Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Thoughts Before the NJ Marathon

Race day is is just over 3 days away. I've had a lot of people ask me this week "how are you feeling?" I'll try and answer that question by sharing some of thoughts and strategies for the race:

  • My goal time is 3:50. I don't want to aim too high and then be disappointed. I think 3:50 is realistic goal considering how I've trained. I'd rather be surprised than disappointed.
  • My mantra for this race is "run your own race." NJM is a 2 loop course. This means that the 5,000+ half marathoners will be running side by side with me for 13.1 miles. I have to cognizant that the half marathoners standing right next to me at the start line will go out at a faster pace. I cannot get caught up in that. If I do, my race report will be 3 letters every runner hates to see next to their race result DNF.
  • To help me along, I plan on utilizing the pacers. All of the pacer pace based on marathon finish times. I'll hang with the 3:50 pacer and if I feel good towards the end I'll let it fly.
So many of you have been so supportive during this training cycle. It has not been easy. I've had periods of doubt and frustration. I thank you for the words of encouragement. This blog has allowed to share my highs and lows with people who get how I'm feeling.

I know this weekend is a big race weekend across the country. To all of you who are racing this weekend, GOOD LUCK!

Lastly, NJM does not have remote runner tracking, so you will not be able to track my progress during the race. I will not be tweeting or updating my Facebook status during the race. I will be sure to share my unofficial time with all of you after the race. BRING IT ON!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Week to Go

I met up with a few local running buddies at Englewood (NJ) Boat Basin portion of Palisades Interstate Park. I've been itching to run there for a while so I decided today would be a good day to do it. If you're looking for a scenic yet very hilly place to run close to NYC this is the place. I'll share the elevation profile at the end of this entry. This is mainly a cyclist's heaven. There were plenty of hard core cyclists out trying conquer the rolling hills of Hudson Drive. Rumor has it that this is where Lance Armstrong trains when he is in New York.

Back to the run.....With an up hill run from the boat basin to Hudson Drive, I immediately knew this was going to be a tough run. With the NJ Marathon exactly one week from today and an April heat wave upon us (the temperature at 7:30 was right around 70) I took it very easy. I made sure to hyrdrate and not push the pace on the uphills or downhills. I did an out and back from Englewood to Alpine, about 5 miles each way. According to SportTracks, I ran 10.45 miles in 1:33:21 for a 8:56 pace. I've certainly run 10+ miles at a faster pace but considering the heat and the hills I'm happy with the run.

Here is elevation profile:

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Daughter Cracks Me Up

This brief conversation took place when I came back from my run this morning:

Daughter: "How far did you run?"

Me: "Only 6 miles."

Daughter: "Only 6 miles? That's not enough for you!"

I must have left out tapering when I talked to her about marathon training. BTW...she'll be 8 in July.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Session - 4/22/09

I was looking forward to last night night's workout. I missed the 2 workouts because of Passover so I wanted to get one last speed workout in before NJM. I noticed there were a lot of new faces there last night. It's great to see fellow runners trying to get faster.

Last night's workout was 2x800 @5K pace, 2x600 @3k pace, and 2x400 @mile pace. The traffice lights agreed with us last night so we got to the track earlier than expected. Joe, the pacer for the 6:30 group, imediately told his group that they'd be doing a 1200 before the 800s. That gave my pacer, Tiffany, the idea of running an extra 800. Great!

Here are the splits for the workout:
800s: 3:23, 3:29, 3:31. Tiffany felt the first one was too fast so she slowed us down for the last 2.
600s: 2:30, 2:29
400s: 1:30, 1:31

By the time we got to the 400s, I was really struggling. My legs felt like jello but I grinded through it.

This was a good workout to say goodbye to Nike Speed for a while. It kicked my ass, but it restored some confidence that was missing. I've blogged recently about feeling undertrained for NJM. After last night, I feel a lot better. On the cooldown back to Paragon I talked to Joe about feeling undertrained. He reassuered me that I've put in the miles, that I've been coming to Nike Speed regularly, and said that I'd do great on May 3. I really needed the boost.

Starting next week, I'll be taking a break from Nike Speed until early June. I will start running about a week after NJM but the pacers suggested I take about a month off before I come back.

I'm not going out of my mind yet with the taper. I have a feeling that will come next week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NYC-area Running Bloggers Happy Hour

Calling all NYC-area running bloggers... on May 14 all NYC-area running bloggers are invited to a happy hour. We follow each other's training in the greatest city in the world, it's about time we put faces to the blog. Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In a word, STUNNING

I'm talking about the new Yankee Stadium. I went to my first game in the new park tonight and I was blown away. The things that impressed me the most were The Great Hall and the open concourses. You can now see the field while waiting on line at the concession stands. It's hard to describe in words what the place looks like so I'll share with you my pictures.

The Yanks won tonight 5-3. Pettitte pitched a good game, Brett Gardner made a great catch in center field, Damon hit a home run, and Rivera got the save.

Update: I forgot to mention it was also the first night game in the new park.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Long(ish) Run

With the NJ Marathon 2 weeks from today, I decided against running 18 0r 20 this morning. I settled on just over 14 in Saddle River County Park. I wanted to keep the terrain flat so that I wouldn't injure myself on any uphills or downhills. Also, I had some running podcasts to catch up on so I needed someplace safe to run.

The purpose of today's run was to practice my nutrition and hydration strategies. Through trial and error, I've found that alternating water and Gatorade starting at mile 4 and taking a gel every 6 miles works best for me. That's what I did today. I took some Gatorade at mile 4. At mile 6, I took my first gel and washed it down with water. I then alternated water and Gatorade for the rest of the run. According to the information on the NJM website, there will be fluid stations every 2 miles so I hope to follow this strategy on race day. I had all sorts of problems at Marine Corps because the fluid stations were not evenly spaced.

Overall it was a good run. My legs felt fresh and I did not experience any calf pain. Pacing-wise, I ran faster than I will on May 3. I don't think I can maintain a 8:09 pace for 26.2. I haven't really thought about my goals for this marathon. Quite honestly, I'm feeling a but undertrained for this race. I've completed one 20 miler, and one 19 miler. If all went according to plan, I would have ran at least 2 20 milers, maybe 3. There's not much I can do about it now so LET THE TAPER BEGIN!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back From Vacation

It's good to be home and it looks like I've brought some warm weather up north. Here's what I've been up to while away:
  • Passover is a big eating holiday. What kind of son would I be if I turned down mom's cooking? I ate way more than I usually do at home but that's to be expected. I feel a jiggly around the middle but it was worth it.
  • My calf is feeling a lot better. Before I left, my darling wife got me a foam roller and what a difference it made. It's something every runner should have on hand.
  • I managed to run 25 miles this week. I ran 8.06 miles in 1:06:13 (8:04 pace) on Sunday, 10.58 miles in 1:23:59 (7:56 pace) on Monday, and 6.66 miles in 55:08 (8:17 pace) on Tuesday.
  • I was hoping to get a 18 or 20 miler in while I was away but it was too damn hot. I started my runs every day at 6:00 a.m. with temps in the low 70's and high humidity. It got very hot very quickly so I bagged on the long run.
  • In non-running news, my fantasy baseball team is in last place. Trevor Hoffman and Joe Mauer started the season on the DL and Brandon Webb, Dice-K, and Alex Gordon were placed on the DL while I was away. I've had limited internet access while I was away, so the waiver wire is pretty thin now. You really have to be on top of things from the day the season started until the day it ends. People always say that baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. Hopefully things will get better.
The New Jersey Marathon is 2 weeks from Sunday. I should be starting my taper on Sunday but I'm very tempted to run 18 or 20 on Sunday to make up some lost miles. Is this a good idea or should I run 15 or 16 instead?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Greetings from Sunny Florida

Just a quick update....I'm down in Boca Raton, Fl celebrating the Passover holiday with my family. My calf is feeling a lot better. I ran just over 8 miles this morning in just over an hour. It was very hot on humid in the morning and it took a while for my body to adjust to the heat. I've been spending some time in the pool as well which has really loosened up the calf. That's it for now. I probably won't update again until I get back.

NJ Marathon is weeks from today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Guest Race Report: JS' Race Report from the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

My co-worker JS ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington, D.C. yesterday. I've mentioned JS a few time on this blogged. He's joined me for morning runs before work and recently started at Nike Speed. It was his longest distance race since he picked up the sport about a year ago. If you asked me, he kicked ass!
I ran my longest race distance yesterday (4/5) at the Cherry Blossom
10-miler in Washington, DC. I consider the race a huge success
because I accomplished what I set out to do: 1) no injuries; 2)
finish the race; 3) complete the course in less than 1:30.

At least I hope I have no injuries. The muscle behind my lower left
leg about 6" above the heel is tender and more sore than the rest of
my body. Send a comment if you have any insight. I took up running
about a year ago so I'm still learning about this great sport and how
far to push myself. As far as the time, I finished at 1:18:55 (according to my Garmin). Official time was 1:19:27.

Washington, DC is one of the most picturesque places to run a race,
especially during the Cherry Blossoms. The conditions were perfect
for running, sunny and no wind with temperatures into the 60s for the

After the start, I found myself running on the edge of the course
along the grass because the course was very crowded. I underestimated
my time when I registered so I was running at a much faster pace than
those around me.

Toward the end of the race at about mile 8 I started thinking about
the finish. When do I start sprinting? I started thinking about those
frigid January runs with Ansky that seriously pushed me. I figured
when I start feeling a little worse than that I should keep that pace
but no faster. At 9.6 I started my sprint only to realize there was a
hill after about 150 yards of sprinting. I had to slow down, regroup,
get back to race pace. With the end in sight I sprinted through the
finish line.

Running is a very fun sport but it's not an easy one. After almost a
year of sit-ups, push-ups, running in freezing weather, running sweltering weather,
rainy weather, etc...I feel good about where I am and where I'm
going-- my ultimate goal--my first marathon in the fall of 2010.

My splits can be found at the link below.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

Just when I declared my mojo back, something else happens. I headed out for my 13 miler this morning and about 1/2 a mile in my right calf started burning. I did not push on, rather I hobbled back to my car and went home. I've been in a crappy mood all day. I spent some time with The Stick and the leg is feeling better but there's still a pulling sensation when I walk and climb stairs. I need to listen to my body and rest. I have to be brutally honest and say that I'm not the best when it comes to stretching. It's possible I have a buildup of lactic acid or I'm overtraining. With Passover coming up, I'll be forced to rest it since I don't run on the holiday. I'll have an idea how feel when I walk to synagogue. I'll try and give it a go next week.

The NJ Marathon is 4 weeks from today I should be feeling strong and confident (which I was after Friday's run) instead I feel like shit. Stay tuned....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mr. Mojo Rising

View Larger Map
If you recall, I lost my mojo last Sunday. Well it's officially back! I decided to follow Chris Russell's lead and make up my long run by running to work on Friday. I live approximately 6 miles from George Washington Bridge. However, it's not an easy 6 miles, it's basically all uphill. I'm not talking about rolling hills or "goofy little speed bumps" it's a significant climb. To get a better sense, check out the route and view the elevation profile. View Interactive Map on

I therefore decided to take a short bus ride to Fort Lee and start my run at the NJ side of the GWB. My adventure started at 5:30 am. I'm happy I brought my rain jacket because it started to rain, not hard but enough to be a pain. I don't usually stop during my runs to take pictures but I felt compelled to. For a moment, I thought about getting on the A train at the GWB Bus Terminal due to the weather but I kept going. For safety purposes I ran down Ft. Washington Ave. until 165th and headed down to Riverside Drive. I stayed on Riverside Drive until 96th St. Daybreak arrived in NYC around 120th as I was passing Grant's Tomb. At this point, the rain had stopped and people were starting to come out to walk their dogs, get their miles in, or going to work. I knew I had many miles ahead of me so I took out my Ipod and decided to catch up on some of running podcasts. I picked up the West Side Rec Path at 96th st. From there it was straight run to lower Manhattan. I stopped to take picutres of the 72nd Boat Basin, the Intrepid, Circle Line, and Chelsea Piers. At Styvestant High School, I took a right and passed the World Financial Center. I caught my first glimpse of Lady Liberty shortly after that. She gave me the motivation I need to keep going. The rain picked up as I looped around the Staten Island Ferry Terminal on to South St. I decided to run past Maiden Lane and try and get as close to 20 miles in as possible. I continuted up the East Side, past the South St. Seaport, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges. I turned around at the E. 10th st. Track where I've been doing speedwork with the Nike Pacers since Janaury. At this point I'm completely soaked as are my shoes. I hit the stop button of my Garmin at South St. and Maiden Lane at 18.64 miles.

I walked into work soaking wet, picked my clothes from my cubicle and headed up to the showers. After that I treated myself to big breakfast of oatmeal, a bagel with peanut butter, chocolate milk, and some fruit. I went on with my day as if nothing had happened.

As I started sharing what I did with co-workers, on Facebook, and Twitter, I got 2 totally different sets of reactions. My non-running friends called me insane, crazy,etc.. while my running friends totally got it. A bunch of people asked me if I would do it again. Without hesitation, I replied yes. I can totally see myself doing this every so often if I have a busy Sunday planned. I'll leave you this faithful readers, if you are able to run to work, try it you might like. If those of you in NYC, seeing the city on foot during the early morning hours is fucking awsome.

Enjoy some pictures:

Update: I totally forgot to share the run details. My splits were all over the place because of the weather and because I stopped to take pictures.
Rainy Run to Work

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Session - 4/1/09

The weather had been kind of crappy all day with on and off rain and wind. I seriously debated not going last night but I really wanted to get the speed workout in knowing that I would be missing the next 2 workouts because of Passover. Last night's workout was described by Coach Kate as a strength building workout and would consist of (for my group) a 1600m, followed by a 2000m, followed by a 1600m all at 5k pace. We were back on the track again after last week's tempo run on the West Side. When left Paragon for the run to the track it was raining pretty steadily. For a few moments I thought about turning around and going home but, for some strange reason, I decided to stick with it.

The rain slowed to a drizzle once we got to the track. After some stretching, Pacer Tiffany was ready to pace my group. We did the first 1600m in 6:59:53, right on pace. The 2000m was hard. This was the longest interval I've done since I started Nike speed. We finished the 2000m in 8:45:98. Finally the last 1600m. Brad took over for Tiffany and paced us through the first 3 laps. He then peeled off and me another runner did the last lap ourselves. I let the other runner take the lead as my shoes were wet and heavy. We finished the last 1600m in 6:49:92 10 seconds faster than the first! Without a doubt, this was the hardest workout we've done so far. I'm happy I decided to stick with it. Here is a link to the workout Wednesday Night Speed Session

I've developed friendships with some of the runners in the group. Now that our spring races are upon us, we won't be together for a while. JD is running Boston, TK, if her injured hammy heals, will hopefully be running London, and I will be running New Jersey. Hopefully we will all come back to the track once we are fully recovered and ready to start training for our fall races.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Totals for March

Total # of Runs: 17
Total Distance: 138.8 miles
Total Time: 19:14:24

Avg. Pace/mile: 8:19
Avg. Distance: 8.2 miles

This was my peak training month. I did 1 20 miler (I was hoping to get in a second but the weather did not cooperate), 1 14 miler, and 2 13 milers. I'm noticing the benefits of the Nike Speed sessions. I'm feeling a lot stronger on my shorter distance runs.

April will be a challenging month. I have at least one, maybe 2, 20 milers planned. There will be days where I do not run because of Passover. Once Passover is over, it's taper time. The New Jersey Marathon is May 3.