Friday, February 26, 2010

Wreaking Havoc

Just when we finally thawed out from the last snow storm, Mother Nature decided she wasn't quite ready fro spring. Another snow storm is currently dumping over a foot of snow on the NYC Metro area. This weather is wreaking havoc on many of us that are training for spring marathons. In addition, I will be celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim this Sunday. It is a festive holiday that I enjoy celebrating with my family. Because of the religious observances attached to Purim, I will not be able to run long on Sunday. In order to get my long run in, I planned to run to work on Thursday, do road intervals on Friday, and do a 40 - 50 minute recovery run Sunday morning.

Whatever it is they say about the best laid plans, it's true. I woke up Thursday morning to steady rain. I decided that running 1:45 to work in cold rain was not a good idea. The last things I needed were blisters and a cold. During my commute to work, the rain changed to snow, the storm had arrived! I brought running clothes with me hoping to sneak in some miles in the company gym during lunch. I had tons of work to do but I need to get away so I said "to hell with it" and went up to the gym. Since there was a lot of stress and frustration built up inside of me, I decided on the road intervals. The workout called for 4 x 8minute intervals in zone 4 with 2 minute recovery in between. I did an easy 8 minute warm up I cranked up the treadmill to about a 7:45 pace for each of the 4 intervals. It felt good run hard and release the stress and tension from the morning.

When I woke up this morning, there was at least 8-9 inches on the ground. I got my first workout of the day by shoveling. Once I was dug out (for the time being), I drove to the gym hoping to get a run in before I had to work. It was not meant to be. The owner of the gym was outside clearing the snow and his staff could not make it in to open up. I've been working from home all day and Lil Ansky had a snow day from school. Mrs. Ansky had to go in since she is a health care professional. With a Shabbat approaching, it looks like getting some miles in today is not going to happen. This makes getting some miles in on Sunday all the more important. I know I won't be able to run long, but I need to get something in.  Hopefully the roads will be safe to run outside.

We'll see what next week brings. I can see Coach Jeff sitting in his studio thinking of how many ways during the week he can kick my ass.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When Life (and Nature) Gets in the Way

My scheduled run for Sunday was 2.5 hours in zone 2 with 3 minute surges in zone 3 every 20 minutes. I had a packed day ahead of me so I needed to start my run no later than 6:00 a.m. That was the easy part as I am usually out on the road at 5:30 during the week. The first few miles went by without a hitch. I settled into a nice pace and got through two 3 minute surges. Shortly after that, I started feeling some stomach pains. At first I thought it was a stitch so I slowed my pace and brought my heart rate down a bit. Unfortunately it wasn't a stitch, I needed to take of business ASAP.   I took a detour from my planned route to a local supermarket that was open and did my business. Unfortunately, since I needed to spend an unusual amount of time in the restroom there was no way I'd be able get my 2.5 hours of running in. I adjusted my route hoping to get at least 2 hours under my legs. I stuck with the 3 minute surges every 20 minutes and felt pretty strong for the rest of the run. I walked in the door a slightly bummed about not running for 2.5 hours but Coach Jeff e-mailed me later to tell me it was no big deal and that he was pleased with my effort for the time I was out there. Totals for the day: 14.35 miles in 2:05:29 (8:45 pace).

This is not the first time I've needed to make a dash to a bathroom. I usually plan my routes near local parks in Bergen County since there is usually a bathroom in the park. Unfortunately, most of the bathrooms are locked up for the winter. Spring brings little league, tennis, soccer, most of the local parks. With these activities come bathrooms and functioning water fountains.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Run To Work Day

Friday was run to work day. See I had missed my speed workout on Tuesday due to a bad sinus headache. I did a recovery run on the treadmill because of icy roads. That left me with Thursday and Friday to try and fit in one strength workout, my speed workout, and Friday's regularly scheduled run (10 minute warm-up, 5 minutes in zone 3, followed by 30 minutes in zone 4). Since I don't roll on Shabbat, I asked Coach Jeff if I should skip the strength training and do both runs or do the strength and skip one of the runs. He replied back  and suggested a 10 mile run with miles 1-3 in zone 2, 4-6 in zone 3, miles 7-9 in zone 4, and 1 mile cooldown.

Initially I thought to myself, how the heck am I going to get in 10 miles before work? Then it came to me, I would run to work Friday morning. I packed a bag with clean clothes and left it in the office on Thursday. I caught an early bus to George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in Washington Heights. I had a choice to make, to pick up the West Side Greenway this far north or to stay on Riverside Drive and pick up the Greenway at 96th. I decided for Riverside  primarily for saftey reason. The northern part of the Greenway is quite isolated and for reason I didn't feel safe running there so early in the morning. It was also a wickedly windy morning so being away from the water, where the wind always whips around in every direction, seemed liked a good idea.

The run itself went well. Before I knew it, it was time for my fast 3 miles. I increased my pace until my Garmin confirmed that my heart rate was in zone 4. My average pace dropped from around 8:40 to around 8:27 thanks to splits of 8:06 (mile 7), 7:50 (mile 8) and 7:42 (mile 9). I was quite pleased that I was able to crank out some faster miles deep into a longer run. I stopped the run around the World Financial Center and walked the rest of the way to my office. I was on a runner's high for the rest of the day.

With the possibility of significant NJ Transit rate hikes on the horizon, it's not out of the realm of possibility that I'll be running to work more often. It's a great way to start the day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Whistler Blackcomb On the Brink of Foreclosure

There was an interesting piece on yesterday's American Public Media's "Marketplace" show about Whistler Blackcomb, the site of many of Olympic skiing events, is on the brink of foreclosure. Fortress Investments, Whistler's owner, built luxury condos on the resort right before the real estate market tanked. This resulted in Fortress missing a debt payment in December and the possibility of foreclosure could happen as early as Friday. Negotiations are underway to avoid foreclosure but the possibility is still there.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taking it to the Hills

Today was the perfect opportunity to try out a new long run route. During today's long run, Coach Jeff suggested I work the hills harder and recover on the flats and downhills. Instead of heading towards Bergenfield or Englewood like I usually do, I headed towards the hills of Hackensack. There are a bunch of "quality" hills as one goes towards Maywood and Paramus. It took me a little while to settle into a good pace. First mile was 9:29. Soon there after comes the first hill, Passaic St. going towards Maywood Ave. I attacked the hill and made it to the top huffing and puffing but I was able to recover nicely on the flat stretches of Maywood and Spring Valley Aves. At this point I'm settled into a good pace and feeling pretty good. During the next few miles, there were some rolling hills. Each time I worked them hard and recovered nicely. There was a doozy of a hill on Howland Ave. in River Edge but was treated to a nice downhill heading back into Hackensack. The last of the hills came towards the end of my run. I definitely felt the burn but worked the hills as hard as I could and recovered well. I had to zig-zag through some local streets in order to hit the 2 hours and 15 minutes I was supposed to run. I ran 15.55 miles in 2:15:12 for an 8:42 pace. Another good effort. Here are the splits:
4:40 (last 0.55)

Not quite sure what happened between 13 and 15 but I'm not too worried about it. I probably should have taken a second GU somewhere around there but I didn't because I knew I was close to the end.

Coach was pleased with the effort too. He e-mailed me later in the day and said that 3:45 in the Poconos should be a no brainer and that I should start getting my head wrapped that number. I am pleased with the way training is going so far but there's still a lot of work to do.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Using the Treadmill as a Tool

Something Matt said on his podcast resonated with me as I tried to figure out how I was going to get Friday's run in. Friday's run called for 25 minutes in zone 2 on slightly uphill terrain and then run back for 25 minutes in zone 4 on what should be slightly downhill terrain. There was still a good deal of snow and ice on the ground from Wednesday's storm. The combination of the 25 at a fast clip, the ice, and the fact that it's still dark out in the morning, forced my run inside to the gym.

This is where Matt's message comes in. Matt was also forced inside due to record snowfall in Washington, D.C. He said that rather than viewing the treadmill as the "treadmill" (or "hamster wheel" as I sometimes call it), view it as a tool. I think most of us will agree that running on the treadmill at the same pace and incline is quite boring (even with TV). However, increasing/decreasing the speed and/or incline on the treadmill can result in quite the productive run. So with an open mind, I went to the gym knowing exactly how I was going to simulate my run. I set the treadmill's incline to 1.5 to simulate the slightly up-hill terrain and its speed to about an 8:50 pace. even though I was inside, I wore my Garmin to monitor my heart rate. For the first 25 minutes, the pace felt nice and comfortable and my Garmin confirmed that I was consistently in zone 2. After 25 minutes, I dropped the treadmill's incline to 0.5 to simulate the slightly downhill terrain and cranked up the speed to a 7:30 pace. This was a nice hard pace with my heart rate in the mid to upper 170s for the full 25 minutes. I cooled down and headed home pleased with the effort. Total mileage (based on the treadmill display) was 6 miles in 51:55.

I don't think I could do long, slow, distance on the treadmill but if there's a specific workout that I need to do, and conditions preclude me from getting it done outside, I know the treadmill can produce some decent results.

2nd Annual Damon Runyon 5k at Yankee Stadium

Save the date! The second annual Damon Runyon 5k at Yankee Stadium for cancer research is scheduled for Sunday, August 15, 2010.

Registration will open in May. Further event details will be available at in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Recovery Run

Due to a major snow storm in our area the powers that be in my office instructed us to work from home today. I fully expected to wake up to blizzard like conditions and, if I wanted to run, would need to do crank out some miles in the gym. So imagine my surprise when I looked outside at 6:00 to light snowfall and maybe an inch or 2 on the ground. Thanks to the encouragement of several other early risers on Twitter, I got dressed and left the house excited for a run in the snow.

Votee Park, my town's largest park, has a 1.2 mile loop. I decided to run there since there were some cars on the road I didn't want to be anywhere near them in case they spun out. I had a recovery run on tap for today so I was truly able to enjoy my time outside. I enjoyed the "crunch" sound my feet made coming down in the snow, making fresh footprints, and most importantly the looks I got from people in their cars. I saw lot of shaking heads as if they were saying to me "you're nuts." I looked back at them thinking to myself that it was probably easier getting around on foot than with wheels.

I came home invigorated from a 6mi run in 51:59 (8:40 pace) ready to balance a day of telecommuting, entertaining Lil Ansky, and multiple shovelings.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Solo Speed Work - Week 1

Today was my first attempt at doing speed work on my own in the wee hours of the morning. Coach Jeff had me down for 6 x 800m at my marathon goal time with the same amount of recovery in between. So if my goal time for the Pocono Mountain Marathon is 3 hours, 45 minutes, then I should run the 800s in 3 minutes, 45 seconds and recover for 3 minutes 45 seconds in between. These are better known as Yasso 800s. The idea is that being able to run (in minutes and seconds) ten 800s is a good predictor of your marathon goal time (in hours and minutes).

I warmed up by running to the local high school track then started the workout. It's been a while since I've done track work. When we ran 800s at Nike Speed they were always at a slightly than faster 5k pace. I thought, if I could do 800 at 3:30, surely 6 x 800 at 3:45 would be no problem. I really didn't know what an 3:45 800 felt like so I started out at what felt like a comfortable pace. Turns out my first split was 3:31, really? Since when did 3:31 feel comfortable? I recover and begin 800 #2. Guess what my split was? Anybody? Bueller? All right, I'll tell you, 3:30! Clearly my body shifted to auto pilot and charted a course that was different than the original. I said to myself, WTF Ansky, just run these at the pace you know how to and talk to Coach about it later. With that mindset, I finished the remaining intervals in 3:28, 3:27, 3:29, and 3:28.

I mentioned this to Coach later in the day and he replied back, "Fantastic, then we make 3:28 your new marathon goal time." I wasn't sure if he joking, serious, or some of both. Honestly, I think 3:28 is way out my league. I know I'm usually the first person to tell other not to sell themselves short, but going from a current marathon PR of 3:52 to 3:28 seems nuts. After some back and forth, coach and I agreed that it was too early in the training cycle to make a decision. So for now we're going to play it by ear see how the training goes. At the very least I am encouraged that I was able to crank out a good set 800s early on in the training cycle.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Long Run

Coach Jeff scheduled a 2 hour zone 2 long run with 3 minute surges every 20 minutes. I wanted to put in a good effort today after last week's less than stellar long run. I needed to get an early start as I had a busy morning ahead of me and Mrs. Ansky had to work today so an afternoon long run was out of the question. When I left the house at 5:50 the temperature was 16f with a Real Feel around 6. I started out slowly and eased into a comfortable pace. The first few surges came easily and I was able to recover settle back into my zone 2 pace with no problem. Needless to say, as the run progressed, the surges became harder. The seconds would not move fast enough on my Garmin. I covered 13.80 miles in 2:00:09 for an average pace of 8:42/mile. It was definitely a better effort than last week. When I uploaded my run to my log I saw that my average heart rate was more in the lower end of zone 3 than in zone 2. I felt nice and relaxed and didn't feel like I was working too hard. I am still learning how to train by heart rate so it'll be a work in process. Jeff has some interesting runs scheduled this week so I'll be sure to write about them as the week goes on.

One of the benefits of running is that I will not feel the least bit guilty chowing down tonight at a Super Bowl party at our friend's house. I honestly can care less who wins. I am looking forward to some good food, a beer or two (maybe 3), and good friends. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Speed Work with Speedy Sasquatch - Week 3

Speedy Sasquatch is certifiably insane. Tuesday night's workout involved 6 Cat Hill repeats on "dead legs" and in between each interval we were to do as many push-ups as we could. In order to tire our legs, SS had us to 30 walking lunges.

and 40 sumo squats

We then warmed up to the Boathouse which marked the starting point for the Cat Hill repeats. My legs definitely felt tired but my splits were pretty consistent: 1:51, 1:47, 1:50, 1:49, 1:45, 1:47. I had trouble with the push-ups. I have bursitis in my shoulder that started to flare up and made it difficult to complete 10 push-ups. I did the best I could, completing at least 5 between each interval. I started to feel the burn in my legs during the cool-down and on the way home. In fact, I'm still feeling some residual soreness today.

Sadly though, I will not be doing speed work with SS and the Tuesday night Twitter gang. Coach Jeff put together a training plan to help me prepare for the Pocono Marathon. His plan includes track workouts, which I will have to do on my own. This will take some getting used to as I've always done speed work in a group setting. However, I would be doing a disservice to Jeff if I did not stick to his plan. I enjoy the camaraderie of group speed workouts but I know that Jeff's plan will get me to May 16 healthy, strong, and full of confidence.

So thank you SS for the workouts and to the other Tuesday night speedsters for their company. I hope that we can continue to meet up at races and at Tweet-up runs. If you are an early bird like me, let's meet up for a run before work.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Totals for January

Number of Runs: 17
Total Distance: 110.4mi
Total Time: 15:25:39

Avg Distance: 6.5mi
Avg. Time: 54:27
Avg Pace: 8:23/mi

Races: Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary 1st Day 5k (1/1/10 PR, 21:55), Manhattan Half Marathon (1/24/10, PR, 1:48:46).

I feel like 2010 is off to a good start. I PRed in both races I ran, started speed work again, and braved some frigid temperatures. Training for my "A" race, the Pocono Mountain Marathon, on May 16, is officially underway. I can't wait to see what February has to offer.