10/30/2015: Morning Workout, November Project, 6:25 a.m., Bethesda Fountain; NYC Marathon Thoughts

I’m going to break this entry into two parts: This morning’s November Project NYC workout, and my random marathon thoughts.

But first! Bib and newly-tagged NYC Marathon shirt! Soon to have my name and (possibly) blog URL tagged on it:

November Project NYC Marathon

Woot! Neon is the way to go!

NP_NYC Workout at Bethesda Fountain

So . . . Paula RadcliffeBart Yasso, Desi Linden, and Dean Karnazes worked out with us this morning. What?! No big deal. Also, Brogan Graham, one of November Project’s co-founders, pounded out burpees, push-ups, dips, lunges, and bear crawls with us because #justshowup and #whatisthis. We also had lots of people in town from other Tribes for the marathon. Just awesome to see so much NP love this morning!

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain, much brighter than it was this morning.

The workout consisted of two phases: During phase 1, we broke into two large groups. Both groups began by doing 20 burpees. Then Group 1 lunged through the terrace near Bethesda Fountain in Central Park while Group 2 bear-crawled. At the end of the terrace, everyone ran up a flight of stairs and then bunny-hopped up a second flight. Then everyone did 10 push-ups, 10 dips, and then back to the beginning for more burpees. Repeat for 20 minutes.

Bethesda Fountain Terrace

The gorgeous terrace.

Most of us NYC marathoners took it easy, and I got to do push-ups with Brogan and meet some members of the NYC Tribe that go to the 6:28 a.m. Wednesday workouts (I’m generally a 5:28 a.m. guy). There is something wrong with me when I think that 60 burpees is an easy, pleasant way to start the day.

Phase 2 of the workout was a “burnout.” Essentially, everyone not running the NYC Marathon started at the Fountain end of the terrace, did four or five burpees, and then ran through the terrace, up the stairs, down the stairs, and back to the start. The rest of us lined the terrace and cheered them on. It was wild! Each interval was timed, so if you didn’t make it back to the start in a set time, you joined the cheering squad. We went through seven or eight rounds before the final round, which was just crazy. NP_NYC’s Jason “won” the burnout, with Rob a few steps behind. NP co-founder Brogan also put forth a strong showing, demonstrating the meaning of “leading from the front.”

Marathon Thoughts

I’ve written race previews about my other recent races, but the NYC Marathon needs no introduction. I outlined the course in my pace strategy post, and all of my posts about training have essentially been about training for this race. I believe that, considering my injury which kept me from running between April and June 25, I trained as well as I could, and I am ready to run a solid race.

Of course, doubts have crept into my mind. During my 22-mile long run, I felt the burn in my legs at mile 21. I also did not log tons of miles, peaking at about 50 miles in my peak training week. These two facts could lead me to be concerned that I am not ready to run this marathon as fast as I want.

But poo poo to them! I have to remember these things as well:

  1. During those early weeks of marathon training in July and August, I was still returning to running after injury.
  2. During that return period, with the support of my doctor and physical therapist, I was biking upwards of 100+ miles per week as I prepared for the NYC Century Bike Tour.
  3. Also during the pre-return and return period, all the hours I spent in the pool, which, combined with my time on the bike, helped me build a solid aerobic base on which to begin marathon training.
  4. My solid performances in the Bronx 10-Mile (6:02/mile pace) and Staten Island Half (6:10/mile pace, with a strong sense that I could have run slightly faster if not fearing for my life on the boardwalk).
  5. Maybe most importantly, all of the love and support I have received from my family, friends, girlfriend, NP_NYC, coworkers, and what I might call the Spirit of the Universe, or, in a less spiritual sense, the feeling that I’m not in control of the world, and that my lack of total control is OK with me.

More thoughts to come tomorrow. For now, happy Friday and, if you can (I’m having a hard time), think about something other than the NYC Marathon.

Happy running, everyone!

Race Recap: Bronx 10-Mile, September 27, 2015, 1:00:20, 6:02 Pace

Bronx 10-Mile

Reposted from nyrr.org

The recap before the recap: I ran the Bronx 10-Mile on Sunday and finished in 1:00:20, good enough for a 6:02 minute per mile pace and 76th place overall out of over 9,000 finishers. I could not have been more excited about my performance and the great time I had before, during, and after the race, and am so grateful for all the cool people I know who inspire me to work hard.

Now for the full recap!

True to my race preview, I ran two miles on Saturday morning, the first mile at about a 10:00/mile pace, and the second mile interspersed with 100 meter strides. I ate good food (plus half a chocolate shake with my girlfriend – gotta love Shake Shack), and got a full seven hours of sleep. I prepped my race gear and made a mental breakfast checklist that evening.

So, when I woke up at 5:45 a.m., I felt refreshed and ready to go! That didn’t stop the nerves from creeping in, and I used the bathroom three times before heading out. I ate two slices of toast (one covered in peanut butter), a banana, and one cup of non-fat Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey. Stomach full and gear secure, I headed out at 6:20 a.m.

I jogged 13 blocks to meet my sister and our friend Mike at Columbus Circle/59th Street, and we hopped on the D train to Yankee Stadium. The ride took about 15 minutes, and we talked to the conductor about the race (she was very interested in all the runners on the train). Mike and I grew up in the same town, so we filled each other in on what we and our mutual friends are up to.

November Project Bronx 10-Mile

Pre-race photo 1: You all good?

Once off the train at 161st Street, we checked our bags, hit the restrooms (again!) and met up with our November Project NYC buddies at 164th and Grand Concourse to take a team picture. As usual, everyone from NP_NYC was cheerful and full of encouragement. We talked briefly about the course and the chilly air, and then split to warm up. I ran a half mile, found another group of NP_NYC folks in the same spot as before, and took group photo 2!

November Project Bronx 10 Mile

Pre-race photo 2: F*ck yeah!

I headed up to my corral about 15 minutes before the start and talked to some folks I knew, including Steve from NP_NYC and my good friend Sam from high school. I ate my first of two gels and stood at the back of the A corral, which was fine by me: I start too quickly when at the very front.

And then we were off! I crossed the start line 25 seconds after the horn. Runners jockeyed for position for the first quarter before spreading out. The Grand Concourse sloped slightly upward, and then rolled gently up and down for the first mile. I passed the mile 1 time marker at 6:30, logging a 6:05 pace. This felt very fast (I anticipated a 6:15 pace for this race), but I felt great and went with it.

The next two miles contained additional rolling hills, with a steep uphill during mile 3 coming out of an underpass. I paced myself and ran easy on the uphill as other runners surged past me. I ran mile 2 in 6:12, and mile 3 in 6:20, putting me at about at 6:12 pace for the first three miles. I cruised down the final downhill off the Grand Concourse and into the first part of the north course loops feeling strong and focused. A number of spectators yelled “F*ck Yeah!” or “Let’s Go, NP!” when I ran by with my November Project #grassrootsgear, and I smiled and screamed “F*ck Yeah!” right back at them. Having never run for a team before, I loved every second of this.

Around Mile 4 I sucked down my second gel, grabbed some water, and estimated my pace at about 6:15 minutes per mile. This seemed right to me, but I still felt strong as I paced off a runner clipping at faster than 6:15/mile. We pounded fists and fought through the flat loop.

As we emerged from the loop, we ran alongside the next wave of runners. So many familiar faces and “NPs!” from Billy, Tricia, my sister, Ashley, and Sam, and maybe others I left out. I may have gotten a bit too exuberant with the high fives, but whatever! I was feeling it.

The second loop at the top of the course found us east of the Grand Concourse on a pleasant tree-lined street. The out was a smooth downhill, and the in a steady uphill. I ran mile 5 in around 6:10, and mile 6 at a sub-6 pace. Mile 7, the smooth uphill, had me reconnecting with the Grand Concourse for the final push home at about a 6:10 pace. I danced a bit to the DJ music at the head of the Grand Concourse (where all the loops connected), and mentally prepared for the final three-mile push.

The second I passed the mile 7 marker, I accelerated and focused on passing the next runner. At first this proved easy: A number of runners who had charged up the mile 7 incline were slowing down, so I overcame about ten runners before mile 8. Once mile 8 hit and the course became almost exclusively downhill, it was on. Every step became more difficult, but I kept my eyes focused ahead on the next runner, reeling him or her in to the rhythm of my breath in sync with my steps. The field had thinned a lot, so when I would pass a runner I would hear his footfalls for a few seconds, and then nothing but my own feet and breath.

I passed the mile 9 marker in a net time of 54:35, which shocked me. If I could run a 5:25 final mile, I could break the one hour mark! I had not even considered this before the race, so I buckled down, grabbed some water, and pounded the pavement. As we approached the finish line, I heard cheers and saw lots of people gathered. No one was behind me. The runners in front of me were too far away to pass. I kept the pressure on myself and crossed the start line with an official time of 1:00:45, good enough for a net time of 1:00:20. Woot! I danced a bit to the awesome tunes of DJ Kool Herc, grabbed some official finisher’s photos with my finisher’s medal, slammed a bagel and apple down my throat, and reveled in the fact that I somehow ran a 6:02 pace, only six seconds off my BEST 5K PACE!

Bronx 10 Mile

Post-race photo with Sam!

I later learned that my sister ran a PR pace, which is amazing considering she never ran before two years ago, and only really started getting serious about it last year. She doesn’t believe me, but she is my inspiration for running. She stays consistent with her training plan, hits the NP_NYC workouts hard, and has shown such consistent improvement. Kate is great, and now you know!

Bronx 10 Mile

Post-race endorphin-laden smiles.

After a short rest, I gathered my belongings and ran about 5-6 miles home, crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge into Harlem, and then down through Harlem to Central Park. I didn’t clock these miles, but I imagine they were pushing 10 minutes each. My foam roller never felt so good!

Post-race celebrations found my sister, my girlfriend, and I down in TriBeCa with my parents, aunt, and Mom’s cousins. That group ran the Tunnel to Towers 5k, which they’ve done every year for the past four years. The event honors Stephen Siller, a member of FDNY who died at Ground Zero after running from Brooklyn to the World Trade Center through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on September 11, 2001, in an effort to provide immediate assistance to the relief efforts. The run tracks the path he took on 9/11, and it’s just a really profound experience. The foundation created in his name also provides amazing benefits to wounded warriors.

We ate a tasty brunch at Añejo, talked about our respective events, and smiled and laughed a lot. My legs felt surprisingly good, although my right hip was definitely more sore than the left (but not in a bad way). I was happy to get home afterward and chill on the couch, watching “Boyhood,” the Netflix DVD that my girlfriend and I have had on our TV table for about two months.

In conclusion, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I credit the Maffetone 180 Formula and training slow to race fast for my recent successes. I also credit NP_NYC and all their support. Also family, friends, and anyone who’s been reading this blog. It’s been a great journey, and I’m excited for the next couple of weeks of racing and all running beyond!

Race Preview: The Bronx 10-Mile, September 27, 2015

Bronx 10-Mile

Reposted from nyrr.org

With the Bronx 10-Mile plus eight additional training miles scheduled for this Sunday, I am taking today and tomorrow off from running. I’ll hit the gym for upper body and core workouts, and maybe run an easy two miles tomorrow morning, but otherwise I will be spending time off my feet.

Bronx 10-Mile

Previous Bronx 10-Mile start. Reposted from nyrr.org.

Yesterday, I wrote about race preparation, and offered three pieces of advice: 1) know your pace; 2) know your course; and 3) be willing to adjust. I’ll add a fourth: nutrition before and during the race. Here’s how I’ve followed my own advice in preparing for the Bronx 10-Mile:

1) Know Your Race Pace: I’ve overcomplicated this question, and here’s why: Because I’m running the NYC Marathon in five weeks, I don’t want to hurt myself or ruin my strong training base by going too hard during this run. However, I have only raced once since March (at the Percy Sutton 5k), and am pumped to be racing again. I also plan to run an additional eight miles for marathon training after the race, so running the race hard—at a pace faster than my anticipated marathon pace—will likely lead to muscle soreness and extended recovery. But! I want to see how my right hip has healed post-injury, and a hard run will provide some insights. Also, racing is fun!

So, the answer to the question is not that difficult: If I choose to race the Bronx 10 Mile, I will try to hit a 6:15/6:20 minutes per mile pace; if I choose to tempo run the race, I will hit a 6:35-6:45 minutes per mile pace. Which option I choose will likely be a game-time decision.

As for overall race pacing: I plan to start out slightly slower than goal pace, adjusting for downhills and uphills, and pick up steam throughout the race until I’m pushing well past goal pace for the final 2.5-3 miles. During that final push I will focus on passing other runners and maintaining my position.

2) Know Your Course: The Bronx 10-Mile course is an out-and-back on the Grand Concourse, with two additional out-and-backs between miles 4 and 7 (Bronx 10-Mile Course Map). With eight aid stations (at miles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6ish, 7, 8, and 9), there will be plenty of water. Since NYRR did not publish an elevation map, I created my own (rough estimate) using MapMyRun. Outside of a mild uphill between miles one and three, and again around mile 6.1, the course is fairly flat, and features a generally downhill final three miles.

Bronx 10-Mile

Not 100% percent perfect, but a rough estimate of the Bronx 10-Mile elevation profile.

Thus, besides the limited uphill portions, this is a “let ‘er rip” kinda course. As long as you recognize that you will run miles one through three and mile seven slightly slower than goal pace, you can post a solid time by maintaining your pace on the flats and exceeding it on the downhills.

3) Be Willing to Adjust: Because my knowledge of the course came from a self-created elevation map and other runners’ recaps of past Bronx 10-Miles, I might be missing something. Therefore, I am willing to accept that I could encounter additional uphills or wind resistance or other factors that make the race more difficult than anticipated. And that’s OK. The only expectation I have for myself is to finish and to have fun.

4) Nutrition: I wrote briefly in a previous post about my interest in learning more about the low-carb high-fat diets that many ultra endurance athletes favor. While I might embrace that method in the future, for now I’m sticking with what I know: carbo-loading two-three days before the race, and either a gel or a pinole/chia snack about 4-5 miles into the race.

The following comprises my meal plan for the next couple of days:

Breakfast: non-fat Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of added honey; two slices of sourdough bread with peanut butter; two-three eggs

Lunch: baked chicken with sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce; kale salad with carrots, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese; one cup cooked brown rice

Dinner: another cup cooked brown rice, chicken or other protein, baked or stir-fried vegetables

Snacks: vegetables, bananas, nuts (my current favorite are cashews, but almonds and walnuts are also tasty), and lots of water

That’s about it. I will spend the next day or two overthinking whether I want to race or train this run, but in all likelihood, I’m going for it. I’ll be heading up to the race with my sister and my friend, Mike.

Are you running the Bronx 10 Mile? If so, good luck and say hello!

Happy running, everyone!