January 27, 2005

Lunchtime run; bad run

The weather has turned bitterly cold again, so I packed up my running clothes and decided to run on my lunch hour at work. It was a bad run. I was supposed to put in 4 miles, but I found myself really struggling and turned around after 20 minutes, having gone perhaps a mile and a quarter, and came back, putting in maybe two and a half or three miles total.

It was the first time I've run in Riverside Park, which is a long, skinny strip of grass between Riverside Avenue and Hudson Parkway. Unfortunately, a lot of it isn't cleared of snow, the part that is was very icy today, and coming back, I found the main path to be completely clear...but paved with rounded hexagonal concrete tiles -- very difficult to walk on, I find, much less run on. The other problems were the wind, which I was running straight in to outbound, and the fifteen-degree cold, which as usual didn't help my breathing.

I left my running clothes at work and will maybe try running over to Central Park tomorrow, where I know at least the path will be easier. If I don't do four tomorrow, I'll do eight Saturday (the schedule calls for the eight on Sunday).

January 25, 2005

Easy 3 miles

Yesterday, I found myself climbing four flights of circular stairs to go check out a theatre. Oddly enough, this caused my thighs to cramp up. Over the last three days, I've spent many hours shoveling snow, using unwarmed muscles in ways they're not used to.

All of this adds up to a very achy body today.

I popped three ibuprofen and went to the park for a laid-back, easy 3-mile loop. The road was surprsingly well-cleared, though I did slow to a walk a couple of times to avoid slipping on slushed-over areas. Stretching before and after hurt, but felt soooo good. Thursday is my last 4-mile "medium" run...it goes up to five next week!

January 22, 2005

First qualifier; biting cold!

I was pretty bummed last night when my race application for today's race got returned to me in the mail -- "undeliverable address". WTF? Ah. I'd written NYRR at 98th street, when they're at 89th street. Damn! Well, check in was to be at NYRR headquarters anyway, so I headed out at 7:30 this morning. The temp:

What the hell was I thinking, heading to a 7-mile race in 8-degree weather?? This was insantiy! Well, apparently the rest of the cult members NYRR runners are pretty hardcore, because there were roughly two thousand people there! I explained the situation to a couple of gruff people and eventually got a number and an electronic tag for my shoe. The lady just took my race application and check and didn't look twice. I hope it all turns out OK.

Anyway, coming out of the subway, I caught up with a guy who turned out to be a legally blind runner, and later I saw him running with his guide. He and I and another woman walked to headquarters together. Both of them were over 60; and here I was feeling like a pussy because I wasn't too sure about running seven miles in such cold weather.

Not to worry. I jogged the ten blocks from the building to the course start, took off my raingear, and tried to keep warm and stretched before the race started. As usual, NYRR had their shit together with all the professional clocks and electronic start and finish line, etc. They also had long tables set up along the route with cups of water. Also, as usual, I started in my black windbreaker and soon grew too warm for it. I took it off, wadded it up and on the first pass past the starting line (the route doubled back to make the first three miles), I took a teeny-weeny break to stash the windbreaker with m other stuff int he baggage pile and to pee. Then, back on the trail.

The first three miles were hell. Cold feet and hands, but overheated body; dodging other runners and being dodged by others. I was pretty discouraged and wasn't entirely sure I'd finish. But the small break, along with a gulp of water, really helped and after mile 4, things kind of evened out and though I was running slowly, I was doing OK. It also helped there was a cute little thing with a tight butt running just ahead of me at just about my pace. :)

Problem with water in temperatures below 20 degrees (and the course was 9 degrees by the time the race began), is that it tends to freeze. Quickly. Runners had to bash the cups of water against something hard to crush the first inch of ice to get to the water below it! I won't forget that for a long time.

As I crossed the finish line, I noted the clock read an hour 21 minutes. So, counting the delay in beginning the race that people far back experience, plus my stash-and-pee break, I think I did my usual 11-minute mile pace. I'm beginning to wonder if that will ever change; it doesn't seem to go up or down. Not that I care a lot, but its curious.

So, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. My official race result is here.

There's a 15-K I'm doing on the 13th of February, which will be my second qualifing race.

Oh, by the way, the weather couldn't have been better...and it could have been a lot worse. By the time I finished the race, snowflakes were falling, and we now have about eight inches on the ground out there!

January 21, 2005

Worried about tomorrow

Tomorrow's forecast for the 7-mile Frostbite run in Central Park is ... 12 degrees! I have to register and pick up my tag at NYRR headquarters around 8 or 8:30, which means being up by 6:30, out the door by 7:30. The race begins at 9:30. I'm bringing my inhalers as I run... I've discovered part of the problem I was having with the cold was the albuterol inhaler I'd been using had run dry and I didn't know it. So I have a fresh one and hopefully the cold won't knock me down too far tomorrow. I'm not worried about staying warm... once I get running, I'll be good to go.

My motivation at 6:30 AM and 10 degrees will be... down. God, give me strength! But considering this is my first qualifying run of nine that I need to complete by November (in order to qualify for the following November's marathon), I really need to get out there. (I'll be gone most of June, so I'm looking at basically having to get in one qualifier per month from now on.)

January 20, 2005

Difficult 4 miler

Just got back from 4 miles. Not as cold today; 30-something degrees. Still below freezing, however, and that is playing hell with my lungs. For the first time in weeks, I had to slow down and walk for a few minutes, though I did fine on the hill before that. Not the best run, difficult, stressful. I'm trying real hard to remain positive right now.

Next run is a 7-mile race in Central Park this Saturday; though I still haven't heard back from Road Runners. I sent in my race application and fees about ten days ago.

January 18, 2005

Owned! ...Revisited

But who or what is owned?  Did I own the three miles I just put in?  Or did they own me??

I got off work early and headed home to put on running gear.  I was freezing my nuts off just standing in the subway station, what made me think I could run in this weather?  Granted, the sun is shining mightily, but that’s cold comfort when the temperature is:

I had on all the layers from Sunday, plus extra socks and my FroggToggs rain gear over it all.  FroggToggs are very lightweight, made from recycled plastic, and fairly high quality.  They’re cheap, pack small, and are not only waterproof, but wind-resistant as well.  I wear them on my bike, too, to cut through cold and rain.  FroggToggs are a great extra layer, just to trap some air; unfortunately, they can also be a bit of a sauna suit!

The run was very difficult, one of the hardest I’ve done since starting all this in November.  The extreme cold is something my lungs aren’t used to and it was hard to breathe and I was coughing my head off.  I didn’t mind the extra clothes — they were keeping me warm ‘til my blood got up.  Because of the difficulty in breathing, I was running pretty slow, barely keeping at it.  But I did not walk.

My route today, being short, was to go up the hill to the park, enter at 14th street, run the loop clockwise over to the pedestrian underpass (almost to Grand Army Plaza), then turn back and retrace the route.  I made it that far, but cut through a playground and left the park at 11th street on the way back.  The run got easier after that, partly because the buildings sheltered me better from the wind and partly because it was downhill, but my breathing took a long time to get under control after coming in.  I saw only two other joggers.

After my run, I was soaked!  My sweat hadn’t gone anywhere, because of the raingear, and my clothes were wet and noticeably heavier than when I began.  I’ll have to learn to leave the raingear behind no matter what, trusting that I will eventually be warm enough.  After all, I was shedding my hats and Buff neck thingy and welcoming the cold on my head and face.

I feel good though, mostly about having run, not because of the run.  All that keeps running through my mind is a quote from The Empire Strikes Back:  “We’re having trouble adapting the speeders to the cold, sir.”  When I start hallucinating up dead old guys and become convinced I have to get to the Degobah system; then I’ll know I’ve hit my limits.

January 16, 2005

Cold Sunday

Seven miles! Seven miles!! I can't quite believe I accomplished that today. Sure, I did six last week, but somehow seven seems like a much bigger number. But it's what I needed to accomplish, especially since I hadn't run for the last two days, and I went out and did it. Up the hill, then two loops in Prospect Park. Total distance is closer to 7.4 miles.

And it was cold. It was 28 degrees by my backyard thermometer when I left the house and all the little puddles were frozen. This is definitely the coldest I've run in yet; and though very cold air gets hard to breathe, it was OK. I'll take this over anything above 60!

As usual, the first three miles were more difficult than the rest, though not terribly harsh this time. I paused on my way up the hill towards the park to stretch again, knowing I needed to be really loose to pull off this run. And at about the beginning of mile three, I began to get pain in my inner left leg, below the knee. I haven't felt that before. I paused again, and stretched out that muscle or ligament or whatever it is, then got going. And I didn't stop again 'til cooldown and post-run stretching.

I discovered that downhills are really easy, and my pace goes up, but parts of my feet don't like going downhill. Uphills are more of a workout, but I get that "little engine that could" attitude going and up up up I go. My feet like the uphill, even if my lungs don't. Sometimes I have to slow my pace; sometimes I don't. Flats are the worst, particularly after a downhill. I wave of tiredness comes over me and I really have to push through that. After another couple of minutes, it gets better.

The second loop of the park was easier than the first loop. No pain -- hell, my feet and legs were doing all the work! I didn't feel like I had to do anything but keep breathing and go along for the ride. My pace was steadier, too.

It was interesting to see the look on the woman's face (she was pushing a carriage) when I went running by her for the fourth time! I generally ignore the other people in the park, but its hard not to notice people when you keep passing them. Unfortunately, there were also some under-utilized punks hanging out in the park -- at one time right in the middle of the running path, just standing there smoking. Everyone had to go around THEM. Arrogant little bastards; make me see red. But I try to clear my head of that once I'm past; it doesn't matter.

I am very tired, but the post-run stretching and the hot shower have helped me avoid any real aches. I may head to be early tonight and get a full eight hours of sleep.

January 13, 2005

'Twas a misty, moisty morning; cloudy was the weather...

So where the hell was the sunny 60 degrees the weatherman promised?? Not here!

Today's run was four miles, per the schedule. I ran up to the park, then did the park loop. I entered at a different point in the park and rather liked it, I'll have to do that again. I like the park enough that I don't feel a need to vary the route much...the weather provides plenty change of scenery!

Today's weather was a challenge. Warm-ish and almost 100% humidity. I felt like I was trying to breathe through a wet cloth, and my clothes were quickly wet, too, only partly from my sweat. And, yes, I think I overheated. Will have to learn not to wear so many layers when the temp is above 45.

Well, it got done. May run again tomorrow, may wait 'til Saturday, I don't know.

Found myself locked out of my house when I got home... finally realized I must have dropped the key when I stopped by the optometrist for my new box of contacts, so I had to go back up there; sure enough he had my key. Thank God... it would have been a long cold wait on the steps for my upstairs neighbors to come home and let me in!

January 11, 2005

Here we go...

Today's run was to be 3 miles, did the whole Park loop, which I have finally found out is 3.35 miles. There's a 10-miler on Valentine's Day that's 3 loops that I'm thinking of signing up for. Anyway, about halfway down, near the lake, I'm just in a state of high stress, at least equal to sunday's first couple of miles. Will the first two ever get any easier? by the end, however,, I was down to a more maneagable stress level, at a proper exertion. breath-out 3 steps, breath-in 2 steps. Running rather quickly. Time for the loop was 35:33, which is almost exactly an 11 m/m pace. Again, not that I worry about pace, but its interesting to keep track.

I need to sit down and enter the planned distances into my calendar so I have a schedule and can finish reading the book again and then send it on to Mom. I want to get involved in more organized races as they are convenient to the schedule.

January 9, 2005


GREAT run today! I was worried that, having missed a run this week (though I'm still basically on an every-other-day schedule) and having had a bad run last time, I would have a very bad time trying to complete the six miles the book calls for. But it was good! Great! PWN3D!!!1!!

I went to Central Park with Reggie. Reg didn't seem to have any qualms about tackling six miles, though he hasn't much mentioned running lately and I'm not convinced he's keeping up with a good schedule. But he was willing so off we went.

The full loop of Central Park is 6.0275 miles. Perfect! The path we took up to get to the loop took us through some of the preparations for the big art thing happening in the park in the Spring. It should be very interesting. It's just a bunch of steel bases marked with plastic orange cone-shaped "flags" right now, but even that has a nice aesthetic. I can't wait to see it all finished! The loop itself was decent. We tackled hills right off and I didn't have to stop, though I slowed way down. I told Reg that if he needed to go ahead, because his stride is different, to go right on, but he was talking about taking it easy for this run, which I can understand.

The first three miles, again, were the more difficult ones, but they weren't terrible. I had forgotten to inhale the Seravent today, and was worried about that. Turns out, while I did experience some mild excercise-induced asthma, it wasn't enough to really knock me down and I didn't notice it until I'd completed the run and stopped. Anyway, at one point about a mile and a half in, Reggie said he was going to drop down into a 5-on, 5-off pattern, so I told him I'd meet him at the end of the run and kept chugging along. I felt bad about leaving him behind, but I think he knows the rules of the game. It did, however, feel GOOD that I could run Reggie into the ground!

So I jogged along for the next 40 minutes or so, maintaining my focus on my breathing, noticing that I get passed by most runners, but not all; enjoying the nice day in the park and the variety it offers; seeing a few things I hadn't seen before; etc. Finally, after coming up a long hill, I found myself headed around a bend that seemed awfully familiar and realized I'd passed the point where Reg and I had entered the loop -- by about 70 yards. I jogged back and found the path and started to do some stretching, using the steel bases to help me stretch my Achilles. I began to wonder if I should walk back along the loop to try to find Reggie. It had taken me 66 minutes to do the six miles and I suspected Reggie would have needed to cut his run short by cutting across on 72nd. Just before I decided to go looking for Reggie, I heard his voice behind me.

On the walk back to his apartment, he was limping badly, having developed a couple blisters on the bottom of his feet. He had cut the run short and showed me on the map...I think he did almost five miles, so I'm proud of him, since I really don't think he was ready for six.

The Roadrunners website lists a couple of races coming up. Two Saturdays from now is a seven-miler and three Saturdays from now is a 10 miler. I'll have to look up what my scheduled distances are for the next few weeks and see how those might fit in to the schedule. I know I need some more practice running in large groups, as I'm getting very spoiled running by myself all the time.

January 7, 2005

Don't forget to stretch!

Ran during the daytime. Intended four honest miles, completed at least four, probably 4 1/4 or 4 1/2, though wasn't able to continue straight through. Had to stop and walk and stretch three times. After the first three miles, though, the run became easier. I ran up to the park, did the loop, then ran down to the grocery store, and walked home from there.

Because of the pain I was experiencing, I was tempted to cut the run short, but I didn't. I completed the run, though at times my stress level was high and I wasn't sure I wasn't inviting damage. This was not a good run.

The main pain was in my feet and ankles in a way that suggests I didn't stretch enough during the last two days, nor immediately before the run. At the bottom of the park, I took some time to stretch again, and realized I'd forgotten one of my regular stretches. After the stretching, I felt much better and the rest of the run was OK. I exited the park this time at the 3rd street exit and ran over to 9th, then down. Not sure I liked that. Something about the long asphalt area that connects my usual entrance to the loop makes for a nice mental end to the park portion of the run.

January 4, 2005

Night runs aren't the best

3 miles intended, as per the book, probably ran 2.75. Had to run after work, so I was running at night. Decided to run up to the park and back twice, with at least five streets going sideways included. The loop makes 2 miles exactly. On the second uphill, though, I began passing gas really bad and could tell I needed to get home and go to the bathroom, so I cut the run short. I KNEW I should've been patient and gone to the bathroom before the run! Exertion: not too bad. Maybe a five on a 1-10 scale. Summary: an OK run.

January 2, 2005

In the beginning...

So here we go... I am a new runner, and have been running now since the middle of last November. I can't believe its been two months! My health has noticeably improved and the recent runs have been easier than the first ones.

The rest of this blog (which is a stupid term, I hate it, but I'll go with the popular vote) will be all about my experiences training for the Cincinatti Marathon. During my first few postings, I will publish my previous diary entries so readers can catch up with where I've been on this journey.

I was inspired by several things:
1) health could use improvement
2) challenge from my sister, by way of example
3) the ING Marathon goes RIGHT BY MY HOUSE and I've cheered them on for two years. If they can do it, I can do it.
4) I have promises to friends, past and present, to live up to.

HERE is my posting of pictures from the last ING Marathon, and I often visit it for inspiration, especially on rainy days.

So today's official entry:

After two months of pre-training, I am easily able to keep running for 30 minutes at a time. In fact, I can do more. In preparation for the May 1st Cincinnati Marathon, it is time to begin the training program outlined in the book.

Admittedly, I have skipped ahead a teensy bit, since the first week's program of 3 and 4 mile runs is something I am already past. I've been doing the Prospect Park loop on each run for three weeks now. Did an honest four miles at Becca's a few days ago.

Today, I did the first week's long run - 5 miles. I ran up to the park, did the loop, then back home, all without stopping. I need to look up distances and do some doublechecking, but I feel that was an honest five miles. It was also fairly easy. In order to maintain the perceived stress level the book recommends, I may have to up my pace. I'm still getting overtaken in the park by other runners who really aren't going that fast. It may just be a matter of lengthening my stride.

Breathing has settled in and gotten easier. I no longer have to stop and walk to get my breath under control -- if anything, I just slow down a little bit.

My concerns now are twofold: one is motivation. I've been motivated so far and surprisingly find it within myself to force myself outside and start running on the every-other-day schedule I've used so far. But the winter is getting worse and I don't know how I'll feel about running in snow and ice.

The second problem is one of overuse. First it was my ankles and I had to take two weeks off because of that. Then it was the tendon behind my knee -- and by taking it easy over the recent holiday break, that pain has gone away, too. I'm afraid that by upping my running to four days a week, I may be in danger of another overuse injury. So I'm thinking that I will follow the books running schedule except for one day every other week -- effectively making an eight-run/two-week schedule into a rhythmic seven-run/two-week schedule. This will also allow some breathing room if and when weather seriously gets in the way.

Also, in addition to my other visualizations, I added a new one today: hurdles. At one point in the run, at about 3.5 miles, my energy level dropped a bit and I thought well, this can't be the Wall...its sort of a mini-wall. Oh! Its a HURDLE, like track athletes jump over. Then I realized that my runs can be thought of in terms of a series of hurdles that I'm surmounting at regular intervals. Either its a mile per hurdle... or its the same kinds of hurdles every run and they're to be expected and jumped over: the initial pains, the extra time to build in for running, the traffic, the coughing, drooping energy levels, etc.

anyway, I didn't time the whole run, but I did time the park loop from entrance to exit. 38 minutes exactly.