Grete’s Gallop

Today was a big test. The longest race I’ve done in a couple of years is 5 miles. The longer stretches of Reach-the-Beach did not give me a sense of how things are going. In fact, I was disappointed because I thought that they were harder than I expected them to be.

So today was a half-marathon. Twice around Central Park and a bit more. It was raining pretty hard from right before the race, although it let up now and then. My plan was to go out relaxed and see what happened. A first mile at 6:05 was fine, but the second was 6:11, and I feared that the wheels would come off. BUt that 6:11 would be the slowest of the race. I felt very comfortable and just kept going at a steady pace. Finish was 1:19:36, good for 57th overall and 3rd in the 45-49 age group. I did not expect to do that well, but believe that the long runs I’ve been doing was a major influence. My splits: 6:05, 11, 6:07, 6:10, 6:10, 6:11, 6:06, 6:08, 5:59, 6:01, 6:01, 6:00, 5:47. No one passed me (and stayed ahead) from mile 4.

So from thoughts early in the race of just giving up the notion of NY, the race calculator puts me at sub-2:47. We’ll see about that. A couple more 20 milers, and I’ll have a shot.

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The Rock: October 8

Every once in a while I head up to Sleepy Hollow (formerly North Tarrytown) for a run at the Rockefeller State Park and the OCA North, which are next to one another. Today I had a 20-miler to do, so I figured it would be a good place to go. So I set up a course first on the OCA, out along the Hudson, and then into the Rockefeller, where I could get some water (at the Visitor’s Center) and have a gel, and then finish via the OCA. But after running on familiar stretches of the OCA, I decided to just deviate from the plan and run where I wanted, which was fun, although there were times when I had no idea where I was. Because the surface is good, I broke one of my cardinal rules and wore headphones, with a mix of soundtracks (“Bourne Supremacy” and Dixie Chicks chiefly).

But I discovered that there are a lot of small ups-and-downs on the Rockefeller trails so there were times when I was struggling. At 55 minutes I almost quit going up the hill to the Visitor’s Center from Sleepy Hollow Road. But if you hold the hill going up, there are places to recover. The hills are not too long or too steep, but they come with some frequency. So it was more of a work-out than I expected.

While I had mapped out the course for mileage, that went out the window after the first stretch, but by then I figured I was pretty close to my target 7 minute pace, so I didn’t worry about pace after that. But towards the end I started to struggle even on short hills. My right quad was hurting, and the last, very slight hill was a real problem. I then picked it up over the final 1.5 miles, so that felt good. I was spent. And a little worried about a possible problem in the marathon if that physical ailment rears its head in the latter stages.

The week itself went fairly well. After a Monday recovery run in which I stopped about a mile early because my right knee hurt — it was fine — I did a very nice tempo workout on Tuesday (4 X 5 mins., 30 mins. Easy, 4 X 5 mins. at sub-6 pace) and the last few items felt amazingly smooth. And Saturday was a very nice, relaxed (about 7 min.) run on Twin Lakes and Nature Study.

Barring injury, I feel confident about New York. The big fear is the final 6 miles, although this little quad issue, which I’ve had before at the end of long runs, is a bit of a concern. Everything I do is focused on that last 6 miles.

October 25: Getting Close

I mentioned the twinge I felt at the end of my run at the Rockefeller. It was actually my groin. It came back at the end of my last hard long run, which was 6 miles at Marathon Pace, 1 mile at Tempo, and 6 miles at Marathon. It hit me at mile 4 so I stopped. It hasn’t bothered me much since, but it is making me nervous. I felt a twinge towards the end of a week-end 15 miler, but it wasn’t a problem. My concern is that it will hit me in the latter stages of the marathon. So I’m taking a few days off. I still hope to run the Poland Spring 5-miler on Sunday, but I’m keeping that open.

After some nervous time, I was told that I am in the Local Competitive start for the marathon. We start at the front of the green start, which is the lower deck of the bridge. After delay, I just got an e-mail from the NYRRC telling me that I will have No. 993. So I know I’ll get a clean shot at the start.

October 29: Poland Spring Five-Miler

One of my club members (EH) works at Poland Spring and it is a sponsor of the five-miler held the Sunday before the Marathon. So I decided to run it. Plus I think the distance is a nice one to get some last speed in, without overdoing it. I was also worried about my groin.

Drove into the City, but had trouble finding a place to park. But eventually I did. It was pretty windy and a tad chilly, but the sun was out. Got to the starting line about 10 minutes early. NYRR races are so crowded that you can’t get a normal warm-up and you can’t do strides ahead of time. So you have to be resigned to your fate and get there and stand and wait. But so does everyone else.

After a nice rendition of the National Anthem, the race was off. My objective was to race it hard but relaxed. And I did. I skipped a few days early last week (Sunday-Wednesday) and when I ran on Thursday I felt that I had lost all my conditioning! But I knew that wasn’t true. The race’s first mile is chiefly uphill, albeit gradually, and went through the mile in about 5:45. I think the miles were fairly even, and the last was 5:43. Finished in 28:58, which was a good deal faster than I expected. Had typical struggles, but after a couple of miles chiefly went past people. Didn’t try anything fancy at finish; just strode in. Got an apple and a bagel, went to the Poland Spring tent and did some stretching, and headed home. Now it’s time to wait. No problem with the groin.

After one of my RTB teammates posted the results to the others, got a nice response from Tokyo, where Paris-based Guillermo was (“it’s Monday morning at 6 and I’m going for a run around the imperial palace”) plus one from Tom, who was coming back with Eric from a successful, if windy, Cape Cod Marathon.

November 5: New York City Marathon

I’d love to say that I blitzed the course. In fact I did. But only for the first half, which created some problems for the second half. I was through the half at 1:19:57. I was monitoring my earlier splits and knew they were too fast. But I felt nice and relaxed and while I tried to slow it down, I’d just get another 6:05 split. Saw my brother and sister Pat just past 8, on Lafayette.

Things started to get tough on First Avenue. At about 19 I knew I was in trouble. Passed my other sisters at 18 and Club-mates at 19.5. But hurt throughout the Bronx. Then when I got back into Manhattan just past 21, I stopped on Fifth. Not for long, and I started up again. Got past my wife and my sisters at about 100th (the wife took the picture at right), but stopped again shortly thereafter. Walked for maybe a block, just praying I would get to 90th and into the Park. Started up again, and struggled the last 2.5 miles, with one more stop at 72nd Street, with 1.5 to go. But I gutted it out the rest of the way, and finished in 2:48:10. Plus I copted 3rd in the 50-54 age group, which was my major objective.

When one stops in a race like this, all sorts of things go through the mind. But I knew that I had to finish. I think that while I was very high on the quality of my training, the quantity was lacking. I saw on other boards people posting their training, as did I, and they were doing lots more miles than was I. In the end, the dilemma is whether I’m willing to put in the extra work. I put in lots of work this time. In the immediate glow of the marathon, my inclination is that it’ll be a while before I try it again. (I’ve already promised my wife not to do NY in 2007.)

The New York Marathon experience, however, was just great. Part of the problem may be that you get carried along by the enthusiasm of the crowds, especially in Brooklyn. I was able to get a Local Competitives start, which meant I was near the front and that there was a separate area in which to hang out, with its own port-a-sans, near the start. The race ran very smoothly, although I missed a couple of mile marks. Water every mile, gels at mile 18, Gatorade every other mile. Definitely worth the trip. I wish I were as smooth as the guys in this video:

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November 12: One Week Later

I’ve gotten some perspective on last week’s race, and I’m thinking of doing London in 2008. I learned some lessons from last week. On the prep side, I will need to a bit more distance during the week. I’m not going to be a big distance runner, but getting a 12-15 miler in on Thursdays would help. And, of course, having made the rookie mistake of going out to fast, next time I’ll be more in control I hope.

Alison Wade of EliteRunning.Com (I have a link to her blog) always takes pictures at about the mile-to-go mark of the Marathon. This year she got me. My wife says it shows my fatigue, and that it does. If you look at the other runners at that point, it’s interesting to see the range of expressions, from the gleeful to the dying. I think I’m towards the latter, but not quite at the margin. The picture on the left is by Alison.

Here’s a longer race report. It turns out that the easiest thing about a marathon is running the marathon. Preparation is all. Even doing something dumb during the race will only hurt you so much.

Instead, it’s the various workouts that you do when you hope a session of, say, tempos will shave a few seconds off your finishing time that matter. This year I took advantage of the Club to structure training focusing on the New York City Marathon, after a detour for Reach-the-Beach. If you’ve visited the Training Forum or read the weekly Training e-mails, you’ll have a sense of the work that was done by me, and others – Tom O’Brien and Eric Turkewitz ran the Cape Code Marathon on October 29 – in preparing for Fall marathons. Add to that variations on the week-end long runs, and you have a sense of my condition on Sunday, November 5 at 10:10 when the cannon sounded and the race began. I was there with four other Club members: Pierre-Antoine Boulat, Emily Margolis, Christie Derrico, and Paul Goodman.

Friday Night: The Club’s Second Annual Two Nights Before the New York City Marathon Pasta Party (“SATNBNYCMPP”) took place at Augie’s on the Post Road. We had a nice turnout, including all of the runners except Emily. Lots of salad, lots of pasta. Under the aegis of Club Social Director Jerri Lynn Fields. Eric was there as well, seemingly recovered from his Cape Cod adventure of five days earlier. And a bunch of other folks, whose encouragement was appreciated.

Saturday: Did as little as possible. “Hay’s in the Barn,” as they say.

Sunday: On Friday, Eric said that TOWTC has buses that go to the start, so on Saturday I had gone to the Westchester Road Runner in White Plains and gotten a seat. This was sweet. While my plan had been to take a 5:24 train to the subway to the ferry to a bus to the start, now I could drive 5 minutes and get a 7:00 bus to the start. And so I did. We arrived near the start with plenty of time. As a member of a local club with a qualifying time, I was assigned to the local competitives start. This had 2 perks. First there was a fenced-in area with its own port-a-sans. Second, our group started at the front of the Green start. The former was particularly appreciated since there were long lines at all of the other port-a-sans at Fort Wadsworth.

But I didn’t have long to savor things, as we were called to start assembling at about 9:50. I hurried to check my bag, deciding at the last moment not to wear my gloves. I was in shorts and singlet and a long sleeve shirt that I would take off and discard before the start. All that clothing is collected and provided to the homeless. By 10 we were in position and waiting. My long sleeve shirt was gone at 10:05. “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung by the cast of “Jersey Boys,” NYRRC President Mary Wittenberg said “are you ready to take on New York?” or something, and there was a boom. Suddenly we were off.

The green start goes on the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge. I had three PowerGels attached to my shorts with clips, but one fell off in the first 100 yards. The race starts on an uphill, and it took a bit of a struggle to clear through some people who started ahead of me but shouldn’t have. I was liberal in my use of hands, arms, and elbows in getting through, but I would have a clean ride after the first 100 yards or so. It took me 9 seconds to cross the start.

The bridge was eerily quiet and chilled. If you went in the left lane, you felt the wind and it was much colder. So we basically stayed in the other two lanes. I stole a few glances to the left, and saw southern Manhattan and a line of cargo ships. On the Brooklyn-bound side was nothing until official vehicles went roaring by.

Through the mile and the road starts a gradual decline. People are breaking into small groups, with some chatting going on. My plan was to just get into a nice, easy pace, and I did. But you don’t really know your pace because the first mile is uphill and the second is down. It’s only at the 3 mile/5K marks that you’d know whether you were too slow or too fast or right on.

Off the bridge and we continue on the highway; the other two starts get onto the streets a little before we do. Then there is an overpass and it is covered with people waiting and cheering. Then as we approach the ramp to Bay Ridge – where my mom grew up – there are people lined along the side, and from there there are few steps for the rest of the course in which there are not people cheering. We are suddenly at three miles and cross the pad at 5K. My time is being beamed to several Blackberrys. Now they know I’m running and I’m committed.

The time is way too fast. About a minute too fast. I’ll try to slow it down. Along Bay Ridge Parkway and a right onto Fourth Avenue. This is an Italian and Irish section. There are bands. The neighborhood then becomes Mexican. But everyone is getting cheered. People start saying “Go Ian” and I run up to someone and ask whether he is Ian. Indeed he is. For the next 7 miles I’m running near him and will be hearing “Go Ian” countless times. He’s enjoying it now, but not so much when I get to him again on Fifth Avenue. But that’s later.

Now there’s a Poland Spring water station every mile and Gatorade every two miles. I’m only taking water, but make sure to get some water at every mile. I’m wearing a Poland Spring jersey because I’m concerned about chafing from my SSRMC one. Dave Burgess has lent me some BodyGlide, but I’m not taking chances.

The next 5K is gone in a moment. I’m still too fast, and I try to slow down, but it feels like I’m jogging and I am failing. This is the one great lesson from the race itself: keep it under control. A number of people afterwards note a sign in Brooklyn that reads, “SLOW DOWN; IT’S NOT A 10K.” But I didn’t see it. Too bad.

And the crowds and the bands. One’s playing an Alman Bros. song and I want to call, “Whippin’ Post.” Again the neighborhoods are changing, but I’m not sure to what. I look to the west and I see a federal jail in which I’ve taken depositions. As we approach Atlantic Avenue and the Williamsburg Savings Bank Building I see “Warren Street,” as I recall seeing it in 1984 when I ran for a club of that name.

We hit Atlantic Avenue and things will change. A left and a right and we’re past 8 miles and onto Lafayette Avenue. The road is narrower and golden trees line both sides. I hear “Joe,” and look to see my brother and one of my sisters, who’ve crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and will be waiting for my niece as well. (She’s a Larchmont native.) Left knee starts to hurt. This happened at the Grete Gallop but went away, and it goes away after a minute or so here. We turn onto Bedford Avenue. This becomes one of the strange stretches of the race as we run through an Hasidic neighborhood. People line the street, but there’s little cheering. And then another Latino neighborhood and then Greenpoint, which has a East Village feel that is completely different from the ones we’ve gone through before. And they’re out there two and three deep and on fire escapes cheering. I pass a few Achilles members, and give them a thumbs up.

A couple of turns and we’re approaching the Pulaski Skyway. The Half-way point. The clock at the half reads 1:20:06 and now I’m in trouble. My plan was to come through at 1:24. I’m going to pay, but I don’t know how much. We’re in Queens. Still in good spirits, I call out, “Is this Queens?” and they tell me you bet it is. But the stretch in Queens is industrial. There are gaps in the crowd. But not that many. There are lots of turns in the course. We come across a bunch of folks with Italian flags and I see that they have a World Cup duplicate. Another thumbs up.

Then a left and the 15-mile mark and we’re on the 59th Street Bridge. It’s a hill but while long it’s gradual. The spooky thing is that there’s a tarp over a section and it is pitch black for about 30 yards. The road surface is good so it’s not a problem. But it is spooky. The bridge goes down and my old legs allow a number of guys to open up. In a marathon, though, you really don’t care about such things. It’s about running your own race.

Hairpin left to 59th and left onto First. Under the Bridge and, BOOM, it’s bright and deafening. Crowds on the street, on balconies. Keep under control and start counting the blocks. 20 blocks to a mile. Can I make it to the Bronx without a problem? I know the SSRMC contingent will be at about 123rd and that the Poland Spring Super-Duper Water Station will be at 17. And there it is. A huge Poland Spring bottle. There’s Erin. “Hi Erin. Bye Erin.” Nice downhill from 85th to 86th. Water sponges at, appropriately, the Sponge Bob spot, but it’s not warm enough for them, and there are few takers. Around 97th hear “Joe.” My other sisters and a brother-in-law and my other niece.

One mile to the Bronx. Crowd is thinning out. Then I see Jerri Lynn and Dave and Gregg and wave. Good to see them. But now I must cross into the Bronx. There’s a “rug” on the steel surface of the Willis Avenue Bridge. It helps, but you can still feel the steel, and I’m glad when I’m through. Keep things together. Left then a right. Everyone else is cutting to the curb, but I see that I have a long block and cut the tangent, the hypotenuse. I’m not taking one more step than I have to.

Make that left and see a bridge. Is it? It is. The Metro North bridge. Right before the Madison Avenue Bridge into Manhattan. We cross that bridge and see the 21 mile mark. Strangely, although the marker is in Manhattan, it says “The Bronx” on it. A slight downhill and a left onto Fifth. Five miles to go. I am hurting. I stop. Not a panicked stop. Just take a moment to collect myself and get going again and that’s what I do.

Counting blocks again, although now they’re going down. The crowds are back. I see “Ian” again. He’s hurting and I’m sure by now he is sick of hearing “Go Ian.” Around Marcus Garvey Park, and I take my last Gel. Turn back onto Fifth and past the Duke Ellington statue at 110th. One mile to 90th Street and the Park entrance. Get there and I’ll make it. 94th or so and there’s my wife and my sisters. (That’s where the picture was taken.) This is an uphill stretch. Not steep but enough to annoy. I pass them – they’ll say I looked good – and stop at about 92nd. Hands over my face at 23+ miles and struggling to get to 90th Street. Again I gather myself and start up again. When you stop, though, you hear a gasp by the crowd and when you start up again you hear a cheer. You don’t want to hear either.

Into the Park, where I raced smoothly just a week before. Now I’m confident. 15 minutes from the 24 mile mark by the Met and I’m under 2:50. Cutting the tangents. Down Cat Hill, with a wave to the Cat (as I always do). Slight uphill to 72nd Street, and I stop a third time. A bunch of people pass, but I’m still in control. One last time to prepare for the final 1.5 miles. There are cameras everywhere for the official photographs, and 2 photos have me walking. For the last time I’m off again. A flat quarter and then a nice slight downhill out of the Park and past the “One Mile to Go” sign. Out of the Park past the Plaza and onto Central Park South. Someone stops ahead of me, but I’m not stopping until the finish. Central Park South goes quickly and I’m past the “½ Mile to Go” sign. Columbus Circle and back in. 26 miles. That’s 385 yards to go. A sign says “300 Yards to Go” and I can see the finish. It’s uphill, but I don’t notice. A guy to my left has some gray hair so I don’t want him to beat me and I actually finish strongly.

Clock reads “2:48:19” and my watch reads “2:48:12.” The chip time is “2:48:10.” I get a medal and a high-tech blanket and they take my picture. Take some GatorAde and a bottle of Poland Spring and a bag with an apple and a bagel. Medical people asking whether I’m OK, and I say I am. Keep moving. A flood of people. I am having trouble walking, but I am walking. Someone comes up to me. A guy I met doing some X-C. He went out with me but had slowed down early. He’s happy with a 2:51, and I’m glad for him. Find my UPS truck. No. 25. I see it. My bag’s on the ground and I’m done.

Putting my stuff on, someone else comes up to me. It’s Peter Allen. He’s the guy who ran the whole way up Bretton Woods mountain and just beat me in Leg 1 of RTB. He did 2:44. Another nice job. I slowly start walking out of the Park at 77th Street. Years ago we’d watch them blow up Thanksgiving Parade balloons here – I remember wishing Mickey Mouse a happy birthday – before it became a mob. My wife sees me and gives me a hug. I am very tired and very happy. I am determined never to do that again. I had made that decision while I was walking on Fifth Avenue some time before. With the passage of time, I’m not so sure.

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November 16

Charles told me not to do much running for a few weeks, and I’ve tried not to. Tonight it was windy with a bit of a drizzle, and I did a nice relaxed 24 minutes. I had thought of running the Mamaroneck Turkey Trot on Sunday, but that would be too tempting, so I’m working it instead.

The video I have below is from Chasing It’s a group of Kenyans who have been training in Boulder and had a number of elites in Chicago and two in New York, including Stephen Baba Kiogora, who would come in second. This video is a long one of the Chicago effort. (Crowds seem pretty sparse compared to New York.) It has a nice pay-off at the end.

Separately, I’m trying to coordinate among New York clubs for next year’s Reach-the-Beach. Registration for that race opens on December 1, and Sound Shore may enter 2 teams. But we’ll have trouble getting anywhere near 24 runners. Someone suggested doing 2 teams of 9, but having done 4 legs, that’d be tough. So I thought if other clubs also have too many (or too few) for a full team we could combine our efforts. We’ll see.

November 18

I figured I was recovered. Not so. Last night I went for about 31 minutes at an easy pace, but felt very tired after about 10 minutes. It wasn’t a problem, just a sign of not being recovered. So today when I went to the Club work-out I took it easy, and still was pretty tired, although we finished the course in about 43 minutes. It’s been nice to get out again. I’m planning training into the spring, following Daniels’s 5K to 15K program. It has us doing just base-building for 6 weeks then a mix of repeats, tempos, and intervals. My target races are the Brooklyn Half in March and the Rye Derby at the end of April (a five-miler).

Over at Flickr, sidewalk_story has posted 720 photos from the marathon. Most were taken from 124th Street on the Marcus Garvey Park side, just short of the 22 mile mark.

Friday, November 24

Thanksgiving was yesterday. It was a bit chilly and rainy. I first went to my in-laws and then drove into the City for my family’s event on Riverside Drive. Running-wise, I was surprised about how long it took me to get over the Marathon, but I guess I shouldn’t be. Today I went to the new Mt Vernon HS track for the first time and just did about 14 laps at a very relaxed 7 min. pace, so I figure I’m largely over it, although I’m in build-up phase anyway, so I’m taking it easy. I’ll probably try the Jingle Bells 5K next Saturday (which is actually the postponed from October.

Last Sunday was the Mamaroneck Turkey Trot Five-Miler, but I didn’t do it because I couldn’t trust myself to just run it. So I ran the course beforehand, and worked the 1 and the 4 mile splits.

Saturday, December 2: Jingle Bell 5K

Last year I ran the Runnin’ Scared 5K in Mamaroneck. I passed this year because it was a week before the Marathon, but bad weather forced a postponement, so it became the Jingle Bell 5K, and was run today. I am just past the 26+ days of recovery, so I decided to do it and give my legs a chance to go quickly. I was pretty relaxed but felt a struggled as I ended up winning the race by over a minute in 17:42. I mapped the course, and it seems accurate. Part goes on the Leatherstocking Trail. My left sciatic nerve is aching a little now, but I think that will pass.

I am stilling having days in which I feel a bit fatigued during not-so-fast runs, although I’ve been clocking just under 7 mins. on several, which is too fast anyway. Last night I ran without a watch, and tried to keep in slow. Then it started pouring about a mile from home. That was cool because of the reflections on the drops of rain from my headlight.

I’m thinking of joining a gym so I can use a treadmill if the weather is horrible during the winter. Thinking about it. I’d hate to lose workouts due to icy conditions. I don’t mind the cold so much.

Saturday, December 23: Christmas Eve Eve

I’m trying to get over a bug that hit me last Saturday. That day was the only one in which I was completely knocked out, but I’ve been less than 100% since. I went out on Wednesday night for an each run, and felt horrible for a few minutes and then felt OK so did 15 mins. But my stomach was horrible during the night, so I’m taking a few more days off. I may try to go out this afternoon. It is unseasonably warm; 57 as I write this.

I’m the newsletter editor for SoundShore. The December issue is here.

I got myself banned from posting on LetsRun. I couldn’t figure out why and wrote them, but they haven’t gotten back to me. Then I remembered that the last posting I did concerned CoolRunning in which someone asked whether anyone else was having trouble getting on line to their training logs and I said that I had no problems. Apparently reference to a competitor was enough to get the LetsRun boys in a lather and ban me. One can post without registering, but I’ve never posted without using my registered name so I have to wait until they de-ban me.

My sister picked up my marathon award. After numerous written and phone messages, I finally got the New York Road Runners Club to acknowledge my existence and say that it had my award. Unlike most awards, this one was a big deal for me, and I figured that the Club would be responsive. It’s supposed to be working with the efficiency of a cutting-edge company, but if its customer service is any indication it works like an encrusted bureaucracy. Before the marathon, my requests for informaton about what is the local competitives were all to no avail until I stumbled upon the point person shortly before the race. Afterwards my simple query about how to get my age-group award was ignored. It still hasn’t gotten back to me about my chip. I assume that it is as non-responsive to anyone else who contacts it.

Sunday, Christmas Eve

Another warm day in New York, although it was a bit chilly when I went out in the morning. Decided to head to the Mt Vernon Track and did a bunch of loops there. It’s a beautiful track with a fair amount of goose droppings. There was a pretty brisk wind down the backstretch, and a bunch of guys were getting ready to play soccer. Timed a few laps in about 6:40 pace, but felt relaxed. Plan was to do 25 mins., and that’s what I did.

Sunday, New Year’s Eve: Year in Review

2006 began with me still nursing a sore knee from summer 2005 and doing little running through March. But from that point on I was able to run without injury, so I decided to run the Reach-the-Beach relay in New Hampshire with my club. That meant doing near-marathon training, and I began to do longs runs, when I thought I’d never be able to do them again. In order to improve the structure, I volunteered to coach Club-members with speedwork. I used Daniels as my authority and began to religiously do Tuesday night speedwork.

As I was getting into shape for RTB, I figured I might as well carry it through a fall marathon, and was thinking Philly. A Club-mate e-mailed me one day in September and asked if I wanted to do NY. I said yes, and an hour later I was in. She was a coordinator for a sponsor. I figured that since I was turning 50 in October, I had a shot at an age-group award.

While I never thought I could run much over an hour again without falling apart, I was able to be consistent with long runs. I had the normal and varying aches and pains, but didn’t lose any time for injury into NY. Although I made some errors in my marathon prep (and was intimidated by the amount of mileage I saw others putting in for their Fall marathons) and in the race itself, I was able to hit close to my goal-time and picked up third in my AG. And while I realize that it needs to be kept in perspective compared to really quick guys, I was the first American over 50, and I’ll always have that little distinction.

For 2007, I am training for shorter stuff in the Spring, and will be doing RTB again. No marathon until Spring 2008, when I’m thinking London or Paris. After a couple of years of long stretches of no running, because of sciatica and then a knee issue, it is refreshing to be able to just run.

In the end, the Marathon and Reach-the-Beach were the best running experiences I have ever had.

For Christmas I received a Garmin Forerunner 305. It is big and bulky, but a nice toy. So far, I’ve only used it for mileage, but I’ll also start using the Heart Rate Monitor. Most important will be using it for speedwork during the week when I won’t have a clear track to use. Normally, I aim to come out of the winter not injured. For 2007, I hope to come out of it in good racing condition, including because there’s a big half-marathon — Brooklyn — in mid-March.