Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Totals for June and 1st Half of 2009

It's hard to believe the first half of 2009 is in the books.Here are my totals for June and the first half of 2009:

Number of Runs: 14
Total time: 10:55:41
Total Distance: 82.5 miles
Avg. Distance: 5.9 miles
Avg. Pace: 7:56/mi

June marked my return to Nike Speed after taking the whole month of May off for marathon recovery. I ran 2 races in June, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge (3.5 miles) on June 11 (25:20) and the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile on June 28 (36:55). I really took it easy, my longest run was 8.5 miles on June 7. My goal for July is increase my long run to about 13 miles. I doubt that I will increase the intensity as it's hard for me to run fast when it's hot and humid.

1st Half of 2009:
Number of Runs:81
Total time:80:46:13
Total Distance: 580.6 mi
Avg. Distance: 7.2 mi
Avg. Pace: 8:20

It was a good first 6 months for me. I set a new 5k PR on 1/1/09, a 10 mile PR on 2/22/09, and a marathon PR at 5/3/09. As for the second half of the year:
  • my only big race is the Asbury Park Marathon Relay on October 18. 
  • I'm sure there will be some shorter races that come up along the way but I'm not racing past the marathon distance. 
  • I'm looking forward to running through the summer without the pressure of marathon training.
  • I will pick a spring 2010 marathon sooner rather than later to take advantage of any early bird pricing. 
That's it for now. Keep reading to see how the second half of 2009 unfolds.


Monday, June 29, 2009

From Brandonsmarathon.com: Re-Inspired

While I was composing my race race report from the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile, I had a difficult time expressing my thoughts about seeing the disabled athletes competing in yesterday's race. Brandon expressed my thoughts and emotions much more eloquently than I could. With his permsission, I am sharing his entry.

 Yesterday was the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 miler in Central Park. The famous, Ari and I had arranged to meet at the registration tent prior to the race and to run the event together. Achilles Track Club, for those who may not know, is an organization who holds as it’s mission statement: “Our mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics, promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem, and lower barriers.”. I am no stranger to achilles and have been there to cheer on many of their athletes before this event and have also been passed by one of their Iraq War veterans in a race!

Now, to say that I was “re-inspired” by this event is not entirely true. I think that, to be “re” anything, one needs to have lost their initial drive. I have not. However, as I stated in my articel last weel entitled, “Time”, I have been struggling with the amount of my life my training must take up, but lacking the time to allow it to do so. This weekend, I found myself renewed. On Saturday, I went on a 5.5 mile run in the morning, then headed out to rehearsal. Following rehearsal, I headed home and went on a 30 mile ride down the West Side Greenway (my first time on that route in a while). Knowing that I had an event the next morning, I looked forward to that soreness that makes you feel alive, like your body is working again.

The next morning, I went to the event in Central Park. First, walking through the parking area in front of Tavern on the Green, the amount of high-tech wheelchair gear was amazing! The amount of high end wheelsets on those chairs could almost surpass the wheelsets on ├╝berbikes at a triathlon. As I walked toward the registration tent and looked around, the people there, some with mental disabilities, some missing a one or both legs or arms, I began to think. What if I wasn’t sore that morning because the part of me that should be sore was missing? Would I still be there? What is I couldn’t walk to the start, but had to use my arms? Would I still be there?

These athletes were there because they are just that, athletes. No matter what, at the end of the day, they were not letting some small thing like being a double leg amputee stop them from going out and using what God gave them. The wheelchair start went off before the main pack, and it was incredible to see these athletes, some of whom were forced to go backward in their chairs, due to their condition, just smile the whole time.

As Ari and I got to about mile 4 (holding down about a 7:15/mile pace), the heat and humidity began to kick my ass a bit, I said to Ari, “I’d like to go on the record and say that I am officially no longer having fun.”. Once I got home and had the chance to reflect it made me realize how thankful I was to have been able to toe the line with the athletes from Achilles. So, to each and every one of the member of Achilles Track Club, thank you! I would also like to say a special thank you to the veterans who were there running. You have given of yourself with an unconditional love for our country and I am eternally grateful. As long as I have breath, I will defend and honor the sacrifices you have made for our freedoms.

Thank you

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Race Report: Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 Mile

After last week's rain-out, I signed up for today's Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 Mile race in Central Park. The mission of the Achilles Track Club  is "to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics, promote personal achievement, enhance self esteem, and lower barriers" (mission statement courtesy of the Achilles Track Club Website). I remember when I taking te NYRR Running Classes, there was a blind runner who came every week and ran with a guide. He would line up next to me in the 7:00/mile group and run the intervals with everyone else. It was pretty amazing.

Brandon and I planned to meet in Central Park and run the race together at a 7:30 pace. We've met once before in person but we were both looking forward to running together. Before the race, I did a short video interview with Brandon. We then made our way over to the start and lined up between the 7:00/mile and 8:00/mile signs. The disabled athletes had their own start at 8:20. At 8:30, the horn went off for the able-bodied runners. 

The first mile took us around the south end of Central Park. Brandon set a fast pace,finishing the first mile in 7:01. 

Mile 2: This is the part of Central Park I dread the most. The Boathouse marks the beginning of Cat Hill. Brandon didn't know why it was called Cat Hill so I pointed out the Cat staring down on us as we're running up. Just past the crest of the hill was the mile 2 marker. We finished in 7:15.

Mile 3: features the rolling hills of Upper East Side from the Guggenheim Museum to the 102nd St. Transverse. No mjaor problems here, we finished in 7:09.

Mile 4: I'm not sure what happened here. Brandon mentioned that the humidity was getting to him. We must have slowed our pace. Because we crossed mile 4 is 7:30.

Mile 5: Mainly downhill but we didn't push the pace too hard. The finish was just north of where we started on 69th St. We finished mile 5 in 7:22. 

Before I get to the official stats, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the disabled athletes. These men and women are such an inspiration. We take it for granted that we are able-bodied and can pound the pavement day in and day out. Seeing athletes in wheelchairs, who are blind, amputees out on the road with me was such an inspiration. Good for them for not letting their disablities get in the way of their passion. Any time we'd see a disabled athlete on the course we would shout words of encouragement.

Now on to the official stats:
Official time: 36:55
Pace per mile: 7:23
Overall place: 216
Gender place: 178

This race marks the end of racing season for me until September at the earliest. I will increase the distance my weekend long runs but not the intensity. I will also continue to go to Nike Speed most Wednesday evenings. But won't drive myself crazy if I miss a session. 

After the race, I gave Brandon a lift home. We chatted a bit about his training for Ironman Wisconsin, Kona, Lance Armstrong, and the Tour de France. Nice running with you buddy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Session 6/24/09

Last night's workout was a "ladder" workout: 800m/1200m/1600m/1200m/800m. Before we started Coach Kate said we'll be running the first 3 intervals at 5k pace and the last 2 at 3k pace. The goal was to help work on our strength at the end of a race when we are feeling tired.

Here's how the workout unfolded:
800m: 3:30
200m recovery
1200m: 5:11
200m recovery
1600m: 6:56
400m recovery
1200m: 5:06
800m: 3:24

This workout kicked my ass. I was so tired at the end that the run back to Paragon felt hard.

It was a pretty soupy night in NYC and the humidity started to affect my asthma. It was quite a chore running the last 1200 & 800 faster than the first. But I did it and that's all the matters.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Update

I know June isn't over, but so far it has not been a good month for me. I had high hopes at the beginning of the month. I started June in 2nd place and feeling good about my team. As-of this writing, I'm in 6th, 9 points behind the leader. My offense has been in a slump as-of late. Beltran and Span are on the DL and Adrian Gonzalez has cooled down after his hot start. The holds true for my pitching. I finally dropped Dice-K, Lowe, Edwin Jackson, and Jurrjens have not been pitching well. My only bright spot is Matt Cain. He 9-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 76 strikeouts, and a 1.21 WHIP. I think I also have 1 or 2 saves the entire month. There's still a lot of baseball to be played, it's not even the All-Star break yet. I'm hopeful that things will turn around and I can finish in the money.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

McMillan Running Calculator

Many of us use the McMillan Running Calculator to determine race times based on other race times. Usually I find this tool pretty accurate however, after last Wednesday speed workout I'm not so sure what to think. 

Last Wednesday we did 5x1000m at 5k pace (the intervals are the circled splits). Pacer Joe paced us through the workout and said that each of the intervals were right around 7:00/mi pace.

Just for kicks, I entered my 1000m split time into the McMillan Running Calculator to see what the actual 5k pace was. 

Now, McMillan lists 5k as 5000m. This is where I get confused. when I entered 4:23 as a recent 1000m time, McMillan determined that is equivalent to a 8:18 5000m (see picture left).

Who's right? Pacer Joe or McMillan? I find it hard to believe that the Nike pacers would be off by that much. Am I using McMillan wrong?

Happy Father's Day

I was supposed to run the NYRR 5mi Father's Day Run Against Prostate Cancer this morning. I woke up around 5:00 to start getting ready and heard the pitter-patter of rain on my air conditioner. Right then and there, I decided not to go into NYC for the race. I tired to go back to sleep but I couldn't. In the past, today would have been one of those days where I would not have gotten any miles in at all. Fortunately, my wife's gym was running a special where she could add a family member for $10 extra per month. So this morning, I went to the gym at 7:00 and ran a 10k on the treadmill.

I'm OK with the decision not to race. I've had a stressful week at work and I haven't been sleeping well. Last thing I need is to get sick from hanging out in the rain before the race. If I have nothing planned, maybe I'll run next week's Achilles Hope and Possibility 5mi My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece, are supposed to come over later for a BBQ. I'm praying the rain will hold off so I can cook outside.

Lastly, Happy Father's Day to all the fathers who read this blog. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Series - 6/17/09

I had a very stressful day at work today. I am in the home stretch of a huge project and we are trying to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Tonight was one of those nights where I wanted to get on the track on release a lot of the tension from the day. Fortunately, Coach Kate, had an aggressive workout planned for tonight, 5x1000m with only a 200m recovery.With the short recovery pacing was the key. The goal with every speed workout is to run each interval at or just around the same pace. The other thing is, Kate is really pushing the intensity and encouraging all runners to push their limits and get people to move up a group.

On the way to the track I thought about running with the 7:30/mi group to ease my way back into speed work. If you remember 2 weeks ago I had a hard time with Fartlek run. I also ran a pretty fast race at the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge last Thursday and I will be racing a 5 miler this Sunday. Pacer Joe was leading the 7:00/mi group tonight and he encouraged me to run with the faster group. I'm happy I did. I ended up having a great workout.
The intervals are numbers 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. After tonight's workout, I have a good feeling that I'll run a good race this Sunday. If anyone who reads this blog will be running this Sunday, please let me know. I'd love to meet some of you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Local Running

During my training for the New Jersey Marathon, I spend a lot of time running in a county park. This park was one of the few spaces near my house that was usually clear of snow and had bathrooms open year round. I've been using the past few weeks to re-acquaint myself with some of the local routes I ran during my training for Marine Corps 2008 and New York City 2007. It's interesting to see how some things change. Houses that were previously under construction are now occupied, the public library re-paves its parking lot, a school installs field turf on it's fields, etc...

Today I ran a 7.66mi local route. Most local routes I run will have its share of hills. It's just the nature of where I live. I ran at a nice easy pace, finishing the run in 1:01:37 for a 8:02 pace. This coming Sunday I'm running the NYRR Father's Day 5 miler in Central Park. Even though, I've been doing my weekend runs at an easy pace, I know that I can turn it up when I have to. Last Thursday's JP Morgan Corporate Challenge is proof of that. Despite the crowds, I was able to average 7:04/mi. I'm looking forward to Sunday's race and what comes after it, a Father's Day BBQ!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Race Report: JP Morgan Corporate Challenge

Tonight approximately 70 (including myself) of my fellow co-workers participated in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. On the subway ride up a co-worker asked me if I was going to run at race pace or run easy. I replied that I was going to try race tonight but it will depend on the crowds. More on that in a minute......

Unlike other races in Central Park this one was chip timed. Most would consider it more of a fun run than a race. It's a time to hang out with co-workers outside of work and promote a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to try and run at race pace, so I headed over to the start pretty early to get as close to the front as I could. Being an experienced road racer, I always try to line up according to my pace. Except for this race. The further you are from the front the more frustrating you are going to get. I found a spot just in front of the 6 minute/mile sign. Anyone that reads this blog, knows that I can't run a 6 minute mile but I knew I could get away with it tonight. Most of the people around me probably have never run a road race in their lives. They were hanging out with fellow co-workers, prepping their Ipods, and talking about how they'll be happy if they finish in 30 minutes. I'm thinking to myself, "people, if you want to finish in 30 minutes, you shouldn't be up here. Move back!" A few people even had umbrellas. PEOPLE, THERE ARE NO UMBRELLAS IN ROAD RACING! After a few announcements, the horn went off.

This is where this event gets frustrating. Most of the first mile was spent bobbing and weaving around people who, again, never have run a race in their lives. They would shoot out like a banshee for the first half mile and would then start walking. A few times I was on the verge of yelling "Get out of my way slowpoke!" I thought better of it. Who am I to yell at someone for trying in his or her own way to complete a 3.5 mile road race. They should be in the back so that those who are faster can run at their race pace.

As for the race itself, I finished the 3.5 mile distance in 25:20 for a 7:05 pace. My splits were 7:25, 6:42, 7:09, and 4:02 (last .5). Every year I complain about this event and yet I'm back year after year. Like I said in the beginning of this post, it's nice to do something with co-workers outside of work. Congratulations to everyone on my team who participated tonight especially those who ran for the first time. I hope you stick with it!

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my buddy MB who completed his first road race tonight in 42:20. Great work!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chocolate Milk

This month's Runner's World had an article about natural drinks that are healthy, recharge muscles, and aid performance ("Natural Solution" by Matthew G. Kaday, M.Sc, R.D., Pgs 38-39). One of drinks discussed in the article is chocolate milk. According to the article chocolate milk is an ideal post-run drink because it has an ideal amount of carbs and protein that muscles need for recovery.

I have a mild case of lactose intolerance and drinking milk (regular or chocolate) does not agree with me. So my question is this, does chocolate soy milk have the same nutritional make-up as regular chocolate milk thus making it the same nutrient-rich recovery drink as regular chocolate milk?

Please chime in.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Update

June is usually the time in a fantasy baseball season where the league settles down and managers begin to ask themselves "what do I need to do win this year." During April and most of May, teams can move up and down the standings on any given day. Case in point, my fantasy team. At the end of April I was in last place. As-of tonight, I am in second place, 2 points out of first place. Considering with how poorly my team started and all of the injuries I had, I'm very happy with how things are going so far.

Offensively, I'm being powered by Joe Mauer, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzales, and Carlos Beltran. Truthfully, most of my offensive players have been productive. The only disappointment right now would be Vernon Wells. I had a higher hopes for him. Ryan Theriot started off well but is fizzling out recently. Thankfully Jhonny Peralta is hot right now.

Pitching has been a challenge. I've had my share of injuries. At point I had Webb, Dice-K, Wang, Volsquez, and Soria all on the DL. During that time, I managed to pick up some 2nd and 3rd tier pitchers who have been pitching very well such as Jurrjens, Volstad, Edwin Jackson. Matt Cain and Derrek Lowe have pitched really well and Trevor Hoffman is pitching like the "Hells Bells" pitcher we knew in San Diego. I decided to drop Wang when he came off the DL. So far that is looking like a good decision. I'm holding on to Dice-K for now. Soria came off the DL this week so I'm hoping he can contribute right away. If Webb and Volsquez come off the DL and pitch well I should be in good shape.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

National Running Day

Due to work conflicts, I had to reschedule my dentist appointment that would have prevented me from going back to Nike Speed tonight. Now that I didn't have my appointment, I thought it would be great to celebrate National Running Day by doing some speedwork. The last time I did speedwork was 6 weeks ago. I wanted to give myself a full month after my marathon before doing speedwork again.

Earlier in the day, Coach Kate posted the workout on the RUN NYC Facebook page, between 4 and 8 600m with a 200m recovery in between, with optional 2x200 at the end. I thought "good lord, how the hell I'm going do this?" Fortunately, the weather gods did not want us to go to the track tonight. When I got off the subway at Union Square, it was raining pretty steadily. My immediate reaction was to get back on the subway and go home but something was pulling me towards Paragon. I said "if I can run 26.2 in the rain, I can do some speedwork." And with that I went downstairs, checked my bag, and started to stretch. It was great to see all the pacers, especially Brad who was back after recovering from his 2:41:xx at the London Marathon. Anyway, Kate announced that instead of going to the the track we'd be doing a Fartlek run on the West Side Highway.

On to the workout... the goal was to run five 3 minute "pickups" with a 2 minute recovery in between. After a good warmup we began the workout. I was able to keep up for the first pickup but the started to struggle. My legs felt fine, the problem was with my breathing. Brad told me that it was going to feel hard since my body needed time to reacclimate itself to speedwork. I found myself in an unusual spot, I couldn't keep up with the group. A workout that once came easy to me was all of a sudden difficult. Brad sensed this and fell back to keep me company. He told me to relax, concentrate on my form, forget about trying to keep up with the group, and run my own pace. What he also did was keep me honest by making sure I didn't throw in the towel. On the way back to Paragon, other runners and pacers asked me how my workout was, I answered with one word "HARD." It's going to take me a few weeks to get used to speedwork again but it's well worth the wait.

Map, splits, and other stuff can be found here: Wednesday Night Speed Session.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book Review: "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall

I finished "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall over the weekend. For the most part, the book held my interest throughout. The book tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of super runners who live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Living among the tribe is a man knows as "Caballo Blanco (White Horse)." His dream is to put together a race involving the Tarahumara and an eclectic group of American runners. Without giving away too much of the plot, Mr. McDougall does a great job introducing the reader to the characters and how they came to be involved in this most unusual event. The climax of the book comes at the end when "Caballo Blanco's" dream is realized and the race is off and running. He does a great job putting the reader in the minds of the runners. He describes in great detail many of the highs and lows the runners experience during the race.

The story itself is great, but what is causing a stir in the running community is chapter 25, which after introducing you to "Barefoot Ted" in Chapter 24, goes on to talk about the evils of the modern running shoe industry. See, the Tarahumara run in these in flimsy sandals and their runners experience almost no injuries. This leads into a discussion about how since the invention of the modern running shoe, runners have been injured more because modern running shoes alter a runner's gait that is not natural and that the most natural way to run is barefoot.

While this part of the book is definitely interesting and food for thought, I don't think many runners will be giving up their Nikes, Asics, or Brooks to run barefoot or in Vibram Five Fingers. I know that Brandon belongs to the school of forefoot running and is thinking of experimenting with Vibram Five Fingers, but most of us will continue to be heel strikers and will run in modern shoes. This topic of shoes will be discussed on the Runner's Roundtable Podcast on July, 1. The topic of barefoot running will be discussed on August 21 with John Woodward and Mr. McDougall will be a guest on the show as well.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the evolution of this race. The paraticipants are so diverse and unusual. At the very end of the book the reader also learns the identity of "Caballo Blanco" and how he ends up living with the Tarahumara. This was my first foray into running books and it did not disappoint.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Totals for May

Can't believe another month has gone by. May featured a new marathon PR as well as a slow and steady recovery. Here are the stats for May:
Total # of Runs: 13
Total Time: 12:01:09
Total Distance: 87.1mi
Avg. Time: 55:28
Avg. Distance: 6.7mi
Avg. Pace: 8:16

I'm looking forward to June. I'll be heading back t o Nike Speed for my Wednesday night track workouts and running NYRR's Annual Father's Day Race Against Prostate Cancer.