Monday, September 24, 2012

NYRR 18 Miler, Marathon Tuneup 2012

I passed up a fun long weekend back in our hometown to run this race. This race would be my longest run ever. I’ve been concerned about it because I’m right at the point of a marathon schedule where I get injured. Also, I’ve really been having trouble staying motivated at about the 12 mile mark of my long training runs. I was hoping that being in a race would give me a push through that tough spot. Also I wanted to see if I could get out there and just run my pace without any help beyond a simple lap counting watch.

I set everything I needed, out the night before.
Some key gear, that I didn’t use before:
Asics running shorts (the pockets are large enough to carry gel flasks)
Gel Flasks (carrying 2 with liquid EFS Kona Mocha)
CEP compression sleeves.
Sole dual layer socks
Black Cherry Shot Blocks to eat before the race.
Baggage: EFS recovery powder in a shaker and a bottle of water to mix it with after the race.

I woke up at about 4AM to leave just before 5AM. Hoped to be in the city by 6AM.

Ate my oatmeal and got out the door on schedule. Everything was going well. I was up near the race start at 6. Unfortunately, there was a street fair of some sort happening nearby. So they were towing ALL the cars on one of the Avenues. Which meant side street parking was tough to find. I spent 30 minutes looking before realizing I was out of time. Found a parking garage and crossed my fingers that it wasn’t going to cost too much. $12. Whew! I did look into this the night before but didn’t see anything under $30 online.

Race start is in the North East corner around 104th St by the way. Run is counter clockwise.

I walk/jog to the start. I’m definitely later than I wanted to be. I had to check my bag and get online for a “Bio Break”. As soon as I saw the lines, I knew I wouldn’t be starting the run when the horn sounded. I also knew that if I tried to run, I’d find that there would be lines at every pit stop along the way for the first 3-4 miles. So I waited it out. (I really didn’t have a choice).

I cross the timing mat at the start line about 8:30ish after the horn sounded. This definitely allowed me to run my pace to start because I had so much room due to the lack of people. Of course it also meant that I would eventually have to run through all of the slower paces. Which turned out to be not so bad.
In my rush to make it to the start, I forgot my gatorde bottle in the car. I was going to need to hit the first few water stops.
As I was running through the first crowd, it was kind of interesting to see the vibe of this group. Some people fast walking. Some people “running” but so out of breath I was worried for them. (this is between mile 0 to 2). Then there was one lady that was singing along with her iPod… terribly. I felt badly for anyone around her that might be spending significant time within listening distance of her.

So my goal for the day was to run a 9:30 pace the entire time. That actually would probably be my secondary goal. My primary goal is to not get hurt! During my shorter mid week training runs, I feel that my legs feel like junk for the first 3 miles. Well that wasn’t the case today. I felt really good right from the start.
First mile 9:30 (ding!),
2nd mile 9:38,
3rd mile 9:06. You could probably create the elevation profile based on my splits.
4th mile 9:21
5th mile 9:26
6th mile … I missed it because I was running to the water table. I am forearm blocked by a guy crossing ahead of me to the table who doesn’t want to slow down to pick up water. Then pushes me again on his way out. (Ever feel like tripping somebody?). But just then from behind I hear shouts of “Move to your left!!!” being repeated over and over. That would be the bikes making room for the lead racer. I realize I started 8 minutes late, but this guy was finishing 12 when I was at the 6 mile mark. Very cool to see the speedsters running through, although I think from this point on he had a significant advantage because of the cyclists making room for him. (he finished the race in 1:34:47 a 5:16 pace).
6th  & 7th mile 18:20
8th mile 9:32
9th mile 9:23 … Feeling really good to this point. I finished off my first flask of EFS but along with the water I’m curious if I’m over doing it with the calories. My stomach feels a bit odd. Maybe I should have waited longer to start with the EFS because I had the shot blocks at the start.
10th mile 9:13
11th mile 9:26
12th mile 9:16 … Typically this is where I just want to stop running. That’s not the case today. The only issue at the moment is that I’m starting to feel the miles in my legs.
13th mile 9:30
14th mile 9:37
15th mile 9:44 … At this point I’m pretty psyched about the fact that I’ve just run 15 miles without walking anything but water stops.
16th mile 9:30 …
17th mile 10:11 …  This would be a climb. Hamstrings are getting tight and my stride feels very compressed. I “funny walk” for a bit in an attempt to get some length back into the hamstrings. (Well not exactly like in the video but you get the idea). I can’t help but feel concerned about cramping although it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen.
18th mile 9:30

Total 2:50:22 for a 9:28 pace   1925th overall/4320    1316th male/2275      223 Age Group or 394

Obviously I am pleased with the results. I ran the pace I set out to run with very little discomfort. That was VERY encouraging.
Although I couldn’t help but think about the additional 8.2 miles I’d have to run for the Marathon.  I’d say I started to feel every hill starting around mile 14. Up or Down. Immediately after the race 8.2 more miles sounded like it was going to be a problem. (and it might be). But now that I’ve looked at the Marathon Course Map and I’ve broken it up. I feel better about it.
16 miles gets me into Mahnattan. Which was my main goal for the year.
18 puts me half way to the Bronx.
20 puts me to the Bronx
21 and I’m out of the Bronx
23 I’m alongside the park and about a 5K to the finish.
There is a good chance there could be some bad miles towards the end but at least I’ve finally shifted my mindset to get to the Marathon finish line instead of just taking what I can get.

As soon as I finished running, I went to my bag and mixed up my recovery drink and chugged that and switched into a dry shirt. This is the first NYRR event I’ve done where I saw a ton of post race stretching going on. Me? I was all about getting my hamstrings stretched out and finding some water. I thought I was doing fine while I was running. Now that I’ve stopped, I was really feeling kinda funky. I should have brought a few bucks with me. Unfortunately my cash was in the car. Once I was  in my car I just wanted to get home. I had some Gatorade and a bit of water left over from the drive in, it would have to do.
It took an hour to get home. I stopped to pickup 2 bags of ice. Filled the tub and in I go. Then the 2 bags of ice got added. I probably should have had a bit more ice , or maybe I’m getting used to cold ice baths.
Once I was done with that. It was time to eat. But what? I should have prepared better for this. I was very hungry at this point and ended up ordering a pizza. Probably not the best choice. I watched some of the Jets/Dolphins game while I was eating. It was a close game but I wasn’t very interested. Eventually I set my cell phone alarm for an hour later and fell asleep. Woke up to find out that I was eliminated from my NFL Survival League. Knew I should have picked the Bills! I had the 49ers.
I finished the day by going and getting a massage. I felt pretty good but I know the next day or so could be ugly.

I guess the one thing I haven’t mentioned that shouldn’t be overlooked is this. My stride felt great! My right leg has been so funky for sooo long. I’ve kicked the inside of my left ankle so many times over the last couple years. Not Today!! I really hope it stays like this. It’s nice running and not feeling like you are going to injure yourself!

And finally, it’s nice to have a new “longest run ever”, I’ll worry about pace for some other event in the future. Right now it's cool just to have covered the distance.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Here's what's been goin' on

Last weekend I spent my Saturday working on cars and bikes.
I washed the 2001 Jetta, I couldn't find the sponge I usually wash the car with but there was another one in the bucket I use. Opened that up and for some strange reason, decided it was a good idea to use the rough side on a few spots on the car..... Really? What possessed me to do that? It did a number on the clear coat of the car. It's not awful but I was just amazed at my stupidity. I'm actually considering buying a kit to fix it back up. It's got 112,000 miles on it but it still looks good. (until now...) Really it's not horrible but it's one of those things that once you notice it, you see it every time.

Next I had to get the oil changed. Should I do it myself? Or go somewhere? I really hate to be under the car. Even with ramps and jack stands, I still worry that it's going to fall on me. So I went to a garage to have it done. They weren't busy so I mentioned my issues about the brakes and muffler. The muffler was just a band that had come loose. They reattached that for me. Then they said the back left caliper had brake fluid on it. I'd changed that caliper last year I think. Anyhow, I knew I had to look at that soon as well. That's something I can take care of myself tho and save a bunch of money.

After that I actually went to the pool and swam for a bit. I miss swimming. I would really be something to live somewhere when I could swim in a nice clean lake all summer. Pool swimming is a bummer when it's so nice out. I'd imagine an outdoor lap pool would suffice.
Then when I got home I did my lifting for the 3rd time that week.

Then I took my road bike out to the driveway to do some work on it. The clip on aerobars have been removed. I had to install the brakes. I had stolen the ultegras off of it for the tribike because it was easier to change the pads when I'd switch between my trainers and the race wheels. I had to run a new brake cable. I didn't feel like unwrapping the bars so I just ran it through the existing housing. It worked well. The cervelo brakes (or whatever brand they are) are kind of funky. The front one had some corrosion on the adjuster. So I ended up pulling all of that apart to clean and lube that a bit. Then I stole the pedals off my tribike and grabbed a saddle off the shelf and went up and down the street a couple times. It's nice not having the aerobars on there. I've got to work on dialing in saddle position and I probably will need to change the bar height as well and maybe stem length. In other words, it's a work in progress.

Sunday was a 15 mile run. I'm thankful that Todd decided to run with me, even tho he ran 12 miles Saturday. He stopped mid run for a bit of shopping but probably ran 13 of the 15 with me. All in all, it went well for me. I still really have trouble at the 2 hour mark. Something triggers in me that makes me want to stop at that point. I'm going to try taking in more calories during the 2nd hour to see if that changes anything.
Post run: recovery drink, ice bath, massage.

Missed my 4 mile run on Tuesday.
Wednesday I ran 8. It was an interesting run. You know how I've been complaining about my right leg being so awkward. How my foot strike it so random in it's placement and all that. Well, my right leg seems to be getting back with the program. It feels like it's moving properly most of the time now. It's been a really really long time since it's felt this way. I'm wondering what has changed. The massages helping? Is it because I haven't been on my bike in weeks? Or is it the run mileage? If I had to guess, I'd guess that it's my lack of biking. I'll bet my cleat position or something about my setup is throwing off my muscle balance in my right leg. I'm thinking of getting some speedplay pedals that have a ton of float to them to see if those work better for me.
Anyhow, obviously the good news is that the mechanics of my right leg for running is getting back on track. The bad news is that it changes a ton of stuff. My right foot was kind of hurting after the run. Also my pace has quickened which on one hand is great but not this late in a marathon schedule. I ran 5 tonight (Friday) and was constantly having to slow myself down. I may have to get my watch out w/ footpod to make sure I run slowly enough.

This weekend is going to be interesting. I mentioned the brake issue on the car. Well it turns out the piston isn't moving well on the other caliper in the back. So now I've got to work on both of them. If my neighbor is home to help me bleed the brakes, and if I can get the parts. I'll probably swap them out tomorrow. If not. I'll see what I can do with the current parts. Because I've got a run in Central Park on Sunday morning. There isn't a train that will get me there early enough, so that's not an option. Ugh. I really hope everything works out. It's about 100 miles round trip.

Not to mention, I'm already nervous about the run. 18 miles. My longest run ever. 3 laps around Central Park. I'm really hoping that running with all these other people will give me some race day energy and I'll find the 3 hours will fly right on by. I really need this run to go well. I'm right at the point where I've failed the last two years. Finishing this well, will be a serious confidence booster.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weights: How to become more consistent?

I started lifting weights this week. As I was planning out what I was going to do, I thought about the fact that in the last 2 years I was never able to keep my weight lifting on schedule. I think I might have figured out why.

When I pulled out the paper that listed all the exercises from my training program, I remembered that it would take me about an hour to finish the workout. I think I need to adjust the plan to be in the 25-40 minute range or perhaps even shorter.

There have been times that the workout didn't happen because I didn't feel that I had an hour left in my day. So instead of doing part of it, I don't do any of it.
Then there are times when I couldn't bring myself to do the workout because I knew that I wasn't going to be able to stay strong through the whole list of exercises. So I'd put it off for a day when I might feel better...

It seems that I need to create a plan that feels much more "doable". So that I'm less likely to skip it.

Well right now, because of the marathon training, I want to take it easy on my legs. I'd rather do too little than too much seeing how I keep injuring myself preparing for marathons. So I've created a couple different workouts and they only take about 30 minutes.

One is all upper body which I'll do 3 times this week.

The lower body I think will break up into 2 lists.

One will be exercises that I can do at home.
The other will be a list of things I can only do when I'm at a gym.
This way, when I'm at the gym (not often) I'll only be doing exercises that I can't do at home, making the most out of my time spent there.

I also need to come up with a short list of lower body, at home exercises that I can do after a bike or a run. It may be that I need 2 lists that I alternate between. The point is to get the weight training into the schedule.
I had always been thinking about weight lifting being on the schedule twice a week. Breaking it up like this will probably mean there will be weights 5 days a week. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Can I make it to the NYC Marathon Start Line?

Last weekend was perhaps the worst I've felt during a run that wasn't preceded by a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike, which I paced poorly (ahem.. Mont Trembant back in June).
Of course the pig roast / beer fest last weekend probably contributed as well....

Anyhow, I decided to try a number of new things in an attempt to build up and survive the marathon training.

1) Fueling during the run. I really haven't tried different products to know if one is more effective than another for me. I have been using GU because I like the flavors. Well I now have some EFS Liquid Shot that I'm going to use for awhile to see how that works out.

2) Calf Compression Sleeves. This past Thursday I was supposed to run 7-8 miles, I ran 3. My right calf kept freaking out on me. Everything would feel fine, then BAM! A muscle in my right calf would pull tight for a split second, making it feel that if I stepped on it the next stride, I would damage something. I'd stop and it would be fine... for another few minutes.
Not sure why it was happening, uneven pavement? Tight muscles? I can't say, but I decided that I was going to wear my calf sleeves for my long run and hope that it helps. Well that long run was today, 13 or so miles and not a single issue with my calves. I was on the even surface of the Canal Path but I'm hoping that the sleeves were part of the solution.

 3) Recovery Fuel. I've been eating something post run but maybe what I'm eating digests too slowly to be an effective recovery. (I can't be like Mirinda Carfrae and drink chocolate milk unless I take it with a bunch of those lactose pills). Of course many recovery drinks have whey in them and would likely to cause me grief as well. So after a bit of reading, I discovered that the Whey Isolate is probably my best bet because it's low on lactose. So I ordered up the EFS Ultragen. It's coffee flavored, it's drinkable. I'm hoping another flavor may be better but honestly I don't care. If it does what I need it to do, down the hatch it goes. It's not THAT bad.

4) Foam Roller. I've had this thing for a long time and it's just not been used much. Until now. I've actually got some "free" time since I haven't been swimming or biking. So I checked youtube for some help and started to do some rolling a few times a week. I haven't found a best video yet. Start here and just watch a bunch of "related" ones until you think you've got more of a clue than before. It's way too easy to avoid the painful areas. Suck it up and get it done. I'm told that it gets less painful if you roll often.

5) Ice bath after the long runs. This is a "must do" for me. Any time I run over 2 hours, fast or slow, my hips, knees and feet really need this. (really makes me wonder if I should be sticking to 13.1 as my longest event).

6) Ice packs on feet and knees after every run, no matter how short/long. Icing my feet isn't new to me. It's what I do to keep Plantar Fascitis from reappearing. Putting ice packs on my knees is new since Timberman 70.3 a few weeks ago. Honestly, running has me feeling really old lately. The ice definitely helps. If you've never tried it, you really should. Same with the ice baths.

7) Supplements: Triple Omega 3/6/9, Glucosamine / Chondroitin sulfate. I understand that these may not help me at all. As long as they don't hurt me, they are staying on the list. (feel free to comment) For what it's worth, I rarely use NSAIDs. If I do use them, I make sure they aren't in my system during a workout. (again feel free to offer feedback, always curious of others knowledge on the subject)

8) I have a number of prepaid massages saved up. I've booked a massage every Thursday night and Sunday night from here until the marathon on November 4th. I'll cancel along the way if I'm feeling good. I just wanted to have it on the schedule so I know it's available if I need it.

 9) Sleep. I've been very focused on going to bed early. Between this and a much lighter training schedule, I've realized just how tired I've been for way too long. It's kind of funny to say that marathon training has been a nice break or an easier schedule, but I've chosen a very novice program from Hal Higdon and only have 4 runs a week.

10) Diet: I've been having a very hard time over the last year to lose weight. It's typically not WHAT I'm eating but HOW MUCH. I'm not exactly sure what's happened over the last week but I'm not eating as much. Perhaps my body has adjusted to the lighter training schedule? Or maybe because I'm not exhausted because of the training schedule, so I'm not eating to get through my day? Or is it the run focus? I've heard that if you are a runner your body WANTS to be lighter. I don't know, a mix of all of them perhaps. All I can say is that I will be very happy to see the numbers on the scale getting smaller again.

There should be a 11th item on there but it hasn't really been happening yet so I didn't include it. I'll put it as a subnote here.

11) Crosstraining: Basic abs workouts, Light strength routine, swimming & biking.
I really tried to get some swimming in. I went to the pool twice and it was closed both times. Grrr.

My first confidence builder/destroyer is in 2 weeks. I'm signed up for the 18 miler in central park. That will be my longest run ever if I finish it. I'm hopeful that the race day vibe will help me once I reach the 2 hour mark. I really start to lose motivation at this point and I'll have another hour to go, maybe more. (If only I could run faster...)

Edit: I think I missed something. I just found this article regarding cool downs.

My new favorite Smoothie

I have a  new smoothie recipe that I really like.
You really can't go too wrong with your portions, it's depends on what you like.

1/2 to 3/4  cup almond milk (my lactose free solution feel free to use milk)
1 cup of frozen blueberries
½ to ¾ frozen or unfrozen banana
1 TBS of Honey (It’s not as good without the honey)
1 or 2 TBS peanut butter (to taste)
Throw some protein powder if you want to boost protein content. I’ve been using Rice powder.
Then toss some ice cubes in and blend.

I really don't like bananas but I love this. 
Maybe eventually I'll actually like/tolerate bananas because of this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Alright, let’s see if I can get back on track with writing some blog posts again on a semi-regular basis. I’ve been coming across all sorts of good stuff on the web that I’ve wanted to write about and link to and I really would like keep track of that information.

The first thing was information about bike fitting. Following Timberman, I really wanted to get back out on the road bikes, without areo bars. Which would probably mean that I would need to be fit to my bike again. I was never very comfortable on my road bike and so I was looking to compare it’s geometry to my tri bike. That turned into a whole lot of reading but at the end of it, I felt like I had a clue. Now I’m really interested to see a fitter and see how it all matches up. Once I confirm my understanding of  it all, it’s definitely going to help me when it’s time to shop for bikes. I’d been looking at cyclocross and 29ers and comparing geometry between frames. I was seeing how certain brands would be better for different body types right out of the box because of their geometry. At some point I need to get out there and start test riding some of them just for fun.
For now I’ll just leave you with this link that has a ton of information on the subject.
I’ll get back to this once I’ve had some time to work on it more.

I’ve also found a bunch of swimming videos that I found to be very interesting. I’ve definitely lost momentum in the pool. I’m starting to feel like I want to get back in there and get to work. (Too bad I didn’t feel this way all summer.)  If I lived near a nice lake with a good place to open water swim, this wouldn’t have been an issue.
I’ll eventually post something with all the swim video.

Of course my biggest disappointment right now is the fact that WTC/Ironman has dropped/canceled Mooseman for 2013. Writing out an angry rant here isn’t going to change anything so I won’t. I’ll just hope that someone else steps in and takes over the venue and does a nice job with it.

My focus right now is the NYC Marathon. I’ve decided to choose the most basic of plans out there. 4 runs a week, a plan that will hopefully get me to both the start line and finish line. (Obviously, not very quickly).
So far it isn’t looking very promising. First long run was cut very short at 5 miles. Then this weekend’s 12 miler was just awful. It was bad from mile 1 to mile 6. My legs were VERY tight and slow. 7-12 actually felt better. I’m certain my pace was still horrible tho. It’s too early to be concerned, I’m going to keep at it and see where I end up.