Thursday, March 31, 2011

Denver Run with Matt aka The Dump Runner

In addition to Jeff and Diane, I was also looking forward to meeting and running with Matt, host of the Dump Runners Club podcast. We arranged to meet at my hotel after my meetings ended and Matt got off work. I didn't have any particular distance or pace in mind I simply looking forward to seeing the city. We past Coors Field (home of the Rockies) early on in the run. We then hit the Platte River Rec Path. There were plenty of runners out so I asked Matt if this was Denver's version of New York's Central Park. He said that this was a popular spot to run but Denver had many parks in which to run. He pointed out portions of the Colfax and Denver Marathon routes and took me past Pepsi Center (home of the Nuggets and Avalanche) and Invesco Field at Mile High (home of the Broncos). Passing the sports venues reminded me of my run to Yankee Stadium run in August of 2009.

I definitely noticed the thin air. We ended up running about 6.5 miles at 8:22 pace. This is the pace I ran my last marathon at and at which I've been doing my long runs. This pace at altitude felt hard. I had to ask Matt to slow it down more than once. By the end of the run I was sucking wind. It was great to meet Matt and to put a face to the tweets and to voice of the podcast.

I don't know about you, but I think the map on Garmin Connect from a new city run is a much better memento than any trinket I could buy in an overpriced souvenir shop. My Denver run provided an added bonus, usually I don't pay attention to the elevation because most of runs are run at this elevation:
but Tuesday's run definitely got my attention

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Meeting with Coaches Jeff and Diane

I've been in Denver since Sunday afternoon for a conference. For those of you that have traveled for work, I think you'll agree that one of the biggest decisions to be made is where to go for dinner and drinks. So while many of my colleagues were deciding between sushi or Peruvian, I was looking forward to an evening of form analysis and form drills with my coaches Jeff and Diane.

I was still in my work clothes when I met them in the hotel lobby so I quickly changed and met them in the hotel gym. The gym at the Grand Hyatt was pretty nice. It had several treadmills, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, free weights, floor mats, etc... everything I needed to workout. Since I did a strength and core routine in the morning, I got on the treadmill for some form analysis. Diane took several minutes of video then told me to get off. We sat on the floor in the gym watching the video. I won't bore you with all the details, but there are many things I'm doing well and several things I need to work on.

Then it was time to move on to form drills. We went through a bunch of drills to teach my body what it should feel like to run naturally. When I first started the drills, I tried to run exactly like Jeff was. Jeff stopped me and said "don't run like me, run like run you." After that, I had an easier time with the drills.

After the drills we sat down and chatted mainly about about my goals for Vermont. I told Jeff and Diane that this time of year always gets in head. I've missed 2 long runs, and Passover is fast approaching. Jeff said one of the reasons for building a big base is in anticipation of the next few weeks. We did talk about a specific time goal for Vermont, I'd rather not share it right now. The most important thing Jeff and Diane left me with is that I have to believe I can accomplish the goal. Jeff and Diane are confident that I can, it's time for me to start wrapping my head around it. I'm starting to get there. I've had some very solid step-up runs recently that has boosted my confidence. But I still can't believe that my name and the time goal are being mentioned in the same sentence.

OK, I've gone on long enough. It was so nice to finally meet Jeff and Diane in person. They are so nice and easy to talk to. My time with them was much better than any meal in Denver.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I Learned From a Bad Workout

My assigned run from this past Tuesday was warm-up for 10 minutes then run 7 x 8 minutes in zone 4. On a good day, I have a tough time completing this workout. Tuesday was not a good day. I had some things to take care of around the house Monday night and I got to bed later than I wanted. I chose the extra sleep and decided to get the workout done on the treadmill at the company gym during lunch.

Things didn't go exactly as planned. I warmed up at an easy pace then set the treadmill to around a 7:20 pace. The first 8 minute interval felt fine, after a 2:00 recovery it was time for interval #2. This is when the workout starting heading south. I struggled through 4 minute intervals and called it quits. As I was cooling down, I felt dejected. The Friday before I ran a killer step-up run with the last 4 miles at sub-8:00 pace. Sunday's long run was solid as well. There was really no good reason why I shouldn't have been able to hit the workout.

Coach is a big proponent of learning something from every workout, good or bad. As I was writing my post-run thoughts on my log, 2 things came to mind. 1) Speed workouts on the treadmill are tough. First, the pace on the treadmill is not always 100% accurate. I may have been running faster than the pace on the TM showed.  Second, it's a lot harder (for me) to maintain one pace for the duration of the interval. When I do intervals on the track or on the road, your pace is going to vary within each interval. I tend to start slow and speed up as the interval goes on. Lastly, it's just boring. It's safe to say that most of us prefer doing our speed drills on a track or on the roads. 2) My body is used to running in the morning before work. By the time I got on the treadmill, I had been at the office for a few hours dealing with the stresses of the morning. When I run before work, my body is fresh and my mind is clear. There is very little to piss me off between when I wake up and when I hit the road. Once I get to work, there are meetings, deadlines, and last minute requests for stuff.

The Vermont City Marathon is 9 weeks from Sunday. The next few weeks are going to be tough. I'm traveling to Denver for work on Sunday which means another weekend without a long run. I plan on running while in Denver but I'm not sure how the thin air will affect me. My next race is the Indian Trails 15k on April 3 and Passover starts the evening of April 18.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quick Update

I've been a bad blogger, the last time I posted anything was 2 weeks ago after Coogan's. I wish I had more time in my life to share every thought that comes to mind. Since the Vermont City Marathon is 10 weeks from today, I thought a quick update on my training would be a good idea.

I have to say, Coach Jeff really knows his stuff. We spent January and February building a big base and I'm beginning to reap the benefits. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Last Sunday, my assigned run was 2:45 in zone with 3 minute surges every 20 minutes. I chose a particularly hilly course to start getting my legs ready for the hills in Burlington. What surprised me about this run was how strong I felt on the hills. I increased my turnover and used my arms to power up the hills and recovered well when the terrain flattened out again. Because of a family commitment, I had to cut the run short at 2:30. 17.55 miles in 2:30 for an 8:35 average pace.
  • It was pouring this past Wednesday so I decided to run inside in the treadmill. I'm not the biggest fan of the treadmill so when I am forced inside I try to make things interesting. Wednesday's run was 1:30 in zone with surges every 20 minutes. I ran the first hour as assigned but when it came for me to surge at 1:00 I kept up the fast pace and finished the last 30 minutes like this: 10 minutes at 7:47 pace, 1% incline, 10 minutes at 7:41 pace, 0.5% incline, 5 minutes at 7:37 pace, 1% incline, 5 minutes at 7:31 pace, 0.5%. 11 miles total in 1:30 for a 8:11 pace.
  • The best run of the week came this past Friday. Once again, my assigned run was 1:30 with surges every 20 minutes. I decided it was time to start running to work (lower Manhattan) again. I took a bus to the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal and head down the West Side. During the first few miles, I wasn't feeling it. It was dark and there were no runners on the northern part of West Side path. The sun started to come up and the further south I ran, the more runners I started to see. When I hit the ship terminal around west 59th St., I decided to increase my pace just like I did on the treadmill a few days before. My last 4 mile splits were 7:49, 7:58, 7:51, 7:27. 11.14 miles in 1:30:06 for a 8:05 pace. I had the runners high the entire day at work and I was super productive.
Today was the Jewish festival of Purim. It is a fun holiday commemorating the Jews of Persia overcoming an plot to destroy them. Kids and, some adults, dress up in costumes, we give treats to our friends, and we have a festive meal. It is one of Lil Ansky's favorite holidays and I didn't want to ruin it by disappearing for 2 - 3 hours for a run. So I took today off and enjoyed the festivities with my family. 

Next Sunday I will be traveling to Denver for work and I will not be able to get a run in before I have to leave for airport. Coach put some tough workouts on my schedule this week to make up for it. Tuesday I have a 12 mile step up run where I need to run miles 1-3 in zone, 4-6 in zone, miles 7-11 in zone, and cool down for a mile. Friday I have road intervals, 7 x 8 minutes at 5k pace with 2 minute recovery. While I am in Denver I hope to meet up and maybe run with Coaches Jeff and Diane and Matt

The countdown to Passover is officially underway. 4 weeks from tomorrow night, I will be sitting down with my family in Boca Raton, Florida for the first seder. In the next few weeks, I will be sure to share some recipes that got me through a 3:00 long run during the intermediate days when it's permissible to run.

Lastly, congratulations to everyone who ran the New York City Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon today.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Report: Coogan's Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5k

I was not particularly excited about today's race. First and foremost, the 5k is not my favorite race distance. I very rarely race the distance well. As soon as the horn sounds, it's pedal to the medal. No time to settle into a groove. Racing in the rain in the also didn't get me excited. It wasn't a torrential downpour, but just enough to annoy me. If it weren't raining, I would have warmed up with a run over the George Washington Bridge but I didn't want to be soaked before the race even started. Instead I got a ride with a friend. I got to the race about 30 minutes before the start. Just enough time to get my race bib from Joe and say hi to some familiar faces. 

The horn went off and there was a mad dash of runners jockeying for position, elbows were flying, and runners were tripping after getting cut off. If that wasn't enough, there were potholes to deal with. I didn't want to spend the whole race looking down but I also didn't want to roll an ankle or trip and fall. Because it was so crowded and I moving along at a pretty fast clip, I didn't have a chance to take in the sights. I heard the bands but didn't see them, I knew there were several vacant synagogues along Ft. Washington, and I didn't have time to appreciate the view from Fort Tryon Park. I dealt with the hills the same way as I always do, increase my turnover, use my arms, and recover at the crest. I picked up the pace for the down hill finish and crossed the line in 22:08 (7:08 average pace), 13 seconds off my PR. I'm happy with the effort considering the rain, hills, crowds, and potholes. 

Coogan's is one of the few New York Runners races not held in Central Park. Many of us on the New York Running Show mentioned that we would like to see more races outside of Central Park. After today's race I understand and appreciate why it's so difficult to do so.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Totals for February 2011

Total Number of Runs: 16
Total Time: 17:21:25
Total Distance: 123.02

Average Time: 1:05:05
Average Distance: 7.69
Average Pace per Mile: 8:28

Year to Date Time: 35:23:01
Year to Date Year to Date Distance: 250.24

I started off the month with a 4 mile PR at the NYRR Gridiron Classic. It was the first time I ran a sub-30:00 4 miler finishing in 28:43 (7:10 avg. pace). February treated us to a taste of spring, albeit for only 2 or 3 days. Never the less, it's always a treat to put on shorts for 1 or 2 runs in the middle of winter. January and February were all about building a big base. March is when it's going to get tough. Bring it!