Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap- Part 2- The Race

Now that I’ve gone over the pre-race festivities, the question is “How did the race actually go?”

My main goal for the race coming into the week was 2 fold.  First, I wanted to GoPro the entire race and get footage to show what it’s like to run the NYC Marathon from an actual runner’s point of view.  I had a GoPro attached to a chest harness and ran the entire race taking a time lapse video.  I’m still in the process of editing the footage, so that should be up in a bit.  The second goal was to enjoy the race and run it for fun, yet still go under 3:10.  Why 3:10?  That’s my Boston Marathon qualification time.  I know I am not going to run Boston again for some time, but it’s still nice to say I BQ’d.  Easy enough since I have been running all my runs significantly faster and running a 7:14 minute pace was something I knew I could achieve.

So once they loaded us in the starting area, I started talking to some folks and met someone who wanted to do the exact same time as me, and since he ran 3:12 last year, we decided to run together for a while.  Right there was both a good move and bad move by me.  I loved the idea of running with someone since it would keep me in check since I’m notorious for going out too fast, but I never run with anyone else so I knew this might backfire.  However, once we got on the bridge, things seemed to work out.  The fact that there were 40 mph winds pushing us from one side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge wasn’t helping, but only made me feel like I was going to get pushed over into the water.  They say the first mile on the NYC Marathon is the hardest since it’s all uphill.  I’d agree and the winds added to it.  Once we got on the descent and started getting into Brooklyn, we started getting into our rythmn.  By the looks of our first few miles, we were right on pace.  About 10 seconds too slow after mile 4, so I was so happy.  I wanted to stay loose and not tax my legs so I had enough in the tank at the end. 

One thing I noticed during the entire race was just how quiet the spectators were.  You always hear how great and loud NYC is and everyone says Brooklyn is an 8 mile long party.  I can say, this didn’t happen today.  I know it was windy and cold, but that usually doesn’t stop the masses from coming out and cheering.  There was definitely a disappointment with the crowd.

As the miles ticked by, I started to realize that my strategy of running with someone was not a good one.  The guy I was with seemed a little slower than me, and during every water stop, he physically stopped to get water then sped up.  I know how to grab a cup and drink on the go so it was a fluid motion for me.  But I saw myself waiting for him after every water stop.  Not a good idea.  Also, hills don’t bother me so going up them I stay the course and cruise down the hills.  He decided to significantly slow down up the hills, but then fly down them.  I didn’t like his move but we were on pace for most of the race so it wasn’t so bad.

At around mile 10-11, I noticed he just wasn’t staying with me as much and stupid me slowed down to stay with him.  I felt great and thought it was just some small rolling hills that got him.  At mile 12.5, I couldn’t take it anymore, we were just at the halfway mark and he dropped back.  I felt great, went up the Pulaski Bridge to the Half mark and never saw him again.  Now it was my race.  I knew how to control it.  I looked at my half split and I was 1:36.  One minute slower than goal pace but I was fine with it since that’s about where I wanted to be.  No worries.  Half the race to make up that minute.

As I took the turn up to the Queensborough Bridge I enjoyed the silenced of no spectators knowing 1st Ave in NYC was going to be the explosion I wanted and needed.  I kept passing people and killed the bridge while telling myself to be prepared and hold back on 1st and not to get carried away from the downhill and the fans.  Once that turn was made, 1st Ave came and went and the most disappointed I felt of the day was here.  In my opinion it was dead. Runners were only on the left side of the road and there were no spectators on the right.  So weird.  I knew I was going to see Leo at mile 17, so I went to the side where he was and saw his BIG, and I mean BIG sign.  I saw him 4 blocks before he saw me.  Look here at his sign
No way to miss Leo like this

Riley bracing the cold to come watch me
My family is on the right, though hard to see
Once I passed Leo, I crossed over to the right side of the road where my family would be and had the ENTIRE lane to myself.  I guess the wind kept everyone together but I went to say hi to my family.  I gave my wife a water bottle to give me with a new piece of gum attached so I was looking forward to this.  When I came up to my family I saw them all and saw how miserable Riley looked.  Aww, how I felt bad.

A pic of me from where I met my family

After this, it was only 8 miles to go and I felt great.  I knew I had about 2 more miles of headwind and then the wind would be helping for the final 5 miles.  I still felt good and knew I had the race in the bag.  At about mile 20, I looked at my watch and thought I was going too slow. The wind didn’t bother me the entire race (that I noticed at all), but I saw my mile times slipping but not because I felt bad, just the wind. I tried to pick it up but it was too heavy.  So when the wind didn’t stop at mile 22 I knew I really didn’t have a shot at my 3:10 goal since I didn’t think I could knock off that much time in only a few miles.

So 5th Ave came and I conquered it and now it was time to entire Central Park.  Home turf.  It’s weird.  I kept going past people. I didn’t think there were that many in front of me, but I felt strong and kept going.  Once in the Park it was just going for 2 miles and then a quick exit out of the park and right back in.  Coming back into Central Park was great, but as I was running I had this big pit of disappointment.  Not because I knew I was going to fall short of my goal, but this race just didn’t have the excitement I thought it would.

Crossing the finish line was a bit anti-climatic.  But a finish time of 3:15:40.  With 40 mph winds, it was actually a good race.  I later spoke with a bunch of different runners and they all said the same thing.  Their times were somewhere between 5-8 minutes lower than normal because of the wind.  So can’t really complain about that.

Looking back, the wind was not the issue.  I didn’t run a smart race for myself and strategically limited myself by running with someone else that I didn’t know, and also not taking advantage of the 1st Ave downhill and crowds.  But, the race is in the books and I’m happy with how everything went down.  I’m glad I raced NYC one more time, but will probably not be doing it again for a while. 

Well, race season is over and now it’s time to enjoy cupcake season.

I ran with this guy a lot during the race.  Sometimes I got "too much of a view"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 NYC Marathon recap- Part 1-leading up to the race.

This past weekend I ran the NYC Marathon for the second time in my life.  The first year I ran it was in 2006 and I knew absolutely nothing about anything.  I was so naive that I thought it was "weak" to drink at water stops and I had 1 gel the entire race.  Since then, I have clearly learned a lot and have raced plenty.

So how'd my race go?  Well, sort of good, sort of bad, mostly neutral.  I'll talk about the week leading up to the race here and my next post will be about the actual race itself.

The weeks leading up to the race I was ready. My training was good, I felt good, and knew this was going to be a good race for me.  But during my taper weeks something happened.  The dreaded IT Band started to flare up ONE WEEK before the race during an easy final run.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  On an easy light run, it started?  During my taper, it started.  That's crap.  If anything, it should have acted up weeks/months ago.  But it waited until the week before to start? Come on.

So the week leading up the race was mostly spent recovering, spinning, and just as much therapy as I could give it.  For the most part it worked and my legs felt fresh.  I went to the Expo and spent as little time there as possible since there really wasn't anything great that I saw and nothing I really needed.

I went on 1 run on the Thursday before the race as part of the Timex One Relay, which was amazing since I got to test out their new GPS One watch and they donated $600 to the charity of my choice.  My legs felt good.  The IT Band hurt a little but nothing huge.

So Race morning arrived, and since I raised money for the Achilles International Foundation, I was able to take their private bus to the start.  I could have taken the water ferry to the start but I chose the bus because I wanted to meet some of the amazing Achilles athletes and I thought the bus would be a better/faster route.  So I woke up at 4 am to eat, got ready and got to the bus at 5:15 AM. This is where everything started to get weird.  We were told to get to the buses early and once the were filled they would depart.  What was omitted was that ALL the buses had to be filled in order to get our police escort to the start.  Well, we were on our bus at 5:30 and we didnt start to move until 6:50AM.  That's a long time to stay on a bus.  On a bus with NO bathrooms.  I'm sure you can see where this is going.  All of these marathoners eating and drinking to stay hydrated and we had no place to go.

So let's just say there were a few people who got creative, some more than others.  Some had no shame or remorse and some just didn't care.  There were plenty of empty water bottles that were suddenly filled, and some other items that were filled.  All I can say is that I sunk to a new low and can only thank a fellow passenger on that bus for helping me out.  For the sake of just being plain ol' nasty, I won't go into details, but my friends and family heard one funny story Sunday night.  I guess I didn't pack everything that I needed for my race.

So after the bus finally got to Staten Island for the start, I had to make my way across the field where I was dropped off to my corral and start area.  Since there are 3 start areas, of course mine would be at least a 15-20 minute walk away.  And it was coooold.  Like 36 degree cold with winds of 40 mph. We'll get into that in bit, but those winds didnt help the day.

But I finally made it to my start village, sat down, ate my PBJ sandwich and made some race day friends.  At about 9:30, they loaded us into the starting shoot and we were ready to go.  I would have liked a smoother race morning, but all being said, it wasn't too bad.  I just needed to wait for the start cannon to go off.

To find out about how my race went, my post will be up in a few days.

Just loading all of us in the corral

Trying to find a spot to sit against a fence

Everyone just trying to stay warm
All of us huddled waiting to start.
(The guy in the middle will play an important part of my race)

An Ominous Sky, but we're soon to be off

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NYC Marathon Playlist

One of my largest viewed posts from last year was my playlist for the Boston Marathon.  One of the things I love doing for all my races is to make a specialized playlist that flows with the specific course that I'm about to run.  I get completely into the playlist and know where I should be down to the minute.  I add up the time of the song and my pace and make the playlist for what is needed for the course.  For example, if on mile 15 there is a big hill coming up, I want a fast paced song to help get me up the hill.  Or if there is a downhill section where I want to control myself and not go too fast, I'll put a slower song to help reel me back in.  And of course, no playlist is complete without the standard Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift pick me up and smile song at just the right time.

So without further ado, below is my NYC Marathon Playlist and the course map so you can see where I'll be at an exact time a certain song comes on.

NYC Marathon Elevation

Dont Wake Me Up- Chris Brown
Where Them Girls At- David Guetta
Al About That Bass- Meghan Trainor
Domino-Jesse J
Turn Me On- David Guetta
Fancy- Iggy Azalea
Dont Tell Em- Jeremih
Brokenhearted- Karmin
Wild Wild Love- Pitbull
Sick of Being Lonely- FieldMob
Dark Horse- Katy Perry
Up in Da Club- 50 Cent
Break Your Heart- Taio Cruz
Fancy Footwork-Chromeo
Airplanes- BoB
Wild Ones- Flo Rida
Without You- David Guetta
Right Now- Rihanna
Rather Be- Clean Bandit
Timber- Kesha
Bailando- Enrique Iglesius
Break Free- Ariana Grande
Hate it or Love it- 50 Cent
Lose Yourself- Eminem
Raise Your Glass- Pink
Price Tag- Jesse J
Whistle- Flo Rida
The Anthem - Good Charlotte
Beggin- Madcom
Pump It Up- Joe Budden
Play Hard- David Guetta
Bardon Bellas from Pitch Perfect
This is How We Do- Katy Perry
The Resolution- Jack's Mannequin
Magic- BoB
Dont Stop Believing- Journey
Good Feeling- Flo Rida
Keep on Keeping On- Travie McCoy
Black Widow- Iggy Azalea
Titanium- David Guetta
Shake it Off- Taylor Swift
The Man- Aloe Blacc
Let it Roll- Flo Rida
My Time- Fabolous
Rest of My Life- Ludacris
Empire State of Mind- Jay-z
Dynamite- Taio Cruz
Cant Hold Us- Macklemore
Talk Dirty- Jason Derulo
Payphone- Maroon 5
Give Me Everything- Pit Bull
Club Can't Handle Me- Flo Rida--- This is the song I should cross the finish line to if I'm on pace
Call Me Maybe- Miley Cyrus 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I was recently informed of something cool that I am going to take part in and am very excited.  

I log my road miles using CharityMiles. If you haven't heard of CharityMiles, it's a great app that allows you to log miles and in doing so, any given brand, company, or corporation will donate money for the miles you logged. For every mile I run, 25¢ is donated to whichever charity I choose for that run. It doesn't seem like a lot of money, but it's pretty cool if you think about it. The more you use the app, the more miles you log, the more money goes to the charity you specify.

About a month ago I received an email about this exciting opportunity to run for the Timex ONE Relay. What is the Timex ONE Relay? It's a month long relay. The miles run move from city to city, starting in Chicago and ending in NYC. It's an 800-mile relay!  Timex Sports is working with CharityMiles to do even more. They are organizing and sponsoring the Timex One Relay, an unprecedented 800 mile, 22-day journey featuring more than 100 runners and spanning the Chicago and NYC Marathons to help raise funds for deserving charities. The relay kicks-off on October 9th. For every mile traveled between Chicago and New York, Timex will donate $100 to one of those designated charities.  I'll be raising money for the Achilles International Foundation. 

What they are also doing is launching the Timex One GPS+ watch which is a new GPS watch that is pretty cool.  Something cool about the watch is you can send messages to the watch.  As a result, you can follow the progress of the Timex One Relay on FacebookTwitter and at Runners will be wearing the new Timex IronMan One GPS+ watch. So, you can track the relay progress in real-time and to send messages of encouragement directly to the runners, who will receive them on their watch along the route.

I will be running the NYC leg of the relay on October 30th when the relay finishes up in NYC right before I run the NYC Marathon.  Check out this great relay every day and track it's progress.  I'm excited to be part of it

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Family Traditions

The family pickers
One of the things that I have started to really enjoy is to continue on family traditions.  Every one who knows me knows that I am not a sentimental person, I am not someone who gets emotional, gooey or anything like that.  But thinking about my childhood, there were things that I grew up doing that I now want to pass on with my family and having Riley do them.

One of those things is Apple Picking in the Fall.  When I was younger, my family would go to this one Apple Orchard every year and pick apples.  We would spend an entire day there, packing a lunch, having a picnic, picking apples, sometimes thrown a ball around.  Those days were just awesome.  I remember them so well.  A few years ago, the wife and I started apple picking again.  While it was fun, there was something missing about it.

A few weeks ago, we took Riley apple picking.  Not just the wife and I, but the whole family.  grandma, Grandpa, and Auntie.  The best part is it is the same orchard that I went to as a child. So not only did we continue with the tradition, but we continued it at the same place.  This orchard allows you to climb trees, eat as many apples as you want in the orchard and then you just pay for what you take out.  We went last year, but Riley was way too young to enjoy it.   Not this year.  This year he was running around the trees, picking apples from trees, helping Grandpa fill his bag.

Sometimes its the little things that I enjoy, and this was definitely one of those.  Yes, apple picking is fun, but knowing that my son is doing the same thing I did 30 plus years ago makes it all that much more special.  I can't wait to continue to do other traditions with Riley and the family.

How many apples can I fit into my mouth

Grandpa I got one!

Dad, can we get this pumpkin please?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Raising a child

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to document what it's like to raise a baby and continue to train as much as I do and how I manage the 2.  Over the course of almost 2 years, I think I have possibly forgotten a lot of writing about the raising a child part.  It's so easy to write about training and what I'm trying to accomplish and how I've either been successful or not.  Those are documented things.  However, I haven't been writing that much about Riley and how he has influenced my life.

Outside of the obvious, he's changed my life for the better, he's the most important thing in my life, and everything a parent should say, etc.  Riley has also taught me a lot over the past 21 months.

-He has taught me that it's so easy to laugh at almost anything.  The wife and I are really lucky. Riley is such an easy baby.  Very rarely do we experience the typical terror baby (which is also why we don't want to mess it up and try for a second soon).  So it is very easy to look at Riley and laugh at almost everything he does.  He is so good and playful that even if he does something bad, he gives this face and you just have to laugh at him.  Even in his devilish ways, laughing at him is so easy.

-Schedules are good.  Yes, we all know schedules are supposed to be followed, but how many of us actually do this?  Since about 3 months, Riley has been on a schedule for most things. Naps, food, playtime, bedtime, etc. What we find is that the more he follows this schedule, the better acclimated he is at everything else.  What this also does is allow the wife and I to be on a regular schedules ourselves.  We know how we can build our days, workouts, plans, and everything else around his schedule.  This makes our lives so much easier.  Yes, we get the comments of how "structured" we are, but we also get the comments on how good Riley is, so I'll take the structured comments with how great of a baby he is.  I'll also take knowing when I can go for a long run vs. short intense run because of timing issues.  This helps me plan my training tremendously.

-Grandparents mean well, but.....I'll just leave it at that.  Riley has 2 sets of wonderful grandparents.  They both love him and make our lives easy....most of the time.  Some of the challenge with having grandparents is that since they raised you, they think they know everything and always use the line "well, I raised you and your sister (or brother or X amount of kids).  This is very true, but it is the wife's and mine choices that are going to have the most impact of Riley's development.  We like to think we know what's best for him since we see him every day.  So when we know he has to be fed by a certain time or he'll turn into Audrey 2 from the Little Shop of Horrors, we know what we're talking about and that he should probably eat.  While we can stretch out the times we eat, he can't.  Or when we only allow him to watch TV before naps and bed, that means it should not be on all day.  The wife and I can't complain about Riley's grandparents too much since we'll take them over most, and definitely not having, but we wish they would listen to us a little more.

- A way to make Thunder like you is through his stomach.  At first, Thunder wasn't too fond of Riley.  He didn't like the attention he was getting and wanted me all to himself.  This all changed when Riley started eating real food.  Since Thunder was always Riley's best friend, but Riley wasn't always Thunder's, this had to change.  Riley always wanted to play with Thunder.  So when Riley started giving his Cheerios to his sidekick, Thunder started getting a little more interest in Riley.  Now Thunder follows Riley around since there is a chance he might get a snack.  To watch a boy and his dog play is one of the true treasures in life.

There are tons of things I have learned and experienced over the months since Riley has been born that I can't write enough.  But since I realized that I have gone away from a lot of the reasons I created this blog, I wanted at least get some of them out there.  Having Riley in our lives has been a blessing and one that we wont trade in.

A Boy and his Dog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Favorite workouts

Now that Tri season is officially over for the year, it's time to focus on marathon season.  I'm actually really excited about this.  Having a disappointing Tri season is something that I wasn't expecting, but I'm happy to put it in my rear-view mirror.  This way, I can focus on only one discipline, which also happens to be my favorite of the 3 disciplines and one that I am most comfortable in.

Over the past few years, I've developed or stolen some workouts that have been staples in my running training programs.  They are just my go to workouts that I know will kick my butt, but also give me a good idea of where I am in my training.  I would say that 95% of my workouts are hard.  I very rarely do "easy" days.  I know this isn't good and that easy run days are needed, but it's not something I can do easily.  Even during my easy days, I find myself pushing myself during parts of the run.

I've also had the experience to bring on a few fellow runners and introduce them to a few of my workouts.  Some like them, most don't.  But when we all get through the workouts, everyone does thank me for introducing them to the pain. So here goes.  Feel free to take them, tweak them, make them yours.  Just pass them on and push yourself during each workout

Treadmill Speed workout:
Warm up with a 1/2 mile-1 mile at half marathon pace
Interval runs 2 minutes on, 1 minute rest
Here's the kicker- make the intervals FAST.
For example, my treadmill run pace for a normal run is 10.2 mph. For this workout, my run interval speed is 11.8 mph for the first minute, then 11.9 the 2nd.  After 2 minutes, either rest with a slow/comfortable jog or hop off and stand on the rails

Do this for at least 5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, that breaks down to about 25 minutes. If you can do longer, then do it.  I know I'm exhausted and fighting at the end of it, so do it until you can't sustain the entire 2 minutes.
To make it harder, increase the incline on the treadmill.  I start mine at a level of 1.0

Hill Workouts:
Warm up with a jog to your desired hill.
Find a hill that is about 1/3-1/2 a mile long.  The speed for this workout should be faster than 5k pace.  I know a lot of people don't recommend this, but I find that essentially sprinting up a high grade hill at this speed gets me more ready for long runs than doing a hill at an easier pace.
Jog back down to the bottom of the hill and start again.

Build up hill reps.  When I start these each season, I struggle to finish 5.  By the end of the season, I'm up to 10 hill repeats.  The goal during the actual run part is to really fight the pain and mental pain during the last 30 seconds of the hill.  That's how fast you want to go.  If you can do the hill and it feels easy or slightly difficult, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.  At the top of the hill, you should have your hands on your knees gasping for air and then recover on the way down.  This makes racing up hills a lot easier and you get to find that edge where you blow past people on the hills during a race and really get a lift.

note- this is the hardest workout I do.  At first, it was just me.  Then I had Leo join me, and have since had others join.  Each have said how much they hated it the first time doing it.  I think one person even threw up.  But I can tell you that every single person has asked me when is the next time we are doing this workout.

Pole Workout:
No, I'm not becoming a stripper.
I stole this workout, so this is one I can't take credit for.  Since Central Park is my home turf, I use Light posts as my markers, but you can use whatever street marker you want.

Run at 5k pace for 3 lamp posts, then jog for 3 lamp posts. Then run 4 lamp posts, jog for 4 lamp posts.  Go to 5 lamp posts, then start again at 3.

Why this is good is that you can't pick a course that is easy.  If you happen to start an interval on an uphill and have to do 4 lamp posts, then that's what you have to do.  You can't cheat the system.  It all depends on the street, the course, what marker you are using, where your intervals start and stop, etc.

Those are my 3 favorite workouts.  The first 2, I typically use every week.  The last one, I tend to use in the beginning of the season for some reason and then forget about. Every single one of these workouts make my long runs easier because it works on specific parts of each run.  Knowing that I can bust it up a hill at a pace faster than 5k speed helps me get through the pain I'm in when I'm doing that same hill at marathon pace.

Tempo runs, long runs, Canova workouts and a bunch of others are all incorporated into my running, but as much as I hate the 3 above, I love them just as much, if not more.