Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: What a Year It's Been

Now that my final run of 2008 is in the books, it's time to reflect on my running in 2008. All in all, it was a great year for me. I only started logging my miles in June so here is a summary of my running since June:

Total Miles: 629.8
Avg. Distance: 6.6 miles
Avg. Per mile: 8:37
Total Time: 90:26:53
Avg. Time:57:07

I set new personal records in every distance I ran:
5K: 22:51 (11/09/08)
4 mile: 30:45 (2/3/08)
10K: 49:47 (5/26/08)
1/2 Marathon: 1:53:19 (5/4/08)
marathon: 3:55:08 (10/26/08)

Here are some other highlights:
  • I feel like this is the year I became part of the running community. I started doing my longs with a group to keep me focused. I started listening to running podcasts and reading running blogs. Even though I've never met any of the podcasters or bloggers in person, I consider them my friends.
  • I started my own blog.
  • I used my running to raise money for charity. I raised over $3,000 for a cause that is near and dear to me.
  • With my wife's help, I've paid closer attention to what I eat before, during, and after a run and during my training as a whole.
  • There's a co-worker of mine who signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in D.C.. He mentioned to me the other day, that I had some influence in him wanting to run beyond the 10K distance.
So what are my goals for 2009?
  • I'd like to be able to stay healthy through the winter so I can the New Jersey Marathon on May 3.
  • I would like to race more. I think I ran 5 or 6 races in 2008. While the NYRR races are great and well organized I'm going to try and support some smaller local races if I can. In my opinion, those races need me to participate more than NYRR does. Without good participation, many local races will stop operating. It happened to 2 races in my town.
  • Continue to focus on nutrition and overall good health.
  • Get faster. Doesn't every runner want to set new personal or course PRs? I'd love to run a sub-1:50 half marathon and a sub-3:50 marathon. If I'm good about my speed and hill training, I think it's possible.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday Run

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday I was running through a small snow storm. Yesterday, my toughest decision was whether to wear a short sleeved or long sleeved top. I ended up erring on the side of caution and went with the long sleeved top. There was no question that I was wearing shorts. My goal for yesterday's run was at least 10 miles. I hadn't run double digits since MCM. Yesterday was the perfect day for me to start increasing the mileage. I didn't need to rush home, and the weather was great (temps were in the low 50s).

I met 2 other guys at Saddle River Park at 7:00, I started the run with gloves on. My fingers tend to get cold so I left them on until my hands warmed up. We started out slow and then started to pick up the pace. About half way through the run, my friends needed to slow down. One was having foot problems and the other hadn't run a in a while and needed to slow down. I went off on my own and kept my pace between 8:00 and 8:24. Even though I was running solo for a good part of the run, I didn't feel alone. There were plenty of runners out in the park. Almost everyone I passed either waved or said good morning. Clearly everyone was enjoying the good weather. I did 10.9 miles in 1:30:34 for a 8:18 pace. Mile splits and other details can be found here: Almost 11 in Saddle River Park.

At some point later in the day, I was looking at my run on MotionBased my wife peeks over my shoulder and tells me, "you're obsessed!" I played it down telling her that running is just a hobby. She says "no, you're obsessed!" I think addicted is more like it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Runner's Recipe of the Week

It's baaack! Things kind of went awry after the Marine Corps Marathon. I'm going to try my hardest to post a new each week. This week's recipe is one of my family's favorite weeknight dinners, Bean Burritos. Beans in general are an excellent carbohydrate rich food that should be a staple in every runner's kitchen. It's also a great alternative to the standard pasta plate. The November 2008 issue of Men's Health had a great piece called "The Magic of Beans." Here are the highlights of the piece:

Navy Beans: high in folate, a B vitamin that may reduce the risk of stroke and cognitive decline as you age

Garbanzo Beans: help reduce your levels of the hormone insulin, lowering risk of diabetes

Black Beans: the dark skins of these beans contain potent anti-oxidants for fighting disease

Kidney Beans: contain anti-oxidants that may help prevent hardening of your arteries

Pinto Beans: eating ½ cup daily can cut LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 9 percent

Here is my family's Bean Burrito:

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans (or kidney)

1/3 cup barbeque sauce (your favorite brand will do)

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp paprika

2 Tbsp cheddar cheese

1 flour tortilla

2 Tbsp salsa

1 Tbsp Sour cream

Mix beans plus spices and BBQ sauce together in a pot with enough water to cover beans. Bring to a boil uncovered, then simmer covered for 1 hour—check to make sure that the beans still have enough moisture for cooking. Assembling burritos: 1/2 cup beans 3 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, 2 Tbsp Salsa, 1 Tbsp sour cream wrapped in a flour tortilla

Nutritional Analysis of the recipe can be found here. The next recipe I post will be a breakfast dish incorporating the leftover beans, B'Tayavon!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Run

My internal clock woke me up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and I seriously thought about getting out of bed and starting my pre-run routine as I would on Sunday morning. Then I thought better of it and went back to sleep. I can't remember the last time I got out of bed at 7:45. My wife had to work today, she is a dietitian in a long-term care facility. State regulations are such that there has to be someone from the management team in house at all times. Since we don't celebrate Christmas, my wife works every Christmas Day to allow those who do celebrate to be with their families. So with my wife at work and my daughter at a friend's house, what's a Jewish running addict like me supposed to do with himself? You got it, GO FOR A RUN!

With temps in the low 40's a put on my Addidas track pants and long sleeve tech shirt and drove over to Overpeck. When I got there I know I was in trouble. The were puddles all over the the running path. At first, I tried my best to avoid them but my feet were getting too wet. I then tried running in the parking lot but that too was soggy. I saw some people walking on the 1/4 mile so I went over there. The track was very slushy but there were no puddles. When all was said and done, I did 5.26 miles in 43:26 for a 8:15 pace. Not bad considering the conditions. More details of the run can be found here: Slushy Christmas Day 5+ miles on Overpeck Track.

I hope that everyone who was celebrating today had a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Early Dismissal

Around 3:30 my boss comes out over to our group and says "What is everyone still doing here? Go home!" Knowing that my daughter was invited out for an overnight Chanukah party at a friend's house, and having plans later with my wife, I decided to put on my running gear and head outside for a run before going home. I wasn't sure what kind of condition the pedestrian paths on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges would be like, so I head down Maiden Lane to the East Side running path. I headed south towards the ferry terminal and made my way up the West Side to Stuyvesant High School and back. I finished the ~5 mile run in 44:34 for a 8:53 pace. I'm not exactly sure why I was so slow. I felt like I was running at pretty good clip. It probably had something to do with some slushy and icy patches where I had to slow down a little. I'm not going to worry about it. It felt good to get out there.

Happy Holidays!

The Evil Empire Stikes Again! Yanks Sign Mark Teixeira

It turns out that the discussions surrounding Manny Ramirez were all smoke and mirrors. The Yankees shocked the baseball world by signing first baseman Mark Teixeira to a 8-year $180 million contract yesterday. Brian Cashman proved once again why he is a great GM. He waited for the Sox, and Angels to drop out and then made Tex an offer he couldn't refuse. Hank and Hal clearly wanted to have star-studded team when New Yankee Stadium opens for business.

This is an awesome acquisition for the Yanks. They get younger and better offensively and defensively. Lee Jenkins wrote on yesterday that Tex should fit right in to the Yankees clubhouse. He's clean cut, professional, and plays hard every day and most importantly avoids controversy. Manny's antics would have driven Joe Girardi crazy. Bob Klapisch, from the Bergen Record, summed it up best in his Dec. 21 column.

The question now becomes does getting Tex make the Yanks the hands-down favorite to not only win the AL East but also win the World Series. Steve Phillips said on SportsCenter last night that while getting Tex is a huge improvement for the Yanks, they are neither a lock to win the division nor the World Series. As I said when the Yanks signs CC and A.J., baseball is a marathon not a sprint. There are a lot of "ifs" that go into predicting the outcome of a baseball season. I'll refrain from doing that. For now I'm going to enjoy this acquisition.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Running in a Winter Wonderland

Woke up this morning around 5:30. When I came downstairs to get dressed I some pitter patter on the air conditioner. I prayed that it was not rain, luckily it was just sleet. I went through my pre-race routine and left the house around 6:45. Because of the weather, I decided to stay close to home and run in Votee. Usually I run to the park, but because of all the snow, I decided to drive. Last thing I needed was to get hit by car that was sliding on the road. The town does a pretty good job making sure the walking/running paths in the parks are plowed so when I got to Votee, there was light coating of snow on the path. When I started the run, it felt like it was sleeting. About 1.5 miles in, it changed to snow. The rest of the run was very peaceful. I love the sound of my foot striking fresh snow. I decided not to push myself too hard, both in pace and length of the run. I did 7 miles in 58:54 for a 8:23 pace. You can view the run details here: Snowy 7 in Votee.

Here are some pictures:
Photobucket I had to my glasses off about half way through the run because they were covered in snow and I couldn't see.

Photobucket This is a picture of the local community/recreation building.

We'll see what old man winter has in store for the rest of the season, but so far so good.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!

Only 4 days left to vote in the poll about running with a group of people. Only 3 of you responded. I'm interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Pair of Aces: Yankees Introduce CC and AJ

It's finally official! Today the Yankees formally introduced a pair of aces, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. CC (short for Carsten Charles) will wear #52 and A.J. (Allen James) will wear #34. I wanted to share my thoughts about both pitchers.

There's no doubt about it, CC is up there as one of the top pitchers in baseball. He is a workhorse, averaging about 7.2 innings per start last year with Cleveland and Milwaukee. He is that pitcher the Yanks have needed for a while now. No offense to Chein-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Huges, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain,or Mike Mussina but none of those pitchers scare me. CC is the guy at the top of the rotation that make opposing teams say "oh s*&$! CC's Pitching! He's the guy that you want on the mound in a game 7 of a playoff series. At 28 years old he makes the team younger. My concern this: he's a big man with a lot of innings on his arm. With that said, he must be doing something right because you never hear him spending a lot of time on the DL. Milwaukee getting eliminated in the first round of the playoff last was probably the best thing that happened.

A.J. Burnett is coming off his best season in a while, winning 18 games in Toronto. Many experts have said that when he's healthy, he can be overpowering. The key for him is staying healthy. Unlike CC A.J. is someone who has spent a lot of time on the DL. He said at the press conference today that when he was younger he threw hard to impress people and he paid the price for that. He said that he's learned a lot about himself and his body over the years. Will he be the pitcher he was last year in Toronto or another Carl Pavano? Stay Tuned.

Personally, I would have been happier signing Derek Lowe instead of Burnett. While not as overpowering as A.J., Lowe is consistent. You know what you're going to get with him.

The rotation definitely looks formitable: CC, AJ, Wang, Pettite (hopefully), and Joba (I think he should be in the bullpen). Nothing is in the bag, baseball is a marthon (there's my running reference) not a sprint. More about the Yankees later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Things Interesting

Since I was unsure of this morning's weather, I packed my bag with both outdoor gear and indoor gear. As I was doing this, my wife, knowing that I might have to run inside today, asked me if I enjoyed running on the treadmill. The TM bores me to death, even if there's something good on TV. I would much rather go for a run in sub-freezing temperatures than run on the TM. If you are forced inside, there are ways to keep it interesting. My wife is used to seeing people walking or running at the same pace on the TM. so these are 3 examples I gave her on how to keep things interesting if you're ever forced inside on the TM

1) Progression Run: this is the workout I did today. I started my run at an 8:20/pace for the first 2 miles. the next mile I ran at an 8:00 minute pace. the last mile I ran at a 7:53 pace followed by 5 minute cool down. I wanted to do a 5th mile at a 7:45 pace but time didn't allow today.

2) Intervals: If you can't get out to the track, you can use the TM to simulate your speed intervals. Start with a 2 mile warmup and a comfortable pace. You can then do 400m (1/4 mile), 800m (1/2 mile), or 1600m (1 mile) intervals just as you would on the track. Make sure you recover enough in between intervals.

3) Hill Training: The TM is also great for simulating hill training. One of my favorite hill workouts (courtesy of Men's Health Magazine) on the TM is run at pace slightly slower than your 10K pace and do the following:
  • 1st half mile at 1% incline
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 5% incline
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 8%. If you can't do this right away, don't worry. Try and build up to it.
  • next half mile at 2% incline
  • next half mile at 5% incline
  • last half mile at 2% incline.
Feel free to extend the distance of the run by following the same pattern. If the speed feels easy, by all means increase the speed.

Feel free to share your favorite TM workouts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Run

I had to get out early because of other life obligations. My wife is a Lia Sophia jewelry consultant on the side and she is showing her wares are 2 different synagogue boutiques today. I was also running a program in our synagogue today so I had to be showered, dressed, and out the door by 9:15 a.m. Fortunately, there were 2 other friends who needed to run early. We met at Saddle River Park at 6:15. The first few miles were slow because we were running in the dark and there was some ice on the paths. Once it got light out we picked up the pace on the way back to the Dunkerhook parking lot. We took a short break at the parking lot to pick up some more runners. Knowing that I was under some time constraints, I decided to do 8 miles total. Others in the group were running between 10 and 12. Here is a link today's run: Early 8+ Miles

I put a poll up the on the blog about how other runners deal with group runs. If you don't run with a group but run with one other person, please reply based on that experience.

I'm hoping things calm down soon so I can start getting some quality double digit long runs in. I think sometime around Christmas is when I would need to start the training cycle for the NJ Marathon. I would hate for other life obligations to be the reason why I can't run a spring marathon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chancin' It

This morning when I left the house at 5:20, it was raining and quite mild out, probably close to 60 degrees. I started cursing the weather gods because it would have been the perfect chance to take my morning run in shorts. I started my trip to the office resigned to the fact that I'll be running on the treadmill this morning.

I got off the subway and lo and behold, it wasn't raining. I thought to myself, this can't be true, the weather gods are just playing with me. I'll start out for my run and the skies will open up forcing me back inside. I decided to chance it. I changed into my shorts and long sleeve tech shirt (I probably could have worn a short sleeve running shirt) and ran towards the Brooklyn Bridge. For once the weather gods were on my side. I was able to get my run in outside and not get rained on.

Since I can't get a good Garmin signal downtown, I've been using my Polar 200SD. The functionality is similar to the Nike+ system where you attach a footpod to your shoe to measure the distance. According to my Polar, I ran 4.83 miles in 36:51 which comes out to a 7:33 pace. According to MapMyRun the Brooklyn/Manhattan Bridge loop is 4.63 miles. That translates to 7:49. At some point, I'll go to a track an recalibrate the footpod.

The forecast is for rain tomorrow as well with much colder temperatures. Maybe the weather gods will be cooperate again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I expected snow on the ground this morning when I woke up and had planned to run locally in Votee. To my delight there was no snow and temps were in the mid-30s. I got in the car and drove out to Saddle River Park and once again met up with my new friends that I met last week. One of them told me they planned to run slow today so he pointed me in the direction of the park that I did not see on last week's run. Because of other obligations, I did not have that much time run so I planned on 6 or 7 miles today. My route took me around 2 ponds, past a small waterfall, and some very peaceful wooded parts of the park. I finished the 6.4 mile run in 52:30 (8:11 pace). If you're interested you can view the run details here: 6+ miles in Saddle River Park

They forecast rain a few days this week. That might move my morning runs to the treadmill. I don't mind snow or cold weather but I always get sick when I run in the rain. One of my goals for the winter is to stay healthy so I can train for a potential spring marathon. If that means moving a few runs inside so be it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Extra Day Off

Today is one of those days where I would wake up at 5:00 and head out the door around 6:00 for a quick 7 or 8 miles before taking my daughter to the bus stop. Last night I was feeling very tired and run down so I decided to go to bed early and not run this morning. I'm not regretting the decision, clearly my body was telling me not to run today.

Besides, we are having a bunch of people over for Shabbat dinner tonight so there is a lot of cooking and preparation to be done in a short period of time. Shabbat starts around 4:15, that's when I need to make sure everything is ready to go. Since Shabbat starts early, we like to have friends over for dinner. During the summer months we have company for lunch. Tonight's menu is:

Yellow and green split pea soup with barley and rice
Moroccan spiced carrot salad
Homemade humus with toasted pita chips
California roast
Confetti chicken
Asparagus terriyaki
Roasted potatoes with garlic, onions, and olive oil
Trader Joe's Harvest Mix cooked in chicken stock

Do you think I have enough food?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2009 Plans

I started to give some thought to my 2009 plans. My plans for early 2009 revolve around me running the NJ Marathon on May 3. I haven't signed up yet but I'm leaning in that direction. I'd like to able to enjoy my summer with my family and not have marathon training on my mind. I'm going to start the training cycle and then make a firm decision once I know what kind of winter we're in for.

Here are some of the winter races that I'm looking forward to:
1st Day 5K - Fair Lawn, NJ

I will be on vacation on Jan. 25th so the Manhattan Half is out of the question.

Gridiron Classic on Feb. 1 - this is one of my favorite races. Nothing like starting Superbowl Sunday with a 4 mile race then chowing down later in the day watching the big game.

Bronx Half on Feb. 8.

Coogan's Salsa and Blues - I like this race because it's was nice to run a short distance race outside of CP. I also don't have to drive to the race. I can take bus over the GWB and the walk to the start.

Beyond that, I'd like to try and get my 9 races and 1 volunteer in for 2009 to get a spot in the 2010 NYC Marathon.