Thursday, January 17, 2013

Race Report: NYCRUNS Central Park 10 Miler

This past Sunday I ran the NYCRUNS Central Park 10 miler. Before I get to the race report, a little background......A few days before the race, PRSFIT teammate, MH, who lives in the SF Bay area, was in NYC for work and asked if I wanted to join him for some early morning miles in Central Park. Of course I said yes. I never pass up a chance to run with a teammate. I was also able to preview the race course. I've run in Central Park plenty of times but not recently, so it was a good refresher. MH and I had a good run, a little over 7 miles. I do most of mid-week running in and around Teaneck so running in the park a days before the race really got me excited.

I spoke with Coach Jeff on Friday to discuss race planning. He's been giving me a lot of long tempo runs to get me ready. The race plan was simple, warm-up well and then GO! Coach was confident that I could hold a high zone 3 - low zone 4 effort for 10 miles.

Sunday was a great day to race. Temps were in the low 40s and overcast. The only problem was that the humidity was 100% which is my #1 asthma trigger. I knew I'd have to pay attention to that while I racing. The course was a double loop which started a little south of the 72nd Street Transverse on the west side and went counter-clockwise around the south end of the park, north on East Drive, across the 102nd St. Transverse, and south on West Drive.

I was feeling really good the first 5 miles but when I saw the clock read 35:xx I knew I took it out too fast and I'd paying for it during the 2nd time around. After Cat Hill, I tried to conserve my energy on East Drive and the transverse knowing that the West Side Rollers were waiting for me before the downhill finish. I started feeling my asthma flaring up with about 2 miles to go on those dreaded West Side Rollers. I had to slow down a few times to normalize my breathing. I survived the rollers and had enough in tank for a strong finishing surge. As I approached the finish line I saw the clock at 1:18:xx and I knew I had a new PR. My official time was 1:18:55 which is a new 10 mile PR by 1 minute.

Since this was my first NYCRUNS race, I want to write a few sentences about the experience. Up until this past Sunday, the only races I've done in Central Park were New York Road Runner races. The NYCRUNS race experience is much different. It felt a lot more like a small community race. Everyone was milling about before the race. We didn't have to be in a corral 30 minutes before the race, the start wasn't a clusterf#&k, Steve yelled GO! over the megaphone and off we went.

The post-race experience was great as well. We weren't funneled through a chute, handed a bagel, and sent on our merry way. Steve had hot chocolate, coffee, apples, bagels, and grapes. Everyone was just hanging around enjoying a mild winter Sunday morning. I was very pleased with the experience and can't wait to run more of Steve's races. I know many people that are thrilled that there is finally a viable alternative to NYRR in the City.

Back to the race.....was I a happy with a the new PR? Yes! Did I run a smart race? NO! So as I get into training for the Superhero Half, I'm sure there will plenty of long tempo runs between now and May 19 but I also want to focus on racing smarter. I will be on the lookout for some 10ks and 10 milers in February, March, and April where I can focus on racing smarter.

I have a lot more to say about training for a half marathon vs. a full marathon, but I've gone on for too long. More to come later.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Spring Goal Race

So I finally decided on my spring goal half marathon. I'll be running the Superhero Half Marathon in Morristown, NJ on May 19. I don't know about the race or the course but it met a lot of my requirements. The price tag was reasonable ($50), it's close to home (about a 35 - 40 minute drive), and last, but not least, there's race day pick-up. I completely forgot about this race until my friend Esther posted on her Facebook page that she signed up for it. My wife and I also happened to be watching The Avengers so there was definitely some influence from the movie.

Now that I have a race, I'll rely on Coach Jeff to put together my training plan. I'll be running the NYCRUNS Central Park 10 miler this Sunday to see where I am. I've been doing a lot of long tempo runs which I hope will result in a good race. I'd like to do at least 1 race in February, March, and April to get myself ready.

I'm sure I'll have a lot to write about this training cycle and other things that come my way. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Race Report: Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary 1st Day 5k

Yesterday was the annual Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary 1st Day 5k. I've run this race a bunch of times and my current 5k PR (21:57) was set on this course in 2010. I wasn't sure if I had a PR in me today but I wanted to see where I was compared to my last 5k on Thanksgiving. I've been doing a lot of long tempo work in preparation for some winter 10 milers and a spring half and am noticing that my speedy legs have been coming back.

The field seemed larger than in previous years so the start was a bit more crowded than I remembered but once it opened up I was able to put the pedal to the metal and push as hard as I could for 3.1 miles. I didn't have much of a finishing kick which surprised me because on most of my tempo runs I try to push the last 3 - 5 minutes of the run to simulate that finishing kick. I finished in 22:24 which is a 7:13 average pace but more importantly, more than 1 minute better than my Thanksgiving 5k. Clearly, the tempo work is paying off.

Since this was my first race as a masters (40 and older) runner, I was curious to see where I placed in my new age group (40 -45) and amongst all male masters runners in the field. Here are the results:

  • I placed 11th in my group. The fastest time was 17:07 and the 10th fastest was 21:56.
  • Amongst all male masters runners in the field, I placed 42nd out of 157. The fastest time was 16.37 which was run by a 49 year old. The 10th fastest time was 19:15 which was run by a 51 year old.

I'm very thankful to Fair Lawn Sunrise Rotary and the volunteers for making this race happen. It's a great way to kick off 2013.

Lo and Behold! A picture of me (#453) made it into today's local paper. My race pictures are usually pretty bad, this one is pretty good.

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.