Sunday, February 18, 2007

Weekend Warrior

Well I didn't run all week, but I made it back out there today. 12 miles. I had initially planned on driving into the city to run in Central Park, but by the time I was done rounding on everybody in the hospital, it was already early afternoon. I didn't want to push it off anymore, and was worried I'd have trouble finding parking in the city. So in the end I stayed local, and ran my usual path.

I felt like one of those eskimo dogs pulling those sleds. (What are they really called? You know the ones where the driver yells "mush"?) Almost the entire run was on snow, frozen snow, or ice. I was happy when the snow was frozen, because that meant I didn't sink in. On a couple of the hills I just slid down without lifting my feet, for fear of falling. It was crazy.

It looks pretty nice in that picture. Google should have a "season" mode.

That's more realistic.

In any case, I was glad to get a long run in again. I'm not sure I'm really up for a marathon this spring, but if I still want to entertain that possibility, I really have to start building mileage.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bronx Half pictures

I haven't run all week...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bronx Half Marathon

I never really wanted to run this race. Having just run a half marathon 2 weeks ago, I knew I wasn't going to be setting a PR today. Not only that, but I didn't want to injure myself. Unfortunately, I'm always feeling this pressure to get in my 9 qualifying races.

As some of you may know, the NYC Marathon has guaranteed entry for NYRR members who run 9 qualifying races in a year. (In fact, I got my "invitation" for this year's marathon just this past week.) Since I don't run on Saturday I'm a little more limited in my race choices. Add to that my call schedule, my training schedule, the Jewish holiday schedule, my friends' weddings schedule, etc. ... and you get the picture. So when there's a race available on a Sunday, I generally try to run it. Which is why the 2 weekends after a half marathon I've run another 2 races.

For some reason the NYRR Sunday races seem to be concentrated around the beginning part of the year. In past years I hadn't been training for anything in the spring, and so that worked out ok. This year I'm thinking about the Long Island Marathon, and I'm not sure I want to run 4 mile races on both the weekends before that (for example). Even later in the year, if I run the NYC marathon in November, I may not want to run a half marathon and a 5K race on the preceding two weekends. And so with all this in mind, I signed up for the Bronx Half.

Maybe I should have realized something when my alarm didn't go off this morning. Sigh. I had set it for 6:15 but it seems like I didn't actually set the switch to "on". (Either that, or I turned it off when the alarm went off this morning - and then forgot about it.) Luckily, I somehow woke up at 6:45 and rushed through my morning routine.

I made it over to the vicinity of the race by 7:23 for an 8:00 race. No problem, right? Wrong. It took more than a half hour to find a parking spot, and when I did find one it was about a light year away. (I work in this part of the Bronx every Friday, and there is never any parking. Why the NYRR feels the need to start the race here is beyond me. There are other subway accessible parts of the Bronx, that also have space for cars. Unfortunately the subway wasn't really an option for me.) I wasn't planning on winning this race, or even really racing it, so I didn't stress too much. I also didn't run to the race on the sidewalks, so that I wouldn't tire myself out unnecessarily.

I got to the race 13 minutes into it. Last week, I was still waiting in the "wave start" at that time. Not so, this week. Unfortunately I had been busy on Thursday and couldn't pick up my number in advance. By 13 minutes into the race the registration area had already closed up shop. The boxes were all there, but nobody was willing to help. (Actually one person tried to help, but another "volunteer" told her not to, that it was closed. Thanks!) So I had no bib, and no chip. Sigh.

I talked to the head timer and he said it was ok, and to just stop by the timing tent when I was done, to give them my time. So about 20 minutes into the race, I started. There was a couple of other guys there who started as I was stretching. I told them the people in front us were going to tire out and we still had a chance to win this thing. :-)

The race was freaking empty. Since everyone was 20 minutes ahead of me, there was nobody running with me. About 2 miles in, the lead runners passed me in the opposite direction. And so for the next 10 miles or so I was running in the opposite direction of everybody. Nice. The crowd support was minimal - I could count them on one hand. We passed by tons of houses and apartment buildings, but I guess 9am was too early for them. One woman was actually cheering from her 5th (or so) floor apartment, and it was kind of uplifting. But really, there was nobody out there. The biggest presence out there were the cops standing at each intersection. I'd say 5% cheered, 40% spaced out, and 55% looked annoyed to be out there in the cold.

My running was actually ok. My knee didn't bother me at all. I was too warm at times, as I had forgotten to take off some of the layers. I also realized that I had forgotten to put on bodyglide. I was nervous about that, but it wasn't a problem in the end.

Most of miles were about 9 to 9:15. A few miles from the end I started to realize that I could cross the line with a net of less than 2 hours. Even though I had initially planned to not race this, and I was taking it easy, I still foolishly sped up a little. I ended up crossing the line with a net of 1:59:26. I stopped by the timing tent and gave them my clock time (2:24:28) and my net time. (I felt bad afterwards because I remembered stopping my watch for about a minute or two while I waited for the portapotty. Oh well.)

My splits, if anyone cares:

After the race I trudged back to my spot. My quads wee sore, mostly from those last few miles, I think. I was hoping to try and get my bib after the race, but they were all gone. I have a collection of all my race bibs, so I really wanted it.

I'm not sure why, but I was too embarrassed to ask people for their bibs. I figured a lot of people would be throwing them out and it wouldn't be an issue. As it turns out, I guess most people do that at home. I did rescue one from the trash, as gross as that is.

I'm still hoping to get my bib from the NYRR, but if I don't, this one will go up on my wall.

In other news, check out my training log in the sidebar. In addition to this race putting me over 100 miles for the year, it also puts me over 1,000 lifetime miles. I've definitely run more miles than that, but in the past (the pre-Garmin era) I never kept track. I had to start somewhere, and so that total includes only the miles I know I've run. And now that number's over 1,000. Cool.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Um, thanks Steve

I started to notice a lot of people coming over here from I hadn't realize that there was a little blurb about me in this week's Phedippidations. I usually listen to it every Sunday, but because of the race this week I hadn't listened to it yet.

Had I known so many people were coming by I might have posted my Miami update earlier. Oh well.

Anyway, the main reason he mentioned me is because of the Colon Cancer Challenge. Some of you may remember that this is a fundraising event that I participate in each year. It raises money for Partners in Prevention, which is an organization run out of the hospital and medical school I'm affiliated with. Its main purpose is to increase public awareness about colon cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so on my main fundraising page. I put a link in the sidebar as well.

The race is March 11th. I've always done the 4 mile race in the past, but this year I'm hoping to do the 15K. I'm captain of "Team Einstein" so I'll probably be there for both races anyway.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Week's Recap

Let's start with the race in Miami. It started early. We were supposed to be in the corrals by 5:30, and since I wanted parking I had to be there before 5. Which meant leaving at 4. Ouch. It didn't stop me from going to the hockey game the night before, but still, it was pretty early.

On the drive there it was drizzling. The race started at the American Airlines Arena, and fortunately they had opened a portion of it for people to use the bathrooms. By the time 5:30 came around it was pouring. Most people stayed inside until the last second. I got out 5 minutes before the start, but it was enough to get absolutely soaked.

Twenty minutes into the race, the rain had stopped. Of course we were all soaked by then. Unfortunately, it stayed hot and humid. It was already in the low 70's at the start, and as the sun came out it didn't get better.

In the beginning I felt ok, and picked up the pace. I knew it wasn't a PR day, but I started to think about having a good race time. By mile 5 or 6, those thoughts were history. Normally when I run my races I start slow, and gradually speed up. I'm not sure if I started too fast, or if it was the weather, but in this race I gradually slowed down. At some point I decided I was going to finish under a 9 min pace, and so I was paying attention to each split. As the splits went above 9 minutes, I felt like I was just trying to hang on until the finish. It was tough.

(pretty sweet course, eh?)

The splits:
8:59 (I missed the 5 mile marker.)
9:15 (for the final 1.1 miles.)

Not my best run race. I managed to meet my "goal" and finish in 1:56:57 (I've gained 2 seconds on the official time), for an 8:55 pace.

For those of you who've inquired about my knee, thanks. It basically held up. I started feeling it at mile 11 or 12 but it really wasn't bad. Maybe it's just time, but I think the quad stretches have really helped. I'm still doing them. (Incidentally, my quads themselves were really sore the next two days, and I had significant soreness walking around in Florida.)

So after the marathon being too warm, the rest of my time in Florida was too cold. Of course it wasn't really cold, but the mornings were in the 40s to 50s, and the highs were in the 60s. I didn't have to wear a jacket, but I couldn't go to the beach either. It was disappointing, but I had a nice relaxing time anyway.

I ran another 4 miles on Tuesday before I left Florida, and then another 6 on Friday, back in the Bronx. I felt my knee a touch on Friday, and I really think it has to with the cold. I just feel stiffer in the cold weather.

This morning was another NY Road Runner race. I wasn't really in the mood to race, but I'm always trying to get 9 qualifying races in the year, so that I can get guaranteed entrance to the NYC marathon. This race counts towards the 2008 marathon, which is 21 months away, and who knows what I'll be up to then. Since I don't run the Saturday races, and I'm occasionally working during the Sunday races, I try to do most of the races I'm available for.

Anyway, the weather this morning was cold. And I mean cold.

I figured that meant the race would be relatively empty. Nope. Not even close. 4,474 finishers. I wish I had a camera this morning; there were runners coming from every direction. I knew why I was doing it, but I'm not sure what everyone else was thinking. They're nuts! Just to prove that, there were more than a few runners wearing shorts. Shorts! One guy ran by me with short running shorts, a short sleeve tech shirt, and a hat with a pom-pom on it. I think that when you run a race where the water stations freeze over (the first time I've seen that), you shouldn't wear shorts.

Anyway, I was just taking it easy out there. Had I been trying to race, I probably would have been annoyed. They tried out this "wave" starting system today. It totally sucked. First of all, I had to wait 15 minutes just standing around to start. In 16 degree weather that's not fun. Second, the race was more crowded than ever. Usually the races are crowded in the beginning, and then people settle into similar paces as the people around them. In other words you pass the slower people, the faster people pass you, and by the middle of the race most people around you are about the same speed. Today's race was a mess. I was passing the slower people from the wave ahead, and the faster people from the wave behind were passing me. This went on throughout the entire race. So instead of just weaving at the beginning, I had to do it even as I approached the finish line. Very annoying.

The splits:
9:48 wave start my butt. it was still crowded.
9:06 taking it easy
9:17 deliberately taking it easy
8:15 last mile, and I'm feeling ok, so why not?

Final time, 36:27. Not great, but I didn't care. As I put this race into my race history, I noticed that I ran it last year as well. Last year it was my first race after the marathon, and my time was 39:58.

I know the post is getting long, but I have one more thing to show you. When I was down at the expo in Miami, there was this chiropractic clinic there that had a booth. They were doing free foot scans so I had one done.

On the left are my scans, and on the right are what they said were "balanced". What they tried to tell me was that on a balanced scan the pressure should be on the heel and on the ball, and long story short, I need orthotics. Which they could sell me.

I think it's a crock. Nobody should be standing on just their heel and ball of their foot. I've looked into this before, and there's a way to test what kind of arches you have. If you wet your foot, and then stand on a piece of paper, by looking at the imprint you should be able to tell what kind of arches you have. Here are diagrams from 3 different web sites.

Nobody should look like the picture they have labeled as "balanced". And in fact, I think my feet look pretty normal. Needless to say I didn't buy the orthotics.