Tomorrow is race day in Oyster Bay, NY

Today’s workout: Rest/taper

I’ve decided to run the Brooke Jackson Race for Literacy 5K tomorrow morning in Oyster Bay. Unlike every other race I’ve done to date, I’ll be a walk-on participant, who registers on race day. There are two reasons why I’m racing instead of using both weekend days for extended runs. First, I haven’t raced this month and this may be my best opportunity to do it. Second, I’ve had some slight soreness in my right knee and I thought I’d give that leg a break from running. Resting today will prepare me for tomorrow’s race and three miles shouldn’t have much on affect the injury. I do have slight concern that running in the neutral Kinvaras yesterday may have contributed to the soreness but it may just be a case of adjusting to a shoe with almost no drop from heel to forefoot, causing me to land more on my mid-foot than I usually would. I considered running in the Tangent 4’s but I’m not sure I’d want to race in shoes that I’m using for the first time. I have three miles on the Kinvara odometer so I know how they feel at that distance.

My strategy for tomorrow is to start at a moderate pace and adjust speed as I go. The Kinvaras seemed to have helped yesterday so hopefully I can draw on that advantage in the race. I have no knowledge of the course and whether it has pronounced hills or other features that may affect my performance. Perhaps it’s best not to know because I won’t be thinking about upcoming negatives as I run. My goals are simply to run a good race, have fun and be competitive in my category. Although I haven’t anticipated this race for weeks I am excited that I’ll be participating tomorrow.

Finally, I’d like to mention my friends KWL and FS who are participating in a 100 mile bike event tomorrow on Long Island. They are certainly in shape for it. I wish them great weather and safe travels.

Marcie Mazzola was 5K of fun, hills nonwithstanding

Today’s run: 5K (race) at 8:41 per mile

Sometimes you do everything right and things still don’t go quite the way you’d hoped – no 5K PR today. All the same, I ran the Marcie Mazzola Foundation 5K at a decent clip and had a far better experience with the hills than I did last year. Compared to 2009, I did a little better in terms of pace (8:41 vs. 8:50) but the shorter length gave me an advantage there. In terms of other 5Ks, I ran my slowest one today (prior 5K’s were at 8:28 and 8:19 respectively). Some of that can be explained by the fact that the large crowd (600 starters) was squeezed into a fairly narrow starting area and being that far back probably cost me 20 seconds overall. I can’t use that as an excuse because most races have that issue. I can blame myself for a slow start though. Knowing that the big hill would be coming quickly after the gun, I maintained a fairly modest pace for the first quarter mile and held that pace until I crested the hill. My first mile split was “officially” 9:29 (9:09 really, because I started recording with the Garmin when I reached the starting line, not at the gun). I picked up speed after the hill and did my second mile at 8:21 and my third at 8:28. Along the way the FR60 was chirping constantly telling me that I was behind my target pace or that my pace was in range. It also chirped at the mile splits. It was all helpful but a little noisy!

The race itself went by quickly and before I knew it we were crossing Main Street and running around Heckscher Park on our way to the end. The routing was a little different than last year but the final hill remained. I didn’t love seeing it but I knew I could handle it and still have the energy to finish strong. The finish line was located perpendicular to last year’s and the final approach was downhill. I crossed the line at 26:55, happy to see my wife and kids clapping and cheering. It was my eighth race in less than one year (Marcie Mazzola was held on April 19th last year) and my third 5K. I felt like a ran a pretty good race, ending up in the top quarter of registrants and the top third of finishers. However, I didn’t place in my age division. I ran into a neighbor who also ran today. He’s getting back into running after many years away and he beat 30 minutes which was his goal.

The temperature was in the high 40’s and I dressed appropriately, keeping sweats and a warm-up jacket on until close to the start. I’m thinking that my next race will be the LI Marathon 10K that happens in early May. There are a number of other local races happening in April, May and June so I’ll consider those as well before I commit. It was a pretty good way to spend a sunny spring Sunday morning with my family and a good workout after two days of rest.

Goody (bag) to go for the Marcie Mazzola 5K

Today’s workout: Rest day, again

Well I’m down to just hours before the Marcie Mazzola Foundation 5K race on Sunday and I’m ready to run. The idea of taking two rest days prior to a race is sound but I miss running, especially on a sunny spring day like today. This morning Team Emerging Runner headed to Northport, NY to pick up the race t-shirt and gift bag. Like last year, the Cow Harbor Running and Fitness store hands out the bags the day before. Although I could have just picked it up tomorrow when I get my race number we decided to go today, primarily because it was an excuse to visit this pretty town on the water. In addition, Cow Harbor Running is a very nice running store and I LIKE running stores!

When we arrived, Nancy Mazzola, who runs the Foundation and manages the race, was there chatting with Lauren, one of the store owners.  We talked with them about the race, the expected turnout, the big hill, and why the length of the race has changed. The new route avoids some traffic control difficulties and the 5K length may attract more runners than a 4 mile race. We stayed for a while looking at shoes and gear. The store sells Etonic, Pearl Izumi, Newton and Zoot shoes. They have a much broader line of the PI’s than I’ve seen elsewhere and I’ve always been interested in trying their stability models but you don’t see them much in stores. Perhaps I’ll try them out the next time I need to replace my road shoes. Of course it would take a lot to move me away from Brooks!

I’m ready as I’m going to be for tomorrow. People can still sign up tomorrow at the race location. It’s a great event for a good cause.  

16 hours and 50 minutes and counting…

Strategic thinking for Sunday’s 5K

Today’s workout: Resting for 4/11 race

My new PDO armband

What a difference a week makes in terms of running gear. I now have a fully functional running watch (Garmin FR60) that’s a real improvement over the 50 that it replaced. I bought a new PDO iPhone armband that seems much more durable than the iLUV model that fell apart after only being used a few dozen times. Most importantly, our Sole treadmill belt slip issue has been fixed so I can now run at faster speeds without worrying about straying too far right on the belt tread. Ironically, I’ll need to wait until after Sunday to try out the repaired machine because I’m not planning on doing any running until 8:30 AM on Sunday.

I’ve been thinking about my racing strategy and I looked to my post about last year’s event to help prepare me for the conditions. The thing I worry about most is THE BIG HILL. It took me by surprise last year and I clearly had not done the right amount of training to prepare me for the length of this monster (1/2 mile). I’ve done a fair number of hill runs over the last month and I’m hoping this conditioning has prepared me for what’s to come. In the six races I have have run since last year’s Marcie Mazzola race I have learned to moderate my pace for the first mile and not get sucked into the stream of fast moving early starters. I expect to be fatigued somewhat from the hill so I’ll conserve more energy than the last time I did this race. This year the race distance is 5K, not 4 miles, so I’m hoping to push the speed a little more near the end. I anticipate that temperatures will be in the high 40’s to low 50’s at start time so I’m planning to run in short sleeves and racing shorts. Heat is my (and most people’s) kryptonite so I’ll do everything I can to minimize that issue.

Am I over thinking my strategy? Should I just get out there and run and figure it out as I go? It’s hard to say whether a defined strategy makes big difference. I know that in business, when I do a public presentation, the work I do to prepare always pays off and things sometimes go badly when I wing it. I’ve had more negative racing experiences when I failed to think through the the various elements: weather, course, pacing, etc. I prefer to error on the side of over-strategizing and I’ll know soon enough whether it made a difference.

How many furlongs is a 5K?*

Today’s workout (street run): 2.4 miles at 9:21/mile

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from my friend and financial advisor who was asking whether our run on Friday was still on. We had talked about running the West Side bike path on Friday but I told him I’d prefer to try for Thursday instead because I’m abstaining from running after today. I explained that I wanted to be well rested for Sunday’s race. He laughed and said it sounds like I’m talking about a racehorse and I said that a bag of oats and a leg massage certainly wouldn’t hurt my chances. We ended up rescheduling for a week from this Friday.

I know it seems unnecessary to rest two full days prior to a short race like Sunday’s 5K. However, I’ll argue that 5K’s require more prior rest than longer races because the pace is faster and more anaerobic. In two of my 2009 races I ran with either one or no day’s rest and my performance took a hit as a result. This morning I did my last training run and was once again pleased with the Garmin FR60. I had set the watch to signal when my pace slowed past a certain threshold (10 min per mile) and I made sure I moved along so I wouldn’t be subjected to the scolding chirp from the Garmin. Happily I avoided that (except once, just as I’d started the run). I really liked the splits alert that told me when I’d passed another mile. It’s very helpful to have this feature, especially for the fact that the run summary details each mile’s individual pace. I’m aiming for negative splits on Sunday, especially with that big hill to face at the beginning.

Today’s morning run was good. My pace was non-competitive but okay for 4:00 AM. Sunday’s race starts at 8:30 AM and that fits well into my 8:00 AM-10:00 AM window when I do my best running. Cool dry weather is predicted for Sunday morning. I hope that prediction holds.

*24.8

Bridie Goldstein 5K – an Emerging Runner PR

RACE RESULT: Bridie Goldstein/MercyFirst 5K – 25:50 (PR)

The weather report said temperatures would be in the high 40’s with winds gusting up to 50 MPH at the start of today’s race. I was curious to see how that would translate in terms of running conditions. The weatherman said it could feel like freezing temperatures when the wind was that high. My wife surprised me on Wednesday with a gift of a Nike long sleeved running shirt and a pair of high quality compression running pants. I am no fan of Nike’s shoes but I think their apparel is top notch. On Wednesday I was thinking that these clothes would be perfect for December’s cold but this morning’s weather made me think that today would be a good day to put them to use. I wore my Zoot short sleeve jersey over the new long sleeved shirt to ward of the sharp chill from the wind.

The race was was so close to home it only took us 5 minutes to get there. The winds were strong and it felt cold. Fortunately registration and the exhibits were set up inside the school so me, my wife and kids were able to stay warm up until a few minutes before the start. This year they had a category that included runners and their dogs so there were many woofs heard among the runners. Smartly, they had the dog participants leave two minutes after the two-legged start. It was chilly at 10 AM and we got off fast because the course starts downhill. I was careful to maintain a moderate-to-brisk pace as I had learned a lesson in previous races that a fast start can lead to a painful finish. The length of a 5K gave me some latitude for pushing hard compared with a 5 miler or 10K and I did make my way by a number of people over the first mile. Unlike other races, I didn’t get the feeling that what lay ahead would be painful. However, I was concerned that so many cars were driving on the main roads while we ran alongside. Happily there were no close calls.

The course had a few hills that I thought might prove difficult but I came through them comfortably and even passed a few people during those segments. At one point, when I was a mile from the end, I started wishing the race was longer because I was enjoying the experience so much. I did get passed by a few people including some very fit runners who had dogs on a tether. After starting mid-pack I finished in the top 20% so for once I enjoyed the experience of passing more people than passed me. At the end I sprinted the last 100 yards to beat out two runners to the finish, one of whom had overtaken me right before that. As I ran past the finish line I saw my family waiting and cheering loudly: my payoff for that extra effort.

So November Emerging Runner beat May Emerging Runner by a decisive margin today. I’m pleased by that and proud of the six races that I’ve run this year. Next year I will likely race at some distances I ran in 2009 and I’ll have a chance to beat myself at 4 miles, 8K and 10K. But today I’ll enjoy the 5K ‘victory’ and will revel in the fact that my performance is going in the right direction.

I am the man to beat

I’m kind of happy that my race this week didn’t fall on Thanksgiving Day. Although there’s a good chance that I’ll do a bigger race next year on the holiday (Garden City or Prospect Park Turkey Trot) this year I could look ahead to two separate events, Thanksgiving with family and the Bridie Goldstein 5K on Saturday.

Among the many great things that come with running is the framework for self competition and the events behind that. Races are fun because they allow people to test themselves in a way that’s hard to duplicate elsewhere. We gauge our success in business different ways and rarely do we get to see direct results from single activities. The opportunity to compete in a race is appealing because the stakes are low but the rewards are high. I don’t really care how I do against the people that line up with me on race day. It’s fun to pass people and annoying when others pass me in a race but in the end these folks are really just background color. The real competition is with myself.

Tomorrow’s race will be the first time I compete at a distance that I’ve previously raced. I’ll be looking to challenge my PR of 8:33 per mile. I really don’t know how I’ll do since most of my runs are at a slower pace and I am usually pleased if I’m able to break 9:00 per mile. I’ve typically done better than that during races and I attribute it to the instinctive process of keeping up with traffic. Yesterday I ran 3.6 miles at Stillwell on the perimeter trail of the open field. I managed a pace just under 9:00 per mile which is good because I tend to run more slowly on dirt than on pavement. Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be high 40’s with strong winds. Those winds can both help and hurt. Either way I’ll be facing myself on Saturday for the first time. May the best man win.

2.6 or 26? Feels the same to me.

It’s Thanksgiving Day morning and I’ve spent some time thinking about whether I should finish my race-taper with a final run, an elliptical session or simply take two days rest. Yesterday was a busier day than expected, my son accompanied me to the office and at lunchtime we spent a lot of time walking around mid-town. I was wearing my new loafers that lack arch support and also rub against my small toes so my feet were in tough shape when I got home at 5:00 PM. I didn’t run that morning because I’d originally thought I’d get home earlier in the afternoon and I’d do a run then. When I did get home I felt tired and largely unmotivated to run. After some self-debate I decided to go out for a few miles in the hope that exercise would stimulate some energy. I set out for a neighborhood run and covered 2.6 miles at a mid-9 pace. Through most of the run I felt like I was running uphill carrying a pack, my legs felt weighed down and I was genuinely fatigued. When I arrived back home and looked at the time and distance I saw that I covered the same distance as a typical 4:00 AM run but it felt far longer. It’s an exaggeration but you could have moved the decimal point on my distance reading one position to the right and I wouldn’t have felt much different.

I’ve decided to head over to Stillwell Woods a little later this morning to do some laps around the big field. Four times around equals 3.4 miles, a perfect last run before my race, on a forgiving surface. This morning Adventure Girl will be running in the Turkey Trot in Prospect Park in Brooklyn with a friend from the 182 mile Ragner Relay race team she captained earlier this year. I would love to do that race some time. I understand Prospect Park is an amazing place to run and that the event is really well done. Today I’m happy to just get out and enjoy the Stillwell course. I’ll rest on Friday and then run the Bridie Goldstein 5K on Saturday.

A recovery run turns speedy

I had a tough day on Friday that included lab tests from my annual checkup. As the day went on I realized that I was too worn out to do my daily run. After getting a decent night’s sleep I woke up early and considered my running options: long or short, street or trail, near or far. I’ve wanted to run at Caumsett State Park in Lloyd Neck which is drivable in less than 15 minutes (and probably much less at 6:00 AM on a Saturday) and thought today might be the day. On further thought, with yesterday’s blood tests, I was concerned about pushing too hard while running alone so I decided to stay local and just run in the neighborhood.

My thought was to run at whatever pace felt okay because I wanted to cover at least four miles. I wasn’t interested in any hill training this morning so I set a course through my main neighborhood with the thought that I’d do some loops close to home and expand my distance based upon how I felt. I did a five minute elliptical session prior to the run to gauge my energy level and I think that served as a nice warm-up to my workout. For a change of pace I took along my iPhone and ran MotionX to capture the route via GPS. I started by trying AllSport GPS but I couldn’t acquire a signal so I switched apps. The MotionX did an okay job but, as usual, it was off because it cut corners. My Garmin said I covered 4.4 miles at 9:00/mile and I Gmapped the run and that said the route was actually 4.53 miles for a pace of 8:46. That’s more like it. I liked the feel of the run and I felt that I could have gone a bit harder if I needed to. Perhaps the energy of the race will allow me to pick up 15 seconds per mile next Saturday for a new PR.

Thoughts on my upcoming 5K

I’m working from my home today and due to my schedule I was not able to run this morning. So far this week, even including Sunday, I’ve run less than ten miles. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to get out today so this will likely be a low mileage week. That may be a good thing since I spent most of last week feeling tired during my runs. I’d really like to go out for a long trail run this weekend for a change of pace but I also feel like this is the last chance I’ll have to train for my 5K. I looked up the layout of the course and saw that it’s relatively flat but there are a couple of good hills along the way. It may be a good idea for me to try some hill training at the industrial park at some point. I also plan to get home early on Wednesday so perhaps that’s the time to do that as a last hard workout prior to the race.

Saturday will be the last time I race in 2009 and it will be the 6th time I’ve participated in an organized race this year. Saturday’s 5K will be the second time I’ve raced that distance this year so I have an opportunity for a new PR. The last time I raced a 5K I did it at 8:33 and won 2nd place in my age division (it clearly wasn’t a competitive field) so I’d really like to beat that time if I could. On the other hand it might be fine to go out and just have fun and enjoy a race close to home with my family there to cheer me on. Right now my competitive spirit is winning so I think I’ll do that hill training. I need to look at the race calendar to see what’s happening in early 2010.