Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

The last week's been crazy. I was working in excess of 12 hours everyday last week, needing to add time to shop for Christmas, and trying to get in the last week of running. Not surprisingly, the blog took the hit.

I went to the Harley Davidson store on Lexington Avenue to pick up a shirt for my dad to use as an exchange gift. So, I go at lunch, from my office, in my fitted shirt, tie, Brooks Brothers suit. I go through the rack of shirts -- my instructions are that it must say "New York." I find a shirt, I find a salesperson. I say, "Can I have this shirt in 3X?" He looks at me like I've lost my mind. I say, "You don't have this in 3X?" He says, "No." I say, "Do you have anything in 3X?" He says, "Maybe," and starts going through the rack: "No. No. No. Uhhhhmm. . . No. No. Maybe this one. I'll check in the back." He then disappears . . . and I look at hats . . . and I look at lighters . . . and then he comes back with a different shirt and says, "I have this one." I said, "I'll take it," without even really looking at it. I'm somewhat surprised, because I thought if any shop had a demographic that would want -- nay, need 3X shirts, it would be Harley Davidson.

My runs this week have been awful, almost without exception. Tuesday I woke up, and sat in my apartment, in full dress, thinking "I can't do this. I just can't do this." I then laid down on the couch, in my gear -- tights, shoes, jacket -- and went back to sleep. This will, I'm sure, make more sense when you know that I'd worked all weekend and then had been at the office until midnight on Monday. Thursday, I tried to run 5 miles, but walked most of the last 1.5 to prevent "runner's trots." But the great runs didn't really come until the weekend.

Friday's run, just under 12 miles, started with me feeling like I'd been delayed at the airport 4 hours, only had Burger King for dinner, and then landed in Cincinnati at 2 a.m. . . Oh, wait, that's what happened on Thursday night! But, in all fairness, the run really improved my mood and I'm sure it would have become fantastic if the second half hadn't involved a 600' climb over about 0.75 miles. To put this in perspective, the first 6 miles took 45 minutes and the second 6 took 56 minutes. Yikes!

Saturday's run was very special. This was supposed to be a 3 hour long run. Not only did I get lost in Kentucky ridge land, (I swear, I ran uphill for 30 solid minutes. I'm never going to complain about Cat Hill again.), but the worst was the cold! The weather wasn't that cold, but I was in my skimpy shorts and . . . about an hour in . . . uhm, let's just say that the end of my man muscle was a little raw from the cold -- and in, every step my shorts felt like sandpaper. I started running with my hands down my pants, but knew that I couldn't go another 2 hours like that. So the long run was called at about 7 miles. I looked in today's paper to see if there was an article about me -- "Perverted Jogger seen Masturbating on the Run in A.J. Jolly Park: We know every year when the liberal New Englanders arrive in Cincinnati, there's trouble, but we never expected this perverse fushion of granola exercise and sexual degeneracy . . ." -- but there was not a peep about my troubles. Today, I finally got in a good run. 11.9 miles in 1:12:20 for a 7:30 pace. Solid, not intestinal or gonadal issues. Finally. Merry Christmas Eve to me.

Hope you all have a good holiday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hot Chocolate?

Saturday was the Hot Chocolate 10 Miler (formerly 15K) here in New York, which I ran as the second half of a 19 and change long run. My 70:58 was over a minute P.R. for 10 miles, although I feel a little weird writing that. A 7:05 pace is 20s per mile slower than my half-marathon p.r. So, I guess this let's you know how seriously I've taken 10 milers. I'm thinking of just cutting the distance from the sidebar list since I've never considered a 10 miler a real race.

As a long run, this run was in a certain sense fantastic and in another sense not so good. Here's the not so good sense. I went out planning to do 3:10 worth of running, which would be about 23-24 miles. I quit after 2:22 and change and that's not even close! On the other hand, from mile 9.5 through 19.5, I ran at an average of 7:05 per mile, 10s faster than marathon pace and felt strong throughout (which is the good part). However, with that much speed in the second half, if I'd actually added enough post-race mileage to run 3:10, even slowing to 8:00/mile, I'd have hit around 25.5 miles or so before I finished my timer. Do I really need to run 25.5 miles in my goal marathon time as a long run? I don't think so now, nor did I think so Saturday which is why I decided to call it a day after the race.

So, how'd that 10 mile race go after my 9.5 warmup? Here's the summary:

1 - 7:58 (Slow first mile. Chatted with some Flyers and got boxed in)
2- 7:01 (Uh?)
3 - 7:09 (This is pretty close to marathon pace. And feeling good.)
4 - 7:12 (This was totally comfortable)
5 - 6:51 (End of the first loop. Got excited going through the "finish line," but feeling fine enough to make fun of the announcer guy.)
6-7-13:59 (Missed mile 6, but looks like a 7:00 average. I was supposed to meet Skylight for some extra after the race, who was planning to do 7:15s. After the first half, I was thinking I was within 30s or so of catching him.)
8 - 6:56 (Miles 8 and 9 were total shockers because it didn't seem that fast)
9 - 7:01
10 - 6:52 (Obviously, the end)

Mile ten was the only mile where I felt somewhat bad and that was solely because people were pulling away from me in the last quarter and I had too many miles in my legs at that point to really hammer the speed to sprint with them. So, the second half of this 20 was 10s faster than MP and I felt great throughout. And, although I've been burned by misleading elevation charts before, I really doubt Houston has anything like my course today, which involved the Queensborough Bridge and 3 climbs up Cat Hill. So, even though I didn't run as long a time as I'd planned, I can't think this run was not a success.

I'd still like to get in a 3:10 run. But next week's the last real week before tapering starts. Since it's also Christmas travel (Thursday night flight) we'll see how well that plan works out. But even if I miss it, yesterday's run felt good and I'm feeling pretty confident -- as far as running goes.

The last issue left for Houston is work and whether I'm actually going to be able to leave New York over that weekend. It is a holiday weekend, but that doesn't really mean anything in my business. I've been laying the groundwork for the trip with the bosses for a few weeks and while I would say the chances that I'll be stuck in New York drafting papers is less than 50-50, it is likely enough that I've checked to make sure my travel arrangements were refundable. We shall see . . .

(Oh. And as a P.S., thanks to any Flyer readers who were playing course marshal! I tried to yell whenever I spotted you . . . as loudly and obnoxiously as I could! You all did a great job.)

Saturday: 19.4 miles in 2:22:04 (7:19/mile average; with 7:05 for the last 10 miles)
Sunday: 6.5 miles in 49:45 (7:05/mile)
For the week: 51.8 miles

Friday, December 15, 2006


This isn't a political blog. . . and regardless of how you feel about military officers using Pentagon facilities to make a promotional video for a Christian organization (while in uniform) designed to proselytize to other officers, this is a stupid quote:

Army Brig. Gen. Bob Casen refers in the video to the Christian Embassy's special efforts to reach admirals and generals through Flag Fellowship groups. Whenever he sees another fellowship member, he says, "I immediately feel like I am being held accountable, because we are the aroma of Jesus Christ."
I don't think I ever want to be someone else's "aroma" -- even if is a holy smell! Does anyone have any idea what he meant to say?

Overheard by Erin on the subway:
  • Girl A: What do you mean you can't help hooking up? I do it every night. You just go home, take a couple sleeping pills, and then it's morning. Not hooking up's easy.
  • Girl B: I don't know. I guess I just like making out with men.
Great new off-label use for sleeping pills, they can help keep you from being a ho.

Why, oh why, must this product exist?

Two shots from the Joe Kleinterman 10K. Even if Mr. President missed my pics, at least the professionals got me. I look like I'm dying in the action shot, but that's in the final sprint. The group shot's 4 of the first 5 Flyers taken immediately after the race.

Tuesday: 5 mile, Billy-Burg Br. O&B,38:18 (7:40/mile).
Wednesday: 14.4 miles, Queensboro Loop plus McCarren Park, 1:51:36 (7:45/mile)
Thursday: 6.5 miles, treadmill, Tempo. Mile 1: 8:00; Mile 2-3: 7:13; Mile 4-5.25: 7:04; Mile 5.25-6.25: 7:13; Mile 6.25-6.5: 8:00

Monday, December 11, 2006


So, the Flyers were shellacked by the Polskis yesterday at the Joe Kleinerman 10K. When I came across the line, I saw 6 PRC guys standing just inside the line excitedly comparing results. Looks like second place it is, which is a bummer since we led most of the season.

Personally though, this was a great race! It was a counter-clockwise loop of the park, which is the harder direction. I'd planned to try 6:20s, but to be prepared to drop to 6:40s through the Harlem Hills and the Cat Hill mile to try to get under my 40:03 (How crappy is 40:03!) PR, which was attained going clockwise. At the start, I saw Flyer presidential candidate CM, our Flyer who gives us updates on West Ham soccer each week, and a couple others. Everyone seemed into the race and focused and soon we were off.

With about 5000 runners, I expected the first mile to be slow, but since I was trailing Mr. West Ham, and he decided to run over the roots and ruts along the side of the road to get around the walkers and 10min/mile folks that'd lined up with the 5 minute people, I decided to go with. After about a quarter mile, it cleared out and I wished Mr. West Ham good luck and off I went. The next Flyer I saw was Coach J, who was in tights, a flyer singlet, and a bright, sunshine-yellow, long-sleeve top. I asked if the top was to make him visible for team support, but am not really sure on the answer. Just before the first mile, I caught Ed and I knew it was time to slow down. Ed always finishes in the 38s. So, I knew I was probably pretty close to my 6:20 target if I was running with him. My plan became keep contact with Ed as long as I could. The first mile, including the big downhill and the climb out of the North Hills, went down in 6:14.

I lost Ed near the end of the second mile. Just a boom of speed and gone. I wasn't prepared to make that type of surge because, while not in the red, I figured I was probably in the orange. Crud! So much for that plan formulated three minutes earlier. Fortunately (or unfortunately) a PRC guy passed me just before the half. He was clearly going a little faster than I was comfortable with, so he became the new pace target. Miles 2 and 3 (missed the Mile 2 split) went down in 12:39. (Oh! And there were definitely some red and white pom-poms spotted in this around Mile 2 as well! Thanks for the support Reservoir Dogs!). Anyway, through the half, I was right on target pace. And given that I'd allowed 20s for the hills, I was actually way ahead.

After the half, I tried to keep contact with PRC guy, but he was clearly drifting farther ahead. Only two more strategy points were left. The first was Cat Hill and the second the flat stretch just before the Engineer's Gate (right after mile 5) which leads to a down hill to the finish. I was suspecting a big PR, so for the first target, I decided I'd drop the effort on the short downhill leading to Cat Hill to recover. This downhill isn't really long enough to gain a lot of time, but I was hopping the recovery would make the climb up Cat Hill, where a lot of time is usually lost, go by a little quicker. I don't really know if it worked, but the Mile 4 and 5 splits were 6:18 and 6:14. Unfortunately, while I gained on PRC guy on the Cat Hill climb, I quickly lost my gains once we hit the top.

Just before Mile 5, I saw Outgoing Flyer Prez taking photos. Since I didn't have on my singlet (it was cold man!) instead of a photo I only got a confused look when I yelled to ask why I wasn't getting a frickin' photo. Then I was through to the flat near the reservoir and it was time to kick! I'd decided back at the half that the strategy would be to run the last full mile as though it were the end of the race, and then after the Mile 6 marker, hang on as best I could for that extra quarter. I knew if I caught PRC guy, I probably wouldn't be able to outkick him with this strategy, but I also knew with any other plan I wouldn't have a chance to catch him. So this was the plan.

About 1/2 mile to the end, I caught . . . Ed. The guy I'd planned to pace from near the beginning. Since I was already running at a near sprint, I flew past. I hit the 6 Mile point, but really have no idea on the time. I was running all out before this point and was breathing like an asthmatic during a smog alert. I was just trying to keep my arms moving and thought if I checked the time I'd fall over. As I rounded the turn into the final quarter, I tried to pick it up, but had been running too hard for too long to generate any more speed. But with a lunge and grunt, I got across the line just as the clock turned to 39:00 even, for a net time of 38:46. My final 1.21 miles went past in 7:21, for a 6:05 average pace. (I never caught PRC guy. He finished 9s ahead.)

Summary: 1-6:14, 2&3-12:39, 4-6:18, 5-6:13, end-7:21.

Afterwards, I met up with the Flyer guys and we confirmed that the Polskis had gotten us. Turns out, I was the second Flyer, which means nothing more than that several folks weren't racing. Also spotted Flygirl, who I guess had a tough reentry to racing. I caught Ed afterwards at the NYRRC's hot chocolate and bagel setup. He said that he was confused when I passed him because he knew I lived in Brooklyn. He'd just been passed by the PRC guy I was trying to catch and then thought (for some reason) I was with the Brooklyn Running Club, another competitor of the Flyers. We had a good laugh.

A couple new goals from this race. First, a little math says that my 5K splits were 19:23 (if they were even). That means that at least one half of this race was also a 5K pr! I really need to find a 5K, which are apparently an anomaly for NYC racing. When I started running again 3 years ago, I wanted to reattain my high school 5K p.r. (18:35) and I suspect I'm getting close to that target. Second, 38:46 is aged-graded at a percentage of 69.2%. It's my understanding that 70% gets priority starts in NYRRC races. That's the next 10K goal, which I'm sure I'll get to focus on at some point. And last, a certain magical calculator converts yesterday's time to a 3:01 marathon. So, the goal here, is to ignore that 6:57 pace projection and run Houston at 7:10s. I've already tried running 6:50s in a marathon, with "fantastic" results. I can try for sub-3 after getting the BQ.

Week in Review

Monday5.65 miles
Wednesday13.1 miles1:44:21
Thursday10.33 miles81:58
Friday5.0 miles
Sunday6.21 miles38:46
Total40.3 Miles-- --

Friday, December 08, 2006

Melt Your Face Cold

That's what I thought while running into a headwind during my pre-dawn 5 miler today on a reported 19 degree morning. By half a mile, my hands and face hurt immensely. By three-quarters, I turned out of the wind but it didn't matter anymore since everything above my neck or below my elbows was numb. Not surprisingly, the Williamsburg Bridge was largely deserted today. Except for a pair of middle-aged, female twins who walk the Bridge every morning at 7. And about half a dozen runners, including one (fool)hearty soul in shorts. The windchill, by the way, was 4.

It's funny, but most of the time, you never notice a tailwind. Sometimes you do and I always find that a little unnerving. Happened today on the way back across the bridge today. It goes like this: you're in mid-stride and a gust hits you from behind. . . and your stride takes you a little farther than normal, you're a little higher off the ground, you're moving forward a good bit faster. For just a split second, although you're inches from the ground, you're no longer in control, just a leaf on the wind.

I'm ready for winter to be over, but the unusually warm November reminded me of the second verse of The Postal Service's "Sleeping In" from the album Give Up:

Again last night I had that strange dream
Where everything was exactly how it seemed
Where concerns about the world getting warmer
The people thought they were just being rewarded
For treating others as they'd like to be treated
For obeying stop signs and curing diseases
For mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November

Don't wake me I plan on sleeping
(now we can swim any day in November)
Don't wake me I plan on sleeping in
Don't wake me I plan on sleeping
Don't wake me I plan on sleeping in

Incidentally, I only went out at all this morning because I can't hit the gym tonight due to the Kentucky Society's semi-annual dinner. The speaker is Joshua Prince-Ramus of Ramus Ella Architects, who's designing Louisville's Museum Plaza, a 62 floor, three tower, mixed-use complex for commercial, residential and . . . a musuem. It'll also be the tallest building in the region when completed.

And, a few weeks ago, I listed some reasons why the Houston Marathon might be a bad idea. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a partner at the firm where the phrase, "We don't expect you to bill 100 hours a week for the next three months," was uttered. Of course, when a phrase like that is spoken, we all know what it really means, don't we?

Monday: 5.7 miles (7:58 pace)
Wednesday: 13.1 miles (7:58 pace)
Thursday: 10.33 miles (7:56 pace)
Friday: 5 miles (7:36 pace)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Peak Number 1: Complete

It's been a ridiculously busy weekend. Erin and I watched the almost 4 hour long epic Lawrence of Arabia; I spent about 8 hours at Professor Thom's having beer and watching the bungling Cats go down in flames to UNC. And then, after stumbling out of bed just before afternoon today, I managed to make it out for 21 miles, get in some Xmas shopping with Erin, and do some work for the office. I need a weekend!

On Lawrence. This is a fantastic film that I'm just seeing for the first time. I'm not going to write a review because plenty has been written over the 40 years since its release by people who actually know stuff about film history. Google it. However, for fun, my co-worker's review was probably my favorite: "Peter O'Toole is hot! I mean, was hot."

Professor Thom's is a great little bar, relatively new, on Second Avenue between 13th and 14th Street. It's apparently so hip that it has a myspace page and tons of "friends." I was there with the unlikely pairing of the University of Kentucky alumni and the University of Massachusetts alumni to watch UK play UNC in basketball, followed up with UMass playing some high school team in college football's Division 1-AA playoffs. Apparently, the UK and UMass alumni are common pairing for game watching (and there was talk of a road trip to Rupp to watch UK play UMass later in the season!). UMass won its game, by the way. However, since by halftime we'd been at this bar for going on 5 hours and, following the basketball game, all of the Kentucky people had switched to our official state drink (bourbon), I'm a little fuzzy on how exactly UMass won.

For today's run, I got in 21 miles along a route that I'd run a few months ago, that left me in a good mood. I was hoping for a repeat of the good vibes. Unfortunately, in a totally blatant LIE, Weather Underground reported that wind was "calm" when I checked it right before I left. That may have been true underground, but along the Hudson there was what felt like a 25 to 30 mph wind blowing straight out of the south. Had Weather Underground been truthful, I'd have planned a different route. Since it wasn't, and I ran up the Hudson to 129th street, before turning around to head back to 14th street, I got the full force for about 6 miles. The last 6 miles. Of the 21. It was a lot like the weather in DC in October. Since it took a lot of effort not to bag the run and hop on the subway today ("There's no shame in calling it after 18. . . . Come on, you can gut out an extra 24 minutes."), when I wasn't even trying for speed, I'm feeling a little better about the poor performance in the wind in DC. Anyway, today's run was a toughie, but I wrapped it up in 2:42:08, for a 7:43 average pace. I'm pretty proud of this, because I finished up 15 miles at about a 7:50 average. So I pulled the overall average down in the last six despite running into a headwind.

Today's run brings the weekly total to 55, which is where I peaked for MCM. The plan, I think, is to front-load mileage next week, but only do in the low 40s total so that I can run in the Joe Kleinerman 10K for the Flyers next Sunday. The Flyer guys are sitting in second in the division and, while the gap is probably too far to make up in this last race, we'll do what we can . . . I'm thinking after a short next week, the week of the 11th I'll re-peak at around 55-60, with a 3 to 3:10 run included. It'll probably be around 24 miles, but also about a long in time as my marathon. Since I was shooting for 20 miles on long runs before MCM, I never got in a run over 2:45. So, I think a 3+ hour run would be good for me.

Week in Review

MondayRest-- --
Tuesday8.6 miles1:03:54
Wednesday11.3 miles90:13
Thursday8.0 miles63:30
Sunday21.0 miles2:42:087:43/mile
Total55.25 Miles-- --

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Work to Do

Today was a planned MP run. Didn't quite work out.

The weather: warm, 50s. It's been a balmy November here in New York, with temperatures routinely in the 60s. Hopefully, this doesn't foreshadow a bad December.
The route: the Stuyvescent Cove O&B for 8.6 miles.
The plan: 3 mile warmup over the Billy-burg Bridge, 3 miles at MP (7:15), 2.6 miles home.

Here's what happened. After getting over the Bridge, I started the MP portion of the run, having noted the mile points in advance. Mile One: 7:00. Doh! That seemed a little tough, but not that tough. At this point I made a conscious effort to slow down, which led to Mile Two: 6:46. Well, that worked about as well as Ford's business model. How exactly "conscious effort to slow down" translates to a 15s faster mile I'm not sure, but I assure you Mile Two was easier than Mile One. Clearly I have pacing work to do. Mile Three: 7:20. Before anyone gets all gushy over how Mile Three was so close to my target pace, you should know that it was easily the most difficult part of the course, with its last third being uphill. Effort-wise, it was probably closer to a 7:00.

There you have it. Looking back at my MCM results, I have this addendum to my report. My first five miles were in 35:25 (chip) for a 7:05 pace. However, the first two miles involved some wicked hills and took 15:30. A little math reveals that the average pace over miles 3, 4 and 5 was a blistering 6:40mm! After mile 5, I managed to slow it down to about 7:05 per mile, but I can't imagine three miles at faster than 1/2 Mary P.R. pace (6:45mm) was helpful. Today's "MP" run revealed that this pacing issue isn't going to resolve itself, and I'm going to need to make it a focus for the 4 weeks remaining before Taper 2. Clearly the speed's there, the question is whether I can harness it smartly or will it throw me from the sky like Phaeton? We shall see.

In other news, I went to see the Scorsese film The Departed over the weekend. A fantastic, if extremely violent, movie. Apparently, Scorsese filmed the majority of the film in New York instead of Boston because of fears relating to Boston politics (given the film's subject matter) and New York's 15% tax credit. Which led to a very unheralded cameo by Park Luncheonette, a very cute diner where a couple key early scenes were set. PL is just off McCarren Park (seen in the background of the scenes in the restaurant) and also just down the street from my apartment (alas, not seen in the film). It sports a pretty tasty omelette and Greek yogurt. Although PL has a Bloody Mary, for a really great one after your long run (a tradition in my house), I recommend walking up the street to Matchless. However, you should eat first because Matchless doesn't have food. So, I guess the best plan would be to go to Park Luncheonette and then Matchless, having Bloody Marys at both!

Week (of 11/20) in Review

MondayRest-- --
Tuesday8.6 miles1:05:35
Wednesday7.0 miles51:41
Thursday5.0 miles38:45
FridayRest-- --
16.0 Miles2:01:54
Sunday5.0 miles38:227:40/mile
Total41.6 Miles-- --

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Good Day

Today's run was a good run. Actually, all my runs over the past week have been good runs, but today's was especially strong. Finally, have my legs back under me.

Today's run didn't start as a good run. With New York's "length of day's" now being well under 10 hours (according to Weather Underground) and with pre-dawn temps in the 30s, I've rediscovered the gym in the past week. As much as I enjoyed being able to roll out of bed and head out the door over the summer, there is something nice about going to a place designed so that you can run, stretch, lift and do everything else you need for fitness. Because, let's face it, when I get home from a run to my apartment, I'm not going to stretch or do crunches -- I'm going to eat breakfast! So, along with the gym, I've also rediscovered free weights (my god! I've gotten weak over the summer!) and long ab workouts. And along with the free weights, I've rediscovered DOMS. I headed out this morning and about 50 feet into my 16 mile run, tripped over a cane stuck in the road and there was DOMS, leaning on that same cane and laughing at the corner. DOMS sauntered over, patted my pecs and with a sinister smirk said, "enjoy that." And as they started screaming at every arm swing, DOMS walked off whistling.

Fortunately, that only lasted about 2 miles, and (hopefully) the extra movement will make the pecs less sore for the rest of the day (hopefully). The rest of the run? Boy, oh boy! The first two miles were at 8:05/mile. 6 miles was at a 7:50 average. 10 miles? Now averaging 7:45. And for the last 6? Machine-like (except when being stopped at traffic lights) I blistered the average down to 7:37/mile (including traffic stops!). Four weeks out from MCM I finally feel like I have my legs back under me. This was a fantastic long run that turned into a progression run because it just seemed like the right way to go in the middle of running it.

So, for Houston the plan is to finish 5 tomorrow to get this week to 41 and continue to build-up to re-peak at 55, which is where I peaked for MCM. In a couple weeks, I'm going to rehash the last 6 weeks of my MCM plan, with some exceptions. That's probably another post.

Today: 16 miles in 2:01:54 (7:37/mile)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


And thus ends my blogger-slackerdom. It was well needed because, although I could have written about movies I've seen, books that I've read or the opera I went to see over the last ten days, invariably I would have ended up writing about, thinking about, obessessing over, even, running. And to think through my next steps I needed a clear head that the nose to the trees perspective of blogging would not allow.

So, what to do? There are lots of considerations. It's cold and dark when I'd be training. I'm enjoying running fast again. I twisted my knee funny at a water stop during the Flyers group run on Saturday and it's a little stiff. It'd be good to spend more time with my wife. I've learned we may be running a trial right after the first of the year, which could make for an incredible amount of work. These considerations clearly point in one direction, and so . . .

Registration: Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon & Houston Press/Smart Financial 5K
Purchase Date: 11/21/06
Category: Chevron Houston Marathon - 26.2 Miles
Event Date: 01/14/07
Name: Jonathan Daugherty

P.S. For those of you who know JBL in real life, be sure to ask him about his dissertation on collective action problems. It sounds really fascinating.

Today: Stuyvesant Cove O&B, 8.6 miles in 65:45 (7:39/mile).
Last Week
Total: 33.8 miles
Long Run: 16.0 miles
Speed: None
Week of 11/6
Total: 20.0 miles
Long Run: 11.2 miles
Speed: None
Week of 10/30
Total: 22.7 miles
Long Run: 9.3 miles
Speed: None

Saturday, November 11, 2006

That's Better

OK folks. I'm feeling better. This illness lasted a total of about three days, which confirms that I picked it up from Erin, who'd had a three-day mystery illness with many of the same symptoms about a week before. Of course, she didn't have the fever, but I assume that I'm just lucky, or maybe, as Thomas suggested, it was worse for me because of the marathon, or maybe, as NY Flygirl suggested, it's because of my workload (Tuesday, I was behind my desk until 11p, but doped up on Tylenol and Sudafed and with my overcoat pulled up to my chest. Quite comical, I assure you). Whatever. The fever broke on Wednesday evening and I can honestly say I've never been so happy to be uncomfortably sweating in my suit at the office. I know that's gross, but deal. I felt much better.

The bad nights of sleep carried over into Thursday's run, which I did in McCarren Park for the dirt surface. It went fine for a 'coming-of-a-cold' run. (Today's run was tough for a different reason, namely the 15mph headwind that I ran into for the length of Manhattan.)

Can I add, for the record, that I find this just awful.

Nealis guessed the two women took a shortcut that made the race about 20 miles, instead of the standard 26.2.

"We get so much data on the runners now that it's become very hard to cheat," Nealis said. "They either made a quick turn and cut off about 6.5 miles, or they got a little aggressive and jumped on Metro."
If you're going to cheat at a marathon, don't cheat your way into the top 10. Or how bout this? Just don't cheat!

I've been having trouble figuring out what to do with myself. Even though I'm still running about 25 miles a week, that frees up hours of time. So far, I've spent most of that time watching t.v. and playing PlayStation. That may change soon as by the end of this week I'll have to commit -- either way -- with regard to Houston.

Thursday: McCarren Park for 4.0 miles in 29:15 (7:19/mile)
Saturday: Queensboro Loop for 11.2 miles in 1:27:44 (7:50/mile)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


So, today's run was HARD. Of course, when I got home and found out I was running a low grade fever (99.9) and considering that since about lunch yesterday my head and chest have started getting really congested and stomach's been more and more upset, I think we've found the reason. I don't like this game.

WB O&B, 4.8 miles in 37:24 (7:47/mile)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Women's wear

What's up with clothing sizes? Why have they gotten so huge? After the marathon yesterday, Erin and I were feeling inspired and went shopping for more gear. At Filene's Basement, which is where I tend to shop for gear because I refuse to pay $70 to $150 for a pair of workout pants, everything was huge, regardless of the actual size. I ended up with this pair of women's size small tights! Size small??? I'm not a big guy, but that means basically every woman I know is below small? How fat has the U.S. gotten?

Anyway, I got a new pair of tights for $19, so I'm a happy camper. And congrats to Speedy Gonzales' sub-3 and beating Lance yesterday, Ny Flygirl's first marathon sub-4, Sempre Libera's first marathon, Sister Smile's BQ by the skin of her ass and Skylight for being the super volunteer! Also congrats to everyone else who ran! Great job.

Here's a shot from MCM. This is from Georgetown, early, well before I looked like death in sneakers.

Sunday: Pulaski O&B via Humboldt, easy 4.4 miles in 32:24 (7:22/mile). So, basically, I think what's going on is that I ran the second half of MCM so slowly that I'm not getting hit with the wipeout I'd expected. Certainly mentally that's the case, as I totally think of MCM as just a bad long run.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


There were certain parts of the trip to D.C. that worked out very well in spite of the marathon. It is only a race after all, and there's much more to life than a race. However, any marathon -- and especially a goal marathon -- becomes so much of a part of life that it has the power to distort or provide clarity to the remainder. In my case, I think the result was, to steal from the Asics ads in the New York City subways, clarity of vision.

First, the time in D.C. led to one conclusion. The city has no soul. I know almost no one who lives in the District who's really happy to be there. The number of people I knew there who hate their jobs, are going through a divorce, or are just suffering from depression is staggering. The perception I had leaving D.C. this time was much the same as last December, "Thank god I got out." However, being in a city I love, doing a job I enjoy, living a life I'm very happy brought the near suffocating melancholy I felt in Washington while living there much more clearly into focus and totally validated my return to New York.

My other story is from during the race. As I was leaving Haines Point, walking up the ramp onto the 14th Street bridge past mile 20, in a 30mph headwind, the thought kept running through my head, "I've put Erin through a lot these last few months, and I'm not even going to come close." She'd been fantastically supportive but, and I don't think she'd disagree, a little jealous of my time. And here I wasn't even going to be able to give it a good effort near the end. As I ran through Crystal City, an out and back part of the course, I saw her near the side line, waving. I knew the course would come back by and, as I'd been unwillingly Gallowalking for several miles, I thought, "I have to run past that spot. I have to just run past that spot." I gave it a mighty effort, but about 30 yards away, my legs quit and I was, dejectedly, walking again. At this point, I wanted nothing more than to sit down. I walked up to Erin, gave her a hug through near-tears and she said what needed to be said, "Are you hurt? Then go finish it." Back at the hotel, she'd stocked breads, bars and Gatorade, because obviously I'd need it and, after lunch, she decided I needed "retail therapy" to make me feel better. (I got really great Euro shoes!)

Clarity of vision.

Thanks for all of your kind comments and good luck to those running NYC tomorrow. I'm still on the fence on next steps, even whether to give it another shot this year at all, but am considering Jacksonville or Houston. As far as recovery goes, well, let me say that today's run felt as easy as the pace did during the first part of my marathon, except my quads are still a bit fatigued, so you be the judge . . .

Brooklyn Bridge Loop: 9.3 miles in 65:43 (7:04/mile).

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Today's weather is somewhat like my mood. It's dreary, rainy, cloudy and there was a patch of hail as I ran over the Williamsburg Bridge. On the other hand, days like this always give hope that a lot more hail and ice will fall and school will be canceled.

So, while I'm still bummed about last Sunday's results, I have zero doubt that I can run a 3:10 or even a sub-3 with more slightly more training and a lot better strategy. For the former goal, I've decided the MCM timing chip is staying on my shoes until I reach it. Hell, I may carry that chip in the Boston Marathon when I go, just an "I've overcome" sort of gesture. Some people have a chip on their shoulders, I have one on my shoes.

As for the marathon, I'm not really going to write about the interior of the race. I think the results largely speak for themselves. This data from the MCM site gives the tale of a guy slamming the wall, hard:

  • Miles 1-10: 8.4 mph
  • Miles 10-13.1: 8.1 mph (consciously slowing starting around mile 9 to try to avoid . . .)
  • Miles 13.1-20: 6.8 mph ( . . . this . . .)
  • Miles 20-26.2: 5.5 mph (. . . and this.)
Lest you accuse me of being overly ambitious, I believed my goals were sound before this race and I still believe they are achievable. I do, however, think a number of strategic mistakes were made during and before this race and I'm going to commit them to public scrutiny so (hopefully) I won't repeat them. My goals were set to be challenging. By Mile 5 I'd handicapped myself enough to make them nigh impossible. In chrono order, the mistakes are:
  1. Thinking that I'd be able to buy a bagel in D.C. on Sunday morning. I don't know why I thought this. D.C. has no residents to buy bagels. I lived there. I "knew" that anyone that actually wanted breakfast would drive to Herndon and go to Waffle House. I couldn't even find coffee. And no matter what the weight-loss people say, the 300 calories in two Gus and a bottle of Powerade is NOT the same as the 300 calories in a bagel with peanut butter. Oddly enough, my last bomb race also involved not having my ideal breakfast . . . (Erin's decided that we're packing Frosted Mini Wheats for every race I go to from now on.)
  2. Metro: MCM ran shuttles from automobile parking. Although they "encouraged" everyone to ride Metro. If you did, and you had baggage, then you had about a 1.5 mile walk as a warmup.
  3. Clothing: I wore a singlet and gloves. This only became a problem after the wind started howling on Haines Point. It was frickin' cold. My race was already over then, but it would have been nice not to have frozen.
  4. Port-a-Potty: This was actually no knock on MCM. Bathrooms were plentiful and with short lines. My mistake was that while going number 2, the invocation started. That's right folks. I shat during the invocation. I think my results are largely attributable to this unfortunate timing because God hates me.
  5. Oh, Muse help me sing of the misleading elevation chart. For a reminder, the elevation chart shows a 100 ft climb over two miles at the beginning and then nothing through the end. The climb is more than 100ft and much shorter than 2 miles in length. It was more like two Harlem Hills in a row. Looking at the chart, I thought we were running some of the rolling hills along the parkway, which I've run before and were fine. I wasn't prepared for this behemoth. Nor was I prepared for the immediate and somewhat steep downhill that stretched for several miles immediately following the climb (which, incidentally, is why the elevation chart only showed a 100 ft climb). This totally trashed both my quads (which are just now recovering) and my pacing, which leads to . . .
  6. Pacing: I went through the first mile in 7:15. Was at 15:00 at mile 2 (partway up the hill) and then lost track through G'town. I learned from another runner in RockCreek Park that we'd been doing around 6:50. I was doing about 7:05s through RockCreek, which would have been OK if I'd not had the 6:50s through G'town. C'est la vie. With the wind, I probably wouldn't have BQ'd anyway, but with better pacing I probably could have finished around 3:15-3:20.
  7. Hydration: This was a problem that I corrected (finally). The MCM water stations came only every second mile, which would have been fine if the cups weren't half full. By the third station I was taking 2-3 cups of water and Powerade on the way through and combining them. I'm glad for this in race adjustment because others were, well . . .
  8. Goals: The initial goals were fine. Given the breakfast thing, that by Mile 10 I knew I'd screwed up the pacing and that the wind really started to pick up about mile 11 on the Mall, I'd have been well served to at that point dialed it back to shoot for 3:20 rather than continuing to push for 3:10. An adjustment then would probably have gotten me across the line in a P.R., at least. I didn't do it and was rewarded by being passed by Dean Karnazes, the schmuck.
I'm sure there were more mistakes. These were the one's that I've come up with over the past few days. Most of them, fortunately, are planning mistakes that can be dealt with easy enough. The others are in-race decisions. Hopefully, I'll get better at those before I get too old to try for sub-3.

More to come . . .

Tuesday: Pulaski O&B: 4.15 miles in 32:18 (7:47/mile)
Thursday: WB O&B:4.8 miles in 37:55 (7:54/mile) -- The city's moved the pedestrian walkway entrance from the north to the south side, so the route's a little shorter.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Say what?

This race was a total bomb . . . as in a 39 minute positive split bomb! This just ticks me off, because I'm in much better shape than a 3:43 marathon. On the one hand, it sucks. (I was actually joking with the eventual women's 40-45 winner before the race how awful a 3:30 would be! That's irony folks.) On the other hand, I missed all of my goals in such a spectacularly grotesque fashion that it doesn't sting as bad as, say, a 3:11 would have. I mean, I had basically 75 minutes during the race after it became impossible for me to reach 3:10 to resign myself to the result, while I was blasting (HA!) through 11:00+ minute miles. I'm MOST annoyed though, in being passed by one Dean Karnazes just before the final mile. One thing was clear, Sunday was not my day.

Haven't decided what I'm doing next, whether it's another race in 6 weeks or so or phasing down until the spring. At the moment I'm leaning toward the former, mostly because of righteous (I think) fury. However, what happens at the office tomorrow and how well I recover over the next week will to a large extent be outcome determinative. In any event, this race has certainly been a learning experience, but all of these topics are really their own posts.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's done

Training, that is. Perfectus est. I catch Amtrak tomorrow morning to D.C. for Sunday's race. My bags are packed; my singlet, gloves, shoes and throw-away clothes are all ready to go. After a busy couple weeks, I've had two days down and am now champing at the bit to go. There's nothing left to do except watch the World Series and fret. The forecast looks like a mixed bag. Although the temp is set for a high in the mid-50s, with partial cloud cover, the wind predictions are around 20 mph with up to 40 mph gusts. All in all, it's not so bad, and the forecast has improved since earlier this morning.

I really don't have anything else to say . . . I'm going to muse on what needs to be done, and sign off here until the results are in. When I'm back I'll either be a Boston qualifier . . . or I won't . . . . All that's left now is to perform.

Today: 4.15 mile Pulaski O&B in . . . who the $@#* cares?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Feel Fat . . .

So, if anyone needs a primer on how a taper shouldn't go, take my training schedule as a example. After spending the first two weeks putting in steady 12-14 hour days at the office, I thought I'd be coasting in to the finish. The irony is that, after months of asking out-of-town folks to visit with no bites, two do and Erin and I are doing our hostly duties during the last week of the taper. That alone would be fine (and really, I'm glad to see these folks), but the visits, three must-attend birthday parties (all, obviously, at bars and starting late because I'm in my 20s) and various other dramatics that I really just can't get into have combined to create a not-very-restful taper-time. I'm really not sure how, but although I've been running significantly less in the last few weeks, I'm not getting any more sleep and I certainly don't feel well rested. I have the feeling that when I hit that BQ time in DC, it will be because I've overcome the taper, not been aided by it. Oh, and, as the title suggests, after two weeks of light duty, I feel kind of sluggish and puffy. Please, can I just go race???

On the other hand, my times certainly appear to reflect rest. Take today for instance, after a consciously slow 2.5 miles in 20:10 for the first half of the Billyburg Out-n-back, I scorched the return trip in 18:20 with no real effort increase (in fact, since I opened my stride it felt a little easier). So, hopefully the body's been resting and I just need to find time over the next four days to pull it together mentally.

Last night went to eat at Daisy May's BBQ USA on 11th Ave in Hell's Kitchen. Now those were some good ribs! I also had baked beans with burnt ends (sooo smooth) and cole slaw (sooo good), which was too much becuase I had so much food left over. And as someone who's from the home of the International Bar-B-Q Festival, to give my credentials, let me say it again: those were some good ribs! My friend, who had the Kansas City ribs was equally impressed as I with my Memphis dry rub. And, AND I got sweet, mint iced tea in a mason jar! How cool is that? Let me answer the rhetorical question -- it's very cool. You'll be put off if you go, because the restaurant's really in the middle of nowhere and you order (and likely eat) at a counter, but it's all worth it. Go try this meat.

Friday, October 20, 2006


And not in a good way. But I believe that my crazy workload over the past couple weeks has finally broken. Two major deadlines passed yesterday, and while I have plenty of things to take care of (most of which was back-burnered over the past week) I have nothing that has to be finished, say, Saturday. However, the weight's been steadily building to the point that today's 4 mile "recovery" run felt more like mountaineering. Anyway, what's done is done, and hopefully a normal week to refresh the mental stores and recover from my current sleep debt will leave me ready to go at MCM in 9 days.

Although just heading home to sleep would have been fantastic last night, it felt almost equally wonderful to sink into the plush seating of the New York State Theatre to watch City Opera's production of L'elisir d'amore with my friend Alison. This story's all about the magic potion, which in addition to being a major plot device must have helped inspire Jonathan Miller in this Donizetti update -- inspire being the operative word. Nemorino the grease-monkey loves Adina from afar as she is courted by soldiers, bikers, greasers and other men. However, when the quack-doctor Dulcamara arrives in his town in his swank convertible, he impresses enough that he's able to sell the gullible Nemorino a "love potion" that will guarantee Adina's love, setting in motion a series of events and coincidences that actually lead to their becoming a happy couple. The update works very, very well and morphs Donizetti's rustic Italia into a scene of Americana that makes the story resonate in a highly relevant way with contemporary viewers. (And John Tessier's rendition of the aria "Una furtiva lagrima" was absolutely stunning.)

Wednesday: 7.75 miles in 5X:XX (didn't log this because had to be in the office early, so not really sure; close to an hour), with 3X1600 in 6:06, 5:55, 6:04 with 800 recoveries.
Friday: 4.15 miles in 30:44 (7:24 pace).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Bestest Part

I totally forgot the best part of Sunday's long run. After I ran across the Queensboro Bridge and reentered Long Island City, I noticed the neighborhood had some new flags on its light posts. "Great," I thought, "this neighborhood hasn't up and come yet and it's already went." See, I have a theory that when a hot neighborhood (like, says, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg) puts up flags on its light poles touting its own virtues (like, for example, the "North Side Shopping District" flags on the light poles along Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg) that's how you know that the neighborhood's reached the point where it's too full of itself to be a viable destination for living (and then, everyone who's not a Yuppie moves to Bushwick). Anyway, as I looked closer at the Long Island City flags, I realized they were something different.

They were bright blue, and not on every street. They didn't mention the neighborhood. Splashed across these flags in Long Island City, in bold, block lettering . . . "ING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON ROUTE"

The most wonderful time, of the year.

Today: 7.45 miles at 55:35 (7:28/mile) with 8X100 strides.
Question for Pfitzers, this run was supposed to be, and ran at what felt like, "general aerobic" pace. However, it's about 30s/mile faster than g.a. pace was a few weeks ago, which is a big drop that's clearly due to reduced volume. Should I be slowing this down for the taper to "g.a. marathon training pace" or keep it at "g.a. effort pace"? (Does that question make sense?) I'll look up what Pfitz-y says later, but anyone have thoughts?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

So much for . . .

a restful taper. Work's still nuts. Missed yesterday's run due to being tired. (A couple 14-hour days will do that, but the upshot of an extra day off? Today's LR was wicked fast.) Expect this heavy workload to settle out by the middle of the week.

Week in Review

MondayRest-- --
Tuesday7.9 miles59:12
Wednesday5.0 miles39:00
Thursday4.15 miles31:04
FridayRest-- --
Sunday16.5 miles2:03:277:29/mile
Total33.5 Miles-- --

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Tenacious Fr. T.

Work's taken a hold on me like Friar Tuck's on his beer keg; no time for blogging. Here's the last two days.

Tuesday: 7.875 miles (I know that looks anal, but I miscalculated the track and was 200m short of 8 miles.) in 59:12 (7:31/mile) with 5X600m:

  • 2:05 (so much for a slowdown from Sunday's 22)
  • 2:13 (more like it)
  • 2:12
  • 2:10 (liking the trend)
  • 2:02 (strong finish)

Wednesday: 5.0 mile WB O&B in 39:00 (7:48/mile).

I just purchased TV on the Radio's new album. Fantastic. Go buy it.

This posting marks this blog's 50th. (OK, perhaps balloons to myself is a bit narcissistic.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ding! Dong!

Yesterday was my last long run for the year and I have to admit to being thrilled to be starting the taper. Sure, I have a 16 scheduled for next weekend, but that's only about 2 hours 8 minutes. No biggie. I'm mostly excited that there aren't mid-week runs that are so long I need to be up crazy early anymore.

Anyway, yesterday I went in for the NYRRC's 18 mile "race" in Central Park. (3 loops; so dull. How'd no one say, "Let's do part of this on the Westside Highway?") I did the 4 mile middle loop before the "race" so that I'd get to 22 for the day, and passed numerous, dozens of people running extra miles. Yeah, this "race" is going to be really competitive. After the 4, I ran into NFG and several other Flyers while waiting for the start. I'd lined up back in the 8:30/mile range and then we went off.

So, here's how the 18 went down. The first mile went by in about 8:50. Sometime prior to mile 2, I caught a Flyer chick who's also trying to BQ at MCM and happens to also be an attorney. We chatted through the end of the first loop, when she decided the pace was a little too quick. The first loop ended at about an 8:20 average pace. On the next loop, I chatted with some more Flyers, including one guy who was shocked that we'd gotten lapped. I went through 13 in 1:45:15 (8:06) and 14 in 1:53 (8:04). Also, over these stretchs, I passed Sister Smile running the opposite way a couple times. Her cheers and those of the other Flyers on the watching the race makes these Central Park long runs worthwhile.

At about 15 miles (19 total), my legs started to not feel so good. My feet felt somewhat numb and my legs felt somewhat spaghetti-y. I did the only reasonable thing: sped up. The run finished in 2:22:43 for a 7:55 average pace. With the early 4, the daily total was 2:52:58 for 22 miles (7:52 average). Leaving aside the first 4, I feel pretty good about this because, even though I felt like I'd been beaten with a f-ugly stick, I kept the pace dropping for each lap. Moreover, it wasn't until around 20 miles that I really started to feel bad. I can justify that somewhat through poor hydration and not really eating enough on Saturday, two things that I can fix marathon day, which is exactly 20 days away.

The marathon quote of the week is from Virgil's Aeneid: Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito qua tua te Fortuna sinet. (Yield not to adversity, but press on the more bravely against that which your Fortune would allow for you.)

Week in Review

MondayRest-- --
Tuesday5 miles38:30
Wednesday10.4 miles80:46
Thursday10.25 miles77:02
FridayRest-- --
Saturday4.1 miles
Sunday22 miles2:52:577:52/mile
Total51.75 Miles-- --

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maybe It's Time to Try Something Different

Here's some photos from Grete's . . .

I showed them to Erin yesterday and told her I looked like a "drowned fish." She didn't really get it, "How exactly do you drown a fish?" she says. My reply: "It takes a lot of water."

So, I did the 4.1 mile Pulaski O&B today, which is supposed to be a recovery run. (Geez, this post feels like deja vu!) I didn't look at the watch until I was about 1.5 miles in because I was just trying to run a nice steady pace. Anyway, at 1.5 saw I was well under 7:20 pace. Finished up at 7:02/mile. I'm thinking I need some new routes. I always go slower when exploring and that should make my recovery days more recovery-like.

Hopefully today doesn't kill the legs for tomorrow's 18 miles in Central Park. Since this will be my last pre-taper run, I'm thinking of getting there early to do 4-6 before the 18 starts, and if any of you in NYC want to join for that part, drop me an email.

Erin and I went to City Opera today to see their matinee production of Carmen. The show was nice, although Erin is sick, should've been at home in bed, and appeared to have quite an awful time. I really don't have enough opera knowledge to analyze the show; so, I'll just say I enjoyed it.

In other news, the Cats are in the process of losing again to Steve Spurrier.

Speaking of the devil, the Times has an article on the fear among Evangelicals that they're losing their youths. The gist is that someone published a "study" that if Evangelicals continue losing youth membership at the rate they currently are, they'll be only 4% of the population in 20 years, or something like that. (The numbers really don't matter since it appears that pretty much everyone agrees they're not legit. They've just been quoted extensively to unquestioning flocks to build an apocalyptic recruitment frenzy.) However, I found this segment, which is from near the end of the article, partilcuarly illuminating:

Outside the arena in Amherst, the teenagers at Mr. Luce’s Acquire the Fire extravaganza mobbed the tables hawking T-shirts and CD’s stamped: “Branded by God.” Mr. Luce’s strategy is to replace MTV’s wares with those of an alternative Christian culture, so teenagers will link their identity to Christ and not to the latest flesh-baring pop star.

Apparently, the strategy can show results. In Chicago, Eric Soto said he returned from a stadium event in Detroit in the spring to find that other teenagers in the hallways were also wearing “Acquire the Fire” T-shirts.
Does this strike anyone else as a modern day sale of indulgences?

Friday, October 06, 2006


I went to see The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marquis Theatre over the weekend and I have to recommend this piece of theatre fluff. The basic plot is double layered. On the one hand, the plot follows the ambiguously heterosexual, theatre-obsessived "Man in Chair." "Man in Chair" has an overly active imagination, and when he begins playing an old recording of the fake, 1920s era musical The Drowsy Chaperone, his small studio apartment is transformed into a Broadway stage. The songs in the musical spoof are awful, the characters are two-dimensional, and the plot asinine, but they're really just there as a foil to develop the "Man in Chair" (and to provide some smooth tap dancing). On the other hand, throughout the course of the performance "Man in Chair" steadily interacts with and comments on the musical, revealing the real emotional power of the piece. While I will concede that the production has a certain Mystery Science Theater 3000 feel to it, by the end of the show you can't help but identify with "Man in Chair" and his need for escapism into the world of fantasy and a well-loved story.

I skipped the interval part of Pfitzinger's recommended 10 miles with 4X1200 Wednesday, due to the legs still being somewhat tender from Sunday's race. Amazingly, I felt more recovered during my 10 on Thursday after running 10 on Wednesday. Things must be going well if 10 miles can be a recovery run.

Tuesday: WB O&B, 5 miles, 38:30 (7:42/mile)
Wednesday: BMW Run, 10.4 miles, 80:45 (7:46/mile)
Thursday: BS Run, 10.25 miles, 77:02 (7:31/ mile)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Grete's Gallop in Galoshes

Funny how God seems to hate New York City half marathons. Bronx was hot and humid, and really took a lot of some people. The New York City Half in August had rain. And Grete's yesterday involved a deluge for about the 15 minutes until the horn sounded and then steady rain throughout. I was running a little behind for the start thanks to the need to spend extra time on packing dry clothes (individual garbage bags for various items inside my travel bag; travel bag inside a garbage bag of its own), and therefore arrived right as the heavens went from a steady rain to a pour at 8:30. I overheard several people announcing they were going home and I considered it when I realized it was too wet for the waterproof bandages I use for my nipples. Finally, after working my way up toward the 7 min./mile crowd I heard Grete Waltz announce that, "This isn't Norwegian weather!" and then blow the horn. I started moving toward the line and could hear my shoes squishing from the amount of water they'd absorbed.

Fortunately, by the quarter mile the rain let up to just steady. Unfortunately, my shoes felt like lead weights and, despite the slackened downpour, I picked up more shoe-water-weight from puddles along the course. C'est la vie. I passed a number of Flyers through the first mile and the universal opinion of the race was, "This sucks." When we hit the first mile marker, although I felt like I was going slow, it was 6:45. Perfect. That's almost target and target should feel slow at mile one. And if I'm hitting pace and it feels slow given the conditions, that bodes well for the marathon no matter how this F.U.B.A.R. of a race goes.

The next few miles, I focused on consistency, and hit about 6:35-6:45 for every mile until 9. Why 9? Well, Grete's course was two loops of Central Park, and at 9 miles we were back in the West side hills approaching Harlem hill at mile 10. Miles 9-11 were spent dealing with (and about a mile recovering from) these hills. Although I'd powered through them on the first lap without losing pace, on the second time through the legs no longer had that kind of strength and this stretch stole about 20s/mile. Just didn't have it to give. After hitting the top of the climbs and getting my legs back under me, I managed to get back on race pace and regained a little of the lost time over the last 2.1 miles. During the last mile or so, I raced a chick from the Moving Comfort Club, whom I talked to briefly after the race with her boyfriend. He'd been madly ringing a cowbell as we ran by to announce the, ahem, "bell lap."

All in all, this was a success. (Even if I didn't hit my "secret" 1:27:xx target.) A nearly 4 minute P.R. of 1:28:32, my first sub-1:30 Half, and a predicted marathon finish of 3:04-3:06(depending on the calculator). I'm going to assume that 3:05's still a legit goal with the taper and will tweak my A-C schedule over the taper, but right now I have one more week of hard training to go and sore hamstrings to nurse through it. I'm hopeful though, that Grete's bought me some weather Karma for MCM.

Finally, one thing that was a little odd, for me at least, about this race was the amount of time I spent running solo between groups. The race had about 4200 runners and normally in races that size I almost always have a pack to latch onto. I haven't spent so much solo time in a race since . . . High School cross country??? I'd forgotten how much harder it is to hold the pace without targets and how draining it can be to try to catch the group ahead. Well, moving on, if this becomes a regular race occurrence I'll have to dwell on it, but for this race I'll assume it was the rain.

Week in Review

MondayRest-- --
Tuesday8.15 miles1:01:04
Wednesday11.25 miles1:28:30
Thursday6.1 miles46:567:42/mile
FridayRest-- --
Saturday3.11 miles
???? 8:XX/mile
Sunday13.11 miles1:28:326:45/mile
Total41.7 Miles-- --

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Grab Bag

I just discovered the most fantastic web-comic, Questionable Content. It's about romance, Indy-rock and little quirky robots! Highly recommended. Also in the realm of comedy, yesterday the special edition of Bobcat Goldthwait's Windy City Heat, which may be one of the funniest flicks I've ever seen, was released. I caught this show a couple years ago on Comedy Central, at about 3 a.m., with some law school friends after we'd been bar-hopping through the Upper West Side "Frat-ties." If true, this movie shows one of the best practical jokes of all time. Treat yourself; I know I am. As far as stupid moves averted, a car dealership in Ohio has decided to pull its "Jihad" promotion, where on "Fatwa Fridays" sales reps would give play swords to kids . . . only in Ohio could someone think this was a good idea.

In running news, this article entitled "Running with Slowpokes: How sluggish newbies ruined the marathon" has caused quite a bit of consternation among blogers: here, here and here. While the consternation over elitism is admirable and I certainly have praised 5 hour marathoners, I think it misses the article's point:

Today, the great majority of marathon runners set out simply to finish. That sets the bar so low that everyone comes out a winner. Big-city marathons these days feel more like circuses than races, with runners of variable skill levels—some outfitted in wacky costumes—crawling toward the finish line. The marathon has transformed from an elite athletic contest to something closer to sky diving or visiting the Grand Canyon. When a newbie marathoner crosses the finish line, he's less likely to check his time than to shout, "Only 33 more things to do before I die!"
With this assessment I agree wholeheartedly. It's a race. By adults. This isn't second-grade P.E. where we all get ribbons (Oh Wait! We do!) Everyone is not a winner, even if you finish. How do I determine if someone's a winner? This is personal, from my viewpoint it's whether the marathon effort you just made was your best effort. That's it. Did you do your best -- just like in the old saw: If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. As a corrollary, if worth doing, it's worth preparing for. If you half-assed the training, you're not a winner. If you don't try to determine how successful you can be, not a winner. If you slam the wall, well . . . depends on whether you were trying to push the envelope or did zero pacing strategy. In the latter case, not a winner. If it's worth doing . . .

I ran a 3:22 in my first marathon. In the race, I did my best. My training was half-assed. I had more time than I do now, but trained half as much simply because of lack of motivation. Although I'm glad to have done the event, I find that time somewhat . . . embarrassing. I didn't do my best; I could have done better. It grates on my self-respect.

A couple of the Flyers and I had a conversation on the "just to finish" goal over the weekend. I maintained, and still do, that it's a stupid goal. If you have serious doubt about your ability to finish the marathon, you shouldn't be doing it. Run a Half. Run a 10K. Run whatever you can finish and can give your best effort in. The marathon's not for everyone. Moreover, I found that thinking "just to finish" was acceptable in my first marathon gave me a mental 'out' to shirk on training. That's an 'out' that I happily took when it was "too hot," or "too cold," or "too windy," or I was just "too tired." However, when the bar's set below mediocrity, what's the point in pushing yourself into discomfort? Anyone can finish, if they go slow enough. It doesn't take that much effort for the human body to cover 26.2 miles. That's a fact, Jack.

So, I wholeheartedly agree in this effort to strike at personal medicrity. Challenge yourself. That challenge is certainly personal and even if it's six hours or five or whatever, that you put forth your best effort is something to be proud of. An accomplishment that moves us beyond ourselves . . . victoria ad gloriam, gloria ad imortalitatem. The issue, I think, if for no other reason than self-respect should not be "did I finish," but "did I give it all I had?"

Tuesday: 8.15 miles in 61:04 (7:30 avg.) with 5X600@2:15, 2:14, 2:09, 2:09, 2:05
Wednesday: 11.25 miles in 1:28:30 (7:52)
Thursday: 6.1 miles in 46:56 (7:42)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Retirement . . .

. . . for my old(er) shoes. Almost 400 miles and they've started giving me shin splints. I ordered my marathon shoes yesterday. Perhaps they'll arrive in time for Grete's this weekend.

We cut short the planned 2.5 hour trail run over the weekend. Everyone was still pretty wiped from last week's 20 miler and some early clif precip mountai hills pretty much zapped what was left in the legs. Only about 2 hours and a little shy of 15 miles.

Sunday was supposed to be a recovery run. I did the Billy Bridge O&B. Supposed to be a recovery run, I say, but at 35:11 for 5 miles, it was MP pace. This isn't all that surprising. For my last marathon, by the last week or so before tapering, thanks to the speed work and endurance work over 10ish weeks, my "normal" run paces started dropping closer to MP. However, last time I wasn't quite so up on feeling the pace. So, I wouldn't have known except we'd be halfway through a 9 miler and Babs, my D.C. running buddy who was a former college track guy, would say something like, "Jack, why are we doing your marathon pace?" So it goes.

This week's plan's basically the same as two weeks ago, except I'm going to rearrange the second half a bit to get a short taper before the race. I want to go in ready because (1) I'm having competition withdrawal and want to run hard and (2) I really would like a legitimate fitness check for the marathon.

Week in Review

MondayRest -- --
Tuesday8.1 miles1:02:18
Wednesday8.4 miles 1:02:20
7:25 avg.
Thursday11.4 miles86:15
FridayRest -- --
Saturday 14.75miles
Sunday5.0 miles35:11
Total47.6 Miles -- --

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I saw a fantastic word in a case yesterday. “eleemosynary” The gist of the usage was "In constructing a contract entered into by sophisticated business persons, one should use the construction that would reflect the intent of a reasonable business person, rather than an eleemosynary construction."

I admit, I had to look this one up. (Another attorney's reaction to it was, "Is that even a real word?") According to Merriam it means “of, relating to, or supported by charity,” and derives from the late Latin "eleemosyna," which is obviously a Greek borrowing. "Eleemosyna" is also, apparently, the ultimate parent to “alms.”

We're off to Rockefeller Park today for 2.5 hours of trails. CM of the Flyers is being very eleemosynary in giving me a ride since MTA has shut down the 'L' train . . . again. Earlier this week, I did 5 by 1000 at (guessimated) 5K pace of 5:55/mile. That's a lot faster than my last 5K, but as since that race was over a year ago I think the time's pretty soft. The last one was sort of tough, but I kind of expected that because of my bad math on Tuesday.

Wednesday: 8.4 miles, 62:20 (7:25 avg) with 5X1000m @ 3:43, 3:42, 3:43, 3:41, 3:40
Thursday: 11.4 miles, 86:15 (7:34 avg)
Friday: Rest

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stupid Math

So, I spent today's entire run thinking I was crawling along at a snail's pace. "Dear God," I thought (I often have conversations with the big bearded one while running.), "I really thought I'd recovered better than this. I slept well. Work's backed off a lot. What's up? It must have been that trip to the gym. Why, oh why, did I try the Men's Health abs workout the day after a long run?" When I got home and put the time into my log, God replied, guffawing through his beard. "It was hard because you can't do math, idiot! Eight miles for one hour's 7:30/mile, not 8:00 per mile. Jesus, come over and laugh at this dummy with me!"

Possibly because I thought I was struggling to run 8:10s when I was actually running 7:40s, possibly because of a conversation I had with Urs during last weekend's LTR, I spent a lot of time during today's run ruminating on the wall. During my first marathon training I didn't properly understand . . . didn't properly respect . . . the wall. And the wall punished me. So, for this time around . . . the wall frightens me. As Urs put it, "Once you hit the wall, your destiny is out of your hands."

For those who've never hit it, the danger of the wall is, once you hit it, you don't lose seconds per mile. You don't slow down and hit your "B" goal. It's not like in a 5K when you slow up, catch your breath and can still push the last 3/4 mile for a P.R. OH NO. You hit the wall and you lose minutes per mile. The goals become "make it to the next lightpost" and "Don't stop. Just keep moving your legs." You think things like, "If I only lose 2 minutes/mile, I can still finish sub-3:30." That is, assuming that a thought like that's not too complex. Life shrinks to "Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't walk. Don't stop." And then it hits you that 4 months of training is going down the drain and you can't do anything to stop it. It's one of the worst feelings in running. And you hope that you'll be able to recover, that you'll at least be able to run the last half mile through the crowds because if you're going to horribly miss your goals, you should at least not look like walking death through the end of the race.

There's a saying from back in Kentucky, "It's better to aim for the stars and hit the barn than to aim for the barn and hit the ground." There's wisdom in that saying, good Southern/Midwestern, dirt in your fingernails and farmer's tanline wisdom. Problem is, at least for the marathon, it's not really true. Aim for a star during a marathon, and you're likely to hit the barn and it'll put you on the ground.

The challenge, for everyone with a hard time goal, whether 2:15 or 3:00 or 5:00, is to learn the contours of the wall before the race. And then play chicken, you running toward the wall full speed in the blue '69 Ford Mustang Mach 1, with the mean chrome and white racing stripes and the wall speeding forward in a red '69 Z28 Camaro, mulleted head leaning out the window to scream obscenities that you can't understand because of the of the ridiculously thick Tennessean accent and the huge wad of tobacco in its lower lip. Then you (hopefully, ideally . . . maybe?) turn off like those bikes in Tron to cruise to the finish. Hopefully, it works that way . . .

Grete's Gallop Half Marathon is in less than 2 weeks. That's my recon on the wall. Stage one of the assault begins. I hate the wall.

Today: 8.1 miles, 1:02:18 (7:41/mile)

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Yesterday was the second NYRRC Long Training Run of the season and I'd volunteered to lead the 8:00/mile pace group through 20. I honestly can't recall ever having a run go this well. We started with one of the Flyers at the lead of our group who was running with a Garmin. I didn't realize that until about 10 miles through and just thought that he was some sort of freak with an preternatural sense of pace. Anyway, we went through the first 16 at between 8:00 and 8:05/mile for each loop. People still complained -- too fast, too slow. Whatever.

As has been mentioned keeping the group from rabbiting can be kind of tough. Fortunately, our pace leaders were very militant about checking up with each other for feedback and directing runners -- "This should be easy for you. This is a long run and should be like a Sunday stroll. We're at mile 2. If this feels fast, that means it is too fast and you should be in another group." "How fast did you say you'd run your half marathon two weeks ago? 1:44:30? That's like 8:00 pace for you half p.r.! What the hell are you doing in this group? At the next loop, you are commanded to drop back with the 8:30's." "Hey, you guys are going to fast. The group's not going to do 7:45's with you. So, speed up and move ahead of the group and make your own." "That mile was faster, but it was easy terrain. There'll be an adjustment later in the loop. Don't worry everyone." It's shocking how many people sign up for groups mismatched to their target pace. One chick who joined us for the fast finish pace was targeting 3:30. Given her performance yesterday, she should be shooting for 3:10 (and after talking to her afterwards, I think she's going to revisit her goals). On the other hand, there were a number of people trying to run 8:00's who should have been trying to run 9:00s or 9:30s. Can't talk to everyone, but hopefully when some people above were screamed at spoken to, we kept at least a few from having a LTR burnout that'd shake their training confidence.

At mile 16, Uris and I broke off a group for a fast finish. About 10 of the 30 or so left in the group went with us. The target was "faster than 7:30 for the last 4 miles." I took the lead about a 1/2 mile and was running what I considered a smooth pace. Not straining at all, but going fast. It was a pace I could run for 4 or 8 and seemed reasonable -- especially since everyone was going with me. After the first mile, we found out the pace was about 6:50. One poor schmuck was shocked by this and came up to yell at Uris, "I thought this was the 8:00 group! That was 6:50!" Uris says, "This isn't the 8:00 group anymore and you'd have known that if you didn't have headphones in because you'd have heard the announcement. Don't blame me that you can't pay attention. This is the fast finish group. Why do you want to wear those stupid things when running with a group anway?" I love European bluntness. Anyway, that last 4 was absolutely no struggle, I felt fantastic and but for the pace-ees, I'd likely have run it faster. But, no joke, I killed them as soon as we hit the top of cat hill -- "We're on the flat! Move people! You're over the hill! Don't you dare quit on me now! This is the last mile of YOUR marathon! Hard to the finish!" We ran the last 4 miles in 27:00 flat, 6:45/mile. It felt fantastic and after we finished, when someone joked that we should do another 6, well, I actually entertained the thought of doing another loop.

Saturday afternoon, Erin and I spent the day at Bed, Bath and Beyond, the Container Store and K-Mart. Today, we've succeeded in restructuring about half our apartment (we now have bikes hanging from the bedroom ceiling!) and in making a lot of places on the walls where pictures now need to be hung. Thank you Jesus for spackle.

Finally, on the way to the gym this morning Erin and I were having a debate over whether "mosey" or "saunter" had a meaning with more intention behind it. I took the position that "moseying" required more thought because you "mosey on over" to a destination, but one can "saunter" without really going anywhere. Erin's thought was that "sauntering" required more thought because "moseying on over" implies a good bit of meandering, while "sauntering" is more moving from 'a' to 'b', albeit slowly. It's been a vicious debate that only two people growing up on the borders of the South could properly have, but does anyone else have thoughts? Let's see if anyone else can outmatch Erin and me for dorkiness! (And no online dictionary citations. That'd be cheating.)

Week in Review

MondayRest -- --
Tuesday8.0 miles57:55
7:14 avg.
Wednesday11.3 miles 1:28:11 7:48/mile
Thursday5.0 miles38:40
FridayRest -- --
Saturday 20.0 miles
Sunday6.0 miles48:05
Total50.3 Miles -- --