2017 Boston Marathon Race Report: Part 2: The Race!

Hey again! In Part 1 I wrote about training for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Here’s Part 2, all about the actual race.

During my training I read as much about the Boston course as possible. For anyone who has never run the Boston Marathon, here’s my basic breakdown of the course, as learned through studying the course map, talking to friends, and reading race reports:

Boston Race Route

Just look at that elevation profile!

The first mile is almost entirely downhill, dropping rapidly for .6 miles, then rising slightly for .15 miles, and then dropping some more. The course continues distinctly downhill for miles 2-5, with some easy rolling hills that I can barely remember, flattening out from miles 6-15, with some more rolling hills that I also cannot remember. Just after mile 15, the course drops significantly for almost half a mile. It then flattens out briefly before the first of four bigger hills from miles 16-21. The first hill, starting right around mile 16, climbs steadily for over half a mile and traverses an overpass, so it’s long and quiet. The course then flattens out and rolls along for about a mile until the next distinct uphill at mile 17.5. Another small set of rollers emerges before a steep bump just after mile 19, and then another flat to rolling section before the infamous Heartbreak Hill, .6 miles of 4 percent grade at mile 20. Heartbreak has two climbing sections separated by a flat area. Once you’re at the top, the course drops slightly before a tiny bonus bump. Once over the bonus bump, the course drops significantly past Boston College, and remains downhill or slightly rolling through the finish line.

As you can guess, the key to running well on this course is preserving enough strength to get up the hills between miles 16-21 so that you feel strong enough to run hard on the final five-mile downhill stretch. If you hit the top of Heartbreak Hill feeling strong, then you can make up any time you lost on the climbs. If you pushed too hard earlier and you summit Heartbreak with thrashed quads, then the final miles will hurt.

Boston Marathon Shakeout Sun

Shakeout Sunday with Ilya and Bari, my fellow Brooklyn runners!

Knowing that the Newtown hills from miles 16-21 often claim a number of victims, I had made sure to run multiple long runs in Central Park, and added hill repeat days on Battle Pass Hill in Prospect Park. However, once I started to read other runners’ recaps of the 2016 Boston Marathon, I got a little scared. The warm weather during the 2016 race has become the stuff of legend in the running community. Ask anyone who ran that race how they felt out there, and they’ll just shake their heads. I lost count of the number of recaps that read something like this: “By mile 5, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. So, I slowed down, drank as much water as I could, and enjoyed the fact that I was running the Boston Marathon.”

I also noticed another trend: athletes who readjusted their goal times prior to the race ended up having a decent day. In one particular recap, the runner had hoped to run 2:55 (around 6:41/mile), but decided to fight just for sub-3. He succeeded in his sub-3 goal, but not by much. He drank water and dumped water on his head at every aid station. I noticed this strategy in a number of other write-ups as well, along with the advice that in the warm weather, one should consume in-race nutrition earlier in the race. Noted.

Boston Marathon Shakeout Boylston

Shakin’ it out the wrong way up Boylston.

However, when I started to check the weather forecast about a week out from Marathon Monday, I felt good about my 2:53 plan. The weather was promising low 40s for the morning, with a high of low 60s. Perfect! That’s about what the NYC Marathon has been the last two years. Can’t argue with that.

Boston Marathon Finish Line Ilya

Just some cool guys hanging out at the finish line the day before the race! Thanks to Ilya and Bari for a great shakeout run and thank you, Bari, for the excellent photos.

Unfortunately, upon arriving in Boston on the Saturday before the race, temperatures had drifted into the high 70s, and promised Marathon Monday temperatures creeping into the 70s. I told myself not to worry about it, but to run my own race. It did not matter if 2:53 happened. Execution of a strong race plan and enjoying the experience became the most important aspects of my Marathon Monday.

On Marathon Monday I spent my pre-race time sitting near home plate in the baseball field at Hopkinton High School. The sun flew overhead, but I was not perspiring while sitting in the open. I chatted with my friend Ryan pre-race, and meditated on our collective attempt to run 2:50 at the 2016 NYC Marathon. We just could not pick up the pace after running a 1:26 first half., and I ran a four-minute positive split, never hitting the wall but slowing down in the final six-eight miles. After this past training cycle, with consistent 50-mile weeks and no time off for injury, I knew that I would be able to hold a more consistent pace through this course.

NYC Marathon Jim Ryan Mile 18

Ryan (second from right) and i cruising by Mile 18 of the 2016 NYC Marathon, simultaneously enjoying the atmosphere but not quite feelin’ the pace.

After a short wait of about an hour, the race organizers called the Wave 1 runners to the corrals, and we walked through Hopkinton down a small hill and to a second porta-pottie-filled parking lot. I strolled up to my starting corral, letting others walk and jog past me, reminding myself that I had over 26 miles to run. After about a half hour, which included the singing of the national anthem and a flyover by two F-16s, the starting pistol fired and Wave 1 Corral 3 lurched forward, halted, lurched again, and spilled across the starting line. Some runners sprinted. I focused only on starting my Garmin as I jogged across the timing mats.

Miles 1-5 (6:58, 6:49, 6:49, 6:40, 6:42)

Despite all my preparation, I was still surprised just how much the course dropped throughout those first five miles. Feeling the down slopes under my body, I focused on staying perpendicular to the hills, shortening my stride, and not worrying too much about my foot strike. Combined with the tightly-packed running crowds in the early miles, I did not push my pace much, and really let my body dictate how fast I warmed up. I sped up once at the end of mile 1 to get a sub-7 mile split on my watch. Otherwise, I followed my friend Mary’s advice: I “parked myself” on the double yellow line and ran down the middle of the road, and moved to the water stations on the left to hydrate (left-hand stations came after the right-hand stations, and were less crowded). I soaked in the crowds and enjoyed what felt like super easy running. Even though I was not thirsty or hot yet, I started drinking water and dumping water on my head at mile 2, grabbing at least three cups at each station. By mile 5 my shorts looked like I was swimming. My forehead, however, remained bone dry.

At some point during these miles, another runner yelled out, “Enjoy the miles while they’re easy.” I chuckled, and thought to myself, “I’m going to enjoy them even when they get tough.” And that’s the whole point of running these races, right? I did not take time off work to surround myself with thousands of strangers for hours on end just to enjoy the first five miles of the race. I came to enjoy the motion of moving my body at a fast pace for an extended period of time. Bring on the muscle soreness! Let’s have some fun.

Miles 6-15 (6:35, 6:34, 6:38, 6:37, 6:38, 6:39, 6:33, 6:38, 6:38, 6:40)

As the course flattened out, I started to find my rhythm. On a cooler day I would have pushed for 6:30-6:33 through this section, but I did not want to risk pushing too hard, too early. As the splits show, I was a model of consistent running. Honestly, not much to report. I felt strong, kept drinking and dumping water on my head at every water station, and grabbed extra water being handed out by kind spectators. At two different parts of the course, I grabbed entire water bottles, most of which went on my head. I also took a GU gel at the miles 7 and 13 water stations.

Boston Marathon 4

In the zone . . . somewhere on the course! Who is Fuller, and do we support him?!

Around mile 10 or 11 I ran into Steve, a fellow New York City runner who I’d e-mailed a few weeks earlier after reading some of his race recaps. Like me, he was running strong but cautious. Unlike me, he had the experience of running the 2016 Boston Marathon, so he knew firsthand just how quickly the heat could dash one’s chance at a strong race.

Miles 16-21 (6:29, 6:47, 6:49, 6:41, 6:53, 7:01)

After the steep downhill in mile 15, I approached the first of the four Newton hills. It loomed long, but not as steep as I had imagined. Although I felt my pace slow a bit as I ascended, my legs felt strong and steady. I saw my first group of walkers, and at least one runner at a medical tent looking disoriented. I reminded myself to stick to the hydration plan, made it to the top of the hill, and kept rolling along. The second Newton hill was steeper but shorter, and I felt good as I maintained an even effort to the top. I started to feel the first bit of fatigue in my legs, but not enough to slow me down.

November Project brought the ruckus to Mile 18. I heard the cheer station from about 30 seconds away, and moved to the left side of the street to grab as many high-fives as possible. However, right as I hit the main cheer station, I nearly collided with a guy running in a Robin costume, because why not? Robin looked like he was loving the NP crowd, so I felt a little bad knocking him out of the way to high-five my buddies.

Boston Marathon 2

Old school Batman!

After the NP cheer station, I honestly don’t remember the third Newton hill or the following section of the course. However, my mind came sharply into focus at the baseball of Heartbreak Hill. I looked up and thought, “This is it. Get up this guy and then you can let loose.” And up I traveled. My legs started to rebel a tiny bit, so I shortened my stride and repeated, “Get up this guy and you can let loose.” I crested the first bit, then started up the second. The crowds cheered loudly, but I focused only on each step, one at a time. The rebellion in my legs calmed. My body felt relaxed. My mind, clear. “Get up this guy and you can let loose.” One step after another.

Boston Marathon 1

Robin, unperturbed by me basically running him over at Mile 18.

Miles 22-26 (6:38, 6:35, 6:34, 6:33, 6:27)

When I summited Heartbreak Hill and the small bonus bump immediately following it, I pumped my fists and charged down the Boston College hill. My pace, which had dropped to 7:00/mile while climbing Heartbreak, briefly dipped into the low 6:20s as I high-fived every Boston College student I could see and shouted, “How ‘bout it, Eagles?!” I felt like the race was only just beginning, and smiled ear to ear down the hill. I really had to push myself to hold back. Although I knew that the remainder of the course was heavily downhill, I was not going to risk a late-stage, unanticipated bonk.

Miles 23 and 24 felt like the most intense and intimate miles of the race. Although no spectators jumped into the road like during some earlier points (which made me wonder if that was how the Tour de France riders might feel, surrounded by fans slapping their backs as they ascended 10 percent grades in the Alps), everyone seemed like they were continuously screaming and cheering. I really fed off their energy, even though I was conserving energy and no longer pumping my fists at every  “Yeah, NP!”

Jim Boston Mile 25.5

Nice job almost missing me, Melissa 🙂

Once I saw the Citgo sign looming ahead, I knew it was time to ice this thing. I ascended the short bump between miles 24 and 25, passed the mile 25 marker, passed the Citgo sign signaling one mile to go, and pushed my pace just a little bit more. The time on my watch suggested a PR was happening, but my brain was not able to compute exactly how fast I needed to finish to make it happen. Oh well, I thought: just run faster.

Boston Marathon Hereford

Right on Hereford!

And I did. As I dipped under Massachusetts Avenue while following the tangent line painted on Commonwealth, I got a huge cheer from my fiancé, Melissa, and our good friends Leah and Dana, who live right at that intersection overlooking the Marathon route. I raised my hands over my head and then focused on passing the two or three runners directly in front of me. I shouted, “Let’s go boys! Half a mile to go!” However, no one joined my cheers. Either I had too much energy left, or they were dying.

Boston Marathon Boylston

Left on Boylston! (Thanks, Winnie!)

Either way, I started to push a little harder when I took that final right on Hereford, left on Boylston. As noted in so many recaps, once you turn onto Boylston, that finish line seems so far away, despite being only 600 meters down the street. I planted myself on the tangent line and kept pushing, focusing only on passing the runners immediately in front of me. My hip flexors felt sore, but every other leg muscle felt up to the task. I pushed forward, the crowds screaming with every step, the sun bright between the buildings, reminding myself how many times I’d run a hard 400 meters in training. Then, as if the last two minutes had not happened, I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and saw 2:55:XX as my final time. Boom!

Boston Marathon Medal 3

If you had to base your opinion only on the shorts in this picture, which runner would you say likes to party?

As almost always happens after a marathon, every muscle in my legs seized up within a minute of crossing the finish line. I honestly believe that the hardest part of a marathon is the walk to pick up the medal and your gear bag! Fortunately, I ran into Ryan and my other friend Chris, who had just finished in times of 2:50:XX. Incredible! We congratulated each other, and then Chris and I walked to get our medals, goodie bags, and met up with Sarah, Chris’s incredible wife and Ironman destroyer. She was nice enough to take some great finisher photos of us once we exited Boylston and walked over to Commonwealth Ave.

Boston Marathon Medal

I’m smiling, but mostly dreading the half-mile walk back to where I’m staying.

Post-race reflections and next steps, in Part 3! (Coming Soon)

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2017 Boston Marathon Race Report: Part 1

Hey! It’s been a long time since I updated my blog, but here we go.

On Monday, April 17, 2017, I ran the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:55:56, 6:43/mile pace, 976 overall out of 26,411 finishers. My time gave me a 58-second marathon PR from my time at the 2016 New York City Marathon. It was a hot day, but I could not have executed my race plan any better. My 15-second negative split tells me that I ran about as well as I could have.

Because I haven’t written for so long, I wrote a lot! Therefore, I’ve decided to break it down into three separate blog entries: 1) a summary of my training throughout 2016 and my Boston-specific training; 2) a race recap; and 3) an analysis of my race, and what’s in store as I train for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22, 2017.

Without further ado, Part 1: A Yearlong Training Review (2016-April 2017)

Honestly, 2016 was a difficult year in terms of training. An injury to my right hip flexor muscles and adductor kept me sidelined from approximately February through mid-April. In May, I ran the 2016 Brooklyn Half only 7 seconds off my half marathon PR. That race reassured me that I had not lost too much fitness, but showed just how much work I would have to put in if I wanted to improve. I also hated every step of it, and entered the “pain cave” for the first time in my running career. I then participated in the New York City Triathlon in July, which was an awesome experience but definitely took time away from running.

Brooklyn Half Pain

Brooklyn Half: not a good look, especially for a non-PR time!

NYC Tri 1

NYC Triathlon: Swim Time 2000ish/3300; Bike Time 700ish/3300; Run Time 58/3300. Guess we learned my strongest discipline.

Then, in August, just as I was building my mileage, I got a once-in-a-lifetime last-minute opportunity to attend Burning Man and play guitar in a Phish tribute band. Although this story deserves a post of its own, I ended up running the Burning Man 50k on approximately 25-30 miles per week of training, with one long run of 18 miles. Not my best race, and definitely not the best way to build up the miles leading into fall marathon training.

Burning Man 3

When you run an ultramarathon in the desert, you get water refills from this guy.

Burning Man Music

Bringing the music of Phish to the desert!

Upon return to New York, I ended up with bursitis in my right hip, which sidelined me for another two weeks. More importantly, I missed at least one 20-miler because of it before I went to the doctor. When I was finally able to run again, I squeezed in two 20-milers before the Marathon and ran a small half marathon PR in a tiny race in Brattleboro, VT, all the while nursing an ever-tightening left ankle. Despite mentioning said ankle to my doctor throughout the year, he told me to keep stretching it, but not to worry.

Catamount Half 1

Catamount Half Marathon: 1:19:56, 2nd overall to this guy, Jason, whose parents lived along the race route. Super nice guy!

That said, on November 6, 2016, I toed the line at the New York City Marathon having averaged 35 miles per week from June through November, with a peak week of 50 miles. Not terrible, but definitely not the volume necessary to build the aerobic capacity to make a big leap in my marathon abilities. Also, as you can probably guess, the lack of consistency across the year made it difficult to predict what would happen after the gun at 9:50 AM that morning. Suffice to say, I could not have asked for anything more when I crossed the finish line in Central Park with a 62-second marathon PR.

NYC Marathon 1

Chris, Jamil, Me, Myles, and Ryan: all sub-3, all within 2 minutes of each other!

When I analyzed my race, however, I was able to identify a pretty obvious issue. I ran the first half of the race in 1:26, approximately 6:33/mile. The second half clocked in at 1:30, or 6:52 mile. While New York is generally a positive split course, most strategies would favor a one- to two-minute positive split to account for the Queensborough Bridge and the Fifth Avenue hill. Such a strategy would require one to run an even effort throughout the marathon.

So, why did I finish with a four-minute positive split? In my opinion, there were two main reasons. First, I set way too ambitious a goal of running 2:50, so I went out faster than I should have. That led to me slowing down in the final eight miles of the race. Second, my training, which lacked both volume and consistency, failed to let me develop the muscle endurance required to keep turning over the legs in the late stages of the marathon. Based upon that, I decided that for Boston, I would increase my weekly training volume, and try to run at least six days per week, even if some of those runs were short. For the first time I ordered a custom training plan from NYRR’s Virtual Trainer program. The plan was set to start on December 27, which meant that I would use the time between mid-November and late December to build up a good mileage base.

However, after taking a week off after the NYC Marathon and running for two weeks, the tightness in my left ankle sidelined me for two more weeks. Then, once I regained my range of motion in my ankle, I got a bad cold, which sidelined me for another week. Then, on Christmas Eve I got the flu, which sidelined me for yet another two weeks. Boom boom boom! Once I finally recovered, December 27 had passed, and I had barely run since the end of November. Although I had tried to maintain fitness by cycling, I had not hit the pavement in over a month.

So, I officially kicked off my Boston 2017 training on January 3, running an easy 4 miles on the treadmill, with four strides at a 5:00/mile pace. Not particularly inspiring, but a start. From there I ran 11 miles my first, week, followed by 28, then 32, 39, 37, 42, and, finally, 52 miles in a single week, with a long run of 17. I followed that up with five more weeks at 50 plus miles, with a peak of 56 in my last week. I got in three 20-milers, with the last two containing some marathon pace miles. I ran 6-7 days per week, and noticed that I was recovering from runs much faster than in previous cycles. I used my “The Stick” to roll out my muscles every night, which really helped any lingering muscle soreness. Instead of incorporating numerous hard race efforts into my training, I treated races as my tempo runs. I really tried to stick to the 80/20 method of training, wherein you run approximately 80 percent of your miles at an easy to moderate pace, and 20 percent of your miles at a hard effort. I experienced no new injuries or discomfort, and felt myself getting stronger each day. I made sure to do my own core exercises at least two days per week, and noticed a difference in my overall strength.

So, when I toed the line on April 1 at the Boomer’s 4 miler in Central Park, the one true tune-up race I scheduled, I felt confident that I would be able to throw down a strong effort. My finish time of 22:54, which was good enough that day for 10th overall and first in my age group, had me executing a solid race plan and running a final mile of 5:19, faster than I’d run in a good while. A few days later, I equaled my PR on the 3.3-mile November Project NYC PR Day course.

Boomer 4M

Boomer 4-Miler: I swear I’m not angry at Mikey Branigan, the winner of the race! I’m just bad at pictures (and race bibs).

Those two races gave me one critical piece of information: My fitness was strong, but had not improved so much that I was going to run a massive PR in Boston. If anything, I might be able to run 2:53 or slightly under with the right weather conditions. Any attempt to push for faster than that, however, and I’d be back in positive split city.

Part 2, the actual race recap, to follow soon!

10/28/2015: Morning Workout, November Project, 5:28 a.m., Wards Island: Aggressive Dance Moves!

Hey! Did you know the NYC Marathon is only four days away? Haha, you probably already knew that. But just in case you haven’t read a newspaper, seen an advertisement on the subway, or checked your Facebook feed lately: The NYC Marathon is ONLY FOUR DAYS AWAY!

November Project NYC

Morning crew! Katie, Ashley, Me, and Sarah

For many, the NYC Marathon means increased traffic in New York City. For others, the day has no special meaning. For me, it indicates the culmination of over a year of hard work returning to the sport of running, and a chance to participate in an event I never thought possible. So, when I lined up with the members of November Project NYC to take our post-workout group photo this morning, and half the members raised their hands when asked if they were running this Sunday, I realized just how many people are looking to Sunday as both the celebration of their hard work, and the beginning of the next chapter in their running stories.

Of course, before we got to post-workout, we, you know, worked out. Here’s what we did:

  • Do 10 pushups.
  • Run across the Wards Island Bridge and down to the East River footpath.
  • Do 10 burpees.
  • Run back across the Bridge to the starting area.
  • 30 seconds of AGGRESSIVE dancing (or, if you are Myles, you dance by doing burpees)
  • Run back across the Bridge.
  • 20 mountain climbers.
  • Run back across the Bridge.
  • Repeat for 35 minutes.

I covered about four miles during this workout, and spent my time talking to fellow Tribe members Rob, Jess, and Ian. I also spent a little bit too long on the aggressive dancing portion when John played “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy because, hey, who doesn’t love bouncing to Chuck D, Flava Flav and Terminator X at 6 a.m.? I also threw up more high fives today than ever before, in part because I could feel the collective excitement of the impending NYC Marathon.

November Project NYC

Amazing! Thank you, Liysa! And yes, those are aqua socks.

At the end of the workout, I received a good luck card from the Tribe, which was so thoughtful and wonderful! I also received a colored safety pin from Liysa, who advised me to pin my shoe so that if I felt beat up and in pain during the marathon, I could look down and channel the spirit of NP_NYC. Amazing! I have already pinned my shoe. Thank you, Liysa! I know you’ll do great on Sunday.

NP Marathon Card Cover NP Marathon Card

NP_NYC is running #Mile7 of the NYC Marathon. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the Tribe will be loud, supportive, and ready to rock all day. So excited to run through there and throw down lots of high fives and smiles.

I know we’re all tapering and not hitting the roads as much, but despite that:

Happy running, everyone!

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!

9/30/2015: Morning Workout: 5:28 a.m., November Project: Quad Torture!

Yesterday I posted a picture of the leg press machine at the gym after loading it up with 380 pounds. Between that, the glute machine (which also works the quads), squats, and the 6.2 mile run from the morning (which was sort of a recovery run after the Bronx 10-Mile), my quads could have used a day to chill.

Leg Press

Leg Press of doom

Alas.

This morning’s November Project NYC workout was all about the quads. We met at the Wards Island side of the 102nd Street walking bridge. Rain or shine! That’s how it works. You #justshowup. This morning: no shine, little bit of rain. Nothing too hard to handle.

The workout: Starting on the Ward’s Island side of the bridge, run onto a large turf field to the corner created by the midfield and side lines. 10 burpies. Run across the midfield line to the far corner. 10 crunches. Run down the sideline to the corner kick area of the field. 10 mountain climbers. Run across the goal line to the far corner. 10 squats. Then back to the start. Lunges across the circle area in front of the bridge. Run across the bridge and down onto the East Side walking path. 10 lurchies (lunges performed while making circles with your arms). Run back across the bridge. Lunges across the circle at the other side of the bridge. Repeat for 35 minutes.

As you can imagine, between the mountain climbers, squats, lunges, lurchies, and running up and down the inclines on the walking bridge, the quads took a beating. I slowed down on my third loop. Fall racing season takes it toll!

A good workout, though! It’s awesome that people showed up in the rainy weather and pushed themselves across the bridge and through all the exercises. That’s the beauty of NP_NYC: When you feel like quitting, you look up and see 20 other people fighting through the discomfort and finding ways to enjoy it, and you just keep going and fighting and trying to smile. High fives help!

I also introduced my buddy Eric to the group this morning. Eric and I went to law school together, and he’s running his first half marathon next weekend in Brooklyn! He reached out about checking out NP_NYC, so we headed over together this morning. At the end of the workout, he was drenched in sweat and had a huge smile on his face. Glad you had fun, Eric! #justshowup and ye shall be rewarded with smiles and hugs from other very sweaty people!

November Project NYC

Look at that smile! He’ll be back 😉

Happy running, everyone!

9/16/15: Morning Workout: 5:28 a.m., “Golfing” with November Project NYC!

Now that I’ve recovered physically and mentally from the NYC Century bike tour, I’m putting the bike down for the next two months to focus on my fall road racing schedule: The Bronx 10 Mile, Staten Island Half, TCS NYC Marathon, and the NYRR 60k. I’ll ride to cross-train, but definitely no more epic 80-mile training rides for a while.

I also snuck in a run yesterday on my lunch break, running approximately six miles, three of them at my goal marathon pace of 6:50 minutes per mile. Even though I try to do most of my runs at or below my Maffetone maximum aerobic heart rate, I wanted to test out my goal pace, and learned that, after maintaining that pace for three miles, I was only about five beats per minute above my Maffetone max. Starting to feel like I can maintain it throughout the whole marathon!

This morning, though! What a workout. (more about that after the jump).

November Project Golf

Golfing with the November Project as the sun rises over the East River. Photo credit: Katie McEvoy (the awesome sister)

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9/9/15: Workout: 5:28 a.m., November Project NYC

Head all the way to the eastest of the east side for NP_NYC!

Head all the way to the eastest of the east side for NP_NYC!

I get all pumped up every Tuesday night before the 5:28 a.m. Wednesday morning November Project NYC workout. As a somewhat introverted person, I tend to enjoy solo activities, including training. I imagine this contributes to my interest in endurance sports: I like the mental battle as the body gets tired.

NP_NYC opens me up, and I feel comfortable hugging strangers and giving out high fives like air. The workouts are hard but manageable, and everyone’s encouraging words keep the group pushing forward. At the end, people tell you, “Thanks for the push back there!” and you tell them the same. Encouragement mixed with smiles and a non-judgmental attitude: I can’t think of a better way to spend a Wednesday morning before the sun rises.

A view of the John Finley Walk before the workout.

A view of the John Finley Walk before the workout.

This morning’s workout was a RAD workout (“running and dancing”), and included the following:

Everyone partnered up. To start, one partner ran down the John Finley Walk to a wall approximately 200 yards from the start point, and back. The other partner ran a loop of the grotto, the area adjacent to 86th Street and below the Walk. Whichever partner arrived at the start first got into the plank position and waited for her partner to arrive. Once her partner arrived, the partners would do five hoistees (partners interlock hands, squat, and explode upward), five “fuck yeah!” pushups (partners face each other, do a pushup, slap five, and repeat with the opposite hand; yelling “fuck yeah!” optional but encouraged), and five “compliment squats” (partners face each other, hands touching, squat, and give each other a compliment). Then, the partners would run whichever loop they did not run before, and repeat the exercises.

East End Grotto of Doom!

East End Grotto of Doom!

Clearly a dance party, right? There was music playing and people were bouncing a bit, and we got sweaty really fast. So, basically the same thing as a club, minus Ed Hardy t-shirts and hair gel.

My partner and I did eight or nine loops, which equaled 40 to 45 hoistees, “fuck yeah!” pushups, and compliment squats. We ran out of compliments around loop 5, so we just high-fived a lot and encouraged each other to keep up the good work. Around loop six I started to feel the strain of the planks, as I did p90x ab ripper X the previous night and felt the burn. But, as the party don’t stop until the 35-minute workout ends, I grabbed some water every three to four loops and kept going, shouting encouragement at everyone else and nearly running people over to deliver high fives.

Overall, I enjoyed the workout, and feel good about incorporating some higher intensity days into my schedule as the TCS NYC Marathon approaches. As I wrote about yesterday, I have developed a strong aerobic base over the past few months, and am excited to keep building on that base.

The Sun is waking up at the end of the workout!

The Sun is waking up at the end of the workout!

I also learned how to whip and nae nae, so yeah, a full morning for sure!

Happy running, everyone!