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.