Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 3 - Thanksgiving Turbulence.

Sunday: November 23, 2014 
With the knowledge that I was volunteering for Race to Deliver in Central Park, taking care of 4 children afterwards, driving to New Rochelle later today, and flying tonight for Chicago, life just got in the way of my running. Gee, any surprise there? Well, I did prepare for this by doing my quality (interval) session the day before, obliterating the treadmill with 1/8 & 1/4 mile sprints at 6:27 per mile. Unfortunately, when I got to the hotel in St. Charles, their gym closed at 10pm.  Meh.

Monday:  November 24, 2014
Another sweat-shop like day, working long hours at the new office, and getting the place looking somehow IT-ready.  I had no real opportunities to run today, either outdoors or the treadmill.  And going to Portillo's and Firefox in Geneva, IL was no help to my girth either.  Meh again.

Tuesday: November 25, 2014
Today was an even crazier day at work.  Gratefully, the sun was out and the snow was gone (headed to NY?).  With an hour of driving ahead of me, I barely left in time to get to the airport.  Fortunately no airport delays, and the flight back home was good.
See the World Trade Center?

I didn't get home until after midnight Wednesday, which not only meant I didn't have time to run today, but....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
...I couldn't muster the energy to run today either.  They let us out early, but by now, I was in the full throes of preparing Thanksgiving Dinner at my home.

In other words, this is how easily life can suck away 4 days of your life, without getting a chance to run (or the mere energy to do so).

In truth, maybe I could have squeezed in a mile here or there, but the stress and the fatigue of everything else going on around me, could have at best led to a lousy workout, and at worst, injury.
Despite the 4-day layoff, it was the smartest of all choices.

Thursday, November 27, 2014
This day actually started yesterday.  Here:
ALEX: "Karen.  What time is your race tomorrow?"
KAREN: "8:30.  We need to leave by 7 though because the streets close by 7:30"
ALEX: "We?  I haven't run in 4 days!"
KAREN: "Well, you will tomorrow."
ALEX: "Okay,"

The Port Washington Turkey Trot is an annual run that starts on Manorhaven Blvd. near the park.  It loops around through Middle Neck Road, Shore Road, and back beyond the start to where the town pool is.  

There were 2300 runners, a great turnout despite the frigid wet temps, and trace sleet that would come down every so often.  I wasn't looking to best my 36:31 time, that I set back in 2012, but that feeling didn't set in until I got to Mile 2, when I realized, "no way", lol.

Even with my "lowered" expectations, I did manage a respectable sub-8 posting, and actually came in the top 9% of the entire race.  And then there's always that killer hill at the end of Mile 2. :-)

The race featured some humor too, to include a bunch of guys dressed up as reindeer, jingling bells, and the leader featuring a red nose.  Also, a couple of turkeys were out and running too.

Yeah, well, I'm not sure if this was to be funny or not, but man is this ORANGE or what?  Maybe Orange IS the New Black!

Karen, did pretty well in her race.  She actually started at the front line and ran as hard for as long as she could.  When I passed her near our Dentist's office, just a little past it, I was like "How did she get up here?".

Friday, November 28, 2014
Funny how eating so much turkey can you make you feel like a stuffed pig instead.  I returned to Retro today, to see what I could muster.  I was totally out of it, and the most I could manage was 5 easy miles.  Spent part of my run, talking to Doug on the phone, so as you can imagine my "conversational" pace is not too fast.

Saturday, November 29, 2014
In a repeat of my feeling yesterday, I did the same thing and added a couple more.  Still felt out of it.
Somehow, my state of mind didn't match the sign in front of me as I left the gym...

Sunday, November 30, 2014
On this, the last day of the month, I felt that I needed to do a run outside.  Strapped with my 6 pound Camelbak on me (for extra masochism), I headed out for what would be a nice, and not so cold, run outdoors in and around Old Brookville.  I managed to keep my pace faster than that of an Easy run, though not too fast so as to burn myself out for my next quality session.  I did my last mile in just a little over 8 minutes, and despite being exhausted afterwards while doing my stretches in the basement, I am now feeling a little bit re-energized (well, it's either that or the mouse that my wife just found in one of our kitchen drawers....her screams are still resonating, and whatever fatigue I had has been replaced by adrenaline, lol).

On another note, I'd like to give a shout out to my pal from Boston, Scott Siegel.  His recommendation to download the "Rock My Run" app, was spot on.  The mixes are great, and the BPMs automatch your running speed.

As expected, I ran 103 miles this month, my lowest for any month this year.  This is natural as a result of the aftermath of the NYC Marathon.  Last year December I did a ridiculous 200+ mile month.  I don't think I will focus on quantity in December of 2014.  In fact, I'm going to focus more on quality runs, and strength training.  I've just completed week 3 of my 18 week training for the NYC Half, and need to remain focused, especially in this crazy chaotic month, where personal (holiday) and work (traveling all over the place again), is going to challenge my resolve to train.

My off days for Week 4 are supposed to be tomorrow (Mon, Dec 1) and (Fri, Dec 5). I'm also supposed to kick up my mileage to about 36 miles.  Given that I will be going in for a shot on my right index finger tomorrow (to alleviate my 2nd coming of the trigger finger condition I first got in February of this year), and then flying on Thursday, with an insane schedule on Friday,  I will need to do all possible to adhere to my schedule as best I can.  It will be crazy, but if I plan out in advance, take out my clothes for the next day, charge my shit (watch, phone, etc), I should be in good shape!

Friday, November 21, 2014

No Workouts Spared.

Juma Ikangaa (born July 19, 1957 in Dodoma) is a marathon runner from Tanzania, He is a sentimental favorite in Boston after finishing second three years in a row at the Boston Marathon from 1988-1990. He's also won the NYC Marathon in 1989 and the Tokyo Marathon, twice, in 1984 and 1986. A great trainer, Ikangaa once said:  

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."
To me, one of the most important tenets is to do whatever you can to stick to a training schedule.
Of course, if you are sick, take a day off.  Or as in the case of me often, if works takes precedence, then take that day off.  Last time I checked I wasn't a Kenyan, so I can't exactly pay my mortgage by running.  Tuesday turned out to be an impossible day to workout.  So I did my Tuesday workout on Wednesday, my Wednesday workout on Thursday, and my quality session today, when I was supposed to have rested.

I started with doing burpees (what a funny name).  I did three sets of 10.  Doesn't seem like a lot?  Just try doing 1 set of 10.  I guarantee you by the time you get to 5, you will feel it.

I wanted to do the TRX row, but the belt wasn't there.  Hmmm..  This must be reserved for trainers only, meaning I may have to buy my own belt to do this exercise.

My cadence was at 173 for the average, not too bad since this was an "easy" run, and my final tally of 5 miles was done at a pace of 9:09  (45:45.2)

For anyone that is interested ( and this means you Rollie! haha),

A few months ago, I had taken the advice of Travis Tate, an amazing athlete, and great coach who lives out here in Long Island.  His coaching style reflected in the training program that he gave me, was the first program that embraced some of the Hanson techniques.  The Hanson method limits one to never running more than 16 miles.  Which is good in some ways, but not so good in others.  Using  Travis' training program did help me with my core and uppers a bit, but it didn't give me the rocket ride that I've been getting so far with this far more challenging hybrid plan that I put together using Jack Daniels and my own upper body/ab routine.  I will say that it took me over a month to find the right training program.  One of the best resources that analyzes some of the more interesting programs out there can be found here --->

As for me, the Jack Daniels plan is working so far.  I'm still in Week 2, but so far so good.
For Rollie, and for my wife Karen, who could use a good disciplined program, I would invite you to go here -->    It wasn't free, and there has been some knock about the fact that there really isn't much in the way of coaching other than the program and the many YouTube videos that give you a good feel of what this training program is all about.

After I was done this morning, I did my running stretches.  These are especially important considering how challenged I am with the inflexibility of my hammies.  Even worse that, than my ability to get up early, as I'm much more the night owl than the morning person.

Tomorrow is supposed to be an easy 5 miler again.  However Sunday, I am doing a volunteer for the NYRR's club at Central Park.  I need to be there really early, like at 6:30 for a 7-11 volunteership.  This gives me the final credit that I'll need to finally be accepted in next year's NYC Marathon.

Lastly, I'm traveling for work Sunday night.  Chances are slim to none that I will be able to get my Sunday workout done, however I have a rest day on Monday, thus I might attempt Monday early morning before heading into the office.   All in day's work!

Repetition Intervals. CRUSHED!

Well as the photo above suggests...I had a shitty day today, but turned it around later in the evening. I must say, that I really enjoyed myself tonight.  Not only did I make it through my first "quality" session in the Jack Daniels brutality plan, LOL.  I actually crushed it.  I really am impressed on how I was not only able to kill these reps, but even have the time to text my buddy during the recovery intervals in between.  Okay, this outward display of patting myself on the back is becoming sickening, even for me!

I started off with an easy warmup of 2 miles at a pace of 11:28 per mile.
Then I went right into it.
I did my 1st mile at a pace of 7:23 (1.06 miles to be exact).
A 2 minute rest.
And then?
Duration       Distance    Pace
1:01.28         0.14 mile    6:54 per mile (8.7 mph on treadmill avg)
1:00.46         0.15 mile    6:44 per mile  (8.8 mph on treadmill avg)
1:00.46         0.15 mile    6:44 per mile (8.8 mph on treadmill avg)
1:00.61         0.15 mile    6:44 per mile (8.8 mph on treadmill avg)
1:00.64         0.15 mile    6:46 per mile (8.8 mph on treadmill avg)

The program for tonight called for me to maintain a 6:47 pace over the 5 interval reps with a 2 minute rest in between each rep.  Well.  Mission Complete.  I was feeling so good that I was tempted to smoke that treadmill to 12.0 mph (something I've done in the past though not for a minute), but I'm not that foolish young kid that is going to injure myself.

As you can see on all of my intervals, I actually INCREASED my cadence.  This is nothing short of badass DNA which is one of the healthier components that makes a person a MACHINE.  Take pain, and take shit and anything negative, and convert it into a barrel full of kickass.

My last mile was a cooldown mile which was hardly a cooldown.  Was supposed to have done it in around 12 minutes per mile, which was done in 9:20.

All in all a total of 4.82 miles was done (although it was definitely over 5 for the buildups that weren't clocked), in a time of 45:45.  Now that's a pace of 9:30, so now you see why warmup and cool down mileage is so important to super fast blasts.

I have MUCH work to do .   I'm only in week 2 of an 18 week training program.  This is so pre-infancy that it's a joke to start applauding my efforts.  I must not give way to reflection and self-applause.  And the weeks ahead will gradually but definitely get tougher.  And yet I look forward to the challenge!

I do however need to get to sleep soon for another 5 miler in the morning.  And I do need to get back to my upper body workouts to be able to make the 2015 NYC HALF, the 2015 CHICAGO MARATHON, and the 2015 NYC MARATHON a footstep to BOSTON, BERLIN and LONDON.  Oh yes, I do plan on doing them all.   I will be 50 next July.  Time is ticking.  And it is time to kick ass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cadence Is Key

Still trying to catch up with the lack of sleep over the weekend in Florida.  It was worth it though. I spent a lot of time with my family when I wasn't working and it was great to visit my Uncle Alex, who turned 70 years old on Sunday.  God bless him.  He's been through a lot this past year.

As for moi, I'm still sleepy.  The end of lunchtime is always tough.  I just want to take a nap.  Unless I hit lotto, I don't think I can do that quite yet.

I was supposed to have run yesterday, but I was so doggone tired, that I spent the balance of the evening walking around my own home like a zombie.   And when one feels like a zombie, running is not advisable.

So I decided to run this morning to make up for last night, pushing off my "quality" session for tomorrow.

It was beyond freezing outside, so this was going to be a treadmill day.   I headed over to Retro Fitness.  This is the new place that I signed up last week.  Same place where Melanie, a self-proclaimed lesbian (and good for her, btw), absolutely beat the living crap out of me.  Melanie ran me through a set of upper-body pulling exercises, leaving me beyond sore and begging to be put out of my misery for nearly a week.

But, I digress.

It was supposed to be an easy 4 run, and it was, but I wanted to try and improve my cadence.  I can't begin to tell you how many professional coaches have sworn by the 180 steps per minute philosophy. This included Jack Daniels, my new coach, who dedicates several mentions of it in the book that I'm currently reading  (Yes Stephanie.  Your father is reading.  Call the networks.)

While I didn't hit 180 with any consistency, I did notice that I was able to keep my average cadence at about 174.  Now, if I can only squeeze in 6 more steps per minute....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two Thousand.

I worked on the layout of the blog last night.  When I finally laid my head on my hotel pillow it was 5:40am this morning.  Woke up at 10:45, and barely made it to breakfast downstairs.  The cook was already disassembling the burners when I showed up. 

After a nice breakfast, my co-workers and I travelled to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.  They, to eat, me, to run.  It was hot, about 86, and humid out.  Well, this is Florida.  What else is there to be expected?
There was a nice, swirly wind, which helped me keep a little bit cool against the imposing sun.  I was wearing my Marathon Camelbak which was loaded with ice water, but was barechested beneath that.

I went north for 2 miles, and then after I arrived back at Aruba's, I paid my $2 to enter the pier, and ran to the end and back.  Then I went back on A1A, this time going south.  I was sweating like an open fountain.

The most significant moment of the run today came soon after I took off.  For today, I broke 2,000 miles for this calendar year.  This marks the first time in my life that I have run these many miles.
However, anyone who thinks that this year was all about quantity, think again.  Yes, the first 7-8 months I was on a tear averaging over 200 miles a month.  However, I have lowered my mileages for the 2nd half, and now am focusing a decontruscting how I train.

While Jameson's might be a popular way to drink, Jack Daniels is for my runs.   Runners like Alberto Salazar, Shalane Flanagan, and recently Ryan Hall have him as a personal coach.  And now so do I.

Watch out 2015.   I'm coming.