Return to Brooklyn Half, without the Half

Post-finish, pre-tent spot

Today’s run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I’m on day 2 of my vacation and it’s been a nice break so far. Yesterday’s plans included a stop at Coney Island which looked a lot different from the last time I was there. That’s because the last time I was pounding along the boardwalk on my way the Brooklyn Half finish line.

My memories of that time consist of 1) walls of screaming people lining the street and boardwalk, 2) grabbing the first banana and cup of water I could find, 3) making my way through the crowd toward the big (decommissioned) parachute ride where my friends had gathered after they’d finished, and 4) being “triaged” in the medical tent by a bunch of bored EMTs.

 Ahh, memories. No post race-type food on Thursday. Just good old Nathan’s. Before any of that, I did an elliptical session to maintain my goal of running or otherwise working out every day of this vacation. It was humid yesterday, so I did what I could to maintain airflow, opening windows and running the big fan at top speed. That helped but by the end, the humidity won.

This morning it was back to the road. Between the workout and all the walking yesterday, my legs felt like rubber. All the same (and probably due to consuming the equivalent of 20 Kw of carb energy at Nathan’s) I was ready to run. I did what I could to mix up the route and was pleased with how I ran, despite conditions that felt even more oppressive than on Wednesday.

Tomorrow is supposed be rainy, so I’ll probably be stuck inside with either the treadmill or the elliptical. If it’s misting or only lightly raining I may go for a run anyway. The humidity is brutal, but it always is in late August. I know it won’t be long until I’m back to running in long sleeves and wool running socks.

The elusive convergence of speed and distance

 

Today’s run (street): 6.4 miles

I was channeling Chicken Little yesterday as I made my way through my 4:00 AM run. All the hard training I’ve done up to this point seemed to be for naught and I struggled to get through 25 minutes of moderately paced treadmill running. Some of that was likely due to the very early hour and fatigue from my abrupt change in daily routine. Today’s run was far longer, and much better than yesterday’s, but it wasn’t particularly fast.

My new work engagement provides a lot of scheduling flexibility and today I was able to work from my home office. That let me fit in a medium length base run and cover my longest distance since last Friday’s 9.7 miles. This spring weather is puzzling, but I won’t complain because there’s no snow on the roads and temperatures haven’t yet reached oppressive levels. However, my decision to wear shorts and short sleeves made me feel chilly throughout much of today’s run.

I was concerned that I’d suddenly lost some endurance, but I could tell from the first few steps off my driveway that I would easily cover my targeted miles. That was good news. What isn’t so good is that once I go beyond 85% of HR max, my stamina starts to slip. I can handle endurance or speed, but not both together. With only a couple of weeks until the Brooklyn half, I should be farther along in terms of performance. I don’t expect to PR on the 17th, and I’m not even confident that I can break 2:10. I’m going to continue to focus on base because, while speed is desirable, endurance is what gets us over the finish line.

Half Marathon training, your opinion is requested!

 

Today’s workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

According to Athlinks, I’ve run thirteen 10K’s, eleven 5K’s, four 4 milers, four 8K’s, two half marathons and a 5 mile race. There are a couple of other races that Athlinks doesn’t list, but for the most part, that’s my racing history. 10K is my favorite race distance because it requires both speed and stamina. Unlike 5K’s that allow me to go all-out because I know that it will be over inside of 30 minutes, 10K’s require a much more strategic approach.

10K, or 6.2 miles is also a friendly distance. Even if I’ve slacked off on my base training runs (likely), I can generally get through a 10K without much race specific training. In those cases, I don’t come close to PR’ing, but I can manage through the distance. Half marathons are a different story. There’s something about double digit distance running that requires me to really focus on my training. The toughest run I ever had was my first half marathon. It was so bad, a race volunteer offered to call a doctor as I crossed the line.

That experience taught me a lesson about being prepared. I’d thought I’d be okay running my usual 6 miles or so on Sundays, then upping that distance to eight and nine miles the two weekends before the half. It didn’t help that I’d also acquired a knee problem at that time, but I blame my poor race performance on my failure to plan.

My Plan

I fared much better the next time. I realized that building a proper base was the key, so I dutifully headed to Bethpage every weekend and ran increasingly longer distances. I ended up improving my time by 15 minutes the second time I ran a half. The chart above shows the Sunday long run distance plan I created and followed. I updated the schedule to coincide with this year’s dates leading up to the Brooklyn Half.

NYRR “Moderate” Plan

NYRR’s does a good job sending updates about the Brooklyn Half to people who are registered for the race. The last email redirected me to their site where they’d posted three free half marathon training plans. The categories are Conservative, Moderate and Advanced. I’m not apt to follow a plan that prescribes training through the week, but I was interested in the weekly long run distances. I created a second schedule around the Moderate guide to compare it with my current plan (see above).

I did well the last time by increasing my long run distance about a mile a week, topping out at 12 miles the weekend before the race. The NYRR plan steps up and down, with a decided taper near the end. I assume NYRR knows a lot more than I do about this stuff, so there must be a reason for reducing the long run distances near the end. I’m reluctant to change from what worked for me last time, but maybe I should consider following the Moderate plan.

I will take advice on this, so please share your opinion.

I’m bound for the Brooklyn Half

Got my ticket

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

I love the idea of running adventures, but nowadays I rarely venture more than a few miles from my house for a run. This is mostly due to time constraints and schedules. I’m fortunate that I live in an area that offers numerous nearby options, especially for trail running. But over the 5+ years since I’ve become a serious runner, I’ve only run two races outside of Long Island (NYC and Cape Cod, MA).

Last year was not my best in terms of racing. I only ran eight competitive events and I wasn’t particularly competitive in most of them. Unlike the prior two years, I didn’t run a half marathon, just three 5Ks, three 10Ks and a 4 mile race. Looking back, I wonder if the half marathon base training I missed last year correlated to my mediocre race times throughout the rest of 2013.

Well that won’t be an issue this year because I have registered for the NYRR Brooklyn Half. This is new ground for me and I’m really excited to participate. I tried to get into this race the first time I was ready to run a half, but I was locked out. Subsequent to that, I’ve run the uninspiring Long Island Half a couple of times. Runner’s World called the LI Marathon & Half a “Golden Oldie” that has aged well. I now have to question everything I read in that magazine.

The things that excite me about the Brooklyn Half:

1. It’s in Brooklyn.
2. I get to run past the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Grand Army Plaza.
3. I’ll finally get to run in Prospect Park.
4. Five miles of the race is a straightaway down Ocean Parkway through the heart of Brooklyn.
5. It finishes on the Coney Island boardwalk.

Both my Runsketeer buddies are running this race along with 20,000+ others. This will be the biggest race I’ve ever run and my first NYRR event. I’m also excited that I’ll have motivation to do those 10+ mile runs on weekend mornings at Bethpage to prepare for the distance. The race is in May so that training will start before spring.

Return to Central Park

Coney Island, NY – start (or finish?) to 2011 Brooklyn Half

It’s almost mid-February and I have yet to run in NYC this year. That will change today when me and my running buddy JQ head to Central Park around noon. We had planned a run a couple of weeks ago but a snowstorm made that impossible. Conditions that day were so bad I wasn’t even able to get into the office. It’s cold out today (low 20’s) but at least there’s nothing coming down.

I’m excited to head back to the park, run outdoors and catch up with JQ. I’ve been hoping for a thaw that will rid us of the accumulated snow and open up more venues for running. My outdoor runs have been limited to a few neighborhood excursions plus last Saturday’s race in Long Beach. I love Central Park any time but I’m especially keen to run there again after so much time spent on the treadmill. I’m thinking about the NYRR Brooklyn half marathon as my first-ever race at that distance.

The Brooklyn half marathon routes through Prospect Park, another place (similar to Central Park) where I’ve always wanted to run. That race ends at Coney Island (or the other way around). I’m not really sure how they’re mapping the course this year. That would be a new adventure but today I’m just looking forward to running the loops again in Central Park.

Over the river (East and Nissequogue) and through the neighborhood

Wednesday run (Brooklyn Bridge/lower Manhattan): 4.25 miles
Thursday’s run (Nissequogue River Turkey Trot): 3.1 miles
Today’s run (street): 4.5 miles

I took a holiday from blogging yesterday but I’ve had some interesting running experiences since my last post. Wednesday was a half day in the office and at noon AG and I headed downtown to City Hall Plaza and over to the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge where we crossed over to Brooklyn and back. It’s always an interesting and slightly frustrating experience to run that route with so many people strolling along the side of the path reserved for two way pedestrian traffic. It can be tempting to cross the white line over to the bike path but that should be done with multiple checks to ensure no bikes are coming in either direction.

We stopped halfway across on our return to look at the views. Looking south we could see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge where the NYC marathon starts and then leads up the Brooklyn Bridge where we stood. On the other side we viewed the Manhattan skyline that I used to see from different angles; south when I lived on 31st street and later from 74st street with my wife, where we could see west to the Hudson. AG and I resumed our run after crossing back to Manhattan and we covered Chinatown and some of Little Italy until we came to our destination – 6th street – where we stopped into an Indian restaurant for lunch. It was a great kickoff to the Thanksgiving day break. Yesterday AG ran the Prospect Park 5 mile Turkey Trot with our friend FS and her husband. AG then went on to run the route two more times!

Yesterday morning was a big day for Team Emerging Runner. We headed to Nissequogue River State Park where we ran in the 5K Turkey Trot as a family. It was very chilly while we waited for the race to start but we’d dressed well. It was the first race for my wife and my son and the first non-cross country event for my daughter. Everyone was excited as we lined up with a field that was almost 800 people deep. When the horn sounded we trotted along with the pack for a quarter mile before things opened up enough to go a little faster. We all stayed together for the first kilometer and then my daughter and I edged ahead while my wife and son followed at their pace. Shortly before the 2 mile mark we came to a water station where we stopped to wait for the others and then resumed our run together.

My daughter and I were more in running mode than my wife and son so we put a little distance between them and had almost reached the finish line when we stopped to wait for our teammates. We had agreed that we’d all cross the finish line together and I was proud of my daughter who could have beaten 40 minutes but chose to wait for her mother and brother. Once they joined us we all came over the finish line together. My wife realized that her daily treadmill runs have prepared her well for outdoor running and now she knows she can cover that distance running on pavement. 3 miles was a new distance running record for my daughter and for my son who kept moving, both walking and running, until the end. Once we came home and showered we headed over to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a long but fun day.

This morning I decided to cover 4-5 miles at an easy pace, faster than yesterday but not as briskly as AG and I ran at times. It was raining slightly so I wore my ASICS lightweight rain jacket that was perfect for the conditions. The air was cold enough that I remained comfortable through the entire 4.5 miles. I followed a course that took me up and down lots of short roads and through one of my standard routes that I use on my 4;00 AM runs. I feel great and I’m hoping to get an 8 to 10 mile run in before the end of the long weekend. Yesterday I wore the Skecher Resistance Runners during the race and I remain positive about them as training shoe. I would never wear them if I was trying for speed. In fact the reason I wore them was to slow me down. I went back to the Kivaras today. Between the Skechers, my compression sleeves and the core exercises, my leg strength and flexibility has improved. That’s good, especially if I attempt a personal distance record this week.

Visiting Brooklyn the hard way

Yesterday provided another new city running experience for me as AG and I again held our weekly update meeting outdoors. We spent the first 15 minutes discussing some key business items in my office before heading out. AG brought in some Clif Shot Bloks that were left over from her relay. She wanted to try them to see if they provided some benefit since she’s facing 12 miles of dirt, brush, rocks and hills (mountains actually) at this weekend’s Patch Sprint. I tried a couple out of curiosity and I’m glad I did since what lay ahead was no picnic.

We headed downtown by subway and staged at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Our plan was to run over the bridge to Brooklyn, make our way to the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, run that length, and then return. The temperature sign from my office said 78 degrees and I was wearing a black Dri-Fit jersey. It wasn’t too bad in the shade but in the sun it was hot. The Brooklyn Bridge is sizable but not scary at all. The cars are a level below and the most concerning thing is that you’re sharing a relatively narrow path crowded with walkers and cyclists. The first half of the bridge is an incline but I had no trouble with that, possibly due to the pre-run carb load. Once we headed down and off the bridge I was feeling pretty good. AG warned me that we’d encounter a big hill soon and that had me a little worried. I should have been much more worried.

Once we were in Brooklyn we ran through DUMBO and then took a left where we hit the mini mountain and charged our way up. When I say charged up I mean I ran about as fast as a slow walker. I’m sure AG could have zipped up the hill at twice the speed but we did it together. I was very happy to see it start to level and although the street continued at a slight incline it was tolerable. We swung down to the Promenade and ran that to the end. At the turnaround the Garmin showed exactly 2 miles. We continued back and encountered the hill again but it was much easier going in that direction. There were two guys charging up as we made it down and I felt for them.

After we reached DUMBO I requested that we walk for a few blocks as I was pretty spent and we still had the bridge to cross. That helped and we resumed our run as we made our way up the steps to the bridge. It was hot, crowded and we ran on an incline until we made it to the middle. The rest of the way was downhill and we finished where we started, exactly 4 miles later. We bought some bottled water and headed back to work, hot and sweating but feeling energized.

Taking into account the walking, we ran at least 3.75 miles in conditions that were tougher than any I’ve seen in weeks. I had been feeling weak and tired most of the day on Wednesday and the run knocked that out completely. Today I still feel strong and energized. At the rate I’m going I should make 20 miles this week and if I get to the trails I’ll be able to push myself again. Three bridges in three days has been lots of fun.