Sunday, August 7, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #5: Sunday 10K

Oooh mama! Wow! That was one exhilarating motha' of a mountain. When I said I run this course at my lunch hour, I thought I knew the course like the back of my hand. I didn't realize there was another hidden challenging climb on the backside of mountain. I mean I knew it existed, but I underestimated the long ascent. All this time, I've only been running, half of the mountain. Therefore half the challenge. Madonna Mountain, or properly known as Cerro San Luis, brought me to my knees!

My race started at 9:10 a.m. My plan was to get up at 6:45 a.m., eat my grapefruit, oatmeal and coffee and leave the house at 7:45 a.m.  I would get there with an hour to warm up, visit my favorite room, kick the jitters off and mingle. That didn't happen, I got there at 8:45 and was only able to do 3/4 of mile warm up before they called us at the start. Hmm, slow as molasses this morning.

I was okay with it however.  The weather was 59 degrees and it was a shorts-and-tank-top-kinda cool overcast day. I didn't carry my water belt, just a 8 oz. bottle.  They have 3 water stations up the mountain and I was able to refill my flask.

I was walking anyway, so might as well take a shot of the climb.
The fog felt nice in the beginning, until it lifted and the sun beat down on us.
Lots of folks charged up the mountain, I let those folks pass me. The backside of the mountain was uncharted territory for me.  I was running this part for the first time and the steepness took me by surprise. My Achilles were burning so I was forced to a walk up the first few hills.  I tried to stay relaxed and not get too rattled with others passing me. I knew there were more ascent waiting around the corner. I wanted to reserve my energy for the downhill, my strength. As I was climbing up, my thoughts were, gee I hope this is the same way we go down. If that was the case, I can float down fast and maybe catch some folks. It was just like that. I may be weak on the climbs but once we got past the steep parts and once the course started to look familiar, I started to push it.

Most parts were single trail and a lot of these runners doing this for the first time are a little unknowledgeable about the etiquette of a trail running. Especially the one about letting faster runners go ahead of you if you are the cause of bottle-neck. It doesn't take but two seconds to step to the side and let them go.

I witnessed two major spillage on that mountain. The first one, she looked like her legs were tired and didn't pick them up on time and she hit a rock and down she went. She got up right away to assess the damage and looked like she was okay.  I kept going and so did the people behind her.  The next gal who went down, it happened so fast.  I have been eyeing her as she stayed within 15 feet ahead of me. I closed the gap finally as we walked up a steep ascent. When we reached a "runnable" segment and we started to run again, that's when she missed the rock.  I stopped briefly to see if she was okay.  She was grimacing in pain and couldn't answer me. But when I saw both her knees with strawberries, I thought to myself, oh she's fine. I would have stopped had she had a bigger injury, but I knew she would be okay so I continued on with the race. Later, I found her at the finish with her significant other as they are figuring where to go to get aid.  I've had my share of spillage on this very mountain and I still have my scars to prove it. Yes I did say scars: two on my palm, both my elbows and both my knees.  It comes with the territory.

On the way down I passed some folks. It was a confidence booster to know that I can still hang on to the pace. Eventually I would finish at 1:10:14 with a pace of 11:14. I am very pleased with that time since I walked a heck of a lot. I didn't want to be disappointed, so I never once looked at my Garmin. After all,  I wanted to make sure my foot landed right, not twist an ankle, or worst, add another scar.  I have enough of those.

My plan was to do a total of 14 miles today.  To compensate for the shortage, I was going to tack on 8 miles after the race. However, the fog lifted in the middle of the race and the sun beat down on us pretty hard. I decided it was not a good idea to run back up that course. Plus, I would be risking hurting my already tired Achilles. I decided that I would go home to my foggy cocoon and run my 8 there.  It turned out to be the best decision.

After I got home, I was going to rest first then do my run. After my shower, I was swept by this jittery light-headed, low-energy burst of whatever. I felt weak like near collapsing if I didn't eat at that instant. I realized I was bonking. This was the worst bonk I ever felt in my years of running. I ate everything on the counter: some of my kid's Puffins cereal, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, burrito with ham and cheese and coffee. I must have looked crazy eating everything in sight, as my kid asked, "Is Mama okay?"  Hubs answer, Yeah, she's just bonking. So this is what it feels like to be low on sugar.  There was nothing in the tank.  It's a good thing I decided to go home first, because it crossed my mind to drive straight to Turri Road to do my 8. I can only imagine what would have happened.  The lesson learned: what I had for breakfast would have been okay if I were running a normal training run. The calories required for a trail run is much more than that as the exertion is far more intense.

I finally ran my 8 in the evening and finished at 9:41 pace.  That completes my 14 miles for today as the long run. Week #5 is a huge success.  I am ready to face Week #6.  There are 90 days left until NYC.

Week #6 from Hal Higdon's Adv. Training 1 looks like this:

Mon  X-Train, but I will opt to rest instead
Tues  7 miles sorta long run
Wed  5x800 Yassos (my fave)
Thurs 3 easy
Fri     R-E-S-T
Sat    7 pace run
Sun   10 easy

Happy running!


  1. Your post is reminding me that I need a nice mountain trail run very soon! Thanks!

  2. The variety is always a plus. I love the trails, no matter how difficult they are.Thanks for reading.