Friday, October 30, 2009

All Packed And Ready To Go!

I have packed up my duffel - with likely a bit too much and also likely something missing (I almost ALWAYS forget something when I go out of town!).

The plan is to head out as early as we can tomorrow and drive up to our friend's place in Wayne, NJ. Sherry and the kids will stay there on Saturday while I take a bus into the city. Once I'm in the city I will drop my bag off at my friend's apartment and then hit the Expo to get my bib and timing chip!!!

I'll have an hour or so to hang out before the Team Run To Remember carbo-loading fest at Carmine's.

Then back to my friend's place to get my stuff ready for the morning and to crash.

I don't know if I'll be able to post a blog update before the marathon...I'll try to post a quick one after the marathon with my time and then hopefully by Monday night with a full race report.

Now it's time to hit the sack!

The Final Run Before The Big Day!

I was feeling a bit antsy today (ummm - taper!) so I went out for a 3 mile run at lunchtime. I did my usual 3 mile lake loop - which was the same route that I used for my first run in the training program for this marathon on June 29. It's a nice close to my marathon training with "bookends" of the same route.

I ran with RedG but without the heart rate monitor. It was just me, my footfalls and the breeze of a cool, overcast autumn afternoon.

3.21 miles in 32:17 - a 10:04/mile pace (for those scoring at home...June 29 was run in a 10:40/mile pace).

I thought a bit more about strategy for the marathon. I'm thinking of using the 10-10-10 breakdown. For the first 10 miles I will try to keep my heart rate under 150 - and hopefully closer to 145. I know this will be pretty difficult after mile 5, but the more I can keep my heart rate low during this part of the race, the better I'll be later. The next 10 miles will take me to the Bronx, and with the exception of the 59th Street Bridge, this should be a sea of cheering spectators. I intend to "let go" of the HRM monitoring here and just run by feel - still not trying to over do it.

The last 10K I have broken into smaller chunks: the Bronx, from the Madison Ave Bridge to where Central Park starts, along 5th Ave until the entrance to Central Park (uphill), entering Central Park to exiting the park at Central Park South, along Central Park South to Columbus Circle, and finally Columbus Circle to the Finish Line! At this point I will likely focus on these six pieces and try to get through each one with a countdown.

If I can hold to my strategy, I should do well and feel good after the race.

Who Me? Obsessed With The Weather???

In pure taper madness, I've been checking the NY weather ten times a day.

Now there is a 30% chance of rain before noon...i.e. while we're sitting still and waiting at Fort Wadsworth to start. Lovely.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Go Out Too Fast...

My concern over the past 3 weeks has been my "faster" pace on my runs and how I want to run slow and controlled on marathon day.

It looks like I'm not the only one who is concerned about going out too fast...

Awesome Run In The Sun and CRAZY EIGHTS!

It had rained all Tuesday and most of Wednesday morning. However, there was a brief break around lunchtime on Wednesday...and I took full advantage of it!

My goal was to take it easy (this IS taper week, right?), not to worry about pace but just to follow whatever my heart rate was telling me.

Well, I started to get those false (i.e. HIGH) readings in the first half mile again. How is my heart rate 171 bpm when I'm doing a light jog??? I decided to stop at a light pole and do some calf stretches...within 20 seconds my HRM was showing 108 bpm. I started up again and never saw the high readings for the remainder of my run!

The workout was spectacular! A sunny afternoon day, 65 degrees with a little breeze, leaves in all shades of red, orange and yellow falling from the trees...can I order this exact weather for Sunday in NY??

Splits were:
Mile 1: 10:31 / Avg HR 145 (that's with the false readings during the first half mile)
Mile 2: 10:26 / Avg HR 142
Mile 3: 9:40 / Avg HR 145
Mile 4: 10:14 / Avg HR 148
Last half mile 10:50 pace with avg HR of 150.

Overall a 10:17/mile pace with average HR of 146. If I can do this for the first 15 miles on Sunday I will be in such awesome shape to finish nice and STRONG!

When I logged my run in RunningAhead, I saw something very cool:

My yearly mileage is 888.8 miles! CRAZY EIGHTS! (OK...I have to think about something crazy, I'm in marathon taper mode...)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Ready - Where/When/How To Find Me On The Course

The Alzheimer's Association team coaches sent out a spreadsheet where you enter your predicted finishing time and your start time and it calculates when you'll arrive at each mile on the course (OK, I will NOT be running an even paced marathon, but it is a good guideline to family and friends who want to see me).

So, if you want to cheer for me this weekend, this is likely what I'll be wearing (with bib 56258):

And here is where I'll be when (approximately):

You can also get email notifications of when I cross the timing mats by signing up here (and I'm bib number 56258!).

Taper Craziness - Obsessing About The Weather

As running mileage decreases to almost nothing during taper week, you end up obsessing on things to fill the time.

When I'm not getting anxious about what I'm going to forget when I go up to New York, it seems I'm thinking about what the weather will be on Sunday in New York.

I just looked at the 5-day forecast this morning, and it looks pretty good:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Was Reminded Today That I Don't Like Running On The Treadmill

I had time to run during lunch. An easy 4 miler.

I got into my running clothes and out the front door was really yucky outside. Rain. Cool temperatures. Ick.

Normally I would run in this, but with the marathon this weekend I really didn't feel like hitting the elements. I would definitely run in this stuff on Sunday if I needed to - but no need to do it today.

I hopped in my car to go to the gym.

I had totally forgotten how boring the treadmill is. It had been a good 5 to 6 weeks since I ran on the treadmill, and now I see why. I kept on longing to be outside. I know where I'll be running most of the winter...

The run was decent - 4 miles in 41:05 - a 10:17/mile pace with average HR of 150.

Only one or two more short runs before the marathon. Whoa!

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

Last night I did not have to work during the maintenance window - and I took full advantage of it. I was in bed by 9:30pm!

I had laid out clothes to run this morning - thinking that I would likely wake up after six hours of sleep and then toss and turn until it was a reasonable hour to run (5:15am??? 5:30am???)

Instead, I woke up at 6:10 when I heard the kids starting to argue.

I can't remember the last time I slept close to 9 hours straight. I must have needed it!

The downside to sleeping in past 6am is that I did not get my run in this morning. I'll see what my schedule is this afternoon and see if I can squeeze it in...

Monday, October 26, 2009

For Those Wacky Parents Out There

Here's an excerpt of the book my seven-year-old son was reading before bed tonight. It got a big laugh out of both of us...and unfortunately, this is soooo true:
It's been said that adults spend the first two years of their children's lives trying to make them walk and talk...

...and the next sixteen years trying to get them to sit down and shut up.

Tapering And Weight Management - Update

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post where I said I would be counting calories to ensure that I did not gain any weight during the taper. Last year I had gained a few pounds while I decreased the mileage in the weeks leading to the marathon, and I didn't want to repeat that.

Here's an update...

The good news - I have actually dropped two pounds! I am now one pound away from my marathon weight of last year. I'll take it, even though it was not my intent.

The not-so-good news (I guess?) - all last week I did not count calories at all. My schedule was all messed up due to working nights and I had no idea how to count calories consumed in the midnight to 6am shift. If I work Sunday night, do I count these against Sunday's total or Monday's total? When I wake up at 11:30am (after going to bed at 7am), do I eat breakfast food or lunch food?

Another issue is how do I count the amount of sleep I get? Last night I slept from 10pm to 11:30pm before working and then from 7am to 11am this morning after work. Does that count as five and a half hours of sleep? Or is this four hours? How much sleep do I need to make up at the end of the week to be well rested for the race???

Luckily, it looks like tonight may be the last of the late nights for me. It will be good to be back on a normal sleeping - and eating - schedule soon!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Last Long Run Before The Race

This morning was the last long run of my taper - and the last long run before next week's New York Marathon. Whoa!

I was really excited to get out there and run long today. I had run a 6, 5 and 3 miler this week and I longed for something a bit more substantial. Since it is still the taper, I couldn't overdo it, however, I decided that something in between 8 and 10 miles would do.

I settled on my 9-mile Olde Town Gaithersburg loop. I also decided to wear the outfit which I will likely wear next Sunday for the marathon - my Alzheimer's Association Run To Remember white t-shirt and white arm-warmer sleeves along with my water belt. This was the first time I ran with the sleeves - they are definitely more snug on the arms than a long-sleeve shirt, but I like the fact that if I get hot during the race that I can take the sleeves off and run in a short-sleeve shirt. I'm not sure if I'm going to wear my water belt for the marathon or not. I know there are water stations almost every mile on the course, but if I have my belt then I can drink when I want to.

It was a great morning to run - clear skies and temperatures in the upper 40s. If the start of the marathon is like this I will be very happy!

Also, if I run the first 9 miles of the marathon like I ran this morning I should be in pretty good shape to finish strong. My heart rate was a little higher than I wanted it to be - my average HR on this morning's run was 153...I would like it to be under 150 for the first 10-13 miles next week. My pace was also a bit faster than I want it to be next week - 10:26/mile. I will really try to keep it nice and slow at that beginning next weekend.

Now it's waiting time. I'll do a few short runs this week - 2 or 3 milers - but the next big run will be marathon Sunday!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fundraising Update - I Reached My Goal!!!

Yesterday I finally reached my goal of $5,000 raised for the Alzheimer's Association!!!

Donations are still trickling in - and I hope that they will continue up until the date of the marathon. At this pace I'll probably be close to $6,000 by the time it is all said and done.

BTW, I had set a second goal of having 100 separate donors and I am very close to that too with 96 right now!!!!

If you haven't donated yet, please visit here to be my 97th, 98th, 99th or 100th donor!!!! :-)

I Got Some Sleep! Finally!!!

During last night's work activities, there was another person from my group supporting the upgrade. At around 2am I called him up and asked if we really needed both of us. I had been up all night without him the night before so I asked him if he would continue and allow me to get some sleep. He agreed to this (thank goodness!)

I ended up sleeping from about 2:30am until 10am - with a bit of interruption in the 7am to 7:30am timeframe as Sherry and the kids were getting ready for school. That's seven hours of sleep! Hooray!!!

I woke at 10am and figured I had time for a quick run before an 11am conference call. I wanted to do 4 miles, but I decided that I wouldn't be able to fit it in so I did my 3 mile lake loop instead.

I got off to a peppy start - probably due to the tunes I had blasting on my iPod. As I got to my first uphill portion, I started to attack the hill - so this went from an easy run to a hill-attacking run pretty quickly. I was hoping to use the downhills and level portions of the run as recovery stretches, but that never really happened.

3.13 miles at a 9:44/mile pace. Average HR 155. This was definitely right in the middle between an easy run and a tempo run...kind of a "no-man's land" of running terminology.

I made it to my desk in plenty of time for my 11am conference call...back to work!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Battery For My HRM and Marathon Pace Run

I've been complaining about the fact that RedG's heart rate monitor has been giving me some crazy readings for the past few weeks. Mostly on the first mile or mile and a half and then it's fine - but I'm afraid that this is when I will need to use my HRM to control my pace the most on November 1.

I finally decided to get a new battery yesterday. Installing it was very easy - just turn the cover with a coin, pop the old battery out, put the new one in and put the cover back on...or so I thought.

I was all ready to go out for my run today (at lunchtime which was first thing in the morning for me today...) - I looked down at RedG and the Heart Rate field was blank. The little heart icon on the top was alternating flashing with an "X".

Now I felt like crap. Why do I always have to go toying with things to make them "better" and I end up breaking something and having to spend more time and/or money to fix them!

I had no MacGyver moment for this one. I ran upstairs to get the Owner's Manual (I know...very unlike me. I'm used to tinkering with things for a good 10 hours before resorting to the manual). A quick search of the manual and I was looking at the HRM troubleshooting section and it mentioned something about "pairing" devices. Got it - when I swapped the battery, somehow RedG thinks the HRM strap is a new device. I navigated through the Garmin menu to re-scan for the heart rate monitor strap, and now the heart rate field was no longer blank. HOORAY!

The new battery seems to work, too. Mile 1 of today's run (mostly uphill) I had an average heart rate of 144 and max of 157. No more readings in the 180s while I'm doing a slow jog :-)

My goal today was a 6 mile marathon pace run. I'm shooting for a 4:40 marathon which is a 10:40/mile pace. Most of my runs lately have been a lot faster than this, so the goal today was to SLOW DOWN.

I got into a nice rhythm during the first mile. I chose to do my normal 6 mile loop in reverse so I could go uphill for most of this mile - just like going uphill on the Verrazano Bridge during the first mile. However, my rhythm was just a tad too fast as RedG chirped a 10:20 at me. Mile 2 was mostly downhill, and although I felt like I slowed down, I ran another 10:19.

I decided that I had to make an effort on the next mile to really slow down and get my pace in the 10:40 range. The next two miles were 11:05 and 11:10 - and I was now on pace! And my average HR was still in the 140s. Woo hoo!

One thing toward the end of the run did concern me a bit. Mile 6 which is pretty much all uphill, I ran in 10:35, but my average HR was 165 (max of 179). I'm all for attacking the hills, but I'm hoping that something like this in the middle of the NY Marathon (i.e. the 59th Street Bridge) doesn't gas me for later on.

Overall, I ran the 6.25 miles at a 10:37/mile pace. My average HR was 151. Not too shabby, but I was hoping for a lower heart rate with this pace. Perhaps it was the warm weather (72 degrees at noon when I ran) or perhaps it was the lack of sleep this week.

To put myself at ease, I took a look in my running log at the last time I ran this route. In late June I ran this as a long run. The temperature that day was also 72 degrees. My pace was 11:25/mile and my average HR was 154. It is nice to see how far I have come in 4 months of training... even on a "bad" day!

Time To Make The Donuts...'s 5:45am and I'm still at my desk monitoring a software upgrade. I'm normally just waking up about now to go out for a run.

In my delirious state, I'm thinking I may bump into myself on the way back into the house to go to sleep (my office is over the garage which is detached from the house...I actually have to go outside the back door to get to the office) as my "other" self is leaving the house for a run.

Just like in this classic commercial

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lack Of Sleep

As I wrote earlier in the week, I have been working on some upgrades this week which means maintenance window work. There have been a few issues that need to be resolved during the upgrades, so activities keep on being scheduled for subsequent nights - and I'll be working again tonight.

The most amount of consecutive hours of sleep I've gotten since Saturday night has been four. However, it has mostly been two hours of sleep here - two hours of sleep there. All at strange hours that my body is not used to (9pm to 11pm, 5am to 7am, 10am to noon, etc.).

There's a possibility that I could go for a run this afternoon - when I take my older son to his tennis lesson I could just run during the lesson (and then quickly shower when I get home before going to rehearsal for the Israeli Dance Troupe that I co-direct).

However, I've decided not to do it today. I'm starting to feel a bit run down.

I've lined up for my folks to take my younger one to nursery school tomorrow morning - that should allow me a few extra hours of sleep since I won't be "on duty" from 7am to 9:30am. I may even get a normal amount of sleep! (even if the hours are shifted...)

If I can get some good sleep, I hope to get a run in at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

HRM Needs New Battery, Or Lack Of Sleep?

I finally got out for a run today after missing yesterday.

As I started, I felt really "rusty". It seemed like a long time since my last run. I thought about this more and my last run was on Saturday morning. I had missed two days of running and I'm feeling rusty. Yikes! What am I going to do post-marathon???

My goal for today's run - take it easy. Try to hit a 10:40 pace. Slow down.

I kind of succeeded. My pace was slower than most of my recent runs - a 10:15/mile pace over 5.5 miles. My first two mile splits were 10:26 and 10:42. Mile 3 has a good amount of downhill in it and I ran a 9:53. Then a 10:27 and 10:20.

The weird part, though, is that my heart rate stayed above 150 bpm for most of the run. Even when I was running the slower miles.

Either I really need to change the battery in the chest strap (I have been saying this for about 2 weeks, so hopefully I'll get to it before my next run...) or the lack of sleep due to maintenance window activities at work has run me down a bit.

Since I'm still working nights at least through tonight and maybe tomorrow night too, I think we'll have to check the battery issue out first.

Monday, October 19, 2009

No Run Today - Life On Overload

Maintenance window activities went until close to 5am last night. I slept from 5am to 7am thinking that I would be able to go back to bed around 9:30 once my little one was at pre-school. WRONG!

He wasn't feeling well. Was going to the bathroom all morning. I stayed home to watch him (I had one conference call that I needed to be on, otherwise I checked email when I could). When Sherry got home and took his temperature, he had 102 (why didn't I think of taking his temperature while I was with him all morning?).

I finally got two more hours of sleep from 1pm to 3pm, until I was woken up by a customer call.

In less than an hour I have my fundraiser at Noodles & Co (hooray!) and then I'm back to work for maintenance window activities again tonight.

I was thinking that I could possible run in between the fundraiser and going back to work...however, I may want to get 2 more hours of sleep instead. Sleep will most likely win out in this case.

Needing To Change My Running Schedule Due To Work

For the past two years in my job I was working on building a new wireless network for one of our customers. It definitely had its headaches along the way, but the great thing about working on a new network is that almost all work can be done during the day.

My current projects involve live networks. So whenever anything needs to be upgraded or changed, it needs to be done at night...just in case something goes down, there will be fewer subscribers that are impacted.

So tonight I get to start a conference bridge at midnight and start my Monday activities. Ick.

I'm still on duty to drive my younger one to nursery school in the morning too. So I'll either get a few hours of sleep before that - if the nighttime activities go quickly - or I'll go to bed around 10am.

So the big question is - when do I run?

I doubt it will be at my normal 5:30am or 6am. Perhaps after I wake up later today - around 2pm or so??

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Defines A PR???

We runners love numbers. Many of us keep meticulous training logs - in mine I track mileage, pace, average and maximum heart rate, which courses, which shoes (and accumulated mileage on my shoes) and weather - and I may have missed one or two pieces of data.

One thing that stands in the foreground of most runner's running logs is their list of Personal Records, or PRs, from races they have run.

Currently my list is:
5 km25:178:09Kentlands 5K Race - New Course8/30/2008View Race
10 km56:149:03Pike's Peek4/23/2006View Race
Half Marathon2:13:22.7910:11Run For The Shelter Half Marathon4/19/2009View Race
Marathon4:59:0611:25Frederick Marathon5/4/2008View Race

However, during a few of my training runs, I have run faster than my PRs at the 10K and Half Marathon distances.

Do these become new PRs? Or should PRs only be for races or time trials dedicated to seeing how fast you can run a certain distance?

What's your thought?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One Last Run In New York Before The Marathon

When I first received my materials for Team Run To Remember, I was a little bummed out that I would not be able to participate in most of the "team" activities. There were weekly training runs and periodic meetings throughout the four months and since I was an out-of-towner I would be missing out on these.

I decided to try to come up for at least a few of these events and planned to get to a group run in August, a meeting in September (which I went up a day early to hit another group run) and then today's group run in October - where the team would be running the last 10 miles of the marathon course together.

I wanted to get 30 miles in this week - and so far I had about 16.5, so I was hoping for a little over 13 miles. Since the group was running 10, I decided to get there a bit early and run the 59th Street Bridge into Queens and then back into Manhattan. Coach Brian was more than willing to do this with me :-)

One thing about the bridge - it was windy. It was a 42 degree morning, but with the breeze up there made it feel about 10 degrees colder. I'm glad I wore my Frederick Marathon pullover - since the temperatures were still in the 40s I almost didn't wear it, but with the wind on the bridges I'm glad I had it on.

After the bridge, Coach Brian and I saw the Alzheimer's group. There was actually another group running the last 10 miles of the marathon route as well this was a much larger group with coaches, pace setters and each of the participants wore bib numbers. A little over the top for a training run, but they were out there for the same reason we were - to get familiarity with the course and gain some confidence.

First of all, I must say that running with others really makes the time go by quickly. It did not seem like I ran for over 2 hours this morning. Hopefully during the race I'll be able to find other people around me to chat with...or maybe even try to run with other team members.

I really like the members of the team that I have met. Today I ran with Coach Brian, JM, LJ and MC and in the past runs I have run with Coach Jeff, EE and MM. Everyone I have met on the team is very friendly, wonderful to run with and talk to. It will be sad to not have the team after the marathon in a few weeks...although I can definitely see keeping in touch with some of my teammates.

As for the run, for me it was very worthwhile. I think on marathon day I will be breaking down the last 10 miles into four parts - 1) 1st Ave, 2) The Bronx, 3) Getting to Central Park and 4) Central Park...the home stretch. The first part - going up 1st Ave - is a little over 3 miles. I hear that the crowd support during this stretch is amazing, so this portion should go relatively well. The Bronx is pretty short - a little over a mile...maybe a mile and a half - and I hear the crowds will not be as good here. This will be mile 20 in the race so this will be tough. However, the bridges are not steep and I actually like to run near water and over bridges...since there are two of these in about a 1 mile span I think I should do OK in the Bronx.

Part 3 is getting to Central Park. This is only about a mile, but today it seemed to be the part that dragged on for me. Maybe there will be crowd support on race day...I'm not sure. If not, then 5th Ave from 138th St to 110th St will be a tough mile and a half.

The home stretch and last three and a half miles is Central Park. The first mile or so is down 5th Ave - or should I say UP 5th Ave?? There is a pretty constant incline at this point - the race's elevation chart shows about a 100 ft rise over about a half a mile. Soon after that you enter the park. Once I enter the park I know that I'll be running on adrenaline. For today's run, this was mile 12 and 13 for me and these miles were run at 9:27 and 9:33. I don't expect to run that fast when this is mile 25 and 26, but I know it will be a "pick-me-up" to be in the park and nearing the end.

The stats for me - 13.7 miles in 2:16:32, a 9:59/mile pace. My PR for a Half Marathon was run in a 10:11/mile in the span of a week I have beat my 10K PR and HM PR during training runs. Wow!

One thing I may mention - the second and third toe on my right foot has some pain when I try to bend them. I felt this last week after my long run and it hasn't really gone away. The pain isn't bad - I can still run on it - but whenever I try to bend those toes it definitely hurts a bit and they are tender to the touch. I'll continue to monitor them and have them checked out after the marathon if it doesn't get better.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking Time To Remember

One of the main reasons I'm running the NY Marathon - and raising money for the Alzheimer's Association - is in memory of my Nana.

When I started this journey over four months ago, I wanted to do three things leading up to the race - 1) train for the race, 2) raise money for the Alzheimer's Association and 3) do some activities which will help me to remember my Nana.

I have been very diligent on items 1 and 2 so far. Unfortunately, I have not taken the time for item 3. Last night I finally started.

The other day I saw that HBO Family was airing a show called "The Alzheimer's Project: Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?" so I had my DVR record it. I was about to cue up "Glee" for Sherry and me to watch last night when I saw this show in the list. Since Sherry was not ready yet, I decided to watch it.

The 30 minute show interviews a bunch of children ranging in age from 6 to 15 who have grandparents with Alzheimer's disease. Some of the grandparents are in early stages - grandpa forgets the grandkid's names or names of places, but he is still getting around fine and understands what is going on around's just that the words to describe these people or places seem to have "disappeared". Other grandparents are in much later stages - confined to wheelchairs, barely speaking, not even recognizing their loved ones. It was a powerful show and a great way for tweens and teens to understand what the disease is and why their grandparents are acting the way that they are.

The show opened up a pandora's box of emotions for me. I saw my Nana in all of those stages. I was a bit too young to remember the early stages of the disease, but I do have distinct memories of her at that time....I just had no idea that her memory was going and that she was becoming very paranoid.

I have too many memories of the later stages of the disease. I remember visiting Nana at the nursing home. I remember when we would have funny conversations (I once tried to explain to her about my new Atari video game and she was really confused as to how the players got inside the television!). Unfortunately, I remember as a tween and then as a teen it got to the point where she was too confused to carry on a conversation - and then to the point where she couldn't talk much at all.

Tonight I may have a chance to continue to evoke memories of my Nana. I am driving up to the NY area and staying with my cousin tonight. He was the oldest of my Nana's grandparents so he probably has the most vivid memories of her before the disease took hold. I'm hoping we can spend some time (between innings of the Yankees game?) reminiscing of times we had with our Nana.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Running In The Cold Rain

This morning it was cold and rainy. Yuck! This is my least favorite weather to run in.

I had contemplated running on the treadmill at the gym. However, I know that I'll be running in the same stuff on Saturday morning. And I better get used to this just in case this is the weather on November 1, right? I can't go to Mary Whittenburg and ask if she can move the NY Marathon indoors on a treadmill because it is 40 degrees and raining!

The one nice thing about my run this morning - I did it after the sunrise! The reason for this - not so good. My younger son still had a fever last night and came into our room at 3:30am. He still had a 101.4 temperature. At that point my wife made the decision that she was not going to go to work - so I was able to sleep in a bit, get my older son off to school in his carpool and then go out for a run!

I threw on my Frederick marathon runners premium - a microfiber pull-over - over my long sleeve running t-shirt and shorts, along with a hat to keep my head a bit warmer. I also brought music with me for the first time in a while - I loaded a bunch of Indigo Girls albums on my iPod shuffle...good mellow music for an easy run.

I started the run out easy - average HR was 141 for the first mile (perhaps the HRM issue has cleared itself up?) and RedG chirped a 9:54 split. I slowed down a bit for the second mile and came in with a 10:12 split. All this time I had my hands inside the sleeves of the pullover to keep them warm. It's amazing how damp, cold air just penetrates you and chills you to the bone.

After that, my route goes downhill and I started to warm up. Hands came out of the pullover's sleeves and I guess my legs decided to push the pace on me. I still kept RegG covered so he didn't get too wet, but as a result I was not watching my heart rate go up into the high 150s/low 160s. Next two splits were 9:12 and 9:18. So much for an easy run!

I finished out my 5.5 mile loop in 53:27 - a 9:36/mile pace with an average HR of 154. I looked back in RunningAhead at my training log and with the exception of a tempo run I did on this route last year, this is the fastest I have every run this route.

The good news - I'm in great shape right now...probably even better shape than I was before I ran the Frederick Marathon last year!

The bad news - OK...not so bad, but I have been running way too fast lately. Over the next two weeks I need to devote at least two workouts at marathon pace - which for me this time around will be a 10:40/mile pace. If I try running "by feel" like I have been the last week, I'm going to fall apart at mile 16.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speedwork Or No Speedwork?

I wasn't feeling like I could handle a speedwork workout today.

I don't know if it was the lack of sleep (went to bed late last night after Israeli Dancing and woke up early as my little one has a fever), the fact that I got my flu shot on Monday and my body is adjusting to that, or if it just because it is a cold, gray, blah type of day.

I was ready for a lunchtime run outside, but I didn't want to go to the track for an interval workout and I didn't want to put it all out on the line like last week's tempo run.

So I decided to make it an easy run. The plan - start at Fitness First, go across Quince Orchard Rd to Great Seneca Hwy, down Great Seneca to Muddy Branch, across to Rt 28 and back up to Fitness First. I was thinking it was somewhere in the 6-7 mile the end Garmin told me it was 5.4.

BTW...I think I have come up for a name for my Garmin. I will now refer to him as RedG (pronounced Reggie, right?) in the blog instead of "my Garmin", "the Garmin", "Garmin Forerunner 305", etc. Not as cute as some of the other bloggers' pet names (Little G, Garmy, etc.) but the name definitely fits.

As I have been finding out too often, sometimes plans go by the wayside.

I thought I was taking it easy during mile 1. The heart rate monitor is still a little messed up at the beginning of my runs (note to self - change that battery already!) so I couldn't judge how I was doing by heart I was just going by feel. Well, that easy pace that I felt was 9:38.

OK...well, I'll slow down during mile 2, right? The heart rate monitor is now working and I'm in the low 140s / high 130s for a good part of it. Yes, it is downhill but I'm sure I'm going a bit slower.

RedG chirps out 9:05. Same thing for mile 3 (also mostly downhill) - 9:10.

I guess this is a tempo run, boys and girls!

So I started hoofing out miles 4 and 5. Both of these are mostly UP-hill (for those who live in the area - Route 28 from Muddy Branch to Quince Orchard). Splits were 8:41 and 8:39.

The final (up-hill) 0.4 was run at a 8:47 pace.

So much for an easy run... I'll try again tomorrow morning!

Fundraising Milestones

As a group, Team Run To Remember has now raised over $200,000 for the Alzheimer's Association!

I am 85% to my goal - with $4,270 (this includes a few checks that are in the mail).

What is amazing is that I just received a donation from a 75th person!

So...I have set a new goal for myself. Not only will I try to hit $5,000 in total donations, but I will also try to receive donations from at least 100 donors.

The marathon is in less than three weeks. For those of you reading this and have not donated yet - please visit my fundraising page and help me get to 100 donors and $5,000!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tapering and Weight Management

One thing that I have not worried too much about in training for this marathon has been weight management.

Last year when I started training for the Frederick marathon, I was also trying to lose 10 pounds at the beginning of my training program. I counted my calories - and posted them in my blog to keep myself accountable - and I ripped off 8 pounds in about 5 or 6 weeks. However, as my mileage started to increase I had a week where I felt weak, lethargic and my runs were getting tough at the end. I dropped the calorie counting and let my body dictate how much I needed to eat - I started feeling better and I pretty much maintained my weight.

Until the taper.

You see, during the taper period my weekly mileage decreased substantially...but my appetite did not. I ended up gaining a few of those pounds back in those last 3 weeks. It didn't help for the big run.

Fast forward to this year's training. I paid no attention to my calories at all. I have dropped about three pounds since I started training 15 weeks ago (and I'm still about three pounds heavier than when I ran Frederick last year).

However, I'm going to start the calorie counting this week and try to continue through the taper period. My goal is to hit somewhere around 2,000 net calories a day - this should allow me to maintain my current weight and not gain additional weight before marathon day.

Days like yesterday - where my 5.5 mile run had me burning over 700 calories - are much easier. It is much easier for me to consume 2,700 calories than 2,000 calories :-) There will be days that will likely go over - like this Sunday which is a non-running day for me and it is my younger son's 4th birthday party.

However, by avoiding the nightly "pantry raid" while watching a game on TV, I think this strategy will get me to the starting line feeling less lethargic - and maybe even a little lighter!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time To Taper

It's taper time!

Last week was my final 40 mile week of the marathon training calendar. Now the weekly mileage totals will decrease until the marathon itself.

The training plan that I have been following shows the next two weeks' mileage as 28 miles and 19 miles. I find that much of a decrease a bit too drastic. My normal training base was 20-25 miles a week before I started marathon training, so going below this level may not be the best thing. Plus, before last year's marathon the taper left me feeling sluggish - plus I put on a few pounds during the taper.

My plan is to have a 30-32 mile week this week and a 25 mile week next week. I also am going to start counting calories so I don't add extra weight this time around. The calorie counting will give me something else to obsess about rather than "why am I not running???"

This morning's 5 miler was almost scratched. My older son had some bad dreams and came into our room a little after 3am and 4am (no more Halloween-type shows for the next few weeks!). I didn't think I would wake up in time to get out the door by 6am given how I felt when I brought my son back to his room. But my younger son woke up around 5:40am and woke us up as well, so I got my running clothes on and headed out the door.

Another cool, dark morning. I laid out a long sleeve shirt and shorts - which was perfect. I had a bit of uncertainty as I started given how my last run went. To add some fuel to that fire, the HRM part of my Garmin has been giving me really high readings during the first mile of my runs...this started happening last week. Luckily, after the first mile or so, the heart rate readings go back down to normal. I'm going to see about changing the battery in the chest strap and see if that will help.

This morning's stats - 5.5 miles in a 10:01/mile pace with a 149 average HR (with the first mile overstated, so my average HR was really a bit lower).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Got My Bib Number!

I checked the NY Marathon page and I have been assigned bib number


This means I'm in Wave Start #3 (10:20am), in the Orange group and in Corral G.

I'm not surprised I'm in wave start #3, as I believe the starts are staggered by projected finishing time. I'm also excited to be in the Orange group as I'll be running on the top deck of the Verrazano Bridge.

However, I'm a bit surprised that I'm in corral G. The last corral. Not that I'm all that fast or anything, but I'm thinking there are going to be plenty of runners with times in the 5+ and 6+ hour finishing times. If I'm planning to finish in around 4:40, I'm going to have to do a lot of weaving through traffic...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bonking In The Sun

The title says it all. I didn't complete my 22 mile run today. I stopped at 20 miles. Actually, I pretty much stopped at 18.5 and walked most of the rest to 20 miles.

So...what happened?

First of all, weather was a big contributor. It was 70 degrees when I started, and 86 degrees when I called it quits.

I think nutrition/hydration had a bit of a factor too. I was so concerned about how to handle the morning of the run and during the run that I forgot to eat extra carbs and drink extra water yesterday and the day before. I felt depleted around mile 14...way too early.

A few other contributors - my first two miles were a bit fast - 10:19 and 10:09. The Garmin also has mile 10 at 8:06...I'm pretty sure the Garmin messed up somewhere - part of this mile was in the Air Rights Tunnel in Bethesda...I would assume that Garmin would extrapolate distance when the satellites were back in range, but perhaps it didn't extrapolate so well?

Elevation was also a factor. The first 9 miles were net uphill 400 ft. This may have tired me out a bit. My route started at Dupont Circle Metro station, went towards Georgetown where I got onto the CCT trail, into Bethesda and over to Chevy Chase where I got onto the Rock Creek Trail and then to Veirs Mill Road. My car was parked on Veirs Mill Road near the Rockville Metro - about 2 miles from the trail. Of course I did not run those last two miles - I hopped on a Metro Bus and took it to my car. Here's a link to the route.

I won't go through all of the details of the run, but here are a few highlights (and lowlights):
  • The time of day of this morning's run - I started at 10:25am by the time I got downtown - is almost exactly the time I'll be starting to run in NY for the marathon. I ate my pre-run fuel at 8am and this seemed to work as well. I also wore my Alzheimer's Association singlet which I'm hoping to wear for the race!
  • I fueled up this morning with a cup of coffee - black with sugar - and a big piece of injera - an Ethiopian bread. I picked up the injera yesterday at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant. The idea of injera came to me yesterday afternoon. I was thinking what the elites probably fuel up with before their long runs, and I remembered that many of the elites are from East Africa, so I decided to try it out. I think this worked out well - it filled me up, digested easily and I did not have any stomach pains during my run.
  • There were three times that I had to "double back" due to going the wrong way. The first time was when I needed to leave the CCT trail and get onto the Rock Creek Trail. I accidentally continued on the CCT trail because I knew the Rock Creek Trail was straight ahead - except for the fact that that part of the CCT trail was on a bridge/overpass a good 50 feet above Rock Creek and the trail. Oops!
  • The other two times I had to double back was in the 18th and 19th mile. It was very frustrating. I'm not sure whether there was bad signage or if I was just to out of it to realize there was signage.
  • As part of my fueling strategy during the run, I decided to bring some food to go along with my GU. I brought a Cherry Pie Larabar. I like Larabars because most of them have less than 6 ingredients - and I can recognize all of the ingredients. It seems more like "real food" than many of the engineered energy bars. The Cherry Pie Larabar's ingredients are Dates, Almonds and Unsweetened Cherries. That's all. I opened the bar at mile 15 - it was a welcome distraction for almost the entire mile....and it probably got me through miles 16 and 17.
I'm going to try to not let this failed attempt at 22 miles get me down about New York. I felt pretty good after my 20 miler - in much cooler weather. I'm hoping the temperatures in NY will be cooler than today and that will likely give me a few more miles (8 more hopefully!) to run.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Preparing for THE Long Run

Tomorrow I am doing THE long run of my marathon training.

22 miles.

More planning has been put into this training run than many of the races I have run!

First of all, it will take me close to 4 hours to run this distance. Finding 4 consecutive hours on my schedule during the next few days has been tough. This weekend there are special holidays (Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah) so I'm going to synagogue both Saturday and Sunday. It is my 20th High School reunion on Saturday night - so I really did not want to run this on Saturday morning and then be dead tired on Saturday night.

I have some vacation days to burn at work, so I decided to take tomorrow off. Excellent! I can run on my day off, right? older son has a half day due to the holidays - which means there is less than 3 hours between the time I drop my younger son off at school at 9:15am and when I would need to pick my older son up at noon. UGH!!! I coordinated to have my older son go home with a friend until my wife can pick him up later so I can get my run in. Go figure, I'm taking the day off and don't have time to pick up the kids. Did I mention how much I love my wife....

Next I needed to find a route. 22 miles is a lot of ground to cover. I also want some change of scenery so I'm not bored to tears. I have decided to connect the CCT trail to the Rock Creek Park trail route that the Parks Half Marathon is run on. I'll park at or near the Rockville Metro, take the Metro downtown to either Dupont Circle or Farragut North, and start running from there towards Georgetown to pick up the CCT trail (hopefully about a mile). I think it is about 8 miles up the trail to Bethesda and then another 13 miles to the Rockville Metro station if I follow the Parks Half Marathon route. There's 22 miles for ya!

Another cool thing about this training run is that I'll be running it at about the same time of day that I'll be running the NY Marathon. Since I need to drop my son off at nursery school, I probably won't get downtown until a little after 10am. This will be good for me since I'm so used to running at 6am...I need some more practice running later in the day.

This run will also give me a good chance to practice nutrition and hydration. Since I'm running at the same time of day, I can simulate what I will eat on race day before the run and during the run. I need to give this a little more thought this afternoon and evening so I have a plan tomorrow morning.

I'm usually not nervous or anxious for a training run, but this had so much planning going into it that I'm a bit jittery. Perhaps that's also good practice???

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lunchtime Run On A Really Windy Day

Today was my scheduled lunchtime run (unlike yesterday where I ran on my lunch hour because I overslept).

On the plan was 5 miles. I was really dreading the thought of doing the same 5.5 mile loop that I always do. I wanted to find some new trails. I wanted to explore. Then reality set in...I need to run 5 miles, shower and shovel some food down my gullet in the 90 minutes that I have set aside. I need to start and end my run from my home office and that's final!

However, instead of doing the normal loop, I decided to just meander around the neighborhood. There are a few walking trails through the woods and around the lakes, so I would just focus on hitting these and running some of the streets between them.

I ended up running 4.9 hilly miles. Near the lakes there were some pretty strong headwinds. The rest of the time, it was just a constant whirling wind to carry the autumn leaves across the sky. I love fall :-)

Stats: 4.9 miles in 50:57. A 10:25/mile pace with an average HR of 147.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

800 Miles!

After today's tempo run, I now have hit 800 miles for the year! (801.1 to be exact...)

I'm about 35 miles ahead of pace for 1,000 miles for the year. Even with the upcoming taper and rest period after the marathon, I think I still may be able to achieve the goal this year that I was not able to hit last year...

The Day The Music Died...

My iPod died this morning :-(

It was old. It had a black and white screen. No pictures. No videos. And now, no juice.

I used to run with the brick. It would be good for about 3 miles and then it would start skipping. I purchased an iPod shuffle a little over a year ago to run with since it is a flash memory player instead of a hard drive player. No skipping!

However, I still used my iPod in the car and at the office.

It's the end of an era. I'll now be jumping into the age of color screens and support for video. Stay tuned...

I was able to resuscitate my iPod this evening! I had tried holding the Menu and Play buttons together a few times today, but I guess I didn't hold them down long enough. I tried one more desperate attempt at doing this and held them for about 10 long seconds. Finally, the Apple appeared and my iPod came back to life!!!

Managing Your Boss To Get A Run In

I overslept this morning. My wife woke me at 6:05am asking me if I was going to run. I really did not have time since she leaves with my older son to drive carpool around 7:15am. So I was stuck - either run at lunch or no run today.

As soon as I logged into my work computer, I saw a large empty chunk of time from 12 noon to 2pm. Hooray! I'm running at lunchtime!

However, as I was going through my emails, I received one from my boss who decided to move a meeting from 10am to 1pm. Oh man!

I started thinking about this meeting. The other PM on the project was not in the office today and was returning tomorrow. Also, there hasn't been much going on from my end with this project. It sounded like a waste of 30 minutes to me - plus it would stop me from my lunchtime run.

So...I replied to my boss giving him and update with my portion of the project, explaining that the other PM is not in the office and that it would be much better to meet tomorrow morning.

A few hours later I received the notice moving the meeting to tomorrow. YES!

My 11am meeting finished a little early and I was out the door by 11:45am. My plan - do my 7.4 mile neighborhood loop as a tempo run. One easy, warm-up mile; six miles at a "10K pace", cooldown for the rest.

My 10K PR is at a 9:03/mile pace. Since I feel I'm likely in the best shape of my life (except for about 10 more pounds that I should lose), I decided I would try to do the tempo portion at a 9 minute mile. Either I would crash and burn, or I would know that I could go for a 10K PR after the marathon :-)

I ran my warm-up mile in 9:45. I have no idea what my HR really was for that mile as I was getting false readings in the 190s and 200s. However, I pretty much knew my heart was not working that hard so I ignored heart rate on this run.

As I started to push the pace at the start of mile 2, I started to get a side stitch - probably from my mid-morning granola bar. Grrrr. I thought there that I would do one mile at tempo and then see if I could continue.

The side stitch disappeared at some point during mile 2. At the end of that mile is a monster hill - I hoofed it up and hit my first tempo split at 8:59.

That would be the closest I would get to a 9 minute mile. I found another gear somewhere and hit splits of 8:31, 8:29, 8:54, 8:16 and 8:40. Holy cow!!!!

To put this into perspective, the last 10K I ran was the Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving morning. I had a time of 1:00:30 for 6.2 miles. I ran the first 7 miles of my run today in 1:01:35...and this included a "warm-up" mile.

As long as I stay healthy after the marathon, I should be able to bring my 10K PR down on Thanksgiving morning. Watch out turkeys!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting Out The Long Sleeves

The overnight lows last night were supposed to be in the mid to upper 40s, so I laid out a long-sleeved running shirt for this morning's run. It definitely wasn't as cold as last Thursday morning (42 degrees in short sleeves...), but I did not regret wearing long sleeves today.

On a whim, I decided to run my 5.5 mile loop in the opposite direction this morning. I've been running this loop a lot lately - there are a lot of 5 mile runs on my training plan - so running it in the opposite direction was just what I needed. With the elevation changes occurring at different mile markers, it seemed like a totally different route!

I logged another sub-10:00/mile pace, this time with my average HR at 150. The pace would have been around 10:00 and my average HR would have been lower if I didn't attack the long hill during mile 5 (normally my long downhill recovery during mile 2). It ends up that mile 5 was my fastest split at 9:33.

I'm hoping that having my fastest splits during the more difficult parts of my training runs will help me on my mental/emotional part of the marathon training.

I think I'll find out a little bit more on Friday morning when I do my 22 mile - and final really long - training run. I haven't definitely picked out a route yet, however, I'm thinking of parking at the Rockville or Shady Grove Metro stations, taking the Metro downtown and then running from there back out to the 'burbs. I can run a bit in the city, over to the CCT trail, up into Bethesda and over to the Rock Creek Trail, up to Viers Mill Road and then over to Rockville Pike where I'll either take the Metro a few stops back to my car or run to my car (I'll see how many miles I would have run already and how tired I am...). I know that the CCT trail is about 8 miles from downtown to Bethesda, and that from that point to the Rockville Metro via the Rock Creek Trail and Viers Mill Road is 13 miles (this is pretty much the Parks Half Marathon course run in the opposite direction). Sounds pretty good, right??

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Busy Weekend and Four More Weeks!

This weekend was the start of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. I finished building our sukkah on Friday morning before taking my younger son to school - Sherry decorated it after her school day and we were able to eat our Shabbat dinner in the sukkah on Friday evening. Actually, we have eaten most of our meals this weekend in the sukkah - it's so nice to be outside this time of year!

The weekend was pretty much jam packed with Sukkot stuff - going to synagogue and to meals in other sukkahs - so I scheduled my long run on Saturday morning. My college friend ZF was in town this weekend. She is also running the NY Marathon, so our training schedules were pretty similar - her plan was to run 10 miles and my plan was to run 12 miles - so we split the difference and planned to run 11 miles.

I found an 11 mile loop on RunningAhead starting at NIH and going down Wisconsin Ave to the National Cathedral, then taking Mass Ave to the CCT Trail and back into Bethesda. Looked pretty interesting, so we decided to meet up at the Medical Center Metro Stop at 6:30am Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the parking lot at the Medical Center Metro had signs that all parking was 30 minutes only - and there were no Saturday restrictions on the signs. So instead of risking it we drove into the Woodmont triangle of downtown Bethesda and parked at meters that did not go into effect until 9am (we would be done by then!). This would ultimately cut our run from 11 miles to 10 miles, but in the long run I don't think the extra mile or two on this run will make too much of a difference.

Finally we were off! ZF and I met in Ann Arbor our freshman year at UofM - 19 years ago! We haven't seen each other in about 6 years, however, we have communicated a lot over the past 3 years as she started to get into running.

It was hard to believe it had been so long since we actually saw each other. Just like old friends, it didn't matter how long it had been and we just started talking. For the next hour and 48 minutes conversation weaved from work, to running stories, to our families and our college friends. I swear it was hard to believe that close to 2 hours went by - our legs only making a periodic stop for a red light at a busy intersection. Actually, as we approached the National Cathedral, I was admiring the beauty of such a wonderful building and I don't even know if ZF noticed we were passing it!

We ended up running a little over 10 miles when all was said and done. We averaged a comfortable 10:44 pace - my average HR over the near two-hour run was 151 bpm. I guess chatting the entire way made my heart work a little harder, but still this was within a good, easy range. Here's the map of our run:

After this run I really started thinking of how wonderful this was. Normally, when I get together with someone I haven't seen in a while it is over a meal or a drink or coffee. Why not meet for a run? It's definitely healthier. And although not everyone is going to be able to run 10 miles, the conversation definitely makes the run seem shorter than it actually is.

Watch out friends and/or family members. The next time you come to town, I may invite you for a run instead of for a meal :-)

The marathon is four weeks from today! Our weekend plans are starting to come together now. I'm almost halfway through the book "A Race Like No Other" and I am getting really psyched!

I have one more super-long run - a 22 miler this weekend - and about $1,300 left to raise (if you are in a giving mood, please donate here). It's hard to believe it is getting so close.

Friday, October 2, 2009

When Do I Switch To Long Sleeves?

So, Thursday morning I stepped out the door for my run and it felt mighty chilly. The past few mornings had been in the low 50s, so I had laid out a short-sleeved technical t-shirt and running shorts the night before. However, when I opened the front door that morning it seems a bit more crisp than usual.

I decided that it was no problem - I would warm up mid-run and be thankful I was in short sleeves.

A few other runners that I saw had on tights or pants, some with a running jacket. Of course the dog walkers that morning were nice and bundled up.

For the most part I felt comfortable. A bit on the cold side - but after the heat and humidity of the summer I was thankful to not have to deal with that yucky mucky air.

When I got back home, I check the computer to see just how chilly it was.

42 degrees!

Perhaps long sleeves would have been a good idea? what point will the cold mornings really be cold enough to wear long sleeves, or tights or a jacket and beanie?

One Month To The Big Race!

It is one month from the NY Marathon. WOW!

I feel really good on almost all fronts. My training is going really well. I have been healthy and not even much soreness. My pace is getting faster each week at similar heart rate. I feel good during and after my runs. I can't really ask for much more here!

Fundraising is going well too. I had been sitting around $3,400 for a while - which has surpassed the $3,000 minimum, but not yet up to my $5,000 goal. Yesterday I sent a email to my colleagues at work and started to receive some more donations. I'm now close to $3,700. I'm also going to do another fundraiser - on October 19 at the Kentlands Noodles & Co. I'll be spreading the news starting next week.

The one thing that I haven't done enough of is exploring my Nana's life and Alzheimer's disease. I was hoping to speak to my father and aunt about my Nana, and get together with my cousins to remember stories we all had about her...unfortunately, this has not happened. I'll try to get on this over the next few weeks, but even if it doesn't happen before the marathon, it will likely happen afterwards.