Monday, March 29, 2010

A Quick Update Before Passover

We made it safely to Boca Raton, Florida. We started out Saturday night around 9:00 p.m. so Lil Ansky would sleep and we'd be 8 or 9 hours into the drive when she woke up. All things considered, the drive went pretty well. We encountered a 5 mile backup in southern Georgia about 75 miles of Jacksonville and Mrs. Ansky drove through a driving rainstorm between Jacksonville and Jupiter. I have to say, she is a superhero. Not only did she drive through a torrential rainstorm but she also drove about 5 hours through the middle of the night so I can doze in the car and be alert for the morning shift.

Anyway, I did run this morning. I ran a quick 5 miles around my parents' development. Coach Jeff suggested I run for 40 minutes just to loosen up my legs after spending so much time in the car. The rain that we drove though in Northern and Central Florida made its way down to Boca Raton overnight and into the morning. Around 10:30 a.m. It stopped raining so I got changed and went out. I did about 5 miles in 43 minutes (7:53 avg. pace). Did I just say that a 7:53 pace was relaxing?

Speaking of relaxing paces...last Friday I ran to work. Since I was traveling on Sunday, I needed to get a longish run in before I left. The easiest way to accomplish that was by running to work. I ran 12.70 miles in 1:46 for an average pace of 8:26 average pace. That's pretty quick for me on a long run.

In any event, as with most Jewish holidays, there are 4 days (not including Shabbat) where I won't be running. Honestly, my body is looking forward to a few extra days off. I am looking forward to spending time with my family, 2 entertaining seders, and enjoying my mom's delicious food. I'll end this post post with a picture. Ever since we started coming down to Florida for the holiday, we adorn the table with school projects that my brother and I made while in school. Now that Lil Ansky is in Jewish Day School too, we now include her projects as well. In this picture there are seder plates, matza covers, and Elijah's cup. My mother gets a lot of what we call, nachas which means pride from displaying these items. Happy Passover to everyone celebrating.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Things Kids Say and Do

  • We are driving to Florida this year for Passover vacation due to the high cost of plane tickets. We will be leaving home Saturday night and hope to arrive at our destination very late Sunday night. When we decided to drive Lil Ansky asked me "Daddy, you usually run long on Sunday what are you going to do since we'll be driving?" After taking a few minutes to think about she answered "I know! We can leave you on the side of the road and you can catch up with us 20 miles later!" I couldn't help but laugh.
  • Lil Ansky's summer camp allows her to choose one sports and arts activity per session. The other day when I got home from work, I was greeted with the following "Daddy, I know what I want to do for one of my sports activities!" "What?" I asked. She replied with "track and field." I couldn't be prouder.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another Solid Long Run & Congratulations

I had another solid long run yesterday. My assigned run was 2:45 in zone 2. It took me a while to warm up, my first 5 miles were 9:55, 9:21, 9:10, 8:56, and 9:10.  After mile 5 I found my rhythm and settled into a nice pace. Thankfully, I didn't experience significant GI issues as I had in the recent past. Fueling and hydration went well. There really isn't that much to say, other than it was a solid run, 19.05 miles in 2:45:21 (8:41 avg. pace). With the Pocono Mountain Marathon 7 weeks away, my confidence is definitely building. My family will be traveling to Boca Raton, Florida for Passover which starts a week from tonight. I'll be taking some extra days off due to travel and religious restrictions that prevent me from running. I've discussed it with Coach Jeff and he planned my next 2 weeks around it.

Lastly, congratulations to all of my friends that raced this past weekend. I don't want to risk leaving someone out so consider this a global congratulations to everyone that raced in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Virginia Beach, Georgia, and New York City.  You all kicked some serious asphalt!

Friday, March 19, 2010


5 days after Saturday's unnamed hurricane came through, power was finally restored to my house. Thankfully my parents live nearby so we have been living with them since Monday. While many of the fallen trees have been cleared, there is a lot of work going on repairing utility poles, traffic lights, and clearing debris. There are still plenty of streets that are closed because of ongoing work and low hanging wires. As you can imagine, it's been tough getting outside for a quality run. Here's what I've been up to since Sunday:

Sunday, March 14: This was the end of my recovery week. Coach Jeff planned an easy 1:30 run in zone 2. It was too dangerous to run outside on Sunday. The storm had just moved out, there were trees all over the place, traffic signals were out, you get the idea. There was no way I could run outside. Amazingly my gym was open. It is located in the business district where the wiring is underground. The cable was out, but I had some podcasts to catch up on which helped the time go by. I did 10.9 miles in 1:30. Nice and easy.

Monday, March 15: was a cross training day, core, upper body, legs, a total body workout as Jeff calls it.

Tuesday, March 16: Tuesdays are usually speed day. The only safe place to run outside was the high school track. This week's workout was 10 x 800. Unfortunately, I only had time to complete 6 as it takes longer to travel to and from the track from parents house. My fastest was 3:26 and the slowest was 3:31. Had there been more time, I would have been able to complete all 10.

Wednesday, March 17: 1 hour recovery run. Not safe to run outside so I hit the treddy again for 6.6 miles in just over an hour.

Thursday, March 18; My assigned run was 9mi with 6 x 600. It was a beautiful evening in NYC so I decided to run after work. I ran up from office in the Financial District to the E. 6th St. track for my interval. I went out way too fast on the first one (2:21). My other 5 were between 2:27 and 2:31. After the intervals, I took the 10th St. bridge, ran up 10th to University and ended my run at 23rd and Broadway.  There was some bobbing and weaving around Union Square as it was packed with people eating outside and enjoying the nice weather. I think my Garmin had a brain fart somewhere along the way, it clocked my mile 2 split at 4:XX. I am not that fast. Total mileage on the Garmin was 8.5 in 1:03. I think it was more like 8 miles. Still a quality run.

Today, March 19: Nice and easy recovery outside in my 'hood, 6:67mi in 1 hour. Nice and easy, just like the coach ordered.

That's my week in a nutshell. I'm happy that my power is back and to be sleeping in my own bed again. The weather should be glorious all weekend. I'm excited for my 2:45 long run. Spring racing season is in full force. Good luck to everyone racing in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Georgia, Virginia Beach, and NYC.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Passover Nutrition Plan

As if preparing for Passover, which begins a week from this Monday night, wasn't hard enough, maintaining a healthy diet and fueling before and during a long during Passover is also quite a challenge. Pasta, the traditional fueling source, is chametz and is off limits during Passover. On top of that Powerade, most other sports drinks, and gels are considered kitniyot since it contains high fructose corn syrup (among other things). The same holds true for energy gels. Even if one uses gels during the year (as most gels are not certified kosher), depending on one's level of observance, should be shied away from.

At this point you're probably asking yourselves what is chametz and why can't it be eaten on Passover? Here is a pretty good definition (courtesy of Chabad):

Chametz is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen) or fermented. Our Sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven unless fully baked within eighteen minutes. As we are commanded by the Torah, if a food contains even a trace of chametz, we don't eat it, we don't derive benefit from it, and we make sure not to have any of it in our possession for all the days of Passover.

To be certain that a product is Kosher for Passover, it must have rabbinical certification. Otherwise it is possible that it contains chametz ingredients, or traces of chametz if it was processed on the same equipment as chametz products. Thus, unless a product is certified "Kosher for Passover," we consider it chametz, and make sure not to have it in our possession on Passover.

Powerade and other sports drinks fall into the category of kitniyot as they HFCS, a corn derivative. Here is the definition of kitniyot (again, courtesy of Chabad):
The medieval Jewish sages placed a ban on eating legumes (kitniyot) on Passover, because they are similar in texture to chametz -- even bread can be made out of their flour; people might assume that if, for example, corn bread can be eaten on Passover, wheat or rye bread can be eaten too. This prohibition includes rice, beans, and corn. This injunction was unanimously accepted by Ashkenazi (those of Eastern European decent) Jews.

So, what is someone that observes Passover and is training for a marathon to do? Mrs. Ansky, who is also my dietitian, and I started to think about this. Here are some initial thoughts:

Everyday eating
If you think about it, many of the foods you eat during the year are kosher for Passover as well i.e., lean meats, fish, chicken, fruits, veggies. The big difference are the starches which is a staple in the endurance athlete's diet. Obviously pasta and rice (unless you are Sephardic) are out. The staple carbohydrate during Passover in our house is potatoes, mashed, kugel, roasted, soup, etc... Passover noodles have recently come on the market, see here for an example. One cup of Passover noodles have 45g of carbohydrates. One cup of plain white Ronzoni small shells have 42g of carbs. 1 piece of regular matza has 28g of carbs. Two slices of whole bread has 28g of carbs. Matza these days also comes in whole wheat and gluten free varieties. 

As for meat, poultry, and fish, eat the same portion size as you would all year round. There are kosher for Passover varieties of most seasonings.

Breakfast is the hardest meal for me during Passover. I usually have a bowl (or two) of Raisin Bran or oatmeal most mornings during the year. My mother makes Passover rolls which I usually have with some cottage cheese and yogurt or a piece of fruit. The Passover rolls recipe has been in the family for generations. I will need to get my mom's permission to share it. :)

Long Run
As I mentioned I have not yet found a sports drink or gel that is kosher for Passover. I'm sure someone in Israel is working on it but until something comes to market we must improvise. Here are Mrs. Ansky's thoughts.
  • I don't have the exact nutritional breakdown, but she suggested 4-5 dates are equivalent to 1 gel. If you take a gel every 45 minutes then eat 4-5 dates every 45 minutes
  • Bananas are also good as they have "binding" characteristics and have a lot of potassium. 
  • Honey is also kosher for Passover and is a good source of natural sugars. 
  • As for fluids, nothing other than water. Mrs. Ansky suggested mixing some salt into your water for sodium replacement. I know some ultra-runner folks drink flat cola during a race. If your stomach can handle it, there is a kosher for Passover version of Coke. It's made with sugar in place of HFCS and actually tastes better.

Well there you have it. Recipes to follow shortly in a series of blog posts. If you have specific questions for Mrs. Ansky, leave a comment and I will definitely pass them along.

Monday, March 15, 2010

An Unnamed Harricane Reared Its Ugly Head

Thought I'd share some pictures of the damage caused by Saturday's storm. There were approximately 200 trees down in my town. I am still without power but everyone is OK. All of these pictures were taken within a 4 block radius of my house.
A tree ripped up someone's front walk.

This big one came down about 4 houses up the block from me. 
Amazingly, these house didn't sustain major damage. Power also didn't go out on this block.
This one came down further down the block from me.
Around the corner
Where's the rest of the utility pole?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Teaching the Body to Perform When It Needs To

My assigned Sunday long-run was a steady 2:45 in heart rate zone 2 with a hard surge during the last 4 minutes. Coach Jeff's point was to teach the body the respond when I needed it to, at the end of marathon. Spring was definitely in the air yesterday. Even though it was in the high 30s when I started my run a little after 6:00a.m, I decided to run in shorts. I knew it would warm up as I was out on the road and after many weeks hiding behind multiple layers of tights, my pasty legs were in need of some sun.

The run didn't start off so well. I needed to make 3 trips to the bathroom in the first 45 minutes I was out there. I thought this was going to be a repeat of two weeks ago where some GI distress forced me to cut my run short. Not yesterday, after I took care of business, it was systems go. I followed Brandon's lead and only displayed my total time and heart rate zone. I did not want to worry about my pace or my mileage. My missions were to 1) run 2:45, mostly in heart rate zone 2 and 2) push hard the last 4 minutes. Missions accomplished! Yesterday was one of those long runs where everything clicked. I hydrated and fueled well and stayed mentally sharp. Without company, it's hard to stay focused during a long run. I purposely ran solo yesterday because there's a good chance that I'll find myself in that same situation on May 16. The Pocono Mountain Marathon is a small race, less than 1,000 runners, so there's a good chance I'll be running alone for a good part of the race. Being able to keep your head in the game is just as important as the physical act of running 26.2 miles.

Getting back to the run, I saw 2:40 show up on my watch and decided to start pushing. My heart rate started to climb and I held a good hard effort for the last 5 minutes. After I stopped my watch and caught my breath, I was dying to know what my mileage and pace were. Anyone care to take a guess?
19.1 miles in 2:45:02 (8:38 pace)

I am so happy with this effort. My last mile was 8:10 and my pace for the final .44 was at 7:09 pace. Clearly all of the road intervals, Yasso 800s, and long runs with farleks, are paying off. Yesterday's run put me at 47.1 for the week, my highest mileage ever in one week. I don't want to get overconfident, but I'm still feeling the runner's high a full day of yesterday's run.    

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thaw, Refreeze, Repeat

That's kind of what I'm dealing with these days. See, the temperatures during the day have been warm enough to start melting the snow from last week's storm. However, it's still been quite cold at night causing whatever melted during the day to refreeze and form many slick spots on the road. In case you are reading for the first time, I am an early morning runner. For now that means that some or all of my mid-week runs are done in the dark. The last thing I need is to slip and break another rib (or worse) while out on one of my faster mid-week runs. This, plus the fact that my local high school track is still buried under a few inches of snow, adds up to me spending more time than I would like on the treadmill. I've grown to accept the  treadmill for what it is, a tool. Doing speedwork or road intervals on the treadmill is somewhat enjoyable. I would much rather run outside, but safety always comes first.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Totals for February 2010

Total # of Runs: 14
Total Distance: 117.9mi
Total Time: 17:07

Avg. Distance: 8.4mi
Avg: Time: 1:13:25
Avg. Pace/mi: 8:43

My training was kicked up a few notches in February. Every run that Coach Jeff assigned had a specific purpose. Road intervals, Yasso 800s, long runs with Fartleks, long runs with hills, etc... Even my recovery runs had a purpose. Now that it's March, the training really begins. My runs for this week looks like this:
Tuesday: Yasso 800s - pick a steady pace marathon goal and hit all 8 with it.
Wednesday: Steady Zone 2 recovery run
Thursday: Road Intervals - Warm in zone 2 or medium effort for 8 minutes. Then run 6x8 minutes in zone 4 or at a hard exertion level really push. recover for 2 minutes between each.
Friday:  steady zone 2 recovery run
Sunday Long Run, 2:45: Nice steady zone 2 run. Push a little harder the last 4 minutes. Lets teach the body to respond when you need it too.

Passover starts at the end of March, not only are there days where I'm forbidden to run, but there are also some nutritional challenges, especially during a long run. I'll talk more about those as the holiday gets closer.