Sunday, July 31, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #4: Sunday Long Run

Week #4 is in the books! Yeowsy! This is the first time in this program that I've felt the effects of a long run.  So far, everything up until now has been easy.  Now it's time to respect the distance. What do I mean by that? I've done so many long runs that sometimes, I felt like I may have dismissed the distance as "easy". I can whip a 10-12 miler no problem, even only after a week after a marathon.  The difference between then and now, was I used to just run without any kind of goal. It didn't matter how long it took me, or what shape I was in. I would do them just to do them. Now I have a clearer focus, a tool that I can understand and a goal that is attainable.

Thirteen miles for a long run is still fairly short to some people, but for me, if there's some kind of goal time or pace I'm adding to it, it can be very grueling. By respecting the distance I mean, no cockiness. I want to give the distance my sincere all.

For the last 4 weeks, all my long runs have been short, between 8-11 miles.  I can get away with no walk breaks.  But today, I felt like I should have included the walk breaks.  By the end of the run, I was a bit more tired compared to the past few long runs. The walk breaks would have helped delay the fatigue. I know its not just because of the hard training during the week. As soon as I got home, Hubs commented, "Are you alright?" That's when I know not only do I feel tired, I look it.  Next Sunday's long run is 14 miles, I will be including the 30 second walks for every half a mile.  That means setting my watch to remind me to do the walks and lowering the volume of my ipod so that I can hear my Garmin alerts.

The course today was an extension of yesterday's run.  I turned around at the 6.5 mile mark.  Lots of small rolling hills.  I had to go over my Wednesday night hill again, but much slower this time. I felt the residual from yesterday's pace work and it showed up today in my effort.  Even though I was more tired in the end, I finished strong and pulled a 9:31 pace for 13 miles.  I am quite happy with that.  Most importantly, I ran with a negative split.  I ran the first 6.5 miles at 9:37 pace and the second 6.5 at 9:26 pace.  I was a bit faster in the second half.  Now if I can only master this negative split thing and translate it over to when it really does counts, such as in race, then I am set.

For Week #5 the schedule looks like this:
Mon    X-train
Tues    7 miles easy mid week long run
Wed    35 min tempo
Thur    3 recovery run
Fri       R-e-s-t
Sat      7 miles easy
Sun     14 miles easy long run

We're moving quite fast.  I cannot believe we're 97 days away from NY!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #4: Saturday Pace Run

Last night I stayed up well until midnight trying to come up with a new playlist.  That meant I got up pretty late this morning at 9:44am.  By the time I got out there, after breakfast, coffee and light stretching, it was already 10:30am.  Luckily, it was overcast and cool.

It was a great run, although I ran an 8:58 pace: 11 seconds faster per mile than my marathon pace. It was a little difficult to hit the 9:09 pace because my neighborhood is not entirely flat. I would try to compensate by going faster or slower, but they were all misses. There are lots of varied hills--short, long and rolling. For that I should be grateful since this is good practice to run on a hilly course. Today's run had two significant hills: one with a two minute climb and another just under one minute and a half.   The first hill is the same hill that I used for Wednesday night's hill workout. As I approached this hill today, I took a deep breath and anticipated the toll it would take to crest it. I concentrated on my breathing and even effort. Low and behold it was painless. I checked my pace and it said 9:04 as I got closer to the top. My best time from Wednesday night was 9:09 and that was with well rested legs!  What an improvement already.

Like I said I have a new playlist.  I picked up some songs by Nine Inch Nails, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, U2, Pearl Jam, Matchbox 20, Fergie, MIA, Tori Amos, Kevin Rudolf, Lenny Kravitz, etc.  As soon as I do a few more test runs with the songs, I will publish it.  Today, there were some songs on my ipod that seemed great last night. Yeah, it was late, I must have been tired and not in the right frame of mind.   But as I tested them today while running, I was not feeling it. So I will have to chuck some out.  You're probably wondering, like what?  Okay: The Heat is On by Glenn Frey, from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. The fast beat last night was awesome.  Today, I couldn't take it after 10 seconds. Probably because it is so played out from the radio station.

There were a few that I really like for instance, my new favorite, a song called Sometime Around Midnight by Airborne Toxic Event. I've seen the music video two years ago on MTV and I swore when I first heard it, I wanted it, but forgot about it until last night when I heard it again.  The video was awesome and had something to do with a girlfriend being a ghost.  Right off the bat, you knew from just a few chords and rifts of that electric guitar, the buildup will be awesome.  By the end, the lead singer is screaming.  It is not an annoying screaming/singing by the way, it is perfect, well placed and necessary. It is five minutes long, and I know this will be a staple when I run my 800s, perfect build up pace.

Please don't laugh.  Another song that resonated well with me today is Run Forrest Run suite by Alan Silvestri. I didn't know it was going to come on when it did. As I hit my first hill today, the music came on just as I was almost at the top.  Again it was a nice buildup. It was perfect.

Then on my last 1/5 mile, I ran to William Tell Overture (Final) by Rossini. It is 2 minutes long and perfect for my visualizing the last 0.2 miles in Central Park. Yes, I ran to the Lone Ranger theme song.  Whatever it takes, right?
Rossini: Your William Tell Overture will accompany me to my finish in NYC 

Happy Running!

Friday, July 29, 2011

NYC Training Week #4: Thursday Recovery Run

What a fantastic day for a recovery run. A little warmer, but with the breeze it was just gorgeous. Again I ran late at 2:40. 

I had minor reservations about even running today since I ran my 3-in-1 workout last night, but all was well as it turned out. Again, another good sign that I can do this program, without getting beat up the next day.  The success of the program lies in the very fact that I can continue each day to follow the training without getting injured or even miss a day because of fatigue. I know, we are only on Week 4, but I hope it keeps going like this. 

I had to go without my Garmin today because I didn't want the added pressure. If it’s with me I tend to be a slave to it.  My goal today was pure recovery. I want to enjoy the short run by going slow. Leaving the watch in my gym bag was helpful. Although by, habit, I keep wanting to stop my watch at cross lights. It felt silly reaching for it and my wrist was bare. At times on a downhill, I would wonder how fast I was going. I really wish someday I can peg this pacing thing down by feel.

I am looking forward to a restful day tomorrow. The rest will allow me to prepare for a nice pace run on Saturday: 6 miles is on the menu.  I am also looking forward to my run on Sunday, my longest run to date at 13 miles in this training cycle, since The Avenue.  Training for the Avenue of the Giants in May seems like ages ago.  I haven’t decided on a route yet. It will depend on how quickly I can bounce back from the Saturday pace run. If I feel good I will go for a flatter route. I said flatter, since Los Osos is pretty much rolling. If I feel stronger, Turri Road it will be, with lots of long hills.

Happy running!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #4: Wed Hill Work

Wow! I couldn't help myself. I did not intend to do this tonight--3-in-1 workout, PACE-HILL-TEMPO.

It was a long day at work and I probably just had all this energy pent up until it was time to do my run.
Wednesday nights are usually my track nights at Cal Poly with the San Luis Distance Club. Since tonight I have to run hills, I had to miss working out with my buddies. I had to do this alone. I picked out a hill closer to home. I went home and had dinner with the hubs. My kid was invited next door for dinner.  I swear that kid has a bigger social life than we do. Anyway, the hill is about 2 miles away. It was perfect since the two miles would be my warm up. So I thought.  When I got to the start of my hill, my Garmin read 9:09 for two miles.  I ended up running my two mile pace run!

The hill is about 1/5 of a mile long with incline at 8% grade. Normally it takes two minutes to crest. Perfect.  That's what I needed. I had 4 repeats to run and the results were:  9:09 / 9:37 / 9:17 / 9:51.  The first repeat was the best time. I ran as hard as I could, only to run out of gas midway through the hill at about a minute into it. It was funny because I felt like one of those Hanna Barbera cartoons I used to watch when I was little called, Wacky Races.  It was as if Dick Dastardly had played a trick on my engine causing me to run out of gas and I could hear Muttley snickering with that asthmatic laugh of his.

I was glad no one was around to witness me run up hard and couldn't get over the crest at a decent speed.  That's the beauty of running at night. The second repeat, I tried to save a little for the end. But I still got tired. The third repeat, I tried not to force a blast off in the early part and tried to run in an even effort. The last one, I told myself, make it count.  But alas, the old Porsche had run out of gas. Anyway, I thought I better change my plans for the next time I do this hill work.  I've come to realize that I cannot do hill sprints as long as this, 1/5 of a mile.  It's just too long and I am not ready for it. I need to work on it.  Next time, my focus should be more on even effort, I don't need to sprint this hill. And guess what?  I'm okay with that.  I'll save the sprints for shorter hills, or even hills that only takes one minute to crest. That, I can manage.

Right after finishing the hill work, I thought I was just going to cool down for two miles and be super sore. But after about two minutes into the cool down, I felt my pace quicken. The burn in my quads disappeared. I didn't force any particular pace and went along with what the body wants to do. In the end, I ran 15 minutes for 8:47 pace--that's my tempo work! Since I ran a tempo, I still needed to cool down. For quarter of a mile, I slow jogged at 10:14 pace and walked the next quarter mile to my house.  On the whole, it was a great night. I ended up doing three workouts: a 2-mile pace run at 9:09, my 4 x hill repeats, and finally 15 minute tempo work at 8:47 pace. Sometimes the best workouts are the ones you don't plan. It's good to be flexible.

Happy running!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #4: Tuesday Long Run

I ran in the hottest part of the day again, not by design. I just couldn’t peel myself from work and leave until what I had to do was complete.  I couldn't step away unless I was in a good stopping point. The trade-off was running in the heat. It was around 74 degrees luckily there was a breeze so it was not as bad as I thought.  I had six miles to complete.  I started out slow but I gradually picked it up without even being conscious about it.  That’s a good sign.  I went along with what the body wants to do. I was in a groove with U2, Arcade Fire, Mary J Blige, Chris Brown, etc.

My lunchtime route happens to be the start of the SLO Marathon course. Isn't that sweet?  The first 4 miles is hilly. It’s going to be a challenging course for sure. I am liking this route because the hills are just relentless, especially as an out and back course. For a 6-miler, I typically turn around on the 3rd mile.  There’s also a nice fountain strategically placed near mile 2.  I don’t have to carry a water belt, just one flask on one hand and I refill it when I pass through the church twice. The good thing about this course is there are lots of options. You can turn a street for easier days or keep going up for the days you want to push it.  Last week my pace was 9:18 for the same course. Today it was 9:15.  I shaved of 3 seconds per mile.  I wonder if the difference was running the shakeout run of one mile yesterday?  Last week, I just cycled and didn’t run afterwards. I wonder if the one miler speeded up my recovery which enabled me to run faster today.  I’ll have to make a note of that.  But  I imagine it can’t be that easy isolating this factor.  There are so many variables to how you perform from one day to the next. It could be due to changes in the diet, sleep, workout intensity, rest, etc.  But it sure helps writing things down so we can isolate patterns.

I’m still relatively new to writing running journals.  I started my journaling right after New York City Marathon last year.  When I re-read what I wrote in the journal, especially about my piriformis issue, it makes me cringe to this day.  Whoa! It’s right there, I’ve complained about the pain almost every run. I paid no mind to it. I was so eager to move forward with the training that I never looked back to the days before.  I even highlighted it and now it really jumps out.  Why didn’t I pay attention sooner? Hard lesson to learn. I would have preferred to lay low for a few days than be sidelined for weeks and pay chiropractor bills up the the wazzoo who knew little of the source of the problem by the way. I’m a little slow on the uptake. I’m working on it.  But now I know.


Awesome work today, I even ran a negative split. That means I ran the 2nd half faster than I ran the first half. I think I'll reward myself with a juicy burger. Oh wait-- I already did that last night!

Happy Running! 


Monday, July 25, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #4: Monday

Whoo Hoo!  I can't believe we're in week 4 already.  Things are going well, I've no injuries to report, knock on wood.  I am adapting well to Hal Higdon's Advance Marathon training plan.  Today is cross-training Monday. I was just a little bit worried that once I get on the bike, I might start to feel how tired my legs really are from yesterday's long run and the 5K on Saturday.  Sometimes I don't fully realize how tired I really am until I've started my exercise. It turned out better than I thought. The legs are adapting well to the stresses I'm putting them into.

It was a nice day to run outside, but I resisted the temptation--well sort of.  I got on the bike to cycle for 31 minutes--the one minute was because I didn't want to stop at a fraction.  I wanted an even 9 miles on the bike so I had to go over the 30 minutes. I completed my usual spin routine and upon finishing, stretched out the quads and hammies and headed out for one mile of shake-out run.  At first, the legs didn't feel like they were mine. But after a half mile into the run, they started feeling like they are mine again and I can control them. At the turnaround my pace was 9:05.  I was surprised because it didn't seem like I was going that fast.  (I'm a comfortable 4:30 marathoner, an equivalent a 10:18 minute/mile. So anything faster than 10:18 is fast for me.) When I finished, my overall pace for the one miler was 8:40.  I am liking this routine of running for one mile right after a hard spin workout.

Tomorrow's workout is the mid-week long run for 6 miles, what Hal Higdon calls the "sort-a-long" run.  Right now the mid-week run is still fairly short.  The true test will come later, when it ramps up to 9-10 miles. I'll see then if I will be able to hang on to the rigors of the plan. I am enjoying this journey so far.

Happy running and thanks for reading.

NYC Marathon Training Week #3: Sunday Long Run

I woke up at 4:53 a.m. this fine morning to get to Kohl's Department Store at 6 a.m. No, I didn't get up that early to shop. I volunteered in behalf of my bank through United Way to participate in its annual Kids' Back to School Shopping Spree. Each low income kid was granted one hundred dollars to spend on back to school clothes. With fifteen percent off from Kohl's and donations from area local businesses, the kids made out alright. Volunteers like me was paired up with each kid from ages five to seventeen.  One by one those kids were let into the store and handed off to a volunteer.  There was maybe about 30 seconds of exchanges and hellos. Those kids were so grateful. They seemed so shy. It was touching to see siblings as they walked through the doors, clutching each other's hands with their eyes wide open, ready to take on the day. I was belly aching about waking up so early on a Sunday morning, while at any other given weekend, waking up earlier than this for a morning run I wouldn't have second thoughts. But after today, my experience brought back memories of how it was for my sisters and I growing up with nothing. A brand new school year didn't mean getting new clothes. I knew this day meant a lot to these kids today. We showed them that we care.  They're going to be our future. Someday these kids are going to be the teachers, the police-men/women, the leaders of our communities. One of these kids could be a Congressman or Congresswoman, who will be responsible for public policies about my future and yours. I'm glad I was a part of this experience today. I'd like to do this again next year.

I'll be your lap counter next year.
After the Kids' Spree, I drove to the other side of town like a mad woman to see my BFF finish her first full triathlon. Heidi finished in 1:43:28, an incredible time for a 1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike ride and a 5K run thru the City of San Luis Obispo.  I have a distinct feeling she'll be back next year, and the year after that.

After seeing Heidi, I rushed back home to do my long run. It was an overcast day and I didn't want to miss my window of opportunity.  I had 8 miles to complete, I had my route picked out and I was off.  It was a fairly easy day, although the calves were a little sore from the sandy run the day before. At the end of my long run, I pulled off a 9:11 pace for the total of 8.49 miles.  Not a bad day.  It was a little faster that what I should have run it in, but I was inspired by the triathletes whom I saw earlier crossing the finish lines.  They were all doing three events and all I had to do is run.

That's it for Week #3. I would say this was a great training week.  I survived it.  There are no injuries thus far. That's huge for me since I am now running 5 days a week as opposed to 3-4 days a week from previous training plans.

Week # 4 looks like this:

Monday  X-Train 30 minutes on the bike, 5-8 sec hill sprints,
Tuesday  6mi sorta-long-run
Wednesday 4 x hill
Thursday  3 mi easy
Friday  R-E-S-T
Saturday 6 mi pace run
Sunday 13 mi long run

Happy Running!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New York City Marathon Week #3: Saturday 5K

Instead of  the 6-mile pace run today, I opted to run a 5K on the beach.   Can you say, hard? Even though it was hard-packed, for me it didn't seem that packed. My ankles still felt it.

Glad I brought along my puffy jacket. Brrrr!
I cannot complain about our weather here in California.  The East Coast has been pummeled with an incredible heat wave this past week, I'm reluctant to bring up weather. Can you imagine me with a 900-fill down jacket in July? Kind of ridiculous isn't it, but I'm always cold. My Patagonia sure did its job, although I wished I brought along the one with the hoody.  Okay, enough said. You know the weather was perfect.  So where was my 5K speed today?

Can you see the high school cross country kids? Their coaches won in their  respective age groups too.

At the start, speed monster Alec Briones & Bill Schackart  exchange hellos.

On top of running in the race, I was a volunteer also for our Annual San Luis Distance Running Club's Stride with the Tide 5K, manning one of the registry tables.  With all the happenings, I miscalculated my time to warm up and inevitably it was reduced to 5 minutes by the time I took care of business. It was hardly enough.  When the RD sent us off, all sorts of runners, from kids to seniors, and young cross country kids blasted off into the horizon. God they are fast! I wished I could fly so effortlessly like that. By the first half mile, I knew I was in for a world of pain.  My breathing was off, I could not get into the rhythm. I had my ipod, but curiously, I didn't even rocked to it. My focus was somewhere else. I blamed the three slices of pizza I ate for lunch yesterday---not a good source of carbs. It made me lethargic. I already hung up the hat even before the halfway mark. What a difference it was  from three weeks ago at the Pozo 5K, in 90+ degree heat, I had more mojo there than I had here today. Clearly, there are days when you're just not "on".  This was one such day.

I did the best I could. I ran and all I could do is look forward to the end, this will be over before you know it. Again my thoughts swirled around, why did I trade my 6 miler pace run for this? Almost every time I run a 5K I think about how it is so much harder than running a marathon. Really it is. I've made this comparison before. When you think about it, in a shorter race you have to be "on" the whole time. You got to hit your pace right from the get-go. You cannot pull back or slow down because it's over before you know it.  There is no make up time. Unlike a marathon, there is plenty of time to make up. You can go on auto pilot and cruise. There was no cruising the 1 and 1/2 mile turn around, I saw the pier from the distance.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Cooper
That about sums up the turnaround--the Pier in a seemingly distant world...
 Man! It looked as if it were ten miles away. I tried not to look ahead anymore and focused instead on the sandy beach, washed up kelp and seaweed.  At the end of the run, my 8:33 pace sounds more like my usual 10K effort.  All I have in my pocket to show for, was a 26:38 effort and I was content with that. I felt great that I was able to finish strong. Thanks to my friend Debbie, who at the last 50 meters, while passing me, yelled out "come on", motioning with her arms to put some gas into it. I responded with "I can't!"  Then to my left, at the corner of my eye, I saw a man in red, who wanted to reel me in. I already surrendered to Debbie, not to you too, man in the red shirt!" So I dug deep and went for it. I thought the pain will be temporarily short since the finish is right there. In nano split seconds the brain and body was in sync and that's how we overcame the will to say, "Yes I can." I edged of man in red--and ah--Debbie included. Debbie insisted that I sandbagged her.  Honestly Debbie, I didn't.  I just didn't want to lose to one more guy.

Courtesy of Heidi's photo: Debbie right behind me, my eyes focused on man in him!

Debbie is my hero. A retired high school teacher, every race she gets in, she's a shoe in at the podium in her age group of 60+.  She recently ran See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in Alameda in June, 1st place in her age group for running 2:01(one of her slowest times in a half marathon). That finish included the stopping point to stretch out calf cramps. In between running, she's an active soccer player, in a rowing team called Dragon Boat. I don't know about you, but I don't know many 60+ year old as active as she is and be able to pull a sub two-hour half marathon. Go Debbie!!!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #3: Thursday

A little change up today. A 3 mile recovery run was on the schedule, but since I am planning on running Stride with the Tide 5k in Pismo Beach on Saturday, I won't be able to run the 5 mile pace work. So today, I ran somewhere in between. I ended up with 5.6 miles from the office to the Cal Poly Campus and a little bit of the canyon. I ran the last 2.60 miles at 8:41 pace and the first 3 miles at 9:45. So the overall pace for the whole run was 9:18.

This is good, since you're supposed to run the second half or 1/3 of the total miles with a fast finish. I've been trying to run by hitting this negative split--that's where you run the first half slower than the second half. Most world records are set by running this way. I'm not trying to break any world record here, just trying to break my personal best. I'm getting there.

After the hot run, I still felt like I could have run some more, but had to go back to work. Tomorrow will be a well deserved rest day. I have to prepare for the race on Saturday.This will be my second tune up race for NY. It will give me an indication whether I've improved if at all. Last time I ran this course, it was right after my first SFO marathon, my legs were still shaky but I pulled off 26 minutes and some change. It is on the hard packed sand so that will be a plus. Except the finsh under the pier is on soft sand, that's going to be a factor. We shall see!

Happy running and thanks for reading...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #3: Wednesday Yassos

Yasso 800s tonight, my favorite speed workout. Bart Yasso, one of the editors of Runner's World invented this marathon predictor. Basically the premise is, ideally two weeks before the marathon, if you can run 10 x 800s (2 laps around the track or 1/2 mile)with each repeat in minutes to seconds, then you can run your marathon in the same number but converted to hours and minutes. Clear as mud? For example, say you can run 4 minutes and 15 seconds for each of the 800 Yasso repeats then it can be predicted that your marathon finish will be 4:15 (that's 4 hours and 15 minutes). Another example, if you want to run a marathon in 5:00 hours, then try to run two laps around the track in 5:00 minutes. The recovery is the same length of time that you ran the repeats in. So in the example above, recovery should be five minutes. In my experience I've come close, and I consider 10-12 minutes, fairly close.

I was supposed to run 4 repeats tonight, 3:58 with 3:58 of full recovery. As the program progresses, the number of Yasso repeats increases until I can do 8-10 repeats 2 weeks before the marathon. I chose to make it a little more challenging by shorting the recovery time by 25 seconds or 3:30. That gives me less time to recover. Here are my splits:

1 3:40 (7:20 pace)
2 3:56 (7:52 pace)
3 4:00 (8:00 pace)
4 3:50 (7:40 pace)

I'm noticing lately that the second to the last repeat, whatever kind of workout it may be, seems to be my slowest one. Mentally, I'm tiring out. It's the third lap, the third mile, or the third quarter of a marathon when I lose focus. But after that slump, knowing that the last one is coming up, I can pour it on. I get some kind of second wind back. Hence I can pick it up a bit faster, knowing that the reward is that I am close to finishing. The problem with the first repeat is not holding back enough. I have to work on being consistent and not be all over the map like this. The next Yasso is in three weeks. I'll know what to focus on.

Happy running!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #3: Monday & Tuesday

Monday was a cross training day so I chose cycling. I found this great cycling workout from the web sometime ago, I wished I paid attention to whoever it was who shared it. It is a great workout especially if you are short on time. All it takes is 30 minutes.

Five minutes on level 8 to warm up.

(7 sets of the following which equals to 21 minutes)at 100 rpms.
30 seconds level 18
30 seconds level 8
2 minutes level 6

Finally, cycle for 4 minutes level 6 at 70 rpms to cool down.

Just to warn you, trying to hit 100 rpms on Level 18 is extremely hard. Just do the best you can. After the work out is over, it feels as if your legs are noodles. It's a great feeling.

This morning I woke up feeling like my legs were alright. But as soon as I hit the hilly six miles, I realized my quads got worked yesterday. The day got away from me and it was already three o'clock by the time I got out there. Probably the hottest time of day to run. I thought I would take it easy since the route I selected was rather hilly. As soon as I warmed up, I felt my turnover got faster even with the heat. I thought I should just go with it, until I tire myself out. When I got to the last major hill, I was beat and had convinced myself that after I get to the light I would reward myself with a walk. I had about 1 and 1/2 miles left to do. No sooner than that, a girl zoomed by me, flying through the stop light just before it turned red. She was my height,the competitive nature in me lit up, oh yeah? That stoplight took all eternity to turn green, but as soon as it did, I was on her trail. But it was only a flash in the pan. I got caught, in not one, but two more stoplights! Why did she get to have all the green lights? Then I lost her. But, thanks to her, by the time I finished, my pace was 9:18 min/mile. Just before she showed up my pace was 9:35! She made me shave 17 seconds per mile off my pace. It was fun playing catch her if I can. All in all, it was a good day.

Tomorrow night is speed on the track, 4 x 800s. It is my favorite speed workout, called the Yasso 800. I'll explain what that entails tomorrow. For now...Happy running.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #2: Sunday's Long Run

Glorious Sunflowers, the stalks were taller than me
It was quite humid today about 89% according to By mile four I was dripping with sweat. The humidity did slow me down, so did this beautiful Sunflower patch when I stopped to take a picture. Yesterday's trail run was perfect, I was not sore but I felt like my calves got worked. I didn't pay attention to my Garmin until I was almost two thirds done.  I noticed that my pace came to 9:36 min/mile. That was awesome, since I was going for the range of 9:39 to 10:39 min/mile pace. I thought, might as well keep this pace up until 8.50 miles then in the last 2.50 miles, slow it down to 10:39. It will be a good cool down.  There were rolling hills on the last 2.50 miles so surely, I will be forced to slow down.  

On that 2.5 miles, there is a bridge with a steady incline and several more slopes followed after that.  Without looking at my watch, I felt like I had slowed down tremendously, almost to a crawl.  Normally that would bother me. Since I had already reset my Garmin and the 8.50 was in my pocket for a lovely 9:36 pace, I didn't care about the slowdown. Just go with it and enjoy the end of the run.  When I got closer to home, I stopped the watch at mile 2.60. That was my 11 miles for my long run today. I was done and I walked the rest. Week 2 was a success.

When I got home, my Garmin revealed that my pace for the last 2.60 miles was 9:27 min/mile.  I ended up running the last 1/4 of the run faster than the other 3/4. My plan was supposed to be the opposite, but  this is good.  Well known coaches, including Hal Higdon, suggest varying the pace of the long run every 3rd week or so. He is a proponent of the 3/1 method, where you run the last quarter of your mileage faster than the first three-quarters. If I were planning to run 16, I would run 12 at a slower pace and pick it up on the final 4 miles. However, Higdon does not recommend doing this every long run. Every third week is plenty.  All in all,  today's workout is great.  I am looking forward to Week #3 and it looks like this:

Mon     X-Train (cycle or power class)
Tues     6 mi easy 
Wed    4x 800 Yasso
Thurs   3 mi easy
Fri        REST
Sat       6 mi pace  (Substituting a 5K run on the beach)
Sun      8 mi easy

I want to do a 5K tune up race on Saturday so I won't be doing the pace run.  That will be the only change this week. Happy Running!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #2: Saturday

Today's run was supposed to be an easy 5 miles (for some reason, 6 miles stuck in my head), so instead of a boring slow miles, I opted to reward myself with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. Yeah another crummy day in paradise, right?

Montana De Oro Bluffs
Rattlesnakes Flats Trail

Badger Pass Trail overlooking the Pacific Ocean

Badger Pass Trail
Some more of Badger Pass Trail

Can you make out the trail?
Just don't let me encounter a wild boar or a mountain cat...

I love running on the trails. If there's a window of opportunity to incorporate any trail running into Hal Higdon's Advance 1 Program, I will. Today was such a window. I decided to run the 8K course of PCTR's Montana De Oro State Park Trail Run. The mileage was close (4.62 miles versus 5miles) and since the prescribed 5 required an easy running pace, the 4.62 mile trail with its ups and downs will surely dictate my slower pace.  As a matter of fact, this was the most relaxed I've run all week. The weather was nice, a little humid but the serenity of the surrounding trails is next to none. The course is loaded with Poison Oak, but fortunately it doesn't bother me. If I were allergic to it, I'd already known by now. So far so good until...

I was running along, trying to hit the inclines with even effort and running the downhills in a controlled manner. As I was trying to recover from passing the part with a short and steep 40% grade (according to my Garmin) all of a sudden I brushed up against a thicker brush and whoala!  I felt an incredible stinging pain I have never felt before. First thought was, did I just get bit?  My instinct was to run as fast as I can to get away from whatever it was that bit me. I was caught by surprised since I was running at a fast clip, who could possibly bite me so fast? A bee? So I kept running. Upon reaching a save haven, I investigated my hurt. I felt a burning sensation.  I was examining the affected area to see if the skin would have raised bumps.  Only slightly, but the burn continued.  I had no clue what this was.  Should I proceed and finish my run, or find a shortcut right away and go home and tell my hubby. He would know what to do.  Then I thought, stop being a wimp and go on. I had convinced myself to deal with the burn as I was already halfway done anyway.

Smilin' now? Just wait before getting stung by the nettle...

When I got home, I described to my Hubby the burning sensation I felt after brushing up accidentally on the plant.  He knew instantaneously it was Stinging Nettles.  We looked it up and Wilkipedia's description matched what I felt today:

"The leaves and stems are very hairy with non-stinging hairs and also bear many stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals: acetylcholinehistamine5-HT or serotonin, and possibly formic acid. This mixture of chemical compounds cause a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives its common name, as well as the colloquial names burn nettle, burn weed, burn hazel."  

We looked up what the plant looks like and it showed this: I didn't notice this plant as I ran by...

See the nasty needles?

The stinging nettles is covered with nasty hypodermic looking needles.  Nettles sting you because the hairs are filled with formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), plus unknown compounds.  Some people have allergic reactions to it.  Fortunately for me, I didn't have a bad reaction to, just some minor burning sensation.
Some people have allergic reactions to the sting, like the bumps on this hand.
This was taken immediately after the sting; the raised bumps is almost gone.

After reading more about it, I learned (from, that there is a long history of nettles used as a medicine and as a food source. People have been using nettles for food, medicine, fiber, and dyes since the Bronze Age.  Furthermore, many of the benefits are due to the plant's very high levels of minerals, especially, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. They also provide chlorophyll and tannin, and they're a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and B complex vitamins. I also found out that Nettles have high levels of easily absorbable amino acids. They're ten percent protein, more than any other vegetable. I think I just stumbled upon the world's greatest super food!

Wild Man Steve Brill says, "Surprisingly some masochists, actually find nettle stings invigorating, and use them to wake up the body." Perhaps I can identify with that--not the masochist part, but the invigorating part.  I don't know if the stinging burn contributed to my renewed energy or whether it is my current training that made this run so much faster and effortless. Parts that I used to find difficult and had to walk normally, was now easier. I had covered less ground with even less panting. How about that? A month ago when I ran this course, I ran it 50 seconds faster. But the difference today was that I finished strong. A month ago, immediately after the mountain run, my legs, calves and ankles were barking like a dog. They were tight and sore for the rest of the day which required no running the next day.  I can hardly believe the almost immediate positive results I'm reaping from this training program. I am taking stock of every bit of positive change that I can identify that is directly correlated to Hal's program.  So far so good. 

Happy Trails.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #2: Thursday's 3 Easy Miles

Today's schedule required running 3 miles of recovery run. There is nothing to it, just stretching out the legs and shaking out the kinks. I ran 2.25 miles at 9:17 min/mile pace and upon reaching a 8% grade of hill, I ran up some sprints for a 8 second repeats, with full recovery. I was careful and gradually pick up the pace at each repeat. I ended up doing five.
Since tomorrow is a full rest day, I thought these short hill sprints won't overload me. If I ran the sprints correctly, I expect to feel some soreness on my ankles and lower calves. That would be normal.

The good news is, my legs felt normal upon waking up today. That means they are adapting to the stresses that I am putting them to. This is a little bit of a surprise to me since I worked hard last night on the track. Prior to this program, I would be sore the morning after speed workout and would have to take the next day to recover--with no running. This is a tangible measure of gains here. I am taking a note of that. I know, it's still early, we are not even done with Week #2! But it's progress nonetheless.

For Saturday, I am going to hit the trails at Montana de Oro. That way I won't be tempted to run faster than the suggested pace for my level. The course that I'll run will not be the prescribed 6 miles, but the 4.75's very hilly terrain will be equivalent in effort. It will be long and challenging enough to tire me out before Sunday's 11 miler. The goal of the two days back-to-back run is to simulate the late stage fatigue in the marathon. I believe I am still in keeping with the program's goal.

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #2: Wednesday Tempo

Tonight was the first tempo work for the season. I took my running to the track at Cal Poly since the combination of the track and tempo has always been a mental block for me, what better way to face my trepidation than to face it head on? Seeing my running group, the San Luis Distance Club, at the same time, also motivates me.

I warmed up for a nice mile, running easy at a 9:58 min/mile pace. After the mile, I took some time to stretch. It's important to stretch after the body has had time to warm up thus, avoiding injury. I do this especially before speed work or any kind of fast running. I hit the quads, the hammies, calves, glutes, lower back, ankles and arms. After that I joined the rest of the running group where we ran a lap before doing some form drills, high knees, butt kicks, Carioca, grapevine, then finished off with 100 meters strides. Then the tempo was underway.

My goal tonight was to do a total of 10 minutes tempo. That equates to 2:00 minutes per lap x 5 laps. I concentrated on the pace without looking at my Garmin. I kept my focus. As I was running I was very aware of the feeling that my pace was manageable. I still felt that uncomfortable push--that threshold between "I-want-to-stop" feeling to "one-more-lap" feeling. For the first time, I felt I can finish the final lap strong. Not sure if I am making any sense. I felt good running in the moment and not thinking about "when is this uncomfortable push going to stop?" That's the best way I can describe it. The best part is, I finished the 5 laps in under 10 minutes. I finished in 9:35, which is a 7:42 min/mile pace. Very satisfied with that. This should have been the end of my workout. I went for another mile at 8:06 pace, ran a lap recovery, another 800 at 7:44 pace, and finally, cooled down 1/2 mile
at 9:59 pace.I felt that tonight was a good quality workout.

Tomorrow is an easy, recovery run. Looking forward to that.

Happy running!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #2: Monday & Tuesday

The schedule for Week #2 looks something like this:

MON      TUES      WED      THUR         FRI      SAT      SUN
x-train     5 mi        30 min      3 mi           rest        5 mi      11 mi
30 min      easy        tempo      easy                         easy       easy

It seems this week's workout is easier than last week. For one thing, Saturday's run is a regular easy run, and not a pace run. I like that I have a hard week followed by an easy week. It will give me a chance to catch my breath, so to speak.

On Monday, I felt great after the long run on Sunday.  That was a good sign that I didn't overdo it.
Not feeling this week?
However, I felt so good that I decided to run 3 miles instead of the cross-training that I scheduled for myself.  I was in the gym on my lunch hour, and I stood there for a minute and looked at the machines and saw the people sweating over them obviously working very hard. This day's workout and subsequent Mondays for the next 17 weeks will be centered around 30-40 minutes of cross training on these cardio machines. I will be alternating cycling with the elliptical machine. It's good to switch it up. I'm sure Hal Higdon wouldn't mind if I cross off one of the easy run days. After all, this is still active recovery. But just not this day. Maybe next week, I thought, and darted outside!  I just wanted to be outside for even for a short time, I've been couped up in the office all morning, somehow being outside is that much more appealing.

I ran a recovery pace for 2.25 miles and once my legs were warmed up, I came upon a hill about 6% to 7% grade.  Yes, I couldn't control myself and I ran some hill sprints about 8 seconds each repeat with full recovery. It wasn't in the schedule. I ran it 4 times and each time, it was faster than the previous one. After the hill sprints I ran back to the office for a mile of cool down. I ran a total of 3.32 miles at about 9:36min/ mile. I was happy with what I did. But like a kid who had the dessert first, after being told you can't eat it yet and I did anyway, I was having second thoughts and asked myself, "Oh-oh what have I done now? Will this bite me in the a$$ later this week?" I knew the next day's 5 miler might have to be scrubbed after this spontaneous workout.

When I woke up today my legs felt normal. However as the day wore on, particularly closer to the early afternoon, my muscles felt a little fatigue. It was more noticeable as I went up and down the stairs at work. I woke up thinking that I was going to run the 5 miles anyway. But I was saved today, as I had forgotten that I had a lunch date, that meant no running for me.  I was okay with that. However, I need to be mindful that I cannot miss anymore Tuesday workouts, as it is the midweek "sorta-long-runs."  This is a pretty important piece of the puzzle and if I keep missing, I won't be following the program and therefore not going to realize its full potential.

I am looking forward to tomorrow's workout.  I have a 30-minute tempo scheduled. I could do this on the road, but it's a lot harder to do on the track, so I will opt for the latter. It teaches me to be mentally tough.

Happy running!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #1: Sunday's Long Run and Reflection

I've reached the end of the first week of Hal Higdon's Advance 1 Training Program and now I know what I need to work on. I've got to stick to the pace.

I hydrated well all day yesterday and had a baked potato for dinner, thanks to my dear Hubby. I was all carbed-up. I know I am ready for the 10-miler today. I decided to go from my house to Turri Road.  This is a popular spot for bikers and there is hardly any traffic.  I had the road to myself. Again the weather was much like yesterday at 54 degrees. The sun even peeked in the last half of my run, before the fog rolled in. I took my 2 bottle FuelBelt, and filled it with coconut water. Total of 16 ounces for hour and a half run and one packet of GU was perfect.
I was messing around with taking a shot of my shadow while running.
It's hard to do. Doesn't even look like me...

Even encountered some turkey vultures...something didn't smell right.
Didn't even budge when I rolled in...

Started feeling the incline...

The rolling hills await me: Bring it on!

See, no one out here, the whole road is mine.

The first mile is always easier to hold back, mostly because my body is just waking up and it is still cold and stiff. I walked for 2 blocks and then I started the Garmin. Lately, I've been trying to run without looking at my watch to see my pace. I am trying to learn the art of pacing by feel. I have the watch so that I can download my stats and analyze it later on, mainly to collect data. That was how I ran today, by feel. Turri Road has hills and curves therefore I knew it would definitely slow me down.
When I finished, my Garmin read 9:32 for the 10 miles. I was supposed to run it between 9:39 and 10:39, which was 30 to 90 seconds slower than my marathon pace of 9:09. So you can see that I've missed my mark, AGAIN! I am very dissappointed about this because I know it is way too early to form bad habits.  I am hoping that I haven't put the rest of my workouts in Week 2 in jeopardy.  By that I mean, I want to be able to put forth a good effort in completing the midweek workouts. I don't want to burn myself out by running the weekend long runs hard. That's how I worked it in the last few marathons and the reason I jumped on Hal's program is to see if it will make a difference. I had a hills today and I didn't hold back. Next week, the goal is to stick to the pace. Thanks to Heidi, she reminded me that we have a tool to help me with my pacing problem.  I can set up my Garmin to alert everytime I am going too slow or too fast. That way I can stay in the range. So much for my going by feel; I need the Garmin to help me right now. I'm going do a better job on Week #2.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #1: Saturday Pace Run

9:09.  That's the pace I'm trying to hit for all the Saturday runs from Week 1 to Week 18.  9:09 minutes per mile will take me to my 4:00 marathon goal.  But it was a lot harder than I thought. For my effort today I will give myself a C+.

Before I headed out, I was trying to look up how this race pace is supposed to be run.  Hal said 5 miles, but is that including the one mile warm up and one mile cooldown, which meant running race pace for only 3 miles? Or am I suppsed to run it 5 at race pace and no warm up because yesterday was a rest day? Couldn't find the answer.

The weather here on the Coast was fabulous at 54 degrees, cool perfect running conditions.I didn't wear any fuelbelt because this was a quick 5 miler and I want to run it without stuff around my waist weighing me down.  I had on two layers one long sleeves shirt and short sleeves on top of that and a capris.  Why am I telling you this? It's really for me, so that I can remember what to wear next time.  I don't usually pay attention to what I wore and what worked. Now I know two layers was too much. It felt just right on the get go, that meant I was going to be too warm in it, but I was too eager to get the show on the road. But for next time, if it's 54 degrees, I can go with shorts and a long sleeves. It's good to practice to test what you're hoping to wear, use, apply on race day. It's not just about running.  But I digress back to the pace run.

I had my Garmin set up for 1/2-mile auto lap. That way I can see halfway from the mile, how much to adjust the pacing as needed. It was tough to do. I ran in my neighborhood, which has hills and gentle rollers. My mile splits were: 9:08 / 8:40 / 8:39 / 8:57 / 8:39.   I knew flat running wouldn't be a choice, but I would have preferred that so that I could have honed in on the pace easier. The first mile I surprised myself. I was only a second off.  But the hills came and threw me off the rest of the workout. I anticipated the slow down and I got over excited. Subconsciously I'm still trying to put cushion when I don't need to.  Pacing is challenging. This is going to be my goal for these Saturday pace runs.  Be able to know how it feels to run a 9:09 on fresh legs and at the same time know how it feels to run it on fatigue legs and maintain it. I'll have to remember that in the next 17 Saturdays to come.

When all was said and done, my average pace today was 8:49.  That was 20 seconds faster than what I was supposed to do and I know I will pay for it tomorrow. Looking forward to tomorrow's 10-miler and my hope is, to run it within 30-90 seconds slower, so about 9:39 to 10:39 pace. This equates to about 75% effort which is moderate. This slow run is supposed to be a dress rehearsal for the big dance. Right now it is still on the lower mileage but it will gradually get longer. I'm learning patience here as well.  How about that?

Happy Running!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #1: Thursday & Friday

The training scheduled for Thursday was a simple 3-miler done at an easy effort.
It was hot at 81 degrees. The day got away from me. Before I realized it, I hadn’t had lunch yet and it was already 2 o'clock. So I dashed out for a quick one. Not the most ideal time of the day to run since it was the warmest.
There’s one long gradual hill where I ran yesterday. It is the course for the 5K leg of the San Luis Obispo Triathlon. With the heat, I thought I better take it slow and just go according to how the body felt. It was the first time for my ipod to run out of juice, too. It has been a while since I charged it last and the battery held up pretty long. I am impressed with this little gizmo. At first I thought, Oh-oh, I’m in trouble now—how am I gonna take the heat and without my music? It worked out better.
It was not hard to run without music at all. I listened to my breathing and the steps of my foot. I was quite impressed with how I’ve been able to change the way with how I land my foot. It’s lighter and I land on my mid foot. I used to run with the breaking action where I would land on my heels and roll forward. It used to give me problems with my knees and lower back and hips after long runs. I know I am landing in the mid foot since the soles of my shoes shows the wear right smack in the middle. It took a long time for me to achieve that. At first it felt weird. And after a few miles of that minor change, my Achilles felt the brunt of it. I know that was normal. It was sore after every run. I was careful and applied the change gradually. It's been a year and a half since and I don’t even consciously pay attention to it anymore. I run mid foot normally and I don’t even need to think about it. All of this was due to reading Chris McDougall’s Born to Run. I love that book. It has so much historical facts and talks about all the running greats. I’m saving that for another blog post.
Anyway, I had a great run yesterday. My pace was 9:36 per mile. That’s 30 seconds slower that I had planned. With the heat, it may have been better still, should I have gone slower.
Today is Friday and a rest day. I woke up and my legs felt light and springy. I was tempted to run, but didn't do it. I have to remind myself that Saturday is a big day. It is a pace run and this is why Hal wants these legs fresh and ready to go.
Happy Running!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #1: Tuesday & Wednesay

Since I decided to run the Pozo 5K on the very first day of  training, naturally, the smart runner would take the next day to rest and recover.  The race put a lot of stress on the body, especially with a short and fast distance like the 5K.  I could have run the next day, but experience showed me that I would be risking injury.  As it was, I already felt the ever so slight twinge on my left achilles. I take that as a welcome sign to rest.  I scratched the 5 miler yesterday, even though it was supposed to be a slow fiver.  I was tempted, but had to be smart.  For that, I gave myself a pat on the back. Great job listening to the body.

Today I ran the prescribed 3 x hills: run up as fast as I might and jog back down, 3 times.  Hal Higdon said to look for a grade that takes about 2 minutes to crest, or 400 meters of distance. I was never involved with track in high school, so it took me a bit to get used to the jargon. Roughly 400 meters is equivalent to 1/4 a mile or one lap around the track.  Thank goodness for the old Garmin, I can set up a 400 meter distance anywhere I want. There's a nice little hill by my work and after a warm up of 1.40 mile at 10:02 pace, I began the hill repeats.  Hal said to run the hill as if you are running a fast 400. I did the best I could.  I told myself that technically this was the first run of the week, so I better ease into it.   Had I ran the 5 miler yesterday, my legs would have been primed so I could have gone a tad faster.  Seeing that this was the first run it was better to err on the side of caution. Didn't want to hurt the ankles or the knees--they are the ones benefiting from this hill training, besides other muscle groups.

In the first repeat, I took the hill at a sustained and even effort.  I focused on getting the knee up and running tall, as if I am a puppet with a string on top of my head.  The last 50 meters seemed the steepest.  That was where I felt the quads burned.  Then I jogged back down to the bottom of the hill as my heart rate went down and I was able to slow down my breathing. In the second repeat, I got overzealous and I ran it harder and faster. My running felt out of control, I didn't even make it to the last 50 meters, because I slowed down, and you guessed it. I had to walk. I wanted to find out how it felt to run hard on a long hill. It reminded me of the painful 5K--that awful feeling when you want to give in and stop, but can't because, well you can't wear that race shirt if you don't finish.  At any rate, on the last hill repeat, I decided to run it the same way I ran it in the first repeat: even and controlled.  It turned out, the first and the last repeat, ended up being the same pace and not once did I glance at my Garmin.  The middle repeat, we'll just say that was a throw-away experiment. Not running the hills like that anymore. Well, maybe I can save that kind of effort for shorter hill sprints.  After the 3 hill repeats, I ran back to work as a cool-down,  2 miles at 9:02 pace.  Overall distance today: 4.66 miles. Not a bad way to start the day.

I am satisfied with this morning's workout.   I felt like I could have run some more, probably because I was well rested. But I knew I had to stop. Tomorrow, Thursday, will be an easy 3-miler. Friday will be a rest day and I will stick to that no matter how good I feel. The weekend is going to be the harder workout.  Saturday is a 5 mile pace run, otherwise known as my marathon pace run.  I'll explain the "marathon pace" run on Saturday's blog.  I consider Sunday's workout as a hard run, but it's not because of the mileage.  It is because it is a long run that is supposed to be run 30-90 seconds slower than my marathon pace. For 10 miles, I am supposed to take it nice and easy.  It is hard to hold back when you feel so good. I am sure the pace run on Saturday will tire my legs out on Sunday, so I will be forced to run slow, whether I want to or not.  That sly Hal---he sure knows what he's doing.
Happy running!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Training for New York City Marathon Week #1: Monday - Pozo 5K

Today is the first day of my training for NYC marathon.  What better way to start it off with a 5k?
I've always wanted to run this annual 5K in Santa Margarita. Seems like we're always out of town or have guests over. It's been running every July 4th, since 1999 and finally today I got to see what the course is all about.

It is flat and fast and boy was it hot!  The race promptly started at 8:30 and when we got there about 7:30, it was already getting very warm.  We ran our warm up mile and waited. After that little warm up we were dripping with sweat.  I had been working on my speed and wanted to see if I can break 25 minutes for this fast course.  But the weather was the deal breaker--not a fan of running in the heat.

When the Race Director Joe Rubio called the start, everyone darted out fast.  I chose to be in the middle since  I didn't want to be trampled.  It forced me to hold back a bit.  I didn't do that usual sprint right out of the gate which hurts me all the time.  I read somewhere from the godfather of running, Arthur Lydiard, said that if you start out too fast in that first mile, you are going to hurt the rest of the 5K. His words are so true.

Holding back a little, gave me a somewhat of an even pace in the middle mile. That's where I usually give in to the people who were going to pass me.  That's when I lose my nerve and don't usually put up any fight. I just let them go. This time, my pacing was even, my breathing was fine and I found myself not wanting to glance at my Garmin. Partly because I didn't want to be disappointed at whatever pace I was doing, because the heat felt like everything was in slow motion.  All I could think about was, look for the turnaround, then it will be that much closer to the finish. I was waiting to see the first woman, which signifies the turn around is close. I was getting worried, this was a 5K, but it seemed longer. Finally, the Olympian Linda Somers-Smith came and then I saw the turn. I felt better to push a little, but was also intently aware that the heat will slow me down if I push too hard. It was a gentle negotiation. 

From the first mile, I knew my goal of breaking 25' today won't happen. I had to quickly revise my goal to don't let a "40-something-looking-female" pass me in the last mile.   Then she came. She didn't pass me quickly, I felt she was laboring, but her persistence put a gap of 3-5 feet between her and I. She ran with me for a few seconds, then she took off.  I wanted to match her gait so I can stay within a striking distance, should I have the will to fight back.  I didn't have that in me today. I let her go. Revised goal #3, don't let another "40-something-looking-female" pass you again.  Thankfully so, no one else came from behind me. One thing I don't ever do is try to look back. That's just too stressful.  One look back and my focus is gone. Why? Not only am I worried about the people in the front, now that picture of people chasing me is now in my head.  I don't want to know who is reeling me in, no thank you.

Next, I focused on the person in front of me, tall gal in black tank and black shorts. She must be burning up.  She was looking like she was cramping. She stopped for a few seconds to walk. I caught up closer, then she started to run again. Bummer.  Then she slowed down again. I got closer and closer, until I was within 50 meters.  I put the pedal to the metal, I didn't care if I puked at the finish, I was taking her and the lady in an over sized T in front of her. Two birds, one stone. All for not--neither women were in my age group.  25:51 was my official time. I missed the 3rd place in my age group by 3 seconds.  I will take that in this heat. I ran an even pace and that's good enough for me this time.

The perks were the BBQ breakfast in the end, as well as the fabulous Running Warehouse giveaways. The raffle prizes are stuff that runners love: socks, caps, hydration bottles, shoes, shirts, running vest, jackets, tech tees, shorts, buffs, gaiters, from manufacturers like Brooks, K-Swiss, Asics, New Balance, Nike, Reeboks.  Bottom line is, you go to this race and you are guaranteed to go home with one of these prizes.  I came home with a pair of running socks, a Salomon runner's cap and the buff. What's that, you ask. Remember in Survivor they would wear this head gear that you can use as a headband, or a scarf, a gaiter, or wristband or a tube top?  That's what I got.

Not bad...Thanks Running Warehouse!

The Buff or my Do-WRag

I can always use a pair...

One Size Does Not Fit ALL--- but the cinch helps...

Liking the color...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Leading up to Race Day - NYC 2010

Asics! NYC is all about running--my kinda of town.

In less than one day, my training for NYC is going to start. As I sit here and reminisce about what I love about the NYC marathon and what made it so special, I thought I might as well share with you how my experience was leading up to race day, Nov 7, 2010.

Heidi and I flew to Newark Thursday night. The flight was cheaper compared to flying into LGA or JFK (we saved over $200 a piece, but not the case this year.)  Heidi arranged for a Lincoln Town pickup which made us feel like rock stars and we got into Manhattan in about 20 minutes tops.  We stayed at the Pennsylvania Hotel which is across from the Madison Square Garden. It was late so we decided to go to bed so that we can go to the expo the next day, Friday, to take advantage of the thin crowd. When I awoke Friday morning, I was aghast  to see the view from my window. When I drew the shades open, "Is that the Empire...? It can't be. We both looked at the map, and it was.

 My first thought was I hope we ain't paying a premium for this view.  Haha!

Our room at Pennsylvania Hotel. No bed bugs.

Our bed-bug-free room

Ah Starbucks! How nice to see you.  We love their oatmeal, bananas and the very awesome, grande soy latte with one pump of ginger spice. That would be our breakfast template for the next 3 days.  After eating, we were off to the Expo.  We'll skip to the part where we got lost and was headed in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes on foot. That just adds to the adventure, but all was well, that's what we get for not wanting to go back upstairs to our hotel room to retrieve our map.

Javits Expo Center

 The Javits Center Expo was a gigantic hall. When we got there it was still fairly early, not crowded yet, but it was starting to fill up with runners. The volunteers and organizers, were super friendly, and they all wore great hug big smiles to welcome us.


This guy checked my registration. See the smile? There was no line.

Happy runners getting checked in.

Heidi checking in.
After getting checked in, our info pops up on the monitor. Notice the people from all over the world?

There was a line forming to take the pic. I got my bib number.
Heidi and I with our bibs.
Back at the hotel, we investigated our merchandise and low and behold, we found out that Heidi was overcharged. Made a few phone calls to settle the matter and we were off to shop some more for my family.  My daughter wanted a gray sweatshirt with the words New York in it. So we're in the hunt for that.
This was my purchase, my NYC marathon jacket and stuff for the family.

Back at the hotel, the loot all spread out.
Found it: A gray hoody with the words NY.

Walking around after we got our stuff from the Expo.

While exploring NY, who should we run into? 

We couldn't pass this up.

Heidi found the Singing Cowboy while here I was with Elmosito.

Friday was a great day, we had a nice dinner at the corner store with pizza and salad. No fanfare but the price was right. We got back to our hotel to relax and called it a night. The next morning, Saturday, we were up early to take a small jaunt at Central Park.  We took a cab after our Starbucks breakfast and ran the last 3 miles of the marathon course. The Friendship 5K run was also going on the same time at the Park so we got to see that. Sorry I didn't have pictures to show you of that day, since I left my battery at the hotel. No wonder my camera was light. What a dufus I was.

Saturday: 3 miler shake out in Central Park with my buddy Heidi. Am I really that short?

Saturday: Oops! Was told to put my camera away at this Broadway show.

After our run at the park, we got back at the hotel and got ready for the Broadway Show.  My birthday gift from Heidi was tickets to Wicked!  This was my very first NY Broadway show ever and it was awesome.  I would highly recommend runners visiting NY to see a show the night before a marathon.  It kept us relaxed, less nervous and somewhat took our mind off the race for a little bit. 

After the Broadway show, we stopped by a restaurant to have our carbo load on. It was one of those restaurants where you pick your ingredients. You tell the cook behind the counter what you want in it and you can see  right there as he whips it out in matter of minutes.  Again, the price was right. After dinner, we walked back to our hotel room and it was all business.  We laid out our running gear, inlcluding breakfast for the race the next day.   We called it a night.  I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. as I had to be at the Ferry by 6:30.  But in order to get there I had to take a cab first. 

  My Brooks Ravenna ready to accompany me to an eventual PR.

 Bib info: Wave 3, corral #44, Blue Village
Got my two fuel belt flasks, with 6 Power gels, ipod, sunglasses, arm warmers, Athleta tank, my Sugoi Mid-zero tights and my Sugoi running cap.

These are my throw-away sweats that I bought from a thrift shop in San Luis Obispo. A truck picks up the clothes to give  back to charity.
Race Day Sunday: Gear on and ready to go at 5:30am

For all the details on Race Day, you can check out my blog and page on "My First NYC Marathon".

All cleaned up after the race
Me after the race, getting ready for dinner.

There were three things on the agenda for Monday after the race: get our medals engraved, go to Tiffany's and meet up with Julie and her husband for the taping of the Jimmy Fallon Show. It turned out to be a great plan since we really needed to do a lot of walking to shake off the stiffness associated with the soreness after running a marathon.  

It was a rainy Monday. Thankfully, we dodged the rain by one day. We set out for Central Park to get our medals engraved. That was a first for me, as I never do. The cost was $20--oh that's why I never do.   After the Park, we hailed a cab to Tifanny's.  I was going to be good and walk out of there with nothing...I almost did.
Monday: The day after the race, there's the blue bag.

After romping around Tiffany's we had about an hour or two to kill before the taping were to start. We had time to walk around Rockefeller Center, got to walk around the NBC store and I found this shirt for my daughter that she's been wanting.  We also had time to find the famous Magnolia's Bakery. In less than two minutes the cupcakes were gone.

Elena's favorite show.

 Rockefeller center: We missed the X'mas tree ceremony by 7 days.

  Another famous NYC landmark

 Famous Catholic Church, St. Pat's Cathedral

Thanks to Julie for getting those tickets to the Jimmy Fallon show. By the way, Jimmy's show was great. His guest at the time was Scarlett Johanssen. They talked about her marriage with Ryan Reynolds and how things were going great. Days later, she would announce her separation and impending divorce!  We were not allowed to use our cameras inside the studio so all I took was this picture from the waiting room.
Waiting for Jimmy Fallon...

On the flight home Tuesday, we both proudly wore our hardware. Many people inquired about our medals, from the flight attendants, vendors, cab drivers to waitresses.  We readily shared our experiences and the fun we had.  Non-runners are so receptive to our experience, I lost count of the number of times we've heard so many people say, "I might have to try that next year."  That was music to our ears. Our heartfelt response is always, "Of course, you can.  We did it. So can you."


I can't believe it's over.