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-- --