Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Cross Training

A twenty mile run requires serious cross training to aid recovery. Yesterday's cross training: participating in a pumpkin cook-off.

1. Prepare a pumpkin dish - just one rep.
I made a pumpkin gruyere soup with orange and lemon, served inside a hollowed out pumpkin.

2. At party, sample all pumpkin dishes- repeat as needed to achieve maximum fullness.
Tip: focus on the pasta dishes to restore glycogen levels.

3. Roast leftover seeds for snacking. It will help Monday pass more quickly until it's time to go run again.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

20 Miles

Great conditions for fishing? By the time I saw that it was too late for a change of plans. Or sport. With three weeks to go, I was ready to run.

I must have forgotten to wipe my dreams off my forehead before setting out this morning. Today's run was my first 20 mile run ever and my last long run before the taper as I get ready to run the New York City Marathon.

At mile 3 a group of cyclists passed me slowly on a hill. They cheered for me and one of them wished me luck in three weeks. I also got a few "21 days!" cheers and even some runner-on-the-war-path growls. Friendly ones. I growled back as best I could.

How did they know I was training for NYCM? I could've been training for MCM. Or maybe I was just a runner on her usual Saturday morning neighborhood run.

Maybe it was because I was following a good chunk of the marathon course. Or perhaps it was thanks to the marathon ads and banners popping up everywhere. Maybe I just looked like I meant business and that my business was #NYCM.

Whatever it was, I had a blast.

I ran 20M to meet my neighbor from across the street for brunch, about 5M from where we both live. It makes a lot of sense, right?

Often the hardest part about running is getting out the door.

D was going to be in a conference in the city. She was free for brunch but only for a small window of time and she was bringing me a dry change of clothes. All this meant that when I woke up in the morning there was no question. I was going to leave my apartment by 7am without agonizing over it or wondering whether I really wanted to do this, or if I wanted to to this today, or if maybe I wanted to read a book first. Nothing. Just get ready and head out the door. No dilly-dallying. I had to get there on time.

I decided to break it down into manageable chunks in order not to be overwhelmed. I decided to think of it as 5 mile warmup run. Then I was going to run for 10 miles, which I know I can do. Then I was going to do a 5 mile cooldown. Plus, whenever my mind wanted to start freaking out about how much I'd run and how much longer I had to run, I'd tell myself I was going to run all day. Six hours at least, so I might as well relax and sink into it.

Is the last bite really better tasting than all the other ones, or is it just that its being the last makes it more intense? Today I took the intensity away from the last few miles by pretending I was going to run for much longer. That way when I got to the last mile I was rested and relaxed and managed to make it my fastest mile of the run: 2 minutes faster than the others.

There was a wind advisory, but the wind gusts just made it more fun. I was well rested and I think I probably benefitted from the extra effort of running against the wind. My eyes were tearing at times. On the Pulaski bridge I felt I was being pushed into the barrier; as I approached the Queensboro there was a moment where I took a couple of steps but did not move forward, and I shivered when waiting for lights at 92nd. But it was fun! The wind kept me company all the way, whipping my braids around and I'm sure at times it must have pushed me from behind, though I don't remember that.

At Mile 20 there was a surprise. At the corner that marked the end of my run, about a dozen people with posters and matching shirts where cheering for me! They'd kept themselves busy cheering for Avon walkers while I got there and they kept it up after I left, but they were there for me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staten Island

As November inches closer, I thought I'd go take a look at Staten Island, scope out the other side of the Verrazano, and try to figure out my marathon time.

For those of us who don't run with fancy gadgets keeping track of speed, location, and heart rate, one way to guess expected marathon time is to use performance at past races. I hadn't raced properly since I started speed training and I hadn't done any long races in a while. I signed up for the Staten Island half marathon as a way to figure out where I stood. It took place last on 10/10/10 - four weeks before the New York City Marathon

I'd run a few races lately. I did the Team Championships 5M in August. It was my fastest five miles to date, but I'd done them trying to conserve since I was planning on running 9 more miles back to Brooklyn after that to complete my scheduled long run.

Then there was the Fitness Mind-Body Spirit 4M in September which was my slowest four mile race to date, but I'd run fourteen miles to get there and used the race as the last four miles of my long run.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Liz Padilla 5k. It was Don's first race*, which is why I there running on a scheduled rest day after running 18 miles the previous day. I did pretty well, but it was a 5k - not a distance I'd want to extrapolate to calculate marathon times.

Between my race performance being all over the place and the fact that I often forget to stop my watch after runs, I had no clue how fast I've been going or what my pace should be for the marathon. Forget about running at target pace, I have no way of telling how fast I'm running until I'm done running, and that's only if I remembered to use my watch properly.

I ran the half-marathon thinking of pushing hard. I started out with Kate, a surprise encounter at the ferry terminal. Kate is faster than me, but I hung in there for about a mile before I decided to let her pull ahead and focus on myself. Besides, I was in trouble.

I hadn't seen the first mile marker yet and my watch was showing 12min. When my watch showed 14min I started panicking. If I was running a 14minute/mile, I was in big trouble. I wouldn't make it. What's worse, if this is what running a 14minute, by then going on fifteen minute mile, felt like I was going to die on marathon day. The amount of effort it was taking me to run as fast as I could walk had me sweat dripping from my elbows and I was trying hard not to panic. It took all my mental strength to tell myself I'd just missed it and to wait for the next marker.

For the first time I used my watch to mark the splits. (If I knew how to use the recall function I'd be able to share them with you but unfortunately I can't figure it out and I need to wrap this up before I head to work.)

Around 9M I started to feel relieved the end was near. Then I started panicking again. If I was looking forward to finishing that early, how the heck would I be able to run twice as long in four weeks?

I managed to remind myself I'd be better rested by then (yay, taper!), I'd benefit from having my very own cheering squads along the course (mark your calendars, Cheerleaders: itinerary to come), and I'd be excited to be running. Don't take this personally, Staten Island. You're awesome and you were a great host, but running your half was not as exciting as running a full marathon through all five boroughs. Please don't take it personally, SI.

At the ten mile marker I told myself it was just a 5k ahead of me. No problem. I even picked up the pace. Then at half a mile to go I cranked it up and keep it steady and managed to clock in a half marathon that was eleven minutes faster than my previous one.

Which means I might be able to run a sub-5 marathon.


I was all business during this race, checking my time, checking my splits, trying to focus on pace, and that was not as much fun as just running it. And I mean to have fun running New York.

*Congratulations, Don!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Knocking 'em out

That's what I've been doing to my non-runner friends - what's left of them. The runner friends tend to survive it better, but just marginally so. Only those who are also training for marathons, or thinking of training for them, can bear the full brunt of it.

It's also the graphics on a popular shirt sold by NYRR and a good reminder that I need to blog about all this if I want my friends to survive the last few weeks left of my marathon training.