Sunday, November 21, 2010

Philadelphia Marathon

This race was my first marathon, and I spent around 23 weeks training using the Daniels Plan A with a peak of 90mpw as general guidance. I had two tune-up races, a September 18 miler I finished in 1:54, and a somewhat disappointing 1:20 half marathon in October.
Once I got to the start I jogged about ¾ miles to at least get warm enough to stretch out a little. I wasn’t planning on going out particularly hard, but I never feel comfortable starting a race without at least an abbreviated warm up, but at the same time I wanted to conserve my glycogen stores as much as possible. I came in trying to run 2:48-ish, primarily projecting from the 18 mile race, and a 1:35 15 mile MP run I did 2 weeks out. The plan was 6:30 miles for about 6 miles, then pick it up to 6:25-6:20 for as long as I could manage.
During most LT and marathon pace workouts I have done in preparation for this race I needed 3-4 miles to get into a groove and start feeling comfortable with the pace, but today I remember thinking that I felt really good right from the start, good enough that I actually went a little ahead of planned pace and passed the timing mats that were supposedly at the 10k mark around 39:4x.
I say supposedly because a couple of mile markers at the beginning of the race were almost certainly misplaced. After mile 2 I hit the split button at every mile marker, and my watch showed 6:49 for mile 3 and 6:03 for mile 4. There is no way my pace would vary that much when I am running at a steady effort, and my Garmin recorded 1.07 miles from marker 2 to marker 3, and 0.94 from 3 to 4. Anyway, none of this is really important except for the fact that I was really annoyed and momentarily confused. Maybe I am spoiled because I have run many New York Road Runners races and have never encountered poorly placed mile markers, but I expected better from a major race like Philadelphia. However, I do think that based on the pace my Garmin was indicating that the 10k timing mat was placed correctly.
Anyway, moving on, the race was going pretty smoothly at this point. I was feeling relaxed, taking a few sips of water at every aid station, and sticking to my plan of taking a total of 5 gels, one every 4 miles starting at mile 4. The only thing that did not go to plan is the straw drinking thing. This was going to be my first time using a straw, but at the very first aid station the damn thing fell out of my mouth as I was reaching for a cup of water. Oh well. I found that I don’t have that much trouble drinking without one in a marathon compared to a half because I am not having to gasp for air nearly as much due to the slower pace.
Pretty much everything else went as well as it could have gone. I was focusing on trying to keep a steady 6:20-6:25 pace, easing up a bit on the few up hills, and trying to avoid the temptation to hammer the down hills. The course is indeed fast. I remember just one hill that really forced me to back off my pace, and I think it was around the 9-10 mile mark.
I passed the timing mats at the halfway mark in 1:23:4x, and at that point I was starting to feel fatigued. I never ran into a wall, and I think I finished with glycogen stores to spare, but from the halfway mark I got progressively more fatigued, and past 18 miles it really took concentration to stay on pace. It didn’t get really bad until about 24 miles, at which point my legs were under the kid of distress I had only previously experienced inside a squat rack at the gym. I did fall off pace a little, running my last 4 miles around 6:30 pace and finishing in 2:47:45. Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled with how my race went. I could not have asked for a better day.

Intervals (GPS Interval) (split button hit at mile markers starting mile 2. Missed mile 1)

Distance TimeTotal Time Pace

2.01 Mi12:43.2312:43.236:20

0.05 Mi0:16.7412:59.975:35

1.07 Mi6:48.8119:48.786:23

0.94 Mi6:03.8025:52.586:28

1 Mi6:20.5732:13.156:21

1.02 Mi6:21.6338:34.786:15

1 Mi6:15.9044:50.686:16

1 Mi6:29.6251:20.306:30

1.04 Mi6:24.7057:456:10

1.02 Mi6:29.301:04:14.306:22

1 Mi6:12.491:10:26.796:13

1 Mi6:17.691:16:44.486:18

1.11 Mi6:56.821:23:41.306:16

0.9 Mi5:36.651:29:17.956:15

1.01 Mi6:22.851:35:40.806:20

0.99 Mi6:21.881:42:02.686:26

1 Mi6:23.201:48:25.886:24

0.98 Mi6:21.051:54:46.936:29

1 Mi6:21.822:01:08.756:22

1.01 Mi6:23.732:07:32.486:20

1.01 Mi6:28.622:14:01.106:25

1 Mi6:26.482:20:27.586:27

1.01 Mi6:29.402:26:56.986:26

1.01 Mi6:25.672:33:22.656:22

1 Mi6:31.322:39:53.976:32

1.24 Mi7:52.242:47:46.216:21

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Surprise Holidays

I did not even realize it was Veteran's Day until I got to work. It is not an official holiday for the company where I work, but the bond market is closed, which means none of out clients are trading, and our client services people are mostly out. Since we have just finished a release and not quite started working on the next one, this pretty much means that I have little to do today. I am thinking early lunch, then head home around 4:00.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I really wish I could find a way to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again. It would probably save me a lot of pain. Then again, maybe I just can't be any other way, and I need the worst kind of motivation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another miserable Monday morning

I am feeling pretty crappy today, probably because a fairly difficult Sunday afternoon run left me too wound up to fall asleep normally. I wound up going 18 miles, with the first 10 easy, then 3x3200m at threshold pace with 400m recovery on the track. I did not feel too bad running, but I got done at 5:30 in the afternoon, which was late enough to disrupt my sleep cycle by a couple of hours. I probably didn’t fall asleep until 2:00 am, and had to be up at 6:00 to come in to work at 8:00. The end result is that I am feeling pretty stupid and useless today; barely awake, and not very sharp mentally. Sigh.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Too much work, once again

Today I was supposed to participate in a 4 hour "Interview Skills Training" session put on by the HR staff at my office. As is typical whenever I am scheduled to participate in any kind of training, I got yanked out of class at the last moment because something "critical" came up. The word "critical" makes me roll my eyes by now, because everything that ever needs to be done is labeled as "critical."

Anyway, I am not sure why I hot so annoyed, because I don't even like interviewing candidates. It takes time out of my day to prepare, and most people that show up are really not very good. I think I am just tired of constantly having to change and postpone my plans because of the dysfunctional nature if my group.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And here we go again ...

For the past few years, the end of October has marked the beginning of a difficult two month stretch for me. With the days getting shorter, it is still dark when I start my morning runs, and I don’t leave work until well after sunset. I do believe the lack of sunlight tends to foul my mood.
Besides the darkness, the end of the year, along with yet another dreaded and inevitably approaching birthday, always seem to force me to reflect on past failures and mistakes. This time of year is a reminder that time stops for no one, and drives me into a pattern of worry and regret that is probably not healthy for a soon to be twenty nine year old. At times, it can get bad enough that I almost think myself into a panic.
The approaching holidays tend to make things even more uncomfortable for me. Seeing people celebrate and appear joyful during a time that I find difficult makes me feel out of place and out of whack. I get irritable and discontent, even more so than usual.
I am hoping this year will be better than last year. I do seem to be more at peace with many things that drove me up the wall last year, but who knows. I just hope I get through the next two months without doing anything I will later regret.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Staten Island Half Marathon

This was in large part a fitness test to gauge my preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon, and it did not go particularly well. I had some strong workouts in recent weeks and felt like I was fit enough for a PR, but over the past couple of weeks I have been feeling fatigued, and it seems that my 6 day taper for this race failed to cure that. I still went in planning to pace for a 1:18, and I tried sticking to that plan. 

My legs were not feeling good early on, and the fatigue only got worse. There was a pretty good downhill toward the end of mile 2, and I remember thinking that it would probably suck on the way back. It did, as evidenced by my mile 12 split.

I had all sorts of problems getting into a good rhythm, and spent the first half of the race trying to force myself into a pace my legs simply did not want to sustain. Toward the end of the race I was just plain too tired to hold my planned pace. The knockdown punch came during mile 8, where an uphill probably around 1/4 mile long put me into a lot of difficulty, and I never really recovered. This sucker was steeper than I am used to running in races, and it hurt.

Mile 9 had a pretty good downhill, which definitely helped postpone my collapse for a bit. I hit 10 miles in 1:01, already behind PR pace. By mile 11, I was exhausted and fading on flat terrain. At this point, I pretty much gave up on the PR and just tried to get this thing over with. After a tough 12th mile I came back a bit on a downhill final mile to finish in 1:20:33, 1:01 off my PR run at Brooklyn this Spring. I think the 2 courses are comparable, though Staten Island subjectively felt harder to me.

Here are splits, recorded at the mile markers.

1    6:02    (6:02)
2    12:01    (5:59)
3    18:00    (5:59)
4    24:04    (6:04)
5    30:20    (6:16)
6    36:11    (5:51)
7    42:20    (6:09)
8    48:53    (6:33)
9    54:53    (6:00)
10    1:01:00    (6:06)
11    1:07:18    (6:18)
12    1:13:52    (6:34)
13    1:19:56    (6:04)
Finish    1:20:33    (:37)

I am thinking about what went wrong. Perhaps my higher mileage marathon training with more tempo running and fewer intervals was not as suited for a half. Perhaps it was because I got fat, showing up for this half 5-6 lbs heavier than I was this spring. Or perhaps I underestimated the recovery I would need from the pretty tough 3 weeks of training that preceded this race.

Anyway, I will be adjusting my marathon goal by 4 minutes and probably reducing my planned workload for the final few weeks before Philly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have a confession to make ...

I may or may not have hid the truth about this in the past, but I did in fact crap my pants while running once. I believe it happened when I was 16, though I do not recall exactly, and most of the details escape me at this point.

I think I was out for a 2 or 4 mile jaunt around the neighborhood, because all my runs back then consisted of one or two circuits around the same 2 mile loop. As was normal for me back then, I was trying to go as fast as I possibly could that day. I was having some problems, but felt like I could hold it. Then, somewhere around a half mile from home, I suddenly lost control and it happened. How embarrassing. Thankfully, it was after dark and I was able to dispose of my soiled clothing shortly thereafter. Oh well, it happens.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sleep mystery explained

Every day for the past week and a half I have been waking up inexplicably at around 4:30 in the morning and quickly falling back asleep after a walk over to the bathroom. Initially I put the blame on my bladder, but last night I uncharacteristically slept without a watch on my wrist. This morning I had to get up and find the watch to shut off the 4:30 alarm I must have set last Sunday to make sure I don't miss my race. Apparently I have been waking up and turning off the alarm without noticing, and going back to sleep every morning since September 19.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ING New York City Marathon Tune Up

This is a scored 18 mile race put on by New York Road Runners and advertised as good preparation for the Big One. I jumped in with the goal of at least sticking to my goal marathon pace for late November, making my goal finishing time 1:54:00 or better. Training wise, I did a mini-taper for this one, running 7x1600m cruise intervals on Wednesday, followed by 3 days of comfortable 7 mile runs.

That start time for this one was 7am, which I actually came to appreciate because the forecast called for a high of 80. The race time temperature was about 60-63 with a dew point of 54-55. Not too bad, but more moisture in the air than I would have liked. The early start necessitated a 3:30am alarm, giving me about 3 hours of sleep. For breakfast I had a ham and Swiss sandwich I got at Panera the night before, and two clif bars, washed down with gatorade. I was also having some unnerving churning in my abdomen, which called for drastic measures. Drastic meaning four immodium pills as opposed to my usual two.

I left home around 5:15, and found a nice little parking spot on 93rd street on the Upper East Side, in view of a doorman and everything. Boy was it little, but I squeezed in and kept the $30 I figured on spending on parking at a garage if I didn't find a spot. I headed over to the park, did my thing in a reasonably clean portajohn, and headed to baggage. There I put on my new racin' shoes, checked my bag, and headed to the start at 102nd street.

We got under way at 7:00 sharp. The course is 3 counterclockwise loops of central park. I turned off auto lap on my Garmin and hit the split button every mile marker. Central Park is what I would call a moderately difficult course in that there are rolling hills, but they are not what I would call massive hills. Starting at 102nd, the first 2 miles are hilly. It starts with a long, fairly steep downhill, followed by the steepest uphill on the loop. I took it fairly easy on the first loop, but I was definitely hurting passing through on the 2nd and 3rd loops.

There is not much more I remember about the race besides a whole lot of running. My new shoes felt very good, and I felt reasonably relaxed if not super rested on the first loop. I was trying to drink at every aid station, but since I refused to slow down, I only got a few sips at each one. The trouble with the 3 loop course is that by the end of the 2nd loop, all aid stations were packed with lapped runners. I would have pretty much had to stop and get in line, so I did a little mental math around mile 11, after a full on traffic collision, and figured I would make it without any more water.

Well, I made it, but the last 3 miles felt pretty bad. It was frustrating because my legs felt like they had some life left, and I wanted to pick up the pace, but I had lost way too much fluid, and was really struggling just to not slow down (much). I finished in 1:54:09, 17th overall, and 6th in my age group. I did not have a whole lot left when I crossed the line. But the encouraging thing is that I feel like on an easier course, with a little better hydration and perhaps cooler temperatures, I think I should be able to hang in there for a few more miles at this pace.

On to analysis of splits

Mile Marker GPS Distance Duration
11.01 Mi6:32.5
21.01 Mi6:27.1
31.00 Mi6:15
41.01 Mi6:18.98
51.00 Mi6:20.31
61.00 Mi6:03.55
71.00 Mi6:21.61
81.01 Mi6:27.6
90.97 Mi6:01.69
101.04 Mi6:26.4
111.01 Mi6:24.5
121.01 Mi6:13.8
131.02 Mi6:27.48
141.01 Mi6:29.59
151.01 Mi6:12.65
161.00 Mi6:18.61
171.02 Mi6:36.65
181.01 Mi6:12.34

Looking at the spits, it is easy to see the uphill miles (1,2,7,8,13,14) and the downhills (3,6,9,12,15,18). The rest are relatively flat. Mile 17 is the slowest, and it is the same part of the loop as mile 5 and 11. I was 12+ seconds slower than the first two passes. Definitely hurting at that point.

All in all I am pleased with the result, and I am happy that I ran this race. It was definitely a good learning experience.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I am getting tired of finding screws in my tires

At some point last summer I pulled out a huge screw out of the right rear tire on my car. I debated a new tire but decided to patch it instead. I figured that since I don't drive at triple digit speeds, a patch will serve me fine. 

This afternoon I felt like going for a ride on my motorcycle. Since it has been cooler lately and I haven't checked my tire pressures in a few weeks, I decided to check and adjust as necessary. Strangely, the gauge showed 8.5 psi after two or three measurements on the back tire. Confused, I measured the front, thinking the gauge must be broken, because the tire looks inflated and in my mind there is no way it could be that low. The front showed 35 psi. I quickly located the culprit, a small screw between the tread blocks. 

A couple of thoughts. I am not thrilled about having to spend $150+ on a new tire, but no way I am riding on a patched one. I do need to figure out a way to get the bike to a shop. The tire was fine when I role last weekend, so I figure it took a while for the pressure to drop that low. Maybe the screw is in there tight enough that I can put in some air and limp to a shop. If not, I guess I will try some kind of patch kit. 

Also, it is a good thing I checked the pressure today. At first glance the tire looks fine, and I am sure I would not have noticed anything wrong until I got moving. I do need to be more diligent about doing a quick inspection before riding. I guess that is all.

I am not happy about not being able to ride this weekend and probably next weekend. Warm days are going to be hard to come by soon. Sigh.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Early fall running and shoe review

This weekend reminded me of how much I always enjoyed fall running, and how glad I am to be running this September. It definitely made me think of a couple of seasons as collegiate runner, when the weather began to cool off, the training would start to come together, and a promising cross country and track season was on the horizon.  I missed out on September last year due to having to sit out the whole month with a foot injury. Combined with my self imposed exile from serious running (and life in general, really) that lasted many years prior, it is not surprising that I almost forgot what a good fall run feels like. 

This afternoon I went out for a planned easy 10 miles. It was a beautiful afternoon, with the temperature in the mid 70s and very little moisture in the air. I expected to feel tired from a difficult threshold workout the day before, but I was pleasantly surprised when my legs were loose and comfortable, and I was effortlessly clicking off 7:30 miles. 

I also wore a pair of  New Balance 801s for the first time ever. After 10 miles in the shoes, first my impression is positive. The 801 is very light, yet feels as protective and well cushioned as the Asics DS Trainer, a more substantial shoe by probably around 3 ounces. Of course, the DS Trainer has some mild stability features, whereas the 801 feels just about as flexible and as a racing flat. In fact, this is probably a good description from the 801: a well cushioned flat. There is definitely no foot strike "correction" of any kind in this shoe, and as a result it feels very "natural" to run in. I love how it feels, but whether this flexibility is good, bad, or irrelevant for my legs remains to be seen. 

I can also compare the 801 to another pair of shoes I run in regularly, the Saucony Kinvara. I would say I actually like the 801 better. The weight is very similar, thought the Kinvara may be a bit lighter due to a more minimalistic upper. The 801 looks much more durable, and it fits me better. I find that the Kinvara has a bit too much room in the toe box for me. Also, the Saucony product has a bit of a spongy feel. Not as bad as Nike lunar shoes by a long shot, but still a tad annoying. So far, I am a happy customer.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Ever since my LASIK, I have developed a strange obsession with sunglasses. Meaning, I keep buying new ones. Part of that is driven by the increased sensitivity to light that I am experiencing after the surgery. Since I now feel more comfortable with sunglasses than without them, I end up wearing a pair almost all of the time. And I can't seem to stand wearing the same pair all the time, so off I go. I am up to 5 pairs. Before my surgery in August, I had 2.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

sleep helps

This morning it took me 10 minutes to spot what I was missing for 2 hours yesterday evening. Problem solved. Which is a good thing, because I was starting to get upset.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tales from the bus

This evening I took the 6:42 bus home from the Port Authority. I was in a pretty crappy mood by then because I left work unable to resolve something I had been trying to figure out for a couple of hours. It was a sour ending to a day that was not as productive as I needed it to be.

There are 49 seats on the bus, and 29 people got on, leaving 20 empty seats (no, I did not count. There is an electronic display operated by the driver). It just so happened that the last person to get on decided he wanted to sit next to me. I don't like sitting next to people, but whatever, all would have been fine if the moron didn't decide to crack open a beer and drink it from a paper bag.

This probably shouldn't have flustered, after all, it's not like I wanted that beer. I haven't had a drink in over 16 months, and I haven't been feeling like I am in any immediate danger. It did really bother me, though. The truth is I still feel very uncomfortable around alcohol. I don't want to be around people that are drinking, I don't want to smell it, and don't want to have to think about it.

I feel like I shouldn't have to deal with this crap on a commuter bus, where there are "no eating or drinking" signs plastered in plain view. After the day I had, I could have done without this idiot sitting next to me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A day of marathon training

On Saturday I was scheduled to for the more difficult of my two weekly quality training runs. The weather was not terrible. From what I remember, low 80s, dry, and sunny. Too warm to be ideal, but tolerable after two months of dealing with much worse.

One thing that struck me was how nervous I was before this run. I am not entirely sure why I do this, but lately each one of these feels like a test, one I am anxious about failing. For me this is generally, this is not a good sign. Pre-workout anxiety tells me that I am lacking confidence, and I expect to be in for a physically unpleasant afternoon, not unlike a wide receiver that gets alligator arms in anticipation of a big hit. This has been the story or my running this summer. I have consistently been not quite where I wanted to be, and workouts that inspire confidence have been the exception rather than the rule.

At 2:45 on Saturday I step outside for my warm up. The sun feels warmer than I expected, and I start up the road with a feeling of uneasiness. This will be a long afternoon. My legs feel stiff and fatigued from having run 51 miles the previous 4 days, and I have enough anxiety to elevate my heart rate and make me feel a little sick to my stomach. Three quarters of a mile up the road, then back to grab a 22 oz, water bottle, and a half mile to the track, trying to keep my nerves in check. That's 15:58 for two miles, but it felt like 30:00.

Stepping on the track is unnerving. At 3 pm the sun is still bright, and the heat radiates up from the rubberized surface. On schedule for this afternoon is 3x3200m at anaerobic threshold, with a 400m recovery. I am looking to run about 6:00 miles. The heat may be a problem. That short rest is key on a warm day. It allows me to grab the water bottle I leave on the infield and take in some water. I probably don't get through this workout without it.

After a few stretches I set off, taking it easy on the first lap, trying to figure out how I feel. First lap goes by in 1:32. I try to open my stride a little and relax, going through 800m in 3:02. At 1200m my nerves are settling down. I am starting to focus on holding an even pace and getting through the first tempo segment. The 1600m mark comes in 6:00, and 3200 in 12:00. Right where I wanted to be, and feeling like I can keep going.

After a two minute jog around the track I set off again, focusing on holding pace one lap at a time, but feeling increasingly fatigued and dehydrated. Those few sips of water just don't get the job done. The second tempo segment is done in 12:03, and I had to work harder for it.

Another lap around the track, sipping water as best I can, and time to go again. I come around to the line with some butterflies in my stomach. This will not be pleasant. The first two laps go by well enough, but fatigue and dehydration set in. I pass the halfway mark in 6:03, and I can feel my form starting to break down. Just a few more minutes, no big deal, I keep telling myself as I wrap up the last tempo segment in 12:07.

I jog back home to grab another water bottle and drink as much as I can. Now I have around 10 miles at whatever pace feels comfortable to get me to my 19 mile goal for the day. I get through 10.5 in 1:21. My legs are trashed for the last 3 miles, but I feel like I can keep going. Good enough, I suppose. I consider the day a success, and hope my legs respond well to the training. All in all, an exhausting but rewarding experience to get through this one.

In the past I have occasionally wanted to keep a blog. This is it. I will write when I have something on my mind. Or I may forget about it. I don't know yet.