Friday, December 24, 2010

Goals for 2011

As 2010 winds to a close, I have started to think about my plans for 2011. As many of you know, my year in running wasn't anything close to what I had hoped it would be, due to some health issues that impacted my running from around July 2010 - November 2010. I am only recently back to running, and it has been a slow re-start to say the least. I have lost a LOT of my fitness, put on a few pounds, and have lost a lot of my momentum - it's just harder than ever to get myself out of the house in the cold and dark.

I'm starting to put together a set of goals for 2011 - above all, I'm hoping that this will be a year without injury or sickness. After 2010, I'm just happy to be able to get out and run again. That said, I have a few things that are already on my plate:
  1. Spring: Tough Mudder - Inspired by my running pal Baker, and coerced by my brother (who is flying in from Israel to do this), I decided to take this one on. Twitter pal Scott has also joined our team. It's not JUST running - so I have to start thinking about overall body conditioning: upper body, core, strength. It will definitely be an experience, to say the least.
  2. Fall: New York Marathon - Having collected my guaranteed entry through the NYRR 9+1 program, I am looking forward to a triumphant return to New York. I had hoped to plan for a sub 4 hour marathon in 2010, but that was just not in the cards. Hoping to be up for that goal this year.
Running Goals:
  1. Get my speed back. I think that miles, drills and core work are really the only way to go on this one. I hope to rejoin my Tuesday night speed group (led by Coach SpeedySasquatch) and get back in the groove. It's hard to re-start anything, but it's a great group of people that make training fun.
  2. Run smaller races: There are plenty of smaller races around the area - and depending on whether or not I choose to collect my 9+1 again this year, I'll have the option to try them.
  3. Run a spring race? Jury is still out on this one. Do I join Sharon at the New Jersey Marathon, or perhaps Ansky at the Vermont City Marathon? Who knows? I guess I'll make that decision in January.
We have a long winter ahead of us, so I am banking on the camraderie and support of my running pals at races, on training runs, and over beers and coffee to stay motivated through the long, cold and dark days of winter. Wishing all of my fellow runners a wonderful 2011, with the wind always at our backs, and more PR's than we can even keep track of.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NYCM Race Report

For those of you that have been following this blog, you know that there was a lot of drama in the months leading up to the Marathon. A couple of weeks before race day, I decided to run - and just see what happened. I knew that my heart was still limited (in terms of what I could do), I know that I was undertrained, but I decided to go for it, and just see what happened.

On race morning, I made my way down to the ferry with Sharon and Matthew from Riverdale. We caught the 6:30am ferry to Staten Island, and chatted with all of the sleepy, amicable runners around us. From there, we caught the bus to Ft Wadsworth. Sharon and I parted ways, and Matthew and I made our way off to morning services. It was a nice way to start the marathon, and I ran into a few other athletes that I knew. From there, I made my way over to the start village, and ultimately the corrals. The weather was cold, but not unpleasant.

Eventually, the corrals were opened, and we made our way onto the bridge. I had a momentary shudder of disbelief, still a bit surprised that my tenacity and lack of good judgement had brought me to the foot of the Verazanno bridge. After God Bless America, we took off to the sound of the cannon and "New York, New York". I settled in to a comfortable 11 min pace, and started my way up the bridge. On the bridge, I ran into Weber and Maura - gave them a quick shout, and wished them a great race. We meandered through various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and eventually the three start waves consolidated into one, and the crowds of spectators started to build.

I have to agree with Baker, the best crowds by far were in Ft Greene, Brooklyn. I must have heard my name screamed by spectators at least every 30 seconds. My hands grew tired from waves, high fives and thumbs up, and my face started to hurt from smiles. I was really doing this! I settled into a nice routine of water stops, and gel - and just plugged on, enjoying every minute. By mile 16, at the ascent of the Queensboro bridge, I was starting to slow down - I walked most of the way up the bridge, and jogged my way down. At this point, my legs were starting to grow heavy - but I kept my spirits up. I thought to myself, "Just 10 miles to go (eek) - and it's the same 10 miles that I ran a couple of weeks ago with my teammates from the Flyers I knew that the wheels were going to come off eventually, and I was determined to roll with it and get to the finish line, no matter what it took.

I turned onto First Ave, and started what would eventually become a run/walk regimen - pretty much the rest of the way through the race. The crowds were great on First Ave, but nothing like what I had come to expect after Brooklyn.

Heading into the Bronx, I ran into Erin - who was in the third wave (I was in the second). It then hit me how slow I was actually going, but I didn't let it bother me. We chatted for a bit, and she went on her way. I plodded on, just putting one foot in front of the other, and making my way closer to the finish.

Back in Manhattan, I ran into my wife, my kid and my Mom, waiting for me on 5th Ave. Fortunately, I was jogging at the time. I was starting to feel down a bit, and it really lifted my spirits to see my family. I gave them a quick hug and a kiss - when my wife asked how I was doing, I told her honestly, "I felt good through mile 16, but the tank is almost empty". Not wanting to lose momentum, I said goodbye, and continued on my way.

The trudge up 5th avenue is a hard one, and this was no exception. I entered the park at 90th street, nearly entirely out of steam. I was walking far more than running, but just kept moving forward. Passing mile 24, I just wanted to sit down and stop. I said to myself, "I've come this far, I'm not going home without a medal." and just kept on trucking. We turned onto Central Park South, and I was completely out of gas - I just kept walking, and fed off of the energy of the crowds. When I saw the sign that said "1/2 Mile to go" I decided that not only was I going to finish, I was going to run the rest of the way in. I dug deep, found that hidden store of energy, and was able to run it in to the finish.

Crossing the finish line, I saw Ed, a fellow Flyer - the guy that kept me company on the last 10 miles of the marathon course. I was so glad to see him there, as he was one of the people that helped me arrive at the decision to run, and gave me support at that critical juncture - 2 weeks before race day.

I crossed the finish line, collected my medal, and made my way through the death march and back to my car. I'm so grateful for the encouragement of my friends, who kept me moving through this rough patch - and inspired me not to give up, and just keep pushing. I must have thought it a million times during the marathon, and at least two million times since then - I CAN'T WAIT TO DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where perseverence ends and insanity begins

On Sunday, November 07, I will step up to the starting line of the NYC Marathon. For those of you that have been following my training progress, this is hardly the fall racing season that I had planned for. I was going into the fall thinking that if things fell into place, my "A" goal could be a sub-4 hour finish. Obviously, that is no longer the case.

A couple of fun facts about my 2010 NYC Marathon training season:

  • I had THREE surgical procedures on my heart in the 11 weeks leading up to the marathon, the most recent one being 25 days prior to race day
  • My last "normal" training week before all of this heart drama started was the week of August 1st. I have not run > 20 miles per week since then.
  • My longest run of this training cycle was 18 miles on September 19th
  • My total mileage logged for the months of September and October were 50 miles (each)
I know what you are thinking, this is complete insanity - and you are probably right. You could say that I'm not respecting the distance, I probably wouldn't argue with that. I have decided that I will not give up, I don't care how long it takes, but I'm going to finish. I feel like at least stepping up to the line means that I am taking back control of my life. I will not allow circumstances outside of my control to dictate what I can and cannot do.

For what it's worth, I have medical "acceptance" for this endeavor. I don't think that any of my doctors would actually "recommend" that I run the marathon this year, and to be honest, I don't blame them. I don't believe that I am putting myself in imminent danger (no more so than anyone else that runs a marathon), and I don't believe that running the race will impair my recovery. I guess I'll find out how true that was when I go back to my doctor next Wednesday

Even if this wasn't the way I had hoped to run NYC this year, I'll try to at least make something good out of the situation. I plan to run the race this year with the same Mobility Impaired athlete that I guided through NYCM last year. While I won't officially be his guide this year, at least I can rely on him and his guides to keep me at a pace that I can handle, and provide some company and continued motivation for the run.

Obviously, I'm disappointed with my current situation - and I was hoping to be over my issues by now, but I'm doing the best with the cards that I've been dealt. I'm going to step up to the line, give it everything I have - and come out of this a winner.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Slogging it through two half marathons

I recently completed two half marathons, powered by my not-yet-fixed heart. I wanted to write something, to thank my running buddies from the NYC scene, for keeping my chin up, and really helping me keep moving through this rough time.

The first half was the Newport Liberty Half, held in Jersey City, NJ. I learned about this race from my friend (and old college roommate) Ansky, and saw on the website that race day registration was still available. I also learned that my Tweeps Samantha and Eissa were going to be running as well - so I made a decision the night before to sign up and head over. Race day weather was great, the lines were minimal (except for the bathroom lines) and the crowds were generally pleasant. I met up with Samantha, and we headed to the start together.

I ran the first few miles with her, but then I felt my ticker starting to rebel. At around mile 3, I wished Sam a good race, and sent her on her way. The next few miles were a combination of running and walking, eventually turning into more walking than running. By mile 10, the wheels were coming off bigtime. I mostly walked the next few miles, until I finally started to run again around mile 13. It was a tough day for me, and by far, my slowest ever. I started to feel really sorry for myself, thinking that this really isn't what I had in mind for the fall racing season, and that I was supposed to be past this by now.

A couple of weeks later, I decided on a whim to register for the Staten Island Half Marathon. A number of my friends were running, and I decided to take a different approach to this race. I made it a challenge for myself, Joe vs. the Busted Heart. I decided that I was going to tackle the race mile by mile, but in the end, I was going to win, not my busted heart.

On the morning of race day, I made the trek to Staten Island with my friend Sharon. We met up with Erin and made our way to the start. After a quick stop at bag check and the restrooms, we set off to the corral. My heart rate jumped right away, so I wished Erin a good race, and sent her on her way. Samantha passed me a few miles later, and at the turnaround, I caught sight of Sharon making her way back, look of utter focus on her face. Miles 3 - 5 were the worst for me, I just gritted my teeth and gutted it out through the pain. Amazingly, by mile 6, I felt my heart starting to calm down, and I had a few pretty comfortable miles. The trouble started again around mile 9 or so, and I just remember gutting it out, and hoping for a finish. As I crossed the line, I remember thinking that my busted heart didn't win, and it made me tear up a bit. I can't remember feeling so grateful about finishing a half marathon before.

I have come to a realization: Even though I can't run very fast right now (not that I was ever "so fast" to begin with), it's better to be out there racing than doing nothing at all. I have come to accept where I am now, and am I am hopeful that things will work themselves out soon, and I can get back to where I was. I am so grateful for the support of my running friends, who offer a wave, a smile and some encouragement out on the race course when I am feeling my worst. Thank you guys so much - you are what keep me coming out week after week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Training Setback...ticker trouble (part 2)

When I last left you, dear reader - I had just received a diagnosis of atrial flutter, and was about to schedule a procedure to correct it. After numerous phone calls with the medical office, and hours of frustration and waiting, I was finally given an appointment for my procedure - September 26th.

I arrived at the hospital bright and early (as instructed) having neither eaten nor drank since midnight the night before. My clothing and belongings were taken from me, and I was given a pair of surgical scrubs to wear. I waited in the surgical waiting area from 10am until almost 7:30pm, still not allowed to eat or drink. I was finally brought into the cardiac cath lab, and a team of surgical staff descended on me, to prep me for the procedure. Electrodes were placed all over my body, wires connected, needles inserted, various body parts shaven - my last memory was the anesthesiologist promising me a cocktail that I would enjoy.

I woke up in recovery some 4.5 hours later, my first vague memory being one of physically fighting with the nursing staff, and having to be restrained. I am told (I don't actually remember this) that I repeatedly told the nursing staff that I was "So sad" and that I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I also recall begging for ice chips, receiving them, and then vomiting uproariously. I have vague memories of being transferred to a room on the cardiology floor, and given instructions not to get up or move for 6 hours.

The following morning, I was met by the surgical team, who informed me that the procedure was not successful. They wanted to try again, a week later - and prepared to discharge me with several prescriptions - and a plan to return in one week's time.

The second procedure went a lot smoother from a logistics perspective. I was admitted at 7am, and promptly brought into the surgical theater. The procedure took around 4 hours again, and I woke up in recovery, feeling a lot better than the previous time. This time, I was told that the procedure was successful and I was transferred back to the cardiology floor for bedrest and observation.

Several hours after the procedure, I was told that while the arrythmia they had set out to treat had been fixed, this time I had developed a second arryhtmia, called atrial fibrilation. I was warned that this was a possible outcome - and that the plan was to treat this arrhythmia using drugs, and allow the heart 30 days to recover from surgery, in hopes that it would naturally return to normal rhythm.

My 30 day recovery has almost ended. I am pleased to note that the arrhythmia has been kept under control with medication, however, it also makes running very challenging. One of the effects of the heart meds is to slow my heart rate - so when I am running at a pace where my heart rate should be 160, it is actually 130. The effect of this is that my body doesn't actually receive enough oxygen, and my muscles start to feel like dead weight.

I have recently returned to running, with the limitation that I must run at a pace that is appropriate for my new, lower, chemically induced maximum heart rate. It's a tough pill to swallow (ha) - but I'd rather be able to run slowly than not at all. I completed my most recent 18 mile training run, at approximately a 12 min pace (I would have normally run at a 9:30 - 10:00 pace for this distance), so I plan to move forward with my training for the marathon.

I have a pretty full calendar of long runs between now and the race, and I am optimistic about what will happen between now and then.

If you read this far, I appreciate your caring - and will keep you informed on how I progress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Go Joe!

Inspired by my last blog post, my friend Neil made this for me. I love it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NYC Marathon Tuneup

Today was the NYC Marathon Tuneup, an 18 mile NYRR Training run. This was an important run for me, because I decided that if I can complete the run today (regardless of the pace), I'll continue training to run the marathon. Conversely, if I didn't finish, I would officially drop out of the marathon.

For those that had been following along at home, I'm currently on a bunch of heart meds, following a catheter ablation procedure that I had about a month ago. The effect of all these meds is that they keep my heart rate low, which is a bit of a problem when running. Generally, my heart is in the 150 -160 bpm range when doing long runs. Under these heart meds, my heart doesn't go much faster than 130 bpm no matter how fast I go. The net effect is that my muscles don't get enough oxygen, and start to feel like dead weight. If I wanted to succeed on this long run, I was going to have to take it slow, and just hope for the best.

I headed down to the race with Sharon, my old training buddy. She had her own plans for the day, but was going to join me for the first 6 miles. We ran into Josh at the race, and we headed for the corrals. We started off at around a 10 min/mile pace, which is a bit fast for me under the current circumstances. I let Josh and Sharon go at Mile 3, and settled in for what was going to be a long day.

The race is 3 laps around Central Park, for a total of 18 miles. I had to do some walking in the later parts of lap one, and started to have doubts about the rest of the day. Right around Mile 4, a runner (who looked a lot like Howie Mandel) came up from behind, and yelled "Go Joe" (it was written on the back of my shirt). We stayed together for a few minutes, and I mentioned that I had just gone through heart surgery 18 days ago. Suitably impressed, he wished me luck in the run - gave me some much needed encouragement, and kept moving. I did my thing for the remaining miles of loop 1. Fortunately, I ran into Mark (my training buddy from Phila, and fellow Flyer) right around mile 6. He was gracious enough to keep me company for the second loop, and entertain me with stories from his recent trip to Thailand. We stayed together through lap 2, and the first mile of lap 3. At this point, the wheels were definitely starting to come off - so I let Mark go ahead, promising him that I'd finish the run today.

Loop 3 was a tough loop for me, as I went through the gamut of emotions: anger for being limited in what I can do, fear about not finishing, hope, you name it. At this point, I really started to get strength from the other runners out on the course. I chatted with an attorney who was training for his first marathon, a PR guru who was training for his first Ironman, and a bunch of other people along the way. I really got the feeling that we were all in this together - and that we would do what it took to encourage each other to keep moving.

Around mile 17, I ran into Howie Mandel again - he was on his 4th loop of the park. I picked it up, and ran with him for a bit (only to realize that I had more in the tank than I really thought), and coasted it in for a 3:37:09 finish. Obviously, these are not the numbers I was hoping for 6 months ago - but under the circumstances, I feel fortunate to be able to run - and grateful to my fellow runners for keeping out there and enjoying it today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Training Setback...ticker trouble (part 1)

I realize that I did a somewhat half-assed job at letting people know about my most recent training setback, so I thought I'd take a bit of time to tell the whole story. My apologies to the folks that I have been unduly alarmed by all of this.

As many of you already know - I am currently in training for the NYC Marathon, which will hopefully be my third marathon. On July 13th, I was attending speedwork with my usual Tuesday night group - when I realized that something wasn't right. I wasn't able to complete our assigned workout without stopping to walk several times (which has never happened before). I definitely felt as though something was wrong, I just didn't know what. I happened to have been wearing a heart rate monitor, so I knew that my heart race was excessively high (greater than 200 bpm), also something that has never happened before.

Thoroughly spooked by the experience, I promptly made an appointment with my physician. He took an EKG, which registered completely normally - but encouraged me to follow up with a cardiologist. I was given the green light to continue running, and two days later, I raced a 5k with my co-workers. While I didn't PR at the race - I felt that I was able to run comfortably, at a pace that was just right for me.

The next few weeks brought very inconsistent workouts. Some days, I could run for miles and miles without issue, other days, I could barely keep a pace for one or two miles without having my heart go crazy. Additionally, I started having what I believed were palpitations, where my heart started beating very quickly and felt like it was going to leap out of my chest, even while at rest.

My first visit to the cardiologist was uneventful - I brought a stack of printouts from my Garmin, showing the different types of workouts I had been running, and showing concrete evidence of my exceptionally high heart rate. Unfortunately, an EKG yielded a similar, completely normal heart rhythm - which didn't give the doctor much to work with. We scheduled a stress test for the following week as a follow up.

Finally, at the stress test, the doctors were able to trigger the heart rhythm that I had been experiencing, which was promptly diagnosed as atrial flutter. Atrial flutter is a "short circuit" of the heart's electrical conductivity, which causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract very rapidly, often between 200 and 300 bpm. A follow up visit to discuss the results of the stress test was scheduled for the following week. At the follow up, I was experiencing flutter (while at rest), which was subsequently captured on another EKG. This prompted a referral to an electrophysiologist, a doctor specializing in treating electrical abnormalities of the heart.

I went to see the electrophysiologist the next day. She confirmed the existence of the flutter, and recommended a surgical procedure called RF Ablation to correct it. Given the fact that my episodes of atrial flutter had been occurring with greater frequency, and while at rest, it was recommended that I schedule the procedure as soon as possible. I left the office, and set off to schedule the procedure for the following week...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The role of parenting and healthy eating

Listening to NPR this morning, I heard a story about a group that plans to sue McDonald's over what they perceive to be "illegal" marketing to children. Here's a link to the story, if you'd like to check it out for yourself:

As a new parent, but also a Libertarian - I'm extremely conflicted about this issue. On one hand, my political beliefs tell me that it isn't the role of government to dictate how a company should advertise their products, and it is the responsibility of parents to guide their children to make healthy eating choices. On the other hand, I can understand where fast food chains would want to target children (who don't understand the consequences of eating the foods that chains like McDonalds are selling) using a plastic toy as an incentive, and develop bad habits which will lead to a lifetime of unhealthy eating.

Regulation in advertising is not a new thing. For example, the FDA regulates pharmaceutical advertising; tobacco advertising in print and television is no longer allowed, and there are numerous restrictions on the advertising of alcohol. It would seem that marketing of fast food (which could legitimately be called a public health hazard) is not without precedent. On the other hand, I feel that excessive regulation of advertising puts us on a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line between the government's desire to "protect" its citizens vs. restricting our ability to make our own choices?

In an ideal world, we the people would vote with our dollars - and if what McDonalds is doing is immoral or unethical, we would not patronize them. I suspect that the folks directly involved in this effort would not take their children to McDonalds in the first place. However, experience (and the statistics on obesity in this country) would suggest that I'm wrong - and that the American people truly do require "protection" against the fast food industry.

Where is the middle ground here?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back to Speedwork....finally

After swearing that I was going to do it for weeks now, I finally got back to speedwork, joining SpeedySasquatch and the Tues night NYC Twitter Crew. We did 6 x 800 with a 90 sec RI between each. Did my intervals with Lady_Southpaw, who seemed to be about even paced with me. We finished each of the 6 within 3:50 - 4:00 range (with the first interval at 3:38, thanks to Erika, who later dropped us).

Speedwork felt great - I haven't challenged myself in that way in a long time. It wasn't the hardest effort I ever put out - but it was good for my first time back. I know it's critical to my continued improvement as a runner, as is the core work that we do after the speedwork. I just have to buckle down and stick with it.

In looking at my recent times (4M 32:04, Half Marathon: 1:56:52) and the 800's last night - plugging that into McMillan, it seems that I should be on target for a 4 hour marathon. Seems a bit daunting, considering that my last one was 4:22:00 - but the data speaks for itself.

I have renewed enthusiasm putting these recent races into the context of the marathon, and I have a framework for my goals for NYC this fall.

Thanks again to all the runners that come to the Tues night group - you are an awesome, supportive bunch - and it's great working out with all of you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Last few races + spring slump

Since I haven't posted in a while - thought I'd recap on the last couple of races, plus the Passover holiday. I ran the NYC Half Marathon on March 21, and achieved a new PR of 1:56:52 (nearly a 3 minute PR over the Manhattan Half Marathon back in January). I was a little disappointed because I had my heart set on a 1:55:00 (or better) finish, but my legs + the hills in Central Park just had other plans. My training buddy Mark achieved an astounding 9 minute PR, to finish in 1:49:59 - hitting his goal of a sub 1:50 finish. About a week later, I raced the New York Colon Cancer Challenge. Having just raced a half the week before, I opted for the 4 Mi rather than the 15K. I didn't have high hopes for this race, as I haven't been to speedy on the short distances lately, but I let my fellow NY Flyer Mark talk me into trying to PR again. I ran the first two miles at a 7:30 pace, but once again, the hills in mile 3 took their toll on me, and I wound up with a 32:12 finish (only :12 slower than my 4 mi PR). Fortunate for me, another Flyer caught up with me in the last 1/2 mile, and encouraged me to finish strong.

The bottom line is that I really need to recommit myself to speedwork, which I have really been neglecting lately. Granted, my half marathon time continues to improve, but I feel like I'm not racing as smart, or as hard as I know I'm capable of.

Finally, we'll talk a bit about Passover. Unfortunately, all talk of good nutrition goes out the window. The additional dietary restrictions on Passover, coupled with the holidays themselves just set you up for bad eating. I feel like I can eat and eat and eat and just not feel satisfied.

The good news is that after Passover, I hope to make some dietary modifications - eliminating the morning bagel (substitute oatmeal with fresh fruit) and substituting yogurt and fruit smoothies (fruit, skim milk and ice) for other, less healthy snacks. Those two small things should help get me back on track. Between eating better and speedwork, I hope to have some of my pep back before I start training for the fall marathon season (starting in late June/July).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here's to spring!!

For those of us in the NYC running community, spring cannot come soon enough! We have really been battered by old man winter these last few weeks, and between crippling snowstorms, we have had endless bouts of rain.

I'm looking out my window, gleeful for the fact that the sanitation department is out, plowing my street with a vengence. Hopefully, some of these warmer days can melt away what's left of the last snowstorm.

I'm also trying to work through what I'll call "heavy legs". Lately, no matter how many rest days I take, I just feel like I don't have any energy in my legs. They feel like blocks of concrete. I don't know whether it's my legs, or it's my head - just too much winter.

I haven't been working too hard (yes, I've been putting in the miles- just not working them too hard) - so I don't think I'll be expecting a SPECTACULAR race at the NYC Half...In either case, am looking forward to my next few races on the calendar, and some warmer weather to kick the training back up a notch.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The importance of community

People often think of running as a solitary sport - just you and the road. To a degree, they are right. I've done some of my best thinking on the road...

Lately though, I've really been relying on the importance of community to keep me motivated through the winter months. I find that when I have a place to be, and people to be with - I'm much less likely to skip the workout, and not to slack off if I am feeling tired or lazy. To that end, here are some groups that have provided camraderie, support and inspiration:

  1. NYRR Running Classes: I have been taking the weekly classes since January 2008. They have groups for everyone ranging from "I can only walk for 30 minutes" up to sub-6:00 minute milers.
  2. NY Flyers: My running club. We have group runs in Central Park on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm. It's a good group of regulars - and we'll usually do anywhere from a 5 - 6 mile workout at a consistent pace between 8:00 min/mi and 9:30 min/mi depending on who is there.
  3. NYC Tweeps: A bunch of NYC runners that use Twitter. We do group runs (usually involving food) meet for speedwork (or just drinks afterwards), or get together at NYRR races.
I feel like I'm struggling a bit this spring with my motivation - but thanks to these guys, I have a reason to get out there - and fun people to do it with.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Totals for January 2010

Mileage: 102.30
Time: 16:15:17
Avg Pace: 9:32 min/mi
Avg Speed: 6.3 MPH

So far, January has been a good start for 2010. I put in some decent mileage, PR'ed at the Manhattan Half Marathon, and set the tone for a good year. I made the decision to forego a spring marathon (didn't give in to peer pressure), but rather to focus on my short distances, and accumulate races to complete the 9+1 Guaranteed Entry into the NYC Marathon as quickly as I can.

That way, I'll go into the start of fall marathon training feeling strong, fast and motivated.

I also made a concerted effort to branch out - and find more running buddies to keep me going through the winter. I joined the New York Flyers, and have been regularly attending their weeknight runs, as well as leveraging the club for weekend run partners. I also hooked up with a group of NYC Tweeters, courtesy of my old friend Ansky - so there are a lot of people to make plans with when I don't feel motivated to leave the house.

Next race: NYRR Gridiron Classic - it's a 4 Miler, and I don't plan to PR there, since I'm feeling a bit under the weather these days. Just planning to go out and have a good time (but then again, that was my plan at the Manhattan Half as well).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Personal Record: Manhattan Half Marathon

Sometimes in life you can be right for all of the wrong reasons. I set a new personal record in the Half Marathon today (1:59:38) - beating my old PR by 23 seconds. I actually felt that I ran a pretty terrible race, in part due to overtraining the last few weeks.

I increased my mileage rather drastically when I came back from vacation in January - and my legs simply have felt sluggish ever since. I showed up to the half feeling heavy, with tightness in my shins and calves for the first few miles. Despite that, I soldiered on, at a pace that was faster than I had planned to run.

The hills in the north end of the park took their toll on me, and I made up for the decrease in speed by running faster in the flats and the downhills. All in all, I ran a very inconsistent race. Arriving at Mile 12, I calculated the pace I needed to run to break 2 hours (my previous record), and just pushed it to the limit.

I should be happy with the race - after all, a PR is a PR, but I feel like I could have run the race a whole lot smarter than I did. I'm not going to dwell on today's race, I'm just going to use it as a tool for the rest of my training this year.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kicking off the new year

Not much has happened since I posted last - spent the year end in Israel, sightseeing and visiting my brother's family. Was a really great trip, great weather - even had some time for a few runs. Did some hill running in the Samarian hills with my brother - he's way more used to the terrain than I am.

As for 2010 - here's the progress that I can report to date:

  1. I start speedwork with NYRR this week. Looking forward to getting back to that, since speedwork is not something that I typically do on my own.
  2. I joined the New York Flyers, and have been participating in their group runs once a week. It's a great way to get motivated to go out into the cold, and to run the distances that you plan to run.
  3. I signed up for a few NYRR races in January / Feb / March. I'm planning to earn my 9 + 1 Guaranteed Entry into the NYC Marathon for 2011. Not sure if I'll run it, but I definitely plan to run SOMEWHERE in the fall of 2011, and would like to have a guarantee in NYC available to me.

I am still on the fence about a spring marathon. The New York Flyers has group long runs this winter, for folks that are training for spring marathons. I plan to start running with them - and if things go well, I may sign up for a spring race somewhere.

For now, I'll start on that path, and see where things take me. My primary goal is to get as many of the 9 races out of the way as I can, and see how marathon training fits in around that.

Will keep you posted!