Monday, September 29, 2008

Just 13 sleeps to go...

...till the big day. I'm feeling strong, staying positive and ready to work hard for 26.2 miles. I've double checked the hotel reservations, confirmed dinner for the night before, reviewed our flight itineraries, settled on a fueling strategy, tested out my race outfit and started breaking in a new pair of shoes. I'm trying to get extra sleep when I can and staying as healthy as possible.

People who know me well understand a few things about my personality: I'm very detail oriented, I love planning and keeping things in order. Running is no different. I'm true to a training plan, I try to stick my paces and specific workouts and I get ample cross training in when possible. However, it wasn't until recently this year that I got more serious about coming up with a race plan and sticking with it. A detailed race plan, one that has me sticking with even splits +/- 10 secs. off goal pace and not allowing myself off the hook if things aren't looking perfectly. Chicago will be the first time I execute a race in this manner. Sure, I still have an A plan and a B plan but the difference between the two is not nearly as large as I would have previously planned.

Another aspect well understood by peeps close to me is my love for the color green. It's my power color, it makes me happy and fills me with energy. I think it's the association with the earth, nature and life that draws all of that energy for me. It should then be of no surprise that my marathon outfit looks as such...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Color makes the world go 'round

Was out and about earlier today, doing all of those things normal people do on Saturday mornings know, those things you might do if you're not running 20 miles.  :-)  Among my errands I zipped into the LRS to exchange a possible marathon-worthy top but not before seeing that the newly renovated 2 Columbus Circle, new home to the Museum of Art of Design, had re-opened and was showcasing some eye-opening brightness in the midst of a rather dark and dreary day.

The original look of 2 Columbus Circle

And with a facelift

Friday, September 26, 2008

How to Conquer the Marathon in 26 words (or less) - thanks Jill!

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Be patient, one mile at a time; honor the burn. Who are you to run 26.2 miles? Who are you not to!

From The Runner's Lounge, Take it and Run Thursday...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's that?, Back off! and other mind induced absurdities

It's that time again. It starts off as a mild ache here or there coupled with a cough and some chest tightness. Then all of a sudden I notice co-workers are wheezing, hacking up all sorts of nastiness and calling in sick. I'm surrounded and I'm starting to feel it too! Argggghhhhh... the dreaded taper fever. When all of my systems seem to rebel against having some extra hours in the week for relaxing and resting pre-race and when everyone around me appears to be carrying lethal dosages of the sickies.

I need a bubble like my buddy Stewie!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back to the 600s

Ran my last of 600 repeats for this round of training last night. For some reason this workout doesn't fall at inconvenient times like some of the other longer interval workouts have... one I had to miss b/c of it's proximity to the New Haven race and one was missed b/c I wasn't feeling fully recovered from RTB. Nevertheless it's still a good workout so I got it in. 8.1 miles total with 5 x 600 repeats and 90 secs. jogging in between each. Goal pace was 2:37 (7:04 mi). Here's how it all shook out...

3.8 miles warm-up in 32:28 (8:32/mi)

600m: 2:29 (6:39 pace)
600m: 2:24 (6:26 pace)
600m: 2:20 (6:15 pace)
600m: 2:22 (6:20 pace)
600m: 2:21 (6:18 pace)

1.8 miles cool down in 15:09 (8:25/mi)

What I liked most about the run was that I still felt a bit tired from the weekend and my last LR; legs weren't sore but I was still a little zapped. And despite that feeling, I ran this without incident, without feeling fatigued or beat up. Those warm up and cool down miles are within my range of acceptable paces for the marathon too! They felt easy and like my own -- me likey.

Just one more interval workout next week before this all gets wrapped up and it's a biggie. Mile repeats @5KP within a 8 miler.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh yes, that last post title

...the chipwich! Now I'm not that big of an ice cream fan ...never have been. As a child I preferred icey stuff (popsicles, fla-vor-ice, sherbets) or the occasional root beer float. And since then I've always been more of a salty snack/dessert fan. But the chipwich is something different. Something bigger than any of us. And something that should not be chased lest you find yourself never enjoying one. I know, I've been there. I've run around to a good number of grocery stores, bodegas and Mr. Softie trucks desperately in search of the perfect chipwich. Envisioning that lovely goodness produced on Main St. in Walt Disney World or better yet, in my own kitchen.

What's your favorite?

The mass produced but more easily found?

Homemade deliciousness?

Something with a little extra flair?

Me, I'm a fan of the homemade variety. Just two chocolate chip cookies and plain vanilla ice cream. But if I'm in chase mode, the Toll House is a good fill in for the real thing.

Don't Chase the Chipwich

Quite the assortment of happenings since I last posted. My mind was still processing all of my RTB experience while my body recovered and my daytime hours blew by with several large work projects. The week ended rather uneventfully with a mixed bag 10 miler on Thursday (some tempo miles, some MP miles and a couple warm ups/cool downs) followed by a delightful 5 miler on Friday. This cooler weather really wakes up all of my senses and makes running even more enjoyable! Saturday was my last 20 miler before Chicago; I was really looking forward to it and planning to make sure it was a success and something that would launch me confidently into my taper.

That it was!

57* starting out Saturday a.m. and besides the annoying bouncing of my SPI belt (note to self: figure out another way to carry your fuel), the run was off without a hitch. My route took me south along the Hudson, rounding Battery Park and heading north up the East River. Once back to 59th St. I entered the park and headed up to the reservoir. I'm not sure how but my timing worked out perfectly to get a lap around the reservoir in and finish in time to meet a RTB teammate, Meredith, and a friend of hers for my last 4 miles. Before meeting up with the girls I'd taken in a gel at around mile 5, some shot blocks around mile 10 and another gel right after mile 16. I was feeling good & strong and my mental game was sharp! After seeing the girls along East Drive I joined them for the northern hills of Central Park and back down along West Drive. We'd picked up the pace from those miles I logged mid-run and it could not have felt better. Plenty left in the tank. Finished up with 20.3 miles in 3:05:43 (9:08/mi).

After cleaning up and resting a bit, Jason & I headed out to Greenpoint to meet up with some friends for a bar crawl as part of NYC's Craft Beer Week. I highly suggest this as a way to recover from a LR! The suds were tasty, the environment fresh & new, the company enjoyable and the earlier ending evening a perfect way to log some quality zzzzs that night. We hit probably 5-6 bars with my favorite being The Mark Bar. Great bartender, friendly atmosphere, regular game nights, incredible beer selection and free pizza!

Sooo, like I started this post, my mind was all over the map last week. Several other tidbits about RTB have randomly popped into my noggin', this being the BEST of them. Ways to guarantee a high quality run: your teammates drive by blaring this song

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Grief

Any fan of Arrested Development (or Charlie Brown) will recognize this and understand my mood since RTB. It's the same way when any other big event passes ...something that you've planned for, looked forward to and enjoyed immensely. I don't like to sit around with soggy diapers for long so I took Sunday evening for just that and got back to the program Monday.

My quads took the brunt of all the hurtin' which is great news for the perpetual complaining my butt and hamstring are constantly dishing. It's not so great news for when I need to sit down or head down stairs leaving my building, at work, into the subway, on the toilet! Geesh. Met up with Staci for a very slow 6 miler on Monday. Was probably the slowest I've run since my last marathon maybe longer but it was EXACTLY what I needed.

Last night I headed out for 10.3 miles, all along the bridle path and around the reservoir. It was heavenly! The pace was easy, the humidity low, the temps at that perfect crisp state and the city provided a gloriously lit scape along Central Park South.

This morning I looked like a normal person heading down into the subway. Back to getting ready for Chicago!

Where are the words?

Meredith running her 2nd leg, photo courtesy of Chris

I'm finding it very difficult to summarize my thoughts and feelings about Reach the Beach. It was an amazing & challenging experience and such fun that I'm afraid I won't do it justice by describing it here. Perhaps a massive brain dump is what's really needed we go, hold on tight, this shit isn't organized whatsoever!

Cab ride to Grand Central, Metro North train to Tarrytown, NY, car ride to Danvers, MA, rental van pick-up, van ride up to Hampton Beach, NH, greetings, hugs, growlers, scallops, beers, sleeping in a sandy bed. Rise and shine with the sun, van ride to Franconia, NH.

Lots of cheering, waiting and riding around in the van. Our running order: Meredith, Staci, Maureen, myself, Bill, Tom, Walter, Kate, Brandi, Julia. Repeat.

24.4 miles run over 4 legs, in 3 hrs, 20 mins, 23 secs. (8:12/mi avg pace)

leg 1: started this at 3:04 p.m. on Friday. The entire leg was basically a screaming downhill section through a beautiful state park. It was freezing at the start awaiting Maureen's arrival with our team's bracelet. I knew once I got moving I'd be fine. I didn't even mind the strong headwinds but man oh man, my quads got the beat down but good.

2.9 miles in 19:47 (6:49/mi avg pace)

Lots of cheering, waiting and riding around in the van. Meredith, Staci, Maureen, myself, Bill, Tom, Walter, Kate, Brandi, Julia. Repeat.

leg 2: started this at 11:05 p.m. on Friday. It was very dark out and although the rain had stopped the air was still very moist and quite foggy. Reflective vest, two blinky lights and headlamp in place. I had a blast with the rolling hills throughout with the first section along a two lane highway and the next along a super dark section of country roads. Nothing makes you feel like you might possibly bust ass more than barreling down a big downhill and blowing by a couple other runners. Luckily I experienced no such spillage.

7.8 miles in 1:04:26 (8:15/mi avg pace)

Lots of cheering, waiting and riding around in the van. Meredith, Staci, Maureen, myself, Bill, Tom, Walter, Kate, Brandi, Julia. Repeat.

leg 3: started this at 9:21 a.m. on Saturday. After a solid (ha ha) 2.5 hrs. sleep in the van we're back at it. The sun is out and it warmed up quickly. This leg was again split between a two lane highway and a country road of sorts dipping into another park with more rolling hills and an inordinate amount of frog roadkill. I enjoyed an ice cold soak in a local lake after handing off to Bill.

6.9 miles in 58:51 (8:31/mi avg pace)

Lots of cheering, waiting and riding around in the van. Meredith, Staci, Maureen, myself, Bill, Tom, Walter, Kate, Brandi, Julia. Repeat.

leg 4: started this at 3:44 p.m. on Saturday. My favorite leg!! I had the chance to run through a running buddy's neighborhood. He not only briefed me on the topography of this leg ahead of time but left several encouraging signs posted along the road and some very tasty vittles + a bottle of champagne. Thanks again Dan - you rock! This section featured one big ass hill at 2.5 miles and then nice mini rollers to the finish. The volunteers before this transition area were yelling out the number of steps I had until the finish, that helped!

6.8 miles in 57:10 (8:24/mi avg pace)

Lots of cheering, waiting and riding around in the van. This time around: Staci, myself, Bill, Walter, Kate, Brandi - FINISH!

209.5 miles total. 31 hrs, 8 mins, 1 sec (8:55/mi avg pace)

Again, words cannot describe how much of an impact this experience has left on me. Many of us were strangers but all of us are runners, that is what bridges the gap - always & forever. Just one more thing that is so cool about running. I felt challenged, tired but energized, sick of PB&J but still reaching for another Uncrustable, beat down but ready to give more, extremely happy, proud beyond measure and ready do it again.


Special shout outs to Chris & Glenn ...our van drivers, photographers, support crew and DJs. You both have a special place in my heart - thank you!!!!

And now for a visual sampling of the experience...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's Almost Here!

My very first Reach the Beach!!!! Am I physically ready? - you bet! Am I totally stoked? - without a doubt! Am I all packed up and ready to go? - not even close. While I continue to add to the Duane Reade list, take a look at these pics.

Starting Point on Cannon Mountain

My first leg at Willey House State Park
*corrected, my first leg ends here at Willey House... starts here at Highland Lodge. Momma has herself a big ass drop in that first leg. Wheeee!

An overview of the course - thanks Google Earth!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

When it's right, it's soooo right

Hot damn! My run last night totally freed me. There were no expectations. There was no set distance. Time was of no consequence. Once again, just me and Coldplay on the bridle path and around the reservoir. 8.4 miles in 1:05 even (7:44/mi) ...I love when numbers end up all nice and clean like that. :-)

Just what I needed.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Big Bro!!!!

A protective brother
A hardworking son
A devoted husband
A big time Cardinals fan
A loving father
A dedicated firefighter
And a newly appointed Deputy Medical Officer

I hope your day is fantastico!!

Hanna's Humidity

Me no likey.

Saturday was a painful run. I got out early, fully expecting to be tossed around with winds coming from Hanna's landfall and fully expecting to get soaked from the accompanying rainfall. In fact, I was looking forward to it! Imagine my surprise when I did end up soaked but there was zero wind and zero rain involved. Boooooo.

What Hanna dished out for me was a massive wall of humidity... actually not a wall, that would imply there might be a way to run through it and bust out on the other side. This was more like a concentrated room of humidity fitting the exact dimensions of my running route. My schedule called for 17 miles total with 14 @MP. I started out a bit slow while wrapping my mind around the conditions. By mile 1.5 I was on my way to being soaked, sweat clinging on to every inch of me.

To put it simply, I was zapped. No upper body strength. No legs to speak of. My mind tried to rectify the situation as best possible and gut out whatever I could. After an out-and-back along the Hudson I'd planned to hop into the park for a couple laps of the reservoir but I'd have to pass home on the way into the park. I never made it to the park. Managed 12.5 miles with 6 @MP.

As disappointed as I was, I let myself sulk a bit, I ate, I napped and I decided that had it been race day, I would have continued. I could have continued.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This, that and the other thing...

With the exception of some work deadlines, the week has been fairly uneventful. I got out for 6 recovery miles on Tuesday night, spent some time Wednesday morning at the pool and ran 6 again last night. It should have been double that but time got away from me and I had to improvise. I'm feeling mostly recovered from the race on Monday and ready to shake out my legs a bit today with another slower run of 5 miles or so and toss in some strides for good measure. Tomorrow's run should be interesting, the east coast will be welcoming some heavy tropical rains and wind. I have 17 scheduled w/14 @MP. Wheeee!!!

I did manage some creative cross training on Wednesday night in the form of a crab boil at Back Forty. I love me some crab and had forgotten how much work it is to get such little return. However, BF does a real nice job of packaging it all up... for $35 you start out with some tasty fresh veggies with bleu cheese & green goddess dips, all the crabs you can eat (4 rounds worth), the most amazing corn and boiled potatoes in Old Bay and a delicious peach & blueberry cobbler to round it all out. The pitchers of Captain Lawrence Pale Ale weren't too shabby either.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Isn't she lovely?!

My adorable niece sporting her big brother's shoes.

photo courtesy of auntie ise

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And that's a wrap

I like nothing more than a good mix of planned stuff and days of no plans for the weekend. It allows for socializing and also plenty of down time & relaxation. This weekend was just that. I took advantage of the last of my Friday summer hours by meeting up with Steph & Mike at Blind Tiger for some tasty beers and then continuing on to Pearl Oyster Bar for an overflowing lobster roll. YUM!!!

On Saturday I got out for a nice 7.6 miles on the bridle path of CP including a couple loops around the reservoir and then Jason & I headed to Princeton for a friend's end-of-summer party. We sat outside, enjoyed the country-like atmosphere and took in the tunes of Eddie Elliot. Except for being eaten alive by mosquitoes, it was a very enjoyable night.

Sunday was all about relaxing, hydrating and getting myself ready for the 20K in New Haven. I got out for 4 miles with 8 x 100 strides to loosen up the legs and get myself in a GO! position for the next morning.

Wanting to treat New Haven like a mini-Chicago marathon, I woke around 4:00 a.m. and prepped myself for the race and travels to CT. I ate a couple pieces of toast with bananas and drizzled honey, packed my bag and headed off for Grand Central. A few hours later and I was jogging around, stretching and prepping for the start. Bob and I met up in the green and were searching around for Trevor when we decided we'd better line up - we could find Trev afterwards. Definitely lined up too far back as the congestion was a little too irritating for me and forced a lot of dodging and grumbling. Got into the groove after that first mile but realized pretty much immediately that I'd have to find a porta-potty in the next mile or two. I'm 99.9% sure the culprit was some nasty water that I'd consumed both the day before and that morning, coming from a disposable water bottle refilled one too many times. I even knew something was funky tasting while drinking it but I feared the dreaded D word. Dehydration. Dang it! Anywho, here's what went down along the course:

mi 1: 8:31 (I definitely started too far back, ugh)
mi 2: 8:01
mi 3: 7:50
mi 4: 8:42 (first porta-potty stop )
mi 5: 8:05
mi 6: 8:36 (damn! gi distress is creeping up again)
mi 7: 9:08 (second porta-potty stop)
mi 8: 8:41
mi 9: 8:35
mi 10: 8:54 (got way too chatty here with Emmy*)
mi 11: 8:08
mi 12: 8:01
mi .54: 4:02

1:45:16 (8:28/mi) finish time

*Emmy is an unbelievably swift runner and personal heroine of mine. She's 50 and smokes up both road races and ultra marathons. She'd raced the 5K (20:23) that morning and was running the 20K course to get some extra miles in. We'd run together at Meredith's ultra earlier this summer and found one another somewhere in mile 9.

So no PR but I still felt I got a lot out of the race. I felt very strong despite the digestive track issues and I experienced zero mental hiccups. I took in a gel sometime around mile 6 and think that gave me a nice lift for the later miles. Overall, a positive experience on the road to Chicago. Next up in less than two weeks, Reach the Beach!