Sunday, July 17, 2011

Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe (10K)

Last Saturday, I ran the Boomer's 10K in Central Park. This was the first 10K that I participated in that went counter-clockwise, which is my direction of choice. I had no expectations of a PR, but I at least wanted to get below my worst time at the Healthy Kidney race. My manager picked up my bib for me, and I was pleased to see that I was once again in the 3000 corral.

I left a bit later than I wanted to after eating a few shot bloks, so I took the train down to 68th street and then jogged to Central Park from there. I headed over to meet Nicole and Abbey at baggage check, and the three of us headed to the starting corrals. I was going to start with Abbey, but since she decided to warm up a bit more, we missed each other in the corrals, especially since they broke down so quickly. After Boomer Esiason spoke about his son's struggles with Cystic Fibrosis (and called us all crazy for running in this heat), the National Anthem was sung, and we were off!

Mile 1, which included Cat Hill as usual went pretty well, and I felt good, but as I finished, I knew after 8:53 or so that it would not be a PR day. I would only get slower when confronted with Harlem and the west side hills. Nonetheless, I kept going, and during the course of mile 2, I saw Abbey and caught up with her for a brief second before she got ahead of me once more. I was pleasantly surprised to see a misting station up ahead of me, and as I ran through it, I felt a burst of energy which helped me to complete my fastest mile of the race at 8:44.

By the time I approached Harlem Hill, the heat and humidity started to get to me, but I at least stayed at the same pace throughout the hills of mile 3 and 4. Unfortunately, both miles were at 9:25 so any chance at a PR was long gone. There was a misting station, but it was a smaller one and did not have the same effect.

I picked up the pace over the last two miles though, and completed mile 5 in 9:03. After I crossed that mile marker, I went all out and completed mile 6 as fast as possible on my tired legs. I completed mile 6 in 9:00 minutes flat, and then proceeded to completed the remaining .24 in 2:03. My total unofficial time was 56:36, and my official time was 56:33. Although I was over 2 minutes slower than my 10K PR at the Mini, I felt that I ran a smart race. I stayed consistent on the hills, and I pushed my pace, but not to the point of injury or illness.

After a fun race, I found Abbey and Nicole at baggage. I met up with a coworker at the festivities. My manager was unfortunately under the weather and could not participate. Nicole and I went to get some post-race coffee and hung out by the 68th street train station before we went our separate ways. Although I didn't PR, I had a great time doing the race and would consider doing it next year if it works with my marathon training schedule

Next up: LTR #1 - my first attempt to run 15 miles. I will have better pictures since my hair is now straight, and hopefully my bib will have arrived in the mail by then!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fourth of July Trail HM

The last time I ran in Van Cortlandt Park, it was Christmas Day, and I had been running for less than two months, so suffice to say, the 10K loop was quite the challenge. Now, several months later, I was there to do twice that distance. I had no time expectations because of the difficulty of the course except to just finish it.

I travelled up with my friends Wallis and Vicki and we arrived at the site fairly early. I met up with my other friend Rebecca, who only planned on doing one loop. We hung out for a bit, collected some free stuff they handed out, including a free bandana, and made sure we used the bathroom beforehand. After taking some pictures, we were ready to go.

Looking back, I probably should have warmed up a bit more (or rather, at all) but you live and you learn. At least I got the nutrition part right. Next time I'll jog from the train to the event.

Wallis and I stuck together for most of the first loop, and it was far more difficult than I anticipated. We were going slowly at first due to the traffic, but as we progressed, I realized that the trail itself was getting to me. I wasn't used to running through the woods, much less the muddy trails, and quite frankly, I was acting like a little girl. Several times, I considered quitting, but I plodded through. There were some very rough hills which I had to walk up, but as I finished the first loop, I felt some of my energy start to return, and I knew I'd be ok for at least most of the second loop so I continued. I stopped for a water refill, and ate a few shot bloks before continuing.

Since the public bathroom was closed, I snuck into the golf club bathroom. After that, I got back on the trail to complete the second loop. I started to tire by mile 9, but by then I found someone on the trail ahead of me who was running by themselves, so I joined them and started a conversation. The last four miles would have been horrible without my new friend, but we made it through. My finishing time was almost 2:35. about 30 minutes more than my usual HM time, but as my friend put it, XC courses deserve their own PRs. You can see my splits here. It's pretty clear which mile I used the restroom - without that time I probably would have gotten a 2:30 but during a race, time doesn't stop for anything.

It was a difficult course, but if I could complete it even with a later starting time, even on a much tougher course, I know that I can handle the Queens Half. Although it was technically a free race, I donated $10 since I would like to break my XC PR on Labor Day, and they need the funds to hold this race! I'm already looking forward to Labor Day!

My further adventures in cross training!

So, I said I would be posting my 30 mile bike report shortly. Over two weeks later, I still hadn't done it. Oops! I apologize to those who were eagerly waiting my report. I will write about it now, and I will also include some other cross training highlights.

Even before I started taking my physical fitness seriously, I always enjoyed biking. I have done 30 mile rides on my old mountain bike, plus several trips on the Cape over the years. But after I started running, I noticed that biking became far easier. It also helps that I was able to use my mother's hybrid bike, but my improvement in physical fitness played a very large role in my successes over the last few months.

So, I did my 30 mile bike ride with my parents. It was a very fun experience. It was well organized, and there were a few rest stops along the way. Some highlights included biking across the World's Longest Pedestrian Bridge. The picture on the left is of me and my mom as we waited for the rest of our group to catch up. Other than that, there were some nice back roads towards the end. The rest stops were well organized, and I split a couple of PB&Js with my dad along the road. Despite some hills and having to go slowly around people, I averaged 5 minute miles per my garmin splits. I was a little disappointed to discover that the course was only 27.66 miles. Also, some of the course was on main roads where the shoulders were dangerously narrow. The t-shirt I received was way too large, but I can always use that as a nightgown since there were no extra smalls.

On the whole, I have gotten better at biking. I've also done a couple of longer bike rides. This past weekend, I went on a 15 mile bike ride. The last mile is the one I'm the most proud of. The road leading up to my parent's upstate place consists of three hills, and I managed to ride up all three of them without stopping. It was an amazing moment. If you look at my garmin splits, you'll appreciate how tough this elevation was.

I plan on continuing to bike whenever I go upstate, which is hopefully once a week, and in September, I am signed up for the 30 mile Twin Lights Bike ride in New Jersey with my parents. My mother's friend has done it before, and said that it is a great experience. I'd like to do a longer distance someday, but they didn't have a 44 miler, and 55 seemed to be too much.

I have never been much of a swimmer. In fact, when I took lessons in fourth grade at school I was always by far one of the slowest. However, whenever I visited my grandparents in Florida over the past few years, I started swimming some laps while I was there. My form probably still isn't the best, but I can probably swim about a quarter of a mile. I would like to get stronger at it, so I recently switched back to NYSC so that I can get into a pool twice a week. It's a small pool, but getting the distance in is key, especially now that I have a new goal for next year.

Strength Training / Gym Routines
As a new member of NYSC, I was given the opportunity to have a free fitness evaluation with a Personal Trainer. I had very good stats, including a good resting heart rate and blood pressure. I managed to do 25 pushups in one minute, which surprised me considering I'm terrible at them. I also managed to do 54 crunches, 30 lunges, and 17 burpees (never heard of them before today lol). I also learned how to use a foam roller. I know my running friends will be scandalized to know I've never used one before but there you go. I also learned some weight routines I can try out as well.

So what's my new goal for next year? In addition to the NYCM next November, I will also be doing the NYRR Sprint Triathalon in July 2012. It involves a 400m swim, a 13.1 mile bike ride, and a 5K. I am capable of doing the second two parts easily, but I need to improve my swimming, which is one of the reasons why I switched gyms. Also, there is a NYSC location near my parents upstate, so in the winter, when I can't run outside up there, that's where I'll be.

Now I just need to adjust my running schedule so I can factor in running 5 days a week, swimming 2 days per week, biking 1-2 times a week, and strength training / routines 2-3x per week. Wish me luck!