Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back To The Track

It's speedwork Wednesday today. I decided to hit the track instead of the treadmill - since I have been working a lot on pacing, I wanted to be cognizant of my own pace instead of having a rubber mat set the pace for me like I did all summer.

Actually, it has been more than just "the summer". My training log tells me that the last time I was at the oval was in August of LAST YEAR. YIKES! I guess it kind of makes sense as I have been hesitant to go to the track with my Garmin as I felt that it would be really inaccurate in distance. Well, Garmin was a bit inaccurate - I ran 8.45 miles and Garmin had me at about 8.7 - but who cares! I'm able to go into my log and put in the exact distances anyhow since I hit the lap button when I finish a particular interval or recovery. Plus, Garmin did pretty well mapping my run :-) No more avoiding the track on account of the Garmin...

The weather was a bit on the chilly side for lunchtime (65 degrees) and there was some wind as well, but I can't say I minded a bit. It was nice to be in the cool air while I was heating up in my workout.

My plan for today - Yasso 800s - 10 x 800m with 400m recoveries, targeting a 4:40 for the 800m (a 9:20/mile pace). The Yasso 800 wisdom is that if I can do this workout, I should be able to run a 4:40 marathon - which is my goal for New York.

After my warm-up, I started out a bit faster than 4:40, and my first interval was 4:36. I slowed it down a bit for the second interval and came in at 4:39. Nice! However, that was the closest I would get to 4:40 today. The next intervals were 4:35, 4:29, 4:28, 4:27 and 4:18!

I had three more intervals to go and I was still feeling pretty good. I decided to try and slow down the next two and get closer to 4:40 and then go as fast as I could on interval number 10. Interval 8 was 4:33. On interval 9, my first split around the track was 2:08 - too fast. I tried to slow myself down, but I guess halfway around the track I got my groove again and ended up with another 2:08 for a 4:16 800m split.

Interval 10 was all guts. I started out really fast, but then reminded myself it's 800m - not 200 or 400! My first 400 split was 2:03. Could I beat an 8:00/mile pace? I got a bit faster as I started my second loop, rounded the turn and tried to pick up the pace even more down the straightaway. As I was rounding the last turn the wind picked up - I was charging into a strong headwind as I dug in and crossed the line. Garmin flashed my lap time of 3:51! My last 400m was a 1:47 (a 7:11/mile pace).

I really amazed myself on that last interval. Not that I was able to hit a 1:47 for 400m or a 3:51 for 800m. I know that I can do that if needed. I just didn't think I could do it after already running 7.5 miles.

The average time for my 800m intervals was 4:25. I know that this does not mean that I should be shooting for a 4:25 marathon time. I'm afraid that if I try to raise the bar too much on my goal that I will tire myself out and bonk like I did last year. So, I'll still be shooting for a steady 4:40 in New York.

Training runs like this and my 20 miler this past weekend are giving me some good confidence in reaching that goal!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yom Kippor "Marathon" & A Crisp Morning Run

Yesterday was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippor. One of the traditions of Yom Kippor is to fast from dusk the night before until it is dark the next day. It ends up being about a 26 hour time period of not eating.

Sometimes the fast is really difficult, however, this year it wasn't so bad. First of all, I slept a lot more than normal (I was asleep by 9:30pm and stayed in bed until around 8am!). The worst time for me was around 1pm or 2pm as we were finishing the morning prayer service - 19 to 20 hours in. Sound familiar?

I started speaking to a congregant who has run a few marathons and we were discussing how this was "the wall" and once we break through the next hour or so we should have smooth sailing to the end. Perhaps this is the time when the body finishes burning the calories of the last meal before the fast and starts burning stored energy (just like "the wall" during the marathon).

I'm not sure about this, but I tried to convince myself that this was good psychological training for the marathon. Get over "the wall" of feeling totally ravenous - and then after that feeling just focus on getting to the finish line.

We had a bunch of neighbors/congregants over to our house to break the fast last night. I think we may have had about 40 people in and out of our house between 7:30pm and 9:30pm - eating bagels, blintzes, kugels and deserts. I likely ate a full day's worth of calories in that meal (which I guess was fine as I hadn't eaten the rest of the day).

What I really needed after that was a run this morning!

What a great morning for a run. When I opened the front door to place my Garmin 305 on the stoop to search for satellites, I felt the crisp chill of an autumn morning. I started to rethink my choice of clothing - shorts and a running t-shirt. Should I go with long-sleeves??? I decided to stay in what I had on and just be a bit cool...after all of those runs in the summer, I must say I was ecstatic to not feel hot while running.

I ended up pushing the pace just a bit since the temperatures were cooling me down. My average HR was 151, which for an easy run is a bit on the high side - although not so high that this would constitute speedwork. It was nice to see my average pace also at a much faster level - 9:51/mile - to go with the higher HR.

I took a look back at the beginning of my training and saw I ran this same route on June 30 - avg pace of 10:36/mile and avg HR of 157. Whoa! This marathon training stuff has really kicked me into shape!

One other random observation from my run - over the summer I saw a house on my route with a big dumpster on the lawn (it was under renovation), and one of the people that was working on the house was sleeping in the back seat of his car just up the street from the house. The dumpster and the guy sleeping in the car had disappeared for a few weeks, but they were back this morning. Poor guy. I'm really close to knocking on his car door the next time I run by the house and offer him a bed in our house to sleep in. I'm not sure if Sherry will go for it, but I just don't feel right having this guy sleeping in his car.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

20 Miles - And An Improvement Over Last Year!

Today was my penultimate really long run before the NY Marathon.

I remember from last year that I didn't feel too bad after my 20 mile run - it was the 18 miler (and the penultimate really long run) that had me almost limping around that day. Today, I don't feel that bad. Yes, I'm sore - but I'm not gimpy.

My legs actually started to feel a bit sore after mile 9. At mile 18 I the back pain that I got earlier in the week came back (luckily, this pain disappeared when I stopped running). Even with this, I ran strong to the end - my last two mile splits were 10:14 and 10:28. Compare this to my first two splits of 11:04 and nice to get faster at the end of such a long run!

And while we're on the subject of comparisons, since I ran the same route in preparing for the Frederick Marathon, I actually have a good gauge as to how I am doing compared to last year. Today, I ran the route in 3:35:05 (avg pace of 10:33 with avg HR of 152). Last year I ran the same route in 3:46:42 (avg pace of 11:19 with avg HR of 157).

I was thinking perhaps the weather may be more favorable this year - this morning was 60 degrees and overcast. However, last year was 57 degrees and also cloudy. No...I can't attribute the improvement to the weather.

Here's the route:

Rest day tomorrow. Then Yom Kippor on Monday, so I'll need to squeeze my weekly runs in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Attempt To Get On To The 59th Street Bridge - From A Garmin's Perspective

It took me three tries to actually find the pedestrian path of the 59th Street Bridge this morning - I took two paths on the 59th Street side (which I found very quickly to be wrong) and then finally went over to the 60th Street side and found it.

Here's how my frantic antics looked from the Garmin satellites:

Team R2R Meeting and 59th Street Bridge Run

Continuing where I left off with my quick trip up to New York...

I had planned to meet up with two friends from my High School trip to Israel in the late afternoon. LH was going to be in the Chelsea area of town, BS was on Houston Street and I was in midtown. Hmm... It looked like Chelsea was the most centrally located, so I picked a coffee shop for us to meet at and let them know where to meet (interestingly enough, neither of the locals wanted to pick the spot to leave it to the guy who has never lived in NYC to pick the place??? thank goodness for Google Maps!).

I got there about 3:45pm, but I had a conference call at 4:30pm. I had hoped that the two of them would get there around 4 or so, we would all hang out together, I would take my call outside and then come back in and join them. What ended up happening was that both of them let me know that they would be late, I took my 4:30 call in the coffee shop and once it finished around 5pm they both showed up.

The three of us hadn't been together in over 21 years (it makes me feel really old saying that). However, there was no awkwardness to us being together again - it seemed so natural hanging out. Unfortunately, we only had an hour to spend together and it went really quickly. I hope to see them again the next time I'm in the city!

I head crosstown on the subway to get to the Alzheimer's Association meeting. I get on the train, and sitting there is my cousin's husband - what are the odds! (luckily I told my cousin that I was coming into town for a quick visit but was not going to have time to get out to Long Island to see them...otherwise I would have been busted!)

I made it to the Alzheimer's Association's office in time for the meeting. On the agenda was a guest speaker - Liz Robbins a NY Times journalist who wrote the book A Race Like No Other about the NY Marathon. I decided to go buy the book on my lunch break, and I started to read the Prologue and Chapter 1 after work. I haven't been this excited to read a book in a while - even though I have tons of things going on right now, I should be able to find some time to read this and get through it quickly (or at least quickly for me!).

Liz Robbins was great! You could tell that she really enjoyed covering the marathon, going to the neighborhoods and meeting many of the special spectators that make the crowds so amazing for this race, and diving into the stories of both the elite runners and also the everyday runners with not-so-everyday stories behind why they were running the NY Marathon. I had her sign my copy of the book and she seemed genuinely interested in why I was running (actually, it seemed like she took the time to speak to everyone who was there). She was also VERY excited to hear that I went to Barnes and Noble that afternoon to buy the book!

I was expecting there to be a bit more to the meeting - details on the pre-race pasta dinner? the bus to pick us up marathon morning? the post-race party? They gave us some of the information, but I guess not everything is finalized yet. We'll be getting more information in the next week. Since this is the first year the Alzheimer's Association has a team, I guess they are working through all of the details.

After the meeting, I went up to the 92nd Street Y for Israeli Dancing. This meant that I was getting even more exercise, but also meant that I would be going to sleep much later. Ends up that I got back to my friend's apartment at 11:30pm. I quickly crashed.

This morning, I was up before the sun. Not sure why my body thinks 5:30am is a suitable time to wake up - I guess my kids and my running schedule have trained me to be an early bird. If I'm up at that time, I might as well run, right?

I headed out on 69th to Central Park West, down Central Park West to 59th Street and then across 59th Street to the Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge.

I had told a few people that I intended to run over this bridge and back - it is on the marathon route at about mile 16 - so why did no one tell me how to get onto the pedestrian path???? I saw a sidewalk leading up from 59th street onto the bridge, but that became a dead-end. Then further down I saw what looked to be a little ramp, but that lead to the shoulder of the lower-deck of the bridge. I decided to go back up 2nd Ave to the 60th Street side. I asked a policewoman there and she pointed me to where the path starts down on 1st Ave. Finally!!!

I'm glad I ran the bridge. I've heard "The NY Marathon is flat except for the bridges and a few hills in Central Park". Well, now I know what to expect on the bridges - and it's a pretty significant hill. Maybe not the steepest of hills, but it's constant uphill for a good 1/2 to 3/4 mile. Of course the good thing about going uphill on the bridge is the coasting downhill after the crest of the bridge. Nice!

After going over the bridge and back I headed up 1st Avenue, trying to imagine this street lined with crowds cheering the runners as they exit the bridge. Up to 69th and back west to Central Park, through Central Park and finally stopped at Columbus Avenue. I looked at my clothes and they were drenched. What a great way to start the morning :-)

I'm now on the Tripper Bus back home. The WiFi on the bus is great - I've participated in three conference calls for work - and of course I have been able to blog!

It was great being in New York, but it will be really nice to be home with Sherry and the boys. Next trip to NYC is October 16-17 to run the last 10 miles of the marathon with Team Run To Remember!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Show Me The Money!!!

OK...not me. The Alzheimer's Association!

According to the Team Run To Remember Fundraiser page, the team has raised over $120,000 now. Woo hoo!

I have raised a little over $3,400 of that total. (if you would like to add to that, please donate on line here) I had set my goal at $5,000 and I'm pretty much on pace to get there.

Where has the money come from? Well, the math nerd in me decided to break it down. The categories with the most - 26% has come from my Immediate Family (parents, siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles, etc.), 12% came from my Star Diner fundraiser, and 10% have come from college friends, from synagogue friends and from Israeli dancing friends.

I decided to crunch it down a little further into three categories - Family (both immediate and extended), Communities I Am Active In (Shaare Torah, Israeli Dance, Work, Running Community, etc.) and Social Networking Contacts (friends from High School, BBYO, when we lived in Dallas, etc. - most of whom I only speak to a few times a year or just recently got back in touch with them via Facebook or LinkedIn)

It wasn't so easy to do this, as some people are part of multiple categories - friends at synagogue who also go Israeli Dancing, friends from High School that are also neighbors, etc. In cases like these, I just chose the category that I though fit best.

Here's the results:
Active Community Fundraiser 12%
Shaare Torah 10%
Israeli Dancing 10%
Work 9%
Neighbors 3%
Running Community 2%
Community At-Large 2%
Active Community Total 48%
Family Immediate Family 26%
Extended Family 7%
Family Total 33%
Social Networking Friend - UofM 10%
Friend - Dallas 4%
Friend - BBYO 3%
Friend - High School 2%
Social Networking Total 19%
Grand Total 100%

The bottom line - all of the time "invested" in being active in the community - going to synagogue on a weekly basis, leading Israeli Dancing, speaking to my neighbors and other runners, etc. - and all of the "lost time" keeping up with Facebook has actually helped me significantly in my fundraising efforts.

Central Park Loop and Late Night In New York

Yesterday, I got into New York City around 2:30pm and immediately went to the Regus day office that I had reserved at 11 Park Plaza. It's nice to have the flexibility to work from anywhere most of the time!

My last conference call of the day ended a little after 5:30pm, and then off I went - with bags in tow - to the subway and up to my friend's apartment on 70th and Broadway. I was surprised at how quickly it took - I was in his apartment before 6pm.

I quickly changed into running clothes and then I walked over to Columbus Circle for the group run. It took much longer than usual for Garmin to pick up a wasn't until I got to Central Park West and stopped to stretch that it finally locked in.

I was surprised to see so many people congregating into different running groups. There were even more running groups (some which were probably 50-70 people!) that we encountered while running the loop.

The Alzheimer's Association team had about 15 runners. Immediately from the get go (and without any prompting), the group split up into three groups running at different paces. I hung back with MM - who I ran with the last time I was in Central Park. We ran together for close to 2 miles when we stopped for water. Uur pace was somewhere in the 10:00 to 10:20/mile range which was an OK pace for me but a bit fast for her. At that point she decided to walk a bit and then slow down.

I decided to pick up the pace since this was my mid-week run where I sometimes do my speedwork. At first I was trying to do a fast 1/2 mile and then slow down for a 1/4 mile - like the Yasso workouts. However, I wasn't timing my 1/2 mile intervals...I was just going on feel. In the middle of my 2nd "interval" I saw the second pack of runners from my team. I caught up with them and decided to run the rest of the way with them. At that point they were doing closer to a 9:15 - 9:30/mile, which is about the pace I was running my Yasso intervals at. Except that I still had about 3 miles to go!

I ended up doing fine with this group. I think the last two miles we ran closer to a 9:00/mile pace (mile 6 may have been sub-9). The entire run was a little over 6 miles and for me a little over 57 minutes. I thought to myself that I should be able to kick some major behind in this year's Turkey Chase. Even though it's a hilly course, I'll definitely be able to aim for a course PR (current course PR is 1:00:33) and perhaps even a new 10K PR (current 10K PR is 56:14).

After the run, I went back to my friend's apartment for a quick shower and then met a high school friend for dinner. (I spoke to Sherry on the way and her remark was "it's almost 9:00 at night - you haven't eaten dinner yet???") I hadn't seen him in a few years and we had a lot of catching up to do. Things went much later than I had planned and I didn't get back to the apartment until close to midnight - whoa!

Today, I reserved an office at the Chrysler Building. I thought it would be really cool to work there - plus, the Alzheimer's Association office is a few blocks down Lexington Avenue - and I have a team meeting there later this evening. As I went to subway station, I was told that there was a track fire on that line so none of the trains were moving. Great! I decided to walk cross-town - through Central Park - and then take the subway on the East side. It's kind of ironic - at home, I never would consider walking a mile and a half to get to public transportation to get to an office...but in New York City it seemed extremely appropriate!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New York City - Here I Come!!!

I'm on the Tripper Bus right now - we're crossing over the Delaware Memorial Bridge on the way to New York City! There is wifi on the bus, so I've already finished one conference call and listened in on an internal webcast on the Nortel-Ericsson transition. Ain't technology grand!

My back is still sore, but feeling better this morning. We'll see how it goes this evening when I run in Central Park with the folks on Team Run 2 Remember. I can't wait!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back Pain :-(

I went out for a 5 mile run this morning - 5:30am and all is dark. It was a cool and comfortable morning, but I felt a bit tight trying to start up.

At around mile 3 or so, I felt a twinge in my mid-back on the left side. Sometimes this will happen and then go away, but this one stayed...and it continued to get worse.

I made a chiro appointment at lunch today - ends up the muscles between the last two ribs had "locked up". After some cracking, massaging and electro stim, it's still hurting me - especially when I do any type of twisting action. The chiro told me to ice it this evening and by tomorrow it should feel better.

I hope so, since tomorrow I'll be on a bus for 4-5 hours on my way to New York! And tomorrow evening is a group run in Central Park with Team Run To Remember!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

13 Miles - And On Pace For 1,000!

Today's run was a 13 miler. I had planned to run with HH - meeting at a nearby coffee house at 6am. I ran up there with a few minutes to spare and started waiting. A few minutes after 6, she pulls up and comes out of her car in jeans and a sweatshirt - oh no! She had been up all night with a stomach issue and couldn't run (I told her she didn't need to drive over to tell me, but she said that she was already up and wanted to get out of the house anyway).

So my run was solo. And since it was supposed to be with someone, I didn't bring my iPod. I guess it's good practice for the big day, right?

I hadn't run this route since training for the Frederick Marathon. It was a bit odd running it again, as I was used to running it in the winter - with tights, gloves, beanie and jacket. This morning had a slight chill in the air - but the welcome kind that comes just as autumn arrives.

I felt really tight at the beginning of this run, so I took it nice and easy. Luckily, my body got into the groove eventually. Since there was no music, I was able to concentrate on me and how my body felt - 7 of the first 10 miles had average HRs under 150 (the other three were 151s and a 152). Mile 11 and 12 were quite hilly (I didn't remember this route being so hilly, but it definitely was!).

During my last mile, a neighbor who is a lot faster than me came up behind me. I decided to be neighborly and strike up some conversation for a bit....which meant I needed to go a bit faster! I took a look at my Garmin stats and found that I was doing around an 8:00/mile pace at that point - and I lasted a little more than 1/4 mile, that's it (OK...I already had 12.5 miles in the tank at that time).

All and all it was a nice run - 13.25 miles in 2:21:19 with an average HR of 149. If I can run the first half of NY in that (and keeping my average HR in the first half under 150), I should be in very good shape.
When I put my run in my RunningAhead log, I found that I am now ahead of the Pace Bunny for 1,000 miles for 2009!!! With the marathon training I'll definitely surge ahead for a few weeks. I just hope that I can stay consistent with my running (and not get sick) through the end of the year and hit 1,000 this year. I just missed it last year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

L'Shana Tova!

...or Happy New Year! in Hebrew. Tonight starts the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShana - which is the start of the new calendar year for the Jewish people. We are having guests tonight (honey turkey has been in the oven for the past few hours - yum!) and we have big meals on tap both tomorrow and Sunday. I need to remind myself to eat in moderation...

It is a step-back week in terms of long-run mileage. So tomorrow morning I'm going out for a 13 mile run before going to synagogue. I'll be meeting HH again - but this time in the neighborhood, not in Bethesda. For the third week in a row I won't be running alone...I can get used to this!

Actually, next week I will also be doing one or two non-solo runs. I'll be going up to New York on Tuesday afternoon - and the Alzheimer's Association team has a group run on Tuesday evening in Central Park. Then I may be meeting up with another running blogger for a run on Thursday morning. Sandwiched in that is a meeting with the Alzheimer's Association NY Marathon team on Wednesday evening. It will be a lot packed into a short amount of time, but I'm really looking forward to it.

I got two other follow-ups from last weekend's race - my Brightroom photos came in, and I won a $25 gift certificate to a local running store for predicting my finishing time! I had predicted a 2:19:45 (shooting for 2:20 and thinking I'd be hoofing it at the end) and ended up with a 2:18:59 chip time. It's definitely the start of a sweet new year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weekday Runs - Done!

I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to fit in my weekday runs this week. I needed a rest day on Monday, after Sunday's 18 miler. I wanted to run this weekend's long run on Saturday, and given that the long runs are getting to be longer, it would have been nice to rest on Friday as well.

That meant running Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lucky for me - running wise that is - work is a little slow right now :-) This may change, as one of the other accounts is looking for some Project Management support. I should find out more about this tomorrow.

However, this week was slow enough that I was able to get mid-day runs in on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead of 5, 8, 5 I did 5, 6, 6. I could not get a mid-day 8 miler in because of meetings I had on Wednesday afternoon...instead I did a 7x800 Yasso workout on the treadmill.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of running outside. It was overcast, a bit breezy, temperatures in the low 60s and threatening to rain...seemed perfect for a run! For some reason I was craving a trail run - probably after last week's half marathon which is mostly run on the Rock Creek Trail. I decided to run up to Great Seneca Park and on the roads in the of my favorite local runs is around Clopper Lake, but the last time I went there I almost wiped out 2 or 3 times and I promised myself I wouldn't run it alone again. I did run right past the west end of the lake and was able to look across and soak up the beauty.

On my way into Great Seneca Park, there were four deer standing in front of the path. They heard my footfalls and looked my way. When they realized I was coming toward them they all leaped back into the woods. I felt bad to interrupt them, but it definitely added to the beauty of the run.

Once I entered into the park, the threatening rain delivered! Luckily it only came down as a light steady stream - just enough to cool me down and bring a smile to my face. I thought about how I haven't run much in the rain this go around so this was good practice - just in case Nov 1 is rainy in New York.

I finished out the run with a bang - most of my splits were in the 10:40 range, however mile six was in 9:44. Nice! Final stats - 6 miles, 1:03:18 - 10:31/mile pace, average HR 145.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Five Miles At Dark O'Clock

I guess I better just get used to this as it's not going to get much better over the next few months: when I left this morning for my run - a little before 6am - it was still dark outside. My new training partners are Venus and Orion. Deal with it.

Since Sherry leaves to drive carpool by 7:15am most mornings, if I want a morning run it needs to be early. As a result, I'll need to try to get to bed earlier - so no Monday Night Football last night (I did end up winning my fantasy football games in both leagues that I am in - so my only team that did not win this weekend was the Redskins...3-1 for the weekend is not bad).

This schedule will not be so bad for the 4 or 5 milers...but I'm wondering what I'm going to do for the 8 mile mid-week longer run. My calendar is starting to fill up this Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, so a long lunch-break run may not be in the cards. I may have to wake up at 4:30am to get 'er done...UGH!

This morning - 5.5 miles in 58:20; a 10:31/mile pace with average HR of 148. My muscles still felt a bit stiff and sore from Sunday's run, but still I was able to keep a nice pace and my heart rate below and average of 150 for the entire run. Of course I would hope for a lower HR on an easy run (the first 5 miles on Sunday I had an average HR of 140 and my pace per mile was only 11 seconds slower), but it still felt pretty good.

One other tidbit - my weight is now at the pre-Disney vacation level. This is still 3 pounds more than I ran last year's marathon at - and about 7-12 pounds more than my doctor wants me at. I'll definitely focus on losing those last pounds after the marathon. I really don't feel like counting calories while marathon training - my body is a furnace right now and I'll feed it when it needs it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Marathon Gear Has Arrived!!!

The Alzheimer's Association sent some running "uniforms" and other goodies to the members of Team Run To Remember, and I received mine this evening!!!

In the package was a short sleeved tech shirt, a tech singlet, a jacket, running sleeves, a mesh bag that I can use as a race bag (when I don't want to bring my favorite race bag along...) and a DVD copy of the movie Run For Your Life.

I will have a huge grin plastered on my face for the rest of the evening. I even want to go out for a run now (but it will have to wait until tomorrow morning).

I requested a Medium for the three pieces of clothing. The shirt fits great. The jacket is a little on the big side and the singlet is a bit snug. When I had the singlet on, I kinda felt a little like the grape from the Fruit of the Loom commercials, but my wife said I look fine. We'll see how it feels when I wear it for a long run over the next week or two.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

18 Mile Long Run / Parks Half Marathon

For my 18 mile run today, I parked 5 miles from the start of the Parks Half Marathon, ran to the starting line and then ran the race.

My plan was to treat this as a marathon pace run. A little faster than a long run, but slower than I would normally run a Half Marathon. My target pace was 10:40/mile - which corresponds to a 4:40 marathon.

I set my alarm for 5:15am, but thanks to my younger son, I didn't need to rely on the alarm. He came into our room at 4:45am needing to go to the bathroom (which he can do on his own, but for some reason likes to wake us up in the middle of the night anyway...). I decided to get out of bed then and get an earlier start. I got into my running gear (including my UofM Alumni tech shirt - which was a great conversation piece during the run, especially after our big win over Notre Dame yesterday...GO BLUE!), made some instant coffee, went to the bathroom (the reason for the coffee, right?), ate a pre-run banana and headed out to my car. As I left my door, I saw a brightly shining moon and Orion up in the night sky....beautiful!

I parked at the Rio shopping center. As I was pulling into the Kohl's parking lot, I saw someone walking on the sidewalk in shorts and a t-shirt. Another crazy runner, I thought. However, I soon realized that this guy was actually heading home for the night - not heading out for the morning like me. Oy!

Since I was wanting to watch my pace today, I changed my Garmin main screen from 3 fields to 4 - adding average pace to my normal trio of elapsed time, current HR and distance. Later on I found out that by doing this, the elapsed time will only show HR:MIN and not HR:MIN:SEC when you go over 1 hour. It shouldn't really be that big of a deal, but I'm just so used to seeing the seconds on my elapsed time. If it continues to bother me, I may have to just leave average pace off the main screen and make myself hit the up button to see it on the next one. I'll need to make this decision in the next few weeks - I don't want to tinker with this during the NY Marathon.

I started my run - nice and easy. Average HR for the first three miles were 137, 138, 138 (the other two miles were 145 and 144, so they weren't so bad either). The Garmin showed an average pace over the 5 miles of 10:40...perfect! Except later on, when I downloaded my stats into RunningAhead, it shows my pace as 10:42/mile. Not such a biggie, but I'm started to get a bit frustrated about the accuracy of the Garmin....especially when I am using it to keep me on the right pace to reach my goal!

A few comments about the early run - it was definitely dark, and there were some areas that were not well lit (and one point where the sidewalk goes into the woods for a bit - woods where I know coyotes have been seen). I must say, I like running early in the morning, but I'm not such a fan of running in the dark alone.

The other thing is that although the coffee had it's desired affect before leaving home (and thus, not needing to use the port-a-john while on my run), it also gave me some pretty bad acid reflux. I was hoping this would go away at some point, but I was still feeling it towards the end of the half marathon as well.

I got to the starting line of the Parks HM about 25 minutes before the start. I bumped into a few people I knew - my running buddy from last week's 17 mile long run - HH - two "virtual" running buddies from RunningAhead who I knew would be at this race - Trent and Jellyfish - and my sister who was running her second half marathon.

I lined up with my sister and we left in the wave that was for the 10:00/mile and slower group, which started at 7:06am. I ran the first mile with my sister - hitting another 10:40 pace and average HR of 141. Mile 2 started to get downhill and I was trying to not get boxed in the crowd, so my pace was much faster - 9:50. After that, I made myself slow down and got into a rhythm.

I pretty much ran this race on feel - I was trying to watch my pace and HR, but didn't pay too much attention. At the half-way mark, my average pace was around 10:30/mile and my HR was in the high 150s. But I felt really good.

I actually felt so good, that around mile 9 or so, I was still chipper as ever while thanking the volunteers for volunteering for the race. One of the other runners made a comment that I was in way too good of a mood this far into the race! I ended up speaking to her for the next mile and a half - she was starting to get really tired and needed a little push to keep her going (or at least someone to speak to and keep her mind off of how much she likely wanted to stop...).

By the time we got to the last 2 miles - on the gravel Georgetown Branch Trail - I was still feeling really good. My average pace was at 10:39/mile - and even though I had already run 16 miles that morning, I felt that I had enough in the tank to put it into a higher gear and go. The Garmin shows that I ran the last two miles in 18:32, but it did lose the satellite while under the Air Rights tunnel so that may have messed up the distance part of the calculation (actually, it shows I did mile 13 in 8:04 - which I'm sure is not right). Either way, I was able to finish up strong with a chip time of 2:18:59.

Later on that morning (after showering and changing of course!) I met up with Trent and Jellyfish at the Silver Diner for brunch. It was nice to meet these folks in person and hear their running stories. Their take was that if I was able to run this course in less than 2:20 - and after running 5 miles already - that I should have no issues running a 4:40 in New York. The NY marathon is flatter and the weather will be cooler. However, I definitely need to ensure that I pace myself well - as it is in any longer distance race, if you go out too fast you are doomed at the end.

In summary - it was a great run capping off a week where my runs didn't feel so great. Still, I had my highest mileage week of the year - close to 37 miles - and I have two more really high mileage weeks before the marathon. I'm getting more confident that I will be able to reach my goals in New York - running a more balanced marathon and running it in 4:40.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bringing It Inside For The Rain

On the plan today was 5 miles. I was hoping to get 'em done early, however, it was a dreary, wet and rainy morning - and my pillow called me to return.

I was able to get the 5 miles in at lunchtime. I decided to go to the gym even though when I left the house there was a break in the rain. I had checked the radar map and it looked like rain was returning - and I didn't feel like getting a soaked today.

I dialed in a 11:00/mile pace with a 1.5% incline. According to my running log, this should have been pretty easy - but for some reason it didn't feel that easy today. My heart rate was fine - started in the high 130s/low 140s - but it just felt like work instead of gliding along.

Luckily, I had some good tunes with me. The other day I had my iPod on shuffle albums, and Styx's Paradise Theater came up. After listening to that, I really wanted to hear Kilroy Was Here - I had this on cassette when I was in middle school and I listed to it so much that the tape wore out! I hadn't listened to this album in a good 10 years (maybe 20???), so I wasn't sure how I would react. Would I still enjoy it? Would it be totally cheesy? Well...yes and yes ;-)

What I found pretty remarkable is that parts of this concept album resonated very similar to recently released concept album Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown. Themes of "the establishment" pushing their view of morality on the masses and the anti-establishment youth shunning their propaganda in order to create a better world. I almost forgot that in the world of the Styx album - released in 1983 - the "establishment" was that of the Communist bloc (one of the lyrics in the song "Double Life" talks about the Berlin Wall...which was still standing at the time!). Kind of ironic given what is being said (see #11) by the "establishment" that is referred to in Green Day's album. I'll stop here as I don't want this to become a political blog...

I have a really busy weekend to look forward to. Shabbat dinner tonight and then once the kid-os are asleep, Sherry and I will get to watch Glee! Tomorrow morning I'm reading torah at synagogue, we're hosting our "lunch bunch" group for lunch, the Michigan/Notre Dame game is on and I have an Israeli Dance gig in the evening. Sunday morning, I'm getting up dark and early (I'd say bright and early, but the sun will still not be up yet...) to get 5 miles in before the Parks Half Marathon. After the run, my son's school has a picnic and later in the afternoon we're going to watch the Redskins! I am ready for some football!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Yassos

Today was my mid-week, longer, speedwork run. I did a similar workout to last week - 8 mile Yasso 800s on the treadmill. I set my recovery speed to 5.5 mph and interval speed to 6.5 mph today (last week was 5.4 and 6.4).

The workout was no issue in terms of exertion - 8 miles, 1:19:47 (9:59/mile pace) and 153 bpm average HR.

However, I'm just not feeling as awesome as I did last week. I'm not 100% sure why. I'm not getting any less sleep this week (with the number of times my kids woke me up in the middle of the night last week, I'm likely getting more sleep this week!).

Perhaps I'm not eating as well? I did have a really strong beer yesterday evening (Dogfish Head Alehouse Palo Santo Marron - 12% abv) - and a bunch of beer over the weekend.

Perhaps it's the weather? This week is a bit more humid that last week - but still not hot like it was before. And should that really impact a treadmill workout?

Maybe it's just the ups and downs of training. Some weeks are kick ass and some weeks your ass is kicked.

One more 5 miler on Friday and then Sunday is the Parks Half Marathon!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Getting Some New Gear!!

Courtesy of Team Run To Remember and the Alzheimer's Association...the team is getting singlets, shirts and jackets!

I can't wait for these to arrive!!! :-)

Looking Back At Last Week And Ahead To This One

Last week was my highest mileage week so far this year - 34 miles - and included my longest run of the year so far, 17 miles. The best thing was that all of the runs felt great!

The great feeling was partially due to the wonderful weather and partially due to the fact that my conditioning is improving.

This morning will be another bump-up. I'm scheduled to run 36 miles - 5, 8, 5 and 18. I went out for the first 5 miler this morning, and although I didn't do poorly (10:48/mile pace with an average HR of 149), I wasn't feeling the same way as last week. The weather was a little more humid this morning, so I hope that's the issue.

My plan this week is to run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with my long run on Sunday. I have signed up for the Parks Half Marathon this Sunday, so I will park my car about 5 miles from the starting line, run to the race and then do 13.1 miles of the race. My goal here is to run an even-paced 2:20 Half Marathon. It doesn't seem too difficult to do, however, I need to remember that this will be miles 6 through 18 and not miles 1 through 13 :-)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bethesda To The Lincoln Memorial And Back!

I went for my 17 mile long run this morning. I planned to meet HH, a running friend who runs about the same pace as me, at the Bethesda Avenue entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail at 6am this morning.

That meant I had to leave the house about 5:40am...yikes!

I was up early enough - I was in bed before 9pm last night and somehow woke up before my 5:15am alarm. I grabbed a banana and had some instant coffee (our coffee maker is pretty loud and I didn't want to wake the entire house up) and left the house a little late. I got to our meet up spot around 6:07am...luckily HH was still there waiting for me.

We started right away down the tree lined path. The sun still had not come up, so it was quite dark on the trail. The pace seemed a bit quick, but we were still able to converse, so I didn't try to slow us down. As my Garmin chirped out the 1st mile split, my hunch was confirmed - we ran our first mile in 9:54. Wow. I asked, "Are we running 17 miles today?" and said we should likely slow down a bit.

We didn't really slow down too much over the first 4 miles. Splits of 9:54, 10:05, 10:04 and 9:53 - however, my average HR splits were 142, 137, 141 and 144 so I know that I wasn't stressing my body out too much. I guess the trail from Bethesda into the city is a slight downhill, so perhaps that also helped with the speed boost.

We stopped for a restroom break after 4.5 miles at Fletcher's Boathouse. After that we slowed down a bit - all of our splits for the next 5 miles were in the 10:20 to 11:00 range. This part of the run was really cool for me. The trail runs along the C&O Canal and Potomac River - and I ran by many landmarks that I have driven by many times in the years that I have lived here. I ran on the bridge that goes over Canal Road at Arizona Ave, I ran by the Key Bridge, under Whitehurst Freeway, past the outdoor seating at Sequoia's, next to the Watergate Hotel and Kennedy Center and finally up to the Lincoln Memorial. We had run a little over 8.5 miles and now it was time to go back.

We finally slowed down on the way back up to Bethesda. Partially due to the fact that the trail is uphill on the way back, and partially due to the fatigue that starts to set in as the miles pile on. The next few splits were 11:15, 11:13, 11:32, 11:33, 11:52, 11:29 - this is about the pace that I thought we would be running most of the long run. Even better was my average HR for these miles which were all between 147 and 156. Normally by 14 miles into a run my HR is starting to elevate, but today I was fine.

At mile 14, my running partner started to really get tired. She wanted to walk a bit, so we agreed to walk one minute and run six. The last two splits were 12:30 and 12:23.

Final stats - 17.21 miles in 3:09:22. A 11:01/mile pace with an average heart rate of 148.

At the end of the run, my legs were a bit sore, but I felt like I could have continued running. I hope that my long runs continue to feel as good as this! It also did not feel like three hours went by...that's definitely attributable to running with someone else.

Here's the map of this morning's run. I will definitely want to do this one again :-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Need More Sleep

My younger son has been congested and coughing this week, and he's been waking up (and waking us up) around 2-3am every night. Last night he actually slept through the night (thank goodness), however, when I woke up this morning I felt completely sleep deprived. I guess it is catching up with me.

That tired feeling didn't stop me this morning, though. I woke up at 5:40am - it was dark and I was tired but I got myself out of bed and I was out the door and running by 6am.

Another wonderful morning for a run! I didn't feel as great as my other runs this week - likely because I'm so tired - but still I did nicely for an easy run averaging a 10:28/mile pace and 147 bpm as my average heart rate.

I will NEED to get to bed early tonight. I'll likely need to wake up around 5:15am tomorrow morning to meet up for my long run at 6am in Bethesda.

Time for some caffeine to keep me up today!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Few Non-Running Thoughts On A Non-Running Day

I have one more weekday run this week - 4 miler. I would have liked to have done it this morning, however, I went to bed too late and my younger son is still waking up in the middle of the night with a cough. So no run today. I'm going to try to get in bed earlier tonight...

Here's some miscellaneous things going on with me over the past few days:
  • I received my offer letter from Ericsson today! Ericsson purchased my division of Nortel a few weeks ago, so I knew it was inevitable, but it is nice to see it in print (or electronic print)
  • For the first time in months I finished last month's issue of Runner's World before the next month's issue came in the mail! At points during the beginning of this year I was 2-3 months behind, so this is a big accomplishment for me. I should have no problem being caught up as I will have some reading time on the bus up to NY later this month and next month.
  • We had to purchase a new toaster oven. No big deal, right? Well...we had bought a Black and Decker toaster oven about four years ago. We really liked it, but the toast function stopped working after 13 months. A call to customer service and they sent us a replacement, even though the warrantee was only 1 year. The next unit lasted about 8 months. They sent us our current unit in October of 2007. Well, this unit failed earlier in the week. I called Black and Decker's customer service again - this time they said that since the unit is 18 months old, it is out of warrantee. Basically, we're SOL. So, we bought a Cuisinart model. The best thing about this toaster - it has a 3 year warrantee!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

8 Miles of Yasso 800s!

For my mid-week long-er run / speedwork session today, I decided on Yasso 800s.

Since the workout was 8 miles, I did 9 reps of these half-mile intervals on the treadmill. I set my recovery speed for 5.4 mph (about an 11:00/mile pace) and my run speed for 6.4 mph - a 9:22/mile pace which is equivalent to 4:41 for the half-mile (and in the theory of the Yasso 800 workout a 4:40 marathon).

It was a piece of cake!

It almost made me think that perhaps I'm setting my sites too low for a 4:40 time...should I aim for a better time?

On the other hand, a 4:40 would still be shaving 20 minutes off of my previous marathon time - almost 1 minute per mile off the average pace. That's a big improvement right there.

Also, I need to realize that I will have some great workouts and some not-so-great workouts. Don't rearrange my entire plan just because this workout was great (remember, I could barely run 7 miles during a long run three weeks ago...).

I'm not sure why I had such a great workout. It couldn't have been the weather (which I give credit for yesterday's great run) since I was running inside. Perhaps it was the music - Beethoven's 9th Symphony and then the beginning of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Or perhaps my conditioning is just getting better as my miles ramp up.

While on the treadmill, my prospective running partner for this weekend's long run hopped on the treadmill next to me for a few minutes. Our plan - to run the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda into DC and back on Saturday morning. It looks to be a 16.5 mile run...if we're feeling good, perhaps we'll add an additional half mile on the streets of Bethesda to make 17 even!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hints Of Autumn

Walking out of the house this morning a little before 6am, I had to do a double-take. It was still dark outside, and it was crisp and cool. Not a cloud in the pre-dawn sky. 55 degrees. Great weather for a morning run!

I ran my usual 4.5 mile loop, however, I had a bit of a spring in my step due to the scrumptious weather. My overall pace was 10:09/mile - this is more in line with my average pace over speedwork sessions and not easy runs. My average HR was 152 which is definitely in line with other 4-mile easy runs.

I am soooo happy to be running in cooler temperatures and lower humidity!

Two observations from today's run. First of all, I had the pleasure of seeing our neighborhood great blue heron glide down for a landing in the woods at the entrance to our community. It's an awesome sight - I always love getting to see this heron!

One thing that I have not liked seeing over the past few months - there is a house that I pass on this loop that has been doing some renovation. There is a dumpster and port-a-potty on the side of their property, and every morning there is a 1990s-vintage Honda Civic coupe parked up the block - with one of the construction guys sleeping in the back seat. I always feel sorry for this guy. If he were doing work on my house, would I feel comfortable if he slept in his car every night??? I have a feeling that at some point I would likely find a place in my house for him to sleep - even if it was an air mattress in the space that was being renovated. I guess it's a positive sign that he has work, right?

That's all for today. I hope the weather holds! I'll be really bummed to have to run in hot and humid conditions again.