14 miles

I did it: today I ran further than I have ever run before.

After the inital wave of tiredness and exhaustation, I felt really proud. Despite taking one or two walking breaks and encountering some nasty hills, I kept my pace under my goal pace of 9:00--even if only by two seconds.

What is even better/more thrilling is comparing my run today to my first Half-Marathon. I was destroyed after that race: I could barely walk, I had multiple blisters, I was absolutely tapped dry of energy (I even took a two-hour nap...a TWO-HOUR nap, I never do that). I told my wife (at that time, my girlfriend) that I would never run again, ever. But after today's run I stretched, bought some Powerade, and hopped on a subway home. That's it. There was no agony, no torturous walk on quarter-sized blisters, no cursing of the running gods--and I think that's great. I'm really proud of how far I have come. I mean, in the vast hierarchy of runnners I'm no great success story and certainly no speed demon, but with tons of determination and a dash of stubborness I've improved a lot over time.

I'm happy.

On a side note: as a result of today's run the hills in Prospect Park are on my shit list. I hate them. I hate them so much.


Stormy weather

I ran in the rain this week. I've always been a fair-weather runner, but the idea of having to put in yet another run on a treadmill this week just turned me off completely; so when I went outside on Wednesday morning I was going to put in my 3 miles rain or shine. Of course, I told myself it would just keep on sprinkling...which turned out to be a lie.

A half-mile into the run I realized that the rain was only getting stronger. Thankfully, I had decided to leave my iPod at home. I turned up the speed, finished the 3 mile run, and got my stride work done all in about 40 minutes. Just as the rain became monsoon-like.

I know there is a school of runners out there that enjoys running in the rain--people who find it exciting and refreshing. I am not one of those runners. As I had always assumed, the rain just made me want to stop and go home. You get wet everywhere (a different kind of "wet everywhere" than sweat induces). You get depressed by the crappy weather. And all the puddles get your shoes soaked. Not my idea of fun.

Moral of the story: I will continue being a fair-weather runner.

And now a word about Harry Potter.... Spent last night hopping from event to event for the first night of sales for the book. We reserved our book at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square since that is the closest one to my office. What a bad idea. What a MAJORLY bad idea. Everyone and their mother was there...literally, all the kids had their moms. The line was a disorganized mess. It was chaotic and haphazard and kinda reminded me of the starting line corrals at a race. Its not something that I would do again--but that was the idea: this was something we could never do again.

So my wife is currently 87 pages into the book...which, quite frankly, is not far enough for this increasingly-impatient patient runner.


Harry Potter and The Distance Runner

Like so many this month I am suffering from a bit of Harry Potter mania.

Ok, ok, maybe not mania. I didn't go see the midnight opening of the movie dressed in robes and round glasses, but I do have phases where I can spend hours on sites like the-leaky-cauldron.org and jkrowling.com and can't help but be sucked into everything about the books.

Last night I saw the latest movie at the IMAX at Lincoln Center. Its my favorite of the movies so far. The movie making is the most sophisticated (matching the increasing weight of the plot) and it also the only movie that feels connected to the others (thanks to flashbacks to scenes from the previous four films).

Now to add fuel to the fire, in only five days the seventh and final book will hit the shelves. And truth be told, I will probably be in line to get a copy at midnight...and I may go to the street party at Scholastic headquarters--but only because it's just a few blocks away from my office and it'll be the last chance ever the see a blowout event like this. Unfortunately, my wife is also hooked on the books and next weekend will most likely be a battle royal over who will get to read the book. (Odds are stacked against me because she is the faster reader and will probably finish reading all 700+ pages in that weekend.)

So that's my passion of the moment.

On the running front things are good. After a pathetic run on Tuesday morning I did a pretty good job on Wednesday's and Thursday's runs. And then yesterday I managed a dead-on 9-minute pace for the 12 mile long run: my exact goal pace for the marathon. Not sure if this is good or bad. I mean, it's great that I have the 9-minute pace down, but I'm only at 12 miles and running logic dictates that you get slower at longer distances. But on the other hand, during training for all my previous races I managed to get faster as training progressed because I became increasingly comfortable with a quicker pace at a longer distance. But then again, this is a new distance for me.

I've also noticed a new set of demons in training for MY FIRST MARATHON EVER. The demons from my half-marathon days were weak and could usually be shrugged off with a little bit of concentration and a good iPod playlist. But these marathon demons, they are on a different order of trouble. They haunt me during the day and remind me constantly that I am attempting to DOUBLE the longest distance I've ever run. During almost every run I remember the year I volunteered at Boston and saw dozens of runners collapse at the finish line (completely forgetting the 1,000s of runners who did not collapse.) I constantly think about the time, energy, and complete exhaustion that is involved in running a full marathon. And about once a day, every day, I think to myself: what the hell am I doing? These marathon demons suck--and I haven't even crossed the half-marathon mark in training yet.


Bahston Runnah

In Boston this weekend. All the weather forecasts said it would be rainy and hot--but I'm training for MY FIRST MARATHON EVER and I love this city, so some bad weather wasn't going to keep me from my run yesterday morning.

I carefully mapped out a route with lots of sights around the city (it took me three tries to get it down right) and was eager to head out. Perhaps a little too eager. I went to bed at 1am on Friday night (er, Saturday morning) and at 530 I sprung awake..even though I didn't plan on waking up until 730. (I hate it when this happens.) So I go in and out of sleep for two hours. Once the alarm goes off at 730 I start the rituals: drinking water, shaking off the grogginess, etc. Oddly enough I wasn't hungry.

By 8am I was outside the hotel (which was right on the finish line for the Marathon) and stretching. In the 3 years I lived here I've never seen the streets so empty as they were yesterday morning. Then again, in college I tended to not do very much at 8am. Anywho, it turned out to be perfect running conditions: high 60s, overcast skies, and relatively low humidity.

So I start running at the corner of the Public Library. Within the first mile I've managed to flare up my shins. Wtf? Usually this doesn't happen unless I've done lots of hill work. Oh wait, I did do lots of hill work on Thursday. So now I feel the pain. Great. So I focus on my hamstrings (pulling up my legs) instead of focusing on my quads (pushing down my legs). I'm not sure if this is proper technique, hell, I not even 100% sure that it's a safe technique, but it is a trick I learned a long time ago when I first started running. I noticed that if I don't make a conscious effort to use my hamstrings, I won't, and then I'll burn through my quads really fast and I'll start getting shin splints. So I focus on the hammies and the shin splits start to go away...

...Only to give way to my favorite running friend: my bowels ("my boys"). They are the bane of my running. If I have one weakness that I just can't shake off it's my damned digestive system. Right around mile 3 my boys decide to wake up and demand some love. At first it's just a subtle wave, something I would have ignored years ago. But I know better: my boys are packing heat and I'm only a 1/3 of the way through. I make pretty good progress along the Esplanade and the Harvard Bridge, but once I'm back on the Cambridge side of the Charles the boys are back--of course in the one stretch that has no bathrooms. So I struggle through the next 2 miles--focusing on my breathing, which always helps. I get stopped by a man looking for the airport (he is way lost, and you do not want to be lost in Boston) and afterward I realize that when I stopped to talk to this man instead of hitting the stop button on my watch, I've hit the lap button. Wonderful.

I pull into the last mile trying to stay on a 9 minute pace, but since I messed up the timing, I have no idea what I'm at. And every time I speed up, the boys get all excited because it means the end is near--so then I have to slow back down.

So I finish on Boylston. Not my best finish, but I did it and I ran the whole way (which is still a concern for me even after 7 years of running). While I'm not excited about the pace I maintained, I am happy that I was able to deal with the shin pain successfully.

P.S. So I was browsing the running section of Barnes and Noble on Thursday and found an interesting tid-bit in Jeff Galloway's training book (one of the many). It seems that for the first Olympics the marathon was 25 miles. But for the London games in 1902 (?) the Queen asked for the race to start at Buckingham place instead of the original starting line. The Games complied and moved the starting line back 1.2 miles without adjusting the finish line. Because of this some runners say "God Save the Queen" at mile 25. Interesting to know.


Independence Day

Lots of unconnected thoughts today from my run:
  1. I need new music.
  2. I'm getting used to morning runs--it's almost magical seeing the world before it gets busy, especially in this city. The dawn paints everything a different color. Even New York looks peaceful in the dawn.
  3. My speed and endurance are starting to come back (I missed them!).
  4. Damn it--I should have slowed down during my first mile.
  5. I'm pissed because I'm supposed to have tomorrow and Friday off from work as bonus days, but with a major presentation due on Tuesday, I might not be so fortunate.
  6. There is a public pool in Astoria park. Upon further research I've found that it is one of the largest in the country and the largest in New York. How did I miss this?
  7. I like running outside because I can try to pick off other runners (in addition to the scenery, sunshine, fresh air, etc.)
  8. I need to go to the beer garden.
  9. I forgot to pick up the laundry yesterday...crap. Now I have to wait until tomorrow.
  10. Wait, I still have 14.5 more weeks to go until Baltimore? Man, I can't wait until I cross that finish line.
  11. Why is it that runners don't say hello to each other here? When I lived in Miami and Boston everyone said hi. Silly New Yorkers.

That's about it. Really excited about going to Boston this weekend. Not so excited about the forecast (rain with a chance of monsoon).

Happy Independence Day.