Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yankee Stadium Run

The seeds of running to Yankee Stadium were planted in my head when I read about the BxM Run in the Summer issue of New York Runner Magazine. Part of the route takes the runner past Yankee Stadium via River St. in the Bronx, over the Macombs Dam Bridge, onto the Harlem River Speedway, and finally into Inwood at the Northern tip of Manhattan.

Not that I need an excuse to run in New York City but it does take more planning on my part since I live in New Jersey. The boys and I had tickets for today's game vs. Chicago. Game time was at 1:05. Going with boys involves going a few hours early to tailgate in one of the outdoor lots before the game. So instead of going with the boys in the car, I decided that I would meet them and run to the Stadium.

Last night, I arranged with Allen to meet up at the George Washington Bridge and run some miles together. We planned to meet at 9:30 on the NY side of the bridge. Before I headed out, I dropped a bag of clean clothes and other supplies with my buddy MB. Around 8:30 I started my run. It's about 5 miles from house to the bridge. To get there on foot, I would have to conquer a nasty hill. I ran at a comfortable pace knowing that I needed fresh legs for the climb up to the bridge.

The base of the hill (Fort Lee Rd., to be exact) begins at the entrance to Overpeck County Park which borders Teaneck and Leonia, among others. I started off slowly, focusing on keeping on foot in front of the other.

 The hill seemed to go on forever. Finally, I crested the hill and saw this sign. I knew I had done it. I kept going knowing that is was all downhill (literally) from this point to the GWB. When I arrived at the GWB, Allen was already there waiting for me. About half way across the span I looked down at my Garmin and saw that nothing had changed since I crossed an intersection near the bridge. Oh well, shit happens.

My original plan was to extend the run by running up the West Side Greenway to Dykman St. and then cut across Dykman St to the Harlem River Speedway. Allen kept saying he knows where he's going so I followed him. Next thing I know, we're in Inwood Hill Park running more hills than I wanted to. We exited the park at the Northern tip of Manhattan near where the Columbia Lions play football. The rest of the run was either flat or downhill. We picked up the Harlem River Speedway at Dykman St.and ran along the East River to 155th St. It started to get hot and I was running out of water since I didn't plan on such a long run.

We stopped at a bodega at 155th St. for some Gatorade. I poured the rest into my bottle and parted ways with Allen. He headed south towards home and I towards the Macombs Dam Bridge. I ran across the bridge like it was the last half mile of a marathon. Finally my "finish line" came into view: the old stadium (top) on the right and the new stadium (Bottom) on the left.

I cooled down by walking to the Harlem River North Parking lot to meet up with the boys. DG was already cooking appetizers, jalapeno poppers with non-dairy cream cheese and lox. Next came the main course: homemade sausage patties, BBQ beans, non-dairy cheese (because mixing meat and milk is forbidden), and guacamole in flour tortillas.

I took my bag of stuff and headed to the nearest port-a-potty to change and "freshen up." I overcame the "ick" factor courtesy of MB's canister of Wet Ones. I wiped a few of those over my grimy body and felt pretty fresh.

As for the game itself, the Yankees won 8-3. Damon and Teixeira hit home runs. Here is the view from our seats, Main Section 208, Row 15. It was a great day with a good run, good food, good friends, and a Yankees win.

Lastly, I'll share the elevation profile of the run so you can see the hill I had run up on the way to the GWB. You can see the full route here.

Hope everyone everyone had a great weekend of running.!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Do I Overcome the "Ick Factor?"

Next Sunday, August 30, I'm going to the Yankee with the boys. When I go with the boys we usually go early and tailgate in one of the outdoor lots. Game time next Sunday is 1:00 so the tentative plan is to go early and enjoy some breakfast tailgating.

As runners, I'm sure you can see where this is going...that's right, I'm thinking of running to the Stadium and meeting my friends in the lot. Sounds crazy right? Not really, I live no more than 8 miles from the stadium. I would run over the GWB, through Washington Heights on Broadway, down 155th St. and over the Macoombs Dam Bridge to the Stadium.

There is one showers. Yes, I can give my buddies a change of clothes to take with them in the car but I'll still be pretty sweaty and smelly without a shower.

I really want to do this, I just need suggestions for overcoming the "ick factor." Please chime in.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Workout - 8/19/09

Last night's workout called for 5 x 800m at 5K pace with recovery at marathon pace instead of a slow jog. The humdity was high again last night in NYC so I decided to move down a group and do the workout with the 7:30 group. Terrence was pacing last night, I've never run with him before so I didn't know what to expect. The slower pace felt comfortable and I didn't feel any signs of an asthma flare up. I thought to myself, finally I will be able to complete a workout. Split for the first interval was 3:39.

During the faster recovery Terrence asked the group if we wanted to go a little faster. I thought to myself, uh oh, here we go again. The 2nd interval did feel faster but I was able to keep up. Split for the 2nd interval was 3:33. Defintely faster but I felt like if Terrence kept the pace around 3:33 - 3:35 I could defintely finish the workout. Once again, Terrence asked if we wanted to go faster. Some in the group said yes, I was in the minority. Terrence picked up the pace again and we finished the 3rd interval in 3:30. That's the pace I ran last week with the 7:00 minute group. I started to have trouble breathing but joined the group for the 4th interval which we also finished in 3:30. After this one, I knew I had enough. I simply couldn't get any air into my lungs. I did the 400m recovery and began the run back to Paragon.

This is the 3rd week in a row where I couldn't finish the workout. I know that high humidity and asthma do not mix. Speed night is the only time this happens. I can crank out long and tempo runs at a decent clips. It's the short bursts of speed that do me in. On my way home I Tweeted that I didn't finish the workout. Both Scott and Allen commented that I shouldn't think about it too much and that I'll better when cooler weather finally comes back.

What pissed me off more about last night was the way Terrence was pacing the group. If he's there to run the intervals based on 7:30/mi then he should stick to that. Do not ask the group if they want to go faster. What's the point of splitting up into pace groups if the pacer is not going to stick to the pace? If others in the group wanted to run at a faster pace then they should move up to the faster group. I spoke to Brad about this afterwards and he agreed. He paced the 7:00 group and his splits were consistenly at 3:30, right where they should be. He didn't ask the group to go faster. He stuck to the pace.

Ok, enough where does this leave me? As long as the humidity is high, I resigned to that fact that I cannot run with same intensity as I can when it's cooler. I'm going to focus on doing as many quality intervals as I can. When I feel like I've had enough I will stop. It's not worth putting myself in the ER just so I can complete a workout.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

I touched on this briefly when I wrote about my Sunday Run. I mentioned how we all have our favorite routes that we run over and over again. The problem with this eventually the routes become too familiar and dare I say boring.

The reason I bring this up again is last week's Runner's Roundtable Podcast talked about track and cross country running. Joe, Matt, Colin, and myself talked about the track and cross country scenes in our respective parts of the country. Many people don't know about it, but NYRR puts on a bunch of cross country in Van Cortland Park throughout the year. I admitted to Joe that I was scared of cross country I'm not sure why but I just am. I can't say for sure if I'm ever going to run a cross country race but the point I want to get across is this: leave your comfort zone. Find new places to run. If you always run a route in a certain direction, run it in the other direction. If you've never done speedwork, hill repeats, tempo runs, try them you might actually like it. If training through the winter for a spring marathon worries you, don't let it. If prepared properly, training through the winter can be fun. At the very least it builds character.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot, Humid, and Hilly Sunday Run

I'm sure all of us have our favorite routes. We run this route for tempo, that route for recovery, and the other for long runs. I'm certainly guilty of relying of running the many of the same routes over and over again. The problem with this is they become familiar and dare I say boring.

Today I decided to switch things up today and run a new route. Today was a very hot and humid day in NJ. I decided to take it easy and enjoy some new surroundings. The toughest part of the run came right after mile 7.  This is where an almost 2 mile uphill began. I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking incorporating a long climb into my run on what felt like the hottest day of the summer but I stuck with it and finished the 9.84mi run in 1:25:00 for a 8.38 pace. I walked in the door just in time to see Paula Radcliffe wint the New York City Half Marathon.

Later in the day I was in the car with a friend who is not a runner who said you only begin to appreciate hills when you're on a bike or on foot. It's easy to go up a hill in a car but not so much when you're cycling or running.

Lastly, congrats to everyone who completed the New York City Half Marathon. It was not an easy day for racing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Workout - 8/12/09

Wednesday night's speed workout was a downward ladder. In short a downward ladder workout is one where the distance of the interval decreases but the intensity increase. I was hoping to bounce back after last week's incomplete workout. I was unsure if I should even do the workout since I gave blood the day before. The Running Laminator discussed the topic from a medical perspective. Others on Twitter said I should try the workout but I would feel the effects of the blood donation.

It was hard to gague how I felt during the warm-up so I joined my usual 7:00/mi group. The workout started with 1600m at 5k pace. I felt OK but defintely felt myself working harder than usual. Split time for the 1600 was 6:56. After a 400m recovery the group started the 1200m. This is where I started to fall behind. I decided then and there not to push to keep up with the group but rather to finish the interval at a comfortable pace. 1200m split was 5:19. After another 400 recovery came the 800. Again, I ran my own pace and did the 800 in 3:30 which is about the same pace as the 800s I did last week. Not so bad. After the 800, I knew I couldn't push myself anymore so I skipped the 600 and started the cooldown back to Paragon.

I'm not going to hem and haw this week about how I didn't finish the workout. Rather I'll quote a Tweet TK sent me that night "Worth sacrificing a good workout for a good deed."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Weekend in 3 Parts: Part 3 - Six Flags Great Adventure

After my run on Sunday, my wife, daughter, and I drove down to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Our daughter earned a free ticket through a school reading program. Read for 6 hours and earn a free ticket. The staff activities office where I work offers half priced tickets so we only paid for one of our tickets. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Shortly after we left the house it started to rain. We thought about not going but our daughter's ticket expired on August 9th and she was really looking forward to going. It rained the whole time we were in the car and our daughter was starting to get disappointed that her special day would be ruined. Thankfully the rain stopped as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.

My wife is quite the thrill seeker so she was looking forward to riding the extreme coasters. I'm just the opposite, just looking at some of the rides scared me. Our daughter will go on anything she is tall enough for. She does like to watch the ride first to see if it's something she can handle. Just like the Disney parks in Orlando, Six Flags has characters walking around. We took pictures with Mr. Six, The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Tazmanian Devil, Wiley E. Cayote. The Riddler (Riddle: What goes around the world but never leaves the corner?), and Pepe le Pew.

Here are the extreme coaster my wife went on:

El Toro


Great American Scream Machine

Rides we all went on:

Log Flume

Runaway Mine Train

Rolling Thunder
Fly Me to the Moon 3d Adventure
Parachute Training Center
Enchanted Teacups

While my wife was on Nitro, daughter and I took rides on:

The Big Wheel

Congo River Rapids. We went twice and got soaked. 
We enojyed Dippin Dots for a snack before lunch. I do not ear dairy after meat so we made sure to have our ice cream before lunch. I had cookie dough and our daughter had rainbow ice. The rainbow ice tasted like the ice pops I enjoyed as child from the Good Humor truck. Even though we packed food, we didn't feel like walking to the car for lunch so we took advantage of the Kosher food provider in the park and enjoyed a hot dog, falafel, and a hamburger. Even though it was pricey, we try like to support kosher food providers at amusement parks. If the kosher clientele does not suuport them, it would go out of business and our park experience would be less enjoyable. So thank you to Reuven Rachmani for an enjoyable lunch. 
We left the park around 7:00 p.m. and it started to rain again. Talk about getting lucky! Rain during the drive there and back but nothing in bertween. The food we didn't for lunch, came in handy on the way home.We were all hungry so we ate our sandwiches for dinner. We arrived home around 8:30 p.m. exhausted from a day of fun.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Weekend in 3 Parts: Part 2 - Sunday Run

After last week's 13.44 mile run, I decided to cut back this week and run 7 -8 miles. I was happy to see that 2 friends, DS and SG, decided to join me on their bikes. Since I knew the route, They would ride ahead and wait for me at when it was time to turn.

As for the run itself, it was pretty uneventful. I've run this route many times before so I knew where the hills were and where was a good a place to start pushing the pace. I finished the 7.70 mile run in 1:03:31 for an 8:15 pace. This is about 3 seconds than the last time I did run on July 26.

The South Nyack 10 miler is about a month away. I've never run in Nyack before so I'm hoping to run the course, or at least part of it, before the race. My last 10 mile race was the Prospect Park Track Club Cherry Tree 10 miler back in February. My time was 1:19:21 (7:59 pace). I would love to do better in Nyack on September 13. That would give me a huge boost going into the Asbury Park Relay Marathon on October 18.

My Weekend in 3 Parts: Part I - Friday Night's Yankee Game

One of the things I don't do on the Sabbath is watch TV, use the computer, or listen to the radio. So imagine my frustration when I saw in Saturday's paper that Friday's Yankee game ended too late for the paper. I go through similar frustrations when the Yanks play on the West Coast, but I felt a higher sense of urgency to know the result since they were playing Boston and Josh Beckett, Boston's ace, was on the mound.

On my way to synagogue I met up with a few friends. Instead of using the traditional Sabbath greeting, "Shabbat Shalom (or Gut Shabbos)," the first words out of our mouths were "what did the Yankees do?" Since we all get the same paper no one knew.

The same scenario played out when I got to synagogue. Each time someone, who we knew was a Yankee fan, walked into synagogue the same question was asked, "What did the Yankee do last night?" No one knew the result of Friday night's game!

Around 10:00 a.m., a friend's son lets his father and those sitting around him (yes we talk during services) know that the Yanks won 2-0 in the bottom of the 15h courtesy of an A-Bomb from A-Rod. So how did we find out? We have the synagogue custodian to thank for that. He's not much of a sports fan, but he was nice enough to go back to his car and report back. Needless to say, the topic of conversation during the walk home was about the Yankees. How Burnett matched Beckett pitch for pitch, how the Yankees bullpen held Boston to no runs and 4 hits in 15 innings, how A-Rod finally came through in the clutch, etc...

One of the first things I usually do once the Sabbath ends Saturday evening, is turn on the TV and find out what the Yankees did on Saturday. Imagine my glee when I saw that the Yankees shutout Boston 5-0. Sabathia and the Yankees bullpen held Boston to no runs and 4 hits. I usually do not check the highlights from Friday's game. This past Saturday evening I made sure to get on-line and read all about Friday night's game.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday Night Speed Workout - 8/5/09

Last night's workout called for 6 x 800m at 5k pace. It was a typical hot and humid summer evening in NYC. When we got to the track, I decided to run with the 7:00/mi group. I know, 2 weeks ago I wrote about dropping down to the 7:30/mi group for the rest of the summer, but I felt pretty good during the warm-up and decided to run with the faster group.

Over the past few weeks, Coach Kate has been stressing to push ourselves and that it's OK to run an incomplete workout at a faster pace. That is exactly what transpired last night. As you can see from the splits, I only did 5 out of 6 intervals. As the workout progressed, I felt my asthma starting to flare up. At the end of the 5th interval I knew I had enough. So I played it safe and called it quits after the 5th interval. The good news is , the 5 intervals I did were all quality intervals. My pace was spot on, finishing each interval in either 3:29 or 3:30.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Rain Shmain

By way of background.....after Tisha b'Av services on Wednesday night, a friend tells me that some who used to live in our community but moved to Sharon, MA about 7 years will be in for a weekend visit and needs to run 14 miles. He's training for the Bay State Marathon on October 18. I told my friend, sure I'll run with him, no problem.  Honestly, I was a little nervous since I'm not currently trained for that distance. My longest run since the NJ Marathon was 10.5 mi which I ran about 3 weeks ago.

Fast forward to Sunday....we met at our meeting place at 6:30 and were met with a light drizzle. About 3 miles in the drizzle stopped and the humidity was back. I try to find company for my long runs but I usually find myself running solo. Having a buddy who runs the same pace as me was quite a treat. The miles seemed to fly by until....the skies opened up. For the first 9 miles we were able to maintain a 8:30 average pace. At mile 10, I started to feel the effects of not being trained for the distance. We slowed out pace finishing mile 10 in 8:51 and mile 11 in 8:53. Somehow we found the where-with-all to finish mile 12 in 8:30. During mile 13, we both had to take a short walk break. After that we slowed our pace finishing mile 13 in 9:38.  Finally just past mile 13 we stopped at an intersection and I just couldn't get my legs going again.We decided to call it quits at 13.44 miles. We enjoyed a refreshing walk home in the rain.

This run reminded me of a conversation a I had with Brandon before the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Mile
 at the end of June. We talked about collective training and how we could run distances we may not be trained for at the moment.  Sunday's run is, without question, one of those runs where collective training came into play. I was able to run 13.44 miles despite doing only 1 double digit run since the NJ Marathon.

Later in the day we celebrated our daughter's 8th birthday at the local bowling alley with 12 of her closest friends. I had no qualms partaking in a few slices of pizza and a nice big piece of Carvel Ice Cream Cake.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Totals for July

Total # of Runs: 12
Total Distance: 71mi
Total Time: 9:39:54

Avg Distance: 5.9 mi
Avg. Pace/mi: 8:09
Avg. Time: 48:19

Clearly July wasn't my best month. I took a week off to rest and refresh. I missed Nike Speed twice once for a family obligation and the other for a religious observance. I'm hoping that August will be a better month.