Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back (briefly) at 2012 and Looking Ahead Towards 2013

I'm hesitant to call this a "Year in Review" post because, quite honestly, there isn't much to review. From a running perspective, 2012 was one of my most inconsistent years. For the first time since I started keeping track, I finished a year with fewer than 1,000 miles (977 to be exact). I didn't set any PRs in any of the races I ran. I did finish my marathon #5 but I was severely under-trained and ran my second worst time. If I had to sum up 2012 in 5 words they would be  life got in the way.

With that said, I do have some goals for 2013:
  • Focus on shorter distance racing - I wrote in my last post that we will be celebrating Lil Ansky's Bat Mitzvah in 2013. I don't want training for a full marathon to get in the way of preparing and celebrating this important family milestone. My goal race will be a spring half marathon (still not sure which one yet.). I can put in the time and work at the beginning of the year to train well for a spring half. Coach Jeff has already put a lot of tempo work on my calendar to get ready for the half and for some tune up race. After the half, I will continue to run and bike but with no goals for the summer or fall.
  • Cycle more - I started cycling in 2012 and completed my first multi-sport event. If 2012 was about getting to like cycling, I'd like 2013 to be the year I learn to love cycling. I may or may not do another multi-sport event in 2013 but at the very least, I'd like to get out on the bike more often after my half and become a more confident rider.
  • Focus on healthier eating - believe it or not, I'm not the healthiest eater. I'd like to make a better effort in 2013 to eat better including finding a way to suppress my sweet tooth.
  • Commitment to Consistency - that's Team PRSFIT's mantra for 2013. I'm the first to admit that I skip my strength and core workouts more often than I should. They really do help in becoming a stronger athlete and I need to make a better effort to not blow them off.
  • Pay it Forward - I have a lot of people to thank for helping me accomplish my goals. In 2012, I helped a friend accomplish a goal by pacing him to his first half marathon finish. Not every race needs to be about me gunning for a PR.
  • Explore - We all have our tried and true running routes. I, for one, am guilty of not liking to drive to start a run and therefore start and end many of my runs near my house. I'll admit that these routes are starting to get boring. They're not very scenic, many of them are through neighboring towns which look a lot like mine. Everything about these routes is familiar, the terrain, the hills, where I can make pit stop, where the convenience stores to refill my bottles. There are so many places in northern Bergen County, Passaic County, and Rockland County (NY) that I'd like to explore and are not too far from my house.
  • Have Fun! - let's face it, I'm not getting paid to toe the line at a race. When I commit to race, I often put a lot of pressure on myself during the training the cycle and if I under-perform at race I get disappointed. I guess it's OK to get disappointed if you put in the work but the important thing is to learn from it and move on. I'd like to be able to continue running for many years to come and if it's no longer fun, then I won't stick with it.
So there you have it, my goals for 2013. As you can see, I have only 1 time based running goal for 2013. I think the rest of them are more about keeping things light and fun while planning for and celebrating a very important family milestone. Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Plans for 2013

My goals for 2013 are influenced by a very important family event, Lil Ansky's Bat Mitzvah. I'll save the "time goes by quickly" thoughts for another time but needless to say, it's a very important milestone not just for her but for myself and Mrs. Ansky as well. The celebration will take place in 3 parts starting in July with a celebration in summer camp. We're then spending 2 weeks in Israel in August. Mrs. Ansky and I haven't visited since 1992 and it will be Lil Ansky's first visit. There will be a lot of touring, falafel consumption, and possibly a small celebration with extended family and friends. We'll then celebrate with family and friends in the U.S. in September. On top of all that the Jewish holiday "season" starts the Sunday after Labor Day. I hope by now you can see where I'm going with this.  A fall goal race is out of the question. Don't misunderstand me, I will need running more than ever to keep me sane while planning Lil Ansky's celebration, and to burn off the calories from multiple celebrations, eating too much falafel, and eating too much during the holidays. However, I will not be able to put in the time to train for a goal race.

Which brings me to spring......after speaking with Coach Jeff, I've decided that my spring goal race will be a half marathon. I do enjoy the journey of training for a full marathon but I feel like I need a break. Life got in the way A LOT while training for Marine Corps this year and it showed in my result. Work and my outside life are very hectic and training for a full marathon in 2013 is not going to work for me. Sam recently wrote about feeling like a failure for wanting to take a break from marathoning. Running marathons should not be the be all and end all definition of "being a runner." There are many successful runners that have never run a 26.2 mile road race in their careers. After Marine Corps 2012, I also feel like I have unfinished business with the distance. I was somewhat embarrassed with my 4:18:XX and was ready to sign up for a spring full (Poconos or NJ). Being the analytical person that I am, I quickly realized that, with everything going on in my life in 2013, putting in the work for a half marathon goal race is a more realistic goal.

Now for the important question: Which race should I run? A few come to mind:
  1. E. Murray Todd Half Marathon, March 3, 2013 - the one time I tried to run this race, it cancelled due to snow. I know nothing about the race experience or the course. It looks like a small race in Monmouth County, NJ. It's affordable at $30 and a little over an hour's drive from Teaneck.
  2. Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers University, April 21, 2013 - another race I've never run. I've mixed reviews about the race. Some really liked the the experience but others found the course crowded and difficult to race.At $80 (through 12/31 then it goes up to $90) it's on the pricier side. There's also no race day bib pickup
  3. Long Branch Half Marathon, May 5, 2013 - A big part of me likes the idea of running on the NJ Shore a few months after Superstorm Sandy decimated the shore. In fact, the race's theme for 2013 is "Restore the Shore." The race organizers will be giving a portion of the proceeds to restore the Jersey shore. There are 3 things holding me back: the start time and the price tag. The race starts at 7:00am which means I would have to leave my house in Teaneck at WickedEarly O'Clock or take a hotel room for the weekend. I really have to watch the budget this year because of the Bat Mitzvah so I'm not crazy about taking a hotel room. At $80 (until 12/31 at which point it goes up to $90), the price is a lot more than I want to spend to race a half marathon. I know that some of my fee will go to good causes, never the less it's still a lot of money. There is no race day pickup.
  4. Long Island Half Marathon, May 5, 2013 - I ran this race in 2011 and PRed with a 1:39:29. The course was flat but was not very interesting. The race starts at 8:00am which means I could leave at Early O'Clock and not WickedEarly O'Clock. At $45 it's definitely more affordable than #1. Like, #s 1 - 3 there's no race day bib pickup.
  5. Escape to the Palisades Half Marathon, May 5, 2013 - I ran the inaugural race last year and had a great experience. I know the course well as I run there quite frequently. It's also the closest to home, and at $25 (through 1/31/13) also the most affordable. The course is very scenic but very hilly. I ran a good race there last year but the hills beat me. I'm sure the 2nd edition will be just as good but I don't think it's a PRable course, even if I train there every Sunday til race day.
What am I missing? My criteria are (in no particular order):
  • no Saturday races - I don't roll on Shabbos.
  • No NYRR races - their races are too big and don't really feel like supporting them after their mishandling of the 2012 New York City Marathon.
  • less than a 90 minute drive from Teaneck. 
  • affordable race fee 
  • swag is nice but I don't need a medal or a cotton shirt. Tech shirts are always useful and will be worn during training or other races.
  • race day bib pickup is preferable
NYCRUNS: any half marathons planned between March and May?

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Big Four-Oh

That's right, yesterday my birthday, I turned the big FOUR-OH. That officially makes me a masters runner. A few people asked me how I felt about turning 40. Honestly, I feel no different today as a 40-year old than I did a few days ago as 39-year old.

Coach Jeff doesn't give a day off for birthdays so I started my day with almost 11 miles in the Palisades. I met up with Fernando and we chatted mostly about our plans for next year and how much we enjoy running the hills between Fort Lee and Alpine. I definitely need to run there more often, especially during the off-season. I think the hills will make me stronger as I gear up for my spring goal race (more on that soon). The run itself was great. It was a very foggy morning so it was difficult to see where the hills were. The fog also made the air thick which was not good for my asthma. I'd love to get a group run together sometime during the winter, it's really a great place to run.

Anyway...back to turning 40. Honestly, I feel better at 40 than I did at 30. I wasn't a runner at 30, I didn't take it up until I was 34. So I'm definitely fitter and healthier than I was at 30. If you were hoping for some deep thoughts about me turning 40, I'm sorry to disappoint. I'm not that type of person. I will be celebrating a bunch of time this week. Last night was with family, later this week will be friends. As for presents, I'm not sure, there will be no wild weekends in Vegas, no red sports cars, no Harleys. I will treat myself to something, but it will be something practical.

Thank you to everyone who wished me Happy Birthday on Facebook and Twitter. I had a great day.
Making birthday wishes

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Race Report: Dick Meighan Memorial Run

This is the 5th year I've started Thanksgiving with the Dick Meighan Memorial Run in Upper Saddle River, NJ. The mood is always festive with many local high school runners on hand carrying on with their shenanigans and families running with their kids. I ran this race with Lil Ansky and had a great time. This year, she's a little banged up with a badly sprained ankle and a broken collar bone (done ask) so I was able to focus on running my own race.

The 5k is my least favorite distance but for some strange reason I was excited to race and push myself. Part of it has to do with the Team PRSFIT Coach's Challenge. It's a fun winter challenge that coaching staff put together to keep us motivated during the winter months. I'll explain how the challenge works in an upcoming post.

The start of the race was a bit messy with lots of runners lining up towards the front that had no business being there including many families with small children.It took a good 1/2 mile for me to get to where I wanted be in the pack and I was able to start pushing. I finished in 23:39 for a 7:37/mile average pace. Not bad for not racing a 5k in who knows how long. Thank you to the race organizers and volunteers for taking time out of your Thanksgiving morning and putting on a fun local race.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Back to Blogging

It's hard to believe the last time I sat down to write was at the beginning of January. Hopefully this post will mark my to blogging. I really miss it, but finding the time to to write has proved challenging. I'm hopeful that I've now been able to carve out some time in my very hectic life to share with you about my training, racing, and anything else that comes to mind. Just to catch you up on what I've been up to recently:

  • I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28. I didn't have my best race but I finished. Life got in the way a lot during this training cycle and I didn't have enough mileage under my legs to run a solid race. The last 10 miles were a sufferfest of epic proportions. I ran a little, walked a little, ran a little, walked a little until I crossed the finish line in 4:18. On the positive side of things, there were a bunch of PRSFIT teammates running MCM and some of us met up at the expo. It was nice to see Coach Jeff again and to meet Ann, Amy and her husband Eric.
  • 10 Days after that, I flew down Orlando for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. My friend, MB is a lover of all things Disney and took up running about 3 years ago. He started off with a few 5ks, built up to the 10k, and 15k and finally decided he wanted to run his first half marathon in Disney last Saturday night. It felt great to pay it forward and help a friend accomplish a goal.
  • I'll be running the Dick Meighan Memorial Run in Upper Saddle River, NJ on Thanksgiving. I really enjoy this 5k (as much as anyone can enjoy a 5k). It's a good way to kick off the Thanksgiving festivities. 

That's it for now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Like Scotch

That's right, Coach Jeff compared swimming to scotch. No, swimming does not have hints of vanilla, leather, and blackberries. Rather, swimming, like scotch, is an acquired taste.

By way of background, this whole conversation started when I asked Coach some questions about bike trainers. He got all excited, hoping that I was ready to make the transition to triathlon. I told him not so fast! My first multi-sport event will be a duathlon not a triathlon. I went on to explain that I love running and I see myself loving cycling. But swimming, not so much. I just don't see myself ever loving swimming. Coach and others argue that the swim leg of a triathlon is over the fastest so you really don't have to love it, you just have to get it done. I disagree, the reason why I stick with running and picked up cycling is because I love them. If I don't enjoy something, I don't stick with it. On a more practical level, I don't have an affordable pool nearby and I would have to shell out some cash for swim lessons.

So instead of comparing swimming to scotch by saying both are acquired tastes, I'll offer a different comparison. Swimming, like scotch, gets better with age. Maybe as I get older I'll learn to like swimming but right now it's too young to taste.