Sunday, February 4, 2007

Haven’t posted in a while. Not much to say. My running is going far better than I would have expected. I ran the Manhattan Half-Marathon on January 21 in Central Park and came away with 30th overall, 1st in 50-54, and 2nd in the age-graded category, getting an 84.8%, my highest ever. Time was 1:18:54, with the second half again faster than the first, including clocking 5:55s for miles 10, 11, and 12 (including up Cat Hill). The course was counteclockwise and finished at 102nd Street. It was cole, but I was very happy with the result, since I had done only one bit of speedwork and not much in terms of distance since the Marathon.

Otherwise, I’ve been getting in runs pretty regularly and have started a schedule of speedwork aiming for late April; the Rye Derby is a five-miler on April 29. The Brooklyn Half, another target race, is two weeks earlier, on April 14. Charles Miers, with whom I ran this morning at the Rockies, noted that keying for those 2 races may be a bit tight because of the wear-and-tear of a half-marathon, so he suggests being a little conservative in that race. He is knowledgeable as anyone I know about running, and he always give good advice. So I’ll try to follow it.

Beyond that, one of our dogs died suddenly. Ollie, not yet 4, appears to have caught a rare virus. From onset to death in less than a day. We’ll never know for sure. My wife was devastated, and is still getting over it. He was with her all the time; she works at home. Because we would get a new dog to go with Minnie, my wife contacted Shih Tzu breeders, and found one who had a puppy that was avilable. So now we have Phineas T. Finn.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Not much to report this week. Been running some pretty nice workouts, with a threshold run (15 min., 10 min., 5 min.) that was too fast by a good 15 sec. a mile. I also used the Garmin 305 this week-end to try to control my pace, to keep it over 7/mile. There is a great difference in how I feel between running a 6:55 pace and a 7 flat. The latter seems uncomfortable, but I’m trying to discipline myself to handle that. ’m dying to race, so it looks like I’ try the Taconic Road Runners Freezer Five-Miler next Sunday.

The USATF Cross-Country Championships were yesterday in Boulder, Colorado. Some very nice video is on FloTrack. And I’ve been elected (I was unopposed) the Vice President-Athletics for Sound Shore Runners.

Monday, February 19, 2007: Presidents’ Day

Ran the Taconic Road Runners’ Freezer 5-miler at FDR Park in northern Westchester. I’d never been to the park. The course used is the roadway in the Park, and it is somewhat hilly. There is one short but steep hill you climb twice in the 5-miler, including in the last mile, which is followed by a gradual uphill. My time was 29:09 and I was hurting much of the way. I did outkick someone, however, and finished second. The race told me that it’s time to get some VO2max work in, so I’ll start on intervals, which was the plan anyway under my schedule.

I ran the race in part because I just wanted to run a race. It was fun to a point, but there’re always the moments in which you wonder what the point is. Yet you keep pushing it though, you finish, and you’re happy about it. But the intensity of a 5-miler is so much more than that of a half-marathon, the last race I did, that it takes some getting used to. Next race, the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K in Washington Heights on March 4.

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Wednesday, March 7

Apart from a sore big toe, which came up towards the end of a run tonight, I’ve been holding together fairly well. I ran the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K in Washington Heights. The course is straight up Fort Washington Avenue to Fort Tryon, where my brother got married, and back. A bit hilly, but the last half is downhill, which was cool since you could see the line of traffic lights and count the streets to the finish. I was a little taken aback by how slowly I got to the 1 mile mark — 5:55 or so, which is slower than my recent threshold runs and what I did the final miles of the Manhattan Half-Marathon a few weeks back. But I picked up the pace coming home, and passed a bunch of people in doing so, finishing in 17:53, for 44th overall, and 1st in the 50-54 AG, with a 82.4% age-graded. It was borderline cold, but I elected to go with a singlet and shorts. It was warm enough for them on Saturday, but Sunday was close, and we had to wait about 10 minutes in the shade between 168th and 169th Streets, in front of the Armory and for a time I wondered whether I’d make it to the start. But I did.

I think the only way to run these shorter races well is to run some and get accustomed to the stress. That’s what I mentioned after the 5 miler in February. Then you let the speedwork you’ve done come into play, especially holding form from Repeats. Sound Shore had 3 runners, with Joe M. making his debut as a 40 year old.

Next up: The Taconic Road Runners St. Patrick 10K on March 18. The NYRR has a club race, The NYRR 8000 on St. Patrick’s Day itself, but it starts at 7:30 because the national 8K Champs starts at 9. I’m not willing to put up with the hassle of getting into the City that early. In the old days, when there as big race, everyone would start together, as in a number of Trevira Ten-Mile Twosomes in the early 80s. Now, however, I guess they want the audience for the pro race, so the commoner’s race starts early.

Someone on CoolRunning posted a link to the Masters World Rankings, which included the Marathon. No. 42 for 50-54 was 2:44:15. So I wonder where my 2:48:10 put me. That, of course, makes me thinking of NY 2007 (and the fact that applications are now open. I am now committed to Reach-the-Beach in September and a Spring 2008 marathon. But now I’m waivering a bit.

Sunday, March 18: The Day between St. Patrick’s & St. Joseph’s Days

The Taconic Road Runners held their annual St. Patrick’s 10K today at FDR Park. I first ran in the park at that club’s five-miler four weeks ago. We had nasty weather on Friday with snow and sleet. I spent much of yesterday shoveling, first our sidewalk and then my in-laws. I could barely move my arms by the time I had finished.

My running has been going very well. I&38217;ve gotten a good mix of speedwork as well as ever longer long runs. Last Sunday was a nice run on the Old Croton Aqueduct, although there were muddy spots. This past Wednesday was a really nice eight miler along the Bronx River, which I could do because we turned the clocks ahead last week-end. But I’m still suspicious of my speed. This was confirmed at the St. Patrick’s race.

When I got to FDR Park, I figured that there was no way to race. There was ice all over the road, and particularly as you approached the finish line.

The 2 mile race was set to start at 10 and the 10K at 10:45. I saw Herb right after I parked and then ran into Mark and Joe Moore. Then I saw Gregg as he rushed to get to the start of the 2 mile. Mark had to do the 2 mile because he had to hit the road immediately for a gig, but I’m still not sure why Gregg did.

Caught the end of the 2 mile, with Mark in second and Gregg a bit farther back. But then it was time for the 10K. By then, the Taconic Road Runners had done a great job of eliminating icy spots, particularly at the finish. The weather varied dramatically depending on whether the Sun came out. I had thought of shorts and a singlet, but it was too cold for that, and I went with tights and a long sleeve shirt, below my SSRMC singlet.

The course was modified as Herb says, because of the snow. It was 3 laps of just under 2 miles each with a bit of an out-and-back (with a hill) to get the extra distance. The race is off, and a guy takes off, with me in a relaxed second. At the 1 mile mark, I’m next to Dave Mitzi (who I met after he won the five-miler), and he and another guy pass, with that other guy up ahead. We start the laps, and it’s stressful because you know you have 2 more to go.

I ran the five-miler, so I know about the hill with about 3/4 to go in the lap, but it still hurts, and is followed by a long uphill incline. I don’t think anyone’s behind me, but I’ve drifted back in fourth. I try to get comfortable, and begin to run in a groove.

Starting lap 2, I’m pretty much where I was, but Dave M. is closing in on the guy in first. A bit of wind on the back straight and the hill seems a bit tougher, particularly since I still have one more to do. Thoughts of stopping, but hold on a bit more and see what happens.

Lap 3. Lapping people, and the guy ahead of me is not so much ahead of me, and I can’t find the guy who went out fast. He was wearing a sweatsuit, so he is blending in with the people being lapped. I pass him, but don’t know. Hit the 1 mile mark for the 2 mile run, which means I’m in the last mile. Up the hill, and the guy ahead is hurting. But so am I, and I don’t go up as easily as I normally do. We crest the hill, and he has about 10 yards on me, and I start to push it and he starts to push it. Past the 6 mile mark at about 35:47.

We’re passing more and more. (I passed Rebecca B. with about 1 mile to go.) Through the icy spots without a problem. But I just can’t get him. Gregg as we approach the finish line — wasn’t he in the race? Dave M. first, this other (young) guy second, and me third.

Jog onto the course to see Herb and Joe M. and Rebecca in the finishing stretch. Gregg joins me, Joe, and Herb for a warm-down lap, going in reverse to skip the hill. As Herb says, nice set-up at the finish pavillion, with a roaring fire and stuff.

So a bit of a struggle, but shorter races are supposed to be. Held it together through the crisis points. Had a strong finishing stretch, although not strong enough. On the whole a good performance. 36:49 or so.

Particularly happy about the club showing. A goodly number of people — 6. Many awards.

Next up? Looks like the Scarsdale 15K in 2 weeks. I was planning on doing the 4, but I think I prefer doing the 15K.

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March 23, A Run

Putting everything else aside, sometimes a run is just a run. When I lived in the City, it was about 30 yards from Central Park and 100 from the Reservoir, and Friday was a night when I loved to go the Reservoir and do four relaxed laps, particularly in the winter.

Tonight, I headed out to the new Mt. Vernon track. It’s somewhat isolated; you cross a highway from the school itself. No one else there. Beautiful night, shorts, headphones on, and just relaxed as I clicked off the laps, feeling I could go on and on and on, as the sky darkened. Nothing except the run and the joy of running.

A couple of great workouts this week, a nice repeat workout up Broadview in New Rochelle on Tuesday and 16 2 minute quarters last night at Mt. Vernon; laps between 75 and 78 with 40 second rest, and the last were as fast as the first and each one was evenly paced. That was the last Interval workout of the season. From this point on, something of a taper where speedwork is tempos and repeats.

April 4: Great Race in Scarsdale

Back in high school, I remember hearing about a 15K race in Scarsdale, pitched as great prep for the Boston Marathon. I don’t think I had a concept at the time of what the Boston Marathon really was — this was the early 70s — but I never ran this Scarsdale race until this year. I’ve finished phase III of my Spring training so I’m beginning to get some more rest. But I did some intense speedwork on Thursday at Mt Vernon HS — a mix of repeats and 1000 intervals — and previewed parts of the course on Saturday.

There was a 4-miler as well, but I preferred running something in which I can get into a groove and relax. I planned on going out at about 5:55, which is what I’m thinking of in Brooklyn in a couple of weeks, but went out even slower. I took the lead in the second mile and was on my own for the duration, with a police escort through the streets of Scarsdale.

I’m quite pleased with the result. While my pace going out was 5:01 for the first 3 (according to my Garmin), it dropped so that it was 5:50 at the end, with the last miles at low 5:40. The time was 54:26, for first. I kicked as well as I could, which explain this look. We also had our new Sound Shore jerseys, adidas in dark blue with white letters. They are nice. The Club did very well in both the 4 miler and the 15K. Erin ran it as a workout and was the first woman. I also met Julie, blogmaster of RunsLikeAGirl, who provided support for her boyfriend; after running the More Marathon the prior week, she’s in an enforced rest period.

I planned on running the Rye Derby on April 29, but it looks like we’re going to London. So instead it looks like I’ll be doing a 5K in Hyde Park on the Friday. Last time we were in London, eighteen months ago, my knee was in bad shape and I couldn’ run a step. So I’m looking forward to being able to do it this time.

April 8

A good week worth of runs, including a fun repeat workout, a tough threshold run at MVHS, and then a fast run from work to the Fordham train station. Threw in a nice run on the Twin Lakes/Nature Study trail.

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June 16

I ran the first of the NYRR Icahn Track series, and someone came up to me and mentioned this site. I didn’t think anyone read this stuff, so now I’ll have to start posting again. It’s been 2 months. Races? I ran the Loucks 5K, in which I was the first adult. Three high schoolers beat me. I came home in 17:32. But I strained my hamstring, so took it easy, racing again in the second of the Van Cortlandt Ttrack Club’s summer series of 5Ks at Van Cortlandt. I love these races, in which you get carrot cake as an age-group prize (and sweet potato pie for the overall winners). I try to do as many as I can. Low key, and I was fourth last week with a 18:22. That time was just about what I did last year, so I figure that while I’m a year older, I’m running well.

Because the Empire State Games are in Westchester this year, I plan on running it. I have qualifying times in the 1500 and the 5000, so I’ll be doing those on July 28. The open division will be at Mount Vernon High School, which is about half a mile from where I live, but the masters is further up-County. So I will have to do a little speedwork tweaking for these races. Hence the Icahn 1500 on June 12. Last time I tried to run a 1500 there, my knee went in the first 100. The race ended badly. But last year I did a 3000 in 10:02 and this year I decided to do the 1500 again. No particular training, and managed a 4:37. While I was last in my heat, I was happy, since that equates to a 4:58 mile, and that was my objective.

I had been targeting the Rye Derby and the Brooklyn Half in my winter and spring training. I ended up doing neither. For Brooklyn, I had some things I had to do with my wife, who (product plug) has published a new magazine called The New York Garden. She did all of the non-technical aspects of the publication including selecting and editing articles and photos and getting the ads. We went to the Hamptons this past Thursday and Friday to distribute out there, and she received a very receptive response from nurseries out there.

I got a nice run on the Northwest Trail just outside of Sag Harbor. Yesterday, I ventured out from Southampton along a road that has a row of very expensive houses between it and the ocean. But you don’t see the ocean much. As sometimes happens, I got into a groove and on the perfectly-flat course just kept picking it up. I knew I was in trouble but did not turn until 30 minutes, at which point I was over 4.75 miles out. So I just kept pushing it home, knowing I wouldn’t get all the way back, but hoping to carry 8 miles, which I did, with the last 4 miles at under 6 minute pace.

I missed the Rye Derby because I was flying back from London that day. Unlike the last time I was there, when my knee kept me from running, I got a number of nice runs. One was a morning run through Regent’s Park (we stayed not far away) on a Saturday, listening to Yo-Yo Ma playing Ennio Morricone, a sublime experience (particularly going through the Queen’s Garden. I also got to race in a monthly last-Friday-of-the-month 5K put on by the Serpentine Running Club, where I managed 21st place in 17:51. One of the problems of racing when away (actually, this is the first time I’ve done it) is that while on vacation I walk and walk and walk. I figure I cover at least 12 miles a day walking, so I might have been a bit tired for the race after being in London for 4 days. But it was fun, racing through Hyde Park. Flat and fast course.

June 17, the Rockies

Beautiful Sunday morning, and headed up to the Rockies. It was getting warm and best to keep it in the shade, but there are parts when you’re out in the Sun. A little fast, and so a bit of a struggle, even though I tried to ratchet it down. But that didn’t help so finished it pretty quickly. At least now I’m ready for the hills, and got through 4 of them, including the one to the Visitors’ Center, which, fortunately, is steepest at the very bottom. Quick water at the Center, and that was that. A lot of people there, more than I can recall ever seeing.

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June 24, 2007: Fairfield Half-Marathon: The Pefect Course

I’d never run the Fairfield Half, but had long heard of it. It is notorious for being really really hot. But I decided to chance it, and headed up on Sunday, June 24. The weather: sunny, but not too warm. As I think about it, it strikes me that this may be a perfect half course. Forget about the beautiful course and the great support along the way – from scouts with water and some kind of sports drink to the families that seemed to sit on lawn chairs in front of every house passed – but the layout is wonderful. First two miles, perfectly flat (you start near the beach) so you can get into a rhythm. Then the first hill is a short but sharp one, which wakes you from whereever you are through the flats. There follows a mix of long gradual ascents and descents and short sharp ones.

So the course is broken up and you’re constantly adjusting, which for a hill runner like me is great. But after 7, it seems that the course is slightly down-hill, and you can pick up speed. You’re too far out to get to enthusiastic so you have to concentrate on keeping matters under control. You hit 10 and you have a couple of those short ups and downs and then a long ascent immediately followed by a down. That down is not gradual (it’s the hill that awakened you earlier) so you have to fight it. Then the final two, flat miles. The road-stretches are pretty long and there are not a lot of turns. You get locked into your finishing groove and just hope to be able to sustain it because there are no hills that allow you to cheat. I found that I was slowly picking up the pace. Great course.

Anyway, here’s a race report:

Drove straight-up and went straight to the train station parking lot right off of I-95. There were buses waiting, and when they were filled, they left. I’m not usually left sitting as we wait for other runners, and I found it interesting to see the variety of people doing this. (There would be nearly 3,000 in the half and the 5K combined.) Most just hopped on the bus carrying nothing except a bottle of Poland Spring. Me, I had a bag with shirts, a towel, shoes, suncreen.

About a mile to the start, and the bus dropped us pretty close. After a little confusion about where to go, I see that you went to one table for a list with your number and then simply went to another table where you got your number and chip. A quick stop at the port-a-san, although not so quick since there was a line. See Jerri Lynn, who tells me the Club has commandeered a table on the other side of the pavilion by the beach. Stop there, switch shoes, put on tons of sunscreen, get shirt, check bag.

I’m going with new racing flats, which I’ve only worn twice, at workouts, but I’ve decided to chance it. No hat, but keep my sunglasses. The sun is out and the sky is blue. The temperature is pretty comfortable.

Slight warm-up with a couple of sprints. There are a number of likely contenders. They are slim and black and wear low numbers. They are from Kenya or Ethiopia. I am not going out with them.

Race starts, and the first stretch is flat. Hit the mile at 5:40, much too fast. The lead pack of women catches me, but I let them go since I’m trying to slow it down. Second mile is a more reasonable 6 flat, and then the hills begin. We go up a pretty steep one, but then down a long, not so steep one. A left turn and a sharp and winding down into a cute little town. Get water. Indeed, I made sure I took water at every station.

Between 3 and 4 I feel a pain in my left foot. After a few hundred yards, I pull over and try to stretch it. I decide to give it another shot, and it doesn’t bother me again. But a few people have passed. Another series of hills. Now it seems like there are families in every yard cheering us on. “Go 1950!” That would be me. On a downhill, someone catches me, but I pass him on the next up. This back-and-forth continues for awhile, until I say to him, “If the finish is uphill, I win, if it’s down hill, you win. If it’s flat, all bets are off.”

We decide to run together for a while. But then we have a 5:52 mile, and agree we may be getting too enthusiastic, and try to back off a bit. But we’ve started to pick people off. The field is pretty spread out at this point so it happens only now and then. Finally, I tell him that I need to back-off some more at about 9 miles, and he opens up a little. But then we hit another hill and I pass him for good. Then on a sharp uphill – the sharp downhill from earlier; we are now retracing the course in reverse – I pass a guy who looks, well, old. Want to beat him.

There follows a long incline, which seems to go forever. But I see the guy ahead turn left, so I know where it ends. I take the left, and there’s a downhill. I hear footsteps, but they are a bit loud. I think it’s the guy I had run with but it’s the old guy, who is actually several months older than me, but I’ve become an age-group whore.

At this point, I am picking things up again. I’m committed. The rest of the course is flat and I know that if I slow down, I’ll blow up. But I’m hurting. I was through 10 at 1:01:01, but that was pretty hilly. Mile 11 is 5:58. Two to go. Now the course has a series of long straights. The old guy fades and I’m hoping for the 12 mile mark. I saw it on the bus. Going in and out of the sun and tiring, it’s getting hard to see clearly. There’s the sign for the right turn, and right there is the “12” sign. A 5:48. That explains what happened to the other guy. Now we’re heading for home with a real long straight. I start to look at the watch. 1:45. Figure it’s under 5 minutes to go. One last left turn, and I catch a woman, who turns out to be the third woman.

2 minutes. A warning to watch your step as you enter the beach area. The path is a bit uneven, then the parking lot. Under a huge flag and I see the finish. The announcer is calling names, and he calls mine. I hear Gregg and Mark to the left cheering me on. Watch says 1:19:06, but official time is 1:19:08. Dave and Chris and his family are there. Get a massage. Tired but happy.

These races are tough. You don’t dare go out too fast lest you blow up. But when you start to cruise, you can have 6 or 7 miles of running just on the edge. You just keep going and hope you finish before you’re finished.

One other thing. We waited for awards. Nearly all of those who won the top places, Kenyans and Ethiopians all, were hobbling afterwards. Never saw that before.

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