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!