10/14/2015: Morning Workout, November Project NYC, 5:28 a.m.: Climb all the Mountains, Burp all the Ees

Yesterday’s Training

After a well-earned day off following the Staten Island Half, I ran 6.2 miles in Central Park and hit the gym for leg day, doing leg press, abduction, adduction, glute press, hamstring curls, and kettlebell squats. I also stretched for 25 minutes, and even after that I still felt some tightness in my hips. Running takes a toll on those hip flexors!

Today’s NP_NYC Insanity

I wanted an easy workout this morning. Really. A few laps around Carl Schurz Park with some pushups sounded lovely. But, as I continually write about NP_NYC workouts, alas.

The workout: The group ran a warm-up lap and, based on where each member finished, picked a partner of equal speed. The workout then unfolded in three parts:

  1. Partner 1 ran a short stairs loop while Partner 2 did as many mountain climbers as he could. When Partner 1 finished the loop, the partners switched.
  2. Once both partners had completed Part 1, they jogged together down the Wagner Walk toward the Mayor’s house and then back to the starting area. This was considered “rest.”
  3. Partner 1 then ran down the Wagner Walk in the opposite direction, touched the gate, and sprinted back to the start. Partner 2 did burpees until Partner 1 returned. Switch.

Repeat the cycle for 35 minutes.

I partnered with Raul, who threw down like nobody’s business. He comes ready to push every morning, and by the end of the workout he was throwing in extra sets of pushups. Hardcore, bro.

November Project NYC

In the midst of a burpee.

I won’t say this workout hurt, but I won’t say that I breezed through it, either. Even though each partner would take 2-3 minutes to run each loop (which seems like a short time), the other partner could fit so many mountain climbers and burpees in that period that you started to wonder whether you would ever not be doing mountain climbers or burpees again in your life. Thank the NP_NYC playlist for Warren G and Nate Dogg’s “Regulators” and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” for keeping my spirits high.

By the end, everyone looked beat up, but the high fives stayed strong and primal screams echoed across the Harlem River. I’d wager every Tribe member climbed hundreds of mountains and burped hundreds of Ees. Good stuff, fellas!

Marathon season is taking its toll! Despite the workload, though, this past weekend saw a lot of NP_NYC success, with Paul and Chris PRing by eons at the Chicago Marathon, and many others either crushing the Staten Island Half or logging a final long run in preparation for the NYC Marathon. Just a few more weeks, guys! We got this.

Might head out for a run tonight as I log my final heavy mileage week before the NYC Marathon. The weather is just too nice to stay inside all day.

Happy running, everyone!

Race Recap: Staten Island Half Marathon, October 11, 2015, 1:20:51, 6:10 Pace

Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

Here we go!

The recap before the recap (seems fitting for Staten Island): I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon this weekend in a time of 1:20:51 (6:10/mile pace, 37th place overall, 12th in my age group). Totally pumped about my performance, the gorgeous day, and all the good times and success of my sister with her 18-plus minute half-marathon PR and my other friends’ strong performances.

2015 Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

Now let’s recap the day.

I woke up at 5:15 a.m., ate my standard breakfast of non-fat Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey along with two slices of sourdough toast, one covered in peanut butter, and a banana. I threw on a long-sleeved running shirt and a North Face thermal, remembering last year’s frigid Staten Island Half temperatures (it turned out to be a 70 degree day). As I wrote about in my race preview, I had been battling a slight cold for a week and a half. This morning, the cold had subsided, and I could almost breathe entirely through my nose.

I met my sister at the 72nd Street 2 train, and we rode down to the Staten Island Ferry across from a guy whose snores reminded me of a male walrus. After a good chuckle (and then a move down the train car when it got too weird), we arrived at the Ferry, met up with our friends Ashley, Kim, Mike, and Sam, and made it to Staten Island around 7:30 a.m.

Once off the boat, I checked my bag, ate another banana, and went for a 20-25 minute warm-up run with Sam who, despite having PR’d at the Brooklyn Rock n Roll Half Marathon the previous day, looked strong. We expressed our gratitude for the opportunities to participate in so many races, and about how pumped we are for the NYC Marathon. I ran into some people I know, slapped a few high fives, ate another banana, and then headed to my starting corral.

Staten Island Half Marathon 2015

The view from our warm-up run (repost from Facebook)

Once in the corral, I ran into Steve from November Project NYC, who said that he had run and won a 100k race in Long Island the previous day. WHAT? Congrats, Steve. I would have taken the day off. I took my first GU gel, hopped up and down for a bit, and then BOOM! We were off. I crossed the starting line 18 seconds after the horn.

Before I continue, I want to put this race in the context of my running experience over the past year. Last year’s Staten Island Half was my first half marathon ever. I ran a 1:44:42, and remembered a hilly course with a heartbreaking hill at mile 10. I also felt like the flat section between miles 4-9 never ended, and that I could barely drag myself across the finish line. In other words, even though I trained decently for the race (3 runs during the week with a long weekend run), the course owned me.

This year, however, after a year of running, recovering from injury, running slow to race fast using the Maffetone Method, strength training, and generally taking a “do your best and forget the rest” attitude toward running, I found this course incredibly manageable. The rolling hills in the first three miles felt flat to me, and I cruised through the first four miles into the flat section in 25:00, right on the 6:15/mile pace that I planned for those miles. Before I knew it, I had taken my second GU at the aid station after mile 4 and was clearing the 10k point at 38:46, faster than I have ever run an actual 10k race. Everything about this race felt like it was in my control.

While I had intended to pick up the pace after the 10k mark, I maintained that 6:15/mile pace for three additional miles. I attribute this to three things: 1) running on the boardwalk for miles 7-9 was unsettling, and I honestly thought that I might slip on a loose board and eat it; 2) I held back in anticipation for the mile 10 hill; and 3) I had some reservations about my slight cold. Ultimately, though, I arrived at the mile 10 hill feeling strong.

This year’s mile 10 hill was different from last year’s: It was on a running and cycling trail, not the main road, and it felt like it snaked up and around forever. Despite that, I shortened my stride, slowed my pace, and climbed. One runner charged up past me and promptly slowed at the top.

Once through the top of the hill, the race was on. I charged down the hill and back onto the main street, grabbed water at the mile 11 aid station, and began the steady downhill to mile 12. I passed a couple runners, yelled out, “Looking good, guys! Keep it up,” and turned onto an industrial road that led through a warehouse district. As I turned another corner, I saw Myles, another NP_NYC member, running about 50 yards in front of me. Woot! This pumped me up so much that I had to restrain myself from sprinting to pass him.

2015 Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

After a couple more minutes, I came up next to Myles, yelled a lot of endorphin-influenced obscenities, and we raced alongside each other up a hill and back onto the main road again. Myles got the jump on me for a bit, but I pulled next to him again. We ran into a group of NP_NYC folks cheering us on, and I ran over for some high fives. My legs and lungs screamed, but with half a kilometer to go, I couldn’t let up.

Myles and I rounded the final corner down the hill and into the stadium. I took the final turn way too tight and lost a bit of jump, but the finish line sprang into my sight. Less than one hundred yards to go! Cheering! Pain! I forced my legs to turn over a few more times and Boom! Across the finish line.

While I set my goal at 1:20 or better, 1:20:51 represents a ~16-minute PR for me in the half marathon. Also, although time goals are important, the real goal is to work hard and have fun. And that I did! I negative split the race, making that three races in a row with negative splits, and I proved that all the hard work I’ve put in the past six months since my injury has been worth it.

2015 Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

While I wonder whether I could have pushed it harder out of the starting corral and brought my time down by a minute, I can only say that I’ll take that into consideration for my next race. And somehow this race time-qualifies me for next year’s NYC Marathon, so that’s pretty cool! Ultimately, I feel that I can correct these pacing issues with more experience.

My sister, Ashley, Kim, my girlfriend, Melissa, and some other folks and I had post-race brunch at Fraunces Tavern where we celebrated my sister’s epic PR. One year ago she ran a 2:28 at Staten Island and felt like death for days after the race. Yesterday she ran 2:09 and could have kept running. Amazing. Inspiring. But the best part? She’s taking an NYRR running class beginning tomorrow because she wants to improve her running. I love it! Can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

2015 Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

NYC Marathon approaches: less than three weeks! I’m going to do one more long run next week, and then it’s taper time. This week will include some other longish runs in the Park, and an easy NP_NYC session on Wednesday.

I also want to thank everyone who’s liked my posts on Facebook and Instagram, written to me about my running, or just said hey these past couple of months. Starting this blog seemed like the perfect way to combine my love of running and writing into one happy corner of the Internet, and I’m grateful for everyone who’s stopped by, read what I’ve written, and clicked a thumbs up or a heart. It means a lot, and I hope that I am giving something back by writing about the things I love.

As always, happy running, everyone!

Race Preview: The Staten Island Half Marathon, October 11, 2015

Staten Island Half Marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Banner (repost from nyrr.org)

In two days I’ll run the Staten Island Half Marathon for the second time. Last year’s Half was my first half marathon, and I finished in 1:44:42 (8:00/mile pace). I then ran the Fred Lebow Half Marathon in Central Park in January at a 7:22/mile pace, finishing in 1:36. Due to my injury, I was unable to run the Brooklyn Half this spring, but ran a 1:29:36 while training (6:50/mile pace).

After my strong finish at the Bronx 10-Mile two weeks ago (1:00:20, 6:02/mile pace), I am confident that I can PR. While I am targeting a 1:20 time (6:06/mile pace), I’ll be happy to finish the race with a strong effort. This race is just a chance to gauge my estimated finish time for the NYC Marathon.

How can we put forth a strong effort on the windy, deceptively hilly course? Let’s go through our race prep analysis:

Know Your Race: As discussed above, I’m going to attempt to average a 6:06/mile pace if I’m feeling strong out there. I will likely start off around a 6:15/mile pace, run harder than usual in the middle flat section of the course, relax around mile 10 (see the Know Your Course section), and then run hard the last 5k.

Know Your Course: The course is an out-and-back finishing at home plate of the Staten Island Yankees’ stadium. Last year’s course (this year’s is slightly different) consisted of 3-4 opening miles flowing through a series of small hills, similar to the first three miles of this year’s Bronx 10-Mile. I’ll take a lot of deep breaths and let other runners charge past me on the uphills, and smile as I surge past them on the downhills. I want to save my quads for the later half of the race.

Miles 4-9 include a long downhill and then 4.5ish miles of out-and-back flat running. As indicated above, I want to push the pace through this section to make up any time I might have lost on the initial hilly section, and any time I might lose on the following hilly section. Other runners recall a strong headwind on the return section of this run (miles 7-9), but I don’t remember the wind. The goal here is to average 6:00/mile or faster.

Mile 10: This mile killed last year’s dreams of finishing under 1:40. Mile 10 starts with .7 miles of uphill at an average 3.3% gradient, the same gradient as Cat Hill in Central Park but twice as long. Last year I completely underestimated the toll this hill would take on my quads, running hard up the hill to maintain my 7:40/mile pace and being unable to maintain anything close to that after the hill. This year I plan to give the hill a moderate push, preserving my legs for the final 5k. Even if I run mile 10 at a 7:00/mile pace, as long as I can push hard the last 5k, I’ll be happy with my effort.

The last 5k: As hard as I can go. This part of the course is different from last year, and seems to have some hills. At this point in the race, hills become opportunities to accelerate, not hold back. The final half mile is mostly downhill, which culminates in a steep descent into the stadium. That will be a good feeling.

Be Willing to Adjust: The course might be windier than I remember. If so, I might have to adjust my overall pace expectations. My legs have recovered from the Bronx 10-Mile, but I still have the remnants of a cold. If I’m still slightly sick during the race, I might have to adjust expectations. If I’m not careful and run the hill at mile 10 too hard, I cannot get mad at myself for “ruining” the race. I have to maintain positive thoughts and fight through any physical pain that arises.

Nutrition: The positive eating has already begun! Breakfast today included two slices of sourdough bread with some peanut butter, and a protein shake made with 2% milk. Snacks will include cashews, and lunch will be ramen with egg and baked chicken. Not sure about dinner yet, but tomorrow will feature Greek yogurt, more eggs, more salad, and probably some rice with chicken and vegetables for dinner.

During the race, I plan to have a gel right before the start, one around mile 5, and one around mile 10, with water right after each gel. I’ll use this as an opportunity to practice marathon fueling without the fear of bonking.

Woot! I’m excited, although for reasons unclear to me I feel less confident about this race than I did for the Bronx. It might have to do with putting forth another hard effort; it might just be the slight cold talking. It’s just a feeling, though, so I am going to work on replacing it with a feeling of confidence. That’s one of the great revelations of my adult life: feelings are not facts! Relentless forward motion.

Good luck to everyone running the Chicago Marathon this weekend!

A special shout out and good luck to my cousin, Kristen, who is running her first marathon in Hartford this weekend!

And to everyone, happy running!