Saturday, December 27, 2008

Running on the Road

The concierge at the hotel gave handed me the Boston jogging map but didn't let go of it right away. 
"So... when are you planning on running?" 
"In the morning..."
"OK, but... it's gonna be pretty nasty out there..."

It had been two days since the last snow storm, but there was still a lot of snow on the ground. My hope was that the paths were clear enough that I could experience the legendary running paths along the Charles River.

The concierge was not optimistic. Through a combination of words and facial expressions, he suggested that a sane person might consider one of the perfectly good treadmills in the hotel health club as an alternative. 

I managed to get the map out of his hand and had a look.  Paths on either side of the Charles with numerous crossings allowed for loops off virtually any  distance desired. It looked like about a 3 minute run from the hotel to get there. I really wanted to go.

The next morning, Christmas Eve, I woke at 6AM. I would have to head out right away in order to get my run in before we had to get packed and head out of town. I contemplated the pitch black darkness and the possibility of ice on a strange route, and I headed to the health club, head hanging in shame.

When we finally got on the road, we selected "go home" on the GPS, and it guided us along the Charles toward the highway. From Memorial Drive, it was easy to see that the running path was completely impassable. 

I couldn't help but think that the roads of Central Park (home, sweet home) had to be completely clear by now. Boston -- bah humbug. 

The next day I verified this with a beautiful Christmas morning run in the park. A few hours later we were airborne, headed for Japan. With 13 plus hours in a tin can ahead of me, it gave me great comfort that I had some outdoor miles under my belt. I'm not talking about treadmill miles. I mean real running, where you move forward, climb hills, feel the wind and see the world. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Short Summary...

This week's topic from Take It and Run Thursday at the Runners Lounge is a summary of your running year in 52 words or less. So... here we go.
Start word count.... now!
Running at 6AM with Francine and the gang was a twice weekly inspiration. Running and scheming with my best buds PL and TH was a pleasure. Struggled with injury in the Spring, but seem to have it licked. 
In the end, 1250 miles, 20 races and 6 PRs. Running -- good.
Wow, that was tough. I'll do a more wordy recap of the year later. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

4 for the Holiday

Today's Holiday 4 Miler was my last race of 2008, and it was a blast. Cowboy Hazel suggested that I run the Jingle Bell 5K tomorrow, but I think I'm raced out for the weekend.  Next weekend, I'll be on the road for the holidays, not to return until after the New Year. 

I had originally planned to go easy in this race, but as usual, the excitement of the day got to me, and I ended up running hard. I jogged over to the start with TH, and met up with the rest of his clan. The boys were both racing as well, and mom was spectating and holding down the fort. 

We took of our outer layers and headed for the start, probably a bit too early, as we froze our butts off in the corrals waiting for the start. In the corral, I saw SJ and a couple of other Flyers. I also recognized a guy whose blog, rundangerously, I've enjoyed reading. I'd never met him, so I tapped him on the shoulder and let him know that I liked his blog. He runs at a similar pace to me, so I expect to see more of him in the future.

I ended up a little closer to the starting line than usual, and got a thrill as I could see the lead truck for most of the first mile of the race. Chasing the truck, I ran hard, and ended up with a 6:35 -- on PR pace. Honestly, I was a little disappointed in that time, as I felt like I was really pushing it. On second thought, I realized that mile one is quite hilly, and I would probably wail on mile two, which was mostly downhill. I was disappointed again, when I hit mile 2 with a 6:43. With Cat hill still ahead, it wasn't looking good for a PR. 

Around that time ST passed me. I wasn't sure it was her from behind, since she was wearing a hood and no Flyer gear, but I caught her again on Cat hill and was able to see her face. ST was just the person I needed to see right then -- a fast runner to try to beat, rather than a long hill to climb. We ran most of the rest of the race together, pushing each other hard. There was also another Flyer there, who I didn't know. 

Mile three came in at 6:42. Very odd. I ran the Cat hill mile at the same pace as the down hill mile before it. A quick calculation told me I needed a 6:20 to hit my PR time. That was a stretch, but not completely out of the question. The last mile was downhill, and it was, well, the last mile. I kept pushing eventually outpacing ST toward the end, and momentarily caught up with the other Flyer, although he out kicked me in the end. We shook hands afterward - he's KM -- always good to know another Flyer.

I was trying so hard at the end, that I didn't get right to my watch at the finish, so I wasn't sure of exactly what my time was, but it did appear that I had PRed. What a way to end the season. 

After the race, I caught up with a number of Flyers, including TH, SJ, ST, Captain GW and the FlyGirl, who had capped a great season with yet another PR. 

When I got home and checked the official results, I found that I had PRed by THREE SECONDS. Hey, a PR is a PR.  I was 17th of 206 men in my age group and 183 of 4878 overall. 

AG %
1831701726:196:3423:349071.4 %

That's good enough for me -- for 2008 anyway. 

Happy Holidays! 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Help Me Pick the Next Goal

OK, I've PRed my last two races, and I'm ready to step back, regroup, and aim for a new goal. The question is....

What should my new goal be?

It has to be some kind of obvious  landmark to make it worth the trouble. I'm looking to take a few months or longer of targeted training before taking a shot at the prize. I'm up for intervals, tempo runs, long runs or any combo to hit my new goal.

The problem is, I've passed all of the obvious times that I was close to. Now, my PRs are mostly at a pace a few seconds below a minute mark, and my finish times are not particularly near an :o5 or :10. 

I could use some help with the next goal. Here are some ideas:

1] A sub 20 minute 5K.  This seems like the most obvious nearby milestone, but I usually only race the one NYRR 5K road race a year. Perhaps I should look for some others nearby. Any suggestions?

2] A Half Marathon at sub 7:30 pace. This would be a PR, and although beating an X:30 pace is not like beating an X:00 pace, it would be a solid improvement on my current best.

3] A Half Marathon at sub 1:35. This would be a 7:15 pace. More ambitious, but more of a reward. 

4] Some marathon goal. I have definitely under performed in my two marathons, and I'm ready to go for something better, but what? 

5] ???? 

Any suggestions would be welcome. My current PRs are posted here on the lower right. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

JK 10K 2008

Over a month ago, I went public with my plan to target today's Joe Kleinerman 10K. My goal was to beat my PR of 44:31 (7:01 min per mile), and get the new record under a 7 minute pace. 

Coming into the race, I felt prepared to achieve my goal, but it is always hard to predict what will actually happen. 

As usual, the NYRR corral system produced a clean start, and I was able to set my own pace from the beginning.  I finished mile one in 6:59 -- right on target given that this mile included the biggest hill in the park. The next three miles were slightly faster - well under 7 minutes each. As expected, mile 5 was the crux of the race. It's quite hilly, including Cat Hill, and it's at the toughest point in the race psychologically -- you're tired, yet the finish still seems far away. When I got through mile 5 in under 7 minutes, I knew my PR was in the bag. Mile 6 is mostly downhill, and that just left the last 0.2. 

Toward the end of the race, I noticed a runner that seemed to have targeted me. We had swapped places a few times earlier, but I really noticed him when he put on a charge at about 1/4 mile out. I waited for my kick until later, and we found ourselves side by side with just 30 or 40 yards to go. We exchanged looks, and the race was on. I was really surprised at what I had left, but he had even more, beating me by a step at the finish. I was going for a PR, but I never would have run that hard to the finish if this guy hadn't been there. I don't know why it was so much fun, but it was. 

Afterwards, I met up with friends and teammates, and there were lots of good reports. TH had a PR, as did nyflygirl. Both of them are on a roll. 

My official time was 42:33 (6:51 min/mile), so I am marking this goal as met. Now I have to starting thinking about what the next goal will be...

The Splits:
1:18 (0.2)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Zero One

Let me start with  a story. My good friend PL ran a brilliant PR in the Queens Half Marathon in 2007, destroying his previous record by over 5 minutes. After the race, he told me with hint of sadness, "you know Doc, I don't ever want to run faster than that."

Here was a man who had just run a great race, but it hurt. And he thought he might have reached his peak. 

That night, PL got home and checked out the official race results on line. His pace for the race was recorded at X:01 per mile. 

It doesn't matter what the X was, the point is that it was one second from being a minute faster per mile. The next time I spoke to PL,  he was looking for a Half Marathon to run. He couldn't let the X:01 stand. He wanted to run faster.

Here is a quiz: 
Runner A runs a race in 8 minutes and 1 second per mile.
The next month, Runner A runs a race in 7 minutes and 59 seconds per mile.
How much faster did Runner A get?
Answer: One minute per mile (i.e. a LOT faster). 

There are some who would say that Runner A only got 2 seconds per mile faster. I'm sure these people are excellent mathematicians, but any runner will back up my answer.

That's why I'm driven to beat my own zero one. My 10K PR is 7:01 per mile. If I can hit 6:59 on Sunday, I'll be as happy as can be.  

As for PL, he's beaten that X:01 PR twice since that day in Queens, and I don't think he's hit his fastest time yet. Not by a long shot.