Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It's here

The cold, that is. Unfortunately, I can't remember an October where I did not have a cold. The good news is that it is mild enough and better now than a week before the marathon. I'll be off running for three days or so. And it does likely put a damper into my Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn half this coming Saturday. I was planning to run it all out but at this point would be happy to have another FMP workout.

I say "another" because that's what I did at Grete's Half in Central Park last Sunday. Warmed up 6 miles with Michael W. and then ran a 1:23:20. It was a fun workout because David Alm gave me purpose. I ran up to him at mile 4 or so and made it my goal to pace him for the rest of the race. He had his highs and lows but finished solidly. I benefitted from running with him just as much because it was a welcome distraction.

Pic: that's David with me growing out of him. I tried to not ruin his picture but obviously failed at it spectacularly.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

3 x 1'/'2/3'

I'd like to write of more positive experiences in my training and racing but it's been a bit trying. I prefer to keep it real. It's all a question of perspective. If anything my perception of reality has been a bit skewed which lead to false expectations. Next time I set out to train for a goal, I need to keep that in mind.

I struggled lots to get the fatigue out of my legs after the 8 mile tempo on Thursday followed by a 22 mile long run on Saturday. It took me a full four days to be in shape for another workout. I had planned to run it Wednesday but it had to wait until today, Thursday. That's cutting it close until my next workout on Sunday which will be a long run comprised of 8-10 miles easy running and Grete's Half Marathon in Central Park at a quicker pace. Six days later I will race the Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half. I doubt I can do any kind of workout between the two. It's "scary" how few workouts I get done at all. After Brooklyn, my legs are likely smashed for a week which puts me at two weeks to go. Not much I can do from there anyway. At least I won't be overtrained for the marathon.

The workout I did today is my all time favorite: 3 by 1 min./2 min./3 min. with jogs in between for the same period. Paces are about mile/5k/10k. It's not really important to hit a certain pace. Key is to have three distinct paces. The workout can be done on any course or surface. If you don't have a great feeling for pace, it may take a couple of tries to get it right. As always in life, don't worry about making mistakes as long as you address them afterwards. The most common error is to go out too hard and then not being able to go the same pace for the third set. If in doubt, start out a little too easy. For those of you running with a GPS - I know, fucking everyone - DO NOT USE IT. This workout is also an exercise in judging pace by feel.

For runners who tend to get injured or who are 40 and older, it might be better to do 3x3'/2'/1' because you can ease into it. If you do it this way, you'll notice that the two hard blocks are 2'/1'/3' in the middle because the jog break after the fast 1' effort is rather short and you have to go back into the solid 3' still huffing and puffing.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Resting more

Resting more has become a reality for me as a masters runner. I need more easy days between hard or long runs. We all do.

Does anyone know where the word "masters" in running comes from? It's such a nice way of saying "old and washed up". As we age, we get wiser thanks to accumulated knowledge and experience. I did feel more masterful as a runner 10 years ago than now though.

Thursday Michael B helped me to a good workout. We did two continued "middle 4" loops in Central Park with the first four miles at 6:30 pace and the second 4 at 6:00 pace. Michael is training for Chicago and is in better shape than he has in a couple of years. I added a 2:40h long run today on still somewhat sore legs. Let's just say I got it done.

With about a month to go to the race, I feel like I get a better grasp on what's left to do. Tuesday or Wednesday I plan on doing a shorter, faster workout. The following Sunday I'll incorporate the 2-loop Grete's Half Marathon in Central Park into a long run. I plan to do an easy 6 miles followed by the half at marathon pace. Right now I see a 2:45 as a realistic marathon target so that's the pace I'm aiming for.

I plan to follow this up with a taper-ish week before the Brooklyn Half Marathon which I hope to run in 1:18ish. After that, there are three weeks left. I'm not overthinking what I'll run then. Anything will do if I - again - stay healthy.

The video: I like the atmosphere. Could be any small town marathon in the US. Add a fun camera perspective and a focus on the back of packers and you have great marketing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Moving on from not moving

I got ok over the 20k with little soreness which I tribute to my slow race pace. Tired I was, however, for the rest of the week (work was a factor as well).

The weekend after, I finally managed to get the 3rd biennial Bed to Beach done. It's a 24 mile run from my apartment to Coney Island. I had the coach and his driver with me which made it lots of fun.

On Tuesday, I did a progression run because I was mentally too tired (work again) for a tempo. A few hours later, just an hour before I travelled to Italy for one of our global bike races, I started having food poisoning. The flight was pretty awful as you can imagine. I had to pull myself together quite a bit when getting on the plane to not get kicked off. At the time, I didn’t know for sure what was going on so heading on a plane for 8 hours across the atlantic with fever and general ill feeling may not have been the smartest move. It had to be done though.

Once in Italy, it took me two days to feel ok enough to move. By then I had no time whatsoever because of commitments around the race and no sleep thanks to jet lag. Getting up at 7am local time meant 1am NYC time. I was able to do the race on Sunday but wasn’t 100% back to normal. Monday I dragged myself out for the first run in six days. Tuesday was an all-day travel day and alas another zero.

I’m definitely short on time to get more solid workouts in but it was never going to be a perfect race. The biggest challenge now will be to stay healthy, especially with a sick toddler in the house.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New Haven 20k

1:16:29 for 96th place

Glad to revisit the New Haven 20k with my wife and my buddy Michael who had a solid race off very little training. My 22 months old son Max finished the kids race (800m) after vomiting twice on the way in the car. If you think we're committing child abuse, keep it to yourself.

It was good to also have Cary and Jim of CPTC at the start. I saw Cary the whole race ahead of me. He's going to solidly smash his 2:38 PR in Chicago.

Not sure why not more team members take the trip. It's only a bit further than an hour away to a well organized race over a rarely run distance (each year it's also the US championship). Yes, the race is not easy due to heat and humidity which makes for slow times but it's a good test for anyone going into fall marathon panic season.

I'm very happy with my time which used to be a modest half marathon time for me. Sure, I shouldn't dwell on the past but I'm a solid six minutes slower than five years ago at age 35 at that race.

Of course I was better trained then but that's probably what annoys me most. I can accept aging but I don't like failure, no matter how unrealistic it is. It's unrealistic because I have a different (even better!) life than back then. I'm happily giving up a handful of minutes for this.

I didn't taper for the race but in hindsight I don't feel like resting would have brought a better result. After a progression run over 10 miles on Thursday, I ran an easy 6 miler on Friday and rode 4 hours easy to moderate on Saturday. Legs were heavy yesterday but I did a 90 min. easy run.

I lost feel for my pace a bit recently for two reasons: 1) I simply haven't raced much and 2) I haven't trained and raced much at this lower fitness. I started the race with what felt "right", whatever that means. The first two miles were 6:09 and 6:20.

The course is pretty easy but not entirely flat. It has a few rollers. The toughest part about it are some stretches in the sun. It's Labor Day in Connecticut so of course it was humid and warm.

I picked it up steadily after the first mile and hung onto a group with three chicks who had a couple of friends pacing them. Miles 3 and 4 were 6:10. My legs opened up a bit so I pushed it ever so slightly, left the group and started reeling in single runners. 6:06, 6:06, 6:05, 6:05.

The last three miles were tough due to a couple of hills and me just not having enough strength to keep it going. Total time for this section was 18:38 (I was too tired to take splits) which means 6:13 on average.

Based on today's race, I'm confident to go sub 1:20 at the Brooklyn Half on October 10. It will be colder and I will be better trained (fingers crossed). That would indicate a marathon fitness of 2:47-2:49. Not exactly the 2:45 I was hoping for but I'm not going to stop myself from improving even more. :)

Monday, September 7, 2015


Tomorrow I will finally be at the start line of a race. It won't be pretty but knowing this in advance allowed me to train more this week. No tapering needed.

Michael B had the week off so he was able to push the workout from his usual ungodly 5.45am to a more bearable 7am. That's not the start of the run but the workout, all warmed up and ready to roll.

We did 8*600 on the East Drive in the 90s. While not track-fast, not much is lost on straight tarmac. Michael said it's about 2 seconds long but who's counting (we were: 2:07-2:00 per rep).

Two days later I doubled it up with a progression run of 10 miles. Only the last 2 were probably in true tempo pace but I didn't want to fall apart early again in the heat and humidity.

I ran the New Haven 20k in 1:10h five years ago. Tomorrow, I will have to accept anything around 1:20h. It doesn't help, I have to start somewhere.

Meanwhile I'm stilling riding twice a week. With GFNY Italia coming up on September 20, I want to at least be in decent shape. Maybe I can make the second group again like last year.

Not sure what other races I will do until the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Brooklyn in October. I mostly hope to be able to get a few more solid tempos and long runs in. For the latter, maybe that 50k around Manhattan needs to get done finally. But beyond just getting through distance, after Italy the long runs will need to have some ooomph as well.

The picture? I'm still a sucker for running shoes (and running apparel) of the evil empire. No shoe has come close to what the Lunaracer delivers: lightweight but cushioned. Exactly what I need for everyday training and long races. I also still own a pair of the original Lunartrainer which I take out when I start running after an injury.

This year, Nike decided to bring the Trainer back and now calls it "Lunartempo". Saw one for $60 so couldn't resist. I'm very impressed because it is as light as the Lunaracer but even more cushioned. It will be my go-to show for easy long runs on concrete and definitely the shoe I will be wearing at Comrades (which will again not be next year. Stupid date!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Non-committal relationship with races

My running has been funky and I guess that's all I should ask for at this point. I feel tired every morning and it's hard to fathom doing anything but a slow jog. And even that seems like a thing I would only wish to my neighbors (of course they are idiots, this is NYC).

Last week I headed out to do a tempo run but quit after about half a mile because I felt completely sluggish. I forced myself to do a fartlek to at least get something done. Thankfully, a couple of days later when I tried again, I got it done.

And then again this morning.

I'm now looking at getting two "efforts" per week under the belt. They are certainly on the short side of things (4-5 miles) but it's still very nice and hot here (did I mention I love summer?).

I bailed on two more races though: first was the Harlem 5k. I simply didn't see a point to race without any training. The second was today's Rockland Lake Marathon. I was quite close to doing it but ended up not to for various excuses such as having to pick up a rental car the day before and parking it overnight etc. blabla. I did that thing 5 years ago and jogged - seriously! - through in 2:44. Completely unfathomable right now.

Saturday I emailed my buddy Michael to see whether he's still on for the New Haven 20k on Labor Day. It's usually a nasty hot slog but definitely an overall good event and even a US championship which makes for a good field (not that it would matter to me). Last time I ran it was 2010. I hung onto the women's lead pack but got dropped rather early. They make you run along the shore which sounds pretty but it's not and the sun just burns down on you. Even if you manage to convince yourself that you just ran a half marathon (although it is 1.1k less), your time will still suck.

Well, at least mine will.

Long story short, Michael actually signed me up because it seems he lost faith in my ability to actually do one of the races I keep talking about. Sad but fair enough.

At this point I am only also registered for the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Brooklyn mid October before NYCM. Let's hope I get other races done as well. I wanted to run the Bronx 10m but that has been sold out for a couple of months now.

My long runs have been decent so far. Nothing longer than 2:15 but one weekend I did two 2h+ runs in a row, one of them with my coach and his driver around the tip of Manhattan (see picture). One day I will run around Manhattan which is 50k and it sure would be good for me to do it soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Looking ahead unobstructed

My first run focus week since forever is in the book (not literally as I stopped my log last year after 23 years). Any normal person would know better than to assess one's fitness based on that but we're runners so we're stupid.

Apart from a few regular jogs, I did 
  • one tempo run. Something like 2mi and 1mi, who knows exactly. I didn't wear a watch.
  • one long run with the crew of 2:20h-ish
  • one fartlek
  • anything faster than 6:45 pace feels FAST
  • running long is merely a question of specific muscular endurance. I have plenty of general endurance.
My original goal for NYCM was to get into the Top 100 once again. To achieve that, you usually have to break 2:39. 

For background, my recent history in marathons:

2008 NYCM 2:34
2009 NYCM 2:33 (trying to break 2:30 and failing)
2010 NYCM 2:45 (trying to break 2:30 and failing spectacularly)
2010 Fukuoka 2:42 (trying to break 2:30 in warm weather, ended up in hospital)

2012 Osaka 2:44 (backup race for the cancelled NYCM, was hoping to break 2:40)
2013 NYCM 2:48 (no longer in shape to go near 2:30, goal was a solid 2:45)
2014 Boston 2:58 (didn't train and melted so badly - walking - that I wasn’t even sure I’d finish under 3h)

After that Boston race, I decided that running marathons without properly training for them is not fun. “Properly” is definitely a term that needs definition. To me, “properly” means an honest effort. Averaging 30 miles/week does not rate as an honest effort in my world.

I most likely let that Top 100 goal slip this summer as I was racing my bike through the alps. I raced much better than last year so I hung on to those eight weeks of cycling bliss. Also unlike last year, I kept running a couple of times a week though. Hence, not all is lost. That said, cracking the Top 100 would have required long runs, track workouts and the odd race. Apart from two abysmal efforts on the track, I did none of it.

So what, really, is still possible? I put myself out there and promised my running buddy Seth to beat him by 10 minutes. His PR is 2:53 and he was on my heels this spring at the NYC Half. Brenn of Cloud259 put himself out there and said he will use beating me as a goal. He broke 3h in 2013, running 2:56 at the NYCM.

Both is intriguing.

I do want to go under 2:45 and think that’s still in the cards. Let’s see where I get in the next few weeks.