Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Rustling Cowboy in Calgary

On the final week before my marathon, I headed up north to Alberta on a work related assignment. I just got back, and will be posting pictures soon. So expect an edit.

Wow. Am I finally up to date with my blogs? Today is finally today!!!

Blue Line Run

This is a training run that I did last year which was a lot of fun. It's sponsored this year by Team Brickwell, but it's really run by Dominic, someone whom I've known for five years already. He sold me my first pair of running sneakers back in 2004 when he managed the Quantuum Feet Runners Shop on Union Turnpike in Queens.

The run is the last 10 miles of the NYC Marathon, beginning at 1st Ave. & 59th Street in Manhattan. Last year the sun was out. This year it was a nasty, driving rain. Hopefully not a preview of the Marathon.

I drove Karen and I and parked right on First Avenue. As she went into Starbucks and into the bathroom, the runners took off. She came out, and we started running, but it was evidently clear that we would never catch up, so we did the unimaginable....We hailed a cab to have us caught up to the pack. LOL. Hey, it isn't a race after all, plus we were going to jog from the finish at Tavern back to the east side. And as it was, we only drove about 15 blocks or so ( 3/4 of a mile).

The run went well, except I left my gloves at home. It was very wet outside, as Karen and I ran together north on 1st, over the bridge, and into the Bronx. Ugh. There were some road closings to the bridge approach and we actually had to run up a metal staircase in the rain.

We left the Bronx *yeah* and headed back into Manhattan, through the classic areas of the now newly renovated Harlem, and Marcus Garvey Park. We turned down 5th Avenue and 125th street and into a slew of brand new luxury high rise buildings of glass and steel. We kept going down until Central Park North (110th & 5th), it was there where Karen told me to go ahead and to meet her at the finish line. I did just that, and I took off after the pack ahead of me. I finally reached them just as I passed Fred Lebow's statue enroute to entering the park on 89th.

It felt great to finish and finish strong. I must have passed everyone on the way to Dominic's van by the finish line. It was full of drinks and eats.

Two weeks to go.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

RACE REPORT: Staten Island Grand Prix Half-Marathon

Time for yet another Personal Record????


Not having run this race since 2005, it was somewhat difficult remembering what to look out for. I did remember that there were some hills. Hills, which cost me some valuable time that forced me to walk at some points, giving me a 2:02 finish back then.

It was fairly chilly today, and Karen had asked me whether or not to wear her long leggings (tights). She did, but she has an aversion to those port-o-sans (which I can't say I blame her) and changed behind a truck near the bathroom lines. Sacre bleu! And I don't even know what the heck that meant in French either!

Karen lined up with me, but mentioned that she had to go potty one last time. I took off when the gun sounded, though it was funny what the race announcer (not Peter Chachka but some other who proclaimed he was raised in Staten Island) said regarding course guidance. "In order to not get lost, all you have to do is follow the person in front of you. And if you are in the lead, then all you have to do is follow the truck." Silly, but profoundly wise words, I thought.

The first mile is a flat run for a half mile to the end of the stadium parking lot, followed by an up hill to Bay Street, and level running. MILE 1 - 7:38.69 BB: (means Best Burst during that mile) 6:47

Mile 2 was slightly downhill until we made the right to go onto Hannah Street, a little overpass that ended down below to the waterside ports on Front Street. Despite the up on the bridge, I still aced it. 7:34.21 BB:6:36

In Mile 3, I started following this woman with a Triathlete shirt on. I did this because I've read, and have proven, that women are much better pacesetters than us guys, who tend to go fast, slow, and everything inconsistently in between. She was not only consistent (7:35ish) per mile, but fast too. And I figured, if I had any chance to break my PR yet again, that she might be a key to this race. TIME-7:31.2 BB-6:52




Mile 4 was a continuation of Front St. which now became Edgewater Street. Though this mile was completely flat, the road surface was not too good, so I had to be mindful not to step on any cracks and wipeout (not again re: Cycle race-Road To Montauk). The sun was beating down, but the air was still cool (probably 52 or so). With the glare from the water, I was very grateful to have worn both my hat and sunglasses. TIME-7:35.9 BB-6:31

In Mile 5, which had one small bump, the rest was marginally downhill. Imagine to my surprise, when I finished it in 7:27.66. This was the pace I was doing last year in 5K's...and in Queens, I actually won hardware with that one time!
Still keeping pace with that short hispanic triathlete woman with the bouncy hair, but she had fallen back for a moment to get water. I guess not everybody is a smooth as me when it comes to getting water. TIME-7:27.66 BB-3:18 ( how in the hell did that happen? )

If I thought Mile 5 was fast, then wait till you hear this: In Mile 6, which was sharply downhill, I realized that I had to shorten my stride to prevent potential injury a/o further aggravation to my calves. And oh yes, I am wearing calf compression sleeves for the first time (ZENSAHs in black) and loving it to be honest (Can't you tell by my blitzkrieg on the thus far??). Even still with that, and trying to hold back I did this mile in 7:22, giving me an overall time of 46:30 for a 10K which would have easily bested my personal "modern day" record for that distance by almost 30 seconds. TIME-7:22.48 BB-3:51 (again I say.....WTF???)

Mile 7 was the beginning of the end of the flat or downhill surfaces. The nasty thing about the Staten Island course, is that it's like a credit card. It gives you a lot for nothing in the beginning, but in the end, the more you take, the more you pay back with interest. The uphill begins just slightly before Mile 7. TIME- 7:40.39 BB- 6:36.

Completing 8 miles was difficult. It was all uphill. The same downhill that gave me a 7:22, was now penalizing my with an 8:05. Not too shabby though. But damn. I wished that I could have avoided having any 8 minute milers too.
TIME- 8:05.44 BB-7:05



Mile 9 which took us through Battery Road and New York Avenue was somewhat a return to form. It was in bad need of repairs, but at least it was flat running for the most part. Seeing the guard shack in the park, made me realize that I had erroneously visualized this as having been part of the Queens Half course. TIME-7:43.39 BEST6:58

Getting to the 10 mile mark was fairly as simple as getting to the 4 mile mark. We were just reversing the direction. I did mile 4 in 7:35.9 and I did this one in 7:47.9 . Guess this means that I will slip about 12 seconds pace for every 6 miles ran. Imagine if I could maintain this at the NYC Marathon! Unfortunately though, the water girl gave me an empty cup, and that sucked too. I had taken GU gels in both Mile 5 and 9. At least I only had to run 1 mile before getting water to wash down the stickiness of the GU in Mile 6, but here? Empty cup. I wound up running with remnants of GU paste in my mouth for 2 miles or so. Another dejecting moment was that the woman who I was pacing behind and then dropped behind me and out of sight, was now back in sight. About 30 yards ahead of me. Made me think what if I had slowed when she slowed? Would I be where she is now? TIME- 7:47.74 BB-6:58

Mile 11 was more of the same dockside running. I could smell sulfur in the air (yuck). Definitely not what Phil Collins would sing either. Latin chic, and this Puerto Rican guy with a Puerto Rican flag was stayed ahead of me. Thought he would give up, but he's pulling away. My barometer that things are breaking down, and the worst is still yet to come....TIME-7:51.55 BB-7:11.
Mile 12 was a complete lesson in self-destruction. I knew it was going to happen too. All uphill. It's okay to do this early in the race, but I was really being tested here, I thought. My Zensahs were doing there job, but nonetheless, I could feel tightness in my left calf. I kept taking a page out from Karen's pre-race decree, "It doesn't matter what happens in this race, so as long as I know that I can go and sleep it all off later on." Repeating that in my head actually worked for a little while, but you can only fool gravity for so much. I hate hills. TIME- 8:20.5 BEST- 7:02

I had just finished passing the "12" sign and took a look at my watch. Amazingly I still had almost 9 minutes to finish and break my record. I couldn't believe it! I really thought that I ran myself out of a possible PR with Miles 8 and 12? Yet, here I am now, with the colossal chance to break my PR for the 2nd time in as many weeks.

Some dude near the 12 mile-marker yelled "No more hills! It's all down hill from here!" He lied. There was still one hill left. Even if it wasn't that big, why did he have to lie? Karen told me yesterday that this was a flat course too. Why does everyone minimize this course? It's really not all that easy. I actually prefer Central Park over this. Perhaps my newfound familiarity with the park is the reason why, who knows.

After we past over the last hump on Richmond Terrace, we finally came up on to the right turn that would take us downhill to Bank Street, and back to where this whole mess started. At this point, I knew that if I had any chance left at all to break this, that now was the time. I ran as hard as I could, thinking about, no wait, fabricating about, the challenges from some of my teammates, and even other Queens chapter running clubs. I saw someone in front racing in a Run Like Hell shirt. She was from the Hellgate Road Runners club in Astoria. They are notoriously excellent runners. "I must defeat you!" I thought. See, I am a complete lunatic. It's not enough for me to be a normal runner, and just challenge myself with my own goals. No. I have to beat people in races. Even if I dont wind up coming in 1st, 7th, or 77th but rather 777th place. LOL.

Well, I did as a matter of fact overtook the Hellgate Road Runner. Outsprinted her in fact. She later congratulated me after the finish, telling me that I finished off with a very solid kick. I don't know. I'm just crazy, I guess.

By now, you are all wondering....Did I break my PR?



ANSWER: YES!!!!!!! By 1.2 seconds!!

When I finished the race, I headed over to my car to get my clothes and then headed back to the port-o-potty to change out of my stinky clothes. Once inside, I started hearing people cheering "YEAH!" and grunting and stuff. Keep in mind; the toilets line up to the right of the finish line chutes, so I was hearing estatic people as they were breaking the tap (still under 2 hours).

Feeling amazed by breaking my own record in the half yet again, I decided, "What the hell?!" and voceiferously growled a "YEAH" from my own toilet as well! What I had not expected was the person ( pretty sure it was a woman ) in the next stall over. She started laughing right after I did that. I'm such a clown.




Karen, doing her thing here too....



STATISTICS:
Date: 10/11/2009 8:30 AM
Type: Race
Course:
NYRR: STATEN ISLAND HALF-MARATHON GRAND PRIX
Distance: 13.1 miles
Duration: 1:42:32
Pace: 7:50 / mile
Equipment: Brooks Infiniti 2 (Copper/Silver/Bl)
Weight: 158 lb
Misc: Quality: 9/10, Effort: 9/10
Field Placement: 777 / 3983 (19.5%)
Age group: 40 – 44
Group Placement: 103 / 342 (30.1%)
Gender Placement: 686 / 2351 (29.2%)
Weather: 48° F, Sunny, Humid
Statistics: Calories: 1565 VO2 Max: 43.8

Mile By Mile



Marker……Time………......Accum……....Best Burst….……vs. PR.........
Mile 01.…07:38.35….......00:07:38…........06:00….....00:10.31 behind
Mile 02.…07:41.56….......00:15:19…........06:16…......01:11.04 ahead
Mile 03....07:38.67….......00:22:59…........06:04….....01:12.87 ahead
Mile 04....07:42.85….......00:30:41….......05:43….....00:52.24 ahead
Mile 05....07:34.59….......00:38:16…........06:38….....01:14.81 ahead
Mile 06....07:31.51….......00:45:48…........06:18….....01:34.34 ahead
Mile 07....07:50.83….......00:53:38…........06:14….....01:13.18 ahead
Mile 08....08:10.52….......01:01:49…........06:47….....00:48.15 ahead
Mile 09....07:51.64….......01:09:41…........06:44….....01:03.76 ahead
Mile 10.…07:56.05….......01:17:37…........06:07….....00:59.23 ahead
Mile 11.…08:04.45….......01:25:41….......06:35….....00:49.69 ahead
Mile 12.…08:20.72….......01:33:62…........05:34….....00:04.46 behind
Mile 13.…07:35.97….......01:41:46…........05:51….....00:03.87 behind
Mile .1…..06:39.00….......01:42:32…........06:14….....00:01.20 ahead

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Living Life Wildly.

I took my kiddies to the Central Park Zoo today.
See? Not every blog is about running.
Less is sometimes more.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

RACE REPORT: The Greta Gallop


With less than a month to go before the BIG ONE, I decided to do my first Norwegian Festival race in nearly 4 years. This time however, instead of taking on the 1.7 mile race, I decided that I needed to do the Half Marathon instead.

Grete Waitz was on hand near the starting line. She looked as good as ever. If she is battling cancer, then it looks like she won, by how well she looked to me. She was to the right of the starting line, and when the race began she started giving out high fives to everyone passing her.

The weather for this race was very nice. Fall like weather.

Despite the improvements at the NYC Half, and another personal course record in Queens, despite the challenging terrain, I've been recently unhappy about my half-marathon quality. It's been nearly a year since I attained my personal record for a half-marathon in Philadelphia ( see that blog ). My mindset this morning was that I wanted to kick butt. In my mind, that meant a general disdain for the course. Respect, but with a feeling that I needed to excel against it.

The one thing I've been noticing which has become of concern, is the amount I run versus the length of the course. I always run longer than the course suggests. In the Queens half, I ran 13.38 miles, and in the NYC Half it was 13.48 miles. That's .38 miles over the limit. Based on an 8 minute pace, that's nearly an additional 3 minutes of needless running. Why, with 3 minutes less, I could do a half-marathon in 1:39!

Thus my strategy in this race was to cut every corner to try and keep my actual distance to as close as 13.1 as possible.

The race would go in a clockwise motion, with a finish at Tavern on the Green (in celebration of the Marathon).

My first mile was very fast and by the time the race was 1/3 over, I was nearly 1 minute and a half ahead of personal record pace. However, the slide began (as was expected from going out too fast) and by the end of Mile 11, I was slower than record pace for the first time ever. Still, I had the ability to turn this around, and I knew this was as good a shot as ever to break the Philly Distance Run. A race, which unlike Central Park, was done on a completely flat course. Not only was the terrain much more challenging in Central Park, but when I ran the PDR it was dry and cool and not 93% humidity and 67 degrees as was the case here.

Miles 8, 9 and 11 were completed in over 8 minutes each. The watch showed otherwise, but then again the watch showed me completing 13.3 miles when the course was just 13.1. The GPS is accurate. It's just that I'm still not hugging those curves well enough and wasting time running longer than 1 mile for each mile marker. The times that you will see below, are based on an algorithm of taking seconds from the next mile's pace and tacking them on to get a true-up of what my pace was from marker to marker. Going forward, I will be doing this at all races. It will piss me off, because this will mean that my mile durations will increase, but this will help me to focus on running as efficiently as possible.

Enough with the mathematics!

Once I passed the Mile 11 marker, it was time to crank the jets. One thing about me that I have to say is amazing (and I'm sorry for sounding immodest here) is my ability to turn things around when most people can't. My twelfth mile was my fastest, followed by mile 13 which was 3rd fastest of the race.

I was in sheer disbelief when I crossed the finish line in 1:42:33. Nearly 20 seconds faster than my previous record, and almost in the top 15% of the entire race. I did it with heat, with humidity, and with hills. The deadly triple "H".

I am really happy. 44 years old and another PR in less than a week. First the mile race, and now this.

Pictures (and data to follow)




STATISTICS:
Date: 10/3/2009 7:00 AM
Type: Race
Course: NYRR: Greta's Gallop
Distance: 13.3 miles
Location: Central Park, NYC
Weather: 67 degrees, 93% humidity, overcast
Duration: 1:42:33
Pace: 7:43 / mile
Equipment: Brooks Infiniti 2 (Copper/Silver/Bl)
Weight: 158 lb
Misc: Quality: 10/10, Effort: 10/10
Field Placement: 717 / 4309 (16.6%)
Age group: 40 – 44
Group Placement: 87 / 328 (26.5%)
Gender Placement: 579 / 2237 (25.9%)
Statistics: Calories: 1589
VO2 Max: 44.6

Marker……Time………......Accum……....Best Burst….……vs. PR.........
Mile 01.…07:37.56….......00:07:37…........06:00….....02:56.61 ahead
Mile 02.…07:53.29….......00:15:31…........06:16…......01:14.37 ahead
Mile 03....07:44.55….......00:23:15…........06:04….....01:18.12 ahead
Mile 04....07:42.40….......00:30:58….......05:43….....01:27.00 ahead
Mile 05....07:46.99….......00:38:45…........06:38….....01:20.40 ahead
Mile 06....07:46.69….......00:46:31…........06:18….....01:17.53 ahead
Mile 07....07:46.69….......00:54:18…........06:14….....01:14.72 ahead
Mile 08....08:00.74….......01:02:18…........06:47….....00:49.78 ahead
Mile 09....08:06.16….......01:10:25…........06:44….....00:22.55 ahead
Mile 10.…07:57.46….......01:18:22…........06:07….....00:12.09 ahead
Mile 11.…08:00.94….......01:26:23….......06:35….....00:00.58 behind
Mile 12.…07:34.55….......01:33:58…........05:34….....00:17.44 ahead
Mile 13.…07:36.22….......01:41:42…........05:51….....00:21.02 ahead
Mile .1…..07:54.57….......01:42:33…........06:14….....00:20.25 ahead

Friday, October 2, 2009

Toby.



My kids got a new dog today. His name is Toby. He is a Golden Lab / Shar Pei mix and is only weeks old. What a cutie. Karen came with me, and played with the dog a lot, and so did I. Afterwards, I took Karen & the kids to dinner in Piermont, just a few miles south of the Tappan Zee bridge. We had a very nice time. After we left, we stopped at a Petco store and picked up some toys for Toby to play with.