Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

10/1/09 30 Days to go

October 1, 2009 2 comments

Taking day off today from running. I will hit the gym for a quick lift and some cardio. Hip/groin feels a little tight from yesterdays workout. Iced this morning. Rest will do me good. Tomorrow just a light jog with a 3 minute hard effort to deplete glycogen stores.

I purchased the NYC Bus Tour Tickets yesterday for my Dad, fiance and myself. I think it will be a cool experience to show them where I run. It takes 4 hours, so at least I can say I’m faster than the bus tour 🙂 It will also be a good focusing session to see and imagine the race at different points. I hope it is fun and relaxing. I’ll will take some pics and report on it after.

October is here. Seems like it took forever but so fast at the same time. The shape I am in now is the shape I am in. There is very little any workouts or long runs will change. They are mainly for confidence and to stay tuned up.

One thing I learned this year is that the marathon taper should be a cut in mileage but NOT intensity. Continue running your easy runs at the same speed, continue doing workouts, but decrease the length of both.

For example, Nate and I have been doing workouts like 6x5min tempo, 1 hr run easy, 6x5min tempo. Now we won’t drop the tempo out, but reduce it to 4x10min next week, then 3x10min tempo, then in the final week Tuesday 4x4min tempo. So we still feel sharp, but rested at the same time.

I think a lot of runners make the mistake of not tapering enough for fear that they will “lose their edge”, or “forget how to run”, or “wasted their training”. The truth is a proper 2-3 week taper is AS important as the previous 20 weeks. (more on this later)


Flirting with Disaster…

September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been flirting with a couple random injuries.  The first occured on Sept. 13th during a planned 18 mile training run.  My training partner Nate and I took the subway up to Inwood Park in upper Manhattan and planned to run down the West Side Hwy and back over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn, Prospect Park.  The workout plan was 3 mile warmup, 4×5 min tempo, 1hr Run, 4×5 min tempo.

Well, since we were taking the subway up, I need my Metrocard (subway card) and I always take a little money in case something happens and I need a cab or some food.  So we meet at the subway station and I take off my shoe to retrieve my Metrocard, enter the station and replace my card and money back under my insole of my shoe.

At about mile 6 in the workout I felt a little pain on the top of my right foot, but thought nothing of it.  It resurfaced at about mile 12 and I thought it was just a normal running soreness, but by the time we stopped at mile 15 to cross the street it hurt a lot more.  I loosened up my shoelace and started across to the Brooklyn Bridge to start our second set of tempos, but the now sharper pain did not allow it.  I had to walk the bridge and skip the last 3 miles.

I went over the run in my head trying to figure out what caused this.  Maybe the trails at the beginning, maybe the rocky railroad tracks we had to run on for 3/4 of a mile when the trail ended, maybe overuse…and it finally dawned on me after some internet searching.  It must have been my shoelaces being too tight on my right foot.  How could this have happened?  I have never tied my shoelaces so tight a painful injury resulted, what did I do different?  Then I remembered.  I had my card and money in my right shoe.  I re-tied my shoe after getting on the subway and must have been a little more aggressive than my usual routine when lacing up.  So the result was a red lump on my “extensor flexor” the tendon on the top of my foot.

I started icing immediately, 15 minutes max, sometimes with an ice bag, sometimes with a ice water bucket.  I also purchased a slew of different anti-inflamatory creams.  I’d also heard of MSM and decided to get some in cream form to try.

I took the next 2 days off from running, continued icing 3x/day.  Ran 4 miles on the Wednesday following with some slight discomfort, but much less than I expected.  I found that if I unlaced my shoe 1 eyelet, there was no pressure on the tendon and I could run relatively pain free.  At this point, I’m so close to the marathon and even closer to the taper, I just want a few more quality workouts and long runs.

On Thursday I was able to run a solid workout of 1 hour run Easy, 6×5 min tempo, 15 min Easy.  Foot a little sore after but getting better.  Took Friday off and planned to run the Continental First Avenue Mile race on Saturday.  This may seem strange to do in the middle of marathon training but let me explain.  The following day (Sunday) run was planned to be 22 miles, so I wanted to re-test my carb load process, called the Western Australian carb loading, which is basically a 1 day carb load.  The key to it is a 3 minute hard effort before the 24 hours of carb loading.  So I was planning on using the mile as my hard effort.

I got a late start leaving my house and then the trains were messed up due to it being the weekend.  I didn’t have as much warmup time as I would have liked.  I jogged to the subway (3 minutes), then from the subway to the start (4 min), changed into my race shoes, did a few strides and stretched out.  Then it was time to line up for the 35-39 year old Males.  My ankle felt good warming up and I planned not to run at all if the ankle couldn’t handle the stride outs in warm up.  But it felt fine, I had the top eyelet unlaced again.

The gun went off and we were cranking down 1st Ave.  I went through 400m in 1:14, I wanted to hold that pace, after 400m there is a slight uphill and I settled in.  At about 750m I felt a slight twinge in my left groin and pulled up immediately and started to job back to the start to get my baggage.  On my way back I remembered we checked our bag on a bus and it would be at the finish.  Oh well!  I guess I will have to finish.  So I jogged ever so gingerly to the finish, clocking a 7:51 mile :), I did get a metallic water bottle for finishing.  I’m not sure it the groin was due to lack of warm up, running so fast, or fatigue from possibly favoring my right foot and putting more stress on my left side, maybe a combo of all of the above.  Whatever it was….DAMN IT!!  I do not need this to be happening right now, not with the marathon so close and being in such good shape.  I was having flashbacks to last year when after my 18 miler in Sept. my training essentially stopped due to an impending stress fracture.

I am determined not to let any setback deter my planning.  So, I continued with my carb loading process, drinking R4, Ensure, eating powerbars, bread, and intended to make an attempted at the planned 22miles the next day.

So, now I’m icing my groin and my foot, and I look like the walking wounded around my house.

Sunday, Sept 20th arrives and Nate and I are on our way to Central Park at 5:45 AM for the 7AM start time.  It is called the NYC marathon tune up, it is not actually a race but has the feel of a race with mile markers, water stops and about 3500 runners.  The course is 3 loops around the hilly Central Park. My goal was to treat the start very similar to the marathon and do only a very brief warm up since in the NYC marathon you have very little time to warm up, and any warm up you do get in is virtually wasted since you are standing in the corral and at the starting line for about 45 minutes.

Nate and I did about 5 minutes of warmup with some light stretching, my groin was sore even with light running so I told Nate, I may not complete the run if my leg get worse and I will text him if I drop out early, so as not to wait around for me.  Nate’s plan for the race was much different than mine, he wanted to run marathon pace which for him, is 6:50 pace.  I was just doing an easy pace long run at about 7:45 pace.

I really wanted to concentrate on going out slow.  The beginning of my marathon last year was way too fast.  I succeeded in going out in 7:48, then at around 2 miles I met up with another fellow Brooklyn Road Runner, Steve Remy, who was 30 days away from his Marine Corp marathon in DC.  His goal was 7:30 pace, so we worked down to the 7:30s and then by mile 8 I told him, I was easing back a bit and to go ahead.  My groin at this point is warmed up and while I feel it, it has gotten no worse, so I continue.

I went thru the half marathon in 1:38, feeling good, then the hills started to take their toll, and I kind of zoned out and stopped concentrating on my form and pace, and my pace crept up to the 7:50s.  Not good.  After some Shot Bloks I felt better and wanted to see how it felt to crank out some faster miles after 14 miles…the answer, pretty fantastic.  I averaged 7:20 for miles 15, 16, 17, and 18 and felt good doing it, tired, but good.  Good enough in fact to run 25 minutes after the 18 to get a total of 21 miles in.

By now it is raining steadily and the temp seems to be dropping to the low 60s.  I get changed and head home, very proud of my effort.

Took Monday the 21st off of running, did some lifting and cycling at the gym.  Tuesday 22nd is today and Nate and I ran 4 miles easy.  Groin is getting better, foot is at 90%.

There is a half marathon this Saturday in Central Park that I plan to run at Marathon Goal Pace of 6:50/mile, maybe a touch faster.

This run will be a key to my confidence.

Reflections on my First Marathon, NYC Marathon 2008

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Here I am.  Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009, 54 days to go before I test my fitness again at the marathon distance.  Last year was my first attempt at the marathon.  At age 34, I felt it was time to venture into the unknown.  As you may know (from previous post), I’ve been running for most of my life, but usually 5k, 10k races.  In 2007 I started running more 1/2 marathons, which at the time was about the distance of my longest long runs.

Last year, 2008, I decided to run the NYC marathon as my debut at the distance.  I felt that I trained consistently but not as focused as I needed to be, in hindsight.  I only really did one “long run”, during training, I now consider anything 18 miles or over a long run.  The problem was my mileage build up was not sufficient to support these longer runs.  Ideally you want long runs to be about 25% of your weekly mileage, mine were 50%.  Needless to say a developed an injury, guess….stress fracture of the lower leg, right shin to be exact.  And it really became noticeable in my 18, which turned into a 20 miler in Sept 08.  It was a formal training run hosted by NYRR in Central Park.  3 loops of the park, it ended up being 20 because I needed to pick up my number and when I got the the park I was told the numbers were at the NYRR office, about 1 mile away.  So my day of running started with a sprint back to the NYRR office and then back to the start line.  The run was going well pace wise and body wise thru about 13, 14 miles then I started to slow, cramps and tight hamstrings started to become more prevalent, shins started to hurt more.  I ended up with a 2:12:51 effort, which is a 7:22/mile pace.  Not bad for the first time running that far, but health wise I was whipped.  I would have loved to continue with my 40 mile weeks and get up to 50 before the taper, but I decided it would be better to take it easy and not get a full blown stress fracture and be unable to compete come November.

So, my training from then on consisted of easy runs in the 3-8 mile range, with the last 3 weeks before race day of minimal running.  I felt rested but not very fit, and not very confident about the task of 26.2 miles.  Race day arrived and I psyched myself up mentally, I was ready.  My father flew out from Cali to watch and my girlfriend would be cheering me on.  They traveled around the course by subway to see me in 3 locations, very impressive.  They saw me in Brooklyn, near our apartment, then on 1st Ave and 50th, then again in Central Park for the last few miles.

It being my first marathon, I was a little nervous, I didn’t know what to expect.  I’d read articles and blogs extensively on the internet and magazines, so I had an idea of what was to come.  I’d read all the tips and top 10 lists and tricks,  I felt like I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.  I read in an article that putting your name on your race shirt is very helpful and motivational since spectators will cheer you on by name.  I decided to do this and it was great, for a while.  I felt like I had a million friends in NYC, all saying “Go Chad, Cmon Chad, Keep it Up!!”  On the day of the marathon I was ready, all my racing clothes were neatly piled, all my gels, fluids, and other gear was stashed in my racing bag, and I headed out to catch the subway at 5am.  After catching the 2,3 subway from Brooklyn to the Wall St stop, I walked to the Staten Island Ferry pick up spot in South Street Seaport.  There I waited for about 30 minutes with a few thousand other runner waiting for that pickup time.

Night Before Race Day

Night Before Race Day

Once to Staten Island we all walked to a bus stop pick up and were transported closer to the start line.  Once we exited the bus we walked several hundred meters, thru a police check point for a bag search and arrived at the main staging area where thousands of runners were gathered.  There were also about 50 UPS trucks to transport our baggage to the finish line, all coded by our race number.  Oddly, there was coffee and doughnuts to eat while waiting for the start.  I’m hoping that was to cater to the volunteers who planned on a sugar caffeine brunch , because I can’t see how that would be a smart pre-race snack, coffee maybe but not doughnuts!  I stuck with my power bar and gatorade.  I snuck in about 5 minutes of light jogging.  It was about 47 degrees and breezy so I didn’t want to get too sweaty and then cold, we still had about 1 1/2 hours before start time.

I changed out of my real warm-ups into my $10 warm-ups I’d purchased at the expo a few days before, they were cheap, but were meant only to keep me warm for the last hour before the start and then tossed to the side once the gun went off.  So Nate and I made our way to the color coded, number coded corral.  We were in the front group which is key, we had good seed times based on our half marathons that year and our NYRR club affiliation also got preferential placement.  Each corral held about 4,000 runners, luckily we had 10 port-a-johns for our exclusive use.  I made 1 last trip to the port-a-john about 40 minutes before start time, and when I exited, the stampede had begun.  They were moving the runners from the corral to the starting area, and I wouldn’t see Nate again until the finish line.  We did a 1/2 mile jog/walk to the start line, even though I was in the “front” group, I was still about 40 rows of people back.  It would take me less than 1 minute to reach the start line once the gun went off, for people in the back of the pack it would take 20+ minutes to reach the start line.  Thankfully most races are chip-timed, which means your clock doesn’t start until you cross the electronic sensor at the start line.  The problem with races of this size 30k and up is it will take at least 2 miles to weave your way through all the people to finally be able to run comfortably and not have to dodge slower runner/walkers.

Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

I looked backward and forward for Nate for about 15 minutes to no avail, and saw 40 others doing the same, trying to locate their friends.  We stood at the start line for a good 30 minutes listening to announcement, National anthem, Elite runner intros, the mayor, celebrities, more announcements, Peter ChaCha giving the race course description as he does in every NYRR race.  If you find a way to get lost on the NYC marathon course, you have big problems.  At least it was semi-warm in the tightly packed group.  As a side note, runners can be gross.  I’ve been a runner my whole life, so maybe I’ve become caloused to it.  I was also warned/advised that the start takes a long time once you leave the corral so hang on to your empty gatorade bottle and use it as a personal port-a-potty, OK fine, fair enough.  But one forgetful gentleman apparently forgot his gatorade bottle and proceeded to just squat amongst the thousands and urinate while waited to start.  Thankfully I was off to the side, I felt bad for those downhill from him who got a surprise creek.

My goal going in was 3:10 (Boston qualifier) but since it was my 1st marathon and I had no idea how I would feel, I was open to faster or slower, I knew both were possible.

dad with sign

My Dad at Mile 22

Finally it was go time…the gun went off and adreneline surged through my body.  Keep in mind that we are starting at the base of the Verazano Bridge, which is the biggest hill of the course, and the biggest down hill.   I decided to keep my warm-up top on, just for the first bit since it was so cold and the bridge was really windy.  We started out and everyone was going so slow, I was weaving in and out, got to the top of the bridge, crested it and started the decent, passed the 1 mile mark in 6:45…not good, but I felt great.  Now we are on the downhill so I can’t slow down.  I come off the bridge, now the crowd starts to appear, first a few people, then more, right off the bottom of the bridge is 2 miles, 13 flat!, that was a 6:30 on the downhill, oops.  OK, I really have to slow down, I come through 3 with a 6:50, better, but that’s 3 hour pace.  So, I’m thinking, OK, maybe I can get 3 hours.

Verrazano Empties into Brooklyn

Verrazano Empties into Brooklyn

I was so pumped running through Brooklyn, I knew Alex (my girlfriend, now fiance) and my Dad would be cheering soon, and of course I wanted to look good for them, I came throught 10k in 41:46 (6:44 pace), I hadn’t slowed down at all. I was still on sub 3hr pace, I really had to ease it back. I did, whether I wanted to or not, by the half way point I was at 1:32, overall 7 min pace average, but I was now running 7:30/mile and it wasn’t going to get better…

Mile 7

Mile 7

I was mentally relieved to reach the 1/2 marathon, the sun was out, and I felt pretty good still.  We meandered through Queens and finally arrived at the Queensbridge, the connection to bring us to 1st Ave.  The bridge was long and quiet since there were no spectators.  From the base of the bridge to the end is roughly 1 mile.

Now coming off the bridge, I’d heard from many people it was like a “rock star” welcoming.  I was not impressed.  Maybe because I was expecting a roar.  There were a lot of people cheering but it wasn’t anything different than Brooklyn 4th Ave.  I’m a good downhill runner, but sometimes I go too fast, coming down the bridge and into Manhattan was an example of this.

Wow.  I clocked a 6:34 mile and I didn’t really realize it until I analyzed my splits.  I forgot to hit my lap button various times during the marathon.  Not because I was “in the zone”,  more like in a daze.

I was now eagerly looking for my Dad and Alex they were around mile 18.  Before I got there I had to stop and stretch.  Quad, Hamstrings, Calves, groin.  Everything was starting to give the indications of cramping.  And my upper back was on fire, it hurt to turn my head.

I saw my family and gave them a wave.  The next time I would see them is at mile 23, they would walk directly West to Central Park.  I had signed myself up for email race updates as I crossed 5k, 10k, 15k, etc and my Dad had my Blackberry so they could follow my pace.  Needless to say, they expected me at mile 23 much sooner then I actually showed up.

So, after seeing them at 18mi and heading toward the Bronx, the crowd thinned dramatically, it was hard to stay focused.  My splits were getting slower and slower

I was able to stop and stretch and hold off the cramps. I could feel the pre-cramp twinges, so I would shorten my stride, adjust my gait, anything I could do. I was drinking gatorade at every station, consuming Powergel every 30 min. but to no avail. My lack of training and going out too fast was blatantly apparent. I also don’t think I was consuming enough sodium.   Adding the trouble was the cold windy air. I was forced to stop and stretch once per mile from here on in. Even when I had some energy and tried to push, the imminent cramping suggested otherwise. So, I struggled, and struggled, and struggled, eventually being held to 9+ minute miles for the last 6, I was able to dig down and manage an 8:30 for the last mile. 3:25:22 was the final time, 7:49 average, nothing to be ashamed of, especially for my 1st.

Mile 23--Struggling

Mile 23--Struggling

People on 5th Ave and in Central Park really encouraged me, even though, “Go Chad” was the last thing I wanted shouted at me as pain shot through my legs with every short stride.  I still can’t believe how long the last 3 miles felt.  Never did I think I would quit and not make it to the finish.  I didn’t have any guess to what I could run, but I knew I would finish.  And finishing felt good, for 1 second, then walking hurt more than when I was running.

After the finish, probably my biggest complaint about the NY marathon was the “death march” after the finish line.  We had to walk (crawl) approximately 1 mile to retrieve our baggage from the numbered UPS truck.  I guess in the long run it was good to “cool down” after, but it was the last thing I wanted to do.

Are We There Yet!?

Are We There Yet!?

Debut Marathon In the Books 3:25

Debut Marathon In the Books 3:25

My beginning stress fracture hurt during the race but I forgot about it once the cramps started.  I took 5 weeks off from running and started back with very light jogging.  Although due to lack of activity I had ballooned up to 208 lbs by Christmas time.  Now it was time to re-focus and get back into shape for my 2nd marathon the next year…I was hooked.

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