Playing catch up

I'm taking this morning to be a good blogger: I'm going to get through at least 50 posts on my reader (prepare for an onslaught of comments) and am current writing a post (this one).

Once again life has intervened and blogging has taken a back seat.  I launched a massive project at work this past Monday and was supposed to be in Memphis for a week's worth of meetings--but that was canceled since some of my clients are European based and couldn't get on an airplane due to volcanic ash (when am I ever going to get to say that again?).  On top of that it's been the three hardest weeks on the training plan all with mileage in the 40s range.

Training in general has been on a huge upswing.  The warmer weather and the sun coming up earlier have really helped with my morale.  And I have successfully completed two (!) 20 miles runs this training cycle, which have been gigantic confidence boosters.  However, I still don't feel like I'm back in top form.  Looking back at my times from this point in training for the NYCM I'm not as fast as I was then and I don't remember being as tired: whereas I remember constantly waking up before my alarm, now I hit snooze before I can convince myself out of bed.  I guess this is what happens when you start training in the dead of winter and move apartments one-month into the training cycle.  This makes me really looks forward to summer training and thoroughly convinces me that I need to join a gym next winter.

Speaking of completing two 20 miles runs this training cycle, I noticed something last night while discussing them with Wifey.  The 20 miler I did on April 10 was very hilly: rollers up the west side to the GWB, the big descent and then climb in Palisades Park, and then rollers all the way back to 59th Street (via Central Park).  Yesterday's 20-miler was very flat--actually the only hilly portion was the first couple of miles in Central Park, otherwise it was basically flat running along the Hudson down to Battery Park (and doubling back at some points to get to 20 miles).

You would think the former would have been slower and the latter would have been faster.  But no, it turned out to be the opposite: the hilly run I finished at an 8:54 pace and the flat one I finished at 9:01.  Granted, there isn't that much difference between the two (it translates into about a two minute difference for total time), but you also have to consider that I felt more beat up after the flat run than the hilly run.  My theory is that the hilly run I alternated using different parts of my legs while with the flat run I was using the same parts over and over.  Just a thought.  It's such a small difference over 20 miles that it also could be nothing.

Now that peak week is over I can start focusing on the race in Delaware--I can already feel Marathon Fever begin to set in.


More pictures in my heads

Before getting into the "grappling hook" I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments from the DC race report. That was one hard race to run--it's great to know there's a whole group of strangers (all three of you since I've been half-assing the blog scene lately) cheering me on. Thanks guys and gals.

Yes indeed, that is a grappling gun. (You know I'll make this relevant to running, just hold on for the ride.) This device is usually reserved for the ranks of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and ninja assassins. They typically use it when they need to scale an enemy building, climb over the wall of a fortress, or boost the cool gadget factor of a movie (I refer you to the scene in the original Batman movie where Batman asks Vicki how much she weighs).

While I don't own a grappling hook--although that would have it's conveniences--I have found myself using one while running.

Mostly, I find myself using the grappling hook on the track. Now that the weather has warmed up and the sun is rising earlier I all of a sudden have company on the track at Astoria Park. It's awesome to finally be running in sunlight again and even better to have other people at the track. The latter not necessarily for the company, but more for use in grappling hook target practice.

It didn't start off as something intentional, but I've realized that when I lock on someone while running I'll start pacing myself to overtake them. Even in a largeish pack I can pick out someone that's going my pace or slightly slower, peg them, and eventually overtake them. Once again, it's not something I did on purpose, it kinda just happened. After while I started to realize when I did this and noticed that the sensation felt like I had hooked onto the person in front of me and was pulling them closer (via an invisible rope). Eventually I started to throw the term "grappling hook" around my head, as in I would lock in on a target, launch a grappling hook that would grab on to them, and then slowly--although sometimes quickly--overtake them.

For many reasons I use the grappling hook most often on the track. First, I do speed work on the track, so I'm usually going my very fastest. Second, there are a lot of people clustered together at the track, therefore, many targets. Third, most other people on the track are not doing speed work; they're either walking or simply running slower than me at the time. Fourth, it's a big circle; there are no places for the people in front of you to turn off the course or change routes (ala Central Park), so it's easy to chase people down.

During my Yasso repeats on Thursday I actually got to the point where I made a gun shape with my hand and would "launch" the grappling hook onto the people I was going to overtake. I tried to keep it subtle. However, during yesterday's long run (20 miles) I was much less subtle. Now, understand I was in the last two miles of the run and I was kicking ass (8:54 pace--unheard of for me at the 20 mile training range). Since I only had two miles left I wasn't worried about running out of steam, so I starting whipping out the grappling hook--which would otherwise backfire on a long run. By the end of the run I was audibly saying "boom" every time I "launched" the grappling hook--which was pretty often because I was in Central Park and it was the middle of a beautiful day. Anyone with a keen eye would noticed me running, full-tilt, shooting an imagery gun and whispering "boom" through a park crowded with runners. In retrospect I'm surprised I wasn't arrested.