Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week #11: The three bridges run, a reality check, and some cool mileage statistics

I think that this is the first week where I've started to feel blah about running. Maybe it's because of how much I did last week, or maybe the holiday threw me off, but either way, I just wasn't feeling it much this week. 

This was an SRD, but I had orchestra rehearsal, where I managed to juggle oboe, flute, and piccolo. While the first oboist is decent, there is one solo that is hard for him, plus with all due respect, he can't keep time, so I've been learning his solos in case he never ends up coming in during the concert or something like that. I'm also doubling him officially in one solo since it's very hard for him. Then again, he deserves a lot of credit for picking it up again after 60 years. 

I have to get the instrument repaired - I think there is a spring that is too tight or something because my octave key isn't working as well as it should. Also, I ordered a few reeds to see which brand I like best. While most oboists make their own, I'm nowhere near competent enough to do that. I've tried, and I'm terrible. Still, the orchestra is a fun experience, and getting to improve my oboe abilities is a great bonus when I thought that I would only get to show off my piccolo skills :-)


However, having orchestra meant that I got back home late, and therefore didn't wake up early enough to do as many miles as planned. I really didn't want to go out at all, but since Yom Kippur would start that evening, I knew that I would regret missing this workout. 

As usual, my Garmin was out to lunch for the first half mile, but I got just over 5 done that day. I guess my speeding up indicated that I just wanted to get it over with already. 

I left work early, and then went over to my parents for dinner and then to services to officially start off Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur = No Eating or Drinking = No Running


It was pouring in the morning, so I didn't get to go running until after work. Since my run was short on Tuesday, I wanted to make up a mile or two of it that day. 

Although I was looking forward to run again, I still felt a bit blah at the beginning. So did my Garmin, because it didn't start getting a signal until I was 0.6 miles into my run. (Someone might need to replace her Garmin soon)


Once again, there was a threat of inclement weather, so I went after work before having a late dinner with a friend. As usual, the Garmin fails to record 0.8 miles. Sigh. It's a running theme this week. 

Overall, the run felt good, and I ran into a former co-worker in the park, who later texted me to tell me that I shouldn't be running in the dark by myself. While I appreciate his concern, I've done many early morning runs in the dark, and know how to handle myself, and where the safe places in the park are. 

After that, I realized that I had a rare Saturday rest day tomorrow, and so decided to sleep late...

...only to wake up just before 7am. Yeah, I fail at sleeping in. I did relax most of the morning, then after organizing my room, went over to see Matt and Erin's new apartment, which is very close to my parents. Although they weren't completely unpacked, it is a really nice place, and I look forward to seeing it once it's completely set up. 

My friend Rachel came in, and this is when I got the reality check. My indicator half is next week, and I originally figured that if I got in my usual high mileage earlier in the week, my legs would be rested enough for Staten Island. Rachel told me that I was insane, and really, I knew she was right. I guess I was worried that if I took this taper, then I would lose fitness, but in reality, if I didn't taper, I wouldn't really get a chance to see what I am capable of next week. So next week's plan has been adjusted to allow for a taper, and really, considering how I've been feeling lately, I could use a running-lite week. Thanks Rachel for giving me the reality check that I sorely needed. 

Rachel came in so that we could do the Flyers' Three Bridges Run together. I had 20 on the schedule, and her insane coach put 22 on her schedule. We went with the 10 minute pace group, and we got to go over three bridges, including the Pulaski Bridge and the Queensborough bridge, both of which would be included in the NYC Marathon. It was good to get exposure to them

Once again, my Garmin was a pain in the butt and wouldn't get signal for about a quarter of a mile, so I manually lapped the entire thing based off of getting mile 1 from Rachel's Garmin. If you look at the splits, the numbers under the time column are the accurate ones. My real pace was 9:57mm on average, but since my Garmin doesn't realize I did 20 instead of 19.75, it thought I ran slower. 

Still, there were people who ended up with 20.5 miles, while I barely got 20 in there. It just goes to show how unpredictable the Garmin will be during the marathon, and that doing manual splits will be my best bet.

I also tried a new fueling strategy that I think will work for the marathon - take two shot bloks every four miles. It worked nicely here, and I have confidence that it will work out for the marathon as well. 

The one thing I didn't like was that I thought the group started out a bit too big for my taste, but as we got further in, the group kind of spread out. Also, I thought that we were at the water stations a bit long. I still plan on doing the second go-around of this run in a couple of weeks because the more exposure to the bridges, the better. 

Another highlight of my day was getting to have face time with Belle, who is still in Spain. It was great to finally have some one-on-one time with her, and to catch up. I ended up eating dinner with the rest of the family that evening. 

Monthly & YTD Statistics
Since tomorrow is October 1st, I have some very exciting statistics to share

Total Week 11 miles: 42.74 
September Mileage: 211.62 = averages of 49.38 per week and 7.05 per day. This is a personal best month for me by about 10 miles. 
Year to Date Mileage Done: 1,368.73 - after next week, I will beat my total yearly mileage for 2011
Miles needed to meet my YTD Goal: 131.27 or 8.75% left out of 1,500

3rd Quarter 2012: Average of 42.55 miles per week and 6.08 miles per week

Soon to Come
The Staten Island Half is less than a week away at this point. I am both very excited and very nervous about it - getting sub-1:50 would mean the world to me and I believe that I have a shot at it considering how much work I've put in since I've gotten my HM PR of 1:52:28 in March. But we'll see what happens. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 10: Overcoming obstacles, making new friends & setting new personal bests

To directly continue where I last left off, after completing the Yonkers Half Marathon, I went to my parents' apartment to celebrate the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which would continue until Tuesday evening. Since my Grandma's birthday was around the corner, we had a surprise celebration for her as well. While we unfortunately weren't able to have my entire mother's side of the family there, we had some good representation. 

I had planned ahead meticulously. I knew that I would be spending all day Monday at my parents', and I brought a bag of running gear so that I could change right after synagogue and lunch and go on a nice mid-day run on what would be a gorgeous day. I went home, looking forward to two days of reflection and relaxation. 

When I woke up way too early with achy sinuses and the sniffles, I had a bad feeling, but took some theraflu and hoped for the best. I originally considered skipping synagogue, but I was feeling better after a while, so I got dressed and went crosstown. I felt fine in the beginning, but slowly, I started to feel worse and worse. The fact that the air conditioner was on full blast didn't help matters much. I gave up after the Torah Service and went home. I guess a beautiful midday run was not in the cards...

In fact, I slept for most of the day on and off, and I felt so miserable that I didn't even bother going home that night. I hoped that this would be a one day thing, and that I would be able to resume synagogue and running the next day...

...but unfortunately, that was not meant to be. I woke up early feeling groggy and unwell, and after about an hour, I went back to sleep. My parents didn't expect me to go to synagogue so they didn't wake me up. I got some of my appetite back and felt slightly better after taking a shower, but I knew that running was still not in the cards. I made it home that afternoon with lots of leftovers to sustain me, as well as my unopened bag of running gear. I have the best parents ever. While I missed my siblings, and while being sick was not fun, I still enjoyed seeing my family members. I went to bed early, hoping that things would turn around soon. 

This was really 9.35 miles, but as usual,
my garmin failed to get a signal for the first 1/2 mile
I felt much better when I woke up, so I decided to test the waters and go for a run. I wanted to make up 9 from the scheduled Tuesday run, but I decided to do it in two loops so that if I wasn't feeling great, I could always back out halfway.

The weather had cooled down, and it felt amazing. After the first loop, I felt pretty good, so I decided to keep going. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, but in hindsight, perhaps running wasn't the best idea that day. I started to feel exhausted midafternoon, but I don't know whether I would have felt the same way, better, or worse, if I hadn't run, so overall, I don't regret going out that day.

The first four miles were on the slower side, but after warming-up, and fueling midway, my paces ended up getting back towards normal.

I was going to try and get in my MLR for the week, but when I woke up, my body basically stated that it needed more sleep, so I decided to do a shorter run instead. I was happy that I made this decision, as the five miles felt very energetic. I was back at my usual paces and felt very happy about it. It was a real turning point as I really felt significantly better.

That night, I went to sleep in my running clothes to ensure that I would get out of the apartment as quickly and early as possible for my medium long run, as I could not delay it any longer since I had an 18 mile tune-up on Sunday. I plugged in my Garmin, and while it seemed frozen on one screen for a while, I thought nothing of it and went to sleep...

...which turned out to be a major mistake. I woke up to find that my Garmin was pretty much dead and useless, so I had to do my 12 miler by feel. I ended up doing 12.5 miles in 2:10 based on when I left and when I came back, but I did use the restroom and stopped to fuel, so overall, I probably came close to averaging ten minute miles. I felt good the whole way, and was happy that I made the decision to delay the run as long as I did. I just hope that it wouldn't hurt my tune-up a couple of days later.

I had originally considered signing up for the Fifth Avenue mile, but after much consideration, I decided not to do it this year. While I know plenty of people who do both this and the tune-up very successfully, I personally didn't want to risk trashing my legs over a mile race. Eyes on the prize! Besides, I knew that I was so close to breaking 7 minutes last year, so when I go back next year (I hope), I plan on smashing my mile PR.

Instead, I did an easy seven miler, and in a way, it was my tune-up for the tune-up since I ran one counter-clockwise loop, which is basically one third of the tune-up. It felt very easy, and I was happy with my paces.

I also got to spend time with both running and non-running friends that day. I ate lunch with Nicole, who I hadn't seen in a while, and afterwards, she accompanied me to NYRR to pick up my stuff for the tune-up. I was expecting them to be out of adult smalls, but what I was not expecting was for them to have large children's shirts. While I don't think that I can ever put my shirt in the dryer, it was certainly better than getting another "nightgown".

We then went to my apartment for a drinks and desserts party that my roommate threw. I made an instant marble cake, courtesey of Duncan Hines, and put frosting with mix in sprinkes on top. It turned out quite nicely despite my ineptitude in reading baking instructions after a long day of work (thanks Amy!)

I told Leiba and Jane that they'd get a piece of the royalties
I receive from this picture being posted. What's 33% of 0?
Later that night, I met two of my running friends whom I knew from Runner's World, but had never met in person. Leiba and Jane were both really great to get to know, and it didn't really feel awkward, as if I had known them for a while, which in a way, was sort of true. I was so wired up from meeting them and from all of the cake I ate that I didn't get to bed until way too late....

....and five hours later, my alarm went off. 5:30am is not an ideal time to wake up on a Sunday, but getting to NYRR races early is a necessity. I'm just grateful that I am less than 2 miles away from the start line.

I left not long after 6am, bought a granola bar, and ended up walking to the park and up the park drive. I usually try to eat a bagel before longer races, but I really wasn't that hungry. If it had been warmer, I would have rehearsed carrying what I would take for the marathon, but I needed a sweater and I didn't want to throw it away.

I ran into a few people before starting the race, and I got to meet Alex, another online friend, for the first time. He is nice, and very speedy - he would end up winning his age group at about 1:52:19. To put things in perspective, he ran 18 miles about 9 seconds faster than I ran my 13.1 personal record.

I was in the fourth corral, and ended up starting the race with Chris, a former Mt. Sinai coworker. I didn't have any goals for this run because I didn't want to have a race mind-set, but I estimated that I would finish in about three hours or so since I was expecting about a 10mm average.

To briefly explain the course, the 18 miles would include 3 counter-clockwise loops of the park. This means that we would encounter Harlem Hill, the West Side Hills, and Cat Hill three times today. To put things in perspective, it is NYRR's philosophy that if we are able to complete this, we will be able to complete the marathon. The course starts near the top of the East Side of the park, and loops around the top of the park before eventually going down the West side, around the bottom, and back up the East side once again. The first mile consists of a nice long downhill, then a brief stretch of flat running surface, which is the calm before the storm, when you hit Harlem Hill. It is approximately 0.6 miles of straight uphill, and there are a couple of points you think it's about to end, but it doesn't until finally you reach a stoplight at the top. Mile 1 ends just as you are finishing the nice downhill stretch that follows. Mile 2 consists of the West Side Hills, which are usually the bane of my existance during every NYRR 4 mile race I've ever done. There are three hills. The first is the steepest, the second is the longest, and the third is just kind of there. Mile 3 is all downhill as we run down the West Side of the Park, with the exception of a slight hill which is barely noticable since the downhill gives you so much momentum. Mile 3 ends just as you reach Tavern on the Green, which is where the NYCM marathon finish is, except that you approach it from the other direction in November.

During mile 4, you loop around the bottom part of the park and end up back on the East Drive. It's a net uphill, but it's not too bad. During mile 5, you run back up the east side and encounter Cat Hill, and while it's only about a quarter of a mile long, it is very steep. Several people training for the marathon use this and Harlem Hill for their hill repeats. The last mile of the loop is flat with a slight downhill slant, and it gives you a chance to mentally recooperate before getting back towards the top of the park. Are you still with me? Now, repeat this two times and you have the Tune-Up course.

I guess that explanation wasn't so brief after all. Whoops. It's totally not obvious that I run Central Park at least 4-5 days per week...

It took a couple of minutes to get past the start line. The crowding at the start was actually good for us since it helped us control our pace. The first mile was accomplished in about 10 minutes, and more or less lined up with the mile marker. However, none of the other mile markers came even close because of my lack of ability to run tangents, so whenever I passed an actual mile marker, I kept tabs of how far ahead or behind I was of what would be 10mm.

As you can see to the left, I didn't stick to 10mm all that long. It wasn't like I purposefully sped up. I felt relaxed the entire time, and the first loop went by pretty quickly. I lost Chris at mile 2, but after reflection, it was better that we each ran our own race so to speak.

On the other hand, at the beginning of the second loop, I found myself matching the pace of another woman, and somehow, we began chatting. Hooray for new running friends! Laura and I stuck out the second loop together, and we even had similar fueling strategies. Thanks to her company, the second loop also went by quickly. At the beginning of the third loop, she told me to go on ahead, so I did. I ended up chatting with someone else who had been going back and forth with me for a while. Another new running friend! Blossom was in the same running club as my friend Beth, and we had a nice time chatting for a bit. After a while, I knew that she was going to fast for me, so I let her go.

At some point, I realized that I had dipped significantly below marathon pace, and was in fact approaching my tempo run pace of 15K-HM pace. It still felt good, so I kept going. Sometime during the last couple of miles or so, I realized that I had a chance of breaking 2:45, so at that point, I decided to speed things up to see if that could happen. It was close, but I ended up finishing in 2:44:54. Thanks to a lot of stretching, my legs felt fine the next day.

I met up with Chris at the end, and did some stretching. I also ran into a few other people, including Laura, and someone I had met at the Yonkers half marathon. I caught the bus downtown, and happily spent the rest of the day lazing about.

Per the official results, I had a 9:10mm pace. If I did that for the entire marathon, I would be on the cusp of a sub-4 marathon. I plan on comparing the elevation charts, but I will still need to see how I do at the Staten Island half before I make any pacing decisions. However, I still had some fuel left in the tank, and this experience left me feeling more confident.

I was also thrilled when I realized that at the end of the day, despite being sick for some of the week, I managed to get a personal best mileage week of 52.5, thanks to the support of my family and various cold medicine products.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Yonkers Half Marathon Race Report - and some advise/input needed

...or, more accurately, the Yonkers Marathon Pace Trial Report. I wasn't originally going to write a report on this since I wasn't really treating it as a race, but I realized that my week 9 report was long enough as it was, and shortening this would not do this wonderful experience justice. 

Since I will be asking for some reader input at the end, here are a few things to keep in mind: In the year before I started marathon training, I averaged 30.4 miles per week. My best HM time of 1:52:28 is from March of this year. Since I started marathon training, I have averaged 44.56 miles per week, including this MP trial, and my peak week was 51 miles up until that point. 

I rushed to packet pickup a couple of days before - I had to go quickly in between errands, but it was the only day there was packet pickup in the city. I got a pretty women's pink tech shirt, and a bib that had the timing device attached to it. 

The race started at 8am on Sunday. Unfortunately, the train schedule wasn't an ideal one - I had the option of getting there at either 6:51 or 7:51. Although I didn't want to get there over an hour early, I was not going to have a repeat of the Staten Island debacle, so the 6:30 train was the obvious choice. At least I had ten extra minutes to get the train since I ended up going to the Harlem station instead of Grand Central. Why go downtown to go uptown?

I arrived in Yonkers on schedule, and figured that I would have time to use the porta-potty at least twice. Not so. Here is where I will list the one complaint that I had about this fantastically organized race: not enough bathrooms. I felt like I waited on line forever. 

After I used the facilities, I found my friend James, who volunteered for the race. We hung out for a few minutes, and he told me that he was confident that I would be able to finish in under two hours, something which I appreciated.

After that, I dropped off my bag at baggage check. Afterward, Barbara pointed out to me on Facebook that I was in New York City Run's picture in which their description was bragging about how beautiful the view from baggage claim was. They were not wrong. 

Shortly after, I did some stretching, and hung around the start for a while. I ended up talking with a multi-national group of people. The marathon and half started at the same time, so we all lined up together. I had heard that this course was hilly, so I was impressed that anyone would be doing two loops of this course. 

After about a ten minute porta-potty production delay, the national anthem was sung, and we were off! It took a couple of minutes to get into the groove, but people started to spread out not too long after the start. 

I really enjoyed running through the town of Yonkers, and there were so many beautiful views of the water. The business districts were also fun to look at. I think these views helped to keep me in line in terms of pacing. I also kept telling myself not to be upset when lots of people started passing me - I had a goal, and I would stick to it! 

Although this course had a reputation for being hilly, I didn't really have a hard time with it. I guess training in Central Park helped, but I was expecting hills more like the ones I faced in Southern Connecticut. So a part of me went through the race expecting the other shoe to drop so to speak. Although I was feeling great most of the time, I was expecting some giant hill to ruin things any minute. I didn't stop feeling that way until sometime in the second half, when I was told by someone who actually studied the map that the worst was over. 

The first few miles passed without a hitch, and I was feeling good. The first mile was a 9:01, but the next few miles were under 9mm and it felt easy. More importantly, it felt good. Then late in mile four / early mile five, I faced the steepest hill of the race. The top part felt so steep that I almost was tempted to walk it, but I didn't. I was slightly upset to see a 9:09 for mile 5, but told myself to relax. If you see the elevation chart below, you'll understand why this was by far the slowest split of the race.

There was also a minor hill around mile 11 which surprised me after hearing that it would be all easy from a certain point, but after a moment of shock, I got through it and didn't find it to be a problem at all. 

At the 10K point, I saw James again. He told me that he would be there, so that wasn't a surprise, but to my delight, he took out his phone to take a picture of me. I tried to slow down, but my body wouldn't have it. Thankfully, he still got a good one. Thanks James!

I don't remember too many other specific details other than enjoying the scenery, but I thought that the aid stations for the most part were well run. There was one small station with only one volunteer, but I was able to grab a cup that was full and get past it quickly. I ended up taking two shot bloks every 5 miles or so, and I think that worked out fairly well for me. I thought that the kid volunteers were really cute. There were also some locals standing on the side of the road cheering us on, and even some drivers across the way from us smiled and waved. I drank water every couple of miles at first, then increased to every mile towards the end as it got sunnier with the exception of mile 12. 

I ended up doing a back and forth passing with two women who were running together. One of them was pacing the other one towards her first HM, and when we were on pace with each other, we talked a bit and enjoyed the nice weather. As much as I could have and wanted to stay with them, I had my own goals for the day, and over the last few miles, I let them go, and ultimately, they finished a couple of minutes ahead of me. A 1:53:xx is an amazing time for someones first marathon in my opinion. 

During the last 1/2 mile, I decided to do a finishing kick and push it towards the end. To my delight, my official time was 1:55:25, which wasn't too far off my Cape Cod time last fall. The difference was that last year, the 1:54:xx felt like race pace, while this felt almost like a long run. I met up with the two girls again after and they said I didn't look remotely tired or worn out, which made me happy.

I ended up stretching and looking at the water, and while I did so, someone who I ran with a bit close to the end of the race (I think his name was Alex) came up to me and said that the two girls and myself were pacing him even though we didn't realize it, and said that I inspired him to have a finishing kick. Also, the race organizers posted finishing pictures - and NYC Runs is even more awesome because I didn't have to pay for it!!!! (Also, my splits are below)

Here are a few more pictures of the waterfront / festivities, including my view from the train platform. I can't overstate how pretty the town of Yonkers is. I'll post these pictures and more on Facebook when I get a chance

So this is the part where I ask for some input. I have my indicator half on October 7th. Based on this MP trial, do I have a chance at a sub-4 hour marathon? Or should I wait and see how the Staten Island half goes? Although this may be painful for me to hear, I appreciate your honest feedback in advance. Even though I had a great experience, I know that as a first time marathoner, I will be going into the unknown on November 4th. 

Thanks for reading!!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week #9: Started out slowly, but ended with an amazing MP trial!

First of all, I forgot to note in my entry last week that I was halfway done with my marathon training plan. It's unbelievable how the time has passed. 

I had an SRD, but I had an interesting adventure after work. I found an orchestra online in desperate need of a piccolo player - which never happens in NYC. Usually, I'd have to get in line with a million other people to simply audition to be a substitute. When I realized that there would be a smaller time commitment involved - rehearsing every other week instead of every week - I knew that I would have to give this group a shot. 

However, the one challenge was that this group rehearses in White Plains, so it involves taking the Metro North to get there. Thankfully, I work near Grand Central, and the group rehearses very close to the White Plains train station, and it's an easy walk on both sides. I chose between taking the 6:09 and the 6:13 train, and once I decided to take the slightly later one, I saw a sign to make me realize that I made the right choice

The orchestra rehearsal was fun. Although they are not as polished as some of the other groups I have been in, they are extremely enthusiastic players, and with the assistance of a very knowledgable music director, I think we'll sound great at our December 1st concert. I just found out that I will be playing oboe and piccolo. Apparently, I will be filling the position of second oboe and piccolo somehow. Time to get practicing!!!

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a running blog, isn't it? Anyway, since I was out late last night, I decided to run after work. Since it was the eleventh anniversary of September 11th, I decided to bump my eight mile scheduled run to a 9.11 mile run to be symbolic. 

The first couple of miles felt good, but a lack of free time over the last few days took it's toll and it became a sluggish run. I kept looking at my Garmin and didn't understand how my usual easy effort suddenly went from a 10mm to a 10:40mm. It was only in the last couple of miles that I finally got the spring in my step back. It felt good to complete the run, but my paces disappointed me.

I was supposed to run 10-4-4 over the next few days, but I decided to cut the MLR and do 4-7-7 instead. Since it was a cutback week and I already was running on a sleep deficit, I decided to change the mileage distribution just this once. 

This run wasn't quite as sluggish as yesterday's, but still not up to my normal standards. Meh. I'm sensing a pattern.


Well, that's more like it. I had a slow start, but around mile four, it felt like rockets were attached to my legs. What started out as a crappy run ended pretty well.

Too bad I can't say the same thing about the production of Evita on Broadway. A generous donor bought the entire theater out for one night so that every person in attendance was from my workplace. Ricky Martin was passable as Che, and most of the other actors and ensemble were decent, but the actress who played Eva was terrible. I really don't understand why she was cast for the part. I should have left after intermission, but a part of me needed to see how bad it could get. 

This was one of those days when then run felt amazing from start to finish.  My body seemed to be back to its normal self after all of the activity after the last couple of weeks, and it was nice to know that I would have a four day weekend due to the Jewish New Year coming up.....yea....I'm laughing as I type this. I'll explain why in next week's entry.

Instead of running, I attended the bridal shower of one of my closest friends. There is no better way to spend a rest day than hanging out with a few of my closest friends, and meeting a bunch of new people. Here is a picture of the lovely bride to be and the cake from her shower. 

This post has been delayed long enough due to my getting sick, so I will work on a seperate post for the Yonkers Half and treat it as a race report. Suffice to say, I got well under two hours - 1:55:25 - and it felt easy, so perhaps a sub-4 hour finish for NYCM isn't as quite out of reach as I thought it was....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

NYCM Week #8: A bike ride, a wedding, some major NYCM news, and oh yeah, some running

So, before I get into my training for the past week, I am happy to report that NYRR changed their mind on their baggage stance - instead, they gave people the option, to either check a bag and potentially take an hour to get out of the park, or to not check a bag, and receive a parka and an "exclusive" top from NYRR. While I will give NYRR the credit that is due.....they should have thought of this in the first place. 

However, that did not stop me from being excited about finding out my wave start and corral for the marathon! 

There are four waves total, and within each wave, there are three groups of corrals. (The corral chart can be found here) The orange and blue corrals start on the top level of the bridge, while my set of corrals start on the lower level. The marathon course for the three colors are divergent at the beginning, but all become parallel by mile 4, and merge completely by mile eight. I will be starting almost at the back of my wave, but I'm happy that I won't have to wait an extra half an hour like I feared that I would once I found out that there would be a four wave start instead of the traditional three

Now, back to my regularly scheduled training discussion....

As you may recall, last Monday was Labor Day. Usually, it's a complete day of rest for me, but instead, I decided to go on a challenging hilly bike ride with my mother. I usually only show the timing splits but I feel that the speed and elevation charts are interesting enough to show this time...

If only I could actually run this fast....
There were some challenging hills in this ride, plus I hadn't ridden my bike in longer than I cared to admit. Also, my legs were probably tired from marathon training. Still, the hills got done, and the major one I was most proud of was the one leading into my parent's community upstate. If you look at the elevation at the very end of that chart, you'll see that sudden spike. That would be Sedgewood Hill. That was only the second time I was able to get up that thing. 

Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end, and that includes 3 day weekends. I had my tempo run scheduled, and when I first started out, I regretted my bike ride yesterday, as my legs felt sluggish. But the moment it was time to start speeding up, my legs pulled through. I averaged closer to HM than to 15K pace this time around. 

(I was slightly annoyed that one of my miles was two seconds outside my range, but that's because I'm me. This should not be a surprise to anyone)

I was very happy with my medium long run for a few reasons. My splits for 8 of the first 9 miles were fairly even (I was sluggish on mile 2 for whatever reason), and I was able to speed things up for mile 10. 

Although waking up at 5am isn't ideal, I have really come to enjoy getting out there before sunrise. Since there are other crazy people out there, I never feel alone, yet it is not crowded, so it feels so peaceful. 

Watching the sun rise is probably one of the coolest experiences, especially while running. One moment it's dark, and then just as you get lost in your thoughts, you notice all of the pretty colors in the sky. Totally worth it.


This run unintentionally sort of became a progression run. 

On a different note, I have started including fartleks of sorts towards the end of my runs. When I run the last half mile on the city streets, I have learned that I will almost always be stopped at some lights, so what I do is I run very fast from one stop light to the next, wait for the light to turn green, and repeat a few times.  It's a fun way to get speedwork in, especially if I am able to make it across the street before the light turns red. It's a nice rush that wakes me up in the morning. 

This is usually a rest day for me, but since I would be busy all day Sunday with my brother's wedding and would be in New Jersey, I decided to move the run to Friday.

I was a little slower than usual, but considering I hadn't had a rest day for almost a week, this was to be expected. I still felt relatively good

I wish I remembered more specifics about these runs, but the problem with getting to the blog entry so late in the next week is that these things slip away...

My long run on Saturday started off early, like usual. I was hoping to have a running buddy, but that didn't really work out, so I decided to do two extended loops of the park. The main loop is six miles, but I added a loop of the reservoir both times,  and for the first time, I added the Harlem Meer loop as well. Thankfully, my math seemed to be accurate this time.

For the first loop, my legs felt very sluggish, but I must have gotten some physical or psychological boost from knowing that I only had one more loop to go, because I suddenly started going faster than 10mm consistently. In fact, my last two miles were at marathon pace or below. Maybe it was because I wanted to get it over with, but I felt really good afterwards. 

Then again, the tiredness caught up with me at the rehearsal dinner that night. After getting back to the hotel, I collapsed and fell asleep right away. I don't even remember exactly what I said in my toast (which apparently was really amazing). 

Warning: The running part of my entry ends here. My total mileage for the week was my highest ever - 51.20 miles, and that doesn't include the bike ride. If you are not interested in reading about my brother's wedding, feel free to stop here. 

After almost a year from the day they got engaged, the big day finally arrived! I had gotten my hair blown out at the hotel the day before. Belle and I had to report to the bridal suite at 8am for hair and make-up. Belle deserves a huge kudos for flying to Spain and back in less than one week! The suite was on the executive floor, so we had to go to the lobby and get key card access to the elevator each and every time we wanted to get up there. Sigh.

I got my make-up done first, and it was the first time I ever had it done professionally. I even got false eyelashes and spray on makeup. The eyelashes felt really strange for a while, but I eventually got used to them. My hair was flat ironed, and put partially back. When I was asked how I wanted everything, of course, I had no clue, so I asked my consultants (aka my mother and sister) and they told me what should be done. 

This is me after my hair and makeup was completed

I had some time to kill, so I went to visit Matt in his suite. We hung out, and talked for a bit, and then I went back to the bridal suite to check on everything. Things seemed to be going well. After a while, Belle and I went downstairs to change into our bridesmaids dresses so that we could take some photos in the bridal suite. My phone kind of screws up the colors of the dresses - Belle and I were wearing a dark eggplant while mom is wearing a blue dress, but it's a lovely picture just the same. The other picture is of me and the rest of the bridal party.

We went over to Stone House, where the wedding would be, to take professional photos. They haven't been released, but both the bridal and groom parties looked pretty amazing! The pictures I've seen so far are really cool - we got to do lots of different poses outside. We got a bit of mud on our dresses, but nothing that couldn't be wiped off! 

I then supervised Belle and the string quartet as they rehearsed a John Lennon song I arranged for them. Two members of the string quartet sounded good, but unfortunately, I wasn't entirely pleased with two of them. But, the song would have it's desired effect in the end.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful. The flower girl and ring bearers were adorable, and the bridal party entered without a hitch. Erin's father did an amazing job being a co-officiant with a rabbi. Erin's sister did a reading, then my sister sang the song. I couldn't see her since she had to sing from the back of the room, but she sounded amazing. 

The reception was amazing - the food was great, and the dancing was really fun. It was great to catch up with both relatives and friends whom I haven't seen in a while. We even did a dance in honor of my late grandma Ketty, which was very emotional for me. 

And now.....let me present my brother and his wife.....isn't Erin gorgeous???? (Matt, you're ok looking too ;-) ). I am so lucky to be getting another sister, and I am so happy that she makes Matt so happy. They are currently honeymooning in Hawaii, and I'm sure that they are having a fantastic time! 

Unfortunately, I had to go back to work and missed the breakfast the next day, but the rest of my family was there! I loved this picture of them, and  I missed being with them. I wish I had a photo of the four of them plus Erin, but I couldn't find one, so she is featured with my grandparents. 

Overall, last week was amazing, and I feel so fortunate to have an amazing family, and to gain so many new extended family members! If you have read this far, I commend you. Until next time! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

NYCM Week #7: Two major milestones, a tweak in my training schedule, some shoe porn, and a relationship gone sour...

Another week of training has gone by, and overall, it went extremely well. I hit a couple of important milestones, and signed up for a couple of group runs. Unfortunately, I realized that I might be ending a relationship. More on that later on.

Scheduled Rest Day
As my mileage increases, these days are becoming more and more important to me. I could never imagine running 7 days a week. 

7 miles w/ 4x800.....or not
When I woke up Tuesday morning, it was thunder-storming, and raining really hard. Of course, by the time the rain stopped, and it was perfect running temperature, I had to get ready for work and wasn't able to go. After work, I went home, relaxed a bit, then finally got out there. 

As usual, my watch decided to be a drama queen and not pick up a signal until I was already half a mile into the run. Then, I realized that my first two miles were pretty close to marathon pace. At that point, I decided to turn what was supposed to be an interval training run into a MP run, and see how long I could keep the pace. 

To my pleasant surprise, other than a couple of water stops, I kept going, and going, and going, and even decided to add on another mile since I was feeling so good. It had already started to turn dark mid-way through the run, and the prettiest part was doing a double loop of the reservoir, which was illuminated only by the moon and some street lamps scattered around the loop. A part of me was worried that I would trip and fall on my pace, but thankfully, that did not happen.

When I got home, I realized that my average for the 7.5 recorded miles was exactly my goal marathon pace of 9mm. I don't know where I got the energy after a long day of work - maybe it was my desire to get home before it got too dark, but either way, I was very happy with my 8 mile speed workout.

Medium Long Run 

I originally had eight on the schedule, but since I had done eight the previous evening, I decided to take a mile off and make it a 7 mile run. Since this run was done barely 12 hours after my evening speed work, I expected it to be a total slug fest. Somehow, it wasn't. 

My legs felt sluggish at first, but after the first few miles I felt my energy come back, and slowly but surely, got faster towards the end. The weather felt very nice, and my Garmin even cooperated and I got a signal right away.

Easy Run

I had 6 easy miles on the schedule, and that is pretty much what I did.  The pace felt right, and it was an enjoyable run. 

However, that night, I must have had some weird blood sugar incident or something. I was supposed to go see Batman with the siblings, but for some reason, I suddenly felt exhausted, and after eating and drinking, still felt like I was about to fall asleep any second....which I did at 8pm. I stayed asleep until 1am, then drifted in and out throughout the night, before waking up the next morning around 6am

Ok, I admit it, these are probably junk miles....

I realized that this day was August 31st, and as of that morning, I had run just under 197 for the month. Although I felt really funky last night, I was completely fine in the morning. I asked myself whether I would feel better taking my usual rest day, or whether I would beat myself up for the next few weeks over not hitting 200 miles for the month of August. So, against better advise, I went out and decided to run a few very easy miles. I stuck to the east drive because I heard they were spraying the west side for west nile virus. I only needed 3.09 to make the 200 miles....and I ended up with 3.15 and got 200.06 for the month. I rewarded myself with chocolate milk after it was over. To put things in perspective, my previous personal best mileage month was 156.87 from December, so hitting 200 was a major deal for me. 

My first 20 Mile Run

I initially thought that I would have to do this on my own, but thankfully, I was able to convince Meaghan to join me. We met up at the subway stop nearest me (she was nice enough to commute from Brooklyn) and once we got a signal, we started running towards Central Park.

We decided to do 3 full loops of Central Park, plus one loop of the reservoir to reach our full 20 mile goal for the day. At least for the first couple of loops, the miles passed by quickly. Meaghan and I hadn't really run together for a long period of time before, and it was nice to have someone who runs very similar paces. We discussed our goals, our training, and even came up with a bunch of running platitudes (many of which escape me at the moment).

After we finished our one round of the reservoir, I remembered that my friend Beth was once again waiting on line for Shakespeare tickets, so we went to find her. We quickly realized that she was sleeping, so we continued on our merry way.

We started to really feel tired during the last loop. It had gotten much warmer out, and our legs were starting to feel tired, so to mentally pep ourselves up, we reminded ourselves that every hill we did would be the last time we did that hill. We finally got to saw Beth on line, and we fueled for one last time before finishing our last three miles. The frappes we got at the end were completely worth it!

I think I fueled pretty well. I had a bowl of cereal before leaving, and I fueled at miles 6, 12, and 17. The moment I got home, I did what any 26 year old would do.....brag about this glorious achievement on Facebook. I was appreciative of the supportive response of my friends, and of their confidence in my training, but I am pretty sure that I will NOT be qualifying for the Boston Marathon in November. To qualify for Boston, I would need to run a marathon faster than 3:35, which is an 8:11 pace - and I can't even run an HM at that pace. However, sub-4 is still within the realm of possibility, and I will be thrilled if I get that.

I haven't done my Sunday run yet, since I have friends coming up and one of them was interested in running with me, so I'm briefly going to discuss other things.

The New York Flyers host the Three Bridges Runs every year, and this year, I decided to do both of them so that I would have experience running over the bridges of the marathon a couple of times beforehand. Since they were only $10 each for non-members, I figured that it was a good bargain. In order to fit both of them in my schedule, I decided to switch things around so that instead of my long runs being 20-18-13-20, they would be 18-20-13-20 (I got permission from my advisor before doing this). This also worked out very nicely because now, I can do the NYRR Tune-Up without worrying about adding two extra miles either before or afterwards.

The Complaints Department
Regarding it would be about anyone else....

This brings me to my next topic - my swiftly going sour relationship - two years ago, I met someone, or rather, an organization, that allowed me to participate as a complete amateur runner in all of their events. I quickly fell in love with NYRR, and did at least 20 races in 2011 and learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of beating my personal bests, and learning how to deal with disappointment when I did not reach my goals. 

However, it has become clear that the regular runner is no longer a priority to the organization. Over the last year, prices have increased dramatically, communication to the membership has become non-existant, and the posting of registration dates and course maps have been getting slower and slower. In addition, the races have been oversold, and overcrowded to the point where the first mile has been annoying to get through. There have also been problems with either placing people in the wrong corrals, or lumping everyone over a nine minute pace in the back. But the straw that might break my back is the announcement that there will be no baggage check at one of the biggest marathons in the world - long after people have already paid hundreds of dollars to participate and have already started training. While I personally have parents who live nearby, the vast majority of people will not have that luxury, and were counting on being able to change from their sweaty, cold clothes, into some pants and a fresh top. 

If I renew my membership, it will only be if I do enough races to make the savings of each race worth the price of membership. But unless NYRR really steps up to the plate and starts showing more concerns for their members rather than their profits, they are going to find that they will lose a lot of people, especially since other organizations, such as NYC Runs, have started putting on races. It's time for NYRR to return to it's roots as a running club, and not the money making machine that it has become.

Easy Run + Cross Training with friends

Anyways, off my pedestal, and back to the weekend at hand, now that the day is finally over. I invited a few of my college friends up to my parents country house for the day. One of my friends, Zahava, is a competitive swimmer and has run in NYRR races before, so I convinced her to join me on a four mile run while everyone was up there. To my pleasant surprise, our other good friend, Lauren, decided to come as well. She was inexperienced, so we took it real slowly, and stopped as often as she needed to.

Considering Lauren is no runner, I believe that she did a fantastic job today, especially since we went during the hottest part of the day. Mercifully, we had plenty of shade and water with us. I believe that she ran at least 3/4s of the distance - Zahava and I would get a little ahead, then loop back to make sure she was ok. Towards the end, she even suddenly started speeding down a hill for fun, and I had to scramble to catch her. I don't know if I'll be able to convince Lauren to become a runner, but it was nice to get her out there at least once. I ended up running 4.15 miles due to some looping back and forth

My weekly total ended up being 48.51. It was supposed to be 45 miles, but I went a little over planned due to reaching my monthly goal. 

The rest of the day was spent swimming, kayaking, playing board games and BBQing with Zahava, Lauren, Abe, and Paul, and we all had a really fun time. After dinner, I drove them to the train station - it was mostly light on the way there, but it was really dark on the way back, which is quite an adventure, even knowing how the roads go, considering they were not lit up at all. Thankfully, I made it back ok, and am now finishing up this blog entry.

Not only will tomorrow be a rest day, but I won't have work, meaning that I can sleep in. Perhaps I will go on a bike ride, a swim, a kayak ride, or a combination of the above. Either way, I have no set agenda, and I look forward to having an amazing third part of my three day weekend.

Although I am not breaking any milestones next week, it is time to say a very important farewell - to the Asics 2160 model. Since they are no longer being produced, I couldn't find any in my size, and have bought the Asics 2170s for the first time. Tuesday will be my very first run in them, so well see how it goes. 

Aren't they pretty?

Thanks for reading!