Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: The Year in Review

Even though 8 Crazy Nights of Blogging captured a lot of how 2011 played out, I feel the need to write a year in review post. Let's start with the yearly totals:

Total Distance: 1,288 miles
Average Distance: 8.31 miles
Average Time: 1:10:26

Total Distance: 118.38
Average Distance: 11.84
Average Time: 1:02:84

In previous years, I would recap the year month by month reminding myself and whomever is still reading this blog what went well and what didn't. I'm not going to do that this year. I've done that a lot already and I don't want to beat a dead horse.

I'll recap 2011 by saying that I've learned a lot about myself and about what type of athlete I am. Not finishing in Vermont and deferring Marine Corps reminded me that first and foremost, running and cycling should be fun. That's the only way I'm going to stick with it. I'm not going to beat myself up if a run doesn't go well. Not every race is going to be a PR. Finally, Boston is just a race. I'm ending 2011 feeling good about running, cycling, training and racing.

So what's up for 2012? My race schedule is coming together. I have some exciting things in the works and I'll share them once I finalize everything. One thing I'm not going to do, is set any specific time goals for certain distances. I think that's what went well in the early part of 2011 when I set new PRs in the 15k and half marathon. The only goal for 2012 races will be to run the best race that I can on that day.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

8 Crazy Night of Blogging: Night 8

8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 8 - Your "A" Race Does Not Have to be a Marathon

There's no question about it, the marathon is a challenge. It requires weeks of intense training, lots of miles in all sorts of conditions, time away from family, and, admit it, your social life suffers as well. For all of these reasons, many of us will only consider a marathon for their "A" race. For those of you that don't know, an "A" race is THE race (or races) that your pour your heart and soul into all in the name of a new PR.

I wrote on Night 1 that going forward, I'm limiting myself to 1 marathon per year. That doesn't mean that once I run the marathon, I take the rest of the year off. What it does mean is that I get to focus on improving at a shorter distance race or try something new, like a duathlon. When I ran the Pocono Marathon in the spring of 2010, my fall "A" race was a 10k. Training for a 10k is much different than a marathon. The long runs are shorter but there are more mile repeats and tempo runs. I smoked the 10k and set a new PR. Best part was, I wasn't as physically and mentally drained as I am after a marathon. I feel the same way after a half marathon. It's long enough that it's a challenge but it's short enough that you can push yourself harder than in a marathon. 
So what are my "A" races for 2012? Spring is still undecided. I'd like to train hard for a half marathon and I'd also like a duathlon. My fall "A" race will be Marine Corps Marathon.

There you have it, 8 Crazy Nights of Blogging in the Can! In case you missed any of them, here are the links again:

For the last time this year: 
Happy Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 7

8 Things I learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 7 - Keep it Real
We all have different schedules and things going on in our lives. Some of you have more time during each day to train while some of us have less. I learned this in August when Coach Jeff put 8+ hours on my calendar one week. The week looked like this:
Monday: total body workout
Tuesday: 1:40 step-up run
Wednesday: 1:15 recovery run
Thursday: 1:00 bike
Friday: 1:00 w/ 40 minutes in upper zone 3
Sunday: 2:45 long run 
The 1:40 mid-week run was unrealistic for me. I knew there was no way I could get in before I had to be home and get ready for work. I called Coach and told him that we needed to cut back on the training load just a bit. He completely understood and he made adjustments to fit in with what I have going on in my life including religious obligations. 

If you have a coach and he/she starts giving you a load that you can't handle, speak up and suggest some adjustments. Coaches don't want you to fail nor are they mind readers, be honest with yourself and your coach about how much time you have to train. 
Happy Chanukah!

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 6

8 Things I learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 6 - The Result of Every Race Does Not Have to be a PR
I ran several races this year simply to have to fun. I ran 3 races with Lil Ansky. We had a great time and they were great bonding experiences. It's hard as a father to find common interests with Lil Ansky so I'm thrilled that she has taken an interest in running. I wish we had more time to run together but during the school year it's hard to find time. The month in the summer before she went to camp we were going to high school track almost every evening when I got home from work.

My only goal for the Monson, MA Half Marathon was to have fun. I was feeling down after deferring Marine Corps and I had a tough time finding enjoyment in running. The Anskys had a wonderful Shabbat with Mike and his family in Amherst and I was looking forward to racing in a new place. The change of scenery did a lot of good for my psyche. I wasn't racing in Central Park, Prospect Park, or the familiar streets of Bergen County, NJ. I was racing in Western Massachusetts amongst people I've never met before (except for Mike). Yet, I felt just as comfortable there as I do when I race in New York or New Jersey. By not chasing a PR, I was able to enjoy the incredibly scenic course, push the pace when I felt like it, and relax when I felt like it. I felt great when I finished and I re-found my running mojo.

Happy Chanukah!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 5

8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 5 - Cycling is Fun!

In July, I drank the cycling kool-aid and bought Brandon's used Felt Z90. As soon as I bought it, Coach Jeff started to put recovery rides on my schedule, usually the day after a hard speed or tempo workout. I was only able to log 118 miles this year before the weather got cold and the mornings were too dark to ride. I enjoyed getting to know the bike this year. The goal for 2012 is become more confident and get stronger. I've been invited to join group rides to Nyack and Piermont. I declined this year because I was new to the bike and did not feel confident enough to ride with more experienced riders. Hopefully I'll be able join in 2012. 

Another goal of mine is to participate in a duathlon. Why not a triathlon you ask? Plain and simple, I don't have easy access to a pool. Most of the gyms with pools are expensive and that is not an expensive I can take on right right. So for now, I'll stick to running and biking.

Happy Chanukah!

P.S. as tonight is Christmas eve, I wanted to wish everyone celebrating a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 4

8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Racing/Training Season: Night 4 - Boston is Just a  Another Race
Back in February, the Boston Athletic Association announced changes to the registration process and qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon. These changes were in response to this year's marathon selling out in 8 hours. When I ran 3:39:47 at the 2010 Pocono Mountain Run for the Red marathon, I thought that, with a little more work, I may be able to run a 3:20 and qualify when I turn 40. That all changed when the BAA rolled back the qualifying standards by 5 minutes. The qualifying standards for the 40 - 44 year old male age group went from 3:20 to 3:15. On top of that, the 59 second "cushion" was also eliminated. This means that if I ran a 3:15:01 I would miss qualifying by 1 measly second. 

Most of us consider Boston the Super Bowl of marathoning and we work our tucheses off to qualify. I'm also well aware that if I REALLY wanted to run Boston, I could do so as a charity runner. NO THANK YOU. I'm not criticizing those that do run Boston for charity. I am in the camp that I need to earn my Boston bib. One thing I will not do, is obsess over it. I read lots of blogs and Twitter feeds about how their only purpose to racing and training is to qualify for Boston year after year. If they don't, their season is considered a failure. That is not why I train and race (I will answer that question before Chanukah is over). I will continue to work hard and if I'm fortunate to qualify, great. If not, it's just another race.

Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 3

8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 3 - It's OK to DNF

I wrote last night about the how the hot and humid conditions at the Vermont City Marathon caused me to take my first ever DNF. Believe me, it was not an easy decision. I had an outstanding training cycle and was trained for a 3:30 marathon. When the weather started to get hot, I knew I wasn't going to be able to run my goal time. I had hoped that, with some adjustments, I'd still be able to finish my 5th marathon. It wasn't meant to be. Many of you asked if I had my inhaler with me. I did, and it kept me out of the emergency room. The only way to stop the attack was to to stop running. Mother nature beat me that day fair and square.

After talking with my family, Coach Jeff, and many of you, I learned that DNFing did not make me any less of an athlete. In some ways, it made me stronger. I'm amazed when I read how some runners will anything it takes to finish a race and not take a DNF. Sometimes, finishing that race caused more damage which forced the runner to miss several months of running. Was it really worth it? If some of the best runners in the world can withdraw from races, then it's certainly acceptable for an age grouper like me. 

Happy Chanukah! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

8 Crazy NIghts of Blogging: Night 2

8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season: Night 2 - Pick Your Races Wisely

It's easy to get sucked into running "cool" races, You may have several friends running and want to join them, it may be a in an interesting destination, you may have read favorable reviews of the race, or there may be a cool aspect of the race that you want to experience.

There aren't many spring marathons in the Northeast. I ran NJ in 2009 and Poconos in 2010. So when I asked for spring 2011 marathon suggestions the overwhelming response was the Vermont City Marathon at the end of May. Everything I read about the race was positive and we'd be able to get away over Memorial Day Weekend. The one aspect of the race I didn't consider was the weather. It turns out that it's been quite warm (over 70) in Burlington around Memorial Day. 2011 was no different.Shabbat was particularly warm and I remember commenting to Mike that if race day is anything like today then I was in trouble. Race day started off cool with a light drizzle. About an hour into the race, it stopped raining, the sun came out, and it became very humid. My asthma starting flaring up and at 11 miles I dropped out and took my first ever DNF.

What I learned is it's important to consider everything when picking your "A" race for the season. It's doesn't matter how "cool" the race is. If there's one aspect of the race that could prevent you from achieving your goal, then you may want to pick a different race or change your goal.

Happy Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8 Crazy Nights of Blogging: Night 1

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, which means it's that time of year for another 8 part blog series. Last year I wrote about 8 races I'd like to run in my lifetime and the year before I wrote about 8 things I love about running. This year's series is going to have a different focus. Since Chanukah comes out late on the Gregorian calendar (on the Jewish Calendar, it's always on time), this year's 8 part series will be more like a review in review. 2011 had a lot of highs and a bunch of lows. I learned a lot about myself, about running, and where it fits into my life. So without further adieu, I present (in no particular order) 8 Things I Learned From the 2011 Training/Racing Season. 

Night 1: I'm a 1 Marathon/Year Runner

2011 was the first year that I attempted to train for a spring and fall marathon in the same year. I know many marathoners that run multiple marathons in a year. I am not one of them. Even if I had finished the Vermont City and Marine Corps Marathons this year (more on this in upcoming posts), I still would have scaled back to only 1 marathon per year again in 2012. Training for 2 marathons in year was way too taxing on me. Between work, family, and religious obligations, I found it difficult to stay motivated and training was no longer fun (more on this later as well). Sometime over the summer training became something I HAD to do rather than something I WANTED to do. At first I thought it might be a case of the summer time blues. It was hot and humid, I had to cut runs short, and my asthma was flaring up. I was ready to defer my MCM entry as early as mid-August, but I stuck with it hoping my racing mojo would come back once the weather got cooler. It never did. I don't know for sure what caused my calf strain which caused me to defer MCM until 2012 but I'm sure my lack of focus had something to do with it.

Happy Chanukah!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lil Ansky's First 5k

 A few weeks ago I was deciding between 2 Turkey Trots, the Dick Meighan Memorial 5k in Upper Saddle River, NJ or the Rockland Road Runners 5 mile Turkey Trot in Congers, NY. I ran Dick Meighan in 2008 and 2009 and enjoyed the race both years. I ran in Congers last year primarily because it was my friend's first 5 mile road race and I wanted to be there to support him.

Lil Ansky (she's 10) popped in during a conversation I was having with Mrs. Ansky about which race to run and said "I'll run the 5k with you Abba." (Hebrew for Daddy). And with that, the decision was made. Lil Ansky would be running her first 5k on Thanksgiving. A big part of me was excited. I love running with Lil Ansky. We had a great time at the July 4th 2k and the Labor Day 1 mile. But part of me was also concerned, she really hasn't run much since school started. Between holidays, homework, and extracurriculars there is no time for running. Regardless, she was excited and I was excited for her.

Race day came and Lil Ansky was ready to run. The race shirt was a long sleeve tech and they had kid sized shirts available. She got a kick out of the antics of the local cross country teams. Many of whom dressed up in costumes and all of whom were chanting their school fight songs. We lined up towards the back and we were off! We started off running very easy and we chatted with other parents running with their children, many of whom were also running their first 5k. We walked when Lil Ansky needed to walk and when she was ready to run again, I picked out a landmark and said let's run to that landmark then we'd walk again. We always walked the uphills and ran the downhills. I kept encouraging her and telling her she was doing a great job. There was one last hill before the downhill finish. We stuck to the plan and walked up the hill then ran the rest of the way to the finish. A volunteer gave a medal to Lil Ansky which we later found was a piece of chocolate wrapped in gold foil. What a great idea!

Despite my constant words of encouragement, I think Lil Ansky felt like she let me down because it took her so long to finish. I told it didn't matter how long it took. What mattered was that she finished and that she had fun. When she answered yes to both of those I told her "mission accomplished!" A little later in the day before going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, she asked when the next race was (maybe this one). That's when I knew she had a good experience.
Post Race. Proud dad with his 5ker

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bandit Report: Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon

As a regular listener (and infrequent guest) of The New York Running Show, I've heard Steve talk about the Brooklyn Marathon from its infancy. Over the past year there have been many discussions on the show about the need for not only more road races in the NYC Metro area, but more specifically another marathon. Steve's NYCRUNS staged several races this year but on Sunday, his dream finally became a reality.As race day approached, the newest marathon on the racing scene was featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Friends who saw either piece asked me in synagogue on Saturday if I was running in Brooklyn. "Kind of, sort of" I answered.

When Joe tweeted a few days after running the New York City Marathon that he was considering running the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon 2 weeks later, I thought he was joking.As the days went on, I would learn that he was serious. NYCM didn't go exactly as planned, and he wanted another shot at running a quality marathon in 2011. I am not in marathon shape but I really wanted to support Steve as well as be part of an inaugural race. I decided I would pace Joe through half of the race. Amy and several other Twitter friends caught wind of this and soon, Joe had his own entourage for the race. I finally met fellow New York Running guests Frank and Emmy. Emmy ran the NYRR Knickerbocker 60k (that's 37.2 miles) THE DAY BEFORE!

I didn't want to register for the race because then I would have a DNF on record. I already have one of those this year, I didn't want another. Which means I ran a part of the race as bandit. I made sure to bring my own fluids as it's bad etiquette for bandits to utilize the aid stations. The horn went off around 8:15 and the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon was underway. We kept the mood light and the miles were flying by. Newly minted ultramarathoner, Claire was out there cheering her head off. She ran the 60k the day but decided to take Sunday off from running. At one point Steve was driving around in a van and yelled at Amy and I "looking good bandits." Robin jumped in for a miles before falling back to support Sam. After our 3rd full loop, Amy and I peeled off. I know that Joe had a secret plan to get me to the run full distance with him. "C'mon, just one more loop" he was saying. I wish I had it in me to run the whole distance. It was a beautiful day and I was having a great time. I ended up running a little over 14 miles with Joe and left the park in a great mood. I found out later that the rest of his race did not go as well. He encountered some stomach problems but thankfully other friends were there to pick him up and he was able to finish the race strong.

Steve gets a HUGE congratulations on the Brooklyn Marathon. I'm sure there were things that went wrong along the way but  none of them were evident to the runners (or bandits). All of the runners I spoke with were having a great time, the volunteers were great, and the weather was beautiful. Maybe next year, I'll run it 3 weeks after Marine Corps.
Joe and I around Mile 9

Friday, November 18, 2011

Race Report: Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon

Mike has been trying to get the Anskys up to Amherst, MA for Shabbat for quite some time. Our families became fast friends after spending Shabbat together in Burlington the weekend of the Vermont City Marathon. A little while ago, he tweeted about a local half marathon on Nov. 13. Since Friday was Veteran's Day, I thought it be the perfect weekend go up and visit. The Mrs. and I were both off from work and with Shabbat starting early, we didn't mind Lil Ansky missing a day of school. After Shabbat Mike and I took a tour of the course courtesy of Google Earth. He ran the race last year and pointed out to me where the hills where and where the flats and downhills were to pick up the pace.

The race had an unusual 12:00 p.m. start. Mike said it was to give time time for the black ice to thaw. I joked that if that were the case, then New Englanders were a bunch of sissies. New York Road Runners starts all of their race early in the morning, even in the winter. Being that the race was in a small New England Town, I thought the 12:00 p.m. start had more to do with church than black ice. In any event, I didn't mind it. The late start allowed me to sleep in and to enjoy breakfast with the family. The late start also allowed me to run in short sleeves rather than long. It was 55 degrees when the horn went off.

It's been a while since I toed the line in a race so my only 2 goals were to have fun and finish strong. I've had some setbacks the past few months, culminating with deferring the Marine Corps Marathon. I was looking forward to running a race just for fun with no time goal pressures. The first 7.5 miles were mostly uphill. I should mention that my Garmin lost it's charge before the race even started (not quite sure how that happened) so I ran by feel and recorded my splits with a basic Timex stopwatch that Mike had brought with him. This helped me relax and enjoy the incredibly scenic course. None of the hills were particularly steep, there were just a lot of them. What goes up must come down right? The second half of the race was mostly downhill. I picked up the pace but did not hammer them. I wanted to have something left in the tank for a strong finish. I finished in 1:48:37, definitely not a PR but that wasn't the goal. I accomplished what I wanted to, I had fun, and I finished strong. Overall, the race was well organized. There were plenty of volunteers on the course showing us where to go. The course was not closed to traffic but the Monson police did a great job keep the runners safe. My only complaint was there was no Gatorade on the course. There was water but I could have used the electrolytes. Here are my race splits:

8:29 (last 1.1 miles)

 Running and finishing this race did a lot for my psyche. I feel like I finally found my running mojo again. I have a few fun things planned to close out the year then I will start thinking about spring 2012. I'm also hoping that now that I've found my running mojo, I'll also get my blogging mojo back. It's been a while since I posted primarily because there hasn't been much to write about.

Mike ran a great race finishing around 1:40. Since he finished before me, he was able to shoot this short video of me racing towards the finish.
 Here are some race photos:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I decided to defer my Marine Corps Marathon until next year. Between the calf strain and a sinus infection I'm just not healthy enough to run the race. Was it a tough decision to make? Yes! Was it the right decision? Yes! Am I disappointed? A little. This will be the first year since my first marathon in 2007 that I will not have completed a marathon. The plan for the rest of 2011 is to continue getting better and run for the fun and love of it. I've mentioned a few times recently that the fun part of running has gotten away from me. I'm going to use the next few months to have fun and fall back in love with running. Hopefully I can run more with Lil Ansky, jump into a Turkey Trot, and just run without the pressure of an "A" race on the horizon.

What about 2012? I can say with a high degree of certainty that MCM 2012 will be my only marathon. I'll write more about this but I've learned that I cannot train for 2 marathons in the same year. I don't have any particular race in mind but I would like to run at least one half marathon in the spring and possibly dip my feet in the multi-sport water with a duathlon.

One more thing.... just because I deferred does not mean I can't take part in the MCM festivities. I'll be in DC for work the week of MCM. If anyone wants to meet up at the Expo either Thursday evening or Friday after 1:00, let me know.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Spoke Too Soon

In my last post, I mentioned that the foot/calf pain I was experiencing had corrected itself and that the subsequent 2 weeks of training had gone very well. The temperatures were getting cooler and I was starting to get excited about running MCM.

I spoke to soon. My assigned run for last Tuesday was a 1:20 step up run, 20 minutes in zone 2, 20 minutes in zone 3, 30 minutes in zone 4, cool down for 10 minutes. About 15 minutes into the run, I started to feel a sharp, stabbing pain in my left calf.  I continued on for a few more minutes until the pain became so intense that I could not continue. Needless to say, I felt frustrated and dejected. I secretly hoped that with some stretching and foam rolling I'd be able to do my 1:15 recovery run the next day. Due to a death in the family, that run didn't happen. I was hoping 3 days of no running (2 days for Rosh Hashana followed by Shabbat) would be enough rest to get my long run done last Sunday. I thought wrong. 15 minutes into the run the pain was back.

I saw my massage therapist on Monday and he really worked on the leg. I saw my Podiatrist yesterday just to rule out the possibility of any structural damage to the calf. Thankfully there was nothing structurally wrong and the podiatrist felt it should get better with some serious stretching and foam rolling. He also sent me home with one of these
a splint or sorts to help stretch out the muscles.

All of this raises the obvious question: What's my status for MCM?
Honestly, I don't know yet. I spoke with Coach Jeff and he thinks that even if I don't run another step between today on October 30 that I could finish the race. The reason being that I have a big training base both from Vermont and all of the training I did up until now. He said that I shouldn't expect to PR but that I should be able to run an easy marathon and enjoy the atmosphere. I'd like to use MCM as the race where I remember why I love marathoning. I think that's gotten away from me and running MCM for fun maybe just what I need.

That's the plan I'm going to follow. This week I've been stretching, rolling, and riding the spin bike. I may try to run next week just to see how it is. I have until October 20 to defer my entry to 2012 if the calf isn't better.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MCM Training Update

In case y'all have forgotten I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30. I haven't written a lot about my training primarily because, up until recently, it has been less than stellar. Running during the summer months was absolutely brutal. The heat and humidity exacerbated my asthma,  forced me to cut many runs short, and I was questioning if running MCM was still a good idea. I came very close to throwing in the towel and deferring my entry until 2012. In short, I had lost my running mojo.

At the same time, I started developing some foot pain. The pain was on the top of the foot between the top of my ankle and where the shoe laces are on my shoes. At first I thought I was tying my shoes too tightly, but the pain was still there after loosening them up. The foot hurt when I walked, not when I ran. A few weeks ago, I saw a podiatrist mainly to determine if there was a stress fracture or some other serious injury there. The diagnosis came back as an overuse injury. The doctor suggested cutting down on mileage, compression, and ice. I knew there was no way I could cut down on my mileage 6 weeks before MCM but I did start wearing a compression ankle sock and tried to ice my foot as often as I could. I told Coach Jeff what was going and he asked me to send him pictures of the bottoms of my shoes (Newton Gravitas) so he could analyze the wear pattern. This is what I sent him:

Within a few minutes he determined that I was "stabbing" rather than planting "square."  Coach explains it really well in this video he made especially for me.

Back to the training front....I feel like I'm back on track. The past 2 weeks have been solid. Temperatures have been cooler and my paces have been coming down to the levels where they were earlier this year when I was training for Vermont City. The Jewish holiday "season" is fast approaching with Rosh Hashana starting next Wednesday night (ack!). The extra non-running days will give me a chance to get some extra sleep as well time to rest whatever aches and pains I have. I'm happy I stuck with the training and I'm starting to get excited about the race. I have 2 more "big" weeks coming up then it's time to taper.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11 - Ten Years Later

2001 was quite a year for the Anskys. In February, we closed on our house. In May, I completed my MBA in Finance at Baruch College. In July, Lil Ansky was born.

Then September 11 happened. To this day, I'm not sure why but I was running late for work that day. I got off the A Train at Broadway-Nassau St. in the Financial District and saw huge crowd of people congregating on Maiden Lane right near my office. At first I had no idea what they were looking at. As I got closer to the street, I looked up and saw that one of the World Trade Center towers was on fire. Before I could ask someone what had happened I saw a plane fly right into the south tower. BOOM! Words cannot describe what it sounded like.

I wasn't quite sure what to do. Do I run for it and go home? Do I go into my office which is built like a fortress and could be considered one of the safest in New York City? I knew my brother worked on a low floor (I don't remember exactly which one but it was in the 20s) in one of the towers so I called him to make sure he was OK. The explosions knocked out the cell service because the call did not go through. I decided to go to my office and try to send an e-mail to his 2-way pager (remember those). Thankfully he made it out safely and he was going to his girlfriend's (now wife) apartment in the Village. I told him I would be in touch and that I might need a place to stay that night. I remember talking to Mrs. Ansky on the phone at the exact moment the towers collapsed. My office is 2 blocks from the World Trade Center and I remember the windows shaking and rattling when the towers collapsed. I was on the phone talking to Mrs. Ansky when the towers collapsed. I didn't know what was happening at the time so I told I would call her back (which I did). My mother was teaching a class in NJ and the person answering the phones refused to interrupt the class to let her speak with me. I don't remember how I replied but I'm pretty sure it went something like this "in case you don't know, both World Center Towers were struck by airplanes. One of her sons works 2 blocks from where it happened and her other son works IN the towers. Now interrupt her [expletive] class and let me talk with her!"  My dad was even harder to get in touch with. At the time, he was teaching in a huge NYC Public School. No one in the school knew where he was and his cell phone wasn't working. Finally, he got in touch with Mrs. Ansky who told him that we were both alive and accounted for.

The next few hours were spent watching TV and learning more about what happened. Security had locked down the building and did not allow anyone to leave until 3:00 p.m. When we got the all clear from security that it OK to leave, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I wasn't a runner then so one option was to walk all the way to the George Washington Bridge and then hitch a ride home from there. The other option was to spend the night with my brother and his girlfriend and figure out what to do the next morning. I stayed with my brother that night, and thanks to my brother's colleague who also spent the night I got home to NJ Wednesday morning.

For a few weeks after the attacks on the WTC, my office was closed and we were working out of our office in NJ. When the main office did re-open, it opened the cafeteria to anyone involved in the recovery effort. There were firefighters, police, and military eating breakfast and lunch in our building. The bone-tired looks on their faces stay with me even 10 years later. I remember struggling with what, if anything, to say to them. Did they want to be talked to or did they want to be left alone? I decided "Thank You" was a simple and appropriate thing to say.

Fast forward 10 the weeks leading up to the 10th anniversary, I was thinking about how I wanted to mark the occasion. Since I had a 2:45 long run on the calendar, I decided that I would run from the NJ side of the George Washington Bridge to Lower Manhattan. I thought it would be a good way to infuse my long run with some meaning. Sunday was cool day, humidity was low, and there was plenty of cloud cover.

I was feeling some pulling in the back of my leg so I kept the effort nice and relaxed. Despite a uncorroborated terror threat, I was happy to see runners and cyclists out getting their miles in.  As I was getting closer to Ground Zero I started to get chills. A lot of memories started to come back. I thought about seeing the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Center. I thought about my brother who worked in one of the towers and how thankful I am that he made it out safely. I thought about the looks on the faces of everyone involved in recovery effort when they came through my office's cafeteria in the days, weeks, and months afterward.

When I got to what is now called the New Wold Trade Center site, I stopped for a few minutes, as did many other runners and cyclists, for a few minutes of reflection and a prayer. I turned around and the 2nd hour of the run felt great.

I pass by Ground Zero/New World Center Site every day on my way to work. In the years since the attacks, I'll freely admit that I have become somewhat desensitized to the significance of what happened there. Not that I have ever forgotten what happened, but when you're rushing to get to work it's very easy to develop tunnel vision and ignore the huge construction project right next to you. I am very lucky that I live close enough to Lower Manhattan to be able to do what I did yesterday. It helped put things back into perspective.
Ground Zero - September 11, 2001 (not my photo)

New World Trade Center - September 11, 2011 (my photo)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Race Report: JackRabbit Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler

Sunday was the 2nd Annual JackRabbit Sports Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I hadn't raced anything since the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge in mid-June. Coach Jeff was nudging me to sign up for something to see where I was 69 days out from the Marine Corps Marathon. Summer training has been less than stellar but I, and Coach, thought I was in good enough shape to run around 1:15 (my current 10 mile PR is 1:19:50). As always, the wildcard was going to be the weather.

The race started shortly after 8:00 and I felt pretty good early on. After I finished my first loop of the park, I began to feel the effects of the heat and humidity. I saw my heart rate creeping up into the mid and upper 170s. A very dangerous range in ideal racing conditions let alone when it's 75 and 70% humidity. I realized that I needed to make some adjustments so I wouldn't blow up like I did in Vermont. One of the adjustments I made was to walk through the water stops, something I've stopped doing a while ago. I wanted to make sure that the fluid went down my throat and not up my nose. It also allowed my heart rate to come down a little bit. After cresting the big hill in the park for the last time, I dug deep and was able to run a 7:50 final. My official time was 1:19:50, an exact match of my current 10 mile PR.

When I was talking about the race on the New York Running Show Sunday night, Brenn asked me if I felt like I ran the best race that I could on that day. I answered that I thought I did. The weather was far from perfect and the adjustments that I made allowed me to have enough strength to finish strong. I also mentioned that I am not used to first starting a training run, let alone a race at 8:00 a.m. I am usually at the tail end of my run by 8:00 so my body is not used to running during warmer parts of the day. Hopefully it will be cooler for my next race, the Yonkers Half Marathon on September 18.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keep it Real

Coach Jeff has said over and over again to set realistic goals based on the amount of time you have to train. Unless you're a professional athlete, training is just one aspect of our very busy lives. We all have day jobs, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, children, etc... Reality set in for me this week. Coach assigned me a workload which was heavier than anything he's ever given me:

Monday: total body workout
Tuesday: 1:40 step-up run
Wednesday: 1:15 recovery run
Thursday: 1:00 bike
Friday: 1:00 w/ 40 minutes in upper zone 3
Sunday: 2:45 long run

That's 8+ hours of training. I thought I could handle it but after cutting my 1:40 step-up run short because time got away from me, I quickly realized that I couldn't. I realized that I only have a finite amount of time in the morning to train. I have no problem waking up at 4:30 every morning and starting a run by 5:00. However, I need time at home to clean up, spend a few minutes with Lil Ansky, and leave my house at 7:15 for my 1 hour commute to work. Which basically means I need to be home by 6:30 -6:40 at the latest. Working out at night does not work for me because Mrs. Ansky works out when I get home from work and Lil Ansky is not old enough yet to stay home by herself. Besides, I am already exhausted from a full day of work, hungry because I haven't eaten dinner yet, and have trouble sleeping because the endorphins are still pumping.

I called Coach and told him that we needed to cut back on the training load just a bit. He completely understood and we're going to make some adjustments that fit into what I have going on in my life including family and religious obligations.

The bottom line is, coaches don't want you to fail. If you have a coach and he/she starts giving you a load that you can't handle, don't be afraid to speak up and suggest some adjustments. Coaches don't want you to fail but you need to be honest with yourself and your coach about how much time you have to train.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Totals for July 2011

Total Number of Runs: 15
Total Time: 18:19:29
Total Distance: 128.62 miles

Average Time: 1:13:17
Average Distance: 8.57 miles

Total Number of Rides: 3
Total Time: 3:11:03
Total Distance: 35.25 miles

Average Time: 1:03:41
Average Distance: 11.75 miles

July marked my introduction to the bike. I drank the cycling kool-aid and bought Brandon's used Felt Z90 road bike. I'm becoming more and more comfortable each time I ride. I have a lot to learn but I'm enjoying learning a new discipline. The other highlight in July was running a 2k race with Lil Ansky on July 4th. It was the first of hopefully many races we'll run together. Since the race, we've run together a bunch of times on the local high school track. She's really enjoying and is looking forward to running another race when she gets home from camp and the weather gets cooler.

Now that it's August, MCM is another month closer. The heat and humidity have made it difficult to not only get all the miles in but also train at the level I'm capable of. I hope that the work I'm putting in now will pay off once the weather gets cooler.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Open Letter to the 5:30 a.m. Boot Camp Class

Dear 5:30 a.m. Boot Camp Class Which Meets on the Teaneck High School Track,

I applaud you for getting up early in the morning to workout, I really do. However, you need to be taught a lesson in track etiquette. Proper track etiquette says to leave the inside lane (sometimes known as lane 1) free and clear for crazy people like me who do speed intervals (intervals) as part of their training regimen. If you don't know what intervals are, allow me to explain. Intervals are where a runner run around the track for a specified distance at a very fast pace. After a short recovery, the runner runs another interval, recovers, interval, etc... until the runner has completed their assigned (usually from a coach) number of intervals.

So why is it important to leave the inside lane clear? First and foremost is for safety reasons. If you're walking in the inside lane and I'm running around the track at a very fast pace, someone could get hurt. Sometime I will alert you by saying "on your left" or "on your right." Warning you doesn't help if you have earphones in your ears. The second reason is that the inside lane is the most accurate in terms of distance. So if my workout calls for 800m (2 laps of the track) intervals, I need to run the distance as closely as possible. If I have to run around your class to an outside lane, I'm not only adding distance but I'm also exerting additional energy that I should be conserving for future intervals.

There is a sign on the entrance to the track that says "walkers, joggers, etc... should use the outside lanes (sometimes known as lane 4-8). Why is rule so difficult to abide by? For the past 2 weeks I have asked you nicely to move to the outside lanes when I'm doing intervals. If it happens again next week, I may just run someone over.


Friday, July 22, 2011

I Drank the Cycling Kool-Aid

Coach Jeff has been encouraging me to get a bike for quite some time now. I kept putting it off for 2 reasons. 1) it was too expensive and 2) I was afraid Mrs. Ansky would divorce me thinking that I wanted to start doing triathlon. A few weeks ago, Brandon was selling some items he couldn't take with him to Boulder. I half-jokingly asked him if he had a bike he wanted to sell me. As luck would have it, he asked me if I was interested in his 2007 Felt Z90. After talking about it with my wife (and assuring her that I had no triathlon aspirations), Brandon, and Coach Jeff, I decided drink the cycling kool-aid and bought the bike.

The first thing I needed to do is get it tuned up, so I took it to the Cosmic Wheel in Ridgefield Park, NJ which came highly recommended by many cycling enthusiasts in Bergen County. When I went on Wednesday to pick the bike up, John, the owner, put the bike on a trainer and told me to get on and start pedaling. He made some adjustments, gave me a quick tutorial about how to shift gears, and told me I was good to go. I thought to myself "now what?" I brought the bike in from the car and left it in my living room. Mrs. Ansky put me on notice that I need to find a better place to store it. I told her I'm keeping it upstairs because I'm taking it out for a ride tomorrow morning.

Thursday morning, I took it out for a spin around local streets. I'll admit, I was very nervous when I first started pedaling but I got more comfortable as the ride went on.I managed to ride for an hour without falling or hurting anyone (including myself). I practiced which gears to use for going up hill, down hill, and on flats. The ride went well but I quickly learned that I need to buy a pair of cycling shorts. My tush is still sore.

Running will always be my #1 sport by I'm excited about adding cycling into the mix for cross training, recovery, and building strength. Stay tuned for more cycling adventures.

P.S. I found a great spot in my basement to store the bike.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Less Than Stellar

Last week was the start of another marathon training cycle. With 16 weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30, it was time to start "officially" training again. Week 1 of training started off well with a fun form workout on Tuesday and a solid medium distance mid-week run. The form workout consisted of a 10 minute warm-up then 10 x 20-30 seconds at 10 seconds faster than 5k pace. The key was to focus on good form, lifting from the hips and landing with my feet under my center of mass. I did this run on the treadmill because of brutally hot and humid weather. Thankfully the humidity broke Tuesday night, and I was able to run a solid medium distance, zone 2 run (9.15 miles in 1:15) Wednesday morning.

We were invited to go rafting with friends on Sunday which meant Coach had to cut one workout out of schedule so I could run long on Friday. My planned long run was 2:30 on a hilly course. The best way for me to run long when it's not Sunday is to run to work. The plan was to run from the George Washington Bridge, down the West Side, around Battery Park City, and hit the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges late in the run before finishing near my office. Unfortunately, I got a late start and had some GI issues both of which forced me to cut my run commute short. It was a solid effort (13.87 miles in 156:15) but I did not get in the time I was supposed. Coach noticed and called me out on it. He said now is the time to focus and get the time and distance dialed in. The Jewish holidays will be here before I know it. This means days in September in October where I can't train. I need to be in good shape now knowing that I'm going to lose time later in the cycle.

Despite, brutally hot and humid weather predicted all week, I'm hopeful that this week will be better. I need to be diligent about getting to bed at a decent hour (before 10:00) and getting out early not only to beat the heat but also to be home with enough time to clean up and get to work. Here's how my week looks:

Today: Total Body Workout
Tuesday: Step-up run: 20 minutes in zone 2, 20 minutes in zone 3, 30 minutes in zone 4, 10 minute cool-down. 1:20 total
Wednesday: 1:00 bike ride (yes, I bought a bike. More on this later) or running form workout. If my bike is ready at the bike shop, I'll take it out for a spin. If not, I'll do the form workout.
Thursday: Coach Diane's ab/core workout
Friday: 4 x 1200
Saturday: Shabbat, day of rest.
Sunday: 2:45 on a hilly course. Run the hills in zones 2-3, otherwise keep it in zones 1-2.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Proud Abba (Dad)

This is me and Lil Ansky after the G.R.A.C.E. 9/11 Tribute 5k/2k Run in Glen Rock, NJ on July 4. While this is not the first race she ran, it is the first one we ran together. We decided to run the 2k distance and had a blast. With the exception of a short walk break Lil Ansky ran almost all of the 1.2 miles. When we reach the split between the 2k and 5k courses, she asked how far we've run. When I told her 1 mile, she said "all ready?" I asked her semi-jokingly if she wanted to run the 5k course instead. She thought about it for a moment and decided I against it. I didn't push her because I wanted to keep the experience fun and memorable.

That's exactly what it was fun and memorable. The atmosphere at the race was exactly what a July 4th race should be, relaxed. There were some competitive runners but for the most part, there were lots of parents running the race the with their kids. A few minutes after we finished she asked me when the next race is. I am thrilled that she is enjoying it and that running is bringing us closer together.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Totals for June 2011

Total Number of Runs: 15
Total Time: 13:55:27
Total Distance: 99.81 (had I know I would have run a little farther to crack 100)

Average Distance: 6.65
Average Time: 55:41
Average Pace per Mile: 8:22

June was all about regrouping and having fun after my DNF at the Vermont City Marathon. I jumped right back into racing and ran a great 4 miler at the NYRR Celebrate Israel Run on June 5. I ran with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. I also started running with Lil Ansky (more on that in the next blog post). Basically, it was nice to just run without the pressure of an "A" race.

That's all about to change on July 11, which is 16 weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30. The weather is already hot and humid and I've been slowing down as a result. The plan is to be safe and run at an effort I know I can safely sustain for however many minutes or hours I'm running on a given summer morning. I know that the efforts I put in now will translate into better efforts once the weather gets cooler.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Lil Ansky has been nudging me for quite some time to run with me. Usually it's on Sunday mornings after I've come back from a long training run and I tell her "some other time, when I didn't just run 20 miles." I feel really guilty about it because she is starting to get interested in running and I should be doing what I can to encourage her. I'm also passing up on an opportunity for some quality Daddy/daughter time, something I should be relishing, especially as she gets older (She'll be 10 at the end of July).

I had a short (for me) run on the calendar this past Sunday, 20 minutes in zone 2 followed by 40 minutes in upper zone 3 and we didn't have anywhere to rush to Sunday morning. When I got home from my run, I asked Lil Ansky if she wanted to go running. She could barely contain her excitement and went up to her room and changed (if only she would do this every morning).

I thought the best place to go was the local high school track. The surface is soft and it's flat. We warmed up by walking a lap then I asked her if she wanted to run. After running an entire lap, we recovered by walking. We then alternated by walking 300m and running 100m. She even got cute and took off in a sprint and asked me if I could catch her. I did what any father would do, and let her win. Several people on the track commented to me how nice it was that we were exercising together. All this time, we chatted about school, her friends, what she was looking forward to most about  summer, and running.

We ended up doing a 5k run/walk. When we were done she gave me a big hug and told me how much fun she had and that she wanted to do to it again next week. She also said that she wants to run the 5k in November to benefit her school and that she wanted me to be her coach. My heart melted.

After our time on the track last Sunday, I realized that this is something that I need to continue doing with her regardless of how many miles I ran earlier in the day. Not only is it good for her health but I feel like we now have something to bond over. Quality daddy/daughter time is priceless and better than any individual running accomplishment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Race Report: NYRR Celebrate Israel 4 Mile

This past Sunday was the inaugural NYRR Celebrate Israel Run presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York. The run was part of the Celebrate Israel festivities, including the Celebrate Israel Parade (fka Salute to Israel Parade) taking place in NYC throughout the day. When I saw this race pop up on NYRR's calendar, I knew I had to sign up. The original plan for the race was to run it easy since it would be my first run after the Vermont City Marathon. Since VCM did not go as planned, my legs were fresh I could run this hard if I felt like it and the weather cooperated.

The weather was nice. I don't remember the exact temperature but I do remember the humidity being low. After the Israeli and National anthems, it was time to race. The first mile was the typical clusterf*!k. Lots and bobbing and weaving, and lots of frustration on my part at people who did not line up honestly. There was no corral enforcement what so ever. Several times I almost ran people over as I was motoring up Cat Hill early in the race. The remainder of the race was uneventful and until I came through the finish line chute. NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg was out there congratulating the runners and she stepped in front of of me as I was trying to slow down after finishing. Thankfully, I was able to slow down in time and avoid a collision.

My official time was 28:20 (7:05 average pace) which I would later find out was a 28 second PR.  I hung around the post-race festivities longer than I usually would. There was raffle where the grand prize was 2 tickets to Israel. I also got to meet some of the folks from JRunners. They are doing good work encouraging Observant men and women to take up running. I met Robin who just returned from her first trip to Israel. I also bumped into Joe who needed to run 5 miles to finish up his long run. His motivation was low and was considering bailing on the additional miles. Since I had to be in the City for the Parade, I offered to run with him. I ran at his pace and I didn't push him. I walked when he needed to walk and we got the miles done. He thanked me for the company and I enjoyed catching up with him.

After changing clothes, I made met my parents on 5th Avenue to watch the Parade. Mrs. and Lil Ansky were marching with a group representing Lil's school and my brother, sister-in-law, and niece marched with a group from the 92nd St. Y. When everyone was done marching we enjoyed a post-parade picnic in Central Park. Talk about a great day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Totals for May 2011

Total number of runs: 15
Total time: 18:23:29
Total Distance: 132.75

Average distance per run: 8.85 miles
Average time: 1:13:33

May started off with a bang with a 1:39:29 at the Long Island Half Marathon. This race was a huge boost to my confidence a few weeks before the Vermont City Marathon. My last long run was solid, 23.2 miles in 3:15 (8:24/mile). The taper went well, I cranked out 3 solid 5 x 1 mile workouts on the track the week before VCM. As you know by now, VCM did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. In case you missed it, check out the race report.

The plan for June is to have fun. I hope to be able to run with some friends I've been neglecting while training for VCM. I need a few weeks without the pressure of training for an "A" race. That will start again on July 11, 16 weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DNF Report: KeyBank Vermont City Marathon

As the title of this post says, VCM did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. Before getting into what happened on Sunday, I am going to set the scene by sharing some highlights from the days before the race.

Thursday Night
I spoke with Coach Jeff to discuss a race plan. The hilliest parts of the course were in the first 16 miles. There was a slight uphill start, a steeper climb from the Northern Connector back into Burlington between miles 7-8, and then Battery St. at miles 15 -16. Coach said to relax and conserve my energy on the hills and then pick it up when the course flattened out. We talked about my training cycle and that all signs pointed to a stellar race in Burlington. He also said that the only thing that was going to be beat me was Mother Nature. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come.

Friday & Saturday:
The drive up to Burlington went smoothly. It was a beautiful drive through NY and Vermont farm country, We checked into the hotel and headed over to the expo at the Sheraton. It was great to meet Mike and his family, Sandra, and Elizabeth at the Daily Mile/Twitter meet-up. I picked up my bib and after walking around the expo for a bit, we headed back to the hotel for Shabbat.

It was so nice to have another Observant family to spend Shabbat with. Lil Ansky got along swimmingly with Mike's 3 children which made the long day go by quickly. At some point while we were sitting outside on the roof deck, I said to Mike if it's like this (hot and humid) tomorrow, I'm going to be in trouble. Omen #2. When Shabbat ended our families discussed some spectating logistics and I went to bed.

I did not sleep very well Saturday night. I tossed and turned worried that I would sleep through my multiple alarms and miss the shuttle to the start. I got out of bed around 5:00 and prepared my usual pre-race meal, peanut butter and nutella (Lil Ansky called it PB &  N) on whole wheat bread and a glass of orange juice. I got dressed and met Mike in the lobby. The hotel staff was doing it's part to get in on the race day festivities. They left some goodies in the lobby for the runners and their families to enjoy.
The atmosphere at Battery Park felt more like a small community 5k than a marathon. Runners and their families were milling around and taking shelter from the rain in the bandshell.

Finally, it was time to get into the corrals. Mike and I lined up at the 8:00/mile sign. It was still raining and cool. Shortly before the horn went off, I turned to Mike and said I'll be very happy if it stays like this the entire race. Omen #3. The horn goes off and it's time to race! The first part of the course loops through a residential part of Burlington. I had a hard time settling into a groove partly because the streets were narrow in many spots. As we came back into downtown Burlington I did quick system check. Everything felt fine, heart rate was where I wanted it, legs felt fine, no problem with the lungs. I started to struggle mentally on the climb up from the Northern Connector around mile 7. The rain had stopped, the sun was coming out, and the air was getting heavy. Mike caught up with me and told me I looked great. I was struggling up the hill but I knew my family was waiting for me at the top. Seeing Mrs. and Lil Ansky helped me get me out of my mental funk but shortly after seeing them around mile 9 I started to feel tightness in my chest. I knew right away that my asthma was starting to flare up. I pulled off to the side around mile 10 for 2 puffs of my inhaler and to slow down my breathing. At this point I knew that I wasn't running a 3:30 but I thought that if I took a few minutes to regroup I could still finish the race. I got back on the course at a slower pace but the tightness came back and was getting worse. I could not get enough air into my lungs. At mile 11.5 I saw a medical tent and told the medics that my asthma was flaring up and that I was done. My race was over.

What happened next was a little bit of a blur. I found my way to the half way point where the 2 person relay bus would take me to the finish line at Waterfront Park. Not exactly where I wanted to be but what choice did I have? My bag was there and I arranged with my family to meet at the reunion zone. On the bus I was talking with someone who complete the first half of the relay. He recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan and was telling me that last year he ran VCM virtually while in Afghanistan. Before we parted ways I thanked him for his service and congratulated him on completing his leg of the relay.

I picked up my bag from the baggage tent and spoke to my family. They were somewhat surprised that I dropped out because Mike had told them that I was OK but I was a few miles back. I told them I was OK and would meet them at the reunion zone. I was an emotional wreck and being around the finish line was not helping. The race organizers were announcing the names of the finishers as they crossed the line. My name should have been called. I trained my tuches off for this race. I endured many miles in sub-freezing temperatures, logged hundreds of pre-dawn miles, and ran a stellar half marathon earlier in the month! Sunday was supposed to be my reward for all of my hard work.

Mrs. and Lil Ansky greeted me with hugs, kisses, and encouragement. They said everything they were supposed but I wasn't hearing it. I was angry, disappointed, I even cried. My immediate reaction was to get the heck away from the festivities. I wanted to go back to the hotel, check out a day early, and drive home. Since the first hotel shuttle didn't leave Waterfront Park until 12:45, we were able to see Mike finish and hear his name over the PA system. It also gave me time to talk to Coach about what happened. He reminded me that I made the right decision and that I had nothing to prove by trying to finish. He told me that fellow PRSFIT teammate, Jen also pulled out with an asthma attack. Mother Nature had beaten us both.

We rode the shuttle back to the hotel with Mike and his family. When we got back to our room, a big part of me still wanted to go home.  Sunday after the race was supposed to be about celebrating another marathon finish. But what did I have to celebrate? Mrs. Ansky convinced me that yes, we here for my race, but we also here for a mini-vacation and we shouldn't ruin it for Lil Ansky. We paid a visit to the Magic Hat Brewing Company which was right around the corner from our hotel. We picked up a super-sized bottle of #9 and a bottle of Vinyl to drown my sorrows in later.

Next up was a visit to the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury. There is no ice cream production on the weekends but we enjoyed hearing Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield's story. The tour ended with samples of their latest flavor, Late Night Snack which features Jimmy Fallon on the packaging. It's a vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl, and fudge covered potato chip clusters. Great combination of salty and sweet. The sample wasn't enough to satisfy us so we each enjoyed a cup from the on-site scoop shop, Phish Food for Mrs. and Lil Ansky, Peanut Brittle for me.

After dinner we gave Lil Ansky the choice of swimming or Kung Fu Panda 2. She chose the movie which was cute but not as good as the first one. After putting Lil Ansky to bed, the Mrs. and I enjoyed our beers and Star Wars: Episode I which was on TV and went to bed.

Surprisingly, I woke up Monday in much better spirits. I wasn't 100% ready to put the DNF behind  me and move on, but I was beginning to realize that not finishing was not a result of something I did wrong during the race. I didn't go out too fast, I wasn't dehydrated, Mother Nature beat me fair and square. It was completely out of my control. It happens to the best runners in the world, at VCM it happened to Jen and to Laura, it happened to many other friends over their racing careers, and it happened to me. DNFing is part of our sport, not every race is going to be perfect.

Am I still disappointed that I returned from Vermont without a finisher's medal around my neck? Of course I am. With that said, I came home with my health, a loving and supportive family, and friends who care. It doesn't matter if we've met in person or only virtually I consider you all friends and I thank you for all the tweets, Facebook comments, and texts. DNFing is very humbling but I'm now ready to put it behind me, regroup, and get ready to tear up the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Did I Forget Something?

I made a list of the all the running related items I need to take with me to Vermont. What am I missing?
  • Shoes - Newton Gravitas. If it rains, I'll wear the Newton Terras since the closed upper will keep my feet drier.
  • Socks
  • Shorts
  • Shirt - I'll probably pack one short sleeve and one sleeveless and decide which one to wear.
  • Visor - I don't like hats, my head gets too warm.
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Garmin + charger
  • Body Glide
  • Gels (Hammer Raspberry)
  • Dry clothes for after the race. It should be warm enough in the morning that I won't need throw away clothing before the race.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Zensah calf sleeves - I'm not sure if I'm going to race in them but I'll definitely put them on after the race and during the drive home on Monday.
  • Food for before the race - whole wheat bread, peanut butter, nutella, orange juice, water, Gatorade.
  • Food for after the race - the bagels VCM will provide probably won't be kosher.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

T-Minus 4 Days

A friend asked me the other day if I was wigging out. The taper is usually the time when I start doubting myself and get all nervous that I won't be able to run a good race. This taper has been different. I've had no phantom pains, no nighttime dreams about not finishing the race, and I'm not questioning whether I've trained enough. In fact, I'm in a pretty good place mentally. I'm not checking the weather, because, in all honesty, there is nothing I can do about it. If it rains, it rains. If it's hot, it's hot. I'll adjust my race strategy as needed but there's no use checking every day and obsessing over it. Truthfully, the weather is more of a factor for Mrs. and Lil Ansky who will be spectating and cheering me on.

A few other things:
  • We drive up to Burlington on Friday. The Anskys are looking forward to meeting Mike and his family. Since we are both Observant we decided it will be nice to stay in the same hotel and spend Shabbat with another Observant family. Mike's family is cooking Friday night dinner and we're going cook Shabbat Lunch. Mike's oldest daughter is the same age as Lil Ansky. She's looking forward to making a new friend and playing together, along with Mike's other 2 kids.
  • Because of Shabbat, I will be at the expo on Friday. There is a meet-up planned for 4:30 on Friday and for 4:00 on Saturday. Let me know if you're going to be at the Friday meet-up, it will be great to meet you in person. Click here for meet-up details.
  • For the first time at VCM, there will be runner tracking. Once I have my bib number, I will post my bib number and the link on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook. It will show splits at 10, 13.1, and 20 miles as well as the finish. To the best of knowledge it is not set up to automatically send my progress to Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to Fairpoint Communications for making this happen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Possible Changes to the Vermont City Marathon Course

This is not going to be a post about me obsessing about the extended forecast on the 29th. Whatever the weather is, it is. There is nothing I can do I about it. Truth is, what I'm about to write about, is also something that I can do nothing about but I think it's important to mention.

The organizers of the Vermont City Marathon have been informing runners via their Facebook page, Twitter feed, and blog that a portion of the marathon course will be re-routed due to high waters and flooding of Lake Champlain. The high waters and flooding are due to snow melt and higher than normal rainfall in the Burlington area. The race organizers posted this on their blog yesterday:

"We are working diligently with Burlington city officials, the Burlington Parks and Rec and the Department of Public Works to make the necessary repairs to the Marathon course in hopes that we will be able to run the course as originally planned, aside from one small detour at Perkins Pier where runners will pass through the Vermont Railway lot.  Our ability to run the course as planned depends somewhat on what Mother Nature throws at us for the next several days, however, there are contingency plans in place that address all areas of potential concern."
I am sure that the race organizers are obsessing about the weather a lot more than I am at this point. As of right now, only a small change to the course will be made. However, if the weather doesn't cooperate, then other course modifications might be necessary. Whatever the outcome, the race organizers have assured us that the course changes will not result in significant elevation changes and will be USATF certified. 
The race organizers and Burlington Parks and Recreation are asking anyone in the Burlington area to help clean up the course this Saturday between 10am and 2pm. Volunteers should meet at the bottom of College Street near the information booth. 
One thing I am sure of is that regardless of what the final course looks like, I am sure that the Vermont City Marathon will be a top notch race. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Last Long Run and Tapering

It's hard to believe that the Vermont City Marathon is only 13 days away. I haven't had much time to write recently so I'll catch you up on how my last long run went and how my taper is going.

I did my last long on Sunday, May 8. Coach Jeff assigned 3:15 in zone 2 to close out my last hard week of training before the taper. I had to start earlier than I usually would on a Sunday because of a family obligation. It was quite chilly in the morning but I dressed lightly knowing that it would warm up while I was out there. The run went really well. I practiced my hydration and nutrition strategy for the race, and had no issues. Around mile 16.5 I ran out of fluids so I stopped at a local CVS for a bottle of Gatorade. The line to pay was longer than usual for an early Sunday morning because people were out buying last minute Mother's Day cards. I ended up running 23.2 miles in 3:15 which averaged out to 8:24/mile. Coach was happy with the effort, he said I'm where I needed to be heading into the taper.

Coach's approach to the taper is to cut back the time on your feet but to increase the intensity. Case in point, the first run of my taper was 8 x 7 minutes in zone 4 with 2:00 recovery in between. That morning, I woke with intense stomach pains and I know there was no way I could run. Later that day I flew to Atlanta to present at a workshop on Wednesday. Summer came early to Atlanta (70 with 100% humidity at 6:30 Wednesday morning), but I still wanted to get a run in a new city. My hotel was a few blocks from Piedmont Park. There were lots of runners out and several "boot camp" type classes going on in the park. I followed some runners until I got my bearings then went off on my own and ran several loops of the park.

This past Friday was 20 minutes in zone 2 then 1 hour in upper zone 3. I was really pleased how well this went. My pace for the upper zone 3 was 7:37/mi. My stomach was a little queasy most likely because my nutrition was off while I was in Atlanta.

Yesterday, Coach assigned me a step-up run: 10 minutes in easy, 10 minutes in zone 2, 30 minutes in zone 3, 45 minutes in zone 4. It was raining pretty hard in the morning and my eyes were burning and watering because the pollen count was extremely high. For these reason, I decided to run on a treadmill at the gym. Zone 3 was done at around 7:45 pace and zone at around 7:30. It's not easy being on the treadmill for that long, but I got through it. Even though I ran on the treadmill, Coach was happy with the effort. He said I'm all juiced up and ready to go.

This week I'll be on the track Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for some mile repeats to keep the leg turnover high. It's almost showtime!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Totals for April 2011

Total Number of Runs: 12
Total Time: 15:28:44
Total Distance: 110.18

Average Time: 1:17:23
Average Distance: 9.18 miles

April Started off with a new 15k PR at the Indian Trails Road Race. After the race, I became more confident that a 3:30 or better could be possible at VCM. I also made the 4 runs I got done in South Florida count. My body was not used to the hot and humid weather but a put together a quality tempo run, a solid long interval workout, and a solid long run.

You already know how the Long Island Half Marathon turned out (if you done, click here for the race report). I'm about half way through my last tough week before the taper. I close out this week with a 1:30 step-up run on Friday and a 3:15 long run on Sunday.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Race Report: RXR/TIAA-CREF Long Island Half Marathon

There wasn't a separate shirt for the half. Weird, I know. Should I wear the shirt?
 I targeted the Long Island Half Marathon as my final tune-up race before the Vermont City Marathon on May 29. I spoke with Coach Jeff on Friday to formulate a race plan. He said to try and go out at around 7:50 pace and if I feel I felt good at mile 10, I should let it fly for the last 5k. I thought that seemed reasonable. Most of my long tempo run have been right around that pace. A 7:50 pace would get me across the finish line in approximately 1:43 which would be a PR by 2 minutes and on target for a 3:30 finish in Vermont.

Since I live in NJ and don't go out to Long Island that often, I left plenty of time to drive out there. Traffic was light early Sunday morning and I arrived in Eisenhower Park around 6:45. I made sure to use the bathroom adjacent to the parking lot before making my way to the start. I met up with Samantha, whose friend was nice enough to pick up my bib, checked my bag and lined up just in front of the 8:00/mile pace sign. The conditions in East Meadow could not have been better Sunday morning. Temperatures at the 8:00 start were in the upper 50s and sunny. It was supposed to warm up but not til much later in the day.

The horn went off and it was the usual clusterf*&k at the start. There were a fair share of runners that did not line up honestly. Thankfully, the Charles Lindburgh Blvd. was wide enough that I was able to settle into my pace and waste too much energy bobbing and weaving. Right from the get go, I decided to race based on perceived effort rather than focusing on the 7:50 pace. The first 2 miles, I went out too fast but I was able to reign myself in and settle in to a hard but sustainable effort (I've been using that phrase a lot recently). I found the elevation profile of the race deceiving.
I really didn't feel the gradual rise from miles 4 to 8. Aside from a small hilly part on the Wantagh Parkway the rest of the course felt flat. The marathon and half marathon courses split at the 10 mile mark. Marathoners went left further down Wantagh Parkway and half marathoners went right onto Carman Ave. I was feeling good so I picked up the pace. As I made the final turn out of the golf course and back into Eisenhower Park I saw the clock turn to 1:40. I knew I had a PR but pushed a little harder with the hopes of finishing sub-1:40.  I didn't look at my watch until after I grabbed a bottle of water and someone put a finisher's medal around my neck. When I did, guess what I saw??????
I had to a double take. Did I just run a sub-1:40 half? Indeed I did. I called Coach Jeff and he let out one of his trademark "YEE HAWs." My official time was not that far off from my watch time.
The 1:39:29 is PR by 6 minutes. This race was a huge boost to my confidence. I was feeling slightly fatigued right before Passover and honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to do after only running 4 times over the 10 days I was away. Turns out my body was fresh and I ran a killer race. 

Overall, the Long Island Half was well run race. The course was well marked, the roads were wide and closed to traffic and there was more than handful of spectators on the course. There was also a pretty elaborate post-race festival with a beer garden, band, and some vendors showing off their products. It looked like many families planned on meeting their runners and spending the day in the park.  My only gripe was that there weren't enough aid stations with Gatorade. There were aid stations with water every 1.5 miles or so but Gatorade was only provided at miles 5 and 10.

It's hard to believe that VCM is now less than 4 weeks away. Time really went by quickly. This is my last hard training week before the taper.  I'm ready to rock!