Showing posts with label 4 mile race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4 mile race. Show all posts

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Race report: Long Beach Snowflake 4 Miler

The finish line
Today's run (Long Beach Snowflake race): 4 miles - 35:00 (8:45 pace)

This morning I ran the Long Beach Snowflake 4 mile race for the third consecutive year. After the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy, I was sure the race would be postponed this year. But the spirit of the city was evident today and the race went on. The course was different than prior years, but the experience felt similar. Weather conditions were far from ideal, but it could have been much worse.

The view beyond the finish line
The race was staged at the Lindell Elementary School, nine blocks north of last year's location. I arrived at 7:45 AM, hoping to beat the crowd in case parking was an issue. The school actually had plenty of parking and I found a spot close to the building. There were 129 less participants this year than last year and I was especially glad that I'd signed up. Although I live 30 minutes from Long Beach, I felt an obligation to participate and support this city that has been through so much.

Pre-race crowd keeping warm
 After picking up my race bib and shirt, I took in the sights and sounds of the growing crowd as we moved closer to start time. Every race is different, but the pre-race energy always feels the same. The school gym kept everyone warm and comfortable until a member of the race crew ushered us to the line ten minutes before the start. I was glad that it was almost race time, but the cold winds made me wish I was back in the gym.

The crowd assembled behind the starting line as the race director organized people so that the faster pacers could start at the front. I stood a few rows behind them, because I like to be swept along by the speediest runners for the first mile. After some inspiring statements about Long Beach's recovery from the storm, and a quick review of the new course, we counted down to the start.

The course went directly south for half a mile, turning east on Broadway for the next 1.5 miles before the turnaround. I didn't realize that Broadway was so close to the old boardwalk. I'd expected to turn left after passing a couple of blocks, not ten. I was being passed left and right, despite my attempts to keep up with the faster crowd. I felt some relief to make the turn at Broadway, but I knew I still had three and a half miles to go.

There's a point in every race when I feel that I failed to train properly for that event. It usually comes after the first couple of miles, when I begin to question my ability to sustain my race pace. Today was no different. I came through the first mile in 8:06. A good pace, but it was almost 15 seconds off last year's mile one split time. I hoped to stay below 9:00 for the remaining splits and I managed to do that, although mile three recorded at 8:59 on my Garmin.

It's always a fast crowd in Long Beach and getting passed can be disheartening. It wasn't until I made the turn at mile two, heading west, that I saw the large number of people behind me, still running east. Instead of feeling happy, I worried that they would all eventually overtake me. This race felt hard, probably because I haven't gone all out in race mode for months. Still, I felt that I could handle the pace I was running, and I ended up finishing in the top 35%.

I settled into my stride at three miles, coming through a few seconds under 26 minutes. It seemed to take forever to reach Lindell where we took a right, heading north for for the last half mile. By 9:30 AM, cars were trying to cross the course at some intersections. Traffic control did their best, but I actually saw a couple of cars impatiently cutting through with runners still crossing the box. I had no incidents, but a couple of cars made me nervous.

I finally saw the finish chute when I had a block and a half to go. I tried to muster more speed, but I was at my physical limit. It would have been nice to cross the line earlier, but I left nothing on the course today and ran the best pace I could maintain. I was very happy to cross over the line. I felt all four hard miles at that point, yet I also felt strong.

Why am I smiling? The race is over
After the race, I watched some runners come in before downing a Gatorade and taking a few pictures. I was disappointed that my friend Steve, who ran this race with me the last two years, couldn't participate today. I'll tell him what he missed. For me, it was a validation of my fitness and a pretty good effort. I may not have loved every minute of the run, but I sure loved the feeling when I finished.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wondering how we'll weather the weather

Right now, is saying there's a 30% chance we'll see precipitation tomorrow morning. That's the start time for the Long Beach Snowflake race. On top of that, the wind chill will make it feel like 32 degrees outside. Last year conditions were similarly miserable. Despite the weather, I still had a great race.

I've rested the past couple of days and trained fairly hard during the week. I have no real expectations for tomorrow, except that I'll do my best to be competitive. This will be the first time I'll race since last October, so I'm excited to be back in the game. I'm hoping all goes smoothly and that the odds stay in our favor, as running in the cold and rain isn't a great way to spend a Saturday morning. We can control many things in life, but there's not much we can do about the weather.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing to run the Snowflake

Even though I've been away from the office since Thursday, this has probably been the busiest week I've had this year. I'm not complaining, but my plans to run today needed to be postponed. I was planning to go into the office tomorrow, but that's also going to have to wait a day.

I may head to Bethpage on Tuesday morning to enjoy the peaceful experience of running without the weekend crowds. I am definitely in the mood to take on some hills and push the pace. Even though the Snowflake Race will happen on the pancake-flat streets on Long Beach, I've found hill training to be a great way to improve my speed.

My friend Steve, who has run this race with me the last two years, won't be able to join me this year. He has two reasons, one good and one bad: paternity leave (good), knee injury (bad). I'm anticipating a very cold morning on race day and a very big crowd at the starting line. I have done pretty well at this race and, last year, I achieved a 4 mile PR. I don't know about this year, but I plan to be competitive. I may be busy, but not too busy to get out and start training tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Race report: Long Beach Snowflake Run

Pouring it on for the finish (center, in black)
Today's race (Long Beach Snowflake 4 Mile Run): 33:50 (8:28 pace)

For the second year in row, the snow has forced Snowflake Run participants off of the boardwalk. Last year it was an issue of volume, there was so much snow and ice on the boardwalk that it became both dangerous and impassible. This year it was a steady but light snowfall that would have been too slippery for fast running. So, once again, we found ourselves lining up on Broadway for this four mile race.

Last weekend I ran intervals on the treadmill in the hope of being ready to go out hard this weekend. That must have helped because I achieved a new 4 mile PR this morning and beat my prior PR by over a minute. Team Emerging Runner accompanied me this year and, aside from some difficulties finding a parking spot, the event went very well.

We arrived about 30 minutes from start time and when I walked into the gym to pick up my race number, I was surprised to see so many people milling around. The room smelled strongly of perspiration and adrenaline and against one wall was a slide show accompanied by blaring music. I headed to the rest room after visiting registration and saw a long line of of women waiting patiently. The men's room line went quickly and soon I was back to my family in the gym.

My fuel of choice for the race was GU Roctane and as it got closer to race time, I had some Ghiradelli 72% cocoa dark chocolate to top me off. I'd just run into my friend Steve who was running with me and I gave him some chocolate for a pre-race boost. Steve had his wife and their two little ones at the race and everyone was in good spirits despite the cold, wet weather.

We lined up fairly close to the start line to get a good take-off position. Steve and I learned a lesson last year when we were forced into a narrow path between the snow and parked cars. That situation produced so much crowding that we could barely exceed a trot for the first couple of minutes.

A fast start as the snow came down
Before too long, we were off and running. My Garmin had gone into energy saver mode so I wasn't able to start my timing until I'd run a few hundred feet. Once that was resolved, I focused on staying with a fast crowd of front runners who I'd hoped would sweep me up and carry me along.

My friend Steve disappeared into the crowd almost immediately and I figured I'd see him at the turnaround or at the finish line. The group surrounding me was running at a faster pace than I could sustain, but I did my best and hoped to pass the first mile one under 8:20. When I saw the timing clock I was amazed to see that I'd actually clocked 7:54 for mile one.

I must have passed Steve just before that point because he told me later that he came through around 8:05. My goal was to preserve as much of that first mile pace as I could, and I settled into a rhythm that I thought I could maintain throughout the race. My splits were 7:54, 8:43, 8:34 and 8:39. I bounced around a little, but I didn't suffer from progressively positive splits as I've done in the past.

It's a nice crowd of runners who participate in these Long Beach races. None of that obnoxious posturing I've seen other places. That isn't to say this crowd is any less competitive. If anything, I think this race fields a deeper pool of speedy runners than I've seen elsewhere.

Having run this course last year, I knew what to expect in terms of progress and effort. I ran hard but I probably could have pushed more into the middle miles. I wanted to make sure I had enough energy to finish strongly and I'm pleased with the way things turned out.

Once I passed two miles, I reminded myself that I had less than half the distance to go. The rate of people who passed me had slowed down to the point where I was running mostly with those who ran about my pace. I used the guy in front of me as a pacer through most of the last mile. Once I saw the finish chute, about three blocks in the distance, I dropped a gear and gave it my best of the day.

As I approached the finish line I could see my wife and kids cheering me on, but the clock atop the chute was reading 16:00, so I feared that the timing system wasn't working. My Garmin showed that I'd come in under 34 minutes, so I knew I'd done well. It turned out that the actual race clock was positioned low and to the left, so I'd missed it.

I assumed Steve had already finished, but discovered that he hadn't yet come through. He came crossed the line about a minute later - an impressive effort for someone who hadn't really run much over the prior few months. We went back to the gym to see our results posted and I saw that I'd crossed the line in 33:50, for a pace of 8:28 and a new PR.

Steve and I went back out and watched the runners streaming across the line while the snow continued to fall. I had been concerned that the wet surface would be too slippery for my Hattori's, but that wasn't an issue. However, the shoe's lack of insulation was a big issue and I couldn't feel my toes for most of the race. I'll have to remember that the next time I wear them in cold, wet conditions.

So, my first race of 2012 went very well and I'm enjoying the great feeling that comes from a sustained effort like a race. I'll probably go out for a very easy run tomorrow and start thinking about my strategy for my next two races, one short (5K) and the other long (13.1 miles). In the meantime, I'll enjoy all the moments from today's events.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No parades for the Snowflake race

Today's run: (street): 2.5 miles

It was amusing to see the throngs of NY Giants fans, all dressed in blue, converging on Penn Station this morning. The big ticker tape parade starts downtown at 11:00 and I guess these fans wanted to get a head start on the festivities. The confusion in the faces of so many Giants fans made me think it was their first time ever taking the train into the city. Hats off to the Giants though, they earned it. But it's hard to be a New Englander in NYC this week.

I actually prefer sports, like running, where I can influence the outcome. I'll have the chance to do that this Saturday at the Long Beach Snowflake run. The weather on race day will probably be similar to this morning's, when I went out into 30 degree temperatures. My run went fine, I probably did the second half 10% faster than the first. It's difficult to go from just awake to a hard-charge at that hour, so I usually concede that my first mile will be on the slow side.

I'm curious to see how they will route us on Saturday. It would be great to run the whole race on the boardwalk, but I don't think that's the way they've designed the course. At least not in the prior three races I've run there. One more run tomorrow and then I'll rest until race day. It's not the Superbowl, and there won't be a parade on Monday, but Long Beach is the place to be on Saturday morning..

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For now, it's all about my need for speed

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

This coming weekend I'll take a break from distance training in order to focus on speed. The City of Long Beach Snowflake Race takes place on the 11th and I'm hoping to do some interval training this weekend to prepare. Long Beach is always a great venue for a race because it's primarily flat. If the weather cooperates this year, a good portion of the run will be on the boardwalk.

This morning I managed to get myself outside despite the cold and had a decent run. My dawdling put me a few minutes behind, but fortunately my Garmin acquired its signal in record time. This gave me back a minute or so in terms of my morning schedule. I probably benefited from a tailwind over my first half mile but I didn't appreciate it until I turned and hit the headwinds. Fortunately, I had worn enough layers to stay comfortable despite the wind chill.

I was happy with my running performance through January and I'm hoping to turn in a credible time in Long Beach 4 miler. Still, I need to put in the work to activate those fast twitch fibers. So it's back to the track on Saturday for some fun 400's.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tempo for the Snowflake

Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

It's the start of a three day weekend and I kicked it off with a neighborhood run this morning. The temperatures have been all over the place and this morning it was cold. I wore one of my "private brand" half zips (in this case, Layer 8) that do a great job of keeping me warm while managing sweat. Combined with my CS track pants, I was very comfortable throughout my run.

I planned a tempo run with a target pace about 30 seconds slower than (4 mile) race pace. I moved along well but fell ten seconds short of my pace goal. Overall, I was pleased with my fitness, but I guess I didn't push hard enough. Four miles isn't quite enough distance to move my base training forward but at least I'm running with more energy compared to the last two weeks.

The end of the line at last year's Snowflake Run
The long weekend provides an extra opportunity for a distance run. I'd like to get at least one 6+ mile run in before Tuesday or, equivalently, an hour on the trails. I'm registered for the Snowflake 4 mile Run in February so in the short term I will also focus on speed. I probably should do intervals more often anyway. Now I have no excuses.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Achilles scare

8K race = 4.97 miles
Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

With this morning's run I ended my taper for Sunday's New Hyde Park 8K. This race, that I'll be running for the third time, represents an interesting challenge. In 2009 and 2010 I finished with exactly the same clock time despite running two very different races. The 2009 race was extremely difficult for me because I went out hard from the start and paid for it later. Last year I went out at a moderate pace and tried to maintain a steady speed throughout the run. In the end it worked out the same although it was far more enjoyable to run steady than to almost flame out at the 35 minute mark as I did in 2009.

I decided to follow my typical route this morning and my run was fine but, at the start, I had a slight feeling of soreness from my Achilles. This made me concerned that I was not quite ready for daily runs in the Hattori's. I kept my pace moderate and hoped that when the tendon warmed up the pain would disappear and that's pretty much what happened. I have no residual soreness as a result and it could have simply been one of those early morning aches and pains I get due to my sleep position.

Now it's time to rest. I'm always tempted to run after I've finished my taper and I'll miss my lunchtime run in Central Park tomorrow. I may indulge in an easy bike ride on Saturday but I won't push it any further than that. I'd like to beat my previous time for this race but I may not be able to do that. I'll be satisfied with my time no matter what, as long as I did the best that I could.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Race report: Long Beach Snowflake Run

No snowflakes but plenty of fun
Today's run (Long Beach Snowflake Run): 4 miles - 35:22 (8:50 pace)

Despite the late course change from the boardwalk to the streets, the 2011 Long Beach Snowflake run was a great experience. The anticipated snow and sleet never arrived but it did start to mist 30 minutes into our run. I'd worn a waterproof running jacket over my shirt so that wasn't an issue. We never got the predicted snow and sleet but a steady rain started after most runners had crossed the finish line.

I met up with my friend Steve who was racing for the first time today. He's a good athlete and a dedicated CrossFit practitioner so I expected him to do well despite his pre-race jitters. We headed to the line just a few minutes before the start, putting us near the back of the pack. After giving Steve some last minute coaching we were off and running but the accumulated snows had narrowed the roads and we had to contend with hundreds of other runners working their way through the tight spaces. Steve and I did our best to navigate around the clumps of slower runners and by the half mile point the road had opened up enough for us to reach cruising speed. Our back-of-pack start and congested first minutes delayed us on the first mile, that we passed at 9:05.

Soon after that, Steve moved ahead and I lost track of him until I saw him heading west as we rounded Neptune Boulevard. My split on mile 2 was 17:55 so I'd managed to push my overall pace just below 9:00 per mile. I decided to keep that pace through mile 3 because it felt fast enough and I could maintain that speed. At the 3 mile point I decided to step it up and passed a group of runners  that I had been following for the last couple of miles. The long straight road provided a view of the finish far ahead of my arrival and once I saw it I felt I could push myself even harder.  I came through the chute at 35:22 and wished that I started closer to the front. That would have cut at least 20 seconds from my time and given me a 4 mile PR. But starting point is a variable that's hard to control so I accepted my time as it was. I do like those races where they time you at the start and finish and provide both net and gun times.

Steve ended up finishing around 33 minutes and was satisfied with how he did. He's ready to race again. I was happy to start my 2011 racing season with a good run and was glad to be running outdoors again for the first time in almost two weeks. I'll need to start focusing on distance as I begin my training for a half marathon in April. There are some interesting races between now and then so I'll decide soon where (and when) I'll hit the starting line for my next race.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forget the "shots", I'm happy with my GU

Today's run (treadmill): 5 miles

Such a deal
Somewhat related to Friday's entry, I saw an article this morning on that reported that those ubiquitous energy "shots" that you often see on store counters near the register are "nothing more than slightly caffeinated, sour-tasting water."  It surprises me that so many people would pay $4 for 2 oz. of a product that has no FDA approval and (in some cases) doesn't list its active ingredients. It never fails to amaze me how people spend their money and use "herbal" medicines that lack clinically-proved efficacy or safety testing. My experience with Max Muscle Barracuda energy drink that came in a goody bag at one of my races was enough to dissuade me from trying any more products of that type.

I do believe in gels because I know what's in them and why they work. I had a GU "Expresso Love" packet 20 minutes before I started today's treadmill run. The extra caffeine would be a good boost for my planned 50+ minute workout. I started well and held an easy pace. This would be the first run of any distance since last weekend. The best effect of a gel is the way it helps me power through the first few minutes of a run while I transition to aerobic breathing. Before I knew it I had covered a mile and the effort to that point was low.

Five minutes later the treadmill abruptly shut down because I'd inadvertently hit the stop button. I managed to resume my run in less than 30 seconds and I upped my speed for good measure. By the time I reached three miles I'd started weakening due to the heat of the room and the small toe on my left foot was beginning to hurt from the friction of running. I decided that I'd cap my run at 5 miles so I increased the belt speed once more and powered through the next two miles before stopping the Garmin and reducing my speed to a walking pace so I could cool down and lower my heart rate.

This may be the longest run I'll do prior to my 4 mile race next Saturday. The snow has disrupted my access to the roads and trails and, with only the treadmill and elliptical as options, I haven't trained the way I usually do for a race. I'm hoping my conditioning and the short distance will help me get through the Snowflake Run. It will be fun to race for the first time since Thanksgiving week. Hard to know how I'll perform, but no matter what, I'll be glad to be running on something besides the treadmill.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A snowy day and a Snowflake Race

Snowy dusting of the holiday display outside my window
Today's run (treadmill): 2.3 miles

Last year I got off to a late start for racing but still managed to get in eight races between March and November. Since I'm (thankfully) not forced into a running moratorium like last year, I'm targeting my first race of 2011 for February. It's a 4 mile run in Long Beach, the same location where I ran the 10K Turkey Trot in November. This event, dubbed the "Snowflake Race", is shorter than that but, like the 10K, part of the race is along the boardwalk. My friend and running partner Steve is also signed up. It's his first race and I have the feeling he'll be going all out. I've only run one prior 4 mile race, the 2009 Marcie Mazzola Memorial (now a 5K), so I will have a chance for a new PR. Maybe I'll use Steve as a chase rabbit.

This morning I used the treadmill again although the streets are still clear. There were some reports that today's snow would start early so last night I decided to prepare for an indoor workout. There's never much to tell about running on the treadmill. I've already complained about my dislike for the machine (nothing personal Sole F63, I abhor all treadmills) and today was no different. The positives are that I get a great workout because it's just so hard for me to run this way and it's also a good way of practicing patience.

Unlike road or trail running, treadmills provide no visual acknowledgement of progress except for the little track diagram on the display. I've got fairly good at switching my mind to a zen/alpha state that helps me get through the bulk of these runs. Of course I still need to watch my step because a treadmill can be dangerous to those who fail to pay attention. For me, the best part of a road run is usually experienced during the run itself but the best part of a treadmill run is when I finish.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Soggy taper

I really blew it by acknowledging my incredible luck with the weather in my last post. My window of opportunity slammed shut yesterday when I decided to forgo my early morning run in favor of a city run later in the day. Had I got out at 4:00 AM on Friday I would have avoided the rain that fell over the rest of the day. Plan A, a 7:30 run in Central Park, was washed out with the wind and rain as were Plans B & C to run at lunch or before I left for the day. Plan D was the treadmill at home but I'd conceded to a rest day by dinner time.

The reason I wanted to get in a run yesterday was to complete my tapering for my race on Sunday. I considered just skipping today as well to go into the race with plenty of rest. It was either guilt or good strategy that got me out this morning for a short but brisk run. I figured that anything under 20 minutes would have minimal impact on my readiness for tomorrow and I set out with the intention of covering a couple of miles at a leisurely pace. Like last Monday's long run, I felt very strong so I went with that and pushed harder covering a little over two miles in the high 8:00's. Helping that along was a steady rain that started about halfway through the run. By the time I made my way home it was pouring and though I found it a little hard to see I didn't experience the disorientation I felt the last time I found myself in that situation.

I don't know too much about the course we're running tomorrow so I don't know what to expect for surfaces and elevation. I know that Eisenhower Park has some hilly areas but I don't know whether they are on the race route. I'm surprised with all the resources available to map and share courses that the LIRRC has not done this. I'll find out tomorrow and deal with whatever I encounter. I'm hoping for cool weather and a flat course. A little less rain would be nice too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cow Harbor 10K - great event, bad timing

I did my first run since Sunday's trail race this morning covering 3.7 miles at about a 9:20 pace. I'm not surprised that my pace was as slow as it was since I covered the first two miles at a moderate pace and sped up as I went. According to my Garmin I was tracking below 9:00/mile for the last mile or so. I was more tired than I'd expected to be after a day off from running but I did do a hike yesterday that involved some steep hills. Today was definitely a maintenance run, nothing remarkable to report.

I'll admit that I do miss my iPhone and although I still haven't had more than a couple experiences with the GPS tracking apps that reported within the range of acceptable accuracy. I did like the maps they create and the built in compass and iPod functionality on one of them. My desktop support person from work promised me that I'd see a replacement for my failed iPod from FEDEX either today or tomorrow so I'll live with limited tools until then.

I've identified my next race: a 4 mile run that's part of the Long Island Road Runner's Club (LIRRC) that will take place in Eisenhower Park on September 13. The LIRRC holds these informal races often and registration is day of race only. The cost is less than $10 and it seems like a good basic event. A 9:00 AM start makes it easier in terms of travel but it could be hot. I'll need to miss the Great Cow Harbor 10K because of a schedule conflict. I've heard more from Brian, who reads this blog, about the Cow Harbor 10K. He told me that The Northport Running Club holds a number of practice runs every Wed. night at 6:00 PM and those who are interested should check the website for information. Brian also sent the Training Assistance Program Weekly Progression Table (above). Clicking on the picture will produce a larger view. 
I'm glad to have a new upcoming run to help me focus my training. More to come in October and November.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lessons from my first race

I indulged myself this morning by skipping exercise. It's not that racing 4 miles yesterday really required me to rest today. I considered going on the elliptical but then I decided to create separation between my first race and my second: the LI Marathon 5K on May 2nd.
Tomorrow I will start my training for that event and while the distance is shorter I am not assuming the race will be easier. Despite reading articles, posts and comments online and hearing first hand from friends who race, I didn't fully understand the experience until it happened. Here's what I learned:
1. There's a lot of positive energy on race day. Everyone is competing but mostly with themselves.

2. You need to ask a lot of questions: "How do you attach your bib number?" "Where are the bathrooms?" "Where do we line up for the start?"

3. No matter how cold it is at the start, it's worth dressing lightly because you're going to get very hot very quickly.

4. It's really hard to drink water from a paper cup while running. It's also hard to grab a paper cup from a table while running.

5. Hill training is not an optional technique if you plan to compete.

6. Familiarity with the course is more helpful than just knowing distance in terms of gaging progress.

7. It's amazing to see people who you'd never guess could even run around the block pass you, quickly.

8. The toughest 100 feet are those leading to the finish line.

9. The cheering, fatigue, heat and crowd at the end is very disorienting. I forgot to stop my Garmin so it continued to record long after I had finished the race.

10. You may get very hot during the race but you'll cool off fast. Put on more layers as soon as possible.

Those are the things that I remember the most. I'm sure, after my next race, that I'll have a few more to list.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not the worst way to spend your birthday

This morning I completed my first race, a 4-mile run through and around Huntington, NY. I had anticipated this for quite a long time and the excitement built as I edged into the weekend. My goal was to finish with an overall pace below 9:00/mile and I was pleased to have done that. I ran the course at 8:50 per mile and I finished the second two miles slightly faster than the first two.

The day began with a Kid's Fun Run and both of my kids participated. It was about a quarter mile race that ended at the same finish point as the big race. All the participants received medals and I was proud that my kids were part of the event. As soon as the Fun Run completed, I made my way to the starting line that first involved a trudge up a big hill. When I got to the line I saw that this steep road was actually the route off the line, so at least the start would be downhill. As we lined up and waited I spent time looking at my co-runners, wondering who had raced before and who (like me) was racing for the first time. I also noticed the outfits that people were wearing. Asics and New Balance were definitely the most popular shoe choices and I was surprised to see so many people wearing jackets and multiple layers since the temperature was in the high 40's. I was originally planning to wear a Nike Fit Dri shirt that AG had given me but I had washed and air dried it and it was still damp when it was time to leave. Instead I wore a different technical shirt and my new running shorts. I was cold but I knew that after a mile I would start heating up.

I had a tracking chip from the race around my ankle and I brought my Garmin foot pod which helped me keep track of my progress as I ran. Coming off the starting line downhill, many people were whizzing past in what seemed to be unsustainable paces. That's relative to their conditioning but I had decided to run my own race and I held back in anticipation of the BIG HILL that I knew would come at the half mile mark. I learned today that I had not properly trained on real hills, this was quite a challenge both because of the grade of the hill and the fact that we would be ascending it for close to a mile. I was glad that I had studied the course before the race so I knew what to expect in terms of path and direction. Although my Garmin told me how much distance I had traveled, it was the understanding of where I was on the course, relative to the finish, that underscored the amount of work ahead.

Volunteers along the course shouted out cumulative distances at each mile point and I was encouraged to know that I was beating a 9:00 pace, which was my goal. As we drew closer to the finish I considered pouring it on with everything I had but then, like a cruel joke, I encountered another big hill with a little more than half a mile to go. It was a struggle getting up that incline but somehow I managed and came around to the sound of spectators cheering us on toward the finish. I was really ready to stop by that point and as I came around the last corner I pushed it up the slight rise that led to the finish line and crossed the line to the loud cheers of my wife and kids.

I was immediately asked for my timing chip as a race volunteer handed me a bottle of water. Some minutes later we saw that they had posted the results and I made my way over to see how I did. It wasn't a big field of runners and I finished mid pack but I did place in single digits for my age group. The thing that matters most is that I ran my race, achieved my goal and had the strong support of friends and family.

Plus, I won a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant because it was my birthday!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From the Emerging Runner Laboratories

This morning I went to a running store in Northport, NY (Cow Harbor Running + Fitness) that is providing the T-shirts and goody bags for tomorrow's race. The store is small but they have some very nice stuff and I bought a pair of Pearl Izumi Infinity shorts while I was there. I was disappointed to find that the store wasn't distributing the runner's bib numbers or tracking chips so I'll be lining up for that tomorrow morning. My countdown clock is down to just hours at this point.

On a different subject, I've recently heard from a few companies that are looking for ways to publicize their events or products. While this blog is not commercially focused I am not opposed to recommending or highlighting things that may be of interest to readers. I don't accept payment for any of this but if I ever move in that direction it will be in the form of an ad and I will be very clear about that relationship.

One of the two items I am mentioning today is about a movie called "Beyond the Epic Run" about a couple from Switzerland who sold all their belongings to literally run around the world. The trailer for the film is above this post. Runner's World Loop readers can see it here. Running isn't the subject of too many movies so why not check it out?

The second item to mention is a company called MixMyGranola that built a business around custom blended granola. It's a clever idea. You go to the site, choose a base, choose your other ingredients and a couple of days later you'll receive a pound of mix. I've gone so far as to choose, order and receive my mix. I will soon publish a full review from the Emerging Runner test kitchens.

In the meantime I have some stretching and resting to do before my 8:30 AM start time tomorrow. I followed the race course by car today and there are some impressive hills over the first mile and a half. Well, as my son pointed out, what goes up must come down.

See you at the finish line!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just give it a rest

I had planned to do a light elliptical workout this morning to minimize the impact on my knees and leg. When I got up I thought about my weekend workouts, especially yesterday's, and decided to give my legs a complete rest. I ended up doing an upper body workout with my elliptical which I do facing the front so I can stand while grasping the arms of the machine. I've done this in the past and even with resistance set moderately low, it's a great way to work on arm strength. I would really prefer to do this workout facing the front of the display so I can track progress and control resistance. As it happens, the pedal width is slightly too wide to straddle comfortably so I really can't do it that way. Overall, the forward facing method works very well and when done at a fast pace it provides a very good cardio workout.

I appreciated the respite from leg exercise this morning and my soreness is much less noticeable. I'm planning to run hard both tomorrow and Wednesday and finish my taper either with an easy run or an elliptical workout. My son signed up for the Kids Fun Run (1/2 mile) the day of my race so we'll both be participating in Sunday's event. My daughter is also considering running and we're hoping that she decides to join us.

The weather for next Sunday morning is supposed to be mostly cloudy, in the low 40's with a 20% chance of precipitation. That sounds ideal and I'm hoping it's accurate. 5 Days, 13 hours to go...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Racing season

I'll start this post with a shout out to Adventure Girl who ran the NYRR 10K Scotland Run in Central Park on Saturday. Despite the driving rain and cold temperature she ran a strong race at an impressive pace. She told me that the energy that came from running with such a big crowd (over 7,600 finishers) helped her performance. Considering that (until recently) she was away from running for months recovering for a soccer injury I think this is a great return to competition.

I'm in my final week leading up to my 4 mile race and I've tried to get some mileage in before the work week. This week will be mostly travel so I'm not sure how much street running I'll get to do. Yesterday afternoon my wife and I decided to do a second workout. Although I did some tempo runs that morning I didn't feel as though I had taken enough time to work on endurance. My wife did a second elliptical workout as I ran on the treadmill. I didn't want to overdo it so I kept it to two miles with an overall pace of 8:51.

Today we all went to the track. It was busier than I would have expected since it's Easter Sunday. My kids did a little running and a lot of playing. There were a few serious runner types doing tempo runs and they all passed me very quickly. A number of runners came and went while I did my 4 miles. I may not have matched their pace but I outlasted them all. My intention was not to run fast and I paid no attention to my pace. I ended up running 4 miles at a mid-9 pace and I felt good that I could cruise at that speed even with stiff headwinds over half the track.

I am planning to do a light elliptical workout tomorrow and then possibly one more long run before my race. 6 days and 17 hours to go.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Emerging Runners, Jr.

My kids are on spring break from school and today my nine year old son is coming in with me to work. He is, as they say, a "serious young man" and he's dressed for the office, tie included. We used to run together on the weekends but after injuring his toe (non-running related) he took a hiatus. We've been talking about returning to the track together and he's also interested in trying the trails. My wife and daughter are also interested and I think a run/hike might be a fun activity to plan for later this spring.

Right now I'm very much in race mode so my running activity this weekend will need to be primarily about that. I have received a lot of good advice in preparation of the event. These are a few essential points:

1. Rest two days prior to race day.
2. Moderate hydration and good carbs pre-race.
3. Dress as lightly as possible.
4. Don't go out too fast, save enough energy for the end.
5. Pay attention to everything and enjoy the experience.

I'm feeling prepared and my biggest concern is pulling a muscle or causing an injury during speed training this weekend. I have another race (a 5K) two weeks after the upcoming four miler. The 5K event will also feature a Kid's Fun Run so there may be an opportunity for me, my son and my daughter to experience racing together.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tapering on

A couple of weeks ago AG asked me about my "taper plan" for my upcoming race. Being a race newbie I didn't understand the phrase. I actually thought it had to do with taping my foot for support. She explained that runners often reduce, or taper, their running routine during the weeks leading up to a race. The object is to build an optimal balance between rest and conditioning.

With my race less than two weeks away I've been thinking about the best way to prepare myself for competition. Last weekend (counting Friday) I did longer runs for three consecutive days for a total distance just short of 12 miles. In deference to a slight but persistent leg injury, I have folded in a few elliptical sessions this week which provide less strain on certain affected muscles. I'm out of the office on Thursday and I'm hoping to do a long run in the morning plus longer runs over the weekend.

Next week is when the tapering will start. I'm going to be traveling on business for most of next week so I'll need to work my routine around that. Happily I'll be up at MIT and if weather and schedules cooperate I'll get to spend some quality time running near the Charles river. I'm traveling back on Saturday and I'm not planning to do any running that day. In fact I'm thinking of resting on Friday as well, perhaps only doing core stretching.

Will it make a great difference to rest a couple of days before the race? I'll let you know on the 19th.

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