to get a bit sore and tight. After I finished this interval I stretched out my calf. I also started psyching myself out..."if you do just one more interval and then go home that's still close to a 7 mile run; not too bad right?" However, I knew that I would finish it out - no use quitting now.

The last two intervals I ran at a slower pace - but still on the faster side for me - 4:08, 4:08 and 4:07. I think I did have side-stitches on interval #6, but besides that everything else was OK.

My foot did start to hurt again towards the end of my run. Luckily, tomorrow's run is only 5 miles and my long run this weekend is on the shorter side (14 miles - am I crazy to say that's a shorter run?). Next weekend will be my 20 miler and the mid-week longer run is 10 miles. YIKES!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Foot Is Feeling Better

This morning was a 5 miler - in the gym on the treadmill. I could have run outside - there was a misty rain and it wasn't too cold - but by 5:20am I already had dressed for the gym and was on my way out, so I decided to go with it. I also was going to wear the new shoes, and didn't want to soak them on my first run...

My foot was still a bit tender, so I started off slow. The first 5 minutes of the workout were tough, but then I got in a groove. Everything started to feel really good - including my foot.

At around 3 miles, I started to get some pain in my foot again. Darn! I said to myself, "I'll run another mile and if the pain is still there I'll stop...I'm not going to run less than 4 miles." A few minutes later the pain was gone. Hooray!

At around 3.5 miles into the run I needed to slow down to keep my heart rate down. I believe I may have started to overheat a bit. One thing I hate about Bally Total Fitness is that they keep the gym soooo hot! At Fitness First (my previous gym) they kept the temperatures a lot cooler and had fans situated near the cardio equipment. I was soaked after my 5 mile run this morning - and it wasn't due to the rain outside. It's probably good that I'm training in this environment just in case the marathon is on a hot day. I already have the cold weather running down - that's for sure.

I finished the 5 miles in 55:41 - an 11:09/mile pace with an average HR of 149. I'm going to do some speedwork tomorrow and hope to gain back some of the pace that I have lost over the past few weeks (I believe it started after I gave blood).

One other note - it is now April. My marathon is officially next month. WOW!!!!