Sunday, November 26, 2006

Philly pictures

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was uneventful. (My folks live in Canada, and so Thanksgiving has never been a big deal for me. Although I like the idea behind it very much.)

I ran for about 15 minutes on Wednesday. I had a meeting to go to afterwards, and so I couldn't run more than that even had I wanted to. I was a little ambivalent about going out there for such a short run, but by the next day I was glad I had. The weather on Thursday (Thanksgiving) was so miserable. I had planned to go for a run, but without a specific training plan, I wasn't motivated enough to brave the pouring rain.

Today, on the other hand, was an absolutely beautiful day to run. Sunny, and high 50's to 60's. I went for a nice and easy 6 mile run here in the neighborhood. I probably should have taken advantage of the weekend, and gone in to run in Central Park. I had a flat tire though, and I didn't feel like fixing it in the morning.

(In the end, I couldn't even fix it afterwards. I've changed many tires in the past, and I've never had to depend on any roadside service. In this case, I loosened the lug nuts, jacked up the car, and then took off the lug nuts. But the tire would just not budge. I couldn't get it off for the life of me, and as I tried to pull it off, the car started rocking and rolling, and I had visions of it falling off the jack onto my hands. Eventually I called roadside assistance. The guy came about 45 minutes later, and took less than 4 minutes to do the whole thing. For those of you who are curious, he swung the spare tire into the flat tire, and it kind of bounced off the screws. Easy as 1,2,3. I'll remember that for the future.)

Anyway, as the title of the post implies, the pictures from the Philadelphia Half Marathon are up. Mine seem to have changed a bit over time, but there are actually a few decent ones. (I know most of you don't really need to see more running pictures, so it's mostly for my folks, who silently read the blog!)

Race organizers are always trying to stress that since you have a chip, you don't have to line up towards the front. In general, I actually prefer starting further back as it allows me to start slow, and it allows me to pass people more often than people passing me. However, I do find several things about it annoying. For one, my finishing picture is taken with the clock. I've now run four half marathons, all of them under 2 hours. Yet, the picture above shows the clock at 2:03:39. That's annoying.

Also, they sent me this certificate. I recognize that in terms of my finishing order they should use my clock time, since it is a race and the order of finishing is what should count. But why do they emphasize the clock time so much? For example, my pace is calculated off my clock time. That's ridiculous. In actuality, my pace was really 8:50 per mile if you use my chip time, which is more accurate. Just another thing I find annoying. Obviously it's not a big deal, but it does make me feel like trying to start closer to the front. (Although I probably still won't.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Just to update you on my cold, I did feel better on Friday of last week. So that was good. Saturday was so so, but definitely much better than earlier in the week.

Anyway, Saturday night Akiva and I drove to Philadelphia to meet up with ShoreTurtle, who was kind enough to have picked up our packets at the expo. Apparently, we got there past Redhead Fangirl's bedtime, but we did get to meet the turtle himself, and his mom - a big part of "Team ShoreTurtle"!

Afterwards, we headed out to the burbs, where we met up with Sara, and her friend B. We stayed in a nice Mariott, with really nice beds. Too bad, none of us slept well. It wasn't my first half so I can't really say I was nervous, I just didn't sleep well.

(on TV in the morning)

So getting up in the morning wasn't fun. But at least we were in the neighborhood, and didn't have to drive in two hours. We took a cab about a quarter to 7 and got to the race site a little after 7. I forgot my phone at home, but luckily Akiva spotted ShoreTurtle out of the thousands of runners there. We chatted a little, and then got ready for the race.

Like usual, I was in line for the portapotties until the last second. That meant that we were lining up towards the back. That's actually ok for me, as it forced me to start slowly and not burn out to early.

It took me almost 8 minutes to hit the start line, and as you can imagine it was quite crowded in the beginning. The half marathon was combined with the marathon for almost the entire way.

The first mile went by in just over 9 minutes. Whoa. I was thinking I'd start around 10 min miles and then speed up. I didn't feel that I was working too hard, so I kind of stayed where I was.

Over the next mile, Akiva moved just in front of me. We had been running together, but now he started pacing us. As usual, he picked up the speed. I hung on for a little bit, but then felt like I was running too fast too early, and slowed down. I lost sight of him pretty quickly.

Just after the 2nd mile we went under a bridge. A bunch of runner's stopped to "water the cement", and I kind of felt like joining them. I was feeling pretty good, and it was still early, so I decided to hold off for a little bit.

Bad idea. I spent the next 5 miles thinking about my bladder, and looking for places to pee. At first we were on a long open highway. Then we were in a more residential neighborhood, with a cop at every corner. I was kind of annoyed at the situation, and thought about just running through it. But the truth was that I knew I wasn't setting a PR that day, and I wasn't comfortable.

Finally, just after mile 7, there was another "unofficial bathroom". (Ironically, it was just behind a water station.) I pulled off, and did my business. I really did have to go, and it took about a full minute. Good thing I wasn't too stressed about my time.

After my little break, I grabbed some water and also had a package of Sports Beans. For some reason they were tough to get down, and I found myself a little short of breath while trying to eat them. I was actually glad when the package was empty.

On we went through a street lined with all the fraternity houses. Some of the frat guys were out there banging on kettles and giving big cheers for whoever stopped to have a beer with them. It actually made me laugh, and invigorated me.

Then came mile 10. Everything I'd read about this course said that the course was flat. Um, had they just not noticed mile 10? It wasn't so steep, just a long slow hill that seemed to last most of the mile. It was tough this far in. I actually caught up (and passed) Akiva on this hill. I knew he wouldn't last at that speed, but it was his knees that caught up to him at the hill. He tried to run with me for a bit, but was really in pain and had to walk a bit.

I made it past the hill and through the realy station. I didn't notice anybody relaying in or out, but I saw people waiting around.

Just past that area the half marathon course veered away from the full marathon course. I was relieved to have a little space, and our own separate course finally. Unfortunately, about 2 tenths of a mile later, the courses converged again. That was kind of annoying. The courses actually then stayed together until the very last tenth of a mile where we split off just to make a 180 degree turn to run back to the finish line.

I felt pretty strong in those last few miles, and knew I was running well. My right arm was kind of numb, and my elbow was killing me, but my legs were ok. I thought about speeding up, but I knew my PR was out of reach, and I thought I was well ahead of my PW (personal worst).

When I hit the mile 12 marker I sped up a little, and then really turned it up toward the end. The last 180 degree turn was annoying, but I finished feeling pretty good.

My final time was 1:55:46 net, which in the end turned out to be a PW. (I was wrong about the timing of my first half in 2001.) I was 2 seconds slower than the race I'd run last year. No matter. I hadn't ben feeling great, and was just trying to finish under 2 hours. Running a 1:55 was fantastic for me on that day, and I was very happy with the result.

You can see I had a pretty good pace from the get go, 9:05 pace for the first mile. All the remaining miles were sub 9, with the exception of mile8, which included a minute bathroom break. Even the mile with hill (mile 10) came in under 9. I sped up towards the end, and turned it on for the finish. All in all, a pretty good race for me. (Notwithstanding the PW!)

(behold the champions!)

After the race I went to the VIP tent. Since I had signed up using an American Express card, I was a VIP - along with another 1000 runners and their guests. It was actually kind of cool; they had a separate heated tent, with food and massages. About 5 minutes after I got there I saw this Kenyan looking guy walking around, with the number 2 on his bib. I recognized him as the winner of the marathon. How cool! I asked him if he had just won this thing, and he nodded "yes". I congratulated him and we shook hands. That just doesn't happen in other sports.

Sara had to take off, but Akiva and I waited around to cheer ShoreTurtle to the finish. (Well we got massages, and then went to cheer on ShoreTurtle.) We didn't see him finish, but joined up with him afterwards. As you can read on his blog, he had a great race.

All in all, a great day. I felt pretty good the rest of the day, except for being exhausted. My legs are pretty sore now, but not terrible. I don't think I could have continued on for a full marathon at the speed I was going, but a little slower and I could have done it. A sub 10 min mile pace (4:22) is definitely in my grasp. (With a sub 4 in the future a definite possibility.)

Here's a few random pictures from the race:

(wearing operating room gowns to keep warm before the race. definitely a good idea for me to remember for next time!)

(random finishers)

(not exactly the most aerodynamic beard!)

(a couple of runners picked up their kids for the finish line. very cute.)

(the korean running team. these guys carried these flags the whole race.)

(i'm guessing this was "alan's" wife. this got a big cheer from the crowd.)

That's it for now. The official pictures should come out later this week. Check out this link from ShoreTurtle's blog to see local TV coverage of the race. (Click on the picture to see the video.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Still sick

I think I'm coughing less, but each time I cough it's like somebody's hitting me on the head with a baseball bat. Actually, it's more like I've got a pot on my head, and somone's hitting the pot. Then my head bangs around in the pot for 10 or 15 seconds each time. Either way, it sucks.

I spent most of the day at home, preparing for a presentation I'm giving tomorrow. I was healthy when I agreed to do this last week, but now it's been a pain putting it together. Thankfully, I'm done.

I did make it out for my 30 minute tempo run. I found it hard to gauge how hard I was working. I'm normally pretty good at feeling how hard I'm running. I think being sick is throwing that all off. My heart rate and respiratory rate are both elevated now, even while I'm just lying in bed! So while I was short of breath the whole run, I wasn't sure if it was from running, or from being sick.

As I upped the speed in the middle ten minutes, I did look over at the Garmin and saw the pace reading less than 8 min miles a few times. I guess I knew I was running fast, but it's usually not that accurate in the moment ot moment pace measurements. When I got home and loaded up the run into the computer, I was shocked.

Uh, a 7:21 pace? Kind of ridiculous for me. I think some of the measurements were off a bit, but I was definitely going fast. I think I ran about 3.5 miles in 30 minutes, giving me an overall pace under 9 minutes. So those middle ten minutes were definitely under 8. No wonder it was so hard!

While I was running, I was thinking how I had to run 13.1 miles this Sunday - and dreading it! Maybe if I was going a little slower, I would have felt different.

By the way, just out of curiosity I made some calculations using that 7:21 pace. Even if I kept up that pace for an entire marathon, I still wouldn't qualify for Boston. Although in a couple of years I'll get an extra 5 minutes, and then that pace would be fine. I suppose it's possible to work on my endurance and get there eventually, but it's not something I plan on doing. I'm just curious.

One more thing: my new 2nd generation iPod shuffle was delivered today. It's so cute. I'm too tired to post pictures now, but it's hard to really believe how small this thing is. I'll review it another time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


What do you get when you cross Niagara Falls and a nose?


Well actually, that was Sunday. It's slowed down since then, and now I'm into that dry hacking phase, where all my muscles hurt.

I feel like this happens before every big race that I train for. You might say it's from tapering, but it really happened overnight, just after that 6 mile run Saturday night. The truth is, it is the season to get colds, and I do work in a hospital. But it still sucks.

So anyway, after my last run on Saturday night, I didn't have anything scheduled until today. I was planning on running a little Monday, but because of how I felt, I held off. I didn't feel great today either, but the weather was pretty nice for running, and I was only scheduled for 4 easy miles. I ran by myself, and stayed pretty consistent. 9:45 miles throughout. (Actually the first mile as about 10, but I was stuck at a light for about 15 seconds.) I'm always amazed at how I can naturally get into a rhythm. Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a 30 minute tempo run. I don't want to push too hard this close to the race, but I will try to up the speed for the middle 10 minutes.

That's it for now. Hope you're all feeling better than me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ready to taper

I've had a busy week at work, so no blogging. But I did get in my scheduled runs, except for one.

For whatever reason, many of the runs on my training schedule lately have been 5 milers. It's kind of left me running the same course over and over. Looking up at the maps, you can see they're almost all identical. In fact, tonight was 6 miles, but the map would have looked almost the same, if Akiva didn't make me go a different direction after the bridge.

Even though the course has been pretty much the same, my strategy has been different for these runs. (I feel so advanced when I think about that. Once upon a time, the only thing I thought about was how far to run, not really how to run.) The first run was a recovery run, and I ran the miles easy. The second run was meant to be at race pace. It was supposed to be a 3 miler, but since I had missed the earlier run in the week (speedwork), and I was planning to run less this weekend, I turned it into 5 miles. My plan was to run the first and last mile easy, and run the middle 3 at race pace. I didn't really pay attention to my Garmin too much, and it turned out that I ran those middle miles pretty fast. Surprising. Tonight was my weekend long run. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain, and tonight the weather was perfect. It wasn't too tough to fit in an hour of running to get my "long" run in. I tried to run them slow, but like usual I sped up a little in the end. I think I just want to finish and so I usually speed up towards the end.

So now, I'm really in taper mode. I have a few short runs set for this week, and then the half marathon next Sunday. I don't have high expectations, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless. I think it will be good to race after resting my legs over this coming week.

In other news, some of my friends have signed up for the NYC triathlon. Not that I can really swim or cycle, I'd thought about signing up. I remember last year it sold out in May, for the July race. So I figured I'd see how things were going around February or so, and sign up then. Bad strategy. It's already sold out. It took about a week, and the event is 8 months away!

I suppose I can go elsewhere, but I was counting on the current in the Hudson. To go somewhere else would mean I'd really have to learn to swim better. That's kind of pain, especially with the whole beeper thing. I answer a lot of pages while I'm running. It seems much more difficult to do that while swimming.

I'll think about all this more when I'm resting after the race next week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Marathon Sunday

I have always loved Marathon Sunday, even long before I ever planned to be a participant. I love the way it takes over the whole city, with millions of people cheering along the route, and with the thousands of marathoners walking (limping) around afterwards, wrapped in their heat sheets and wearing their medals.

And so yesterday, I had a pretty busy schedule. I had a circumcision in the morning (not my own), I had to make rounds at the hospital, I had to run 12 miles, and I had to watch the marathon. As you can imagine, I couldn't get all this done and still see the elites (or even Lance), but I did manage to get it all done and catch some of the marathon.

Because of the marathon, we planned our run along the West Side Highway. For a change we went north. As you can see on the map, we almost made it back to the Bronx before turning back for the second half.

I didn't have too much pain, but my legs just haven't felt strong. I don't really see how I can race in Philly. Just finishing doesn't hold the same excitement for me, but I'll be happy if I can get in under 2 hours (even if it's a PW).

I did speed up in yesterday's run towards the end, and although the motivating factor is just wanting it to be over, at least it meant I still had some strength left.

After our run, we headed over to watch the marathon. We found a spot near the 23rd mile. I remembered how crappy I felt there last year, and sympathized with the runners who looked like they were having trouble. (Most of the runners looked pretty strong; I found myself trying to rationalize that the weather was 20 degrees cooler this year!)

Here are some random pictures:

A lot of people who remembered that I ran last year, called me up this week to wish me luck. Even after the race, when I congratulated runners on finishing, they'd congratulate me back. (I wasn't sure if it was because I was wearing running clothes, or because I was limping!) Either way, I'm looking forward to competing again next year. As I get busier and busier at work, I'm not sure how I'll fit in the training. But I plan on doing it somehow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

50 min tempo

Pretty good with the tempo thing again - 50 minutes this time. The only thing is that Uncle Hal says you can do these runs easy of hard, and I think I did it too hard. My middle 10 minutes were run at a 7:54 pace, which is fast for me. Especially a few days after a race. I was pretty sore towards the end of this run, but I've stretched and I've iced, so we'll see.