Posts Tagged ‘2011

30
Dec
11

Running Goals for 2011: Looking Back

As has become a yearly right for me, it’s time to review my running goals for 2011 and see how I did. Overall I’m pretty pleased with this year, but there are clearly somethings that could have gone a little bit better.

  • Distance Run: 1500 miles
    Nope – I’m pleased to say that I came much closer this year. However, there were four extended periods where I did little to no running. In March I spent about three weeks in China. I went running once while there and really stuck out, but the bigger issue was that the air was toxic. In August I made the stupid mistake of trying to barefoot and getting huge blisters on my feet. Just when I was getting better I managed to get the norovirus. In September I spent two weeks in Europe. Finally, December was shaping up great to make 1500 miles, but my achilles tendon started to hurt, so rest was in order. I’ll finish the year with about 1375 miles, depending on whether or not I go running today or tomorrow.
  • Marathons: 3 (Grandma’s, Chicago, NYC)
    Yes! Grandma’s Marathon in June was a blast. I set a PR and ran most of it with a friend before she threatened to kill me around mile 22 and told me to go on ahead of her. My experience in Chicago, on the other hand, was downright miserable – hiccups made me want to die by the end of the race. It was so bad that I signed up for the Hartford Marathon six days later where I PR’d. I managed to shave a few more seconds off this PR at New York three weeks later. It was a good year for running marathons.
  • Weight: 170lbs
    Nope – according to my spreadsheet I hit my lowest weight at 173.2. Right now I’m a little over 10lbs north of that figure thanks to holiday bingeing while visiting relatives. Still, I’m about 15lbs better than I was at this time last year.
  • Fastest Mile: 5:50
    Nope – I did only a single one mile race, the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile. I finished in 6:10. I was happy, although I’d love to see that leading six change into a five.
  • Marathon: 3:30
    Nope – marathon time predictors say to take your half marathon time and double it then add 10 minutes for your full marathon time. If I could do a half in 1:40, then a full in 3:30 should be possible, right? Not quite. While I did drop my PR in the marathon about 17 minutes this year, at 3:57:45 it’s not even close to this goal.
  • Half-Marathon: 1:40
    Nope – I was tempted to call this an “Old-School Boston Yes”. However, let’s be honest, that second digit is still a 4, and for me to make this goal the second digit needed to be a 3. I missed this goal by 23 seconds at the 2011 Brooklyn Half Marathon.
  • Cross-Training: 2 days a week
    Nope – I often manage this in Minneapolis. In New York I lack a bike and fail miserably at this. I rarely cross-trained.
  • Barefoot/Vibram a race of 10k or more
    Yes! – I did this at the 2011 Independence Day Races in Minneapolis. Not only that, I turned in a 10k PR that was a faster pace than my 5k PR.
  • Bench Press My Own Weight
    Nope – I think I tried bench pressing three times this year. Fail.
  • Run to and from Work at Least Five Times
    Nope – by the time I thought about this it was already late September and getting too dark to run on the roads around work in the evening. I never even did this once.
  • Post at Least 50 Blog Entries
    Nope – this blog was a bit more predictable in 2011. Assuming this is the last post of the year I’ll finish the year with 36.

So, what’s the overall conclusion. I didn’t run as much as a I hoped, I didn’t cross-train nearly as much as a I hoped, and I didn’t write about running quite as much as a I hoped. Was this year a let down? No. I don’t feel bad when I set an ambitious goal and I fail to meet them. I think I would have felt worse if I set goals and met each goal – it wouldn’t mean that they weren’t stretching me enough.

Next up, 2012 running goals.

09
Nov
11

Race Report: 2011 ING New York City Marathon

It didn’t feel like I was doing a marathon this weekend. I wasn’t experiencing the usual mental pressure or worries about my legs and insides. Even on Saturday morning as my wife and I headed to expo it didn’t hit me that I was doing a marathon. Getting up at 4:30am on Sunday and walking in the cold and dark to the train to catch the ferry to Staten Island it didn’t feel like I was doing a marathon. Even when I wandered around Fort Wadsworth it still didn’t feel like I was doing a marathon. This wasn’t a new experience. I had a semi-disastrous 4:37 when I ran this race two years ago. I knew what it was like. I was even once again a Green Bib, which means that aside from the slight change to the green course, everything was the same. There was no need to watch course highlight videos, plan out my strategy for hills, or think about where the fans were going to be. I still remembered for 2009. The question I went into the morning with was whether or not my insides were going to rise up and attack me again.

Achievement Unlocked: 2011 ING New York City Marathon Bib Acquired

Achievement Unlocked: 2011 ING New York City Marathon Bib Acquired

The expo, was as expected, a little crazy. The space they had seemed to be enough for the experience, but there’s just something about things happening in New York that turns everything into chaos. If you’re a tourist you blame New Yorkers. If you’re a New Yorker you blame tourists. It was a little surprising to see that at 10am on Saturday they were out of men’s medium shirts. Good thing I take a large for long sleeve shirts. You’d think this would be one of those things that NYRR would have figured out. They clearly should have information from previous marathons about what types of shirts they needed. Anyway, although I always have the best intentions to buy stuff at the expo, I usually just wander through and never look at much of anything. This was the same way. The only thing I was going to pick up was a pace band, unfortunately the Timex booth was already out of bands for all times between 3:15 and 4:15. Youch.

Next morning I got up at 4:30am and did a short run down to the train. Just enough to get my legs going. I knew there wasn’t going to be much of any place to workout in Fort Wadsworth, so this was going to be my main chance. As usual, the closer I got to Grand Central the more people were on the train. Lots of foreigners who had no idea what train they needed to be on. Luckily the conductor didn’t seem too annoyed when I held the door open for a group of Danish runners at Union Square. I continued to chat with some of the folks into the ferry terminal and across to Staten Island. I felt like the expert being as it was going to be my ninth marathon and my second time running New York.

When I arrived at Fort Wadsworth I had three goals for the day. None of them involved a PR. Here they are in ascending order of possible disappointment if I failed them:

  1. Not get the hiccups
  2. Finish the race
  3. Avoid pooping my pants
Me in the last green corral for wave 1 shortly before the start of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Me in the last green corral for wave 1 shortly before the start of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Thankfully, I’ve never had problems with #3, and I’ve never started a race I didn’t finish. This meant I would probably get at least two out of three of my goals. The first one has been my nemesis. I’ve had a wonderful flareup, which might be related to hiccups and running.

I was fortunate enough to have a late ferry this year, 6:45am. Combined with a 9:40am start time, this meant that my ferry to start time was about three hours, much better than 2009 when I had the 5am ferry and started at 10am. The ferry really is one of the most interesting parts of the marathon. The only people on the ferry at that hour of the day are marathoners and, from my biased observations, people heading home to Staten Island from a night out on the town the night before.

Unfortunately, I was, once again on the bottom (green bibs represent!). Fortunately they made an announcement that said “urinating on the bridge is both unsanitary and unpleasant”. I really wish they would just said “Green runners, be careful of pee coming down from runners above you!”. Fortunately, I knew better. The German guy I saw get hit, not so much. Starting on the lower deck also meant that initial GPS readings were going to be rubbish. Oh well. We can deal with these things.

The green wave 1 starting line at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

The green wave 1 starting line at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

2011 New York City Marathon Split Results from Runkeeper

2011 New York City Marathon Split Results from Runkeeper

The beginning of the race went quite well. My second mile was WAY too fast and I knew I was going to pay for it. Somewhere around a 7:20 mile. What can I say, running under the bridge messes your timing up. Brooklyn was, as usual, great. I loved all the kids giving out high fives, it really helped to keep my pace going. I knew I was around a 3:48 pace, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that up for the entire race.

Me at Mile 11.5 of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Me at Mile 11.5 of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Although I knew this pace was too hot for me, I was doing far better than 2009. In that race I ran the first nine miles with another guy aiming for a four hour pace. I lost him about mile 9 and shortly after began to have horrible hiccups and acid reflux. I eventually vomited in Queens and had to do a combination of running/walking to the finish. I was still strong. Didn’t feel overly fatigued and proceeded over the Pulaski Bridge out of Brooklyn and into Queens with half the race behind me.

2011 New York City Marathon Official Splits - Part 1

2011 New York City Marathon Official Splits - Part 1

So what happened between the half and mile 14 (mile 15 in RunKeeper. Thanks jitter!)? Well, that’s simple. I had to use the restroom. Those nasty flare up problems. Yup, more information than you required. However, I learned from the 2009 marathon where I vomited from using a restroom later in Queens — the scent of a pretzel cart burning pretzels plus upset stomach plus restroom stank did not work so well. It was pleased that I was able to return from the restroom at about the same pace as before, although my legs did start to get wary and I could tell I was slowing down.

2011 New York City Marathon Official Splits - Part 2

2011 New York City Marathon Official Splits - Part 2

I managed to keep up a decent pace for the rest of the race. My wife managed to spot me at 87th Street as I cruised up 1st avenue although I completely missed her. Even the run through the Bronx, which normally is horrible, was feeling good this year. The improvements to the Willis Avenue bridge were noticeable although the loss of some lanes made it very tight. I had to strategize how to get around people who were having problems with the elevation change. A huge thanks goes to the Van Cortlandt Track Club, the Japanese drummers, and the fire fighters for keeping our short jaunt through the Bronx interesting. I exited the Bronx in great shape at mile 21 and proceeded into Harlem.

Me Full Derp at Mile 23 of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Me Full Derp at Mile 23 of the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Now, here’s the thing about Harlem. It’s always dangerous to drive in Harlem. This isn’t because people will do anything to you, it’s more because people are very unpredictable about crossing the street. They tend to cross wherever is most convenient. This, sadly, was also the trend as we ran through Harlem on Sunday morning. More than once I had to shout “Get off the course” to people who decided to slowly cross the street. In the future NYRR should deploy marshals in Harlem (and to a lesser extent the Hasidic parts of Brooklyn) to minimize these problems.

Anyway, the last really difficult part of the race was the climb up Fifth Avenue before entering Central Park. This is only about a 100 foot climb, but when you’ve got 23 miles behind you climbing 100 feet in 3/4ths of a mile seems nearly impossible. Luckily, my wife found me for the third and last time around 93rd street. As you can see below, I had no problem going full derp for the photo.

I think this was the point where I finally realized I was running a marathon. It wasn’t because of the crowds or fact I just saw mile 23 and that a four hour marathon was within my grasp. It was because my legs felt like they wanted to give out. The muscles right above my knees were weak. This was a new sensation. So, I did something that I really hoped not to do. I stopped to walk for a short bit. This gave my legs a chance to recharge, but it was nearly impossible to start running again. As the miles ticked down I knew I would finish under four hours, but the bigger question is whether or not I would beat my personal record of 3:58:17 set three weeks ago in Hartford, CT. As the 800m sign appeared on 59th Street I realized I could do it, but it would be tight. I had about five minutes to run the last 800m. Sure, on a normal day that would be no problem, but my legs were killing me and it was uphill.

However, here’s where the crowd really pulled me through. It’s amazing how thousands of people shouting indistinctly for people that are certainly not me can make me run faster. I was heaving by the time that I saw the 200m sign, but I knew I could finish it. I pulled myself across the finish line and my watch read 3:57:58. I couldn’t remember if I started it early, but I knew I had stopped it late. I had beaten my PR. Not by much, but it was progress. I had run a good race and earned my medal.

Victory! A new PR at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon!

Victory! A new PR at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon!

Of course, the hardest part of the New York City marathon is the finish. Depending on your bib number you may be forced to walk twenty or more blocks to get your checked gear. It was a slow march that took me up to the American Museum of Natural History to get my gear and put my sweats back on. I thought briefly about sitting down, but decided that would be a bad idea. I slipped on my sweats, and slowly trudged to the subway station for a ride to meet my wife at Grand Central Terminal.

There were some things that went very well during the race. I managed to consume a couple of goos without problem. I didn’t vomit at all. I felt pretty good. A few things went bad. Going to the bathroom cost me a couple of minutes thanks to my flareup. But in the end, a PR is a PR, even if it’s only 32 seconds. Now, if I could only figure out what is next.

Keep Running.

31
Dec
10

Running Goals for 2011: Looking Forward

In my last post I performed a retrospective of my 2010 running goals that I set in December 2009. For the most part these goals were failures, largely due to injury. I don’t want to dwell on these failures, so I’m moving onward for 2011.

  • Distance Run: 1500 Miles
    This is the same goal as what I had for 2010. It’s a feasible goal especially if I plan on running a trio of marathons.
  • Marathons: 3 (Grandma’s, Chicago, NYC)
    Last year my goal was two marathons, Big Sur and Chicago. I might have added in another late fall marathon if I was healthy, but I wasn’t. In 2011 I’ve already qualified for the NYC Marathon, and I still want to do Chicago, even though they’re stupidly close together. For Chicago training I’ll run Grandma’s marathon in June.
  • Weight: 170lbs
    I ballooned once I stopped running this year. I even crossed that dreaded 200lbs mark once I stopped exercising and stopped cooking. I’m setting some other goals outside of running that deal with junk food consumption that should help me actually reach this weight.
  • Fastest Mile: 5:50
    I managed to do a mile on little training in 6:26 this year. I was thrilled. I’m pretty certain that if I push myself I can make it under 6 minutes.
  • Marathon: 3:30
    A huge stretch goal. I’ll need some help, but with training, motivation, and most importantly, a coach to help me out, I might be able to pull this off in Chicago.
  • Half-Marathon: 1:40
    Last year I managed a 1:43:44 in the NYC Half Marathon. I’m not certain what half marathons I’m going to run this year, but if I run one on a decently flat course I think I can make 1:40.
  • Cross-Training: 2 days a week
    This is what killed me and probably led to my injury. I need to work more on core exercises and cross training. Maybe I’ll even see about taking some swim lessons.
  • Barefoot/Vibram a race of 10k or more
    I bought myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for my birthday last year and have run about 30 miles in them. I’m not certain if it’s better of just different. It makes running a little bit more fun and exercises some different muscles, so I’d like to try these in an actual race.
  • Bench Press My Own Weight
    I have no idea how much I can bench right now. The buildings for both of my apartments have workout rooms, so I really have no excuse to continue to ignore my arms. This could be really hard.
  • Run to and from Work at Least Five Times
    By the shortest route it is a little over six miles to work from my apartment. If I take the scenic route it’s about eight miles. This requires me planning ahead and bringing an extra lunch and clothes the day before, but I think I can do this.
  • Post at Least 50 Blog Entries
    I’m not going to do a long-time-no-blog post, but let’s just say that it was hard to continue to post about running when I couldn’t run for a good chunk of the year. I’ve also got about a half dozen race recaps that I never fully completed. Maybe I’ll do some long term recaps on those. This is basically the PostAWeek project that WordPress.com is promoting.

Some of these are certainly stretch goals, such as the 3:30 marathon and 1:40 half-marathon. I fully intend on joining the Westchester Track Club and getting some better training, which should help out. The mile is a bit of a stretch, but I did the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile without any training and slightly injured this year and still managed a 6:26. I’m looking forward to incorporating some cross training and possibly doing a sprint triathlon this summer. Most importantly, I’m positive about 2011 and putting this last year behind me.

So, how was your 2010? What are your running goals for 2011?

31
Dec
10

Running Goals for 2010: Looking Back

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I regard 2010 as a big fat failure when it comes to running. Something went wrong in my right hip and lower back in May and it took me four months to finally see the doctor. Since then I’ve been in therapy and haven’t exactly made wonderful progress. My hip still hurts, but at least I can run. I’m optimistic about the next year, which means that it’s time to set some goals for 2011.

However, before setting goals for 2011, I’d like to take to some time to go over my successes (few) and failures (lots) of my 2010 goals:

  • Distance Run: 1500 miles
    Nope – injuries limited me to 676 miles this year. Since September I’ve run under 60 miles. I didn’t run at all in June and only ran twice in July. That’s a huge disappointment and has cascaded to other aspects of my life.
  • Marathons: 2 (Big Sur and Chicago)
    Nope – I ran Big Sur and registered for Chicago, but I made the decision to pull out of Chicago in early September because I hadn’t trained enough and was in some serious pain. That was the point where I finally decided to see a doctor. Not like that helped any.
  • Half Marathons: 2 (NYC and ???)
    Yes! – I started out the year with Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park, followed it up with the NYC Half Marathon in March, and closed the year with a very painful Grete’s Great Gallop in October.
  • Other Races: Enough to qualify for 2011 NYC marathon
    Yes! – I did 10 NYRR races and volunteered at one. I’ll be running the 2011 NYC Marathon!
  • Weight: 165 lbs
    Nope – Utter failure on this one. Not running made me FAT. Seriously FAT. Next year I need to really watch what I eat.
  • Fastest Marathon: sub 3:50:00 (Chicago)
    Nope – I didn’t run Chicago. Big Sur was brutal on me, but I was still happy with my 4:22:49 time on a challenging course.
  • Fastest Half-Marathon: sub 1:50:00
    Yes! – I managed this twice, both for the Manhattan Half Marathon at 1:48:26 and then two months later clocked a 1:43:44 for the NYC Half Marathon. AWESOME!
  • Marathons ran with friends: 1
    Nope – I was hoping to run Chicago with some friends. That didn’t materialize.

It’s refreshing to see that I managed to complete some of my goals, but I’d still say that this year was disappointing. It’s really difficult to say what 2011 will hold. I’m still injured, but I’m getting a better idea of how to deal with my injuries and what I need to do to ensure that I stay healthy. Primarily this requires taking a more holistic view of running and my personal health.




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Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

Upcoming Races

  • Nov 6 - New York City Marathon, New York, NY
For previous races, check out my Race Log