Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lucky 18

Mental Training

8 miles today. But really tough.

I managed to run out towards the water today, without getting lost. (Well actually, the path kind of forced me away from where I had planned to go, but I didn't get lost.) Also, because I followed the path today, it was actually pretty nice. There was an asphalt bike/running path almost the entire way. Just at the end, it veered through a little forest, and then came out in this residential neighborhood, with very little traffic.

So the route was nice. But what about the weather? Well that sucked. Big time.

I did wake up earlier than yesterday, but I guess not early enough. I was running by 8, but by then the temperature was 80 degrees! There was a cloudy sky, with actually a light rain coming down when I left, so I even wore a hat. Well that didn't last long. It was basically hot and muggy the entire run. I don't think I ever sweat that much before, even in the half marathons. When I got home, and peeled off my sopping clothes, I weighed 6 pounds less than when I left. 6 pounds!! (And that was with finishing my water bottle, which probably holds about a pound of water.)

So what about the title of this entry? Well, whenI was running I was feeling a little down on myself for how much I was stuggling. I was thinking that if 8 miles needs every last bit of energy I have, how will I ever finish the marathon? Then I told myself that it was because of the heat, and that I had felt pretty good running 13 miles just a few days ago. (Thanks Wil, this talking to yourself really helps.) So at 6 miles I took a quick walking break. After a couple of minutes I started back up planning to run another 2 miles.

That's when it really got tough. I really just wanted to stop running, and walk the rest of the way back. I had already rationalized that it wasn't my fault that it was so hard. And besides, I never told anyone I was going to run 8 miles. Hal Higdon has 7 scheduled, and what's wrong with 6 anyway?

That's where the mental training comes in. I know that in a little more than 2 months time I'll be 20 miles into the NYC Marathon. And I'm going to want to stop running. And I'll know that even if I walk the rest of the way and finish in 6 or 8 hours that it will still count as a finish. But no, no, no. I'm going to reach back in my mind, and remember today, where I pushed myself to run those last 2 miles. I'm going to remember the day where I was able to force my mind to keep going. And I'm going to keep running that marathon. And I'm going to finish strong. And I'm going to feel great about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

To PT or not to PT, that is the question

After taking yesterday off, I got back out there for a run today. Didn't wake up early, so the weather kind of sucked. (Around 80 degrees, with an occasional light sprinkle.) Tomorrow I must, and I will, wake up early. I always say that I hate waking up early, but I love having woken up early.

Anyway, I got in 4 miles, at a nice leisurely 10:15 pace. Although I defnitely have to slow down from my race pace, I wonder if running slower doesn't hurt my legs more. I feel like I land heavier when I'm running slower. When I'm running faster, I feel light on my feet, and as soon as my foot comes down, it's toeing off for the next step. So maybe I should run faster to avoid injury! Any thoughts out there?

Speaking of which, today it was my right leg that hurt. Both my calves felt tight, but I'm pretty certain that this was from running hard on Sunday. However, the right shin hurt a little on the side and front, which I worry about. It was actually tough to get started because of the pain, but once I was running it wasn't too not bad.

Although I am constantly worrying and obsessing about every little pain in my legs, I am somewhat consoled by the fact that it seems to hurt in different places all the time. In my experience as a doctor, when the patient says it hurts "right here", you're more likely to find a problem than when the patient says it hurts "all over".

Since I've been blogging about this, a number of people have suggested PT to me. Although I have some time now, soon I won't. It's also pretty expensive. I suppose these two problems could be dealt with, if I really thought it would help. I'm just wondering what are they going to do for me? I already stretch. I'm doing some strengthening exercises (although not in the gym). I ice. I have cushioned shoes (for my neutral foot). I avoid running on concrete. Will they tell me to slow down my running? Do I need to pay for that advice?

I know a lot of people have had good experiences with PT. I'm just wondering if someone could give some specific examples where PT really helped them.

Not to end on a downer, I have to tell you that my second poster board is full. Since my first race, I've been saving my race numbers and putting them into poster boards. Well Sunday's race was #18, taking up the last spot in my second board. Unfortunately, I currently do not have a camera. As soon as I can get someone to take a picture I will proudly post this record of my accomplishments!

Monday, August 29, 2005

The day after

I'm still a little sore, but really not bad at all. I actually felt like going out for a short run today, but then decided that it was probably not in my best interest. So I took the day off. I'll do some weights today, which is not exactly cross training, but will have to do.

In other news I've noticed that my schedule is pretty similar to Hal Higdon's novice plan. If you consider that this week is "week 9", both our plans had a half marathon this past weekend. The difference is that my plan calls for a gradual build up to longer runs, whereas his has a faster jump to longer runs, with some weeks in between where you step back a bit. The weekly milage also built up quicker, even though it also peaked at 40 miles.

Considering his experience, and considering my experience, I think I'll try to adapt my plan to his schedule. I don't run on Saturday, so I'll do my long run on Sunday. (I'm only working per diem now. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do when I go back to full time work and I'm on call Sundays.) My weekday runs will depend on work, but I'll shoot for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I'm really getting excited...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yeah Baby!!

I did it. Another half marathon under my belt. I finished with a net time of 1:55:44 - way better than expected. Probably a little too much better. But I was feeling good, so I pushed myself a little. Anyway, that's the short of it. If you're interested in all the details, read on...

Last night I couldn't sleep. I wasn't sure if it was from nervousness about the race, or just from my nap in the afternoon. Either way, I was lyingg there in bed at 1 in the morning, tired but unable to sleep. First I read, then I got on the computer, then I went back to reading. I don't remember exactly how I fell asleep, but it was around 2:30. Not that much before my alarm went off at 5:30.

This morning was kind of blah. In the mid 70's already so kind of warm for so early. It was also drizzling. On the bright side, the clouds were out in front of the sun. (Funny, that's the *bright* side...)

The park was packed. The race started on the east side, but ended on the west side. I wasn't the only one with the bright idea of parking on the west side and walking to the start. There were people with numbers pinned to their chests everywhere! It was really pretty cool.

At the starting line they announced that 8,000 people had signed up. Not bad for a 7am race! (Looking at the results page there were only 6,328 finishers. Maybe some didn't finish, and some didn't finish on time, but probably some didn't show up at all.) Anyway, the race got started pretty much on time. Although it took a few minutes to get to the starting mat, I was basically able to run from that point on.

At the first mile marker the time was 13:00. Of course I'd forgotten to look at the clock when I crossed the start, so I had no idea how long it had taken me. I felt like I was running at my usual 10 min mile pace, maybe even a little slower. By the second mile marker, the time read 22:00 - a 9 minute mile! No wonder I was starting to sweat so much. (I thought it was the heat.) I made a deliberate effort to slow down. I think the next 2 miles still came in as 9 minute miles. This wasn't working.

Prior to the race I had been saying that I wanted to just finish with a ten minute mile pace. But the truth is, I think I really wanted to get in under 2 hours - since I'd done it in the past. So at this point, this started to become feasible. But I still felt I was going too fast. The main thing was to finish.

So I think I ran the next few miles in 9:20 - 9:30. Then the pace started picking up again. I was back to 9 min miles, and even 8:50 miles. I was really feeling pretty good. I thought I could keep running past 13.1 miles.

At about 10 miles I started doing all these calculations in my head. With a little more speed, I could finish with under 2 hours on the clock. (Since I didn't really know when I started, this was a sure way to ensure a sub-2 hour performance.) I think I ran the last few miles at about 8:30-8:35. That was actually tough. I was really breathing heavy in the last two miles. (That's when I realized that my music had been off - probably for the last hour.) It was tough to make it to the end, let alone run further.

But I hung in there, and finished strong with a clock time of 1:59:21. It thrned out that this was a net time of 1:55:44, or an 8:50 mile. (!)

I think this was a little fast, but I felt good, and wanted to push myself a little. I'm still going to go back to the 10 minute mile for training - maybe just slightly faster.

The main thing will be how I feel in the next couple of days. On the way to the race, both of my lower shins were hurting. When I took a little warmup jog, I could feel them with each step. Once the run got started, however, I was feeling pretty good. A little strain, but no real pain.

Since the run I'm a little stiff. Some pain in my shins, but not worse than yesterday. At least, not yet.

So, I'm excited. I'm happy with today's race, and I'm still hopeful that I'll be able to continue on in my quest for the marathon.


Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm very nervous...

My legs have been hurting a little more than usual these past 24 hours or so. I think it's because I ran more than I wanted to yesterday, and because I ran on sidewalk for a good portion of it. (See yesterday's post.) I almost didn't run today, but I had planned to do 2 miles, and I figured that it wasn't that much anyway. Well I have to say that by the end of the 2 miles it wasn't bad, but those early steps are starting to scare me.

To paraphrase from somewhere I can't remember, I'm not afraid of the pain, I'm afraid that it will continue to worsen and force me to stop training. That's what happened last year and I was really depressed over it.

I'm going to take tomorrow off, and then Sunday I'm scheduled for the Manhattan Half. Hopefully that will go okay. I think how I feel afterward will really give me a sense of what to expect in the near future.

That was my pessimistic side talking...

On the optimistic side, I've added to my training plan. Brooklyn's comments have made me realize that I need to be more disciplined in my training. Rather than really commit to a specific daily schedule, I've added the minimum weekly milage I expect to run each week. With work likely to get busier in the weeks to come, I'm assuming I'll be running that milage in 4 days. I'd appreciate any input on my plan. (Maybe I was being a little easy on myself with the total milage...)

That's it for now. Wish me luck for Sunday!

I want to be a dot!

I can't wait to be one of the little dots in that picture.

By the way, I'd love to hear from anybody out there who's also planning on running the NYC marathon (and wants to be a dot with me).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Can you say GPS?

I was pretty excited for this morning's run. I said yesterday that I would do 6 miles today, so I was able to get out of bed early and get outside before it got hot. As I left my apartment, I felt slightly chilly. I knew it was warming up, so it was actually perfect running weather.

Unless I'm in Central Park, I'm usually running 2 mile laps on a pre-measured course in my neighborhood. Because I always have set goals for how much to run each day I need to know my exact distance. (I've occasionally used time as a surrogate, but as my milage increases, this becomes less accurate.) In any case, for long runs these repetitive little laps can get monotonous. Also, at the end of each lap I have to mentally push myself to start running away from home again. I would much prefer to have a set course for my entire run. That way I could run out for half the distance, and then be forced to run the second half back. Much more interesting, and less motivationally challenging.

If any of you have clicked on the Gmaps pedometer link on the sidebar, you'll see that it's a pretty cool little toy. You can plot out various courses and it will tell you how far it is. Exactly what I needed! So this morning I plotted out a 6 mile course near my home, and away I went. This is what I had planned.

As I started my run, I was thinking how great this little tool was, and how I'd be able to have various different runs over the next few weeks. I was even thinking about how I was going to review it here in the blog.

Well, here's the problem. In the area where I was running, there's no room to run (safely) on the side of the road. There are these bike and running paths nearby, but they don't exactly follow the road. Now my innate sense of direction is somewhat underdeveloped. Most of the run was pretty good. However, as I was returning towards home, I made one little wrong turn. I'm still not sure exactly how I did it. I went in the exact opposite direction - though it seemed to feel right at the time.

For a little while it seemed ok. Then it started to look wrong. I was coming back a slightly different way then I went out, so it was okay not to look familiar. But I was supposed to meet up with the original road, and that just wasn't happening. The road was also heading into a town which I didn't think should be there. So I knew I was going in the wrong direction. The problem was that I didn't want to stop running to find out what to do. (At least not until I had done my 6 miles.) So I kept on going, hoping that I would figure it out from a street sign soon, and make a turn that would get me back on track.

Too bad I was on an island! Thankfully though, it was a little island.

I got to the end of the island, kind of figured it out, and turned around and ran back in the direction I had come. Eventually, with a little help from bus stop signs, I was able to figure out how to get back. The only problem was that I now had to run further than I had planned. There was also a lot of running on sidewalk - something which I'd been avoiding. But what could I do? I was too far from home to stop. So I pushed myself to make it off the island, and back to where I'd gone wrong, and finally in the direction I was supposed to go. When I finally stopped running, it was 8.4 miles, with another 2 miles to walk back home. (This is what I had intended to run. And this is what I actually ran.)

So not a great start to my new plans for running long courses. Nonetheless, I plan to continue using this tool. As my milage increases, I'd like to start running some cool courses, like maybe the outside of Manhattan. I'll try and post the good runs.

My next long run is the Manhattan half marathon in Central Park this Sunday. Two laps and a little bit. Can't wait to see how I feel after the run. I'm hoping that will give me a sense of how things are coming along for this year's marathon plans. Come back Sunday and see how it went.


Special thanks to Brooklyn for what I believe is the first link to my blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Making plans (but not for today!)

I got 4 miles in yesterday evening. I thought the heat would be terrible, but it was actually pretty nice. It felt good out there.

I was planning on running this morning, but my legs were kind of hurting, and I was a little tired in the morning. Ok, I was a little tired in the morning. But my legs do bother me, and I've run the last two days. I think I'll take today off, and run something like 6 miles tomorrow, and maybe 2 on Friday. Saturday is off like usual, and then Sunday's the Manhattan half in Central Park.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to share my schedule with you. I'm hoping that by putting it in writing I'll be forced to stick to it. (If I had written yesterday that I was going to run this morning, would I still have been too tired??)

Let's see what happens.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

120 miles so far

Just updated my training log. Since the beginning for July I've run 120 miles. It's really amazing how it adds up.

It's too hot!

I did 5M yesterday. Included in that was some speed training - 6 intervals of 1 minute each.

It's been really tough to run out there during the day. For my long runs I've been waking up really early to beat the heat. For my short runs however, I don't usually have enough motivation to get out of bed early. (I'm only working part time now.)

As August draws to a close I'm sure it will cool down. There should be some really good running days coming up.

Monday, August 22, 2005


So I'm hoping this is the year.

I say hoping, because my legs are acting up again. I've been building up the milage over the last couple of months, and I'm starting to feel it. It doesn't hurt so much when I run, but the rest of the time when I'm walking, I can really feel my shins. They're also somewhat tender to touch at times. Bascially, I have the classic anterior or medial shin splints.

Ok, I know I'm supposed to stop. Well I did that last year, and it didn't help. So for now, I'm going to keep on trying. I do try to ice my shins after running, and I take days off when it's really bad. I also got new cushioned shoes (Asics Gel Nimbus VII for those who care), and I'm careful not to run on hard surfaces like concrete (sidewalk).

So we'll see what happens. For now I'm going to keep building up the milage slowly and see how far I can go. I'm scheduled to run a half marathon in the park this coming Sunday. Hopefully, that will give me a sense of how things are going.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I've wanted to run a marathon for quite a few years now.

Up until 2000 I couldn't run for more than 10 seconds at a time. (I'd run to catch the bus, and then spend 15 minutes catching my breath!) Then, as a surgical intern, I took up running. Every third night I was on call, and every day following that, I had the day off. Before going to sleep, I went for a run. (Back then I called it jogging.) I'd run for 10 seconds, and then walk for 10 minutes, before my next little "sprint".

To this day, I still can't believe I persisted past those tough beginnings. I remember the first time I could run a mile without stopping. I felt like some sort of Olympic athlete! Eventually, on Father's Day of 2000 I ran my first 5K. It was the Fight Against Prostate Cancer run in Central Park. Thanks to the New York Road Runners' database I can tell you my time was 27:59. Not bad.

Eventually I built up to longer and longer races. In May of 2001 I ran the Long Island Half Marathon. Again, thanks to the Internet, I can tell you that my net time was 1:55:18. I was extremely proud of my sub 2:00:00 time.I think it was the next day that I signed up for the New York City Marathon. I was totally psyched. For those of you who don't know how it works, the NYC Marathon has been granting entries by lottery for seven or eight years now. Sometime in June the lottery results are posted online. Well, I didn't get in that year. At the end of June I started a gruelling rotation in the ICU, and the weather got hot. Combined with the letdown of not getting in, my running tapered off, and there went my marathon plans.

The next couple of years I applied again, without any luck. I suppose I could have run a different marathon, but I just wasn't able to keep up the training. I did, however, run another half marathon in May of 2003.

In 2004, because I had not gotten in through the lottery 3 times in a row, I had guaranteed acceptance to the New York City Marathon. I was really excited, and started up the training again. Unfortuately, I think I tried to increase my milage too quickly, and developed shin splints. I tried to persist, but they got worse. So I cancelled my entry, which therefore gave me a guaranteed spot for the 2005 marathon.

Which brings us to the present time.....