Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back to Old Places

The last two weeks I've only run on Sunday. I've meant to get out there, but for a variety of reasons it hasn't happened. It's not very impressive.

This past Sunday, I went out for a long(ish) run near my apartment. While I was out there I realized I hadn't done this in so long. Many of my runs over the winter have been on the treadmill, and my long outdoor runs have been in races. The last time I went for a long training run in my neighborhood was January 6th. That was 11 weeks ago!!

It was good to get out again. I'm not in as good shape, but the weather was a bit warmer, and I enjoyed the run out to City Island.

To try and keep the momentum up, I went back to the running track on Tuesday. (Only 5 weeks since the last trip there. Sigh.) I randomly chose to do 3 x 1600m. I have a 10K race this Sunday, so I thought some mile repeats (or close to it) would be good practice.

I got busy at work, and didn't make it to the track until about 5. That meant it was packed with high school teams practicing relay transfers. (In addition to the usual groups of people walking in a group, kids dribbling basketballs, and people pushing wheelchairs while talking on their cellphone.) I might have been better off doing my speedwork on the street! It just makes me want to go earlier next time.

In any case, I warmed up a bit and did my intervals. I didn't feel fast, so I took it easy. Not too easy, but I was pretty sure I'd run these faster in the past.


That second one was tough, and I didn't have the energy to push through the third time. I was upset at myself for getting fat and slow.

When I got home I looked up the previous times I've run this workout. It was quite a surprise.

7/17/07 - 7:24, 7:23, 7:09
8/15/07 - 7:56, 7:13, 7:06
12/26/07 - 7:07, 6:50, 6:56

The first times were at the beginning of the FIRST training program. The one in July was before I started, and the August one was week 1. Clearly I'm faster now than I was then. The one in December is post-marathon, and that was the best running time for me. It's interesting to me that although I was faster then, in my mind the difference was a lot greater. I can definitely get back to my previous shape. (But I have to stop eating like I'm running 60 miles a week...)

On Sunday I have a 10K race. Unfortunately, I'm also on call this weekend. So the race may not happen. If it's not crazy busy I'll try and round really early and make it to the race.

In other running related news, I'm looking forward to two things coming out in May. One is the Nimbus 10. I'm still running in my old Nimbus 7's. I didn't like the 8's or 9's, and so I'm hoping the 10's will finally do the trick. There's a video review on the Runner's World website, and the written review comes out in May. (The June issue, which comes at the beginning of May.)

Also, the Forerunner 405 is coming out around then. My old 201 is still giving me problems, both with uploading, as well as holding its charge. It's really time for an upgrade. The 405 looks pretty cool, and the wireless syncing is really exciting. I have a few concerns. One is whether I'll be able to use it well with gloves. Their Q&A says yes, but I get the sense that it won't be so easy to switch screens while running. The other concern is whether I'll be able to wirelessly upload to SportTracks. Garmin has been pushing people to use Garmin Connect - which is just the old Motion Based. But I've been really happy with SportTracks. If I have wirelessly upload to Garmin, and then manually transfer the files to SportTracks, the advantage is kind of lost. I'm going to wait for some reviews of the device, and if I'm not impressed, I'm hoping that at least the 205/305 will be cheaper.

Unfortunately I'll have to live with some old Nimbus VII's and an old Forerunner 201 until at least May. (But my birthday does happen to be in May....)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Colon Cancer Challenge, 5th edition

Damn, it was cold!

I got there at 8:50 so I didn't have time to meet the people running the 4 mile race at 9:00. I went over to the start line and said hi to Dr. Weber (the head of Partners in Prevention) and looked for runners I know.

After cheering the runners at the start, I went over towards the finish to cheer them on to the end. The men's race came down to a neck and neck finish, and the winner outkicked second place to win by a second.

I went over to the center area to meet up with friends, but between the crowd and the cold, I didn't meet up with too many people. Just a couple at the very end, right before the 15K starting at 10:15.

By this time, my toes were frozen. We headed over to the start and somehow ran into the VP of my hospital. 3,000 runners and I always run into him in these races. Strange.

The beginning was extremely crowded. I've been feeling slow lately, so I didn't push too hard, and just took it easy. Well, sort of. It gets really annoying being stuck behind groups of people running, so I occasionally stepped out on the side. But not as much as I usually do. The first mile went be in 8:31, which included "Cat Hill".

I settled into a comfortable pace. Mile 2 approached, and I checked my watch. 7:33! Wow! I wasn't even working that hard, so I started to think that a PR could happen.

I probably pushed a little harder after being energized by that time. But then as my lap time started reaching 8 minutes, the mile marker was still in the distance. I passed it at 8:24, and realized the 2nd mile marker had clearly been wrong. Sigh. Average pace for the 2 miles was 7:56.

I was still doing ok, but I was tired. I didn't have the energy to push harder, but I forced myself to keep steady. Like usual I found myself passing people on the uphill, and being passed on the downhill. I felt like I was slowing, but somehow my splits were hanging in there.

8:00 (Cat Hill again)

Ok, maybe I was slowing a little, but not like I thought. Once again, I'd forgotten to look up my old PR. Also, I wanted to get in under an 8 min/mile pace, but didn't bother to figure out what time that would require. Sigh. I started doing math in my head, and began to realize that this goal was possible.


I knew my first mile was a little slow, but all my miles since then had been under 8. So I knew I was close, but I started pushing to make sure.

7:37 for mile 9! I was pretty sure I had it, but my math had come out to seeing 1:17 on the clock at the finish. It was still looking tight, so I really started pushing for the last 0.3. I didn't really kick it until the last 0.05, because I was really tired.

I finished the 0.3 in 2:13 (which about 7:23 pace). I missed the 1:17 by about 15 seconds, but when I finished I could look at the total time on my watch.

1:13:47. That's good for a 7:55 pace!! (And a 70 second PR over the only other time I raced this distance.)

(Actually, the NYRR calculates the pace as 7:56, but when I do the math it's 7:55. Which equals what the Cool Running calculator comes up with. There's often a discrepancy, and I have to email them about that.)

I was happy with my time, but I was wiped out for the whole day. I went out to lunch with a few friends, but that was pretty much it for the day. Yesterday I was on call, and did some late night operating. I'm only recovering today. It was a really nice afternoon, but I didn't feel like running. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get a chance to get back out there.

In terms of fundraising, I'd say we were quite successful. Personally, I raised $438, which is about where I've been in previous years. (Thanks so much to all who contributed. Quite a few readers joined in.) The team ended up with 32 runners, and together we raised over $3,600!

Now back to relaxing....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Lots of recent activity. Up to $357! ($2,889 for the team!) And still a few days to go. Click here for details.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Coogan's 2008 - Race # 50

Last year I set a PR at Coogan's and it was the fastest I'd ever run up to that point. I remember feeling great after that run. This year, the result was similar, but the feeling wasn't the same.

After struggling to find parking last year, and having to take a cab from my car (!) I learned my lesson this year. I parked about 10 blocks and two avenues away and took a leisurely stroll over to the start. I got there about 20 minutes early, which is about 20 to 25 minutes earlier than I usually get there. It was cold waiting around. It was supposed to be a little warmer today, so I had initially thought of running without a jacket. But the morning was just so cold. I wore my thick running pants, two layers on top, plus a jacket. And gloves and a hat, of course.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'd really wanted to get under a 7 min mile pace for this race. Last year I ran this race with 7:35 miles, but I've really gotten faster. I did a 4 miler in November with a 7:03 pace. So up until a few months ago, a sub-7 pace was definitely realistic. Unfortunately, I've really slacked off in my training this winter. I haven't done much in the way of speedwork or tempo runs, and a few extra pounds of winter weight hasn't helped either. I feel slower.

Before leaving this morning, I looked up last year's PR. (For once, I remembered! I actually came back in from the car to do this.) 23:32. Then I calculated what a 7 min pace would be. 21:45. Whoa! That didn't seem too possible. But I didn't give up yet.

So there I was at the start, hanging around the 7 min/mile pace sign. Just before the race started, the pack compressed a little, and I ended up starting between the 5 and 6 signs. I guess that only made me more annoyed that when the race started, I found myself passing people going for slow jogs, and even race walkers! I'm not denying race walkers the right to participate, but there is absolutely no way they should be starting in the front!

As an aside, the NYRR will be instituting seeded corrals starting in April. They actually tried using a wave start last year, and I had a horrible experience. One of my complaints was that since the corrals weren't seeded, I was constantly passing and being passed the whole race, making it feel even more crowded. I actually emailed my thoughts to them, and so I'm quite happy to see that they apparently listened to the feedback (from others as well I'm sure), and are now trying seeded corrals. I'm sure there will be some problems at first, but I think this is a really good idea. With 5,000 people running all the races in Central Park, things have gotten out of hand.

So anyway, I started the first mile pushing harder than normal. There was an uphill component, and I was really struggling. I definitely was not enjoying this as much as last year. First split was 7:30.

Mile 2 entered into Fort Tryon park, and I remembered feeling strong here last year. I stayed to the left (but still on the right!) and tried to pass people. I just didn't have it in me. I felt myself slow down, and I was upset that I let myself get out of shape. I also started thinking about having to race next week, and was not happy about that. The mile 2 marker took forever to appear, and when it did, my split was 7:49.

Mile 3 is a straightaway, with a downhill component. (It's an out and back course.) Now I was really hurting. I wanted to stop and walk, but I knew I'd be upset about it afterwards, so I kept pushing. I was looking at my watch frequently with "are we there, yet?" thoughts going through my head. At about mile 2.5 my right shoelace came untied. My shoe was still relatively tight, but I had trouble going faster, and I was worried about tripping and/or losing my chip. (This is the second race in a row this has happened, after never happening before. I noticed it didn't seem right this morning. Not sure what that's all about, but I need new shoes anyway.)

I knew sub 7 was out of the question, but for some reason a PR seemed to be a sure thing at this point. But then the 3 mile marker just never came. My watch had lost the signal, and since I was suffering, I thought I was further along than I was. Then as the time kept advancing, without having passed 3 miles, I knew it was going to be tight. I picked up the pace, and eventually passed mile 3 with a 7:21 split.

The time on my watch was about 24:40 with 0.10 miles to go. It was going to be close. I turned on the jets (as best as I could with one shoelace untied) and sprinted to the finish without looking at my watch. After the finish line I stopped my watch and knew that I had just beaten it. My official time was 23:23, for a 9 second PR.

I guess I should happy with a PR, but I'm disappointed because I now know I have more potential. I tried to blame the cold weather a little because it was 30 degrees, but I looked up last year and it was only 34 degrees. I think my fast start led to me slowing down, which always leads to a bad race experience.

Last year's splits were nicely negative:

This year, I started faster, slowed down, and then forced a faster finish:

Even though the mile 2 split is identical both years, in 2007 I was speeding up, and in 2008 I was slowing down. It really makes a difference in how you feel.

After getting home, I put this race into my database, and I realize that this is my 50th race. That's kind of cool. I still have all my race bibs, though I'm not sure where to put them in my new apartment.

Next up is the Colon Cancer Challenge next week. I'm tired of racing, but it will be good to get the miles in. I ran it last year with an 8:03 pace. I'd like to get in under 8:00, but I'm dreading that kind of effort.

In fundraising news, my own total is at $135, but I've recruited 24 team members so far, and we're at $2,100 for the team. Short of my goal, but still good. And there's still a week to go.

If only the warm weather will come already. The next few days are supposed to be better, but I'm really sick of winter. I need to move somewhere warmer...