Showing posts with label marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marathon. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The marathon story is no longer about the race

Correlation or coincidence?
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I've been catching up on my Runner's World and Running Times issues going back to January and I'm saddened to see so many items and stories that reference the Boston Marathon. Who could have anticipated what happened at 4:09:43 in the race? I've wondered about the time the cowards picked to set off the bombs. Was it a coincidence that the highest number of people typically cross the line around the 4 hour point? My anger continues.

Today's schedule has me on the phone much of the day, and my window to run this morning coincided with some rainy weather outside. I ended up doing a typical treadmill run while I watched the news on TV. It was mostly a repeat of the Boston story. How many ways can you talk about something like that when there's no new information to share? Apparently, there are many.

The London Marathon happens this Sunday and, of course, there's a heightened concern for safety after Monday's bombings. The good news is that the London Olympics went off without any terror attacks last summer and they will probably use those same tactics to keep the crowds safe this weekend. The bad news is that the safety concerns for the race are now a bigger story than the race itself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Heroes at the finish line, cowards on the run

Anger and sadness
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

Yesterday afternoon I had just stepped out of a meeting in midtown and looked at my phone. My wife had sent me a text about the bombs that went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I was stunned by the news and had difficulty with the idea that it happened. I hoped it was a prank, perhaps something innocuous like a smoke grenade, but I had the feeling it was much more than that. I had a little time before my next meeting, so I stopped into a nearby hotel to watch the coverage on CNN. As the story unfolded, it felt eerily similar to that day in September back in 2001 (my look back on that day).

I'm not going to talk about the horrible events themselves, or why some people decided that their twisted view of life was worth the life of a child, along with the deaths and carnage of others. The story that the world is hearing is about how the workers, spectators, police, EMTs, firefighters and residents responded immediately to those who needed help. If there is any justice, the malevolent animals who picked easy targets will be quickly captured and shown to the world as the cowards that they are. I suggest they be forced to run the Boston course indefinitely until they expire.

I had a weird run this morning. Besides having a lot on my mind, I'd gone to an industry event last night that put me well past my bedtime. If you looked at the metrics of the run, it would appear that I under-performed compared to my usual level. The entire time that I ran I couldn't shake the post 9/11-like feelings that resulted from yesterday's news. I think I ended up pushing harder than I normally would have on a weekday training run and, by the end, I was pretty tired.

It wasn't a particularly notable run for me, but I think I processed a lot of thoughts and have come out better for it. I'll bet being a runner would have come in handy on September 12, 2001. I can't go back in time, but I'm happy that I was a runner today.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The price of self esteem is apparently $7.99

Divide it by two and we'll talk
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 1,500th Emerging Runner post. It all started here.

Happy Boston Marathon Day. I grew up in the greater Boston area and have always felt tied to this event. The Boston Marathon used to be held on April 19th (Patriot's Day), which happens to be my birthday. That was, until Massachusetts began observing the holiday and running the race on Mondays. It was great that the Boston Marathon route went right though my hometown, and we could watch the runners go by from a hill behind our house.

I never thought about actually running the Boston Marathon (or any marathon for that matter) because it seemed like an impossible thing to do. Even now, the thought of running a full marathon seems abstract and unlikely. Having crossed the line on a couple of half marathons, I cannot conceive of running that distance twice, all at once. It's no longer impossible for me to imagine it, but I'm not willing to commit the time and effort that would be required. I fully admire those who do run marathons, but I'm sticking with halfs.

The Jan/Feb issue of Running Times featured a product that runners can use to brag about their marathon accomplishments. I'm not talking about the ubiquitous 26.2 decal. Apparently anyone can buy one of those, no questions asked. ProvenSport (I'm not including a link because I think this is a stupid idea) will only sell their $7.99 decals to people after they, "...validate every achievement and certify [your] legitimate bragging rights." This, for only $5 more than that unverified 26.2 decal!

I'm also offended by the poorly designed product
I know that every runner's motivation is personal and racing supports our self esteem. Those oval race decals are fun, and they don't bother me when I see them on cars. I never question the veracity of the statement, and have never thought once about the owner's possible finish times. Those who need to push the point of broadcasting to the world that they ran a marathon really, really fast probably need more than a decal to address their own self esteem issues.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Are male runners more competitive than female runners?

The 4 hour cliff 
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes - 2% grade

If you are a member of Athlinks you may have received an email that shows a graph of 2012 marathon times (above). The graph shows 2012 finish time distribution frequency, and it clearly illustrates that marathon times peak right before the four hour mark (I inserted a blue arrow to highlight that point). Not shown here was another graph that compared times by gender. That graph showed that 58% of men (vs. 42% of women) finished faster that 4:00. One might conclude that men approach these races more competitively than women. The sharp spike between 3:50 and 3:59 times indicates some very tactical planning.

I can't speak to how women view racing, except through anecdotal conversations with female friends who race. I wouldn't say that women are any less competitive, but they may carry a different perspective on their performance goals. Many men (including myself ) simply pick a targeted time and  focus on beating it. Women (more often it seems) will view their finish times as secondary to the experience of running their best. They are no less competitive than men, but they don't seem to be as discouraged if they miss a specific time target.

It would be wrong to say that women don't care about hitting performance targets. That spike on the graph at 4:00 represents a lot of female finishers. But I would say, generally, that woman view and value performance differently than men. One approach is more quantitative and the other is more qualitative. In the end, I wonder who's more satisfied with their results?

Monday, November 5, 2012

2:03 is fast for a marathon but not for the LIRR

LIRR, eat my dust!
It has been a while since I've been in the office and it's nice to be back. Our building is running at half power so it's a little chilly, but it isn't so bad that you can't work. My commute seemed to take forever this morning. The Long Island Railroad is running on a modified schedule and this morning it stopped in places that I didn't even know existed.

It usually takes me an hour and twenty minutes from the time I leave my house to when I walk into the building where I work. Today it took me two hours and three minutes, exactly the same time that it took Geoffrey Mutai to finish the 2011 Boston Marathon. Fifteen of those minutes were spent walking uptown from Penn Station, a distance of one mile.

Out of curiosity, I Gmapped the straight-line distance from my temporary home to my office building and came up with 30.7 miles. That meant that my commute this morning - car, train and brisk walk averaged 4:00 per mile, while Geoffrey Mutai pulled off his marathon record at 4:41 per mile. Practically outrunning a train is pretty impressive, unless you're talking about the LIRR.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Compared to my friends, my training is easy!

Today's run (street): 4.2

My friend and colleague KWL completed his first Olympic length triathlon this morning. This event is comprised of three segments: a .9 mile ocean swim, a 24 mile bike ride and a 10K distance run. He's been training with a team for this event as part of our company's wellness program. The commitment to this triathlon was fairly extreme, with coach-led training sessions three or more times a week. I'm sure all that work will pay off for those participants who followed that rigorous program.

As I went out on my run today, I thought about other friends who are training for the NYC Marathon in November. This is the weekend that most of them are doing their 18 to 22 mile long runs. I wondered how they manage to fit in all the training miles that they need run every week. Even training for the half marathon required that I step up my mileage 20% for the eight weeks preceding the race. That was hard enough, I can't imagine what it would be like to train for double that distance.

My cold has stuck around and I'm also dealing with a mild cough but I felt fine on the road this morning. The temperature was in the low 60's with no noticeable humidity, a great combination. Though I felt a little stiff at the start, I got up to speed fairly quickly and followed a new route, just for a change of scenery. It wasn't lost on me that I'd be done after 4 miles, while my friends would just be warming up for the distances they would travel.

I admire anyone that takes on the challenge of triathlon or a marathon. I love my workouts and my competitions, but I'm not looking to move up into the ranks of Olympic-length triathletes and marathon racers. I hope everyone comes through their long runs today satisfied with their results. I was certainly happy to cover my 10 this weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Can I be tempted to run a full marathon?

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles
I'm clearly back to full strength in my running as evidenced by today and yesterday's runs. A good part of my work week is taking place at industry meetings and yesterday I had the good fortune of seeing both of my running mentors (CK & CMC) during the day's events.
I told CK that my troubles on Friday were likely caused by my flu shot. I'm not sure he bought that but I'll show him next time. CMC offered to run with me on my first marathon which sounds great, although my current position is that I won't ever be competing at that distance. We'll see.

This morning's run was pleasant, and like yesterday, it seemed to go by quickly. With temperatures in the mid 30's, it's much colder than a week ago, but I fully appreciate this weather. This weekend is supposed to be nice and cool -- great for the NYC marathoners and great for those of us training for our next 10K.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Marathon? Half is plenty for me

Spring has sprung though you wouldn't know it from today's temperatures in the high 30's. I don't want to rush the seasons -- I still prefer cold weather over hot -- but after a winter of frequent snowstorms I look forward to more days out on the road. After yesterday's long training run I'm taking my weekly rest day today. Rest and recovery.

Although I finished yesterday's run feeling relatively strong (enough to believe that I could have gone the entire half marathon distance) it became very clear to me that a full marathon would be out of the question. The steady pounding my feet experienced for 1.75 hours told me that a 4 hour race would do me no good. Then again, before I'd started running, the idea of me participating in a half marathon was about as likely my crewing on the space shuttle. I'm not saying I'll never run a full marathon but it's not an important goal for me. I know for many runners that 26.2 miles is the ultimate running experience but I really run for my health and the enjoyment of the activity. Racing is a great source of happiness too, but a marathon may just be too much of a good thing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sometimes the hardest part of a marathon is just getting in

Yesterday's tough effort reminded me of a year ago when I quickly went from a fit and healthy runner to an IV fed hospital patient. I'm not saying conditions are the same this year but I was very run down most of this weekend. Last year I would always choose the "power through" strategy and run my miles despite the way I felt. I've learned the danger of doing that and I'm fine with backing off if I must. Last week's mileage total was only 11, about half of my usual distance covered. Today I feel well and I think it's because I listened to my body, stopped my run short of planned distance, and rested appropriately.

I'm already looking to 2011 for new running accomplishments and adventures. I'll be posting my next year's goals soon. One goal is to run a half marathon, a distance I would have thought impossible three years ago. It might have been nice to make my first half the NYC ING race but the lottery opened and closed too quickly for me to react. My friend Dave put in his lottery bid and I hope he gets selected.

For those those who want to run the Boston Marathon next year but didn't qualify or didn't get a lottery pick there's another way to get in. I was contacted by Kristina Sym, manager of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary charity marathon team that will participate in this April's Boston Marathon. She said there are still a few spots left on their 50-member team. Team members must commit to raising a minimum of $5,000 for research and patient care at Mass. Eye and Ear. Fundraising and training support will be offered. Interested runners can contact or (617) 573-6364. More information can also be found at:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Keeping up with the older crowd

Today's workout: Central Park run (scheduled)

Yesterday was a busy work day but I'll admit to occasionally checking updates on the Boston Marathon during the race. An amazing record breaking run for Robert Cheruiyot and two Americans finishing in the men's top five. Later I looked at the searchable results to get a sense of the paces that people were maintaining over 26.2 miles. It's a given that the elites can run 5 minute miles all day but I was surprised to see how many "regular" people were hitting paces that I can't manage at a fraction of the distance. I looked at my own category and saw that age is no excuse for slowness. Seeing what my contemporaries did was in equal parts inspiring and intimidating. Then again, a couple of weeks ago, a 73 year old man beat my 5K finish time by 37 seconds.

I'm heading out at lunch to run with a friend who has a few years on me but can outrun me any day of the week. We're going to Central Park to run about 4 or 5 miles. Temperatures will be in the low 60's with sun. I'm hoping I can keep up and I'm glad I've made progress on the hills because there will be a number of them. My friend has been plagued with a foot problem and he claims that will force him to hold back a little. I've heard that one before!

Friday, October 30, 2009

NY Marathon Expo - so many booths, so little time.

I was thinking about my progress as a runner over the last year and I'm fairly pleased. I can't say that I'm completely satisfied with where I am because I think there's more that I could be doing to improve my level of conditioning. I had little trouble covering my 9 miles last Sunday in the marathon relay but I recall thinking during the race that I'd wished I'd done more hill and speed work prior to the event. I guess it comes down to why we run. There are those who get out and do intervals, tempos, fartleks and hill sprints once or twice a week. These people are probably much stronger for it and it helps them run paces that would seem unlikely or even impossible for a runner like myself. Every time I go out to run I think about training rigorously and while I do occasionally switch up my pacing my primary intention remains focused on the enjoyment of the experience. I went out this morning dressed for cold and I wasn't disappointed. After a slow start I picked up the pace in the middle and maintained it long enough to average 8:58 over 2.6 miles. It was fun to run at a quicker pace today but at other times comfort prevails.

Yesterday was the first day of the NY Marathon Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC. For those unfamiliar with Javits, it's a huge conference center on the west side in the 30's that, for some reason, was built far away from any public transportation. The closest subway will still require a 15 to 20 minute walk. The way the event planners get around this limitation is to run busses all day from local hotels. The buses are free and the system works. The only issue I have with it is that buses + mid day traffic = long wait times to get to the place. I anxiously checked my watch concerned that by the time I arrived I'd need to get back on another bus in order to return for a 2:00 meeting. As it happened I was able to spend about 40 minutes at the Expo. Upon arriving I was puzzled to see that the main event was a technology security conference which would normally be of interest. I couldn't see anything resembling a marathon expo. Finally, another person who was also looking spied the far away entrance and we headed over. The Expo was huge compared with any I'd seen before it. Every shoe, apparal, technology and health/exercise company had booths (although I don't recall seeing Nike which was fine with me). The ASICS booth was so huge it could have been an Expo on its own. I spent time talking with some people promoting their races, chatted with someone representing Newton running shoes and then headed back to the office with lots of pamphlets and a few samples.

I wish I had more time to revisit the Expo today. I encourage anyone to go - it's free!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Definition of running success

Runner's World recently ran an article about the various types of runners breaking it down to three groups, short distance (5K, 10K), middle distance (10 mile/half marathon) and long haulers (marathons+). There's a quiz that helps you identify where you slot into these categories and the tone is egalitarian in terms of respecting all three types. That said, it seems that most runners would be horrified to find themselves branded anything other than "marathon material" since completing a marathon appears to be the sport's ultimate achievement. No one openly disparages shorter length races but I've seen many references to half marathons as warm-up or training events. Runner's World itself would be hard pressed to publish a cover without prominently displaying the word "Marathon." I'm asked a lot about when I'll be ready for my first marathon and my answer to that is "probably never." To me that's not a goal. I would have to sacrifice too much time and subject myself to a level of training that goes beyond what's required for fitness and balance. If I could complete a half marathon some day I'd be proud but for 2009 a 10K is the goal.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Growing audience

My original intention was to make the Emerging Runner a personal journal that I would use to track my early progress. About two weeks into it I asked a friend (who happens to be an accomplished online media executive) to look at my site and suggest any changes. She mentioned a couple of things to help make this site more "findable" and I've since incorporated those changes. The real effect was to make me think about an audience broader than my wife and the "Emerging Running Advisory Board."

I have done a number of things to increase the reach of this site including using freely available SEO resources from Feedburner and Google Webmaster tools. I've also posted on the network and tried to get Runner's World to link to it. I've also begun to leverage social networks including Facebook, which I joined and then ignored until I had something to talk about. In addition, I've put the site on both my LinkedIn and MapMyRun profiles.

Another great outcome from this (owing more to Facebook than Emerging Runner) is that I have been able to connect with some people that I have not seen for a while. One of those people will be running in the Boston Marathon next year and I hope to have him write a guest column about that experience. I've modified the look of this site to allow more content on the opening page and can now expand it so guest writers can get their own page. After about a month I have seen traffic grow slowly but steadily. The Emerging Runner has been accessed by a couple of hundred "absolutely unique" (Google Analytics' term) visitors with over a thousand pageviews. I can't wait for that first $0.02 check from Google Adsense.

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