Saturday, June 27, 2009

Warriors....Come Out to Plaaaaayyyyy!

This morning was my first run in a week, after sidelining myself to work on some tight hamstrings. Not only was it my first run, but because I was given another death march to complete at work, it was my first workout since Tuesday. I don't like missing my workouts, and I'm coming to a point where I just CAN'T drop my training as I have been for the past three weeks, so I'm going to have to talk with the boss lady and find a way to make this work. I'm trying to compromise by working out in the morning when I can, but when I work until 9pm and don't have any time with Nixta and Nico-The Ding Dong Dog, it wears me down quick. Hopefully we won't have too many more of these, but who knows? Anyway, today was my first run in a week, and I was looking forward to it!

Today we left Central Park, and met in Riverside Park at 72nd St. I have never run here, so was looking forward to the change of scenery. After our warm up, we split into pace groups. This time the pace groups were based on time, rather than our previous 'beginner/intermediate/experienced' groups. I joined my friends Paige and Mark in the 8:45-9:15mi group for the 7 mile run.

The Riverside Park Run

Coach Glen started us off at the low end of our target pace-a 9:17mi pace that was a great warm up. Warm up mile over, Glen kept us between an 8:45/8:15 pace for the rest of the 7 mile run. Except it wasn't 7 miles, it was 8. We missed a left turn in the early miles, and added about a mile total onto our run. We got to the turn around at 4 miles even, gulped down some water, and headed back.

It was a beautiful day today. 82 degrees, sunny...wonderful weather for a morning in the park. Unless you are running! I was starting to feel the heat at mile 5. It drained the energy from my legs, and made that small voice inside of me that says 'just slow down and walk a bit' grow louder with each passing minute. I don't like to walk during my runs. Training or racing, I think walking is a signal that you planned poorly. You ran out too fast, you are not yet strong enough for the distance, you are dehydrated, you didn't get enough calories in you before the run...something is wrong and something better be wrong, because walking because you are a little tired is just cheating. I did a body scan (hydrated? body temp OK? hamstring OK?) and decided nothing was actually bothering me enough to stop running, so I kept on. It was all in my head, and while the heat WAS uncomfortable, the great thing about Everything all ends eventually. I wasn't going to be this uncomfortable for longer than a few more miles, so just keep the pace and it would get better.

But I needed something to shut that voice up! Sometimes I think about music, sometimes I think of design work, and sometimes I get really abstract and pretend I'm in a video game (100 points for passing that tree! 500 points for passing those runners in the distance! Re-up my life force when I hydrate or take a gel!). Nothing was doing it for me. As we ran, we would encounter other groups of runners and bikers, and we'd try to make room for everyone to share the road. I remembered being told by one of the coaches that a group of runners can become a gang of runners if we aren't mindful of others, and the word gang got stuck in my head. We were a gang of runners pounding our way downtown through Riverside Park...OMG, we were The Warriors! And we were being chased through the park by The Baseball Furies!

Riverside Park Belongs to the Furies

I can't let The Furies catch up by dragging the pace down, so I picked it up a bit, and ran it as hard as I could all the way back! Some of the group peeled off and ran 8:00s to the finish, but I kept it at 8:30, and led my fellow Warriors back to safety.

It is a bit silly, and some people have given me strange looks when I tell them about how I get through difficult runs, but for three weeks I've been running less than half the mileage I should be, and I did manage to stay at or above pace in the longest training run I've done since the Brooklyn Half. So yes, it is indeed silly, but it works!

Possible race tomorrow, depending on how the hamstring holds up. I hope my fellow Warriors won't need me when I'm racing solo, because when I'm racing solo, I am...

Racer X!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Donation Update

Big thanks to everyone who donated last week! Only 1 week, and I am almost 1/4 of the way there!

This is a big goal, and it means that I will be spending increasingly more time away from my friends to prepare for it. Training with TFK helps a lot. If I had gotten in through the marathon lottery, I'd be training on my own right now. The long runs would start to get really lonely, I'd have to try and figure out my pacing and nutrition on my own, and I'd have no one to help me look at the big picture and decide what I needed to focus on from week to week to make it through this thing injury free and finish as strongly as I possibly can. Asking my friends and family for donations at a time when money is tight is a challenge, but what it is providing me is just so huge. I'm so grateful for any generosity you can offer.

So look at it as the drinks you would have bought me on a night I was training at the track, or the brunch we would have had on a Saturday I had a 17 mile run to get through. Sally Struthers it out, and think of it as giving me a dollar a day for less than a month, 50 cents a day for less than two months, 5 dollars a month until marathon day. Even just a single 5 dollar donation is very much appreciated.

Thanks again for donating, thanks to those who are donating in the future, and thanks to everyone for the moral support as well. Actually, really big thanks just for reading this thing. I didn't think people would be interested in hearing about my training, but I've been getting great feedback, so expect more to come!

One more thing; most people seem to prefer using the official TFK donation page. I totally get that, and it makes things easier for me, so hooray! If anyone would still like to just use paypal, email me and I will send you the link to my paypal account. I'll send you verification when I transfer the money to TFK. At some point, Nixta might actually put my paypal info up here for me, but until!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Namaste, Bitches! Now Drop and Give me 50.

So my two week death march at work, coupled with too much focus on running and not enough on recovery, has resulted in tight, sore hamstrings. I wanted to race the Father's Day 5 miler last Sunday, but after talking to the coaches in practice on Saturday, decided to skip it. Sore hamstrings are a precursor to pulled hamstrings, so we decided it was better to not race, and focus on cross training and gentle stretching this week. So as the second half of my workout double header (did an hour of weights in the morning with my trainer), for the first time in two months, I hit yoga class last night.

I have never experienced hell week in the US military's basic training. I have heard of it, I have seen it depicted in film. It looks like it hurts and
you do a lot of push ups. Hey, that was my yoga class!

My Yoga Class in Mountain Pose with Manicure Mudra

For those unfamiliar with yoga, here are some important words:

Chaturanga: Yoga Push Up. Done from a plank position, hands close to mid-ribcage, slowly and with control, lower down with elbows facing back.

Ashtanga Namaskara: This is the yoga version of a girl push up.

My usual yoga class consists of several rounds of sun salutations (with chaturangas) at the beginning, for anywhere from 20 min to half an hour or so. Then we move on to standing poses, then to sitting. Not this class. We did chaturangas in between EVERY pose. I usually have about 10-15 good chaturangas in me. I blew through those in 15 minutes, and then...I had to resort to the yoga Girl Push Ups.

Oh, the shame! The pain! I wanted to die, and this smiling hippie bastard yoga teacher was standing right next to me to make sure I didn't cop out and rest in child's pose for the 3rd time in a row. I was tired and weak, and when the time came to do full wheel pose, I could barely manage three solid bridges.

It was my karma coming back to get me for skipping out on yoga class for the past two months. Sometimes karma is indeed a bitch.

I did get a great workout in, and the instructor (who is actually a very nice guy, but during class I SERIOUSLY disliked him) did help me super stretch out my hamstrings and hip flexors afterward. The fact that I intensely hated his class is evidence that I need to keep going, so I am grudgingly checking the schedule for the next time he is teaching, though I can't guarantee that I won't be silently cursing him the whole session.

Becky, one of my fellow TFK teammates is a fantastic yoga teacher, and during a group yoga stretch after one of our runs, reminded us to smile, because everyone always looks so serious during yoga. It should be fun, and its easy to take too seriously, so check out these two yoga clips!

Oh Ogden. You may be a yoga clown, but your crow pose is still better than mine!

Everyone knows at least one of these guys. I try to ignore them until after class when I'm so relaxed, NOTHING they say can make me want to punch them in the mouth.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Music Monday

Mondays are Music Monday at Run Run DMC!

Its easy; music that inspires me to run, music inspired by running.

I looove running to old hip hop, so lets start with 2 running(ish) themed titles from The Pharcyde. Both are favorites on my LSD (Long Slow Distance) runs, and make me feel like I could run forever.

Runnin - The Pharcyde

Passing Me By - Pharcyde

Please share your favorite running/workout songs and lets put together a marathon running mix!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marathon Sunday: NYC Marathon

The Big Day is always the first Sunday in November, so every Sunday at Run Run DMC is Marathon Sunday! The NYC marathon, Boston, San Diego, Ultras...all here. Today is a little more about the NYC Marathon history.

The NYC marathon wasn't always the huge to-do it is today. Marathoning itself has only become popular in the last 30 or so years. When Fred Lebow organized the first NYC marathon in 1970, the sport was seen as a fringe activity for a small group of weirdos and loners; most of whom had to improvise their own training programs, as long distance coaching was not widely available. The first NYC marathon in 1970 was run by 127 runners who paid a $1 entry fee to circle Central Park a little over 4 times. 55 runners finished. Six years later, 2,090 runners ran the first 5 borough NYC marathon, and the response within the city was so positive, it became a community event that drew thousands of spectators.

The marathon was originally considered to be an event for men only. Women were told their bodies were too weak to handle the distance, and the stress would affect their ability to bear children. Women of the 60's and 70's knew that this was frankly bullshit, and began to run the Boston and NYC marathons clandestinely. They'd sneak in without numbers and would often run shielded by male runners who recognized their mad distance running skills. Sometimes they finished, sometimes they were forcibly pulled out, but they consistently ran solid times, and in 1971, convinced marathon officials to make the NYC marathon the first to officially allow women to run.

In 1994, Germán Silva of Mexico pulled off an amazing victory after taking a wrong turn in Central Park in the final mile. Germán ran a 5:15 mile to recover his lead and beat his teammate Benjamen Paredes by two seconds.

The ING marathon site has again created a great clip with a regrettable Victory at Sea style soundtrack. Watch the video anyway, its a goodie.

In the late 90's, Kenyan runners began to dominate the sport. Second to the US in number of NYC Marathon winners (total of 14 to the US total of 20), they have had the most consistent 1st place finishes of the last 20 years, but so far only the Kenyan women have been able to set any course records. Watch the closest finish in NYC marathon history between Kenyan Paul Tergat and South African Hendrick Ramaala! (As an added bonus, we have been spared the Saving Private Ryan soundtrack)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the NYC Marathon. A record number of 40,000 runners were accepted and a week of festivities have been planned around the race. A great reason to travel to see the event and cheer me on!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Retro Race Report: Brooklyn Half Marathon 2009

I will start posting all of my races from now on, but I also wanted to get a few of the old ones up too, so I present you with my first Retro Race Report!

This was it! This was the day I'd been training since January for! The Brooklyn Half marathon! Many people claim this as their favorite leg of the 5 Borough Grand Prix, as the course is relatively flat and straight, so you get fast times. The time of year is usually still very mild, and this year the course was reversed, and the race ended in Coney Island rather than after 2 loops of Prospect park. I was tapered, I was hydrated, I was good to go, so at 6am, I got on the Q train and headed down to the park!

I arrived pretty early, so I found a quiet spot, did my stretching, and watched everything being set up. Hit the Port-O-Sans one last time, filled my fuel belt (aka the Batman Utility belt, aka the Bat Belt) and headed over to my corral. It was a great morning, and after a quick 'Howyadoin fuhggetaboudit' from borough president Marty Markowitz, we were off!

Brooklyn Half Marathon Mile Splits
Mile 1 - 9:12
Mile 2 - 9:31
Mile 3 - 8:59
Mile 4 - 8:42
Mile 5 - 9:15
Mile 6 - 8:54
Mile 7 - 8:55
Mile 8 - 9:09
Mile 9 - 9:07
Mile 10 - 9:10
Mile 11 - 9:07
Mile 12 - 9:11
Mile 13 - 8:27
Mile .01 - 7:51
Finish - 1:59:53

The first 6 miles were in Prospect park. We ran two loops, with the faster runners to the right on the second loop. I trained this part of the course a few times leading up to the race, so I knew what to expect - hills. Despite all the warnings I had received, they actually weren't that bad. The first lap I ran slow as a warm up, and we got to see the elites float by as they finished their mile six to our mile three. After a round of applause and some whoots, we realized they were halfway done with their race, and we still had 9 miles to go, so we collectively decided to shut it and get back to work. Second lap of hills weren't no thing either, and I was wondering if I was really really prepared or just running a little slow. Was probably a little of both, but it was my first time racing that distance and I didn't want to chance blowing it by pushing to hard, so I kept it at an easy 9 as I swung out the park and onto Ocean Parkway.

And then the heat. It smelled like fumes, the sun was making everything look a little overexposed, and it was a straight course of nothing but hot pavement as far as the eye could see. It was nothing like my usual training runs in one of the city's many parks. After a few we got off the expressway and onto the parkway proper, there was indeed a nice park-y sort of median to the left, so I focused on that as I ran. I started hitting the bat belt a little harder outside of the park and took a gel. Nixta had agreed to be at mile nine to cheer me on, so I texted him at the eight marker that I was on my way.

The area is actually quite residential, so there were many occasions where the locals would Frogger it across the street. Coming up on mile 9, I saw Nixta, gazing intently into the distance-presumably searching for me-with a look of concern on his face. He kept looking as I ran past, and only got a (half) picture of me because I screamed his name on my way into the distance! Later he told me that he was watching a little old lady push another little old lady in a wheelchair across the street and he was worried they wouldn't make it without getting plowed into by a pack of runners. Oh, and there was no cheering, just an 'oh, its you' before the camera was fished out of his pocket. But I was happy he hauled it all the way down to Brooklyn at 9am to watch me race, so yay Nixta!

Miles 9-11 were thirsty and boring. I do a lot of training runs along the east river where the water stops are sporadic at best, so I wear the bat belt for water and to carry my keys and phone. I decided to wear it for the half because in my short racing history, I've developed a dislike for the water stations. They often start them too early in the race and the congestion around them bugs me, so I'd rather just not bother. Besides, I had a phone and some gels to carry, so it was nice to have. In theory. It kept riding up my waist, and wanted to live right under my chest, and later in the race I realized that having water on hand to sip at is great if you supplement it with full cups at the stations. I stopped at no stations, and so was starting to get tired.

Mile 12 is when I realized I would need to pick it up if I was going to meet my sub-2 hour finish goal, so I put my last into it as we finished the parkway and ran up onto the boardwalk. The last half mile seemed to stretch on forever and when I finally crossed the finish line, I had made my goal by 5 seconds.

Post race I met up with Nixta and our friend Andrew, and had the best beer of my life at Peggy Oneill's sports bar as we waited for the official results to be posted. Post post race, I told everyone we came across that I had just finished the half marathon, and I'm sure I was still beaming with pride as I passed out on the couch for a long afternoon rest.

I was proud of this one, I think it was a great first. I learned an easy lesson about making sure to stay hydrated, and I will definitely be hitting the water stops more in my races over the summer. I can also definitely push this race harder, so I'm looking forward to faster times coming my way!

Next up: NYC half on August 16th!

Thursday, June 18, 2009 it a hassle?

I have a quick question; I am trying to find a way to make donation gathering as easy as possible for you and me. If you had the option to just click a paypal button on the blog, as opposed to going through the steps at the Team For Kids website, would you be more likely to donate? The paypal option would go to me, and I'd have to reroute through Team For Kids myself, but it would save some hassle and if thats what holds people back...I'd be an idiot not to offer another option.

I've put a poll up under the donation section. Let me know what you think!

I'm new at this fundraising thing, so any tips/feedback would be great as well!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back on Track

So after two weeks of what can be described as a death march to meet a deadline at work, I'm finally getting back into a training routine. Tonight was my first weeknight run with TFK. We met in Central Park just outside the Diana Ross Playground, which I thought was a joke, but apparently its a real place, and also our regular meeting spot. It put 'Love Hangover' and 'Upside Down' in my brain for a good two miles, which was OK this time, but I can see myself getting into a disco diva k-hole every time we meet here, and I'm not sure if I'm up for that experience every Monday and Wednesday evening.

After a warm up, we were given the directions for our 5.6 mile run (which I didn't listen to, assuming I'd be with the pack or a coach) and split up into three pace groups; Beginner, Intermediate, and Experienced. Now while I understand the coaches desire to initially keep this a self selecting system based on how we are feeling from day to day, I didn't get why they were so reluctant to give pace times for the two faster groups. I ran with the Experienced group the past two Saturday runs, so I wandered over to join a large group of doods. Doods who looked like they ran super fast. I was told we'd all be running together at the same 8:30mi pace, so I decided to run with them. We spread out the groups, and made our way to the bridle path.

I didn't wear my watch, so I assume we ran the first two miles or so at an easy 9 minutes. I'm never a fan of the first few miles. I'm still tight and nothing's flowing the way that it does when I really get going, so I tend to just hang in the middle of the pack and run easy to loosen up. I was still keyed up after working such a heavy schedule for two weeks, so I was pretty quiet, listened to the others talking, and just tried to mentally unclench.

Around mile 2.5, coach Brian ran with me for a bit, talked about races and pacing, and then noticed the widening spread of our group, so ran ahead to check on the super fast doods cruising wayyyy down the path in front of me. I watched him run past the runners in front of me, and all of a sudden, the switch flipped in my brain and...I started chasing rabbits. The run was no longer about keeping an easy, steady pace, it was about picking people ahead of me, passing them, picking the next person, passing them, until I found myself running alone with the super fast doods about 100 yards ahead and part of the pace group just behind. I thought about slowing down for a second to join in the fun with the group, but then I remembered all that work stress I was still burdened with, and the 5 mile race I will be running on Father's Day, and decided to just keep pounding it out. I ran hard enough to drain all that tense, twitchy energy I had been carrying for the past two weeks. Eventually, I lost my super fast rabbits, and had two mildly embarrassing moments when I had to turn around and wait for the group to tell me which path to take (I will listen to the directions before the run from now on, and thank you Christina for not laughing too hard whenever I turned around and flailed my arms to ask which way to go), so I picked it up again until I caught sight of my doods, and before long, I was done, stress was gone, and I was on my way home to relax. Thanks doods, thanks coaches Brian and Christina, and I'll see you guys next week. Run fast rabbits, run fast!

Trailer for The Big Day

Ever seen the NYC marathon? Want to get an idea of the size and scope of the whole production? Check this out.

I could do without the sweeping orchestral soundtrack, but the footage is pretty amazing. I vacillate between excited and mildly terrified every time I watch it. The terrified comes when the course is plotted over the map. I have a feeling I will be seeing that map in my dreams many times over the next 5 months.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coming Soon...

Just wanted to put a few words up until I have time to write some real posts...

I'm a new runner and I'm training for the 2009 NYC marathon. I started to really focus on my running last January, competed in my first race last March and...I'm hooked. I race every few weeks, and just completed my first half marathon. I really want to run my first marathon in NYC, so I put my name in for the lottery and waited. I wasn't selected and I didn't want to have to wait until next year, so when a friend suggested that I run for a charity to take advantage of the training and support they offer, I decided to go for it. I chose to run for Team For Kids. They are doing some amazing work, and what they offer goes so far beyond the immediate benefits of childhood physical fitness, I had to jump on board and help.

Here's a little info about TFK:

TFK raises funds for programs which combat childhood obesity and empower youth

development via running, goal setting and nutrition programs in low-income schools and community centers. These programs currently serve more than 50,000 children in New York City, throughout the country, and Cape Town, South Africa, all of whom participate in programs which provide unique opportunities for physical activity and academic and personal enrichment.

A little hometown specific info here:

More than 43% of New York City children are classified as overweight or obese. Furthermore, according to a study released this year, the city’s rates of obesity and diabetes both increased by 17% during the two-year study period. By contrast, the rest of the nation experienced just a 6% increase in obesity and no increase in diabetes. Our city’s children are at an increased risk for the early onset of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic illnesses that undermine quality of life and that, nationally, lead to health-care costs in excess of $100 billion annually.

Student-teacher ratios for physical education in New York City elementary schools are estimated to be 730 to 1, and 2 out of every 5 New York City public schools offer no after-school sports or fitness activities at all.

Team for Kids helps NYRR deliver running-based fitness programs to 50,000 at-risk school
children each week in New York and a handful of other cities. These programs are run by trained
volunteers who help kids learn to run, eat well, and set and achieve fitness and health goals.

How could I say, 'no thanks' to supporting that? So I signed up, and in return for raising just $2500, I get personal training from some amazing coaches, support on race day, and I get to meet and run with some of the kids I'm sweating those 26.2 miles for! But I need some help. I will log the miles, but I have to ask my friends and family to help with the cash. Any amount would be gratefully accepted, but I think $1 a mile is a great start. If just 100 people donate $26.2 dollars, I've more than made my goal! Check the Donate DMC section for the link that will lead directly to the TFK donation page, where you can enter my last name and marathon entry number to donate. You can track my progress here, and I will be writing regular updates about my marathon training and the other races I run in.

So, more posts soon, please donate, and I hope you'll cheer for me on November 1st!