April 24, 2006


The weather guys say we got 3.57" of rain this weekend. I'm betting a good 2" of it fell during the morning run.

I pulled something. I don't know what it's called (and Grey's Anatomy is not helping me here), but it is a muscle on the back of the knee, down in the crook. I didn't even know it was there until I pulled it and I can feel it only when I prop my foot up on tiptoe so that the muscle flexes. Actually, both of them got a pull or strain. They don't hurt most of the time, but if I move in a certain way or go down steps, I feel it. I'm going to take it very easy this week and hope that whatever happened goes away by next weekend.

April 23, 2006

I am a cult member

What would you call a group of people who all wore the same shirt, similar shoes, similar caps? What if they all met at an early hour in the woods or a park to conduct mass exercise and other superstitious rituals? What would you label a group which moves en masse like lemmings or birds, whose members gather at small tents to partake of suspicious morsels of freely-distributed health food bars and small cups of a suspiciously-Kool-Aid like drink? What would you conclude if this activity was capped all done in a soaking rain?

You'd call it a cult.

So that must be what NYRR is: a cult. 'Cause all us idiots - several thousand of us - were standing out there in a light drizzle munching on Cliff's new powerbar things and drinking samples of some Gatorade or something and waiting, patiently, for the race to start.

Today's 4-miler was one I would have gladly skipped if it weren't for the fact that I'd paid good money to be there. As it is, I skipped my planned 4-mile warmup loop, partly for time, and partly for comfort's sake.

The run was miserable. I've run in the rain before a couple of times last summer, but only light rain and only when ending up the run at my house. This time, though, I stood and ran in the a healthy soaking rain for 90 minutes or so. I started off, OK, with only wet feet, since I had some rain gear. But after conquering Cat Hill (yay!), I had to ditch the raingear. It was old and coming apart anyway, so no great loss, but from that point on, I discovered something: clothes get heavy when they get wet. And constrictive.

Note to self: when running in the rain, wear less clothes, not more.

Dealt with the shin pains again for the first two miles. Lost a few minutes to stretching and if it weren't for that, I would have beaten my last 4-miler's time and come in at or under 10:00/mi pace. As it is, I was glad the pained ebbed at mile two and I was able to keep up a steady pace from there on out.

In the second half, however, I found myself working just to stay abreast of a racewalker. This man could flat move! Better than 10-minute miles, if my own pace was anything to judge by. He made me work for it, I tell ya.

Finally got to the finish line and immediately headed for baggage. Once I got to the subway, I took the few minutes before the train to change into a dry top and jacket, change socks (even though my shoes were soaked, wet socks are better than soaked socks), and contemplated the various ironies of life: one of them being that I have hundreds and hundreds of miles riding a naked motorcycle through rain, sleet, wind, hail, snow, and fog - but mostly rain. I've learned to carry dry socks when it's raining outside, but you'd think I'd have learned to bring dry PANTS as well.

My shower at home never felt so good.

I've spent the last few hours putting together an Excel file with a race database, fronted by a sheet of PRs. You can see the PRs in the sidebar here. The file is complex, as I want to be able to simply add the next race at the bottom of the database sheet and have all the data show up properly, particularly if I PR again. If you want to examine the file and how I've got it set up, you can find it here. Right click to download, I think.

April 22, 2006

The Boston Rundown

One non-blogger who ran the Boston marathon is my upstairs neighbor, Mark Bernal. The first time we met, I was stretching before a run. The second time, I was stretching after a run. Then I found out he actually works for NYRR Foundation for Kids. And sometime after that, he let slip that he was getting ready to run Boston. So it was really exciting to talk to Mark when he got back from Boston Tuesday; after all, why idolize the elites when you can idolize someone who actually qualifies for and runs Boston and who lives in your house?

Turns out, Mark ran the race in 3:09:05, shaving three seconds off his PR from his first, most recent, and until-now-only marathon, the Shamrock. I know Mark had suffered from plantar fasciitis for some time, so I was glad he was able to conquer a tough course. The weather, he notes, was perfect and every blog I've read agrees with that assessment. Mark reports that the two-wave start was a good idea and that about half the runners were women, in stark contrast to the days when NO women ran Boston. Mark commented on the nature of the course, how the run from outside into Boston is a nice course, going through little towns along the way; he was especially impressed with the notorious Boston cheering crowds. After such a good run (though he'd hoped for better), Mark is contemplating the much smaller Rochester marathon next.

Mark's is one of over 22,500 stories about running this year's Boston Marathon. Some of them ended up on the weblogs. I have tried to boil them down here to the best of the best as well as give due time to entries that describe the run-up to or the aftermath of the Main Event. Phone interviews are nice, but bloggers are often more detail-oriented. So without further pre-amble: the race reports!

From the male contingent, Scott Dunlap makes good use of his camera and posts an excellent race report. Vince Hemington feels he got "slapped around but good."
And Turner Wright turned in a solid performance and an equally solid write-up.

With a story similar to that of hundreds of runners, Kim discovers that using Boston as a first marathon (TNT runner) can turn things into the best of times and the worst of times.

Brad Feld also ran for charity (the Michael Lisnow Respite Center) and shares his thoughts about running a 5:07. He also has a link to Coverville, a music podcast that should make for some great running music.

Some stories were quite amazing. Vindy.com posts an article about a double by-pass patient who ran Boston in 4 hours; beating her husband by 29 minutes here. And "Legwork" writes briefly about his 34-Bostons streak. Runguru posts a fascinating time-line style write-up of the race by an elite, who was also one of the top 10 finishers.

A diversion: Joshua "Flash" Gordon brings up a touchy subject and disposes of it with tact and finality. You may have to turn off your sound and get your vision checked when you're done, but the page is worth a read guys.

Elizabeth Hansen, another TNT-er, ran a great race, but still feels it was "strong, but not smart", as she dispensed with her negative-splits plan and just ran all out to see what her limits were - and found them. Her all-about-me post sums her up nicely and indicates she's in training for some Ultras and a half-Ironman. Boston is just a single cobblestone on a greater path.

By contrast, Grace, had a great race , as did Jonelle who gives it to us town by town.

While not quite a blog, Steve Runner, voted #1 sports podcast at Podcast Alley, posts a fascinating, funny, en-"gross"-ing podcast about his rough experience in Boston. This audio blog includes a rousing reading of Phidipedes' famous run, escorts the listener through athlete's village, then gives a mile-by-mile audio commentary recording during the race. During some of it, Steve even has a conversation with his later recorded commentator self. His dry wit makes for a good listen and I recommend downloading it for your next long run.

Interesting bit about the Tour of Marathon Majors here.

Boston attracts the fastest runners, of course, so I love how Andrew characterizes a 6:58 mile as "painfully slow". And Mike from San Diego comments:
Unlike most marathons, Boston is not about first timers or "just" finishing or even (for better or worse) raising money for charity. Boston is elitist in the sense that it is exclusionary and competitive. Virtually everyone at Boston is a "serious" marathoner, and it doesn't matter to any of the participants whether anyone else cares because for those 3+ hours it's only the rest of the field that counts.

On a personal note, I am disturbed by the number of Technorati hits on MySpace blogs that a "boston marathon" search brings up. With a few exceptions, the qualitative difference between MySpace bloggers and Blogger or LiveJournal or independently-hosted bloggers is substantial. If blogging were a disease, the CDC would be trying to stamp out MySpace.

For instance, Jared runs the race in 2:32, comes in 67th, and makes a less than 200-word post about it. He is not alone in his brevity among MySpace Boston marathoners, many of whom must have great stories, but just won't elaborate on them.

A notable exception is Dove, who wrote a solid write-up of her experience. What makes it all the more amazing is that aftering suffering family tragedy in October, she could do this at all. I had some days where running was my therapy, but there were far more that were just plain difficult because all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep...running was at the bottom of my list of things I wanted to do.

A very notable blog entry came in several days after the marathon. It is posted by ruNNergirL, who absolutely, hands-down wins the HOLY-SHIT-Award for her tale of the bummer of all races.

And lastly:

Future Boston Marathoner? Like a hundred others, Michelle, a single mom of 3 teenage boys, has vowed to get her life on track and is in training for her first marathon, with an eventual goal of running Boston. Unlike the other 99, she'll do it, I believe. Come on, everybody, show her the love and support the blogging community can give.

April 21, 2006

celebrity priviledge

First, read this: Armstrong to Run NY Marathon.

Now here's my two cents:

Why does he get to run the marathon THIS year? Has he previously run a guaranteed-entry-qualifying time in another marathon? Has he entered the lottery the previous three years and didn't get picked? Has he suddenly switched nationalities and is coming as a foreigner with a tour group? Has he run nine qualifying races and maintained NYRR membership for two years?? NO??? I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

Is he a celebrity and so he gets to run if he feels like it? YES.

And that's the long and short of it. I guess the rest of us who have worked for two years to get to run this race next year don't matter, because we're not celebrities. Note that Mr. Armstrong uses the term "we". Just like P. Diddy, he'll have a coterie running with him, for security if nothing else. How many runners will that total? How many lottery entries FEWER will NYRR be choosing because of that?

Do we need Lance's celebrity to stay alive as a race? Do we need his face for publicity? NO! People the world over know what and where the NY Marathon is. And we're full. Every year we get three times as many entry applications as can be accomodated on race day.

I better hear that Lance donated a hefty chunk of change to the NYRR Foundation for Kids, or something, or else I'm totally going to lose it. And if I see him on the course - especially if I'm passing him (ha!) - I'll turn around and yell, "SUCK IT LANCE!"

April 20, 2006

How to feak out a runner.

In the middle of today's run, that old Dr. Pepper tune popped into my head. "I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" Again, something I haven't thought about in a few years, and it just appears in my thoughts like somebody whacked the Big Button of Random Stuff a good one. And THEN...no more than fifteen minutes later, as I'm listening to Dawn & Drew podcast, Dawn starts singing the Pepper song! Serious coincidenting here.

I did a new route today, the one I described in last night's entry, though I didn't complete it by running home, but rather headed to C-town. I needed groceries. So the route turned out to be just a shade over 4 miles - a good solid run.

In fact, it was a great run! The day was perfect and I felt like I could take it easy, at a nice leisurely pace. I stretched out for a good long while before the run and hadn't had too much pain yesterday anyway. I was dreading the return of the mysterious foot/shin/leg pain and hoping this run didn't turn out to suck like Tuesday's. I was pleased that my legs never went into those terrible pains and didn't tighten up - that they performed more predictably, with a little fatigue protest in the first mile or two and then getting used to the run.

I took the pace fairly steadily, even though I took the music with me today (which tends to make me vary my pace too much). I did have a few slow spots, but I ran strong the whole way; I really needed to feel that again. I took only two breaks: one to show my face at the Harley dealership and check on my bike (a personal visit has more impact than a phone call, right?) - and the second break partway up the Prospect Park hill for a few paces. I could have toughed through it, but I wanted to get a good drink from my water bottle without choking - and since I had settled into a two-in; two-out breathing pattern, choking was a real possiblity.

The breathing was odd enough. I can rarely sustain the 2-2 pattern without brining on a coughing fit. But for some reason, the coughing mostly stayed away today and I ran 1/3 of the route breathing 2-2, instead of my usual 2-3 pattern. Being able to breathe more means being able to work more - maybe that's why I was able to run more steadily today.

Anyway, wound up the run on the long downhill from the Park and that, as always, felt great. I took the opportunity to stretch my stride a little and for the last 3/4 mile, I really felt like a runner again with loose muscles, controlled strides and foot placement, good posture, and no clunky, heavy feeling in my body. I really hope April 29 feels like that.

mid-week runs

Yesterday's run was a real bitch. Not a good run at all. Just over three miles - a shortened up-to-the-park-and-back trip. I'm having the same pains as before and this time they did not go away. I walked several times, but the walking hurts more than the running! I'm not really sure what's going on with my feet; I'm just glad it isn't my knees doing all the complaining. IT bands are pretty tight, gotta work on that.

Will do the same run tomorrow, maybe a little longer. I'm curious how long the run would be making a large loop that takes me across the south side of Greenwood cemetary, up the west side, continuing until I run into Prospect Park, up along it's south side drive, then turn at Pritchard Square and head home. I'm guessing somewhere between four and five miles.

Goddamn cats. It's as if somebody ripped off the "duck season" page from the one-a-day calendar and all of a sudden its "hair-shedding season". Maybe I should take them outside and shave them down a bit. I did it last year and it didn't seam to harm them.

April 16, 2006

I am humbled.


I am Penfold

Okay, give up on yesterday's Name That Tune? It's the Theme from Rocky, as you can hear here.

Here's today's Name That Tune: "Bah-ba-da-baaaaah, dada-dummmmm; buduh-BAbabopBOPbah, baddah-baddah-bahhhh. Bah-ba-da-bahhhhh, dada-dada-dummmmmm; Bomp-ba-ba-bOMMMMMMMMMM; Buh-BAH. Bah. BAH-BOM. BOMP!"

I don't know why these things keep coming into my head when I run, the unassociated flotsam of a lifetime. Perhaps it's because there comes a point in the run when the mind has nothing else to do -- and being so freed, such a rare thing, it freely takes a vacation and goes rummaging in the Big Mental Trunk in the Attic. And out come the oldest of relics, though oddly not the least bit dusty. Today's Name That Tune is one of them - a theme I hadn't had running through my head in a few years.

It was even more bizarre yesterday, when right around 91st street, a mile shy of my goal, this creature popped into my head:

Remember Danger Mouse? No? I swear, not even the shadow of a ghost of the thought of that cartoon has entered my consciousness in a little over 20 years - and yesterday he popped fully fledged, in full motion, with that awesome English accent of his, into my forethoughts. Luckily, I didn't actually hallucinate him, or else I'd've sat down and called for an ambulance.

Long runs tend to let the pendulums of the mind swing free. There are two things going on, opposite pressures, that result in this. One is practicing associative running - keeping your mind on the road and the run and those things only. THAT can result in being hyperfocused, with the effect that the subconscious has room to wriggle, because the consciousness isn't focused on keeping it down. The other thing is the disassociative running - either on purpose or because the mind simply gets bored or the mind can't listen to the body anymore. All of a sudden, the consciousness is everywhere except the road and the run. And out of the dustbins of time, come refreshing and funny spectres like Danger Mouse.

Today's run was a solid 10-miler. It was a GOOD run, just shy of great. I stuck to my game plan. Got plenty of food and sleep the night before, took my time getting out of the house, took the subway to the park, stretched a lot before the run. Stashed my stuff in my special watering hole tree and headed out at a slow pace. The first loop of the park was hard; the shin and thigh pains were back. But I assured myself the pain would be gone before two miles were through - and sure enough that's what happened. (This is a good sign, since these pains are getting shorter and shorter.) I had a hard time getting up the North hill in Prospect Park, but did make it to the top before giving myself a mini-break.* As I was coming up on the end of the first loop, I passed a familiar face...

I stopped at the watering hole for a stretch break and to slug some gel and get my breathing under control. By this time I was finally warmed up. The day was 20 degrees cooler than yesterday and I'd added a baseball cap and a long-sleeve tech-T - perfect gear. Still in shorts, felt good. Anyway, back on the road, I took the "easy" direction for the second loop. Again, I passed the familiar face and boomed out "it's Neil, isn't it?" inquiring if this was the same Neil I'd made a running acquaintance with many moons ago. For a second, he seemed startled and I could see in his face puzzlement; but then he remembered, too, and confirmed his identity. How could I not recognize him, with his flowing hair and big beard and pell-mell trail running? How could he not recognize me with my blue-mirror shades?

Second loop wasn't as hard as the first, but I could feel fatigue creeping up; I found it hard to stay consistent in the pacing, and coming up the South hill was too much; I had to take a mini-break half-way up. Damn.

I took the easy direction on the third loop, too, but something odd happened: I zoned out. I went from associative running to disassociative. In fact, I found myself puzzling over some scenic design problems to be solved at work and actually came up with some really exciting solutions that I think should be nicely received. That doesn't excuse the fact that I found myself two miles later having run VERY consistently and at a good 1/2-marathon pace completely on auto-pilot. The hill got me again and I had to take a micro-break, even though I was only 1/4-mile from being done. Oh, well. My legs had been starting to get very sore and slowly cramp down near the lake, so I was glad this was the end of the run. I took a lot of time stretching in the grass before heading home, sucking down Recoverite.

Really, it was a great run if I think about it, but the fact I couldn't make it a continuous run bugs me. Still, I did a good 10-miler in a crowded, hilly park and I think that's sound training for race running on Nashville hills. I don't know if I should taper for the next two weeks or just go for a twelve-miler in Central Park next weekend; we'll see. Either way, I think I'm ready to tackle 13.1 in Nashville.

*Short of a real break in the running, I have three kinds of rests: mini-breaks (walking 25 paces or less), micro-breaks (walking 5 paces or less), and running rests (slowly way the hell down after a hard exertion for about 100 paces).

April 15, 2006

I am the Botan-ic Man

Name this tune: Bah-bump-ba-ba-ba-bada-da-bada-bah--da dah da-da-dah da da da-da-dah--bump-bum-bum-ba-bum-ba-bummmmmmmm. (That's just the intro...)

What a GREAT run I had today! Not my long run for the weekend, but nevertheless a great run. I got a lot done today, including settling some details with the homeowner next door (paving the way for a signed contract next week!), test rides on a BMW K1200R and a BMW F650CS, and a solid, uplifting 4-mile run.

The temperature took an un-spring-like turn for the hot today and hit 300 degrees Kelvin. Literally. It was 80F out there. And though I had time after the test rides to do my long ten-miler, I realized that I have not yet acclimated to anything warmer than 50-degree temps and that perhaps putting in my longest run since last October on the hottest day since last October might not be the wisest thing yet. So I chose to turn an errand into a run. I went straight down 4th ave, kind of scouting the condition of the pavement as I went and headed for Ft. Hamilton's commisary.

The run started unhappily, as my calves, IT bands, and shins were pulling the same crap they did Wednesday in the park. But I was having none of it. I concentrated on as steady and continuous run as possible. I paused at 1 mile out to stretch more and got going again. Running through the spray from the fire department washing their truck at 53rd street felt awesome. I didn't realize 'til them how hot I was getting. I kept going and miracle-of-miracles, the pain began to ebb at about 60th street. By the time I hit three miles, I was running steadily, strongly, at about a 9:00/mi pace. As I passed a gym, I spied a RAZR on the ground, stopped, picked it up. Hm...lost cell phone. Well, I dropped it off at the gym, since I figured the owner of the phone was probably in that gym and kept going. After that brief stop, my legs had no pain at all and I was feeling very good. I picked up the pace to about 8:00/mi and pounded on down to the battery park and around to Ft. Hamilton.

I think the guard was surprised to see me running up. He checked my ID and I ran on to the commisary, where I definitely surprised some of the old men sitting outside. The last quarter-mile to the comissary involved the only real hill of the route - 50 yards of 10% grade. Felt good to top that rise without slacking the pace.

So I picked up groceries, included 26 boxes of most-awesome-happy-fun-Chocolate-Fudge-Pudding, and 4 boxes of Botan Rice Candy, which I didn't know they carried before. Obviously, I did not run home.

I used the time on the train ride back to stretch with all the stretches I could think of. My legs feel really good right now, and I'm feeling like tomorrow's 10-miler is going to be a solid training run. My plan is to take it "boring". I'm taking the subway to Prospect Park and use the first loop as a warm-up-slowly loop, then will use the next two loops as 1/2-marathon-pace training. If I feel as good at the end of that run tomorrow as I did at the end of today's, I'll even tack on the 1.7-mile downhill to my house.

Oh, and I was able to wear a tech-t and shorts today! Yes! And now, I must finish my Recoverite and take a shower. Because damn, at 80 degrees, even a 4-miler makes me grainy with salt.

April 12, 2006

When your legs feel like a "brick"

What's the big deal? I'd often ask myself. It's just some biking followed by some running; neither one is particularly difficult...why all the fuss?

And then I tried it. Oh, man, how I now feel the foolishness of those thoughts and why triathletes hold brick workouts in such high regard. Sure you can pedal 25 miles. Sure you can run six miles. But back-to-back? Better get to training, pansy!

So today turned out to be a rare mid-week day off WITH beautiful weather WITH me in a get-physical mood. Great! The plan:

  1. Bicycle to Mt Sinai for EKG
  2. Run a loop of Central Park
  3. Bicycle home

In hindsight, this was too optimistic of a plan. The bicycle in was OK, though I did take an east-side route for the first time and found out what a terrible, brutal ride that can be. There's no decent bike path on the East side, nothing like the Hudson River Park, and 1st Ave is torn up pretty bad. As part of what I was cycling was Marathon route, I all of a sudden had a deeper understanding of just what the initial Manhattan leg (between 59th street bridge and the Bronx) means - an uphill, broken-concrete-paved several miles. This could be the hardest part of the course - I believe Danny mentioned it in his marathon writeup. Bike1 = ~ 12 miles.

Got the EKG. Have no clue what all those scribbles mean. Meh. Paging Dr. Danny...

Back on the bike, down to NYRR. Stowed my bike and bag and headed out to run in the park. This is where it got hard. Apparently, legs don't like the transition. At first, I took to the reservoir loop, assuming some dirt would be easier on my legs. Within half a mile I was in great pain, even though I'd been stretching a lot during the bike and before the run. I left the dirt on the west side of the park and took the regular asphalt loop south from there, quickly revising my 6-mile plan to a 4-mile plan. What transpired was one of the hardest runs I've had in recent months, including ones where I struggled with asthma - my legs were at times in agony. I was forced to slow to a walk, had to stop and stretch several times, and finally, after a couple of miles, was able to keep going because the UPHILLS were kinder to my legs than the downhills! Pain or not, I did manage to throw in two strides of roughly eight-minute pace for 200 yards each before throwing in the towel and exiting the park at 92nd street. Walk/jog/run = ~4 miles.

After post-run stretching and gulping down more powersnot (which is so old in the bottle at this point it is starting to sugar!), I got back on the bicycle and headed home, swinging by work first to chat with the bossman. The day had been getting hazier and windier as it wore on and now I was headed into pronounced headwinds that slowed me down badly. Combined with my fatigue, I was burning up what energy I had left. I stopped at about 23rd street for a quick snack. (Hammer Nutrition sent me a sample of their line of energy bars in my last order. Turns out, they're quite good! Much better than my current favorite, the Cliff chocolate mint energy bars.)

Back on the bike, up and over Manhattan bridge, and finally home. Whew! Bike2 = ~13 miles.

Arrived home tired, hungry (no, famished), and feeling like I'd been beaten with a length of 0 gauge power cable. Once I'd satisfied my hunger, I realized I was also curious. Got online and found a couple of sites.

One is for beginner triathletes and has a good definition of a "brick". It also has tons of useful advice I'll be reading up on.

The other site is more local. New York Triathlete runs various tri- and duathlons in the area. Entry fees are a lot steeper for these events than for running races. I got to looking at the results of March's races and realized that I could probably enter a race and at least come in a little ahead of last place.... hm.... I guess I need to put up or shut up. I'm considering the May 7th run-bike-run in Prospect Park. It seems short enough not to kill me and close enough to home where I can crawl home licking my wounds if need be. I don't know if I'm supposed to have a special bike for this kind of thing or not, but I figure I'll just use my road bike for this first race. My only hesitation is that this is only one week after the Nashville half-Marathon and I hope I won't be overdoing it.

Advice, anyone?

April 9, 2006

Labreque classic - confirmation, affirmation, lamentation

I think it's the bicycling that's doing it. While stretching today, I ran my hands down to grip underneath my calf and was surprised by an apparent increase in size and firmness. My thighs, too, have grown a bit. I could encircle them with two hands, finger-tips and thumb-tips touching, before, but no longer. They've also gotten firmer. Niiiice.

There is something sick about springing out of bed before dawn after only four hours of sleep in order to go run around a park. But it's less sick than sleeping a Sunday away, and so there I was, almost thankful the alarm went off, as I didn't sleep well anyway, and hustling my morning routine.

It was Thomas G. Labreque Classic race day and as usual, I had a grand master plan to follow. Despite my own doubts about them, I had set several goals:

  • Wake up early enough to be able to get ready at a relaxed pace
  • Do part of my chest PT before leaving the house (specifically the Pulmozyme and the Vest, but not the hypertonic saline)
  • Don't forget anything vital to a good run, including being prepared for an asthma attack.
  • Do a four-mile loop as a warm-up before the actual four-mile race
  • Use pre-visualization before the race, along with the "highlight reel" in my head
  • Use associative techniques during the run. No zoning out, no stray thoughts about work, house, cats, dance concerts, etc. Just stick to the here and now - keep track of distance, timing, the people around me, the signals from my body.
  • Concentrate on good form and steady pacing, no unintentional surging.
  • Last mile to be as strong as the first; attempt negative splits.
  • Generate a finishing kick at the end.

Quite ambitious, but I felt they were attainable goals. Notice that "set a new PR" was not a goal; I had no unrealistic expectations, I think.

The weather was near perfect with bright sunshine and a mild breeze. Everybody I talked with made the exact same comment: "could be about five degrees warmer." After my warm-up loop, though, I was glad the temperature was cooler - I overdressed again and had to shed layers for the race.

I had heard my upstairs neighbor scurrying out of the house, but hadn't caught up with him until the transfer to the 6. We chatted a bit on our way up to 86th street; he was to take pictures of the Foundation kids, who were also running. It was nice to talk with him and I asked him how training for Boston is going. I am somehow ridiculously proud that I have a housemate who will be running the Boston Marathon! (He's still having plantar fasciitis problem.)

We went our separate ways at the park and I was the first person to find the baggage area and drop my stuff. It was all sand there, up in this little three-ring circus they had set up, and I was to later regret dropping my bag off so early.

I hit the road. The four-mile standard loop is not terribly difficult, even counting Cat Hill and the unexpected hilliness of the back 40. I took this leisurely and was enjoying being the only jogger out so early. I stretched my muscles at the one-mile mark, walked a bit while drinking water off the tables at the two-mile mark, and was in the middle of stretching again at about 2.5, when I was asked by a runner who appeared out of nowhere if I knew where the registration table was. I did, and tried to describe where I'd found it, but gave up and said, "Just come with me." And just like that, I had a running partner for the next fifteen minutes. We chatted a bit, me through my huffing and coughing, and I found out he was Canadian, but had been here for ten years. Running with him turned out to be the single greatest thing today, as doing so kept me going in that warm-up loop at a strong pace. We ran right up to the finish line and then parted ways, him to find his bib and me to find my bag, ditch my sweatshirt and get my bottle of HEED. I had started the loop at about 10 'til 8 and we arrived at the finish line at 20 'til 9. Good pace!

My bag was buried under a waist-high mound of luggage. It took some effort to crawl in, find it, and tug it out. The sand was getting everywhere. (Didn't help it was wet after yesterday's soaking rains.) Retreived my HEED, forgot to slug down some powersnot, and wandered over to the start line.

By my iPod's clock, the air horn didn't sound 'til 5 after 9. LATE. And then....we back-o'-the-packers (I was lined up at the 11 marker) ... went nowhere. For several minutes. Lots of minutes. There were over 5600 finishers in this race and the starting chute was narrow. Finally, we started to move, walk, jog, then really get going. It took most of the first mile to find a place in the pack where I could hold a steady strong pace.

And so the race went. I consciously kept my attention on my pacing and my form; I tried not to play the passing game and I tried not to let the hills get the best of me. Cat Hill did not defeat me, on either run! I was able to keep going today, even though after the second mile-marker (showing good splits might I say) I felt a great dip in energy and regretted not having swallowed some Hammer gel. I sucked it up and kept going, though the third-mile hills slowed me down some. I also began feeling the asthma clamping down at this point and managed to get a puff of albutereol in me (I remembered the albuterol for once!) Finally, though, we were into the fourth and last mile, which was almost all downhill. That felt really good and I was able to pick up the pace to where I'd been an hour and a half earlier. And finally, when the finish line came in to sight, I was able to ratchet up the speed and come blazing across the finish line with my hair a-fire.

Some of the other bloggers are saying the first mile was long and the fourth mile was short and in hindsight I have no reason to dispute that. The first certainly felt long, but I attributed that to the slow start and Cat Hill. The fourth felt short, but that, too, I thought was because of the downhills and because the last mile always feels short to me. But they're the ones with watches.

Eight miles! Check.
Stuck to game plan. Check.
Ran strong and true. Check.
Didn't walk (during the race). Check.
Negative splits. Check, I believe.
Feeling good at the end? Check, though my quads are very sore. (Next morning addendum: legs are sore, muscles don't want to move, even my elbows hurt. I need to make sure I stretch several times today and take it easy.)

After dry-heaving near a tree and more stretching, as I walked up the hill to retrieve my bag and go home, I decided this race ranks a very solid "Great" in the quality-of-run box. It didn't quite reach Excellent status, but this was a GREAT run! And at a mere eight miles, I am awed that my sister ran 20 yesterday. I think we will both be fine in our respective races in Nashville.

If the day was tempered by anything, it was by this morning's news that a fellow Cystic I'd known only via email passed away yesterday. Kelly Tucker finally lost her battle with CF (some months after her transplant) and she now joins her brother in peace. I found it oddly harmonic that today's run was for lung cancer research - much of which is a foundational-knowledge type research useable by other lung-disease researchers. In a way, I was running for myself today. In a very REAL way, I was running for Kelly, too. As I sat in the subway, both before and after the race, I reflected that if anything is worth doing and if its something other people can't do, then it is worth doing to the limits. Learning of Kelly's death just before heading for the race was more Sign than coincidence. It was a sign that I can't let up, that I can't go the way of Richard and Kelly and thousands of others. I can't let up in the race, or even on solo training runs. And during today's run, whenever I felt myself flagging and wanting to walk, I just didn't. I really think I have Kelly to thank for that.

Well, something went right. After so many weeks of no training, and these recent weeks of minimal training, I did a 40:23 out there, good for almost a 10-min/mile pace. (And astonishingly edging out fellow blogger Danny, who turned in a 41:17; I believe he had some shin trouble in mile 3.) Contrast today to my last four-miler three weeks ago and you'll see why I'm astounded: I shaved over seven minutes off my run time.

And I have continued to achieve today: I got my taxes done and filed! Woo-HOOOOOO! I am now enjoying my annual tradition of a very rare (for me) Jim Beam on the rocks. I deserve it.

April 7, 2006

this and that

Just a few quick notes.

Bicycled to work again yesterday. My legs are feeling more and more powerful and I was able to cruise in a higher gear, even taking the Manhattan Bridge in second gear, so that's all good. Downside: I ruined a pair of jeans with chain grease. Also, my legs are getting stiffer; I must get back to foam rolling and taking time to really stretch each day and do the TKE exercises with the ankle weights, or else come November, I'll be in hell.

Upcoming this weekend: Thomas Labreque Classic, a nice 4-miler in Central Park. I plan on going early and putting in 4 miles before the race, so as to get in a long 8 mile run. You might recall the disastrous results the last time I did this, so you'll understand my apprehension. But my lungs are in better shape and stamina is not an issue.

New shoes: finally picked up a pair of size 8, B-width 992s. I will sell my other two pairs on craigslist to help recoup the cost. If this new pair doesn't fit, nothing will.

Found on the web: a new asthma treatment for severe cases.

April 1, 2006


Seems like a lot of chatter going around about magnesium deficiency. It was mentioned on the Dawn & Drew Show podcast; mentioned again by a listener who notes that magnesium is given to cows to help calm them down or keep them from being ornery (PMS-reliever I guess), and it has popped up on the CF-list as a real problem for Cystics, as many of our meds deplete us of Mg, which in turn results in Ca depletion, which can lead to damage to our hearing and other things. Our antibiotics, especially Tobramycin and Gentamycin are known for thei ototoxicity. A high-fat diet like we're supposed to eat also depletes Mg. But I stick strictly to an ultra-low-fat diet, since I don't want to deal with the digestive issues. And my hearing is fine. Connection?

Well, all the more reason for me to consider buying Hammer Nutrition's Premium Insurance Caps. Now, I don't buy into the whole health-nut thing and I definitely don't get taking enormous amounts of suplements when it seems to me a balanced diet gives you all the nutrition you need. But my doctors have me on a multi-vitamin by their orders as well as extra Vitamin E. The Premium Insurance caps have all of what I currently take, plus a little extra. A whole lot of extra Magnesium, too. It's expensive, at $30 a month, but I'm willing to try it for a month and see if my health is easier to maintain, if I can keep my energy up, if recovering after hard workouts is easier, etc.

I'm glad I took the day off from exercise; my legs are rather tender on the outside of my thighs down near my knees, gotta let them recover.

Yesterday while in the bike shop I won't go back to, I saw a bike that looked really good and I thought it was a floor model, it was so new. I was curious and hefted it, testing its weight. This thing was two pounds, maybe three max. I couldn't believe it. I then discovered the bike had an owner and I apologized for handling it, explaining I thought it was a floor model. He said he'd got it the day before. Anyway, this bike was super lightweight and is similar to a track racer or one of the bikes I've seen bike-messengers use. He said the frame is aluminum; that accounts for the light weight. Of course, it helps that the bike wasn't burdened by all the useless gee-gaws one finds on other street bikes -- like shifters, for instance. Or gears. Or brakes. In fact, this bike was nothing more than two wheels, a frame, a seat, handlebars, two cogs, a chain, and a crank. The pedals were the heaviest part of the bike! Very very slick. I'll stick with my heavy-ass 12-speed, though, as there's nothing like a hundredth of a ton of steel to help you plow through rush-hour Canal street traffic!

finally - and please realize this entry is mostly just notes to myself while I'm between worthy entries - I've decided my new running shoes, the 992's, don't fit. They're just too big. It's been several weeks and I've tightened the laces twice and my heels still slip and the orthotics fit too loosely. I'm going to have to see if I can sell these on Craig's list and recover some of the cost towards a smaller pair of 992's. They're still in great shape, nearly new, so surely somebody will want them.