Friday, November 28, 2014

What I'm thankful for in 2014 Sports Related in 2014

To celebrate Thanksgiving, last year I published what I'm thankful for relating to sports and training.  So I decided to do that again this year because there are things that have changed within the past year.  So to take out the obvious, I'm thankful for family, friends, Riley, Thunder, good health, etc., this is strictly a sports related what I'm thankful for.  So don't get your panties all in a bunch when I don't mention what's going on in the real world.

Things I'm thankful for Product related:

- My Wahoo Kickr paired with TrainerRoad.  I got this last year as a Black Friday deal and my cycling has dramatically improved as a result. I am consistently training with power and trying to get stronger every time I jump on the bike.  Previously, I would just either ride my bike or spin bike and create a workout during the ride.  I can feel how much stronger I am getting and love those indoor rides.

- My Skora Fits. Yes, full disclosure, I am a Skora Ambassador, but the Fits were released this year and they are the most comfortable shoe I have ever run in.  They have made training runs so seamless and comfortable.

-Cherry Cola Energy Chews- If you haven't already tried these, Honey Stinger makes a great product.  I'm not a fan of any other chews, sportbeans, or anything I have to chew during a training ride/run, but these are great.  The taste and consistency make them a nice change of pace.  Plus the caffeine in them gives me a nice boost.  I typically use them during all my Tri's, and I had them this year for the marathon.

-Tight spandex shorts.  Yes, I love the spandex!  Who doesn't.  And anyone who says they don't is not a real runner or real triathlete.  We run and compete in spandex all season so it's better to embrace the stretchy than to fight it.  Don't put shorts over your tights.  Show off your goods, you earned them.

-Sunglasses. Like all types of sunglasses.  That's my crack.  I have over 6 pairs that I train in and with new Black Friday deals, I'm sure there will another addition to that group.  I may look like the Terminator when I wear them, but I need them on

-Waterproof MP3 player.  I hate the pool.  There is nothing I like about getting in the water and doing laps, so at least I have some type of distraction while I'm cranking out swim laps.

What I'm Thankful for non product related training issues:

-The nod you give/get from another runner going in the opposite direction.  This is just some validation that you're out there doing the right thing and you recognize a common brother out there on the roads.

-Summer training bras on female runners.  Yes, sexist, but there is nothing sexier than running past a girl who is running and she has rock hard abs that pop while she is on the road

-Public restrooms where you didn't know they existed.  Sometimes nature calls and you have no idea how you're going to make it home.  Finding a restroom is one of the ultimate treasures of running.

-Passing someone on a hill (even some bikers) and then hearing them say something about you.  I love hills and I push myself up them so the ultimate satisfaction is when I blow past someone riding up a hill and they look at me like I'm crazy.  It means I'm doing something right.

- The feeling after a long workout/run where you reward yourself with whatever food you want.  The reason they call it a reward is because you earned it.  Now enjoy it.

-Finally, the off-season.  Mine just started and I'm probably enjoying it a little too much, but it's only a short amount of time, so for this small time, I'm going to make the most of the rest, recovery, and weight gain

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