Sunday, September 27, 2015

I Ran a 3 Hour (and 58 seconds) Marathon!!!

Why is it that in retrospect I feel like I left a sub 3:00 marathon on the course of the 2015 Bismarck Marathon?  Is it because I believe I can always run faster and that is my constant motivation?  Is it that I forget how sore and I tight I was during the last 10K?  Or, am not as mentally tough as I need to be to grind out 6:50 miles toward the end?

After talking with my coach, Ryan Vail, the answer appears to be that I ran the best race I could on that day.  I have trouble giving myself credit for running a 6:59 26th mile and a 1:10 .2 (5:31 pace) that I needed to sneak in under 3:01, especially since mile 25 was a 7:35.  I think back to the New Jersey Marathon where I was coming in around 3:01 until a wall of wind pushed me back along the shore yet held on for a 3:04:01 then-PR.  If I am going to break 3:00 in a future marathon, I'm going to need to embrace the pain in the final 10K, own it, and use every bit of heart to accomplish my "Big Hairy Audacious Goal."

Bismarck, North Dakota, was a small but neat town to visit.  The flight to Chicago from DCA was smooth.  I had plenty of time at Chicago to get a Swedish massage and visit the yoga room to stretch out.  I packet a lunch of pasta and garlic bread I downed before boarding.  The plane to Bismarck was tiny with only three seats total in a row - one on one side and two on the other.  I had a whole row to myself and read my book, League of Denial.  I read Against Football by Steve Almond on our trip to Montreal and am now on a kick learning about the dangers of football.

My lowest bib number ever!
It was an easy city to get from place to place.  I had no trouble navigating from the airport to the packet pick-up on the state capitol grounds in the North Dakota Heritage Center.  It was a really cool museum that I visited after the race.  At the packet pick-up, the former wife of ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy handed me my bib and we chatted about Capitol Hill.  The expo was as small as I have seen - basically just get your bib, shirt, and swag.  The capitol was interesting and unlike any seat of government  had seen as there was a "skyscraper" where the legislators had offices.  I took a self guided "tour" of each of the chambers and even saw a portrait of a famous North Dakotan, Herman Stern, who is the great grandfather of a fellow toastmaster.  After, I checked into my hotel, rested and assembled my gear, then went to the restaurant The Walrus for my pre-race meal.  I sat alone at the bar, watched the college football game that was on, gorged on a plate of pasta and bread rolls as the bartender kept my water glass full.  The place had an impressive selection of beer - very tempting, but I was there for running and the drinking would have to wait for post race.

At the North Dakota State Capitol

Back at the hotel room, I was in bed early, as usual.  In the morning, I was up 3:30 prior to race time.  I ate my bagel and peanut butter, did my stretches in the room, and left for the race 90 minutes before the gun.  I found the start of the race easy and was able to park my rental car within a short walk of the start.  I had throw away pants that I was able to save so I can toss for the New York City Marathon on November 1.  I toed the start line, heard the national anthem, and chatted with other runners.  My bib number was the lowest I've ever worn (2), and the race announcer called out my name and that I am from D.C. and complimented my socks that profess my love of beer.

Pre race - ready to do my job!

Most of the race I cannot recall.  I held to my strategy of going out pretty even and holding a 6:45-55 pace.  Miles 1-5 were routine as I settled into a zone and there were no other runners near me.  I took my first Gu at 5.  I know I ran over the Missouri River twice as the course took us into Mandan.  I recall running through a few neighborhoods, past a golf course, by a few relay exchange staging posts, and along sidewalks.  There were a few turnaround cones which I am not particularly fond of since the take you off your stride.  I Gu-ed again at 10 and was holding a solid pace.  Once I get to 10, I know I'm running well if I feel good going into the second 10 miles of the race.  At the half, I hit the mark at 1:29:10 and still felt strong.  I think around 15 I took my third Gu as I went back over the bridge and that took us on a path along the river for a few miles.  I saw the first place winner coming back, so I knew there was another turnaround cone.  I hit mile 20 feeling okay, but it was starting to become a struggle to hold pace.

The last 10K I may have lost focus.  I was all alone running through a park and at times I wondered if I was lost since there were no cones and no one else near me in the race or to cheer me.  I found the 23rd mile marker and knew I was okay.  I tried to do math and figured I was coming in around 3:01 or 3:02.  In retrospect, had I just tried to get back to a 6:50 mile for the last three, I would have broken 3:00.  But, that deep into a race, the mind plays tricks on you.  After 32 marathons, I should have known better - my future challenge to myself is to trust myself and just try to stay near pace and not get down or allow myself a reprieve.

New PR 3:00:58!!!

When I hit the 25th mile marker, I recognized where we were and had some half runners to pass and volunteers to point the way.  I could see the endgame and decided not to leave anything on the course.  That's how I put down a 6:59 26th mile.  I hit the .2 and could see the finish and sprinted.  I don't know where that spring came from, but it saved me a 3:00 marathon and a big personal record (3:03 better than NJ).  It was good for seventh overall and first in my age group 35-39 - that won me a sleek jacket.  The award ceremony was at 1PM, and I finished just after 10:30 AM, so I went back to my hotel room, rested, showered, and got dressed to come back to collect my accolades.

Won this jacket for winning my age group 35-39 and 7th Overall

After the race, I got lunch at Fireflour Pizza - it had great brick oven pizza and beer.  I then wandered around their fall Street Fair which brought vendors from the whole region.  I bought a few items including treats for Sammy.  I also bought a postcard to send to my niece and nephew.  I returned to the Heritage Center to buy a fridge magnet for my wife who collects them.  It was then I enjoyed the offerings of the museum - fossils of dinosaurs, artifacts from Native Americans, and the history of the people of North Dakota.


At night, I took in the town by hitting up JL Beers which had great beers and burgers.  While I chowed down on my black bean burger, I chatted with a young husband and wife - he was from Colorado and she was from Detroit - but her job in energy took them to Bismarck.  They were good company.

Black bean burger and flight of beers to sample

I then went to Laughing Sun which had live music.  My server, Michael, from Fireflour, said he was going to be there with his friends celebrating and I was welcome to join them.  He was leaving to return to Tel Aviv to study for his graduate degree.  There was live music and good conversation.  For the nightcap, we wandered and found the speakeasy, but I was tired and ready for bed.

Michael is on my right and Whitney is waving.

Liiiisssssa, pleeeease don't eeeeeat meeeee!

Is there something behind me?
In the morning, I walked around the state capital again, went to the Blarney Stone for brunch and to watch the first half of the Patriots game in which they beat the Bills in Buffalo, then returned to the airport to fly back.  I am quite pleased with my result and had a good time in Bismarck.  I recommend that anyone looking for a small race that is well run should consider it.


Here is my Strava link to my splits and the leaderboard of the race results: 6:49/48/48/46/46/47/48/44/47/48/49/50/49/49/47/56/52/55/54/52/ 7:08/13/09/20/35/ 6:59/ 1:10 for final .2 (5:31 pace).  I had to sprint from the mile 26 marker to make it in under 3:01.   Overall, I am pleased with my race.  It is nice to know that at 38 I am in the best shape of my life and hopefully getting fast.

Top ten and made the leaderboard!

My splits

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Leesburg 20K - Tune Up for Fall Racing Season

Today's Leesburg 20K is a course that I just despise. It's a pretty center of town, but it is run mostly on the W&OD Trail on usually a warm day in August. It has a long incline that messes with your head. One of my earliest races in my running career was the Leesburg 20K in 2005; I went out too fast and paid dearly, stumbling in at 1:45. It took me many years to return, and when I finally did in 2012, I put up a solid 1:24:06. This year, off no taper except to take Saturday off and a starting temperature almost at 70 degrees, I am pleased that I had a solid race and came in just shy of 1:24 at 1:23:53, a course PR by 13 seconds.

The start of the race

For those that are familiar with the course, the first two miles are around a shopping plaza, a neighborhood, and a school - not too much to see. It starts on a downhill making it tough to set proper pacing if you are not focused. I ran pretty smart the first two miles, holding a 6:44. My coach wanted me to hold a conservative pace in the 6:40s. My job was to judge the effort on the hills, try to run 6:30s on any flat segments, and stick to 6:20s on the downhills at the end. At around the two mile mark, it hops onto the W&OD Trail and goes up for about four miles.  I began to get frustrated looking at my Garmin and noticing that my steady pace was dropping off as I struggled to keep it under 7.  I dialed back to recall the Mad Marathon five weeks earlier and the strategy I employed: don't kill yourself on the uphill but survive and save it for he downhill.  Survive then thrive.

Around the first mile

In the sixth mile, it begins with a final push up and onto an overpass as we cross a highway then it loses elevation quickly.  At the turnaround, the decline ends and another uphill begins, but that is the last uphill.  I hit the 8th mile marker, finished that final ascent, took a moment to get my legs back, and began about a four mile dash to the finish, aided by the downhill.  I passed a few guys along the way, including one that tried to keep pace and surged to meet me pace, but he faded.  With a minute to go, I turned on the finishing kick, caught one more guy, and slipped in under 1:24.  I was beat.  My cool down effort was hampered by a cramp in my left midsection - a small price to pay for a solid effort on a hot day on a hilly course that I don't even like.  Of course, sneaking away with a good race brings a smile to my face.  And, on my way to my car, we passed a small brewery: the smell of beer brewing is a wonderful smell.

Final kick in the last mile

My splits and results:
6:43/44/54/7:01/7:17/6:42/42/7:11/6:42/22/21/05/ 3:09/5:53 (.54) 43:00/40:53 Split - Course personal record by 13 seconds. 25th male, 29th overall, 8th age group 35-39.


Also, solid efforts by Alex Albertini and Matt Anderson, both running the course for the first time.

A pin and a medal for my efforts (photo credit AA)

I'm now five weeks from the Mad Marathon in Vermont and five weeks until the Bismarck, North Dakota Marathon (September 19).  Also this fall's race calendar includes Army Ten Miler Columbus Day Weekend (October 11), New York City Marathon (November 1), and a Turkey Trot (TBD) on Thanksgiving.  My work is participating in a 5K on October 3 to benefit the Children's Hospital (any interest in donating, please contact me), and I may run my gym's 5K in November.  Plus, my club's Snowball Series commences with the Bread Run 10K and Gar Williams Half Marathon in December. It's a full fall calendar, so I hope I am able to run each of them well.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Birthday Superpowers!

I wanted to run a marathon on my birthday.  My original plan was to run Missoula in Montana, but since that wasn't feasible the only other marathon on July 12 was in Vermont.  This worked out since it was driving distance and we found a bed and breakfast where Sammy was welcome.  On Friday July 10 after work we drove up and spent the night at my in-laws in Northern New Jersey, just shy of the halfway point.  Seeing them was a bonus and helped break up the drive.  We arrived around 3:30 PM on Saturday, and after dropping Laura and Sammy at the hotel, I went to the packet pick-up.  It was warm and outdoors - my first outdoor marathon expo.  The race director promised me bib #38, but it seems she forgot and gave it away to someone else.  The gave me bib #138 which was fine.

Packet pick-up.  My first outdoor expo.
Weeks earlier, my Dad and I planned a wonderful surprise for my Mom.  He likes to take her on mystery rides from time to time.  On this mystery ride, they left Saturday morning from Massachusetts.  The route to Vermont takes them into New Hampshire, as if they are going to Weirs Beach in Laconia, NH.  But, in Concord, he took Route 89 and she guessed that they were going to see her friend who lives in Burlington.  They got lunch with her and her husband, but she had no idea they were joining us for dinner and for the marathon.  In fact, while we were refueling at a rest stop in New York, she called from the road and my heart sank as I worried she knew the surprise.  Luckily, she was just calling to say hi.  When we met at the restaurant, we arrived early so I filmed her surprised reaction as they entered.  My dad and I set this up really well - if I can compliment us!

Prior to the race, I ran into Bart Yasso.  He was running this race, and I saw him a few times along the course.  As for the race - this was my masterpiece!  I ran a smart, well-paced race.  I started slow, took the early hills appropriately, and finished with a solid kick.  It was a very hilly course (check out the course map and elevation on a warm day (race temperature at the start was 61 with 91% humidity for a real feel of 63; I hit the half at 73 degrees with 71% humidity for a real feel of 79; and the finish temperature was 76 degrees with 61% humidity for a real feel of 83 degrees.  I also had a negative split as I hit the half around 1:39:30 and 1:38:04 second half.  I rose from 21st overall around the 10K mark to 9th overall and won my age group.  First, take a look at this course:

This map reminds me of the Shire.

Look at those hills!

My splits: 7:00/8:25/7:13/13/23/39/04/23/8:45/7:36/8:12/7:39/18/31/41/40/35/37/20/48/20/32/8:18/7:01/6:45/7:27/ 1:09/7:03 pace (final .16 by my Garmin)

At the 10K mark was my first chance to count how many runners were ahead of me.  I counted 20 ahead of me and began trying to pass them one at a time.  Since they were sprawled out, I had a good chance to view each one.  Some stopped to walk making a pass easy, but most I just had to catch by running steady, surging past them, and continuing on my pace.  During the race, I motivated myself as I kept telling myself that I had special birthday superpowers!  It's not every year you can run a marathon on your birthday, especially for summer babies.

Unlike past races, I did not feel like I faded late in the race.  I credit my coach for his inclusion of tempo workouts, both on my speed day and incorporated into my long runs.  I also think my strength training and yoga has contributed to my ability to hold a marathon pace for the entire race.  I only faltered when trying to catch one last guy in the last mile.  It was an uphill finish, and while we both struggled, I couldn't find that last bit of strength and guts to make the charge.  Obviously, I was very pleased with my race, and I believe that this was a sub three hour marathon effort.  The guy who I couldn't quite catch and finished thirteen seconds ahead of me is a 2:57 marathoner.  In retrospect, I believe I should have pushed harder that last mile, but it is easy to say that now.  In the moment, I was climbing one final hill and was in discomfort.  Thankfully, my father caught me on video finishing the race.

How do I celebrate another 26.2?  Beer me!
After the race, we waited around for the award presentation.  When we couldn't wait any longer (it would have been another hour), I just asked if I could take my award, so they gave me another medal for first in my age group, a frame, and a cookie.  Then, we went to lunch with my folks.  Sammy was able to sit on the porch with us and had her own water bowl.  When my folks left, we rested back at the hotel then headed up to the Waterbury Ben & Jerry's factory.

Sammy loves ice cream!

We went to the Waterbury Ben & Jerry's faculty after the race.

We toured around and visited the floor graveyard:

The scary flavor graveyard!

Paying respect with a stone to a flavor I used to enjoy.

Laura loves her some sugar!

We got dinner from some place in a barn known for their flatbread and took it to eat at the B&B.  Along with some local beer, we made a nice picnic and enjoyed the weather.  In the morning, she made us breakfast and we hit the road for a long drive back to DC.  State #21 and Marathon #31 completed!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Running on my Honeymoon

Running and traveling are my passions; and thankfully, I have a wonderful wife that enjoys seeing the world and cheering me as I race.  Being able to combine my passions to run while on our honeymoon made this trip so much more special.  I was able to explore areas that the average tourist doesn't visit or places that didn't interest Laura.

Since I hadn't been to most of the cities (and hadn't run in any of them), I planned my long runs so that I would only have to do one abroad.  The Friday we left, I awoke especially early to get a long run in along the C&O trail, shower at my gym near work, then head to a breakfast on the Hill.  I knew that when we arrived in Reykjavik on Saturday, I likely would not have a chance for a run, since it was a flight traveling overnight.  As it turned out, it worked well that it was a scheduled off day.  That first day, we were exhausted when we arrived, and the hotel was nice to let us check in around 9AM.  We went right to bed!

On Sunday, I didn't have a running agenda, so I took to trying to find the path around Reykjavik that my contact, Hildur, mentioned at drinks the previous night.  After about a mile, I was able to connect with the trail and run around the coast, looking out at the sea and glaciers and mountains.  It was a cold run - in the 40s - and I was dressed as if I were running in DC in the winter with a ski cap, long pants, and windbreaker.
A cold run in May in Reykjavik
Along the running path and the Sea in Reykjavik

The way our travel was scheduled, we had a flight on Monday around 1:00 AM local time to Paris and then a flight to Barcelona after a layover of couple of hours, so I was doubtful I'd have a chance to run Monday.  But, Laura wanted to rest after we checked in, giving me about an hour to run what became the first of a few scouting runs.  Having no idea of where to run, I took a chance and ran through the Gothic Quarter (we stayed right by the Gothic Cathedral), toward the Mediterranean Sea, and turned right.  That took me toward the dock where many cruises ships were, gave me a great view of Montjuic, and I ran over a bridge that let me look upon the city.  I retraced my steps when I ran out of road and ended up at the beginning of a boardwalk.  Nearing the end of my allotted time, I made a note that the boardwalk would be the way to proceed for future runs.

The Gothic Cathedral in Barcelona

For Tuesday's run, I skipped the part where I could have gone back by Montjuic, instead staying completely on the boardwalk.  It was a very scenic run along the Mediterranean Sea, sunny with a breeze - not too hot.

My coach penciled me in for a fartlek speed workout on Wednesday, so I was able to run 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 minutes with equal running rest.  On my way back, I noticed police tending to a man on the beach.  Given the lack of urgency, I think he was already dead, but I couldn't tell anything else.  I was pleased with myself for getting in my scheduled workout.

On our last full day in Barcelona, I went for another beautiful run on the boardwalk.  Toward the end, I walked into the Sea, dipping my feet for a few waves, before washing off my feet at the shower on the beach.  Barcelona was good to me as a place to run safely on scenic paths where other runners, cyclists, and foot traffic enjoyed themselves.

The boardwalk of the beach in Barcelona

I wasn't sure I would have an opportunity to run on our first day in Lisbon.  When we arrived midmorning, our room wasn't yet ready, so Laura and I walked toward the historic area by the river.  It was about a mile from our hotel down towards the busy tourist area.  When we came back in the afternoon, she wanted to rest, giving me a solid hour to scout the area for where I would run.  I ran down the famous Avenida da Liberdade and took a right when I hit the river.  After a couple of miles, I realized that there was construction and wasn't entirely sure where to continue my run, so I turned around.  Had I realized I could have run to Belem safely, I likely would have, but there was plenty of road for runners and cyclists marked apart from traffic in the other direction.

Running past the Lisbon fishermen

While Saturdays are usually my long run, I switched to Sunday to accommodate our travel schedule.  Instead of the long run, I ran an eight mile out and back down the Avenida da Liberdade and took a left at the plaza where I found plenty of space to run along the river.  Since I was to do fartlek and couldn't figure out the best stretch of run, I decided to run the last mile up the hill at marathon pace effort pace - which ended up being a 7:20 up the steep incline - instead of striders. That is some hill that makes up Avenida da Liberdade!

The river run in Lisbon

For my final run in Lisbon, it was time for my long run.  My schedule had a tempo-long-tempo of 3 miles warm up, 3x2K at 6:30 pace with a two minute standing rest between sets, a 45 minute run, then repeat the 3x2K, and finish with 3 mile cool down.  Since I was on vacation (after all) and didn't have that kind of time, I subtracted a mile each from the warm up and cool down and a repeat from each set.  It turned out fine as a 2 mile warm up; 2x2K @ 6:30 w/2 minute rest (8:11/8:05); 45 minutes @7:30 for 6 miles; 2x2K (8:03/8:02); and finished with a 2 mile cool down. The first 2 miles were down Avenida da Liberdade making the final two up hill. On my way towards the bridge, there was a head wind that turned into a tail wind on return.  I wish I had more time and miles to run to explore further along the river - it was a pretty area to run!

As far as I ran in Lisbon

I took an off day!  It turned out this would be my last off day in over a month as I tried "active recovery" on Sundays when back in the States, which I kept up until my taper and with two weeks to go until Mad Marathon.

For our final city, I set out early in the morning and ran along the Seine.  Starting at the Eiffel Tower, I ran past Notre Dame on the Right Bank and circled back on the Left Bank.  I accidentally ended up on an area that wasn't hospitable to running along the river where mostly commuters traveled into the city, but I corrected that and finished my run.  Paris is a city with a lot of foot traffic, and as early as I was running, there were many others with the same idea of getting their fitness in early.
The Louvre in the morning pre tourists
In December of 2010 on my way home from Berlin, I had a 17 hour layover in Paris.  Rather than waste it at the airport, I took the train into the city and walked around the city all night.  Arriving by Notre Dame at 5PM on a Sunday, I walked into the historic church during mass.  After touring through, I walked along the Seine down towards the Eiffel Tower where I stopped for dinner and wine.  Then, I continued by heading up towards the Arch de Triumph, enjoyed dessert and more wine along Champs Elysees, walked by the Louvre and the Pantheon, tried to find the Bastille, and finished back at Notre Dame around 5AM.  I didn't stay in a hotel - I enjoyed the city by myself that cold December night.  For my first run in Paris, I tried my best to recreate that route.
A DC Road Runner on Champs Elysees
My final workout in Europe for this trip was a fartlek.  It was scheduled to be 4, 3, 2, 1 miles, but I made the call along with my coach to move that workout to enjoy vacation.  The fartlek worked out well.  The only mistake I made was to run my five minute segment along a section by the Seine that was on cobblestone.  The rest of the timed intervals went smoothly, albeit some into the wind.  If I was on when I hit a crossing of the street, I'd turn right and head over the bridge and run another loop.  That turned out to work well as I never had to stop for traffic and added the correct amount of distance.  The run was two miles warm up then 5, 4, 3, 4, 3, 2, 3, 2, 1 (80/6:15; .65/6:10; .51/5:59; .67/6:01; .50/6:04; .34/5:53; .50/6:04; .35/5:50; .18/5:40) with equal rest followed by two miles of cool down.

Under the Arch de Triumph

I had an idea for this run that was a better idea in my head than it turned out to be practically.  I ran from the Eiffel Tower to Kleber to La Defense back down Champs Élysées to Place Concorde and back along the Seine.  My original idea was to run out to the other arch that you can see from the Arch de Triumph, yet I hit a point where I couldn't find a safe route to run.  I improvised the rest of the run.

Champs de Mars view of the Eiffel Tower during the French Open

My final run in Paris - until next time anyway!  I ran along the Seine taking a few more pictures.  What an amazing trip and everyplace had safe and beautiful running and cycling paths.  Below is my log, which includes my long run in New Jersey on 5/31/15.

A copy of the torch from the Statue of Liberty

Here is my log:

Chain Bridge on C&O O&B192:13:457:21950s some wind and humidity but pleasantLast run in the States.  Had to get in a long run on a Friday.  3 warm up; 13 at tempo; 3 cool down. 7:40/29/30/6:58/53/57/58/54/55/5550/51/46/44/42/38/7:19/23/21
OFF:Traveled to Reykjavik
Reykjavik Run121:39:168:161240s and some windBeautiful run around Reykjavik. Amazing how the sun barely sets here in late spring.
Barcelona Scouting Run6.50:56:008:376.570sRan around 4PM
Barcelona Boardwalk8.51:08:458:58.5Sunny and pleasant 60s w/sea breezeBeautiful run along the boardwalk
Dead Man Fartlek121:30:157:3112Sunny and pleasant 60s w/sea breezeRan 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 with equal rest on the boardwalk. 2mi wu/cd. Saw a dead man on the beach as police tended to him. 1 - 6:05/.17 2 - 6:09/.33 3 - 5:58/.5 4 - 5:57/.67 5 - 6:05/.82 4 - 6:04/.66 3 - 6:22/.47 2 - 6:01/.33 1 - 5:13/.19
Barcelona Boardwalk9.51:12:457:399.5Great weather, 60s and sunny!Another beautiful run on the boardwalk. Dipped my feet in the Mediterranean after eight miles.
Lisbon Scouting Run60:51:478:386Nearly 80 with a breeze but it felt refreshing.Ran in the PM from my hotel at the top of the Avenida da Liberdade down to the old town and boardwalk down next to the river.
Lisbon River Run81:01:257:41860s with a slight breezeSolid effort and last mile up hill at marathon pace effort 7:20 instead of striders. That is some hill that makes up Avenida da Liberdade!
Lisbon River Park O&B TLT15.11:50:477:201560s and decent2 mile warm up; 2x2K @ 6:30 w/2 minute rest 8:11/8:05; 45 minutes @7:30 for 6 miles; 2x2K 8:03/8:02; 2 mile cool down. First 2 miles were down hill. Next 5.5 until turn around were into the wind and then wind at back until last two miles up hill.
OFF:Travel to Paris and planned off day
Paris Sightseeing Tour10.51:18:157:2710.550s and refreshingBeautiful run along the Seine. Gorgeous morning for a run in such a magnificent city!
Dec 2010 Night Walk Tour Revisited8.51:09:458:128.550s and coolWhen I visited Paris in 2010, I was here for just one night. This run recreated my walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel to Arc de Triumph and back.
Seine Fartlek121:30:007:301250s and some wind2 miles warm up; 5,4,3,4,3,2,3,2,1 with equal rest; 2 miles cool down. .80/6:15; .65/6:10; .51/5:59; .67/6:01; .50/6:04; .34/5:53; .50/6:04; .35/5:50; .18/5:40
La Defense Champs Elysees Loop10.51:26:008:1110.550s overcast and some windEiffel Tower to Kleber to La Defense back down Champs Élysées to Place Concorde and back along the Seine.
Final Run on Honeymoon - Seine Loop8.51:09:338:118.550s overcast and some windSolid run along the Seine and took in a few more sites. I'm going to miss Paris.
Wayne to Oakland NJ with hills202:31:077:332070s and humid with some drizzle and overcast. Miles 15-18 at 6:45 pace. 7:44/44/55/8:14/02/19 /7:27/30/54/35/8:00/7:27/8:08/13/6:42/43/44/28/7:15/04.
MBT O&B:570s sunnyFirst run back in DC and ran with Sammy

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Jersey Marathon = New PR and my first spring BQ!

I ran the New Jersey Marathon yesterday completing my 30th marathon in my 20th different state. I achieved my B goal of setting a personal record 3:04:01 (previously 3:04:54 at St. George, Utah); my A goal was to break three hours. After the lessons learned from the race, I have no doubt that I can break 3.

I chose New Jersey for a few reasons: 1) I qualified for Boston for 2015 but missed the cut (BQ - 0:33 while I needed - 0.62). I am sure that my BQ - 5:59 will be good for 2016. 2) I got married four weeks prior and we have a honeymoon coming up in May, so we wanted to keep costs low. 3) I needed it for my 50 state quest. 4) It is flat and mostly fast (we'll get to the wind). 5) Laura is from New Jersey, it is driving distance, and we didn't have to take time off of work.

We left Sammy in the care of my friend, neighbor, and running buddy and left around 9 AM on Saturday. In the days leading up to the race, I had a good taper and carb-load. On the drive right around noon we found a great authentic Italian restaurant where I could eat a big bowl of gnocchi for lunch. We arrived at the expo, picked up my packet, and went to check into the hotel. I mainly rested and connected with Ryan while Laura used the athletic center. She mentioned that she was not carb loading for a marathon. At 5:30 we were seated for dinner at an Italian place near the ocean, ate my big bowl of pasta, and then we took a brief scenic drive along the shore. We found a place to buy some famous New Jersey cookies (?) and frozen yogurt before going back to the room to call it a night. The hotel was housing two blocks of guests for different weddings, and while we appreciated the hotel putting us at the other end of the hotel from the guests, a room near us did house some of them. That in itself isn't an issue but when they come back to their room after midnight loud and drunk and waking me up, that is a problem. I called the desk and they sent security. Regardless, I got a decent night's sleep considering.

In the morning, I woke up at 4, did my morning routine, stretched, put on my gear, and at 5:30 we left. I resisted the urge to bang on the door of our neighbors sleeping off the wedding. It was a cool morning and I was appropriately dressed in throw away clothes so I didn't have to check a bag. It turned out Laura needed the clear bag to bring in her book and contents of her purse because the race didn't allow any bags in the starting area. I understand security, but I have run Boston, NYC, and Chicago and other larger marathons that simply know how to check bags rather than ban them. A police officer hassled us for no good reason. It gave me pause to consider that others have far worse experiences than ours.

I said goodbye to Laura and made my way to my corral where I met others with similar goals. When it was time to go, we set on our way. The first half had a lot of turns as we weaved through neighborhoods. There wasn't much to see, and I mainly tried to focus on my form, breathing, and pace. I started out at 6:55 before finding 6:45 in my third mile. I noticed early that the wind would be an issue. It wasn't too strong, it was just enough to steal 3-5 seconds a mile. Some miles had the wind to my back, but most had the wind pushing against me. I had my Red Sox visor to keep the sun out of my eyes along with my sunglasses, but the weather was perfect temperature-wise. I worked on my mental tools in those early miles - just getting to first Gu at 5, then the second at 10, and check in at the half. In the third mile, I took a cup of Gatorade, drank a little, then tossed it into a trash bin for two points! Later, the final volunteer at a water stop missed the handoff to me and I coaxed her to run after me to get me the water and she made it!

At the halfway point, I was in okay shape. I knew I shouldn't try to increase my pace and let it slip from 6:45-50 to 6:50-59. I came in at the half at 1:29:51, so if I could hold that I would go sub 3. Even if I couldn't, I knew that I could hold my current pace for quite awhile. And, a group formed around 12 and we ran around the small lake together before I let them increase in pace as the wind hit our backs as we headed on the long out and back. I just wanted to run comfortable for as long as I could and not push the envelope. Halfway through mile 16, we began a loop around the bottom of the course that took us on boardwalk and past piers and right along the ocean. Prior to approaching mile 20, I began to feel it - this wall of wind pushing me back. It took me off my nice 7:00 pace - I was holding that pace and knew I could do it for the rest of the race - but 19 was a 7:01 and 20 was a 7:15 and 21 was a 7:27. Clearly, the wind was stealing a huge PR and at miles 22 (7:40) and 23 (7:42), I was starting to feel down as even a PR was in question. Luckily, with about a 5K to go, I heard footsteps and chatter that sounded too comfortable to be a runner struggling. I asked two spectators if that was the 3:05 pacer approaching and it was. They had lost their entire group - I think they started with 10-20 runners. With no one to guide, I think they decided to pick up their pace and finish. One of them was trying to help some guy finish and I asked the other to get me to the finish line. They both worked together to help us along, and I remain so inspired by how they gave me the push I needed to run a solid 5K. It taught me that even though I thought I was done, I still had more left and could dig down. My aversion in the past was that I was afraid of the pain. I had read that I needed to embrace it, but I hadn't understood what that meant. Going forward, I now have the mentality to get to mile 20 and then pick up the pace slightly because I know I can do it, or at least hold on to my pace.

If there was no wind, I would have come in around 3:01/2. But, there is a rule among runners that when you set a new personal best, you can't be upset. I held a very steady 6:52 pace through 30K. The final 10K was a straight shot back to the finish into a headwind along the boardwalk. I was losing time until 5K to go the two 3:05 pacers caught me and I asked them to get me to the finish. They helped me will myself to a PR and another BQ and it was the first spring race I have ever BQ-ed. There are a lot of positives from this race.

Laura snaps a photo of my sprint finish.  While I didn't get under 3:04 for a 3:03:59
(which I thought I could get), a PR is a PR!

Takeaways: 1) I now know that I am able to lay down the hammer and pick up the pace in the final miles. I simply have to decide to do it. I've always feared or shied away from the pain and didn't understand until NJ that I need to embrace the pain and push myself. I cannot depend on having pacers or kind runners in the future to motivate me and give me inspiration down the stretch - that will have to come from inside of me. 2) I finally ran a BQ in the spring. I couldn't understand why in my previous seasons, I never could run better than 3:13 in the spring. Maybe it had to do with training in the winter (chance of losing days to ice and snow) versus summer (hot running feels easier when the weather breaks in the fall), but it could be other factors. This was my first marathon with my new coach, Ryan Vail, and I do have a 5K PR with him as well. I am excited for what I can do this fall coming off the hot weather. 3) I definitely have a sub 3 in me as soon as I decide to go get it.

Splits: 6:56/49/45/48/46/46/51/47/48/47/54/52/55/49/56/57/56/58/7:01/15/27/40/42/20/02/06/ 2:08 for final.33 (6:30 pace); 10K 42:26; Half 1:29:51; 30K 2:08:08; 40K 2:54:33

Results = 49/1918 OA; 11/196 AG I beat the first-place woman by a minute.

Next race: I signed up for Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, VT, for July 12, which falls on my 38th birthday. Here is the map with elevation. I may just have to treat this as a long run in the heat with hills. I also am signed up for Bismarck, ND, on September 19 and NYC on November 1. Hoping for a good and healthy rest of the year training cycle!

Back in our neighborhood enjoying a beer at Brookland Pint.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wedding Weekend and Running

These last few months have been pretty good to me. I went to two bachelor parties and two weddings and found time to run and train at all of them. My friend's bachelor party in January was in New Orleans. Having been there a few years ago with Laura, I was familiar with how to find places to run. I stayed on the boardwalk by the Mississippi River for a shorter run and ran down the trolley tracks and around a park for my longer runs. His wedding was in DC, but I was able to train with a friend the Saturday morning before to get in a good long run with tempo and a ten miler the morning of the wedding.

Two good looking guys at Keith's wedding

For my bachelor party, we went to Brooklyn (Brookland to Brooklyn bachelor party). We arrived Friday around dinner and went to a famous pizza place under the bridge. In the morning, I raced a "10K" in Prospect Park. It was pouring and cold and the race was two laps around Prospect Park; however, one loop is about three and a third miles, so the race came in at 6.7. I came in second overall and got a neat photo. For warm up, I ran around the park once and for cool down I ran around the park again. But, the awards ceremony was half an hour away and I was so cold that the only way to stay warm was to do one more lap; five laps = 17 miles and one shivering Kenny!

The race had fifty people, but third place didn't stay for the presentation.

Cheers at Brooklyn Brewery!

After the race, I headed back to the suite in the Box House, showered, and we headed out to a beer garden in Williamsburg. We ate lunch (I had the gypsy toast which was very good), drank beer, headed to the Brooklyn Brewery, drank beer, went back to the suite to rest, and went out to dinner (Shalom Japan), and drinks (Barcade and others). I remember staying out until about 5AM - up almost 24 hours - a good time was had by all!

My wedding weekend started Thursday afternoon when my folks arrived. That morning, I ran an easy eight with Sammy along the Hobart Long Loop touching the edge of the Zoo and Rock Creek Park. We picked them up at DCA, went back to my house, and rested for the afternoon. Laura got her nails done and my folks got some pizza from & Pizza. For dinner, we met Laura's folks at Gordon Biersch, had a lovely dinner, and then went to bed. Friday morning, my folks and her folks went on a White House tour that I booked for them through Rep. Kennedy's office. It was pouring and a bit rainy, but I had to do my long run since I wouldn't have time Saturday or Sunday. I got in a three mile warm up from the White House to the Mall and up the Capital Crescent Trail then started with the bulk of the workout:

16 @ MP tempo (6:50-55) 7:54/19/26/08/08/13/23/10/18/19/6:57/49/50/39/45/46/42/37/30/7:10/11. The CCT was uphill and windy on the way out so the first seven were slow, but the final miles were downhill and faster. I finished with a two mile cool down.  After the run, I met my folks and her folks at the hotel where they drove us home.  After lunch and a shower, we drove back to the hotel to drop off the hospitality bags (which caused me more of a headache than it was worth), before heading to meet the Luries, our cousins, at a pizza and beer place near Foggy Bottom.  That night, we went back to the hotel for happy hour (free drinks on the hotel) and met with some more relatives.  There was a dude there doing some artwork that my dad deduced was there for the free drinks and the hook of hitting on the single ladies.  He had some kids himself, but Dad nailed it - this was his game.  We ate some Taylor Gourmet for dinner in the bridal suite with our folks and then called it a night.

Saturday morning, Sammy and I ran an easy six on the MBT trail.  Laura gets nervous when I go with Sammy off leash, but I find running with her unleashed is better for us since she doesn't pull and tug or stop, yanking me back.  When she goes, she goes.  If I need to pick something up that she did, then I do.  After, I readied for the aufruf and luncheon at our shul, Ohev Shalom.  I practice the haftarah portion, Shabbat Hagadol, with my friend Mark Levine.  It took many months of learning the trope and then practicing with the Hebrew, but I nailed it!  The rabbi said some meaningful words about how hard I practiced and our being members at the shul.  We gave aliyah honors to her dad, my dad, her brother, my brother, and her uncle Joel.  Cousin Larry got to do geliliah, and I think Scott and Yehuda did an honor as well.  My sister and her family arrived in time for Molly and Drew to see the Torah service and I was able to give the kids candy.  Molly came over to sit with me after awhile.  At the luncheon, it was a zoo downstairs, but fun.

Back at my house, it was a zoo also.  We had to move my folks to the hotel for check in, and I was going there as well.  The three kids were all making noise and I was happy to leave my home and check in to the hotel.  Once at the hotel, I was able to rest before the rehearsal.  It went rather well at the shul and then we headed over to Carmine's for dinner.  There, my dad gave his speech (the ingredients in a pot that makes a good marriage) which was well received.  Lindsay Pfeffer gave a nice maid of honor speech.  Dinner flowed well and people enjoyed the food.  Laura's dad commented after what a great rehearsal dinner it was.  After, we hung out in the lobby of the hotel for a bit before Laura and I headed up to our suite.

In the morning, I woke up early and went for a nice, head-clearing run on the Mall and out and back on the Capital Crescent Trail.  The weather was great and to be outside and have a little time for myself to process was needed.  When I returned, I joined Dad and Auntie and Auntie Maryann and later Auntie Sheila for breakfast, eggs florentine.  Back in the room, I bathed in the jacuzzi - would have been nice if the jets had worked.  Then I joined Adam Golove in the lobby where we hung out  until his room was ready then got lunch at Clyde's with the guys (Keith, Matt, David, and Mark).  Matt was generous in picking up the tab.  I remember that I was so full from breakfast that all I had was a plate of hummus.  We got back to the room to have the photographer take "getting ready" pictures.  It was there that we realized Mark wore the wrong color suit!  He insisted I told him blue, but he forgets that we went into his closet to pick out the navy blue suit he was to wear.  David eventually brought him the right suit, but all the pictures are of him in the wrong colored suit.  It didn't turn out to be a big deal.

On queue and on time, we walked over and took photos at Portrait Gallery before starting the tish at the shul.  From there, I gave my speech on this week's parsha and all the guys took turns debating how great my insights work.  The rest of the night was a blur: signing marriage documents, bedeken, wedding, dancing!  We got some great photos, managed to talk to every guest, and had a very meaningful ceremony.  I had trouble breaking the glass since it slipped out of the bag and I crushed it on the rug.  David was in pain and left after the ceremony to change shoes and missed the introductions.  I got choked up at our first dance (Everlong) and the dance with my mom (Rainbow Connection).

Our wedding ceremony!

It really was a great day!  I'm so glad I have running to help me appreciate these moments and take in a little bit of time to process what a great weekend it was!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Route 66 Marathon - 29th Marathon and 19th State

Tulsa seemed like a forced marathon, an effort to get in another state before the end of the year.  Laura had planned to join me but was accepted to go on a sponsored trip to Berlin the previous week and with upcoming Thanksgiving travel, sat this one out.  I missed her on the trip but was glad to have friends in Tulsa.  My high school friend Nicole went to college and never left so I got to spend time with her, her husband Bryce, and their daughter.  She ran the half marathon and was part of her company's marathon team.  I also met up with Derek, a friend I met running in Idaho.  He lives in Houston, but is from Tulsa, so coming back to run the half was a good option for him.  He had just returned from India on business.

The weekend started Friday night when Derek picked me up in the airport.  My flight to Midway and the connecting flight were uneventful.  We went to the hotel bar for dinner and he got a beer.  It was nice to catch up.  The following morning, it was raining, so I skipped my two mile shakeout run.  I went to a small bakery for breakfast before picking up my packet.  Back in my hotel room, I spoke with a fellow classmate at JHU who is defending her thesis sometime in December about tips for the defense.  Then, I joined Nicole and her family for lunch.  Nicole and I took a quick trip to the supermarket so I could get breakfast and pick up a few things.  She brought my by Oral Roberts University.

I am not sure what these hands are doing at Oral Roberts University.

After resting, I went with Derek and his wife to dinner.  It was nice to talk running and catch up.  In the morning, I got ready and he joined me in my room since it was right next to the starting line.  We warmed up and were ready for the race.  Since the weather was warm in the 60s and it was a bit humid from previous days' rain, I made the decision to try to hold a 7 minute mile.  That turned out to be a good decision, and I even dialed that number back by a few seconds, especially as I encountered the rolling hills and strong head wind.  The route wasn't too scenic, so I was in my head most of the time.  Since I'm learning trope to recite the Haftarah at my aufruf prior to my wedding, I was going over the sounds in my head.  It helped, especially in the later miles when I was just trying to hold on to a decent pace.  I finished in 3:14 and while it wasn't my fastest marathon, it could be my smartest and best tactical marathon to date.

Splits: 6:48/7:06/08/15/18/6:56/7:12/14/01/09/06/21/12/20/28/14/37/34/28/32/32/ 8:10/17/7:52/8:18/7:37/1:57 (.29) 10K - 44:03 10M - 1:11:12 - Half 1:33:41 - 20M 2:25:15 Overall 39/1682 Division Place 2 Gender Place 37/929

I was pleased to discover that I had won second place in my age group and will get an award in the mail.  After the race, I showered and walked to an Irish pub to meet Nicole and Bryce.  I was able to catch the Patriots game and a beer and enjoy some good food and brews and celebrate our accomplishments.

Nicole and I celebrate our victories and enjoy a sampling of good beer.

After, I walked back to check out of the hotel and passed Arnie's bar.  I still miss my late mentor.

Nicole dropped me at the airport and I flew home.  Overall, I'm glad I went to Tulsa and ran in a new state, Oklahoma.  Now, it's Snowball Series races for DC Road Runners Club and two bachelor parties and two weddings before the next marathon - likely New Jersey.